SEP Episode #54: Using Transparency to Maximize Trust with Jake Jorgovan

Using Transparency to Maximize Trust with Jake Jorgovan

 

Today on the show we have Jake Jorgovan. Jake is a friend of mine who I met many years ago collaborating around content marketing, and he has continued to grow and thrive with content marketing. 

Particularly, he is known for having really great transparency in his content, sharing what he’s doing in his business, the exact templates and processes for how he’s doing it, and even how he’s feeling in both the highs and lows of his business. He’s going to talk about that today, and how that’s built a trust and a bond with his audience that’s very strong.

We’re also going to learn from him on how he creates his pillar content, which drives a lot of leads and recognition, and attention to his different businesses. And finally, we’re going to learn about how he manages himself and how he manages his team. 

He not only sees himself as a manager trying to make people get things done, but he sees himself as a leader and a coach. Taking time out of his week to personally improve each of his team members. So without any further ado, let’s hand it over to Jake.

 

What You Will Learn On This Episode


  • The Art of Team Building
  • Coaching Up to Get Your Ideal Employee
  • Content Creation that Converts
  • The Importance of Transparency
  • Creating the Number One Resource on the Internet for Your Niche

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


Lead Cookie

Content Allies

jake-jorgovan.com

 

Transcription


Kyle Gray:

Hello and welcome to The Story Engine Podcast. My name is Kyle Gray and today on the show we have Jake Jorgovan. Jake is a friend of mine who I met many years ago collaborating around content marketing, and he has continued to grow and thrive with content marketing. Particularly, he is known for having really great transparency in his content, sharing what he’s doing in his business, the exact templates and processes for how he’s doing it, and even how he’s feeling in both the highs and lows of his business. He’s going to talk about that today, and how that’s built a trust and a bond with his audience that’s very strong.

 

Kyle Gray:

We’re also going to learn from him on how he creates his pillar content, which drives a lot of leads and recognition, and attention to his different businesses. And finally, we’re going to learn about how he manages himself and how he manages his team. He not only sees himself as a manager trying to make people get things done, but he sees himself as a leader and a coach. Taking time out of his week to personally improve each of his team members. So without any further ado, let’s hand it over to Jake.

 

Kyle Gray:

Jake Jorgovan, welcome to the Story Engine Podcast. It’s so good to have you on the show.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Thanks for having me on here, Kyle.

 

Kyle Gray:

So as we first got on this call, we were reminiscing. We had connected maybe four years ago, working at WP Curve together. And it’s been a big journey since then. You’ve done a lot of different work in content marketing and building teams, and building brands. And I’m excited to explore that all. And I want to introduce you properly with a story, and ask you what is a defining moment in your life that has brought you to who you are today and serving the people that you serve today?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

I think probably one of the most defining moments was the start of what became, I guess my nomadic journey. And I’ve been doing the digital nomad thing for almost I think five years now. And prior to that, I ran my first business, which was this video agency and we had this big office, and I cared a lot about what everybody thought of me. I could have taken home way more money if we hadn’t spent it on making our office look really cool and hip.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

And then I left that business and I went and I tried this healthcare startup, which was this horrible thing. But I had some investor who was , “Video technology, I’m going to give you money for this startup.” And it was this first horrible cataclysmic entrepreneurial fail of my career, and it was at no fault of the business model. It was , “What am I doing? Why am I in a healthcare startup?” And so I basically left that. And at that point I had a four hour work week, and literally bought a ticket to Mexico for my then girlfriend, and now wife and myself.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

And started this journey of traveling and working remotely, and figuring out how to make a living abroad, and everything. And that was this huge, really turning point of everything and that’s when literally my personal brand and my blog started. I had done a little bit before then but that’s really when I got serious about it was when I was , “Well, I’m not around anybody. So I’m going to write a lot.” And that’s the moment when everything in life changed and also when actually the personal brand started as well.

 

Kyle Gray:

I think that’s really cool. A powerful moment. A brave decision no doubt, but you had some good foundational skills that you could rely on. And you had the ability to learn new skills along the way and you’ve done an amazing job at it. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’re up to and what you’re doing today, and kind of connect the loop between that defining moment, that bold move that you made those years ago? And what’s become of you since then?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. So basically the journey between is basically the next four years. I don’t know probably three years of kind of chaotic and freelancing, and consulting, and trying a variety of things, and really figuring stuff out. And then it was about two years ago. Actually is it? Two years and one day ago I literally started what became Lead Cookie, which is the primary business that I’m running now, or the main business. Which is done for you LinkedIn lead generation service.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

And so there’s a lot of consulting and personal branding, and various things that I attempted for years. And then Lead Cookie was the first, I guess real entrepreneurial success I’ve had that’s taken off, where we’re doing done for you LinkedIn outreach. And then basically it was about six months ago, started up Content Allies, which is a content marketing agency where we’re focusing on basically helping turn consultants into thought leaders. Basically people who are experts in their field, but don’t have time to write. So that’s what I’m doing today and the abridged journey of how I got there.

 

Kyle Gray:

What do you think some of the key skills are that have led you to where you are today?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. I think one of the biggest things I think that comes to mind that I don’t know if it’s as much of a skill as it is a realization that I have, but it’s this idea that your business is a reflection of yourself. And it was not too long before Lead Cookie, It was probably about a year before Lead Cookie, I tanked really hard. And I was living in Colorado, marijuana was legal. I was smoking and I was not in good habits.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

It was a bad point of life, and I see a lot of people don’t realize that are struggling and fumbling around is they don’t realize that your personal habits, your routines, your health, the vices that you give into or don’t give into. All of those impact your ability to produce in business.My life wasn’t so much chaos that I couldn’t get myself to focus or do the things that I needed to do. And when you get all of those out of the way and you get your own life in order, and your own family in order, it’s way easier to show up and do the work when life is nice and orderly and not chaotic and not total randomness.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s powerful. And Yeah, a big transition that is a lot of different subtle changes. Along this journey too, I’m sure you’ve made a lot of really big or scary investments. And one of my favorite questions of late is what’s a big investment that you’ve made on this journey that maybe at first was scary or you weren’t sure about it and then it’s really paid off?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, yeah, I think the biggest one is definitely investing in coaching with Alex McClafferty who is one of the co-founders WP Curve, which is who you were working for at the time and he sold his business to GoDaddy and made an awesome company. And so investing in coaching with him was super scary because it’s , “Oh man, I am not even making great consistent income already and I’m going to now pay for advice. ” And I guess a scary moment, but it’s the ROI on that, I am a completely transformed and different entrepreneur as a result of it and have built a great business. I’m building a second business and the skills that have come out of it it’s even if I never worked with Alex again it would have been one of the best investments I’ve ever made. And I think that that’s really true regardless of where you invest, but taking that step to invest in yourself in some capacity is super valuable and important.

 

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. Tell me a little bit about the qualities of a business now as a result of this coaching, or as a result of this work you’ve done. When you are looking at a business now and the health of a business, and the health of your team, and everything going on, what’s important to you now and what are you really looking for in something you create?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Actually I wrote a whole article this week on thinking through business models, because of Lead Cookie, it’s been a great business. I’ve built it up, but ultimately I built this company where we’ve got about 60 customers on retainer. We’ve got a team of 26, but I built it on a short-term marketing tactic. LinkedIn outreach, it’s going to get disrupted, it’s built on someone else’s platform and it’s only a matter of time before things change. So when I started it was “How can I make money? I want a business.” And I literally wrote down a weakness , “LinkedIn could change some day.” And “Oh, that’s all right. I’ll figure that out down the line.” And then I’d get into it and “Oh wow, that’s actually really hard to figure out once you’ve built this whole thing.”

 

Jake Jorgovan:

And I built a weak business model from the start. So the second time around with Content Allies a lot of what I’m thinking through of the qualities of a business. I want to build a business that is stable, it is not prone to external disruption, it is valuable and has a strong offer and value proposition. So it’s not a commodity that I’m selling that’s hard to get in the door, but the big thing is I want to build something that gives me freedom of time and gives me stability so that I know once it’s built I never have to worry about money again. What I’m aiming for with Content Allies is to build that stable engine that is a great business. Where even if I don’t scale it up to huge to make it rich, it’s to know that I’ve built something that gives me freedom and that is super important. So I guess freedom of time and stability with that as well.

 

Kyle Gray:

Absolutely. One of the things that you mentioned before we got on the call that you credit some of your success is being incredibly transparent in your writing and in your personal brand, and that driving a lot of the growth and interest for the businesses that you’re working for. Can you give me some examples of what this kind of transparency looks like, and some principles that guide you around sharing the details of what’s going on behind the scenes of your business?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, so basically I’m an advocate of being a completely open book. Even internally with my team, we share numbers, we share revenue, we share profit, we share everything and I’ve always been totally open with it with my team. And so it wasn’t that unnatural for me to start sharing that out with my audience. So I started publishing playbooks. You can find the exact sales scripts that I use on my website. You can find the exact scripts we use for our LinkedIn outreach and everything. I’ve literally published the dashboard that we track and how we measure. I’ve tracked our sales flow charts and how we run everything, and so I started giving away all of the playbooks and inner workings of my business.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

And so that was this first level of transparency and then I think there’s this more subtle one of that was I think, I guess a bit more tactical and easy to see. But then whenever I was actually starting up Content Allies I went through probably about three different iterations of this before I landed on simple content marketing agency with a specific persona. But I kept trying these different things and at one point I had had it going and I was basically doing a virtual assistant service for content marketers to support them with everything surrounding their uploading, and the content management process and all of those little tasks. Which sounds kind of good and theory, but it was this horrible business to run. I’d even signed these customers and I think we had 11 customers on board but it was going horribly, and no one was happy. And half the people we couldn’t even get through the on-boarding and it was , “This is a nightmare business that I’ve got myself into.”

 

Jake Jorgovan:

So I literally shut it all down. I refunded it and I wrote up this article it was , “I’m shutting it down.” Or something like that  the first word was failure effen sucks. And then it was this super raw post about the emotional feeling of it, why I was shutting it down, what I learned. And I got 60 responses from my email list. It was this crazy pouring in of responses, and feedback, and positive encouragement, and people that could relate. And it was this crazy level of engagement that I had never seen from my email list before. And that was where I noticed this shift where these people that were then buying Lead Cookie or even when I eventually relaunched something new. These people were so engaged and had become loyal fans that they were buying if they could, and if they weren’t buying they were referring me to other people.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

So it was this crazy putting yourself rawness out there I think creates this emotional connection and loyalty that people got behind. And it wasn’t maniacal, it happened. I put it out there and that was what happened as a result.

 

Kyle Gray:

It seems this is a result of a long series of practice. Did this start from a certain habit, at WP Curve they did a monthly transparency post? Or have you always been sharing what’s ever, or sharing your revenue and been an open person?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, I’ve been publishing articles or writing for a long time now and I think, I don’t know, the transparency is stuff that I always noticed seemed to resonate with people. And I saw that other people did it and I always did it. It definitely made me interested in their content whenever you’re able to not see some of the numbers, but you’re really able to see into the weight of things or … Once you get into entrepreneurship and you actually have some success, you start to be able to see the people that are posturing and putting out fru-fru stuff that makes them look really legit. And then you start to see the people that are real and they’re , “Hey, this is hard.” And I resonated so much more with the people that weren’t showing off all the time and actually put out the real stuff. So I think I always tried to emulate that as I connected with those people a lot.

 

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. Are there any risks to this kind of transparency? I think off the cuff somebody might think putting your sales scripts out there that you’re currently using in your company that it might actually be harmful to you in some ways. Have you found risks or do the rewards outweigh them for you?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, I mean I have no doubt that people are, heck, I know competitors of mine even personally who are trying to use and take our scripts, or even take my sales scripts and use and stuff. And so I know that I have spawned a bunch of competitors. It’s been a bunch of up and coming competitors that are hiring me for these to get advice. So it definitely can spawn that, but to me the rewards are worth it. I think that most cases the implementation is always way harder than the knowledge. And so even if you can give someone a bunch of the tactical stuff, the scripts, or frameworks , it takes a really experienced person to actually build a real business. I have no doubt that there are some people out there who have taken what we’ve done and they’ve built some small businesses, but to get something of actual substance that takes a lot of subtle things that you can’t learn from an article or a blog post. So in my mind, I do think the rewards outweigh the risks there.

 

Kyle Gray:

Very cool. As far as great content goes, something that you’re trying to create in your agency, and something that you’re trying to create for yourself. What are some of the qualities of really good content that you want to create and share on your own personal brand, and create for other people?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, so there’s two ways that I look at this and I’m literally putting together this guide for consultants now on the approach, but I think that the cornerstone content or pillar content, whatever you want to call it. I’m a big believer that if you have your area of expertise, figuring out how you can create the number one resource on the internet for whatever it is your niche topic of choice is. That is definitely what I believe is really important. So for Lead Cookie we did a how to guide to LinkedIn lead generation. Huge, huge marketing piece for us. generated so many leads. It has been the biggest asset. We have tons of times where people tell us, “Yeah, I talked to competitors but you guys give your scripts away, and I read your whole approach and am amazed at it. So I’m going to hire you guys.” And so that cornerstone content or the one humongous ultimate guide to that resource-

 

Kyle Gray:

Did you write that article and then launch the business? Or did you come up with that process, or I did the article validate the process in a way?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

I think the article came out about three to four months after we launched the business. So I had done it for myself.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

We had done it for several customers at that point and we had some really great results. So it was refined enough by that point that I was able to actually put together something really powerful there.

 

Kyle Gray:

And these aren’t short 1,500 word articles. This is probably a 7,000 or so word article or something in that range, right?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, super in depth. And then what we did is we put a content upgrade. If you want the scripts you had to opt in and so that again helps drive a bunch of more engagement and everything as well. But that for Lead Cookie was huge and one of the biggest things that I think if you have if you’re in a space where you can create something like that and again, I think the biggest mentality is you can’t throw up a halfway done article. It has to be the best thing out there. Better than what anyone else has put and that’s what I aim for, and it’s done a phenomenal for us.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s really cool. And with an article this, are you deciding based on a business model, based on a keyword? Are you incorporating all of these different elements into what goes into this a pillar article?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. I had the idea of using search as kind of a guide, but ultimately it’s you don’t try to fit it into a search term or something. And so we have optimized it around LinkedIn. Lead generation as some key terms around there, but it’s not what I wrote it for. It was this is what it’s about. This is what we do and this is what we’re going to teach people. And it ranks on Google and stuff. It’s not always the top, but the quality of it. Where it has gotten way more traction is , “Hey, someone …” I’ll wake up to 20 leads in the morning because I want to put it in a Facebook group or dropped it on Reddit. And so the search is useful, but I focus more on making sure that it is great for whatever the topic is, and that’s actually going to benefit someone who reads it.

 

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. And so a better strategy for somebody starting out who’s an expert in what they do might be to create a single definitive piece of content on what it is you do, and how you do it down to the details. And maybe a couple of months or however long it takes to develop it rather than making 12 different articles that don’t quite dig as deep or really serve you as well.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah and I think, and again, it works well if you’ve got that area of expertise. Another one that I did as a consulting project before Lead Cookie, which is kind of become the foundation of the agency is we had a consultant who did IT software negotiations. And so we wrote up this ultimate guide on how to negotiate with Salesforce. And again, this ranked really well. It was super valuable to his target prospects and he ended up generating over half a million dollars of business from it. And then it became the sales asset that helped him close everything else as well. So it was one article. That was all it is. One article literally generated over half a million for his business. So yeah, I definitely say that that’s more or less the case and if it’s not clear to you what that is yet or maybe you’re still figuring out your niche. I think that’s where writing shorter form articles helps you flush out your message, and figure out what it is you want to say. Because it’s better to put something out than nothing. But I think if you’ve got that deep domain expertise, and you can really own a topic then you’re better off building that one huge piece as opposed to a bunch of smaller ones.

 

Kyle Gray:

But for most and for you and your team, creating these hugely definitive articles is no longer a one person job. Tell me a little bit about the team that you’ve put together and how you manage several different minds all crafting one huge article.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. So to be honest, I guess the LinkedIn stuff, that still has come mainly from me. I definitely pull on my team to copy edit it, and I’ve pulled in designers to help build put the guide together and stuff. But at this point the LinkedIn guide has pretty much come from me. When I did the Salesforce guide I interviewed the expert individual and basically built that guide from his interviews. And that’s kind of what we’re doing now as well with Content Allies. So I think if you’re not the capable writer yourself then you can have someone interview you and get it done, but I think ultimately having it come from whoever is the most expert and they share the ideas. I think that that’s the most powerful thing to get their raw ideas. I think too many minds and it can definitely create some chaos, but you may need to pull on some strengths. Whether that’s writers, or designers, or marketers to actually get that all executed and actual live on the website, and everything that.

 

Kyle Gray:

And with Lead Cookie where you’re trying to recreate the same experience, or advantage that you’ve created for yourself with your clients. How do you keep a team all working together? So the writer is interviewing the expert, and then maybe you have graphic design or other elements informing after the fact?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, yeah. So basically the Content Allies the way we work or we structure it is we have a lead strategist for each customer. And that strategist owns the interview process with the customer, and owns kind of all the topic, brainstorming and organization. And then underneath them basically we will put in contract writers, and designers to support everything around there. So one person that kind of owns the strategy, and then I think a lot of those other pieces can be contract and you can even pull in contract writers to support. But that’s at least how we’ve structured it on the Content Allies front.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s cool. So it’s all about having the strategy the secret sauce in house?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. It’s someone that can own that process and be the point of contact to pull that expertise out of someone’s head, and that’s the most important part for us.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s really challenging to find somebody with a blend of interpersonal, creative and writing skills.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yes one of the things that I guess in terms of team building them that I’m huge believer of is you got to find with the right attitude, and the right personality for these types of roles. But you’re never going to hire someone that you’re going to put in and they’re going to be perfect. So I’m a huge believer of investing in your team. So my lead strategists, this is also on the Lead Cookie side for outbound, but I don’t believe you’re going to hire someone and they’re going to be great. So I hire them and I coach the heck out of my team, and have one on ones with them every week. Level them up and it’s not , “One-on-one accountability checking in to make you do your stuff.” It’s , “Let me give you mental models to think through. Let me teach you frameworks. So this is what I’ve learned from my experiences.” So whenever I bring on team members it is not , “Do this work.” It is , “I am going to be coaching you to becoming a far better professional than you are today.” And that is enticing to most of the time the people that come work with me, and it does level them up and creates these super valuable team members as well.

 

Kyle Gray:

That is really interesting and really different. It’s an approach I don’t hear very often but I can see the value in that. Especially in a small business, in a small elite team where you really want to get the most from everybody. Do you have a way that you can consistently come up with ideas for how to train, for how to enhance if you’re doing these one-on-ones? Or maybe there’s particular themes that you’ve been working on, are you spending time planning your coaching in advance?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, so we basically do an agenda every week with my team. So we always open it up with the question , how are you? And chatting and stuff and learning. We’ll typically have some discussion points and some of those may be points that I realized over the week of working with them on coaching. So, for example, one of the lessons I was teaching, Jess, who’s one of my lead strategists at Content Allies was , “Hey, you’ve got to walk the line of doing what the customer wants and challenging them when what we believe is best for them is not what they actually ask for.” And so challenging her how to walk that line is , you know, it’s a very fuzzy thing and so teaching or that is an ongoing thing. And so there’s things that you recognize that the challenges that people come up with and that’s a big part of it.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

But one tactical thing I do every week is I use this question called The One Thing Question from a book called The One Thing by Gary Keller. And it’s what is the one thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? So for any of my team members who are in a building mode where they’re actually creating processes, or creating something new, or moving are responsible for objectives are not in an operator mode. I’ll ask them this question and it’s often I try to let them figure out what the answer is of , “Hey, here’s the quarterly target you have. Here’s where we are today. What is the one thing that’s going to move you closer to that?” And they’ll kind of bring up maybe that’s, “I need to build this asset.” Or, “I need to get this in place.” Or, “I need to train so and so.”

 

Jake Jorgovan:

But using that question each week and then checking in on it the next week to make sure they actually did it. That’s been a really good piece to get people out of their head and scattered, and really focused on tackling one big thing at a time.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s powerful. Really, really good information and very simple and easy to implement into anybody’s business. Jake, it’s been such a pleasure exploring so many different areas of content, of team building, business building and transparency. Do you have any last thoughts to close us out with, and where can we go to learn more about you?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, I think the biggest thing I’ll say is the ultimate thing that I came back to and one of the things is your business is a reflection of yourself. So the more you can invest in yourself, your own education, you know it’s there’s someone that brought the metaphor of investing in yourself is literally it’s compound interest in a bank account. You put in money and it’s gone first, but then over time it grows and investing in yourself, and then getting your own mental space good. Your own personal routines and habits, your family life good. All of that is absolutely key to any level of growth. So that’d be one of my biggest key takeaways.

 

Kyle Gray:

Thank you so much, Jake. And where can we go to learn more about you?

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. The personal website is jake-jorgovan.com. That’s where I do all my blogging and podcasting. And then my businesses are leadcookie.com for the done for you LinkedIn outreach. And last one is Content Allies where we turn consultants into thought leaders through content marketing.

 

Kyle Gray:

Awesome. Jake, it’s been such a pleasure having you on The Story Engine podcast. Thanks again for joining us.

 

Jake Jorgovan:

Thanks for having me on here, Kyle.

 

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling With Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at sellingwithstory.co. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

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