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Tom Collins: Finding 'A' Players, 'Found Revenue' And Silicon Slopes

We are talking to Tom Collins, otherwise known as TC, the behind-the-scenes guy for some of the biggest names and brands in the personal finance and financial education space.

It's likely if you read this show, you have invested in a book, a program or something online from some of the work that he has done behind the scenes. This was a special interview so we don't get into names. There are a lot of goodies in this show. I want to share a few highlights here:

Number one is we talk about finding A players. If you're starting a business or you're already at the helm of a business, how do you find those A players? We talk about that because of his organization, I don't know if it topped 1,000 people but they’re always on the hunt for A players. No matter if you're the solo entrepreneur, you are always on the hunt for adding people to the team that is world-class.

We also talk a little bit about how you keep people around. How do you keep folks around? If that's on your mind, you are going to love this show. We talk about the business side of human interaction.

We also talk about Found Revenue. For those of you that already have a business, there's revenue locked inside your business. We talk about how to find it. We talk about meeting the founders of Myspace before it was Myspace and the advice that Tom gave to them. You will find that story interesting.

Dustin
Tom, it's 2003. You're in New York City, the capital of the world. You're at ad:tech, which is a rather large event for all the movers and shakers that are marketing and selling things specifically online. It's several months after the dot-com crash. You walk into a meeting and two guys tell you, “We've got a Friendster clone that we want to launch in the world.” You tell them, “I don't think that's a good idea.” A few years later, they go on to sell that for $600 million to Rupert Murdoch. That company would be Myspace. What were you thinking?
Tom
It goes to show you that you only know what you do know and you don't know anything about the things you don't know. I remember walking across the street going into this after hour’s party. It was what it was. These guys had a nice booth or whatever. We sat with them and for hours we were like, “Haven’t you learned your lesson?” These guys were smart. They started other brands. They were all direct response, they were all revenue driven, they were brilliant. They were data guys before data guys were data guys. They made this decision. I was like, “You're going backward. How can we convince you otherwise?” They were like, “We're done. You guys are awesome but that's it.”
It was clearly a business decision. It wasn't a friend decision. It wasn't any of those things. They weren't our only client, but they had the talent and capacity to continue to grow with us. We thought, “These guys would be 10 times, 100 times bigger.” Yet we said, “Don't you remember several months ago the market crashed? Eyeballs are gone. Social media is another word for eyeballs. There's no money in that.” They made money in it and they sold it to Rupert Murdoch of all people. They started other brands. Over the years, it’s fascinating for me to watch and say, “I know the things that I know and I don't know anything I don’t know.” It helped put my ego in check. I’m reminded of that from time to time.
Dustin
What's interesting is those guys completely pivoted from what it sounds like. They went into social media. What did they see? Why did they feel about leaving behind the things that were generating millions of dollars?
Tom
They had a vision beyond what others had a vision. They understood data enough to know how to monetize it. They progressed into a direct monetization model far beyond what people knew. They knew that they could invest for a few years and have the capital and invest in growing those things. I don't know about the inside of how it would all go down. All I know is a few years later they sold for that kind of money. The brands that they ran before were at the front edge of the market and they were the number one in their space. They understood digital media, the industry and the value of data like Facebook does now far better than anyone I've ever met.
Dustin
I want to let the WealthFit Nation know that Tom has been behind some of the biggest brands. He’s a humble guy. These are some well-known brands that you would know in the universe. Before we go there, I want to take it all the way back to Stephen Covey.
Tom
I went to BYU. Stephen Covey started in Provost. He was a PhD and a professor of business at BYU. He left there to start his own company. He wrote the book, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. Back in those days, direct response marketers would print a newsletter and they would do a one-day event. He was selling to the corporate crowd, but The 7 Habits crossed both sides. They were selling to echelon and selling to mom and dad who needed to know the seven habits. It was this universal book. As I look back on that experience, he had three different call centers of varying levels. He had his trainers that were sending out and doing the seminar training and they were all experts on the seven habits and business behavior and those types of things.
They also had the direct mail division. All of the direct response of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the internet wasn't available, the worst database and the worst phone system ever. It was chaos because they were in absolute growth mode. The fascinating thing about that was it was absolute chaos. Stephen Covey is advising all these put together buttoned-up corporations. He was awesome and his people were awesome, but it was such a big thing. He was skyrocketing to the top and had the tiger by the tail. They couldn't stop the growth. They just did whatever they could to keep going. It was wide open. It's fascinating to look back because you think of that brand, even the Covey brand, which is part of Franklin now. It’s such a household brand and the seminar trainers, buttoned-up suits and everything is tied down.
It took a lot of years to get to that point. The company organization sold to Franklin because Franklin had the business side buttoned-up. They went, “We need that management structure for Stephen's leadership and to let him go.” He made a gazillion dollars doing it. I was in entry-level selling his $200 newsletter to anybody who'd bought his book that gave their phone number that called in before. I talked to every walk of life person. It was a fascinating experience. The thing that was fascinating to me that translates to my career in entrepreneurial training was that Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits breaks this into two different things. One side is the private victory. It's the things you do internally for you and then there's the public victory, which is human relations. Everyone we talked to when we would ask him, “What are you looking to work on to try to get their interest in talking about the actual seven habits?” Which would open it up to, “The newsletter can help you.” Almost universally everyone said, “I'm working on the private victory. I'm working on myself. I want to improve myself so I can then go publicly win.” Stephen lays that out in the book and it sunk home with me.
Years later, when we're doing entrepreneur training for brands that nobody knows, we would deliver that as part of the coaching. We found out that when people bought how to make money coaching or anything like that, they would only buy things that were public victory demonstrations. They would respond to an ad or they would buy a book or they would buy a course that was how to get rich in X? How to make money in X? That's the Band-Aid. If I can make more money, I could solve all my problems. We all know the more money you make, if you don't solve the internal problems, it doesn't matter. You have more money and still got problems. What we did is we added to all of our coaching curricula the private victory stuff. It came as evolution because it didn't matter. The sales guys loved Stephen Covey's stuff and loved Tony Robbins. Coaches were the same so we were all geeked out on personal development. We said, “What if we do teleseminars and talk about goal setting and the private victory things, being proactive and pursuing things and taking care of time management?”
We got to a point where those courses were popular. We thought, “We should sell this.” We tried to sell it and nobody buys it. They go, “I just want to make money.” Once they would buy the course, they would buy the training on real estate or on eBay or on how to start a home business or those topics. Invariably, the first thing they ran to was the area where they felt they were weak or they needed that pump up. It was goal setting, time management and everything around those things. We didn't teach this with the seven habits but it was in there. What was fascinating was you could tell how someone could do by how well-versed they were in those things or they were already a doer of those things. They were whole. You would know their likelihood of the peak of their success in the short-term. We only intersected with people for a few months at a time. We don't know how their life before or after. In that period of time, I've met several people since that went through our training and some I thought, “You went through the training?” It was like, “Let's help you make a little extra money and help you on your way and do some things.”
Over time, I ran into people who became net worth millionaires in real estate or they did well. All of a sudden, they're doing the business and it's their full-time thing. They're at the top of their game or they're the best in their city. They said, “I went through that training.” I go, “How did that go for you?” About half of them said, “I blew through it. It was awesome because it was exactly what I needed at the time. I nailed it.” One guy that comes to mind is Frank Covey in Virginia. He is a real estate investor. He came from corporate real estate, home building, but he wanted to learn the fix and flip and that thing. He went through one of our programs with Dean. We had a program where we said, “If you succeed and do these many deals and write us testimonials, we'll give you your money back.” We were that confident in our coaching. Frank, coming from corporate, he understood how it worked. He wanted to learn some tactical things. He blew through and he'd done all the deals.
We gave him his money back. He goes, “Your program was amazing.” It got me there very quickly. The thing that was cool about it is he's one of the guys that everybody looks up to in the investing space now. He's not this selling, training and education. He does it wheels on the ground all day every day. He was one of our students. It gave me whole new respect for the entrepreneurial training side of somebody who's going, “There's a possibility out there if I can just change gears for me.” When I was growing up, I saw the rich guys or the sales guys and the business owners. I was like, “How do I cross the bridge?”
I grew up blue-collar, I grew up with all the good stuff and all the things going for me was like, “There's something over there that I see that would make things cooler. What's that look like? How do I get there?” I started in sales and sales management and those things. When I saw that, the thing that keeps me in entrepreneurial training is that awareness that things could be good for a person, but they can always be enhanced. You can go learn a new skill. You can go do something that will enhance your life in a way that you want, whether it's fulfillment, whether it's money or some combination of that. Every time I start to drift and go, “I'm going to specialize in some other thing,” I'm always drawn back to that because that's my origin story.
When I found Zig Ziglar and goal setting, I was like, “This is amazing, The Seven Steps Of Goal Setting by Zig.” It was on our bookshelf. Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude was one of those books that were out of print. I learned every time you have adversity, say that's positive, now find the positive. Reframe how you think, what you're looking for. When you apply that to life, it doesn't even have to be entrepreneurial. If you applied that to life, that could change your outlook in life. That's what I'm passionate about.
Dustin
You're like Covey. You see the inside, you see growth, but you would leave. What was your next step in life?
Tom
I graduated from BYU. I went home to Las Vegas and worked for an insurance company that was neighbors of mine and they always said, “When you graduate, come work for us.” They were one of those families that I looked up to. They have all of the things and all the good stuff that I have too. I went, “Let's go check that out.” That lasted a couple of years and it was time to move on. I ran into a friend of mine who was living in Salt Lake City at the time that I'd gone to school at BYU with and he said, “We've been talking about starting our own company for a long time. It's in sales. It's going awesome. You should come and do it.” We went. We moved from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. My wife's family had all migrated there from all over the country, Ohio and California and things like that. The timing was good because it was fun to be around her family. We've been there ever since. The conversation with my wife was like, “Why do you want to go work for a call center? What’s that going to do to your resume?” The thinking at the time was, “We'll do this for a couple of years, have some fun and then we will get some real jobs.”
We were in our mid-late twenties. We were like, “This seems cool and then it will give me time to figure out what I am going to do.” With any friendship, you're like, “If my friend can do it, I can do it. I'll be as great as he is.” This little company of these twenty-something guys came from call center world of behind the scenes of seminars. We had several years of experience, but we hustled and we did some of the right things. The company almost blew up every year for the first few years. It was like, “Is this over?” Some clients stiffed us for $1 million and we can't make payroll. This was in the day where payroll wasn't automatically deposited. We all got checks. Every week, there wasn't enough cash to pay payroll, but everybody got a check. They hoped that enough people didn’t cash the checks.
Once or twice a year, a bunch of checks bounced and we go, “I can't believe this is what's going on.” It’s because of what you hear about the company erased all of the success. There was a lot of success because everybody was focused, everybody was ambitious, everybody was hungry for it and willing to sacrifice and do those things. It was like, “How do we stand out? We're young, we're not as seasoned as the other groups.” We found there were ways that we could earn trust and that we could do things that the right strategic partner would like and they would stay with us. Over time, we got as big as anyone in the industry in our space. For the most part, we were working with partners that we would choose given any choice anyway. We had some competition that was some good guys. There were two or three other companies with good guys. We’re competitive, but in the call center industry, it's not always known for having a good reputation. We did everything we could to prove that we were legitimate.
It's crazy to think now because you look back and it's commonly known that here's what this best practice company does. We were one of the pioneers of those back in the day. We knew we had the right intent and we wanted to prove that you could make money, be good guys and be fairly aggressive selling. That's a rare combination. If you think aggressive selling, you think of scams or boiler room type of stuff and that wasn't the case. That's how we made our name and how we grew up. People would come to us and they go, “We've been working for a few years to prepare because we know you have these expectations of your partners.” We thought, “We've done a good job.” It took several years to get to that point. You hustle every day before and after, but that's where it went to.
Dustin
You saw some epic growth and you built out some big teams. What are some takeaways for people in the entrepreneurial space? Their experiences maybe weren't as crazy growth as you, but they're getting some growth going. When you feel you're in that environment, it's crazy and it's chaotic. You've never been there before. How did you manage it? How did you deal with that?
Tom
It’s because of where we came from, what we knew and we stuck to it, was do the things you're great at and be willing to delegate a partner in the things that somebody else is great at or that you're not so great at. Let me just put it this way. We tried all those things. We tried to be the lead generator. We tried to be a seminar company. It wasn't until years later that we bought the best companies and partnered with them in ventures and things like that as opposed to taking our talent who didn't know anything about lead generation. We knew what a good lead was and we could sell better behind it.
Even with solo entrepreneurs, I deal with a lot of one and two-man partner teams. The thing that gets you there is your hustle. You can do a lot of things okay, but there are usually one or two premium talents that make the difference in your trajectory. After a while, you've got to be able to turn over the things you're not great at to somebody who is or can be great at those things. You have to turn it over. I had this conversation with someone at a conference and they said, “How do you find A players?” Everybody wants to get the A player who has the A player resume. What we found is we knew what the characteristics of an A player look like and we knew what it looked like in an embryo.
Dustin
What does that mean?
Tom
Some people go and they try to hire talent that's already there and has a ten-year track record and all of that. Sometimes those guys are burned out. They’re at the end of being an A player and/or they're not that motivated because they already are. If you can get somebody that still is and it's a great fit, that's a coo. Most of the time, you’ll end up not being able to get them where you have to overpay or you give up company culture. There are tectonic shifts that have to happen to make that and it doesn't always work. It's harder, in my opinion, to make that work as you're growing up. If you're an established enterprise type of company and you're attracting talent, that's different. If you're a startup that's got an investment capital and got names around them, it's easier to track because that's more attractive. If you're bootstrapping it and you're growing up like a lot of the solo entrepreneurs I deal with and spend time with, it's like, “How do we do this?”
I was like, “Let's go take someone who has all the characteristics. You are me when we're twenty. Bring them in, put them in the culture, put them in the A player entrepreneurial garden and nurture the A player in this.” There's a company out there that their guys used to work for me. They have far out achieved anybody else I've worked with in the sense of that worked for me. It makes me proud as ever. I knew them when they were young guys. You hope, “Maybe I had some influence. Hopefully, there are some good things.” Now I'm at the point where it's like, “What can I learn from them?” The way they put together the company is brilliant. They bootstrapped it all and they're one of the best companies to work for in the State of Utah. They're right in the middle of all of these what's called the Silicon Slopes, all these startups and technology companies. They're not a technology company and they crush it because of who they are and what they put together. It is Jane.com. It’s a women's boutique, bargain and fashion. The marketing model is insane. The way they take care of their company and what they've put together, it's amazing. It makes you drool.
Dustin
I love this idea of finding the embryo, the characteristics. Generally, when you find that, do you have the expectation when you hire that person? Do you find those characteristics like that person is going to leave? If so, how do you keep them there? How do you keep those A players to stick around?
Tom
There are two ways. One is the thought that everybody has got to do the job that we hire them to do. They've got to do it well so you have to give them the resources to do that. I'm training-minded and the development of an individual is top of mind. I was trained from sales into a sales manager by a guy who was amazing at training people, Steve Weber, Steve Kroll, those guys. They’re training this certain style of investing in humans and nurturing somebody on can make all the difference. It takes a lot of tiny touches. It doesn't take a gargantuan sitting down and spending out months and months of time that you're not spending on the rest of your business. It's in daily doses. It’s like Little League baseball. In Little League baseball kids, to get them to be good hitters, they need to be strong enough to swing the bat. What do you do? Hit 50 balls every day during the season and it's one of the easiest things to do. They develop over time. They get comfortable hitting a pitched ball. Kids go to practice for two hours and they stand around most of the time. We reformat a practice so everybody gets a gazillion reps, two weeks’ worth of reps in one practice compared to the other kids.
The strategy I used to use was management by walking around. It was called PDI or Personal Daily Interview. There's the formal stuff, here’s the company standup in this. The direct manager over a group in addition to their daily duties would spend one to five minutes with someone and are like, “How are you doing? Where's your head? What's the one thing that we can help you improve now?” It was a simple, subtle thing. In doses over a couple of years, you get 1,000 or 2,000 of those hits. Somebody who's ambitious and responds to that in this embryo, they start showing up like that. You're investing in them and they want to be great. What we did is we trained and said, “This is an entry-level job and we're going to invest in you so that a few years from now, you can choose to leave us and you'll get a way better paying job and you'll be in the flow. We're going to help you kick butt at this.”
It was a competitive advantage for us because in Utah, wages were going crazy. I had people coming for an entry-level call center job going, “What kind of benefits can I get?” Unemployment is 3% or 2% in Utah. It's ridiculous so you have to be competitive. This was our advantage. We've said, “This job will bounce you to the next tier where you'll double or triple,” because we would pay somebody $10 to $12 an hour at that entry-level job. There were people who were leaving legitimately taking $50,000 to $70,000 a year jobs working for SEO companies, working for Silicon Slopes types of companies back before it was called Silicon Slopes.
The idea is, “If you invest and do a great job here, we'll prepare you so that when you go interview for that next job, you'll likely get it.” You'll be head and shoulders above everyone else. We did that. What we knew is with that attitude, we didn't pay any more dollars, but we had a cause and we had a purpose. Those people were filling and taking care of our customers. That's what we think made us better. We had better success. We measured it by, “Do they write a success story? Can we prove and document success?” It became this cultural thing to do that and measure that. As time went on, we started doing more sophisticated surveying and things like that.
A lot of those people stayed. Most of them stayed. The guys who left, a lot of them were very successful. That ran the term. The people who are still in the industry are working for the top tier creme de la creme best practices companies and they're well-paid professionals. That's what gives me pride in the body of work I've done. We helped this ex-guru who we had 300 people working for him making $20 million a year. We helped the people we were working side-by-side with into careers. It's awesome because we're all still friends on social media.
Dustin
Those were golden nuggets there. We've mentioned the call center and yet, in this day and age, people don't answer the phone. You're going to tell me the seventeen reasons that they do in many millions of dollars. Where do you see the future of the phone is in call centers and communication that way? Is the industry changing? Is it down? Is it up? What are your insights there?
Tom
We're talking about best practices blue chip call center type of companies, not the boiler room type. In that world, it's marketing. Dan Kennedy said it best in Magnetic Marketing, “The better you market, the more qualified a lead is when they start talking to you.” It's Magnetic Marketing principles and it understands how to build a relationship with your customer ahead of time before it's time to go for the close. Changing that to who’s the right fit? Are we sending the right messages? The people who are looking for this, are we giving them what they want? We had a shift back at the big company of, “We can sell this coaching service to anybody. What if we shot for the top 20% best qualified, most likely to succeed, most ambitious and those are all soft things?” It's hard to determine, but we started putting that together and saying, “Here's who succeeds.” We started doing some evaluations of data and who to call first.
With the calling, there's a lot of texting, there's a lot of emailing, there's a lot of web class and having an experience again and then calling in. If somebody has gone through a marketing process and calls in, they're worth a multiple of someone you outbound cold. Even back in the original day, this was the criteria for when we would even work with a company. We said, “We want them to buy something from you that gets them started and then also gives them anticipation of the future.” This is something I'm not going to read and put down. It's something I'm going to read and if I do what's in there, it can make a difference in my life. It can enhance the quality of my life. If I got serious about this, it could go well for me. Some of those ambitions in that person, whether it's a book, whether it's an initial training course, it was the seed of, “If I went after this, there's more help that I could get. I could also do a lot better.”
There was an interest in saying, “If you were serious about this, there's more help available. Are you interested in that?” They would say, “Yes, I am.” Stephen Covey was the same thing. It was like, “You got the book, would you want to come to training? This can help your company echelon. This can help your person or family whatever it was that they were interested in that level.” It was the same conversation. It was also, “Do they have an affinity?” We call and say, “We're calling on behalf of X, Y, Z Company.” How do they respond? They respond and go, “I got his book. I saw him on TV,” more often than, “Oh, that.”
That's how you knew who was who and who had the gift to be the Pied Piper and to lead people to the promised land as it were. If they were hammering people, over time, if we had a partner they could sell, we would work on this and say, “Let's get this new mindset.” They’re caring about the customer. There were gurus we have that maybe they didn't care so much about the customer, but they knew that we did. It was great because we filled that role for them and we took good care of their customers. We built their reputation for them as a result of that.
Those are the criteria. Did they buy something from you that has a future promise that has a future in it that we can enhance? Do they have an affinity for the expert or the brand, for the most part, with the understanding that this could serve that person with their goals and dreams? Is it a viable and in reach type of thing? That affinity makes a difference. The more experiences they had with that brand or that expert, the better. It’s positive experiences and not, “Did we sell them seven things in a row and now you're the eighth call center to call?” That's the scorched earth method to get their way. It was like, “What can we do to build this relationship?” One of the big training seminar companies now, before they're inviting people even to come to a seminar, is they're giving them all kinds of content so they know what they're going to see and they've pre-experienced it. It makes the experience, the training, the sales easier because they realized this blue chip company knows what they're doing and they're doing a great job.
Dustin
Do you think a lot of entrepreneurs or a lot of companies drop the ball there? They don’t invest on the front end in that relationship giving out a bunch of free stuff or content or value?
Tom
Where they get lost is they think they have to give away a bunch of free stuff or they are like, “I want to sell to people.” What don't they recognize is the thing that I'm giving them now going to move them forward in the relationship? That's the key. There are all kinds of free stuff, but if it doesn't move a person and it doesn't help them get closer to the end goal of how you can help and serve them, you can't serve them best. You’re like, “Here's all our free stuff and nobody is buying.” You’ve got to be talking to the right people that are most likely to move, most likely to have the interest. If you want to like your business, you want people to come through and go, “This is great. What's next?”
You start to understand and ask them questions of, “Where are you stuck at this stage? Where have you progressed? Who are you? What do we need to do to move you forward?” The companies that understand that know the difference between, “We're in direct marketing,” and people are like, “You do step one. You do step two. There's this funnel thing.” They do all the steps, they don't make any sales and they don't know why. It's because they're not investing or talking to their customers going, “Where are you stuck? What's the next thing on your mind? What's the hurdle now that we can help you get over?”
Dustin
You've had a lot of mentors in your life. You've been on a mission. In that mission or in interacting with other leaders that are taking people out on missions, you learned some things along the way. I’m curious about what lessons you've gleaned.
Tom
I had a mission president that changed my career direction because he was a successful businessman from York, Pennsylvania. The printed school books were the largest private school book printing company on the East Coast or something like that. It’s fabulously successful. I was in a leadership position where once a month he would bring us to the mission office. We were in Montana and Wyoming. You drive hundreds of miles to come to this training for two days. At the mission home, you'd eat dinner with all the other guys that were achievers on that side of things. You don't think of religious things because they’re achievers’ structure and all that. There was leadership to train, teach, nurture and keep things going.
He was used to investing in his company for his sales and his company people. He would bring in outside speakers and trainers. He did the exact same thing for us as missionaries. I'm nineteen or twenty years old and he was going, “This month we have this guy who's the head of human behavior and business at BYU and we're going to spend two days with him all understanding how to break down human motivation.” I'm twenty years old. I'm not even at school. This guy is a graduate PhD teacher and we're getting that level of stuff for two days. We had the day timer guys come in with their old planner. We learned how to organize our time. We learned sales techniques. We learned the business side of human interaction and persuasion because selling religion is the hardest thing in the world. It’s not a sale. When I got off of my mission, everything I've sold since my mission has been far easier than selling their religion that we were selling because religion's a wholesale change. It's not the easiest thing to do. I had twelve consecutive months and it changed my life and the lives of most of us that got to participate in those things. You look back on that and you go, “I went through college.” College was cool.
There were some things that I picked up, but because I'd been trained to how to pick those things up, college was better because of that experience. I got my first sales job and I performed well because I had been on the mission. I also understood leadership and management. I quickly rose to management positions and sales leadership, which then when I worked for the big company, it came in handy because I had years now of this and we needed that. We were all young. That's why I said, “I worked for Covey. I've done these things. Let me take a shot at this.” They go, “Okay.” Back then, we were young. Part of the opportunity for me was because I worked for a young company, which I had learned from Harvey Mackay’s Swim With The Sharks. He was like, “Go and work for a young company. You'll get to wear more hats, get more experiences as opposed to a big company where you do one spot.”
There's value in both of those things, but that's how it served me the best. My time with Covey and my time on that second year of my mission with that mission, President John Grove is his name. I love the man. He's been amazing for me. He introduced me, prepared me to go then succeed at the next company, which was Cutco Vector. The Steve's that I dropped: Steve Weber, Steve Kroll, I learned there was this vector world of these people who sold knives but were in management and leadership and the achievers there. You could talk to somebody you haven't talked to for many years from that like, “How's Vector treated you?” It lit it up. I had three or four things in a row that were a foundation for my career that was phenomenal. I didn't even know how good it was until years and years later. I had no idea. I was like, “This is new, cool and exciting. Let's chase it.”
Dustin
You've done the mission. You've seen and experienced a lot. If you were starting over in your twenties, what would be your advice for someone that maybe doesn't know if they want to be an entrepreneur, doesn't know what path they want to do, what they're going to be in life? What would you recommend to them?
Tom
Go for things. Back in the day, the thinking was you commit to a career and you're going to do it for many years for the same company. I would get a big company for several years. You go work for the big Fortune 500 company and that's the dream and all of that. Now there's a path and you bounce around places either to suit you or to suit your skills. Going out and pursuing a lot of things to find out what you like and can be good at, it’s a challenge for a lot of people. A lot of people hold back. One of the things I learned from Brian Tracy is The Psychology Of Achievement. I have the tape set. He said, “You can tell someone who wants to go pursue their dream because even if they have to have a drab job to pay the bills, it's every hour outside of that drab job that they spend pursuing their dream.”
If you want to be a guitar player and a musician and you have to have a job to pay your rent, get the job to pay your rent. Every hour after that, the evaluator coming from an executive perspective is, “When they have free time, what did they do with that free time? Are they pursuing their dream or are they sitting around talking about it?” It's the person who is pursuing it. How can you get more repetitions faster? Tony Robbins said, “I’m going to work out every day for a year.” Other time management expertise is like, “Here's how to get three months’ worth of stuff done in a week.” They compress it all in and go for it. I'm guilty of that in college. I did the branch office thing and we worked 90 hours a week and we talked to our buddies. We were all working 90 hours a week. We were in suits. It was summertime of college and I was living in Las Vegas. All my friends were like, “Let's go play.” I was like, “I’ve got to work,” but it paid off. Go for things and get as many experiences as you can.
The other part of that is to understand that the things you believe now must change. Go in pursuit of new beliefs. Who has the mindset? If you want to go make money, it's critical these days to learn how to manage money, how to manage your finances, but also how money works. Understanding how money works is a huge deal. Once you get it, a whole new world comes open to you. We could talk about how much we've lost in taxes because we didn't know several years ago. We found the guy who could do the magic trick for us and it's all legal.
Dustin
I want to talk about your passion project. What are you working on?
Tom
I'm a giver. I have been blessed at the beginning of my career to have amazing mentors who led the way and showed me how they did it in a lot of ways. Sometimes they told me, sometimes it was observed. Every time I go to a big conference, I meet people that I've known for years and years. The achievements are astounding to look at. I’d sit there and I’d put myself back in that twenty-year-old person in that mindset and go, “Do you think you would have even been able to accept this as reality if I could have told you then that it would be this awesome? That you would know people and you would have been able to accomplish things with certain people and that you would look at that as mind-blowing compared to where you came from.” Back then I was like, “How do I go make a buck and have a nicer car?”
What I've realized is most of the things I've been working on since leaving the company aren't the mass media type projects. I've helped people who are in mass media and doing the big volume of things. Where my passion lies is in that cultivation of the next person. Who's the next person who they have those seeds of greatness in the embryo? They have the ambition and they're looking for the path and possibly will intersect and I can help them move to the next step on their path. For me, I looked at it as Chet Holmes’ Dream 100. I went, “Who is my Dream 200 business associates that if the entire world stopped and there were only 200 of us left, we can turn it all on again?”
Any one of those people you can partner up and do great things with, let alone 200. I thought, “Why don't I invest time and energy into that network?” I've thought of this as Grant Cardone. If you've seen Grant Cardone, he's got 4,000 YouTube videos. He's not a friend of mine, but he opened my mind to this because I watch and he went, “When I was sixteen, there was nobody there. These 4,000 videos are few because there’s somebody there.” There are all these great people that do these things and it's part of the giveback. The understanding of what is required of the person on their end of commitment, learning and putting time and energy in is interesting.
We're creating a place where what I'm going to do is go interview and draw out some of the best of this stuff from my top 200 and share that. I could sit and tell stories to my kids all day long and that's cool. They’re like, “Dad, whatever,” but they have an interest. I thought, “What would be the better book?” I was like, “Someday I'll write a book for my kids and tell them all my stories.” A better book would be I interviewed all my friends that had these achievements and said, “What made it for you? Where did you come from?” Some of this conversation. “Where would you go now? What's working now?” We want to make it practical. It's the Found Revenue Group.
It has a business application of here's how to grow your business. I thought, “Let's capture all of that and let's serve.” For a lot of people, it's a third and a third know each other. I was like, “I can even introduce my 200 people to themselves and help grow their businesses as a friend.” The amount of business that gets done, that's how the magic happens. You go skiing with your friend and he's in the mortgage business and you do a real estate coaching thing and it's a million-dollar deal. You've spent time and you invest and you're like, “We could do that.” Not for any other reason other than it's their qualified. There's a need and you trust each other. You build that out. That's the give. I'm building that for my kids. I'm building it for my top 200 business network friends and their friends if they pass it on. The value of what that is and it's going to be coming and tune in and we're going to talk about advice. We're going to let people come ask questions. We'll preload questions. There are fifteen of those guys that do Facebook advertising and everybody has questions about Facebook, but there are fifteen flavors now that we can introduce them to instead of going, “Buy our course.” Here are the nuggets that are current and relevant now.
I'm excited about it. We're going to do what's called the vector summer. Back in college days, we're going to do 100 of these in the next 120 days. We're going to do it again. We're going to do two vector summers this summer. Six days a week is the plan. It’s live and in the group. We're going to cover the gamut of things that entrepreneur people with ambition. If you're an entrepreneur and you're a beginner, or if you're doing $25 million a year, but you want to grow your business. You want to meet and hear from people who are doing things and are helping people do those things and understand what it takes to get there. That'll be one of those great places where you can just go get a treasure trove. The goal is to create a treasure trove of information and keep it current and useful. I'm fired up about it.
Dustin
I'm excited about it. I want to explore a little bit. You mentioned Found Revenue. What do you see out there in terms of finding revenue? You've built a coaching business. You've built a consultancy around this idea that there is revenue in our businesses, but we don't know that it exists. It's obvious to you maybe, but we don't know. Go deeper with this.
Tom
People say, “What is Found Revenue?” I say, “It's a discovery.” You go, “Look what I found,” or somebody points it out to you and you go, “I never knew that existed.” That's the reaction to what Found Revenue is. Where that phrase originated with me is when we would go try to get clients and we'd say, “You have a great program. You're selling your book, your course, your training. We have a coaching program where we can customize that for your customers. If you send us your customer list, we'll call them, we'll sell to them, we'll fulfill all of the coachings and then we'll send you a nice check. We'll take care of everything.” It's found revenue for you. You just do one more little thing and we'll add our campaign to your campaign, and we'll make you mega-profitable. That's the concept. That's the core seat of it. Where it applies is in many areas where sometimes it's selling the next thing to your customer.
I'm a Verizon Wireless user. Every time I upgrade the iPhone, what else do I upgrade? All the accessories, the next level of services, insurance is always more expensive. When Verizon started, they'd sell you a phone. The next thing you know, there was the phone service and then there was data. If you get an iPhone or Samsung, there's the Apple Store. You go the App Store and there's app revenue. It keeps going and they all came one thing at a time. Now, Verizon and Apple, if you're buying an iPhone or Samsung, all of those are now built into the business model. They have such a competitive advantage against anybody who's entering that, but anybody who's entering it is going to start at that level. Most of the time with entrepreneurs they're like, “I'm great.” They're always at least a one trick pony. They're great at one thing. They get customers this way, they sell them this thing. What they don't know is what they don't know. They don't know where that opportunity is. There’s a strategic partner that can help sell more to your customers that your customers would appreciate. There are accessories, whether you're selling eCommerce.
I have a friend who sold supplements and it was, “Here's the way to do it,” then somebody broke the mold and found out a way to get customers to buy a year supply of three different kinds. They're making more money than anybody else and their customers love the brand because there's brand loyalty so they kept repurchasing. A lot of those guys were like, “I'm selling my thing.” The guy who was smarter went, “I'm in the repeat purchase business. If I can get a customer to repeat buy, now I know I have a business.” I have an example of someone who sells financial services. He’s a single entrepreneur. When I met him, the business wasn't great. He was doing okay. He could've gotten a job and it would have been the same money. He was committed to his cause and I was like, “I don't know if he's going to get there.” We've all been that person where it was like, “I don't know.”
A couple of years later, I ran into him and he was crushing it. I was like, “What changed?” Nothing on the outside looked any different. His podcast didn't look any different. His confidence in himself clearly went up. He always believed in himself. If there's anything, that was the key that kept him going when it wasn't going well. What he did is he changed who he was selling to, one simple change and those people bought five times more than anybody else. That was the first change. The second change was he figured out a business model where he could sell two different things to them. The first thing he was selling was this hands-on time intensive financial service and it took a lot of his time. He broke that into two things and it feeds him well. He lives that Tim Ferriss lifestyle. He doesn't work 90 hours a week. He's always traveling all over the world.
I'm that guy who wants to work 90 hours a week, but I'm always jealous of Chris because I'm like, “Chris, you’ve got it wired up.” I wouldn't have told you that Chris would have been that guy other than he had some kernels and he believed. He changed his business model so the pricing of entry and changed who he sold to and lights out. Those are tectonic shifts, but they're simple decisions. Sometimes when you go in and you're like, “Go over here and sell to these people.” Run the same ad. It will work ten times better, but they've been trained because of what they read for free online. It's like, “You’ve got to do the funnel. You've got to do all this complicated stuff.” Try one or two things and if there's a spark, then add to it and then go deeper. In the mass media, that's where you start. If there's a spark, then we'll put more money into it.
I’ve got to say this because this is a false belief that most people have. Most people think, “You're a big company. You have all the money in the world to spend on ads and to test things.” If you're a big company, you're making payroll for 600 people a week. It's a couple of million dollars a week or a month. You’re budgeting that and you have the same feeling of like, “Come on.” We've done our research. We feel good about this. Now let's see actual real results. It's the same whether you have the money or not. Most people are like, “Big companies have plenty of money to do it.” No, they have a system that they maximize the efficiency of that money that they put in the market and they test stuff with. Don't let that hold you back from going and trying things.
Dustin
I want to move us into WealthFit round, which is a fancy name for rapid fire questions. What's been your most worthwhile investment?
Tom
The most worthwhile investment for me was when I did the Vector Cutco thing. I got an opportunity to go intern effectively. I live in Las Vegas so I got to intern in San Diego. I worked for the number one guy, Steve Weber, and I didn't think I was ready for that. I was like, “If he thinks so, then I believe it.” I showed up. I didn't have any money. I was sleeping on a bed with a friend. The next year, I earned the right and I qualified to open up my own office. Part of that process is you have to put up your own money. It was a blue-collar family. I didn't have that money. I'd made some money the previous summer working for Steve and he was like, “You have to put that money into next year.” When I made the decision to invest, it was like, “That's what everybody around me is doing.” The day I opened the doors, meaning I had put money down on an office, the paint was still wet. Back in the day, newspaper ads and classified ads were the way to go. I had gone and not only bought an ad, but I committed for the entire summer. I committed $6,000 of money I didn't have to run this business.
I was trusting of what I'd seen and I'd done a little bit of it. I'm going for it, but I didn't know what I was doing. The first day that I went and I sat down in the office, we were using voicemail. The voicemail was new at the time. There was no way to check if anybody was calling. There was no way to tell if anybody was responding. This would drive you nuts. I got a monthly report a few weeks later of how many calls I got. We would evaluate posthaste. It was 8:00 in the morning and I was in the office and the first people are coming in at 1:00 if they come in at all. I got the ads out and I was a blue-collar guy. I was learning these new beliefs. I had done my mission. I had John Grove’s training. I had Steve Weber training for a couple of years with my buddy Steve and Bryce. We were all doing this. We were calling each other going, “It's fired up. We're going to do this.” I sat there for five hours. It was the longest five hours of my life business-wise because I had every motion possible. I had the biggest thrill. I was like, “If this goes well,” everything I'd ever visualize and been told and dreamed of. That was why I was doing.
I had every doubt. I freaked out and I was like, “I could have used that money that I put into all this. I can pay for college.” I didn't know if my degree was worth more than the experience. I experienced every motion. I was looking back, getting myself into that position where I could roll the dice and I talked myself through it. At 1:00, people started showing up. The next week, more people showed up. Every week I ran ads, they showed up. I'd committed all this money so I could get the ad rate. In that experience, I learned the power of advertising. I was a salesman before and the power of advertising I can run an ad and get 150 people to show up to my office. I could sell them on the job and they could go sell knives for me.
I had to make some commissions a few weeks later or whatever, but I understood the cashflow model of it. I understood the mechanics of it and I got into the persuasion of it and that opened the door. The next experience I had and got to sit at the seat of these world-class marketers who then explained how they did it at the world class level. I had at least been trained in the mechanics of it. It was like, “This is home.” At that moment, I've never been more scared in my life. I was like, “What if this doesn't go well? I'm going to owe $6,000.” I already put my money in and I was like, “I can't go upside down.” You either die your hustle. It was hustle and it was the biggest thrill of my life at the time.
Dustin
What's that investment you don't want to talk about? What's that misstep that you took?
Tom
When you think you know everything and you don't, and it wasn't the Myspace guys. It was years later. I had a celebrity on the hook for a marketing campaign and in a niche I shouldn't have been in. I didn't know what I was stepping into because it looked the same, but it was a different business. My ego thought that I could overcome some of the fatal flaws that I saw along the way. I was like, “That's no big deal.” The numbers are the numbers. When you get into the business, the math is the math and it's universal. That's the one that I look back on and go, “Going in, maybe I could have made a success getting the relationship opens some doors for me.” The pursuit of the relationship was well worthwhile, but I didn't pivot. When I saw that I should pivot, I didn't pivot. I thought it was expensive. You're not qualified to be in marketing if you haven't lost a bunch of money.
Dustin
When you're not pivoting or when you are pivoting and you find yourself in greener pastures and life is good, what is TC’s guilty spending splurge for yourself? In treating yourself nicely, what do you like?
Tom
My wife told me I buy too many clothes and baseball caps. I'll bring home a baseball cap from anywhere if I travel. Apparently, I don't have the best selective prowess of the quality of ball caps, but if I put it on and it fits good, I buy it. About half of them I don't wear often.
Dustin
Do you have a wall? Where do these go?
Tom
I wear ball caps all the time. I wear them out and then I get rid of them. My wife has trained me to get rid of them. She's an organizer. She's amazing. Some of those old school beliefs that needed to be trained in upgrading. She's been a purveyor of many of those and I'm supremely grateful.
Dustin
TC, thanks big time for being on the show. If people want to keep tabs with what you're up to and maybe partake in this passion project that's coming up, what is the best way for people to follow you?
Tom
The URL we put together is FoundRevenueGroup.com. It leads to our Facebook group, at least here in the beginning. We're just committed to growing that and giving and giving. It’s Found Revenue Group. Come and get some found revenue, come get some business growth. The question people ask me is, “Tell us what it's like behind the scenes.” The attempt here is to go, “Let's pull the curtain back and be behind the scenes and show people what it's like in running people's businesses.
Dustin
Thank you big time for doing what you do and for being on the show.
Tom
Thank you. It's always a pleasure. I love getting together with you.

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