Genuine content is what works. Being President at The Sasha Group which is a VaynerX company, James Orsini believes that when it comes to standing out, we need to be ourselves and not worry so much about being correct. James works alongside serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and leads The Sasha Group in helping small businesses reach explosive growth potential. Today, he talks about creating content that works, the difference between branding and sales, how to go about finding a COO, and what it takes to be successful as an employee and as a person.
Meeting new people and growing your network is critical to any kind of success. Doing LinkedIn videos real-time helps you do just that. Bestselling author and small business advisor Rhett Power talks about doing LinkedIn Lives and the kind of engagement you’re going to get using it. He also touches on the collaborative coaching and leadership book he’s doing with three other executive coaches.
We have James Orsini and Rhett Power. James is the President at The Sasha Group, which is a VaynerX company, part of Gary Vaynerchuk’s group. Rhett Power is a CEO, business coach, bestselling author, Forbes columnists and LinkedIn Live host. We’re going to talk a lot about advertising, LinkedIn and getting known. It’s going to be a very interesting show. I hope you enjoy it.
Listen to the podcast here
Creating Content That Works with James Orsini
I’m with James Orsini, who is the President of The Sasha Group, a VaynerX company. He works alongside Gary Vaynerchuk, who is the CEO and serial entrepreneur. Orsini leads the group to help small businesses reach explosive growth potential. It’s nice to have you here, James.
It’s great to be on the show, Diane.
I was looking forward to this. This is an interesting area. It ties along with a lot of the things I do. I know we know some of the same people that you’ve worked with and I’ve worked with. I want to get people a background because I know a lot of people are familiar with Gary Vee and all the stuff he does. What is your role there and how did you get into that role?
I’ve been with VaynerX for a few years. I was originally brought on as Gary’s chief integration officer and became his chief operating officer. I was helping them grow out the Vayner Media and subsequently VaynerX portfolio of companies. He came to me and said, “James, do you want to start something new?” I said, “What do you have in mind?” He said, “I’d like to start a business targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses between the $1 million and $100 million mark and help them achieve some explosive growth with the notion of getting them to outgrow The Sasha Group and grow into Vayner Media because that’s what we embarked on.”
I was watching one of your talks with somebody else in another interview where you were saying how you met Gary through his brother at Seton Hall. I was trying to remember what it was.
It was a Seton Hall basketball game about several years ago and I sat next to AJ Vaynerchuk, Gary’s brother. He was telling me that he and his brother and a couple of guys started a small social media company. That was in the early days of social media. I was the chief operating officer at Saatchi at the time. I asked if he’d like to come down and see what it’s like when you got big someday. He was quick to take me up on the offer. We remained friends. I’d like to believe that I was a little mentor over a series of years. When I left the SITO Mobile, I had a three-year contract. I called him up to tell him that I was going to get back into the big advertising space. I would run into him again. He said at that time, “James, did you ever meet my brother, Gary?” I said, “No.” He said, “Do you ever hear of him?” I said, “No.” He said, “We’ll do a quick Google search and we’ll get your meeting.” We did. We hit it off. He wanted to be a $500 million independent integrated international communications company. He said, “I’d like you to join the team and help me do it.” I said, “Okay.”
A lot of people are probably familiar with Gary. Gary has built a huge business. He is a personality who is hard to describe. He is very driven and motivated. That must be a challenge when you’re working with a CEO, who’s got a lot of ideas and drive like that. Do you complement each other? Do you have the qualities he doesn’t have? How do you guys work together?
I’m a good yin to his yang. I helped scale him on the operations side. He is an operating CEO. He’s a creative CEO. He’s a visionary CEO. He surrounds himself with people that help scale one man to achieve what his probably going to be probably close to $200 million-plus company with nearly 1,000 employees, international footprint now. A digital advertising company yoked with a media company, which also has full-service production studios, which has a digital publishing arm, which has a SaaS product or dashboard reporting on media. Now, it has this new company, which is helping small businesses with education, consulting and digital marketing.
That’s a huge thing to start from scratch. If you start with it, you’ve got your marketing, he’s got his name. I know they asked you this on other interviews, but what happens if something should happen to Gary. Is it like Tony Robbins? If Tony Robbins goes away, what happens with the company when it’s all based around a name like that?
You’re talking to a guy who was at Saatchi & Saatchi when the two brothers were removed. The name is still on the building and the company lives on now. Gary has done a nice job of building out a formal leadership team with great leaders around the table, all of whom help scale. In one way, shape or form, he has a lot of chiefs, chief media, chief creative, chief strategy, chief production, chief financial, chief legal and chief heart officer. We’ve been on the cultural side. You never replace a visionary like Gary or Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Life goes on. You work hard to build those legacies. That’s what Gary is trying to do. He’s very focused on legacy.
He does a lot of content. You can’t go anywhere if you don’t see content that you guys are working on. How do you determine the type of content that’s successful? Is this something that you all get together on? Is this more of his ideas behind things? I’m curious how you decide on that.Audiences consume content differently depending on the platform. Click To Tweet
His personal content is more documenting than scripted content. When it comes to our clients, we believe that the volume is a model that works. We talked about the fact that the internet is limitless. Gary see social media as the current form of the internet. Unlike my days in traditional advertising where there were limits, you had to get your point across in a 30-second commercial. There were only 60 pages in a particular magazine. Each page had to look like art and perfection. Unlike that the internet is limitless and the goal was to put out as much content as you possibly can and double down on this stuff that you see people engaging with and that’s working and walk away from this stuff that’s not.
That can be very challenging. I know I’ve worked with Forbes. We created brand publishing courses and things in the past and trying to figure out how to reach people in the way we want to be reached and make it seem it’s a personalized message. Do you find that that’s a challenge?
There’s a difference between branding and sales. Gary believes a lot of people aren’t spending enough time on branding. We all know that works. We pay $5 for a Starbucks coffee when you can get it next door for $0.99. It’s an experience. It’s a combination of it too. In fact, even in the small business space, Gary believes most small businesses need what he calls a Super Bowl video, which is a hero video that multiple pieces of content can be sliced and diced from. We call it the assets here or deejaying content that may already exist in one way, shape or form but need to be mixed up to communicate to the audiences on the different platforms. They do in fact consume that content differently depending on the platform.
How long is that hero video type of situation you’re talking about?
It could run anywhere from 90 seconds to three minutes. Good content will be consumed. It isn’t living on it until we get the story told. We have found that whether it’s Facebook videos or YouTube. They will engage with content that they find of interest. They will disengage typically with an ad.
I’ve watched some of Gary’s content that he does for his own personal branding. A lot of it he will use the expletives and things that have to be removed. Do you think we need to have shocking content to stand out? Do you think that we’re seeing people being more themselves and not so worried about being so correct? I’m curious what works for a lot of people who might be consultants or trying to do what Gary has done.
Genuine content is what works. Gary’s content is who and what Gary Is. It’s different than that. What makes it easy to scale Gary is he’s the same person in every scenario. He doesn’t have to wear different masks and change things and whatnot. It comes back to what is genuine and right for you because your audience will feel if you disengaged.
I hear a lot of that for speakers as well. If you try to be someone else on the stage, it’s not going to work for you. I know a lot of people who are reading this might be people who would be interested in what you do help them. I know you’ve built a lot of content with Fortune 500 companies, but do you have more entry-level things you offer at VaynerMedia?
What was interesting about The Sasha group is while the company is relatively new and launched in January 2019, some of what we were doing was already being tested in the VaynerMedia hallways for a few years. Our educational product, which is our 4D products, has been around for a few years. We’ve conducted over 40 classes and over 400-plus alumni go through it. The education piece is now part of The Sasha Group. We have a consulting offering, which entry-level product is a three-and-a-half-hour whiteboard session. Our premium product is something called The Mentors Program. I helped establish that for Gary a few years ago. That’s to help mature businesses that have been around for a while, but it simply got stuck. They can’t get past the particular revenue ceiling. They can’t get past a particular profit margin or whatever stuck means to them.
We have the digital marketing side. We have account creative and production, media planning and buying. We have an eCommerce group here. What’s unique about it is that we took 40 or 50 employees from the VaynerMedia side. They’re folks with entrepreneurial DNA and infused with Fortune 500 experience. They have worked on the big brands at VaynerMedia, but they’ve shown a passion for smaller businesses, entrepreneurs and things like that. It’s a unique blend that I don’t know of any competitor in this space that’s doing what we’re doing right now.
How big is The Sasha Group as compared to VaynerMedia?
Gary’s goal is to have The Sasha Group reach $100 million in half the time that it took VaynerMedia. In year one, we’ll target $10 million in revenue. Year two, our target is $20 million. Year three is $50 million. Year four is $400 million.
You’re not using the word mastermind, but you do this small room twelve people strategy sessions where Gary comes in for an hour. Is that part of The Sasha side?
Yes and that’s the 4D educational component that I talk to you about. What’s it like a day in the life, think of it like a Disney or a Zappos thing where you’re going to come in and you’re going to meet with some of our senior leadership. We’re going to take you through our way of thinking about the platforms, how to consumers consume the content at the platforms. You’ll hear about smart products. You’ll hear about voice and Alexa skills. You get the latest on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Amazon, Snapchat and what’s happening in each of those. You’ll hear a lot about culture because Gary believes so much in the culture of an organization. We have a set of culture. We rotate people through from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. It’s a full-day immersion. It’s not inexpensive, but there’s a great value that comes out of it.
Some of those can be helpful. I’ve been to other mastermind type groups, but a lot of people are drawn to what Gary has created. I wanted to figure out how you look at some of those strengths that Gary sees is like the rules for success. Do you have the same idea of what it takes to be successful? Do you put your own spin on it? Is this overall since it’s under the Vaynerchuk name that we’re getting his take?
The interesting part about Gary is he doesn’t expect everybody to be exactly like him, it attracted me to him. He wants to know what’s important to you and what drives you as an employee and as a person. He allows that to fit in his world. He described himself as multiple dictators. He’s certainly running the company but he gives you creative liberty. This new company, I’m not even in the headquarters office. I’m a few blocks away. I know the vision. He expects me to carry the vision, but he gives me a lot of liberty to fill in the pieces as I see appropriate. We check in probably twice a month to make sure that everything is coming to scale. He’ll seed in some new thoughts or products that he’d like me to work on until the next time that we meet up again. I have access to him at any time through text or email. He empowers the people around him once he’s confident that he has your loyalty.
Do you have big audacious goals like buying the New York Jets? Is that something that’s different for you?
My goal is to support him and his vision. He asked me to describe what I do in a sentence when he interviewed me and I said that I take dreams and visions and I put them into action plans. He said, “You’re hired.” I’ve got a lot of dreams. An executor, my dreams and visions are different than his but I’m happy to help him on his quest to acquire the Jets.
That is a huge goal. I’m hearing what you’re saying. Execution is a huge thing for me. That’s easier for some people than for other people. What do you think makes you so good at executing?
I don’t have a to-do list per se. You noted that when my call came into you, you’re like, “You’re like right on time.” I address things as they come up, which keeps me on the front end of things rather than on my heels. There’s no substitute for wisdom and experience. I’ve now been in this space for more than 25 years. Certainly, I’m a seasoned professional as you saw from the bio. I’ve got a lot of battle scars. That was another thing that Gary said, “I’m hiring you because you made 25 years of mistakes. Help me avoid the potholes and move faster.” That’s another thing that I help with.
When you talk about mistakes, it reminds me of something I saw him say before his daughter was born, he hoped that everything would crash and burn so he could rise again like a Phoenix. Do you look at mistakes as like, “I’ve got to fix this?” How do you look at mistakes?You can only win the game when you play offense. Click To Tweet
I don’t embrace them as much as he does. I certainly use them as learnings. Remember, in the world that we live in here in this social media world, he’s built a company that’s like a test lab. It’s what I call a fail fast, fix fast, learn fast environment. The social media works best with constant testing and optimization. That is much more part of his DNA. I recall things that I’ve done wrong and I hope not to do. I’m still doing stuff wrong. There’s perfection on this side.
Some of the best lessons are learned that way. We’re getting people looking at mistakes a little differently than in the past. I have so many people who want to start a company like Gary and what you’re doing here. They’re at a low level. They’re at the beginning. What do you think was the turning point for making his company? Did he have like 800 people by the time you started working for him?
When I started, it was about $42 million and 400 people. We ended up last time at $159 million with a little over 800 people. He’ll probably do a close to $200 million with a scratch out the door of 1,000 people I would bet by the end of this year.
That’s huge growth. I know you deal with businesses that are smaller. Maybe they’re stuck at the $2 million marks and they can’t get past that, with mentorships and things like that. What is it that usually makes them stuck that you helped them with? I know you do six weeks training and that type of thing for them. Tell me a little bit about that.
Gary feels that most of those get stuck because they’re playing defense. You can only win the game when you play offense. What does that mean? That means that he’s not afraid to have multiple initiatives running at a single time before reaching perfection on anyone. Too often, businesses want their initial offering to be perfect before they birth the second. He says, “I’m going to birth ten. Four will fail quick and six will root. Of the six that root, four will be successful and two will be marginally successful, but my odds are so much greater. Everything he approaches, he approaches in a portfolio fashion, not a single stock fashion. That’s what too many businesses are trying to do. It’s the one-trick pony. That being said, there’s a fine balance between being everything to everybody and wind up that you’re nothing to nobody. I want you to own a particular lane first, get your credibility in one area and branch from there.
He said something that I found interesting and I wonder what your take was on that. I agree with what you said. If you stayed too narrow-focused, you’re missing out on other opportunities. He also said you can’t get to do what you love. You’ve got to do that after hours. He said, “Stop watching Lost.” I agree. There’s a point where people think that they should be able to be doing what they love all day long. Eventually if you do that, you’re going to make them zillion dollars. What’s your insight on that way of thinking?
My insight is that when your passion becomes your profession, it’s game over. For me, my passion was always business. My family left on vacation, I’m still reading the Wall Street Journal. It’s my passion. I come to work every day with a smile. I don’t hit the snooze button three times in the morning before I wake up. Virtually, 80 or 90% of the people I come across are unhappy or unfulfilled in what they’re doing. They’re living for the next vacation. Gary and I are not like that. He loves the quest of trying to acquire the Jets. He’s telling me, “James, the day I acquired the Jets will be the saddest day of my life because I already have reached my goal.” He loves the pursuit of it. If you can spend your waking moments doing something you like, for me it was always about helping people. Now, he’s put me into another position where these entrepreneurs and founders were moving the needle out their business. We are helping them. They’re super appreciative. We have wonderful testimonials on our website that we share and on our social channels. It feels good.
You’re in New York, but your customers are everywhere. How do you work with them? Do they come in? Do you go to them? Is it over the phone? How does that work?
The answer is yes to all the above. We have a Sasha in the north office here in New York City on Broadway. Sasha’s south office in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I have an employee sitting in the Vayner London office that helps with our international side. I had a guy in from Germany. We go where the business needs us to go. That was another thing that we talked about when Gary said he wanted to scale an international company. I was like, “Don’t do it the way I did. You don’t need to be 31 offices in 26 countries like I was that integrated for Saatchi.” You can service the world from a few key locations. We find that too. We don’t need to be where every one of our clients is as long as they’re getting the service. Remember, it’s all digital. It’s all remote anyway. Face to face time is important. We don’t neglect that.
You said, “Don’t do it the way I did.” Isn’t that one of the things he saw the value of hiring you is you’ve done a lot of the things he hadn’t done that you complemented and he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel? Do we need to find COOs who have done it? If I was trying to scale, for example, how would I go about finding a COO?
I wrote an article on that topic. It’s called Let Leaders Lead. It was in CommPRO.biz. Gary is a little unusual because he’s an operating CEO too. Finding somebody to help scale your vision or augment your vision as well is an important offering. Does everybody need a COO? No. When you plateau, there are times where the breakthrough becomes a COO. We’ve put two in our clients that we’ve had, one in Australia and one here in the states where it was time to bring in a chief operating officer. Remember, I’ve held a lot of positions. I’ve been a CFO, a COO. I’ve been a chief administrative officer. I’ve been a president. I’ve been a CEO. I’ve been a chief integration officer or whatever that was. A lot of different aspects of the role, which have helped me work with the infrastructure. When we first started, it was me, Gary and his brother. He hadn’t built out a leadership team yet. He had a general counsel. There was a finance director role, but we’ve helped to scale and bring in the pieces that scale him. Even as far as the chief heart officer, whose job is to touch every employee to make sure that the culture that Gary has instilled the honey empire reaches 1,000 people.
How do you differentiate those roles from a chief HR or something else?
It’s interesting because it doesn’t lean on HR as professionals around them. That was one of my observations. If you were in WPP, the largest back-office resources, probably finance, because that’s what Martin Sorrell was on. If you were at Omnicom, the largest back-office was probably legal because that’s what was important to John Wren and to Maurice Levy. It’s the IT side because that’s what’s important to him. For Gary, it’s the HR Cultural Department is the biggest thing that he has from a back-office perspective because he wants to build the best human empire. That’s what’s important to him.
It is important and your background has got to be very complementary to that. You’re a CPA. You’ve got all these different complementary skills and I could see why you two would work well together. This was interesting to me because a lot of what you guys do, I’ve taught and worked with in my work a situation. I was looking forward to having you to talk about this. I’m sure a lot of people are very interested in finding out more about The Sasha Group, VaynerX and everything else that you’re dealing with. Is there a link or some way they can reach you?
Our website is TheSashaGroup.com. All of our social handles are the same, The Sasha Group, whether it’s LinkedIn or Twitter or Instagram. My personal stuff is, @JimmyThePencil on Twitter. It’s James Orsini on LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat.
Thank you so much. This has been fun to chat. I enjoyed having you on the show.
It’s great, Diane. I hope your audience enjoyed it.
Doing LinkedIn Lives with Rhett Power
I am here with Rhett Power. He’s a bestselling author, small business advisor, columnist at Forbes and Thrive Global. He is an interesting guy. I’ve been on his show. I’m excited to have him on mine. Welcome, Rhett.
Thank you so much for having me. This is going to be a lot of fun.
It was fun being on yours. I hadn’t done the LinkedIn videos in real-time until yours. You’re in some pilot group. Is that what you said?
It’s been a whole lot of fun. I’ve been a beta tester for them on a few products. I was one of the original long-form post. When this opportunity came up, I jumped at it because the video is important and taking over content these days. It also offered me an opportunity to sit down with great people on a unique platform, learn some things and hopefully share what we learn with the audience. It’s a great platform. The engagement is unlike anything I’ve ever put out there. It’s been a lot of fun. Interesting people like yourself want to come on the program. That’s a bonus. It helps meet new people and grow your network, which is critical to any success.
When do you think they’re going to launch that like full-blown for everybody else? Do you know?When your passion becomes your profession, it's game over. Click To Tweet
I have no inside knowledge. I truly do not. I wish I could give you a wink and a nod. I have no idea. People give feedback and there are some things that should happen when they do launch it that will make it easier for people to find good content. Right now, they’re getting the backend straight. I don’t have any idea of what it’s going to look like when they do launch it.
It’s an honor to be picked I’m sure to test it out. You’re 2018 Best Small Business Coach in the United States. How many times have you been nominated for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award? You have quite a background. Maybe I should have started with that. How did you get to this level? Can you give a little background in case there’s somebody out there who hasn’t heard of you?
I was in the Peace Corps and I remember this day clearly. This was the start of my journey. I was 29 and I had been on a bunch of different jobs. I had worked for Clear Channel Radio. I’d worked for the Sierra Club. I had done this and that. I went by the Peace Corps recruiter one afternoon at the local university because I’d always been intrigued by it. I joined the Peace Corps. I ended up in Uzbekistan at the Peace Corps. That was early 2000 and 9/11 happened on 2001 of September. That cut my Peace Corps service short by a few months. I spoke the language and because I was in the region, I knew the region and I knew the culture, I quickly got a job in the region in Tajikistan working on a USAID project. I ended up working in the region for another six years doing time in Afghanistan, doing time in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and all the Central Asian countries there.
In 2006, the whole stand time was a whole other program in and of itself in terms of what we were doing there. That period of my life, being a consultant and we were helping the Central Asian governments transition to a market economy from the Soviet economy that they had been part of for so long. That was why we were there. I was there to prevent terrorism. That worked well. That was sarcastic. I met my future business partner in Kazakhstan on this program. In 2006, we quit what we were doing there. We came back to the states with an idea to buy a company or start a company. We found this little toy company and this little company in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
We ended up buying it and turning that into an Inc. 500 company and getting nominated for the Ernst & Young Awards. That led to investments and doing some other businesses. That led to where we are writing for Inc., Forbes and I ended up becoming a business coaching consultant out of that because of our work with a couple of different startups and exits that we had in that period of time. I fell into business coaching. What I realized a long time ago is I do like to teach. I like to help people see things, grow and get better. That business is exciting to me. I fell into it. It wasn’t intentional to become a business coach, but it’s certainly something that I’ve fell into but realized at some point pretty quickly that I enjoyed and I had a passion for it. That’s why I continued to do it now. That’s where the writing comes from. All the writing I do for all those platforms comes from problems that either I dealt with in business or that my clients are thinking about dealing with. It helps me think through and researches those topics and those issues that they’re dealing with so that I can be better at helping them.
You can help them based on your experience. What you’ve done is pretty amazing. You mentioned you do travel globally and deal with the entrepreneurship management, all these different types of topics. You’ve spoken alongside Sue Desmond-Hellman and Steve Case. I’ve seen him speak. He was good. Barack Obama, did you get to meet them when you’re on the stage in these events? Those are pretty good.
I’ve got a great interview that I did with Steve Case in 2017 or ‘18 at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. We had a great talk. I went to look at the video and hit the recording. The microphone wasn’t working. I’ve got this great interview that I know I did with Steve Case. We sat down for about fifteen to twenty minutes to talk and did not get any of it on the sound. I got the video of us talking, but no sound.
The worst one I had something like that was David Allen. I had him on Zoom and I hit record, but I must not have hit it enough and it didn’t go. We did a half-hour and nothing happened. I asked him if he would do it again and he did it again right after that at the same setting, but it wasn’t the same. He was a sport. We did get an interview out of it, but it was a much more rushed. I didn’t get to ask the same great questions and it was bombed. It’s such a drag when things don’t work. It doesn’t happen very often. Even when we were on, we got cut off in the middle and we got back together. That was pretty easy one. Some of them though, you don’t know until later. I remember seeing Steve Case at a Forbes Summit. He was interesting.
I interviewed his wife, Jean, in Miami. We had a written interview, sitting down for Inc. I probably shouldn’t say that, but she was more interesting. I bet her story of coming up in the tech world back in the ’60s and the ’70s was fascinating and that journey as being a woman in tech. It was incredible. I thought that was fascinating.
What do you write about when you write for Inc.? What do you like to focus on? What are your topics? I know I’ve had people ask me they writing about curiosity or whatever. They come to me for that. What is your focus when you go to someone?
I did a silly one for Forbes that I thought was going to be silly about emojis. Should you use them in communication, in business? I do a Forbes article every month where I get four to seven, depends on the topic, four to seven people. I put this out on LinkedIn. I put it out to my network to get people to comment. I usually get people to write 200 to 300 words. I put that out the other day as a question, are emojis proper in a business context? I thought it was a silly topic that got some interesting responses. I write the article as a crowdsourced article. I put their responses. I write an opening and let them fill in and give their take on things. The other issues are broad. I write everything about management leadership what are issues that are happening in my consulting business, things that are happening to me in business, in general and things that happen to me in the past experiences. Some of that is cathartic for me in terms of thinking. It’s a way I think through issues and problems. It also gives me a reason to keep learning. The fantastic thing about it is it forces me because I’m lazy by nature. I have the worst case of ADD in the world.
It forces me to focus on. It forces me to read and learn and take the time to do that, which makes me a better leader and business person. There are a lot of reasons I do it. It is fun. I do enjoy it. It is cathartic. I liked the learning part of it a lot. The topics are all over the place. I’m doing a weekly book review for Forbes, which is a lot of fun. It forces me to think outside. I’m taking seven books a week. I’m picking my favorite seven books a week for a particular topic. It’s forcing me to like think outside of the box of traditional writers and people that the industry tells you to have to read versus what’s out there. That’s good content that may not be getting as much as attention as if some of the New York Times bestsellers that are equally as important in terms of what they offer and content. I’m all over the place with the writing.
Everyone and their dog sending you their books because I know every day I get three or four books. I can’t imagine if you’re doing that.
I do. There are a lot of good books out there. There’s this one called Cracking The Curiosity Code.
Your books have been amazing. You are the co-author of the bestselling book, One Million Frogs. You also have a bestseller, The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions, Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful. Tell me a little bit about One Million Frogs. In case people are not familiar, what was that about?
That was a self-published one. The last book, the new book is relatively new I suppose. I have a new book I finished but that isn’t out yet. The One Million Frogs, I wrote it with my business partner. We wrote it for us. It was more of, “Let’s write all this stuff down because one day we’re going to be old and we’re going to forget it.” We want to remember what this journey was when we first started a company. That’s what that book is about. The title, to back up a little bit, we had a small toy company as I mentioned and one of our products was a fraud product and frogs are popular. I didn’t know this when I started a toy company. Our goal was to sell. We were trying to be sophisticated in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I remember we were in this meeting with our staff and we were trying to do a SWOT analysis. We were trying to do all this fancy consulting garbage.
I got frustrated because we weren’t getting anywhere with our team in terms of trying to figure out how we move this product forward. I remember walking in the room and saying, “We’re going to sell one million frogs.” Writing that up on the whiteboard and people laughed at me. It gave us a real goal. That’s what we needed. We needed a focus. We could say, “One Million Frog, so what do we have to do to get there?” That’s what we needed to do. We needed to not go through all the fancy stuff they were trying to do. We needed to distort still what we wanted to do very simply. That’s what that book is about. It’s about our journey in the toy business.
How many frogs did you end up selling?
It’s probably fifteen million or twenty million, something like that.
How I made fifteen million to twenty million frog sales. Your second book, The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions. Tell us about that one. That’s McGraw-Hill.
For some reasons, they thought it would be a good idea to get me a book contract and for me to write a book. I did. I don’t know what they were thinking. That was easy to write because these are things that for me are the key to making it work, making a business work. It’s, however, you define success, being successful whatever you try to do. To me, it’s about habits and the daily actions that you take. This book was a little different. I wrote it for me because I have ADD. I’ve never been diagnosed, maybe I need to come to see you about that.Meeting new people and growing a network is critical to any kind of success. Click To Tweet
It kept all written down for you and it helps you keep track of exercises for what you do.
It’s a book for 365 days a year. It’s not something you sit down and read at one sitting. It gives you twenty minutes a day to work on things that you need to work on. Whether it be time management, learning to say no or learning networking skills. Each of the 52 chapters is a daily action and you work on different activities for a week, twenty minutes a day. It makes you pull out a journal, write down things, answer questions and focus in on. Be introspective of what you need to do to get ahead and get where you want to go. It starts with a personal mission statement, which most people don’t have. It takes you through a year’s worth of exercises. I designed the book for that reason because in our busy lives now, it’s hard to read a book and take a 300-page book and have a couple of takeaways that you do anything with. I wanted people to be conscious of it. I wanted people to sit down and take time to work on themselves, at least twenty minutes a day.
What’s your personal mission statement then?
It’s a little different than what you say in a business mission statement way. Mine talks about my values and what I will and won’t do. I’m going to make my money doing business with people that are good and who are doing good things. It’s about travel as being an important value for me. Family, my boys being an important value to me and being present in their lives, being present in conversations and in my work and everything. It’s probably about a half a page long because it’s not all like this one-sentence mission statement. It talks about my values. It talks about what I will and won’t do. It talks about what’s important to me.
You do some important things. You were the director of National Service Programs for Habitat for Humanity. You were the chief liaison with the White House, Congress and Corporation for National Service. That’s pretty impressive. You are always looking to make a difference it seems like. What’s next for you? You said you had another book?
I’m working on two. I’m working on a collaborative book with three other authors, Dr. Terry Frasier, who is an executive coach, Suzie Burke and Eugene Frasier, all three are executive coaches. This is a coaching book and a leadership book. The one I finished by myself is about self-talk. It’s about how we talk ourselves and how that either helps us or hinders us in what we want to accomplish. Now it’s short. It’s probably going to be 50, 60 pages when it all gets printed out. To me, it’s a critical and important thing because you start talking to yourself the minute you wake up. It sets the tone for the day. If you don’t admit you’re not talking to yourself, you’re lying. We all do it.
We talked a little about that on your show because one of the four factors that impact curiosity is your assumptions or the things we tell ourselves. That voice in our head. I love that you’re writing about that because that is such a huge factor to what keeps people from getting along sometimes from understanding other people or having good perception of themselves and of others. How does that tie into perception for you?
It ties in a lot of ways. It all goes towards how we feel about ourselves. It goes towards how we feel about others. If you start every day talking to yourself in a negative way, your interactions throughout the day are going to be negative. They’re not going to be positive. There’s a lot of research that I can’t quote about how we intuitively judge people, how we intuitively read people in microseconds. We get an impression about somebody almost instantly, whether that’s a right or wrong impression. It doesn’t matter. We do it. If your negative self-talk has this huge impact on you in terms of the way you feel, the way you look, your facial expressions, it’s going to impact your interactions and your perceptions that you give off and that you received from people?
I gave a talk at SHRM and I talked about that when I was talking about assumptions. There’s a psychology discussion and you sometimes you see on YouTube and different things that if you hold a glass of water up to the crowd, you say, “How much do you think this weighs?” People yell out, six ounces, twelve ounces, whatever they guess. You go, “It doesn’t matter. It’s how long do you hold it?” If I hold it for a few seconds, no big deal but after an hour, my arm starts to get tired. After a day, my arms paralyzed and our thoughts in our head are like that. If it goes fleeting, no big deal. If you hold onto it a little while longer, it starts to cause you pain. If you hold it for a long time, you can become paralyzed and not do anything. That’s an interesting way of looking at how that voice in our head impacts us.
It also reminds me, I used to watch Dr. Katz with my daughter as a cartoon on Nickelodeon or something like one of those shows. It reminded me of the Bob Newhart thing but in cartoon form where he’s a psychiatrist. Every week the patient is a different comedian. One guy, he saw on the couch and he goes, “I don’t mind the voice in my head so much. I wish it didn’t have a stutter.” We have this voice and sometimes it’s hard to shut it off. When I was interviewing Daniel Goleman, I was asking about this because now he’s doing mindfulness after doing emotional intelligence for so long. I was always assuming mindfulness was you had to get completely empty and not think of anything. He says, “No, that’s impossible.” I’m glad I heard that because I thought there was something wrong with me. Do you practice mindfulness?
I’m a pretty simple person. You can call it mindfulness. I try to have positive interactions with everybody I meet. I try to be positive. I try to think positive. You’ve got to fight. Some of that’s a fight every day. I’m talking to somebody via LinkedIn as a friend. He was talking about how he had to turn down a client because he asked the person, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” The person said, “It’s more important for me to be right.” For me, it comes down to that personal mission statement, which I try to live by, which is happiness. What I know is to get happiness back and to get positive vibes back and to get a genuine, meaningful, real, engaged and connected relationships, you got to give that back. That’s what I try to do. If that’s mindfulness, I practice it.
Sometimes what we consider what works for us may not be what falls under the category of what everybody else calls it. What you do with your writing to write down things to help you remember so that you can get it all down for other people and a lot of those things, that’s what I try to do as well. I was honored to be on your podcast. The name your podcast one more time is?
It’s the Power Lunch Live.
I know it pops up on my LinkedIn when you’re live. I like that. I try to drop in if I can and check it out. I love that it does that because you know what’s going on. Your show is great. Your work is amazing. I know a lot of people are going to want to find out more about you. Is there a website or something you’d like to share?
You can go to the website, www.PowerLunch.live. You can find out who we’re talking to and the upcoming schedule. You can find past guests. Pretty soon you’ll have a link to those shows. It’s a work in progress because this is a new thing. We’ve been going for a few months now. I’m working on the whole branding package around it. I’m working on the logo and everything that you got to have nowadays to market a show like that. That’ll come out soon. The website is there and you can find out about the show. The other thing that you can do until LinkedIn launches this, you can go to #LinkedInLive and the search thing for LinkedIn and it will bring up all the live shows that have been done that day and are ongoing. You’ll be able to find my program there. If we’re not connected on LinkedIn, send me a connection request and I will certainly accept it.
How are they monetizing? Are you going to be able to monetize it through advertising and are they going to look into that for that platform?Being introspective of what you need to do to get ahead and get where you want to go starts with a personal mission statement. Click To Tweet
I have no idea. What I’ve started to think about was doing it instead of going out to speak to going out and do LinkedIn Lives at conferences, events and different things for organizations. That may be a way to monetize it. There should be some advertising. If your show’s doing well, I would hope that there’s some advertising ultimately around it. That would be wonderful if we could do that. I don’t know how it’s going to be monetized yet. I’m looking at it from a content standpoint because I’ve done 50 or 60 and over 50 interviews or so now. What I look at it is that in six months, so I have enough good material with 60 authors to write a new book and have 60 people included in it and all their wisdom. If you think about all that collective wisdom that comes from people like yourself. What if we put that and the interview that I did with you as a chapter, we break that into a chapter? That’s 60 people that will promote that book because they’re in it. I’m looking at it as a content way to get good information out to the audience. I put that in a book format at some point.
This is transcribed, which is a great thing. I use Tom Hazzard’s group, Brandcasting You, which is great because every show is transcribed. You’ve got every single thing already linked and all this stuff if you wanted to make a book out of it. Anybody who’s reading and interested in doing that, he does a good job with that.
What’s his name?
His name is Tom Hazzard. Tom does a great job. I like it because it brings traffic to the website and this is not an advertisement. I’m not getting paid for this because a lot of people don’t want to listen or watch. They want to read and get bits and pieces and things like that. That’s why I did that. It works and I have been happy with that.
It gives people the content, the way and the format that they want to listen to it or read it or however they want it.
It’s cool because he’s got this dial to, if you go to Dr. Diane Hamilton Radio and you go right to that, go to the dial and pick the names. It looks more like a radio dial. If you go to the blog, you can read it. It goes in different ways. It uploads to all the different stations because I’m already on the AM/FM stations. The blog part, he puts it everywhere else, which is nice to be on. If I asked my echo device, if I said her name, she’d play my show, Dr. Diane Hamilton Podcast, which is a great party trick. People get very impressed by that. I have said her name or not even said her name and she’s been on some of my shows in the past. Thank you so much for being on the show, Rhett. I hope everybody takes some time to check out your shows, your books and everything you’re doing because you’re such an impressive guy. I was looking forward to this. Thank you.
Thank you so much. It’s very kind words. I appreciate it.
I’d like to thank James and Rhett for being my guests. Join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- The Sasha Group
- LinkedIn – The Sasha Group
- Twitter – The Sasha Group
- Instagram – The Sasha Group
- @JimmyThePencil – Twitter
- LinkedIn – James Orsini
- Instagram – James Orsini
- Snapchat – James Orsini
- Rhett Power
- Rhett Power on Forbes
- Rhett Power on Thrive Global
- Global Entrepreneurship Summit
- David Allen – Previous episode
- Rhett Power on Inc.
- Cracking The Curiosity Code
- One Million Frogs
- The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions, Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful
- Daniel Goleman – Previous episode
- LinkedIn – Rhett Power
- Brandcasting You
About James Orsini
James Orsini is President of The Sasha Group a VaynerX company. Working alongside Gary Vaynerchuck, its CEO and serial entrepreneur, Orsini leads the group to help small business reach explosive growth potential. The Sasha Group provides educational, consulting and marketing services for companies from $1 to $100 million in revenue. Orsini held previous positions as Chief Operating Officer as well as Chief Integration Officer for VaynerMedia a digital agency with social at its core. Working alongside founder and CEO Gary Vaynerchuk James helped manage the agency for success.
He was Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors of Sito Mobile Ltd., (NASDAQ: SITO) A proven leader and author of numerous business articles including Agency of the Future, Guided Exploration, and Let Leaders Lead and Practitioners Practice. Mr. Orsini has also penned white papers The Authentic Network, Reverse 360 Mentoring, Mastering Procurement and Procurements Evolution for Today’s Marketing Service Companies. He has done numerous podcasts including Second in Command with Cameron Herold and Self-made man with Mike Dillard. James has more than 30 years of finance and operations experience across a broad range of marketing and communications disciplines.
About Rhett Power
Rhett Power co-founded Wild Creations in 2007 and quickly built the startup toy company into the 2010 Fastest Growing Business in South Carolina. Wild Creations was awarded a Blue Ribbon Top 75 US Company by the US Chamber of Commerce and one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing US Companies. He and his team won over 40 national awards for their innovative toys. He was a finalist for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2011 and was nominated again in 2012. Recently he was named one of the world’s top 100 business bloggers and in 2018 the Best Small Business Coach in the United States.
Rhett travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship, and management alongside the likes of Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann, AOL Founder Steve Case, and President Barack Obama. He has been featured in the Huffington Post, Business Insider, The Hill, Time, The Wall Street Journal and CNN Money and is a regular contributor to Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Forbes, and Thrive Global.
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