Dane Maxwell, the founder of TheFoundation.com, shares his concept of empowering others and how his website helps aspiring entrepreneurs set up a successful startup and establish a business from scratch.
In this podcast:
00:57 – The appeal of startups
02:44 – A matter of mindset
04:30 – The most dangerous word in business
04:58 – The Foundation‘s success rate
07:23 – Learning the hard way
08:21 – Why James doesn’t do startups
10:59 – Find the pain
12:40 – The skill of reflection
16:11 – What things have gone wrong?
20:04 – The Foundation’s biggest success
22:01 – Profiting from compliance
23:07 – The five phases of starting up
25:44 – Are you hung up on product?
29:50 – Living in the creative spark
33:59 – The inspiration behind the Foundation
39:21 – Adjusting on the fly
42:54 – A musical spark recognized
46:35 – Get a pre-selling info pack
You can start a business with no idea, no money, no credibility. [Click To Tweet].
The most dangerous word in business is “guessing”. [Click To Tweet].
Go in and find the pain. [Click To Tweet].
Celebrate what you’ve done well. [Click To Tweet].
Sliced bread was a flop when it came out. [Click To Tweet].
Ideas come when you’re in the creative spark. [Click To Tweet].
James: James Schramko here, welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today we’re going into a new topic. Haven’t really talked about this much on SuperFastBusiness, and there’s a big reason for that. It’s not something that I typically work with.
I tend to work with the people who have gone through this phase, but it is my delight to be able to bring to the show today Dane Maxwell from The Foundation. Welcome, Dane.
Dane: Thanks, James.
James: Now Dane, you love startups. Is that right?
The Right Approach To A Startup Business
Dane: Yeah I love startups. What I love about startups is not… I love the process of people starting companies from absolutely nothing. So TheFoundation.com is just about two or three years old right now. But I envision it 10 or 20 years down the line, like an Alcoholics Anonymous for entrepreneurs starting from nothing.
You won’t even know my name, just like you don’t even know the creator of Alcoholics Anonymous. The foundation is synonymous with it’s a place where all entrepreneurs, all over the world go to when they want to start a business and they have nothing to start. So, I believe that businesses can be started regardless of any circumstance where there’s no idea, no money, no credibility and in that space of starting from nothing, a total abundance of magic can manifest if you approach it the right way.
James: OK, so just on that, this is very appealing sounding. You can start with no money, was it no idea?
Dane: Yeah, no idea. It’s best to start with no idea.
James: Right. So I think this is fascinating. A lot of people come to me with I’ve got a great idea, and they’re trying to build a business to justify their idea, which I think’s a terrible mistake. And it especially happens with things like multi-level marketing, where someone’s just observed something, and they think this would be great because they like it but then they haven’t really validated it and we’ll probably get into those sort of topics.
So I think because you’ve got such an appealing hook, you must attract a lot of people into that sort of sphere. What sort of chance of success do people have?
The Excel Question
Dane: Well, above 80? I want to say 100 percent. It’s really difficult to fail in the end doing this process. The thing that we didn’t talk about what makes The Foundation work – when you have no idea, no money, no special skills, no extra status – the thing that makes it work is our heavy emphasis on mindset, emotional processing, emotional awareness, limiting belief work and the deep inner game of entrepreneurship.
Because when people think they need an idea, or money or credibility or to be an expert, it’s typically a lot of internal stories and internal dialogues going on inside their body, like from their chest to their heart to their throat to their stomach, and that’s actually where most of the beliefs and stuff are locked. Sometimes in the mind, typically held in the body. And when we move that energy in the body, the person’s like, oh wow!
I don’t need an idea, I can just go into a business, ask them what they use Microsoft Excel for. They tell me they use Excel for tracking their financial reporting. I ask them if they like to turn that into a software application, they say yes, I ask them how much they want to pay, they pay me, then I go build them up the product.
It’s a simple conversation now I’ve just created an idea and that what one of my most successful students did last year, just by asking me Excel question. You don’t need an idea.
James: Now was that Sam, or someone else?
The Most Dangerous Word
Dane: No, that was Carl Mattiola. He worked directly under Elon Musk at Tesla and he was miserable as an employee. So he joined The Foundation and in six months he quit.
Now what you don’t know about Carl is that he reversed 28 or so limiting beliefs to get there and he had a very tumultuous journey. His father got committed into an institution, all these things happened during the six months but because he had the framework to process emotions and be with the mindset limiting beliefs and the deep inner game that comes up when you start a company, that’s why he was able to be successful.
It’s not about the idea. It’s about who you are as a person and how you run with that idea and hopefully you’re not even starting with an idea. The most dangerous word in entrepreneurship is it’s not procrastination, it’s not risk, it’s not fear, it’s not tomorrow. The most dangerous word in business is guessing.
And if you’re a Fortune 500 company or a Fortune 50 company or a mom or pop shop, if you’re guessing what product you think is going to work, you’re guessing what you think people want your product or if you’re doing any guessing at all, you’re in really dangerous territory and we don’t do any guessing ever and that’s why the success rate is… I don’t know the percentage of success rate because… well, we had 336 students in the last class, and 41 graduated with some sort of business with at least one paying customer. And of the 336 that joined, there are 210 left at the end, and of the 210, about 41, you know not everyone that buys your course is going to take action.
So our success rate is above 10 percent on all of our people but more like 20 or 30 percent on the people actually took action and for the people that, like when you actually follow the framework, it’s impossible, it’s really impossible to fail. We don’t normally believe in failure. We believe in learning and progress and so we’re not looking to build a product that no one wants.
We’re not trying to guess so we’ll ask people if they’ll buy a product before it exists, get money and then go build it if we can’t sell the idea before it exists. We’ll consider that a failure and move on to the next idea. So we’re talking about failing in like a span of a couple of days.
James: So what’s your take on someone like Samsung releasing a gold phone a week after Apple had a huge success? Is it okay to learn from your competitors, or should you be forging a new path?
Dane: I don’t know. That’s a good question. What do you think?
James: Well, you know, I come from the car industry, Mercedes-Benz in particular, and it was kind of amusing how Toyota will create a luxury brand, they’ll call it Lexus, which stands for Luxury Export USA, and they basically wait to see what comes out, and then I guess a lot of the predictability is there. You know what the market wants, it’s already been evidenced, and they’re just rapidly replicating.
I think from my point of view there’s always going to be some emulation happening, but a lot of the guesswork’s gone out of the market. It does solve a problem, they already know there’s a market for it. I think it’s kind of lame, but at the same time… So it’s not very arty, that’s all.
And I imagine there’s a lot of artists who want to express and want to create and want to make new things, and they would almost find your process challenging if they have to channel it into a systematic or scientific process of elimination, perhaps. How do the arty creatives go in your process?
Realizing What Doesn’t Work
Dane: I’m not sure, like, what I can tell you is that, I don’t know about you James, but of all the business ideas I’ve ever come up with for myself that I thought would be cool for other people, none of them worked. None of them. And like after the 5th one, I was like **** this. This is stupid.
I’m just going to ask people what they want and I’m going to give it to them. So I think people, no matter how hard you try James, the people who come to you with the idea, you can talk until you’re blue in the face but it’s not until they go out for a year, fail for a year and then realize experientially holy ****, this sucks. I have got to try a different approach.
James: Yeah, I think we’ve all been through that. I was doing things, even knowing as I was doing them that it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I just had to forge down that path and learn the hard way. People are pretty stubborn.
The interesting thing here is, the reason I don’t work with startups is by the time someone comes to me with at least $10,000 a month in sales, they’ve already been through that process, they’ve for whatever reason mentally or strategically or systems-wise, they’ve got something that works, and that’s where my skillset’s ideal, because I step in and I blow it up, turn that $10,000 into $100,000 a month. And I love that part of the process.
So interestingly, that’s one of the filters on my checklist. So I have a scientific process for finding my ideal customer who has a problem that I can solve, and it’s usually that they’ve grown to the point where they can’t take it to the next level by themselves or without some outside assistance. So you’ve done that, but from the zero point.
Dane: Yeah and the 10,000 to 100,000 is… I don’t mean to belittle what you’re doing at all but it’s a little bit easier than zero to 10,000.
James: Oh, it’s way easier. I’m not going to debate you on that. That’s why I select it. I don’t mind doing difficult work, but it takes so much energy and emotion to sit down and go through startup phases with people.
I just did this a few weeks ago with my buddy Ezra Firestone at a retreat, and we had three startups. And I had to pull out my old project stream list, I call this, and it’s from zero through to building a successful business. Because I’ve done a number of startups of my own, service businesses, coaching businesses… we do websites and traffic, etcetera. So I’d start with domains and build a multi-million dollar business from it.
To do that with other people I find energy-sapping. Obviously, you’re doing it with such a large volume and probably on… you’ve got enough data to be able to really refine the bits that work and don’t work, so I totally agree. What I do is significantly easier, which is why I do it because that’s my sweet spot, I love it, I’m good at it, and it’s easy.
Find The Pain
Dane: I kind of… there’s a part of me that envies you because there’s a part of me that wants to go down that road, yeah let’s take people from 10 to a hundred grand a month, but I see so much pain in the world and I see so many here that want to get started but they just don’t know how and it’s difficult. It’s emotionally difficult, it’s emotionally draining to help people when they’re starting from nothing. But it’s like, right now, I’m 30 and it’s just a journey that I’m… it’s like it’s a battle that I want to fight and you asked how back going to artists, how they go through the program.
It’s not like bad to come up with your own idea but it is risky and dangerous to build it unless you’ve pre-sold it. So however you get your idea whether it’s using our idea extraction process where you go in and find the pain – that’s like the three keywords: “Find the pain.” And you know you do that by asking what do you use Excel for in your business and other really good questions you can ask.
You can take people through their to-do list, take them through their calendar, take them through their email and have them go through each individual one and there’s lots of pain in the to-do list, lots of pain in emails, lots of pain in the calendars, like what’s that meeting about? What are you talking about with your web designer? How are you doing that?
You go through the whole process, you find enormous amounts of pain and potential for you to create solutions. That’s idea extraction. Now, that’s like the proven way that you can just if you want to crank out business after business after business and not to worry about failing, you just follow that approach.
But if you’re like the artsy person, you got a little bit of excitement around coming up with your own unique cool sexy thing, I mean fine, I don’t advise it. But if you’re going to do that, pre-sell the idea. Get someone to give you money before you build it.
James: I love it. So, we’re talking about the same thing. It’s exactly what I do, a gap analysis, and then you just solve the problem. And we just pick different parts of the scale.
Now let’s dig a little bit deeper into this. So we’ve covered your Why, and I love that. Your Why’s really the same as me. I see a lot of people create something amazing, and then struggling to take it to the next level.
So it’s nice that we’re being able to fit into the value chain and help people all the way from the very beginning right through to way beyond their wildest dreams. Why do you think you were successful when others fail so much?
Why Dane Is Successful
Dane: Because I failed more? And learned from the failure. Failure becomes power with the skill of reflection.
So Tom Brady was one of the best quarterbacks ever and I don’t know if the stories are true except that I never read it but a friend told me and it feels true that someone asked Tom Brady in an interview somewhere, “How do you become such a good quarterback?” and he said, “I watched all my game tapes and take notes and I reflect on what I did wrong.That’s when my whole game went to a whole new level.”
And the skill of reflection is, and I don’t do it nearly enough as an entrepreneur but when you’re starting out, reflection, 10 minutes a day. What did I learn? What can I do better? And how can I be more productive?
You know if you just write those three things down at the end of the day and like just a few notes, you’ll be amazed at the skill of reflection that comes from it. But like you said, the “Why” I believe the world can change when entrepreneurs realize that they can start companies regardless of their circumstance. So have you heard of the Institute of the Integrated Nutrition?
James: No, but I was thinking about Ayn Rand when you were saying that.
Institute Of Integrated Nutrition
Dane: Yeah. So Institute of Integrated Nutrition, they sign up like 2,000 women to their $5,000 life coaching program every 60 days. There earn like $50 million-plus a year and that’s what we’re modelling The Foundation after. And the creator of the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, his belief is that the human body can heal itself and he wants to get that message out in the world.
At The Foundation, our belief is that you can start regardless of your circumstance and we’re a Yes to you no matter what you’re at in your life. And that’s like, that’s the juice.
James: Well it sounds like you’re Samsung to the Institute’s Apple.
Dane: So to speak. Except we just heard about the Institute of Integrated Nutrition and we’re just modelling the model that they use for success but I wouldn’t consider it as creating the phone like Samsung.
James: No, no. I’m being a little bit facetious. But…
Dane: We totally copy them in that case.
James: No, the point is that… You know, when I was learning how to sell and manage, I had this idea that out there in the world, somebody was doing a way better job than me. So I would spend time thinking about what it is that they might be doing, or researching and looking for that, looking outside my industry, which is something Jay Abraham did well, to find out what’s going well, and then to move quickly towards that once you discover it.
And for the same reason I read quite a lot of books. Because you know, pretty much every idea has already been published. It’s a matter of finding it. In your reflection thing on failure, I would just like to raise a counterpoint there.
Jason Fried from the 37sIgnals talks about the concept of learning from other people’s mistakes, and eliminating failure, and that it’s not necessarily a requirement to succeed. Now I might be paraphrasing that incorrectly, but here’s another angle on reflection and I think this comes more from Dan Sullivan. It’s also worth reflecting back where you were a few years ago, and then seeing where you’re at now, and celebrating what you’ve done well, and doing more of that as well, rather than just the failures.
Because quite often if you can look for what you’ve done well or what’s working for you and you double-down or go deeper on that, you can also have significant success.
James: OK. So moving forward, I love that you’ve got a strong reason for this. What sort of things have gone wrong for you in the journey of helping startups? Have you ever felt that you went down the wrong path, or that you’ve had students who didn’t get the result they want at some point and then you’ve made corrections? I guess you’d call it a pivot?
Dane: Sort of. The first year of The Foundation was 88 students so we had three people graduate with software company so pretty decimal numbers. And we’re metric focused. So the second year, we had 336 and 41 so 3 divided by 88 is like less than 5 percent. Forty-one divided by 336 is like 10 to 12 percent.
We’ve doubled the success rate of our students. We learned and made mistakes on the first year and second year from third year I think we go from 10 to 12 percent to 20 or 30 percent because we’re custom designing a completely new way to deliver a content inside of the membership site model. We looked at Kajabi and all the platforms out there, we just weren’t happy with any of them.
So we’re about $100,000 into a kind of a gamefied, community-based, action-based learning content system to deliver content that tells people where they’re at, what they need to do next and how to get help when they’re stuck, and that’s the second year. We had a shi*** WordPress OfficeAutopilot plugin for a membership site. It was like a back-end of a blog and people were just like, this sucks.
Like, if this looks like a**, you guys are a software company and you’re giving us… like you guys teach us how to build software companies and the software you use to run a software company blows and we’re like c***! This is totally backwards. So, I love building software, I build six or seven software products and it’s so fun, so easy and so effortless.
Once you had your system down, it’s like the best business model in the world. A friend who switched from info stuff to software. One, software is already a passion of his but just look at what he’s done since he’s shifted to software and he’s applied all his brilliant marketing mind to the software. Software is just the place to be.
There’s going to be like, somewhere I read, 50 times increase in software in the next 10 years because it’s just so easy to get started now which makes it a more competitive game.
James: Yeah, and you want a blueprint in a competitive field. Now a couple of your students, I think they’re doing somewhere around $30 to $50,000 a month, that I’ve picked up as high level business mastermind students. I mean there’s people popping out of your system with success. What would be sort of the wildest success story that you can put your mind on from what you’ve generated so far?
Dane: Yeah, there’s one guy who’s just crushed. He’s bigger than we are. Who are the students that are in your program? What are their names?
James: Oh, I don’t think I should say it on a public podcast for privacy reasons, but they’re certainly welcome to disclose it in the comments section.
Dane: Cool. That’s awesome. I love that they’re earning 30-50 grand a month. I’m like, who are they?
James: Well, they’re doing really well but they won’t be doing that for much longer. They’re already making significant steps. Interestingly, most of the people that come to me, their biggest challenges are they’ve gone past the getting an idea and validating it, and finding a program and all that stuff. Where they get stuck is they’ve run out of capacity and they also have marketing challenges.
It’s almost always those two things. They’re building up teams and staff to handle customer support, to come up with related product offerings, to take it to the next level. You might see them having user conventions, etcetera for their stuff because it’s starting to get big.
One Success Story
Dane: Sweet. So, our biggest success story is, he’s at $300,000 a month right now and he’s got CRM software for hedge fund companies and he built the application. He got the idea by talking to hedge funds and hedge funds had this problem where the government’s now requiring them to do audit trails of all of their things so one of the really, like, you know you hit the jackpot when you’ve got an idea that the customer has to do, with…
Dane: Yup. Comply. They have to do it. It’s not about, oh if you do this, if you use my products your life will be better,or your lige will be enjoyable. So yeah you got that pretty built on top of sales force so you build it in like eight weeks.
We like to build our products in 12 weeks or less. Like three months to market it, that’s our goal for our first generation of the product. And we have a model of minds that forms ideas that you can build in eight weeks. It’s a very sticky kind of mindset to find ideas that you can build in 12 weeks.
You build this on sales force and in 12 weeks or so, 25 grand from the development and he had a customer fund the entire development in exchange for a discount to use it for life and now he’s at 300 grand a month. And he got started without an idea, without money and he didn’t do any of the coding. So, this process is just I think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread for creating software companies from nothing.
James: That’s nice. You know, sliced bread was a flop when it came out.
Dane: I didn’t know that.
James: Yeah, it’s a fascinating story, but there was basically no market, no one bought it, and the guy lost all his money. And it got picked up later on, so it’s a very interesting and somewhat ironic thing that we’re talking about. I don’t think he did his pain point validation.
Dane: That’s so bad. That’s so bad. Well hopefully he got his sliced bread for himself.
James: Yeah, someone did OK with it later when they finally figured it out. With the compliance thing, I will throw out a little tip for our listener, that I’d run an event usually once a year, and the person I was getting help with who’s doing the event management said, “You know what, you should invite people back.” Because I hadn’t thought that people would want to come back.
And I positioned it in the sales material as a refresher training. And I offered people who would come to the event a repeat training. So it was going to be similar content but a refresher. And I pinned it on the fact that accountants, lawyers, doctors all have to do compliance training to remain credentialed, why would it be any different in the field of Internet business?
And I now get about 75 percent of the people at my events come back every single event, and I’m now up to about a dozen events? So it was just this simple idea of just tying it in with the theme of compliance. Even if you don’t have a strictly compliant requirement, people get that concept.
James: OK. Let’s just talk about your quick checkpoint list of what things are important for startups. You’ve given some huge clues, and that is to start from scratch and do that pain point analysis, and to have a paying customer. What other things are essential for someone who wants to go down this path to know about?
Five Steps: How A Startup Business Start-Up
Dane: Well, we’re looking through redefine or rethink or change or switch up, however you want to say it, how startups get started. How startups start-up. That’s like the jargon.
There’s five steps to the way that it works and the first step is idea extraction. Pain, find the pain. The second step is, once you found the pain, and in that pain you validate like that is worth, there’s like a small validation so you find the pain, like this Excel thing, so you have this Excel problem, would you pay for this product? Yes. OK, cool. So that’s like good enough to go to step 2.
Step two is you build an infopack. An infopack is like the fictional prototype of what would exist if it existed. So in this case since we use software, we show screenshots. We don’t develop any code but we develop the screenshots and that’s very interactive; you send it back and forth to that customer.
Hey what do you think of this screenshot? Yeah I like this, I don’t like that. And it’s very back and forth, it’s like very interactive. And once you get that infopack all done to the point like holy c*** this is awesome! What’s its cost?
Then step 3 is pre-selling. You pre-sell to that customer and you go out and you pre-sell five, 15, 20 or some of my students pre-sell to 50 customers before they build a product. And that step 3 is pre-selling.
Step 4 is finally building a product. Now notice that step 4 is building the product where most entrepreneurs think step 1 is building the product. But it’s actually step 4 and this is the biggest mind twist.
It’s still even like kind of a challenge for me sometimes. It’s more fun to build a product then sell it but don’t. If you build a product in The Foundation before you’ve pre-sold it or you’re caught writing code because if you’re a developer, we don’t let you code inside The Foundation. You have to hire it out.
There’s no way you’re going to write your own code, that’s not how a business owner thinks. With some exceptions you know the guys at Google, they create their own code but for this purpose you already know how to develop. We’re looking for you to build new muscles and new skills so if you’re caught developing, if you’re caught building a product, before you even pre-sell, we kick you out of The Foundation. We don’t let you sabotage yourself.
And then step 5 finally James is where you would come in. We have a small section on scaling.
So those are the five phases and that’s how we kind of switched things up. So you know if you take step 4, building a product, and you put it in step 1, the more rookie the entrepreneur’s mindset and I don’t mean rookie in a condescending way at all but just the more novice or new you are as an entrepreneur, the more you’re hung up on product or idea.
To the newbie entrepreneur, the business can’t exist until a product is made. But to the all-star marketer entrepreneur, the business exists as soon as you have a customer. And so Appsumo started without any of their own products. Mindvalley, they don’t create their own products.
Free credit report on Experian, all these Legion companies, they don’t have products. They know a business starts with a customer and when you realize that you don’t need a product to have a business, you need a customer, that’s when you start talking to people on the phone, you know.
Carl talked to physical therapy practices and he said, “What do you Excel for?” and now ClinicMetrics.com was born. Geordie Wardman was talking to hotels and he asked them what problems caused you the most money in the business and in hotels it’s like bad reviews online. So he built a system to help automate and collect and build a reputation online as a hotel. Really simple product too.
He charges a good amount of money and you got that from asking hotels that simple question. I could go on and on but that whole phase is start with the customer, start with pain, and then iterate and then build a product on top of that.
If you want to be an artist and you want to create your own thing because you’re so stuck in that, try and pre-sell in advance. But just me saying that James, you’re not going to be able to do it. You need like a completely new mindset, like, if you want to pre-sell a product before it exists, you have… there’s an internal mindset thing. It has to be reversed and looked at and dissected and diagnosed because selling something before it exists is so foreign to people.
People either feel like you’re stealing or it’s unethical or you have to have a product or they’re just too insecure, they feel like they need something to rest on before they can go sell. There’s a lot of emotional stuff that goes on with pre-selling.
James: Well you know, interestingly to get back to my car background, most of the cars I’ve sold were imaginary. We were spec’ing out builds that would go to the factory and then be built and delivered three to six months later. So there was a lot of intangible selling.
And now in the current business, if I put on a workshop, I’m pre-selling something that doesn’t exist yet. I basically collect all the money and then several months later, we hold an event. So people may be are already doing it, they just haven’t realized it.
Dane: Well, there are other areas where it seems like almost impossible to do. Like if you want to build an iPhone app, you’re like, no I have to build it and let people use it to see if it’s successful. No you don’t.
You can use products like Keynotopia.com created by Amir Khella who is just an awesome guy and you know, he’s the same… the flagship poster boy of The Foundation who’s a brilliant guy. He bought Keynotopia and he created a Powerpoint or a keynote Powerpoint presentation of his application, how it would look. And if you clicked around it would jump to different slides so it looked like a working app and it only took him like a day to put together and he would go to property management companies and say, like hey check out this property inspection app.
Would you use this? And they would go in and they would click around and like holy s***! I can inspect properties on my phone? And he was like, yeah. How much is this?
Then he pre-sold it, got their money and then he went and found a developer to build it.
So there are the obvious ways where you do test a workshop and you record it and put it into a product. But then there’s like the other really counterintuitive like, my mind now these days James is like, “What can’t you pre-sell?” My mind is like, “How can we figure out how to pre-sell everything?
James: Yeah, I’m with you. So, it’s kind of like that Hyperloop of Elon Musk it’s got a little bit of pre-selling happening? With the open source transportation system?
Dane: I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. But it sounds awesome.
James: Ah! It beats airplanes and fast trains and stuff. It’s a little tube that you can hop in and you can hop out in another city on the other side of the country in mere minutes.
Dane: That guy is way too smart for his own good.
James: Sounds like he’s got some company motivation, I used to do that. So, tell me, what’s one of your strongest beliefs now with rewired brain with this new outlook on life. What’s something you passionately believe in? If we got you drunk or something and you’re starting to tear up with emotion, what’s something you just really believe in?
Dane: That business is pointless if you don’t love yourself and if you’re going after this, for what you think is freedom, it’s not actually what you’re after. You’re actually after unconditionally loving yourself and you’re waiting for a business to fill that or if you already do love yourself and you want to do business and you want the freedom, you still don’t want the freedom. What you want is to live in the creative spark all day long. That’s the most enjoyable place to live.
You want to go and retire in a beach, you might think that but after a month, you’re going to get bored. The most enjoyable space that people live in until their old age and never give up is the creative spark which is why you see Leonardo da Vinci and these guys worked into their 80s and 90s and they’re geniuses all day because they realize that’s the most enjoyable space to live from, is that creative spark.
So, like when you’re in the creative spark, it’s like, everything flows. You have something like 80,000 recurring thoughts a day. And when you are bogged down by fear or lack of money or lack of freedom or any, your 80,000 thoughts are consumed by all these fears well once you free up your fear. Then your 80,000 thoughts can create a spark.
The creative spark is coming up with your own business ideas. That can mean talking to your customers and create ways to create ideas with them. My deeper calling in life is to help people recognize how brilliant they are.
When I’m on my deathbed, I’m not going to care if I drank every ounce of life to the last drop. I’m not going to care if I… well, I would care, it’s actually a matter of priorities. It’s important for me to live life but I’m not going to consider my life a waste if I didn’t live it to the last drop. I’m not going to consider my life a waste if I didn’t make the most money.
Personality Types As Guide to Success
I’m going to consider my life a waste if I didn’t do everything in my power to empower as many people in the world and realize how brilliant they are and that’s like the goal. That’s the goal The Foundation at a deeper level is saying, “Yes, you can. You can have anything you want regardless of the circumstance. You are brilliant.”
And that’s just, we just happen to wrap it around in a nice software business. But the deeper game for me is, I don’t know if you know how Martin Luther King was inspired but he was inspired by Gandhi. And if you look at Martin Luther King, Gandhi on YouTube, you’ll see a video back in the 60s where Martin Luther King was like being interviewed and the guy’s like, “So, Martin, why are you doing this? Who inspired you?”
And he was like, well, Gandhi did and I read everything I could on Gandhi. I was so moved by him that I want to do, after I understood everything about Gandhi, I wanted to take everything from Gandhi and do something like that in the United States of America.
James: Yeah I’m reading about him in “Start with Why.”
Dane: Oh cool.
James: I saw him in Sinek.
James: Now where did you get your inspiration from? It sounds like you’ve been researching and studying and learning something and I’ve got to say having to listen to you on some other podcasts as part of my exposure to you a year or two ago, your message is a little bit different to the typical sort of consumer message and the “make money” sort of message. Although I do notice your Facebook ads have something about your job sucks so I’m going to ask you to come back.
Would you come back on another episode and talk about sales and marketing? Because my audience love that stuff.
Dane: Oh yeah. Day job suck is our highest converting ad. We pay an analytics guy a pretty decent chunk of change for in depth analytics on our business and I’ll be happy to share all of them.
James: Yeah, so we’ll get you back on another show and we’ll talk about marketing but going back to that question; what about your inspiration? Where did this come from, Martin Luther King?
Dane: I don’t know. I just remember it like hitting me that I just want children to know how brilliant they are and I don’t think they have anyone who’s making a stand for them. And now I feel like the tears coming and if all the children in the world could realize how brilliant they are, their potential is and someone who could be a stand for how just brilliant they are, that’s like a life well-lived to me.
If I could just travel the world like touch every child and be like, “You are brilliant.” And I have this whole process that I want to take these kids through where you know, I’m walking down the street and I see these three kids walking across the side of the street and that guy could be the next Edison, that guy could be the next Einstein, that guy could be the next Martin Luther King and I have this process where I want to take them through a personality test and then when they come out of the test like in 7th grade or whatever, it’ll be like, “You know James in 7th grade, you were an achiever.”
Do you know how amazing the achiever personality type is? Do you know that you’re just like Michael Jordan and Madonna and all these great people. You could be Michael Jordan, Madonna, they are the same person you are, they are the same personality type. You have your own unique gifts but the potential you have is the same.
You’re not the same person but here are Michael Jordan’s personality traits, his skills, his habits, his flaws in a very nice condensed report that you can look and say, “Oh my gosh! I actually do have a lot of similarities to Michael Jordan and the ones I don’t I can learn.” And not only that you do have potential to be Michael Jordan but you could actually be better because you can learn from the mistakes that he made.
Or the next kid comes back and says, hey you’re an investigator, do you know how brilliant you are? You have the potential to be Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was an investigator and here are Albert Einstein’s personality, traits, skills, habits and flaws in a really well-written story format that even an adult would enjoy.
And it just makes so much sense to me to give this up to kids and I remember reading the book “Titan” which is the 800-page biography of John D. Rockefeller and it was a bear to read but it changed my life so much that I condensed that 800-page biography into a 30-page summary of John D. Rockefeller personality traits, skills, habits and flaws and I published it all in the Internet and I still have people writing to me once in a while about how much it has changed their life, because you know I came up with 16 or 17 personality traits of John Rockefeller and you know, he used to do the craziest things.
When he was 12 years old, he would volunteer at church and when people walked out of the pews, he would immediately turn out the candle, whereas other volunteers would wait until everyone was out of the church to turn off all the candles. Well, John would save 300% more candles that the average person.
Well, now take that same shrewdness of how he handles candles and that was no wonder he was so wonderful in business because he was so conservative with spending money and wasting resources. He was always so efficient. And, like, when you read things like that, you’re like Oh my gosh! I could totally pick up that trait. Especially if you had the same personality makeup as Rockefeller.
So the thing that jazzes me is aligning the world with their personality type and aligning that with magnificent people who’ve done remarkable things in the same personality types that show them the potential that they could be.
James: Yeah, and now do you have kids yet?
James: I see, I’ve got four kids and I’m on the same page and I was just watching a video from Vishen Lakhiani and he’s talking about his kids in his latest product and I totally agree. My kids have completely different belief systems to what’s provided at school and what general societies out there.
Just cruising around the United States for the last week or so, I’ve noticed some really interesting things, like they have gambling, instant lottery machines in the supermarket and they have alcohol in the supermarket and they have very bad food choices and bulk packaging and stuff. It’s a wonder how someone actually makes good choices when there’s so much bad material out there pretty much everywhere you turn, so I think there needs to be more discussion on this.
You know, my kids when they’re young, they’ve done remarkable things and I’m very proud of what they’ve been able to do. Even my daughter actually will buy a horse and then renovate that horse, do it up and then market it on Facebook to a horse group and take the sales, she reps the sales page, she takes the call, she screens the applicant, does a demo in the local arena and then does the transfer of sale and she makes a profit.
And all of this at age 15. You think she’s going to be fine later on in business. She’s already published a book. More kids need to have exposure to entrepreneurial thinking.
Dane: That example is better than anyone I’ve given in this call. That is so awesome.
The Fearless Kid
James: Well I could tell you hundreds. You know this kid built a website at one of my events when she was 12 or 13 out in front of the audience and the concept was to teach adults that there should be no fear of trying. A lot of the more aged or mature people in my community have come up under a different environment where everything had to be right for a product to be successful because once it goes to market there would be no recall.
But think about software, you can make changes on the fly and there’s so many examples I could give you of I learned that lesson. But one in particular, when I used to be in Mercedes-Benz, we used to be able to drive a company vehicle and whenever I had sales people join the company, it was interesting to watch them leave the dealership at the end of the day because everyday, you drive a different car.
Some of them would get in the car, they would take their jacket off, they would adjust the seat, they would adjust the mirror, get the right radio station, set the air conditioning, familiarize themselves with all the controls and proceed to the exit. Sometimes, this ceremony would take like 40 minutes. It was remarkable. I would get into a new car, make sure that I could see the mirror, then I would start the journey. And then on the fly, while I’m on the next traffic light, I’d adjust the radio, on the next traffic light, adjust the air-con.
I’d be home before these people even left the lot because you can iterate on the fly. The main thing is to pick your destination and start moving and then make adjustments. It’s interesting, probably a lot of these thing apply to software.
Dane: Well, a lot of these things apply to life, the best ideas. Like when you live in a creative spark, that’s when your best ideas come to you. So if you’re waiting to get started on something and you’re not in that creative spark, then it’s unlikely you’ll end up stumbling on to that.
It’s been rare for me and it’s been rare for people I know to just come up with an idea out of just sitting down on their sofa. Usually the ideas come when they’re living in an awesome creative spark.
I know Roger Hamilton from Wealth Dynamics, that personality profile, do you know that thing? He created that when he was in a creative spark and flow on a completely different idea, that idea hit him. My own successful product is pipeline.com and it’s currently hovering around $65,000 a month and I’ve walked away from that business.
I’ve a got a CEO who runs it. It hovers at a 25% profit margin so I’m taking around 12-15k a month hands-free, I don’t touch it. And that’s the business that I use for The Foundation framework and now The Foundation network is way better than anything I could ever imagine because our students are iterating on it and I got the idea for that by being in flow and in a creative spark with something else and that’s when idea came to me from a customer in a creative spark with him in another product.
He’s like, “Wow hey, can you actually make this for me over here?” I was like, “I don’t know how to make that.” “Well, I’ll tell you exactly how to build it.” I was like, “Would you buy it?” And he was like, “Yeah.”
“What would you pay?” “I’ll pay 300 bucks a month.” And I said “Would your friends buy it?” And he was like, “Yeah, all my friends are waiting for the product the second it’s released.” And I was like,”Ok, I’ll build it.”
So I went and built it for 8 grand in 8 weeks and it launched at 65 grand a month and got an offer for 2.2 million to sell that I declined and it all came in a creative spark and that’s like the greatest part. All I’m saying James is I have to be in the creative spark more myself.
From Guitar Hero To Real-life Gigs
James: Well you know, I’ll give you an example of a creative spark and this is for the listeners, not for my own indulgence. Are you familiar with the legendary copywriter John Carlton?
Dane: Not only am I familiar with him, I’ve copied by hand many, many, many of his ads.
James: Right. Well, he’s a friend of mine and he was around at my house and he knows my kid’s playing Guitar Hero on the Playstation. And he’s like, “Shrak, get that kid a real guitar.” And so I said to my son, “We’re going to get you a guitar.” And Carlton prescribed that he said you need this guitar, you need this amp and you need to get him lessons.
He keeps sending me, I’m very lucky but he keeps sending me prescriptions and all the rules like “Don’t… no tattoos, no chicks in the band, he needs to now progress to acoustic, he needs blah blah blah.” So I’m very lucky to have this. So my son got the real guitar, went to the lessons, not long after, the teacher phoned us up and he said “I’m sorry but I can’t teach your son anymore.”
And I’m like, “Why? What’s he done wrong?” He’s like, “He’s past my level” And so basically Carlton spotted the spark with the Guitar Hero, replaced it with a real guitar and a steep learning curve but the right instructions and now my kid’s the lead guitarist in a rock band. He plays gigs and he’s just loving it.
And instead of making him work at McDonald’s or Subway or whatever, I’m like, “Play as many gigs as you can possibly play.” He’s got three guitars, he plays everyday until he can’t play anymore and he’s very good. So I’ve seen that spark go from a game to something serious. And I think again, this is for other kids and I’m very pleased with his progression.
But I think as a business metaphor, if there’s a listener on this call who is sort of playing and knows it, like the Guitar Hero version, and wants to step it up and go pro, you may need a little bit of equipment. You may need some intuition. You may need to grind it up a bit but the spoils are out there to get.
Dane: Yeah and I really think The Foundation is the best place for new entrepreneurs to come. I feel like it’s also a wonderful place for seasoned business owners who want to get into software.
James: Yeah and I think it’s good to have somewhere to send people who want to do startups.
Start With The Mind
James: Because I’ll go for the easy stuff. So Dane, you’ve been super generous with this information especially we’ve really covered… it’s kind of like the Five Steps for Startups Framework you’ve given and a healthy dose of philosophy around mindset. Practical information actually I’ll call it around mindset because that.. everything starts with mind before you step on the business. Would you agree?
Dane: Well you can do business like… I just want to say yes to you but just to illustrate, like, you know when you go into karate, the first thing people usually want to learn is to break the board with their hand and if they walk in and try to break the board with their hand right away, they would actually end up breaking their hand because it’s not about cracking the board with your hand, it’s about the mindset approach of it.So you can go and start the business with the mind but you’ll end up breaking your life.
James: Oh that’s a good one. So, we’re going to end it there. I’ll put a link to The Foundation. People can check that out if you’re interested in doing a startup or having a brain reboot or you’ve gone down the path and not met with success. It sounds like the odds are in your favour.
Infopack for SuperFastBusiness Listeners
Dane: And James, I’d like to offer them. You know a phase, the hardest phase is pre-selling. So special for your audience, I want to put together a free infopack that they could look at so they can see an example of how to create a product, how to sell a product before it exists like a special link just for your listeners.
James: Very cool. Thank you. It’s really interesting to have a chat, having been aware of you on the sidelines having dealt with many people in common and having met you from about five minutes earlier this year. It’s nice to get on and have a little chat.
Dane: I agree, man. Thanks for doing what you’re doing. I’m a big fan of SuperFastBusiness.
James: Oh, awesome!
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