Lewis Howes – Host – School of Greatness
Position Vacant: Lifestyle Entrepreneur
If, like me, you think the job Lifestyle Entrepreneur seems completely made up, you’d be right.
Lewis Howes’ title, like everything else about his career, is completely self-styled and made into reality on his own terms.
The popular School of Greatness podcast host, who is also an accomplished author and former Arena League football player, quite possibly achieves more before breakfast than most of us do in a week. And it’s all because he took the time to design the life he really wanted. In part, the job description includes overseeing his School of Greatness Academy, a resource for entrepreneurs that gives people access to tools, a community, and accountability coaching to bring their business and lifestyle to the next level.
We sat down with this marketing guru, lifestyle coach and all-round nice guy to learn how he went from couch-surfing to being one of the most sought after online thought-leaders. We also picked up a bunch of expert advice on how one achieves the level of greatness that would warrant such a slick, albeit made-up title.
Wander the halls of the School of Greatness and you’ll find them stocked with high-achieving alumni, each with a unique story in their chosen field or industry but who share the commonality of success. It is an inspirational and fascinating fraternity, one that keeps millions of listeners coming back to Lewis Howes’ podcasts week in, week out.
So how did a kid who dreamt of nothing more than becoming a professional athlete wind up inspiring people on the Internet?
“From an early age, all I wanted was to be a professional athlete. Getting paid to play sports and have fun? I thought that would be a pretty sweet life, and I knew people were doing it. I set out to make it happen and after graduating college, it did.”
Unfortunately for Howes, a year into his promising professional football career a nasty wrist injury saw his forearm placed in a cast for six months, hopes of a sporting future all but dashed. He soon found himself sleeping on his sister’s couch, unable to work, naturally thinking where to now? With plenty of time on his hands, he turned online to his sports heroes for inspiration.
Fast-forward a few years and those who inspired Howes are now his peers, his personal brand a seven-figure business and his name among the world’s best in online marketing, branding and just living the dream in general.
So, what wisdom can Howes impart to budding online entrepreneurs and marketing aficionados? Plenty, so take note. We’ve massaged Howes’ best advice into eight practical steps.
1. Dive in.
You’re on the starting block, goggles on tight, ready to dive headlong into the Olympic swimming pool of your chosen field. So jump in. For Howes, his learning opportunity was in social media — LinkedIn specifically.
“For me it was about getting really knowledgeable on LinkedIn. I just dove in because there was a huge opportunity. No one was really talking about LinkedIn yet. Everyone was still talking about Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.”
Howes also suggests not being afraid of delving into new areas, because there’s plenty of information out there to help you learn what you need to know.
“I didn’t know anyone in the industry, but now the people I followed early on have become friends. There were so many resources; I just jumped in and starting devouring information. I became a student of all that was being taught in the area.”
After doggedly building his networks and learning everything he could about LinkedIn, Howes took the leap and started running meet-up events around the United States.
“There were Tweet Ups happening a lot at the time, back in 2008-2009. I was building a decent audience and creating groups in different cities on LinkedIn, so eventually I thought why not bring these people together and let them make their own introductions. I did about 20 events in one year and was just out there hustling, trying to be creative to leverage these events. I was making money from entry fees and sponsorships, but also from food and bar sales commissions. Eventually I wrote a book on LinkedIn and I sold those too.”
Howes soon had the attention of some major players in the industry and was invited to present his LinkedIn expertise during a live webinar.
“I had met an author by the name of Joel Comm previously and pitched the value of LinkedIn to him. A few months later he invited me to present during a webinar he was hosting. I threw together a sales page with a checkout link to my book and after the webinar I made $6,200. It blew me away that I could make that kind of money in an hour! Since then I’ve done well over 700 webinars, and now offer trainings on webinars. I learned everything I could about mastering the online space. It’s been an incredible journey.
2. Insert yourself into the value chain.
Next up, set yourself apart with a strong personal value proposition. Sounds intimidating, but it needn’t be, if your approach is genuine and you offer straight up value to anyone you try to connect with.
For Howes, having a successful impact involved a two-prong strategy. First he would engage with the person on other platforms e.g. he would respond thoughtfully to a blog post or ask a question on Twitter. Then he would compose an introductory message that was immediately useful to the person on LinkedIn. In doing so, Howes built currency into his personal brand right from the beginning.
“I jumped right in and started giving people helpful feedback, offering profile makeovers to influencers I saw who had really awful profiles. Sometimes I would record a video and send it to them explaining that I had some tips on how to improve their profile or get better leads and I just wanted to send it over and to also say ‘I love your work.’ I did this a number of times and suddenly I was interacting with all these influential people I was inspired by.”
Howes suggests that the most you should try to connect with someone without receiving a response is just one or two times, so your approach should be well thought out and executed. Especially given that most savvy networkers have a good sense of when a person genuinely wants to add value to their business, or is merely out to take up their time and secure value for themselves.
“There’s obviously a reason we connect with each other — whether it’s to create a connection and just be in that person’s sphere, or maybe someone wants an introduction to try and get something done. There’s always a reason. But you have to come with your best intentions and bring value — less stress, more time or money, whatever that may be. A person is way more likely to be responsive if you are really trying to support them without them taking too much time or energy.”
3. Get in front of people who can help you.
After making yourself useful to your key influencers online, Howes believes the next step is to physically meet and greet them. In his industry, Howes recalls this being made easier by the fact that many thought-leaders in his industry were regularly hosting or speaking on the event circuit.
“One of the most important things I did was attend events certain people were speaking at. Once there I found ways to connect directly with them, such as finding introductions to others in their circles and getting myself invited to dinners. For me that was probably the most powerful thing I’ve ever done — meeting people face to face, building these relationships and demonstrating my value in person.”
4. Don’t limit your playing field.
When it comes to growing your network, Howes recommends you take a broad-brush approach. Platforms like LinkedIn are geared toward growing networks in every direction, across a myriad disciplines and fields, so take advantage of this by seeking introductions outside your own industry. Having a broad spectrum of people at your fingertips may not pay dividends immediately, but it might in the future.
“I don’t like to play in one specific area in life. I like to be around inspiring people, as I’m curious about how they became great at what they do. We can learn lessons from anyone who has achieved greatness – so don’t pigeonhole yourself. The world is getting smaller, particularly the business world. It’s good to just always be building your relationships and adding that value.”
“One of the best relationships I have is with one of the top sports sponsorship agents in the US. A few weeks ago he connected me about a guy called DJ Irie, who I then had on the podcast. Now people are stopping me in the street to tell me it’s one of their favorite episodes. Beyond that, I’ve made an introduction for him to another friend of mine and now they’re going to be working together. I’m helping both of these people to achieve their goals; you never quite know when an opportunity will come, but I do know that by adding value to people all the time it always comes back to you.”
5. Sell before you create.
While some might say it’s vital to have your product or service packaged up neatly (with a bow on it) before you go to market, Howes believes the reverse to be true. When he first began to monetize his business online, he did so by giving an overview of the problem his proposed training program would solve. When tickets began to sell straight away it confirmed to Howes that people were interested. He then had enough lead time to generate the content and the customers’ upfront investment to cover the costs of setting it up.
“So many people get caught up on the technical side or setting up logos and websites or content. Then when they try to sell, no one buys. I prefer to flip it around by setting up webinars where I’m getting a bunch of people along and give away some awesome free content about a topic they are struggling with. Then once I have a product I know people want I package it up real nice and it can be sold over and over.”
6. Surround yourself with a killer team, the right tools, and be held accountable.
After a year or two of trying to manage his booming business solo, Howes took the plunge and started hiring. And, while it took a few tries to get the mix of people right, he now has a team who help him get the job done. In addition to content and product support, Howes has a trusted personal assistant who even keeps him eating healthy! (Howes insatiable sports appetite saw him work his way onto the US Men’s Handball team after recovering from his injury, and he still fits this in…how, we’re not sure).
“In the beginning I was scrambling each day to just get as much done as possible and stay on top of things. I didn’t have great systems and there was definitely anxiety that would pop up as a result. But because I was growing relationships there were people really I needed to keep in touch with. Social media is great for this, but I do like to call people and really stay in contact.”
Once he started hiring a skilled team of people, things really fell into place, and Lewis’ School of Greatness started to take off.
“My mission is to serve 100,000,000 people to help them create a living full time around what they’re most passionate about. You can have all the best training products, coaches, and supportive community but if no one is keeping you accountable for your goals, you’re not going to achieve them.”
When it comes to tools of the trade, Howes and his team keep it simple with Google Docs and Calendar, relying on Go To Webinar to produce his Webinars, Lead Pages for customer registration, Aweber for list building, and good friend and fellow guru Derek Halpern’s online course creator, Zippy Courses, for content. Marketing assets and branding is easily sourced with Elance or 99 Designs.
“I have my systems down fairly well now, but it’s always something I can always improve on or to automate more and make life even easier, for myself and everyone else.”
7. Drive traffic in the right areas.
When it comes to driving traffic, Howes is firm believer in generating original, compelling content via a blog to help generate leads, then marketing directly to an email list,something you absolutely need to build. The best way to do it? Again, offer something for nothing and create valuable pieces of content people can opt-in to or subscribe to for free.
“I use email a lot to drive traffic directly to a sales page, because I already know these people are most interested in what I have to offer. In terms of driving traffic to my blog the podcast really helps me to get in front of bigger audiences each week and I do a lot of social media, like Facebook ads pointing directly to my webinars where I then sell products. I’ve been seeing a lot of traffic on Pinterest lately because I got featured on a few large boards with a ton of subscribers. So I’ve started pinning and am driving more traffic via Pinterest than anywhere else right now.”
8. Maintain clarity of purpose.
To get where you want to go, clarity is king. In Howes’ experience, some entrepreneurs are too single-minded about building a business to simply make money, without taking the time to crystallize what their real purpose or goal is, and why.
“I have seen people get results, make money and still be totally unfulfilled. Making a lot of money isn’t a deeper purpose. It’s not a mission that can support you or your customers to the fullest.”
Howes says a clear vision is the common thread among the hundreds of successful people he has interviewed for School of Greatness podcasts since 2009.
“What I’ve learned from people who do incredible things and build successful businesses is that they are incredibly clear about what they want to achieve, then they hustle and do whatever it takes to make it happen. They find a way. So discover what you want to do and be willing to do whatever it takes, ethically and morally, to make it happen.”
Top 3 Marketing Must-dos
According to Howes, becoming a master of marketing is a skill all entrepreneurs should have, even if they don’t plan to always deliver it themselves. Become a master of what needs to happen within your team and your market using these insights:
- Copywriting – Understand it is a powerful form and get your head around effective messaging. The words you use can either be effective or ineffective depending on how you use them. Study basic copywriting, headlines and what language converts well.
- Branding – Some schools of thought suggest that horrible looking sites covert higher, but Howes says a great brand that people can trust is more important. Create something warm and inviting, as opposed to something that looks like you’ve put no thought or consideration into it. Design is a powerful way to stand out over the competition and have a product or service people feel great about using.
- Credibility – Build credibility around all aspects of your business. Share information about yourself, any awards you win or media articles, and have awesome testimonials.
What is greatness?
So there you have Lewis Howes’ best advice for achieving greatness. But from the man who runs the school on it, we had to ask: What exactly is greatness?
“I get asked this a lot because I ask everyone else! I don’t know if I’ve discovered the best way to say it. But the feeling I have about greatness is that it’s always learning and striving to become the best version of yourself in everything you do. Always giving your best and leading with your heart in every experience. When your intentions are pure, you strip away your ego and are always striving to be better – that is greatness.”
- Lewis’s top 3 marketing must do’s
- The importance of selling an online course before you have created it
- How to build relationships Lewis Howes style
- Branding & Copywriting 101
- The School of Greatness and the strong clarity and purpose he has behind everything he does
Full Transcript of Podcast with Lewis Howes
Nathan: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the “Foundr” podcast. My name is Nathan Chan, and I’m coming to you live from Melbourne, Australia. I’m feeling a little rusty at the moment. I had a big day at the horse races here in Melbourne. Horse racing is really big. We even have a public holiday for it and, you know, I try and work hard and play hard. And I had a good whole day of just drinking and having fun with all my friends and, you know, that’s what it’s all about.
You know, I’m all about the grind. I’m all about the hustle. But at the same time, you got to try and find some balance. So, yeah, you might hear a little bit of more deepness and bit rustiness. My voice is a little bit croaky, so I apologize for that. But thank you so much for taking the time and listening to another episode of the “Foundr” podcast.
Today, we have the Louis Howes, and Lewis is a very very well known online and lifestyle entrepreneur. And he runs the ”School of Greatness” podcast and he’s doing really really cool things, so I had to get him on the show. We featured him in the magazine. And he shares a whole ton of gold with us around creating courses, building a successful business, especially from the online point of view.
And there were some really, really good takeaways around webinars, and how he makes a lot of money closing on webinars and selling his products and information products and courses from webinars. And I had a really really good takeaway from speaking with Lewis around the importance of selling something before you’ve made it.
Now, you know, I, kind of, had this realization when I talked with Denie from Indiegogo and the power of validating an idea. But, you know, one of the best ways to validate an idea or a concept is to sell it before you’ve created it. And, I think, it’s absolutely brilliant, especially from creating information products it’s really really not because it doesn’t really cost you anything to create them.
So look, I won’t go into these anymore because Lewis goes into this stuff really. really in depth. So I’m gonna leave it with you guys, and let’s just jump into the show. If you are enjoying these interviews, please do leave us a review. It helps more than you can imagine. Now, let’s jump in.
Can you just start off by telling me how you got your job?
Lewis: Well, I designed my life. I would say. I don’t really have a job, it’s more of a lifestyle. I would say that I design it through seeing what others were doing that I really wanted, and realizing what I wanted. So I’m an early age I really wanted to be a professional athlete. I wanted to be able to play sports and get paid to have fun. I thought that would be a pretty sweet life and I knew that people were doing it. So I set out, you know, every year to make that happen. And eventually, when I graduated college I made that happen and played professional football.
However, after my first season, I got injured and had to retire from a pretty nasty wrist injury. And for about a year and a half, two years almost, I was recovering from this injury. I was living my sister’s couch. And I was uncertain about what I was gonna be doing the next, you know, 60, 80,100 years of my life however long I live. And I started to go back to when I was a kid to see, like, following the lives of people who are pro-athletes and doing it that I admired. I started looking at people that I admired in life who were living life on their terms and making money around their lifestyle, who were inspiring, who were adding value, who were building businesses. Those are the people that I was attracted to.
So early on, when I was recovering, I was online, kind of, just researching a lot. I was reading blogs. I was following what they’re doing. I saw that they were making money online by offering teaching and training courses in software and services and coaching. And I thought this would be cool to be able to do this one day to be able to design a life where I get to work from a laptop and anywhere in the world at any time and build a passive income around doing the things that I love doing and serving other people on the way.
Nathan: And you mentioned, I’m curious, other people that you saw that you looked up to building a successful online business. Can you tell us who are some of those people, and were they just friends or people you saw online? Like, how did you find out about this whole world of online business because it sounds like it wasn’t originally you’re scene, you could say?
Lewis: Yeah, exactly what am I scene and then anyone in the industry really. The people that I followed early on, I’m now friends with a lot of them. It was, you know, Tim Ferriss was one of them I read the ”4-Hour Work Week” during Christmas of 2000…was it 2007? Yeah, 2007 Christmas. I think, I read the ”4-Hour Work Week” and it, kind of, opened me up to all these different possibilities. So there was a lot of resources and links in that book and on Tim’s site that I would go out and kind of devour all the information and really just started to study and become a student of learning and come when they were all teaching.
Another guy was Chris Grogan. Early on, he was blogging like ever day about social media. And his speeches that he was giving around the world and I really don’t go into his content and became great friends with Chris Grogan. And Gary Vaynerchuk was another guy who was really talking about a lot of things, and so I was following him and now we’re good friends. But really, all the people that I was interested in.
Also I think Tony Robbins has been a big influence because he’s always been a stand for people’s success and their greatness. And he’s been committed to getting results for people and supporting them and this discovery on what they really want and how to get it. So I’ve always been inspired by him. And, you know, I’m actually gonna be interviewing him here for my podcast in a couple of weeks about his new book, so it will be fun to connect with him and build that relation as well.
Nathan: Oh, wow. Awesome. So let’s go back to the start. So you’re just getting into the space so what was the first thing that you started doing, and how did you start to build this business around your life?
Lewis: The first things I started doing were one becoming knowledgeable on certain topics. So early on I got knowledgeable on LinkedIn. I dove in, I realized that there was a huge opportunity there and no one was talking about LinkedIn at the time that I started talking about it. So everyone’s talking about Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, and no one was discussing LinkedIn. So I dove in there start it with people advice, feedback. I started doing, kind of, like, profile makeovers for influencers that I saw had a horrible looking profile.
So I would record a video and I emailed to them and say, ”Hey, here’s some tips on how you can improve your profile to build your business, get more traffic and leads. You know, I just wanna send it to you and say I love your work.” So I did that for a number of people. And then what I would do is I would interact with all these influences that I was inspired by. I would connect with them via Twitter. I would share their content. I would reach out to them asking them inspiring questions.
And then one of the most important things I did was, I went to all these events that were speaking out. And I’ve found ways to connect with them after the events like at night at the party they were going to. I found ways to find introductions from their friends and really be in their circles of relationships they were hanging out with during these events that they’re speaking at. For me, that was the most powerful thing I’ve ever done is focus on relationships and adding value.
And, you know, with you, I even reached out to you and I said, ”Hey, you know, I love what you’re doing. Do you have some goals in mind for how to reach, you know, a certain level with the magazine? I’d love to be able to support you and just navigate and facilitate this conversation with you. It kind of supports you getting some clearer goals on how to achieve it.”
So for me, I’m always wanna be a support or a stand for people to reach their greatness and the success they want. And being in a same location with people, meeting them face-to-face has been such a powerful, I guess, point in the success I’ve had so far.
Nathan: You know, look, I can really feel that I was really impressed with the way you just connected with me and it just felt like you had so much time, and I’m not so sure what you wanted me to talk to you about. Seems like you’re doing so much, you springing up popping around everywhere. Are you able to give us an insight around how do you maintain a lifestyle balance, and how you get so much done? Because it appears, like, you’re getting so much done, but, you know, at the same time you’re traveling and you’re an Olympic athlete, and all sorts of things like that. So can you give us an insight into how that all works?
Lewis: Yeah. I mean, before I would say a couple of years ago it used to just, kind of, be, like, a mess in my head and I was just scrambling every day to, like, get as much done and stay on task and, you know, go after my goals and add value to people and travel and work out. It was, kind of…there wasn’t a great system. And there was definitely anxiety that would pop up and stress would pop up from time to time where I felt like ”Man, I’ve got too much on my plate.” And I feel overstretched that I can’t get it all done or if I were promised and I got to figure something out. And so, I would just stay up really late and try to get everything done every night.
And what I really started doing was because I have developed a lot of relationships, I’ve got, like, a core of probably, like, 10 or 20 people that I really stay in touch with on a weekly monthly basis. And then there’s others that I’m just, you know, I check in with them when they pops of my mind. I usually see people on face…I think social media is a great that because I’ll see what people are doing on Facebook or Instagram and it allows me to connect with them smaller touch points, but also I like to reach out and call people and really stay in contact to be of value to people because I think that’s the most important thing you can do.
But what I really started doing was hiring people to support me on all the things that I want to get done. And I used to try to do it all myself when I needed it to be done myself because I was, kind of, a perfectionist. And I want it done my way. I think that’s a lot of entrepreneurs have that challenge. They want it done their way so they never outsource anything. And then I started hiring awesome people. It took me a number of people to go through until the found the right team where I’m at now and the right systems. And it’s definitely not perfect and I’m always learning and growing.
But I’ve got a full-time assistant that, you know, she manages my entire life and manages my entire lifestyle. She cooks all my meals healthy for me. She books all my meetings. She does, you know, a lot of research for me and preps me for my podcast. And I’ve got another couple of people on my team who support me with the content creation and product development and project management. So I’m not focusing on managing every task. I’m really empowering them to support the overall mission and purpose of what we’re creating together. So that’s what I would say I’ve been able to create so far.
Nathan: Wow. Interesting. And what tools, do you have any tools that you could recommend? Online tools?
Lewis: Yeah, I mean, in terms of like managing my lifestyle and business, I would say that besides all the social media tools that everyone uses to be on social media like the actual sites themselves. I’m a big Gmail fan and Google Calendar and Google Docs fan. You know, I keep it real simple. I don’t think there’s, like, any other tools right now that are that much more helpful than those two managing my time with Google Calendar and make sure everyone’s in sync on there. And then managing all the content, delivery and the product workflow, we just use Google Docs.
You know, Basecamp is, kind of, confusing to me, and just like are always more tools that you can download, I like to simplify it and make the most of the tools that I’m already using as opposed to add on, you know, 50 different tools. But, you know, there’s definitely tools for an application for specific things I do like creating products or using webinars that I need to use that support that process. But just getting the life thing down and managing the business, Google Docs and the Calendar.
Nathan: Okay, interesting. I thought you might tell us like some next level epic tool you might be using or something, but they are nice and simple.
Lewis: No. Nice and simple. I mean, I think, the less complicated, the bigger the result. The more complicated the system or the tools, I think, that’s gonna be a lot harder to get things done. So that’s just my mindset.
Nathan: Interesting. So let’s just rewind around the networking and developing connections online pace because this is something that, I think, is really, really good at. And, I think, it’s something the audience can definitely learn from. What actionable advice which you give round connecting with people online?
Lewis: I think people know like when people reach out to me, I can tell right away if they wanna add value and improve my life, or if they want to take my time and improve their life. I come from a place of how can I… you know, there’s obviously a reason why we connect with each other, you know. It’s never just like I just wanna give to you and I don’t want anything in return.
There’s always something we want in return whether it’s to create a connection with you and just be able to be around your energy, whether it’s to learn from association with you, whether it’s maybe you want an introduction to someone in the future, maybe you will wanna add a lot of doubt to someone now and sell a lot of products for them or promote their book or their content so that maybe one day they’ll promote you back. You know, there’s always a reason why we connect with people.
And again, it may not be like I just need something right now maybe like I wanna build this relationship because I think this person is awesome, and I want them to be at my network so I can serve them. And so a lot of people on my network who may wanna connect with this person. You know, there’s lots of different reasons but it’s never, ”I just want to help you and that’s it.” There’s always gonna be a benefit for reaching out to that person for the person reaching out as well.
So you wanna make sure that you are coming with your best intentions and you’re adding so much value to the person that you’re reaching out to and connecting with, that you offer a solution to a challenge they may have or if you know they want more traffic or promotion you’re offering more of what they want or less stress for them, more time for them, more money, whatever it is that you see that they could be wanting or they’re talking about or something that they love, what they’re passionate about, you wanna support them with that.
And they are more likely to be responsive and connect with you if there’s something that’s you’re really supporting them without them having to take a lot of time or energy to do it as well. So that’s some advice I would give.
Nathan: Okay. And one more thing I’d like to touch on that. Because, you know, people are busy and they’ve got a lot of things going on, what if they don’t respond? How many times would you try to reach out to them? And when do you know when to just let it go?
Lewis: You know, I would probably reach out once or twice. I would be very strategic though. I would, you know, comment on questions they ask on Twitter. First, I would, you know, like or comment on post they do on Instagram. I would share a video and make sure that they put in their information and tell them I love their work. So I would, kind of, like, set it up so I can hopefully they would see those touch points because usually, most people manage their social media.
Unless it’s some big celebrity, they’re not gonna see it. But if it’s someone in business or, you know, a big CEO, they usually manage their own, you know, or some account. So find out what that is. Or they write blog posts that are really leaving thoughtful comments, it goes a long way.
And then email it to them. I would actually recommend if you’re not really well known yet or you don’t have a lot of credibility or something that’s like a platform already, then it’s, kind of, like 50/50 chance that someone may respond. I know guys like Seth Godin they respond to pretty much everyone, but they may not do something with you or, like, you know, create a deeper relationship with you unless you really have something to offer or you’re gonna support them.
So I really like getting introduced through mutual friends finding out who they’re connected to. You can see this on Facebook or you can see this, who they follow on Instagram or Twitter or who they follow or on LinkedIn. So really kind of like figure out who your network they are connected to. And that’s why, I think, it’s valuable to always be building relationships and deepening those relationships because the world is getting so much smaller in the business world.
And it’s gonna be easier to get into contact with potential customers or partners or clients or sponsors when you have those deeper relationships with people and make the relationships broad across the industry. Don’t just have relationships in tack, but have them in the sports industry as well. Have them in online media, have them in the authors, right, have them across the board in publishing.
For me, I like to develop relationships amongst many different industries, real estate, I’ve got a dentist. I’ve got all these different friends that I built relationships with and I’m trying to find the best in each industry because there’s always gonna be a way to merge these relationships and support one another in different industries that you’re not gonna know until it comes up, and you’ll be glad you had those relationships when it does.
Nathan: No. That’s great advice man. And just hearing you say that it makes me realize now like one thing with your podcast and I love it, by the way, “School of Greatness.”
Lewis: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Nathan: You always bring in these interesting obscure rock stars. And is that how you do it because you have so many friends in different industries and stuff like that. Is that how you do it?
Lewis: That’s part of it, yeah. I’ve got a lot of friends again in, you know, in the health ministry and business, authors, you know, scientists, world-class athletes. I like to play not in one specific area in life, but I like to be around inspiring people on any level. And I’m curious about how they became great at what they do. And, I think, we can learn lessons from anyone who’s achieve greatness even if it’s not in your industry. So, I think, pigeonholing yourself to only knowing people in your industry is not the wisest thing you could do because there’s always ways to merge in history.
You know, there’s always ways to…you know, my friend who’s one of the guys that I built one of the best relationships with, a good friend of mine today, he’s one of the top sports sponsorship agents out there. He finds sponsorships for brands and sporting events and things like that, and he partners these big brands with these events. And, you know, just a couple of weeks ago, he connected me with a guy named DJ Irie, who I then had on the podcast, who people are telling me now that it’s one of their favorite episodes because he was so inspiring.
Someone came up to me on the street in LA last week, he was like, ”Hey, I love the show.” And I asked him which one left the biggest impact for him, he said ”That interview you did with DJ Irie was so powerful for me.” And, you know, I made an introduction for him a couple of weeks ago as well for a friend of mine who’s got an online golf site. Now, they’re gonna be working together to help make money together. And I’m gonna be the reason why they’re both making money because I partnered up together. Adding that amount of credit to those individuals, it’s, like, I’m building up credit with people when I help them achieve their goals.
And if I didn’t have the sports sponsorship relationship that I’ve built seven years ago, and I didn’t have my friend, who I met with recently who is like, ”I’m looking for more sports sponsorships.” If I didn’t have that I couldn’t have partner them together and a lot of things are to come out of that over the years that I’m not gonna even know until it comes. But I just know by adding value to people, it will always come back to you.
Nathan: You know, this is great. Yes, so you always connecting like providing value. Always interesting people never, I guess, resting and getting comfortable just with your life.
Lewis: Always. And, you know, I feel like if you don’t have any skills and if you don’t have like a skill set to get a job, I feel, like, the best job that you can create for yourself or the best way to make income is to build a deep meaningful extensive network. And you can make so much money off of just partnering people together and getting referral commissions from being, you know, a relationship manager really, in a sense. So again, you can make money doing anything. And definitely, I’ve made a lot of commissions off of putting people together.
I’ll give an example. I got asked to give a speech at 10 different universities here in the United States for an entire conference. It was, like, 10 or 12 schools. And they were gonna pay…they had a limited budget of $25,000, and that’s to speak at all 10 of these schools. And it was gonna be over like a two-week period they’re all in Ohio. And so, you get to kind of drive each one each day and give like a two-hour presentation. And they were like, ”We have $25,000. I know that’s not a lot of our budget, but can you do it?”
And I said, ”I can’t do it because my fee is 25,000 a speech and that would just be too much time for me to do it for two weeks. I would love to, you know, I love to speak to student-athletes, but that’s too much time.” And I said, ”But I do have someone who does speak to university students and pro sports teams and talks about exactly the exact same topic you want me to talk about.”
So what I did is I introduced him to this conference and I said, ”Hey, man, I’m gonna hook you up with this gig. If you book it, I want 15%.” So I hooked him up with the gig and he was happy. He made whatever it is, you know, 20 grand and I got five grand or whatever. I don’t even know if 15% is, but he sent me the check. And all I did was make the introduction. And then I made a month’s worth of income by having the relationships. So that’s something you can do if you don’t know what you wanna do.
Nathan: Yeah. And actually, I’m curious. We didn’t get to touch on this, but when you couldn’t play football anymore, that’s how you started on LinkedIn. Is that right?
Lewis: That’s right. Yeah, when I was injured I was sleeping on my sister’s couch for about a year and a half recovering. And I had this big cast on my arm a full arm cast so I couldn’t really work out. I couldn’t get a job because I had one hand and I was just recovering. So I was on my laptop all day, again, researching these influencers and people that I was inspired by who were building businesses online and blogging and writing books.
And a mentor suggested checking out LinkedIn to try to find, like, a job opportunity. So I spent all my time on there building my network, reaching out one by one to people, offering value, making connections and optimizing my profile.
Nathan: I see. And then you started running events, is that correct?
Lewis: I realized around this time, this was, like, 2008, 2009, there was these tweetups happening. I don’t know if you remember this but a Twitter was getting pretty big and everyone was doing these tweetups, at least, and, you know, in the US. And I said I could probably do a LinkedIn meet up. I was building this big audience. So I started creating these groups in cities. These kind of business networking groups on LinkedIn and they were all asking me for introductions to people on LinkedIn. So I said, ”Why don’t I start bringing them together in person, and let them make their own introductions and connect?”
And I started making some decent money doing that. I did two long events and a year. And, you know, some nights I was making like, $3,000 or $4,000 from an entry fee, from selling sponsorships for tables, from making a commission, from the food and bar sales at the restaurants, from…eventually, I wrote a book about LinkedIn and I would sell those at the event. So I started really hustling and learning how to be creative in leveraging how to make money on all these different areas.
Nathan: I see. And what happened next after the events?
Lewis: I, kind of, got burnt out after going 20 of them, to be honest in a year. I was really hustling and it was keeping me a float, but I wasn’t really making the money that I wanted to to take it to the next level. And I had written this book on LinkedIn because everyone is asking for more content, and no one is really the leader or the expert in talking about it. And so I saw an opportunity and I wrote this with a friend of mine who helped me really navigate the book. And the book gave me a lot of credibility. It didn’t really make me any money, but it gave me credibility to speak on stages, to go speak at events, to do more consulting.
And I went to this one event. Again, events were so powerful for me because I was able to connect with the influential people who are speaking. And I went to this one event called “Affiliate Summit” in January of 2009 in Vegas. And I met a guy named Joel Comm, who at the time was a big internet marketer, a “New York Times” bestseller. And I met with him, I pitched him on why LinkedIn was valuable and why he should start using it.
A few months later, he comes back to me and says, ”Hey, I’m doing this social media boot camp. I’ve got experts on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, but no one on LinkedIn because no one’s talking about it except for you. I would love for you to come on and present.” And I was, like, blown away that I had this opportunity because it was, you know, he was a big deal, at the time, for me. And I said, ”Sure, I’ll do it.”
I had no clue what a webinar was or how to give a webinar or how to do any speaking or anything, but I threw together I got some help and advice from some friends on how to put together a sales page and what the checkout link. And I had a advanced training on LinkedIn that I was gonna provide on a live webinar for people at the end of this free webinar boot camp. And at the end of the webinar, I made $6,200 and that was really the first time that I made any amount of significant money in that short amount of time and it blew me away of the possibilities of what I could be doing online.
And I thought to myself if I could do $6,200 in an hour, I could do this every day for the rest of my life. And for the last five years, I’ve done probably well over 700 webinars. And really, you know, I’ve learned everything I could about mastering webinars and making the most of them. And it’s been an incredible journey.
Nathan: And there’s a lot here that I’d like to unpack, but before we go into the webinar piece, and, I think, this is important, you have to have something that you want to sell. If you want to start building a business online, you have to have some form and information product or course if you wanna get into this internet kind of space. You have to have something to sell.
Nathan: So what advice and recommendations would you give to someone that is looking to create an information product or a course?
Lewis: I would say sell it before you create it because so many people get caught up on the technical side of things or what they think they need to do. And they spend less time on the design, and the logo, on the website and the course content in creating and then they try to sell it and no one buys or they get three sales. So I like to flip it around and say, ”Do a webinar, get a bunch of people on there and give them some amazing free content about a topic that those people are struggling with or with a problem they have and give them a solution on this free webinars.”
So whatever may be, whatever topic you know best. For me, at the time, it was LinkedIn. So people were frustrated on how to use social media, they didn’t know how to use LinkedIn. They wanted to get more leads and they wanted to get more referrals. They wanted to get more traffic around this time in 2009, 2010, because of the economy. They were looking for jobs. So I was teaching them how to solve this problem that I realized people had.
And what I did was I sold a product, a boot camp basically where I said, ”Hey, guys I’m gonna deliver this live next week. And it’s gonna be a live training.” And people bought it. If no one bought it, I didn’t have to create a product or a course. But people bought it and they told me exactly what they were looking for. So then I was able to really develop the training materials over that next week. I had a time commitment so I had urgency to get it done, and I had the money to spend to develop the course with the designer and the technical things that I needed.
So I had proof of concept and I was able to use the investment that the customers gave me, basically doing a back order or a pre-order for products and then deliver the product, package it nice after it was done and it was able to resell it over and over.
Nathan: I see. So you’re essentially recommend to throw your hat over the fence?
Lewis: Yeah, basically. Exactly.
Nathan: I see. And around, like, the technical elements of a webinar, what tools used and what tools do you use for delivering your courses or information products?
Lewis: Sure. For the webinar itself, I use GoToWebinar, which is gotowebinar.com. It’s a great service for hosting webinars. Then I use lead pages as my registration pages because I can customize it. I can check for. I can split test multiple lead pages and see which one converting the best. Gotowebinar doesn’t provide that solution yet. So I use that it syncs with GoToWebinar. Then I use a webinar, and iContact as my email providers to promote the webinars and to generate the leads for people when they opt-in. So those would be the tools for running the webinars. Then I use Keynote as my presentation tool to deliver the presentation on the webinar.
And then in terms of creating a product, I used to use Wishlist to develop password protect your member’s area. I still have that for some of my products but now I’m using a very simple membership course create are called Zippy Courses. I think it’s zippycourses.com. My good friend, Derek Halpern, who, I think, was on the cover as well is the creator of that and it’s a really simple way to kind of create a course of like 20 minutes really simple like drag and drop your content, and you’ve got a course.
And then I use 99designs or Elance to find designers for, kind of, freelance projects like that for, kind of, the sales pages and the branding. I use Wistia a lot for video hosting with my content in there. And then I have my team that, kind of, manages the with the PDFs and the audio and all that good stuff.
Nathan: I see. You really good it down pat.
Lewis: You know, I mean, I’ve got it down good enough, but it’s always something I can improve on. And I, like, something I can learn a new tool to automate and make easier. So it’s a matter of discovering what the best system that works for myself and for everyone else.
Nathan: So when it comes to traffic, what recommendations do you have around, I guess, driving traffic to a sales page?
Lewis: I would say to your blog and focus on and really generate those leads, the best way to drive traffic is having an email list. And the best way to build an email list is to offer something free and create valuable resources and content that people can subscribe to or opt-in for. So I use my email list a lot to drive traffic directly to a sales page because those are people most interested in what I have to talk about an offer. So I use email marketing that way. But in terms of driving traffic to my blog to generate those leads, my podcast helps with that. So getting in front of a bigger audiences helps with that. That’s for me podcasting and social media.
And I’ve been seeing a lot of traffic with Facebook lately. I do a lot of Facebook ads directly to my webinars where I then sell my products from webinars. And I see a lot of traffic actually interest lately because I got on a few bigger boards too that have a ton of leads and subscribers, too. So I’ve been pinning things and driving more traffic with Pinterest than anything else right now. And those are some of the main.
Nathan: Yeah. No. I’ve heard quite a few things people are talking about Pinterest a lot at the moment. I haven’t tried it yet, but, yeah, I’ve heard some really good things.
Lewis: Yeah it’s pretty crazy.
Nathan: So let’s switch gears and talk about, I guess, what advice would you give to somebody that was in your position, you know, seven years ago when they’re just starting from scratch and they’re trying to build something? What advice? Because you’ve come from nothing and you’ve created these massive amazing branding and you’re living the dream.
Lewis: The advice would be to really get clear on what you wanna create for your entire life and why you wanna create it. I think if you’re just focused on I wanna build a business to make money, then you’re gonna struggle. And it’s gonna be a lot harder and more difficult.
Or, if you get the results where make you money, you may feel like empty and unfulfilled to the point where you think, ”Okay, well, now what do I wanna do?” So, I think, it’s important to get clear on what you wanna do and why you wanna do and have a deeper meaning and purpose behind building an online business. It shouldn’t just be to make a lot of money. I don’t feel, like, that’s gotta be a support to you or your cause or your clients or customers to the fullest.
Then I would say learn and become a master of marketing and become a master of even if you don’t do it yourself become a master of it, so that you’re aware of what needs to happen with the team that you hire because if you can’t market and know how to market your products and services, then no one is gonna buy it from you. No one’s going to come to your product, to your site or anything if you don’t know how to promote it properly. So really study and research, follow how other people do it and become a master of marketing and understanding that process.
Nathan: Just on the marketing piece because, you know, you are a top online marketer. What three pieces, like ,what’s the best three pieces of advice you would give that you believe is good marketing?
Lewis: Well, I think understanding copywriting is a powerful part of marketing and understanding the messaging. So what you say, the words you use are greatly effective or ineffective based on how you say them and when you use them. So studying basic copywriting is something that you should understand. Studying headlines because people click based on headlines. So understanding how to write effectively or understanding at least what convert’s well.
The next piece would be branding in terms of marketing. If you have a horrible looking product or horrible looking site, there are some studies that say, like, the worst looking sales page and lead and often page the higher converting. And that may be true in some instances. But, I think, overall, you wanna focus on having a great brand so that people can feel like that’s a warmer brand. They can trust the brand. They can trust you as opposed to something that looks scrappy and like they didn’t put any focus or thought into it.
And I think you do a great job of this with your brand. Like, imagine if your magazine was just, you know, the title at the top and then all white background and a picture of someone and not really designed in such a way that captured people and said, “Wow. He really thought about this. You really put some thought and effort and energy into offering a quality looking product.”
You know, it’s something that I wanna go to instead of, like, looking at a competitor that’s just like a cheap looking image that’s put up on the whole on the cover of magazines and a crabby looking font and it looks like there’s no effort or energy. So I really think design is a powerful piece towards being able to market something and have people talk about it and feel great about it.
And then, I think, marketing also I would say a third thing is building credibility around what it is you’re promoting. So whether that’s yourself becoming an author or becoming, you know, getting award and certain things, being featured in the media, having great testimonials, having awesome client testimonials. So having the trust and the credibility around the product to be able to market it effectively so that people trust it.
Nathan: That’s awesome because it comes always comes back to the trust.
Nathan: That’s what is what is building that trust.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look, we have to work towards wrapping up here, Lewis. I just want to touch on one of the piece, and that was around greatness. ”School of Greatness,” you said it’s going really well and I can, you know, I personally love the podcast. It’s awesome.
Lewis: Thank you.
Nathan: Really interesting guests. You know, a lot of people that you never heard of before and just…they’re just rock stars they’re just, you know, just living the dream. What is greatness to you?
Lewis: It’s interesting. You know, my thought on this. I get asked this a lot because I ask everyone else and everyone always gives incredible answers. I’m like ”Oh, that’s a great way of saying it.” So I don’t know if I’ve discovered the best way to say it, but the feeling I have about greatness and what it means to me is always learning and striving to become the best version of yourself in everything you do. Always giving your best and leading with your heart in every experience and relationship. And, I think, if we give our best, strive to become better and from place of love, sometimes it’s not always perfect and easy to do, but when our intentions are purely come from a place of love, and we strip our ego and strive to be better, that’s greatness.
Nathan: Love it. Awesome. Well, look, was there any final words that you’d like to finish off with? It’s been an awesome interview, man. I really enjoyed speaking with you.
Lewis: I appreciate it. Final words, I would say is, you know, what I have learned, I mean, interviewed hundreds of people who have done incredible things and built businesses and been very successful. And the common denominator for all their success there’s lots of different things they do really well.
The common denominator is really they have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, and then they hustle and do whatever it takes to make it happen. They find a way to make it happen and they’re committed to making it happen through any adversity. So discover what you wanna do and have a clear vision of it, and then be willing to do whatever it takes ethically and morally out of love on how to make it happen.
Nathan: That’s cool answer, man. I love it.
Lewis: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Lewis: I appreciate it. Thanks, Nathan.