Starting from Nothing - The Foundation Podcast | Building your business ENTIRELY from scratch. (general)

Siamak Farah is the founder of Info Street (now SkyDesktop), an in-browser cloud app platform that allows small business owners to access, manage, and use all their business apps in one place. Siamak has had an amazing career working his way up at multiple software companies, including Steve Job’s Next Computers. With the knowledge and experience he acquired, it’s no wonder that he now runs his very own successful software company.

In this interview, Sia shares his journey of how he learned every facet of running a software company, from his time at Next Computers to starting his own web-based operating system. Sia gives us his insights on automation, being ahead of “the cloud” curve, and implementing the lattice management structure to empower his team’s passion.


In This Interview I Ask:

2:54 - When did Info Street originally start?

3:47 - Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you started Info Street in 1994.

4:46 - What was your role at Next [Computers]?

10:03 - What did a Next computer cost at that time and who are you selling them to?

12:43 - So when you started Info Street 1994, where was your head at, in terms of what problem are you going out there and looking to solve or what sort of a solution we're looking to provide to people?

16:12 - Give me some examples of the study the type of stuff that you guys were


17:48 - So take us through a little bit about like the-the progress of Info Street as it evolved.

22:15 - What was it like when you started telling people in `95 that the best

operating system was going to be no operating system at all?

24:39 - How do you sustain that passion when things are getting tough?

28:34 - there's a certain percentage of your employees that are human and then for the rest of it, you employ technology. Let’s talk a little bit about that.

31:34 - what have we got going on in July for Info Street?

33:40 - what are some of the must-haves in there that every small business needs?


Know How to Speak the Language of Your Staff

Prior to starting his own software company, Siamak worked for other software companies to learn the multiple facets of running a software company effectively. Having that base understanding of different roles in the company gave Sia the experience to manage his own employees.

“I have a policy of hiring people smarter than me and always listening to them, but nowadays everything's gotten so detailed that when you hire people smarter than you and you want to listen to them, if you don't have a base understanding, you can't listen to them. You don't know.”


Railroad Track Your Processes

Info Street was growing too fast for its small team, but not fast enough to raise funding. Siamak then decided to implement automation, or as he likes to call it “railroad tracking”, 90% of his company to better serve his clients and increase revenue.

“Whatever we're doing twice we are going to automate, and whatever process that other people [would] have to use to do, we are going to go ahead and automate that and basically write it down.”

Pro Tip: Write down the processes of ALL repetitive, tedious tasks that you do for your clients, and AUTOMATE IT.


Have Passion and Stick with It

Many people think they can go work for themselves, but they forget the benefits of an established organization (things included such as HR, legal, and sales). Eight out of ten small businesses go belly-up in the first year because of passion missing. You have to have the passion to see it through. “You have to go through the passion and not get slowed down with things that seemed more important than the bigger goal.”. It’s easier said than done. If you have a passion you will succeed, but if you don't have the passion, within a few months, you’re going to miss that paycheck.


 Empower Employees with Lattice Structure Management

The typical pyramid structure management has a top, middle and bottom. Lattice structure management is characterized by self-management and has no hierarchy or defined leadership. Every point is in support of every other point. The person closest to the problem is the one that's going to make a decision.

“So I may be the CEO of the company, but for instance, if the janitor comes in and says our vacuum cleaner is broken, it shouldn’t be my decision to decide which vacuum cleaner to buy.”

When you empower people, you actually give them passion. If you delegate properly everybody has their own area, and then we all work in unison together, you get very nice results with very little tension.


Build Your Business on “The Cloud”

“The internet is a great democratizer.” - Siamak Farah

Thanks to “the cloud”, some things that were only available to the large businesses ten, fifteen years ago are now available to everybody. Nowadays you could work from home or work from some of these shared office spaces or whatnot. You don't really need a secretary. You could answer your own phone, voicemail, whatever. Plus Info Street / SkyDesktop provides various packages of the common tools every small business needs to foster start and grow their business.


Show Links:

SkyDesktop, website

Get 10% Off Info Street, link

Direct download: Episode_167_-_Siamak_Farah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am CDT

Kallen Diggs is an international bestselling author, career strategist, and contributor to major publications like Entrepreneur Magazine and The Huffington Post. He is the founder of Reaching the Finish Line, and has both a book & internationally syndicated radio show by the same name. Kallen has helped over 2,000 people reach the finish line in their careers.

In this interview, Kallen shares the mission behind Reaching the Finish Line, how he got started in entrepreneurship, and the habits he practices as well as the tools he uses in his business. Kallen also gives his insight on what it was like to publish his first book through traditional publishing, and why writing for smaller publications actually produced more sales for him than his exposure from larger publications.



In This Interview I Ask:

1:54 - What is the purpose of Reaching the Finish Line? How do you help folks?

2:38 - Who is the avatar for Reaching the Finish Line book/radio show? Who do you see as your target audience?

4:25 - How long have you been doing this? Give us a timeline [between] the book, the website and the radio show?

9:10 - So what happened right after college? Did you dive right into the path of becoming an entrepreneur? What did that look like for you?

9:29 - What was the job that you got out of college? What did you do initially that kind of gave you the taste of what normal employment might look like?

11:02 - When somebody comes to you, what are the types of things that you put them through to help them essentially get more fulfillment out of what they’re doing? What process do you put them through?

13:13 - Give us an example of some of the questions that you ask [clients] when they come to work with you?

17:23 - What are some of the things that people believe are stopping them from getting what they want, but doesn’t actually matter in the grand scheme of things?

21:07 - How was your book published?

23:09 - When you first thought about writing a book, did you consider all options from self-publishing to traditional publishing? Tell us about the process about how you went about publishing a book.

24:02 - What was it like for you to actually start reaching out to other publishers? How did you actually start connecting with [publishers]?

30:16 - From that interview you did, what is one of the biggest takeaways you got from talking to [Robert Kiyosaki]?

32:27 - How do you plan, set goals, and execute [all the work that you do]?

36:11 - Do you write every day?

41:51 - How do you define success? What does success mean to you?


How to Reach the Finish Line in Your Career

  1. You need to be willing to be open, humble and receptive to considering things that you may not have considered previously.
  2. You need to determine if you are happy by defining what happiness means to you.
  3. The most common mental block that people have is the belief “I don’t have time”. You have two options: you can continue to believe you don’t have enough time OR you can look at things that are not getting you to your finish line and cut those things out of your life in order to create the time you need to get you to your finish line. If you want to create more time, what are things you’re willing to sacrifice?


Getting Your Book Published the Traditional Way

Books are a great way to earn passive income. Although self-publishing has become popular amongst online writers and entrepreneurs, you may prefer to publish your book through traditional publishing companies.

It is important to have a book proposal for your nonfiction book (publishers will ignore your manuscript alone). You will need to answer the following questions for publishers:

  1. Why is your book project a good idea?
  2. What is your following (what type of people and how many)?
  3. What are your marketing plants to help the book become a bestseller?


Tips for Writing for Publications

  1. When you write content, try to repurpose the content so you’re not reinventing the wheel over and over.
  2. It may seem counterintuitive to write for a smaller publications versus a larger, more popular one; however smaller publications have more targeted audiences.
    (ie: The Huffington Post publishes content for all types of people and interests, while The Good Men Project publishes topics that interest men specifically)
  3. The amount of shares your content receives is the primary metric you should focus on. Shares indicate the amount of people who actually enjoyed your content and those people become part of your Also keep in mind that the audience size of the publication you’re writing for doesn’t always produce greater results or shares. Sometimes a smaller more target publication may produce better results and shares.


Show Links:

Reaching the Finish Line, website

Reaching the Finish Line, book

Kallen’s Robert Kiyosaki Interview, podcast

Zoho: business management tool, website

Trello: project/task management tool, website

Calendly: appointment scheduling tool, website

Direct download: Episode_166_-_Kallen_Diggs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

Jenn Scalia runs a coaching business and membership site for women who want to put themselves out there and run their own online business. Formerly, she enjoyed doing social media full-time for the largest casino in Atlantic City until she was laid off. Jenn felt like she hit rock bottom after her second layoff in two years. It was then that she decided that she wanted control over whether or not she worked and how much she earned. Jenn then moved back in with her parents’, and leveraged their support to get out of debt and slowly grow her business to the six-figure company it is today.

In this interview, Jenn tells us all about Little Black Business Book, and what it takes to run a membership site. We also talk shop about creativity and why she’s addicted to investing in one-on-one coaching.



In This Interview I Ask:

2:35 - Did you go and get another job after [getting laid off]?

4:21 - What were the first 60-90 days like from the time you [decided to start a business]? What did it look like in the first three months of you figuring all this stuff out?

5:40 - Did you have habits or rituals that you did everyday? Did you do things to condition your mindset that way you could keep moving forward even though it was kind of tough?

6:50 - What are you saying in your marketing materials in order to attract clients that sets you apart from the other options that people have?

7:40 - How would you describe your ideal customer?

8:20 - How does your membership fee work?

9:20 - What are some of the specific mini courses that people could go through as a part of the membership site?

10:11 - When you launched the membership site originally, how many mini courses were a part of that?

14:04 - What’s a typical time frame from you’ve got the idea to it’s on the membership site?

14:40 - What’s your magic when and where for creation?

15:57 - Do you have a specific place you like to create?

16:42 - What are the strategies that you use you to acquire your ideal customers?

18:12 - How do you capture testimonials?

20:47 - What’s your most popular mini course?

21:48 - What’s your favorite social challenge that you run? Give us a taste of what that looks like.

23:12 - What’s content prompt?

23:36 - What kind of team is behind this?

24:22 - What do you think is the biggest chokehold in your business? What are you working on the most?

25:28 - What do you see for your business in the next three years? What’s that look like?

26:25 - Of the education and training you’ve experienced yourself, what are some of the game changers for you?

27:35 - What’s the latest book that you’ve read in the last six months that has shown you something new that excited you or that grew your business or your personal life?

28:26 - Did you systematize [drinking water] in any way?

28:52 - Let’s say you woke up and you don’t feel like you want to work. Do you have something that you do to push through or step back from the business? How do you look at a “down day”?

30:29 - Do you ever abstain from technology?

31:36 - What does success mean to you?


How to Position Yourself in the Marketplace

Position yourself as a thought leader and as someone who is the go-to person in your niche. Create a viral visibility so that people know who you are and know about your business.


How to Capture Testimonials

In order to get the right answers, you need to ask the right questions. Get your customers to express the journey from when they decided to hire you to their end result. Some questions you might include are:

  • Where were you before you purchased [product/service]?
  • What happened during your experience with [product/service]?
  • Where are you now after experiencing/using [product/service]?

Pro Tip: Ask for video testimonials that included specific numbers and actual results such as an amount of money saved or earned or percentage increase of goal(s).


Jenn’s Business Game Changer

“Every time I’ve worked with someone one-on-one, at a higher level, it definitely moved the the needle for me. I’ve also taken lots of courses, but I don't think, looking back, any course or program itself was a game changer. It was really having that first hand one-on-one support and accountability that really changed it for me. I'm addicted to it.”

“If I don’t continue to invest in myself, and I don't continue to have that support I'm not going to be able to continue to run a business that’s seven figures.”


Show Links:, website

Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, book

Direct download: Episode_165_-_Jenn_Scalia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:32am CDT

Jason Carter is a software engineer with a PhD in computer science. While going through The Foundation Process, Jason dabbled with a few different niches. Once he started seeing results, he focused on the path of least resistance. Through consistent action and reflection, he learned what he what he was doing wrong in his process, then made adjustments to set his system right. In just eight months he was able to generate $115k all from using cold email.


In this interview, Jason tells us what he’s learned from mistakes he’s made when he first started cold emailing people, and what he changed in his subsequent emails. He also shares why he deviated from developing a software for multiple customers in one niche (like most Foundation students have done), to developing software on a per-project, one-off basis.



In This Interview I Ask:

4:41 - What was going on in your life before the Foundation, and what was the impetus for you to decide to go through [the program]?

6:01 - Have you ever been out there selling to the customer?

7:42 - How did you kick off your first project?

10:24 - How passionate are you about dentistry?

13:50 - What was the call to action in the [initial] emails [you sent] that made it seem like you were asking for too much for a cold email?

14:39 - What did you change when you [started] cold contacting the list of dentists you had an affiliation with?

12:52 - Take us through the story of the first person you started working with. What was that like?

15:27 - Why did you decide to build a software for one dentist as opposed to many dentists with the same problem (what students typically do in The Foundation)?

16:50 - So what did you make on this first project? What did you quote it?

18:20 - What was the time frame from the time you sent the first email to the time you started getting paid by your first client?

19:50 - If I were to go out there and pick a list of 100 people, what are some of the mistakes that I would make as a novice?

25:00 - What have been the outcomes of cold email in your life?

22:47 – Have you ever really done anything [related to] a sales career?

23:12 - How uncomfortable was it for you to do this?

23:29 - When you get that voice in the back of your head, how did you get through that?

24:33 - From the time that you did your first project, how many other consulting projects have you brought on as a result of this cold email outreach?

24:49 - You want to tell the Vegas story?

27:50 - Where are you going to take all of this?

28:38 - If I were just the middleman entrepreneur who went in and discovered the problem and then hired a developer to complete that deliverable , out of the $115k, what would I actually keep in my pocket?

31:40 - What is the biggest takeaway for you over the last eight months?


The Foundation Process

  1. Find a problem to solve.
  2. Pre-sell your solution to that problem.



How to Pick a Market

You can pick a market that you’re passionate about, but it would be better to pick a market that actively spends money and invests in their growth. “What you need to fall in love with is the process of starting businesses rather than the specific niche or passion.” - Frank Mocerino


Tips for Cold Emailing

  • Find the top influencers in your target market. Those are the type of people who will do extra work (and spend the money), are passionate, and want to grow.
  • Mention your common affiliation (ie: college or networking group) in the subject line of your email. If you don’t have a common affiliation, take the time to read their blog or listen to their podcast. Then share what you found valuable from your experience with their content. They will appreciate you for taking the time.
  • Keep in mind that one lead can connect you to another. Top influences will know and put you in contact with other people in their field. After confirming their problem, ask them if they know of others like them who also suffer from that same problem.


Mistakes to Avoid When Cold Emailing

  • Don’t send emails to general addresses like Instead, go for the direct email
  • Don’t try to sell them something in the first email. Instead, explain your interest in learning about their pain and wanting to help create a solution for them.

            Example: Jason was too focused on himself and what he wanted from the email

recipient rather than what he could do to help them. “I was focused on ‘This is

who I am and this is what I want’ instead of ‘This is who I am, how can I help


  • Don’t worry about the quantity of your email list. It’s not about how many people you email. It’s about the quality of the people you email.


Show Links:

The Science of Cold Emailing, sign up form

Direct download: Episode_164_-_Jason_Carter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Jennifer Barcelos and Sandy Connery are both alums of The Foundation Class of 2013, who met and instantly became friends at our Foundation live event. Jenny was a lawyer and new mom wanting to explore new ways to fund the nonprofit organization she worked with, while Sandy was a certified pedorthist, who after selling her previous business was looking for a new entrepreneurial challenge. After uncovering a common pain point shared by yoga studio owners, Jenny founded Namastream, a virtual wellness studio service for yoga instructors. Sandy, being a fellow yogi and Namastream enthusiast, joined the team a year and a half later.

In this interview, Jenny tells us the story of how Namastream came to be, and what her experience of building a SaaS solution from inception to growth is like. Sandy shares what prompted her to join the Namastream team and how roles are divided between them.


In This Interview I Ask:

4:59 - How many studios did you end up speaking with before you saw the pain you were going to solve for them?

5:35 - How do you actually take that pain and start taking action toward building a solution to it?

7:20 - How were you thinking about the long-term vision of what you wanted to get out of building something?

10:01 - People always say that you should build a business in an area that you’re passionate about; is yoga a passion of yours?

12:50 - Jenny, how long did you run [Namastream] without Sandy, and what was the impetus to bring somebody on?

14:54 - How did you decide to bring someone on as a partner versus hiring a rockstar team member that you pay as an employee?

16:50 - Sandy, what drove you to get involved?

19:35 - How did you go from a bootstrap company to going through the 9Mile Labs Accelerator program?

27:28 - What are some of the core takeaways from the Accelerator program?

29:30 - How do you two divide your roles in the company?

33:30 - Who’s the ideal customer for Namastream?

37:41 - What’s the vision for Namastream over the next three years?

40:13 - Do you feel like you went in and dominated yoga and now you’re spreading, or does it feel it doesn’t do you any good to sit around and dominate yoga for years before you spread?

42:12 - [What is] the biggest mistake that you believe you’ve made that has led to breakthroughs or growth?


How to Validate a Pain Point

  1. Interview multiple target customers and find a common pain point.
  2. Have an additional conversation with each of those same customers you interview, and get them to confirm the pain point you’ve discovered.
  3. Research bigger brands and companies who have already figured out how to solve the pain point you’ve discovered, and evaluate their solutions.


How to Qualify a Potential Partner

  • This person should know your business.
  • This person should be someone you trust 100%.
  • This person should be as excited and interested in your company as you are.

Example: Jenny and Sandy were already accountability partners within The Foundation program so Sandy knew all about Namastream from their conversations. Sandy was always interested in Namastream so when Jenny proposed a partnership, Sandy intuitively said yes.


Show Links:

Namastream, website

Soulful MBA: Start Your Own Health and Wellness Business, website

9Mile Labs: Accelerator Program, website

Direct download: Episode_163_-_Jennifer_Barcelos__Sandy_Connery.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Geoff Woods is the host of The Mentee Podcast and an alumni of The Foundation, who went from having a 6-figure sales job to becoming a full-time entrepreneur. Geoff was going through The Foundation’s “Idea Extraction” process when he realized that SaaS was not a good fit for him. Instead he made a pivot to focus on something he was much more passionate about building, which ended up being his podcast, The Mentee. Because of the guidance from his mentors, Geoff was able to monetize within three months of launch.

In Part 2 of this interview, Geoff breaks down the steps to meet the top influencers in your industry. Plus he fulfills his promise to share the strategies he used to become a contributor on within a mere three weeks, and how you can do it too!



In This Interview I Ask:

2:26 - Take us through the process of what it looked like for you to find your own billionaire mentor.

5:46 - How can you, wherever you are right now, start tapping into people who are lightyears beyond you?

6:57 - How can other people go out and replicate what you’ve done?

8:10 - How did you acquire the energy, conviction and desire to be committed to your actions?

29:25 - Where can I go to receive this type training to replicate what you’ve done?



3 Steps to Strategically Add Value to People Who Can Help You Accomplish Your Goals

Get Clarity on Where You Need Help

Ask yourself the following questions, and describe each answer in one sentence:

  1. Out of everything you’re working on right now, what is the ONE thing that you need the most help with?
  2. How would you describe the ideal person who could help guide you with your ONE thing?


Tell People Where You Need Help and They Will Rise Up and Support You.

80% of everything you need is already within your circle of influence.” When you share what you’re working on and where you need help, people can’t resist the desire to want to help you. Either that person you talk to will be the person you need, or you plant the seed in their mind so when they come across a person who fits the mold, they’ll consider making that connection.

Example: When you touch based with someone and they ask “What’s up?” you can say, “You know, I realized that I need to surround myself with some really great people who just eat, sleep, breath [topic of expertise].” When you share these needs with the people who care about you, they naturally feel compelled to help you .


Strategically show up every day and focus on adding value to one person at a time consistently.

Ask each person, What are you working on? How can I help you? Know that they will share a piece of information, and even if you are not their answer directly, you may know the person who is able to help. Either way, you plant the seed and that connection will eventually happen.

Never ask a successful person out to coffee to “pick their brain.” This is basically asking them to give you their free time. The answer is obviously no.

The moment Geoff learned to become the person who just look to see how can I add value to them to every relationship, he started to find that people bent over backwards to help him.



How to become a contributor on any publication in three weeks

A common rookie mistake in an attempt to become a contributor on any publication would be to try to connect directly with its editor and pitch them your article.

Instead, Geoff followed his 3-step process:

  1. He became clear on his goal: Geoff wanted to become a contributing writer on
  2. He started targeting contributing writers. This was the script he used: “Hey, I’m seeking guidance. I see that you’ve written for Entrepreneur. I’m really curious about your journey, and the impact it’s had on you. I’m going through these crossroads in my life, and frankly I wanted to ask for your help. Would you be willing to spend 10-15 minutes with me sharing your journey? I promise I will find a way to add value to you. PS: I already shared your most recent post.”
  3. Finally he was recommended to the editor (which shows incredible valuable). He then asked the editor “Hey, how can I make you look good? What does it take to write a great post?” Then Geoff took the editor’s feedback and went to work.



Playing the “Long Game”

When you meet somebody, you may have a long term hope of how they can help you, but if you just go for the ask, it won’t help you. It’s more rewarding to have a long term relationship.

“[When] you fast forward to the end of your life, it’s going to be the experiences you shared and the people you shared them with.”

Every time you approach somebody, they’re a puzzle piece. You have no idea what role they will play in your life, but you figure out where they need help and you file it away. Over time you start finding pieces that fit together, and when you connect those people, tremendous value is created and ultimately the vision of your life is unfolded.


Show Links:

Listen to The Mentee, podcast

Download 7 Easy Steps to Meet the Top 7 People in Your Industry,

Get Geoff’s FREE Training,

Direct download: Episode_162_-_Geoff_Woods__Ryan_Twedt_pt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am CDT

Geoff Woods is the host of The Mentee Podcast and an alumni of The Foundation who went from having a 6-figure job to becoming a full-time entrepreneur. Geoff was going through The Foundation’s “Idea Extraction” process when he realized that SaaS was not a good fit for him. Instead he made a pivot to focus on something he was much more passionate about building and that was his podcast, The Mentee - which Geoff was able to monetize within three months of launching.

In Part 1 of this interview, Geoff recalls the moment when he realized it was time to take the leap into entrepreneurship. He shares how he was quickly able to connect with successful people, get mentored by them, and then later interview them on his podcast. Geoff also talks about the importance of adding value, focusing on ONE thing, and taking continuous action in order to move closer to your goals. Also joining us in this special interview is tactical marketing extraordinaire, Ryan Twedt.


In This Interview I Ask:

5:58 - Back when you were a medical device rep, what would you say was your skillset in life?

7:34 - When you were considering the jump to entrepreneurship, what types of skills did you feel you were you lacking that you went to build out?

8:56 - When you were going through The Foundation, how did you that software as a service (SaaS) wasn’t for you?

13:34 - What’s the founding story of [The Mentee Podcast]?

16:39 - Tell us a story about the wackiest way you actually went about getting in contact with one of [your guests]?


Surround Yourself with Mentors

There’s a Jim Rohn quote that say, “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Take account of the five people you currently go to for advice. Are they qualified to help you accomplish your goals? If not, you need to find new mentors to surround yourself with; mentors who’ve already accomplished what you desire to accomplish.


Pro tip: If you want to surround yourself with millionaires and get them to mentor you, you have to find ways to add value to them.

Example: IdeGeoff knew he didn’t need to know everything about podcasting to build his podcast; he just needed to know the people who did so he set out to become friends with Pat Flynn (Smart Passive Income) and Jordan Harbinger (Art of Charm).



Focus on One Thing

“You have to win a gold medal at something.” - Jeff Hoffman (Priceline)

There’s so many different options of paths to take as an entrepreneur, so many different types of business models. You need to figure out that one thing to focus on, and go win that gold medal. You need to eat, sleep, and breath that one thing before you scale out.

Example: Amazon started off with books and won a gold medal buying and selling books. Today they could care less about books because they’ve been able to scale into something different.


Learn About What You Really Want by Taking Action

You have no idea what detours you’re going to have to overcome. All you can focus on are the six feet in front of you at a time, but you keep moving. Slowly, but surely you end up getting to where you’re supposed to be going.

Example: Geoff joined the Foundation and began working on his SaaS idea extraction for The Foundation until he realized that Saas was not for him. He was more passionate about his podcast so he he pivoted his focus towards that path.


Show Links:

Listen to The Mentee, podcast

Download 7 Easy Steps to Meet the Top 7 People in Your Industry,

Direct download: Episode_161_-_Geoff_Woods__Ryan_Twedt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am CDT

Aaron Vidas is the founder and CEO of Strategy Box, a company that helps others companies find their most profitable customers and creates radically simple plans to help them grow.


In this interview, Aaron talks to us about how he transitioned from moving back into his childhood home and working with low leverage clients to working with companies ten times as big and quadrupling his rates.



In This Interview I ask:

5:09 - What did you study in university?

6:04 - Knowing what you know now, [would] you go back and do that university program?

8:23 - What are some of your ongoing takeaways from backpacking through China?

17:31 - How did you go about firing your own clients?

24:50 - What shift did it take to go from calling companies making under a million in revenue to companies that were 10x-ing that?

29:08 - What does simplification actually mean?

33:28 - What are people doing wrong when they’re tracking the lifetime value of a customer, and how does that affect what they’re able to do with that information?

38:23 - What do you define as great leadership?



How to Calculate Lifetime Value of a Customer

Lifetime value is an estimate of how much a customer would bring in over the lifetime they are with the company as a customer.


Lifetime Value of a Customer = [How much money do you earn per month for a customer, over a period of time (usually 36 months for younger companies)] MINUS [the customer acquisition costs]


Discounted Cash Flow is understanding that a dollar spent today is not a dollar three years from now.


When calculating customer acquisition cost:

  • INCLUDE any expense related to marketing, including half of what you pay yourself (if you perform marketing tasks)
  • INCLUDE Development costs and other variable costs such as hiring customer service or an account executive
  • DO NOT include employee salaries



How to Cold Email Clients 10x As Big As the Ones You’re Currently Serving

When reaching out to prospects, make it abundantly clear that you’re not going to sell them anything and you just want to learn about their problems. It just so happens you might actually solve those problems and if they feel inclined to they may want to hire you later on.


You can use this script:

“This isn’t a sales call. [This] is what I do. [These] are some of the clients that I work with. [So and so] suggested I get in touch with you. I solve [these types of problems] for [these companies]. Can I have a ten minutes of your time? I really just want to know what your situation is, and if this is a fit for you or if it isn’t, and just why.”


In The Foundation, we call this process “Idea Traction.” Alternatively, you can say this:

“Hey, I’ve got nothing to sell you right now. I want to understand some aspects of your business to see what types of services you’re lacking, and to see if I could potentially develop a solution in the future. Can I have ten minutes of your time?”



Pre-Qualify Your Clients Before You Contact Them

Ask yourself, over two or three years, how much could this client spend with me? If the answer isn’t a big number you need to ask, should I be going after them in the first place?



How to Simplify Your Business

Ask yourself, a year from now, what do you want to be doing? Then work backwards from that. Some other questions you can ask is how much would it cost to acquire a customer or how long would that customer stay around for?



How to Fire Clients

There comes a time when you might have to fire your least profitable clients to grow your company. Firing your client doesn’t mean you’re leaving the relationship in a negative way. Take the extra time to help your client continue their business without you.

  • Step One: Have an open and honest conversation about the relationship. Explain why you are unable to serve them to the best of your abilities. An example might be that the client is self-sabotaging themselves by not doing their part in the collaboration to accomplish agreed upon goals.
  • Step Two: Refer your clients to alternative service providers so there’s no interruption in their services. 


Show Links:, website

Strategy Box, website

Customer Acquisition Cost, slides

Direct download: Episode_160_-_Aaron_Vidas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:29am CDT

Lisa Bodell is the founder and CEO of futurethink, which enables organizations to embrace change and become world-class innovators. She’s also the author of two books: Kill the Company, which is about how to get rid of thing to make space for innovation, and Why Simple Wins which is about how can we get to the work that matters by making simplicity a habit or rather how to make simplicity an operating principle to make innovation happen.

In this interview, Lisa shares how to overcome the complexity trap, and figure out what is holding us back from making change in our organizations. Ultimately, it comes down to defining simplicity, “killing stupid rules”, and asking killer questions.


In This Interview I ask:

3:20 - How do we start down the path of innovation?

5:25 - How do you measure the productivity of “thinking time”?

8:00 - What are we not doing, in terms of cultivating our employees, that is preventing their ability to think, and not do what they’ve always done.

9:55 - How do we create the culture of [Killing a Stupid Rule] in our organizations?

11:45 - How often should you meet with your team and how do you run meetings [effectively]?

17:15 - How can the audience take action in doing deep work?

20:29 - What are some killer questions that people can be asking themselves and their organizations [to] help them get to better answers?

23:42 - How did innovation, change and simplification become your purpose?

25:43 - How did you take your interest & passion and start down the path of making it into a business?

28:01 - What kind of exciting change should [upcoming] entrepreneurs be paying attention to and start preparing for in the next couple of years?

29:12 - What are the skillsets that people need to have to not be replaced by technology?


Kill a Stupid Rule

We need to give people permission for them to get rid of stuff that’s outlived its time (culture norms, business approaches, weekly meetings) - stuff that we do that we never stop to think why do we do it this way? We stop and look at our own behavior and the things we do every day and ask is it necessary? 

It’s everyone’s job to think; however as leaders, we have to empower our teams to get rid of things that aren’t working. Leaders have to mandate simplification and show it by behavior so that team members will focus on work that matters. The reason a lot of people don’t get rid of stuff is because a leader put it in place. You need to have a strong leader who realizes that some things have outlived their time and get rid of them.


More is Not Better

We spend all this time organizing and that’s not simplifying. We also think that doing is more important than thinking. This kind of mindset is what’s keeping us from being innovative. It’s not always about less, it’s about better.


Simplification Starts with Leaders

You have to have someone who is willing to have a subtractive mindset, and not just an additive mindset, who doesn’t have a fear of getting rid of things. We have this fear of holding onto things because once we have something, we feel like it has value. We’re reluctant to give it up because, from a psychological standpoint, we don’t like to give up value and we don’t like to admit we made a stupid decision. We have to be comfortable to admit that something isn’t working anymore and get rid of it.


Time Versus Value

Take an audit of what we spend our time on, and if it has value or not. If it’s not valuable, why are you doing it? If it is valuable, could it be minimized or improve? How can we move it up the value chain to make it take less time and have more value. If it takes a lot of time and has no value, get rid of it. If it takes little time and has high value, you try to model everything after that. If it takes little time and has little value, look at the key levels of simplicity and ask how can I improve the value or decrease the time?


Define What Simplicity Means to Your Company, then Ask Killer Questions

You don’t know how to simplify if you can’t define it. An example definition of simplicity is: “To be simple, it has to be as minimal as possible. It has to be as understandable and clear as possible. It can be as repeatable as possible. It has to be accessible.”


If we had to get rid of several parts of this product or service and still make money on it, what’s the first that would go?

What’s the one audience we don’t want to give away stuff to that scares us, but we should really rethink?

If we had to cut this contract/meeting/process in half, how would we go about doing it in the next 24 hours?


Show Links:

Future Think,

Lisa’s Tedx Talk, How Simplification is the Key to Change

Kill the Company, book

Why Simple Wins, book

Direct download: Episode_159_-_Lisa_Bodell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am CDT

Jeff Wenberg is the founder of Smart Video Metrics and an alumni of The Foundation. Jeff started a voiceover and video business right after being let go from his job. He grew tired of the inconsistent income of that business so in 2015, he joined The Foundation.

In this interview, Jeff tells us how he came up with the idea for Smart Video Metrics, how much time and money he invested in his solution, and his takeaways from his experience so far.


In This Interview I asked:

4:28 - How did you know that there was an opportunity to solve a problem?

6:35 - What problem were you experiencing that you wanted to go out there and solve?

7:57 - Why is it important to be able to track this [video conversion data]?

9:43 - Why did you feel confident in breaking the rules of the pre-selling model?

13:04 - In retrospect, what are the things you would go back and change?

14:24 - How did you build [your solution]?

17:27 - How long was the process between hiring a developer and receiving the final product?

19:34 - With no pre-sales, how did you get your first customers?

22:12 - What specific lesson learn did you learn about Smart Video Metrics?

23:45 - How long after getting the software developed did it take to get that first sale?

26:28 - What are your goals for the next 3 months, and what are the highest leverage things for you to focus on to accomplish those goals?

28:09 - What was your biggest takeaway from the mistakes that you’ve made so far?

28:36 - What do you think you’ve exceptionally well [in this whole process]?


SOLVING A PROBLEM - The #1 thing you need to start a business is a problem to solve (not experience or a track record).

  • Jeff was originally working on a solution for freelancers, but when they became unresponsive during his outreach, he decided to scrap that idea and solve a problem he personally struggled with.
  • Smart Video Metrics tells you if a person watching your video turns into a lead or customer. The problem that this solves is having the ability to track the life of a visitor without having to spend a ton of manpower. The alternative solution would be to use Google Analytics manually.
  • Creating videos takes a lot of time and money investment so it’s important track the return of investment (ROI). 75% of people investing in video creation only track their video views. If you’re spending more on videos than they are making back, it’s pointless.


PRESELLING - Before you go out there and build a solution, you collect pre-sale dollars in advance to mitigate the risk of building something with your own money.

  • Pre-selling is not just about the dollar amount that it’s going to take to develop software. You are able to get users to tell you exactly what features they need and don’t need.
  • Jeff had never worked with developers before. Counter-intuitively, he hired the most expensive developer who also had the most background in the particular type of software Jeff wanted to build - and received the finished product a month later.
  • When hiring a developer you want the perfect mix of enthusiasm and price. Don't hire based on who will work for the least amount of pay. Also it’s important that the developer is excited to work on the project, and it’s your job to sell them on it.
  • If you don’t have pre-sales, focus on one-on-one conversations with potential customers in your market, and utilize free tools until you’ve fully developed your positioning.
  • Having only two hours a day to work on Smart Video Metrics, Jeff only focused on tasks that resulted in the the most impact. He only wished he would have been more patient and tried to pre-sell his solution.



Show Notes: 

Smart Video Metrics, 2-Week Trial

Direct download: Episode_158_-_Jeff_Wenberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am CDT