Tim Conley is the voice behind the podcast “The Foolish Adventure”. He has been creating marketing strategies and systems for other businesses for over 13 years. A quote I pulled from his website that I look forward to him expounding upon is, “We are here to help you get over feeling foolish (with a small ‘f’) and start feeling Foolish.”
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- “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau
- Is it failure when your business goes belly up, you move out of your house to rent it for money, and move into a 700 sq ft apt. with your wife and kid? Tim thinks so. He also has the solution for anyone who finds themselves in his situation.
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- Tim does not have an AHA moment in the traditional sense, but he does in the foolish sense.
- Tim has some great things going on over at Foolish Adventure, go check them out!
- Tim doesn’t believe in anything foolish like lightning, or does he?
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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 Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Tim Conley. Tim, are you prepared to ignite?
Tim Conley: Oh yes. Definitely.
John Dumas: I love to hear it. Tim is the voice behind the podcast, Foolish Adventure. He’s been creating marketing strategies and systems for other businesses for over 13 years. A quote that I pulled from his website that I look forward to him expounding upon is “we are here to help you get over feeling foolish and start feeling foolish.”
So Tim, I’ve given a little overview of who you are and what you do, but why don’t you take us into a little more in-depth?
Tim Conley: Okay. I tried to encapsulate who I was in something really short – a marketing consultant for 13+ years. That really doesn’t even cover like all my interests that I put into my entrepreneurial journey that has been those 13+. Actually, 14 years this summer. So it’s been a long trip going from a guy who knew absolutely nothing to someone who knows a bit more than I did 14 years ago.
I really focus on helping people. I found that I really enjoyed helping other people succeed. It was something that I just get a good thrill out of, because working on my own business is just boring. Working on other people’s businesses is exciting. I’ve never been able to flip that switch in my head to where it’s like, “Yes, I love doing spreadsheets!” [Laughs] In my own business. Like I don’t want to do that stuff. But when I come to a client and it’s like, “Oh, let’s like exponentially grow your business.” That kind of stuff gets me excited.
John Dumas: That’s a great example, and I have an interesting little thing to kind of nudge in here. I was talking to my housekeeper yesterday and I was like, “Man, you do such a great job here. You must have the cleanest house in the world,” and she said, “Are you kidding? I hate cleaning my house. I never clean it.”
Tim Conley: [Laughs] Exactly, exactly.
John Dumas: So here at EntrepreneurOnFire, we like to start every show off with our guest’s favorite success quote. It’s our way of getting the motivational ball rolling, so to speak. So Tim, what’s your favorite success quote?
Tim Conley: That was really, really tricky to try to narrow down. First, I was thinking, and since I am kind of a goofball, I was going to have a funny quote or something, but someone who really speaks to me, an author that I’ve really enjoyed, is Henry David Thoreau. There’s a ton of quotes from Thoreau that people very well like living a life of quiet desperation and things like that.
One of them that really, really spoke to me because it was kind of the way I have lived my life, and that’s “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately. To front only the essential facts of life and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
That quote is one of my favorites from Thoreau because even as a kid, I didn’t want to live a normal life. I looked around and I saw normal people, and they didn’t look happy. They didn’t look like they lived. They existed. They got up in the morning, they had their breakfast, they went to work, they came home, they watch some sports on TV, and maybe they did some yard work or something, went to bed, and did the whole thing all over again the very next day. Over and over and over again. I was like, man, that does not look like living to me. I wanted to go out into the world and live deliberately.
Then as I got older, like in my early 20s, I discovered Thoreau. As a teen, reading Thoreau is not exactly high on the priority list.
John Dumas: Not very.
Tim Conley: [Laughs] But then I discovered that, and I’m like, “Man! I think I’m the reincarnation of Thoreau,” with maybe not as much courage as the original Thoreau. That quote really speaks to me.
John Dumas: That is a very powerful quote for a lot of reasons. Can you just give us an example of how you use this in your everyday life or how you’ve used this recently?
Tim Conley: Figuring out what to do and what not to do. One of the things, I was working on a new information product. It seemed like a great idea at the time that it was conceived, but my heart truly wasn’t in it. I just kept delaying the project and delaying the project. I stayed with it mostly because I’ve made verbal commitments to other people. I said, “Hey, I’m going to make this thing.” The more I got into it, the less I wanted to do it.
Then I realized, like I’m not living deliberately. I’m not living the life that I’m choosing. I thought I wanted to do something, and then realized once I got into it, I didn’t want to do it. But now I’m doing it simply because I’m trying to appease other people. That is something that if you spend your life trying to appease other people, you will never appease yourself.
John Dumas: Thank you for sharing that. That’s very powerful and it’s something that I myself try to live on a daily basis. So it’s good to see that you feel the same way.
So we’re transitioning to our first topic, which is failure.
Tim Conley: [Laughs]
John Dumas: At EntrepreneurOnFire.com, we delve into the journey of our spotlighted entrepreneur, and for all entrepreneurs, somewhere in their journey lies failure. To be honest, most of the time, multiple places in their journey lies failure.
So Tim, think back to a moment that you want to share where you came up against failure. You fell into the pit of despair, but you learned from it, you created a better self, and you moved forward. Let’s start with the events that led up to this failure.
Tim Conley: Okay. This one, even after all these years, because this is really the launch of me as Tim the entrepreneur versus Tim the hustler. I grew up in a very poor family, and I learned to go and earn my own money as a little kid. Like taking trading cards to a grade school and trading those for Matchbox cars, and then getting the Matchbox cars and selling them for a dollar or something. I worked my way up the system, trading more and more value till I got what I wanted, which was more cash to be able to go buy my G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures.
John Dumas: Absolutely.
Tim Conley: I had to have them, so I had to figure out a way to get there because my parents couldn’t buy those things for me. So I went from being this like hustling kid to this point when along came the Internet. I’ve been dinking around on online on and off since the late ‘80s of getting on to CompuServe. It was extremely expensive back then so I couldn’t do it very much. Then along comes the bulletin boards and Gopher and stuff like that, and I’m messing around with those in like 1993, ’94.
Then in ’95, Mosaic came out, which was the first graphical browser, and then that just kind of really launched everything. That same year, like Netscape comes out with their graphical browser, and I started learning how to make HTML pages. I’m like, “Man, this thing is really interesting. How am I going to use this?” I was a designer at the time. I used to make furniture and cabinetry. You know, physical stuff. I liked to design furniture and building it and stuff, and I wanted to design things. I saw this web thing and I was like, “Oh, this would be awesome to be able to make a webpage for my design business.”
So my design business really shifted from designing physical things to designing digital things. The news back then was these young guys writing their business plan on a napkin and getting funded with millions of dollars and living this high life, and throwing these huge parties on this VC money that they just got. And I’m like, that’s going to be me.
So me and a friend, we loved to travel the world. We created a business that was going to take people on these – what we were calling “authentic tours” around the world that got people to see more of the local stuff than just jumping off of an air-conditioned bus, take pictures of some sightseeing place, and then jump back on the bus and drive to the next place. We were going to give people a more authentic experience.
We started hustling. I built the website. We created all sorts of stuff. We had nine guides committed to doing tours around the world. It was awesome. Everything was beautiful. I was out hustling and trying to get money, trying to get funding.
Then the dot-com bust came along, and that made me realize that we were going to fail. We had commitments for money, but then the money didn’t come because – well, everything was falling in the dot-com space. We didn’t have any customers. I committed a lot of my own personal money to this venture and put up a lot of my own credit and everything, and I had a baby girl at the time. We bought a house in Portland, Oregon. It was a 100 year old craftsman house. It was beautiful and we were going to start this whole family and everything and I was going to launch this great business. And then it all failed.
That freaked me out. I really didn’t know what to do and the money was just gone. I’m like, “Oh, this sucks!” So we rented out our house to a young couple who were on the rise. I’m thinking back to just how horrible that feels.
You’re renting out your home, your dream home that you got with your wife and your baby girl, and you’re thinking, I’m giving my dream over to someone else so that I can go move into a 700 square foot apartment. That I put my desk up inside this tiny living room and tried to save this company that I was building, and all these happened because looking back, I didn’t know how to get customers.
I didn’t know anything about really getting customers on the Internet. I didn’t know how to do – actually, I didn’t know how to get customers, period. I got customers previously because of word of mouth and things like that, but in a bigger sense, you need ways of driving customers to you, and I had no idea how to do that.
It really took me into this insanely low place, but I wouldn’t quit. We could’ve stayed in our house. I could’ve quit. I could’ve quit being that potential entrepreneur. I could’ve quit at that point, but I didn’t. And my wife was like, “Okay. You don’t have to worry about it. We’ll figure this out.” She was willing to move into this tiny, little apartment in a not very nice neighborhood, and she was willing to do this because she saw that I would never be happy being someone I wasn’t, and entrepreneurship was the thing that belonged to me. That was like the biggest failure I ever had.
John Dumas: So you rented out your house. You moved into a 700 square foot apartment, on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.
Tim Conley: Yes.
John Dumas: What happens at that point with your company? Does it actually fail and go away, or are you able to turn it around and move it forward?
Tim Conley: No. I shut it down. It wasn’t surviving. My friendship with my partner, the cofounder, almost was destroyed. Like to the point where we were – he was a lot mad at me because I made promises like, “Hey, this thing’s going to be amazing,” and then I couldn’t fulfill my side of it, which was I couldn’t drive customers to the company, I couldn’t raise money. Everything kind of just fell apart, and so I almost lost a friendship that I still have now that this is like 21 years we’ve been friends now.
John Dumas: In 60 seconds or less, give us one lesson that you truly learned from this failure.
Tim Conley: Know how to get customers. Know how to get your market. Find them and drive them to your business by giving them the value they’re seeking. Once you’re capable of doing that, you can succeed anywhere.
John Dumas: Tim, thank you for baring your soul. I mean this is a very sensitive subject and you’re being very generous with the information you’re giving. So we all do appreciate that. I personally really love hearing the stories of the Internet days back in 1994, as I was only 14 years old myself. I’m 32 years old now.
So I never really had the business mind at that age, and by the time I graduated college, the dot-com bubble had already well popped. So I wasn’t dying to get into the Internet business myself, and I went ahead and was an officer in the US Army for eight years. So I took a different journey, and I’m glad to be riding the second wave right now. It’s definitely a great experience.
Tim Conley: Yes.
John Dumas: Again, thank you for sharing that moment of failure. Let’s take that moment where you were when you did fail and you continued moving forward because you are an entrepreneur at heart, you have the spirit of an entrepreneur. You continued to learn, to strive, to make mistakes.
Did you at one point have an aha moment where a light bulb just came on and you said, “Wow! This is actually a viable idea. It’s going to resonate with my clients. It’s going to resonate with people. I’m excited about it. Let’s go forward in this direction”?
Tim Conley: I knew this question was coming and I just started thinking back to the past, and no, I never had a big aha moment. My whole life has been one of continual progression. Like I do something, I try it, I test it, I see what happens, and then I keep moving, and with that just being with little moments of like smaller ahas, smaller epiphanies that come along and say, “Okay. I tried this, and it didn’t work the way I thought it was going to work, or it worked better than I thought it was going to work.”
So then, I would take that small moment, and then turn it into something new. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but there was never like, oh, this is something awarded on high to me kind of thing. That never happened. It was more that I had this burning desire to succeed, and then life just doesn’t hand you success. Then along that way, you just keep testing and keep pushing things out into the marketplace, trying to find that spot for you.
So I had little ahas along the way like, “Oh, that works perfectly! I’ll do more of that” or “Oh, that doesn’t work at all. I won’t do that anymore.” Those kind of things happened over time, but never a big aha for me.
John Dumas: Did you have a moment where you were able to look in the mirror and say, “Alright. I’ve made it. I am a success as I would define it”?
Tim Conley: [Laughs] Never! Never. I think this is kind of a secret of a lot of entrepreneurs that I’ve met, and it’s not just me. I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs like this. That we see the world and we think we can change it. We look around us and we’re like, “This isn’t what I want in life. I think I can make something better here,” and we do it. Once we’ve done it, we look around the world and go, “I think there’s something else I should be doing.” Never a moment of being content with, “Yes, I did this.”
I haven’t met too many people that that moment, if they had it, it didn’t last long because there’s a certain drive that we have that keeps us discontent and keeps us moving forward. So I would love to feel that feeling, but I know that as soon as I felt that feeling, I probably would just be like, “Okay. Now on to the next thing.”
John Dumas: Tim, that truly is a consistent theme with the entrepreneurs that I speak to on a daily basis. Entrepreneurs are constantly looking to improve themselves, to improve their business. And you’re right. Once they do get to that level that they had set a goal for, that goal is already bumped up to the next level. So they’re just continuing to strive forward and make the world a better place and improve everything around them. So I definitely hear where you’re coming from, and I can concur that a lot of people feel that way.
Let’s move into the next topic, which is your current business, Foolish Adventure, as it stands today. What is one thing that’s really exciting you about your business?
Tim Conley: The one thing that really excites me about my business is I have kind of turned what I did as a consultant – like one-on-one consulting with companies – and I have turned it into more of a one-to-many type of consulting. I’m able to essentially log many years of knowledge and experience and get it out to more and more people that can take that knowledge and implement it in their own lives. I find that just extremely exciting, and fulfilling too.
John Dumas: Let’s take away the mystery of what an entrepreneur is to some level. What are two tasks that occupy a majority of your day? What do you do?
Tim Conley: Besides worry… [Laughs]
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Tim Conley: Like is this going to be good enough? What should I do here? Like all those decisions that fall under the uncertainty. There’s so much ambiguity in being an entrepreneur. So that’s something that you just make these decisions moving forward, and you just hope they are the right ones.
So the things that they up a lot of my time is content creation, because trying to figure out like the way to explain an idea so that people can actually implement it in their business – because there’s so many businesses basically the same that are all across the board. Even though everyone says my business if different, they’re all basically the same. But the way you implement things varies almost to the person because somebody may be at a different than someone else. Certain things can’t be accomplished yet because you don’t have enough skills or you don’t have the right resources in place to make use of an idea.
So trying to figure out how to get across certain business ideas. Entrepreneurial training that people can implement and actually use in a real business. That’s really tricky, and I spend a lot of time doing that.
Then the other, I’m actually just spending it communicating with members and listeners. If my members ask questions about their businesses, I spend time with them doing that. Then I spend a lot of time just answering emails and Twitter and stuff like that for listeners who want to ask me questions.
John Dumas: What are a couple of things that you have as a vision for the future of Foolish Adventure?
Tim Conley: I want to make Foolish Adventure more – it’s actually more like Foolish LLC is the company, but Foolish as more of a media and educational company where we focus on entrepreneurship skills, entrepreneurial skills at teaching things like how to use lean startup in an online-based business, an Internet-based business.
I see that as a way of replacing entrepreneurial education out there that you could get at like a university or something that’s very high priced and doesn’t actually give you the hands-on skills set, the hands-on training necessary to accomplish a business. That’s where I see it going.
John Dumas: Well, that’s exciting. I’m anxiously waiting to see how that progresses. Let’s take a second now and talk about the Summer Mashup. It’s something that I’ve really taken an interest in. It’s Jason Van Orden, Dan Andrews, Pat Flynn, yourself. You guys all get together on one podcast and you talk about extremely relevant topics. I’ve been a huge fan of it. Why don’t you give my listeners a little background behind that and kind of whet their appetite?
Tim Conley: Okay. I think this is an idea that a lot of podcasters have had. “Hey, let’s get a bunch of us together and just talk.” I know when I had a former cohost, Izzy, on, we talked about this over a year ago. Like, “Hey, let’s put together a panel of people and we’ll do a series on stuff,” and it never happened. It’s like, “Oh, great idea!” and then get too busy running a business.
Then along comes Jason and Jeremy from Internet Business Mastery, and they emailed out to Pat Flynn and Ian and from Lifestyle Business Podcast and myself, and said, “Hey, let’s do this summer marketing mashup. Just four episodes, and we’ll put one on each of our shows through the course of a month. We’ll do it live and we’ll have people send in questions to figure out like what topics that they really want to cover, and then we’ll just give our best tips for those main topics that people wanted to know about, and then we’ll open it up for questions.”
We’re all for that because we all do it anyway. We all give as much of our knowledge as we possibly can when we’re doing our shows, and even when writing blog posts or any kind of interaction. We all do it. Every one of these shows does that. So it was just one more opportunity to give to the world.
John Dumas: Well, on behalf of Fire Nation, thank you.
Tim Conley: Yes. I found it really interesting, both from a technical standpoint of trying to actually accomplish, but just being able to answer people’s questions in a live format is great. Being able to have a variety of entrepreneurs with varying experiences – Pat Flynn with his affiliate marketing that he does with Smart Passive Income, Internet Business Mastery guys with their years of podcasting experience, and Dan and Ian with their physical product businesses, and me with my business consulting background – putting those four into essentially a virtual room, talking about how to do an Internet-based business, I thought was a very interesting concept and I liked how it turned out.
John Dumas: Now we’re entering my favorite part of the show, which is called the Lightning Round. This is where I’m going to provide you with a series of questions, and you’re going to provide us, the listeners, with a series of amazing and mind-blowing answers.
Tim Conley: [Laughs]
John Dumas: Does that sound like a plan?
Tim Conley: As long as they don’t have to be amazing and mind-blowing, then I think I can accomplish it.
John Dumas: That’s the goal. So let’s take about 60 seconds for each one of these questions. The first one being, what was the number one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Tim Conley: Me. That was the number one thing that held me back, and I think it’s the number one thing that holds anyone back from anything, is that they don’t believe that they can do it. For years, I had a low self-esteem. Yes, people thought I was very confident and everything, but on the inside, such negative talk like, “Oh, you’ll never be good enough. This thing’s not good enough. That’s not good enough. You’ll never succeed at this,” that kind of negative talk was very detrimental. It kept me from accomplishing the things that I really wanted to accomplish. It kept me from doing the things that I loved to do. Me. It prevented me from being what I wanted to be.
So I learned how to, when I would find that I was having this negative conversation in my head, to turn it into a positive conversation to actually start talking about the things that I could do, the things that I had the skills for, or saying, “Well, if you could do this, how would you do it? Well, I would need to go learn this. Well, okay. Go learn that,” and I reframed what would happen.
This hasn’t gone away in my life. I still have those kind of negative thoughts that try to hold me back, but I don’t let them hold me back.
John Dumas: What is the best business advice you ever received?
Tim Conley: I think it was learn to sell. That was the number one piece of advice that I got a long time ago that really, really changed, because like I said earlier, I didn’t know how to get customers. So learning how to sell. When I told a mentor – I said, “Hey, I couldn’t get customers for this thing,” and he said, “Well then learn how to sell.” And I did. I went out and I learned how to sell. That’s changed how I do everything.
John Dumas: What’s something that’s been working for you or your business right now?
Tim Conley: Podcasting.
John Dumas: I like that answer.
Tim Conley: Yes, yes. Podcasting has been – I didn’t want to do it. I literally did not want to become a podcaster. I’ve always been behind the scenes. I’ve been a marketing guy for other people’s companies. Then I got asked by my friend, Izzy, to create the podcast and we named it “Foolish Adventure.”
I wasn’t comfortable being an on-air guy, but over time I got comfortable with it because I saw just how much impact it really had and the ability to connect with so many people. Not just potential customers, but also people that are now my friends. Like Dan and Ian from the Lifestyle Business Podcast. I flew out to the Philippines to hang out with them for three weeks because we’re friends now. It’s not just a business thing. It became much more than that.
John Dumas: What is the best business book that you’ve read in the last six months?
Tim Conley: In the last six months? Whew! I read almost a book a week, so it’s kind of tricky. I would say “Built to Sell” by John Warrillow. It’s a fast read. It’s really short. It’s kind of a – what’s the word? It’s a parable kind of story. Like it tells you a story about this guy going through this process of building a company that he hates, and turning it into one that he can sell. That was a great book.
John Dumas: Well, EntrepreneurOnFire is all about the story. It’s all about the journey. So that’s a good book to bring up. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
Tim Conley: Yes, yes. I liked it because of the fact that it has some real concrete things that people should be implementing in every single business that they create.
John Dumas: So this is the last question, Tim. It’s my favorite, but it’s kind of a tricky one. So you can take your time, kind of let it digest, and come back with an answer that just feels right.
If you woke up tomorrow morning and you still had all your experience and knowledge that you currently have, but your business completely disappears and you had this clean slate. Many of our entrepreneurs find themselves in this situation so this answer will be very powerful. What would you do in the next seven days?
Tim Conley: Okay. So if I have cash, that gives me the opportunity to do lots of things. There’s so much you can do when you have capital or access to capital. It doesn’t have to be your money. You just have to have access to it.
Let’s see. So I’ve got money. The first thing I’d probably do is go out and buy a website that already has cash flow. Then for other people, if you’ve got other skills sets – which I have both, online and offline, because I’ve owned both types of businesses – I would buy a business that’s throwing off cash. That would be the first thing I did. I would find one that has a good solid cash flow and buy it.
If I didn’t have any money – and that happens for a lot of people, and probably a lot of people listening. Like I don’t have access to any money. What do I do? One, I would figure out what kind of skills I had that I could sell to other people. That would be the very first thing I did because I need to earn money. I need to bring in cash so I have capital to use and implement on other things.
So I would figure out what skills I had that I could sell. If I didn’t have any good skills, I’d cram knowledge into my head as fast as I could. Either learn to program a basic web app or I’d figure out how to make a website, I’d learn about SEO. Something that I could turn around that I could sell at a high ticket level. So like something I can sell for $50.00 an hour to $100.00 an hour so I’d have enough cash flow to be able to do what I truly wanted to do.
John Dumas: Very specific. Thank you for that.
Thank you for joining us today, Tim. You’ve given us some great actionable advice, and we are all better for it. Let’s just finish off here with you giving one last piece of advice to Fire Nation, and then end with a plug.
Tim Conley: Last bit of advice is don’t give up. Actually, the better piece of advice is be unwilling to quit. That advice, it was a phrase that I heard from a friend. When I heard that – be unwilling to quit – he didn’t realize what he was saying at the time, and I just glommed on to it.
That is what success is. Success is being unwilling to quit when life throws you everything it has to throw at you. When things are looking its bleakest. When you’re giving up your dream, giving up your dream home and moving into a little tiny apartment. That’s being unwilling to quit. Be unwilling to quit on your life. Be unwilling to quit on your dreams.
John Dumas: Tim, that was amazing, and I look forward to following your Foolish Adventure. We will catch you on the flipside.