The fastest way to market yourself is through writing a book. It’s easy for a client to throw away a card, but when you give them a book it makes you stand out from the competition and also makes only option saying yes to you. This is one type of rockstar marketing that Craig Duswalt teaches business owners who want to think out of the box. Mike Song thinks the same about writing books but in the area of leadership and time management. He saw that there is a disconnect between a workforce who knows how to use technology and leaders who have a vague idea of how this technology works. Learn the fastest way to get things done from these two authors.
We have Craig Duswalt and Mike Song. Craig Duswalt is a keynote speaker, author, podcaster and he’s the creator of the brands RockStar Marketing and Rock Your Life. Mike Song is an award-winning author of the bestselling books The Hamster Revolution for email and ZIP! Tips: The Fastest Way to Get More Done.
Listen to the podcast here
Rockstar Marketing And Tech Savvy Leadership with Craig Duswalt
I am with Craig Duswalt who is a keynote speaker, author, podcaster and the creator of the brands RockStar Marketing and Rock Your Life. Craig has written eight books and is a number one Amazon bestselling author. His background includes touring with Guns N’ Roses, Axl Rose’s personal assistant and Air Supply, as the band’s personal assistant. Craig was also an award-winning copywriter working as a creative director for a Los Angeles-based ad agency until opening up his own ad agency called Green Room Design & Advertising. Craig, I am so glad you’re here.
I’m so glad I’m here too. Thank you for having me.
I loved your talk that you gave at the Genius Network. I was hoping to go a little bit into that direction just because it was wonderful.
I mainly do an hour and a half talk, sometimes an hour. When Joe Polish said, “You’ve get ten minutes,” I’m like, “What am I going to do in ten minutes?” I’m from New York and I could talk fast, I squeezed a 30-minute presentation into ten minutes.
You were so wonderful in that talk because it gave everything that you want to know about getting known for your book in a quick, little, bite-sized bit, but it was so entertaining. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about why people need to have books and maybe not use the old-fashioned business cards anymore.
My brand is RockStar Marketing. I toured with Guns N’ Roses. I toured with Air Supply. I learned from these guys, “How do you get 80,000 fans to love your stuff?” I learned a lot of stuff from them. I don’t hand out business cards. If you think about it, like Bono from U2, he’s not going to walk around on a networking event and hand out business cards and say, “Come to my event.” Because my brand is RockStar, I don’t feel I should be handing out business cards. I do need to get information to people so I hand out small books. I write 96-page of books. I’ve written six of those. I’ve written bigger books because now I’m a better writer. In the beginning though, I wrote these small books and I hand them out instead of business cards and it makes me stand out from the competition because everybody else in the room is handing out business cards and I’m handing out free books to everybody. It’s one way to stand out from the competition by handing out books. It’s also the bang for your buck that you got for handing out a book instead of business cards, because most people throw away business cards and never going to throw away a book.
One of the things in RockStar Marketing is to write a small book and get that out. At the Genius Network, I did six or seven outside-the-box marketing ideas. The interesting thing was before I put together that talk, I have this thing where you could write a quick book overnight. I thought to myself, “I’m about to speak to 375 people that paid $25,000 a year to be in this group and I’m going to give them the most basic stupid idea in my ten-minute talk.” I thought to myself, “I shouldn’t do this. These people are way above this.” They’re higher end but I did. I told people to, “Go to your rooms tonight and just write a quote book, a book of quotes. For example, I’m a marketing guy. I would go to Google and I would do Craig Duswalt’s Top Fifteen Marketing Quotes and give the person that said the quote credit. Put them one quote on each page. With the front page and the back page is loaded in with your information on it, you have a 64-page book that you can write tonight. It’s like a 6”x6” book, a little square coffee table-type book.” I said that to these people that make a lot of money. Joel Weldon, the next day or even that afternoon in his talk said, “My whole table was talking about this quote book and everyone at the table, ten people wrote a quote book that night.”
What started happening is we had that app where people could send you a message on the app throughout the room. I got over 80 people saying, “I wrote or I’m writing my quote book tonight. Thank you so much for that unbelievable information.” I’m sitting there going, “I wasn’t even going to do it because it was such a silly, very basic idea.” I learned something that day. Those simple, basic ideas sometimes are the things that can turn a business around and get people thinking, “That was amazing,” because it’s easy to do. Something that someone can do tonight, get it done, crank it out and have a book instead of a business card.
What I thought was funny was the beginning of your talk. You said you had this goal of writing a huge 300 to 400-page marketing book and that you sent it to Joe Polish for his review. Do you remember what he wrote for the testimonial?
That’s not really true. This is the truth, I was going to write a 300 or 400-page marketing book and it was going to be like the Bible of marketing and it was going to be this very extensive book. I started putting it out there that I was going to write this book and everyone started saying, “No one reads big business books.” I started getting the idea maybe I shouldn’t be writing a big book. That’s when I started getting the idea I should write smaller books. Every time I speak now, wherever I’m speaking, I always have the same quote all the time from the person that is running the event.
With Joe Polish running the event, I said that I’m writing the 300 or 400-page book and Joe Polish, being the forward thinker that he is, wrote a testimonial for my book before I even wrote the book, because that’s the kind of guy he is. The quote goes like this, “This is the perfect book for the person who hates using drugs and alcohol to induce sleep. In fact, there are so many chapters in this book that it put me to sleep for 600 nights straight. The added cleverness of this unique writer is that because the book is so long, when you finally finish it, you can read it again from the beginning because you won’t remember anything about what you learned in chapter one. Joe Polish.” It’s a way of getting people to understand don’t write a large business book. Just write quick books, small books.
You had some great ideas of ways to get your book out there and known. You mentioned the book of quotes. You also said you could come up with acronym of your system. What are some of the other ideas?
With the Outside-The-Box Marketing Ideas, I shared six of them. The first one I call RockStar Open House. I used to be a real estate agent. I dabbled in real estate for a long time. I have all those signs that say open house and I have that big sign that you put in front of a sold house of the house that you want to sell. On some Sundays, if I am not doing anything or just watching football in the house, I would put open house signs, directing people to come to my house and there’d be a sign in my house with my picture on it and it would be an open house. People would come into my house thinking the house is for sale. They’d say, “How much is the house?” I’m like, “I’m not selling the house. I’m actually selling my books. Would you like to buy one?” It gets people to come to your house. What happens is they feel so weird and almost guilty that they’re standing in your house and it’s not for sale. Almost every time, they buy a book because they feel like they have to buy something because they came in your house. I sell books and I sell tickets to my bootcamp that way.
Another one is stamps. Stamps.com has the thing where you can buy stamps. A lot of people buy stamps. I do from Stamps.com. You could also put your own picture on a stamp. Most people don’t even know that, that you could put your picture or your brand on a stamp and then send out proposals or whatever with your picture and your brand on it. I do that all the time. Even better is if you’re trying to get somebody to sponsor an event or review your book on YouTube because they’re pretty big, I buy stamps with their picture on it and I put it on envelope that I’m sending. They get the envelope with the proposal and they see their stamp because they’re big with their face on it. They’re like, “How the hell did I get on the stamp? I must be huge. I got to call this guy. Where did you buy that stamp with my picture on it?” It happens all the time because no one knows. Most people that are not definitely in the seminar world knows that you could actually go to Stamps.com and get your picture or someone else’s picture on it. Instead of putting one stamp on it, I buy $0.49 stamps and I make pictures on. If I’m sending a book or I’m sending a proposal to someone, that’s going to stand out in the mail that comes into that person that day. It takes a little time but if you want to be a rock star, you’ve got to spend some time.
Another one I have is 2,000 Names. When you’re writing a book, in the back of the book there are acknowledgements. You always acknowledge a few people. What I do in my new books, what I started doing was putting every name of every person that I’ve ever met in my life in the book. I would email them or Facebook them and say, “I put you in the acknowledgements of the book.” What happens is, because most of these people have never been in a book like high school friends, elementary school friends, friends from your hometown, they’ve never been mentioned in the book before, they buy the book and they buy ten extra copies to show their families, “I was mentioned in a book.” I tell people to put as many names as you could possibly put in the acknowledgement pages and tell those people. You’ll sell absolutely way more books because people in the book would buy them.
Another one is the public library. You can call all those same friends and ask them all if they live in different cities to contact the public library in their hometown and ask them to ask that public library for your book. 99.9% of the time they’ll say, “We don’t have that book.” Then they order it so that they get it in to the public library and then they could give it to that person. I have people all over the country ordering my books through public libraries. That’s another way to sell more books because the library will buy the book.
I have my best one that I usually reserve for big talks. I’m not going to tell you what I call it, but this is what you do. You have to write a small book because carrying a bunch of bigger books won’t fit in a backpack. I carry about ten or fifteen of my small books and I put them into a backpack and I go to my local bookstore. I look around the bookstore and I think to myself, “Where would my book look good in this bookstore?” I go to the marketing area and I kneel down and I take my ten or fifteen books and I take them out of my backpack. I put them on the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble. That is called reverse shoplifting. There are people out there that pay thousands of dollars to learn how to get their books on bookshelves. I’m like, “Why is this so difficult? You put them there yourself.” I have people all over the country putting their own books from the bookshelf themselves. The real serious authors are like, “I don’t like that because I worked hard to get my book on a bookshelf.” I’m like, “I understand.” It’s just a marketing tool. I’ve done it so many times. I’ve never gotten in trouble for it because how do you get in trouble? They get the money. If they sell the book, they get the money because I’m not in the system. I’m in the system, but I’m not in the publishing system. They get the money. No one’s ever said, “Stop putting books on our bookshelf,” because you’re giving them something. I have 200 of those that I do at my RockStar Marketing BootCamp.
The one you forgot that I thought was funny was the airplane one.
Every time I’m in the airport, which I travel a lot, I keep eight to ten books in my hand at all times. They always have the bookstore there. They always have The New York Times Best-Seller List books. As I’m walking by, I put my book under number one and I walk away. I take a picture of it as I come back. Even better is when I’m going on an airplane. I’m usually in one of the front rows, especially at Southwest. It’s all general seating. I usually get about the fourth or fifth row. As I’m walking on the plane, I have the eight books in my hand and the first four rows, I put my book in the back seats of all the aisle seats as I’m walking to my seat. Inevitably, what happens is there’s never a book in there. You always have to read SkyMall. You’re not allowed to have your phone on for the first 10,000 feet so everybody takes my book out and they start reading it. Usually, I put a note in there, “If you want to come to my RockStar Marketing BootCamp. This is a way that I get people as marketing.” Numerous people have come from that situation to my BootCamp. Mike Tyson was on a Southwest flight. He came in late and he was front row seat, first row and he took out my book. He was reading my book during the flight. I should have taken a picture of it, but I was afraid just in case he didn’t like that and he would hit me, and that would hurt.
It was such a fun time to watch all the different talks but you stood out to me a lot. I loved your idea about the book of quotes but you had some other ideas. You said you can use an acronym for your system.
There are six books that you can write fast. I had a publisher. I wrote a book about touring with Guns N’ Roses called Welcome to My Jungle. It was a two and a half year process. When I teach people how to write a book, that’s one of the things I teach on my RockStar Marketing BootCamp. One of the great ways to market yourself fast is to write a quick book. Once again, there are those authors out there that say, “It’s not a real book.” Yes, it is. My son wrote a 64-page book on blogging and it’s basically got him into a great school in college because of it. It’s still a book and people are not understanding that you don’t have to write this gigantic book because no one will read it.
I have six books that I mentioned at that meeting that you can write fast. One was the book of quotes. You get a bunch of quotes. Give the person credit that wrote the quote and put it in a book and put your name on it, Craig Duswalt’s Top Fifteen Marketing Quotes and then you have a book. Another one is your system or program. I used the acronym for rock star and came up with an eight-step system of how to be a rock star in your industry. That should be everyone’s first book because it promotes their system or their program. You have to write a book about that. Another one is bullet point tips. The tips book, not a lot of copy, just a bunch of bullet points. People want information fast and they don’t want to think about it. They’re like, “Cut out all the fat. Give me the information fast.” It’s a tips book where you write all your tips. Mine would be about marketing. Another one is like you do. You interview millions of people. Just say Dr. Diane Hamilton’s Top Interviews of 2017. Transcribe the interviews and put them in a book and you can crank that out tomorrow because all you have to do is get the transcription of the talks and the interviews. You call it Dr. Diane Hamilton’s Top 50 or Top 10 Interviews of 2017. Put that in the book and you’re done.
If people find it hard to write a book, I tell them to start a blog and blog every day or every other day. Sooner or later, you’re going to have all these blog posts that’s probably about your business because you should be blogging about your business. You could put it like Craig Duswalt’s Top 50 Blog Posts from 2017. You could write a book a year when you don’t feel like you’re writing a book because you’re just writing blog posts every day. Last is a compilation book, which is the big thing. I’ve written four of them. I’m writing a story. I get about ten celebrities or business leaders to write a story. I offer other people for $1,000, which is crazy because most people charge $5,000 to $7,000 to $10,000 to write a story in your book. I’m doing it for the branding of RockStar. They’re called Rock Your Life books. My wife does Women Who Rock books. I get celebrities to be in the book for free because they’ll sell the books because they’re famous. I charged people $1,000 to be in the book to write a 1,000 word story. They get 50 free books. If they sell each book for$20, they made that $1,000 back. I know that they’re going to get it out to their audience because they were in a book. It promotes my brand, so I don’t need to make a lot of money doing this. Also, my job is to promote people. That’s what I do. I have a mastermind group and I love promoting my people, so I do these compilations books.
Your energy is hard to match. You are this expert and you do these different events. What was Rock Your Life Night? What is that?
My main event is RockStar Marketing BootCamp. I do that every March and September in Los Angeles. I’ve been doing that for eleven years. We get 400 to 500 entrepreneurs flying in from all over the country. Big event, all marketing. Rock Your Life is something I launched on November 4th, 2017. I did it at the Grove Theater in Anaheim across from Angel Stadium. We had about 400 people there. It was basically a night of hope, motivation, inspiration and music. I had people that have started orphanages all over the world. I had people that adopted kids that are hungry. It was an amazing event of inspirational people. The idea behind it was I am going to go to cities across the country and do these Rock Your Life Nights. Usually on a Friday night or a Saturday night, two and a half hour event and try to inspire people and go to the people. Up sell, not from the stage but in the lobby, tickets to my RockStar Marketing BootCamp, if anyone wants to; anyone who has a business or thinking of starting a business. It’s a way of going out to the people because I can’t bring the RockStar Marketing BootCamp anywhere because it’s too big so I’m doing these little nights. I like inspiring people. It’s my give back. My wife and I have this thing called the Band Together Foundation. It’s our non-profit. We raise money for disaster relief all over the world. I used to tour with Guns N’ Roses and Air Supply. Our big bucket list idea for Band Together is to hold a live gigantic concert where bands that have broken up in the past come together for one night and they play together again. They band together and then we raise money to help disaster relief all over the world. That’s our bucket list idea.
Are you a musician? How’d you get in to this?
I am not. I sang in a band in college but I’m not a musician. I worked for bands and I know tons of bands. This originated when Guns N’ Roses was broken up because I’m still friends with Axl and Slash. I was hoping to get them together and now they got back together.
You have such an interesting background because I saw videos with you with Dean Cain and certain people. How did you get so into these groups of people that are so big?
In various ways, but a lot of it comes from where I live. I live in Hollywood area. I live outside of Hollywood, but there are tons of celebrities out here. I joined Sherwood Country Club. It’s in Thousand Oaks, California. Tiger Woods used to have a tournament here. The Senior Tour has tournaments here. Greg Norman had tournaments here. It’s a very high-end golf club. My kids are all golfers. My middle son, Ryan, is a top junior golfer. We practice there a lot. I joined it to interact and hang with a high-end group of people. That includes Mark Wahlberg, Will Smith belongs there. Wayne Gretzky, who’s a family friend now. Kenny G, his locker is right next to mine. Dustin Johnson, the number one golfer in the world was there. Chris Harrison, the host of The Bachelor, is one of my best friends. All these people belong there. That’s how it started happening. Dean Cain, who’s such an amazingly great guy and a great interviewer. We sell a package where you can be interviewed by Dean Cain to promote your business. We sold 60 of them. They’re amazing what he does and we shoot it in my Rock Your Life TV set which is in my house.
My kids go to this private school here. Dean goes to the private school. About four years ago, I was a chaperone on an eighth grade trip for my oldest son. In my kid’s chaperone group was his son, Chris Cain. I took care of Chris for eight days. I had not met Dean at that time. After we got back, Dean said, “I owe you one for taking care of my kid.” We started talking and we interacted. I said, “You owe me one. I need you to speak at my RockStar Marketing BootCamp.” He did. He lives near me. We hit it off and became really good friends. We put together this program where he comes and interviews businesses and he’s amazing. There’s always a story for every celebrity that I know.
You have a very interesting people with whom you connect. I hear you on the country club thing. That’s great if you can get in those groups where people hang out to.
That’s the key. Going to where they are. Go to your audience. If you want to hang out with high-end people, go there.
I know a lot of people probably learned a lot about what they can do to write books and how to promote their books. They’d probably want to hear more about your Marketing BootCamps and all your other things. How can they find out more about what you do?
My main website is RockStarMarketingBootCamp.com. My next event is March 22nd to the 24th in Los Angeles at the Westin Hotel right next to the airport. I believe always holding these big events near airports because then people just fly in, literally take a free shuttle to the airport. They don’t have to rent a car. It’s easy to get to. It’s in the grand ballroom. We basically take over the whole hotel. I teach entrepreneurs, people with small businesses, how to stand out from the competition, how to market their businesses. I touch on the whole book thing. I touch on how to become a speaker, how to put on events. You don’t have to be a professional speaker, but at least getting out there where you look like the expert because you’re on a stage somewhere. It could be a lunch and learn. I teach people that. How to set up membership sites is a big thing that I’m doing.
I’m putting together my membership site. How to affiliate programs, how to do that and make money with affiliate. I’d make a ton of money every month doing nothing while I sleep because I’m an affiliate of all the other things. It’s basically how to make money and how to market your business. I have 200 and something outside-the-box marketing ideas like the ones that we said on the show and I got 200 more of those. It’s three days. It’s all day Thursday, all day Friday, all day Saturday. March 22nd to the 24th. RockStarMarketingBootCamp.com is where all the information is and they could buy their tickets there. I always give this when I do radio interviews. It’s $897 to go to my event. $997 if you want the lunch. I have a link to go for only $97 to go to the event. We already have 350 people. I do CraigDuswalt.com/Guest. There are $97 tickets there. I only do that for people that I do radio shows for and webinars. It’s a great way to get in for $97. It’s an amazing event.
The last event I did in September, we had all these great speakers. I had Bill Walsh, Cheri Tree, just amazing speakers. Les Brown texts me and I said, “Are you in LA?” He goes, “Yeah, I’m at Disneyland.” I said, “Is there any way that you could stop by my seminar? I’m at the Westin.” We ended at 7:00, 4:00 or 5:00, Les Brown shows up backstage. I snuck him in the back entrance. I didn’t tell anybody. I brought him out and the 300 people went absolutely nuts. He stayed for an hour and a half and did an amazing talk. That happens all the time. I’ve had Brendon Burchard, I’ve had Lisa Sasevich, all the top people. Brian Tracy, all these people on my stage and some of them show up out of nowhere. You never know who’s going to show. I always have a rock star too.
I hope everybody pops in and checks out. Thank you for providing that.
I would love for you to come and I would interview you on stage, if you want to come. I see what you’re doing with the radio shows and all these interviews that you do and it’s such a big part of marketing. You’re so good at it. How do you get these guests and how come you’re able to be disciplined enough to be doing this every other day. I’d interview you if you came.
This is wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you. Hopefully, we’ll get you back again someday when you have other things that you’re working on. Thank you.
Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me and it was great to reconnect
Rockstar Marketing And Tech Savvy Leadership with Mike Song
I am with Mike Song, who’s the award winning author of bestselling books, The Hamster Revolution for email and ZIP! Tips: The Fastest Way to Get More Done. He’s the Founder of GetControl.net. That’s one of the world’s leading providers of leadership and time management training, serving more than 20% of Fortune 500 companies. Mike’s helped millions via interviews with Good Morning America, CNN, NVR, Fox News, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal. His best-selling books have been translated into twelve languages and are available in more than 50 countries. It’s nice to have you here, Mike. Welcome.
I’m thrilled to be here. It’s great to be with you.
I’m fascinated by your topics because they’re the things I’m interested in the most. I liked all your tips and tricks as far as how to communicate. You’ve got another book coming out, right?
I’m excited about a book on leadership that I’m working on. We’re probably going to rerelease The Hamster Revolution for email because everybody agrees that it’s even more needed now. There’s a whole bunch of new technology that nobody knows how to manage. We are excited about the future.
Technology just throws people for a loop. I teach online courses and I have a lot of students that have to deal with technology on a daily basis. A lot of people don’t get that exposure and they get into the working world and they can use a lot of help. I could imagine your new book’s going to be a big hit. What is your biggest focus with this book? Who are you trying to reach and what’s your main focus with that?
The leadership book is directed at the fact that so many leaders don’t have a strategy for how they’re going to maximize and optimize the use of technology. They’re people who work on everyday technology tools like Outlook or Gmail or Excel. The leaders are essentially referring those people to other groups within the organization to help better their tech skills. It’s not happening. The people are busy. They don’t go and take a course where they realized, “I could save three hours a week by managing Outlook more efficiently.” What we see is a disconnect. We see the workforce immersed in technology. We see leaders giving very vague advice and even sometimes feeling that they themselves are not qualified to help someone become an expert in Excel. What we’re seeing is they don’t know where the resources are to get that skill level up. Maybe they don’t communicate well through email. Maybe they’re lost in a social media distraction world where they’re unable to get more done.
What we think needs to happen is the leaders need to do two simple things. One, develop a vocabulary of tech tips, skills, relatively simple things that they can show and share to their people to get into the flow of being a true leader with this technology. The second thing that we think is critical for them to do is to think about, “What’s my strategy for slowly, over time, making my people more and more efficient, productive, successful through the effective use of technology?” We think that there’s a coaching acumen when it comes to technology that’s off the table in most of the Global 1,000 companies that we pop into. There’s a tremendous surge in performance for those teams when the leader says, “Over the next year, we’re going to be talking about how we can all work more efficiently. We’re going to share tips. I’ve got some videos I want you to watch. They’re two-minute videos. I want you to try some of these things. Then I want you to share your best ideas with the rest of the team.” This great dialogue begins to happen. We’re so excited to have been able to do this with some great organizations around the world. It’s needed. It’s new. It’s fun. Most importantly, helps people be more successful.
I can’t tell you how many conference video calls I’ve been on where something goes wrong and the leader stares in the headlights look. They have no idea what to do next. It’s challenging.
They absolutely know they should be building up on their virtual meeting skills. They should be building up on remote leadership skills. They understand that their people are mired in email. They sit next to an employee and they see that their inboxes are full or they watched them work on a smartphone or tablet and realize, “They don’t know too much about this device. They’re using the surface level features.” In employees, it’s almost unanimous. It’s about 99% on the surveys that we do, where we ask people, “Are just scratching the surface of what your technology could do to help you succeed?” 99% say, “Yeah. We know there’s so much more inside of the Gmail or Google Docs or One Drive or SharePoint,” or all of these things. That’s my life’s work. It’s to say, “There’s this easy thing that you can do. It’s a hidden little feature. It’s a work around, it’s a shortcut, it’s a new way to think about things.” Then you get those people not only doing it themselves, which makes the leader more efficient, but then they get twenty people on their team doing it. Now, you’ve got some real economies of scale that start boosting it.
I like using Google Docs a lot when I was managing in my last job because you get things lost in email. You know you got it, you can’t find it. When you’re trying to share documents, there are certain things that are such time savers. I love that you’re doing all these things and it’s really interesting what you were saying about vocabulary that they need to develop. What kind of vocabulary?
There are five or six areas they we’re excited about. One is shortcuts. Oddly, so many people are taking the long cut. They don’t know that they can click and drag an icon to a lower toolbar so they can access that document they use every day in one click instead of five clicks. I did a project with the Army. They were working on a shared SharePoint-type site and stuff was seven, eight, nine clicks deep in this gigantic database with millions of documents on it. They said, “What can we do? We can’t reorganize this whole database.” I said, “We’re going to use shortcuts. We’re going to make sure no one is clicking seventeen times to get through a document.” When you have 150 people working on something as important as electronic medical records for the Army and suddenly everybody’s getting there in one click instead of fifteen clicks. It’s a different work environment. You can reorganize the shortcuts but you can’t reorganize millions of documents and stuff in a database. That’s one area we work in. Also, things as simple as rules within Gmail or Outlook, learning how to create smart rules fast. It’s easy to create them and then all of a sudden, we think of it as your laptop or your tablet starts to become a helpful robot. It’s putting stuff away for you and it’s organizing things. That’s another big area. Communication is a big area. How do you say it concise, clear, effectively within social media, within text, instant message, email, all these modern tools? Many people are typing stuff that’s hard to act on. They wonder why no one gets back to them or their team fails to complete a project on deadline.
The most fascinating area of all is how do you organize digital information? We get our laptops, we get all this information, we’re storing documents in email, in digital folders. The most mind blowing thing that we came up with was a simple four-folder system that people could use. Four folders for any type of professional job because we use very general master folders to start it off with. Their clients’ output teams and admin, we have people number them. We show them that you can create a very simple interface that gets you into your information. We started to show this to people. We did it for some law firms. We did it for big organizations like Capital One and Novartis and they loved it and McDonald’s. What we found was that people stuck with this system because it had a simpler four folders. You’ve been in shared drive or an email folder system and it’s got 72 folders. People are like, “Where does it go? Does it go here or there?” This eliminates all of that guesswork. The most fascinating thing about all of this is that the simple organization of digital information is literally something that nobody teaches, nobody talks about. Nobody talks about how to organize digital folders. Oddly, it’s the most important thing. If you’re a professional, to be able to grab what you need, find the spreadsheet, find the Word document, find the email and just get on with the task. Would you believe that 92% of all the people that we surveyed say they are desperately trying to improve that feature, that function of their work life? There are no solutions out there.
That was the most revolutionary thing we came across. After doing it for awhile, we bumped into a law firm. They said, “You’ve got to patent that.” We did patent this process and now we’re talking to companies about these four folders because they are the universal organizational system that Google and all of these organizations try to do artificial intelligence needed to create a context that wraps around billions of professionals on the planet. It’s gotten very exciting around here and we love talking to people about this topic of how you organize the planet.
There are a lot of people out there that have their systems that they’re used to doing. What happens when you tell them, “We’re not doing that one anymore. We’re doing this one.” Usually, their systems are redundant, but they’re holding onto them with both hands. How do you get them past that?
There was definitely inertia there. That’s why this system works because we say, “It’s great. You have a folder for this. You have a folder for that. We’re just going to take a step back so that we could see the forest and not be up close on the trees.” What they usually figure it out is they’ve created the right folders. They don’t have a larger system that put them into. A lot of what we do is done in five minutes. We say, “Take all your seventeen cool folders, but you’re going to click and drag those seventeen or in some cases 112 folders into these four simple folders and create a shortcut to each one of those four folders right on your lower toolbar.” They click and they go, “There is the folder that I was looking for.
I used it to organize this type of information, but now it’s within the context of my job. What team am I on? Is this the output, the thing that I do or is it for a client or is it administrative?” Once they do that, they realize, “We can do this.” That inertia was the big reason why this one system is being used by 400, 500 companies now. We did do some research with the largest restaurant franchise in the world. 72% of their people adopted the system which was astonishing. You’ll never get 100%. Some people are very hunkered down on a system. We got a 72% adoption rate. We were very happy with that as with this organization.
You’ve always been doing a lot of efficiency things. How did you get involved in that? Were you always the guy that knew how to streamline things? What’s your background that led to this?
I think I’m a transformational a teacher because I was not. I did not pop into the world as the organized kid whose room was perfectly neat, buttoned down. If you are that type of person, it’s actually pretty rare to be like that, but it’s great. However, 95% of the rest of us didn’t have any sense of how to organize all this information flooding into our lives. There was no overriding philosophy for that. I invented it myself after asking literally twenty or 30 successful people that I knew, “What’s your system?” They would always come back with, “It’s so specific that I don’t think I could ever teach it to anybody. It’s specific to my industry. It’s specific to my position within my company, my level at director.”
What I said was, “We need something we could teach here and I’ll be the first student. I’ll create something.” That’s how I first got into it. When I saw the powerful pump up and productivity, I suddenly went from being maybe the least organized person on the team to being the most. I went from worst to first in getting organized. It shocked me to my bones. I did not expect to make an exponential leap in this particular thing. My dad would laugh at me. He would just say, “You were not organized as a kid. How are you teaching people how to be organized?” I said, “I stumbled into something that allows it to be simple.” That’s what people needed. Simple. There are many systems that teaches you a 40 folder system. I would run away from that at the surface level. It can only be few categories because our brains can’t juggle that much. I started to do that and then I realized there were all these other places where people weren’t working efficiently. They knew it, but it was their own private little hell. They would sit in there and go, “I hope nobody asked me for that document because I have no idea where it is,” or, “I should try to learn how to use rules but I don’t know how to use rules with my email.” Because I put my head under that rock, that organization rock initially, I became a guy who likes to look under every little thing and say, “Is everyone okay with this?” If it is, I move on to the next thing until I find an area of need. Certainly, email communication. It’s been very exciting to do this. I enjoy working with these organizations and helping them get more efficient.
You’re naturally curious, which is what I’m writing about in my book. How do you think you develop that sense of curiosity?
When you get a few hits it, you’re hooked. There’s another thing that gets you hooked on. That is something that we teach to all these leaders that we work with. We want to get you to say, “Let me show you something cool that can save your time.” We want you to get your people to say, “Wow.” Because once that person goes, “I didn’t know that I could click and drag an email and Outlook and drop it into my calendar icon. It turns into a calendar item. I didn’t know you could, in the search field, look up and click all these little buttons that allow you to narrow the search much faster than typing keywords.” When we show this to people, they say, “Wow.” When that happens to you, it is habit forming. You want to do it again and again. People say, “How do you teach the same class, our primary class, get control of email, Outlook and your smartphone or email, Gmail?” I don’t know. I look forward to it. I could have a horrible trip. I could be in a lonely hotel room in the middle of nowhere, but when I get with these people and they start smiling and laughing, I’m happy. I’m in my element. The creativity comes from the love of helping other people. Where does your creativity come from? Where does your innovative spirit emanate from?
I was one of those kids that asked ‘why?’ about everything. A lot of people are afraid to ask how to do things. They don’t want to look stupid. It’s important for people to get over the fear. No one knows how to do a lot of this stuff. It’s very challenging. When you figure out how to do something, it’s a great feeling. You’re like, “What was I doing all those years?” It’s been fascinating to see what you’ve done. I was looking at your background. You’re a musician, you’re an athlete, you were a distance runner, an inventor, and you have patents. Do you spend a lot of time in these other interests or is this your main focus?
I love efficiency. I knew that if the company had a patent when we launched our company, GetControl.net, when we did launch, the patent would be helpful to make the going easier. When it came down to us and another supplier who was trying to teach something that we did, it made it easier for our customers to decide. I was always trying to understand what a patent was. It’s a very confusing topic. I applied that efficiency idea to everything. I looked at running. I’ve always been an okay runner. I said, “I’m going to turn 50 and I’ll be the youngest person in the age groups that they have for runners for a few years.” I said, “I should go out and see where I’m at now and what it would take to get up to an All-American status,” which I’ve always thought was impressive when someone said that.
What I realized was almost all runners run very long distances. They run seven, eight, nine miles. I started to look at the data and I said, “I think there’s a shortcut here.” My shortcut sensor goes off. I said, “If you ran short distances a little faster, you’d become fitter and burn as many calories with less wear and tear on your body.” I developed a nine-mile a week running regimen. I said, “I’m going to run two miles quick and come back. Maybe I’ll go to the track and run two miles in quarter mile increments.” What I found was there’s actually a lot of new evidence that this is true. You derive so much more benefit from a shorter, slightly more intense workout. If you are trying to lose weight or get in shape, I do think fitness is a good thing for time management, your personal effectiveness, you feel more energetic. Even if you can take a walk or do whatever exercise you are capable of, try to get it into that intense zone for a little bit and you get fit faster. I was always looking for shortcuts as a musician too. I always said, “What are the faster ways to learn on a guitar? How to play in every single key?” Guitar players know that all you have to do is learn one scale and move it around the neck. I said, “Let me take that shortcut.”
How did you get involved in so many different areas?
When I was young, I dreamed of performing. I always loved and fantasized about it a lot. I remember maybe being five years old and riding my bike around the neighborhood, pretending I was performing in front of a large group of people. I went to see a Bruce Springsteen. That was a pivotal moment in my life when I said, “This guy connects with people.” I was always after that experience. I intentionally kept all my music, very simple, fun, lot of call and response interaction with whatever group I’m either training or performing for. I bring people together. What I do as a writer is I can focus in on the key exciting little aspect of a song that I’m writing or performance that I’m giving that the audience can sit back and consume it and it won’t go over their head. It’ll go right to their heart. That’s what drew me in there. I see a big parallel between performing and warming up for these big bands and getting on stage and, “Are you ready to do this?” and going out and doing a program like jumping on Good Morning America or presenting in front of the CEO of a big company like Amex. You feel like you want to make this the best thing they’ve seen in a long time. Those two things go along with parallel.
I’ll be honest with you. The patent was the hardest thing I did because it’s insanely boring to write a patent and to try to put it into the language that a patent examiner would understand. Just as I was despairing and giving up and the patent examiner was saying, “I don’t think you can patent this idea,” we landed a deal to do training for the patent office in DC. When he looked up and said, “I don’t think this is useful. Can you prove that this is useful?” I said, “You are hiring me to train 300 patent examiners in Baltimore, Maryland on this date. It’s got to be useful.”
I have so many authors on my show and they would love to be on Good Morning America, Fox News, USA Today, all the things you’ve done. You’ve obviously got the onstage presence and all that. What advice would you give someone who’s trying to become an expert maybe on a show like that? What worked for you to get you into those gigs?
Google a guy named Kevin Small. My writing partner, Vicki Halsey, Tim Burress and I were lucky to meet Kevin Small. He has a company that does this, but I can tell you a few of the basic things. Here are the couple of steps that I would take. Writing a book is a great thing to do. I understand that some people aren’t reading books as much anymore, but it establishes you as an expert and it forces you to come forth with your best. You don’t want to have a book out there where you haven’t crystallized something useful for people.
My advice would be as follows, if you do want to become an expert or consultant or trainer, get on TV, do those things, which is hard to do, one, write a simple short book that has real value. I would certainly try to get it published and get a publisher if you can, but you can always self-publish. Buy a book on how to write a book proposal and read that. That’s your homework assignment. If you don’t have a good book proposal, you haven’t probably thought about all the things that that book needs to do to deliver this great career that you want to have happen for you. Know your target audience. I had a wonderful publicist. Her main thrust was only expend energy where you might have a shot at getting some kind of media. Her name was Patti Danos. I said, “I would love to be in this magazine.” She would say, “You told me your target market was Global 1000 people who buy training.” Knowing your target market is important. You only need to go after 1,000 or so people because the Global 1000 has one maybe two or three people in that organization that can authorize a reasonable spend on training. It narrows your focus. My advice would be to give the book to those people. Give it to them then you’ll have a connection to them.
When we go to a trade show, we give out The Hamster Revolution and ZIP! Tips. Plenty of people buy it on Amazon, but we give it to those 2,000 or 3,000 people that buy training for the top 3,000 companies in the world. It just makes sense to send them home with that book. They usually like it and we often get calls from them. Another really important thing if you’re going to go through the trouble of writing a book is when you launch the book, on the day that you launch the book, you must get every human being that owes you even the slightest favor to go out and purchase your book. It all starts with that first publicity push. Amazon has best-seller lists that are broken to the nth degree. It could be time management and subcategory, email and time management subcategory, and get on the best-seller list so that for the rest of your life, you can call yourself a best-selling author. That sounds better than the person who wrote a book.
That’s another big thing. Do a proposal, really add value into your book. Keep it short and sweet and as simple as you can. Just remember that you can become a best-selling author by launching it effectively. Get a 150, 200 people to buy that book. It will be on a best-seller list. That’s really important. Just always keep in mind, it may not be a million people that buy your book. There are some people who are lucky, the Tim Ferriss’, the Stephen Covey’s and folks like that. You can create a great business by getting 3,000 people who buy what you do to know who you are through your book, which is a much more prestigious way to meet some.
Do you offer a low price initially for the book?
I would sell the book at the lowest price you can sell the book knowing the book is a way to get your foot in the door. What you want to have to follow that is some type of training programs. All of our training, we’ve condensed it into fifteen classes, compact training. All of it can be experienced digitally. That’s the other thing I would recommend. The backend of this process of trying to create some value and if you want to do what I do, you name someone in a Fortune 500, we probably have done work for them. We packaged it up in a digital format, videos, e-learning, webinars so that that can be replicated and scaled infinitely by the organization. You don’t have to charge them that much. They could have 100,000 people to an organization, but you might charge them $30,000 for a package to train everybody. The key is to build those up as renewable licensable contracts. That’s what I would advise people today.
Work on these digital tools. That sounds scary to a typical author. My whole life is bringing people on technologically. I would use Camtasia to create videos personally. That’s what I use. I would use Articulate 360 to create e-learning, fairly user friendly, tons of online help, worth a thousand bucks to be able to create content that can be infinitely scaled. You have a beautiful, beautiful thing. One regret I have though, Tim Ferriss, he’s one of the top podcasters on our planet. He called me up after he read The Hamster Revolution. He said, “I love this book.” I said, “Great.” I did not know him at that point. It was early on with this whole career. My advice to people is if you get a phone call from somebody, Google them. Don’t make my mistakes because I would’ve loved to collaborate with Tim. He’s a brilliant genius. He’s fun to watch and see what he does and he gives great advice. He has a great blog. I also have one. If anyone wants to follow our blog, it’s GetControl.net. You can sign up easily. You could even text me at 42828 and type in the word “control.” That’s another way to get on our blog list if you want to.
Any other websites you want to share? I’m sure everybody would love to be able to get a hold of you and buy your book.
Our book is everywhere online. You can buy it everywhere. We have a great publisher, Berrett-Koehler. I always give them a shout-out because they treat authors nicely. They’re out in San Francisco, but certainly GetControl.net. That is a place where you could reach us and ask any questions that you want. We have a lot of free resources too and we don’t sell directly to individuals. In other words, we want to send you free tips if you’re an individual. Our market is when we work with corporations, so we give it for free to a lot of people who are coming in as an individual. You can always approach us and say, “I want to be on your newsletter list and get your free tips.” We feel like the more people that talk about us, the better off we seem to get more leads for these larger entities that might have 20,000 or 30,000 customers. Although we do a lot of work with smaller law firms with twenty people in them.
Thank you so much for being on the show. Mike. This has been so much fun.
You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.
About Craig Duswalt
About Mike Song
Mike Song’s global mission is to save our world’s 2 billion information workers 15 days a year. Mike is the award-winning author of the bestselling books – The Hamster Revolution for Email and Zip! Tips: The Fastest Way to Get More Done. He is the founder of GetControl.net, one of the world’s leading providers of leadership and time management training serving more than 20% of Fortune 500 companies. Mike has helped millions via interviews with Good Morning America, CNN, NPR, Fox News, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. His bestselling books have been translated into 12 languages and are available in more than 50 countries. Mike has even helped leaders from the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and Secret Service to manage technology more effectively in order to keep our country safe. Now he’s here to help you get more done and have more fun at work.
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