Josh Steimle is the founder of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the US, Hong Kong and China. He’s the author of the book Chief Marketing Officers at Work and 200+ articles on Mashable, TechCrunch, Inc, Forbes, and Time. He’s also a TEDx speaker, husband, dad, ultra trail runner and skater.
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- Josh Steimle – Josh’s website
- Chief Marketing Officers at Work – Josh’s book
- MWI – Josh’s company
- Funnel On Fire – A free 8-day course on how to create a funnel that converts!
- MyFitnessPal – Josh’s Internet resource
- Getting More by Stuart Diamond – Josh’s recommended book
3 Key Points:
- Create content that people need and that they can easily access.
- Do NOT be afraid to try something again you’ve once failed at.
- Exercise is a good indicator of how well you are doing.
- Athletic Greens: The most complete whole food supplement on the market. If you check out AG, you’ll receive 20 single serve travel packs valued at $99 completely free with your first order. Just visit athleticgreens.com/fire!
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:18] – Funnel On Fire – A free 8-day course on how to create a funnel that converts!
- [01:10] – Josh currently lives in China with his family
- [01:48] – Josh enjoys trail running in Hong Kong
- [02:42] – Josh listens to podcasts and audio books while running
- [03:35] – Josh helps people write content and teaches people how to become influencers
- [05:05] – Josh wrote for Forbes magazine and one of his blog posts generated millions of revenue for his business
- [06:14] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Create content that will generate revenue for your business
- [07:10] – JLD reiterates that free content should be available to your target market
- [07:55] – Josh’s worst moment as an entrepreneur was in 2006, when he was broke and overweight:
- [10:44] – Josh believes that people are capable of so much more than they believe
- [11:50] – Josh lost his business and money thinking it was because of his partners
- [12:55] – Corey Blake is Josh’s partner at MWI
- [13:10] – Josh learned to accept advice from unlikely places and to try things a second time
- [14:02] – In finding a new partner, Josh took his time, interviewed a lot of people, and worked with the person in different aspects of the company
- [15:31] – Josh gets fired up about his employees’ progress
- [16:30] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Ignorance”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Jack Canfield’s “If you want to be successful, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life.”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Exercise before work.”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – MyFitnessPal
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Getting More by Stuart Diamond
- [18:59] – “If I can do what I have done, you can do it better.”
- [19:04] – Connect with Josh through his website
Josh: I’m ready. Let’s light the world.
JDL: Yes. Josh is the founder of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the U.S., Hong Kong, and China. He’s the author of the book Chief Marketing Officers at Work and has published over 200 articles on Mashable, TechCrunch Inc., Forbes, and Time. He’s also a Ted ex-speaker, husband, dad, ultra-trail runner, and skater. Josh, take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Josh: Well, my personal life, I’m glad to have a personal life these days. It wasn’t always that way being an entrepreneur. But, yeah. So, I’ve a great life here in China, of all places. This is a place I never expected to be, but three years ago, my wife and I up and moved to Hong Kong. Three months ago, we moved to mainland China. We’re in Shenzhen which is kind of the Silicon Valley of China. There are a bunch of tech companies here and lots of exciting stuff going on. I’m here with my two kids opening up an office for my business here.
JDL: Exciting stuff. I just have to ask. How is the train running in China? Have you been able to fulfill that desire?
Josh: Hong Kong actually has some of the best trail running in the world. It is an amazing place. It’s grueling. It’s steep, slippery, windy. I’ve run in typhoons there which is the best running experience I’ve ever had in my life. But if you’re into trail running, definitely come to Hong Kong.
JDL: So, give me a quick example of what an ultra-trail running day in Hong Kong looked like from start to finish.
Josh: The longest event I’ve ever done was a 70K which is about 45 miles. It took me about 14 hours. We went over a few mountain peaks on that race. That’s the farthest I’ve ever gone, but I was routinely doing seven to eight-hour long training runs. Yeah, that one I talked about, that typhoon, that was a blast. There were waterfalls coming down the hillside that I had to wade through. I was just going – I was running up there, and I just thought I am a crazy man out here. I’m loving it.
JDL: Do you listen to any podcasts or music when you run? Or is it just nature?
Josh: I listen to podcasts and audio books. I think I am Audible.com’s biggest customer. K
JDL: You know, that’s actually how I got into podcasts is because I was spending so much money on Audible. I’m like there has to be a free way to listen to good audio. So, I definitely hear you there.
Josh: Yes, exactly.
JDL: If you ever find yourself, Josh, out in Puerto Rico, I have a killer four-mile run, not a 45 mile-run. A killer 4-mile run on a trail that does lead up to a nice little peak here. So, it is kind of grueling for me. You’ll be able to run circles around me a few times on the way up, but we’ll have a blast.
Josh: That sounds good. I’ll take you up on that someday.
JDL: So, Josh, what is your area of expertise? What would you say your specialty is?
Josh: You know, I love doing so many things. I run a digital marketing agency. That’s my day job. My focus is really a lot on content. So, I write a lot of articles. I love to write. I help people figure out how to create content and how to craft content. That’s one of my favorite things to do. But really, these days I love teaching people how to become influencers and use their influence to do whatever it is they want to do. Grow their business or just use that influence to change the world or accomplish whatever goals they have.
JDL: Okay. So, within that area of expertise, what’s something that we don’t know – me, other entrepreneurs who are listening right now, that we should know?
Josh: Just start today. There’s that saying that the best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today. That is so true with content and marketing and influence and all these things. So many people get hung up on doing it perfect and doing it right. Then, they just don’t execute. What I’ve seen is it makes so much more sense to just get out there today, do something, mess it up, make it messy, break things; but do something because then you’ll figure it out. A year down the road, you’ll actually be doing it rather than still planning on doing it.
JDL: All right. Let’s dig deeper because you’re right. We all have heard that. So, what’s something that we haven’t heard? What’s something that we don’t know in your area of expertise that we should?
Josh: Okay. Let me give you a story here first. So, I run a digital marketing agency, like I said. One of the services we offer is SEO, Search Engine Optimization. In 2013, I received the opportunity to write for Forbes Magazine. This is just a huge opportunity that got dropped in my lap. I took advantage of it. During the next three years, I wrote and published 164 articles for Forbes. One of those blogposts has generated millions of dollars of revenue for my business. A single blog post. The other 163 combined don’t come anywhere close to that.
So, what was this multi-million-dollar blogpost about? It’s a simple post; it’s got four tips on how to buy SEO services. It’s nothing fancy; it’s just straightforward stuff like ask for case studies, check references. But the trick in this article is that it catches people right at the moment when they’re making a decision about buying my company services. So, people go to Google. They type in how to hire an SEO firm. Those people are looking to hire an SEO firm. They find my article and say this guy seems to know what he’s talking about. It’s in Forbes. Sounds good. They look me up; they contact me. I’ve gotten tons of business off that article.
So, how can anybody apply this? Today, create a piece of content explaining how to buy the product of service you offer. Just a simple article, blogpost, or whatever. This content can be video podcast, infographic, anything. Then, you can pitch this content to a writer at Forbes or some other publication. You can put it up on LinkedIn Pulse. You can put it on Medium. You can put it on your company blog shared on social media or whatever. No matter where you put that, it will get results. If you can get it farther by getting it into a publication, you’ll just get that many more results out of it.
But, look, I wrote 164 articles. I tried every which way to write articles that sell without selling but still promoted me and my company in some roundabout way. That was the one blogpost that just went far beyond any of the others. Try that. I guarantee it will work.
JDL: So, Fire Nation, create content for free at the place where your actual client is going to be at the time that they’re making the decision to make that purchase. For me, that’s why Free Podcast Course works so well. I’ve created a completely free course on podcasting so that when people take it and they’re at the point to take things to the next level with Podcasters’ Paradise, I’m there the person supplying them with that content. So, I love that little value bomb. Josh, we’re going to shift a little bit in our focus to your back story, your journey as an entrepreneur. Now, take us to what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moments to date and tell us that story.
Josh: Sure thing. So, I started my business in 1999. I was a college student. By the end of 2006, I hit rock bottom as an entrepreneur. I had $500,000.00 in debt. I was getting into more debt every month. I hadn’t paid myself a dime in four years. I was working 100 hour weeks. I rarely saw my wife. We lived in a tiny studio apartment above a garage. We couldn’t afford to do anything. I mean, if I went and bought a Big Mac at McDonald’s, I felt so guilty. I was sitting in front of a computer all day eating junk food.
I weighed 240 pounds which is about 70 pounds too much for me. If I walked up a single flight of stairs, 10 stairs, it took my five minutes of wheezing before I could carry on a conversation with somebody. I mean, I was fat and broke. I felt like a complete failure. I was just losing money. Nothing was going right. So, it was at this point that I thought I’m going to escape. I’m going to get out of this. I’m going to apply to the Harvard Business School and get an MBA. Of course, I wrote this story up and applied to the Harvard Business School. I just got firmly rejected. Didn’t get an interview or anything.
So, this is January 2007. I’m sitting in my office. I’m reading this letter from the Harvard Business School that’s telling me, you know, we have lots of qualified applicants. We can’t select everybody. Blah, blah, blah. I’m just reading this saying I’m a failure. I can’t do anything. I’m stuck in this situation; there’s no way out. That was the worst moment ever for me as an entrepreneur. But it was also the start of everything good that happened after that.
JDL: That’s kind of what I want to move into because I do love how you were sharing how at the beginning of this chat that you were going on 45-mile runs through waterfalls. I’m sure if you had just had this tiny little 15 second snapshot of you doing that years later from when you were 240 pounds wheezing after walking upstairs, you would just have been that is not a true rendition of what my future looks like. Fire Nation, that should just speak to you and say no matter where you are in the world whether you’re at the lowest of the low, the highest of the high, or anywhere in between; the future is unwritten.
You have the opportunity and the ability to write that future. So, that’s kind of my big take away, Josh, is that you stepped up. You said I’m going to make a change. What do you want to make sure our listeners get from your story?
Josh: I’m getting goosebumps just listening to you talk about that. It’s true. If I could have seen into the future at that point and seen where I am today, I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have thought, no, that’s too good to be true. It can’t turn out that way. I mean, look at where I am today. How could I ever possibly get there – on every level. My business. My physical fitness. My spiritual mind. My emotional state. Just every which way.
JDL: What would you really want to make sure our listeners get? What’s that one big take away?
Josh: I think we all live far below our potential. We’re capable of so much more than we believe about ourselves. So much more than what I think a lot of other people believe about us. There’s just so much more that we’re capable of.
JDL: So, Josh, that was a really impressive worst moment and how you’ve been able to turn it around. That’s kind of going to lead us naturally into your aha moment. So, why don’t you take that away.
Josh: The year is 2000. I had just started my business, and I brought on two partners right after I started my business. That was a mistake. I was very hasty about it. I brought these guys in. I didn’t really know them. Nice guys, but it was the wrong way to go about things. I and one partner bought the third one out less than a year after we started. Two years after that – so three years into this business, I parted ways with the second partner. We sold the business to another company, but the deal went bad. So, I ended up not only getting rid of my business, losing my business; but I also lost about $40,000.00 in cash.
It was just such a bad experience that I swore I would never have a partner again. I blamed it on the partnership. I stuck to that promise for nine years. I said I will never ever have a partner ever again. I stuck with it. I just ran everything on my own. But like I was saying before, things didn’t go so well on my own. So, in 2012, fast forward about nine years, I’m traveling in Brazil. I’m with my friend Mark. He’s not an entrepreneur. He’s just a guy who’s done a bunch of odd jobs over the years; but we’re good friends. Here I am venting about all these problems I’m facing with my business, how I’m in debt still.
After all these years, it hadn’t turned out the way I thought it would. So, Mark knew the history of my business. He turns to me and says, Josh, I know you don’t want to hear this; but you need a partner. If he had said that a year or two earlier, I would have blown it off. I would have ignored that advice. But at that moment and the circumstances I was facing, it rung true with me. So, I spent the next year searching for a partner. Found this guy, Cory Blake. He’s now a co-owner at MWI with me. Together, we created a high growth multi-million-dollar global agency. I mean, just our business took off after that.
For me, there were a few lessons in there. One was great advice can come from people and places you might not expect. The second one was just because you’ve tried something that didn’t work before doesn’t mean it might not work the second time around if you tweak a few things. So, I tried having a partner before. It didn’t work out because I did it the wrong way. The second time, I did it the right way. Things worked out fantastically well. So much better than when I was running the business by myself.
JDL: Now, I have to be honest. A lot of EOFire’s entrepreneurial moments from our guests center around partnerships. Obviously, you had a struggle at the beginning, but then you were able to successfully have a partnership that’s worked very well for you. Can you maybe speak briefly about what you did in that year of search? I’m very curious just to hear like the process you went through to get it right this time.
Josh: To quickly sum up some of the steps I took, one, I took my time. I didn’t rush. Two, I interviewed a lot of different people so that I had a lot of different people to compare against each other to compare strengths and weaknesses. Three, when I finally found the person that I thought was the partner; I didn’t just bring them in as a partner. I hired this guy as a consultant. Then, he was part-time. Then, he was full-time. Then, he became a partner. That process took about nine months. So, those were the steps I went through to finally find that right partner versus the first time around. I met the guy; and 10 minutes later, I was offering him equity in my company.
JDL: Right. You were like I love you. But one thing that I definitely am curious about is did you ask him or did you tell him at the beginning, hey, this is the track that I want to put you on. I want to bring you in as a consultant. It could lead to part-time. It could lead to full-time. It could lead to partnership. Or did you just take it step by step along the way revealing things as they went?
Josh: I took it step by step. I didn’t want to over commit and then not be able to deliver. So, I took it step by step. Everything just fell into place. So, it was just a very natural, organic progression.
JDL: So, with that being said, you and your partner have created a very successful global international business. What is the one thing, Josh, that you are the most fired up about today?
Josh: When I talk to people about the business, it’s not the money. It’s not the success or the outward success that gets me excited. It’s seeing people progress within the business. So, it’s not the zeros in the bank account. It’s when I hire somebody and they start out as an entry level person. Then, they come to me and say I want to do more. I want to learn more stuff. We through stuff at them, and they learn it. They grow and progress. Then, a year or two later, I look at that person and think that person has come so far in the past year or two.
They’re not the same person that they were before. They’re happy; I’m happy. I look at that and that’s where my greatest sense of satisfaction comes from. In everything now that I look at, I look at myself as a father, husband, everything. I’m helping people to maximize their potential. That’s what I get really excited about more than anything else.
JDL: Well, Fire Nation, I’m excited for you to be enjoying the lightning round with us after we thank our sponsors. Josh, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Josh: I’m ready. Let’s go.
JDL: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Josh: Ignorance. The only thing that ever held me back is I didn’t know it was possible. Every step of the way on my journey, it’s been the same thing. The thing that’s help me back from being a better entrepreneur was just not knowing what as possible.
JDL: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Josh: There was this quote that just has been sticking with me lately. It’s from Jack Canfield who’s the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. It’s if you want to be successful, you have to take 100 percent responsibility for everything that you experience in your life.
JDL: I love that quote. I mean, for me, it’s so telling as an officer in the U.S. Army. If you are not 100 percent responsible for everything that is going to happen, bad things are going to happen. No matter what it is, Fire Nation, own up. Be a man. Be a woman. Be an entrepreneur and take that 100 percent responsibility. What’s a personal habit, Josh, that contributes to your success?
Josh: Exercise before work. Excellence in one area of your life will push you towards excellence in every other area of your life. Physical fitness, despite what people think, is one of the easiest areas to achieve excellence in because it’s easy to measure.
JDL: Fire Nation, this is a guy that’s lost 70 pounds and is now an ultra-trail runner. So, if you can share one Internet resource, Josh, what would it be and why?
Josh: I use my Fitness Pal, this app, a lot. I just use it to track weight and basic stuff. That just kind of keeps me in check. If I see my weight going up there, then – weight is not the only measure of health. But if I see my weight going up, then I know that I’ve got to get out and work out a little bit more.
JDL: It’s a little bit of an indicator. You know there’s probably something I’m not doing right or doing less of than I should be. So, on the flipside, what is a book that you’d recommend and why?
Josh: Getting More by Stuart Diamond. Again, this goes back to I think we all live far below our potential. This book opened my eyes to how I can get more from myself and from my relationships with others but without taking anything from anyone.
JDL: Remember, Fire Nation, Josh’s book Chief Marketing Officers at Work should also be on your bookshelves. So, Josh, let’s end it today on fire with a parting piece of guidance. The best way that we can connect with you, then we’ll say goodbye.
Josh: All right. My only guidance is this. If I can do what I have done, you can do it better. The best place to connect with me is on my website, joshsteimle.com.
JDL: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with JS and JLD today. So, keep up the heat. Head of to eofire.com. Just type in Josh in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Best show notes in the biz. Timestamps and links galore. Josh, I want to thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you. We’ll catch you on the flipside.
Josh: Thank you so much, John.
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