Stu McLaren is a recognized marketing expert helping business owners sell more by building an online community around their product, service, or expertise. His flagship product, WishList Member, now powers over 42,000+ membership sites and serves to simplify the process of building, managing and monetizing an online community or membership site.
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- Your Big Idea: Successful Entrepreneurs have One Big Idea. Follow JLD’s FREE training & you’ll discover Your Big Idea in less than an hour!
- “Faith is to believe in what you do not see, the reward for that faith is to see what you believe.” – Phil McLaren
- Stu created a very successful 5-figure a month business in consulting. However, he realized he had in fact failed because he created exactly the type of environment he sought to escape. He was tied to trading dollars for hours and was stressed out because of it. Listen to how he withdrew himself from this situation.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- Scalability was Stu’s AHA moment, and he lays out his path to success in this venture. Inspiring!
- Stu is simply crushing it with Wishlist Member. He is a humanitarian at heart so I can’t wait for Fire Nation to hear all about the incredible foundation Stu has set up.
Small Business Resources
- Bufferapp.com: A Smarter Way to Share on Social Media
- Followup.cc: A reminder service for your email.
Best Business Book
- Growing the Distance by Jim Clemmer
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John 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, Stu McLaren. Stu, are you prepared to ignite?
Stu McLaren: Buddy, get your fire extinguishers ready because I am ready to set this thing on fire!
John Lee Dumas: Oh, that is the best response yet. I love it!
Stu McLaren: [Laughs]
John Lee Dumas: Stu is a recognized marketing expert helping business owners sell more by building an online community around your product, service or expertise. His flagship product, WishList Member, now powers over 42,000 membership sites as it serves to simplify the process of building, managing and monetizing an online community or membership site.
I’ve given Fire Nation a little overview, Stu, but why don’t you take a minute? Tell us about you personally, and then get a little bit into what you do for your business.
Stu McLaren: Sure. So I am a guy that always knew I was meant to be an entrepreneur. In fact, when I graduated university, I actually did sign a contract to go into the corporate world, and it was everything that my parents had ever dreamed for me. The nice pay, the company car, benefits. But something didn’t sit right, and ever since, I had been on a quest to build my own business. It started back, I was a speaker speaking at colleges and high schools about creativity. That led me into the consulting world because a lot of what I was teaching students, business owners could gain benefit from, and well, frankly they paid more than the colleges and high schools. So that led me to doing a lot of consulting with small business owners, and then that led me to a point where I was looking to really sh221are my information to a broader audience.
And so I was looking to create a membership site, and at the time, software that was available was just not easy to use. So we set out on a quest to accomplish a piece of software that would be easy for people to be able to set up an online community or membership, and that’s where we are today.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome story. How do your parents feel about where you are right now?
Stu McLaren: Well, I’ll tell you, John, they were a bit skeptical in the beginning, but I just thank them so much for just trusting my instincts. Sometimes, their instincts are going to be that they’re protective and they want to make sure that you’re going to do well and that you’re going to do better than they would and that type of thing. But in that moment, they trusted my instincts and I’ll be forever grateful to them for that.
John Lee Dumas: That support is truly invaluable. On note of your WishList Member, I can just say that I am an absolute support of that. I am a WishList insider. I’m part of your membership group. I use WishList for Ignite, my elite mastermind site, as well. So I just so appreciate what you do. You just make it so possible to have these different products and services out there to the public. It’s a great thing. I look forward to delving into that more, but before we do, Stu, we like to start every show off and get that motivational ball rolling. I know you have a great success quote for us because you’re just an entrepreneurial guy. So go ahead. Hit Fire Nation with it.
Stu McLaren: Okay. So this one actually came from my father, and I have no idea where he got it from. But I remember him telling me this when I was just a young teenager. He said, “Faith is to believe in what you do not see. The reward for that faith is to see what you believe.” So let me say that again. “Faith is to believe in what you do not see. The reward for that faith is to see what you believe.”
John Lee Dumas: Wow! That is a very unique quote, so I can definitely say I’ve never heard it before. I would love to give your father the attribute to it. What is his first name?
Stu McLaren: Phil.
John Lee Dumas: That’s P-H-I-L. So that will be on your show notes page. Phil McLaren will be forever immortalized.
Stu McLaren: Man, I can’t wait to tell him that Fire Nation is going crazy over his quote that he gave me when I was a teenager.
John Lee Dumas: Oh, absolutely, Stu! [Laughs] So why don’t you just tell us how you’ve taken that great quote, that inspiration from your father, and actually applied it to what you do today.
Stu McLaren: Well, as entrepreneurs, it’s really difficult because sometimes, when we’re building a business, it’s an idea. It’s something that we don’t see. It’s not tangible, it’s not in front of us. We’ve got to start it from scratch. So you need to have a lot of faith in order to build a business. You got to have faith in yourself, you got to have faith in the idea, you got to have faith in the concept, but the whole point of that is if you do have faith and you work hard and you implement, the reward of that faith is that eventually, you’re going to see what you’ve been believing in that whole time. So it definitely has applications to us as entrepreneurs because we live and breathe that all day long. Our ideas are just out there. They’re not tangible until we put them into action, but in order to put them into action, you got to believe in them first.
John Lee Dumas: Love it. Stu, how old are you?
Stu McLaren: I am 32.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! So we are identical aged. So we both had similar entrepreneurial journeys as far as the length, but as we both know, every entrepreneur’s journey is riddled with failures or obstacles or challenges, or a combination of all three. Your journey has definitely had its ups and downs on some levels, I’m sure, just because that is part of being an entrepreneur. Can you share with Fire Nation a challenge or a real failure that you’ve had and how you overcame that?
Stu McLaren: So before I got into software, I mentioned that I was working helping a lot of small businesses, and a lot of them I had as clients, and I had a very, very successful client business. I was generating five figures a month, supporting a variety of different clients, helping them with their marketing. But the challenge that I faced was that I had backed myself into a job. Essentially, it was my business, but it was really a job. I had to show up every day. If the clients wanted something done, I was on the hook to get it done that moment at that point in time, and it really was not a business that I look forward to going into every single day. In fact, it actually gave me anxiety, I didn’t enjoy it, and I was miserable.
So all of that to say it was I had designed a business, yes, but it was not the business that would serve me, and it was not the business that I wanted. So I had to have a hard look at who I was, what I had built, and if it was really where I wanted to continue to go. And the answer was no, it wasn’t. It was very difficult to give up that business and to essentially let go of the clients. That’s when I transitioned to building the software because it was very difficult. It was great money and I enjoyed the people I was working with. I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing. So it was a big, big challenge, and certainly a failure I guess you could say because I didn’t have the foresight to see what I was getting myself into until it was too late.
John Lee Dumas: So you had essentially created exactly what you were looking to avoid when you initially launched off into your entrepreneurial venture. That’s very interesting. If you could just really get specific, what are some lessons that you learned from that experience that just really helped you as you continued on your journey?
Stu McLaren: Well, many times as entrepreneurs, we’re just putting one foot in front of the other and we’re not really looking way out into the future in terms of designing what it is that we really want. We’re scrambling. In the beginning, you’re trying to get the wheels going, you’re trying to make as much as you can, and what happens is the ball gets rolling, but it gets rolling in the wrong direction, until you get cornered into a spot where you realize it’s just not what you want and now it’s even more difficult. So the big lesson there is get crystal clear on the exact type of business that you want to build, and then start working towards that versus scrambling after other things. Then along those same lines, being okay saying no to certain clients or to certain projects or to certain aspects of business because if it doesn’t fit well or doesn’t sit right with you, that’s okay. You just don’t have to go down that road because you’re designing the business that you want.
John Lee Dumas: Stu, I love this journey that you’re taking us on right now. You really shared with us where you were at when you got out of college and the transitions you made into different jobs and then your entrepreneurial ventures. So let’s continue that journey. Let’s just stay on this path because at some point, you really had a light bulb moment where you just said, “Wow! This is going to resonate so well with me and with my audience. This is going to be my true voice. I can’t wait to just start this.” You had that aha moment. Can you share with Fire Nation what that aha moment was?
Stu McLaren: So I’d like to share a couple of aha moments because one actually just happened very recently, but it kind of builds on what we’ve been talking about. But I want to backtrack and I want to tell you about the very first aha moment, and that was when I had to let go of that client business and when I started to transition to now producing the software company which is WishList Member. Essentially, when I was at that point, I knew right away that software, or for me, creating a product that I could sell again and again and again, was the direction that I wanted to go. So I went, as I mentioned, from a very healthy five figure amount income down to a very small four figure amount income when I initially made that transition, and it was very difficult. But it was very exciting because at that point, I was really leveraging my time. So every ounce of time that I would put in, I knew that it was being leveraged because I was selling products that people could buy over and over. So that was a big aha moment. It’s really leveraging your time.
The second one actually happened very recently. Just a few months ago. We held a very high level mastermind meeting at the Inc. Magazine headquarters in New York City in the World Trade Center. There were about 20 of us who all have six and seven figure membership sites. During the course of that day, I got into a conversation with somebody from Inc., a very high level executive, and the conversation basically put into question all that I believed about building a business that serves your lifestyle. Their vision of the perfect business was one whereby it was more of an enterprise business that had many, many employees, that could be sold or that would live long after the life of the founder, and it put into a lot of question about the type of business that I was looking to build and that I really wanted. I’m kind of the opposite. I like a small business. I like being virtual. I like working from home. I like having products that can serve thousands and thousands of people, yet doesn’t require thousands of people to manage and serve them.
And so it put into question a lot of things that I believed in, but through the course of that, it came out the other side believing even stronger in terms of the type of business that you really want to believe. I bring it up because at different points in time, we’re always going to be questioning, are we on the right track? Are we on the right path with building the type of business that we are? The more you come back or the more you focus on exactly why you’re doing this and the perfect type of business that you’re trying to build, the more you’ll become clear as to whether you’re on the right path or not. So it just reaffirmed that you know what? Even though some people want to build those types of businesses, that’s okay. It’s not for me, and I’m comfortable building the type of business that I’m building.
John Lee Dumas: I love that, and like in our pre-interview, it was very obvious. You were able to spend some time with your daughter today and take her to an appointment she needed to go to. So you’re a family-oriented guy and your current business allows you to do that. Again, it allows you to scale on a product level and reach a lot of people without trading time for money, which is also very important. So it’s great that these important things were really reinforced to you. Can you just really get down and tell Fire Nation exactly some actions that you took when that second aha moment hit and you came home from that conference. What actions did you really take to apply that to WishList to really continue that vision forward?
Stu McLaren: Well, I asked myself, what is it that I really like about my business? What are the things that I love? What are the things that, at the end of the day, I would not want to trade off? So I love my business because I have a lot of flexibility in it. This morning, I was taking my daughter to swimming lessons, and then I took her to the doctor. Now I’m here doing an interview, but it just reinforces the fact that I’ve got a lot of flexibility in the way that our business is operating. So I love the fact that I do work from home. I love the fact that all of our team is virtual, which saves a tremendous amount on overhead. So we’re able to keep overhead and our cost low, which obviously when you’re the business owner, the more money you make and the lower your expenses, the more profit is left for you as the owner. I mean I love that. I love the fact that this is all run through an Internet connection so I can be – for example, my wife and I took our family to Hawaii for two months last year. I would never have been able to do that if I had a regular business.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Stu McLaren: But I had an Internet connection where we were staying, so everything was just fine and I was able to adjust my work hours. I mean, I just love the fact that there’s so much freedom and flexibility with the way that the business is designed. So my big moment was really realizing that there are a lot of things about this business that I do love and getting clear on those things that I love and being okay with them, and just being okay with the fact that some people are going to disagree with this type of business. Some people may not think that this is a “real business,” which infuriates me, but that’s another subject.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Stu McLaren: Anyway, just getting clear on what it is that I do love about the business and being okay with the fact that some people are going to disagree with it, and that’s fine, but the more that I continue to pursue this, the more it just reinforces that fact. At the end of the day, John, many people are going to think differently about what is their definition of a successful business, and I think it’s just important for us as entrepreneurs to get clear on our own definition. You know what I mean?
John Lee Dumas: It sounds like you have really reached the place where you’re there, but you’re also willing to adjust that as you need to move forward in the direction that you want to take WishList. So it’s great that you have such a good grip, you have such a good understanding of your place in the world right now, and the fact that if you need to change that for whatever reason, you can adjust, and the Internet is just such a special place to be able to do that quickly and effectively. So I could not agree more with everything you’re saying. It’s really made EntrepreneurOnFire as virtual and as successful as it has been in such a short time. So I’m really just excited to hear that you’re on that same path. It’s a great place to be, and on that note still, have you had an I’ve made it moment?
Stu McLaren: Yes, I have. I’ve had two of them. The first one came, my wife and I started our own charity. It’s called World Teacher Aid and we build schools over in Kenya. Every year, we take our top donors over there for a group trip and they get to see the school that they’ve built, they get to interact with the kids. We stay close by and we interact with the families, and it’s just one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had, and I give all the credit to my wife who really set me on that path. But the aha moment is not only realizing of being there and seeing the schools and experiencing the kids, but the aha moment was really bringing other entrepreneurs to that environment so that they could see the impact that they had through their giving. What it really made me realize was that as entrepreneurs, we build businesses. We’re creators. We create something out of nothing, which is one of the most fascinating skills and abilities that I think is available in this world. So to be able to do that, and then be able to channel the money that we make is what really has impact.
So for me, it made me more hungry as an entrepreneur than I’ve ever been because yes, I absolutely do want to make as much money as humanly possible because at that point, we’re in a position where we can channel however we choose. For me, the experience of channeling that to projects and to help people that would never otherwise have those kinds of opportunities was a tremendously profound thing, and it was just a great experience to help other entrepreneurs experience that as well because I guarantee you, they were more hungry as well. In fact, the very first trip that we took, 100% of the people that were on the first trip came back again for the second trip this year. So that’s just a testament to the impact that that experience had. So a tremendously amazing aha moment because it really opened my eyes to the ability that we have as entrepreneurs to have impact on this world.
Then the second one was just – we kind of touched on it earlier – when my wife and I spent two months in Hawaii. I would never have thought that that would be possible, but it is possible, and it was actually fairly affordable in the grand scheme of things. So sometimes, we put barriers in front of us that we think, oh, we could never do that, we could never do that. But when you design a business in such a way that it gives you that freedom of flexibility, you really need to grasp onto that and run with it. That was another big aha moment for me too.
John Lee Dumas: Those were just some huge moments, Stu. I’m so glad that you’ve experienced them and you’re realizing them because as entrepreneurs, sometimes we get so caught up in just achieving our goals and then driving forward, and you’re obviously enjoying your journey. That’s such a special place to be at such a young age with so much more to do and to give and I love to use EntrepreneurOnFire as a platform just to talk about the worthy causes that entrepreneurs are doing. So can you just take a couple of minutes? I’m so intrigued – I know a lot of listeners are – about your charitable trust, about what exactly you do, how you decided on Kenya, exactly what that encompasses. Just take a couple of minutes and just fill us in on that because I am so intrigued.
Stu McLaren: Yes. So again, I give all the credit to my wife. She has always been a traveler. So for the first four years that we were together, she was actually in another country three of those years. So we joke that’s probably what made the relationship work.
John Lee Dumas: Yes! [Laughs]
Stu McLaren: Long story short, she loves to travel, but she always travels on the off beaten path. So she goes to remote locations so that she really experiences the culture. As a result of that, she really realized that there were kids who would love to go to school, but either they were in such a remote location that there wasn’t even a school there or the school was so far that it just wasn’t feasible for them to go. So she came back, and being a teacher herself, she really wanted to have change in that area, and so we began working together. She said, “Listen, you’re the business guy, so you figure out how to raise the money. I love traveling so I’ll arrange all the trips and figure out all the details of getting the charity going.” After several years, here we are where we’ve now built two schools over in Kenya and there are 600 kids going to our schools. We’re opening a new one in January, which is really exciting. So Amy and I will be flying over for that.
It’s just one of those experiences, John, that you just can’t put into words. It’s really an amazing thing, and as I said before, it’s made me a better businessman because A, it’s made me more hungry, and B, it’s given me a new sense of responsibility. So as entrepreneurs, sometimes when we’re working at night, we’re like, “Ah, you know what, Stu? You’ve worked hard enough today. Why don’t you kick back and relax?” But when you’re working for somebody else and you know that an extra dollar is going to feed a child for 15 days, it gives that little bit of extra fire, if you will, to ignite yourself to want to just continue and push through. So I’m really, really grateful for the whole experience and I love the charity, I love what it stands for.
How we ended up in Kenya was really a business decision at the end of the day. We were working in multiple countries, and what we found was because the charity is run by my wife and I, it’s volunteered by my wife and I, we have to have trust in the people that we work with in the countries where we have our projects, and we just found that the people that we are working with in Kenya were far more trustworthy. They took a lot more action and got a lot more done, and it was a much better stewardship of the funds that were raising from our donors to be able to put it in the hands of somebody like that, like our project manager in Kenya who was going to really take care of it and maximize it to its full extent. So it ended up being more of a business decision than anything else, and we centralized and focused all of our efforts in this area of Kenya.
John Lee Dumas: Stu, I love your passion. I love your use of adjectives. They’re all great! I would love to link up in our show notes a little more information about this. Do you have a page or do you have more information along those lines?
Stu McLaren: Yes. Definitely come check out the charity at worldteacheraid.org. In fact, if you look at the events tab, you’ll see one of the events is when we go on that group trip. If there are entrepreneurs out there that want to experience this, I encourage you wholeheartedly to find a way to be able to incorporate your business into the fundraising or whatever it may be so that you come over and involve your customers in the experience. A lot of our big donors, they involve their customers in that experience and their customers live the experience of helping through them, which is just an amazing bonding experience with your customers. In fact, one of our donors even brought one of their customers over, which was a very cool experience. So either way, if you’re interested in coming with us, I would love it. It’s an awesome, awesome experience.
John Lee Dumas: Love it, Stu. I could talk about this all day. I’m really into this kind of stuff. So thank you for taking time to share with us. We’ll move on now to your current business, your other passion, which is WishList. What is one thing that’s just really exciting you about your business right now?
Stu McLaren: You know what it is? It’s our customers. I am just in love with our customers. So the last month, I’ve been speaking at two events and I just attended a third event, and it was so wickedly awesome because we got to see face-to-face with so many of our customers, to hear their stories of how they have built communities and membership sites and what that means to them and their lives and all the people that they’re helping as a result of their membership.
For example, there was one gentleman I just met at this most recent event. His name is Noah Meter. He’s using our software, WishList Member, to power a community for stronger families. His company is basically a nonprofit that helps families who are in high stress situations, whether they’re in the military, whether they’re in the police, etcetera. Basically, because of our software, it has enabled him to reach far more people than they ever were before, because before they were doing live events, and it was very difficult, very cumbersome, and very time-consuming. But now WishList has provided them tremendous leverage to get the same information to like thousands and thousands of families. So it’s now helping thousands and thousands of families, and when you start to think about what our software has enabled people to do, it gets really exciting, but it all comes back down to our customers. I just love our customers and I have a huge passion for what they’re doing.
So from that standpoint, I know it’s kind of cliché and people are like, “Yeah, whatever,” but I’m serious. I love to hear the stories of how our customers are using our software and how that’s benefiting all the people that they impact. So that’s probably the most exciting thing for me right now.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! Well, I’m one of your customers, so I love you too, man!
Stu McLaren: Virtual hug.
John Lee Dumas: Oh, I love those! So Stu, what is your vision for the future of WishList?
Stu McLaren: Well, what we’re really excited about is the fact that we really feel like we’re just scratching the surface. So we’ve always done development internally, but in a very short period of time, we’re about to really open the floodgates of innovation because we’ve really been working on our API. So this is for all the geeks out there that really want to tap into all the functionality that WishList provides and kind of build add-ons and plug-ins that tap into WishList and provide additional functionality. We just know just from our beta test group that this is really going to take WishList in a whole other direction that we could never imagine because our customers and the developers that are working on this kind of stuff, they’re far more creative than we ever would be by ourselves. So that’s going to be very, very exciting, and that’s really the future of where we’re going. It’s just really building a platform that people can build on and add tremendous functionality to.
John Lee Dumas: Man! Well I am on this train, so I cannot wait to see where this journey ends up.
Stu McLaren: Well, we definitely got to do a follow-up and we’ll talk about how you are using it to reach so many entrepreneurs as well because it’s just I love the customer stories, I love hearing how you guys are using it, and I’m honored that Fire Nation is powered by WishList Member. How cool!
John Lee Dumas: It’s such a great tool, Stu, and I just couldn’t be more excited about it, and I would love to do a follow-up. We’ll use that now to move into my favorite part of the show, which is our Lightning Round. I get to ask you five questions in the show, Stu, and you can come back at Fire Nation with amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Stu McLaren: I’m buckling my seatbelt. Here we go!
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] What was one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Stu McLaren: I think belief in myself. It was definitely the one thing that was holding us back because we get brought up to think a certain way. Even when I was in university I was going through for getting my [honest] business degree, and they were basically training us to go into the corporate world. So my head was saying corporate world, but my heart and my gut were saying, be an entrepreneur. It’s very difficult when you’re brought up one way, being told something over and over again, and yet your gut instincts are telling you something different. So that was definitely something that held me back in the beginning. I was just questioning, am I really right in doing this because nobody else is, or I’m not being taught this, but just having belief to move forward anyway.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best business advice you ever received?
Stu McLaren: This goes back to a quote that I heard from a friend of mine whose name is Michael [Litman]. One of his mentors told him this quote. He said, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going.” There’s so much wisdom there because how often are we trying to create the perfect business right from the get-go? The reality is you’re not going to know all the answers. You’re never going to know where one step will take you after the other. So here’s my spin on that or how I applied that. Just take a step. Just take a step and a direction. If you look at my career, it started because I didn’t want to go into the corporate world, so I started to speak to high school students and college students about creativity because that helped me go from failing out of university to graduating top of my class.
Then as a result of that, I realized that small business owners could use the same information, and they paid more. Then from that, I realized that I needed a bigger way to get the information out there to really leverage it, so I started looking to build a membership site and the software just wasn’t up to par, and so we started it ourselves. So now, as a result of building the software, I’m really dialed in as the type of software. So every new project that we’re looking to do is now going to be a web-based solution. But if you would ask me in the beginning if I were passionate about web-based software, I would have said, “No. What is that?” But one step in front of the other, and that’s probably the biggest thing to get going.
John Lee Dumas: I love that, Stu, and EntrepreneurOnFire follows such a similar path as you. I mean I was that person that was just like, man, I’m driving around, I want this great, targeted free content the podcast provides, but it’s not out there in enough of a quantity. And so I went out there, I created it. Was I a good interviewer? Did I have broadcasting skills? No. But I just started and my first few interviews are not great, but now I’ve done over 78 and I have over 100,000 downloads a month and I’m in the number one ranking in iTunes New & Noteworthy, all because I started. If I had waited until I was good, I probably never would have started because I’ll probably never be good. So I echo that sentiment. I think it’s the best business advice out there. It’s just like Eric Ries and The Lean Startup when he talks about the minimally viable product. Just get something out there and get feedback from your customers. Adjust, adjust, adjust, and just continue to create the best that you can. You’ve done that. I’m trying to do that with EntrepreneurOnFire. I just could not agree more.
Stu McLaren: I consume your interviews, dude. You’re rocking it! I love the way you interview and I love the guests that you bring on. So I’m thankful that you just took a step and just got it going too because I love the content from EntrepreneurOnFire.
John Lee Dumas: Well thanks, bud, and I like I said, every 10 or so, I get a lot better. So this is number 70 and I think number 30 is out right now. So every 10 or so you’ll see a big step up in the “JLD train” [Laughs]. So Stu, what is your favorite business book that you’ve ever read?
Stu McLaren: So this one is kind of like a business/personal development book. It’s not very well-known at all. In fact, it was from a Canadian author. His name is Jim Clemmer. The book title is called “Growing the Distance.” I love this book because it really brings back to the cornerstone of what it is to be an entrepreneur and how to lead your life in a way that serves where you want to go and what you want to become. So it’s just a great book. I love it. It’s called Growing the Distance.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! Stu, you’re a tech savvy guy. So can you share with Fire Nation an Internet resource like an Evernote that you’re just in love with right now?
Stu McLaren: So there’s two that I use every single day. It never fails. One, many of your listeners probably are aware of. It’s called “Buffer App.” So bufferapp.com. Basically, the reason I love that was I’m a big component of providing value on Twitter, but the problem was is I schedule time in my day to do my Twitter activities. In the past, what would happen is I’d come on and I’d start twittering all these resources and links, and it was like I was verbally vomiting on my audience because they don’t hear from me for a day, and then all of a sudden in like a 10 minute period, it’s just like Stu, Stu, Stu, Stu, Stu, Stu. What I was looking to do was kind of space that out. So Buffer App gives me the ability to do that. So when I come on to do my sharing of my links, I buffer them so that they go out at a predetermined time throughout the day and my audience isn’t bombarded. So that, I love that resource.
The second one I will share with you is one called “Followup.cc.” So if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re in your email and you know you’ve got to get back to somebody, and so what typically happens is you end up starring the email. So you got to come back, and now you got to remember to go back through and look at all your starred emails, and it just becomes a nightmare. It’s a real time waster. Well, what Followup.cc does is it just allows you to resend yourself that email.
So for example, I got an email this morning because John, when you and I were going back and forth in regards to the details of our interview, I just sent myself that same email that gave me the details of today’s interview so that it would show up in my inbox this morning. So now, every time I go through my email, I’m able to zero out my inbox and I just send the emails that I need to get back to at whatever date I need them to get back to me. So if it was two days from now, I’d put “2D@followup.cc,” and that would send me the email in two days. If it was two weeks, it would be “2W@followup.cc,” and that would send me the email two weeks from now. It’s a great little tool that it can save me a ton of time in my inbox. So if anybody’s listening and you struggle with your inbox, go check out Followup.cc.
John Lee Dumas: I cannot wait to try that too. That sounds amazing. Stu, we have about two minutes left. Just enough time for me to ask my favorite question, so here we go. If you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world – this world is identical to earth, but you knew nobody. You still have all the experience and knowledge that you currently have, but only $500 in your pocket, a computer with Internet access and your food and shelter is taken care of, what do you do in the next seven days?
Stu McLaren: Okay. So I would actually probably do something that most of your guests are not talking about, and that is I would not start a business. So it kind of sounds weird, right? I’m starting from scratch and you’re asking what would I do? And here I am as an entrepreneur, saying that I would not start my own business. What I would actually do is I would look to find somebody whose business is that I enjoy or that I admire or that I want to learn from, and I would look to volunteer my time. The reason being is when you are beginning or when you’re just getting going, you can learn so much from working with people who are already doing what it is that you want to do. It’ll save you a ton of time.
So I remember early in my career, for some reason, I gravitated toward this advice. Somebody gave it to me very early on, and that is volunteer your time. I gravitated towards it and I volunteered myself in all kinds of areas. What happened was it quickly taught me what it is that I like and what it is that I don’t like, and at the same time, it gave me a fast track to building relationships with key people in the markets that I wanted to enter. And you and I both know, John, relationships are the cornerstone of business.
John Lee Dumas: Cornerstone.
Stu McLaren: Absolutely! If you want a fast way to be able to get from where you are to where you want to be, the fastest way is through building quality relationships. So how do you build those? Well, you volunteer your time. That’s your first way because now you’re being of service. By being of service and being the best volunteer you can, you’re going to really turn some heads. So in my example, I volunteered my time with Canada’s biggest seminar promoter and he was putting on events that had between 5,000 and 8,000 people in the audience. The guest speakers were people like Bill Clinton. They were people like Dr. Phil. Like huge, huge names. But what happened was my role grew from just being a volunteer to being in charge of all the volunteers to being flown out to all these different events all across the country, helping and really connecting with high level people, and it was just an amazing experience that has served me well even to this day.
So that’s what I would do. So I wouldn’t actually start a business. I would be volunteering and taking notes first, and really connecting with people and building the relationships because when you are ready, it’s those relationships that are going to really help you hit the ground running.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! That is actionable advice, Stu, and you’ve given us actionable advice this entire interview. Give Fire Nation one small piece of parting guidance, then give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Stu McLaren: So my parting piece of guidance is when you do start your business and you do have customers, have fun with them. So I mentioned that I have had the best time in the last month or so, attending different events and really connecting with our customers. I’ve been dancing onstage with our customers. I’ve been taking funny, crazy pictures with our customers. I’ve been telling and sharing the stories of our customers. We’ve been doing contests with our customers. We’ve been giving our customers all kinds of surprises. The key is we’ve just been having a blast, and as a result, people are telling the world about our software. So it’s amazing what happens. We always try to think of the biggest whiz-bang, smart marketing strategy, but at the end of the day, people are people, and if you just treat them well and have fun with them, what you’re going to find is that’s the best type of marketing that anybody could put money towards. So spend money on being great with your customers and you’ll see the biggest rewards.
Okay. So my two websites that I want to share – well, I’m going to share three. The first one, my personal website, stu.me. Our software is WishList Member. So if you want to create your own online community or membership site, go check that out. Then if you want to see a new piece of software that we’re getting ready to launch, go take a look at rhinosupport.com.
John Lee Dumas: Give us the World Teacher humanitarian one one more time.
Stu McLaren: So our charitable organization, you can find at worldteacheraid.org. Thanks so much, John. I really appreciate it, man.
John Lee Dumas: So much thanks from us. Fire Nation, we salute you. All of these will be linked up in the show notes, Stu, your father’s quote included. Thank you so much.