We have Tim Wales and Henry Kaminski, Jr. Tim Wales is the CEO and Co-Founder at Kadima.Ventures. They’re doing some interesting things here in Arizona and they’re very innovative. That’s going to be something you haven’t seen elsewhere. I’m very excited to talk to Tim about what they’re doing. Henry is The Brand Doctor. He’s an author and a podcast host. He does a lot of things to help people brand themselves and understand the marketing behind it.
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Commercialization As An Enterprise Business Solution with Tim Wales
I am here with Tim Wales who is the CEO and co-founder of Kadima.Ventures LLC. Tim is laser-focused on helping emerging companies in a collaborative setting while designing and building custom enterprise business solutions. Welcome, Tim.
Thanks for having me.
You’re welcome. I enjoyed meeting you at your Kadima Innovation Fair and it was a very unusual event here in Arizona. I want you to tell a little bit more about you before we get into Kadima because I don’t have a real depth of knowledge of where you were before you did this.
The pivotal point in my career was going to the United States Marine Corps. I joined the Marine Corps back in ‘96 and I got out in 2001. Then I started working for some large companies. I worked for Home Depot for a while. I worked my way all the way up to corporate and the founders of the company. I worked in the HR Department. I started helping them solve the systems that they were creating to manage how you hire people, how you interact with recruiting on the universities and managers. I got tired of that and I shifted to a company called Bed Bath & Beyond. I worked for the owner of Bed Bath & Beyond in New York doing the same stuff. Prior to that, I worked for a tech firm that built Human Resource Systems. I’ve had a multitude of jobs, but what runs my career was the Marine Corps.
My wife left American Express and we started pulling a company that we invested in. For some weird reason one day we realized that that company wasn’t paying us right. They weren’t giving us the equity. We were in the business for ourselves. That’s where I honed in the entrepreneurial fear and skills and everything else that comes with it. It was a company that we didn’t want but we were trying to help another company just like we do now at Kadima. When we realized that that company was being deceitful and the money that we invest in them was gone and they didn’t deliver. We went on the business for ourselves and that was a crazy roller coaster ride.To tell your stories is an art. Click To Tweet
You have an interesting background. I deal a lot with HR with my Curiosity Code Index training tools and different things that I work with them. Your background fascinates me. Thank you for your service and your background was very impressive. It led to my interest in what led to your interest in Kadima. When I first got there, I wasn’t sure what Kadima was because it was this cool event. You had all these wonderful speakers and they were all talking about interesting things. You had robots onstage. It was an unusual event and it was showing a lot of great innovation that you don’t see in other places. Tell me a little bit about Kadima and then we’ll get into that event later a little bit. What is the mission? What is the vision? What are you trying to achieve?
Kadima means forward and what we are trying to accomplish is solving some real-world problems and that stem around entrepreneurs and in innovation. You take universities, for example, they’ll go and build incubators and they’ll create entrepreneurial programs but they’re horrible at commercialization. I see you teach a lot on leadership in entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs struggle with leadership. They struggle with what are they even selling and what are they even building. If you take an engineer, is an engineer a good entrepreneur? Usually not but that’s pretty much what universities are cultivating. If you get into things like big companies, you could pick one, Honeywell, all the old school companies, they struggle with that entrepreneurial spirit. Our mission is how do we build relationships with large organizations while we’re cultivating, teaching, leading, and working on some of the commercialization for early-stage companies and bring those to larger companies.
The goal is to bridge that gap. It’s to be the commercialization team. Incubators and accelerators across the country struggle. They’re at about 5% occupancy. If you go to the report, you’ll see that. That model isn’t working anymore. Acceleration doesn’t work anymore, so our focus is to fix that. For about three years, we came out of nowhere. We had this event which was planned and had a purpose and it’s going to evolve over the years. We went out and studied incubation, we studied investors, we talked to them. We studied all the problems that we saw with early-stage funding and all these gaps. We said, “The number one issue we’re seeing is there’s no system to commercialize and to employ the people, to assist those early-stage ideas and companies and cultivate them to go to market.” We focus on a process and a system to do that and we tested on one company. Within two years that the company is trading on NASDAQ and we did all the work behind the scenes. Ultimately, our mission is to solve early-stage funding challenges and to no longer accept the status quo of 100 investments and one win. That’s their matrix. They think that’s okay. Our goal is to look at that and fix that. Why are we focused on batting 1,000? Kadima’s mission is very complex. I will say at the Innovation Fair, we’ll be unveiling what our original mission always was, to build a very big smart city and an innovation campus.
It’s funny because nobody knew who Kadima was and we had an event before we even formed the company. We had been working on this company’s mission for about two years prior to this event, not the Innovation Fair, just prior to that. We brought some powerful investors and leaders into a room and we said, “What if there’s this center that has labs and scientists and brilliant minds like yourself there that are not just on the payroll but there’s a consulting model?” The system around them is self-funding their ability to be there. We cultivate ideas within the center in this building and focus on the commercialization of new innovations and new ideas. It’s funny because that was our original mission and then it’s taken us now four years to get to the point that we’re going to finally unveil it and a big stepping stone was having the first annual event last year. The event has a lot of purposes that I’m more than happy to share.
When you say you’re going to unveil, did you say a city? Is this part of something in Phoenix or is that just a phrase that you’re using for everybody? Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
We have to secure lands. That’s our biggest challenge. Between now and April in Arizona, we’re working on securing a large parcel of land and then we’ll be working on Smart City 2.0. That takes into consideration things like the fact that Arizona has a $22.2 billion tourist market that there’s no centralized hub of entertainment. If you start to plug in the entrepreneurial component like an innovation center where things are being created and you blend in tourism where you have eyeballs seeing things being created, that should be a convergence. You should be starting to work on the challenge that we all have is if you’re building something, if you are an entrepreneur, how do you get it out to the market?
There are hundreds of entrepreneurs starting new things every single day. The center has a lot of purposes. I wouldn’t say center but it’s a crossbreed between theme park almost, not a theme park, and an innovative city. If you ever studied Epcot for example. Walt Disney’s original vision was to build a utopia, a city of tomorrow that could constantly change. He passed away, unfortunately. We used a lot of those principles and concepts that never were delivered on in his vision to bring it into this day. The goal is to build a smart city of tomorrow.
I’ve heard of others considering similar things. Is this all Kadima as an organization creating this or are you combining all these ideas from all these other companies that work with Kadima to do this?
Yes, I wish it could be all Kadima but that’s not feasible. If you take into consideration what the Innovation Fair is, we have three different audiences. We have corporate partners. We have entrepreneurs and brilliant minds. Then you have these investors. The premise of the city is if I go to a Honeywell and I say, “Honeywell, you are dominating in aerospace. That’s your strength.” I’m just giving examples here and say, “Honeywell, we need you to sponsor this component that gives the tourists and others a walkthrough or a field park type approach to the history of aviation.” At the end of that tour, the goal will be to show off the innovation that’s happening in aerospace now. If you take that and you go to seventeen other vertical markets, you might have to go and approach John Deere now.
It’s bridging that gap. These big corporations struggle with culture. Their culture is pretty dead. People are fleeing from them. It’s very easy for us as a very creative imaginative company to basically pick off their top talent. We’re taking a senior executive from Netflix that is taking a step down because they’re tired of that culture. They want a new culture. If you think about that, if they’re struggling with the entrepreneurial spirit, they’re struggling with the next generation of what they’re going to create and you take that corporation, plug them into this entrepreneurial system, guess what? The ability for us to fund the massive probably multibillion-dollar project becomes more feasible than the traditional raising of capital. Utilizing those corporate partners and Kadima as a whole is how do we make money? That’s why everybody is always curious about. Why? We know these big corporations. They struggle with ideas.If you poke the bear the wrong way, they'll turn their nose up at you. Click To Tweet
We’re not going to go and just say, “Entrepreneur A has a great idea.” Let’s go to Honeywell as an example again and say, “Honeywell, here’s what you’re doing. Why don’t you get your VCR and then fund them?” No, we put a commercialization team around them and we start to build it and when we present it as a partner to Honeywell where they don’t even see the entrepreneurial component. Therefore what ends up happening is that the corporation will pay us to build that advanced technology. Therefore that’s how we make money and then we’ll give 5% to 25% back of the net revenue, back to the next entrepreneur, the next program to keep the system growing. Once again that’s how we solved creating a self-funding mechanism where you’re not relying on early-stage funding that hasn’t worked for years.
You talk about the Arizona market. Arizona is the worst. I live there, we’re dedicated as a market. Zero venture capital hit Arizona this year. It’s a huge market. We’re number five in population and growth and then you have early-stage funding. The majority of the money that is in the state does not invest in early-stage ideas. Don’t use ASU as an example, because ASU is a different monster, they are a beast. The university is a whole struggle with what we focus on the commercialization of companies. Some other interesting insight in Arizona. It’s a state. We will go and we can start companies. We’re one of the best. We’re in the top ten, but sustaining those companies in the past five years, we’re 47. These are bigger challenges.
You talked about education and I know ASU had their announcements and things they’re doing to try and be innovative and they’re trying to get more focus on STEM. I know you’re interested in STEAM, adding the arts, not just STEM. How involved are you in local education?
As involved as we can get. I love the fact that you brought up STEAM because if you take entrepreneurism, you tell your stories is an art. It’s such an important component to commercialization. If you can’t tell that story, if you can’t put the designs and the art behind even the technology product, why are we leaving out the A? In a local community, we’re doing everything from going to underserved schools. There’s a school we’re working with right now. I can’t disclose it but we have the kids doing designs of the classroom of the future. What’s their perception of the classroom of the future and then our foundation will start to roll. We don’t push our foundation enough. This year we will be pushing our foundation. We have a lot of very philanthropic individuals that want to help advance the classroom.
Then we’ll take those proceeds and we’ll go build that futuristic classroom for the kids. We believe as a whole that the classroom has not evolved enough. Even the way we teach kids. I’ve traveled around the country and there are people creating advance curriculum and different ways to teach. Even schools, if they just use the STEM approach, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, it gets away from the old curriculum. There’s a school in Alabama that I got to talk to that they dumbed down the curriculum based on the intellect of the students and their test. That’s not right. I’m very passionate about how we fix the classroom, how we evolve it to more of group-type studies and group practice. My daughter’s in a prototype STEAM school in Chandler.
She had a test and scored over 96 and 97 to even get into this public school. She’s in a classroom with 100 other kids per teacher. Her acceleration of how she’s learning, because it’s more of a project-based learning is far superior to my son and they are twins. He’s in a regular school. He didn’t get into that one. Just the way that they’re learning is such a faster approach and they’re retaining the information. It’s things like that that I’m passionate about. We’re struggling with teachers that don’t even know how to teach anything about technology. They’re relying on consultants and all that garbage to get into schools. If kids aren’t learning the basics of programming at a young age, they’re in trouble. When my kids have kids, if they’re not doing it, then they’re in trouble because the world is changing and shifting.
I remember having to learn how to program my Calculus when I was in college which was a lot of fun and bringing back some memories of some of the training I had. What you’re talking about is fascinating just because my research is on the area of curiosity and the importance of building curiosity in the workplace. I love that you’re getting this great talent. We brought up about the creative and imaginative talented people that you’re getting to join you from other companies. You mentioned Netflix and other companies. That’s something that was interesting to me and my research on the curiosity of the reasoning behind, why it’s so important. I don’t think a lot of people are putting enough focus on how it ties into so many things. If you aren’t developing that in your people, you might be losing them. Just like tech companies like yours that are taking on the ability to embrace that. I’m interested in your Kadima Innovation Fair. I had gone to that. Jeff Hayzlett and Dr. Karen Jacobson have been on my show, I was there as part of their group. I know Karen introduced me to you. You had a very interesting event. I’m curious how is this year’s event going to be different and who attends to this event?
Our main target as a company is investor type of all different shapes and sizes so we can share innovative companies and products. The Innovation Fair was developed and the strategy this year is “What if?” If you use the word “What if?” before anything, it can start to open up the imagination. What if there was a place that investors could come to and it wasn’t the same old five-minute pitch? Where they know they’re probably not going to invest in that company because an investment happens when they get to know that individual. What if they came to an event that we curated amazing technologies, companies of all different shapes and sizes from the idea stage, all the way up to maybe some of that’s going to exit. Those investors knew that if they came there, there’s a vetted out deal flow or there’s a creative deal flow other than just going to a standard old pitch event.
What if there are corporations there like Honeywell that is showing off their latest and greatest innovation and then we have the entrepreneur? If you take those three, investors, entrepreneurs, and corporations, we blend them together and we start to force them to interact. In theory, the likelihood of maybe an exit for a company or an investment from a corporation or an investor investing in them is much higher. It gets back to one of the most important things that we’re working on in our mission of solving early-stage funding. We’re solving it just through the event and bringing awareness to innovative companies. Last year we had one from Korea. They’re from everywhere and that was the first year. We had over 600 investors. We had over 5,000 attendees.
The goal was to grow as big as you can to set the tone and the quality for years to come. This year we’re stepping it up even more. The purpose of the event is we want to show off the city. If you’re building a city that I need entrepreneurs and I need corporations, use that event as that catalyst. We unveil the city this year and then they see that all these mechanisms are in place that we can gather the entrepreneurs, we can gather corporate partners, and we can bring brilliant minds like yourself to an event. We start to gain more respect within the community and globally. The intention is to take this event this year and probably we’ll announce that it’s going to go on a national tour and even international. It continues to go bigger and bigger.Always treat your credit like your wife. Click To Tweet
It was an interesting event. I got to see some amazing booths and demonstrations of some of the things that you never see anywhere else which I thought was cool. You have something called that Kadima Challenge Coin Invite. What is that exactly?
Nobody knows where the challenge coin stems from, but they say it comes back to Roman times. I’m a soldier in this unit and you’re a soldier in another unit and we crossed paths and we have trained this coin. It was a talking point. When you’re in the military for example, if I go to a duty station or when I evacuated those embassies, they gave me a commemorative coin. They call it a challenge coin. They call it a challenge because if I’m sitting at a bar for example and I’m sitting next to you and I find you’re in the military and I pull out my coin. Number one, it’s a talking point but if you don’t pull out a coin, you’re buying the drinks but it’s a conversation starter. Then when you’re a company like us trying to tackle entrepreneurs and we are not an Elon Musk and we are not all these other big names. We don’t have all those credentials. The goal was to create mystery behind us. These coins we made it easy to get last year. There was a silver one that went out to startups. All the startups that early stage companies you saw out there, we didn’t invite. We sent boxes of these silver coins out with a serial number to incubators and different influencers that are maybe consulting for early stage companies, “Invite your most innovative company, it’s up to you to show off what our community and market could do.”
Then we focused on one that was called The Black Coin and that was for more CEOs of companies over $5 million or investors and that was our target audience. Our goal was about 250 investors and we had 600. We crushed our goal. We left it up to the community by giving it a unique approach, a conversation starter, a curiosity starter. We learned a lot of lessons last year. Number one, free doesn’t work for the general audience. You need to charge. They want to feel that they’re paying for something of value. Every year, we’ll create a new coin. If you look at the designs on last year, it had to do with the topic of the event. We were talking and educating on digital currencies and where crypto is going and blockchain and artificial intelligence. This year, we’ll debut the 2019 coin that we’re going to make it harder to get. If you get that coin, you’re probably going to have free admission as an investor in. It’s a beautiful landscape of futuristic city on a coin. Every year it’s going to get harder and harder to get those coins unless you’re a member or you continue to contribute.
Are they digital or physical coins?
They are physical but we also deploy digital. Not this year but in 2020, the coins will get more advanced. You will be able to do a little bit more with them. You’ll be able to check in with them. You’ll be able to gain access to extra areas. We’re going to continue to evolve that. It’s just a different way of doing an invite. People will still get digital coins but if you get that physical coin, it’s a collector item. It gets them to think like there’s some membership component on the campus that’s being built at the city that we’re building. Where they will have access to a very exclusive restaurant and some other exclusive components because investors and high net worth individuals want to be entertained. We need to keep them entertained to keep them engaged. Therefore, we’re helping our customers through that path. The long-winded way to answer the question but there was a lot of stops. The goal was to create a viral and an interesting and a different approach. A changed culture, imagination.
I was curious about that because I hadn’t seen that before and I thought that was a unique thing. The whole atmosphere was innovative and creative. Everybody there had interesting products. You’re talking about how people are going to be able to get to it. Is it going to be open to the public? We’re talking about who should be able to go and if it should be free or not free. For some people it won’t be because there’s whatever on the list but how do you attend something like this?
We’re going to start campaigning now. I know a little teaser video was released. It’s a little bit premature but starting in January we’re going to be selling tickets this year. We have the main stage that we’re going to be doing some pretty interesting unveiling, that is limited in capacity with either 2,500 or 3,000 individuals. That will be where the investor VIP areas. That’s going to be one-set ticket price. Then there’s going to be a larger trade show floor and this is going to be down at the Phoenix Convention Center. We’re going a little bit larger this year and that’s a different level ticket. We also are bringing in big speakers and individuals to teach classes. We’re going to start doing those open calls for speakers here soon and taking a little bit different approach. It’s going to be very difficult. We’re going to sell out the tickets in the main stage very rapidly, but we are going to charge across the board. We surveyed individuals last year and the number one they said when we asked them how much would they pay? Everybody said they will pay and as we went around and said, “If you’re incubator A, why didn’t you participate? Why didn’t you send your company?” They said, “It was a free event. We didn’t take it seriously.” We originally wanted to provide it free because we know entrepreneurs can’t afford it but lesson learned.
That’s an interesting perspective and you’re having it April 4th and 5th of 2019. Is it a two-day event?
It is. That was the other feedback. We crammed so much into one day. We had some of the investor types that wouldn’t leave the VIP area to get over into the trade show. We’re focused on how do you cram speakers that are unique but changing the format regularly? This is the first time to get 5,000 people at a first time event. That was not an easy undertaking and we made it difficult to get in. You had to have a coin or be invited by somebody who had a coin. We made it hard. That was by design. We didn’t want to fall on our face and overwhelm the market and the Arizona market too is a very who you know market. If you poke the bear the wrong way over here, they will turn their nose up at you. That happened to us a little bit but what we did is we just said, “We have to change this market. We went as big as we could go with the budget that we set and attack the market which now created a ripple effect. Now, we have everybody trying to get it and figure out what we do and who we are. This year should be interesting on ticket sales and how we build this. The goal this year is 1,000 investors and then 10,000 attendees. We’re lifting up the bar a little bit higher.
If somebody wants to go to this event or talk to you or find out more, how would they do that? Can you just share some links or information?Mentorship is key in order to scale and grow as an entrepreneur. Click To Tweet
They can go to Kadima.Ventures. There will be a link there to the Kadima Innovation Fair. There will be some websites going live. There will be some commercials on ESPN. There will be a whole work up that’s going to come up, continuing to inform people. If anything, follow us on social media find us Kadima.Ventures on LinkedIn or Facebook. We will be posting out there regularly. The tickets will be up within the next two to three weeks on the ticket site.
I enjoyed meeting you at the event and going to the event and I hope everybody takes some time to check out your site because this is unique and I can’t wait for the city. I’m going to have to find out more about that. Thank you so much for being on the show, Tim. This was fascinating.
I appreciate the time.
Personal Branding with Henry Kaminski, Jr.
I am here with Henry Kaminski Jr. who is also known as The Brand Doctor and he’s the Founder of Unique Designz, a full-service graphic design, branding and marketing agency. He’s the author of the Amazon bestseller Refuse To Give Up and he’s the host of the popular The Brand Doctor Podcast. This is going to be fun. Welcome, Henry.
Diane, thank you so much for having me. I can’t thank you enough.
I like your enthusiasm this is going to be fun. I know it would be when Mike Saunders, who has been on my show, suggested you. He had great things to say about you and I love to talk to branding experts because I learn a lot, first of all. We could all learn more because it’s challenging. I wrote a brand publishing course awhile back when I was with the Forbes School Business as part of Forbes. It was challenging. We talked to CMOs trying to get their message out and scale seemed to be a huge issue. It’s not so hard at the beginning, but when it gets big, it gets tough. How did you get to be a branding expert?
This is such a crazy story. I started my professional career at a local hospital literally as a registrar. I was checking people’s insurance and then half the day, I would be cleaning coffee pots at the waiting room. I did that for about four years until I finally got my big break. I got an assistant director position at the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Center in the Children’s Hospital. It was a little sad but it was a very rewarding job. What my role was to create fundraising events. Raise money for sudden infant death syndrome and then take that money and create events for the families who lost babies to SIDS in the state of New Jersey. It was a dynamic role where I get the raise the money, but I also get to spend it at the same time. There was one year, I was trying to find a sponsor for an event and Z100, one of the biggest radio stations in the world. I reached out to them cold turkey and one of the morning show hosts got back to me and said. “We would love to sponsor this event. Tell us what to do and let’s get started.” I needed marketing materials to promote the event.
One of my buddies was a graphic designer at the time. He showed me how he was going to develop the flyers and the promos and the posters event. I sat next to him and I watched him design and I said, “This is what graphic designers?” I was like, “Sign me up.” We did the event and it was a great success. Now, I convinced my boss at the time to get the Adobe Photoshop for me so that I could start doing all the invites in-house. I started to do that and eventually I started to practice out of work and I started to love graphic design. I started to build up a little hobby side business. At the same time, eventually the hospital starts to make some big changes. They were looking to moat me in a way because it was just the lay of the land. People started to get axed and they were tightening up the ship. They said, “We’re going to cut your grant money” and so on and so forth. “If you want to stay here, you’re going to be somebody’s secretary next year. If you decide you want to get out, you’re more than welcome to do that as well.” I decided to spread my entrepreneurial wings and go out and I started my little freelance graphic design business, which turned into $248,000 in revenue the next year. I was like, “This is possible?” That’s how I started as a graphic designer freelancer and then no entrepreneurial journey is ever smooth straight to the top.
Fiverr came out and started to disrupt the design industry and I said, “If I can’t beat them, I’ll join them.” I became a Fiverr designer and I was doing design work for $5, believe it or not. I’ll be working 60 hours a week and get the get from PayPal the positive like $70. I was like, “This is not sustainable.” I found a mentor online by the name of Russell Brunson. He runs a multimillion-dollar software company, ClickFunnels. I started to get some mentorship from him and believe it or not, we got on our first call. Mind you, to put some drama into this story, my business took a huge dump around 2013. Hurricane Sandy came in and wiped out two of my biggest clients. They amounted to $250,000 in revenue. I couldn’t make that back. I couldn’t figure out how to make that up. My lifestyle didn’t change because I was scared to tell everybody that I was struggling. What happens is your bank account starts to diminish and eventually, go into the red. Eventually, it did all catch up to me. I had a conversation with my wife and I said, “I’m in bad trouble here and I need help.”People are going to buy you before they buy your product or service. Click To Tweet
Like what any great wife would do, she basically jumped off the bed that day, ran into the office, grabbed the laptop, came back in. I didn’t know if we were going to be looking up for divorce attorneys or she was going to help me grow the business or get back on my feet. She said, “Let’s get to work.” She helped me find some competitive analysis. She started helping me get back on my feet and that’s where I bumped into Russell. I didn’t have $10,000 at the time. He had a coaching program that’s $25,000 and I was like, “I don’t know if I can afford that.” I didn’t have two nickels to rub together but one of his salesmen mentioned, “We have this $10,000 program if you’re interested.” I said Robbie, I don’t even have that, but here’s the deal, I do have credit. There’s one thing my father always said, he said, “Always treat your credit like your wife.” I had credit so I pulled out the old Amex. I said, “It’s not if this works, it’s when this works. I will be better off and I will not be struggling tomorrow.”
I paid the $10,000 and on the first call I have Russell Brunson and he hired me for $6,000 for his first book launch to help him with the design work. Within one call, 60% of that investment was made back. Both of us were hysterical crying on the phone after I told them the whole story. It was a touching moment. It was at that point in my life where I said, “Mentorship is so key in order to scale and grow as an entrepreneur.” From there, eighteen months later I had generated over $500,000 in revenue. I scaled my business into an agency. I replaced myself to become more of a CEO. I hired a project manager. I have designers now under me, copywriters, and developers. My project manager, I’ve had him now for four and a half years has been the COO of the company just making sure everything gets done properly and everything is delivered with high quality. Because I am a premium service. I say this upfront, I’m probably the most expensive in the industry but we deliver an impactful and high-quality product that gets my clients some great results. That’s where we’re at.
That’s an interesting story and it brings to mind mentorship. I’ve had a few people on the show who have created films about mentorship and the importance of it. What did you think you learned from Russell that you couldn’t have learned on your own?
Digital marketing insight. He brought a lot of confidence in me that I didn’t have in myself. One of the things he said right away as I do a quick audit on your website. I spent $70,000 on a new website because I had lost $100,000 deal a few months prior because of the lack of brand identity and quality. I said, “I’ll never have that happen again. When he looked at the website he said, “Henry, you have such a big personality. You’re such a ball of energy. I see none of that here on the website. It’s just a pretty website. Yet you’re hiding behind this logo and this brand of yours. You need to get out there more.” He said, “Not only are you an awesome designer, but you just have this presence about you.” He saw something that I didn’t see and that is the key to mentorship. I always tell my clients, “The reason why you’re hiring me whether you know it or not is for me to uncover all the blind spots that you are currently facing.”
When I pull this out of them, they start to see tremendous results and they start to understand their superpower and their expertise more. He was able to pull that out of me and so I immediately started to get out there on video and put myself out there more and people started to hire me for me. At the time I was a good designer but I wasn’t great, but people were hiring me because they loved me. That’s the key to investing in your personal brand and that’s where I pitched down and become more of an expert in the personal branding space and the importance of personal branding. People are going to buy you before they buy your product or service. The best thing that you could invest in and there are plenty of ways to cut corners in business. The one thing you would not want to cut a corner on or skimp out on investing is investing in yourself.
You’re helping people to do that and you’re also helping them find blind spots. I’m curious what those common blind spots are?
I’ll give you some great examples. I have a client who’s in Canada. She’s been a coach now. She’s a mindset coach, she’s a mental coach, but she’s also a physical coach. She specializes in hockey players and she helps them build their mind and build their agility. She’s been doing this for many years and she was getting paid about $200 an hour for consulting. We’re on a coaching call together and I start asking her price points. I said, “What do you charge for a one-hour session?” She said $200. I said, “How long have you been doing this?” She said twenty years. I said, “You’re only worth $200 an hour?” You could hear the pin drop. I said, “You don’t think you’re worth more than that?” Then I started to see the tears and she says, “I never thought of it that way.” I said, “You have several years of experience. Do you know what somebody would pay for that knowledge, insight, and wisdom?” I said, “If you want to scale this business, if you’re serious about taking your brand to the next level and working with higher quality clients and position yourself as a subject matter expert, you need to raise your price because people aren’t taking you seriously.”
I see a lot of people who undervalue themselves. That’s common and they want to feel like they’re not taking advantage of people. How do you determine the right price?
Value is extremely subjective. I’ll give you a funny example. I love cars. My wife cringes at three cars I have in my garage because she’s not a car gal. She’ll drive anything to get from point A to point B. For me, there’s a long story why I like cars so much. The point is, value is subjective. When I’m asking clients, “What’s one client worth? What do you want to make in the next year?” They start throwing out these numbers. I start to say to them, “What’s it worth to you to find those clients?” Because you can’t make major moves with minor effort. That’s something I’ve learned from Jim Rohn and I am a huge practitioner of that. If you want to make $250,000 next year in revenue, what percentage are you willing to invest in order to get you there? Then they start to come up with numbers and I’ll say, “Clients that I typically work with will typically spend about 20% of that. Would you spend $50,000 to make $250,000?” “Yes, who wouldn’t?” That’s value-based pricing.
Here’s who I lost $100,000 deal. I had a food distributor come to me and say, “We’re looking to rebrand our business next year. We saw your website. We liked the work that you do. I want to get your schedule.” This was the manager or the secretary of the CMO. She says, “I want to get you set up with my CMO.” I guess she was put on the duty of doing research on design companies. I didn’t hear from her for a week and a half. I reached back out to her and I say, “I know you found interest in my business and I’m just following back up.” She said, “Do you have a second to chat?” I said, “Sure.” She calls me up and she says, “I hate to waste your time.” That’s where my stomach just sunk. She said, “When I got to the CMO and mentioned you, he looked at your website and not to hurt your feelings or crush your confidence or no disrespect, but he didn’t see your firm as big enough to handle this type of project. We were looking to spend about $100,000. We had that budget and it just didn’t look like your agency was able to handle that.” I lost my money. It’s like somebody dangling $100,000 check over your nose and say, “No you can’t have it.” That’s where I feel like that moment crushed me and I’d been on a mission ever since.If you're serious about taking your brand to the next level, you need to raise your price for people to take you seriously. Click To Tweet
Is there any truth to it? Could you handle that business?
Absolutely not. Not at that time. That was pre-Russell’s coaching.
Did she do you a favor?
She did. For every lesson learned in life, there’s always a positive. I said that that was the catalyst to turn me into a premium designer and a premium brand expert.
It’s the blind spot that you don’t see in yourself as you mentioned. It is interesting to see what lessons we learn about this. When you’re dealing with branding, there are so many mistakes to make. It’s so challenging. I met a lot of people are doing personal branding. Since you know a lot about that, you had to position yourself as an authority and do all that. What do you think is the hardest part of personal branding? Is it always a good idea to you be the company? What happens when Tony Robbins dies?
His legacy will definitely be left behind. When somebody asked me that question, I say, “Tell me this, what is the difference between you and your business right now, between your company and your name? What is so different between your name and the company? There isn’t because your company, your business is just an offshoot of who you are.
Tony is the one they go to see on the stage and if he’s not on the stage or if their speakers or that type of thing, how do they transition? Do you think it’s a good idea to transition to a company name or do you always keep the main guy’s name?
It’s important to keep the names. If you’re looking at Tony as a case study, he is going to live forever just like Jim Rohn. Look at Jim Rohn, his name still lives on and he’s been gone for years. That’s not going to go anywhere. For anybody who is contemplating that, why wouldn’t you want your name to be synonymous with your expertise and live long beyond your years here on Earth?
It’s so challenging sometimes to get known and I know you know a lot about social media and how to be seen and expand your name. I’m curious, I know a lot of people have challenges with Twitter specifically. If you got in early and you were able to grow your following a lot faster, what challenges do you think that people are seeing with trying to get known on sites like that where you didn’t necessarily get in early?
I find that to be a lost cause. That wave crested and flushed out a while back. My presence is nowhere near as great on Twitter as it is on Instagram. I have 107,000 followers on Instagram and it’s growing so rapidly every week versus Twitter, where I have 500 people following me which is nothing.You've got to leverage the platforms accordingly these days. Click To Tweet
What do you do for being seen on a visual thing for a podcast if you’re doing just an audio podcast? How do you promote that on Instagram, I’m curious?
It’s phenomenal. I do it via a video. I record all my podcasts as a Zune video. I give that recording to my video editor and I have them pull little 60-second clips of the video. He makes it look phenomenal and we promote the podcast with those videos.
That’s a good thing. Do you just do 60 seconds? I know a lot of podcasters who do it both ways. It does seem that it’s a challenge to always be camera ready for everybody, to always be out there and do a lot of the video stuff. I’ve noticed some of the podcasters don’t do as much on the video, looking, facing things as they do maybe on Twitter. For me, I like LinkedIn a lot just because I deal a lot with consultants and leaders. It is interesting to see where everybody gets known and what they do to be positioned. I know that right now Instagram is the big thing. Do you think that Twitter and LinkedIn will continue to be just as important or do you think we’re going to get rid of some of them?
I don’t think Twitter is going to go anywhere. I don’t think LinkedIn is going to go anywhere quite frankly. You’ve got to leverage the platforms accordingly these days. For example, Twitter is where I get all my news. The trending topics. I use Twitter to the best of its ability. I’m not trying to be the next Twitter famous person. I’m getting my news over there. I’m using Twitter to distribute my content. For example, I’ll push people to a blog via my Twitter, my podcast, my YouTube channel. It’s pretty much my gateway. On LinkedIn, it’s the same thing. I’m dripping video, I’m dripping content. I do daily articles on my blogs basically get transformed into articles and articles are being published on LinkedIn on a daily basis to build that authority and expertise over there. Just leveraging the platforms to the best of your ability would be a great strategy.
Everybody is giving free content. Everybody is doing all this posting but if you go to networking events, it seems like a lot of times everybody is selling, there are no buyers. Everybody is talking to each other but no one’s buying anything. Is it like that in social media do you find ever?
No, because 90% of my audience is on Instagram. That is where I get all my leads. That’s where I get all of my clients. They are buying. It’s a matter of nurturing the lead to the point where they’re ready to buy because 97% of people are not ready to buy, 3% are. Getting them down the sales funnel, getting them nurtured. On average based on my research and based on what my clients tell me, they have followed me anywhere from four to six months before taking the first step. My goal is to condense that time, compress that time as much as possible. That is by creating content that is going to resonate with them, that’s relevant to them, that speaks straight to them, and put myself out there. I did a talk in front of 100 agency owners down at Fort Lauderdale in Florida. After my speech, this woman caught me in the elevator and she said, “That speech is so touching and moving but what would you tell somebody such as myself who’s not very camera friendly and doesn’t want to be out there so much?” I just simply said to her, “What doesn’t get seen, doesn’t get sold.”
She took a deep breath, gulped and she walked off the elevator. I whacked her world but it’s the truth. This year was a pivotal moment for brands big and small. I’m starting to see a lot of the bigger brands go personal. Papa John’s did a phenomenal commercial where they had a bunch of franchisees come in and they changed the logo from Papa John’s. They swapped out the John’s and put in the franchisees’ names and showcased all the franchisees like the actual people. That’s a brilliant branding move. The bigger brands are starting to do it but the folks that are personal brands, if you’re not putting yourself out there, what are you giving your audience to grab onto?
You give some great advice with this podcast that we mentioned that you have, The Brand Doctor podcast but also with your book, Refuse to Give Up and all of the things we’ve talked about here. So many people can learn a lot about not giving up and branding themselves from all of the stuff that you do. I appreciate that you shared that here. A lot of people would want to know how they could reach you. I mentioned these podcasts and the books and stuff but where’s the best place to find you?
Everything goes back to my website. If you go to UniqueDesignz.net, you’ll get my YouTube channel and my Instagram feed. You’ll get my free training, my blog, my podcasts. Simply go to the website and I’m looking forward to meeting you.
It’s nice of you to share everything and it’s been fun having you on the show. Thank you for being on.
Diane, thank you so much for having me.
Thank you to Tim and to Henry. We get so many great guests. If you missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com and you can go to CuriosityCode.com for more information on my work with curiosity. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
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About Tim Wales
Tim Wales is the CEO and Co-founder of Kadima.Ventures, LLC. Tim is laser-focused on helping emerging companies in a collaborative setting, while also designing and building custom enterprise business solutions. Among his recent ventures is the co-founding of WebProctor, Inc., which provides an identity SaaS security solution that is rapidly gaining traction.
About Henry Kaminski, Jr.
Henry Kaminski Jr. is the brand doctor and the founder of Unique Designz, a full-service graphic design, branding, and marketing agency. He is author of the Amazon bestseller “Refuse To Give Up.” He’s also the host of the popular “Brand Doctor’s Podcast” where he talks about strategies that help entrepreneurs design reputable and profitable personal brands.