How does a business therapist, who trades time for money, go from having zero customers in the first week of business to building a six figure income helping entrepreneurs uncover the psychological roadblocks that keep them from being successful? And how does he do it working only 15 hours each week?
Peter Shallard is the “Shrink for Entrepreneurs” and he’s our guest today on the Foundation podcast. He is a psychotherapist gone renegade and one of the most sought after business therapists in the world.
BUT it wasn’t that long ago that he couldn’t find any customers.
The first week Peter started his business as a therapist, he opened the doors to his practice and no one came. No one. I want you to listen how Peter describes what that felt like and how he used that experience to crack the code on turning strangers into customers.
Andy: Welcome everyone to The Foundation podcast, this is Andy, and today we have Peter Shallard The Shrink for Entrepreneurs with us. Peter is a renowned business psychology expert and psychotherapist gone renegade. He works with all types of entrepreneurs around the globe as these people try to strive to reach greater goals of wealth, freedom and social impact and his shtick is simple. The psychology of entrepreneurship of an entrepreneur dictates the bottom line result of their business. Peter works his magic with business owners and their organizations at that sweet spot where deep, meaningful psychology and hard core business strategy intersect. Peter, welcome to the show man. Peter: It’s good to be here. I’m excited. Andy: Thanks for coming on. I’m super excited for this interview for a couple of reasons. One, Peter runs a very healthy six figure business working roughly 15 hours a week or so with just a very small handful of pretty powerful, awesome clients. Peter, I saw the article Michael Ellsberg wrote about you in Forbes. Michael Ellsberg is the author of The Education of Millionaires and he just raved about you. Can you tell us a little bit about the clients that you work with and what you’re doing for them. Peter: Yeah. The thing that I have in common is that they have nothing in common other than that they are all entrepreneurs. This is what I love the most about my job is that I’ve got this crazy insight and experience into so many industries that I’ve stumbled across. I was never really able to give people a true feel for this because most of my clients take privacy really seriously and it’s something that I’m obviously really cautious about due to the nature of the work that we do but recently we had Ellsberg whose being one of my clients for the last two years which has been amazing, come out and do this expose on Forbes all about our work together. He’s an author and has his finger on a whole bunch of pies. Is always up to really interesting stuff. After that we had … five of my clients actually came forward and participated in this interview. A really great filmmaker and great friend of mine went and shot interviews with five of them. Those people … I think it’s a great collection of the types of industries so we’ve got medicine and technology, the intersection of the two. Dr. Cory Annis has been one of my long term client. She’s an MD and is building an amazing online platform for delivering primary care to entrepreneurs on business executives who are always on the move globally. That type of project is just like it’s been phenomenal to see develop and work with her is the founder of the last couple of years. I’ve got clients in private aviation, investment banking, what else? A quite well-known radio personality, somebody who’s a big person actually in the podcasting space; was one who was in the video. Yeah. It’s just kind of all over the place. Like I said it’s just too many industries to kind of name. Andy: What’s really cool is … Peter, you tend to keep clients for a really, really long time. That’s one thing I’ve noticed with you is that your retention is just off the chart and … I want to talk about that with you and I want to talk about how you got to a point where you’re targeting such high-end individuals; high net worth, high impact, just like the total package. We’ll talk about all that in a little bit but first I just want to go back to … when you got started what was your first business that you … what was the first time you made money not getting paid for somebody … by somebody like a corporation or company? Peter: Yeah, it’s a good question. It’s been a real crazy journey for me so rewind the clock back I … my first business started … I started seven years ago and it was a private therapy practice. I had completed my training and was sort of a newly mentored psychotherapist and I wanted to … I was really passionate about my field and I just wanted to begin my clinical [hours 00:05:06] and get started doing that. I just dedicated years to studying that and becoming the very best, at least at the time I thought like the best possible therapist that I could be. I went and rented an office and printed out some business cards and sat in it until clients showed up which is like a hilariously dubious strategy. I figured some stuff out and had quite a bit of success early on. The first real homerun was when I really got the idea that I needed to kind of have a niche. I wasn’t familiar with this, I knew nothing about business and I just wanted to work with everybody for everything because I felt like I had this deep set of skills and I hated the idea of advertising and focusing on one particular problem and I got so much advice, something I’ll never forget how many people told me to do that and how much I was able to convince myself that they were wrong all [these experience and smart people 00:06:01] and I was right. Of course they were right and I was wrong. It didn’t work out. Eventually I was smart enough to advertise. I do a campaign in the local geographic area that I was on to help people quit smoking because I was pretty experienced with working with the dictions and that really gave me this huge influx of clients at the beginning and was what I really built my practice on which was … yeah, putting fliers in people’s mailboxes essentially. That was what really worked. Andy: Let’s go back. Tell me you finish school or you finish your education and you decide you’re going to strike out on your own, do your own thing. You rent a place, print up business cards, probably with a pretty fancy logo and … Peter: It was kind of average actually. But yeah. Andy: But sit there and what happened? Peter: What happened was I guess the biggest, the most disillusioned kind of moment that I’ve ever had when I realize that I had invested thousands and thousands of dollars in years of my life developing my … I guess my psychological therapeutic education, my skill set and that none of that mattered. That was never so clear to me is that moment when I went in on Monday morning and sat in my office and I’m sure a whole week went by at least, it’s not multiple weeks where I just spent Monday to Friday sitting at this empty office trying to figure out what to do. Those experiences will definitely check your ego and I just realize that being the best possible therapist I could be means nothing if I don’t know how to find strangers and turn them into customers. Andy: Awesome. After you had that realization what did you do? Peter: I was terrified of it but that was when I tried to think of the highest leverage, fastest and cheapest way I could reach people and I had no real idea of what kind of converted or what didn’t but I had had a couple of referrals. The tiny bit of business I did have was like the family and friends referral sort of thing so I did have a couple of people come in and one of the things I noticed was that I would get referrals from people from the other side of town and they would never come. Very early I went this crazy thing, I’m not sure how relevant this is to anyone or now or whatever but I learn that people … even if it’s like therapy, like it’s quitting smoking or working on a depression or something major, they want it to be local. People didn’t want to travel and so this was a big … I was kind of pissed off about learning this but I decided to embrace it and that’s how I got the letterbox idea. I just thought if I go print out … like I’m essentially doing nothing with my time so if I go get a whole bunch of fliers like printed cheap, advertising this. I put together this quit smoking package and it was a money back guarantee of it because I was pretty confident of my skills, I’ve got some really cool stuff I do with the dictions or did do and I knew that it worked. I made this killer offer and I guess I stumbled upon some fairly effective copywriting because I think it converted at about like three percent, you know? Andy: Just direct mail that you were putting in people’s mailboxes? Peter: Right, right. I intuitively understood that I needed to make it stick out. It didn’t look at all like a flier from the other type like pizza coupons and stuff that go in to people’s mailboxes, it was very different to that. I just kind of intuitively understood that concept and then just spent afternoons walking around, dropping them in letterboxes myself like I did the hard yards and it just freaking works. I was living in fear that one of the people like I would see one of the people whose home I was putting in the letterbox and that they would end up calling me and then come in and be like, “Wait! The kid who is dropping the flier off is the actual guy doing the therapy.” I don’t think it ever happens. It was a crazy, it was a very like harrowing experience and I remember just being in a state of constant fear that this was wouldn’t work out and someone would think I was stupid or whatever but it turned out that people called the number and booked in the appointments and then from that the work I was doing was good then that’s where the investment in my education did payoff because I was able to help this people and I started getting referrals and I built up the practice from them. Andy: Do you remember what you put on the fire? Peter: Oh man. Andy: Like what was the … Peter: Freaky questions. Andy: What was the offer that like … because three percent response rate on direct mail stuff is ridiculous. Do you remember like what the offer was? Peter: It was guaranteed. That was the big thing. The price point was 4.97 … sorry, 4.75, I’m pretty sure. Yeah. 4.75 … no, maybe 3.75. You’re really taking me back here. It was very focused on the guarantee. It was like quit smoking or your money back and then … Oh yeah, and the copy was, the copy was something about no pills, no patches, no prescriptions and then like a new type of talk therapy has massive results for smoking session like some do it. It kind of hit like … I think the [inaudible 00:11:35] the advertising people have experienced like that and I actually saw some on the subway in New York just yesterday was like something advertising a new study. It was probably NYU or one of the schools and it was 300 smoking men wanted for this breakthrough new treatment. We’re just really … you knew that it was going to be like a patch or a pill or something like that, you know? Andy: Yup. Peter: A lot of people are kind of turned off by that. Unintentionally I’m sort of analyzing what the gift of hindsight. [Inaudible 00:12:08] really attracted people but I guess what turned off by those more medical base treatments and what into the idea of like a holistic talk therapy. I naturally got clients who were already open to the idea that just having a conversation and some mental shifts could make a huge difference. Andy: Got it. Got it. You drop all these letters, three percent response rate. What happened … say the first time you did the drop did you just go back to your office and sit and wait for the phone to ring and like what happened when the first person called? What were you think, what were you feeling? Peter: Oh man. [Inaudible 00:12:49] no one has ever asked me this before. What actually happened, I remember the first guy, and by the way I’m still in touch with them every now and then like years and years later just to kind of check and he still doesn’t smoke. Andy: No way. Peter: Yeah. What happened was that when the first call came in I had them routed through to my cell at great expense back in those days and I was with a bunch of friends of mine and I think we were having some beers or something and I was kind of … it’s almost like when you’re a teenager drinking when you shouldn’t be and your mom called and to be like shh-shh-shh everyone. I kind of did that and then I picked up the phone and just realize the guy said something to me where he was like … I don’t know. He was really [inaudible 00:13:40]. He was like, “I don’t know how quickly you can see me.” Those were more or else the words that came out of his mouth and right then I realized that this guy was a [inaudible 00:13:49]. He had called, man, he was really nervous and he was really nervous that he might not be able to get in on the … like somehow he was experiencing the scarcity and just in that moment, in a split second I was like I need to run with this. I booked him in for the next week like ten days away. Andy: Oh really? Did you have any appointments over those ten days? Peter: No, no. My schedule was totally empty but I was just like, yeah, got a lot going on. I didn’t tell a lie. It was a white bending of a truth I had of you, social plans, whatever. I’ve got a lot going on but let’s do like Thursday next week and this is all my [inaudible 00:14:25]. Andy: Yeah. Peter: He was like, “Oh my god! Yeah. Great, great, great.” When he came along I had already setup the psychological conditions that was so [inaudible 00:14:36] to kind of his success as a client. His perception was he had stumbled upon this amazing author and come to work with this guy who is obviously doing this crazy back to back appointments [inaudible 00:14:47] people’s minds. That’s exactly what happened you know. Andy: You wanted to set that construct up before he even walked in the door? Peter: Yeah. I mean, let me be clear though. I made this up on the spot. It was just the realization that my client was more affirming that I was. It was the realization that … I guess I had been buried in the whole ego trip of … realizing that I had to do this unfamiliar sales and marketing shtick. I had been really focused on me and when I first heard … it’s just a profound moment to have a stranger phone you up essentially saying, “I need you [inaudible 00:15:31].” Yeah, something just clicked. I just realized that I’m the expert here. He’s waiting for me to dictate to him when I can fit him into my schedule. It just kind of gave me a boost of confidence and coincidentally used really smart kind of tactic that just took advantage of a kind of slightly [sleazy 00:15:54] scarcity kind of phenomenon. I’m not a hundred percent proud of it but the crazy thing is just that it was kind of acting as if because a couple of months later my schedule was full and I would have to book people a couple of weeks [inaudible 00:16:10] in advance. Andy: Yeah. What a great lesson to learn early on though. It totally makes sense to me now hearing that that was one of the first lessons you learned because I think you’ve done a incredible job of positioning yourself as this really cream of the crop like … position yourself in a position of like status among your prospects that come to you. Peter: Mm-hmm. Andy: Even now. Peter: Yeah. It’s definitely something that I do have some consciousness of. It’s also just the kind of aesthetic that I really believe in. I don’t know. I’ve got a healthy sense of confidence and I know that the work that I do is really awesome and I’m happy with my business model and it’s not a scalable thing so there is a natural scarcity to what I do. I think that you said in your introduction that I do 15 hours a week and what that means is I do 15 consulting hours a week which means I usually only carry 15 clients maybe; 15 to 20 clients. Andy: Yup. Peter: Some people don’t do a session every week but it’s not that many people. There is some natural scarcity about being able to work with me if you’re an entrepreneur. You know that’s cool because it’s a very [inaudible 00:17:36] human and personal service. I’m not offering like join my course or read my e-book or anything like that. Yeah. Andy: I want you to put like the psychology head on for a moment. We’ll kind of transition to this because I talk with a lot of entrepreneurs and there’s a big fear around positioning themselves in that way. They feel like I think a lot of times if they start working with clients or they start getting their first people paying the money to do something that they have to like bow down to the clients every demand and wish. What do you think keeps people from positioning themselves to the way you have? Peter: Fundamentally like not … let’s go crazy, deep and meaningful. It’s really a disconnect with your sense of self I think. You want to position as an entrepreneur and you’re offering services which is I think what you’re talking about and you’re willing to let the client dictate to you what those services should be and how they should be delivered and how they should be packaged. If you’re not just willing but kind of anticipating that and looking forward to it I think it reflects. Yeah, it just reflects an uncertainty, a fundamental failure to have kind of knowing yourself and knowing what it is that you offer. That was one thing that I guess my background and all of the time like the years I spent like reading way outside of my field and trying to just get vast understanding of this. The type of psychological work that I do it really helps because it gave me this healthy sense of kind of knowing my craft. Like it never cross my mind that I should let a client come in and then tell me how many sessions he thought he should come for or how we should go about this. You know what I mean? It just never happened. Yeah, I think that it’s fundamentally just a self-confidence issue that comes from really knowing yourself and knowing what your … It doesn’t really do justice to say know your value proposition because it’s a very recycled business term. It’s more knowing what capability you have and what value it creates in the world because when you’re certain about that it’s very easy to communicate with a lot of sincerity, it’s very easy to make that [inaudible 00:20:02] to other people and also make it obvious when you’re doing something, when someone asked you something you can kind of say no with a lot of integrity because you’ve kind of advertise this is who I am and this is what I do. Andy: If you’re working with the client who’s struggling with this what would you have them do? Peter: One of the techniques that I’ve actually kind of pioneered in the last couple of years which is weird. It’s like the ultimate synergy of kind of business strategy and psychology is that I actually set clients in this position; the exercise of doing copywriting. I think copywriting is … and I never knew that copywriting when I first started out by the way but now that I do copywriting is a phenomenal exercise and personal development because if you’re writing copy about yourself you have to sell yourself. For an individual who wants to have like a consulting or coaching career or some kind, to sit down and write like a page that convinces people that you’re worth it is really an exercise in convincing yourself that you’re worth it. If you’re unable to write good copy about yourself then that to me is like the … you’ve gotten to the heart of the problem because assuming you’ve got a good command of the English language you should be able to do that. That’s what I get people to do is I have them like work on the copy and apply like … increasingly more and more dangerous and exciting adjectives to themselves you know? Andy: So true. Any time we’re looking at launching a product of any sort the first thing I always do is write the sales page because after I write the sales page I have this renewed sense of what it is that I’m offering and why it’s like a great offer for the world and then going out to people makes it so much easier to talk about. Peter: Right. It’s that level of certainty. Like I’ve definitely done that exercise for myself as well and it becomes so personal when you’re doing it about consulting or like the type of business model like mine where it’s really you where you are the commodity that’s for sale. That’s where it’s really … not every entrepreneur has that as a business model but it is a cool exercise for kind of anyone to do because you really have to confront yourself and us like what is it that I really do, what is it that I’m good at. Yeah. Certainly these days I’ve definitely been able to come to a place of total certainty myself around like what it is I do. I’ve got a great tagline that I’m super proud of and yeah. That’s literally what I do is I set people copywriting exercises and kind of supervise it and it brings up all sorts of interesting psychological stuff. Andy: Okay. Now let’s go back to story. Get your first client, a few months later … how long did you drop these in people’s mailboxes for? Peter: You know what? I actually didn’t probably do as many of them as I should. I probably did five or six different drops of like … I see thousands of them over the … over like a year or two. It really works well like the referrals and stuff came in and I started to get pretty busy so it was hard to kind of convince myself to get out there and do it again. Yeah. I’m not sure. Your question was how often did I do it? It was only a handful more times and then I just kind of rolled with the business that I had and kind of let things chug along. Yeah. Andy: Let’s say you do the smoking thing for a while and then you had a pretty big transition, right? At what point did you move to the states? Because you were in New Zealand at the time all these was happening. Peter: Yeah. The timeline points around … here’s what happened. I was working in New Zealand [inaudible 00:23:56] and I built my practice in Auckland, New Zealand. I started doing a bit of corporate consulting on the side while I was building my practice. I guess that that’s a big piece of the puzzle because that took up a lot of time. It was also very, very lucrative. I had some phenomenal opportunities that came about through networking to do a lot of really exciting work. Initially doing really therapy like stuff and it slowly … I slowly started working with sales people kind of almost by accident to help them with this like any kind of psychological obstacles that prevented them from contributing to a company’s bottom line and the crazy thing about that is that in the corporate consulting world if you’re able to walk in to a business and demonstrate a capacity to add like a … to increase the sales departments performance you’re basically worth anything to that company so long as your fear is slightly less than the percentage increase you create. I kind of got into this crazy career. That was really the second phase of my business or the second business that I created I ended up moving to Australia where I had a lot of clients. New Zealand is a very small country and there’s a lot of bigger businesses in Australia. I work for some of the largest banks in the world, investment banking, insurance underwriters. The types of industries where they have sales people who are responsible for enormous chunk of revenue where if the top guy kind of has a mid-life crisis and a meltdown it’s going to cost the company serious, serious money. There was this real opportunity there to go and then do this very personal, very intense work with these people and also do trainings and workshops and kind of keynotes and stuff like that. I started to become the sales psychology expert in the corporate space which was the big … I guess that was the big phase two in my life and business. Andy: What did you charge when you were doing that? Peter: What did I charge? Andy: Yeah and how did you decide what to charge there. Peter: Well I decided the way that all B to B sales are really done. You basically pick a price point that you think that they’ll go for and then you go and [put 00:26:05] it in a meeting. It was all boardroom sales. I was usually selling to the CEO if not the Board of Directors of these companies. They would say yes and if they said yes right away I would like fist pump and like walk out of the … you know shake their hand or whatever and walk out of the meeting and immediately be like damn! And I should have asked for more. That’s really what happens. There was no kind of price point limit. Because of the nature of the work I was doing it was just so worth it to them but in terms of my hourly rate I went from … like when I was started my practice I think I was probably earning 50 bucks an hour or something like that and I was … with the corporate consulting it was usually beginning at about three or four hundred and going upwards from there for the actually time that I would spend implementing the work. Andy: Awesome. Went from doing your own thing to doing corporate consulting and then what was the next step for you? Peter: Yeah, so the next step was the formation of The Shrink for Entrepreneurs business and brand and the way of that happened is that I had this sales strategy and I love it when I get clients here in the B to B consulting world in the industry because I have such great ideas around how to build a business. I was very successful with the business that I built and my strategy was to network with the CEOs of these huge companies. I basically made myself known to them and spent my entire time having lunches and coffee and stuff like that with these CEOs and learning about their problems and concerns with their senior staff and their senior sales people. I would just be very close with those people and in some ways do a lot of free consulting, like a lot of sort of over lunch like deep and meaningful conversations with them. I would be fishing for opportunities where there were problems that they didn’t know how to solve and then I would basically just ask for commission to come in and pitch them a solution I had in mind. They would usually pull a bunch of people into the room and be like, “Here’s this guy I know. He’s got some ideas to solve …” like so and so problem, whatever, and that’s how I would create business. What happened is I actually have all these relationships with the CEOs who were founders of these companies who are very entrepreneurial people and I started doing a little bit of work with some of them and realize that this was massively fulfilling for me, that I really enjoyed working with those people. Like a lot of things and business all roads led to Seth Godin who has been a massive influence in my life. I picked up a copy of his book, Permission Marketing, in a second-hand bookstore in Sydney. [Inaudible 00:28:50] read it was just consumed by like the potential … I was a guy who just didn’t spend any time on the internet before those. I was building a very old school business done by inperson. It was all in-person networking … Andy: What year was this? Peter: Let me think. What year are we now? It must have been 2006, ‘07. Yeah. That sounds about right. ‘07, ‘08 maybe. Andy: Cool. Peter: Yeah. Andy: Before we go on the second round … going back to how … how did you get meetings with all these CEOs? Because we’ve got a lot of people in the Foundation, they’re cold calling, they’re sending out emails, they’re trying to get in touch with people but one thing really hard is to get powerful people to sit down and just give you the time of day. What was your strategy there? Peter: Not to digress too much but there is an importance … [I don’t feel 00:29:50] like breaking down the whole story here. There’s a really important point that I kind of crossed over before. When I was building my practice, when I had the epiphany that I needed to learn how to sell as well as going and dropping off the leaflets I was also worried about revenue because I wasn’t making any money at that point so I went and got a part time job as a telemarketer for really big technology company that sells to other businesses. I would spend a couple of hours a week on the phones for them, trying to set appointments for their sales reps to go out to these big companies and sell them. They sell bridging services which is a fancy way of saying like teleconferencing, webinar software. I don’t know what they do now now that all that stuff is cheaper, that used to be really high-end technology that only big businesses could have. We would sell that stuff and I actually learned … I got that job because I wanted to learn how to sell and I just wanted to cultivate fearlessness around pitching people and it was a great company and the offer was actually really good so I was able to do it with a lot of integrity and … yeah. I just developed the ability to kind of pick up the phone and set appointments with people and that’s pretty much what I learn to do. There’s no real secret to it. I’m very comfortable speaking to the CEOs of multinational corporations with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. I just pick up the phone and talk to them like normal humans and yeah. That’s really what it is. Andy: I agree with that piece of being able to sit down across from anyone and have a conversation but there’s something that’s really hard about getting your foot in the door and just getting the permission to have that conversation with them or to have that first interaction with them. How did you do that? Peter: You know what I did? This is a fascinating interview because I haven’t thought about this for awhile. The first corporate client that I had was by accident. I met the guy at a workshop that I was attending who … he had come there to learn about this particular field in NLP. That’s like the first piece of advices. Go to a lot of conferences because you never know who you’ll meet. I ended up sitting next to him. It was an NLP course actually where I was learning Neuro-Linguistic Programming and I ended up sitting to this guy and he turned out to be a very senior executive at the world’s largest … sorry. No, back then it was Australia’s largest insurance underwriter. They are massive, massive insurance company and he really liked my whole vibe. We were talking and I was very experienced in the field and we were chatting a whole bunch and he actually pitched me. He was like I’d love for you to come in like potentially work with a couple of our people because he just … it was just networking. I wasn’t aggressively pitching him at any way at all. He came to me with that idea. The very next step like where I became proactive was I kind of realize after putting together a deal with him and working with … I worked with a bunch of his team, it was great, I realize that I could get into that particular industry. What I did is I called the executive assistant because you can never speak to a CEO directly at a bunch of other insurance companies and I basically introduced myself and said that I was doing some work with this particular company that I won’t name and I’d love to come in and talk to them about what they’re doing with their … I think it was sales stuff with their sales people and just name dropping that business was enough to get the appointment usually or get a phone call to speak to the CEO themselves. Then I would say I’ve been doing this stuff with this company, they’re loving it, I wanted to come in and talk. I just want to come in and talk about what you guys are doing in that space as well and that’s how I would begin the relationship. I didn’t go and then make a sale necessarily on the spot but that’s how I started a relationship with the CEOs. Andy: Average basically the work you are doing with one company to do it with. Was it their competitors you’re reaching out to or people in the same space or … Peter: Their competitors, yeah. I didn’t have a non-compete with any of the businesses that I had worked with or with that particular first company that I worked with and I basically used that strategy. I just rinsed and repeated that every time I found someone in the new industry or anything like that I would just go and do that. I would even ask them like who do you know in your space once I got a little bit more familiar and I would actually ask for referrals or asked to be introduced to interesting people. This tactic was something that I learned at that part time job that I had. Like this company that I was working for selling these telecommunications products, that was one of the tactics that was commonly use would be if you could get in to another organization they would do all kinds of sneaky stuff like phone up all of that company’s competitors and basically just name drop and say, “Oh yeah, we’re working with these guys. We’d love to come and talk to you about what we’re doing there and how we might be able to help you.” Usually most kind of decision makers and companies will actually respond to that because there’s a certain covering of one’s ass that needs to happen. If you know, if you get information that one of your key competitors is using a particular service it’s kind of your job as an executive to find out about that. Andy: And people are so curious about that too especially in the corporate space. Peter: Right, right. Yeah, exactly. They want to have something to discuss. It’s important information and there’s nothing illegal about it. You can totally tell people who you’re working with as your clients; unless they’ve specifically asked you not to. It’s a great sale, direct sales tactic in the B to B, yeah, business to business world. Andy: Totally. So that really started the corporate consulting stuff was meeting this guy at this conference and leveraging that into a handful of other relationships. Peter: Yeah. I collected about four or five insurance companies and then transition into banking because those industries are very connected from that. I made a couple of like really key movers and shakers in those industries who knew a lot of people and suddenly just built out this thing and one day woke up and found myself working on a core sales development pro. I basically design like [inaudible 00:36:28] and delivered a sales training program for the biggest bank in New Zealand and Australia which was to this day the biggest, scariest project I’ve ever worked on. It was crazy. Andy: Oh wow. Peter: Yeah. Andy: I’m loving this because I’m seeing exactly where you got started and how the transition every step of the way and there’s no glam or sexiness or this one big thing happened and it changed my life, it’s just like a lot of little things where you’re consistently hustling all the way through up. Peter: Yeah. There’s no magic bullet and it’s worth mentioning that in between all of the stuff was like countless, sleepless nights and insecurities and you know. The process of bidding for this huge banking deal that we did that was … I’m pretty sure I started losing hair. It was really full on. Andy: Oh, can we talk about that? Peter: A little bit but I actually do … I do have non-disclosure stuff with those people so yeah a little bit. Andy: Got it. Peter: We can talk about some stuff. Andy: Okay. You’re bidding on a contract to come up with the sales curriculum, is that right? Peter: Mm-hmm. Basically what we did is most banks have a … this is like a consumer bank as well like mum’s and dad savings account type of thing. One of their biggest areas where they have direct sales is in mortgages. People who actively working for the bank and actively selling mortgages to people so that’s really where the big capability [gapers 00:38:08]. If you can help those people be more effective the bank is going to make a shitload more money if their sales stuff are really on it. That was the need that we were trying to fulfill and working against … hitting up against issues like massive geographic spread. They had offices in two countries with like Australia or as big as [inaudible 00:38:29] US. We couldn’t exactly go on a road show and deliver training workshops without incurring massive expenses. We had to figure out a way to use technology to do that. We ended up pitching a recording, like a radio program kind of like. Almost like one of the Tony Robbins’ CDs that people could buy. These mortgage guys could kind of listen to it on the way to work and there was workbooks and there was some actual training as well so it was just this like multi-tiered, very fully formed training program. Andy: How did you know … well, let me ask you this. You’d never done anything like this before? Peter: I had delivered training programs on to … that filled the similar need like in similar organizations but nothing on the scale. Andy: The scale in terms of the amount of people, the size of contract. Peter: Right. The amount of people and the sheer amount of money that they are paying us as well. It was a big one. Andy: Can you tell us how much? Peter: I’d rather not to be honest. Andy: Okay. Peter: Yeah. But it was big. It was a six-figure contract. Andy: Got it. Do you have any insecurities around your ability to deliver on it? Peter: Yeah. One of the biggest things that was … I’m very confident of my ability to do my work. Like I said I’ve got this like, it’s like forged in steel my sense of certainty that my skill set is … I can help people; that I can really make a big difference. The problem is that I wasn’t working in my preferred space of doing the whole one-on-one work with people. That was a big letting go for me. Was kind of thinking, well, how do we actually really get through to these people and make a really huge impact? One of the things … and this is why I don’t really want to talk about specifically who it was or anything like that. One of the problems is that when you do a contract this big you do run into the corporate, bureaucratic nightmare of working with such a large organization. What actually ended up happening is that they had such a clear idea of what they wanted that in the end my insecurities didn’t really mattered too much because I ultimately just work to the aspect of their requirements and gave them what they ask for even if I didn’t necessarily believe that it was the best possible solution. Does that make sense? It sounds a bit weird but that’s kind of how these really big contracts work. Once they agreed to do it and get started working together I did find myself in a position where they were dictating to me what it was that they wanted created. It was cool and it was fine, they were paying me a lot of money and I did it and what they ended up with was a great solution but I would have done things differently if I had had free reign over the project and because of that working environment I kind of vowed to never work for one of those companies again. That was actually the end of my corporate consulting career. Not to put it to … yeah, to put it lightly I was just like … that was fun and never again. Andy: Peace. Peter: Here’s one fact that I often tell people. For those project we were given a … because we had to produce these documents to support our training which I had always done with all of the corporate consulting I’ve done before. I’ve got a whole archive, it was like amazing resources that I put together for people like printed stuff. We had to do this for them but they gave us … when we started they were like here’s the style guide that you need to follow so that these resources fit with like all of the rest of the stuff that we train our people with so the style and formatting guide was a 189 pages. Andy: I used to work in Corporate America and they had … their brand guide was like equivalent to The Bible at some level within the company. You had to know it in and out and everything had to be perfect. Peter: Right. Exactly. That was kind of like when I realize that the corporate consulting thing was lucrative but that I was selling my soul to some extent. I’ve never made more money like … for years I wasn’t able to kind of … I’m definitely then now but I was … that was super lucrative for me, those years were like very exciting, very sexy, lots of revenue coming in but at the cost of 60 hours a week dealing with this type of stuff of never being able to slow down and then in the endless networking with the CEOs and high leverage people in the spaces. Then I kind of hit like the pinnacle of what I was sort of … I thought I was capable of working with one of the biggest companies in that part of the world and really a place where I should have felt like I had completely arrived and like so many of these things and life and business I was very underwhelmed with what I had achieved. Andy: Really. You get there and then it’s like, “Oh, this wasn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.” Peter: Exactly. Andy: Okay. Corporate stuff ends and then move to the states and (crosstalk)? Peter: Yeah. There was a bit of a transition between the two I was working on. Yeah. What happened is I picked up permission marketing [inaudible 00:44:03] … it blew my mind. I ended up subscribing to Seth Godin’s blog and I think then Chris Guillebeau’s blog which Seth actually wrote a post about him and linked to him and I found his and those were the first two blogs I ever subscribed to and I kind of had my mind blown by what Chris had achieved and by the things that Seth would say. I actually found out that Seth was doing a webinar with the Australian businesswoman’s network and I was like, man, I want to be on this. One of my friends, female friends who is a member I just got had to give me her access codes and I like sneakily joined the Australian businesswoman’s networks webinar which is the first webinar I had ever been on and it ended up that Seth ended up … Seth did a Q&A for the whole second half of the webinar and I was sitting there listening patiently and then I was like I’ve got to ask him a question and I just asked it in the webinar software but I had registered under my real name. I should have called myself like … I don’t know, Sarah or something but he was reading all these questions. He’s like, “Hold on a second. We’ve got one from a guy called Peter here. I don’t know what’s up with that.” But he ended up … it was great because he actually ended up answering my question. What I asked him … he was talking about this concept of like you’ve got to know what your super power is if you really want to be successful in business you have to be clear on what your super power is. This comes back to what we’re talking about like that certainty in terms of your sense of self. Knowing what you have to offer the world and you have to offer your clients and customers and I had always struggled with those four years. When he articulated it I was like, “Yeah, super power. That’s exactly what I need to find out.” I said to him, I asked Seth, “What advice do you have for someone who’s always struggled to find their super power?” His response was, “Go and ask the clients who adore you the most. They already know.” I actually quit the webinar right then and there. I was like, “Thank you.” I didn’t listen to the rest of the webinar. I picked up the phone and called this guy who I’ve done a lot of work with, who absolutely love me, he’s one of my favorite clients and I was like, “Okay, random question but just bare with me. What’s my super power? If I had to have a super power in business what would it be?” The guy response, he’s like, “It’s like you’re some kind of crazy shrink for entrepreneurs.” Andy: No way. Peter: I was just like, boom! That for me was like a pivotal, life changing moment. Andy: Did you know right when he said that like, boom! This is it! Peter: Yeah, was like … it was like a shiver down my spine and I just saw this timeline unfold in front of me. I was like this is fucking it. It was a really powerful moment. I can remember it like it was yesterday like where I was sitting, what I was doing. It was crazy. That was a big one. To fast forward through the story because I know I’ve got to finish what we’ve started here. I went and changed my Twitter profile to … which I had recently setup. I had no idea what I was doing and I put that in my bio, the shrink for entrepreneur is my job. I had built this shitty little website, it was horrible and ugly and I put that in the banner and I actually … I started tweeting with a bunch of people and got attention from a very prominent web kind of guru, like web marketing guru who is like shrink for entrepreneurs. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. It was actually James Chartrand from Men with Pens who’s a really good friend of mine now and James kind of spotted me and was like, “This is awesome,” and actually wanted to hire me to do some work with her. There’s a long a story why James is a woman. I won’t go into it here. People can Google that. James wanted to do some work with me and was like … but I’m in Canada and I was like … we can’t do that then. James wanted to work by email and was like just entertain this idea like humor me, try and do your consulting with me by email which was her preferred … she’s a writer and is really big on typed [inaudible 00:48:19] communication I guess. I was like, whatever. What have I got to lose? She was going to pay me so it was great. I started working with her by email and that kicked off an entire year’s experiment where I did nothing but … I was still doing a little corporate consulting in the background but online I did nothing but do email consulting with people. I attracted a whole bunch of clients who thought it was a really nifty idea including Michael Ellsberg. I started blogging, I started guest posting around the web, building traffic, and I had this one reasonably high profile client with James and I started attracting a whole bunch more. Ellsberg showed up and it just … [inaudible 00:49:00] and got bigger and bigger and after a year I started developing carpal tunnel-like symptoms from typing too much so I thought why don’t I do this on the phone and since then I’ve been rocking … yeah, 15 consulting hours a week earning a killer six figure salary that pays for like my lifestyle in Manhattan and I get to travel all over the world whenever I feel like it. I just got back from New Zealand and Switzerland and then you and I were hanging in [inaudible 00:49:27]. Stuff is awesome. That’s the story. Andy: Okay. This sound at some level similar to the consulting gig where you met one person whose … It seems like … so the theme that I’m seeing is that you’re meeting one person of significant power and influence and either doing work for them for free, to get your foot in the door or just getting that relationship clear and established and then leveraging that relationship to meet other people of similar status and power. Peter: Absolutely. Yeah. To be clear I actually didn’t do work for free. It’s another thing that I’ve been really strict about is that I’m a big believer in knowing your worth and the only time I’ve even done a service for clients was with a client of mine who’s in private aviation and I have the opportunity to come in and help him with a very specific little project and he often frequent fly miles in his fleet of private aircraft and I was like hell yeah, you know? Andy: Deal. Peter: Yeah. But no. I always charge money but yeah that’s exactly it. It’s not that I would just kind of gravitate. I was never hunting for just one person who was very high leverage and very powerful. But you do tend to met one person at a time. While this was going on I met and befriended and networked with a whole bunch of people. I’ve just told you about the people who happened to stand out and become like really amazing friends and really amazing contacts. Andy: Peter, I’m really glad you’re saying that because I think it would be easy for some people to get the idea that if you go around searching for that one awesome person then everything will change but the truth is that one awesome person tends to come from living in a place where you just enjoy meeting people and enjoy giving. Peter: Right. Right. Without naming names like even the most recent one where my memory is still the strongest like with James I actually was introduced to James by someone who she really trusts who I had kind of befriended and was hanging out with and chatting with online and that kind of stuff. That person has … I’m actually no longer really in contact with but it just goes to show that there’s like this whole breadcrumb trail of this networking that kind of happens which my entire life and business has been built on. Yeah, my philosophy has always been to just help as many people as I can. The more people that you can elevate the faster you’ll elevate yourself. Andy: This has been awesome. I really enjoyed this. I want to ask a few questions around what are the common struggles that you see with entrepreneurs. Where do they come and pitfalls that your clients tend to run into. Anyone listening to the show they might be struggling with. Yeah, what do you normal see and what can we do about it? Peter: Okay, so there’s two things. Well there’s one thing that I need to be real clear about first. My clients are very specific demographic and that I don’t work with people who have just started out in business. I believe and there’s a lot of evidence to indicate that there’s a learning curve that new entrepreneurs hit that takes about two years to get through, that’s extremely steep and difficult and slippery and painful and all are miserable. I work with people who have gotten beyond that and are dealing with the problems that they face. It’s not like you get through those two years and then you’re on [inaudible 00:53:06] so I work with the people who have kind of gotten pass that initial learning curve. My advice for the people who are just starting out is that … the biggest thing that they face is the fear of that learning curve and going through it themselves. My advice is to always create the conditions in your life where you can afford to learn for two years. I once wrote a post on my blog that got a lot of attention because it was kind of controversial saying sometimes you need to quit. You don’t need to quit, sorry, your business but sometimes you need to quit your expectations and go and get a part time job. I had to do it, I was telling you about my sales job that I got very, very early on when I was just starting. I think that you’ve got to create the environment where you’ve got that timeframe where you’re free to be able to make mistakes, to fail and pick yourself up again. The thing I hate hearing from people who like write in, to talk to me or whatever is that they have gotten zero experience, they’re just starting their very first business and they’re like financing it by mortgaging their house and putting everything on the line. They sold their kidney to get going. Andy: Yeah, totally. Peter: I’m just like, no, that’s not … the first thing isn’t going to be the best thing. I’ve been through, as we’ve just discussed, I’ve been through three iterations of business before I’ve arrived at something that has been like … that I’m really happy with. You can definitely accelerate those two years and there’s a lot of people who are offering solutions on how to do that and some of them are totally right and the smart ways of approaching it but there’s don’t … don’t underestimate the fact that that learning has to occur. Then to really answer your question what happens with people I work with is that they’re ultimately resting with indecision. As an entrepreneur once you deal with the fear and procrastination and you overcome those basic issues of knowing exactly what you should be doing, just making yourself doing it which is like kind of big enough stuff I think. You get to a place where you’ve got something going on and it’s now about where do you take it and you’re kind of in this infinite realm of possibilities. I was having a conversation yesterday actually with a good friend of mine about how an entrepreneur is someone who sits down at their desk on Monday morning and could do anything. There’s no boss telling you like here’s what you have to have done by Friday; you have infinite possibility. What tends to happen is that people then drown under the weight of all of the things that they tell themselves they should do because they know that they could do absolutely anything. Indecision is the big thing that I help my clients wrestle with. They don’t really have anything in common in the sense that they all have very different lives and very different obstacles they’re facing but if you chunk it up and really try to just still [liaisons 00:55:54] of what folks struggle with it’s that indecision. Andy: I totally relate to that. Feeling overwhelmed with possibility of … the idea of having too many options is almost as stressful as having no options or only one option at some level. Peter: Right. This is why people who have been running businesses for five years and they are involved in really cool stuff, you’ll hear them joking about like, “Oh man, sometimes I wish I could just go get a job.” The reason that they say that is because when you have a job you don’t have that infinite plan of possibilities. That’s where the source of that, “Haha! I’m just kidding,” joke comes from. Andy: In grade school if you had to write a story or do like an artistic thing and they’re like, “All right, I need you to write a story,” and they just left at that open, it was so much harder than if they said, “You need to write a story about something specific,” because you have that direction. Peter: Yeah. Right, right. Exactly. Andy: Last question for you. For the people who were in the twoyear learning curve what should they focus on the most during those two years? To speed the curve up or to get clash [inaudible 00:57:15] stable or to just get through that as quickly as possible? Peter: Good question. What I believe they should focus on is relentlessly trying to shorten the gap between having an idea and acting on it. The big thing that people face in those two years is that you have all of the stuff that you have to learn. That’s accepted, right? There’s certain things in business that school, high school and your parents just won’t prepare you for. And college won’t prepare you for. Nothing will prepare you for other than doing it. The biggest problem I see is that people have these ideas. They’re like, “Oh, I should try this,” like X, Y, Z marketing tactic or “I should build a website or whatever,” and then they think about it and trying to decide whether or not it’s right; whether or not the strategy is correct. What they’re doing is trying to think like someone, like one of my clients who’s running this epic business and has a lot on the line and has to pick the right strategy, you know? They really are thinking about strategy very, very carefully. But when you’re just starting out I think that you should road test everything. Any idea that you have should be implemented as quickly as possible and then you make your deductions based on real world results. Experiential data rather than kind of sitting there brainstorming and doing planning. In a way what I’m saying is kind of to over exaggerate it. Don’t plan anything, just do a bunch of stuff. Andy: Implement, implement, implement and see what works. Peter: Right. And then at the end of two years or if you do those it could be like a year, it could be six months if you learn really fast. At the end of that period you’ll have learn so much that then you’ll be able to make very, very, very qualified decisions that are going to serve you really, really well. Andy: Well, and you probably have cash coming in the door and clients and a track record. All of those things that you need to have to take it to the next level. Peter: Right. Exactly. That’s the thing is that … the story of me kind of putting out those fliers I did procrastinate on that for a little while. As soon as I did it and that first call came in I realize that I shouldn’t have burn those days or those weeks or whatever it was. There was absolutely no reason that I needed to sit and think about that for longer. There was no reason to meditate that on that at all but it was no value that I created meditating on it. All it did was slow me down. Andy: Totally. Peter: Yeah, that’s my advice. It’s just a relentless commitment to shortening the gap, closing the gap between idea and action. Andy: Awesome man. This has been such a fun interview. Thanks for coming today man. Peter: Yeah, you’re telling me. No worries, it’s cool. I’m real glad we got to do this. Andy: Yeah, me too. Where can people find out about you, learn more, check out some of your stuff? Peter: Best thing to do is just go to Pete … my name, petershallard.com or if you want just Google search Shrink for Entrepreneurs and yes subscribe to my blog. I publish really cool stuff from time to time and yeah that’s the best place to do it. [Inaudible 01:00:33] and check things out. Petershallard.com Andy: Awesome. Thanks brother. Peter: Awesome. Andy: Catch you later. Peter: Catch you later. Bye. Andy: Well, thanks again to Peter Shallard and thank you for listening. We covered a lot of topics today and I hope that something Peter said inspired you to take action. You can find more info including show notes for this episode at thefoundation.io. Now if you want to know what we think you should do after listening to the show we’ve put together a quick action guide for this episode and posted it on our website. The goal of the action guide is to help you put these ideas into practice. Just click on the link for the Peter Shallard interview and you’ll see the action guide at the button of the page below the show notes. Once you download it you’ll be signed up to receive the action guides for all future episodes as well. You can find all of these at thefoundation.io. While you’re there go ahead and leave us a comment and let us know what you thought about the interview. Take care everyone.