#25 Master Podcasting, Predict ROI and Follow Your Passions with Stephen Woessner

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TRANSCRIPT:
Jay Owen:
Hi. Welcome to Building a Business That Lasts. My name is Jay Owen, and I’m your host on a quest towards stories, tips, and ideas that will help you grow a business without being stressed out, worn out, and ready to quit. Each week, I’ll interview other business owners who have successfully grown businesses of all types for many years. It’s my hope that these conversations will help you build a business that lasts.

On this episode, I interview Stephen Woessner. He’s the founder and CEO of Predictive ROI, a digital marketing agency. He’s the host of Onward Nation, a top-rated daily podcast, which has almost 700 episodes now. And more recently, he just released a new book. It’s been a number one bestseller already, titles Profitable Podcasting. If you’re interested in podcasting at all, this episode’s gonna be awesome for you. Hope you enjoy this conversation that I had with Stephen.

Hey, Stephen. Thanks for being on the show.

Stephen W:
Well, hey, Jay. Thanks very much for the invitation, and very kind of you. So I’m delighted to be here with you.

Jay Owen:
So it’s always really exciting. I’ve only gotten to do this once before. I’m interviewing somebody else who has a podcast, and in your case, a very successful podcast. We’re gonna come back to that, because I want to start with your company, Predictive ROI, and then we’re gonna talk about the podcast and your book, Profitable Podcasting. So those are kind of a highlights, people that are listening, things we’re gonna get to. What I always like to start of with is, what made you start your company in the first place? When you made that decision to say, “Hey. I’m gonna take this leap.” It’s a big leap for a lot of people, and what gave you kind of the courage and the intensity to say, “Hey. I’m gonna make this happen”?

Stephen W:
You know, I think I’m in the category of, like many, I’m sure, who are listening right now, and many business owners around the country, of being one of those accidental business owners that was described so perfectly by Michael Gerber in his fantastic book The E-Myth. And it was one of those things where I was really happy at the University of Wisconsin. I was a member of faculty and academic staff at the La Crosse Campus, so UW-La Crosse. And I’d been there for about five, six years, and then one day I’m teaching a search engine optimization class to a group of business overs throughout the tri-state area, and one of them at lunch said to me, “Hey. You know, you really ought to write a book on this,” and I thought she was just messing with me. I’m like, “Come on, Sheri.”

And she says, “No, seriously. This is really good stuff, and the way that you’re breaking it down into tactical steps, you should write a book about it.” I’m like, “Hm, okay.” So I went home that night and I said to Christine, I go, “What do you think? Should I?” And she’s like, “Well, you’ve always talked about writing a book, so why don’t you do it?” So four months later, I had the book, and then it just, it put me on this path and trajectory unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And so then the book is out, and Inc. Magazine calls and leaves me a voicemail at my UW-La Crosse office and I about fell over. I’m like, “What? They have to have the wrong number.”

And so anyway, it started this momentum that turned into some speaking engagements, it turned into some consulting opportunities, and for a while, I just said no. And to the point where I’m like, “You know, this would be kind of interesting,” and so shortly thereafter, I decided to leave the university, start Predictive ROI, which I thought was just going to be kind of a speaking, training, consulting kind of business. It has turned into substantially more than that, but really, that’s how it started. It started from teaching that search engine optimization class in little La Crosse, Wisconsin, and one of the attendees saying, “You know …” And I did. I followed up on it, and it turned into something really kind of amazing.

Jay Owen:
That is really cool. And you know, it’s funny you mention E-Myth. For anybody that’s listened to the podcast before, I think I mentioned that book on almost every single episode, so we’ve got pretty good synergy going into this. One of my favorite books.

So after you started the business, which is kind of interesting. You started kind of with a book almost, then kind of got the business rolling out of that. What kind of challenges did maybe you encounter early on in the business that maybe you didn’t expect before? Was this the first business that you had run as a sole owner?

Stephen W:
No. Predictive is my fifth, but even still. I mean, even though it’s my fifth, there are challenges, obstacles, either ones you haven’t experienced before, ones you have and were relearning that same mistake over and over again, and so some of the challenges that we face, that we still face, it’s trying to get things started so you take on debt, and then the debt becomes a problem, and it’s like, “Oh, for Pete’s sake.” And now it’s like wrestling with the debt and sort of trying to raise revenue as fast as you can in order to pay down the debt, and so you got to get over that hurdle. Or taking on too many clients, and then not doing a good job for any of them, and then losing clients as a result, and now you’ve got a team of people who had been hired in order to take care of those clients, but you grew and outstripped your capacity.

So I think we have faced a myriad of problems and challenges, not dissimilar from what most business owners uncover, but I think what we’ve been able to also do is been able to dig in, been able to get really intentional around the people that we spend the most time with. I think that Coach John Wooden said it, from UCLA, the winning-est of all time, said it best when he said, “You will never outperform your inner circle.” So I pay very, very close attention to who is in our inner circle, and I want to learn from business owners who have done what I’m trying to do and have done it really, really well. And then we pay attention, and I like to think that we’re good mentees, and we apply what we learn.

And so now we’ve been able to build a business that is growing quite nicely, that is growing predictably, that is based on a very solid pipeline for business development because of our podcast and other things. But it took us, jeez. I started the business in 2009, so it’s taken us eight years, almost nine … No, it’s taken us nine years. I can’t even do math. It’s taken us nine years to get to that point, so it does not happen over night.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. I think that’s a critical point. I think a lot of times it’s easy for somebody to get discouraged early on in business when they hit a few roadblocks and feel like maybe they’re the only ones, but I think the more business owners I have the opportunity to talk to, the reality is that we all go through things that are sometimes really, really hard, and I think a lot of times, what separates people is perseverance and the willingness to kind of push through and find a way to kind of find the success.

One of the things that I think is interesting, what you just mentioned, was predictable growth, and it’s even in the title of your company. Predictive ROI. I’d love to hear you talk about that a little bit, because I think that’s a struggle for a lot of people, is how do you come up with a plan that helps you have some kind of predictability about what’s going to happen versus kind of the just fly by the seat of your pants, hope you can sell a new project for next month? What kind of tips would you have for our audience around helping build predictable growth?

Stephen W:
So, the reason why I named the business that way is one, because I felt like it would have value to clients being able to predict their return on investment before something ever started, and also, it just kind of aligns with my personality. I like to eliminate the guesswork, and I like to bet on sure things. Taking a quote from Gordon Gekko in the 1985 version of Wall Street. And so, with that, it’s being able to really understand the metrics in your business that really drive your business forward, and that can be, let’s look at the sales process, for example. The number of sales calls that it takes in order to get a meeting. The number of meetings that it takes in order to get a proposal. The number of proposals that need to be submitted in order to get an acceptance. The average acceptance value of a particular proposal, if we’re talking about professional services.

And being able to understand that at a basic level, then you’re able to know … then you’re able to predict, at least, how many leads do we need on the front end of that, and good quality leads, in order to make everything else downstream work, and then based on what the revenue target must be. So then you can dial that into whether that’s a LinkedIn lead gen campaign, whether that’s having a podcast and interviewing your very best prospects, maybe it’s a Facebook campaign, maybe it’s a combination of all three of those. Maybe it’s going a webinar program and teaching some of your curriculum that has lead gen, then, on the back end.

But unless you really understand sort of that conversion process or the decision making path, it becomes difficult to really predict, but once you have it, then you can predict, essentially, the pipeline that you’re gonna put on the front end of that to know, okay, I need to do four webinars. I’m gonna do quarterly webinars. I’m gonna teach this stuff. I’m gonna take my overall method and break it into four chunks, and then out of that webinar, we might have two or three really solid leads. But based on the sales process, that’s really all that I need for a new company in order to really get that predictable revenue going, and then beyond that, in addition to adding the webinar, maybe you add in a podcast, maybe you add in a LinkedIn, maybe you add in a whatever to really start to make that more robust. But starting small and scaling from there is really key.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. Absolutely. I always say, everybody’s selling something, it’s just a matter of what. And their job is to be able to clearly communicate that or have the right team of people that can clearly communicate that to help others make a decision to actually buy it from them, and I think your advice of trying to have a system and knowing your numbers is really important, especially thinking back to that E-Myth book. For anybody that’s read it, if you haven’t, go get it and read it now. He talks a lot about this idea of the technician versus the manager versus the entrepreneur, and I think that that’s really critical, because sometimes people come in as a technician. Maybe they’re a designer or they’re a carpenter, or who knows what they’re actually doing, that they’re good at, and then all a sudden these numbers that you’re talking about can be a little bit intimidating.

So sometimes finding the right people … You talked about finding the right people in your inner circle, but even having the right vendors and things, maybe it’s an accountant or a marketing team member or something that can come alongside you, could be really critical, too.

Stephen W:
Yeah, absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree. I think that’s some great advice, and would certainly encourage your listeners to take advantage of what you just shared. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.

Jay Owen:
So thinking about … I’m gonna rewind a little bit to the book, because I think a lot of business owners have said, “I want to write a book,” or maybe, “I want to start a podcast.” Those are very common things that people that have been around want to do for promotion, but they don’t know where to start. It sounds like you kind of … Somebody suggested you write a book, and you got in there and did it. What was that like for the first one? I know you’ve written multiple books since then. How has that process kind of changed and evolved, and what did you learn through writing your first book?

Stephen W:
One, it takes time, but it doesn’t take as much time as what most people might think. One, it’s hard, but it’s not as hard as most people might think, if we’re willing to give up certain things, and then if we’re willing to actually have the discipline to execute. So here, let me break that down.

Because for me, it’s all about recipes. It’s all about what are the ingredients in this recipe that, if I’m gonna bake a cake, or if I’m gonna write a book. And so most paperback business books today that a publisher’s going to publish or that you might decide to self-publish, that really has some meat and potatoes to it, is 288 pages, which translates to about 55 thousand to 60 thousand words. Most people write about 1,000 words an hour, so really, what we’re talking about is precisely about 60 hours of writing time. Sixty. And so when people have asked me, “How in the world were you able to write a book in four months?” I say, “Well, you know how most people will watch two to three hours of TV a night?” “Yeah.” “I don’t watch TV.” So the 20 to 30 hours that the typical household is spending watching television, I’m not doing that. I’m working on stuff, curriculum, point of view, message, content, expertise. All of that stuff.

And so to be able to sit down and write a book for two or three hours a day over the course of three months and have it done is reasonable for me, but the key is, it’s reasonable for most people. If you stop watching TV, you find all kinds of free time. Or if you put your kids to bed at 8, write till 11:00 at night. And just being committed to it, and that’s the difference. So writing it is not hard. Having a schedule in place is not hard. It’s the discipline, enforcing yourself to execute consistently over three months, and you can get it done.

So, really, that’s kind of the secret behind it, is a thousand words an hour for three months consistently, whittling away at it every day or every night, and you’ll have your book.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. I love the way you broke that down, and I think that’s one of the problems, is the idea of writing a book seems kind of daunting, but the idea of 60 hours of writing doesn’t sound too bad. And especially if it’s just an hour or two at a time broken up over a couple of months. I mean, really, that seems very doable, and I think a lot of times it’s a matter of breaking things down, like you just did there, of the least common denominator, and I love what you’re saying about discipline. I mean, that is the key. If we don’t have discipline in all these different areas, we’ll never get it done, even if we have a good plan. We’ve got to be able to execute it.

Stephen W:
So, some people have recently asked me, “Stephen, how long did it take to write Profitable Podcasting?” They don’t believe me when I tell them that it took me three weeks. And it isn’t because … Part of it was it was just my schedule was very compressed to that point, but also part of it is, is that Onward Nation, my podcast, seven of the solo casts ended up becoming chapters. I interviewed some of our clients for the success stories in the back end of the book, which also became episodes for the show, and then I interviewed some of my teammates, more of the technical components, transcribed those, and those became chapters. So I was able to kind of stitch it together in three weeks, and then boom, there’s a book that goes off to the publisher.

Here’s a staggering statistic. A friend of mine, his name is Avinash Kaushik, and he’s the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google. And so he and I were doing an interview when I was out at Google’s campus a while back, and he said to me, he goes, “Stephen. Do you know the number of hours that the average household consumes in television a week?” And I said, “No.” And says, “It’s over 40 hours.”

Jay Owen:
Wow.

Stephen W:
Staggering. Staggering. Forty hours of television per week. Just imagine. And I’m not suggesting that people give up their favorite show. What I am suggesting is that your listeners become more consciously aware of the amount of time we just let just slip through our fingers on idle stuff, when instead we could just apply an hour a day for two months and you’d have a book, which is a game changer for your business and your life.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. I mean, that’s huge. The idea of intentional time is so important, and it’s so easy to just get caught in the whirlwind of the day or the week or the month and get through it and go, “Where did all that time go?” If we don’t write it down and aren’t intentional about it, it’s just gonna run away on us in the same way that our money will if we don’t have a good budget.

Stephen W:
Amen. You know, Stephen Covey said it so brilliantly in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The late Stephen Covey. And he said, “We often get bogged down in the thick of thin things.” And whether that’s watching TV, or hanging out on Facebook, or Snapchat, or Instagram, or whatever. And I’m not saying that these things are not important and that they don’t add value to your business, because they absolutely do in doses. What I am saying is that spending so much time and not being consciously aware, and then thinking, “Oh, gosh. I don’t have time to write a book,” or, “I don’t have time to have a podcast.” When really getting intentional, we kind find that we’ve got a lot of time to do a lot of the big things that we know we need to do to build our business and move it forward.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. Absolutely. That’s great advice. Thinking about your podcast, Onward Nation. Just an amazing show. What’s also incredible about it is the sheer volume of episodes that you’ve had. The podcast has been around since 2015, and you have almost 700 episodes. That took some serious intentionality and commitment to get that done. I’d love to hear from you how you have been able to carve out that time, as we talk about intentional time, and getting that done and staying consistent with it over the time period that you have, because that’s where a lot of people fall off, too, is not being able to stay consistent and disciplined with something over time. How have you done that with this podcast?

Stephen W:
Well, first, the podcast has been successful for several really key reasons. One, phenomenal guests. I mean, being able to hang out with super, super smart people, be able to learn from them. Phenomenal guests.

Second, an incredible team of people. Just taking you behind the green curtain of Predictive ROI, we’ve got a team of 15, and this is what they do. Right? And so I have the privilege and honor of being able to walk up to the microphone and have great conversations with other business owners, but when I’m done with that conversation, then I’m done. So I can stack all of these interviews on Tuesdays and dedicate a Tuesday to that, because I have a team of people, an exceptional team, who are able to take that audio and then make it what it has become, and then do that for a bunch of our other clients, too.

And then thirdly, and maybe even most importantly, the reason why the show has been successful is because we have incredibly listeners in 120 countries who have taken this content and shared it and so forth and whatnot.

But from a schedule perspective, on Tuesdays I block my calendar to where I do between five and seven interviews on Tuesdays. I realize that that is not realistic for every business owner. I get it. And it is a privilege that I am able to do that, but we have built a system and a back end team to be able to do that. And so, on a monthly basis, we’re producing about 80 to 100 episodes across all of the shows that we produce, so we … Going back to the word you were talking about before, predictable. We have a very predictable, repeatable process for producing Onward Nation episodes, as well as all of the other clients’ content that we’re producing. So it is a very well-oiled machine. It didn’t happen over night. It took us years to get to this point, but I have the good fortune … I mean, that’s why it’s easy for me to have a daily show, because I have an incredible team behind it.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. Team is huge. I mean, it kind of relates to the idea of having the right people in your inner circle. You also need to have the right people on your team, and that is a big stumbling block for a lot of people. Hiring, dealing with conflict, and then ultimately sometimes having to fire. Those are tough decisions for people. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned over time about how you kind of find the right person, get them into your team and process, and how you keep the right people, as well.

Stephen W:
We start with our values, and, first of all, we have a very clear vision of what it is that we do here, and we share that, and make sure, conceptually, are we on the same page? Or, I should say philosophically, are we on the same page? Sort of our purpose and cause and our passion of helping business owners no longer look through the wrong end of the lens as it relates to their marketing and the things that we do here. So making sure that we have commonality there.

Second is we spend a lot of time on our values and communicating what our values are. Gratitude, life is not static, there’s no task that’s not mine or too small, we can be even better than we currently are, and we win together. There are two critical words here at Predicative ROI, and that is team mate. And so, we do things together, and that it doesn’t mean a duplication of resources, that means that we just value teamwork so much. And so sometimes that works awesome, and sometimes we need to have conversations that are difficult and say, “You know what? In this particular project, you weren’t your best, and client deserves your best. I deserve your best at Predictive ROI, and you know what? You deserve to do your best, and this wasn’t it. And so let’s talk about why that wasn’t the case and how to hit the mark the next time so that you can always be doing your best. What do you say?” And then that response is, “Yeah. Absolutely. Let’s work on that.”

Every single member of our team has a mentor, including myself. I have multiple. And so each week our mentors and mentees are meeting with one another, having conversations about how to get even better, and focusing on our values. And so, we’re not afraid of those difficult conversations because my team hears me say, “I love you guys. I am so very proud of you. Each and every day, when we have a chance to create big wins for our clients, please know how much I care about you and how much I appreciate this opportunity to be in the trenches with you every single day.” And so my team knows that if we’re ever gonna have a difficult conversation, it’s because I love them dearly, and it’s because I want to see them be the best they can possibly be.

Jay Owen:
I just love that. I mean, the mindset of caring about your people, it seems so simple on the surface, but the problem is, a lot of … And it is simply, but a lot of times it’s not acted out because we get caught up in these emotional whirlwinds. But if we all know what our values are and what the vision is for the future, and if everybody’s rowing in the same direction, it does make that a lot better. I just love that idea that no task is not mine and no task is too small for me to do.

And in the idea of having mentors for each one of your team members, is that something you’ve done from the beginning or implemented along the way?

Stephen W:
It’s something that we have implemented along the way, and it’s a lesson that I actually learned from one of my mentors. His name is Drew McLellan, and he runs the Agency Management Institute, and has been a very impactful mentor and a great friend of mine for years, and he taught me this system. And when I heard it, I thought, “Oh, my gosh. We are totally doing that,” and so, yeah. We do that for everybody, whether … So, every one of our full-time members of our team has a mentor. We do that with our interns that come on to our team who are working alongside of somebody. So that’s a great way for junior members of our team to have experience being a mentor for one of our interns, as the mentee.

And so, yes, it is extremely impactful. It takes time, but it is extremely impactful. And I’ve had other business owners say to me, “Why in the world would you do that? That takes so much time. There’s no way that I could actually sit down and spend an hour with each of my employees every single week.” And I’m like, “Wow. Would you say that to your kids?” “Well, of course not. They’re my kids. I believe in being a good parent.” And I said, “There’s nothing different.” I think if you’re going to be an exceptional leader, then you need to be able to spend time one on one with your teammates, because that’s what they want.

Sure, everybody wants to make more money. But above all, anything else, the biggest, the greatest need that they have is your time. They want to know that you value them, and you can’t do that in an email or a memo or a video. You need to actually put your arm around your teammates and say, “You know what, Alex? I really appreciated the job you did last week. You really crushed that. I am so grateful that you’re a member of my team. Thanks for working so hard.” They need that.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. We all do. I mean, I think we all want to have that kind of encouragement, and it’s easy to always criticize somebody or always correct them but then forget where to provide gratitude, and if we do that, man, we’re on a slippery slope towards a revolving door with our teams. And I love that mentor idea. I’m probably gonna steal that from you. But the one on one thing, we started doing that … I probably started doing that about a year ago, and that makes a huge difference.

Stephen W:
Absolutely.

Jay Owen:
Not to critique somebody’s performance, but just to say, “Hey. I’m thankful for you, and how are you doing? Is there anything I can help you with? What’s going on?” And getting to know people for people, not resources. I think that’s a big mistake a lot of people make, is seeing people as resources and not actual human beings.

Stephen W:
Amen. Yeah, the term human resources really, actually, at the core, is awful.

Jay Owen:
It’s horrible. Yeah, I hate that word. So much good stuff. So many things to unpack, and I probably could talk to you for hours on end, but I know you’ve got a busy day, so I’d like to move on to a couple other areas, one of which is really important to me. It’s part of our values, one of our core values, actually, is family, and it’s the idea that there is more to life than just work. We love work. I don’t want anybody to hate Monday. I want everybody to enjoy working here most of the time, but ultimately, I also want to find kind of some harmony in life of, how do I mix in other things?

Some people have kids, some don’t, some are married, some don’t, but there’s always these other things that are happening outside of life, and this always seems to be a big question and struggle for a lot of business owners, is the whole work-life balance, and how do I not be overwhelmed with the amount of work that I have and still be able to have other aspects of my life? I’d love to hear from you about things that have worked for you over the years, or maybe even things that haven’t, that have helped you learn how to have the right harmony and balance around all things in life and not just work.

Stephen W:
Well, my wife would say to you, Jay, that I do not have work-life balance. In fact, I was just in Seattle last week doing a two day intensive with one of our clients, and she said to me, “So, what are your hobbies?” And I’m like, “Jeez, April. You know what? I actually don’t, I don’t think I have any.” And she looked at me kind of, you know, and I’m like, “Well, you know, I enjoy golf. I enjoy working in my yard. I enjoy the downtime, like that. I enjoy going to the gym and that kind of stuff, but I don’t really have hobbies. I don’t build stuff, make stuff, that kind of thing.” You know, sort of the “traditional hobbies.”

And because I love, I literally love what it is that I do … So, like writing on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee on my desk. I love that. Okay? So I mean, that is how I sort of have my creative release. So I’m probably a bad one to talk to or talk with about “work-life balance.”

I will say, though, that it is something that we support passionately at Predictive ROI, and the way that we do that is by … This might sound crazy to some of your listeners. We have an unlimited vacation policy, and we have a completely flexible work schedule. So our teammates are able to set their own hours. Our teammates are able to come and go as they please, but also, team mate. You’ve got to be a good teammate. That means not leaving somebody hanging, making sure the deadlines are taken care of, that your clients are well-nurtured and taken care of. Right? But beyond that, you set your own hours, you work when you want. I mean, it’s 40 hours a week. Sometimes it’s more than that because of deadlines and so forth. And then, we have unlimited vacation time.

Somebody could come to me and say, and this has happened, “You know, I want to go backpacking through Europe. I’m gonna be gone for a few months.” Okay, awesome. Or, “I’m gonna go hang out with my family in the Florida Keys for six weeks.” Awesome. That sounds great. I’m jealous. I’d love to be going with you. Right? So that’s how we support work-life balance, is we make sure that our team has all the time that they need to be able to recharge and so forth, and be as great as they can possibly be, because they know they have that flexibility.

Jay Owen:
I love that. And you know, it’s funny because I actually hate the word balance. I actually use the word blender a lot, because I always say that it’s just a matter of what you need to put in the blender. Sometimes you need a little more spinach, sometimes you need a little more strawberries, but the ingredients are individual to everybody. And if you enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and working on writing that is “business writing” on a Saturday morning, to me, that’s perfectly fine. It might not be this 50/50 balance of work and things outside of work … That’s why I call it a blender … but it’s about finding, I think harmony’s probably a better word, where you go, “Hey. I’m content with where I am.”

And that may be different for somebody else, and I think that’s a big lesson I always like to tell a lot of entrepreneurs, is just because some other business owner’s doing it this particular way doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. You don’t have to follow their system, you just need to have a system. That’s what I like to tell people.

Stephen W:
Well, it’s a fair point, right? It’s like, this is not a one size fits all topic, and I think sometimes popular whatever kind of makes business owners feel a little bit guilty for devoting so much time and energy and effort toward what it is that they’re building. And I am not saying that I would ever choose my business over family. I mean, I love my family, and family is always first, so I don’t … Want to make sure that your listeners aren’t confused there.

But what I am saying is, I think it’s okay if a business owner wants to work 50, 60, 70, 80 hours a week because he or she is pursuing something that they’re passionate about and they’re creating impact in the world. That’s awesome.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. Absolutely. I’ll give you an example from last night, actually. My wife wanted to watch this particular TV show, which I … We were together, and I was like, “Well, I’ll watch it.” I was like, “But do you mind if I work on a few things while you do it?” And she’s like, “No, that’s fine.” And a lot of times this is just about communicating with the people around you and making sure expectations are in place so that everybody … As long as everybody that is in your inner circle is comfortable with what’s going on from a schedule standpoint and what’s actually happening in the environment, great. Whatever works for you is great, as far as I’m concerned.
Stephen W: Exactly. So I think often times, business owners, when they’re trying to kind of feel their way and try to look to others for either mentorship or kind of as a guide post or whatever, can be made, either intentionally or unintentionally, to feel guilty about the desires in their own heart. And it’s like, look, we’ve all got the same 86,400 seconds today, and it’s imperative that you use the abundance of God given talent that you are instilled with and to use that to the best of your ability, and that’s for you to decide. It’s not for somebody else to decide, so figure it out for yourself.

Jay Owen:
Yeah. And I would say, too, it kind of goes back to … One of the guys I always love to listen to is Gary V, for better or worse sometimes, and he’s that hustle all the time, early in the morning till late at night. But the point that he makes sometimes, too, which I think is important is, if you’re a person who wants to watch 40 hours of TV a week and you’re not complaining about the rest of your life and why you don’t have enough time to do X, Y, or Z, great. That’s fine. That’s your life. You could do that if that’s what you want to do, just don’t be the business owner that says, “Oh, I don’t have time to write that book. I don’t have time to launch that podcast. I don’t have time to rewrite that copy that I know I need to on my website,” if you’re also taking a lot of time to do other things.

That’s where it starts to become a little bit fuzzy for me, when I’m working with other people and trying to help. But I think, ultimately, everybody’s gotta chart their own course, and I think that’s an important lesson in and of itself.

Stephen W:
Very well said, my friend.

Jay Owen:
Last question that I always love to kind of … Well, two things. One will be about how you grow as a leader, and the second one will be kind of any parting advice you have.

So the first thing. For you personally, you produce a lot of content. You’re interviewing people for podcasts, you’re writing books, you’re producing blog posts, you’re helping with company work. You got all kinds of stuff going on, consulting, speaking, all those kinds of things, and how do you kind of fill your cup back up from a learning standpoint, whether it be about leadership or your particular areas of business? Where are you getting the most education for yourself at?

Stephen W:
That’s an excellent question, and I do it in several different ways. One, I really, really, really enjoy spending time with … I think it sounds cliché. Spend time with people who are smarter than you, although I really do enjoy it. And so that’s one of the things that I do, is I’m a part of a mastermind group that is part of the Agency Management Institute, and I get to hang out with 11 other agency owners two times a year. Every February, every August, and we go some place cool, and I get to spend two and a half days with them learning, understanding, getting mentored by other agency owners who have walked in these same shoes. So that’s the first thing.

Second thing is, I’m really, really intentional about the people who I spend the most time with. I have three accountability partners, where we have weekly phone calls where we exchange our wins and losses, and those are always learning opportunities. And I have several very, very dear friends of mine who are also have been very successful in either business and/or academia, who take me under their wing and teach me various things to … You know, when I’m ready at this and then move to the next level, and so forth. So those are things.

And then I’m always looking for opportunities to spend time with super high performers and things that I can learn, because I’ve been to a number of different events with Darren Hardy, and he was on our board of advisors for 12 months here at Predictive ROI. So I’m always looking for those really high-touch opportunities. Small groups, super intense, mastermind, intellectually stimulating, with amazing, awesome people. I love those kinds of things.

And then lastly, I love spending time with my team, and I learn a lot from them. Because holy bananas, they’re smarter than me.

Jay Owen:
That’s really good, when you got people on your team that are smarter than you, and learning from other people just has so much value.

Last thing is, any parting advice for other business owners out there who may be kind of in the early years of business, trying to figure it out, trying to make it work and grow and last the test of time? What would be kind of a last key thing that you might like to leave with them before the show is over?

Stephen W:
Don’t let the imposter syndrome rob you of your destiny. It is a real thing. That little voice that sits on your shoulder or whispers in your ear and says, “Jay, who are you to think of something so amazing or something so bold, or that you could really accomplish that challenge?” It is staggering how we allow ourselves to talk to ourselves. We would never, ever speak to another human being, at least I don’t think so, at least somebody that we want to keep on our team, we would never speak to that person the way that we allow ourselves to speak to ourselves, and we’re talking to ourselves all day every day.

Don’t allow the imposter syndrome to rob you of your destiny. You are way more beautiful, amazing, awesome, and incredible than you give yourself credit for. You were instilled with this abundance of God given talent, skills, intuitions, and spark than what you give yourself credit for. So instead of listening to that awful voice that is inside your head, throw it to the curb where it belongs and get down to the work and walking into your destiny that you are actually put here to fulfill. So don’t let the imposter syndrome rob you of your destiny, because that would be a travesty.

Jay Owen:
That is Awesome, Stephen. I just love your energy and positivity and business mindset. Thank you so much for being on the show today.

Stephen W:
Thank you very much for the wonderful invitation. It was a joy, honor, and privilege, Jay. Thank you.

Jay Owen:
For everybody out there that’s listening, make sure you head over to Onward Nation podcast and check that out if you’ve not already heard it. Stephen interviews hundreds of other business owners with all kinds of amazing insights, and I think you’ll just really, really love it. And if you’re interested in starting a podcast, I could not more highly recommend Profitable Podcasting. It is on my shelf. I have gone through it several times with a highlighter and pen, and probably need to go back through it again, so go get that book. Stephen, thank you so much.

Stephen W:
Thank you, my friend.

Jay Owen:
I hope this episode has given you some ideas or inspiration that will help you grow your business. If you found it helpful and you know somebody else who might benefit from it as well, I would greatly appreciate it if you would take the time to share this with them, maybe on Facebook or Twitter of LinkedIn, or even shoot an email over to a friend with a link to this podcast in it. And if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for our email list at buildingabusinessthatlasts.com.

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