Marketing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Brian Kurtz, founder and CEO of Titans Marketing, professes his love for direct marketing and always likes to talk about an expression which goes ‘those who did it have a responsibility to teach’. He realized that at a certain point, it made more sense for him to be able to take the fundamentals he did as a marketer and to bring that to another generation of marketers, copywriters, and entrepreneurs. Brian says it’s a very jumbled and confusing marketplace, so if you don’t have the fundamentals of marketing, you’re just going to be another face in the crowd. For Monica Morton, she and her team have seen it all. Monica is the president and CEO of Know LLC. She is a licensed private investigator specializing in sports and entertainment investigations. In an effort to be proactive and not reactive, she conducted extensive research and developed a program of services to assist young men and women in making better choices.
We have Brian Kurtz and Monica Morton here. Brian Kurtz is the Founder and CEO of Titans Marketing and he is the Direct Marketing Guru. He knows everything you need to know about that and he’s been around, and he’s done it all. We’re going to talk to Monica Morton, who is the Founder and CEO of K.N.O.W. She helps A-list celebrities, basketball players, NFL players, any sports celebrities and all kinds of companies deal with the undercover investigating to determine some of the things that they may not know and to help them with the life skills in some cases. She’s done a lot of different things from venture capital to private investigating and beyond.
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Direct Marketing with Brian Kurtz
I am with Brian Kurtz, who’s Founder and CEO of Titans Marketing. He professes his love for direct marketing. He’s overseeing the mailing of approximately 1.3 billion pieces of third-class mail over the past twenty years. He’s been able to market and sell newsletters and books via direct response television, infomercials, and using email and internet in huge numbers. He was responsible for buying media in excess of $80 million and sold over three million books via direct response television over a three-year period. Brian, welcome.
Thank you. To give a little context, I did that during the first 34 years of my career helping build a company called Boardroom Incorporated, which was a newsletter and book publisher, well-known in direct marketing circles. Titans Marketing is what I’ve been doing for the last three and a half years when I decided that I was done doing it and I want it to go out and teach it. I have an expression that I always talk about, which is, “Those who did it have a responsibility to teach it.” At a certain point, it made more sense for me to be able to take the fundamentals that allowed me to mail the billions of impressions in all media that I did as a marketer and to bring that to another generation of marketers, copywriters, and entrepreneurs because I believe that marketing isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.
I don’t say that as a marketing whore of any kind. I say that in the context of you’ve got something to share with the world. If you think in the field story, if you build it, they will come. It doesn’t work that way. I’m not a serial entrepreneur per se, but I am a serial direct marketer. I believe that everything we do in marketing needs to be measurable and that’s what direct marketing is. I didn’t throw out billion pieces of mail out their willy-nilly. I know that people didn’t think that but I did do it for a company that was pretty well-known in publishing and direct marketing. Now, I’m in the next phase of my career. People are doing the math. They said, “If he’s been working for 40 years, he’s got to be really old.” They didn’t know that I started when I was nine.
Seriously, what age did you start?
I started in my early twenties. I turned 60.
We were at the Genius Network together with Joe Polish. You are among a group of people there that are amazing as far as what they’ve been able to accomplish. You did some publishing and you’re talking about paying it forward. I liked the way you twisted that to a good way of teaching. Those who did it have a responsibility to teach it, since I’m a teacher too. I’ve taught more than a thousand business courses and one of the last courses I wrote was a brand publishing course for Forbes that was part of Bruce Rogers’ work. It was very complicated. I wish I had somebody like you to go to for some advice when I was doing it. It was trying to help CMOs to figure out all the vendors. The challenge I found that the CMOs were finding was trying to get their message out at scale but reach people in a personalized way. How do you do that? You should probably be the expert.
This is the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a marketer. I got a quote from an investment banker in New York a few years ago that I use all the time. We were talking about buying and selling a company and he said, “Today, advertising opportunities are now infinite.” I thought about that and I said, “I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It was mostly direct mail. We did a little bit of space advertising in newspapers and magazines. We did some TV and radio and all that.” You knew where you would go to get your stuff out into the world. There weren’t that many choices of media, even though at the time, it still felt overwhelming and there always seemed to be a great choice.
I make the joke all the time that I never met a medium I didn’t like. I even tested advertising on the back of yogurt lids and on the back of ATM receipts. Both of those ideas were only good ideas at the time. Everywhere was a possibility. Think about billboards. That’s an advertising medium. When this investment banker said, “Advertising opportunities are infinite,” what that resonated with me in a lot of ways was that the dangers of one-stop shopping when it comes to choosing your media for where you want to advertise and choosing the people that you want to work with. With so many opportunities, this isn’t a thing. It’s going to catch on. It’s not internet marketing, it’s not even online marketing. It’s Facebook advertising, it’s display advertising, it’s Instagram, it’s Twitter, it’s email marketing. It’s all these online launches. There are all of these things that, to me, are all media. There are so many of them. The thing about online that’s overwhelming is that most things are a lot cheaper because you’re not paying postage and printing, it’s mostly digital. You get overwhelmed.
Let’s go back to your CMOs dilemma. You get overwhelmed with all of these choices, “What do I do? How do I scale? How do I get there?” The mistake that I see especially in Corporate America, and I don’t have a lot to do with them for the most part although I worked a lot with companies over my time at Boardroom and even since with people in larger environments. I deal mostly with entrepreneurs. I do see this dilemma of the temptation to say, “I found my expert. He or she will take care of all of my online marketing,” and the expert in Facebook is not the expert in display, who’s not the expert in ad words, who’s not the expert in using Twitter, who’s not the expert in using YouTube and who’s not the expert in email marketing, who’s certainly not the expert in direct mail, radio, TV. What’s the answer? The answer is that a la carte beats a fixed price dinner. It was true for me even in the ‘80s and ‘90s. For example, I would never go to a direct response agency and say, “Here’s my product. Do me. Take care of my media, take care of my creative, take care of everything.” I’ll use creative as a very important example. I’ve worked with some of the best copywriters who’ve ever lived.
If you are a world class copywriter and you are working inside an agency, I’m going to maintain that you’re not a world class copywriter. I know there are people in the audience that say they work in a big ad agency and they say, “Brian, don’t trash us. We hate you too.” I am not hating on agencies. Certain agencies have a specialty in a certain category, a certain area, but if I’m a direct response copywriter and I can get royalties and I can get huge upfront fees for writing new packages and new promotions as opposed to getting a straight salary, you can see that most of the great copywriters did not work inside a company. They are freelancers in my day in direct mail and I believe that they still are today.
Sometimes they’ll work inside a particular organization, like the equivalent of an in-house counsel because they get equity positions inside the company. The idea of working as a salaried employee when you’re writing copy for marketing purposes or you’re buying media where you could get a piece of the action because of the incremental value that you bring to a business, you can see why I’m not a fan of one-stop shopping. My big piece of advice would be buy a la carte, buy my copywriters separately from my media buyers. Within the media buyers, the different media would go to different agencies. There are agencies that just specialize in Facebook, for example. That’s a very broad answer to your question, but you can see where I’m going because that’s what overwhelms a lot of CMOs because they want an easy way to do it to scale.
You might be able to find an agency that could scale in a particular niche with specific media that they’re great at. I maintain that if you want to be, “I’m the president,” and be able to test all media except for yogurt lids and the back of ATM receipts, I highly recommend this a la carte approach. Research it. That’s why you and I are in groups like Genius Network and why I run mastermind groups myself. It’s critical, and this is an important distinction that our friend, Dean Jackson, made. He made it at that event also. I talked to him about this. The key is, as a marketer, you don’t have to figure out the ‘how’ right away. What you have to figure out is the ‘what’. What is the hot thing? What is the new application? What is the hot thing that we should be testing based on our market, our avatar, what we want to promote in the world? The ‘what’ is very important.
Once you know what the what is, let’s say for example, I find out that sending email marketing funnel is the way that I should launch my product. I’m being simplistic, but once I find that out, what I need to do then is find the ‘who’. You go from the ‘what’ to the ‘who’. The ‘who’ would be, “I need the expert to write that copy for that email funnel,” or, “I need that expert with direct mail, I need the expert to write the direct mail copy and buy the list for my direct mail campaign.” Once they have the ‘what’ and the ‘who’, now the ‘how’ happens without me having to do it. I’m coaching mostly entrepreneurs, so I try to encourage them because they’ll tend towards the ‘how’ because that’s why they’re entrepreneurs. They can’t help themselves. They see a shiny object and they run towards it, and then they just want to implement, and they want to execute. I try to train them in my groups and my mastermind groups.
In general, you would agree with me and the group that we’re in, that if we can teach our entrepreneurs, the same would be for the CMO in a big company, if we can teach them the ‘what’, what’s hot, what we need to test and then we find the ‘who’ of who the experts are in those areas, we’re where we need to be at that point and the ‘how’ doesn’t just happen. We don’t snap our fingers and execute. You can see that with that approach, we’re going to get to the ‘how’ in a much more systematic way than just throwing spaghetti up against the wall. That’s my philosophy on marketing in a world where advertising opportunities are now infinite.
That’s helpful and you’ve brought up some things that remind me of some of the other people in our audience. I have a lot of consultants that are smaller companies that aren’t dealing with CMO level issues. They’re dealing with setting up an AWeber and a MailChimp, that kind of stuff. Everybody says you give away free things with value. People won’t care that you’re giving them all this email because it’s all valuable stuff. Everybody’s getting 50 million emails every day.
Email is the killer app. Email is the most important marketing medium today. You have to stick out. You still have to do all the things that we used to do to stick out in the mailbox, the things you do to stick out on TV. Marketing Fundamentals, this is my next book that I’m writing, which is all about measurable marketing. The fundamentals of direct response marketing have not gone away. My first book, The Advertising Solution, where I profiled six greats of advertising including David Ogilvy, John Caples, Eugene Schwartz, Claude Hopkins. These are guys that were doing their stuff in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and all of those fundamentals of marketing. They all apply to what we’re doing online today. If you don’t have those fundamentals, you’re going to be another face in the crowd. It’s a jumbled and confusing marketplace. Without the fundamentals of marketing, I wish you a lot more luck than if you have the fundamentals of marketing.
A lot of authors, a lot of speakers that create these books, like you said, you have a new book coming out and a lot of people listening have books coming out. They want people to know about them and to market to them, but they haven’t developed their lists yet to get people interested. What advice would you give them to develop their mailing list? If they can’t afford to get a professional copywriter, what advice would you give them to go through that process?
The most important thing that you can do, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a bigger business, doesn’t matter, small to big, is the advice that one of my mentors gave me. His name is Jay Abraham. He’s one of the leaders, marketing thinkers ever who have ever lived. He’s only a little older than me but I consider him a mentor. He wrote a book and it’s called Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got. The first step before figuring out getting less, figuring out getting copywriters and figuring out all the money you’re going to spend, before you throw good money after that, the most important thing you can do is assess your assets. Most companies, small and large, don’t understand what they might have right under their nose.
Here’s a simple example. In direct marketing, there’s a rule of thumb that says, and this is like in subscription marketing, but it’s applying to any kind, “Your best list is your expire list.” If you have any former customers, former clients, or former people that have ever written you a check, that’s the best list. People start thinking first about, “How I’m going to find new customers.” Sometimes their assets are right under their nose. I’m using this one as an example because it’s the most obvious one. There are all sorts of assets that you might have, not just former customers that you can revive into becoming new customers with a new offer, a new approach, or something that you do now that you didn’t do then when they left you as a customer for whatever business you have. What about assets like content? To me, in this world, in the internet where it’s inexpensive to put out email for example, and to deliver content at a very deep level that’s free, that’s accessible. People love to get from you. You might have a lot of that right under your nose too. What about articles you’ve written? Previous books that you can break apart? The list of things is endless. I don’t want to get too granular, but the concept of assessing your assets and what’s right under your nose.
You said, “What about a list?” I got a client sometimes and I say, “You’ve got this new course that you have, what list do you have?” They go, “I don’t have any list.” I said, “How many people are your friends on Facebook?” They say, “I got a couple of thousand.” I said, “Is there any way to offer something from something you’ve written before that relates to this new course on a Facebook post?” This is very simple and, “Getting people to opt in for something for free from you, and then get them onto an email list so then you could mail them on a regular basis?” That doesn’t cost you a copywriter. That doesn’t cost you anything. If you have something you can give them, it’s a win. It’s not just Facebook. I say, “Do you have an email list on Gmail or on AOL or on Yahoo, whatever?” They said, “Yes, I have an email list of 6,000 people.” I said, “Instead of going out and buying mailing list, you have this list of people that already know you, there’s probably a lot of people in that list that could buy from you. It might be worth your while to spend some time to hand compile that list into something that might be people that you could go out to with an offer, with even just an inquiry.”
I had a person who is in one of my mastermind groups who basically has a list of 350 people who subscribe to a newsletter of his, who’ve spent at least $3,000 minimum with him. I said, “Before you go out and look for new customers, those 350 people, what can we deliver to them?” We started talking about that he’s a guru to them. He could develop coaching groups, for example, at a very high price. How many of those 350 would need to be in a $10,000 or $15,000 coaching group to make that lucrative?
I want our audience here to think out of the box, but completely in the box of assets I own before I start thinking about what I have to go buy. There are inexpensive ways to find professionals who will help you. If you don’t have a lot of cash and a lot of entrepreneurs are bootstrapped, they find copywriters and or media buyers and or marketing consultants who might not work on a stack, but you pay them a small fee. When we get some results based on their magic formula, they get a piece of the action. This isn’t new. I’m not inventing the idea of paying royalties to copywriters, to media buyers, paying incentives to consultants who create huge opportunities for you in your marketing. That’s an obvious way to get much better talent if they see potential in you.
I’m not a bootstrap guy. Even though I have a lot of young entrepreneurs in my mastermind groups that I coach, I tell them, “I’m not the guy that could start your business from scratch. I’m not your best guy for that.” When I started at Boardroom, it was already a $3 million business. I helped grow it to $160 million with Marty Edelston, who was the Founder. I didn’t start it from scratch. I did start Titans Marketing from scratch but I already had a 34-year head start in some business knowledge. It’s not fair. I’m going to clear that I’m not the bootstrap entrepreneur startup and I see you’ve done some interviews with people like that. You’ve got many more people in your circle that are better at that than me, but what I am good at is taking a look at what you have, getting the most out of it and then start building a marketing program based on what’s available in the marketplace.
Advertising opportunities are now infinite, which means that opportunities are now infinite. I said, “This is the greatest time in the world to be a marketer,” but it is. It just is. I’ve been doing it long enough to have some context on that. I’m 60 years old. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years. I wrote a blog post, Too many of my mentors are dead… when I was twenty and 30, most of my mentors were my age. Now, they’re 60 and 70. What a great thing. I want to say that I’ve got all their knowledge in my head. I seem to forget more than I remember sometimes. My mentor, Marty, used to say he loved getting old because he got so smart. Have I lived one year at a time for 60 years or do I have 60 years’ experience? It’s a huge distinction in marketing especially, because marketing knowledge, to me, is all cumulative. Understanding what I understood in direct mail, how to write a sales letter and all the things I read, then I wrote my first book. My first book I profiled Claude Hopkins. Claude Hopkins wrote a book called Scientific Advertising in 1923. The book is 100% relevant today. How did I apply the concepts that Hopkins put forth into an online marketing funnel today? To me, that’s the magic. It’s not as sexy.
It’s not sexy talking about some dead guy from 1939 or something. It not sexy to talk about people think I’m grandpa strolling down memory lane, and I’m not. I talk about that a lot in my writing. I have a whole chapter in my new book, it’s all about what I call original source. Going back to the original source matters, not just for great memories. It matters because it’s going to make you do your work in the current marketplace better because you’re going to have a context for the fundamentals of where it came from. I’m not the only one who preaches on this, but I can see exactly how it applies specifically to direct marketing and that’s my mission for the rest of my life.
Everybody had to pick books that they had to read at least twice. You picked The Alchemist, Breakthrough Advertising and Give And Take. You’ve got Eugene M. Schwartz and Adam Grant. You’ve got some pretty good books there. It’s important that we continue to read and be curious. I’m writing a book about curiosity. Have you always been a curious person? Can you teach somebody to be curious if it’s been stifled by childhood experience or whatever?
I teach copywriters a lot even though I’m not a copywriter, but since I’ve worked with all the best. I always say one of the most important characteristics of a copywriter is insatiable curiosity. What happened was I started doing this profile of the best copywriters I ever worked with, the best copywriters who’ve ever lived that I’ve ever worked with. Gene Schwartz, Gary Halbert, Gary Bencivenga, Jim Rutz. These names that your audience may not know, every one of them ended up having these seven characteristics in common, in different degrees but all had them. Number one was insatiable curiosity. Hunger was one. Understanding direct marketing principles was another. Humility was another. Passion and understanding that going deep a niche before you go wide is important. What I found is that all of those characteristics of the great copywriters were also the same characteristics of great marketers.
I’ve had insatiable curiosity my whole life. I was an English major, which is ironic because after I left college, I went from reading all fiction to almost reading all nonfiction once I got this thirst for business and direct marketing. I had the same curiosity when I was reading Dickens, Norman Mailer, Nathanael West and Alexander Pope as I was when I’m reading Gene Schwartz, Paulo Coelho, and Adam Grant. Life is so much more interesting when you’re curious.
You mentioned your book, The Advertising Solution: Influence Prospects, Multiply Sales, And Promote Your Brand and your information about your masterminds. Can you share how people can reach you?
The best way to get a sense of the stuff we talked about in a much deeper level would be to buy my book, The Advertising Solution, for which I made no money. My royalty deal doesn’t exist. I did the book not as a labor of love, but I wrote it with my partner, Craig Simpson, and we used all of the money to have a great editor. We paid a great editor, we didn’t care about royalties, and then we wanted to create a resource page to go with the book so that it became this educational platform. If people go to TheLegendsBook.com, you’ll see on there, there are these swipe files.
Swipe files are great promotions written by great copywriters and marketers. It happens to be the six legends that I profiled in my book, which is a David Ogilvy, Gary Halbert, Gene Schwartz, Claude Hopkins, Robert Collier, who was the Father of the Sales Letter, and John Caples who was the Father of Testing. On TheLegendsBook.com, you have the swipe file of those six guys all wrote, products that they sold and all of that. In addition, there are some videos of three of them. One of them is David Ogilvy on The David Letterman Show which was hysterical. There’s also a PDF of an annotated and illustrated version of a book called Scientific Advertising written by one of my legends, Claude Hopkins, the book that was written in 1923. You can download that for free. It’s a PDF.
You go to the site and then there are buttons where you go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. You go buy my book, The Advertising Solution, you come back to the site with your receipt, then you can download all that stuff for free. The book is $16. At the same time, you get on my list. If you want to be on my list then and how you stay in touch with me, I blog every Sunday morning. I don’t sell anything except other educational materials. I don’t do affiliate deals and stuff that. You won’t be bombarded by sales messages, but I blog every Sunday. You’ll get a welcome series from me with some of my favorite blog posts on some of the topics that we spoke about. You buy my book for $16, you get on my list and you also get all those bonuses for free at the TheLegendsBook.com. That’s the best way.
If you’re too cheap to spend $16, you can just go to BrianKurtz.me. You go there, there’s a site there with some content on it. It’s a very modest site but it’s an opt in page. You put in your name and email, you get another interview I’ve done with someone else. It was a good interview with Perry Marshall, who’s a marketing genius. They get the download. It’s the three biggest successes of my career and it’s an interesting interview, very specific on a TV campaign and a book campaign. You get the interview for free, you’re on my list, you’ve got my blogs and all that and you save the $16 on The Advertising Solution. TheLegendsBook.com or BrianKurtz.me, that’s how people can find me. I’m sure a lot of your audience never even heard of me and that’s fine. I am a good guy and I love doing what I’m doing and marketing is in my life. I love sharing what I’ve done for the last 40 years.
Thank you, Brian. This has been so much fun. Thank you for being on the show.
You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me.
Turning Great Athletes Into Businessmen with Monica Morton
I am here with Monica Morton, who is the President and CEO of K.N.O.W. She is a seventeen-year licensed private investigator specializing in sports and entertainment investigations. She and her team have seen it all. She says it’s a wonderful compliment to be known for excellence in investigations, but instead, she was receiving calls from coaches, owners and agents after a disaster, not before. In an effort to be proactive and not reactive, she conducted extensive research and developed a program of services to assist those young men and women in making better choices, which led to her launching K.N.O.W. It’s nice to have you here, Monica.
It is awesome to be with you, Diane. Thank you.
You’re welcome. I’m curious what K.N.O.W. stands for?
It stands for Knowledge Network Offering Wisdom.
You deal with professional athletes. I assume you’re still doing work with them, correct?
Yes, we work with professional athletes. We work with celebrities, dignitaries, very high net worth earning individuals all over the world.
You had some alarming statistics on your site. You said 62% of professional athletes have at least two children out of wedlock within the first two years as a professional athlete, 60% of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement, and 78% of NFL players are bankrupt or financially stressed after two years of retirement. That’s pretty sad. How do we prepare them so that doesn’t happen?
That’s part of the reason that I launched the company. It’s like what I stated on my website, it’s astounding that you get the phone calls from the owners, the coaches and the agents after the fact. We felt we needed to put something in place where we could be proactive instead of reactive. It’s stunning to me when you see these professional athletes and they make tens of millions of dollars and within two to five years of retirement, they’re broke. We wanted to be able to help them to make better financial choices on the court, on the field, off the court, off the field, choices in regard to life, wealth management, all kinds of choices. That’s why we started our company.
I’ve worked with a lot of doctors in the past and they’re not trained for the business aspect of it. They’re trained to be a doctor and an athlete’s not that different. Do you think?
It’s the same exact thing. It’s stunning to me. We’ve done surveys with a lot of the top colleges and universities around the country and it’s the same feedback that we get from the coaches saying that they’re appreciative of our services because it’s helping them to produce not just great athletes but balanced businessmen. Athleticism, it’s a business and I don’t think a lot of them understand that it is a business.
It’s hard to think of anything that’s not a business and a lot of people go into these different jobs that they think somebody else is going to take care of stuff, but you have to know what’s going on. A lot of managers will take advantage, right?
Exactly, because a lot of times what they don’t understand is that the agent is there for the legal contract. It’s not the agent’s responsibility in regard to assisting grown men in making financial choices, decisions and informed financial choices. If we can help them to understand life skills in every aspect of life, that whatever they earn as a professional athlete, if they play two years, five years, it has to literally last them for 50 years. Most of them never think about that.
It’s a hard thing for people when they’re young to think about it. You just don’t think that far ahead. It’s great that you’re teaching life skills. In all the courses I’ve taught and all of the things I’ve developed, my focus is on soft skills and a lot of the things that people don’t learn either at home at work or even in college. I don’t know what you consider life skills but I’d like to know what you consider as life skills.
When it comes down to personal development, knowing who you are, your aspirations, your goals, things like that are important. One of the things that we noticed was a pattern where a lot of these athletes feel a huge financial obligation to friends and family once they become professional athletes. When you do have that life skills training where you understand all aspects of sports, business, branding, marketing, and advertising, it helps them to make better choices. It’s not your responsibility to take care of an entire family because you’re drafted into the NFL.
That’s a tough one and I’ve seen that happen in a lot of families where you feel that sense of responsibility and it’s tough. I’m curious about your background coming into this. You were a licensed private investigator. What got you interested in that?
I’ve been a private detective for 25 years and I’ve owned my own firm for twenty. I have an interesting story. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio. When I was nine years old, I was in a park and I had just gotten a brand-new bicycle for my ninth birthday. A ball rolled up to me while I was on the monkey bars and I jumped off thinking I was being a lady and handed the ball back to this teenager and he jumped on my bicycle and stole my bike. I went home. I knew my mother was going to be furious and I told my mom and dad, “My bike got stolen. I need you to take me to the library.” My mother looked at me like I was insane and I said, “Don’t argue with me, just take me to the library.” We went to the library and went through the yearbooks for all the schools in my county. I found his photograph. I made my parents take me to the police department. I make them file a police report and I made my parents file a lawsuit against his parents and the judge made his parents buy me a new bicycle.
That’s a great story. That’s unusual for a child. It’s funny because I’m writing a book about curiosity and you obviously have a curious personality that you would want to go through what that would be.
I’ve had people ask me, “How did you know to do that?” I don’t know how I knew to do that, Diane. It was natural for me. I’ve always loved crime and criminal justice and I’ve always been able to figure things out before other people. I’ve always had this uncanny six sense, which is why I’m such a good investigator and I tell people I’m not a good investigator if you’re expecting that I am a damn good investigator. I worked for Fortune 500 companies all over the globe. I’m proud of my work and I’m proud of the reputation that I’ve been able to develop as an excellent investigator.
As you mentioned the judge, I saw both Judge Judy and Kerry Washington at the same event and I don’t think either one of them was more than five feet tall. They were both super tiny but both of them had such strong personalities. I loved watching them and I am fascinated by strong women. We think of investigators as a male-oriented job. Don’t you? Do you get that a lot? What made you, as a female, attracted in that respect? Are you a lone wolf or are there other women that do what you do?
Most people find it fascinating that I am a female, but I’m an African-American female and I’m in a very male-dominated industry. It stuns people when they find out that 90% of my corporate clients are white males and they’re very high net worth earning white males. It doesn’t matter what companies I’ve worked for, just about everybody. I don’t know why people associate race with a specific work or vocation. Nobody cares whether I’m black, white, polka dot, green, yellow, or purple. The only thing they care about is I’m the best at what I do, and I get results, period. I’ve worked my hiney off to build a stellar reputation. It’s not easy but I love what I do. I absolutely love what I do. I love my work.
You’ve done other things. I saw you raised more than $200 million for films. What’s that?
I used to work for a venture capital firm and it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had for five years. I worked for two very wealthy gentlemen that owned a venture capital firm. I predominantly help them and assisted them in raising private age-able equity funding for the entertainment division for their company. They basically look for opportunities to invest in the film industry. I got to meet some wonderful people and I learned an awful lot about the VC community, the venture capital community.
That’s a tough gig and you’ve had a diverse background. You were working on a show for BET. Did that ever come to fruition?
I had received an amazing offer to have my own investigator show on BET. They went through some behind-the-scenes changes. I’ve got some other offers to go in some different directions and I believe we’ve received an offer for my show to come out on the Oprah Winfrey network.
That’s a big deal. Have you met Oprah yet?
I have not. I’m so excited, I can’t wait.
That would be amazing opportunity. I hope that works out. You have to let us know how that turns out because I hope that that works out. I’ve been talking to a lot of people in the production film, in that industry because we’ve got a big studio here in Arizona where they’re starting to do more of that. Where are you located? Are you still in Cleveland?
I’m in Atlanta. I split residencies between Atlanta and Los Angeles but primarily Atlanta.
I saw you went to Ohio State. What was your degree program?
You’ve always wanted to go into this direction. How did you get your clients? You’ve got very high-end clients. Did it start out that way? Did you get a very big client at the beginning and it snowballed from there? How did that go about?
It’s almost a hard question to answer but I’ll do my best. Yes and no to what you were saying I did. I ended up getting a big client and did an amazing job for them. It was a big, huge oil company and they were so pleased with our services that they started recommending us to other companies. We have two totally separate divisions within our company. We have the sports and the entertainment division where we do tons of business due diligence for very high profile professional athletes and celebrities. We have an insurance risk management division where we do work for all the major insurance companies in regard to arson investigations, property and casualty fraud, all kinds of stuff. We do a little bit of both. I have spent 25 years in establishing ourselves as being a premiere investigative firm, providing those services to both entities around the world.
You must have uncovered some interesting stories and crazy things that I don’t expect you to list company names or anything like that. What’s was the most surprising thing that you’ve uncovered in when you’ve done some research?
I’ll share with you my Bernie Madoff story. It’s one of my best stories. I personally have worked over 6,000 investigations personally myself and when I say that I have seen everything, I truly have seen everything. I had a very wealthy oil client from Texas that contacted me, and he says, “I’m taking a trip to New York. I have an opportunity to possibly make an investment. Would you go with me? I’d like for you to be my ears and tell me what you think.” I said, “Sure.” It was myself and his executive assistant. He’s very wealthy, so we went on his private jet and we’re flying off to New York. I had no idea who we were going to see, and it ended up being Mr. Madoff. We go, and they do this fantastic dog and pony show. They did this financial portfolio and perspective with all these great numbers and figures and they had a catered lunch and this, that, and the other.
What was interesting to me is that I was poo-pooed. He didn’t put a lot of attention on me. He put more attention on my client, his executive assistant and his CFO that was with this as well. He assumed that I was the lunch girl or whatever. I excused myself from the meeting, I went outside and I remember asking his executive assistant, “Does Mr. Madoff’s wife work with the firm? Does she work with the foundation? What did she do?” I remember his assistant saying, “No, she’s not involved with the company at all.” I was like, “Thanks so much. I appreciate it.” We leave and we’re flying back to Texas and my client says, “What do you think?” His idea of a soft investment was about $20 million, that was his idea of a soft investment. He says, “What do you think?” I said, “Don’t you put a dime, not a dime into this man’s company, not a penny.” He never questioned me. He never asked me why, what I thought, where did I get that assessment from.
It wasn’t four months later, five months later, “Bernie Madoff, billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.” He calls me and he said, “Please tell me how did you know?” It was two things. I said, “One, he never found out who I was. He didn’t understand that I was the most important person in the room.” I said, “Two, most men that are proud of their companies and what they have built, their families, their children, their wives are always involved with their businesses.” I said, “The fact that his wife was nowhere in that company was a huge red flag for me without a doubt.” People have asked me, “How did you know?” You have to trust your intuition. My intuition told me that something was real wrong with that whole situation. It wasn’t about the numbers and the figures that they presented because they presented these fantastic figures and the whole financial portfolio and all that stuff. Something just wasn’t right to me. I’ve always trusted my intuition. It has never led me wrong in 25 years.
Have you ever turned away a client because of that?
What would make you turn away a client?
This last political season, I cannot tell you the calls that we got where this political camp wanted to get dirt on that political camp and the money that they were offering was ridiculous sums of money. We were like, “No, we don’t want any parts of it.” Sometimes you can’t get down in the mud with people. I don’t care how much money they’re offering, you just can’t do it.
You work with A-list celebrities as well. What kind of things do you do for them?
We do a lot of what we call character integrity due diligence. Before they’re getting ready to get into some type of a deal, whether they’re launching a fragrance line, they’re opening a chain of restaurants, clothing line or something. They may want to know the character and the professional character of the folks that they are getting ready to go into these deals with. We do a lot of that.
Have you uncovered any Bernie Madoff’s in those groups?
Yes, we had a situation happen where I had a client, a very high-profile sports figure was getting ready to make an investment overseas. They had presented all of these documents and information and something didn’t look right to me. I flew over to this particular country and the bank didn’t exist. The documents that they sent didn’t exist. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” There are many fake folks out here. That’s why you have to do your due diligence. You can’t go by what people say in the appearance of things.
How long is this process? Do they hire you for a year, for a week? How does it work?
It’s usually on a project-by-project basis. I have some clients that they don’t move without us, they trust us. I’ve got clients that do big deals. I’ve got a client that’s doing a $500 million luxury hotel resort deal. When you’re talking about that kind of money, you do have to do your due diligence and make sure that all your I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. Some people can be project-by-project, some are on monthly retainers, some yearly, it depends.
That’s got to be a lot of stress to make sure you don’t miss something. That’s got to be challenging because they’re putting all their faith in you. Does that cause you any stress at all?
No, because you’re pretty confident that you know how to find it all?
Absolutely. I’m retentive about that because people are entrusting their future and their goals to you, so you do, you have to really be very detailed.
Is this your life goal, to continue with this company? Are you a serial entrepreneur and looking to create multiple companies? What’s in the future for you?
I love my work. I absolutely love what I do. I get to meet fascinating people. I have wonderful clients all over the world. I feel good when I’m able to bless somebody and give them the information if they need for whatever it is that they’re doing, whether it’s a business venture because we do everything we do. Business due diligence, adoption, locate missing persons, homicide, arson, all kinds of cases. I love what I do, and I can bring people peace, direction, or information. I love it.
What do you think about all the information that people keep on the internet about other people that you can pretty much find out all kinds of crazy things? Do you think we’re sharing too much information? Is there too much out there for people to find?
I absolutely do. I’m not on any social media and that’s by choice. One, I’m too busy. I don’t have time to tweet, Instagram and all that kind of stuff. I’m too busy and we’ve got too many clients. I’d rather put my focus in energy in working with my clients than taking selfies and all that foolishness. I don’t have time. I do think that there’s too much information out there, especially when you have people that look to find a weakness with very high-profile people. If they can sit at their computers and literally learn everything about you when you’re vacationing, who you’re dating, who your family members are, everything about your patterns, things like that, that’s too much information especially in the hands of unscrupulous people.
I’m sure you’ve had to deal with a lot of that. You think a lot of us assume that, “Who’s cares about what I’m doing,” kind of thing. You don’t have anything to worry about but then there are other people that are worried about having an echo or something in their house that there’s someone listening. Do you think that we need to be worried about the echoes and that type of device?
Yes, Diane. I’ll give you that.
Luc Sisombath had asked me about you and he referred to you as the juggernaut in your field and considered you the Olivia Pope in your industry. I don’t know if you’ve worked with Kerry Washington but that’s quite an interesting description. What you’re doing is very fascinating, tough work. I’ve got to give you credit for the diversity of the things you do and that’s not easy. I was watching one of your talks you gave, I liked how you ended it, “Make history, make money and make a difference.” Those are all important things and you have some great work you’re doing. Since you’re hard to find, nobody’s going to find you on social media. Do you want them to find you to connect? How do they do that then?
They can reach me at Info@KNOWLLC.net or 888-926-7222.
This has been so fun. Thank you so much, Monica, for being on the show.
My pleasure. I enjoyed it. Thank you.
Thank you to Brian and to Monica. What a great show and if you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. You can subscribe to the show. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.
About Brian Kurtz
Brian Kurtz is the Founder and CEO of Titans Marketing. He professes his love for direct marketing. He has overseen the mailing of approximately 1.3 billion pieces of third class mail over the past 20 years. He has been able to market and sell newsletters and book s via direct response television (infomercials) and using email and the Internet in huge numbers. He was responsible for buying media in excess of $80 million and we sold over 3 million books via direct response television over a three year period.
About Monica Morton
Monica Morton, is the President and CEO of Know LLC. She is a 17-year licensed private investigator specializing in sports and entertainment investigations, she and her team have seen it all! She said it’s a wonderful compliment to be known for excellence in investigations, but instead, she was receiving calls from coaches, owners and agents after a disaster; not before. And, in an effort to be proactive and not reactive, she conducted extensive research and developed a program of services to assist these young men and women in making better choices…which led to the launching of K.N.O.W.,LLC.
- Titans Marketing
- Boardroom Incorporated
- Genius Network
- The Advertising Solution
- Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got
- Marty Edelston
- Too many of my mentors are dead…
- Scientific Advertising
- The Alchemist
- Breakthrough Advertising
- Give And Take
- The Advertising Solution on Barnes & Noble
- The Advertising Solution on Amazon
- Perry Marshall – interview with Brian Kurtz