Onward Nation

America's best podcast for learning how today's top business owners Think, Act, and Achieve. Onward Nation is a five-day-a-week podcast hosted by Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI. Business owners share the most influential lessons learned throughout their careers, including insights into their daily habits, their most vital priorities that have contributed to their business and personal success, and the most challenging time or situation that could have devastated or even ruined their businesses or careers. Business owners share their "recipes for success" including those systems they wish they had put into practice inside their business when first starting out. Each episode concludes with guests sharing two or three practical and tactical strategies they would recommend to brand new business owners in order to best ensure success in their new business and careers. Onward Nation provides business owners with the strategies and tactical step-by-step "recipe" that will help anyone make their business more systematic, predictable, measurable, and repeatable.
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Mar 17, 2017

Perry Marshall is one of the world’s most expensive and sought-after business consultants. Clients seek his ability to integrate engineering, sales, mathematics, biology, art, and psychology. He has launched two online revolutions. He pioneered many best practices in paid search and wrote the world’s bestselling book on web advertising, “Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords.” More recently, he’s turned 80/20 into a verb. 80/20 is not just a fact about your business, it’s action you take on your business. 80/20 is the central lever for every great strategy. His book “80/20 Sales & Marketing” is mandatory in many growing companies. He is referenced in dozens of influential business books by authors like Jay Conrad Levinson, Mark Joyner, Joel Comm, and Mari Smith. He’s shared the stage with Barbara Corcoran, Brian Tracy, and Les Brown, having consulted in over 300 industries.

What you'll learn about in this episode

  • Why Perry believes that there is going to be some massive dislocation somewhere in the world in the next year
  • Why it’s important to know how things fundamentally work in the world
  • How business & engineering are intertwined
  • What Perry considers to be the biggest untold story in the history of science
  • How cells are like entrepreneurs
  • The story behind the swiss army knife concept
  • Why Perry believes that there is a whole systematic creativity mechanism that is going on in nature that optimizes things
  • Why evolution is always an intentional process
  • Why you need to be a fearless seeker of the truth

How best to connect with Perry:

Mar 16, 2017

Ken Baker is currently serving as a member of Gensler’s Board of Directors and the Gensler Management Committee. As a Co-Regional Managing Principal of Gensler’s Southeast Region and past Co-Managing Principal of Gensler’s UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Gulf Regions, Ken is a global expert on workplace design and planning, particularly for law firms. Ken frequently speaks about the power of design at industry events around the world and his focus on maintaining strong client relationships is a core tenant of his leadership philosophy and design strategy.

What you'll learn about in this episode

  • Ken’s background
  • Why you should focus on developing a professional relationship with your clients
  • Why you need to surround yourself with great, talented people
  • Being on the lookout for the next generation of leaders and working to develop their skills
  • Why you should rely on your team to build your business & make your clients happy
  • Having a sense of urgency & being a good listener
  • Helping your employees build their careers
  • Knowing if you have the right people in place to get the work done

How best to connect with Ken:

Mar 16, 2017

Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media.

Good Morning Onward Nation…I’m Stephen Woessner…and welcome to this week’s solocast…Episode 450.

I am excited to be back here with you — because — when you apply the lessons we cover today — you will change the game for your business. I promise you — what you learn in this episode can be that impactful for you, your business, and your revenue.

I decided to record another revenue-focused solocast this week for several important reasons.

First…last week’s solocast where we drilled deep into how to monetize a podcast was one of our highest downloaded solocasts – ever! Rock solid awesome and we received some wonderful feedback, Onward Nation – thank you for that.

I am so happy you found the strategies and step-by-step process within last week’s monetization the lessons to be helpful.

And second…I have been giving a lot of thought recently to my life’s purpose. I know – big topic. But I have been giving deep consider to what kind of problems I really enjoy solving – where do I really love creating impact – and what kind of impact do I find the most rewarding?

Just in full transparency, Onward Nation…I have done a lot of soul searching on these questions during the last several months…and have found some very powerful perspective and themes emerging and they really strike a cord with me.

For example, I realized that helping small business owners is not only something I enjoy doing and find super rewarding – but – I have been in the trenches…on the front lines helping small business owners grow their companies over the last 23-years.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

When I took some time to think about some of those experiences – it brings a smile to my face.

But aside from the joy and personal satisfaction – I realized that my drive for helping small business owners goes deeper – like all the way to my DNA.

I have owned five small businesses, with Predictive ROI being my fifth company, but love of entrepreneurship is something I learned while growing up in my Aunt and Uncle’s restaurants and my mom’s bakery and catering business back in Canton, Ohio. Go Buckeyes! Had to sneak that in there.

But it goes even deeper still.

It goes back another generation to my grandfather who came to the United States from Istanbul, Turkey as a Greek immigrant who couldn’t speak the language…he had no money…he didn’t have a robust LinkedIn account…or a thriving YouTube channel…he had no social circle.

But what he did have was incredible work ethic, he had grit, and he had a truckload of tenacity.

And in 1926 – just six years after my grandfather arrived in the U.S…he had saved enough money working on the night shift at a downtown Canton, Ohio restaurant to be able to open his own place, which he called The Ideal.

Just two years before the Great Depression.

But, my Pop survived — our family survived – and helped his customers survive, too – by giving away more homemade soup than he ever sold. He believed so strongly in taking care of his customers because they would take care of him in return. And they did.

So, Onward Nation – the reason I love small business owners as much as I do is because I have tremendous respect for the 28 million owners in this country who are grinding it out, just like my Pop and my family did.

Owners who are working their guts out to make ends meet – who are making the sacrifices at their own dinner table so they can make sure they don’t miss payroll for their employees.

I understand how hard it is – my family has been there – I have been there – and maybe you are part of the 43 percent of small business owners right now who consider growing revenue to be their top challenge they are facing.

And that 43 percent equates to 12 million business owners in this country who are challenged with growing revenue. My word.

Something needs to be done about that number, don’t you think, Onward Nation. That’s too many businesses and too many families who are risk.

I’m committed to driving this number down – it is a worthy goal and I am just now realizing that is has been my life’s work – but – now that I am hyper focused on the problem – watch out. This is going to be awesome. I have discovered my “Why” – as Simon Sinek would say.

So this solocast is the first of a brand new 3-part series that I am dedicating to providing you will critical lessons and the practical and tactical tools you need to change the game for your business.

To grow revenue in unique and different ways. To give you a competitive advantage and distinctiveness like no other company in your industry.

So for today…I am going to share two lessons that I learned directly from my time with Christopher Lochhead, one of today’s leading authorities on the topic of how companies can become what he calls a “Category King.” Chris was my exceptional guest for Episode 448 of Onward Nation.

But before diving into the category design and category kingship – let me first share some context about Chris and why the lessons you learn from him will be a game changer for your business.

Chris is co-author of the book, “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets.” Chris is also the host of the Legends & Losers podcast. Chris is a retired three time Silicon Valley public company CMO, entrepreneur and category designer.

I smiled when I learned that Fast Company Magazine calls Chris a, “Human exclamation point” and The Economist (my favorite magazine) calls him, “off-putting at times”.

And because he is also passionate about entrepreneurship — he’s a proud advisor to the non-profit “1Life Fully Lived.”

When you listen to 448, you will get Chris’s first-hand perspectives on grit, persistence, and the challenges he had to overcome on his path to success. He is remarkable and it was an honor to learn from him.

I also recommend you go to Amazon and pick up a copy of Chris’s book because it is excellent. Plus, come on…any business book that also blends in something about pirates, well…I am totally game for that.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 5.36.57 AM

Okay, here’s a quick, personal side note…you likely know that Disney World is my favorite place on Earth – and – yes, I actually do have a thing for pirates. Aye. So…if you want a good laugh…go to the show notes for this solocast and you will see what I mean. Yes, that is actually me in the photo.

Pirates League, 3-15-17

That is all I am going to say right now about pirates. But feel free to hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know how hard you laughed when you saw the photo!

Okay, back to today’s lessons. Let’s start off with some additional context about category design and kingship…so I am going to quote Chris and his co-authors when I say…

“In a well-honed category-driven strategy, the company designs the category, evangelizes the problem, offers its solution to the problem, and then the category makes the company its king. The greatest power comes from the people proclaiming their own king. A self-determined king that isn’t made by the category is a hollow despot destined to be overthrown at the first sign of weakness.”

So Onward Nation – when you focus on becoming the king of your category – or better still – creating a brand new category – you control the economics of your industry, your sales pipeline gets filled with so much opportunity it is difficult to contain, and you enjoy a market leadership position that gives you the power to price yourself how you want to price yourself.

Interested? Let’s dig into the first lesson that I learned from Chris.

Lesson #1: You control the game when you are the Category King.

Onward Nation, we live in an increasingly winner-take-all kind of dynamic in business. For their book, “Play Bigger,” Chris and his co-authors analyzed every tech company founded from 2000 through to 2015 that received venture capital funding.

They studied data around what happened to those companies. One of the questions they asked was, “What percentage of market cap goes to the leader in any given market category – or – to say that in another way – the Category King?”

They crunched the numbers, Onward Nation, and their findings were staggering. In the tech industry, 76 percent of the market cap, or the total value of all of the companies in a given category, is owned by the Category King.


But Chris and his co-authors also talked to a lot of other people outside of tech for the book, too, and as you might imagine, they told them that the winner-take-all dynamic they had uncovered in tech was happening everywhere.

So Onward Nation – the research Chris and his co-authors did showed with clarity that we as business owners must figure out how we can design and dominate our industry so that we become the Category King, not somebody else.

However, what Chris and team also found is that we as entrepreneurs tend to only pull two levers when building a company. We think, “Hey, I’m going to build what I hope is a legendary product or service, and then secondarily, I’m going to build what I hope is a legendary company to deliver that product or service.”

And then whatever we face in the world, whether it’s an opportunity or a threat, these are the only two levers we pull. That is our toolbox…that is our arsenal.

We essentially pile on more features…make a better product…make it faster…make it cheaper, etc.

We think scaling the company will do it. So we hire more sales people, it more geography…we apply a better business model…we sell on the Internet…we open more physical locations…we move our operation to virtual…we go digital.

But all of these variables are just components of the same two levers, Onward Nation. The product lever and the company lever.

What business owners often do is they make is an unconscious decision to put their new legendary product out in the world, and for the most part have what looks and sounds a lot like a product or features conversation with customers and prospects.

And those conversations sort of sound like, “Look at how awesome this new product is! It slices and it dices and it twirls and it spins,” and it does all this stuff.

But, when you study what did Steve Jobs did, and what Mark Bennioff, the founder of did, and what did Henry Ford did, and what did Clarence Birdseye did…as Chris and his team did…you begin to realize is they pulled three levers…not two.

Chris and his team uncovered how Jobs and Ford absolutely got legendary product and company down — but the third lever they pulled – was that they didn’t do marketing in any traditional sense that most business owners would consider as marketing.

Instead…they sort of understood intuitively that they would need to condition the world or educate the world to think about a problem in a different way…and therefore…the world would demand a solution…that Jobs and Ford would then be happy to provide in the form of their product.

But right now – the problem we have in business today is that we have too many solutions without a problem…and the end result is…43 percent of small business owners are facing the same top challenge…how to grow revenue?

For example…in 2001 Microsoft launched the Tablet PC. Microsoft was the first big company to launch a tablet computer. But, it didn’t go anywhere because for the most part Microsoft had a features discussion and the world didn’t understand what problem those features solved.

But, when Apple launched the iPad, Steve Jobs stood up on stage, at the big Mac Developer Conference and he puts up a slide that on one hand has a picture of the iPhone and the other has a picture of the iMac, and then there’s a hole in the middle.

Jobs literally said, “We believe there’s room for a third category of device. Now let me tell you why.”

Then he begins to paint a picture with something you could call a point-of-view about how the PC and the phone are actually not great for consuming rich content, and they’re not great communication platforms for the new social, mobile world.

That argument opens our minds up to thinking about the possibility of a third device…the iPad. Boom – a category is created and Apple is its King…because the market demands that of them.

The Chris shared another example with me. This time, he chose Sara Blakely…the founder of Spanx.

Spanx has become an incredibly successful company and product line because Sara made a very important decision. When Sara launched Spanx she did not tell the world that what she was selling was underwear.

And, she didn’t call it a “Girdle 2.0”, either.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 5.35.25 AM

Instead, she said, “It’s a new kind of under garment called shape wear.” In so doing, she distinguished the difference between all that had come before her and her innovation because she understood that if I don’t explain to the world what problem this solves – and why that problem matters – they’re not going to want my solution.

When she had no money, she no relationships…she cold called buyers…but she had grit. So she designed that first, initial prototype and she wore it to meetings to try to get buyers interested and then holy bananas, she wound up on Oprah after gritting it out, but yet she didn’t tell anybody in Oprah’s network that she was going to have to make them, pack them, ship them all out of her apartment. How in the world was she going to be able to meet the demand?

But she found a way.

And now she’s a billionaire.

She created a category and then worked her guts out to make her dream a reality.

Here’s key point that I learned from Chris, Onward Nation — “Legends teach the world to think differently about a problem, and therefore a solution. And when we accept their definition of the problem, we want the solution, and we literally line up in front of their store to get the new version when it comes out.”

The magic thing that Sara, Steve Jobs, or any other Category King did successfully is that prosecuted the magic triangle, using Chris’s words.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 5.39.07 AM

That is to say, they get product, category, and company right.

On the category side, I’m sure you’ve heard that famous quote from Victor Hugo, “Not even all the armies of the world can stop an idea whose time has come.”

That leaves us with the question, Onward Nation, “How do I make it my time?” So let’s move on to Lesson #2.

Lesson #2: Position yourself or be positioned.

This lesson is what category design is fundamentally about. For a tangible example…let’s take a look at Muhammad Ali. He brilliantly controlled the positioning of his own brand.

Ali said many famous things, of course, but one of Chris’s favorite quotes was when Ali said, “If I don’t tell them I’m the greatest, how are they going to know?”

Muhammad-Ali, 3-15-17

We knew he was the greatest – because Ali wasn’t afraid to tell us what category he was in.

It was the category of “The Greatest” and it was a category of ONE. And because he WAS the category – he controlled the economics of that category and everyone else was simply an inferior competitor.

The categorization of companies and brands is a continuous thing. We as humans put everything, products, companies, services, and even other human beings into buckets in our head.

Buckets like “must have,” “nice to have,” or maybe “I don’t care.”

But then some marketers and business owners say, “We’ve got to figure out how to make people believe we’re a vitamin, not an aspirin.”

But, as Chris taught me, what they’re really saying is, “Our category has to be urgent and important and worthy of investment.”

Chris then shared a very tangible example with me. In 1999, Michael Dell was one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs on planet Earth. He was running an incredible company called Dell Computer. He was on the cover of Fortune Magazine and Multi billionaire, etc. You probably know the story, Onward Nation.

However, if you roll the clock forward today, Michael Dell could walk through Times Square in New York City and go unrecognized yet he still runs the same company and he still sells the same kind of products that he sold back then. But now the company is in a lot of trouble. Had to do some horrible reverse engineering and merge with other companies and it was really fighting for its life.

Onward Nation, we might ask, “But what changed?”

Same guy, same products, same company, what changed is what Chris and his team call “Category violence.”

The cloud, virtualization, social, mobile and all the things that we today take for granted came along, and made laptops, desktops, storage and servers not that important.

In other words, the market shifted from where Dell was to where it is today, and that’s what legendary category designers do. They take a different approach to educating the world, to shift the world from the way it is to the way they want it to be. In so doing they open the world to a new problem and a new solution.

When that happens a new category emerges, and if you prosecute the magic triangle, as Chris likes to say, you can get two-thirds of the economics in your space.

When that happens you get to hang out with Sara Blakely.

Even companies that we think of as exceptional marketers, like Disney, struggle in getting category right. For years, and still to some degree today, is struggling with how to position Animal Kingdom.

One of the things that drives Disney crazy is when people refer to Animal Kingdom as a zoo, and their defense back has been, “It’s not a zoo,” and they’re trying to make it not a zoo, and now they’re finally getting traction, and that park is well over a decade old.

So, Onward Nation, if you don’t tell people what you are then they’re going to apply whatever filter – or bucket — to what you do.

And they’re going to make that up.

Chris has discussions with entrepreneurs all the time and he asks, “Tell me about your business.” It’s my favorite opening question to ask, and often what I hear is similar to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, “Well, we’re sort of like this, but we’re not really like that. We do kind of this, but we’re a new version of that.”

Then there’s this sort of discussion about all the things that they’re not, and so they go on for ten minutes trying to convince Chris they’re not a zoo. But guess what Chris is left with in his mind after all that convincing? That Animal Kingdom is a freaking zoo!

Or you’re a Zoo 2.0.

“2.0” is the word we put after things we don’t know.

If you want to stand alone, and declare your product, your service as a true innovation then by definition it’s got to be a new category.

Onward Nation, we accept other people’s thinking about the world, about our business, about our life. Category design really is trying to say to the entrepreneurs and the innovators in the world, every market or category got designed by somebody, either intentionally or on purpose, and the minute you position yourself, your company, your product inside an existing category, you are playing their game.

In other words, you are living in somebody else’s thinking about how the world should perceive the value you provide — and particularly — the problem that you are solving and why solving that problem matters.

What Chris and his team know is legends don’t live inside other people’s thinking. Legends ask themselves the questions, “How do I want this market to behave? Why is it the rules are this way?”

Another example is Netflix vs. Blockbuster.

Reed Hastings says it’s ridiculous that customers had to go to a video store, they don’t have the video that you want, you pay a late fee, etc. And instead asks the question, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just go to a website, type in all your favorite movies and they magically show up in your mailbox?”

In so doing Reed hacks the future, he changes the future, he creates by reimagining the problem called how do I get video into the home, and teaching us to think about how he thinks about it we all accept his problem definition, and therefore his solution.

Conversely, Blockbuster went bankrupt because they couldn’t solve the problem and now Reed Hastings is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the consumer Internet today.

Our job as leaders, as entrepreneurs, is to create the future of our choosing and not to accept somebody else’s definition for how things should be.

Legendary innovators do not leave their market category to chance. They don’t do marketing. They don’t do traditional marketing, Onward Nation.

They articulate a point-of-view, and that point-of-view evangelizes a problem, and when that resonates with customers and it resonates with people at scale…everything changes.

Once the world sees the problem the same way you want them to, Onward Nation, they cannot un-see it. Then they have to have YOUR solution. You become KING.

Well, that’s what Henry Ford did.

Legendary category designers understand that on the one hand you’ve got to meet the market where it is because if he had said the word “automobile” the world would not have understood. It’s shapeware vs. girdle. And we wouldn’t know who Henry Ford is. But, he was a category designer.

He found a way to meet the world where it was and to use language in a very powerful way…a new language.

He created a new language to take the world from where they were to where he wanted them to be. So he called his product the horseless carriage.

horseless carriage

And in so doing everybody understood what a horse and buggy was, right? Then you say horseless carriage and you go “Oh!” and the world stops.

So take this lesson from Chris — think about what are things called and why are they called that, Onward Nation.

When what today we call smartphones first came out, for a long time they were called, “Wireless phones.” They were in the context of what they’re not. Today they’re beginning to be described more like what they are…smartphones.

And fully loaded iPhone 7 Plus, out the door is $1,000, and the reason Apple is able to do that is because we don’t think it’s a phone anymore.

So, Onward Nation — pay attention to what things are named.

When you position yourself inside of somebody else’s category, you are letting somebody else designed the game.

And when that happens, you’re probably not in the position to take two-thirds of the economics and be the category king.

Instead, Onward Nation…be intentional about category and follow Chris’ advice for prosecuting the magic triangle…and pull three levers…not the typical tow.

When you do that…you will be in a position to command the economics in your category – because you will likely have created a brand new category just like Sara Blakely.

With that said…I want to say thank you for being here today. I always appreciate your time and feedback.

I also encourage you to download next week’s solocast – part two in our Grow Revenue series. We will dig deep into tools and the precise steps you can apply in order to fill your sales pipeline like a pro.

Why is that important?

Because like we discussed at the onset of today’s conversation…nearly 12 million business owners cite “Growing Revenue” as their top challenge.

They are indeed feeling category pressure – and – these owners are searching for answers on how to generate the right number of leads, from the right type of prospects, to buy the right service, at the right margin.

So, I am focusing next week’s solocast on providing you with the right tools and insights you need to solve those challenges.

In the meantime, you should also visit and register for the free workshop I am teaching on March 23rd that will take a deep dive into how you can harness the power of LinkedIn to generate a steady stream of well-prepared prospects flowing into your business.

Again, that’s

Until then…Onward with gusto!

Mar 14, 2017

John Pollock doesn’t just talk about entrepreneurship — he lives it. As the CEO of Financial Gravity, John has grown his business from the dining room table to a national organization of 25 employees and led his company to 700% growth in one year. John is also disrupting industry standards for the better. After seeing the lack of integrated advice for business owners across tax planning, financial services, and business strategy, he created the first national tax firm specifically designed to help entrepreneurs reduce their personal tax liability by an average of $21,000. He is also a frequent contributor to various media outlets, including Fox Radio Network, Forbes, and Amex OPEN Forum.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • How a reverse merger works
  • How drive itself drives John
  • How lack of focus can be a gift
  • How you could benefit from going to conferences that are not related to your industry
  • Why process has to be built into everything that you do
  • Why success is not a destination, it’s a journey
  • Why there is more skill than luck involved in business
  • The three questions that you have to ask yourself

How best to connect with John:

Mar 13, 2017

Christopher Lochhead is co-author of the book “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets” and Christopher is also the host of the “Legends and Losers” podcast. Christopher is a retired three-time, Silicon Valley, public company CMO, entrepreneur and category designer. Fast Company Magazine calls him a “Human Exclamation Point” and The Economist calls him “off-putting to some”. He can recite much of The Big Lebowski, but can’t remember his wife’s phone number. He’s also an acclaimed public speaker and proud advisor to non-profit “1 Life Fully Lived.”

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Chris’ background
  • Why you need to figure out how to design & dominate your own space
  • The two levers that all high-level entrepreneurs want to pull to be successful
  • Why, today, there are too many solutions without a problem
  • Why it’s key to create a new category and become the ‘category king’
  • Why it’s so important to be self-actualized and self-aware
  • Why you need to be able to explain what problem you solve & why your product is different
  • Why you need to create by reimagining the problem
  • Creating the future of our choosing and not accepting somebody else’s definition of how something should be
  • How to determine the value of your company

How best to connect with Chris:

Mar 10, 2017

He has a background in accounting that he gained from a variety of other business ventures. Apex Fun Run’s passion is to help teachers, students, and schools. His company partners with schools to raise funds for equipment and other campus needs through a two-week character-building and leadership program that culminates with a student “run” to raise donations for schools. Students ask people they know to pledge money for each completed lap. Apex Fun Run raises more money for schools than any other fundraiser, averaging about $23,000.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Jeremy’s background
  • Jeremy’s fundraising program: Apex Fun Run
  • Why Jeremy believes in having a daily, top 5 priority list
  • Why Jeremy takes every day as a challenge to do his best
  • The huge impact that Apex Fun Run has had on kids nationwide
  • Why you can’t do it all as an entrepreneur — and why that’s okay
  • Why Jeremy believes delegation is so critical to success
  • Why failure and making mistakes is not always a bad thing
  • Focusing on something that you are passionate about that has a demand
  • Why you need to go “all in”

How best to connect with Jeremy:

Mar 9, 2017

Gordon Tredgold is a business and IT transformation expert who has successfully delivered $100 million programs, run $300 million departments, and led teams of 1000 staff for Fortune 100 companies. Gordon is the author of the critically acclaimed book “FAST” and works with enterprises on implementing results-based leadership initiatives to rapidly accelerate the organization’s growth.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Gordon’s background
  • Why you must be able to influence people, not just direct them
  • Why you need to aim high, start small, celebrate, and keep going
  • Why persistency and consistency are the keys to success
  • Why you need to write for the benefit of your audience
  • Leading with integrity and love
  • How your job as a leader is to serve and protect your team
  • How the more recognition you give out, the more success you will have

How best to connect with Gordon:

Mar 8, 2017

Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media. 

Close up of a money puzzle

Good Morning Onward Nation…I’m Stephen Woessner and welcome to this week’s solocast…Episode 445.

During last week’s solocast — we tackled two of three most frequently asked questions I hear from business owners when they are considering having a podcast…which are 1) “Stephen, how much time is this going to take me?”, and 2) “How am I going to get great guests to come onto the show — especially when I am just starting out?”

I appreciate all of the feedback from last week — I’m glad you found the strategies helpful. I also received some feedback letting me know that the monetization topic — which was one of the three FAQs that I skipped last week but promised to share in a future solocast — was a really important topic.

So, based on your feedback, I moved monetization up in our airing schedule and that is what we will focus on today.

I always appreciate your thoughts and suggestions, Onward Nation — thank you!

In today’s solocast…I will share several practical and tactical strategies you can take and apply that will help you monetize your podcast — which is a trendy way to say — “How your podcast will generate revenue” — or grow revenue for your business.

If you have been listening to Onward Nation for a while — you know that I like sharing strategies along with all of their tactical step-by-step processes that help business owners create predictable, measurable, and repeatable success for themselves and their teams.

Today’s solocast will be no different.

Here’s the reality…when it comes to generating revenue for your business as a result of your podcast…there are significant challenges. It is not as simple as turning on the microphone, recording a conversation with a guest, sharing it on iTunes, and then all of a sudden — you have thousands of people beating down your door to do business with you. There is so much marketing hyperbole circulating around the web and social platforms — and it makes business owners think there is some sort of “pot of gold” at the end of their podcast rainbow.

But…are there business owners whose podcasts are generating hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year in revenue for their core business?

Absolutely. But this doesn’t happen by accident.

It takes intention. It is the result of a lot of hard work, decades of subject matter expertise within their core business, a commitment to creating content with excellence, a heart that wants to give way more than ever asking, and ultimately, a smart strategy that ties their podcast into their core business.

There is no such thing as an overnight success, Onward Nation.

To help give you as much context and share as much value as I can…I am going to give you another sneak peek from Chapter 4 of my upcoming book, Profitable Podcasting.

We are going to drill into this chapter because I use it to focus attention on the recipe — the practical and tactical steps — any business owner can apply to craft the right monetization strategy behind their podcast.

And after our dive into strategy…we will go deeper still.

I will share a recent interview that my good friend, Mitch Stephen, fellow business owner and podcaster, and I did on his show, Real Estate Investor Summit. During the show, Mitch shared his story about how his podcast had driven over $60,000 in new revenue into his business within the last 90-days.

I say HAD driven — because I had a quick call with Mitch last week — and he let me know that his podcast has generated another $30,000 in revenue the day before.

I want you to hear Mitch’s story in his own words. It is inspiring and tactical, which is always a great combination.

So here we go, Onward Nation — let’s answer the question — “How can my podcast generate revenue for my business?”

When executed properly, your podcast will be uniquely suited to accomplish three vital priorities:

  1. Expand your platform or extend your thought leadership.
  2. Build a nation of true fans.
  3. And…grow your business revenue.

And…your opportunity to grow revenue will likely fit into three primary categories:

  1. Offering premium priced services to the business owners who have appeared as guests on your show.
  2. Offering less expensive, entry-level programs to your concentric circles of lesser fans, which I cover in chapter 6 of the book.
  3. Attract the right sponsorships to boost revenue and credibility with your listeners, which I cover in chapter 17 of the book.

In my opinion, you will have a healthy and stable core business when you sell your services directly to your guests — and — this represents the majority of your podcast-related revenue.

This sales strategy will ensure there is ample revenue flowing into your core business to cover overhead, generate profit, provide ample funds to reinvest and further expand by introducing new services to continue the life cycle of a balanced business.

It is important for your podcast to feed your core business, Onward Nation.

It is also important for you not to become distracted with creating a passive revenue income as your first step. Passive revenue streams can be helpful and provide high-margin sources of revenue.

However, it can sometimes be tempting to want to create a passive revenue stream first because it feels less like selling. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up each morning and see all of the successful credit card transaction receipts in your inbox?

Of course it would.

But not at the expense of your core team not having enough work to do. If you pursue the goal of creating a passive revenue stream for your business — before you address the lead gen and revenue needs of your core business — you run the very real risk of losing valuable time, getting sidetracked, and going out of business.

And that is expensive.

So let’s focus our attention on your guests.

You will maximize your revenue opportunity, and ensure the health of your core business if you quickly begin using your podcast as what I like to call your “Trojan Horse of Selling.”

Trojan Horse of Selling

Selling directly to your guests represents your lowest hanging fruit, your shortest path to revenue, and it is not a complex sales strategy. It could be as simple as sharing ideas with a guest following your interview, in an informal manner, looping back to them after you flesh out the ideas further, and then asking for their permission to proceed.

Lee Caraher, host of the “Focus Is Your Friend” podcast, shared her sales strategy with me.

She said to me…

“Stephen, there’s usually 15-minutes before we start the interview where I say, ‘Oh my gosh, Hi. Blah, blah, blah.’ Then afterwards, I am sharing with them, ‘I have an idea for you’, which is where I’m really good. That’s one of my strengths. ‘Oh, here’s an idea! Or, here’s a different idea!’ I share the ideas after the interview is over. Depending on how my guest reacts, if they say, ‘Oh that’d be a great idea. How do I do that?’ Then I say, “Let me think about it some more.’

“A week or two later, I’ll noodle on the idea a little more. Then I’ll email them with, “You know, I thought about that idea. Here is how I think you could implement it. Here is what I think the lift will be. Here is what I think the cost will be. We can’t do that for you — or — we can do that for you.’ Of that, 25 percent of the time the ideas are coming back to us in some sort of project. Our podcast has been super helpful in growing revenue for Double Forte.”

So Onward Nation…here is the first ingredient to consider as part of your monetization strategy. I call it “The Campfire Pitch.”

Lee developed a straightforward sales strategy. Her podcast opened the door with the right decision-maker, she conducted a rock solid interview, and then she enthusiastically shared ideas with her guest.

This The Campfire Pitch…here’s why.

When you were a kid, did you ever go camping with family or friends, or have a bonfire in your backyard?

Maybe you were sitting around the fire, feeling warm, and sharing stories with your friends. The energy of the group was awesome. But then the party was over, it was time for bed, and when you woke up the next morning, the same people were with you but the energy of the moment was gone.

That’s what entrepreneur and brand expert Chris Smith calls the Campfire Effect.

It happens in business — after a great interview, for example — and it happens in social situations.

Lee knows this and has astutely aligned her sales strategy to the Campfire Effect. When the energy of the interview has climaxed, she smartly shares an idea or two.

The prospective client (her guest) on the other end of the Skype connection is receptive to the ideas, because of several key ingredients:

For one thing, Lee is brilliant at what she does, and she is sharing excellent ideas. Also, the guest is receptive because of the Campfire Effect and the value Lee has just shared by inviting them onto her show.

Lee is airing approximately 50 to 70 guest interviews per year — so if her team continues to close 25 percent of the opportunities, then her podcast will help Double Forte onboard approximately 15 new projects every 12-months.

Think about that in the terms of your core business and revenue model, Onward Nation.

If you could take on 15 new projects from clients within the next 12-months, how would your business change?

No doubt the change would be substantial.

One of the reasons Lee has been successful with her Campfire Pitch sales strategy is because she doesn’t approach the conversations with her guests as selling at all.

She enthusiastically shares ideas with the goal of delivering value. One Onward Nation guest told me, “Selling is simply the transference of your enthusiasm over to your prospect.”

Lee has mastered this principle. Her guests don’t feel “sold.” In fact, the exact opposite happens: They feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a guest on her show.

Lee’s ideas were a value-added bonus.

Now let’s move to the second ingredient in a proper monetization strategy. I call it the Social Media Warm-up.

The Campfire Pitch Lee Caraher uses is masterful. But, I also realize it might not be for everyone because not everyone will feel comfortable to share ideas and sell so early in the relationship. I respect that.

So the Social Media Warm-up sales strategy is already baked into the overall recipe of your Profitable Podcast. In Chapter 12 of my book, you will learn how to promote the airing of each of your guest’s episodes via social media using two key ingredients — but — I am going to share some highlights right now. The two ingredients are:

  • First, promote the airing of each episode and the wisdom shared by your guest to your social media community
  • Then, tag your guests in each post whenever possible so they are nudged to share and retweet your content. This helps build your nation of true fans by exposing their community to your content.

But in addition — your social media strategy does more than help you promote your episodes and build your nation.

By highlighting your guest’s wisdom in each tweet, and by tagging the guest, you are continually reminding your guests of the value they shared with your community.

This makes your guests feel good – and rightly so.

After all, they delivered massive value – you recognized that – and you are now shouting it from the rooftops. By doing so, you are continually stoking the Campfire Effect with each of your guests.

With some of your guests, the fire will begin burning hot so that when you reach back out to them to discuss how your core business might be able to help their business, one of the first things they may say to you at the onset of the call is, “Thanks for all of the tweets!”

Then you will know that your social media warm-up opened the door exactly as you intended.

You will smile when it happens — trust me — it’s rock solid awesome!

Okay…now let’s switch gears and really cement this monetization strategy into place by listening to Mitch Stephen — and yours truly — share specific examples about how a podcast has generated revenue for Mitch and his company.

Here’s Mitch Stephen, host of the Real Estate Investor Summit Podcast…

RE Investor Summit

Okay, welcome back, Onward Nation.

My guess is Onward Nation, that the success Mitch Stephen has achieved through his hard work and having the right monetization and business development strategy behind his podcast has been inspiring and maybe helped you think about new directions and maybe some next steps.

But I want to take it deeper still. If you go to today’s show notes…you will find a recent video we received from Drew McLellan, top dog at the Agency Management Institute, where in less than 2-minutes, he describes why he wanted to start a podcast, some of the obstacles that held him back, and how the podcast has generated over $200,000 in revenue for his business in the 18-months that it has been live.

Committing to investing a few hours per week, for 18-months, to generate $200,000 in revenue is fantastic ROI, Onward Nation.

Don’t let the fears, or the imposter syndrome, well up inside and rob you of your destiny — your exceptional opportunity to be more — to share more — to deliver more — to create more impact.

Is having a podcast scary? Heck yes, it is — at first.

But as Dr. Marcie Beigel encouraged us in Episode 144… “Onward Nation…you need to be scared and do it anyway.”

Les Brown once said, “Unless you attempt to do something beyond what you have already mastered — you will never grow.”

Your podcast represents an exceptional opportunity for you to grow your business revenue, Onward Nation — and — it represents an exceptional opportunity for you to grow as a person…as a thought leader…and as someone who your nation of true fans will love and respect.

So with that said…

I want to say thank you for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — thank you for tuning in — your time is sacred and I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.

However our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.

And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.

So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.

We will be back tomorrow with Gordon Tredgold in Episode 446. Gordon shares his thoughts on why as leaders we need to serve and protect our teams — not the other way around. You will not want to miss Gordon — he is rock solid awesome, Onward Nation.

Until then, onward with gusto!

Mar 7, 2017

Before starting InsightBee in 2014, Manoj worked with Evalueserve for over a decade in several roles and led the creation of industry-focused business research teams at the firm. He served as the global head of operations for corporate and professional services verticals and was responsible for a global team of over 700 professionals serving clients across technology, energy, chemicals, consumer goods, transportation, manufacturing and professional services. Manoj has also served as a management consultant with Accenture’s consulting practice in Asia and spent about 50% of his time serving clients across Middle East, Europe and South East Asia in a variety of assignments spanning from devising the go-to-market strategy for a B2B e-commerce platform to optimizing the distribution network of global companies.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Manoj’s background
  • Manoj’s time-saving secret recipe for success
  • Why Manoj believes that you need to go slow to go fast
  • Why you should be focusing on the customer experience
  • Why resilience is such a critical skill to master
  • The benefits of jumping into the unknown
  • Why you need to make sure that your service mindset doesn’t get diluted
  • Using the lean startup approach

How best to connect with Manoj:

Mar 6, 2017

Gene Hammett helps leaders go from status quo to exceptional to accelerate their business growth. Gene has been a business leader for over 20 years. He has started and ran multiple million dollar companies. He has succeeded, failed, reinvented himself, and succeeded again. On his podcast, “Leaders in the Trenches”, Gene has interviewed hundreds of thought leaders and best-selling New York Times authors. Gene is honored to have shared the platform with the legendary Jack Canfield and has been featured in Forbes, NBC, SUCCESS Magazine, and Huffington Post. Gene is also a regular contributor for

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Gene’s background
  • Why you need to have a platform
  • Why you need to ask yourself who you’re here to serve
  • Why you need to be THE choice, not just A choice
  • Why you need to have “what can I do for you?” conversations
  • The importance of being thoughtful and provocative
  • Being intentional about what you want
  • Building your dream list
  • Why you shouldn’t wait to be discovered

How best to connect with Gene:

Mar 3, 2017

Susan Friedmann is known as The NichePreneur Coach. She is an internationally recognized niche marketing expert and “how-to” coach. She’s worked with hundreds of companies representing more than 30 different industries in the North and South America, Europe, and South East Asia. She is a prolific author, having written 14 books including her bestsellers, “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” and “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” plus many other titles. She’s appeared on a variety of radio talk shows and as a guest expert on CNN’s Financial Network and Bloomberg’s Small Business.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Susan’s background
  • Making it big in a small market
  • Why Susan makes a 2-hour appointment with herself every morning
  • Stream-of-consciousness writing exercise
  • Why Susan believes that mindset is critical to success
  • Why taking action in the right direction warrants a higher likelihood for success
  • Why you need to know how to ask for help
  • Not allowing yourself the fear of failing or being successful
  • Taking charge of procrastination & perfectionism

How best to connect with Susan:

Mar 2, 2017

Nick Creswell leads the talent and development agenda for Thomson Reuters enterprise technology and operations. He partners with leaders to deploy, develop and engage diverse talent across this 15,000-person strong global team. He has worked at Thomson Reuters since 2009, during which time he has led the enterprise performance and talent management agenda, been head of talent for the Financial & Risk business unit and set up the talent function in the Corporate Technology group. Before Thomson Reuters, Nick worked in recruitment at Google, Korn/Ferry, and United Biscuits. Nick lives in London, and – having moved 16 times before the age of 16 and lived in four countries by the age of 10. Nick is a champion of change and diversity.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Nick’s background
  • Staying focused on your vision
  • How being more intentional can help you be successful
  • The behaviors of a leader
  • Managing your talent
  • Being deliberate about how you want your culture to be
  • How “behaviors” are just as important as the “smarts”
  • Why you need to have a leader-led culture

How best to connect with Nick:

Mar 1, 2017

Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media.


Good Morning Onward Nation…I’m Stephen Woessner and welcome to this week’s solocast…Episode 440.

If you have been listening to Onward Nation for a while — you know that I like sharing strategies along with all of their tactical step-by-step processes that help business owners create predictable, measurable, and repeatable success for themselves and their teams.

Today’s solocast will be no different.

We are going to dig into how hosting a podcast can be a perfect strategy for owners of business-to-business professional services firms.

I am going to take you deep into a sneak peek of the pages of my latest book, entitled Profitable Podcasting.

Profitable Podcasting Cover

The book will not be released by my publisher until September but I want to begin sharing some of the insights now so you can begin to apply.

This book is comprehensive — and it is a research-based book that shares our full blueprint or “recipe” for podcast success with you.

Each and every step is presented in complete transparency. Not a single step has been be hidden from you. It’s all here, in plain sight.

Within the book, I will walk you behind the green curtains of Onward Nation and Predictive ROI so you can learn our proven system. You will also have access to in-depth insights from 10 business owners just like you. Each of them decided to create a podcast to change the game – and then did it.

Their impressive stories are shared in full transparency too.

But why write such a comprehensive book?

Because you deserve a resource that eliminates the guesswork, demystifies the process and gives you a clear and concise strategy for going from zero to launch in about 30 days.

Only limited resources were available when my Predictive ROI team and I decided to create Onward Nation. Sure, there were plenty of hyperbole packed eBooks and webinars that led me into the sales funnels of information marketers, but those resources lacked depth, and candidly, they lacked business acumen.

We quickly consumed the resources and were left with more questions than answers.

Plus, the resources lacked full transparency. They typically provided just enough to get you interested in learning more, and then pitched a $997 online training or mastermind program.

All of which drove me crazy and didn’t solve our problem. Not awesome!

But there are much more important reasons I decided to go as deep as possible with the book.

In my opinion, podcasting – as a medium – deserves a long-form guide, an encyclopedia of how to do it right. When I interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk before the release of his social media book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (by the way — still the best book on the market regarding social media and the business strategy behind it all), we discussed how it wasn’t just a social media book, but a business book that would elevate social media to a new level of legitimacy.


My hope is that this book will raise the bar for podcasting just as Gary did for social media marketing.

So on the surface, Profitable Podcasting looks like a podcasting book.

But it’s actually a business book about how business owners just like you are using podcasting to grow their companies, expand their platforms, and build nations of true fans. I promise you — each chapter includes step-by-step instructions so you can create, launch, market, and monetize your own podcast.

The book includes checklists, production schedules, weekly goal tracking, social media strategies with visual examples, promotional emails, guest invitations, exclusive access to private online video tutorials, and other resources including time-saving third-party tools.

I am excited to share this resource because small business has been my focus for 23 years. This is my third book devoted to helping small business owners succeed.

Helping small business owners is deeply rewarding for several reasons. First, having owned five small businesses, I know that in today’s economy, if one wants to have an impact (as I strive to do), then small business represents a tremendous opportunity. Small business owners are the lifeblood of our economy.

Second, the 28 million small businesses operating in the United States today, according to the Small Business Administration, account for 55 percent of all jobs and 54 percent of total revenue generated. I want to help as many business owners as possible grow so they can create more jobs and improve the lives of their families, employees, and communities.

Third, this book tackles the top challenge facing most business owners: According to a recent survey of 1,100 small business owners, 43 percent of respondents identified growing revenue as a top challenge facing U.S. businesses in 2016. That’s more than 12 million businesses expected to face the same challenge.

Driving this number down is a worthy goal of this book. And if you know my family history — and our story — you will understand why I am so passionate about the success of small business owners.

But…there are significant challenges to small business owners who want to have a podcast. It is not as simple as just turning on the microphone, recording a conversation, and distributing it out to iTunes. Sure you can do that…but it is highly unlikely that your time and effort will pay off for your business.

So for today’s solocast…I am going to address the challenges that typically paralyze business owners from either getting started — or — keep them from achieving the success they aspire to achieve from their podcast.

So here we go, Onward Nation.

Ready for the deep dive? Rock solid awesome!

First…a podcast is just a tool. It’s just a platform, Onward Nation.

A platform is simply a conduit for distributing or sharing content. No platform in and of itself will help your business grow revenue. This is a very important point. Just because you have a podcast — does not mean — that prospective customers or even an audience will begin to flock to you.

Not at all.

In order for your podcast to be of value to your business, there needs to be purpose behind the guests you invite to be on your show.

There needs to be purpose behind the questions you ask your guests.

There needs to be purpose behind how you nurture and take care of your guests before their interviews and after their episodes have aired.

And ultimately, you need a strategy for how your podcast will grow your business, expand your platform, and build your nation of true fans.

Having interviewed nearly 500 of today’s top business owners – and having talked with, consulted with, or worked with many of them in producing and launching their own podcasts – I can say with certainty that there are typically three primary challenges or questions that well up in the mind of a business owner who is considering a podcast.

Some business owners need to confront all three; others may just need to confront two.

But I assure you, Onward Nation — every business owner will need to confront at least one.

Question #1: How will my podcast make money and help grow my business?

Question #2: How much time with this take me?

Question #3: How will I get guests? (Or, the variation: What if no one accepts my invitation to be a guest on the show?)

I will devote a future solocast to the revenue topic.

But for this week — we will dive deep into Questions 2 and 3 because they are critically important to getting your mindset right before heading down the podcasting path.

If you don’t get your mindset right, I assure you, there will be setbacks and challenges along the way. Without the correct preparation you will be tempted to quit – and you likely will…quit.

Most podcasters quit after just 7 episodes. It is called “Podfading” — because a business owner launches his or her weekly show — then expects the show to set the world on fire just because it is available — and when it doesn’t — they quit after not even two months.

Really sad.

However, if I help you properly set expectations, when the challenges come your way, instead of being tempted to quit, you can confidently say to yourself, “Ah, Stephen said this would happen and that I’d feel this way” – and you will push forward.

Don’t ever quit, Onward Nation.

Let me help you AVOID THE TIME TRAP.

One of the questions I am asked most often by business owners who have considered a podcast for their business is, “How much time will having a podcast take out of my schedule?” It’s a great question because we should all protect our schedules.

Most business owners assume the answer is 10 hours a week – and that the solution will require them to add staff and make other investments. But here’s the reality: You can have an awesome, top-rated podcast in iTunes by investing less than four hours per month.

Yes. Four hours.

Would you grow revenues faster if you invested more time? Likely yes, but four hours a month is an excellent place to start.

So why would business owners assume that my answer would be something like 10 hours a week?

Because then it would be easy for them to justify why they hadn’t pursued it more seriously. But in fact, it isn’t the perceived time commitment that stops a small business owner from having a podcast.

It is fear.

Fear often rears its ugly head in an attempt to derail the entrepreneurial journey you’re on. Fear will beat you to your knees if you let it.

Fear will cheat you out of success in all aspects of your business, including developing a great platform like a podcast so you can grow revenue and build a nation of true fans.

Once business owners are assured that their time investment will only be about four hours per month, a second challenge typically comes to mind – this one with the subconscious goal of thwarting the podcast from gaining any additional momentum; to snuff out the fire that was building.

But what will be YOUR BIGGEST MOST PAINFUL CHALLENGE on your path to use podcasting to grow your business?

Well, you may be asking yourself the question right now, “Stephen, how will I get guests?”

Or maybe the variation: “What if no one accepts the invitation to be on my show?”

These two fear-laden questions should serve as warning signs that something sinister is lurking. If you let them, they will keep you in check and prevent you from moving forward.

The truth is, we all face such challenges. It’s just that some people are better than others at pushing themselves past them.

In my opinion, this challenge may be blocking your success not just with podcasting, but in other areas of your business as well.

The challenge is known as the “Imposter Syndrome.”

Clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne Imes coined the term in 1978 to describe high-achieving individuals who are unable to internalize their accomplishments and who consequently fear being exposed as a “fraud.”

imposter syndrome

Actual, objective evidence of their competence doesn’t matter to those who exhibit the syndrome. They remain convinced that they’re frauds. They feel that they don’t deserve the success they have achieved.

Calling it “luck” or “good timing,” they never take credit for their accomplishments.

Perhaps they believe that they’ve tricked others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they actually are.

Now let’s take that definition and break it down into its two core ingredients.

Ingredient #1: the inability to internalize accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Have you ever walked into a meeting and felt that you weren’t worthy — or that you didn’t belong there? Perhaps someone on the selection committee, the award committee, or board of directors had made a mistake in selecting you.

Heck, maybe even some of your colleagues, family members, or friends even validated your own suspicions and asked you the seemingly innocent question: “So why did they pick you?”

I began to learn about the imposter syndrome back in 2009, around the time my first book was published. I was an academic staff member at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

After my book became popular with small business owners, several of the UW campuses around the state asked me to teach a class at their respective campuses. Awesome.

One day I mentioned this opportunity to a family friend: I told him I headed to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay the next day to teach a class based on my SEO book.

My friend looked at me and said, “Well, why are they having you teach the class? Couldn’t they find someone in Green Bay to teach it?”

My friend was not trying to be hurtful — not in the least. But those comments hit me hard. Never mind that my SEO book was #3 in the United States, or that I had just been interviewed for Inc. Magazine, or any of the other credibility indicators.

When he asked me that question, I actually paused and thought about it. “Yeah, why are they hiring me to teach? Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? Am I the best they could bring in? Do I deserve to be there? Am I a fraud? Do I even know what I’m talking about?”

There is nothing unique about my story. We have all had these experiences where we begin to hear the voice in our heads whispering — or in some cases shouting — “Who do you think you are?”

The imposter syndrome will work hard to hold you back.

High-performers with imposter syndrome may work obsessively hard to prevent people from discovering that they’re “impostors.” And talk about a vicious cycle: The hard work leads to more praise and success, which only perpetuates the impostor feelings, leading the “imposter” to work even harder, which can lead to sleep deprivation, burnout and worse.

Ingredient #2: the “Imposter” takes the proof of success and passes it off as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe.

Has your business ever gone through a growth spurt that you couldn’t explain? Have you ever looked around your office and suddenly realized you have some amazing people working for you and looking to you for leadership – and yet, you cannot figure out what they see in you?

Have you ever felt uncomfortable before a presentation with a new client?

Did you wonder why they invited you to the table?

Why do we ask ourselves such lousy and unfair questions?

Here’s the important point that I really want you to get.

When you ask yourself, “How on earth were we able to hire such amazing employees? Don’t they know that we don’t know what in the world we’re doing?” — your brain does a funny thing…it gives you an answer.

It’s a crummy answer but it’s an answer.

Your brain doesn’t want to make you out to be a liar — so it gives you the answer to fit your story.

You start hearing things like, “Yeah, you really pulled the wool over their eyes on that one. Hope Becky doesn’t figure it out — because if she leaves — then Tom is sure to leave the company, too.”

Or, “Why did client X invite us here? We don’t really have a shot at winning this pitch, do we?”

The answer you get back might be something like, “Nope, we have no chance of winning — especially if they knew about all the mistakes we made just last week on Client Z’s account. We are lucky to have kept Client Z — hope X doesn’t ask for references. Maybe we ought to back out of the process now.”

What nonsense, Onward Nation!

You were invited into the evaluation process because you have a stellar network — perhaps stellar credentials — and you deserve to be at the table. The voice on your shoulder — the voice whispering in your ear — is the imposter syndrome.

And we all deal with it. It doesn’t matter who you are thinking of right now. Tim Ferriss, the bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, has dealt with it. Joel Osteen has dealt with it.

All of the incredible business leaders that grace the cover of Entrepreneur magazine deal with it. Every business owner — every political leader — every leader throughout history has dealt with this. George Washington did not feel he was worthy to be this country’s first president.

No one is immune from imposter syndrome.

But what is unique — and what is special — is when someone faces the fear of potential rejection.

To quote the beautiful words of educator and behavior expert Dr. Marcie Beigel — a two-time Onward Nation guest: “Stephen…be scared, and then do it anyway!”

I loved that.

Because it is oftentimes fear — which is another way of describing imposter syndrome — gets in your way more than anything else. You may be your own biggest constraint.

Not your ability to schedule guests on your show, not your ability to sell, not the market, not your lack of customers, not your pricing, not your product quality.

No, it is you.

You, as the owner, set the pace and tempo of your company — either fast or slow.

I asked Dr. Marcie to share how business owners can reach that elusive next level. She was kind enough to map it out into three simple steps:

  1. Get clear on what the next level is — how will you know when you’re there?
  2. Walkthrough your fear; make a plan — and just do it
  3. Find a mentor — we learn best from the people who have been there

So let’s look at all three of these.

First, get clear on what the next level is for you and your business. Well, if imposter syndrome (aka FEAR) is making you believe you are not even worthy of your current level of success, then how could you possibly believe you’re worthy of being the host of a top-ranked podcast?

Great question, right?

Instead, perhaps you need to spend some time being thankful for what you have already accomplished — consciously acknowledging that what you have achieved has been well deserved because you worked hard and you applied your God-given gifts and talents to get there.

Now, to realize your full potential, it’s time to leap off your current plateau and move onward to that next level.

You deserve to be at the next level.

You’re an expert.

The first step is to give yourself permission to define that next level so you know when you, your podcast and your business have arrived.

Second…be scared about the next level…and do it anyway. Kick fear to the curb. What’s the worst that could happen? Prospective customers could say no.

You might make a bad decision and lose some money. An employee or a group of employees may disagree with how you’re redirecting the company and could decide to leave.

Okay. Are any of these life-threatening situations?

Did anyone die? No? Then move on!

Stop making each decision more than it has to be. Just make a decision. Then move on. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. As Dr. Marcie said, “Be scared and then do it anyway.”

Finally, find a mentor to learn from as Don Yaeger recommended in the Foreword of this book. More specifically, find a mentor or group of mentors who are all moving at a pace and tempo that is faster than you.

It matters who you spend your time with — and if you spend your time with people who are moving at your current pace — or slower — those people may make you feel comfortable to be around — they may not challenge you — they may not push you or ask you tough questions — and it is easy to relax and unwind.

Why? Because as Coach John Wooden once said, “You will never outperform your circle.” That’s just human nature.

So you need to make sure the mentors you select are operating at a completely different level than you — a level to which you can reach and stretch.

You want to get into a group of people where you don’t currently belong and then work like crazy not to get left behind. In the process you’ll expand and grow.

You will then be able to leap from your current plateau onto the next rung.

As Onward Nation guest Scott McKain taught me, “Stephen, you cannot reach that next rung, unless you are willing to let go of the current one you are hanging on to.” Wise words.

You were meant for greatness, Onward Nation. You are instilled with an infinite abundance of talent and gifts. Don’t let something so small as fear limit all you were meant to be.

Don’t give up — keep pushing — and don’t ever, ever quit.

If you are going to be successful at using podcasting to drive your business onward to that next level — you need to get your mindset right first. Because when you do — you will no longer be at risk of podfading — and then the next step — will be for you to bolt on a monetization strategy to your podcast so you have an opportunity to drive significant revenue into your business. I will cover monetization in a future solocast.

So with that said…

I want to say thank you for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — thank you for tuning in — your time is sacred and I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.

However, our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.

And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.

So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.

We will be back tomorrow with an exceptional interview with Nick Creswell from Thomson Reuters in London — who will take us inside why he believes that today’s leaders lead with culture. Nick is off-the-charts amazing. You will not want to miss it.

Until then, onward with gusto!

Feb 28, 2017

Javier Montes is on a mission to bridge the gap between Gen Xers and Millennials in today’s world. As a millennial himself, Javier has spent his entire entrepreneurial journey working almost exclusively with a millennial workforce. He has built a successful event entertainment company in South Florida and now he is sharing how he experienced such success with a team of millennials. Javier writes and speaks regularly on the topic and recently published his first book “Millennial Workforce: Cracking the Code to Generation Y in Your Company.”

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Javier’s background
  • Why you need to fully embrace millennials if you want to survive
  • Why millennials value purpose and happiness over security
  • Why the negative stereotypes about millennials exist (and what they really mean)
  • Javier’s morning routine that keeps him stay aligned with his purpose
  • Why millennials believe that their personal and work lives are intertwined
  • Why you shouldn’t call your team members employees
  • Why your core values must be non-negotiable
  • How millennials define success — and how that’s different from other generations
  • Why lifestyle is important to millennials
  • Why millennials have a very short time horizon

How best to connect with Javier:

Feb 27, 2017

David Mammano’s mission in life is to help people realize their highest potential. He founded the Next Step Education Group in 1995 and successfully grew the business over 20-years making the Inc Magazine list multiple times. One of his greatest achievements was building a culture of high-performance within his team. Then Dave turned Next Step Education Group over to his leadership team so he could focus his time and energy toward his passion for helping other business owners realize their highest potential. And that is what we are going to dig into today during this special encore interview.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Why David started Next Step magazine
  • Why David elected to franchise the magazine out into different regions instead of taking it national
  • Why moving the magazine from print to digital wasn’t enough and why David turned Next Step into a college planning training program
  • David’s why: helping others — especially teens — find their own why
  • Why you need to keep your ego in your back pocket, never feel satisfied, and push for more
  • Why David started Avanti to coach entrepreneurs
  • Avanti Summit: David’s one-day boot camps for entrepreneurs
  • Mangiamo: David’s mastermind group and why it’s a great resource for entrepreneurs that want to reach the next level
  • Avanti Entrepreneur: David’s podcast
  • Why you can’t be afraid to change the rules as an entrepreneur
  • Why you need to change the definition of failure

How best to connect with David:

Feb 24, 2017

David Bush was an All-American football player at the University of South Dakota — then pursued a professional football career, which landed him a starting role with the Iowa Barnstormers in Arena Football League. He played four years and earned two trips to the World Championship game. After football, David became a partner and co-owner of a regional mortgage company with 18-production offices in and continued his success in management and business as a co-owner of the organization. He exited the mortgage business in 2005 to pursue his dream of becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur. He has since coached and mentored thousands of people on how to live healthy, successful, and more significant lives.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • David’s background
  • The benefits of repetition & hard work
  • Using Franklin Covey’s alphabet strategy
  • How spending just 23 minutes per weekday on your highest leverage activities can add an entire work day to your month
  • Why you need to take control your habits & personal discipline
  • Why you should master the skill of listening
  • Differentiating between what’s good and what’s great
  • Why you should have a plan for your health & mental well-being
  • Knowing your purpose of why you started your business
  • Partnering with people who believe what you believe

How best to connect with David:

Feb 23, 2017

Cameron Herold was an entrepreneur from day 1. At age 21, he had 14 employees. By 35, he’d help build his first TWO $100 MILLION DOLLAR companies. By the age of 42, Cameron engineered 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s spectacular growth from $2 million to $106 million in revenue, and 3,100 employees— and he did that in just six years. Cameron is a top rated international speaker and has been hired in 26 countries. He is also the top-rated lecturer at the EO / MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Cameron’s background
  • Setting & working on your top 3 goals every day
  • Why you need to focus on employee satisfaction
  • Focusing on saying no more than saying yes
  • How Cameron uses reverse engineering
  • Why culture is so important
  • The simplicity of business
  • Why you should focus on your ‘A’ players
  • Getting into organizations where you can learn & grow

How best to connect with Cameron:

Feb 22, 2017


Good Morning Onward Nation…I’m Stephen Woessner and welcome to this week’s solocast…Episode 435.

Where we are going deep — deep — deep — behind the scenes of one of today’s top reality TV shows. In fact, the Emmy-award winning SHARK TANK on ABC has become the most successful business reality TV show of all time.

And it because of our incredible guest, Kevin Harrington, that we received a backstage pass – including Kevin’s lessons learned – and how – if we apply what he shared during Episode 410 – you too can be a shark.

He is exceptional, Onward Nation.

Shark Tank

So during today’s solocast — I am going to distil down all we learned from directly Kevin into five lessons that you can immediately put into practice within your business. No matter if you want to increase revenue by 10 percent this year – or – you are the path to building a $100 million company as Kevin has twenty times with his companies – there is something here for you in this solocast.

I am going to start us off with a sharing some of the highlights from Kevin’s career as an entrepreneur, and then we will dive into the six lessons. Kevin has been a successful entrepreneur over the last 40 years – he is the exact opposite of an overnight success – he started working when he was just 11 years old. I will come back to that story in a minute.

As I mentioned earlier – Kevin is an original shark from Shark Tank. He is also the inventor of the infomercial and “As Seen On TV” pioneer – and the story behind the brilliance of that invention — tie into lesson two this morning.

Kevin is also a co-founder of the Entrepreneur’s Organization and has launched over 20 businesses that have grown to over a hundred million dollars in sales each — and has been involved in more than a dozen public companies — launched over 500 products, generated more than $5 billion dollars in sales worldwide with iconic brands such as Jack Lalanne, Tony Little, George Foreman, and the new I-Grow Hair Restoration product on QVC.

And it is because of this track record – Mark Burnett handpicked Kevin to become Shark where he filmed over 175 segments.

As I prepared for my time with Kevin – I found one of his quotes that seemed to really speak to who I knew Kevin to be and his path to success. Kevin once said, “If it doesn’t challenge you – it won’t change you.”

In looking back on what I learned from Kevin during our time together – I can confidently say that these words have served like a creed guiding his life…and it started at a young age for Kevin.

So let’s jump in.

Kevin started his entrepreneurial journey working as an 11-year old dishwasher inside his father’s restaurant. At 11…Kevin learned lessons of grit, tenacity, and persistence that he still carries with him today.

For example…

Kevin’s dad had been an entrepreneur his entire life and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps — but Kevin’s mom — wanted him to become a doctor or lawyer because her father had enjoyed a successful career in banking.

Kevin’s mom grew up in a household where the corporate life was the norm – the predictability felt comfortable.

But, Onward Nation…entrepreneurship requires swimming against the norm — swimming upstream — it requires us to swim against the rapids — against the odds — and to confidently swim toward the white water, and doing so, we need to have great anticipation for the unknown…the challenge of it all.

And sharing his personal story is how Kevin taught me the first lesson of what it takes to be a SHARK.

Lesson #1: SHARKS seek out the challenge.

When someone tells a SHARK that it can’t be done…or that there is an easier, less trampled path…the SHARK sets out to map his or her own course.

Kevin, Onward Nation, is quite comfortable in swimming in the deepest of water…finding the blue ocean…and swimming all by himself if he needs to.

Kevin doesn’t need the approval of his peer group.

He is not looking for validation. He is a SHARK and knows it.

A SHARK, like Kevin, never gets confused thinking they are something they are not. They don’t forget their gifts and talents…or…try to become something they are not.

They are acutely aware of who they are and they revel in it for all of their competitors to see.

And because of Kevin’s self-awareness…he knew at avery early age that entrepreneurship — and the uncertainty — the challenge of it all suited him perfectly.

He learned the ups and downs of running a business working alongside his dad. Kevin’s father was his first mentor — someone who gave Kevin the right challenges to conquer at the right time. To push his son — to show him what needed to be learned — what needed to be mastered — and how to be successful so that when it was time for Kevin to swim out into the deep blue ocean to see his own challenges…he was ready.

Kevin used the story of his next adventure in life to teach me the second lesson of what it takes to be a SHARK.

Lesson #2: SHARKS seek out opportunity.

By the time Kevin was ready to own a car, and then later to attend college, there wasn’t enough money to go around. His two older sisters and brother had already gone off to college and the family budget was stretched.

Kevin realized that if he was going to have a car and to attend college — he was going to have to pay his own way.

So what does a SHARK do, Onward Nation?

He searched the waters for opportunity. He needed to find an opportunity that would help him fund the next step in his journey.

To buy his car…Kevin started a driveway sealing business.

Not easy work…but the grit, the tenacity, the persistence he was learning was becoming part of his DNA…and he accomplished his goal.

But…because Kevin grew up in Ohio…his driveway sealing business was seasonal summertime work. So he looked at the market to seek out a new opportunity…something he could do year-round. And that landed him in the heating and air conditioning business because of the steady stream of year-round opportunity.

Great catch.

So during his freshman year in college, Kevin started an HVAC company and it was a success. As a freshman…he had 25 employees and was generating $1 million dollars a year in revenue. And just for context, Onward Nation — that was back in the 1970s, which would equal $6.2 million in today’s dollars.

All the while…Kevin was a college student. Super impressive!

After college…it was Kevin’s ability to seek out opportunity that fueled the acceleration of his career to become one of today’s top business owners.

When Kevin was in the heating and air conditioning business — he would travel around the country to different trade shows looking to learn and to seek out the next opportunity.

He would go to home shows and heating and air conditioning shows — and it was at one of the home shows that the inspiration for his next opportunity hit him.

So then Kevin told me the full story behind his invention of the infomercial.

He watching one of the exhibitors at a show sell a knife set and was impressed with the demonstration and the entrepreneur’s ability to sell the small audience watching the demo on the benefits of the knife set. But, the entrepreneur was only pitching 10 people at a time…and yes…eight people out of the 10 would want to buy at the end of the demo…but it was still only 8 sales.

That compelling demo flashed Kevin back to his recent experience as a brand new cable subscriber. He had asked the cable company to give him all the channels they could – the biggest package available – which was 30 channels back in the early 80s. He got a 24-hour news channel, CNN, a 24-hour movie channel, HBO, 24 hours a day of sports, ESPN. Rock solid awesome.

But, when he turned on the TV late one night…for what he thought would be 24-hours of national geographic shows…it wasn’t there…all he saw were color bars.

So Kevin called the cable company and said, “Hey, I just got your 30 cable channel package but I’m looking at all the channels, but Discovery is not coming through. Is there a technical problem? What’s happening?”

They said, “Oh, Discovery is only an 18-hour a day network. We, as the cable company, deliver the channels that we get. We don’t produce anything. We’re just a delivery vehicle. They give us 18-hours a day. We put up the bars, so you know there’s nothing that supposed to be there. It’s six hours a day of dark time.”

That’s when the lightbulb went off for Kevin.

He asked the representative at the cable company if he could come down and talk to somebody about putting something on the network during the dark time that they could both make money at.

So let’s go back to the home show…Kevin watching the knife demo – cutting through a Coca-Cola can – a powerful visual demonstration. The knife set was called the “Ginsu” and Kevin knew it would be perfect for TV – and could fill the empty inventory that the cable company clearly had.

So Kevin…following his own lesson…and wanting to find his next opportunity went up to the entrepreneur doing the demonstration and said, “Hey, let’s turn the camera on. Capture your pitch that you just gave selling those knives. We’re going to put on that downtime on Discovery channel.”

Onward Nation…Kevin started locally in Cincinnati, Ohio and bought up the excess programming inventory.

And then when they had proof of concept…Kevin went to Discovery Channel at the network level and said, “Hey, I’ll program six hours a day for you”, which turned into a long-term contract and that led to a deal with the Lifetime network.

Then boom. Acceleration.

Onward Nation, Kevin’s imagination and his pursuit of opportunity gave birth to the infomercial at a time when the market was ripe for disruption. Kevin went on to work with Jack Lalanne, Tony Little, Billy Mays, and even George Foreman with his popular Foreman Grills.

And all of this was years before QVC ever started.

But a very key piece in this lesson, Onward Nation, is that Kevin realized there were significant opportunities on the front-end and back-end of the infomercial business.

For example, he signed contracts with inventors of products and pitchmen to create the right TV presence, the right story, the right direct response marketing to consumers…but…Kevin also realized there was money to be made on the back-end…in the customer service…in the manufacture and distribution of all the goods, too.

So when Kevin approached a business owner with an opportunity to join his portfolio of products…he was providing an A to Z solution that was very compelling and provided built-in marketing and distribution.

And then it went viral, Onward Nation, before “viral” was even a thing.

Kevin shared with me how one opportunity built on and led to the next. They took it viral not only in the US then went to England with Rupert Murdoch…then to Italy…then into Spain…into Germany…to Sweden, Latin America, and Japan.

Their distribution went worldwide viral through the TV networks with an 800 number on the back of it. Kevin’s system generated hundreds and millions of dollars over several years.

And they were able to do that because Kevin and his team were not just creating content for stations – they also manufactured the products, imported the products, created a phone center to accept orders, set up a fulfillment center to ship the goods, a bank to cash the credit cards, a customer service center to handle the customer service.

Kevin capitalized on the opportunity to create a complete front and back end marketing and distribution machine. He was the pioneer behind the catchphrase – “not available in stores.” And that ensure that all of the dollars for their products flowed through their own front and back end system. Direct to consumer. Brilliant.

And once the system was built – he achieved scale by recruiting as many products as possible – and because of the results he was creating for his partners – they would often introduce him to the next ones. One of them said to Kevin, “Hey, did you meet Billy Mays? Billy has a product. I’ll introduce you.”

Kevin was able to tie up the rights to all of them with all of their ideas, all their products. Kevin and his team created an industry but it started with seeking out an opportunity and then not being afraid of the enormous challenge that it represented. Lessons #1 and #2, Onward Nation.

And Kevin still applies this same level of curiosity today by attending 25 to 30 trade shows a year. I interviewed him just days before he left for CES in Las Vegas. He speaks at the events…meets with business owners in his portfolio of companies…and then is always on the lookout to be pitched the next opportunity.

Let’s move to Lesson #3, Onward Nation: SHARKS are relentless.

SHARKS never stop swimming toward their goal — because if they do — they will suffocate and die.

And that makes a SHARK relentless. They have a strong will to win. But their will to win isn’t because they just want to survive – no – a SHARK is driven to thrive. Even if that means they will collect battle scars along the way…each scar is just additional experience.


A SHARK’s relentless pursuit to thrive is what has made them the undisputed top of the oceanic food chain. A Great White shark will nearly eat anything. And if a competitive feeding frenzy ensues – the SHARK with the strongest, most unrelenting will is the one who gets the most meat.

It is their relentless nature…their relentless pursuit of an opportunity…that produces incredible success.

Onward Nation…don’t you think it is reasonable to think that Kevin Harrington received some naysayers who listened to his idea about pitching products on TV at 2:00 in the morning…who giggled a little bit. I can almost hear the skepticism now. Oh come on, Kevin…who is going to buy something they see on TV? How many people are actually awake that late? If people were actually interested in watching TV that late…don’t you think the networks would already have programming?”

And yet…he relentlessly did it anyway. Because that is what SHARKS do, Onward Nation.

Time for Lesson #4: SHARKS never stop learning.

And because SHARKS never stop learning — they are excellent problem solvers — and they pivot when necessary, and consequently, are on the front-end of the disruption.

SHARKS are early adopters to new tech so they can continue their position of market leadership and being at the top of the food chain. But they also help set the new trends and can be excellent teachers if we are willing to watch and learn.

For example, when Kevin attends a trade show…it is often in the role of being the keynote speaker. And he is there to share content about the disruptions he is seeing in the marketplace – where is the market headed. He can share those types of insights because he never stops learning – he doesn’t rest on his laurels – his relentless nature of being a SHARK demands that he continue to learn – to continually perfect his craft in order to be the best expert he can be.

And his thought leadership is highly sought after because the “As Seen On TV” industry is in the midst of a serious disruption. For example, I learned from Kevin that there are 50 percent fewer viewers on TV today than there were 10-years ago.

Let’s take a deeper look.

When shows launch today – if it’s good – it will receive 5 to 6 million viewers – and maybe 7 to 8 million viewers if it is really good.

And if you go back just 10 years, those same shows would be doing double that.

But, today’s audience is gone. They are either on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or getting their content on their iPads, iPhones, etc.

Kevin described it as “cord cutting” and it is taking place at a very rapid rate right now. And because of that…industry associations are turning to Kevin – who built such incredible success around TV with his empire of products and back-end fulfillment systems – to now teach what is next. And because Kevin saw the trends coming – because of his study and learning – he smartly pivoted.

As a result…he is profiting within completely different platforms because he has learned what the consumer wants – and – where they want it.

Kevin urges today’s business owners to “Follow the eyeballs. They’re on Facebook. They’re on Pinterest. They’re on Instagram. Which is why 80 percent of Kevin’s business comes from digital channels versus 100 percent coming from his TV presence just 5-years ago.

Lesson #5: SHARKS are decisive

Onward Nation, when was the last time you watched Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and you saw a shark being indecisive?

Did you see it hesitate?

Did you see it circling around an opportunity and never taking action to either strike or move on?

Living in fear and not knowing if they should move in to investigate and then decide if they should eat it or not doesn’t happen in the wild.



Because sharks in the wild are decisive. And SHARKS in business share that same trait with their oceanic counterparts.

How often have you seen Kevin and his fellow SHARK investors inside the Shark Tank waffle around a deal? Never. It doesn’t happen.

Within minutes, they decide if they will — or won’t invest — in someone’s dream. They don’t belabor a point…they are either in or they are out. They are decisive about an opportunity.

When they see an opportunity…they move.

I have been a fan of SHARK TANK for a long time – so during our pre-interview chat – I asked Kevin if he would be willing to take us behind the scenes of SHARK TANK. I was delighted when he agreed.

So here we go, Onward Nation…way…way…way…behind the scenes. It is as if Kevin gave us an all access studio pass. Here are some of the highlights.

Shark Tank is filmed on a soundstage on the Sony movie lot in Culver City, California – just outside Los Angeles — where all the original big movies with Clark Gable and today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters are filmed. Gulp.

And during the shooting of the first several episodes, the Shark Tank soundstage was physically right next door to the soundstage where Robert Downey Jr. was filming the first Iron Man movie.

So at lunch, Kevin and his fellow SHARKS were at lunch, and the Iron Man cast and crew was also at lunch. There were hundreds of crew and staff there, and the Sharks were like, “Wow, there’s Robert Downey Jr. — Hey, we’re from Shark Tank.” And the reaction from everyone was “Who the heck are you guys?”

Onward Nation…nobody knew what Shark Tank was at that point. It was brand new. I am so glad Kevin shared that insight – because – it illustrates so perfectly that even one of the biggest shows on TV – had to start somewhere and that somewhere was at the bottom.

And they had to work like crazy to make the show a success. But not without needing to conquer number of intimidating moments along the way. And just like Kevin taught me during this interview – “If it does challenge you – it doesn’t change you.”

For example…

The ceilings within the soundstage were 60-foot high with 16 cameras and a crew of 150 people bustling about!

Now, Kevin came from a television business – he shot many infomercials and being in front of a camera was easy for him. But, a big expensive shoot in Kevin’s world before Shark Tank was five cameras – and now he was on the Sony movie lot inside a soundstage that cost $1 million to build with 16 cameras and a 150 person crew.

There’s the challenge Kevin spoke about, Onward Nation.

This was Hollywood. This was ABC, Sony, and big time Mark Burnett. He produces the biggest and the best from Survivor and all that.

Using Kevin’s words…it was a little bit intimidating. But then Mark Burnett came over to Kevin and asked, “Kevin, tell me how you feel. What’s going through your mind right now?”

Kevin said, “Well, it’s a little intimidating, Mark. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m sitting here. I’m looking at 150-person crew, 16 cameras, Sony music movie lot. Mark, I feel really good because I know what is happening here…the entrepreneurs who are coming in…they’re going to be pitching me and this is what I do every day in my business.”

Then Mark Burnett said, “Kevin. Just put blinders on. Don’t think about the cameras. Don’t think about the crew. Don’t think about anything. I want you to focus on the entrepreneur coming out, giving you the pitch. What would you do if that was in your office?”

Kevin told me… “Stephen, That’s when it all came together.”

Shark Tank Image

Because of Mark’s words, Kevin had a peaceful feeling and he could just focused on his expertise and what he did best.

But there was also another form of risk to the SHARKS themselves.

At that particular time, ABC had not committed to air SHARK TANK. So Mark Burnett still had to negotiate for distribution of the show.

So the reality was – that the SHARKS were investing in deals that had no guarantee of distribution on TV.

Kevin is one of the original SHARKS who helped forge the show because we went all in – he wrote checks to companies that were coming on SHARK TANK with no guarantee of distribution – no guarantee of getting eyeballs for those investments.

So for the SHARKS – it was a very risky proposition. They were investing hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own cash into deals that may never be seen by anybody on TV. The initial episodes were pilots.

Fortunately, selling to the networks is a skill for Mark Burnett. He got it sold into ABC, and the show launched in 2009, and the rest is history.

But SHARK TANK — as well as Kevin Harrington’s incredible career — are great illustrations of how there is no such thing as an overnight success. Onward Nation…it takes grit, persistence, and tenacity to make your dreams a reality.

Don’t give up — keep pushing — don’t ever quit.

So with that…

I want to thank you for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — thank you for tuning in — your time is sacred and I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.

However our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.

And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.

So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.

We will be back tomorrow with an interview with Cameron Herold, the top-rated lecturer at the EO / MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program.

Until then, onward with gusto!

Feb 21, 2017

Phil Gerbyshak works with salespeople and leaders to increase their influence, impact and ultimately, their income. Phil believes in the power of social selling and connection. With a unique speaking style — part sales expert and part entertainer — Phil keeps his audiences engaged while providing actionable steps to bring in more leads, more referrals, and more business. If he’s not traveling, speaking, or making new connections, Phil writes. He’s published five books, including “10 Ways to Make It Great” and “#TwitterWorks”, more than 2,500 articles, and been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times and a long list of other media.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Phil’s background
  • Why LinkedIn is the most powerful social selling tool on the planet
  • The importance of adding value to people’s lives & why that matters
  • Asking yourself “how can I do better?”
  • How to add productivity time to your week
  • Why focus is such an important skill to master
  • Practicing being “you”
  • Why your message needs to be packaged in the right way
  • Getting clear on who you are as a business owner
  • Finding great people to surround yourself with
  • Learning by example

How best to connect with Phil:

Feb 20, 2017

Henry DeVries is the CEO of Indie Books International. He works with consultants and coaches who want to attract more high-paying clients by marketing with a book and speech. Henry has helped ghostwrite, edit, and co-author more than 300 business books, including his bestseller “How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett. He is also the president of the New Client Marketing Institute, a training company he founded 18 years ago — and — has serves as a marketing faculty member and assistant dean of continuing education for the University of California San Diego.

What you'll learn about in this episode

  • Henry’s background
  • Conquering your roadblocks
  • What Henry considers the #1 marketing tool & #1 marketing strategy
  • Why you need to just write instead of striving for perfection
  • Being persistent & taking action
  • The importance of knowing your numbers
  • Why you need to maintain your daily and weekly standards
  • Creating a business development machine

How best to connect with Henry:

Feb 17, 2017

Christine Kloser is known as “The Transformation Catalyst®,” and has trained nearly 70,000 authors and entrepreneurs from more than 100 countries and is well recognized as a leader in her field. Whether through private mentoring, group coaching, transformational retreats, live events, speaking or global virtual trainings programs, Christine’s clients feel seen, heard, understood, valued and transformed in ways they never thought possible. As a result, they take action, claim their worth, write their books, experience life-changing breakthroughs and fulfill their heart’s calling. Christine has personally authored and co-authored more than a dozen award-winning and best-selling books including “The Freedom Formula, “A Daily Dose of Love” and “Pebbles in the Pond.” Committed to making a difference in the world, and raising the consciousness of humanity.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Christine’s background
  • Why Christine believes that less is more when it comes to your daily to-do list
  • Why Christine starts every day with quiet time
  • Why you don’t need to always have all of the answers
  • Why you should build a business that extends beyond you
  • Speaking in authenticity
  • Why you need a community of champions & believers
  • Creating & growing your business in a way that is right for you

How best to connect with Christine:

Feb 16, 2017

Nick Sonnenberg is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for creating companies that disrupt the way people live. Nick is the co-founder of Leverage and the former CEO of CalvinApp. Before making the jump to the startup technology space, Nick spent more than eight years on Wall Street as a high frequency algorithmic trader. His personal mission is to help busy entrepreneurs and executives optimize their lives in a meaningful way and help them go from idea to execution in as few steps as possible.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Nick’s background
  • The importance of identifying your strengths
  • Why you need to be able to delegate more
  • Why you need to give people the feeling that you’re adding value
  • Why you shouldn’t discount your services
  • Automating your systems
  • Why you need to build something scalable
  • Why you need to clear the “crap” out of the way
  • Utilizing tools to help you be more productive

How best to connect with Nick:

Feb 15, 2017

Marissa Levin has been an entrepreneur, speaker, & globally recognized growth strategist for over 20-years. Her lifetime legacy mission is to educate, equip, & empower 100 million entrepreneurs & leaders with the skillsets and mindsets they need to reach their greatest potential. As CEO of Successful Culture, Marissa helps other CEOs master the 3 most critical aspects of business growth: leadership development, strategy formulation & execution, and organizational culture assessment & improvement. She also helps CEOs select and implement highly effective advisory boards using her patented SCALE Model, which is an essential strategy for any business looking to grow exponentially.

What you'll learn about in this episode

  • Marissa’s background
  • Why you should not limit yourself
  • Why Marissa believes in the ‘oxygen mask’ analogy
  • Why you should face conflict head-on
  • Why you should be intentional with your time
  • Why you need to be true to your personal brand
  • Mastering your mindset
  • Why you need to define boundaries
  • Why you need to identify your core values, mission, and vision
  • Why you need to determine your target customer profile
  • Having a proactive mindset

How best to connect with Marissa:

Feb 14, 2017

Amy Anderson is the creator of Transformative Writing for Non-Writers, founder of Anderson Content Consulting LLC, and former senior editor of SUCCESS magazine. She's an Emmy Award-winning writer, writing coach, and speaker who has worked with clients like John Addison, Todd Duncan, John Assaraf, and Darren Hardy, as well as companies like Advisors Excel and Dell. Today, Amy has turned her years of experience toward helping experts, coaches, and consultants discover their authentic voice and write with confidence so they can build connection, inspire action, and change lives.

What you'll learn about in this episode

  • Amy’s personal story
  • Why you need to deal with your deeper wounds
  • Why freedom is the definition of success for Amy
  • Why you need to look at suffering as something you can build upon
  • The importance of freeing yourself from toxic relationships
  • Why, when you have that moment of clarity, you need to do something right away
  • Why you need to figure out what you are so afraid of
  • Why you need to be authentic & not run from who you really are  

How best to connect with Amy:

Feb 13, 2017

Sheryl O’Loughlin is a serial entrepreneur and author of KILLING IT! An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart (Harper Collins, December 2016). She has served as the CEO of Clif Bar, where she led the concept development and introduction of Luna bars. She then went on to co-found and serve as CEO of Plum Organics. She was the Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Sheryl is currently CEO of REBBL, a fast-growing maker of plant-based drinks.

What you’ll learn about in this episode

  • Sheryl’s background
  • Why there is a light side & a dark side to entrepreneurship
  • Why entrepreneurs all need to understand & support each other
  • Protecting your self worth
  • Putting passion & grit into everything you do
  • Finding people who care deeply about your purpose
  • Why you need to go on an epic adventure
  • Why you need to have bold humility
  • Finding a valuable, sustainable business model

How best to connect with Sheryl:


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