Richie Norton is the Best-selling author of The Power of Starting Something Stupid. He has been featured in Forbes, Businessweek, Young Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, HuffingtonPost, etc. He is an international business development consultant, serial entrepreneur and CEO/Co-founder of Prouduct—helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into profitable products through sourcing in China.
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Best Business Book for Goals
- The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton
Richie: Oh, yeah, you know it!
Interviewer: Richie is the best-selling author of The Power of Starting Something Stupid. He's been featured in Forbes Business Week; Young Entrepreneur; Entrepreneur Huffington Post; etc. He's an international business developing consultant, serial entrepreneur and CEO and co-founder of Prouduct, helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into profitable products through sourcing through China. Richie, take a minute, fill in some gaps on that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Richie: Cool, man, yeah so this is my second time on your show. We – I feel super fortunate to be on here. You know, last time we talked a lot about my family and everything that I've been doing with my business, with my books, and you know, I'm a business strategist. I work in a lot of different industries as a coach and as a consultant but you and I – we kind of formed a little relationship here after our last chat regarding Prouduct, which is our company that we help people create products and source them out of China.
So, that company we just launched last year and it's blown up. It's just been incredible the response we've been getting because I work with entrepreneurs. You know, my book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, brings in entrepreneurs because they want to learn how to turn their stupid idea into a smart reality, which is what I talk about. But then I realize some people are like, yeah but I don't want to just do digital products. I actually want to have this thing in my hands, you know. I want to like share it with the world. I want people to have stuff, so I thought, you know, I'm an international business guy.
I might as well use my network and help people create products, so that's kind of where I'm going now and it's just been awesome.
Interviewer: I love what you're doing and the fact that I could have interviewed back on Episode 895, which was crazy. That was almost 200 – no, 300 episodes ago, Richie. I mean, it feels like yesterday, Buddy.
Richie: I don't even know how you do it. That is unbelievable.
Interviewer: It's a blast. When we had that talk, I was like this is exactly what I've been looking for. This company that you were talking about with such passion – Prouduct – it just got me so fired up and so excited about my idea, which at the time was just an idea. As you know, Fire Nation, we're in the 33-day campaign of The Freedom Journal, so Richie is one of these 33 great past guests of EOFire. He's going to be talking just about the journey that we’ve been on and why we created The Freedom Journal. He's really a special one of the 33 because it was that conversation that made me realize that, hey, I can do this. I don't have to go on to Alibaba and get lost and just go through ten different channels and just have my head pop off out of frustration. But, no, there is a guy who has a team who can walk me through the entire process.
So, The Freedom Journal for the first time felt real. It felt like it was something that I could actually put my arms around and start creating, so after that talk, Richie and myself were very fortunate to meet in person at Infusion Con back in 2015. It was in the February timeframe. I said, Richie, I'm doing this. I'm creating this book. It is going to happen and I spent all of 2015 creating The Freedom Journal, going through the actual process of the editing, the illustration, all of that jazz. Then comes the tough part. It's like how do you actually get this physically created in a mass and beautiful way?
That's when I reached out to you, Richie, again and we continued the conversation and we had some great dual trips to Barnes and Noble to get some materials and do all this stuff. This has just been such a cool journey because then we were able to take those materials and go to different manufacturing plants in actual China. Like, you and your team went to China, took videos, did pictures and, Fire Nation, if you are on The Freedom Journal interest list, you saw those pictures. You saw the video. I mean, Richie was the man behind that.
One of my favorite memories of this past year of The Freedom Journal, Richie, is when you and I did an actual Facebook hangout with you in the actual manufacturing plant as the book is being printed. It was just such an amazing, amazing journey that I've been on, so kind of take a second and talk about, you know, maybe that early part of you and I getting together and going through this process so that maybe some listeners can see how Prouduct works and that's a combination, Fire Nation, of Proud and Product – so, how Prouduct works and why it's just so doable these days.
Richie: So, it's really interesting. People don’t realize what goes into a product – any product. You look at it and you don't realize that someone had to, depending on what it was, they had to create a mold for it. You know, they had to pour their heart and soul on it, not only as an idea but into what type of materials and how thick and it just gets ridiculously confusing. It could be anything so I mean your book, for example, I had a chance to meet with you at your home in San Diego. We sat down and looked at all kinds of different books and what goes into it. People don't realize that yeah, there's a cover but what's inside that cover – what goes around the cover? What gives it that color? Then you have the pages and how thick do you want the pages to be and what type of ink do you want?
I mean, and then you have that little color – it's called a headband around the spine of the book. What color do you want that to be? I mean, people don't realize that every single little detail is important when you go into production and manufacturing. You know, the more specific you are, the better, right? But as you're creating it, it can become this monster because you might talk to a manufacturer and they're going to come back to you with a thousand different options because there's a thousand different combinations or an infinite number of combinations to be able to create this thing.
So, it was really interesting with you because what we did was we sat down, looked at a couple of different ideas but then you and I went back and forth and this was before you even had written the book right? This was just like, Richie, I want a thing – a book – it's going to be called The Freedom Journal and we were like, okay great. What's next? You know, I don't know how many times you and I went back and forth trying to figure out –
Interviewer: Oh, our email strings are obnoxious.
Richie: It is out of control and so we were trying to figure out do we want it to be this size? Do we want it to be this feel? How heavy is it going to be? You know, and eventually after going back and forth for quite a while we landed on this beautiful full leather gold stamped, you know, gold around the edges. Then you threw me for a loop though because we were almost done figuring it all out and then you're like no – John, you are so good. You wanted to create like – you just wanted to create the perfect book, right? The perfect product – so it was like we're almost there.
We were at the finish line and it's like wait, you know, I want to create this bookmark and it can't just be like any normal bookmark; it has to be this certain material and then a certain color. So, we actually had to tell the people in China who are so amazing, like they were incredible.
Interviewer: They were amazing!
Richie: We had to tell the manufacturer to go out to the market and they had to find that material in the marketplace for your bookmark. Then they had to dye it to the color that you wanted. So, it wasn't like it was just off the shelf. You know what I mean?
Richie: Everything was just amazing.
Interviewer: Yeah, and another loop that I threw you for was I came back to you with the elastic band idea and I was like, Richie, I don't really want one that's going to go over the book to give it a feel of privacy but I want two so that people can open the book up, have the band hold down the left side, have the band hold down the right side. That's my vision. I want to do that and this is after I had already gotten one version sent out to me, which I loved. It only had the one elastic band. I said, "Can we stamp another one in there on the other side of the book to make it a dual elastic band stamp?"
You said, "Let me get back to you, John." Sure enough – these people were just amazing to work with and it was so cool with you actually being out there in China and actually being able to get some pictures with the employees because these are real people with real families and they are so excited to be a part of this adventure we are on and part of this product. You could just see that they were proud to work on it. I was just proud to be able to do this for them as well. So, it was just a great overall feel and it was a really great experience. I know I wasn't the easiest person to work with.
I was like I want gold leaf pages. I want a gold tassel. I want gold embossed stamping. I just wanted this to be something and that's why I love the name of your company, Prouduct, because I wanted this to be something that you, Fire Nation, who invest in this product – The Freedom Journal – that you're going to be proud of. I want you to be proud to have it on your desk, on your bed stand; to take out at a coffee shop and someone would be like, "What is that you are working on? That is gorgeous." That is such a huge piece of feedback that I've gotten, Richie, is that it is absolutely gorgeous. I've gotten it from all around the boat.
You know, I went out to UPS the other day to actually drop off ten of these and ship them off to people that are coming on to talk on EOFire about The Freedom Journal and the guys at the UPS counters were like, "Wow, where can we get one of these? This is gorgeous." I actually gave a gift to them of The Freedom Journal because I had an extra one. I came back for another shipment and the guy was like, "John, I've been doing this now for 17 days and it has been so cool."
They were so just thrilled about it, so this is what I love and it's a huge thanks for your company, so maybe talk a little bit more about some of the logistics that we had to go through and that people just in general have to go through when they do this.
Richie: Okay, so a lot of people think they can just go to Alibaba or Global Sources, which are great. I mean, they're incredible websites and you can do that. Like, don't get me wrong. The challenge is you don't really know if you're talking to the manufacturer for real or not because a lot of times there's like ten middlemen in between who are answering for the manufacturer. Again, nothing wrong with that but the challenge is you might not be getting the best price.
So, what we do to be a little bit different is we actually go on trips to China constantly to go actually meet with the manufacturers and make sure we're talking directly to them and we have people on our team that actually speak Chinese so we're able to negotiate. It's really cool, like when you go to China and when you work with a manufacturer and they trust you, they'll send a car out, pick you up at your hotel, bring you to the plant, they'll feed you. They just take really good care of you when you do it right, you know. But that's not to hinder anyone from trying to do it themselves online and whatnot.
It's just when you're there in person, everybody knows it can just go a lot more smooth. So, what's interesting is not only do you have to figure out all the details and get a sample but that first book or that first product, your first sample, your first iteration, is always going to be your most expensive one, right, because they have to stop everything else they're doing to create this one thing. They would have to stop everything they're doing to create a thousand of them or a million of them but they're only creating one.
So, that one becomes super expensive so you have to be ready to invest in that one and then just think that you’re going to kind of spread that cost across all the other books or all the other products you are eventually going to do. So, it ends up being not that expensive but that first one all alone becomes kind of expensive. So, what you do is you get the sample, you get it all approved, and then you go into manufacturing. What we do is we have them send us pictures all along the way because we want to just make sure that every little detail is right. I mean, China is far away from the United States, so you kind of want to – you can't just be there all the time unless you send someone there but you kind of just want to follow it along.
Then once it's done, what you don't realize is okay, now that it's done, how the heck am I going to get it to wherever it needs to go? Right? So, there's really cool ways you can actually set it up so that they ship directly from China to your customers one by one. There's ways to do that. There's other ways if you want to ship the whole thing out to wherever you're at. For us, it's the United States. Then you have to warehouse it. You know, is it going to be – are you seriously going to put 10,000, 20,000 items, units in your garage? Do you seriously want to do that?
What a lot of entrepreneurs don't realize is it's really cool to make a product. It's really cool to sell a product but it sucks to ship a product.
Interviewer: And just fulfill that product.
Richie: You become a slave just doing labels and going to the mailbox every day, right. So, we decided to use what's called a 3PL or a third party logistics company and you warehouse it there and they ship it out for you. There's a ton of 3PL's you can use and you can also use FBA fulfilled by Amazon and they'll do it for you too. It all depends on what you're willing to pay, what your cost structure is and whatnot. But before it can even get to the warehouse, you've got to figure out how to ship it, you know, and there's taxes and there's duties and the customs fees. There's all kinds of that stuff but with Prouduct, we handle all that for you.
Richie: Yeah, it's kind of a concierge service because what if it got to the dock and it didn't clear customs. I mean, what do you do? You just spent who knows how many thousands of dollars and it can't even get into the United States. You don't have control over that but what do you do? You know what I mean? So, we kind of work through all of these kinds of things with people. But it is a huge, huge process but I don’t think entrepreneurs realize that even if they think they have the business acumen to do it, even if they think they've done it before, it's always helpful to have someone who knows how to do it by your side. It makes the process so much smoother, so much more simple, and you can feel confident that you can focus on what you're good at, which might be product creation, sales and marketing. Right? Then all the rest of the crap you don't want to do is just handled by a company that is able to do that for you.
Interviewer: It's like a Mastercard commercial, Fire Nation, except it's just Prouduct. What's the value of Prouduct? It's literally priceless. I mean, I could not have done what I have done, be running a business, be doing my day to day, and figuring out all the logistics, and the mandarin and I mean, it was just so much but these guys do it. You know, this is what they do. They set up systems. They have the relationships. They speak the language. They understand the 3PL, third party logistics, and again, I wasn't super easy to work with.
I was like I want part of my shipment to go to Amazon FBA because I want to be able to fulfill through Amazon. That's a great marketing engine that I want to be able to leverage – a huge directory that people are searching every single day but I also want to be able to fulfill it on my own so I don't have to pay Amazon's pretty steep rates all the time as well. So, I wanted to go through another company so we used – great shout out to Shipwire who we're using and they're going to be doing some great fulfillment for us.
So, I have 20,000 of The Freedom Journal, which are on boats, as Richie and I are talking right now, coming over to the United States. You know, part of that shipment has already arrived and cleared through customs and is going off to Indiana to the Amazon warehouse. Another portion is going – and it's all these moving pieces but it was for me made possible because of Prouduct, so definitely something that I think that everybody should look a little more into if you are even thinking about going down this road because you can just learn a ton and, Richie, we have a ton more to be sharing in just a minute.
But we are going to take a quick minute to thank our sponsors. So, Richie, one thing I want to talk about now that we're back and we're hanging out and we're going to keep talking about Prouduct and The Freedom Journal – how it came to be real – something that you can physically hold in your hands is putting things out in the universe. Like, when I had you on my show, I didn't know that that was going to lead to the relationship that we've built to what we've now created out in this world. I didn't know that but I did know before the conversation that I wanted to create The Freedom Journal so I would talk about it to Kate, to my friends, to my family. I'd say, "I really want to create this journal." I just got it out there and because I put it out there, you know, it was top of mind, so when you made a mention in the show on EOFire about Prouduct, you know; my mind went right to it.
I said, "I was just talking about that this morning. This could be perfect." So then after our call I was like can we jump on another call at some point next week and I wanted to tell you something and maybe this is going to be a good fit and you said absolutely. Here we are today so, Fire Nation, putting things out in the universe is the way you have to operate and you do a great job talking about this in your book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, Richie, because that's what you have to do.
You have to put out the stupid ideas, put out the silly ideas, put out the funny ideas because you never know what the result is going to be when you do that. So, Richie, let's kind of as we come to a close here, in the next five minutes or so, let's just kind of sum up where we have come on this journey that we've been on and what does the future have in store for Prouduct?
Richie: Well, like you were saying, the power of intention – you know, people come out of the woodwork, right? Like, you say this is what I want and this is what I want to do, people come out of nowhere. I wasn't even on your radar. You know what I mean? It just came together. I wasn't coming on your show thinking that you were going to do a – I mean, I had no idea, right? But because we talked about it, something happened, which I also think a lot of people were afraid to share what they want to do because they're afraid someone is going to steal their idea.
But I believe that if you don't share it, you've already stolen it from the world because you're never going to do it if you don't share it. So, it's important to let people know what you're going to do.
Interviewer: Let me just kind of jump in here real quick. It’s the mindset of abundance, Fire Nation, as opposed to the mindset of scarcity. Believe me, if I was scared of this, like, well Richie, you can just take my idea and since he has all the connections and the contacts, and go, no, Richie is leading his whole life. Like, he has a family. He has a company he is running. He's not going to stop everything and just do this just because it's a good idea. Just realize that people are living their own lives. You're living your own lives. Have the mindset of abundance and go forward.
Richie: In my book and in my philosophy with Prouduct is just "start". Start where you are with what you have and begin. What's interesting is what you end up at the end, even with your book, John, what you end up at the end might be different than what you initially thought it was but that different thing might actually be better than what you thought you wanted. You know, so like when one door closes, so to speak, and another door opens, sometimes the other door that opens was better for you or where you should have gone in the first place but you couldn't get there until you went through these other steps, you know.
So, that's just part of it and so for Prouduct, what we are going to do is we are going to continue to help people – entrepreneurs create products or if they already have products, how to source them for a faster, better, cheaper kind of thing. Then we're also looking at putting together an amazing course to help people do this on their own as much as possible or that we have our full level concierge service. We have the "hold you by the hand" service and then we have the "do it yourself" kind of thing, so we're looking at doing that.
We want to help people at all different levels where they're at in their business and also support them wherever they are financially because not everyone has the opportunity to just go for it, you know, so you start small. So, we want to be there for everyone wherever they're at.
Interviewer: Now let's just put it out there in the universe. What is an approximate date you're thinking this course is going to be ready?
Richie: Oh, no, don't put me on the spot.
Richie: Oh, man, okay so we were thinking probably February or March as a launch.
Interviewer: Okay, so next month or maybe the month after because it's currently January 2016, Fire Nation, so what we're going to do is we're going to bring you, Richie, back on EOFire when that course is live. We're going to talk about it. We're going to take about the actual process and just do the whole thing. Maybe we'll even do a little webinar about it.
Richie: That would be amazing. Yeah, that would be awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much. That would be really cool. Yeah,, Fire Nation – guys, I've got to tell you this. John didn't ask me to say this but like this Freedom Journal is insane. I have had the opportunity to look through it, not just create it but like read the content, go through it and, you know, John – I'm almost getting a little emotional. He cares about you. He's not just doing this show and doing these webinars. He actually wants to make a difference in the world and influence your life for good.
This is the way that he can actually come into your home, so to speak, other than just audio but be there for you and help you in 100 days master your craft and accomplish your goals. So, John, like honestly, I saw you firsthand put your heart and soul into this so I hope people realize that this isn't just any other book or any other journal. This is something special even, in my opinion, it's sacred. It looks sacred the way the book is created, your ideas, your thoughts, their goals they're going to be putting down, they're sacred to you and your family. It's going to change your life. It's going to change your family tree.
Take this seriously and honestly just go with this book and follow it and I think amazing things are going to happen in your life.
Interviewer: Goosebumps, Fire Nation, and that is completely correct. This is exactly why The Freedom Journal was created on behalf of my heart, my soul, pouring it into this journal for you. So, definitely head on over to thefreedomjournal.com. See what we have going on in this campaign. We have 35 different reward levels, a lot of awesome is going on and it is for you. I am like going to be that little accountability partner in the book that's going to be staring at you, when it's on your desk, saying I see you – what are you going? But, Richie, I want to end on fire, so give a parting piece of guidance. The best way that we, Fire Nation, can connect with you and then we'll say goodbye.
Richie: Okay, so there's two ways. On my website, richienorton.com/fire. I have a gift for you there. And if you go to Prouduct.com, it's just Proud – P-R-O-U-D-U-C-T – Prouduct.com. You can go there and you can fill out a little survey to see if we are a fit for you and to help you create whatever you're trying to do.
Interviewer: Bam – Fire Nation, you know this. You're the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you've been hanging out with Richie and JLD today, so keep up the heat. What's that parting piece of guidance, Richie?
Richie: Start right now. Start right now.
Interviewer: Even if it's something stupid.
Richie: Even if it's something stupid, you know, stupid is the new smart. That's my saying and if you don't – we don't know if we have tomorrow. The past is already gone but we do have this moment right now. Whatever it is, whether it's just an email or telling someone, whatever it is that's on your mind, start right now with the first step and then little by little, you will get there.
Interviewer: Head over to EOFire.com and type Richie in the search bar. His first episode will pop up. This episode will pop up and all the links that we've been talking about, Fire Nation, and of course head straight to richienorton.com/fire for your gift and check out Prouduct.com because there's awesome stuff going on there. Richie has more to come on EOFire so, Richie, thank you for sharing your journey again with EOFire and the journey that you and I were on together. To that, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flipside.
Richie: Thank you.
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