After 2 Pre-sales He Drops The Product, Leaves His Job, And Finds Alignment Outside Of Software - With Steve Erl

Toronto is a great place to do idea extraction on restaurants. Learn how Steve found 5 to 6 pains, picked one, then dropped it. And what he's doing now.


Podcast transcript:

Starting from Nothing – The Foundation Podcast
Guest Name Interview – Steve Erl
Introduction: Welcome to Starting from Nothing – The Foundation Podcast, the place
where incredible entrepreneur show you how they built their businesses
entirely from scratch before they knew what the heck they were doing.
Dane: In this episode of Starting from Nothing on the Friday Small Wins Podcast,
you’re going to be hearing from a past student this time, Steve Erl. In The
Foundation we do more than build software. We celebrate people who find
alignment in their life. Sometimes that happens outside of software. We’d
like to introduce you to one of those stories today.
Steve joined The Foundation, he got two pre-sales on his software product,
had an offer to partner on the product and get it built completely at the
partner’s expense. He walked away from the deal only to become a – Well,
you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out. Enjoy.
Welcome to another edition of Starting from Nothing, The Friday Small Wins
episode. Today, we’re bringing on a student from the class of – Is it 2013,
Steve: 2014.
Dane: 2014. I get my years screwed up today.
Steve was in the class of around 608 students I believe, give or take a few. It
was quite the hectic class, a lot of chaos, a lot of madness, and a lot of magic
came out of that group. We’re going to be diving into his journey throughout
The Foundation; from finding a painful idea, to pre-reselling it to three
restaurants. Is that right, Steve?
Steve: Two restaurants. I had a third one who was really interested and was willing
to fund the whole thing and I got it off the ground. Ultimately, I decided to
disband it.
Dane: Two pre-sales and one potential entire funder of a product. Then also why he
decided to refund, and then how he found alignment in his life for the time
being outside of software.
We’re bringing Steve on for a number of reasons. One, he’s just got an
incredible heart. I think you guys will get to see that today as you hear him
and then hear his story. Two, The Foundation, while we do teach software,
we’re really about finding alignment. We’re really about building the real
skills of entrepreneurship. We believe that by building the real skills of
entrepreneurship, it can aid in some way in helping you find alignment in
your life by getting on the path and moving down a direction. Some way you
can actually – while you’re in pursuit, you can actually find alignment a little
better than if you’re not.
In terms of The Foundation, Steve, you were in it for 6months. You built some
skills of entrepreneurship, and ultimately found alignment for the time being
as a copywriter. Is that correct?
Steve: Yeah, that’s totally right. When I joined The Foundation I had no – I’ve never
done anything even remotely resembling entrepreneurship in my entire life. I
always done the regular … get a job as a 15-year old, and go to school, and all
that kind of stuff. And then get a corporate job working for the government
which is about the opposite side of entrepreneurship as you can get. I never
really started thinking about what I wanted to do outside of that until I was
about 27 and I dabbled a little bit in film production, all that stuff. Then I
really caught on with what The Foundation was putting out there about the
mindset stuff that connects with everybody. It really spoke to me about what
I want to align for myself. That was my first birth into entrepreneurship was
the Foundation course.
Dane: Tell me a little back story like where you come from.
Steve: I’m from the great white North up here in Toronto. I’ve lived here my whole
life. I grew up in a small manufacturing town just about 40 minutes east to
Toronto. Parents very blue collar. My dad worked at GM for 31 years and my
mom’s always worked at a high school cafeteria. Thank God not my high
school cafeteria but, still, they worked very hard to – They were always there,
always helping out, getting a lot of good principles. The most important one
was handwork.
I truly am a work horse. I believe in learning a skill, and getting good at it, and
giving that to the world. They’ve always instilled that in me and that’s where
I’ve come from. I’ve always – anything I’ve been interested in that I’ve gone
into 100%, I’ve had good results. One of that was school, or relationships, or
friendships. That’s just part of who I always been.
Dane: Were you a class clown, troublemaker, overachiever?
Steve: No, complete introvert, 100% introvert. Until about Grade 9 or so I was
picked on mercilessly. I was too tall to stuff in the locker so I kind of got away
easy there. Yeah, very, very introverted, kept to myself, had like two or three
friends. Really didn’t break out of my shell until really high school.
Actually, I turned a lot of the kids at – I got tired of getting picked on so I
turned a lot of the kids that were picking on me into either friends or people
that I could get out of my life because they were negative.
Sometimes, those people that pick on kids, or bully kids, suffer from the same
anxieties that kids that are introverted. I actually found I had a lot of good
connections with those people once I got to know them a little more. That’s
really where I come out of my shell in Grade 9, grade 10, high school-ish
Dane: Wait, you discovered that the people that pick on you have similar anxiety to
people who are introverted?
Steve: Yeah. I learned that prickly in high school. Kids who are introverted have a lot
of social anxiety and that’s why they project it onto themselves. They don’t
have a lot of confidence like I had very little confidence in myself, and the
way I looked, and the way I dressed, and the way I acted. When I realized
getting to know some of the kids that were the bullies, they suffer from the
same insecurities. They also don’t really enjoy themselves that much. The
only difference is they project it outward onto other people.
When you get down to it and you get to know those people, they really have
a lot of things in common in terms of what they’re insecure about, and how
they view themselves, and how they view the world and their place in it. I’ve
always thought that was really fascinating. I got to know some of those
people. Of course, some of them are just kind of toxic so you stay away from
them, but a lot of them you can connect to on a pretty personal level
because you’ve gone through some more things, just in a different
perspective, I guess. That’s the best way to put it.
Dane: How did you come to that realization?
Steve: Through sports, really. A lot of the kids – I started playing Hockey.
Dane: Let me pause for a second. People are listening, they’re wondering, “Why is
Dane asking about this?” Because I’m wondering about the insight that you
had to see that at that age is kind of rare. I’m trying to get a handle on how
you see the world. If you’re able to see that kind of perspective there at that
age that the introvert and bullies both have the same issues, they just deal
with them differently. If you’re able to see that perspective at this age, I’m
wondering how that’s aided you in seeing other things in your life to get you
where you are today. Just setting some context, that’s why I’m asking that
Steve: Yeah. I guess I realize that it wasn’t so well put. I guess I’ve had all these years
to kind of think about it and reflect on it. When I was in high school, I started
playing hockey more seriously and I got into one of the same teams as those
kids that had bullied me years before, or I hadn’t got along with years before.
You get to know them in a team environment where you kind of have to
bond together. You start to learn them as people.
That’s one thing I figured out was that I had grown out of my shell a little bit
of the introvert so I could see the other kids who were still introverted. My
best friend now, a guy that I still consider my best friend, his nickname was
Seven because that’s the only word we heard him say all year in the dressing
room. He just wouldn’t speak at all. He was so introverted.
Another kid, Dave, who we all grew up with, was the exact opposite. He
would never shut up. He was really pretty abrasive and would pick on people.
He was kind of a loud mouth. The three of us really became this really tightknit
group of guys. Me kind of being in the middle of those two things and
John and Dave being on the other side of extremes, so I had this example
right in front of me that I saw that we’re all very similar. We just projected
our insecurities in different ways; either onto yourself or onto others.
Dane: Where did your journey take you after high school up into the point where
you are now?
Steve: After high school I wanted to get out of the town I grew up in. I just want to
try something new and get to meet new people. I want to go to university
like most kids do, chose. I didn’t have a plan at all. I think that’s a bad idea.
Looking back on that now my plan was just to take what I was good at which
was history, and literature, and writing. I majored in History and decided I
didn’t want to do that.
Second year, switched programs into business and focused in human
resources. Eventually, got a job with the government as a recruiter and then
moved from there into Project Management in a government world for large
transit projects; big budgets and lots of bureaucracy, and lots of policies and
procedures, and all that kind of stuff. That’s where my formal education took
Dane: How did that feel to be in that environment?
Steve: At the beginning, I was very excited because I was – I’ve worked my butt off
through school, I’d switched programs, and now I was getting into a field that
I thought I want to be a part of, recruiting. I was kind of like, oh, the Transit
Commission here in Toronto that built all the subways, so it’s an important
company to work for. They do amazing work. About a year into it, I realized
that it just wasn’t what I wanted.
I worked in a very toxic office for the start of my career; a lot of nepotism, a
lot of unfairness. I started moving around in the company. Each time I moved
around, I told myself different things. The first time I was kind of like, “Okay,
well, it’s not the work, it’s the people. I like the work, it’s just the people.
Let’s change departments and I’ll go somewhere else.” Then I changed to a
new department and I was kind of like, “Well, the people are great here but
the work’s really boring.” That’s not good either.
Then, I moved around again and kept telling myself it was something else
when really what Foundation taught me going through that was that I didn’t
want any of that at all to begin with. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted
to be in control of kind of my own career instead of working for somebody
else all the time and doing what they wanted me to do. That’s what I really
learned at the beginning of The Foundation anyway.
Dane: How many years were you in that environment?
Steve: I started as a recruiter at 24, and I just left my job in Project Management and
Finance in December. I’m 30 now so that’s six years.
Dane: So 6 years in an environment that you didn’t really enjoy after the first year.
Steve: Right.
Dane: How does it actually feel in your body to be in that environment for six years?
Steve: It’s just a lot of frustration and stagnation. You get very complacent. I
remember the first department that I worked in was so negative and so
tough, to go home on certain days and just be like a mess. I’d either be
crying, or I’d be upset, or I’d be just angry about that I have to work
somewhere like that.
I remember my mother telling me when I complained to her she’s like, “Oh,
well, it’s like that everywhere, Steven. It’s like that everywhere.” I refused to
believe that. I said, “There’s no way it’s like that everywhere.”
I started moving around and each time I moved around it felt like a piece was
missing. You said, people will be good and the work wouldn’t be good or vice
versa. It never felt like things kind of matched up to where it was something
that I was. One, really good at, and two, that I really enjoyed. Those two
things never really lined up for me until really the last year and a half of my
life – year of my life or so.
Dane: Wow! Is that right around the time you joined The Foundation?
Steve: Yeah, more so the live event. By the time I’d gotten to the live event, I’ve
gotten some advice there and I was doing copywriting more full-time. I
decided to move away from the software thing and I finally had this moment
where I was kind of like, “Hey, I’ve been a writer before and I’ve written
screen plays and stuff so I naturally have a predisposition to writing and good
writing.” I believe I’m good at it. I know I’m good at it. I really enjoy learning
the copywriting side of it, building that craft up. It was the first time where I
was kind of like, wow, this is something that I’m really good at and I really
Basically the first time since sports. I played a lot of baseball growing up and
that was the sport I was really good at and I really enjoyed. That was
probably the only other time when I felt that aligned about things.
Dane: I’m really happy that I asked that question because what I got from that
answer was how all consuming that environment was for you. It didn’t just
consume you the time you were there, it actually consumed you the time
that you weren’t.
Steve: Yeah. To be honest with you, it had a major impact. It led to a broken
engagement. I was with somebody for 9 years. For the last two years of that,
I became a really disconnected person in that relationship. It wasn’t a bad
relationship by any means. It was a very good relationship. There was no
hatred in it but I became very disconnected because I didn’t know –
I was like “Oh, the next step is to get married. The next step is to have kids
and a family,” and I felt so unprepared for that because I hadn’t experienced
anything in life. I was always more than – If I have kids in the next two years,
what am I going to teach my kids? What am I going to pass on to my family?
If I want to do a complete career change, how was that going to jive with the
family I want to build.” It just became this compounding anxiety over and
over and over again.
It led to really me having to destroy that version of myself. It became a very
negative version of myself and I had to separate from that and really grow
into someone that I wanted to be. Foundation dramatically helped with that.
I decided I wanted to do that before finding The Foundation, but that was
kind of like the gasoline on the fire, if you will.
Dane: There are so many tangents it could go down. I want to start by saying I feel
deeply nourished being here in this conversation with you. It’s just a
reminder to me of like how important it is that we are doing what we’re
doing at The Foundation when I connect with you at this level. So thank you.
Steve: Yeah, no problem.
Dane: The thing I wanted to talk about now was the transition. How did you hear
about The Foundation and how did that process go from hearing about it to
getting accepted? And then we’ll get into the sales.
Steve: How did I hear about – It’s kind of embarrassing. I heard about The
Foundation because I was doing the stupid thing that a lot of people do that
they shouldn’t do, is type into Google, “How to Make Money Online.” That
just takes you down. It’s crazy radical of craziness.
Anyway, I’ve been searching for that kind of stuff and I actually came across a
video with Josh Isaak. He was the first person I ever saw about The
Foundation. He was giving his talk at the end of his Foundation group that
went to the live event in Vegas and he was giving his talk about how he had
built MySky and talking about himself.
He was this guy, younger than I was, Canadian guy so I connected with him
right away. I had this moment where I was like, “Well, if he can do it – he
didn’t have any skills in this before he started. He built it up pretty
successfully and did a lot of amazing things.” Now we all see Josh and what
kind of man he is in the world. I just said, “Why would I not apply for this?” I
started digging into everything.
Every YouTube video I could find, there was one with [unclear 00:16:33] and
another one with other people. I just kept watching everything I could
consume in the free content and actually started doing IE calls on my own
even though I had no idea what I was doing. And then I started having a
discourse with I think it was Deon or Caleb trying to get myself into the
Foundation. They started getting me tasks to do before they actually
accepted me.
They told me to call five or six real estate agents and do idea extraction on
them. I just made it up as I went. I would report back to Deon or Caleb about
what I was doing and what I was enjoying about it, the results I was getting.
Then, I got the email a few weeks later saying, “You’re in.” I was ecstatic. I
felt like my life was going to change. That was really the start of it.
Dane: The evening that you got the acceptance, what was that? I remember you
mentioning to me that little story. I thought it was so funny.
Steve: I was out with my guy friends, having a few drinks. We’re at sports bar. I was
single at the time. A lot of my guy friends were single so they’re all paying
attention to what women were there and doing that kind of stuff, which is
always fun and that’s what we’re there for. I remember getting the email on
my phone. I wasn’t even that into it that night. I didn’t want to go out and I
was nervous sitting there on a stool beside Kelly who’s one of my best
friends. I got the email and I just got this surge of energy. It just said, “You’re
in.” Even the headline was like, “You’re in.”
I remember turning and showing my phone, I’m like, “Dude, my life’s just
changed.” He had this look on his face like, “Hey, I’m trying to talk to this girl.
Can you leave me alone right now?” He had no idea what I was talking about
or what it was or anything like that. To me it was a huge deal. That just
pumped up my energy for the rest of the night. I think I actually left early just
so I could go home and read that email like three or four times and think,
“Okay. Well, now I’ve got to take matters into my own hands and really work
my butt off to get to where I want to be.”
Dane: You joined The Foundation, how’s that journey start for you? Up to the point
when you pick niches, you’re doing IE, how is that all going?
Steve: I knew right away what niche I wanted to do. I wanted to do restaurants. I
had worked in restaurants. A lot of my friends were general managers or
chefs. I had a lot of good connections. Having worked in that industry, I knew
there were just so many problems in that industry. I just thought it was really
great. It met almost all the green light qualifications that were set out in the
niche picking material. That’s how I picked the niche.
I spent probably a month and a half, or longer, on the mindset stuff because I
found it so important. I remember I set my 20-mile march very aggressively
to four hours a night, that’s with a full time job. That was really, really
aggressive. Every night I’d get home from work, work out. Be about 6:30 I’d
head down to a local pub or cafe. From 7 o’clock to 11 o’clock every night for
a period of like a month and a half, I was just pouring through the content
and getting myself ready to do IE calls.
That’s really where I learned the difference between content consuming and
action taking. Those four hours every night were spent all content
consuming. So I was kind of like, “Oh, that’s really easy. I’m going to be really
great at his.” I hadn’t taken any action yet.
When I first started taking action, that’s when things got obviously much
rockier and that’s when I learned – like you’ve said several times in the
content, idea extraction is just you learn so much about yourself, where your
skill sets are at. It was really just throwing myself at it every day. Whether I
was at work and sneaking away to do IE calls in a board room, or doing them
at night time. I developed a little bit of process for myself to go through
everything and learned – I basically burnt myself out by the middle of January
or so.
Dane: You burnt yourself out by the middle of January.
Steve: Yup. I was completely – By the end of January I was really kind of – not
dissolution, that’s the wrong word. I was just like I don’t know if it’s going to
work. I kind of had this feeling, “Oh my God, I’m losing momentum.” I don’t
know where I’m going to go with this. I’d extracted five or six different ideas
and I don’t know how to pre-sell it. I have no sales skills. I have never gone to
a sales meeting in my life. I don’t know how I’m going – I had all these road
blocks and these learning beliefs that were discussed about in the content.
I was pretty ready to just kind of call it a day, not even ask for a refund. I was
kind of like I’m just going to give up completely. I don’t want to see this stuff
anymore. Then, for whatever reason, I reached out, started talking to people
in the community. Juliana, and Katherine, and Ark, we started talking
together on a regular basis and forming what would later become my
mastermind. If it wasn’t for them by mid-February, that saved my entire
journey in The Foundation. They gave me an extra boost into getting back
into it, doing the things that worked, and only focusing on things that
Within a month or so … So by the end of February, I had two pre-sales and I
had a guy who was a restaurant marketer – because my product was for
restaurant marketing – who liked the idea so much that he was willing to
possibly partner on the whole thing, on the whole deal if I can get it up and
running. Yeah. If it wasn’t for meeting those people and getting involved in a
support group, there’d be no chance I’d be here right now. I’d still be at work
and I’d be at work right now and hating probably every second of it, trying to
figure out to search on Google where I could make money online.
Dane: So you joined The Foundation in November.
Steve: Yup.
Dane: You start your four hour 20 Mile March. The 20 Mile March, if people aren’t
familiar with that, can you explain the 20 Mile March?
Steve: Yeah. Very briefly it’s just something that I learned from Josh as well. You set
a certain time at night, an hour or two hours, where you focus on your work
and you just build a habit of doing that every single night whether it’s an hour
or two hours. I won’t get into the huge long back story about why it was
called 20 Mile March, but it’s just your march. Every single night you stick to
it and you build the habit of doing … not the same thing every night but you
have your hour, or two hours, or in my case four hours where you sit down
and you do the work you need to do. Whether or not you’ve got a full-time
job, whether or not you’ve got other things going on, you just force yourself
to do that work.
Dane: Yeah. The important thing with the 20 Mile March, for those of you listening,
is that consistency is more important than sporadic, focused, burst of energy.
Meaning the people that try to go to the North Pole would go 200 miles a day
and then zero miles other days, and then this one group would just go 20
miles every day. The group that went 20 miles every day, they not only made
it to the North Pole but they beat everyone and everyone else died.
Be consistent with your practice. Consistency builds will, builds self-will, self
discipline, and if self-rule is even a thing. It sounds okay to me.
You have November to January. January, you start getting burnt out. You’re
doing your four hour march a day, you’re doing your calls, you have five or six
ideas, you don’t know how to pre-sell, you’re just starting to feel what?
Steve: Just frustrated and burnt out. On top of that, I’ve got a job that takes up eight
to ten hours of my day every day. I’ve used up all my vacation time. I
remember taking two full weeks off to just kind of try and live life as an
entrepreneur for two weeks and focus on the project. So that helped a lot. I
saw how I wanted to structure my days.
I had no vacation time left. I was just kind of like, “Man, this is tough.”
Getting up every morning, going to work, coming home doing more work. I
basically was working to do enough work to be doing two or three full-time
jobs with all the idea extraction stuff. Yeah, you do burn yourself out if you
aren’t careful. I wasn’t seeing the results that I necessarily wanted until about
Yeah, I just had a lot of self-doubt and a lot of frustration. I was really ready
to just kind of whole shoot and jump out of a whole program.
Dane: But something inside of you told you to reach out for support.
Steve: Yeah. I can’t remember if it was me that was reaching out. It might even been
Juliana who was there in California. She’s got one of the biggest hearts
around. She had reached out, we started chatting, and then she said, “Hey,
I’m talking to these other people. We’re thinking about starting a
mastermind.” It was actually Ark who had started the mastermind to help
himself forward and I just kind of got on with what they were doing. We had
a weekly call. For I think a period of two or three weeks we had a daily call
and that really helped with my accountability, and it helped with my support
It got to a point where we were all – we all had very different skill sets.
Katherine has some very good technical skill sets and different people in the
group had different skill sets. We started borrowing each other’s skill sets. I
realized, hey, I’m not really great at sales but Frank, Frank’s phenomenal with
sales. Maybe I could ask him some questions and figure out how to get more
confidence going into a meeting and he would do a little sale session for all of
us. I’d say I don’t know how to build my website and get my social media
marketing out there. Fabi, he’s really great at that. So Fabi would help out
with those things.
Those people really made it fun and exciting again. That was great.
Dane: I think you’re doing a really phenomenal job of painting a picture of what it’s
like to have a community of people around you when you’re there. Did you
find – you said you had a restaurant that wanted to possibly partner with you
on the deal. Did you find him after this dip?
Steve: Yeah, after this dip. One thing I mentioned there was learning how to do – I
got kind of stagnant in sending my emails that I wasn’t getting the responses
I wanted. So I pivoted, I changed my tactic because I figured out that a lot of
– I want to talk to restaurant owners and chefs and Toronto is a very
booming city for restaurants. We have a lot of chefs that kind of have a rock
star image. A lot of those people are – they have Twitter account and they’re
very active on their Twitter accounts. Sharing recipes, and sharing what
restaurants they’re hanging out at.
I started doing idea extraction on Twitter. My response rate for the first few
weeks of that was 70%. I was getting direct messages, responses back, direct
email addresses, invites to come in for meetings in the restaurant.
Anyways, somebody who has a restaurant marketer who’d been in the game
for a very long time saw what I was doing on Twitter and messaged me
privately and I thought he was a restaurant. It turns out he was the
restaurant marketer. “You’re really genuine on what you’re sending out
there. You’re getting a lot of response and a lot of engagement. How are you
doing this? Why are you doing this?”
Him and I met for dinner three or four times. Each time we met, I would have
different ideas that I had extracted. I can go to him and bounce ideas off of
him and he would say, “You know what, I don’t know if that’s going to work
for the industry. Here’s some contacts I have that you could talk to and here’s
what they would think about that.” Really, a lot of the ideas that I had he was
kind of shooting holes in, which helped a lot. The one that I decided to go
forward with he really liked and wanted to potentially partner on it.
Actually his first thought was to hire me. He was like, “I can’t really afford to
hire anybody else on my business right now. But if I could, I would just put an
offer in front of you right now and hire you to do parts of my marketing, and
parts of my copywriting because you enjoy that.” We built out this product
together. I thought that was a hint that I was on the right track for sure.
I also pre-sold to restaurants. One came through a friend who knew the
owner and he referred me there. I pre-sold that restaurant for a small
amount and another restaurant for a small amount. That was probably the
end of February, early March; maybe around this time last year.
Dane: I’m feeling excited about – I’m feeling alive about this journey that you’re on.
You joined The Foundation, you go in four hours a night, then you start taking
action, you feel things starting to get kind of rocky, and then January, oh the
dip. The infamous dip.
Steve: I think it comes for everybody.
Dane: It does most of the time. Most of the time it’s unavoidable. I don’t want to
say that it’s always the case because who knows. Generally speaking it’s been
for me and those that I’ve taught, but my mind is open to all possibilities. The
world may not be flat after all.
In January, you had the dip. What happens is most people hit the dip and
they quit. I’m looking at – I have notes here and I’ve got like this thing drawn
and I have February, or November to January, and then I have just written
there like a wall. There is that wall. The dip is like that wall and it’s testing
you, Steve. It’s like, “Hey Steve, how bad do you want this?”
Steve: Yeah, definitely. It tests you. You can’t go around it. You basically – you have
to go through it, that’s what I learned. You can listen to all of the podcasts
you want, and the past stuff, who’s done this and who’s done that, or do
these different tricks, or tactics, or strategies. That stuff’s great but you have
to go through it. There’s just no way – just take that stuff and say, “Hey, I’m
going to step around this wall now and be back on my journey.” Basically
have to break right through it. You have to be willing to take a running charge
at it, run at the wall and hit it, and be prepared to be knocked in the face and
knocked down until you walk straight through it, eventually.
Dane: Wow, that’s very profound. You can’t go around it.
Steve: Yeah, you can’t. At least I couldn’t. I couldn’t go around. I had to go through
it. There were things that I had to do that people were like, “That’s probably
the best idea, and that’s probably not the best strategy forward, but I had to
do it to learn otherwise I wouldn’t know why it wasn’t the best strategy for it
or how I could learn from that. You almost have to lean into it. You have to
accept that it's there and just lean into it, and go with it, and see where that
takes you because it could take you in a lot of different places. It took me to a
very different place. I’m not even dealing with software now.
Dane: Yeah, and we celebrate you for that. We celebrate you for not creating
software; we celebrate you for finding alignment. Can you imagine a world
where everybody is living in their deepest alignment? Oh my gosh, that’s so
You can’t go around it, you have to go through it, and you said going around
it is like, “Oh podcast this, tactic this,” all clever mechanisms and
manufactured things to try to go around this thing. That’s what going around
it looks like for you. What is going through it look like?
Steve: Going through it is tough. I don’t even know if you can put it into words. You
just have to kind of force yourself to continue on the path that you’re on. If
it's not working then of course take some lessons and pivot but stay on the
main path. Have that goal still in front of you.
My goal was really that I wanted to find a way to make – not passive income
but make good money outside of my job so that I could leave my job behind
and focus on doing what I wanted to do with my life in terms of my career, in
terms of what I want to give to the world. That was my goal and I said I’m
going to get there no matter what.
Maybe the software thing isn’t the best way to get there but I’m going to try
it until it totally exhausted and it’s not what I want to do anymore. I’m just
going to keep doing it, and keep doing it, and keep doing it. It was really just
being really persistent, as persistent as I possibly could be. If you don’t have a
support system, that gets … man, that gets so hard because there’s no one to
know if you’re doing it or not.
A lot of us talk a lot about our friends that aren't into entrepreneurship, not
really understanding what we’re going through. If you don’t have a support
system then you're really not going to have any reason to hold yourself
accountable a lot of the time. Unless you’re made of steel and you can really
just – just some people can. They can just drive through it, but I think even
they get burnt out at some point.
I had a support system that I could get up every day. We would talk every
single day. I could have calls with all of them to let people know what I was
doing, what my plan was, and get feedback on where I was stuck, or where I
might need to change tactics, or what’s working for somebody else. That help
keep me really motivated because I can see other people struggling the same
way I was struggling and they were still doing it. What makes me any
different? I needed to just keep hustling.
Dane: What was your commitment in January when you hit that low and you're like,
“You know what, I’m going to quit and I’m not even going to ask for a
Steve: My commitment was very low. Out of a scale of one to ten, it was probably a
Dane: What kept you going?
Steve: Actually in all I’ve told you, I had quit. It was about a three-week period in
January where I did nothing. I would send some emails out every now and
then and then I’d feel really guilty about not doing the work so I’d guilt
myself into doing the work which is never a good place to be. Essentially …
yeah, I would just do nothing. I would go home. I get home from work and be
The funny thing was that I was not engaged in The Foundation work and
therefore I didn't become engaged in my fitness and in actually going to the
gym anymore. I didn’t become engaged in going out on dates at the time I
was single trying to meet people. I didn’t really care about that. I would just
kind of come home and sit in front of the TV, and binge watch movies and
television shows. That’s what just going to dip back into that old version of
myself. Nothing really kept me going.
I think it was just somebody – either somebody reached out, Juliana reached
out or I reached out to her, and we started talking and that kind of lit the fire
again. I just jumped back right to where I was. I lost three or four weeks,
stopped blaming myself for it, and just continued on.
Dane: What did that three weeks feel like?
Steve: I guess guilt is the word that keeps popping up. I felt guilty because I was
letting myself down and not following through with a goal. I just spent all this
money and I thought, okay, it’s just going to be another thing you spent
money on and didn't follow through with or didn’t complete. It’s actually one
of those things that you kind of look back at and say, “Oh well” and you give
it a shrug. But I felt really guilty about it.
I felt like I couldn’t even go on to the community, the massive Facebook
group. I couldn't even go on there to look at stuff because every time I saw
somebody having a small win or doing things that was working for them, I felt
really guilty about my stuff where I felt resentment towards them. I was like
why is it so easy for them? Why are they having success? At the time I hadn’t
realized it was because they stuck with it and you didn’t, and you’re just
sitting around doing nothing, feeling sorry for yourself. It’s not a healthy
place to be. That’s what I felt the most was guilt.
Dane: So you felt guilt that you weren’t doing things, but what were you feeling
that caused you to stop?
Steve: Frustration. I was just – Frustration and … I think the results that I wanted too
and feeling … I guess just tired. I think that’s really what it was. There was a
point where I was just – because I had the full-time job I was then kind of
skimping out of my responsibilities there and people were taking notice so I
had to work harder there to make up for some things. I just didn’t have the
energy and … yeah. I just was tired and I guess burnt out is the best way to
put it. I was exhausted from doing it all. My mind was always thinking of how
to approach this market, and how do I solve that problem, and just would
never shut off. I think I just needed to take a solid break from everything so
that’s what I did.
Dane: You felt tired, you felt frustrated, and then you started feeling guilty. You’re
down and out for about three weeks and you’re taking some space. We’ve
had successful students in the program who would go on a month sabbatical.
They're like, “I got to get out of here.” And then they come back and they’re
like, oh boom! They have this like renewed focus. They’d been through the
The thing that I want to iterate on, or just touch briefly on, is that the
difficulty that I see in the Foundation – there's a number of things. One of
which is how patient a person is while they’re developing the skill that they
can then actually use.
For example if you’re going to do a successful idea extraction call, it takes
practice to build the skill. If you’re going to take a basketball and you’re going
to practice free throws and you’ve never thrown a free throw before, you
need like a week of just like, boom, throw, boom throw, boom, throw to get
the muscle memory built.
Let’s just say you practiced free throws, right, and then you’re just so tired of
it. Go back for a week. You come back and all of a sudden now you're hitting
free throws because you’ve got the skill built.
The emotional process of going through this stuff while you’re building a skill
takes a tremendous amount of patience. That’s why I like to see people
taking sabbatical sometimes, just getting out of dodge for a bit.
You had this guilt feeling and then you had community. You had someone to
reach out, to hold your hand energetically so to speak, and lifted you out and
got you back. Other than that, you had gotten to a point where you were
kind of giving up. The thing that was amazing is what was waiting for you on
the other side.
Steve: Yeah.
Dane: I’m curious, how do you feel right now today in this moment with your life,
with where you’re at, with things as they are now?
Steve: I feel really satisfied with my life. That’s been an important distinction for me
this last year because I am by nature – like a lot of people in The Foundation,
very ambitious, and I have very ambitious goals. I’ve found for myself that a
byproduct of ambition is not taking a moment to actually appreciate what
you have already. When you achieve a goal and you go, “Oh, I’m not there
yet. I’ve got to go to the next step, and the next step, and the next step.”
That’s kind of a byproduct of ambition.
It’s a good thing to have because it keeps you going forward but sometimes
it's really important for me anyway to step back and really just appreciate
where I’ve come and where I’m at right now. The work that I’m doing for the
team that I’m on, the work that I’m doing for myself, how I’ve strengthen
some relationships that I have in my life. Just being appreciative of that really
helps drive down my stress levels. Just take a moment every day and just
kind of be happy about where I already am and not having to get to another
level and constantly having to do that.
Dane: So you feel satisfied?
Steve: Yeah. Not completely. There are still things that I want to do and I still have
ambitious goals but I think it’s important to acknowledge that I’ve come a
very long way in a very short period of time.
Dane: Yeah, a year. A lot can change in a year.
Steve: Yeah.
Dane: You’ve left your job. You’re working as a full-time copywriter now.
Steve: I am, yeah.
Dane: Let’s talk about how you used Twitter for idea extraction.
Steve: Okay.
Dane: We teach idea extraction in The Foundation which is you contact markets and
you conduct idea extractions. One way we teach is via email but we also
teach – any way that you can get on the phone with someone, whatever.
People use LinkedIn, or Twitter, or Facebook, or message boards. Some
people even just drop in cold into offices. Tell me about how you thought
about Twitter. What your approach on Twitter was.
Steve: Well, my approach on Twitter was just that was where a lot of people that I
wanted to talk to were hanging out. I notice that a lot of chefs were also
restaurant owners at the same time. They were both the head chef and the
owner, business owner. They’re very active on their Twitter profile. I started
paying attention to that and realized that they were … like I said tweeting out
different recipes, and where they were hanging out, and communicating with
their niches. At least the ones who were really good at their business and
really involved in the business were doing that and those are the rock stars
that we know we want to talk to anyway so it was just perfect.
I started doing idea extraction in 140 characters. It’s pretty much what I
called it. At least getting the conversation started. I would just structure all
my messages when I would tweet at somebody. First of all I went through
and just followed every single food network, or food person, or food
enthusiast, blogger, chef. Anybody I could follow. And then started adding all
their Twitter handles to my spreadsheets of who I had contacted and started
sending out tweets to these people.
Each tweet would just have three pieces in it. The first part would flatter, the
second part would state who I am, and the third part would state what I
wanted. It became really, really simple. You can play with the characters you
have until you get it right.
By flatter I mean I would – If I had been to the restaurant I’d say, you know,
“Hey @Joe’s restaurant, loved the spaghetti and meatballs,” or a dish that I
had tried there. If I hadn’t been to the restaurant, I would delve through their
menu and pretend like I was at the restaurant and choose what I would
order, and tweet that and say, “Hey, I love the Ahi Tuna.”
Second part would just say who I am. “I’m a young entrepreneur, I’m an
aspiring entrepreneur, would love to talk to you about your business,”
something to that effect. The third part would just be what I want from them.
They would usually tweet back at me or send me a direct message asking me
more. Some people would direct tweet and say, “I’m here Tuesdays and
Thursdays between 3:00 and 5:00. Come in for a chat,” things like that. That
led to a lot of conversations and led to somebody taking notice of the tactic I
was using and could have potentially partnered with me on the product I was
trying to build out.
Dane: When it went to what I want, what would you usually say?
Steve: What I want? It would just be a call to action of would love to chat, or looking
to find out more about how you do this, or – I try and change it up because
with social media if you’re sending out the same thing every time, people
noticed immediately and you just are toast. I would try and change it up and
just ask for a meeting, or ask for more information, just whatever I could
think of really that would fit into 140 characters. You have to get pretty
creative with that sometimes and that usually worked.
Dane: Get specific for me for a second. I want to know what’s your first tweet at a
chef usually say? We got flatter, we’ve got who I am, but what do you say for
what I want?
Steve: For what I want, “Would love to talk with you more” was one I used quite a
bit. It will be like, “@Joe’sRestaurant loved the spaghetti and meatballs.
Always do a great job. Young entrepreneur looking to speak with you more
about your business.” Something like that. That chain would be what I would
mold for every single tweet. The last part would always be, “Looking to talk
with you more about your business,” or “Looking to talk with you more about
how you grew your restaurant,” or “the problems and pains you have in your
restaurant.” Always that kind of wanting to talk with them more; that was
really the call to action. They were all open to that.
Dane: Seventy percent response rate as you say.
Steve: Yeah, right at the start like 68%. Right away I was getting crazy, crazy
responses. It was awesome.
Dane: Tell me about the mindset you had to come up with this three-part
Steve: I just started testing different things. At first I would just shout out the
person’s name and say, “Hey, can I ask you some questions?” That didn’t go
so well. Nobody would respond back. So I thought, well, I might as well make
it personal. We’ve been learning that tactic in the emails anyways. Make it
personal. The best way to make it personal is talk to them about what they
love which is food. Tell them that – They’re always looking for good reviews,
they’re always looking …
You know what, my true mindset was to give them something they could use.
With Twitter, when you tweet something out to somebody and it’s good for
them, they want to retweet it. The first part was I just want to give them
something that they could use, something that they could retweet that
would make sense for their audience. If I was giving them a review or just a
thumbs up on their food or an experience that I have, whether it was the
ambience or whatever it was in the restaurant that I enjoyed. That was
something they could – I would notice that too.
Before they’d even respond to me, they would just retweet it right away,
almost automatically. And then they’d respond or they’d tweet back at me
saying, "Thanks for the like,” or "Thanks for the comment. Contact me here
to talk more” or “Come in and we can talk more” or “Love helping young
entrepreneurs, would love to chat more,” that kind of stuff.
Dane: That’s actually starting to make really good sense to me at why a chef would
want to reply publicly and kindly to a young entrepreneur because it
probably make them look really generous and people get to see that,
whereas they might kind of look like an asshole if they ignore such a
generous tweet towards you.
Steve: Yeah. It works. It works really great. Works better than email.
Dane: That’s great. A big light bulb just went off for me there. That’s brilliant, Steve.
You started getting conversations and you said through this you discovered
five or six pains.
Steve: Yeah. Through my total idea extraction process, I think it was like three or
four pains. Some of them were ones that I had a pre-conceived. I’ve worked
in the industry before so I’ve kind of known there’s a lot of pains around
inventory management, on the backend of your restaurant. There’s a lot of
software in the industry, but a lot of that software helps out front of the
house problems. And by front of the house I mean servers and the business
side of things where there isn’t a whole lot – A lot of restaurants are still just
using Microsoft, Excel and Clipboards to track all their inventory. Obviously,
there’s errors, there’s double counting. It affects the bottom line. A lot of my
idea extraction was around those problems. Those ideas didn’t work out,
Dane: Which idea did you end up picking?
Steve: I ended up picking a front of the house problem. It was a marketing solution
to help them get individuals into their restaurants who had been there
before and had already like their food by using a discount system. A lot of
restaurants were frustrated by things like Groupon.
Groupon is kind of built on a bit of a false promise where it’s like we’ll bring
people into your business, which is true but a lot of times for restaurants it
brings the wrong kind of people in. It brings people in who are deal hunters,
who are only going because of the deal. It doesn’t matter if the restaurant
has great food, or great service, or naked table dancers. It doesn't matter.
They’re there for the deal. When the deal’s gone, they’re gone. That
frustrates a lot of restaurant owners.
A lot of them were moving away from that because they're like, “All I’m doing
is discounting my food. I’m not building any loyalty with my customers.” That
was a big pain I heard over and over again. They’re like, “I'm happy to give
discounts, I’m happy to do that to attract new business and get butts in seats,
but I want to build loyalty. I want to have that person come back and pay full
price because they just enjoy my food, they enjoy my atmosphere, and they
enjoy the amount of work I put into my restaurant,” which made a lot of
sense to me.
I figured a solution to that would be to have this rewards program where
individuals would … anytime they went to a restaurant who was on the list
that I had built up, they would essentially check in to that restaurant. It
would be a location thing on their device and they would check in to the
restaurant. Once you had done that twice, you’d prove that you’ve been to
that restaurant twice in the past, that you are someone who would go there
more than once, you would then be automatically opted into the deals.
Basically … I don't want to call it a community, you’d be opted into … be a
member of that restaurant. Those people would start getting deals, and
incentives, and chef’s tables, and all that kind of stuff sent directly to their
phone and they could reserve also directly from their phones. The restaurant
owners really like that, and people that I talk to on the customer’s side also
thought that was a really great idea.
But I had a lot of frustration around getting pre-sales because restaurant
owners were like, “I’d be really interested in that if you have a list of 10,000
people or 5,000 people. Talk to me then. Talk to me when you have a huge
list of people, because how do I know you’ve got anybody worthwhile?” That
was kind of a chicken and the egg thing.
The customer side was kind of like, “Well, what restaurants do you have on
your list that I can get deals at?” The restaurants were like, “How many
customers do you have that I can give deals to?” That was a big – I was like
how am I going to growth hack this thing. I had no idea how to do that, and
that’s where a lot of frustration came from.
Dane: In hindsight, that seems like a pretty solvable problem. Nonetheless, it wasn’t
meant to be. What happened? What did you do?
Steve: Like I said I had two pre-sales …
Dane: Tell me about your first pre-sale.
Steve: First pre-sale was through a friend who referred me to his friend who was a
restaurant owner, and it was a restaurant that I had been to several times.
Oddly enough, it was a friend that I had made through Andy Drish who would
come to Toronto to do an event and he invited someone that he knew to the
event, and him and I just hit it off, and that ended up leading to my first presale,
go figure. I had met with him two or three times to explain it.
This is somebody who also was very interested in entrepreneurship and he
didn’t even really want to be. He was running the restaurant on behalf of his
dad and he was kind of like, “I’m looking to get out of here, but I like what
you’re doing. We do something similar with our deals, we offer deals to our
best customers who come in, who I know by face. I give them deals on wine,
or alcohol, or whatever it is.”
He really liked the idea and was wanting to pay for it. We had an agreement
that I would discount it 50% for life if he would pay full year in advance at
50% off. He said, “Yeah, I’m totally on board to do that.” We had an
agreement in place. He went away for about a week, and then that
restaurant had some really, really bad luck. In a matter of three weeks, that
restaurant had two of their long-terms staff members both hit by drunk
drivers and killed. They were two of his best friends.
I had to lay off a little bit with that guy, obviously understandably. I reached
out on a personal level and just said, “Jeremy, if you need anything let me
know. We can talk again when things smooth out.” He went through a really
rough time. That was a huge wrench in – I don’t want to say a huge wrench in
my plans, it's a terrible thing to have happen.
The other pre-sale I had was a smaller restaurant with very low visibility in a
very popular neighborhood, and weren’t getting much foot traffic. He
thought the whole idea of helping me build something that he can be a part
of from the ground up was really great. It would help bring butts into seats. I
pre-sold him on the same deal, he was totally on board with it. Gave me the
money for it actually. He was ready to go.
As I started to try and do a little bit of work for him, I realized he was much
too small of a restaurant. My program would probably not have worked for
him. He didn't have a foot traffic, or visibility, or the average plate price. It
taught me a lesson of who I should be focusing on. I should be focusing on
the higher-end restaurants. That’s who I should be focusing on. That’s where
consumers want deals. They don’t want deals at restaurants they don’t go to.
That didn't really work out a whole lot even though he had given me the
money in advance. I refunded him the money, I said, “It’s just not going to
work.” That was the toughest one, I think. I had to go back in there kind of
with my tail between my legs and say “I can’t help you” when this guy is
looking for help. He was desperate for help for marketing. That one really
Then meeting with the gentleman who wanted to partner, I talked with him
about how it was going. He decided it was a good idea, he want to move
forward with. He wanted to partner on it 50-50 on the whole thing, fund the
entire project, but he want to really take over the whole thing. He want to
change the plan that I had with it, he want to give the whole thing to his
developers and have them develop the whole thing.
Essentially, I was very worried that he was going to take 50% of the whole
project, I would end up doing all the work, and he would kind of get off doing
nothing; although it would probably get built. After talking with a few people
in The Foundation, I decided to not partner with him. By that time, I was
really frustrated with the whole process of building software. I was like, I
don’t even know. I’m stressed out. I feel anxiety over all this stuff. I don’t
really know if this is what I want to be.
Even if I did build it out, it is something I want to continue to grow and work
with, and do, I just wasn’t sure. I continued with it because I thought that’s
what I should be doing, and kept trying to get pre-sales, and didn’t have a
whole lot of success with that; couldn't get any more pre-sales. I think that
had a lot to do with my enthusiasm for the project had dipped.
Looking back in hindsight now, looking back, I could probably say that
probably came off to a lot of people. I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it. My
idea extraction or pre-sales calls were very, very short. I was getting the same
response. “You don't have a big enough list so we don’t want to work with
you” or “We already have a deal thing in place,” or “We use Groupon.” I just
wasn’t as engaged in it as I was.
That is kind of where it essentially died on the vine because I started doing
writing which was taking up a lot of my time and I was really enthusiastic
about. That just came about through helping people in The Foundation.
Everybody else in my mastermind group was doing similar work to what I was
doing trying to build their softwares, their SaaS startups up. Some of them
had success like Katherine who you guys showcase as one of your most
successful students; who I think is a phenomenal entrepreneur, someone
that I learn from literally every single day. She had been putting up her
website to get more leads, and a couple others I knew were putting up their
A couple past Foundation students had trouble with their websites, and they
started asking me. Actually, I started offering to help them out with like an
email campaign, or the copy on their site. Just because I enjoyed it, and I
found it interesting, and I had gone through the copy phase in The
Foundation, and learned a lot through it. I just kind of started helping people
out. By the time I got to the live event, people had been telling me for about
a week or two, “You should start charging. Start asking for money for that
because it’s a service you’re providing to people. I'm sure they’ll be happy to
pay you.”
The first person who did was David Smith, actually, in The Foundation from
the previous year. I remember he had asked if I could do some work for him,
and I sent him some samples. At the live event, we got along really well and
he said, “Okay, let’s move forward with it. When I get back, we’ll talk about
how much you charge.”
I was really nervous about saying how much I charge for it because I'd never
asked anybody for money. I just kind of threw out a number expecting him to
come back and say, “That's too high,” and blah, blah, blah. His email was just,
“Yup. Great. No problem. I’ll send the money to you tomorrow.” That was
kind of the start of it. That was really easy, and that felt really good. I really
enjoy doing this. That was basically the light that went off.
I said this is what I should be doing with my time. I enjoy writing. I’ve always
want to have a career in writing; never pursued it other than writing
screenplays which I have a passion for and have as a hobby. I really just
started doing that. I started doing articles for my friends, I started writing
copy for people who need help, and then I started trying to hustle for clients.
I put a website up, started getting leads through there, and then just through
People started bringing work to me and said, “Hey, this guy’s really great at
copy.” I started noticing Facebook posts, people would ask “Is anybody good
at copy? I need help.” People would actually tag me in the post. I was like,
“Well, other people think I’m good, I must be doing something right.” I
started making connections and getting paid for it.
Dane: This echoes exactly what this Wednesday – the Wednesday before this
podcast - we talked about where confidence comes from. We talked about
confidence coming from being in community with people because in that
community, you get to be seen and recognized in areas that you can’t see
yourself and be recognized. It sounds like that started happening for you.
Steve: Yeah, big time. People started just noticing on their own accord that I was
doing something good and something valuable. I started believing it really
quickly. I’m like, yeah, this is really valuable, and this is really good.
What I did from there is I really just – like I said at the start of this interview,
I’m a big believer in hard work and getting good at something. I don't have a
whole lot of patience – there’s a lot of people out there that just try
something once and they go, “Oh, I’m good at it. Now I don’t have to work on
that skill at all.” Writing is a craft and I had known that since I was young.
From that point on, really from the Foundation live event and just before
then, I just dove into mastering one skill. I just want to get really good. I
hadn’t mastered it yet by any means, it takes a lot of work. It’s a hard skill to
learn. It really is salesmanship in print, so I’ve stopped actually calling myself
a writer and trying to refer to myself more as a salesman. That’s an important
distinction to make when you’re writing copy. Copy is so important if you
know sales. I don't know sales at all except for the last year of my life. I just
started studying it, I just started studying copy.
I started taking different courses, AWAI’s course, I started going back through
the Foundation content on copywriting which is really great stuff. I did a
couple other programs and courses. I copied copy every day I’m up to. I don't
do it as much now because I’m so busy. I still try at least do copy one sales
letter a week, but I’m up over … I think over 115 or 120 sales letters copied. I
really want to get to 500 soon. It might take me longer than I thought. Just
focusing on that skill and that craft and getting as good as I possibly can. I’ve
just learned a lot in the process.
Dane: I’m noticing we’re a bit over on my time. Do you have a few more minutes to
wrap up, like say five minutes or so?
Steve: Of course, yeah.
Dane: Possibly ten if we go that long?
Steve: Yeah.
Dane: We got some things I want to touch on here. It was fun to hear you talk about
what you enjoy, like the process of getting David Smith mentioning the price.
What was that first price that you mentioned, by the way?
Steve: I know what it was, I just don’t know if I should mention it because I don't
have permission from David to say how much he spent on everything.
Dane: How about a rough idea of what your hourly rate was but not the total?
Steve: That’s also hard. I don’t really charge by hour, I charge by project. I think it’s
more of a charge by project. I can say under $500, how about that? I won’t
give you an exact amount but the first one’s under $500. Everybody else in
my group was kind of like, “You’re charging too little, charge more.” I just
wasn’t comfortable enough to charge more then.
Dane: Well, thank you. I totally honor the request for privacy on that as well, but
thank you for mentioning anything. It’s more about that like, “Oh, here’s my
price. Holy crap, they said yes! Holy crap, what does this mean for my life?”
Steve: It was interesting, yeah. It was a lot of fun doing that first project. I
remember being really dug into it. I did a whole bunch of research. I easily
went above and beyond, and that’s a good thing to do because I established
a habit of going above and beyond which just pays off in so many different
areas in life.
Dane: Yeah, you did go above and beyond. You did quite a bit in that community
writing for people and things like that. You also mentioned that you love
getting that sale on that copywriting thing. How did that contrast with the
feeling of getting pre-sale for the software?
Steve: The first pre-sale for the software, I remember getting the pre-sale and the
person agreeing to it. I was on my phone with my group, just jumping for joy.
I was overwhelmed. This works, I can do this. The same level of excitement
only now that excitement has just continued to grow with the copywriting,
whereas the excitement definitely dropped off with doing the software.
Dane: As we kind of start wrapping here. As you were saying – I love this. As you
were saying like you enjoy that process of copywriting, me, personally, I
really enjoy the process of software. All this stuff that you were going
through and all the frustrations you were having, I was like, “Man, it really
excites me. I would do this here, and this here, and this here.” I feel like I’m
just naturally inclined towards wanting to go towards those kind of problems
and doing … The copywriting thing doesn’t fit for me but like I feel it fits for
Steve: It fits so well for me. It’s changed … a whole way I look at the world, and the
whole way I look at my value in my place. It's been really awesome. Like I
said, it’s finally that moment where it’s a skill that I’m good at and that I
really enjoy. When that comes together, you can pretty much do whatever
you want in the world. That’s the most important stuff that I picked up from
the Foundation was skills to get me to that point.
Dane: What do you mean?
Steve: I guess what I mean is what I learned in The Foundation outside of just the
software and the technical stuff was really how to take the skills of
entrepreneurship and start applying that to different areas of my life. Even
before I found that copywriting was the way I want to go forward, I really
found that I started applying those principles of asking a lot of questions and
being curious, and always looking to help, and always looking to find a better
way to do things, and going above and beyond.
I started applying that in my regular life. Outside of entrepreneurship when I
still had a full time job and crazy things happened. I got promoted at work
even though I didn’t want to be there anymore. I got moved to a different
section where I could do a little more writing in my job. I enjoyed my job a lot
when I was engaged at work and therefore I was engaged when I got off of
I think that that’s a really important point that I wanted to make is that you
guys – those entrepreneurship principles can still apply to people who aren’t
entrepreneurs. I see it every day with my current girlfriend who is an amazing
woman. She’s a lawyer in the corporate world, has no interest in being an
entrepreneur, but she embodies so much of the entrepreneurial spirit that
she volunteers at work. She goes above and beyond, she stays late when she
has to; she’s always looking to make their processes better and stronger.
It’s the same kind of skill set that I use to build up what I’m working on now. I
see that that’s how far The Foundation goes for me. It doesn’t just go into
entrepreneurship and end, it goes into people’s entire lives and the way that
they carry themselves in the world.
Whether they want to be an entrepreneur or not they can take those skill
sets and really go a lot further in whatever it is they want to do. Whether it’s
an accounting which a lot of us might say, “That's boring,” but to somebody,
that’s their life’s work and that's what they want to do. If they can take these
skills and put it into play, they’re going to be a much better professional in
what they want to do.
Dane: I’m just looking at my notes here reflecting on everything you’ve shared so
much today. I really appreciate hearing the Twitter strategy. I mostly
appreciate hearing the experience that you’ve gone through. Do you feel like
the – How do you feel about investing in The Foundation, spending money on
it, and not coming out with a software product?
Steve: Amazing. I feel great. It was the best investment I ever made. I don’t know, it
sounds almost cliché to say it sometimes. The Foundation completely
changed my life, completely changed how I view myself and how I view my
place in the world. It changed the way I make relationships with people, both
professionally and personally. Added friends into my life, and they’ll be
friends forever. I know you just did something really cool with Frank and
Frank’s – we can call with Frank and he’s one of the best people in my life
right now. He gives me so much power in the world. Having those kind of
relationships – underpaid. I felt like I should’ve given more, as cliché as that
sounds. But, yeah, it was way worth it.
Dane: Yeah, even though you didn’t build software.
Steve: Yeah. I didn’t even finish the content because I didn't get to a point where I
could do the scaling stuff. I didn't even go through the scaling stuff. I didn’t
even finish the content completely and ended up getting what I wanted out
of it. I ended up reaching my goal and I continue to reach my goal every
single day. It gave me so much, so, so much. I’ll forever be grateful to you,
and Andy, and what you guys put out there; above anything else, the
Dane: You said you’re reaching your goal, what is your goal?
Steve: My goal – It’s a funny thing you mentioned goals. Goals are – When I first
started to copywrite …
Dane: You mentioned goals.
Steve: I mentioned goals. The funny thing about that is when I first started doing the
copywriting, I had this big goal. I want to be a great direct response
copywriter. I thought it was a great goal to have, and I just want to focus on
that. That became a problem because it takes a lot of work to become a great
direct response copywriter. There are people that study for 10, 12, 14 years
and don’t become a great direct response copywriter. What I realized —
Dane: That’s a lot of work to become a great anything.
Steve: A great anything, you’re right. When you set that goal when you're starting
out saying I want to be a great anything, fill in the blank, you’re going to
struggle before you get there. That actually might not be the best goal for
you to have when you're starting out.
So I changed my goal and my goal was to just be a better copywriter than I
was yesterday. So I reach that goal every day. I work on becoming better, and
if I screwed up yesterday then I have a chance today to be better than I was
yesterday, or get better results for my clients today than I did yesterday, or
get a better conversion rate, or whatever it is that I’m doing, and whatever it
is that I’m working on with copywriting. I just want to be a better copywriter
than I was yesterday.
Forget about being a great copywriter, that will come, but I just want to focus
on being a better one than I was yesterday.
Dane: As we wrap here, how does it feel to wake up in the morning now and do
what you’re doing versus where you’re at a year ago?
Steve: Awesome. I’m excited to get out of bed every day, for the most part. There’s
a lot of heavy days, and there’s still a lot of work to be done but, yeah, I'm
excited to get out of bed. I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing. I’m a better
team mate in my team, I’m a better person overall, I’m a better boyfriend to
my girlfriend, I’m a better son, a better brother. It’s affected all areas of my
life. I’m excited to take on everything that’s in front of me. That’s really
what’s changed I guess. I wasn’t like that a year and a half ago.
Dane: So, Steve, usually I end these episodes with a small call to action inviting
people to apply to The Foundation, but I wonder if you might want to do
Steve: Wow, sure.
If you’re thinking of applying for The Foundation, you’re considering it, you’re
weighing your options, just take the plunge. It will be well, well worth it. You
honestly can’t predict the outcome you’re going to get out of it, I’m proof of
that. You might get into it for one reason. If there’s a reason that gets you in,
follow that reason. But be prepared, be open-minded to learn more about
yourself than you've ever learned. To grow your skill set probably a lot faster
than you’ve ever grown it. Be prepared to be a little bit uncomfortable but
know that it’s going to lead to positive things. If you’re thinking about it, I
would definitely sign up right now.
Dane: You can do so at Steve, thank you for this today.
Steve: Thanks, Dane.
Closing: Thank you for joining us. We’ve taken this interview and created a custom
action guide so you know exactly what action steps to take to grow your
business. Just head over to to download it for
free. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.