How did a former Christian heavy metal band member, end up building an information product business that’s done over $100 million in revenue since inception? And how did he do this without any outside funding or previous business knowledge?
Eben Pagan is the owner of Hot Topic Media – a company that has launched ten different brands including Guru Product Blueprints – a course that walks you step by step through the process of building and marketing a business online.
But what sets Eben apart from almost every other “guru” out there is his understanding that marketing isn’t about sensationalism – it’s about knowing your customer better than anyone else. This interview is packed with actionable insight that will help you grow your business and it closes with an opportunity you won’t believe.
At the end of the interview you’ll hear how you can win one FREE ticket to Eben’s upcoming five day live event for entrepreneurs called Accelerate. Tickets will sell for $10,000 so this is an AMAZING opportunity. And just so you know, there’s no affiliate deal going on here. The Foundation isn’t making a dime from this offer. Eben is making this available because he knows that the Foundation audience has some of the newest and brightest entrepreneurs around and he wants to help.
This contest has passed.
Andy: Welcome everyone to another episode of The Foundation podcast. Today I’m with Eben Pagan and Eben is the founder of an information product business Hot Topic Media. He’s launched ten different online brands, each that have done roughly a million dollars or more in sales and on top of that his business has done over $100 million in revenue over the lifespan of it.His team is completely virtual meaning they actually have no central office where people go. What’s more impressive is that Eben built this entire business from the ground up so no outside funding from the beginning to get started, no silver spoon or no background in business, just pure hustle and focus.This is why I’m really excited for this interview. There are two people in the world that I’ve spent hundreds of our studying, one is Tony Robbins and the other is Eben and here’s why. Eben has unique ability to take a very broad, big concept productivity or direct response marketing and break it down into simple step by step processes so you can understand clearly exactly what’s happening at all levels. You learn the strategies and tactics that you need to implement but you also learn the psychological mindset shifts that you need to shift for you to be successful. That’s why I think the next 45 minutes are going to be incredible. Eben, thanks for coming on the show. Eben: It’s good to be here. Andy: First let’s get this question out of the way. You have a very, very successful business, you have a lot of changes happening in your life and you have a lot of things happening right now. Why are you focused on still teaching this information? Why are you taking the time out to share this with people? Eben: I think it’s almost like a sickness. I cannot do it in a lot of ways. Part of it is our business model. These days we’ve been doing about 01 launch every nine to 12 months and so we keep offering new trainings and so forth. Also because when I learn new stuff I get inspired to teach it so as I have new insights and new understandings and new ways of succeeding at things. I just want to help others do it as well. Andy: Has that something that like … did that shift in you or has that been with you your entire life? Eben: I’ve always like the idea of sharing knowledge and kind of hanging out with smart people and kind of exchanging this stuff but over time it’s gotten more and more and more. As I’ve gotten the positive feedback loop of the more I share with others the more successful I become and it was that connected up and I realize that that’s the way that it works. I’m more intrinsically motivated to do it. Andy: Got it. What do you think is the most exciting thing in your business right now? Eben: Well I’m undergoing like a career transformation over the last few years. For 12 years now I’ve had this information, marketing business online and over the last several years I’ve started advising and investing in a more technology oriented companies and I’ve worked with three so far. They also are going to be doing really well and I think that that’s going to be my future for the next ten or 20 years and so that’s the most exciting thing. Andy: Investing and advising. Eben: Yeah. Andy: Awesome. Let’s go back in time. I’ve struggled with this in the past. I’ve started interviewing a handful of entrepreneurs and I hear these stories of people who are selling candy in sixth grade or I was talking with Hiten Shah yesterday and at six years old he knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’ve had this feeling of like if I didn’t start a business when I was in middle school then I was like bound to fail. Can you tell me a little bit about what were you doing when you’re like 18 years old, 20 years old? Eben: When I was 18 years old I had hair down to here, I was on tour with a Christian heavy metal rock and roll band. That’s what I was up to. Andy: At 18. Eben: Eighteen. Andy: Wow! Okay. What shifted then? Where did you go after the Christian heavy … I didn’t know Christian heavy metal rock was a genre that people listen to. Eben: Oh yeah. Andy: That’s pretty wild. Eben: Yeah. Yeah. Some great bands back in the day. They’re still around actually. Andy: No way. Eben: Yeah. [Inaudible 00:04:25] Whitecross. Check them out. Andy: The Whitecross. Eben: Oh yeah. Andy: Wow! We’ll have our producer dig some stuff up and see if we can find something on that. Eben: Yeah. Andy: What was your first foray into the business world and how did you get into it? Eben: Yeah. I tried to do the music thing for a long time from kind of about 15 or 16 to about age 22. I had tried a few other things. I tried giving guitar lessons and I tried selling jewelry a little bit. I was making handmade jewelry and they didn’t really go anywhere. I finally made the … had the big epiphany that rock and roll guitar playing wasn’t going to pay the bills, wasn’t going to get me rich and made the step of going into the real business world. I started out by getting a real estate license actually. I did in real estate. Andy: How old were you when you got into it? Eben: I was 22. Andy: Twenty-two. What’s that? Eben: Twenty years ago, right now. Andy: Twenty years ago. How did real estate go for you? Eben: Not too good. I sold something like … I think it was one and a third homes my first year and … yeah. I was making $10 an hour on manual labor job. I just did an interview with someone that’s funny, they’re asking me these questions and that first year in real estate I did the Math and I think I made $2 an hour … Andy: Oh man. Eben: … during my work in real estate. What I did get from real estate was that I needed to learn sales and marketing and that got me on the right track. By then learning sales and direct response marketing that was the big epiphany that allowed me to go on and be successful in business. Andy: Who introduced you to the [inaudible 00:06:13] world? Who’s the first person you studied under here? Eben: I went to work with a real estate trainer name Joe Stumf who has a company called By Referral Only. Andy: Oh yeah. Eben: You know Joe? Andy: I’ve bought stuff from Joe. Eben: Have you? Andy: Yeah. Eben: Yeah. He was where it all started. I went to work for him when I was about 23 I think and I worked for him for three years and did all of his audio visual at the seminars. I just kind of networked my way into his company. Because I was a old rock and roll guitar player I knew audio stuff and so I figured out a way to do it and go all seminars for three years. That’s where I really got the sales and marketing transmission. Andy: Got it. Through sitting through the seminars. Eben: Yeah. Andy: This is a question I’ve been wanting to ask you for a while. Whenever I listen to your stuff you’re always referring to specific mentors that you’ve had along your path or along your journey and I feel like you have a skill for connecting with people who are the best at what they do; who are the best in their field. How do you do that? I think you’ve had a handful of mentors and why is it they either take you under their wing or they want to spend time teaching you. What happens there? Eben: Well my motto is that once a person achieves a certain level of success in their life more of that same success stops fulfilling more. Or just kind of like a diminishing returns that happens. What starts to become fulfilling is seeing who you’ve become and what you’ve learned go out and make a difference in the lives of others and making impact in the world. Right? Steve Jobs said that he wants to put a dent in the universe. That’s what highly evolve people want to do; they want to make a mark, they want to change things for the better. Andy: Yeah. Eben: Someone that’s worked for years or decades or longer, becoming a genius in some area they then want to see others take what they’ve learn and go and do something. When I approached these folks I basically say, “I like your stuff and I kind of recognize you’re genius,” and I ask them good questions. By asking good question that shows that I’ve paid attention to what they teach. It’s not just somebody asking to get something for free, it’s someone asking them something that they can see. Oh, this is an opportunity to teach someone who is paying attention. I’ll tell you marketing has been a big deal for me too because most expert, genius, guru types are not very good at marketing. If you are and you’ve got ideas for them they are very interested in knowing you. Getting a marketing and sales education opens a ton of doors. One guy I know I was [telling you 00:09:12] that he went over India and he knows a lot about internet marketing and all of a sudden all these billionaires wanted to meet him. Because he knew a lot about marketing, internet marketing and they didn’t. Those … and then following up; taking what they tell you and going and using it and then reporting back. In a way if … let’s say that you’re interested in some kind of high performance area of life like hang gliding or something. You find the top hang glider in the world and you go to the hang glider and you say … maybe you meet him in a hang gliding convention or something and you ask a question and you say, “Hey, you know when I’m hang gliding … how do I do this move?” and then this person gives you a good answer, what you want to do is go and do the thing that they told you to do and then report back to them how it worked because now you’re in a relationship with them. Now they’re kind of taking a little more responsibility for the knowledge that they’re giving you. Be a good student. Be an implementer. Andy: When people do this with you do you feel like compelled to give them that next step or that next piece of advice? Eben: Yeah, I really do. Your buddy Dane came over this year burning man. Andy: Yeah. Eben: Start asking me some questions and I was like, all right, so answer these questions. Whatever, once a day for the week he would just kind of come back and … we had a dialogue and we kept going and it’s … obviously as you start getting more attention on you it’s harder to manage all the different people that are seeking your attention but … I can’t do it with everyone anymore but yeah, of course. Andy: Totally. Eben: In fact it’s one of the most fulfilling things; it’s one of the reasons why I love advising awesome entrepreneurs because they’re implementers. Instead of me talking about some idea that took me a long time to figure out or putting my input in and then the other person either argues or says, “Yeah, that’s an interesting idea but I’ve got another way of thinking about it,” or whatever. They take it seriously and they don’t take everything and go use it but they implement a large percentage of what we talk about and then that’s exciting to see my insights making a difference in their lives. Andy: Completely. Okay. Little tangent there just because I’ve always wondered that about you. You did the real estate thing for a while, learned sales and marketing from Joe, then what happened? Eben: Then I stopped working with him and I started my own little business doing consulting for real estate agents and mortgage lenders. There’s a whole other back story that kind of happen there but bottom line is I stopped working with him unexpectedly and I had to figure out how to pay my bills. I just moved from Oregon where I grew up to California and had a fancy apartment on the beach and then new beamer and then had to figure out how to pay for these things. I just started calling up local … top real estate agents and mortgage companies and saying, “Hey, I have some tools for helping get customers for real estate and mortgage businesses. I’d love to stop by and show you how they work and ask a few questions.” I just started getting clients. Did that for a few years. While I was doing that I was also … I just moved to this new place and I didn’t have any confidence around the whole dating scene and so I took that on and I started reading books and going to seminars and making friends with guys that kind of really got the whole dating and attraction thing. Those went hand in hand for a few years and it was a great gig because I worked an average of about one day a week doing my little consulting thing, made enough money to pay my bills and then the rest of the time I just goofed off and read books and hung out with cool people and tried to get dates. After a few years of doing both of those things I wrote my first book which was Double Your Dating and then kind of learned internet marketing and put those together and those two things were … those are really the escape velocity for my business. Andy: Would you say escape velocity? Can you define that for people? Eben: Yeah, right. In the first couple of minutes when the space shuttle launches that big giant rocket … that big huge bomb that they have the shuttle strap to it burns, whatever, 80% of the fuel that the shuttle uses in its entire trip over a couple of weeks and it’s just two minutes to get up; I think it’s 26 miles or something and it’s got to get going so fast to get away from Earth’s gravity. In business you have to get certain number of things right in your business. It’s usually 03, four, five things simultaneously and then they all have to work over a period of time before you hit that upward curve where you’re no longer limited by your own time, your own resources because the business is growing under its own power. In this case when I started in the real estate I just got a real estate license and I had one thing; that was the real estate license. I didn’t have any sales and marketing expertise and then I went to learn sales and marketing and then I ran my own little consulting business for a while and I learned, got a little savvier and then I learned all the dating stuff. Then my good friend Dean Jackson he had been selling e-books and he showed me how he was doing e-books and doing internet marketing and I learned some of those pieces and then I put them all together; the information products, the dating book and then the online marketing kind of the information marketing, then I put kind of internet powered auto respond or newsletter thing and affiliate marketing. We’re kind of a constellation of these things and then they all started working and the business just hit the growth curve. That’s kind of escape velocity. Andy: Perfect. From how long did it take from when you published the book to getting to this point where you felt that escape velocity happening? What was that process like? Eben: The first day I had my book online and I was marketing it on what was then Go-To which then became [inaudible 00:15:27] and Yahoo bought them and its Yahoo’s platform. I sold a couple of copies of my book and … I’d sell a couple of copies here every day or two and just kind of played around with. Then a few months in, a few months in, I did a price test where I raised the price of the book from $29.95 to $39.95 which percentage wise is a pretty big deal. It’s a 33% price increase. Andy: Yeah. Eben: Coincidentally Dean Jackson who had showed me how to do this in the first place he was in town with my other good friend Richard and they were in San Diego, I was living in LA at the time. I changed my price to do my test and I got in my car and I drove down to San Diego to hang out with them which is a couple of hour drive. Hung out with them for the day and then that afternoon we went back to their place and I checked my stats on one of their computers and I had sold ten copies of my book that day when I raised the price and it was a record number of sales. It’s pretty awesome when you raise your price and you sell more copies of your book. Andy: Absolutely. Eben: I do the Math then I go, okay. $400 in one day of sale. If I did that every day that’s 12 grand a month. I’m free. That much in sale is like … that’s it. Never have to kind of like be hassle by a job again. Andy: Yeah. Eben: I didn’t do that much every day. It went up and down for a while. That first year we did about a $150,000 in sales and I made enough money to hire a couple of people, virtual people, part time and then I did my first seminar. When I did my first seminar that was the big “aha”. I think I had 23 paying attendees of my first Double Your Dating seminar. There was probably 40 people in the room or 45 people or something with guest speakers in my team and whatever else. I did the first day … it was a three-day seminar, right? I think it was three days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and my first day on Friday … I think I’ve kind of a joke. [Inaudible 00:17:38] my computer on the stage and I’ve got everything in these PowerPoint slides that are just dense text. Ten bullet points on one slide and it project the slide up on the screen and I’d read the whole thing, word for word, and then I kind of turn to the audience and make a couple of comments and then I’d read the whole next slide and … Andy: Oh, that sounds painful. Eben: Yeah, I wasn’t that good. But the stuff was pretty good, the teaching was pretty good and at lunch I said, “Okay, let’s take a lunch break and we’ll come back after lunch,” and the group went into a spontaneous round of applause for me. I just got this good feeling inside of me. I realized, wow, they like this stuff. They like the material that I’m teaching. Whatever, couple of months later we launched our first back end product which was a recording, an audio recording of that seminar and the business doubled that day when we launched our first back end product. Andy: Wow! Why did you do the live event? Eben: Because it was a natural next step from a book to do a live event and record it and then make an information product, a video and an audio program from it. Andy: Got it. Got it. Eben: Now I really felt the curve happen. When you’re launching your product and your business doubles and it stays doubled. Andy: Yup. Eben: You just see the power. Andy: It’s a big deal. Eben: Yeah. We went on to do continuity, monthly interviews. I launched a whole bunch more product and every time we launch one the business would inch up and … yeah. Andy: Another thing about you. I have this shiny object syndrome and I think a lot of people starting businesses tend to have this where it’s like, “Oh, I want to check this thing out,” or “I want to try this thing.” How have you stayed so focus on Double Your Dating and just really growing that to such a massive company? Did you feel to pull to do other things? Why didn’t you and … or did you? Eben: Yeah. To tell you the truth if I had to do all over again I would have stayed a lot more focused on Double Your Dating. I do get shiny object syndrome way worse than … I guess you realize. I only was really that interested in Double Your Dating for the first couple of years. Then we went on to start launching women’s dating and relationship advice brands with other gurus teaching that and I was focused on kind of the growing of the business part and learning about that. A few years later I started teaching business. That kind of marked me leaving the day to day management and the running of the dating business and I haven’t looked back. That was probably six years ago or something now. Andy: Yeah. Eben: In that period I also started advising and investing in other companies and so I am constantly moving. I just started a thread and I lost my own train of thought. If I had to do all over again stayed focus on just building the dating advice business from the beginning and I probably would have built it into a much bigger organization that would have been a lot more successful. Andy: What would have that given you? I’m really surprised to hear that. Eben: Yeah. Andy: What would have … given you having a larger organization or more successful? How do you define that? Eben: Well, I just would have made more money faster and build something that probably someone would have wanted to buy from me. Instead I built a very successful, awesome company that’s made a lot of money but … I’m just trying to point out that I have the shiny object syndrome and I’m always moving from one thing to another to the detriment of my own income but to the benefit of my own development. Andy: Got it. Eben: Yeah. Andy: I never thought of it like that. That totally makes sense to me where … it may not make as much sense from an income standpoint but from learning and developing and growing standpoint it totally does. Eben: Yup. Andy: Let’s talk about this idea of … what is it that entrepreneurs should be focused on? If they’re in this stage of say start up, making no money to wanting to get to a business that does like two to three hundred thousand dollars a year. Eben: Yeah. Andy: What is it that they should be focused on and what are common mistakes they make? I want to focus on this and then I want to compare it to, say, if you want to go from 250 to a million dollars a year what are the shifts that happened? To starting at this real start up phase a lot of our audience are people who … if you imagine somebody who’s working in Corporate America, trying to start a business on the side or they’ve got a freelance business and they’re trying to scale but they’re really at this point where they want to get to that six figure mark or that 250 grand a year mark. Eben: Yeah. I’ve spent a lot of my time thinking about this exact problem and it’s one of the things that I really try to focus on when teaching. Someone that’s working in a job has a particular mindset. You learned about the way the world works and how things work and you’ve learned a lot of things unconsciously that you don’t even know that you assume in the world. It’s kind of like when you go to school you learn a whole bunch of things about how the world works based on how school works including things like there’s a bell and there’s measured periods and there’s homework and tests and whatever. Same thing when you’re moving to the business world but the business world is different from the school world. Okay? When you have a job you got a whole another set of things. While moving into running your own business is the same thing. It’s a paradigm transformation. To get up to that quarter of million dollar year level the … what you have to focus on is what all entrepreneurs have to keep focusing on which is product and marketing. In other words you have to encapsulate the solution that your customers are seeking in your product or service. You have to make it into the solution that they’re looking for and then you have to figure out how to say it to them in a way that sounds like it solves their problem or gives them the result that they want and then get it in front of them. It’s all about identifying an opportunity where there are customers that you can uniquely understand their wants, their desires, their problems and then match that product or service that you’re offering them and then the marketing communication to it and really whittling that down and really nailing getting that product or service in the marketing and the messages like perfectly targeted to their emotional need. That post a lot of other administrative and running a business things but that’s the entrepreneur’s job. Then kind of going from 250 to, say, a million, it’s kind of like you add an S at the beginning of those. It becomes products and marketings meaning channels and so forth. If you got a technology company and you’re, whatever, Google, maybe it’s one product because it scales up really, really, really well. Andy: Yup. Eben: For a lot of businesses it’s you add a second and a third and a fourth product and you … for example like me, one of the reasons that my business doubled was because I was selling a book for $30 and then eventually $40 and then I had a high end program that I was selling for $200. If one in five people who are buying my book say yes in upsell process, I’ll take that $200 program, well, one-fifth of 200 bucks is … What is one-fifth of 200 bucks? Andy: Forty bucks. Eben: There it is. You doubled the value of your sale. Andy: It sounds like at the beginning it’s really focusing on where’s the pain that your customer base is experiencing. What’s the product that fulfills that and then how do you get them to understand that through your marketing. Eben: Exactly. Exactly. Genius level marketing is … it’s so kind of obvious, so intuitive. I’m actually writing some reports right now that we’re going to be giving away in our upcoming launch. I was just writing about … probably I think the most powerful marketing I’ve ever seen in my life and this is stylized of course. This is better than you or I will ever do but it’s great examples, right? The first one is this company called Aerogel. They make this insulation that’s really powerful. They made some socks and they sent this climber up Mount Everest in their socks and he came back down and they said, “How was it?” and he said, “It was great except that my feet got too hot.” Andy: No way. Eben: Okay? If you’re a person that gets cold feet and you’ve been looking for socks to keep you warm, when you hear that you just go, “That is the sock that I’ve been looking for.” Andy: I have to have this. Eben: Got to have that, right? Andy: Yeah. Eben: The next one is … I don’t know if you remember the old Viagra commercials, right? Andy: Which ones? Eben: Well, when they first got started, right? They would like, whatever, show these picturesque scenes and whatever and talk about erectile dysfunction or whatever. At the end you’d hear the little disclaimer and the guy would say, “If you have an erection that last more than four hours, seek immediate medical help.” Andy: Totally. Totally. Eben: If you’re somebody that hasn’t had an erection in five years or whatever and you hear if your erection last more than four hours seek medical help, your first thought is, if I have an erection that last more than four hours … Andy: This is awesome. Eben: I’m not trying to get rid of that thing let’s just say. Other than seeking medical help. Andy: I’ve never thought about that. Eben: Exactly. They fly totally under radar when you see them because you’re not looking for that. When you’re looking for marketing you’re looking for someone sensationalizing something or saying, “We’ve got the best …” whatever. What speaks loudest to customers is something else. What speaks the loudest to the customers that thing that solves their problem. My favorite unique selling proposition that’s grown a billion dollar company is FedEx. Their unique selling proposition was would it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. Their audience back in the day, decades ago, was someone that was willing to … instead of spending ten cents to send something and have it take several days was someone that would spend $10 to send a document and have it be there overnight. I heard that in test when they asked people, “Would you pay $10 to send something overnight?” they all said no way. In fact Fred Smith, I think he got a C on his thesis or his paper or whatever where … put that idea forward. Then they went to the secretaries of corporate CEOs and said, “Would you pay $10 to get something overnight?” and they said absolutely. They’re talking to the wrong person. Andy: Yeah. Eben: If you get the message right into the right person that’s what it’s all about. Most people think that marketing is like this creative job where you sit down and you’re like, “Oh, I get to design something. Make the fonts look pretty and whatever,” but it’s not. Marketing is talking to customers, really understanding specifically what it is that they’re after and then figuring out how to give them a solution that works for their need and then also communicate that it means [inaudible 00:29:36]. By using those examples I think you can make some progress. Andy: Another one on this topic which I love. Eben: Viagra? Andy: Yes. Eben: Okay. Andy: And FedEx … Eben: Awesome. Andy: … ironically. How … Eben: I bet the FedEx and Viagra made a lot of money together. Andy: I bet they have too. What’s your creative process that you go through when you name products? Eben: Wow! It’s probably longer than I can tell you in a way that you’re going to understand quickly but I will tell you what it is. What I start with is … I start with a list of the things that my prospect of customer wants and wants to avoid. What are they seeking and what are they avoiding. Specifically what are the situations that they sit and they think about, they imagine having happen that would be bad, that they imagine having happen that would be good. Then I just start writing the list of these different words. In fact not to try to sneak too much selfpromotion in here because that’s not what I’m trying to do but … because I’m in the mindset right now of a training program that I’m doing, I just named it … I don’t know, a couple of months ago or something like that. I was sitting down and saying, “Okay, what is it that business owners want? Is this going to be a training for entrepreneurs on how to grow a business?” I just made a big list of words and I realize that to sum it all up what they really want is they want to accelerate their growth. I chose the name Accelerate because that upward curve that’s what they’re after. I make a big list of these words and what I try to find is a word that communicates what it is that they want or want to avoid but they also have a lot of emotional value that’s really powerful. Then if possible I try to add more words that add rhyming or alliteration or add some kind of a repetitive sound. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that many of the bigger high-grove companies that we hear about like Google and Twitter and Paypal and Youtube all have repetitive sounds in their name, right? The two Gs in Google. Andy: Twitter. Eben: The two Ts in Twitter, right? Andy: YouTube. Eben: YouTube. Andy: Yeah. Eben: A rhyming there. Paypal; two Ps. If you just did the Math on that you’d realize that the probability is … Andy: Something’s happening there. Eben: Right. Something works and repetitive sounds are much more memorable. They’re highly memorable. That’s why in the dating business for example Double Your Dating I’m David DeAngelo. That’s why those [inaudible 00:32:23]. I try to do that. Also I met a guy at a conference once who … I didn’t remember his name but he had a great strategy and he said he looks for words that have a lot of unconscious associations to what you’re trying to do and their words that people know really well but they don’t use that often. Right? (Crosstalk). They’re not used too often. Well I think for example, accelerate is a pretty good word and most people know the word but they don’t use it in the context of business. Most people don’t say I want to accelerate my growth. Andy: No. [Inaudible 00:33:02]. Eben: But celebrate kind of has a … it’s got a little bit of a high testosterone up into the right kind of … part kind of a thing. Andy: Think of like a Mustang or the top speed channel or something is what [inaudible 00:33:16]. Eben: Exactly. You imagine a tachometer in a car that’s been revving up and that it’s power are getting ready to be kind of unleashed and wheel spinning. It’s got these unconscious associations to a lot of momentum and movement but it’s applied over in the business world. Andy: Got it. Eben: Yeah. Andy: Cool. Cool. Eben: Another good example by the way is Amazon. Right? [Inaudible 00:33:47] associations with Amazon and it used to be called Earth’s Biggest Bookstore. The Amazon is huge thing. When you think of the Amazon you imagine this giant ecosystem; which is actually what it turned into. Andy: It’s so interesting that I don’t even think about that anymore. Eben: Yeah. Andy: When I think of Amazon like the association of a jungle or its vast and massive doesn’t come to mind anymore, the bookstore does. That’s the primary thing that pops up. Eben: My favorite naming project so far in my life … I had a daughter a few weeks ago as we do this interview and we named her Love. Andy: How did you come to that? Eben: It just came to me. I was inspired with it. It just came to me. We did lots and lots of brainstorming but at some point it just hit me and … Love is a big idea. Andy: Yeah. Eben: It’s a really, really big idea but no one names their kid Love. It’s very, very well-known but it’s very, very rarely used in the context of naming a person. In fact I’ve only heard of one other person named Love and it was a guy. Andy: Oh, wow. Eben: Yeah. Andy: On that topic a little bit of a tangent. Has anything shifted for you since having Love? Like a mindset shift. Eben: Oh yeah, yeah. Andy: How do you look at the world now? Eben: Well, I didn’t think I was going to have children. I was never called to have them. It was only me and my wife a few years ago and meeting a woman who I felt like … I could spend the rest of my life with this person as a partner. If it was just her and I on a desert island forever I would be totally fulfilled with this as my life. Just realizing this would be … if I ever met a person it would be great to have another human with us it would be her. Plus she said like it will be okay. She’s going to encourage me. Anyways, having my daughter born we had our home here and I helped at the delivery and there’s this … people talk about it. I can’t explain it here but something comes on line when you’re genes merge with another person’s and they make a human and then all of a sudden this human is born one of the most prematurely born animals there is and is completely helpless and totally dependent on you. My wife and I had this … I look back and I think it’s kind of funny now but we have this whole dialogue going while she was pregnant of … I sleep with an eye mask and ear plugs and like this nose thing. I look like I’m about to go into space or something. I’m like, “Honey, I’ve got to get my sleep. If I don’t get my sleep it’s [inaudible 00:36:38].” She’s like, “It’s okay. I don’t mind waking up at night.” We had that stereotypical whatever. I was like, “Okay.” Then as soon as my daughter is born I haven’t worn my ear plugs since and I basically took all that stuff off and when she cries at night I want to wake up with her. Andy: Wow! Eben: I actually want to be there. For probably half the night she actually sleeps on me. She slept on me first when she was born. It’s like called on this … I don’t know, this instinctive animal, father part of me that’s amazing to experience. Yeah, it’s really great. I enjoy it. My feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction of life had multiplied with the arrival of this little daughter of mine. It kind of reprioritized everything else. While I still like business and still teach and still do all the things that I want to do in business because it’s fun and rewarding and everything else it’s kind of neat to have this thing that’s somehow more important. Steve Jobs said that … I think the quote was like having kids was like 10,000 times cooler than anything else that he did. Andy: Wow! Eben: Now I … I only have a few weeks of experience but I can relate. Andy: Thank you. Thank you for sharing that stuff. Along this line. Well. One of the things that I’ve always wondered about you is when you want to learn something you dive in completely and study everything that you can about it. For example if you want to learn about parenting where do you start? What’s your process for learning so quickly? Eben: Oh yeah. In the hallway there’s two stacks of books right now … Andy: Oh, I can only imagine. Eben: … with the hundred others that we bought. Andy: Yeah. Eben: Yeah. We probably get one or two a day on average now. I basically just go to people who I know that get that area and I just say, “Where do you start?” and I go online and I just read the Amazon reviews and I read blogs and just check out what other people have figured out. Andy: Are you mind mapping an information product like right now as you’re learning all these? Eben: Yeah. I love to teach everything that I’m learning and the process of deciding to have a child, of being pregnant with my wife and how our relationship changed as the result of there being a child in the picture and her hormones changing and life decisions changing and then the birth of the child. Even just that piece, not even any parenting yet … I feel like I’ve got a tremendous amount that I could offer anyone that’s thinking about doing that. In a way this raising a human and having that level of responsibility and that level of delayed gratification. When she’s crying and I don’t know every day she gets a crying fit for ten or 15 minutes and … I don’t know, her tummy’s upset. We haven’t figured out exactly what it is. It’s kind of nerve racking. In the beginning it was really nerve racking. Just couldn’t figure out what to do. One of the things that I do is I visualize, I imagine her when she’s 20 and just how I want her to feel the demeanor toward life and being supported and … just how I would like her really impressions to have been when she’s looking back on them as an adult and it gives me a kind of strength to go through just about anything when I take the long term view. I’m going to be studying this a lot and you can pretty much plan on Annie and I doing lots of education of others about what we learn. Andy: I can’t wait for it. Well, I can but when that part of my life is ready. Eben: Yeah, exactly. Andy: It’s funny like I’m talking about business stuff seems less meaningful after hearing that but I know the audience still wants to hear this stuff. Let’s talk about hiring and managing your team. How … what’s that? Eben: I said what do you want to know? Andy: I want to know how you build a team of 80 people who are completely virtual, who are intrinsically motivated to help the company succeed. I want to know … I’ve interacted with a lot of your staff; they’re spectacular. How do you hire so many … just rock stars in your company? I want to know how you manage them with people not going into an office every day, how do they build the personal relationships with each other? Eben: Yeah. It’s hard when you ask me questions like that because that’s at least a day of … Andy: An entire training. Eben: … of teaching like just for that, the answer to that question in a comprehensive way. Short answer is you’re not looking for okay people and you’re not looking for good people, you’re looking for great people. Andy: Yeah. Eben: You have to just really raise your standards. You’re looking for the top one percent or one percent of the one percent. It’s worth it to wait and it’s worth it to do extra work [inaudible 00:42:06] to do whatever it takes to get really, really good people. I remember when I was first building my business and Google kind of came online and I remember I lived in Santa Monica and I was talking to someone, it’s this little networking mixer and this is ten years ago and they said Google interviews people … I think it was ten times. Andy: Wow! Eben: As soon as I heard that I went, “They are going to be a rock start company.” If that’s their policy they’re only hiring the best. You have to jump through that many hoops, you know? Andy: Yeah. Eben: Just kind of on that alone. Brad Smart’s book, Topgrading, is a great place to start because he’s all over this. He’s kind of my favorite thinker on hiring and recruiting. Before I found Brad Smart’s material what I did was I just took the A players that I knew, the superstars that I knew and I asked them, “Do you know anyone else that’s a star?” and then they would introduce me and I would just meet them and talk to them about our business and all the ones that seemed like at some point they might make a good fit for us I stayed in contact with them and then I started hiring them over time because good people know other good people, right? When we started hiring kind of from the outside we got in to Brad Smart stuff and then to Topgrading. We eventually actually hired him to train our team, our whole management team and … The idea is to, again, get the book Topgrading but the idea is to look at the pattern that people express when you walk them through their entire work history starting with their earliest work and you ask them why they left their job, why they took the new one, what their expectations were going in, what their boss was like, what their successes and failures were, why they left. You ask them what their boss would say or their strengths and weaknesses when you interview their boss and you ask them to set up an appointment with each of these people. It’s a very well-thought out process that kind of separates the stars from the okay people and then you do these in-depth kind of tandem interviews and so forth. It’s just systematized. Brad Smart figured it out. As far as the management goes the quick answer is if you’re virtual it’s harder and if I had to do all over again I don’t know if I would do it virtual. I’m not saying I wouldn’t but it’s got its benefits. I probably would because I just like the freedom myself and flexibility and it really worked for us but bottom line is you got to make sure and keep everyone on track. Three tools that we recommend are: number one, have everyone do a daily update where they just spend about five minutes and write an email update at the end of the day talking about what they did and the results that they got. Any problems or challenges that they ran into and any questions that they have for you. You tell them don’t take more than five minutes to write this update. If it takes you longer than five minutes you’re doing something wrong. Because a lot of people will be overachiever and they’ll spend like an hour on their update which you want them to spend that hour of working to get results. Five minutes and then over the first 30 days you’ll see how consistent they are with their updates and you’ll see how they’re doing. You’ll know in 30 days if they’re working out. The second thing is a daily dashboard where you put numbers together that this person enters into the dashboard: your sales, your conversation, your visitors, whatever. Then you look at the performance over time. Then the third thing is a daily huddle or daily meeting where you get the whole team together, every day, on a call. Or if you’re in person you do it all in person and each person reports what they’re up to and what they’re doing and if they have any questions. What this creates is something they do at the beginning of the day, beginning of the day they huddle. Something they do at the end of the day, they do their update and then at dashboard that kind of shows what their performance is and those three tools will take someone … whatever, 15, 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes maximum to kind of do through the day but it creates a structure and it aligns them with everything else that’s going on. What you get to see is whether or not what I call a driver. Someone that takes responsibility; does things proactively and owns the concept of getting a result. That’s where you’re after. You’re looking for those kinds of people. Don’t be afraid to put someone that you’re not sure on a trial project and get them to do it for two weeks or 30 days and see how they do and see what their updates are because one of the things that I’ve learned is that smooth talkers often and maybe usually aren’t smooth doers. All right? People that can talk a good game can usually talk a good game because that’s how they get by. A lot of times, a lot of the folks that I’ve hired that turned out to just be my superstar A players. If you met them and sat down and did an interview with them you would not walk away and say, “Wow! That person was just the most charismatic, sleek, charming person I ever met. They’re not like … whatever, unkempt and disheveled and whatever but they’re also not … they’re not like acting like a movie star or anything but they give good answers, they don’t try to impress you and they’re kind of really pragmatic but when they act they just do every single day. They’re just consistent every single day and I am not one of those people. I have to surround myself with them because I’m more of a creative idea person and if I don’t have someone showing up with a list of things that I’ve got to remember to do I space off and forget them. That’s what you’re looking for. Andy: Totally. We’ve talked about doing the daily updates thing and I just feel like a hesitancy for myself to like not actually want to track all of that but I know that if I did it would benefit everyone. Eben: Well it also was good because it gives other people the power of self-reflection. Most people do not do self-reflection in a kind of … anywhere they have to appraise themselves. Andy: Yeah. Eben: It’s simple. It’s not a complex self-assessment but it helps people look at their own partners and see themselves. It’s very valuable for them. Andy: We found that the most successful students in The Foundation are the people we [inaudible 00:48:39] reflect on the calls that they make, the idea extraction stuff like how much progress they’re making, the people who take the time make progress so much faster because they don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over. Eben: Yeah. Yeah. Andy: Information marketing. One big frustration I have and I think a lot of marketers do is the follow through the people have. The idea that people sign up for stuff, they’re paying for stuff and they don’t actually take action on it. Eben: Yeah. Andy: I think it’s easy for us to offload the weight of that responsibility onto people saying, “Oh, you’re responsible for taking action but …” there’s a lot more going on than just having the right content I think. Seeing the trends that you see online and seeing how information is becoming more and more free … how do you see this world shifting and what do you see it moving towards? Eben: Well as more people get involved with information marketing and it’s not as novel which it’s becoming like it’s starting to go mainstream. Andy: Yeah. Eben: Quality is going to start to really matter a lot. It already matters but it’s really going to start to matter. Those of us that teach quality is measured essentially by how useful and how used what we teach is. Right? The direction is those that are successful are going to understand the learning and education and teaching a lot better and they’re going to become more multidimensional in their teaching ability and they’re going to study lots of different modalities and they’re going to study different personality types and psychology and communication. They’re going to learn the models that all these different geniuses have figured out so that when they teach their stuff is more engaging and it’s more pragmatic and it’s more inspiring, it’s more kind of … keeps your attention and it’s more step by step. Instead of just like, “Here’s the knowledge, now go do whatever you want.” It’s, “Okay, here’s the first piece of knowledge and now here’s the exercise and how you implement it and then here’s how to make your little course corrections and then once you got that here the second,” and it will just be more structured and more organized. Andy: Got it. Eben: More professional. Andy: Not just people that do something and throw up strategies and tactics it will be like, “Oh, you can do this too.” Eben: Yeah. I think so. The other side of it is information is fascinating in that it’s kind of left up out of words and then writing on parchment and then the Gutenberg, the printing press. Now it’s into the screen and into the virtual world, the video and audio. It all become zeroes and ones, it’s all become digital. Money has done the same thing. It used to be barley and salt than it was gold and silver and then it was printed bills and then now digital. Now they’re both digital so it’s so easy to trade one for the other. You can just click a button on my iPad, I just go on Amazon site and go click, download to my iPad. One button and the whole thing is totally done. Human beings tend to be if they’re not educated about something and they don’t take the time to educate themselves, a lot of times they’ll fall for anything. I don’t think that there’s going to be any shortage of hucksters and people selling stuff that doesn’t really work or it’s just rehash versions of other people’s stuff. Both of these things are going to be happening but I think the higher quality stuff in the long run of course is going to win. Andy: Got it. Last question for you before we talk about what you got coming up. Eben: Sure. Andy: This is a question Bryan Franklin asked one night when we’re at dinner and I think he got it from Peter [inaudible 00:52:45] or something. He said, what’s one thing you believe about the future to be true that most people don’t believe or don’t foresee happening? It could be about business or anything in general. Eben: I think that we’re probably going to go through a financially, economically, very, very hard time globally. I’m very concerned about that because most people that I know, even pretty well-educated people, they’re not watching out for that. I don’t mean to be a pessimist because I don’t mean like … I think the whole world is going to collapse and everyone’s going to die and it’s going to be the plague. I don’t mean like that. All countries go through booms and bust and hard times and whatever but what I think is that … even if there’s a 10% chance of this happening or 20% or whatever, the whole economic system is going through some very unstable things right now. I just think that it’s important that we each prepare and even if we just take, again, ten or 20 percent of our resources and our time and we use that to prepare for a just-in-case kind of thing that’s something. I’m a super eternal optimist kind of person. The fact that … whatever. There was a Big Bang and now there’s stuff when there was nothing before and then life happened and whether you believe that it was God that orchestrated it or happen by … however it happened it’s freaking miraculous. Life is awesome and the fact that we all got a life … Even if a meteor hit the Earth tomorrow and it was all totally gone the fact that it was here was awesome. [Inaudible 00:54:34] of life. It’s great. I’m super optimistic. You got to be ready for those kind of hard times. In business we’ve been broad sided a couple of times with whatever. Someone clicks the wrong button on the send email and then [inaudible 00:54:48]. Andy: Chaos ensues. Eben: It’s like 50 grand is out the window. You got a plan. I don’t mean to be pessimistic with it but that’s the thing that’s most on my mind right now that most people aren’t watching on their radar. Andy: Got it. You have some very cool stuff coming up. Eben: Yeah. Andy: Can you tell us what that is? Eben: Yeah. We’re going to do a high-end training program for entrepreneurs. I mentioned it early, it’s called Accelerate. It’s really about getting your business to go from this or growing a little bit to the knee of the curve, to shifting it into high growth mode. In my Altitude program which … I think it’s probably the best training program that I’ve ever done for business. We thought a lot of concepts but now I’ve had another five or six years and specifically what I’ve had is five or six years of not only teaching now thousands of businesses which I wasn’t doing then but also advising very successful high growth companies. One of them sold one of their businesses for a hundred million dollars, another one just made The Inc. 500, third one has raised a million dollars to grow their company and they’re growing super, super fast. I’ve gotten another higher altitude level myself and I’ve reformulated all of my concepts into a new model that basically has ten parts and takes into consideration you as the entrepreneur, your customer and then the business as an entity. We’re going to do a five-day live training program, we’re going to have hundreds of people fly in from all over the world, we’re going to have some of my favorite teachers and mentors come and teach at the program. It’s going to be really great. Plus there’ll be webinar training that will go around with it, I’m going to put in some of my best information products as support material. What I’m trying to do is create the ultimate training program for entrepreneurs who want to go high growth and I’ve attended lots and lots … probably dozens of seminars that I’ve either paid to go to, I’m going to guest at, I’m going to speaker at or put on myself that we’re in the several thousand to a many tens of thousands of dollars. Most of the time they don’t really teach a lot of stuff that’s applicable for a startup or growing entrepreneur who wants to grow a million, $10 million company; that’s all we’re going to talk about here. Andy: What’s the website? Eben: You can go to ebenpagan.com/accelerate. Andy: Perfect. Just to throw my two cents on this. One thing, we’re not getting an [FLA 00:57:35] cup for any of this promotion. This isn’t why we’re featuring Eben. The reason why I wanted to feature him is I’ve been to two of your live events in the past year both which were like mindset shifting in a very, very big way. When you talk about building the ultimate business training I remember going through Altitude and Altitude … I think I went through Altitude at least twice and both times I picked up different things. Right? When I was first going through it I was learning different stuff and I went through it again it was like going through an entirely new course just because I was [at 00:58:13] in the business. I can personally say that Eben’s events are very, very well done. They’re the only events that I go to where I spend most of my time actually in the room listening to the content. Most of the other events were like at the bar hanging out with people just like networking. There’s no shortage of that but his events are just absolutely killer. As I said we’re not doing any affiliate cut so anything that you sign up for here there’s no money being exchanged. One thing that Eben did do for us is he’s giving us one ticket for one person who’s listening to the podcast. If you want to be entered into the drawing for the ticket all you have to do is: one, go to iTunes, subscribe to the podcast. Two, leave a comment below this interview on our blog page. Just letting us know one thing that you learn from the interview. Three, just share the interview on Facebook so we can get this out to a handful more people. Again like we said no affiliate cuts or any funny business, we’re doing this purely because I believe this is something that’s going to be incredible as long as it … I haven’t heard dates on it yet but as long as it aligns with our schedule Dane and I will plan on being there for sure. Eben: It’s going to be in a few months. Giving away a free ticket you and just kind of jammed on that right before we started this interview and figured out doing that, that [inaudible 00:59:34] up, it’s really valuable because we’re going to sell tickets to this event for $10,000 each. By just leaving a comment you can get a really valuable ticket potentially. By leaving a comment you can potentially win a very, very valuable ticket. During our launch we’re going to have a little window where you can get a preregistration price; it will be a discount. This is super valuable. Do this if you can. Andy: Yup, absolutely. Yeah, this is incredible. Eben, thank you so much for coming on here. Thank you for the ticket. Somebody is going to be really freaking happy. Eben: Yeah. Someone’s going to be stoked. Andy: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you man for everything. Eben: Yeah, you’re welcome. Andy: Awesome. I’ll see you.