SEP Episode 25: James Schramko 5 Pillars of Working Less And Making More

Hello, and welcome to The Story Engine Podcast. Today on the show I’m so excited to announce James Schramko is coming on. James has been a mentor and a friend and just a big influence in my life for coming on four years now. When I first started working with a start-up called WP Curve and creating their content, I can remember working super hard to make the very first post that I wrote for them just incredible.


The first person to leave a comment on that first post, which was really the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey in a lot of ways, was James Schramko, and that was a big deal because I knew he had created this amazing seven-figure business. He’s been coaching some of the absolute leaders in the digital marketing world and who are really shaking it up online right now, and our relationship has grown and evolved a lot since then.


He has also introduced me to some of my best clients, my biggest opportunities. He’s connected me with amazing people, and I’ve had the honor to be on his show a few times, which has always been a game-changer for me. It’s always led to big breakthroughs, good connections, and it’s always a pleasure. Not only that, but I recently invited James to write the foreword for my upcoming book, “Selling the Story,” and we just got that completed, and I’m so excited. You can expect “Selling the Story” to be released sometime in February or March of 2019. So if you’re listening to this, this is the first time I’ve announced it anywhere. Be sure to hold me accountable to that, okay?

 

Podcast

Key Takeaways

[3:54] Invaluable early lessons that set James on his journey

[7:22] First rule of great leadership

[12:11] How to transition your current skills into a new business

[15:12] James’ pathway to successful leadership

[18:14] Making the shift from “me” to “team”

[23:08] Mental frameworks to help you change and move forward

[31:54] Spotting and stopping dangerous business bottlenecks

[38:35] How to build an effective business plan

[42:32] Other ways you can easily bring in more money for your business

 

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Superfastbusiness.com

Super Fast Business Podcast

James Schramko Social Media

LinkedIn

Facebook

James Schramko Book: Work Less, Make More

Ezra Firestone

Ryan Levesque

SPIN Selling

The Psychology of Selling

How to Master the Art of Selling

Eliyahu Goldratt

Wim Hoff

The Oxygen Advantage

 

Transcript

Kyle Gray:

So it’s been a really big honor and pleasure working with James in many different ways over the years, and I’m so excited to share some of his story, some of his insights, some of his brilliance, with you on this podcast. So, without further ado, let’s turn it over to James. On the show today, James Schramko, thanks for joining us.

James Schramko:

Thank you for having me, Kyle.

Kyle Gray:

Now, James, I want to start off this conversation with one of my favorite questions to ask people. It always sheds really great insights and gets a chance for us to hear some good stories, I know. I’m trying to guess which one of these I’ve heard from you that you’re going to tell. But tell us about a story of a defining moment in your life that has really made you who you are today, that has helped you build the business and make the impact and have the mindset that you do.

James Schramko:

So I was about 17, and I had started a course for accounting called an associate diploma of accounting. Shortly after joining, I got glandular fever, and I was bedridden for weeks. I went yellow. I had jaundice and couldn’t eat, and I had to basically stop this course. So, not knowing what to do next, I started getting some part-time jobs. One of the jobs that I got was with my grandfather who worked in his backyard in a little office that he’d set up. He was a longtime timber industry guy, and he had a timber brokerage firm. The business model was pretty straightforward. He’s in his office there. He had a bunch of phones and a FAX machine, and this is in the late ’80s, so it was pretty revolutionary to have a FAX machine back then. It was high-tech. He would get calls from builders, and then he would place orders with timber yards for their timber, and he would get paid 3% brokerage.

James Schramko:

So I went off to work with my grandfather to learn about this timber brokering business. He would guide and mentor me with how to operate the telephone, how to listen to the customer, how to shop the price around between the different yards and get a good deal. But there was one morning I went out to my car, and I turned the key, and the battery wouldn’t do anything. It was just dead. So I went into the garage, and I got some jumper leads and went back out to the car with the spare battery, and I tried to jump start the battery. But the battery was not charged enough to get the effect. So now I had to try and push the car to a hill position so that I could get in the car and roll down the hill and jump start it. It was a manual. Anyway, I finally got it to start, and I drove around to my grandfather’s house.

James Schramko:

When I got there, he was really cold. He wasn’t like my grandpa. He was like this monster. He said, “Piss off, son. You’re late.” I said, “What?” He said, “Piss off, son. You’re late.” I said, “But I had a flat battery, and I had to then get a jump starter, and then I had to try and roll it down …” He said, “I don’t care. They’re just excuses. You show up on time or don’t show up at all.” I had to negotiate myself just to keep the job that I had with my grandpa. I couldn’t believe that my own grandfather was treating me like this. When I think back, it was such a good lesson in old-school discipline, which I think is missing with a lot the millennials and the younger people coming through the internet now are missing, this it’s called the builder generation.

James Schramko:

So before the millennials and that, you had the Ys and the Xs and the boomers, and before them were the builders. These people went through war and rations, and they were hard-core disciplines. I think I picked up some of his discipline from that interaction that probably changed the way that I approached work from that point onward. I think I took it a lot more seriously, and I realized that excuses weren’t going to cut it.

Kyle Gray:

I think that’s powerful. Yeah, especially though that’s a tough spot to be in. But yeah, I mean, excuses, people can make up as many as they want, but in the end, yeah, it’s the results that matter. I think that’s important no matter who you’re dealing with, whether it’s a boss or a client or even team members, bringing that all together.

James Schramko:

You have a responsibility to your team. You have to show up, and you have to do what you say. If you’re a coach like me, I have to show up. I just keep showing up, and just that one thing alone will separate me from other people out there in the marketplace.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. So I assume that you have no plans on returning to accounting school and your life as-

James Schramko:

I did. I did return the next year.

Kyle Gray:

Oh, that’s funny.

James Schramko:

I started again, and I saw that out for a year and a half of a two-year course, and it was in the second year when I got to midway through the year when my family had a financial collapse. I felt obligated to go and get a job and to get out into the workforce. That was when I had my first full-time office job. I’d worked in timber yards. I had worked as a construction laborer. I had done so many part-time jobs, so I had a pretty good feel for what a hard day’s work looks like. But that first-time office job was as a … They made it sound really good in the paper. It was a trainee account manager. I thought, “Wow, I’m going to be a manager.” I was 20. This is 1991. Instead, I was a trainee account manager debt collector. So I had to phone people up and ask for money every day for a living, and that was my first full-time job. I got paid a salary of $18,500 a year, and it was another learning curve. That’s for sure.

Kyle Gray:

Oh, my goodness, yeah. One of the toughest sales jobs out there, I can imagine. Hey?

James Schramko:

Well, if you connect the dots and you think about what I might have learned working for an octogenarian timber broker who was at the absolute peak of his abilities. He worked up until the day he died in his backyard office, so he was kind of the precursor or one of the genetic foundations for what I do now. He just sort of hung out at home, puttering around, doing a bit of business in his backyard. That’s exactly what I do now. But I took those telephone skills and applied them to the debt collection, and I was able to run rings around the other debt collectors. There was four of us in the sales office there, and of the four I was by far the highest performer with my debt collection ability. It’s because I brought sales ability to the table, even though I didn’t consider myself a salesperson. I just inherently knew things about reading the tone of the customer, making sensible arrangements, keeping your cool under pressure. He taught me those things just through osmosis.

Kyle Gray:

Well, I think that a lot of these skills have translated into the empire that you have built in this modern day. These days you are serving some of the most sought-after, highest-end entrepreneurs in the world right now. You’re working with a lot of very, very brilliant minds. You’ve created a business that not only enables you to be your best self when you’re working but gives you the free time to pursue your passions and to pursue your interests and grow your business in ways that aren’t necessarily fulfilling with clients and making money.

Kyle Gray:

So I want to explore some of the key things that you’ve learned. We’ve looked at a couple of them already, but through 10 years as an entrepreneur, and there’s a little bit of a gap between kind of you getting started out and starting sales and debt collection to your 10-year entrepreneur journey. But I would love to know some of the things that you really think have been the core lessons, the core frameworks, the core ideas, that have brought you this seven-figure success and some of the things that you see in some of the amazing people that you’ve worked work with that really have moved them to where they are in the world.

James Schramko:

Well, I think a lot of the people I work with now, they all have a story. That’s for sure. They’re known, especially to their audience, and a lot of them, I’d say, would be fairly vulnerable in sharing their story. They’re not just building corporations. A lot of the time it’s a personality-driven business where the experts become very good at something, and then they have to build a business around that. So I guess I’m combining some of the experience I had from running Mercedes-Benz dealerships, like an actual business, and then helping this personality build that team around them as they scale from being the person with the story to making a new story about the company and the way that that’s shifting.

James Schramko:

Probably a good example I could think of would be Ezra Firestone. He’s an enigmatic young entrepreneurial kid who grew up in a hippie commune, and he got into selling beeswax as a beauty product. He’s now an eCommerce phenomenon, and he’s built a whole brand around the product called Boom!, and he has an eCommerce Mastermind that he’s also branded around a label called Blue Ribbon. So I’ve seen him go from six figures to eight figures, and that transition is evolving, basically growing up, maturing.

James Schramko:

Another one would be Ryan Levesque, who was a really good sort of nerdy guy making some awkward information products and learning to copyright and then getting good at sort of, in a geeky way, surveying and segmenting audiences. Then he used someone else’s methodology initially and then refined and improved upon it and made it his own and turned it into a whole movement and a book and a product, which we now know is called ASK.

James Schramko:

So I’m seeing people start with their mission, and then they add on extra dimensions, and that’s where it can get a little bit crazy. So there’s probably four main areas where I’ve been helping people, and I draw from very different experience sets to combine that combination. I think that’s what makes it a little bit unique, and we can talk about those pillars and where I draw influences from if you’re interested.

Kyle Gray:

I think that’s a great place to go, yeah.

James Schramko:

So when you go from being that solopreneur to actually having a business, you really have to have a team. The team part I became really strong with from the motor industry. When I started selling BMWs, which is the first place that I became a salesperson, I was 23 years old. I was very excited to have sales executive printed on my business card, and now motivate you like this inevitability that there is a human coming that you are responsible for. So I realized I had to support three people. My salary at the time, when I had started that job just before I quit, was $35,000 a year, and I needed to make at least double that because my wife and I were having a baby, and I needed to support everyone. I figured I needed at least $70,000 a year.

James Schramko:

So sales was my pathway, and I was so driven, and I studied all sorts of books, and I implemented things that I’d learned from the previous role by observing salespeople, and I basically accelerated myself through that transition to where I was the top salesperson in BMW within a year. Shortly after joining, I kind of ended up with the key to open the building because I was usually the first one there and the last one to leave, and it just made sense that I would have that responsibility. So that’s when the sort of first leadership sort of thing came in.

James Schramko:

Then not long after that, when a new person would start, they would send them to me to start showing them the ropes, which is again sort of another inherited leadership trait. Then the next thing I’m sort of covering for the boss on the weekends, so doing the paperwork or looking up stock, another kind of quasi-leadership role, but I was still a salesperson.

James Schramko:

Then I went off to Mercedes-Benz for much better pay and better conditions. I got my Sundays back, which was great because I was working pretty much seven days a week. In fact, when I started at BMW, I worked 38 days straight before I had a day off. It was very tough and probably illegal as well. My boss was so hard he wouldn’t give me the day off for the birth of my own child, but I took it anyway. Even when I did, he wouldn’t give me a car that would work with the baby seat that I had, so I had to go and buy an accessory on the way to the hospital. I mean, it was tough. They lied to me about the pay rises I was going to get and all this.

James Schramko:

Anyway, I went to Mercedes-Benz, and after two years there, I was again the top performer. But now my sales manager fell down some stairs and broke his leg, and he was off duty for about six weeks. I didn’t push him. This happened at his own hand; I wasn’t there. The dealer principal, because this was a factory-owned store, he put me in charge of sales management while this sales manager was away. It was then that I realized how different I was to the other salespeople. They were hopeless with their product knowledge, their paperwork, their follow-up with customers, just their practical sense. So it was frightening.

James Schramko:

So basically over six weeks, I just cleaned up the ship, and we had record sales in that six weeks. The dealer principal immediately got rid of another sales manager and put me in the spot, and I now had two little team members. So I had to approach this now as me not being the guy. Now I’ve got a guy and a girl, and they’re the ones who I’m going to be judged on, their performance. So this was a big mental shift now from me to a team, and now it’s their performance that’s going to make or break my success.

James Schramko:

From that point onwards, I built documentation. I created systems. I supported my team, and they became performers. I ended up accumulating the top-performing team in the country by applying all the things I knew about selling to these people, and I kept doing that over and over again. About two years later, I got appointed as a general sales manager, and then I built that team from seven up to 21. We had 21 salespeople, three sales managers, two valuers, and we had this huge team, and we actually sold more than any other dealership in the country.

James Schramko:

From there, I got promoted to general manager, which just brought me into other departments. That meant that I was now in charge of marketing, sales, service, finance, parts, and the admin team. So it was a very broad scope, but by that time I had a very solid understanding of leadership, responsibility, systems, and managing people’s expectations. I’d done quite a lot of hiring and firing by that stage. I mean, I had a system for everything, and it was all documented. It became the playbook that was shared with the other managers. It was best practice by the end.

Kyle Gray:

So that was pillar one if I’m right?

James Schramko:

That’s right. That’s just team and scaling.

Kyle Gray:

Team and scaling.

James Schramko:

That’s when you’re no longer the person, and you have the team to rely on to get the things done.

Kyle Gray:

So before we explore the other pillars, I want to have a little side question here. All of the stories that you are telling me, there’s this certain theme, and I think it’s pretty common in most stories we see and hear in movies. But you oftentimes, to get where you were, to become who you were, you had something that kind of shook you out of your comfort zone and pushed you into an area that you weren’t kind of familiar with that you had to figure out. You mentioned about kind of your family’s financial troubles, and that was when you were like, “I really need to do this.” The challenges at Mercedes, even the challenges with your grandfather, the challenge forces you to a higher level.

Kyle Gray:

So for anyone out there, and I’m wondering if you have experienced this with the people you’ve coached and worked with, does that always need to come from an external source, or are there ways that an individual can create this kind of catalyst situation; I need the change; I need to do something now; that raises us to that next level?

James Schramko:

Well, I think most of the time that someone’s saying, “I need to change,” then I’d look at what the problem is, and you might find that it is an external motivator. I do think there are internal things. I think there’s a lot of programming going on by the time you’re five or six years old. For men, apparently, we get the message that we’re never going to be good enough. I think some of these workaholics and trophy collectors, people who are trying to get all these Bentleys and amazing material things, I think a lot of them are trying to give the big finger to their parents or to the bully at school or something. I think we’re definitely driven by what happens to us, whether we’re aware of it or not. So even an internal motivator might be because of things that were said to you as a kid. Maybe it still is an external thing.

James Schramko:

To answer your question precisely, I have come up with some mental frameworks to help people do things that they’ve been putting off, and I have had some success with that. But I will say this about motivation. Motivation is almost like the engine in the car. If there’s no engine in the car, you’re going to have trouble with that car. So if there is an engine, but the car, someone doesn’t know how to drive it or it’s stuck and you can free it up, then you can see people have amazing transformations.

James Schramko:

There are some people I just have, especially when I was selling when I was a sales manager, there were some salespeople that despite how much I wanted them to succeed and how much energy and resources I put into helping them, they still wouldn’t succeed. There just wasn’t that driver in them. There wasn’t the engine that would motivate them to go. But I would say that the most important element is you have to want to change. If that’s missing, I think you have hard work. That’s why I think people who suffer illnesses like addictions, et cetera if they don’t want to change, you’re going to have trouble breaking that.

Kyle Gray:

That’s powerful. I think for your next book, and I want to talk about your most recent release, but your next book I think you need to have some kind of play on zen and art of motorcycle maintenance and maybe entrepreneurship and the art of Mercedes-Benz parts or something because you always have so many good car allegories and metaphors. So just a suggestion for the next one if you’re feeling the need to write a little bit more.

James Schramko:

I have the next bend mapped out here.

Kyle Gray:

Oh, all right. That’s exciting. So take us back to the pillars. We’ve got team and scale now. What are the other three?

James Schramko:

I think we’ve kind of covered sales and conversion a little bit.

Kyle Gray:

That’s true.

James Schramko:

Now, in the role that I had before at BMW, I was actually seconded to a sales division of a digital telephone company, and I wasn’t a salesperson. I was an administrator. My job was to control the stock. For someone to sell a phone in 1993, a digital telephone mind you, it was all new in Australia. This was obviously a long time before it came to the United States. This was probably a decade before then. I would have to use the system that was powered by Oracle, and it was designed for shipping barrels of oil. So you can imagine.

James Schramko:

These days you want a phone, you walk into a shop, you pay some money, you get a phone, you walk out. Not back then. Back then we had to put in a SIM requisition. We had to run a picking and packing slip and then run a cycle report that would actually print out a slip. Then I’d have to walk over to a cupboard, open the cupboard, pick the goods off the shelf, tick the box and then run a goods-completed type report. It was extremely clunky and impractical, but I was from an accounting sort of background, and administration skills were strong for me. So I managed this job, and I was pretty happy with the pay at the time because 35 grand was a lot more than my first job.

James Schramko:

These salespeople, they came from everywhere. They were the elite of the elite. They were the top gun of sales. They were from companies like Xerox, which back in the day, selling Xerox photocopiers for $700,000, that required a good salesperson. They were from the number one telecommunications company in Australia, which at the time was called Hutchison. So they’d assembled the best of the best of the best, the elite, and they would do these sales briefings. I kind of listened in, and I was interested in it, but I’d never considered myself as a salesperson. Then they were talking about books like “SPIN Selling,” which is what Xerox sort of got trained on and had huge improvements with.

James Schramko:

Then one of their guys, Jack, he used to sell toilet paper on the side. He would sell bulk toilet paper to restaurants, and he gave me this cassette box full of Brian Tracy “The Psychology of Selling” tapes. In the old days, you’d put tapes into the cassette player in your car. I played it so much that it wore out, and I wrote notes and notes and notes and notes from this. I indoctrinated the philosophy into my head.

James Schramko:

If you would have gone way, way back when I was 12, I had read a book called Tom Hopkins’ “How to Master the Art of Selling,” and I had put some of that into my brain as well. So kind of rewriting the software in my brain to have a sales understanding. So I’m stacking all these experiences together, and then the in-house recruitment lady, she said, “We should profile you and see how you would come up for sales.” I said, “Oh, I really don’t think I’m a salesperson.” She said, “Let’s do it anyway,” and I did. I found this profile the other day when I was moving some boxes in my garage. I came up as a perfect sales profile, my skill set. The thing that made it perfect was that for most people when they do this profile, most salespeople are very high in the outgoingness and gregarious nature, but they’re usually very low in compliance, and they can’t do paperwork.

James Schramko:

You’ve probably heard of the salesperson that can sell like crazy but no paperwork. My compliance was high because I had this sort of accounting, disciplined background. It’s all fitting together now, right? So I said, “Okay, this is good.” Then when I found out we were having a baby, I asked them for a sales role, and they said no. “I’m sorry, but there’s no one else who can do your job.” The only other lady who did my job, unfortunately, was killed in a motor vehicle accident, and I learned about single-source dependency now. This entire organization was dependent on me. I was the linchpin for this one role that no one else could do on the planet, with this clunky software, and I was forced into a situation where I had to go outside the company to get a sales job.

James Schramko:

I actually went across the road in my lunch break to Toyota and applied for a job at Toyota, and they rejected me. So I was passed by for a job at Toyota. They chose some lady instead who was from a retail sales background. Next, I went off to that BMW job, and I was worked very hard on getting that job. I had to beat off 38 other candidates for that job and convince them that this 23-year-old kid with absolutely no sales experience would be the perfect person for them to hire over all the candidates. It was an intense round of negotiations with the sales manager and with the dealer principal.

James Schramko:

I remember having almost a spat with him. He was this Scottish guy, and I won’t attempt the accent, but he used to be a football coach, and he was a real hard-ass. He was like, “Why do you want to sell cars?” I said, “Well, I know a lot about cars. I’ve bought and sold cars myself. I’ve built cars. I won’t have any issue with the product knowledge, so now I only have to learn the sales part, and I’ll do whatever you tell me.” He said, “Son, I like to golf, but I don’t want to sell golf clubs.” I said, “Look, what you want to do is your business, but I want to sell cars, and I want to sell cars here.” He liked my forthrightness. So I have a way of being direct, and this guy responded to that. He liked that a lot.

Kyle Gray:

I like that, too, and I think it is something that also is sometimes lacking in the younger generations. But you touched on something that was really, really interesting to me that I want to explore more because I think people can get a lot out of it. When you were in the position before and you were the only one that could do the job that you could do and you became this bottleneck for your company, and I think that that’s a very dangerous position for your boss back then.

James Schramko:

Very. I could have asked for a pay rise, in hindsight, just thinking about that now. They probably would have paid me $70,000 to do that job if I knew what I knew now.

Kyle Gray:

I bet they had a really difficult time after you got the Benz job.

James Schramko:

They did. Years later, in about 2002, so this is nine years later, I sold a car to the sales director who rejected me for the job. I sold him an S-Class.

Kyle Gray:

Nice. There is, yeah, something-

James Schramko:

He wouldn’t put me in sales. By that stage, I was the top salesperson in BMW, and then Mercedes-Benz I’d won the sales thing twice, and I was the sales manager of the year twice by that stage. So it was kind of like I was the one that got away, I think.

Kyle Gray:

That’s satisfying.

James Schramko:

It was.

Kyle Gray:

How do we find these bottlenecks in our own businesses? How do we identify those?

James Schramko:

Holiday.

Kyle Gray:

Have a holiday.

James Schramko:

People take holiday. If you want to know who’s stealing from you in a business, it’ll be the person who never has a holiday because they’re covering for themselves. Also, anyone who is a black box, I call this a black box, they make themselves irreplaceable. You know the one who won’t train anyone else or won’t share their files, or they won’t let people in what they’re doing? They are massively dangerous for your business, and you have to remove all black boxes. So encourage leave because for someone to have a holiday, someone else has to know how to do the job. But we also have a Noah register. I came up with this concept of Noah. It’s a non-automotive metaphor, but hopefully, it’ll stick with it. You know, with Noah’s ark, they have two of everything?

Kyle Gray:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Schramko:

So we have this register, and you just list down all the team members in your business down one column, and then across the top, you list all the tasks that happen in your business. You want to make sure that at each task there are at least two people’s asterisks in that column so that every task has at least two people who could do it.

Kyle Gray:

I think that that is so essential. Yeah, that wasn’t an automotive metaphor, which was a little tough. But I’ve heard that the ark was a Mercedes.

James Schramko:

It’s still transportation.

Kyle Gray:

Right, yeah. There we go.

James Schramko:

Technicality.

Kyle Gray:

Is it possible to have these in non-human forms? Is that common?

James Schramko:

Yeah. All your data files and storage and your email list. The one asset that I really wouldn’t want to lose is my email database, so I download a CSV file of it occasionally. I tuck it away somewhere safe because I need to be able to contact all those people I’ve built up a reputation with and earned over the years publishing content. So I’ve got this other philosophy called “own the racecourse.” This sort of falls into the next bracket of your strategy and offer, but it’s about having some ownership of what you’re doing. So I’ve encouraged a lot of people to build things that they can control, and you absolutely want to protect yourself from any single point sensitivity, whether it’s people or assets.

[bctt tweet=”Build things you can control and protect yourself from any sensitivities, whether it’s people or assets. -James Schramko” username=”kylethegray”]

James Schramko:

I mean, that’s why, if you have a house or a car, you generally ensure it. That’s protecting you from losing that one thing. You’ve got some backup. So this is where I would say it’s a direct analogy. It’s like having insurance. I mean, it actually literally happened to me, where someone in the company did get taken out, and we had to replace them. With this tragic car accident, it was such a valuable lesson and a tragic situation, but it put a lot of pressure on everyone around us, especially me. It actually blocked me from taking the path that I was destined for. So I had to change the track and move to another company to get what I needed.

Kyle Gray:

Wow. So now we’ve covered pillar one, team and scaling; pillar two, sales and conversion; and we’re kind of, I feel like, exploring a third or a fourth pillar, too.

James Schramko:

Yeah, we’re kind of into the offer strategy part. It’s like what are you selling and what’s your approach? Where are you putting it? Some people, they want to be a YouTube star, so they build on YouTube. Or they want to be a podcaster, and they’re building just the podcasts. Or they want to be a Facebook celebrity or an Instagram celebrity, and that’s a strategy thing. It’s what are you selling? Are you selling a one-time thing? Are you selling at a high or low price? Are you selling it to any particular market wholesale or retail? Are you B2B, B2C? Even in multiple markets, are you using one geographic location? So there are so many choices, a lot of dials that we can turn and switches we could flick to help people figure out the most sensible approach for that.

James Schramko:

You sort of mentioned this earlier on in the call is I’ve set my business up in a way that it serves me a good lifestyle, but that’s very deliberate. I’m not doing 9:00 to 5:00 Monday to Friday. I’m doing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday a little bit in the morning and a little bit in the evening, and then I take four days from active calls and appointments, and that suits me at this stage in life. In fact, I’ve seen some research recently. If you are over 40 years old, which I am and you’re not, you shouldn’t be doing more than 20 or 25 hours a week if you want to have a maximum capacity. You’re just going to erode your capacity.

James Schramko:

I’m sure that’s generalized, but I’m finding that I do really good work when I concentrate on stuff. But my business model keeps delivering me a recurring profit because of the way it’s set up, because of the offer that I’ve set up and who I work with and how I’ve positioned things. Now I’ve put more emphasis on bringing in some leveraged income. I like things like the book and the audible for royalty payments. I’m sure you’ve experienced some of that, where the money comes in your bank, and you’ve already done the work years ago.

Kyle Gray:

It is nice. Yeah, just having that check every month, yeah, arriving just in time, gives you a little-

James Schramko:

Doesn’t matter what you’re doing. You could be eating chickpeas or meditating on a beach in Africa. That check’s going to still go into your bank account.

Kyle Gray:

But there’s a lot more to it than just royalties here. The business that you’ve built, the royalties that you’re getting for your book, I’m guessing, that’s like your spending cash for the weekend compared to the recurring results that you’re getting in your business. You’ve done a couple of great things, and I’d love to kind of close out this interview around these elements and kind of recap, I think, the core pillars of what you said but just put them into the context of your own business. Because how have you set this up? This probably didn’t all happen at once, and you didn’t have maybe this … Maybe you did have this crystal clear strategy from the beginning. This is exactly what it’s looked like. This is what I’m going to build. But how did you put this together to serve you and to have the life that you’re living right now?

James Schramko:

So, interestingly, a lot of this was on a plan that I put together around about 10 years ago, and I just built it out. The missing piece was the book. That took the longest. I finished that December last year, so it took me about nine years to complete. The thing, I call this the mafia plan. The concept of the mafia plan, it comes from Eliyahu Goldratt, who talks about a mafia offer. It’s like making an offer that’s so good it can’t be refused. So I wanted a business plan that’s so good you’d be mad not to build it. I couldn’t understand why all the experts and gurus were doing these $1,000, $2,000 product launches and burning themselves out and then having to do it all again over and over. They sell like desperate circus acts. I didn’t get it. Why do they do this?

James Schramko:

So I built a plan that doesn’t rely on those elements. It doesn’t really need big launches, and it doesn’t really need joint ventures, and it doesn’t really need a whole bunch of paid traffic. I went down the path of feeding a blog that I own with that “own the racecourse” sort of strategy and putting content out there on whatever platform is trendy at the time. If you go back 12 years ago, there was Twitter. Facebook was sort of a thing. YouTube was fairly new, and there was no Pinterest or LinkedIn wasn’t really happening. So over time, these platforms change. That’s why I don’t like building on any one platform is the thing. There was certainly no Instagram back then, but those things shift. But my website’s still become the center of the universe of me where I want people to come to. So is hanging content from that website and collecting email addresses.

James Schramko:

You know what? Over the last 13 years, I’d say an email address is still just as valuable as it’s always been. It’s still a fantastic asset to build even in 2018; 2019, it’s not going to change. We’ve got this scourge of messenger bots now and automation, but one day, just like food, people are going to crave an organic conversation. They’re going to want to actually speak to a human and not be dealt with a robot and AI, so we’ve got to watch that one. So strategically, I’ve actually stayed really close to the path for the last decade, which is I want a lifetime customer who I can continue to serve ongoing, and I want to have a message with integrity, and I want to make it easy for people to deal with us and have impeccable support. So we have seven-day-a-week support for my little tiny business, and I want my office to be easy to understand and to create massive value for people.

Kyle Gray:

So simple. Of course, simple in concept. It takes a while, especially with creating good content and owning the racecourse, as you say. That’s a strategy that you need to be patient with, but it pays off in great ways in the long run.

James Schramko:

Well, the real part to this mafia plan was that the blog would feed a recurring membership subscription, that there would be a higher-level subscription that people could choose if they were ready for the next level. You should offer the highest level solution right now. Again, it comes from the automotive industry. If you walk into a showroom, you could have the cheapest car or the most expensive car. They’re not going to make you buy an A-class if you want an SL500. Why would they do that? But why do marketers force you to take their cheap free option before you’re allowed to have their expensive one? I don’t get it at all. Makes no sense. The ascension model is the dumbest thing ever, and people pay $50,000 to go to Masterminds to learn about it. I don’t understand it.

James Schramko:

Anyway, then there’s also things like licensing your intellectual property to other people for a fee, and there is affiliate promotions. If you’ve got the customer and you know what other problems they have but you don’t have the solution, you can recommend someone else’s solution for a commission. Then there’s in-person, live events, small exclusive ones, and then larger, more available ones. These were all on my radar from 2009, and I built it out, and I’ve completed that.

James Schramko:

Now I’m reinventing. I’ve actually got a new black book, this black book here. In it, I’m putting my next phase. I’m reinventing after a decade the next plan. So strategy, you’ve got to always know your strategy before you get to where you need it. So the things I’m doing in the current phase I’ll be educating people and telling them about, and I’ll probably be doing that over the next five to 10 years. They’ll become fashionable eventually because the stuff I’ve been doing the last decade is now catching on in the mainstream.

[bctt tweet=”You’ve got to know your strategy before you get to the point that you actually need it. -James Schramko ” username=”kylethegray”]

Kyle Gray:

Wow. Well, I can’t wait to hang out. We’ll definitely podcast again before this, but in 10 years from now and see how that strategy goes. That’s really exciting. James, you’ve delivered so much knowledge.

James Schramko:

Great. You better get the fourth one, Kyle. Otherwise, you’re going to-

Kyle Gray:

Oh, gosh. You’re right.

James Schramko:

Kyle, what was the fourth one? All these inquiries. I don’t know if there’s anyone still watching by this stage or listening. The fourth area that I work with is probably the most important and the least exciting, most ignored one, and that’s the self-effectiveness. Because at the core of your business or whatever you do is you. Now you know this, Kyle, because you’ve had health challenges, trying to eat right and tune your body. I think if you look at it from the perspective of … I mean, I’m looking at it from a lot of angles now. I’m looking at it from your health, the food you’re eating and what suits your body.

James Schramko:

What are we? I did all my DNA tests because I want to know what system am I running here? What’s my hardware? We always talk about software, but what’s the hardware? Now that I’ve got that, I know what supplements I can use to get the best for me, et cetera. But beyond food there are things like sleep, which people have really gone the other way with that one, haven’t they? They have been loudly declaring that they’re so much better than everyone else because they’re doing all this work while we’re all asleep. The bad news for them is that sleep is when we restore and get our superpowers. It’s probably the greatest supplement we can access is getting proper sleep.

James Schramko:

Breathing properly, that’s even more important than sleeping is the breathing aspect. Most people are not breathing correctly, so I’ve been reading up and studying about breathing. Then, of course, there’s the mindset, meditation and dealing with fear, coping with change, reprogramming all the crap that was put in there by parents and friends and bad employers and bullies at school. We can remove all of the bad stories that are in our head and replace them in hindsight, which is crazy.

James Schramko:

Then there’s your personal discipline. Do you show up? Why do you want to do something? How important is it to you? How are your relationships? Do you do things that make you feel good on a daily basis? Do you have fun? I think a lot of entrepreneurs have forgotten to play, and they become these serious corporate cyborgs. Then what’s the point? It’s just so sad. Then, of course, most people are just glued to their little tiny screens at the café, walking down the street, sitting around the TV. People are disengaging from life, so the self-effectiveness part’s my shot in the arm for getting back to living.

Kyle Gray:

That’s amazing, and I’m so glad that you brought that back around because these are so fundamental that they’re almost invisible.

James Schramko:

It’s the whole point.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah.

James Schramko:

Yeah. Forget that you’ve got a great business. You’re some sad, rich old wrinkly guy who never got a good sleep and was angry at everyone. You’ve got your Bentley and your Ferrari, but who cares?

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing to study breathing because I think that that’s something that’s very interesting.

James Schramko:

There’s really a few good books on the topic. The bottom line is simply breathing through your nose. That fixes pretty much everything. It solves asthma. It will help you breathe shallower. Most people are over-breathing, and they’re over-oxygenating, so they’re very inefficient. So the short answer is breathing through your nose at all times.

Kyle Gray:

That’s interesting.

James Schramko:

The dehumidifier, it’s a filter. It regulates your breathing, but if you can do that, that’s a big improvement. But there are fantastic books on the topic, and I can send you some resources that I’ve been studying on it.

Kyle Gray:

Well, thank you. Yeah, it’s something I’ve been interested in and experimenting with. I’ve actually been doing a little bit of Wim Hoff, who is all about-

James Schramko:

I love Wim Hoff.

Kyle Gray:

… super oxygenating your body.

James Schramko:

I’ve got to learn how to hold my breath a lot longer because I surf in big waves. When I say big waves, any surfer or big-wave surfer would laugh at me. I’m talking 10- to 12-feet waves is massive for me. But I’m not talking the 100-feet waves like Nazare. The book’s called “The Oxygen Advantage,” and that’s a good book to read about this. He’s pretty much the authority on this. I learned about this from a buyer or hacker who is helpful.

Kyle Gray:

That’s incredible. So we’ve really crossed a full spectrum of managing a high-level, high-performing team and making sure everybody’s in place to the very, very basics. You’ve mastered this process, this mafia strategy, at all levels, and I’m so grateful that you came on and shared it with us. It’s been so much fun seeing it unfold over the last few years, knowing and collaborating with you. James, if people want to learn more about you, they want to check out your book, tell us a little bit about your book and where else we can connect with you.

James Schramko:

The book’s on Amazon and Audible. It’s called “Work Less, Make More” by James Schramko. That’s S-C-H-R-A-M-K-O. My main website’s called superfastbusiness.com. There’s a whole bunch of podcasts there, and they’re quite searchable. So pretty much anything you could think of, whether it’s a breathing technique through to business strategy, it’ll be there. There are over 600 episodes.

Kyle Gray:

Amazing. James, thanks for taking some time with us today. It’s been so much fun, and we will have you back on the show much sooner than 10 years from now.

James Schramko:

Thanks, Kyle.

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to The Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned in this episode and every episode at thestoryengine.co. If you want to tell better stories and grow your business with content marketing and copyrighting, be sure to download the content strategy template at contentstrategytemplate.com. This template is an essential part of any business that wants to boost their traffic, leads, and sales with content marketing. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

 

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