It's 2007 and for the last several years, you've been making your way in the world as a financial advisor when one day you walk in and you were told you're no longer needed. Brad, taking rejection isn't fun. I'm curious, what did you do next and how did you grapple with this rejection?
That was an interesting moment in my life. I was very fortunate of a couple of coincidences that had happened in a couple of books that I had read. I had been in the financial services industry for years. I was in my early 30s, and that was all I knew. This was 2007 right before the big recession and they told me, “You're out.” I had a choice. I could either get my resume together. I didn't even know if I wanted to stay in that business. I was bored of it. I've always had this entrepreneurial drive and the idea of going out and asking somebody to bless me as worthy of a paycheck literally made me nauseous. I felt like I shouldn't have to go around and ask people, “Do you like me? Do want to give me a paycheck?” Luckily, I got a little severance and it wasn't huge, but it was enough to pay some bills for a few months.
I’ve read a book that a lot of entrepreneurs credited for getting them started, The 4-Hour Workweek
by Tim Ferriss.
I never got inspired by the concept of working four hours a week or making millions of dollars or having all the results of that. It just turned me on to the idea that I can take an idea or a concept that I've got and utilizing both a global workforce that we can outsource to, as well as selling information, validating things and creating your own future. Learning that sounded way better than going to try to find somebody to bless me as worthy of a paycheck for a job I would probably hate. I decided to double down and go, “I'm going to learn this hell or high water and figure it out.” I dove right into it.
Luckily, I had somewhere to go to. It was a big unknown. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how I’ll figure this out. I'm not an expert in anything. I didn't think. I proceeded to learn everything I could about marketing because my background was in sales. I had zero marketing skills, but I knew how to sell. I decided I'm going to figure out a business to sell that's all online that I can work from home and write my own future. I figured the worst thing that would happen is I would come out of there with more skills than I had, even if I didn't achieve a four-hour work week or if I didn't achieve seven figures in income. I did it. I generated a lot of skills, generated a lot of money and I've never looked back.
I had that same cognition when it came to marketing. I'm like, “I'm going to embark on this.” I joined a company, I'm like, “I'm here to learn marketing because no matter what I do in life, if I know how to put words on paper and a mic or whatever the media is, I can be a nonprofit guy. I could be a business guy. I could be whatever.” I had that same thing. Do you ever think back if you hadn't been let go, how your life might be different? Do you eventually arrive where you're at now because you have that spark inside and it takes you longer? Do you think maybe you're winning in the corporate world?
I've always had that entrepreneurial spark always. That’s also why I was driven to a sales career early on because sales is very entrepreneurial. Back in 2003, I still had that job but I was always itching for my own thing. I googled how to invest in real estate. I bought a course online. I was halfway through it, I stumbled across three houses in foreclosure. I bought them all three on the same day. I’m still only halfway through the course going, “What do I do now?” I've always been the quick start, jump in, hope the net appears. It ended up working out well, but then when I tried to repeat that success and find more houses to flip, sending out mail and doing all this other marketing related materials, I didn't know what I was doing.
I was stumbling around and I had that beginner's luck. They fell into my lap. I closed them and I had success, but I don't know how to repeat this. I was very cognizant that I had no marketing skills. That was something I wanted to develop. It's a lot easier for marketing. The goal is to bring people to you so that you can then sell them. I could sell, but I just didn't know how to bring people to me. Back to your original question on what would have happened. I was very comfortable. I was making about $110,000 a year in this job. It wasn't even as a financial advisor at this point. It was more as a consultant to other advisors internally. I was an internal consultant at Prudential Investments.
It was a very cushy and easy job. I had those golden handcuffs that if I quit, I'm walking away from an easy $110,000 for a big unknown. I probably wouldn't have done it. This is mama bird kicking me out of the nest. That was the universe's way of saying, “I'm going to make it so you have to go your own way.” I probably would have just stayed in it because there was no pain. A lot of times in order to make big changes, we need to have that pain underneath us. We all move away from pain faster and with more vigor than we move towards pleasure. I didn't have any pain so I wasn't going to move away from it. Luckily, they kicked me out of the company and the pain now that I faced was the idea of schlepping around with a resume. I was like, “I'm not willing to do that.” I've always ran from what I don't like, fear as opposed to being pulled towards ideas of grandeur.
Before we get into the marketing, the ideation and your whole bag of tricks, I found that you did some commercial real estate consulting around this time. What's that story?
That was another side hustle that I had done when I was doing financial consulting. In the back of a biz-op magazine. I found an ad and it said, “Be a commercial property consultant. No experience necessary.” I was like, “I'm going to see what they're doing.” There's a service called cost-segregation, which is a way for commercial real estate owners to accelerate the depreciation on their commercial building and save a bunch of money. It was relatively new because of some tax law changes. They said, “We'll teach you how to sell this and all you have to do is go generate business. We have the base fee and then mark it up.” It's new, it's hot and a lot of people are out there selling it. It's like the Wild West. It was a $7,500 investment to basically take the training. I got out there and doing biz-dev. I was doing relationships with CPAs and people who work with commercial real estate owners and then sending letters and trying to get my foot in the door and networking with commercial real estate owners. I made an extra $100,000 on top of that year, so that helped doing that. Once more, I was good at sales and biz-dev, but I wasn't marketing anything. I developed that. I developed some good relationships, but I could have done a lot better if I knew anything about marketing.
That's pretty interesting. Something that is somewhat regulated, somewhat sophisticated. I think biz-op in the back of a biz-op magazine. I think of the button ad or go by the inch. I don't think of like, “You can get into commercial real estate as a consultant.”
All I had to do was open the doors and pitch. My mom always said, “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS.” I got in there, I knew enough to tell them what it was all about and get them to say, “We would like a feasibility study.” I would get all the information and send it to the engineering firm who did them. I present it and get on a phone call with the head of the company. They would end up closing the deal. I had one they told me it was going to cost $10,000 and I was able to get $25,000 out of the client. It was the Wild West as far as pricing goes. That was fun but it could have been a lot easier had I knew how to get people want to come to me.
I'm curious to know your difference here when it comes to sales versus business, especially for maybe some of the younger people that are getting into this world of sells and they see themselves as a salesperson. What's the difference between being a superstar salesperson versus being great at biz-dev?
The salesperson is when it's one-on-one. I'm sitting across the table from you. I’m trying to build a rapport with you and get you to take action on an offer. In biz-dev, it's a much wider process. Biz-dev is the art of knowing which companies or targets to approach, filtering them out, understanding your criteria, finding the your way in, whether it's at a company or an individual, and getting the opportunity to make the sale. Biz-dev is what happens up until the point that you make the sale. The sale is what happens when you're one-on-one with the person.
What are some examples of creative biz-dev deals that you have done?
Back when I was doing the cost-segregation stuff, I did meetups with other CPAs to do educational materials around cost-segregation and what it was. I would invite CPAs to lunch and learns. They could potentially qualify for extra continuing ed, even though I wasn't leading it. I got the engineer to come in and do these with me. To me, that was biz-dev. I'm going to find the gatekeepers to the actual clients. They're the ones who will help make the decision, but how can I get access and then influence?
Those two words, access and influence have been pivotal in my life. They're critical for biz-dev. On the surface, access and influence sound obvious. Access means who you know, but it also means can you access something versus own it? I don't have to know everything if I can access people who do. I don't have to have money if I can find a way to access it. I don't have to have the clients if I can access the people who do. Access is only one hinge. The other hinge that opens the door of opportunity is influence. There is mass influence and there's interpersonal influence. You have influence over the thousands of audience who follows WealthFit.
I hopefully have influenced the thousands of listeners who listen to my podcast. That's done from marketing, branding and positioning. I took and I build that influence, but then there's interpersonal influence. Does a person know, like, and trust you? Do you seem like a competent solution to them? You have natural influence over your children, but there's the manufactured influence that you have over your employees or subordinates. I think deeply about those two words. How can I get access to what I want and how can I influence those people to work with me? Sometimes that is as easy as do they know, like, and trust me? In other ways, it’s how do I help them get what they want in a way that creates a reciprocal relationship so that they will help me?
In this case, these CPAs wanted more education on this because they knew that it would help them be more competitive with their clients. This is the positioning I said, “If you're not offering this to your clients,” and another CPA knocks on their door and ask them, “Have you done a cost-segregation study?” They come back to you and say, “Why didn't you do this?” I injected fear into them. If you come to me, I'll help you get what you want, which is better positioning and protection with your clients. That's one of the ways I influenced them. I got access to them by using two CPAs that I knew and told them to invite some of their other CPA friends and some of their CPA networking groups that they do.
I only had to contact two people and I got a room full of ten. That was one of the early ways of doing biz-dev. One of the other ways I've done it is I utilize my podcast for very selfish reasons. One of them is to learn things I want to learn. Get access to influential knowledge. The other thing is I've used it as biz-dev for people that I wish to potentially work with as clients. I might not work with them as clients, but I've accessed them on my podcast. I showcase what they're doing. I make them feel good and I do this authentically. I always ask a question at the very end, “What's the nut you're trying to crack?” That is me trying to discover ways that I can add value.
That doesn't mean I'm going to make them an offer. 99% of my guests I've never worked with. When I pay attention to ways that I can solve some problems they have, and then I follow up with them and say, “I've got an idea for you. This may or may not work, but if you'd like to talk about it, here's what's up.” One of those landed me a client who's a billionaire and paid me well over $250,000 over the first year that we worked together. One of them landed me a three-year client, that's paid me even more than that. There's been a multitude of opportunities that I've developed by accessing and influencing people with my platform. Those are a couple of different ways, like old school biz-dev and then the new school, which I've done. I've got a client that I'm teaching him to go from a hospitality expert employee to a high-paid hospitality consultant and repositioning him.
One of the strategies we're going to be doing is launching a hospitality-related podcast where he's going to feature amazing hospitality heroes, which may be the name of it. He's going to shine the light on them. He's also going to ask them about some of the culture, operational hospitality challenges they face because nobody's got it all figured out. He's going to be starting to build up a roster of people that he's featured, flattered and then utilize that to a side door into, “I've got an idea, we might be able to work together.” That's a new media style biz-dev.
It’s hard to ask this question, will this work in all industries? This is a pretty universal strategy because it taps into ego. Getting guests, people that have a story to share. The podcast is a way for the biz-dev guy or the entrepreneur or whoever to do that.
There's another secret that only podcasters know and when we realize it, we realize it's a secret weapon. I do not know how many subscribers or downloads WealthFit has. You don't know how many subscribers download Bacon Wrapped Business has. No matter how much you search, unless I'm in the top of rankings, you don't know. It could be five or 50,000 per month. It's not like if you go to somebody's YouTube channel and they got six views. It's not public. It gives us the ability to position ourselves in a way that people don't know how big or small we are.
I have an entire process I've laid out for this that I've trained some clients on. I call it lipstick on a podcast. We’ve heard lipstick on a pig. Lipstick on a podcast means you can use this as a door opener. This is one of those secrets I hate to give away for free because people pay me a lot of money for this. It's one of those things and it's not dishonest. I've been doing my show for five years and never once have I been asked by a guest, he might be a billionaire a guest, “How many downloads do you get?” They're not judging me based on how big it is on whether or not they should come on. When I realized that, I was like, “This can open a lot of doors.”
I'll give you another example. I had a client who is a leadership consultant for engineering and technical firms. She came to me from watching one of my YouTube videos and saying, “I'm breaking out on my own as an independent consultant for technical leaders. How do I get clients?” I was like, “There's a lot of ways. This is not my specialty, but I can think of a couple of highly leveraged ways on how do you get access and influence.” I said, “You're going to start a podcast.” This is years ago and I can't remember exactly what it's called, but it was like Technical Leadership Insights or something of that nature. I go, “The first thing you're going to do is record about twenty episodes, five, ten, or fifteen-minute. It doesn't matter. It’s just you talking and giving out your advice. Maybe you're going to go to some previous clients and you're going to do five client interviews. You're going to seed the podcast with content. You're going to get every family member and friend to review it.”
The nice part about that lipstick is that it looks like a good podcast. It doesn't matter if one person's listening or a thousand because you're going to go out and reach out to people and simply say, “I'm a fan of your company. I've been watching what you do. My name is Brad Costanzo from Technical Leadership Insights. I'd love to feature you and what you're doing and some of the challenges that you faced on your way up the ladder as the chief technical officer for this oil company. Because I think other people in the industry would like to hear it.” There's a flattery aspect. They don't necessarily get to hear that or nobody asks them for interviews.
The chances are they'll say yes. I let them know that the other people in the industry are listening because that may create a career opportunity for them. I told her, “As you're interviewing them, talk about their wins and then talk about their challenges. As they talk about their challenges, take note. That's a sales discovery process. At the end of that call, what you're going to do is you're going to follow up with them and you're going to just drop up, “I've got an idea that may help you out on that one little issue you are talking about. Can I take you out to lunch? Can we jump on another call at some point?” Everybody loves ideas. She started to do this and had tremendous results.
As a result, you can take this another step further. This is one of the things we'll be doing with this hospitality podcast. Let's say you've got 50 different restaurant tours, hoteliers and people in the hospitality industry. You feature them and you're asking these good questions. You can go to some of the biggest industry association and publications and say, “I've got all this great content. You guys obviously need content. Can we share this? I'll transcribe it. I'll write these as articles. I'll even let you be the exclusive of other place to feature this.” When he goes to these restaurant tours or people, he can say, “My name is X from this Hospitality Experts podcast. I also write for these two industry publications that are well respected. I'd love to feature you.” That's a way to develop access and influence with people that you want to develop business with and relationships.
I'm also hearing leverage. I'm excited for this because it's your way of thinking. That's why people seek you out. I'm very curious, you work with a lot of clients and you mentioned some of them, which I hope to talk about. You work with billionaires, with athletes, and with everyday entrepreneurs. What do you see as the biggest opportunities where entrepreneurs can leverage or set a different way? What activities could we be leveraging more in our businesses?
Going back to those two words that I said, which I think the foundation of all of my success is access and influence. Understanding how do I access what I need, because everybody needs something. I always ask, “What do I need? Who else has what I need? Who else needs what I have?” Thinking in a strategic way especially in business because it's not easy, but it's simple. You come up with an offer that people want, put it in front of people and make money. There are a lot of moving parts of this. Everything in business that you want to do has been done by somebody else.
You'd have to ask, “What do I need? Do I need knowledge, people, resources or capital?” Ultimately, to answer your question before I dive into the details, the biggest thing that they can do is stop and think a moment. There's a great book, The Road Less Stupid
by Keith Cunningham. One of the biggest synopses of the book is to take time to think. Think differently. Think about things from different angles that you might not be seen. Look at it into different lens, walk around your business. It's so hard to do because we're so in the business. A fish doesn't know what the ocean looks like because every once in a while, they pop their head above the water and they see it but they don't get the same view like a bird does.
Taking time to think and get a new perspective on this and ask yourself, “Am I solving the right problems? Am I solving the wrong problems?” Tim Ferriss is the first person I heard say this and I love this question, “What would this look like if it were easy?” There's another question that comes from the world of innovation and design thinking which is, "How might we?” Whenever I'm working with clients during strategic sessions or ideation intensives, one of the things we start off with is how might we? Because if I were to say, “Dustin, how could we or how do we make WeathFit the number one podcast on all of iTunes beating Joe Rogan and everybody. How do we do that?” That's a big question. If I said, “How might we do that?” I don't know if you feel a small interjects shift because what I just said is, "Let's play.”
It was safer for me to give you an answer.
We might do this. You can think of a lot of different ways that we might do it without committing to having to do it. That "How might we” question is oftentimes done in product design and innovation thinking because they're trying to think way out of the box. One of the best ways to do that is to say, “Throw the box away and how might we do this?” That ties into one of these cognitive keys. For me, a cognitive key is either a mental model, a rule of thumb, a lateral lens, a way of looking at something. Sometimes it's a general principle like Ray Dalio wrote the book, Principles
, outlining the things he uses time and again. For me, a cognitive key is a process that I learned that Walt Disney did when he was building up his empire. This plays into the “how might we” but it takes it further. Walt realized that whenever we're planning a business idea there are always three voices in our own head, but also within your department if you've got employees or business partners, etc. There's the dreamer, there's the doer, the person who is planning out the dreams, and there's the critic, the party pooper.
I don't know about you, but I know I'll get an idea oftentimes and I’ll think, “This would be great.” I immediately think how I would do it if I could, but then immediately there's another voice going, “That's not going to make any money. That's stupid. You don't have time for this. That's a dumb idea.” Have you ever taken an idea that you thought it was good to a friend? You're all excited. What is the first reaction they usually have whenever you have this idea? They'll tell you all the reasons why it won't work. I think we're wired to do that because you come to me and it's almost like you're asking me for validation like, “What do you think about this?”
I want to help you not to make a dumb mistake. I'm going to tell you all the reasons that won’t work. That makes you like, “You're no fun.” That oftentimes leads to idea abortion. What Walt figured out way back when he was in the 30s building his empire in the Great Depression. He realized that if we have a separate office where it's the dreamer’s office, there's only one thing that we're going to do in this office. There's only one rule and that is to dream. There are two exceptions, no planning and no critiquing. If we're in this room and I'm like, “What might we create? Let's dream this into reality. Let's make it crazy with no holds barred.”
Once we've got this cool and crazy dream, we're going to go into a totally separate office. A different energetic space and we're going to storyboard it out. We're going to plan it. Given our current resources, what has to happen? How might we make that dream reality? Step one, step two in a linear fashion. There are only two rules here. Don't add any more dreams to the plan and don't critique it. Let's say we've got a department of ten people. We're all going to go on into the next room and we're going to critique it. We're going to do that not to shoot it down, but to find the road bumps and that challenges that would derail the dream and the plan.
Everybody gets to go, “No more dreams here. No more plans. Do we have the budget? Do we have the time? Do we have this? Have you thought about this? Are we going to have to pull resources from one department and put them into another?” It’s like, “I don’t know.” The other thing is don't solve the critiques, just let them flow. What happens psychologically to all of us when we do this is it's cathartic because we get to turn on the fire hose like, “Here's all the critiques.” I didn't have to bottle these up. I get to get them all out and it's cathartic because then we have a process to solve them.
We got these critiques. Maybe they're easy critiques. “How do we do X? Let's take that back into the planner's office” versus “Maybe we go back to in the dreamer's office.” I do this with every single one of my clients. I do this almost every day that I'm doing some stuff. My assistants, employees, etc., I train them because here's the other thing. If everybody on your team knows the dreamer, the doer and the critic, then you can walk over your business partner or employee and go, “Step into the dreamer's office with me, I've got an idea.”
That tells them, “We're going to dream.” It also tells them “We're going to plan and critique this separately.” They let their guard down. They're like, “Permission to dream.” You can say, “I've got this idea and I've got a plan. I need you to step into the critic’s office with me. I'm going to be a critic too. We're going to try to knock this stuff down.” I told you an idea for a new podcast I had. I've been doing this process and I've got a lot of things on the critique side mainly I don't know how it's going to happen. That's a real thing. I have to go solve that. How can I make that make money?
Maybe I’ll get a sponsor before I launch it and do this and this. The point is when your team, when your wife, your family, your friends know this framework too, it allows you to have these cool ideation sessions where they're like, “This is so cool." I love this and this is the stuff that if more individuals, business owners would understand and take this into account, it’s so simple. This isn't rocket science. You make that shift and it can change everything.
This information is going to save marriages. I wish I had access to this in previous ventures. There was always someone on the team that was a Debbie Downer and that was her personality type. There is a place for that. When you're the visionary and you're dreaming, you go and you share it with them and they tell you the umpteen reasons, you don't want to go to them anymore.
What do we do? We were entrepreneurs. We’re a bull in a China shop. We go, “All those critics, I'll figure it out when I'm there.” I talked about idea abortion. There's one where a good idea that's not flushed out well, we just get rid of it before we realize it as possible. The other one is going off enthusiastically in the wrong direction. That I've done before. I think we all have. We're losing something more precious than anything, which is time and energy. The last time I did that, I started years ago. I had an idea to start a private label coffee brand with my wife. It’s her idea. She started thinking about this and we started to think about what would be a differentiator? We don't want to sell coffee beans online. I started thinking through this and we were like, “What if we angled it at a very specific target market like professional-driven women? We will make a woman-oriented coffee brand.” They have crazier ideas out there.
We came up with this name, Stiletto Coffee. I love the name of that. It actually sounds a stiletto macchiato. The branding was amazing and my wife's story was cool. She's Brazilian and they had coffee connections. We had the dream and then we had the plan. I knew how to do that. I know eCommerce. I know private labeling. I got it. We got it set up and the entire time I knew I should focus and talk to some people about understanding the unit economics of a coffee business. How will this make money? What if people don't get on subscription? The gross margin is 50% and it's hard to make money in eComm with just a 2X markup. I ignored it and I was like, “Screw the critic. I want to do this. I'm going to figure it out when I get there.”
A year later we were making sales, but I was going negative and this was a pain in the butt. It was a direct result of not letting the critic lay out all the problems I would have and then having a plan for those because I either would've done it differently or not at all. I lost a good year of my life. I've learned a lot from it. I learned what to do and what not to do. It was a painful lesson, but I took those lessons on to new things. That's a great example of me ignoring the party-pooping critic.
I love these ways of thinking, this flushing out an idea. Are there other frameworks that you have to vet ideas or ways of looking at opportunities and challenges in the business?
I've got about 75 of them. I had a business coach of my own sit down when they told me to figure out why people hire me and it turned out to be like, “That's the way you think.” I was like, “That's cool, but I don't know the way I think.” One day, I started writing down a list of these principles and these things that I've used very successfully throughout my life. Most of them I didn't invent. I'm not claiming originality. I was saying, “I heard this, I learned this, I read this, I did this.” These are things that have been very impactful for me. I won't go down this road because I think everybody knows the 80/20 rule. What's the 20% that will get me 80% of the results? What's the minimally viable way to do this? What’s the theory of constraints? What's the root cause? You might think the problem is I have a lack of sales. That's probably a symptom of other problems. Let's see what are some of the other things that could be causing a lack of sales? Oftentimes, the problem that people try to solve isn't the problem.
That could be a lack of leads. That could be one of the issues. I’ve got no sales because I’ve got no leads.
Maybe you have no leads because you're fishing in the wrong pond or your marketing message is poor. It’s getting to the root cause and that takes thinking. I get clients all the time coming to me, “I want to make more sales.” I'm like, “That might not be your problem. Let's go and unkink the first part of the hose and find out what is the biggest constraint there?” Another one is the idea of being market-driven and not marketing-driven. As a guy who's in many years has been into marketing, I fell in love with tactics and strategies. This is a way to convince people how to buy. When you're market-driven, it means the market is people. All markets are made of people. If you stop falling in love with marketing ideas and strategy, which is hard for me to do because I love that stuff and start falling in love with the market, it changes the experience that the market will have with you. I've been doing a lot of consulting on customer experience and retention consulting. A lot of the stuff I end up getting engaged for is the ideation, brainstorming and planning out the marketing strategy.
How do we generate more leads, sales and profits? When I start to look at some of the big levers, it ends up being customer experience and retention. That's a big profit lever if you can improve that, but it takes stopping what you're doing and go, “How could we be focusing on the customer experience and the market way better? How can we make the market absolutely fall in love with us regardless of all the other stuff?” I think everything else gets a lot easier when you do that. Another one is I love just-in-time learning versus just-in-case learning. I'm a big learner. You're probably the same.
I just dive into stuff like, “I'm interested in this.” I'll go learn something because I think I might use it one day and I feel productive doing that. The problem is you end up knowing a lot and not doing enough. I think the biggest problem I have is I don't do enough with the knowledge I have versus I don't have enough knowledge. I wrote that down as a reminder. “Do I need to know this just in case or do I need to know this just in time?” I get that from lean manufacturing theory. Just-in-time manufacturing, meaning the orders were coming in and manufactured as they come versus have a huge inventory and hope to sell it. I look at that with knowledge. I'm the biggest culprit.
I resonate with these last few things that you shared. I'm a marketing guy and I love the strategies and the tactics, but you're absolutely right. When you focus on the customer, it's much more powerful. It's more long-term thinking.
I am going to create a book. I've thought about creating another podcast about these and do a solocast. I want to work through each one of these myself as my own tool selfishly, but I'll invite some people along the ride.
I like that and then you transcribe that because you're all about leverage. There's your book right there and you're having fun doing the pod. You mentioned some of the people that you worked with and whatever you can share is always appreciated. It's about their businesses. A lot of times we think that we're on an island as entrepreneurs and business owners. We think no one has the same challenges when in fact we all do. It's curious because you've had the opportunity to work with Jesse Itzler. Most people know he’s the founder of Marquis Jet
and sold to Berkshire Hathaway
. You do have a way of thinking. What challenges did he have and what opportunity did you come up and help him with? What was that story?
That was a fun one. This is one of the first times I realized the power of the podcast to get access to influence. I had read his book, Living with a SEAL
. My friend, Ed O’Keefe, was going to interview him on his podcast. He posted it on Facebook and I commented on his post, “I read his book. I loved it. I would love to have him on my show too.” That's all I said. Jesse saw that because Ed had tagged him and he goes, “Yeah, Brad, let's do it.” He didn't even ask me, “What's the name of your show?” Jesse is like that. He's an awesome guy. I had him on the show. I interviewed him at a wink rate with all my guests in relationships. Relationships are a superpower of mine. I follow up and I actually care.
I just paid attention to ways to potentially generate value for him. One of those ways, I knew he was speaking because his book is a bestseller, he’s on a big book tour. I got him a speaking gig at Ryan Moran's Freedom Fast Lane
. I went down there to meet him in person. I like Ryan, but the only reason I went there was Jesse's going to be there and I want to actually press the flesh. I sat there, we talked a little bit and I remember him also taking two pages of notes while Mike Dillard was talking about how to sell from webinars. We're in the back of the room. My reaction was like, “You took two pages of notes on how to sell from webinars.”
I was like, “What's your angle? What are you doing? You don’t need to do that.” He goes, “Do you know about this stuff?” I was like, “Yes, this is my world.” He goes, “I've got some ideas. I'll hit you up. I'll share some ideas with you.” That's not how I got the client. Two days later, Jesse posted on social media the 2017 of Everything challenge. It was a fitness challenge with five bodyweight exercises. He posted it on Instagram and Facebook. He said, “In the month of January, do 2,017 reps of each five of these. It's going to be hard every single day. If you do it on the honor system, email me here. I'll donate $100 in everybody's name up to $10,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation
I can’t remember if I email, text or message him on Facebook. I was like, “Jesse, this is amazing. It's blowing up. You need a Facebook group for this.” I was adding value. He's like, “I don't understand how that works.” I was like, “Give me a second.” I set up a Facebook group, 2017 of Everything. I made him an admin and I was an admin. I said, "Make this post again, only change a link and say, 'Join my Facebook group to join along. Anybody who's interested, do this.’” Within a couple of weeks, 3,000 to 4,000 are in there. He was like, “This is super cool.” I'm adding value and expecting absolutely nothing. I liked Jesse. I loved who he was and what he was about and I just wanted to add value.
He saw the value and he asked me, “Brad, what is your business? How do you work? This is cool. I've got some ideas. Maybe we can help grow this.” He flew me to Atlanta. We did an ideation session. The problem he had is because of the success of his book and his bigger than life personality and everything else, he was starting to get a lot of attention. I was like, “Do you have an email list?” He goes, “My assistant keeps a list of everybody who emailed me in Excel.” I was like, “Let me set that up for you.” I didn't charge him anything for this because I wanted to add value to somebody that I admired. It got to the point where he said, “You obviously know what you're talking about. I want to build out my personal brand. I want to be able to reach people and impact them. I love the public speaking. I don't need to do it, but I love it. I’ve got a lot of stuff to share. Can you help me navigate this world of being an influencer?” I said, “Yes.”
We worked together to help understand what his message was to the right people, increasing his branding exposure. We did two live events, a very high-end one at his house in Connecticut. We did a bigger one at the Spanx Headquarters with his wife, Sara Blakely
. We started to map out what a coaching program would look like, his overall IP, his message and helping to massage that to where he can make a bigger impact on the world. That's my relationship with Jesse. We did some great stuff together, but it wasn't rocket science. I found a way, I got access and I added value without expecting anything. He asked me, “How can I put money in your pocket? How do we do this? How do I get more of your time?”
I did the same thing with Frank Shamrock
. He’s a five times UFC Champion. Jesse knew him. Jesse asked him to speak at both of his events. Frank and I hit it off. He saw what I was doing with Jesse and he said, “Maybe you can help me. I'd like to be more of a speaker and do this stuff as well.” It’s like a chain reaction. One thing led to another. I try to lead with true value and if I can help, cool. If I can't, I can point you in the right direction. Those are some of the ways that I've worked with some of these bigger guests and help them out.
You said a key thing, which is relationships. I love relationships, but I feel like there are many challenges I'm facing with relationships. Take an example, the Get WealthFit Show. We do two a week and I would love to stay in contact with all of them on a personal level. In the following year that’s going to double, plus we have trainers, we go to conferences. How do you juggle these relationships in a meaningful way?
I've thought about I should systematize this. I'm not a systems guy but I need to do it. What I ended up doing is staying connected with the people that I have the most rapport with. I've got a lot of guests I don't follow up with. I'll comment on social media. Commenting on people's social media posts is one of the easiest ways to stay visible there. It's the easiest thing to do. One of my very best friends who passed away is a guy named Sean Stephenson. He’s three feet tall in a wheelchair and one of the best speakers ever, a huge impactful guy. When we first started meeting, he put me in what he called his advocate circle. This was the most systematic process I've seen for impactful relationships. We've all got these concentric circles. In your closest circle is your family and then your best friends. There are your business super close friends, but then there's one concentric circle outside of that. Those are the people who you're trying to develop. That's the farm team to make your advocates. These advocates are the ones that you can count on for anything. You can call them up in the middle of the night if you need something.
If you need something, they're going to do it. They're going to help you out without asking for anything in return. They want you to succeed. How do you develop that? What he did is he took 21 people. They're not quite advocates yet, but they're more than just acquaintances. He would send a signed handwritten letter once a quarter and say, “Here's what's going on in my life. Here's what I'm excited about and I'd love to know a few more things about you. I would love to know what's your favorite restaurant. What's your favorite charity? What's your favorite movie? What's your birthday?” He says, “I'm doing this because I want to keep more contact with you because I love what you're putting out in the world.” He would put this in a package and he would include a gift. Sometimes it was a book.
To me, he sent one of those staples easy button you hit. You hit it and you’re like, “That’s BS.” He put a little Post-it note on this and he goes, “Give this to your wife. I have a feeling she'll need to hit it around you.” As a guy thing, that's like guys bonding over busting each other's balls. I laughed. I gave that thing to my wife like, “That’s BS.” He included something else. Once a quarter he would send a letter with a little package, maybe a book that he liked, to 21 people. Because he asked for your favorite restaurant and other stuff, he would sometimes send you a $25, $50 gift certificate to your favorite restaurant. He's trying to turn people who are acquaintances into advocates. Once you were an advocate, he'd stop doing that because you understood. He would also tell you what he was doing and why he was doing it.
The fact that he told me, “I want you to be my advocate. Once a quarter, I send this to 21 people who I want to develop a bigger relationship with.” That's all he ever had to say. Do you want to develop a deeper relationship with me? That's amazing. Now I'm your advocate. It’s a magical thing. You didn't have to keep it up. That's the most gangster level stuff. I know there are personal relationship management things like you can just say, “Make sure you're contacting these people every once in a while.” I wish I would've done this in the early days. I never did. I thought about creating a Facebook group only for past guests of the show. I don't know if everybody would want it, but I could make it optional to say the only way to get in here is having been a past guest. It's like an exclusive country club because you know that it's not just Johnny Q. Public and might not have anything of value everybody in here. I thought about doing that. It seemed like more work than I wanted to do, but that was an idea. My critic got in the way, “You got to keep up with that.”
What immediately occurred for me on that group was if I want to get podcast guests, I would go in that group. I know you bring some heavy hitters to the show, so that would be there too. It’s just I’m not great at Facebook groups.
That’s the same thing. I see the value of it. The other problem is I do believe the higher level you are, the less you want to be interacting in a group.
It's tricky. I sign up for all of them. I have good intentions like I want to be a part of this community, and then I'm overwhelmed by all the red pingy things. In your quest to become the Bacon King of the internet, you launched this show called Bacon Wrapped Business. I did get a chance to hear the story and I think it's clever. Will you share the story and then what has it done for you?
I've already given you some of the amazing benefits that have done for me from the relationships I've gotten. The catalyst for this, a friend of mine had a podcast and he was always saying, “You should do a podcast too. It'd be cool.” I was like, “I think it'd be fun, but I want to do the Brad Costanzo Show.” That was in the back of my mind. One day he said, “Will you share this on social?” I was like, “Yes, sure.” I was like, “Check out this episode by my friend.” I’m like, “That's some Bacon Wrapped Business advice that I've ever heard.”
I looked at that and I loved the alliteration. I just remember thinking, “If I ever do a podcast, maybe I would call it Bacon Wrapped Business with Brad Costanzo.” That alliteration sounded fun. Unlike if I were to have the Brad Costanzo Show, at that time, nobody knew who I was. I was always working behind the scenes. I didn't want to do the Brad Show. That would maybe give me the excuse to even inject a little bit of levity in it and lightness. About a month later, my friend, Nick Unsworth, who you know, he interviewed me on his show, Life on Fire
. This is live and you can see where it happened. I told him this story. He's like, “Do you ever going to start a podcast?”
I said, “I came up with the name Bacon Wrapped Business.” He's like, “I love it. Let's go live.” We did this live and on the show he's like, “You've got a podcast, Bacon Wrapped Business” I was like, “Yes.” He's like, “Tell me about it. Where can people subscribe?” I started going with it. I was like, “BaconWrappedBusiness.com
.” I didn't own the URL yet. I’ve never even search if it was available. I've been on shows where it's like 60 days out before the show go live. At the end of the interview I was like, “How soon do I have to figure out how to launch a podcast?” He’s like, “Ten days.” I was like, “Really? Game on. I’ve got to do it now.” That's a public commitment.
I did three or five quick episodes. The very first episode I ever did was called Dream-Mapping the Disney Way
. It was what I talked about. It was that important to my success that it was the first episode of my podcast. I did several others and I was super uncomfortable. I did into Audacity. I didn't know what I was doing. Fiverr created a show graphic and it was launched. The subtitle was, “Sizzling Hot Business Advice Guaranteed to Make You Profits.” I love talking to people and these are the conversations I would want to have with people anyway. I ignore my audience. I would have these conversations no matter what. If people want to eavesdrop, cool but I'm going to get some good actionable information out of people I care about. You can't buy your way onto my show.
These are only people that are doing something cool in the world. I either want to know you or know about what you're doing because I either want to apply it in my own business or in a client's business, so it's very selfish. I'm not featuring people to just have content out there. I’ve got other things to do. The best thing for me is I've gotten some of the most amazing, insightful, actionable strategies like coaching. I've gotten amazing relationship, amazing friends, clients and opportunities that I never would have gotten had I not done this.
There's nothing like being on the spot. Is that your style?
100%. I don't script anything. I hate scripting. I hate putting together presentations. I love giving speeches impromptu with no prep. You said that you watched the speech that I did at Nick's. The speech is 30 minutes. I prep twenty minutes in the green room going, “What am I going to talk about?” I wrote it on a little hotel note. I usually talk to entrepreneurs and business owners, so these were very beginners. I was like, “What would I want to learn in their situation?” I got up there and I wasn't nervous. I would have been more nervous if I had to memorize the script.
I like to be prepared. I could benefit from improv classes. I like to have the vision of where it's going and then be open to deviation.
That’s one of the keys in my life. I have a very hard time setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Time-bound. Even what do you want? If I said, “I want a business that does $10 million a year and this growth rate. I want to own this car and this house.” I have a very hard time coming up with very tangible goals because none of them feel they’re actual drivers. I can't attach myself to those. However, it's very easy for me to set aspirations versus goals. For most people, this doesn't work. If we're in San Diego and we want to go to New York City, we can map out a path to go to New York City and then drive that exact path with no deviations. I'm the type of person who's like, “I like to go to New York City, but I'd be happy with the Northeast or the East Coast.”
I realized that it's the adventures that you can sidetrack on those opportunities that if I'm too myopic, it is about the journey and I may miss a much better opportunity going after one specific goal. Things may change. When I went back to look at the goals that I want for my life, they're very non-smart. They're actually fuzzy goals. My fuzzy goals are I want to be fully engaged in love with what I'm doing. Every day I want to have that feeling of I like my life and I like what I'm doing. I want to work with amazing people that inspire me and I want to make good money, but none of those are specific. How do you know you've hit them? I don't. I remember I'll stop and I'll look back and I go, “I like what I'm doing. I'm working with great people and I'm making good money.” It also causes me frustration because I wish I could be better at setting those goals. I have an amazing life. I've had some amazing adventures. I got opportunities dropped in my lap all the time. I have the ability to capitalize on those that I want. I sometimes refer to myself as an opporteneur as opposed to an entrepreneur.
What do you mean by that?
I'll explain what an opporteneur in my definition because I haven't heard anybody use it, versus an opportunity seeker and an entrepreneur. I think that it's in the middle. An entrepreneur is somebody who typically finds a problem. They can develop a solution. They organize capital resources around it to solve that problem. An opportunity seeker on the other end, you can think of them as wantrepreneurs and people who are just answering biz-op. Those are ones who are seeking opportunities, meaning they're looking for opportunities to fall in their lap and go, “This is perfect. This is just for me.” That causes a lot of frustration because great opportunities aren't usually found, they're made.
I look at it like an entrepreneur organizes vision, capital resources and people to accomplish a goal. Mine is I'm looking for opportunities to add value. Maybe it doesn't have to be one goal. It can be multiple of them, but I can be entrepreneurial. It doesn't have to start as one giant business. It doesn't have to be one thing. I have multiple businesses. Sometimes that's good. Sometimes it's a too diffused focus, but it allows me to say, “There's a gap in the marketplace here. I'm going to find a way to be as leveraged as possible to take advantage of that opportunity or to make the opportunity.” I might find nobody's doing this. Maybe that's an opportunity for me to do it and I can pivot at any point if I find another opportunity. To me, it's more flexible than being the traditional entrepreneur that's more organized than being the opportunity seeker.
How would this be different than an investor? Let's throw investor in the mix.
My definition of an investor would be it's more passive. I'm going to invest my money with you. You’ve taken a role and it might be for instance an opportunity comes up for you to work with somebody or you see a gap and you're like, “I'm going to fill that gap.” That gap might be a simple connection. I know somebody who can make this happen and I get a piece of the pie. It could be as simple as that. In fact, that is happening. I got approached by a friend of mine who is super successful. He had an amazing opportunity to fall in his lap. He needed some connections to some very high-profile people that I happen to know and I was able to not only make this connection but allow myself to get equity in this thing in order to do that. I created an opportunity leveraging some stuff I have, but it doesn't mean I'm building the business around it. I'm finding my way in.
In some respects, that is a greater position because you're free. You're getting to create by making this happen and being the puppet masters, but you don't have the baggage of headaches.
I'm a pretty good deal maker. I look for those opportunities to do a deal, whether that's to buy a company or do a deal with somebody to say, “How can I put these pieces together to get a piece of something do what I'm good at?” I'm not a CEO type person. I do not want to operate a big organization. I like to be in the commerce area.
I want to ask you about Constanzo Capital
because it seems like this is the hub of activity. This is a company that you created. It's the home of Homebrew Academy
, My Wine Society
and Fenix Space
. I want you to tell us about it and why you created it. When did you arrive that you needed to open up this other entity called Constanzo Capital?
That was probably after I sold my first digital publishing business. I have a little capital in my pocket. It wasn't an FU money, but it was enough to make some investments. I started to invest in real estate and I made some Angel investments. I made some investments in oil and gas, which I lost a bunch of money. I started doing investments in some other private companies and some of them are full acquisitions. Some of them were a partial acquisition. Some of them are Angel funds. One of them is consulting for equity. I'm investing my time, IP. I'm not investing my capital. I've got a significant amount of stock in it and some ability to drive it so that will marry both the consulting and the other stuff. If I've invested my money or a significant amount of my time in IP, that goes into that. It also goes into some of the real estate acquisitions.
The other thing is that I don't ever want to start a major business. I much rather go buy one because as consumers, if we want shelter, we don't go to Home Depot and buy woods. We don't do a course or go to YouTube on how to build a house. We find a house we want to live and we arrange financing and we purchase it. We do the same thing with a car. We don't go figure out how to build a car. This company built a car or this person drove a car, I'm going to arrange financing to find it. If the purpose of a business is to create cashflow and a lifestyle for us, maybe make an impact, why is it as entrepreneurs, we feel as though we have to build it from scratch? We can find somebody who's built and validated a business, has customers, has momentum. If we can determine a good price and arrange the right financing that makes sense and we just reverse engineer it, we can buy our cashflow and our business. I started to do that. I look less at how can I start a business versus how can I either buy all part of or something that somebody else already has and skip the hard part.
As I get older, I appreciate this more and more. I think it's just evolution and it’s smart.
Here's the problem for people like us. Startups are fun until they’re not. It's fun to give birth to your idea and you go, “I'm going to do this. I'm going to do it in my way.” Our hair is on fire and it's exciting. Stiletto Coffee was exactly like that. It engages my creativity. Buying a business doesn't usually engage creativity, it engages your analytical mind. You've got to do due diligence. You've got to look at P&L and balance sheet and all this other stuff. You buy it and you hope that your creativity can just add fuel to the fire or put out the fires that are existing and you can step into it. I'm not an expert at this. I'm trying to get better. This is the nut I'm trying to crack. It’s just getting better at coming up with even better criteria for business acquisitions. There are a lot of ways to negotiate. You don't have to write a big check to buy a business. There's a lot of creative ways to do it, but it also can be a significant risk. This is me out of my comfort zone, but I've bought a few and I've learned. I've made some successes and some mistakes and I'm trying to do it a little bit better. Ideally, I would buy something that I have my marketing and consulting can improve but that I don't have to operate the day-to-day. That's where I'm trying to head my big goal.
If people want to continue the conversation with you, where's the best place for people to do that?
My podcast, Bacon Wrapped Business, which you can search on any of the podcasts or just BaconWrappedBusiness.com
. You can go there, subscribe and listen. If you liked the way I think and you like the things I'm saying, I do this at least once a week. There was even a place on there that you can click the little button that says, “Leave me a voice message.” It's called SpeakPipe
. It's free software you can get for this show as well. Sometimes I even feature the little digital voice mails that I get on the show. That's one of the greatest ways. You can go to BradCostanzo.com
as well to read some of my other writings.
Reach out to me, especially if people are in business and you are stuck. Maybe they don't have total clarity or certainty on what they're trying to accomplish and they want a second opinion. I do work as a consultant, mentor and advisor to some companies. Sometimes I make investments or even acquisitions. I'm always looking to meet people in interesting circumstances. Even if you just want a second opinion, “Am I thinking about this correctly? Am I approaching this right?” It doesn’t mean I don't charge money for all the advice I give, but I'm very accessible because I like meeting people because you never know where it's going to go.
That is the game of life, meeting new people and new challenges and new opportunities. Brad, I thank you for being on the show and doing what you do in the world.