Ken Mears: Get this thing going, John. JT. I guess we’ll let you just kind of let you lead you off. I’ll intro, and then, lets you just kind of take the lead with questions.
John Spence: Sounds good.
Ken Mears: Alright. Thank you for joining us on another fantastic edition of my (…). Today, we got a really, really special guest. The one, the only John Spence will be joining us. John, it’s a distinct pleasure to have you joins us today and share with us a little bit about your expertise. Specifically with personal branding. First of all, I think we can kind of just start out with the basics: who you are, and what do you do?
John Spence: Wow, how long have we got? No, just kidding.
Jon Thomas: We got all night, baby.
John Spence: How much beer do you got? After failing out of college on the first try, graduated number 3 in the country in my major in the university of Florida, go Gators, and went on to work for the Rockafellers, and at the age of 26, I was named CEO of one of the Rockafeller foundations, international foundation, we were on projects in 20 countries around the world. Spent a few years running that company, spent a few years as a stand-in CEO for other companies, and about 20 years ago, I became an independent consultant doing work for small companies all the way up to the 4 2 100: Apple, IBM, Microsoft, folks like that, and written 5 books now, co-authored another 5, or 6, and got named one of the top 100 business thought leaders in America, and nominated as one of the top 50 in the world. So, there’s the thumbnail. Because we’re talking about personal branding, I thought that would be appropriate.
Ken Mears: Oh, for sure.
John Spence: Quite à propos.
Jon Thomas: John, I talked a little bit about this last week. You do such an excellent job branding yourself as a … For as long as I’ve known you, when I moved to (…) You know, if somebody mentioned of coach, or a speaking person, or a marketing guy, the only name that you would hear would be John Spence, and …
John Spence: Thank you.
Jon Thomas: I mean, you’re a wonderful human being, as well. You have a wonderful wife, Sheila, and your dog Siree. You have all these wonderful things and yo have all these great subjects that you talk about. But, if we could focus a little bit on your theories on personal branding, and how you’ve used video to really promote your brand. Not just nationally, but globally. That would be fantastic.
John Spence: Yea, well. My pleasure. And we’ll go through it a little bit. Part of it is I used to work a marketing and advertising firm. For years, I owned a boutique firm called Flycaster Company. We specialized mostly in the marine industry, because I like to fish. And so did my partner, so we had a lot of boat companies. We did a lot of branding for very large companies. But, when we step back to personal branding, like branding anything, I think it’s key that you sit down and define the brand that you want to be, and there’s 2 ways to do that. You either look at … if you’re brand new, what you want to bring to the market, how you want to differentiate, or what you want people to think of you; or, sort of like me, after I’d already had, I mean before I got really into strong personal branding, especially with video, I’ve been doing work for several years, so what I did is I went out to my top 20, or 30 clients in the world, and said “why specifically did you hire me? What is it about me as an individual? Is it the programs that I deliver? The things I do? That made you chose me?” And my clients came back with a very clear answer. And it was: research + real life + passion = our why. Real life: John, you’ve owned a bunch of companies, this isn’t just theory for you. You know, research, I read about 100 to 120 business books a year, and I have for about 20 years. Passion: I love what I do. And then (…), when they hire me, they a return on investment. So, understanding that, we put the tagline of making the very complex awesomely simple. Because that was another thing that my clients told me. Now, it would have been just as easy to position myself in that, but the key is you gotta be able to back up that brand promise. And, let me give you a little bit on strategy, and it applies directly into branding. All effective strategies is just valued differentiation * discipline and execution. In our personal brand, this is just as essential. This is what it says. In order to be successful, you’ve got to bring something to the marketplace that is unique, exciting, compelling, wow, that your customers highly value that they’re willing to pay for; that is difficult, if not impossible to copy, and then, you’ve got to be able to execute on it flawlessly, which is basically your brand promise, and being able to deliver on your brand promises. So, as part of us putting together my brand (…), we spent quite a bit of time, putting together about a 50 gauge brand platform. One of our own words, awesome, very complex thoughts made simple. What do we give? We make complex things simple. We had a color palette, we had a competitive analysis of “how do I stand up against all the other people that I compete with, literally in the world?” In my business, it’s global. We talk about other brands to compare me to. We work for big boats companies, one is called Edge Water, and we went out and talked to all their customers. They said it’s easy. It’s a mix between BMW, and Tommy Bahama, we’ve got a cool, exciting, high-tech boat, that is truly the boater’s … you know, driving machine, and it’s got that relaxed island atmosphere, Tommy Bahama. I think that’s one of the ways to rally understand the brand deeply, and we do the same for me and a personal brand.
Ken Mears: I got you. How do you identify the people that you are going to be, not necessarily competing against, but also comparing your services to, when you are going to go out and promote your new brand. The brand that was John Spence, at that time?
John Spence: Yea, I sat down and thought about who is everybody that (…), that offers the same services that I do. Then I googled them, I studied them, and frankly, I knew who a bunch of them were, because I’ve been following them for years. And I picked one person that, I thought, was the closest one I wanted to be positioned as in the marketplace that was Tom Peters. (…) was coming up in this business, Tom Peters was the number 1, professional business speaker, and consultant in the world. He had just been named the uber-guru of professional speakers. So I went on and looked what did Tom Peters do to become Tom Peters? And, I studied him like crazy. I went to his website, I read his book, I even jumped on a plane a couple of times and flew across the country to listen to him speak, and meet him in person. So, I could deeply understand how he had branded himself to become number 1 in the world at what I also wanted to do. And, there’s a fun story: about 10 years ago or so, I met him in California, we had lunch, it was at a large conference, but I paid extra to be able to have lunch with him. And, at lunch, I told him that I … I said: “I’m chasing you. I have been studying you, and one day, I will be equal with you in this industry.” And, he kind of chuckled at me, and laughed like “I hear this all the time.” And, just this last year in 2015, I was named one of the top 100 leadership speakers in America, and it was alphabetical, and 4 in front of me, was Tom Peters. He said (…) “Congratulations, you caught me.” But, the idea was, I figured out a brand that I already admired, and then, added my twist on it, and created a checklist of everything I needed to do, personally, to actually earn the right to state that I was equal in that brand.
Ken Mears: So you put a ton of hard work, and effort, and research into figuring out exactly who you wanted to be, who you wanted to emulate, and how you wanted to present yourself, out on the marketplace, essentially.
John Spence: Yea, except for that I won’t agree with who I wanted to be. (…) The reason I say that is that it’s really important to figure out who you want to emulate, and who you might want to copy and who you want to benchmark against, but you have to take … in personal branding, it also has to be super authentic. And, I’m never, ever of the school of “fake it til you make it.” So, it’s taking someone else’s brand, or multiple brands and saying “how can I spin this, not in a bad way, but how can I customize this to truly make my authentic self, the things that I want to do, the mark I want to leave.
Ken Mears: And truly make it your own.
John Spence: Right.
Ken Mears: So, currently, which social media, are you finding, is the best for you? What social media, I guess, is the best for your personal branding? What have you found?
John Spence: For my personal branding, and essentially, I’m writing a book on referrals right now, just finished it. And, here’s what I believe very strongly, and it matches directly with what you guys were saying. Social media is the future of referrals, and I can tell you that, for 20 years, 99.9% of all of my business comes from referrals. Period. So, I can go through it pretty quickly. Because I’m a business speaker, and a consultant, LinkedIn really offers the best access to my target market. I’ve got about 14 thousand, 15 thousand followers on LinkedIn. I get more comments, more feedback, more shares, more links from LinkedIn than almost any other site. Number 2 would be Twitter. I guess I’ve got about 12 thousand followers there. But the key is I have a lot of opinion shapers that have about 700 thousand, 800 thousand, a million followers who happen to like me, and like the work that I do, and they retweet everything I do. And that drives a lot of exposure. Next one is Facebook, in order. And my personal page is pretty much maxed out at 5 thousand, or very close. It was at 5 thousand, I kicked off a thousand people that I didn’t interact with that much, and it’s creeping back up there. But the fan page has helped a lot. And then, last but not least, is Google plus, which is nice. I think I have about 24 thousand followers there. I send a lot of stuff out, I don’t see a lot of stuff coming back, or retweets per say. If you asked me, if I were only to pick one, it would be LinkedIn. 2 would be LinkedIn and Twitter.
Ken Mears: Good deal. Makes sense. I think that what you were saying about leveraging the power of the people you work with add additional thousand and thousands of followers. That’s a multiplier, a huge multiplier in getting your content out there.
John Spence: I’ll give you a great example. When I wrote my next to last book, “Awesomely Simple”, it’s a good book, it’s ok, and it won some awards, named the top small business book of the year. It was selling alright, but then, Guy Kawasaki, former marketing director at Apple, or Apple evangelist, was kind enough to tweet something about it. I didn’t give it to him, he had read it, liked it on his own, and tweeted basically “Great book, I highly recommend it.” I went to number 110 to 31 on the bestseller’s list, to number 11 in one day. And got sold out on Amazon.com for a full month. Why? He has 1.2 million Twitter followers, but the more important thing is they trust him. He’s got a really strong tribe that respect and trust him. So, when he says something is good, they rush out and buy it. The reverse is, if he says something is bad, they run away.
Speaker1: I can see that as well. Jason added a quick question for you John. He said” what book on the shelf behind you had the most impact on you?”
John Spence: Wow. The most impact? There’ll be a lot if we’re gonna talk about personal branding. I’ve got a bunch I like. I’m trying to think of one. I like your “Marketing Sucks” a lot. I love that one. I like another one … I like Seth Goden’s books “Purple Cow”, and “Tribe” a lot. And also, Lynch (…). I thought those were great. Especially around social media. I think Gary (…) “Jab, jab, jab, and right hook” or something like that had some nice stuff. I read a ton, a ton of stuff on social media. And there’s a bunch more. If people want to, they can go to my website, which is Johnspence.com, click on, I believe it’s the resources button, and I have a list of the top 60 business books I’ve ever read. And several of them are ones that are around branding and marketing.
Ken Mears, OK, fantastic. I don’t think I know. Where did you actually get into the speaking side of your business? I know you probably did it a lot when you were working for the Rockafeller companies. But, when you were working for Flycaster, were you already starting to do large speaking engagements?
Speaker2: Yea, I really got into this. It’s interesting in that it’s not a job I ever wanted. I had been running companies for years, and I really thought that was what I was good at. Being a CEO. Enjoyed it. And, I got approached by a gentleman who owned one of the top strategic sales training, and strategy firms in America, a company called Salesforce Systems International. They focused on helping fortune 100 businesses close deals of a 100 million dollars or larger. And, he said he really wanted to retire, and go live on his boat in the Bahamas, and he wanted someone to take over his CEO, and he asked me if I would do that. So, I stepped in, and, presumptuously, or supposedly, to become CEO, and as part of that, he said that I would have to go on the road and learn what we do. So, they stuck me on the road to Japan, and China, Honk-Kong, a couple in Germany, in a few other places. And all of the other partners were former Microsoft, (…), IBM, you know, key people, all under their 50ies, I was 32, at the time. And after about a month on the road, one of them said “If you’re going to be our CEO, and tell us what to do, you have to get up there in front of the crowd, and you have to run a class.” and I said “I’m not an instructor, I’m a CEO”. And they said “No, you’ve got to prove to us that you can do it.” So, for the last month, I went up there and instructed. And, ran classes, and ran people through their paces, and helped out, and when I flew back from Japan, to meet with the owner of the company, he said “you do not get to be CEO, because all of our clients want you to be the instructor.” I said “I did not leave being the CEO of an international company to be a sales trainer. 21 years later, here I am. And I did sales for about the first 8 years, and then I moved into the things I was much more passionate about, revolving around leadership, high-performance teams, culture, things like that. I still do some consultative sales training. But I’ve basically been doing professional speaking for about 20 years.
Ken Mears: Did you just get up on stage, or did you get like toast masters, and kind of get a feel for it, or they just said “hey! You gotta do it.” ? You gotta get up there and just go for it.
John Spence: It’s interesting, I went to (…) Carnegie course, right out of college, and I thought that was very helpful. My dad sent me, and that has helped me with my speaking skills. When I went on the road, I had not had any formal training at all. And, frankly, I didn’t think I was that good but I had a lot of ideas in my head. So, maybe my skills weren’t that great, but my content was really good. And, it wasn’t my content, it was stuff that I’d read and started to learn. So, it wasn’t that I was a genius, but after that, yes, I did get a toast masters. I went to toast masters for about 3 years. I got the other partners in the firm help me a lot. Get me a lot of training, especially one. A certain guy named Jack Malcolm. And, I got some professional coaching, especially on video. I was super comfortable in front of crowds. But, I hadn’t have a lot of experience with video. So, I actually hired a professional person out of NZ, to coach me on videos, via video.
Ken Mears: That’s pretty cool. One thing that we were talking about yesterday: we were talking about your different … My wife went to one of your speaking engagements last night, and told me just how wonderful it was and, we were talking about all the different content, like for a professional comedian. If they came up with a new routine a year, that’s a big deal. Do you come up with … I’m sure there’s different bits and pieces you mix together, but it seems like you put out a ton of new content all the time.
John Spence: I have a great professional comedian story with that. I saw an interview with Jerry Seinfeld, who is the number 1 most highly paid comedian in the world right now. And, they asked him: “you are hilarious, you must have been really funny when you were a kid.” He went «not particularly.” Then they went “You must have been a crack up in college”. “No, not really.” They asked him “how do you do it”. He goes: “It’s pretty simple. From the minute I get up in the morning, until the minute I go to sleep at night, no matter what happens to me, I ask the same question. What’s funny about this?” He says: «you know, if you ask that question a couple of thousand times a day, you figure out a few new things.” The way I drive content is I’m reading books just out of control. I read about a 100, to a 120 business books a year. Spend an hour a day minimum reading stories and blogs on the internet. And listen to – I won’t get into my car if I am not listening to a blog, I mean a podcast. So I’m constantly brining new information in. And then, a big part of my content comes from people who are sending questions, or it’s things that I see happening in my classes. I just read 3 really cool books on how to improve your learning. How to really become the best in the world at what you do. So, I’d put out a blog today, based on the 3 books I read on the plane. Coming back from Haiti this week, and it was just condensing a 1000 pages down to 1 blog post.
Ken Mears: That’s amazing. I know you’ve been doing it for years. For the average human, it’s like that capacity to take all that stuff and make it. Because I’m not constantly listening to podcasts, I don’t rad as much, as many books as I used to. Probably, more blog posts, and that type of things, but I find it I kind of get over stimulated with everything I’m taking in, and I lose focus, on kind of what I’m doing at work. Because I’m like “man, this is great.” It’s like I listened to John (…) talking about “ask your customers a question a day.” Then, I went out for lunch, and when I got back, I realized that I had completely forgotten what I was supposed to be doing this afternoon. The way you can take all of this stuff, and put it together, and push it out, so people can understand it, it’s fantastic.
John Spence: Well, there’s a key to that. And, by the way, I’m doing John Lee (…)’s podcast next month. Entrepreneurial Flyer. Which should be fun because he has more than a million followers, so I’m hoping for, at least 2 or 3 people who’d show up at my (…). But anyways, talking about personal branding, that’s another idea of platform is to be able to get on their nav, get a million downloads, should help spread my brand. So, I’d be totally on brand, totally focused, and really try to give people an example of the content I focus on. But, to go back to the reading and studying, there’s a difference between the way I read, and the way most people read. I read looking for patterns. Just like Jerry Seinfeld said, what’s funny about this? Well, I always say what’s teachable about this? What’s interesting? What’s the pattern I see? Uniqueness is nice, and it’s interesting. But, if I see someone saying something one time, and nobody else says it. That’s interesting. But if I see the top thought leaders of the world all saying the general stuff over and over again, I have a pretty high confidence level that if all these really bright, intelligent, experienced people are saying the same general thing, it’s probably something worth teaching. So, I don’t read the entire books, I’m skimming, I’m looking, I’m looking for information, Also because I read so much, I can get through chapters like on – I’m trying to think of something. When (…) took over IBM. I was working there, I was consulting there, I was following all that. I read all his books, I skipped that chapter, I know that stuff. Another big thing is that if I get 50 pages into a book, and I haven’t learned anything, I just throw it away, or give it away. Actually, I’m going to be doing a blog later this week on how I read, because I get asked this all the time. How I read, and how I retain what I read, because I do have a process.
Ken Mears: Well, speaking of your process, we have a question from someone, and I was kind of thinking this to myself, your intake, the volume that you’re just bringing in to your mind, as well as to write a book, and playing for your clients, and actually conduct a business, and live. How do you divide your time to your key priorities? What’s worked for you? Just to stay organized, and be productive?
Jon Thomas: How many days in the year do you travel?
John Spence: That was gonna come in here. I did 198 days out with clients. And, another 20 days of just pure vacation. So, it was 200 and something days or 219 days and, here’s the thing I didn’t know: a full work year for a person that does 40 hours a week is 220 days. A couple things with that is I don’t have kids so, which was a professional choice. My wife couldn’t have kids, we decided not to adopt, but I purposefully chose not to have kids so that I would be able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice. My wife travels with me about 50, or 60% of the time, so it’s a great lifestyle business. But, one of the biggest things, is learning to say what to say no to, and focusing only where you’re good. After 20 years, I’m doing fairly well, I’ve got some resources. We’ve got an amazing operations’ director which you know from (…) John. His (…) he was at the junior league which is who I was speaking to last night. She’s incredible. My wife is in the business with me, she’s my partner, she’s amazing. We’ve got another young lady named Esther and the reason I’m telling you this is that I don’t do the books, I don’t do the contracts, I don’t do logistics, I don’t talk about payments, I don’t negotiate deals, I have freed myself up, so that the only thing I do is read, study, learn, and create content. And, another big part of that is everything we do is custom. I don’t do the same speech twice. Ever. Everything is fixed. I’m always adding new stuff, always adding new slides. And a big part of this, is learning what to say no to. I’m very focused on only doing things that I truly enjoy, that match my values, that are going to make me happy, healthy, get me money, get me close to my family. I didn’t own a tv for about 10 years. The average American watches 37 hours of TV a week. I probably watch 40 hours a year, if that. I do watch TED talks, and things like that, but I’m extremely disciplined about how I spend my time, and then there’s a neat guy named Dan Sullivan, called a strategic coach. And, he talks about the time economy and the value economy. And, the time economy you get paid for the number of hours you work. I work my 40 hours, I get my 40 thousand dollars. That’s it. In the value economy, it doesn’t matter how long you work, it only matters how much value you add. For example, when I used to help companies close 100 million dollar deals, there’s a lot of value there. So, there’s a fairly big payday. And, another idea there is that once you figure out what your value is, anything that is significantly lower than that, you should pay someone else to do, and then spend that time, doing things that are high value leverage. In other words, I don’t mow my lawn, I don’t wash my car, I don’t do laundry, not because I think that I’m above that, but because, I can pay someone else to do that for 10, 15 bucks an hour, and if I work a weekend, or an extra 2 days, or 3 days, because of that, I can easily generate enough revenue to cover their expenses, and their salaries for the whole year. So, one of the ways, I replace work that I’m not good at by only focusing on stuff where I have the most value.
Ken Mears: I think that’s where a lot of people, especially small business owners, they get hung up with that. Either they feel like they’re saving money by doing something themselves, or that they’re the only person that can do that. But, just like you said, you’re losing money, if you go out there, unless you just enjoy mowing the grass. Why spend the time doing that?
John Spence: Yea, if you enjoy mowing the grass, or gardening, that’s cool, but like, I couldn’t do quick books to save my life. I would mess everything up. Esther is a genius, she’s a genius. So, she does in an hour what it would literally take me 10, or 12 hours to do. I’ve got a friend of mine that’s brilliant, that likes to design his own websites, he’s not very good at it, the websites don’t look that great, and it takes him literally a 100 hours to build one, and I told him, unless this is really joyful for you, it would be a heck of a lot cheaper to hire somebody else to do that for 3 or 4 thousand, instead of you spending the equivalent of 30, or 40 thousand dollars of your time, doing something you’re not very good at.
Ken Mears: That is something I find myself doing, especially, the technical geeky marketing stuff. I’ll get into it, and go ” this is super cool”, and then “this is a super waste of my time”, it’s valuable, it gets done, but I probably should just pay someone to do it, and it’s done correctly, and I can move on to whatever the bouncing ball is, down the road. But, there’s always gonna be another shiny one, that’s the awesome thing about the Internet. We talked about it previously, but I think the first time you and I talked about you producing your own videos, probably about 3 years ago, maybe a little bit longer. How did you make that jump into that? Because I know you put out a bunch of stuff, and you did most of that. You did it right there in your office.
John Spence: I’ve got a little 3 bedroom house that used to be the office for my advertising firm, and it’s now my man cave. In the living room, I’ve got a couple of thousand books, I’m in one of the (…) we’ve turned it just like a casting room. That’s all we use it for, professional lights, and everything around me … Ah. I just realized something. Hang on a second. This is better.
That might have made the call better. I had bright yellow light on behind me. Anyways, this is a brand new room. I’m getting used to it. I also have a full soundproof studio, that’s fully lit, professionally lit, I had a guy from ESP come in and do it. It’s a friend of mine. Completely soundproof, widescreen, black screen, green screen, everything. But I started with one of those little flip cameras. Do you remember those things? I used to set one up on a tripod on my desk and go “So, I’m here …” you know, it was just terrible. And, I used the little program that came with it to edit it. But, I got such good results. I mean, people said “Wow, ..” Some people are made to do video. I’m not good-looking, I know that, but I’m comfortable, and I’m fairly animated. And, the truth of the matter is that I know my material so well, I don’t need a script. So, the process is kind of very casual, very authentic, and, you know, very relaxed because I am. But, I started that and the feedback was so strong. People kept asking for videos that, then I moved up to … And all I use is a Sony handicam, just a regular little one that you buy for 600 bucks. I got one that was on demo at BestBuy. It was probably a 1000 bucks, but I got one from the floor for 600. A little tripod, I got a couple of lights, and it moved up another level. And then, I realized that I once I got a green screen, and some other stuff, I use Adobe premier elements, and I don’t use the new one, Pro. I use elements 13, I taught myself how to edit, and then I figured out really clearly how to mess up and make it look like I didn’t. And, I could look at the camera and do this and go (…) So, anyways, what I was saying, and you can cut this stuff together, and it looks like there’s not a cut. I can typically do about a 7 minute without messing anything up, so I don’t have to have any cuts. And then, I figured out the settings on Adobe premier that I just – it’s got my presets. I just all that stuff on top of it, cut the front off, cut the back off, put bumpers on, and I can shoot a brand new high-end video on great content and get it on the internet in about 20 minutes, which is incredibly faster, and a great use of my time. And what I do, is that I do a lot of private videos for my clients. You guys see a lot of content that I put up on my Facebook, and on my Twitter, and my YouTube channel, but I do 3 times as much content privately for my clients, for whom I do pre-video before events, post-video after events. I’m even starting to do major presentations in Australia and NZ by video. I was just in the (…) presenting, and I had to fly to Haiti, and on the last day, the entire training day was run by me, via an already pre-shot video, where I shot a secondary video for the facilitator, and told him exactly what to do, what questions to ask, how to handle the workshops, everything, and the guy said “it was better than having you here live.”, which might be an indication of where video is going.
Ken Mears: Exactly. It’s like you might have stumbled upon something there, John.
John Spence: Yea, for me, with a 190 days a year on the road, on 200 days a year on the road, I’ve sold just about the personal time that I had. I can’t be at two places at once. Except for with video. Or Skype. I’ve done a lot of big webinars presentations via Skype, or tools like these. At (…) in the morning from NZ, to 3 or 4 thousand people in the US. So, video has tremendously expanded my business. It’s a great way to deliver awesome content, while still showing your personality, and have a what I would call more of a personal relationship with the people on the other side of the screen, because you’re talking to them. It will not fully replace the written word, but it’s a nice add-on. And, for me, right now, it’s about 50/50. I write a lot of the blogs, I write books, I do stuff, but I don’t write a book now that isn’t backed up with a video series. It would be unthinkable.
Ken Mears: So, if you could take 3 mentors, obviously, including yourself, that would make us better business people, or marketers, or better overall just human beings, who would your top 3 be?
John Spence: Well, it depends on what you want to learn. But, for small business marketing, you know small, or medium-size business marketing, I think John (…), with duct-tape marketing, and the referral engine, which is the number 1 book I’ve ever read on referrals, I have a book on referrals coming out, and I based a lot of my stuff on his stuff, with permission, because it’s so good. And he does some great blog podcast, some great videos, and he’s got a new thing that if you go to his website, he has all of his content, all of his blog posts, all of his videos there, for free, which I love about him. I also think (…)’s got some interesting things to say. He’s a bit avant-garde sometimes, but I think he’s got some neat stuff. I think Chris Rogan has some neat stuff. I’m a big fan of – I can’t remember the name of it – but it’s – there’s a couple of major social medium. Obviously, hub spot puts out some great stuff, and I’m trying to think of social media, it’s got the picture of a little guy.
Ken Mears: Social media examiner?
John Spence: That’s it. Social Media Examiner. I loved their dev logs, and I follow a lot of their stuff. One of the ways I keep up with all this stuff is that I use flip board. Are you guys familiar with that? I read that every morning at breakfast for about an hour. I can get pretty much all the global news I need to, that won’t make me nauseous, and then I flip up to (…) and leadership, social media, entrepreneurship, and again, that’s where I get a lot of content. I can usually find, at least, 3 or 4 really good articles every morning, that I can put out as great content. I don’t know if you guys know, but yesterday I got named one of the TOP 100 leadership experts on Twitter. Well, I think it’s because I focus on great content. And, probably 70% or 60% of my content is curated. But it’s not curated like those little newsletters that you see. It’s curated like the stuff I’m really impressed with, the stuff I’m reading, and unless I’m interested in it, I refuse to put it up. But I do put up 3, or 4 great articles a day, and I get a lot of followers, and a lot of compliments because of that, and because of that recent award.
Ken Mears: I would have to agree with you, and Seth, and with Chris Rogan. I’ve been following these guys for a while myself and when they Seth came up with the whole concept of tribe, marketing, and in really building your community and marketing to them. I think Rogan kind of took the reins and kind of ran with that and really kind of like dug deeper, with the whole concept of what that truly means to build your own community and be the authority figure in your community. And how then that assists you, from a marketing standpoint. Things that you’ve talked about. How Guy Kawasaki said that he loves your book and then boom. You jump up a thousand spots on the bestsellers’ list. So, that’s right there, that whole tribe marketing in action.
John Spence: And both Seth Goden and Chris Rogan were nice enough to do some stuff … Chris Rogan did a video about my book, which also helped it on. Or, I wanted to add one more Amy Porterfield. Besides having a crush on her, … hers is probably the most content driven podcast I listen to. She always has great guests, she gives away a lot and lots of really solid content. Her show notes, all of the links are stunning, that’s probably the number 1 podcast I listen to because she never disappoints. I mean I listen to John Lee, I listen to Mitch Joel on 6 pixels of separation, and (…) Blunt with sales rigor. I’m pretty sure the minute Amy Porterfield’s podcast comes out, I’m on it.
Ken Mears: One of the things that really impresses me about her is that every podcast that she does, there’s always something of value in it. Some type of takeaway, giveaway, whether it’s from her, or the person she’s interviewing. She’s got fantastic stuff.
John Spence: And her ideas are just incredibly solid. She doesn’t give fluff, she doesn’t give silly ideas, she’s a content queen. I mean, she nails it on every time, which, once again, you asked me who I aspire to, I would consider her a mentor. She’s great. A, I learned a ton from her, and B, the way she runs her podcast, the way she runs her webinars, the way she handles her personal brand is incredibly impressive. I would say, amongst the top 10 in the world at what she does right now.
Ken Mears: That’s pretty impressive. Did you tell me you were going to be on her podcast?
John Spence: No, I’m gonna be on John Lee Dumas, dear good friends. So, I’m hoping that they cross (…) and I end up on both of theirs. Which is another, the (…) was an incredibly nice young lady named Jamie Tardy, who runs a show called Eventual Millionaire, and I did her podcast and it went in Fuego. It’s one of the most listened one she’s ever had, and she immediately turned to John Lee Dumas, and said “you have to have this guy on your show.” So, there’s another example of platform and connections. But I will say this: that doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been fostering those relationships for 5, 6, 7 years. I’ve been sending emails, I got to speak with John Danz together on the stage, so we presented together but Seth Godin, Chris Rogan, Guy Kawasaki, I’ve been sending these guys emails, following their stuff, (…) I just sent a note to Porterfield to try and build relationships, and some of them have taken 3, 4, 5 years before we built up enough trust and respect, so that they don’t think I’m some kind of stalker.
Ken Mears: I got ya.
John Spence: I just read a thing the other day, that I love. You want to be an overnight success? Pick a night, 10 years from now, (…)
Ken Mears: That’s fantastic. Do you know when the podcast that you’re gonna be on, is gonna be on, with John Lee Dumas, like the production date, or …?
John Spence: No. Well, in all seriousness John, that’s another thing I don’t do. I have no idea about my calendar. Mercedez runs it completely. I’m not allowed to touch it, I can’t put anything on it. They screen everything. As you saw John, even this. It’s only to protect my time. I could spend 3 hours a day on phone calls, meetings, breakfast meetings, 5 hours a day, out of an 8 hour day. I spend 0 in that, unless I want to. They screen. We’re gonna add each other value. So, it’s funny you ask me that and I don’t know, not because I’m not paying attention, because I have chosen not to pay attention. And I know that when the date is close, it will show up on my calendar, and I will do it, and I will be prepared.
Ken Mears: I mean, if you’re using all your productive capacity time, and you have super people behind you like Sheila, and Mercedes. That just makes sense. For sure. I’ve got to ask you a couple of personal questions. Have you seen the show on Netflix called the Chef’s table?
John Spence: Yes, I have.
Ken Mears: Oh man, it’s great. The 3rd episode, I thought had the most colorful guy, and his name was Francis (…) …
John Spence: … from Argentina, lives on an island that’s a 100 miles down the road, that’s one hour trip across the lake. Famous for the five types of fire. No, I haven’t seen that one yet.
Ken Mears: You should look it up. They put it up online. Well, see the genesis of the new grill going into the backyard? Fantastic.
John Spence: I don’t know how many people watch this around the country, or world, but I’m in a sort of dinner club, or cooking club with 6, or 7 other people. (…) couple of other folks, and once every, maybe 2 months, we each pick a theme and we host it at our house. Well, (…) was the one who told me to watch that. I watched i and said “oh my God, we’ve got to do this. This is awesome.” Next thing you know, there was a giant Argentinian girls being built in my backyard. It’s really cool.
Ken Mears: When are you going to christen it?
John Spence: If we bring it back to social media, this is amazing. When I was in Amsterdam, and Poland, people were asking me about my grill. People who follow me, not only follow me on LinkedIn, and Twitter, and on my fan page, but I have several other thousands of people around the world that follow my personal page, and know my dog, and my barbecue, and where we were and (…). And I don’t up anything up there that’s super personal, but I’m trying to show. And this is an interesting thing, that I actually live the lifestyle I am teaching. That I’m not some guy that … I’m not a motivational speaker that lives in a van down by the river.
Ken Mears: That goes back to being your authentic self, you can see John Spence on stage, and you hear his message, then you see, he’s actually “here’s this guy who actually lives in this beautiful setting, peaceful, with all the gardening, with a great love of life, and friends, and cooking. I mean, you’re a real person, you got the whole thing kind of together. It’s not a van down by the river.
John Spence: I got asked recently to be at a seminar in Washington DC to give a talk on how to become the best in the world at what you do. Kind of taunting, but I was the only person in the room, and this is not an ego thing, I was the only person in the room that could stand on the stage and teach that, and actually look in the audience and say “And, I am one of the top 100 in the world at what I do.” So, it’s not just somebody saying “this is how you do it.” It’s saying “this is how I did it, and it will work for you, too”. I’ve heard an awful lot of speakers tell you how to do stuff they’ve never done.
Ken Mears: Not worth the price of admission. Like you said, you can’t do it overnight. You can’t learn all of those lessons, with just reading some blogs.
John Spence: Read a blog I put today. I’m not plugging my website at all. Literally, the blog I wrote today is exactly on how to become the best in the world. And, not by me, by 3 of the top authors on the subject. One of which is the world chess champion for his age group when he was 9. You guys ever heard of the movie “Searching for Bobby Fisher”?
Ken Mears and 3: Yea.
John Spence: It was written about him. (…) wrote about him, and after he became, literally , the best in the world at chess. A chess grandmaster, I think, at 11 years old. He stopped that, and moved to Tai-Chi Chuan, martial art, Tai-Chi. And became the world champion at that. And what he said is “it’s not necessarily that I’m super skilled at chess, or Tai-chi. What I’m great at, is learning how to learn.” And his book “The art of Learning” was really really good. Probably in my top 5 around the area of lifelong learning.
Ken Mears: A whole library of books that we now have to read, John.
Jon Thomas: Exactly, we just need to go to the man cave and we can just use it as a library. Start just “I’ll take this one, that one” This is fantastic. Alright, another upcoming podcast in events. You got the one that you just talked about with John, and then, what else you got coming up?
John Spence: I got one on February 5th that I’m hosting myself, webinar, it’s gonna be (…) high-performance teams, and if you go to my website, or any of my social media, you will catch one of the links for it. And it’s gonna be a 1 hour webinar, 50 min of solid content, on how to build, lead, and sustain high-performance teams, then, about 10 minutes of Q and A.
Ken Mears: Good. Cool. What else you got John Thomas? Any other questions, comments, concerns?
Jon Thomas: I had a couple more things. But first, if you don’t mind, John, to see if anyone would want to hop into the open seat and ask you a couple of questions.
John Spence: Ask you a couple of questions?
Jon Thomas: If any of the people who are listening would liek to hop and …
John Spence: Oh I see. If any on the listeners would like to hop in and hit me with a tough question. I see we’ve got a fair number of people watching. I would very much enjoy to answer a few questions from them.
Ken Mears: @brenda(…) just said John’s advice is making my Amazon cost explode.
John Spence: Well, another user is about to put (…). Whenever I click on a book, or whenever I recommend a book, I, of course, use my Amazon (…) link. And I got a gift card for a couple of 100 bucks from Amazon, which I will turn around and spend immediately back to Amazon, on books. But that’s another way to generate revenue. Which, by the way, guys is the major place I’m going . We’re talking about video. The major push in my career right now is passive income, through books, blogging, videos, podcasting, things like that. I just had a company in Australia contact me to basically say “how much would it cost to underwrite your blog, and have us as your major sponsor?”, and I haven’t done it up until now. And, the numbers we discussed were fairly large. And, it’s a company that I like. A company that I like very much, and I like their product. So, it would be authentic, so there’s another thing for me that there’s a whole other stream of revenue, that I don’t have to do anything additionally for, except for eventually plugging a company I believe in, with a product I believe in, and stick their logo on my stuff. Which, I have no problem with that. Don’t tell them this, but I probably would have done it for free, but now that they’ve offered me a bunch of money, I’ll take that.
Ken Mears: Exactly. Do you have like a paid model, or you have like a platform university type of model with all your videos, that course type of structure?
John Spence: I do 2 or 3 things. I have Vimeo channel that I don’t use much. I use it mostly for behind the wall posting private videos to my clients, because that’s a place I can go and download them easily. It’s high-level content, and it’s easy to get. I use Vimeo a lot to send clients videos. I do have a YouTube channel that you can find on my website. Just click on it. And I’ve got about 25, or 30 videos there. I plan, however, to pull a bunch of those down, and move to a paid model. I do have a system on (…), I have 800 or 900 students worldwide, but it hasn’t generated enough revenue to really be serious, so what we’re doing now, and this is good for everybody watching, is I’m continuing to build my email list, of qualified people who like my content. And the idea here is that its 95% free. 95% make your head spin awesome content free free free, and every now and then offer something at a very reasonable price, so that people look and say “if all this other free content is there, if this is something especially put together, it’s a no-brainer to buy it.” And, I price myself at 70, to 80% of the market, because it’s not all about making a ton of money. I’d rather have it slightly more affordable, but I need to get my email list up much larger than it is right now. Right now, it’s only about 15, or 20 thousand, and I’d really like it to get it 80 or 90 thousand before I start to push product a lot.
Ken Mears: How often are you pushing out content to that list now? Just your blog updates, and …
John Spence: Once every 2 weeks. Once a week, maybe, if I have great content. Once every 2 weeks.
Ken Mears: (…) consistency. With you, when it comes to email marketing.
John Spence: Dude, it’s brutal. With my travel schedule so hard, I usually sit down and do 3 or 4 blogs, and 3 or 4 videos at a time, and stick them in the bank. And, have a whole bunch of stuff waiting. And I have a team that helps me with my social media. Dude, I do a lot of it myself because I believe that I need to be the one finding the content, and it’s just a easy when I find it to use (…) One of those. Just click, click click and it’s out on everything. So, it doesn’t make sense to send it to them and then to resend it. But, I try to post something at least, minimum, once every 2 weeks. I’m getting better at doing it once a week. I’ve got some colleagues that I work with that do one a day. Like John Lee Dumas. That do a podcast everyday. They do a blog everyday. Frankly, I just don’t have enough good ideas to do that. Or things that I think are good ideas. Because I refuse to put anything up that I don’t think is truly valuable, and meaningful.
Ken Mears: I think the value of the content is much more worthwhile than the frequency. For sure.
John Spence: Look at it this way. I have an extremely high click through rate. Because I don’t put any fluff up. Someone knows when they get an email from me. An email about one of my blogs. It’s gonna be something good. In addition to my blog list 15, 20 thousand people, I also have a VIP which, John, I believe, you’re on.
Ken Mears: I think so.
John Spence: It’s about 700 of my top clients around the world. People that I’ve worked for in the last 15 years, CEOs, or company presidents, head of sales, other major speakers, things like that. And I will tell you that once a week, or once every 2 week, I send out a private email to all of them with something that’s spectacular, but a lot more detailed. I’ll carve an article, something from strategy and business, something … An entire article off a really good blog like … Something that’s complex, thoughtful, challenging, and highly valuable. A global report on trends, and employee engagements that’s 40 pages long. But again, when they get that, they’re gonna know it’s something really good, that is good enough that I felt all of them should get it. And I always use the same tagline I hope you find this of great value, please remember that if there is anything at all you need from me, I’m here to assist you in any way that I’m able. Take good care, John. And that’s just a reminder that I’m here to be of service. I can help you anyway. Even if it isn’t my area of expertise, send me a note, I’ll do everything I humanly can to help you. And that has probably been one of the strongest brand pillars of having that personal connection, sending people stuff of high value, and I probably only send 2 emails a year promoting a webinar or … that’s about it. I mean, nothing else. I don’t try to sell that group anything. But that tagline keeps them involved with me, and you’d be surprised how much business we drive off people who see one of those things and realize “Oh, I need some help from John, I need a speaker, I need to do a workshop.” And that’s probably been one of the highest leverage things I’ve done.
Ken Mears: That’s really impressive. Well, I really appreciate you spending time with us tonight, talking about all these (…) and personal branding, to video, to just awesomeness, really. I’ve got one last question for you. Are you familiar with table topics?
John Spence: From toastmasters.
Ken Mears: It’s like a little box set that you – at dinner – everyone pulls one card and you go around the room and you talk – you go over the topic.
John Spence: I have not heard of that. I’m guessing if there is a lot of drinking involved, it’s probably fun.
Ken Mears: It’s not cards against humanity type of fun, but my son picked this one up, so I thought I would ask you. Which of your creative projects, makes you the most proud?
John Spence: That’s interesting. I could say 2 things. 1 from a business standpoint was being chosen to be one of the main stage speakers at an event called “Top of the table”, which is the top 1% of financial advisers in the world. 9 thousand people, 12 languages, more languages than the UN, and I gave an 18 minute talk to a standing ovation. So, for somebody who does what I do for a living, that’s about the pinnacle of what you can get to. And it’s a really discerning group. So that’s one of my top achievements from a business standpoint. Creative projects from a personal standpoint, is I am learning to paint. I suck at it. I have no artistic ability whatsoever, but I’m pursuing it because in my business life, I have to be good. I have to continue to push myself to be the best in the world. Not have to, but want to. And I don’t it because of hard work, I do it because it’s fun. I enjoy what I do. So, trying to be the best in the world is a reflection of having a ton of fun, and wanting to be good, but I’m terrible at painting. But it’s teaching me this great thing is failure is absolutely fine. Everybody starts somewhere. You’re terrible now and what I’ve said is that I’ll give myself ten year, or 10 thousand hour rule. And right now, anyone can paint better than I can, but I believe in 10 years, if I stick at it, I might have something that makes it on the wall. So, I’m very proud at the fact that I’m trying to teach myself to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m terrible at it. I’m having a blast being really crappy.
Ken Mears: That is fantastic. That’s great. John, where can people find you? Johnspence.com, and …
John Spence: Johnspence.com, and blog.johnspence.com, and I just put up a brand new video couple of weeks ago on the top 5 things to be successful in 2016. If you own a small business, or you work in a small to medium size business, I think there’s some really killer content there. And the only thing I would ask is if you see something on my website, a blog, or a video that you really like it. Share it with your entire network. This is another way your brand in social media is you basically, … it’s got to be of value, share it out to everybody, and let everybody learn from it.