Chris Brogan, CEO, Owner Media Group
Relationships and Revenue: What Chris Brogan Can Teach You About Harnessing the Power of Community
“What’s the relationship-minded way that we can make cool stuff happen on the web?”
“How do we use all these digital tools to be human at a distance?”
“How do we make people feel like they’re cared for and treated well, and how does that translate into revenue for companies?”
Chris Brogan has big questions. He also has answers for those questions – answers that inform his own business endeavors and the efforts of companies that he has consulted for. This isn’t middle-tier dabbling. Brogan has worked with big names like Disney, Motorola, Coke, Pepsico, Microsoft, and Google. Yeah, he’s a big deal.
But Brogan’s company, Human Business Works, doesn’t just serve corporate juggernauts. It also helps small businesses and solo entrepreneurs act on a community-centered approach to boost business. His company offers publications, online courses, and in-person training. He doesn’t just have answers. He has proven solutions that could work for you.
That’s what has propelled Brogan to the top of the online blogging and entrepreneurial space. Besides working as CEO and president of Human Businesses Works, he publishes Owner magazine and delivers anticipated keynote speeches at conferences worldwide. With a massive following, Brogan has earned the respect and admiration of entrepreneurs everywhere.
The Power of Content Marketing
Brogan is good, and he’s been at this for a while. “I started my first blog in 1998 when we were calling it journaling,” he says. In the mid-2000s, he started writing about how businesses could use online tools. Soon after, he opened up to consulting, which connected him to the big companies. But it all began with his blog.
“Start with some kind of a blog,” he advises aspiring entrepreneurs. “he actual technology to build one, something like WordPress, is just so simple nowadays.”
“If you can use Microsoft Word,” he says, “then you can probably write a blog.”
Why does Brogan see value in blogging? “It’s free mind-reading, meaning your potential prospects can read how you think about ideas and projects,” he says. “They’ll get a better sense of what you’re going to do. And there’s really almost no company that shouldn’t have some kind of a blog.”
Blogs can serve as a platform for content marketing, another venture that Brogan recommends for most businesses. “As humans, the way we wander around the Earth is, ‘Oh, do I need this thing to make my life better?” he says. “’Am I the kind of person who…’ and then you fill that blank in.” You fill that blank in with content marketing. Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Publishing content to the web can bring in customers who you would never otherwise have met.
“I call it weaponized storytelling,” Brogan says. “How can I come alongside somebody who might have the use of this product or service, and how do I tell the story such that they see themselves in it?” For Brogan, content marketing is about making that connection.
To explain the value of this kind of storytelling, Brogan tells a story of his own:
“I remember seeing yucca roots … in my grocery store and wondering who dug up the front lawn and stuck it in the bin. I had no idea how anybody ate that. Nobody used to buy it. It used to sit there and wither and then they’d throw it away,” he recalls, “until they put up a little picture showing one easy way to cook it, and then people bought a bunch of it. So I think that’s also true for content marketing. Content marketing is also good for making serving suggestions on why and how you should use someone’s product.”
Chris Brogan raves about Jay Bear’s book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype. He recommends it to entrepreneurs aiming to bolster their content marketing strategy.
That’s why you should embrace content marketing. But what content should you publish? Brogan has a few ideas on how to come up with content ideas of your own.
For starters, he stays on a constant lookout for inspiration — things in everyday life could spark ideas. He uses his camera phone to snap photos of things that inspire him. If you scan the world for ideas, they will come.
But they might not pass by on the well-worn path. Brogan says that you aren’t likely to stumble on fresh insight if you only go where everyone else in your niche goes. “Here’s the hint,” he says. “If had a good idea, they’re either not ready to share it, or it’s not that different from something you’re already doing, because you’re all in the same industry. All great innovation comes from far outside your industry, so stop reading all the blogs by the people doing the same dumb thing you’re doing.”
While Brogan is a big proponent of reaching out far and wide, he also knows that you can find ideas close to home. His email newsletter, for example, invites people to reply back with questions. Those inquiries don’t just provide ideas; they provide ideas that come straight from his audience.
The Real Value of Relationships
Even beyond content marketing, Brogan values his email newsletter. Looking back on his journey, he says, “The only big regret I have … is, I would’ve started an email newsletter a lot earlier if I had realized how valuable it would become to me.”
“I think the way to use a newsletter is, for instance, to make it really important content that’s very unique and the opposite of very shareable,” he says. “It’s very private.” An email newsletter presents an opportunity to forge relationships beyond snippets of social media sharing.
And relationships embody Brogan’s approach. He believes that community is the key to success. “If you are fortunate enough to have a community to serve, then you will always do better than the person that just has ideas,” he says. “I’m a big follower of the concept that a rising tide raises all boats. Every dollar I’ve made … has community attached to it.”
Community isn’t just about the relationships you have with readers and customers. It’s also about how you relate to everyone else in your industry and beyond. Brogan believes that if you help other people and connect them with others who can help them, you will get ahead. It’s a perspective that parallels the views of Wharton Professor Adam Grant. In his bestselling book Give and Take, Grant argues that givers — those who contribute to others without demanding a return — are successful in business.
Compared to total self-interest or desperate people-pleasing, Brogan’s advice to create community and build relationships seems to be a superior strategy. “Stop spending all your time sucking up,” he says. “But instead spend your time raising up all the people around you.”
“If I’m the person who puts one hand into another person’s hand, and I never ask for a penny in that interaction, I’m going to get invited to a lot of places,” he explains. Helping other people build relationships benefits everyone involved, and you can act on that now. If you offer help to a community today, you can get help from that community tomorrow.
“I think that the best community-builders in the world are the ones that spend most of their time pushing the spotlight towards others,” Brogan says. An easy place to apply this perspective is social media. You shouldn’t treat your Twitter feed and Facebook page like meandering monologues. For instance, Brogan often promotes other people’s content.
This isn’t just true on social media; it should be the central insight to all of your marketing. “I spend a lot more time on Twitter search than I do on Twitter just reading people’s things, because I’m searching for people who are looking for the solution that I offer, so that I can help them even more,” Brogan says. It’s so simple to acknowledge, yet so easy to ignore. Any businesses transaction needs at least two parties. Entrepreneurs must understand the needs, wants, and attitudes of potential customers.
If you’re deaf to what others want, you’ll screw up. Brogan often watches it unfold in his own inbox. “I get mail all the time from people saying, ‘Hey, we love your blog! Would you like to try out a baby stroller?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, my kids are eight and eleven, so I’m pretty sure a stroller might not be a good tool.’”
Know the pitfalls and you’re halfway there. Now here’s the advice you can act on: Listen to others. Find a need. Figure out how you can help them. “Everyone hates to be sold to, but we love to buy,” Brogan says. “There’s somebody out there so anxious to use your product, but you have to find them and you have to find them gently.”
Find them gently. That’s what Brogan does, and it works, even if it takes time. Juggling many roles and projects can be hard, and like every entrepreneur, Brogan is busy. He runs a company and publishes a magazine and flies to conferences and cares for his kids and has a fulfilling relationship with his girlfriend and goes to the gym twice a day.
Do What Matters
There are 24 hours in a day — even the kindest community or shrewdest content marketing won’t change that. So how does Brogan fit everything in? “The way you do it,” he says, “is you cut out all the baloney in life. I mean, there’s just so much silliness. For instance, I try to make any interview opportunities 20 minutes or less. If I have to have a meeting, if I’m forced to have a meeting, I do it as brief as possible. I don’t watch too much television.”
“There’s a lot of things you can cut out of your life before you tell me you don’t have enough time,” he says.
Now it’s over to you. You have Brogan’s insights. You know what to do and how to do it. So go make some time and build a community. Start a blog. Publish some content. Raise people up. Listen to them. Create a community.
What’s the relationship-minded way that we can make cool stuff happen on the web? The answer is yours to build.
- Content marketing and the future of blogging
- What it really means to develop deep relationships with your customers and how?
- What influences Chris’s business decisions
- Community building 101
- How Chris has become an extremely influential marketer, blogger & entrepreneur online
Full Transcript of Podcast with Chris Brogan
Nathan: Hello and welcome to the Foundr Podcast, my name is Nathan Chan and I am your host. Today we have a really, really cool guest, his name is Chris Brogan. I’m super excited to share this interview with you. We had an awesome conversation around content marketing, community building, customer relationship, how to build a presence online. And he’s been doing online businesses and all this stuff ever since pretty much this stuff became the hip thing. So there’s a lot to be learned from him, he shares a lot of really, really interesting stuff around what it takes to grow and build your community and actually what it means to really care about your customer.
You know, it’s not even a marketing strategy, but you know, one of the biggest things that speaks for itself when you want someone to buy something from you or when that person is going to buy something from you, it’s because they trust you and they believe you care on a fundamental level. So, it’s something that’s really important that I’ve learned, you know, in the past couple of years as getting into this entrepreneurship game, and Chris does this very, very well, so I think you’re gonna love this conversation. It’s an awesome interview, we talk about all sorts of really interesting things.
Yeah, I hope you’re enjoying these episodes. What’s happening for me this weekend, it’s Australia Day weekend so it’s a long weekend, but for me there’s no difference between if there’s a public holiday or not, I’m just always working, having fun. So yeah, that’s it from me guys, if you are enjoying these interviews, please do take the time if you have two seconds, could you leave us a five-star review and also please check out the magazine. I think you’ll love it, okay, let’s jump into the show.
Today I’m speaking with Chris Brogan, Chris Brogan is the publisher of Owner Magazine, a business magazine helping you improve your worth by growing your capabilities and connections. He’s CEO and president of Human Business Works, it’s a publishing and media company. He’s also a sought-after keynote speaker who has addressed crowds of thousands, been on the Dr. Phil Show and once presented to a princess. Chris has consulted with companies such as Disney, Microsoft, Coke, Pepsi Coke, Google, Motorola and many more. And he’s also a New York Times bestselling author of six books and counting, including “The Impact Equation” with Julian Smith. So Chris thank you for taking the time to speak with me today man.
Chris: Nathan, this couldn’t have been a better day, I’m so excited to talk to you.
Nathan: Awesome, so look, I said to you before, you’re all over the internet and you’re doing something right. And I just want to start off with, how did you get your job, doing what you’re doing today?
Chris: I took my job, I guess I didn’t get one. What happened is way back in the way old days, I mean even way pre-internet, I was involved in bulletin board services, where you would dial up a crappy modem and it would make all kinds of weepy beepy sounds and you would wait a long time to deal with the add your message to a thread of messages and hang up. It would be like Twitter but you could only tweet one human at a time. And back then, I learned the magic of being able to connect with people about like interests. You know here you are, you and I are about as geographically as far apart as humans could be and still it will be on one planet and we can connect.
And so I fell in love with that well into my…I maybe was 12 when I started getting into that. And so skip a lot of years and I started my first blog in 1998 when we were calling it journaling, somewhere before that I was using America Online and CompuServe and Protégé and all that. And then somewhere in the 2000s, mid-2000s I realized wait, there’s magic in this, there’s business that could be had and so I started writing about how businesses could use these tools and businesses started paying attention. And I went…one day I just decided I would consult, and the minute I put out my hook, the first really big company mentioned that they wanted to work with me and it was…title was Golf.
And right after that I mean I’ve just been very fortunate to work with many, many very large companies that everyone would know. Most simply helping them understand how do we use all these digital tools to be human at a distance? You know what’s the relationship-minded way that we can make cool stuff happen on the web? So where other people were trying to memorize SEO algorithms and search and all that and when others were trying to say beat up an email list until the people give up their money and you can learn in 10 easy lessons how to get rich by asking people for their money, I went at this whole other marketplace which was just, how do we make people feel like they’re cared for and treated well and how does that translate into revenue for companies. And that’s kind of how I got there, Nathan.
My blog since 1998, chrisbrogan.com, it used to be other names before but…and all these other assets that I’ve created on and off and started podcasting in ’05 has just really given me the opportunity to be there first in a lot of cases. And what I tell a lot of people is, it’s not that I’m all that brilliant, I was just first so everyone quotes me and so it’s kind of a domino effect from there.
Nathan: It’s really interesting because I’ve been playing this space and being interested in entrepreneurship and in more in particular digital. And I just see your name popping up everywhere and you reference like a lot of people use you as an authority to reference things. And yeah I’m just like, “I’ve gotta talk to Chris Brogan, like why is everybody mentioning Chris Brogan?” I see you popping up everywhere and it’s amazing man. So I wanna start with your online presence, so you’re saying you built it from scratch but I’m sure it’s more than that, just being there first. It must be some key elements to doing that. So, first of all, I’d like to ask if somebody was starting out in the game just right now, they wanna build an online presence, how will they go about that? What’s the easiest way to go about that?
Chris: Well you know I would say Nathan the first thing is, I would always tell people to start with some kind of a blog. And one reason is that the actual technology to build one something like a WordPress or whatever is just so simple nowadays and when I say that, if you’re looking at that kind of technology going, “Oh, I can’t do that.” It’s easy to also pay someone to do really fast and set it up so that once you get it behind and learn how to just write the posts and what not.
If you can use Microsoft Word, then you can probably write a blog. And so what I like about that is it’s free mindreading, meaning your potential prospects can read how you think about ideas and projects and they’ll get a better sense of what you’re going to do. And there’s really almost no company that shouldn’t have some kind of a blog, it’s just a matter of how does that impact people’s choices or decisions or whatever and what can we make them do? And then when I think about the online space, the only big regret I have right after blog is I would have started an email newsletter a lot earlier if I had realized how valuable it would become to me.
But I don’t mean a lot of these newsletters that I find other people sending me, look like the junk drawer. It looks like stuff they might have copied and pasted that they found all over the net or leftovers in the fridge. Like things that we served fresh a few days ago then I’m just gonna send to you again because why not? And what I think the way to use a newsletter is, for instance, is to make it really important content that’s very unique and very…the opposite of very sharable is very private and it’s like come and get this very important message. And so that’s been a really core element to my business the last couple of years, it’s like I say I regret that I didn’t start really focusing on that a decade ago or so, I’d be in a much different situation.
Nathan: Let’s talk about content marketing because it’s such a buzz word at the moment and it’s something that I think you do very well. Do you believe that every entrepreneur in business should be doing content marketing right now to increase…essentially lead to increasing size?
Chris: Not every, because I could see the argument for a lot of e-commerce type platforms maybe not doing that as much or doing it in a different way. But I can say that most every should. First of what I always say about content marketing is that I call it weaponized storytelling. As humans, the way we wander around the earth is we think “Oh, do I need this thing to make my life any better? Am I the kind of person who…” And then you fill that blank in. So it could be am I the kind of person who needs a motorcycle? And if you’re the kind of person selling motorcycles so then you’re gonna write an article about you know why doctors are the best motorcycle riders or whatever. And you’re gonna start getting people thinking about why you’re able to solve their problem for them.
And so I mean I think a lot of entrepreneurial types miss the boat on this because first of what they immediately think is how can I push my product into somebody’s hands? And really what they’re trying to do is how can I come alongside somebody that might have the use of this product or service and how do I tell them the stories such that they see themselves in it? In food, for instance, we might go down to the grocery store and we might see something that we actually don’t know how to use like I remember when I first saw things like is it yucca plants?
I remember seeing yucca roots or whatever in my grocery store and wondering who dug up the front lawn and stuck it in the bin. And I had no idea, how anybody ate that because I’m originally from a very rural part of the U.S. in Maine. And it looked kind of…I didn’t know but you sort of use it the way you might use a potato or like a squash or a turnip but I had no experience. So nobody did until…and nobody used to buy it, it used to sit there and wither and then they threw it away until they put up a little picture showing one easy way to cook it and then people bought a bunch of it. So I think that that’s true with content marketing, content marketing is also good for making serving suggestions on why and how you should use someone’s product.
Nathan: Interesting. And how do you gauge about what is good content? Because a lot of people say content is king but how do you gauge that? Because you find that a lot of people just start blurting out posts all the time with blogging, is it the quality of the post or the amount of?
Chris: So first off, content isn’t king, I’m the king. Content is a tool of mine but I would say that the really important way to think about it is the world’s just getting busier and busier and so there’s two ways to go after that. You can flood the marketplace with information but if the information is not useful, I’m gonna tune you out. I was just making this comment, I’m amazed how many businesses are using Facebook and they finally get me to push like on their product because I like their product, their service or whatever. And then they ask me stupid things when I finally see the posts scroll by in my screen that says like you know what Games of Thrones character are you? And I think I don’t know, the one that pushes unlike on your page I guess.
And so I’m flabbergasted that if you have my attention, if you’re gonna squander it with something dumb then it’s just not…we’re just not gonna have a long relationship. And so I am not a proponent of the flood the market method, although I do sometimes send a lot of information out but I only send information that I think is valuable to the person that I’m hoping to attract and that’s the big difference. There’s a great book I could recommend by Jay Baer, his last name B-A-E-R called “Youtility” Y-O-U-tility. I think he’s really got the idea on where content is going next.
Nathan: And how do you find your content ideas?
Chris: I am never at a loss for ideas Nathan, I have…first off, my newsletter is unique to a lot of people’s newsletters in that you can hit reply and actually talk to me. It doesn’t come from [email protected]Idon’twantarelationship.com.au. And so my community that I have the pleasure and the opportunity to serve, is frequently asking me questions that are really useful. I mean I’m looking right at some right now that I’m gonna use for future blog posts and whatnot. But the other place I get ideas is sometimes I wander around and I might use my camera phone and see a thought and shoot it for later. I often also ask the question, “Why hasn’t anyone?” The one thing I’ll tell all of your community to stop doing is following all your peers and thinking you’re gonna get a good idea from them.
Here’s the hint, if they had a good idea, they either are not ready to share it or it’s not that different than something you’re already doing because you’re all in the same industry. All great innovation comes from far outside your industry so stop reading all the blogs by the people doing the same dumb thing you’re doing, instead go find the weirdos and you’ll have a much better chance of innovating.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s actually something I try and do. Because if you look and I mean the magazine’s all about entrepreneurship and if you look and read other entrepreneurship blogs and business books and all those kinds of things, you’re gonna come up with the same ideas but if you look in another space, you can see what other people are doing and something else might come to you that you can apply to that niche or that space or just an idea about something else, you know, and you can put your own spin on it. So that’s a great, great point. I’m curious, you talk about community and it was only yesterday that I caught up with a friend and they really highlighted to me the power of having a community, like a tribe that Seth Godin would describe. And then, you know, I was doing a little bit of research before I talked to you and I noticed that you have a massive community. Is that something that you always originally went out to try and build?
Chris: Absolutely, I believe with all my heart that if you are fortunate enough to have a community to serve, then you will always do better than the person who just has ideas. Someone with ideas lacking the community, I mean let’s go medieval for a moment and imagine that, you know, so the way cities used to form was that a military outpost would be somewhere down by some body of water and the reason it’s by the water is of course for travel and for food and other purposes. Well, then a city would form sort of around that military area because it was the safest place to put a marketplace. That real-life physical market where you’d wander through would be where goods and services were exchanged and that’s where trade would spring up.
Well, community comes from knowing what’s where in the marketplace and who can you get to and who needs this and who do I know who does that? And the way to build that is you just perpetually serve it. And a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of founders I know think of their customer base for instance which is not a whole community but it’s a subset. They think of that as a tour and all I think all day long is how can I serve these people? And today alone, I mean I wanted to make sure I preface this by saying that I went through about 40 days of really cold, dry, nothing has gone well for me, I’ve had very bad business for about 40 days. Today alone, we had four deals, all of those deals came from community interaction, all of them. And they’ll be about $50,000 or $60,000 worth of business when it’s all recognized, all of that just because of community.
And so what I enjoy in this process, what I enjoy in these opportunities is none of these came from some ad, none of these came from a search optimized Google placement or some trick that I know how to do and I don’t know Vine. This is all from humans going, “Wow, I think Chris knows something about that.” And the reason that they’re willing to say that is because I’d be the first one to say they know how to do X, Y, Z that I don’t. And so here on the show, I recommended Jay Baer’s book, Jay and I work in a lot of the same spaces but why wouldn’t I recommend him? To me, I’m a big follower of the concept that a rising tide raises all boats and I’ve just…I don’t know, every dollar I’ve made Nathan, has community attached to it. So I don’t know another way to do it, to be honest.
Nathan: And how do you foster that community, what’s the best way you think to have everyone hang out in an area? Like how do you foster it?
Chris: I’ll tell you how I do it in person and then I’ll tell you how that also works online. When I’m in person when I go to an event…I was just back from an event in San Diego in the U.S. called Social Media Marketing World run by Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. 2,000 plus people came, I mean for all I know it’s 4,000 I didn’t really pay attention to how many people. But, every single time I would be in the situation where a few people would approach me, I would make sure we got in a ring and that we just chat, welcoming in anyone else who was coming by who wanted to talk. And quite often, I knew at least a few of the people well enough to turn to another one and say, “Oh, did you know Ian, he’s really good at figuring out which digital tools are great. Or did you know Lewis Howes, he’s like the master of webinar selling and all that.” And so in that process, I just kept shifting the attention to these other people who were also very interesting leaders and great experts at what they do. And I think that the best community builders in the world are the ones who spend most of their time pushing the spotlight towards others and making sure that other hands connect.
A long time ago, I think in the book “Trust Agents” we called that be at the elbow of every deal. Meaning, I found the person who puts one hand into another person’s hand and I never ask for a penny in that interaction, I’m going to get invited to a lot of places. And I think that’s one element of community. The other and for some reason, this quote really evidently stuck from my speech last week because I keep seeing it tweeted back to me a lot, which is stop spending all your time sucking up but instead spend your time raising up all the people around you. And I think that’s the other opportunities when you know the other up and comers in your space, stop pretending they’re not there or stop thinking of the competition but instead raise them up and you will go so much further than everyone else who’s trying to fight like crabs in a bucket.
Nathan: Really become a connector.
Chris: Well absolutely. I think that you know in “Trust Agents” we call that agent zero, in my other books I mean there’s never a part that doesn’t talk about connecting. But the thing is Nathan you and I both met connectors who are not like that, we’ve met connectors who always have that ulterior motive or we’ve met connectors who are smarmy about it in some way that makes it just feel dirty. And the real goal is just how do you do it with complete selflessness and how do you make sure that the person just knows that it’s just pure love and hope for everyone’s success that makes it work?
Nathan: We talk about success, there was…one of my favorite quotes is “80% of success is just showing up” and it’s by Woody Allen. What’s your thoughts on that?
Chris: Well I mean I think showing up is definitely part of it. I’ll tell you, one of the early keys to my success such as it were was that even before…I totally could not afford to do this but I kept signing up and paying to go to conferences and flying there, sometimes when I couldn’t even really pay my mortgage. And so my house would be in jeopardy for a month but I’d show up at an event. I’d land at the airport and I might go to take say $20 out of the automatic machine and maybe $20 wasn’t there. And then I would think, “Well, I sure hope there’s food at this conference.” And I might eat a little toothpaste in between but because I was there all the time, suddenly some really good names in the industry that was seeking entry into kept saying, “Wow, that Chris Brogan is everywhere.”
And coupled with my online presence of being everywhere, it really started to feel like this guy must know something, he seems to be at all the big events. It’s like being a Hollywood guy, Hugh Jackman starts showing up all over the place and you think, “Wow, he was going for it.” But instead what he’s probably really doing is what I was doing which is kind of marketing by presence. And it’s expensive and it’s not the easiest thing to do but I’ll say that I’m sure that it contributed to my potential success because you can put your hand in my hand and you could get a…really read on if I was the same person I said I was online.
Nathan: You talk about marketing right like you have a massive presence online and I just want to know if would you talk about ground roots marketing, how do you approach your marketing? What is the best advice you would give to someone trying to market their online business?
Chris: Be helpful. What I find most people doing is they’re really dying to explain their product and more times than not, you know everyone hates to be sold to but we love to buy. And so there’s somebody out there so anxious to use your product but you have to find them and you have to find them gently. And I find that from my experience having a blog with certain kind of readership, I get mail all the time from people saying, “Hey, we love your blog. Would you like to try out a baby stroller?” And I’m like, “Well, my kids they’re eight and 11 so I’m pretty sure a stroller might not be a good tool. Although I guess I can make them get in it but they’ll probably fight me for it.”
So there is a lot of times where the offer or the opportunity just doesn’t line up and what I find bad marketers or bad sellers doing is they’re pushing even harder for those kinds of opportunities. It’s so much easier just to listen and find who’s got a need or who’s got something you can do and how can you be helpful to them? And so for instance, one of the reasons I have such a following that I do on places like Twitter is that I show people all kinds of great resources that they can do things with, that are often not mine. I’ve said for a really long time, promote other people’s stuff 12 times as much you promote your own. And then the other thing that I do a lot is I spend a lot more time on twitter search than I do on twitter just reading people’s things because I’m searching for people who are looking for the solution that I offer so I can help them even more.
Nathan: Wow, that’s really interesting. You do a lot of things, you’re an author, a bestselling author, a writer, a blogger, publisher, entrepreneur, speaker, how do you manage it all?
Chris: First off it’s not a great thing that I do a lot of things, it just means that I’m like ADD, like everybody else. But I really try to package it into this one thing that I run Owner Media Group. And I folded the Human Business Works corporation inside that and so I’m not doing as much consulting as I can help it although I’ll tell you when the phone rings and they offer money, I don’t say, “Oh no.” and hang up on them. So I still consult but I do all that plus I go to the gym twice a day and I have time for relationship with my beautiful girlfriend and I have kids and she has a daughter and you know the way you do it is you cut out all the baloney in life. I mean there’s just so much silliness, for instance, I try to make any interview opportunities 20 minutes or less, I try…if I have to have a meeting, if I’m forced to have a meeting, I do it as brief as possible. I don’t watch too much television, I don’t actually own a television but we watch it on laptops of whatever and, you know, there’s a lot of things you can cut out of your life before you tell me you don’t have enough time.
I also don’t read all these blogs that everyone seems to read. If it’s in Mashable or TechCrunch or something like that, you’re gonna tell me if it’s interesting. I don’t need to read all 200 posts, you’ll just tell me, “Oh, you should check this out.” And that’s kind of what I like. So I’d sooner spend time in a magazine like yours, like “Foundr” because at least I can get some insights from people who are doing the work. And that’s something a lot of people do too, is they just waste so much time trying to keep up and I’d rather just, you know, focus in instead.
Nathan: We talk about spending…you know, you said that you don’t watch TV and you’ve given up some…I don’t know if you’ve given them up but one of my favorite questions that I ask anyone that I interview is, what did you have to sacrifice to get where you are today? What did you have to give up? Because more often than not, we see the end product, so people that come across Chris Brogan we see, you know, you’ve got all these followers on Twitter, you’ve got a rocking blog, you’ve got all these awesome courses, you’ve got these books, you’re doing all these really cool things but what did you have to do to get where you are? Like you said, you started from the beginning. So can you tell me, can you give me an insight?
Chris: I can totally do that. So one of the things that I did to start and by the way, it’s so funny, a lot of times people say, “Well now you’ve made it so it’s just all gravy from here.” But I haven’t, there’s always more success and if you’re…I hate using words like true and real but a real entrepreneur is never out of danger, right. Donald Trump went bankrupt or just as close to bankrupt as one can get twice in the billions of dollars range, Sir Richard Branson, he has a lot more money to play with these days but he had certainly taken it on the chin several times in this process. So early on what I gave up was I really spent as much of my money as I possibly could and more than I probably should have. I never, ever gambled with anyone else’s money by the way I should say that. I’ve never raised for any projects that I do and there’s days I really wish I did Nathan, but I love being the owner.
I know too many people that suddenly become employees of the money and I’m just not into it. Then again if I had a really capital intensive plan and I thought I could own the universe, then maybe I would do it but it’s just not how I build. So I’ve given up a lot of my money over the years, I’ve gone pretty close to broke many, many, many times. I’ve so far lived in my home and not in a dumpster but there’s days when I wonder I give up on…there’s a lot of events that sort of the social media crowd love to go to like South by Southwest for instance in Austin Texas. But to me, it’s just like a big six-day party and that’s not interesting to me. I like business and I love to say hi to all those people and hug them and all that but it’s not worth a few thousand dollars for me and six days of not really doing enough business to justify that at this point.
So a lot of what I’ve surrendered is usually time-based, sometimes it’s some opportunities. When I decided I wasn’t going to really actively seek a lot of consulting, I gave up a lot of revenue because boy, big companies have big checkbooks. But I also started to feel a little disheartened by some of those big companies because certain people would be passionate but then eventually you sort of fall like a little ball bouncing down a hill to the person who is just at their desk to keep it warm. And that gets a little frustrating, so I need passionate people just like you do, I mean I’m sure Foundr really gathers around with a lot of passionate people and so I’ve also given up along the way, so I’ve given up boring people.
Nathan: It’s interesting.
Chris: It’s hard to do Nathan, and I know it’s hard to quit boring people but I have. And the other thing I guess one last very big truth is I’ve given up excuses and I would say that’s probably the most germane thing to the Foundr crowd, is I’ve given up allowing excuses to get in the way of my success.
Nathan: That’s very deep man. We talk about entrepreneurship, what do you believe it takes to build a successful business?
Chris: To me, it’s everything about the whole concept of…well, to build a successful business versus entrepreneurship. So, entrepreneurs, I think really just have to be willing to risk a lot more than other people and be willing to work. I’ve heard this cliché thing that I’ve been repeating far too much which is that entrepreneurs are the kind of people who work 80 hours so that they’ll never have to work 40. And I think that’s true but to make a successful business in my mind, what has to happen truly in the kinds of businesses I build, I should really qualify this by saying that I’m in no way attempting to make lasting businesses that are gonna change the universe. But just to sort of wrap this up I guess, I think that the goal is to make sure that people feel like they belong and that to me is what makes a business and so that’s where I work on the hardest.
Nathan: Awesome, all right man. Look, we have to work towards wrapping up, it’s been awesome speaking with you. So you’ve got some really interesting insights so I just wanted to say, was there anything you’d like to finish off with?
Chris: You know the very last thing I’d like to say is that when we’re in this mode and trying to think like a founder, we’re always sort of hungry for resources to give us inspiration and whatnot. But what we should stop being hungry for blueprints and we should be very much more hungry for advice and making sure that we have I guess food. We should have mental food but not blueprints. That’s my last big thought.
Nathan: All right well we’ll wrap there man. Awesome speaking with you dude.
Chris: My utter pleasure, thank you so very, very much.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Chris Brogan
- Learn more about Chris Brogan
- Checkout the Owner Media Group Website
- Follow Chris Brogan on Twitter
- Checkout Chris Brogan’s Books on Amazon