00:00 Giovanni Marsico: “How would your paradigm change if you had to deliver a result before you got paid?” And that stuck with me, and I was, like, “That’s brilliant.”
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00:14 Michael Port: Welcome to Steal the Show with Michael Port. This is Michael.
Every year, we host a three-day event called Heroic Public Speaking Live, where we teach performance techniques to non-actors so that they can shine in all of the spotlight moments of their lives. And, just last week, Amy Port, my wife, and I announced that this year will be the last Heroic Public Speaking Live of its kind.
It’s a milestone! So, now, more than ever, our team wants to make sure that this year’s event is more phenomenal than ever before. So we’re pulling out all the stops, the bells and the whistles. So, I thought, “Who better to talk to about filling an event, than Giovanni Marsico?”
Giovanni is the founder of the Archangels Summit, an annual gathering of mission driven entrepreneurs, leaders and professionals who want to do well by doing good. And he sells thousands of seats each year, and every year. So I ask him to reveal the secret sauce, and he is nothing short of generous.
Oh, and you might notice that the audio is a little wonky for Giovanni. Still, it’s a great listen, to learn how to capture the attention of thousands of people to take action and come together for the greater good.
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01:39 Michael Port: Hey, this is Michael Port, and I’m with my very good friend, Giovanni, and we’re going to talk about how to fill events. Now, this came to be, because Laura, our director of communication, and I were doing some brainstorming work about filling the last few remaining seats for Heroic Public Speaking Live.
And I said, “I don’t know, I kind of feel like I’m out of ideas.” And she said, “Me too!” And then, “Oh, you know what? You’ve got to talk to Giovanni, because Giovanni knows how to do this in the biggest way! I mean, we might put six hundred people, he puts four thousand people. So, he’s going to know.”
So, she sent you an e-mail, and she said, “Hey, I would love to pick your brain a little bit.” And you said, “Yeah, of course! But let’s record and share it with our communities so they can learn something from it,” and that’s how this came to be.
So, I’m really excited! Thank you so very much for taking the time to do this, Giovanni.
02:38 Giovanni Marsico: You’re so welcome! Anything for you.
02:40 Michael Port: So, for those, of course, who don’t know, you are the founder of, and you run, the Archangel Summit, which is a massive conference in Toronto. This upcoming one is on September 8th?
02:54 Giovanni Marsico: Correct.
02:55 Michael Port: Correct. And Amy and I will be there the 6th, 7th and the 8th? I mean, I think the whole week we’re there, and we’re doing a whole bunch of things with the Archangel community at that particular event. So, we’re very, very proud to be a part of it.
And then, of course, we have Heroic Public Speaking Live October 1, 2, and 3. So, we’re both coming up on these events, just probably filling a few remaining seats, and that’s it! So, Giovanni, what’s your secret?
Let’s start with the beginning, because when you first put on the event, it’s not like you had been doing events per se, for years. You had a lot of experience as a marketer, but events were new, correct?
03:41 Giovanni Marsico: Technically, no. So, when I was sixteen, I started producing a different kind of event. We were doing dance parties for teenagers and, unlike raves, where it was very drug infested, it was a safe, cool, awesome place for teenagers to come and dance. And, back then, we were already creating immersive experiences and shows and having a lot of fun.
So, I have that experience, and I also have that passion to produce experiences that create memories.
04:14 Michael Port: People might find it interesting to know that you and I have a very similar background. We were both doing that kind of party production and promotion in high school. You were doing it in Canada, and I was doing it in New York City.
I got in a little trouble for it, at one [time], because, apparently if you have beer there – we had 30 kegs of beer – and you are charging admission, that’s an unlicensed bottle club. We honestly thought that we were doing a really good thing, because we were keeping people from going into bars with all sorts of crazy adults. We had security, the whole nine yards. But, it was very profitable.
And you did, I think, something similar to what we did, we found the most influential person, or kid, at each private school in New York and gave them an invitation with a unique colour and then when they passed out that invitation, if someone came with that invitation, they’d get five dollars on the door. So it was our start of affiliate marketing. You did something similar, didn’t you?
05:21 Giovanni Marsico: We were doing it way before affiliate marketing was a thing, yeah. And the fun part is that we’re still doing, most of the strategies that work for me today, worked for me then, and I love going through and deep into that kind of thing.
And after that, I worked at a strategic coach, running the marketing, but also facilitating workshops, and I had that kind of experience. Then I went into the real estate space, selling pre-construction condos, and the majority of our best conversions came from hosting investment workshops.
So, there’s always been an event moment. Then in 2014 we started Archangel and had our first Toronto event and had 120 people, and one of my good friends, Dean Jackson, I don’t know if you know him, he’s a marketing legend, and he always says, “How would your paradigm change if you had to deliver a result before you got paid?” And that stuck with me, and I was, like, “That’s brilliant.”
06:24 Michael Port: Alright, so let’s say that again. I want to really process this. Say that again?
06:27 Giovanni Marsico: How would your paradigm change, of the way you do business, if you had to deliver a result before you got paid?
See, most people get paid first, which is fine, and then you deliver the service as a result. And, having that in mind, our very first Toronto, because we were new, I said, “Listen, the ticket is $500. I want you to attend first; if you think it was worth it, then pay me after the fact.”
So, that was how we started Archangel, and then we kept delivering amazing experiences. And, to go into secret sauce right away, we didn’t start with trying to solve a problem, per se. We didn’t start with, “Here’s an event. Who would want to come to this event?”
We said, “Here is our dream,” I always call it ‘Avatar’, but for context, “Here is the superhero we want to serve. We want to help mission-driven, superhero entrepreneurs who want to create huge impact by sharing their gift, their superpower, their message, and we want to help them scale so that, together, as a tribe, we can create exponential impact.”
And that’s exactly who we want to serve. So, we started with the tribe first and thought, “What can we do to deliver an experience for them? What can we do to create value for them? What can we do to bring them together?”
07:41 Michael Port: Rather than, “Well, I want to do an event that focuses on X, and then I’m going to find the people who want to learn X.”
07:50 Giovanni Marsico: Right, but, it still works, but you have to be known as the master or world class at X, to be able to deliver that, right? It’s like someone who does crowdfunding, on Indiegogo or Kickstarter, they assume, “Well, I have this amazing widget, I’m going to start my crowdfunding campaign, and a lot of people are going to buy it.”
But Kickstarter is like the best state of the art stadium, with 50,000 seats, you still have to fill the seats. You know? You’re not Beyoncé. So, it’s the same with any kind of event. You have to figure out who you’re serving.
And people, I find, and this is a Seth Godin thing I love that he says, “People like us do things like this: People want to be around other people like them, and connect with other people like them who share a similar path, a similar problem, a similar ideal future. And if you are the connector of like-minded people, you become valuable in that way.”
So people know what Archangel is, because they think of Archangel as the tribe first.
08:58 Michael Port: It’s true! And it’s interesting, because we’re very community focused in terms of the way we design our program and our alumni come back to HPS Live each year, to connect with us and their friends, so, in large part, they’re coming for that.
But most people are coming for the core curriculum, and so, it’s a little bit different, because even now, with your event at such a large scale, I actually have no idea what is going to happen at the event. None! But I’m super excited to go, because I know that the community is going to be very interesting, and, of course, I have no doubt that you put on a tremendous event, and the word of mouth has always indicated that you do.
But it’s true, I haven’t asked one question about, “What would I learn there?” Actually, most important is the first thing, I know that’s going to be a benefit, but first and foremost it’s the tribe. And there are many ways to go, aren’t there?
09:59 Giovanni Marsico: Yeah, for sure. My intention is to build a brand that is akin to Comic Con. So, people don’t go to Comic Con for one specific speaker. They might, especially if they’re new, but people go to Comic Con because it’s Comic Con. They already know they’re going to get all the best actors, the best superhero movies, and comic book artists and whoever they want to see.
But it’s really the attachment to being that comic book nerd, and they know they’re going to be around thousands of other people just like them. And, “This is an experience built for someone like me.” I think that’s the most important thing that a lot of people don’t get.
10:38 Michael Port: It seems like it’s harder to do that at the beginning, when you don’t have the community and nobody really knows who you are.
10:44 Giovanni Marsico: Uh-Huh!
10:45 Michael Port: Yeah! So, how did you do that at the beginning? You said you did the, “Okay, pay us $500 after, if you think it was worth it,” but what else did you do to try to create that tribe early? What were some of your techniques that got people to the event and also helped produce that kind of community?
11:04 Giovanni Marsico: Well, I’ll start with what happened a year before. So, I was extremely fascinated with the concept of tribe building and community, and I’m also a huge fan of the music industry, and, at the time, and it still is like this, the publishing industries are in a decline. People are buying less and less music, for example, but there are certain artists who are killing it.
And one of them, at the time, was Lady Gaga. And I knew some of her songs, I thought they were cool, but there wasn’t really a fan at all, but I knew she was doing something different. So, I bought tickets to her concert, as a research project, and I literally sat in the audience thinking, “What is happening?”
And I discovered a few things that she did so much better than anybody, and one of them is community building. So she branded her tribe. She calls them the little monsters, and that’s a brand in and of itself.
So the community, and she’s very specific as to who a little monster is. Someone who had been bullied, someone who is on the fringe, who stands out or doesn’t fit in to typical society, and she says, “I am your mother, I am providing you a safe space to be yourself so that you don’t have to worry about being picked on and you can be around other people just like you.”
And this is where I learned a lot about how to scale these events. And then she customised the events for the audience, which is really cool. So, people would throw things on stage, and instead of having security clear it up, she would pick up every single thing, and either dance with it or read it or perform with it.
So, if you were the fan that threw that thing, now the performance was customised to you. Like, someone threw a Canadian flag, she danced with it. So it wasn’t a stuck concert, like Madonna, in every city it was the exact same concert. She might say, “Hey, Toronto!”
12:52 Michael Port: Yeah, same exact moves, same timing, everything.
12:55 Giovanni Marsico: Yeah, so, customisation is huge, and people want that now, they want to know that, “This was made just for me. And just for people like me.” And I learned so much there.
So, after that performance, what I started doing was, I had a clear understanding of who I wanted to help and I just started having a little more conversations, to ask people, “Where do you want to go? Where are you now? What are the biggest road blocks in your way?”
But the more specific thing I did was, after I had fifty or a hundred of those conversations, I looked for patterns. So, now that I know who I want to serve, what are the most common things, in their language, that they’re saying? And what are their biggest roadblocks? Pattern recognition is a huge asset to have.
And I started to see commonalities. Even though the words were a bit different, I started to see commonalities, and I started using that language in how I was promoting the stuff I was doing. So, at that first event, the language is very specific to addressing their bigger future, and their roadblocks.
I use superhero analogies, and I also like to talk about Super Mario. I was actually lucky enough to attend a store opening in New York with my kids.
14:0 Michael Port: Oh, that’s so cool!
14:04 Giovanni Marsico: Right, but the analogy that I used with my kids is, “Your dream client is Super Mario, they are the hero, not you, right now. Consider them the hero, like in the story, they’re the main character. They have a mission, which is whatever their bigger future is.”
And someone coming to your event is, “I want to be a better performer, I want to be a best speaker, sharing my authentic voice,” that is their [bigger future]. For Super Mario, it’s saving the princess. But there are obstacles in the way which are the monsters, like the Goombas and Dry Bowser and all these obstacles in the way, and then, you, meaning the service provider, is the mushroom.
You are the tool that Mario uses to defeat the obstacles. And using that analogy – and it fits in every business, right? So, what is the mushroom? Who is Mario? What is the mission? And who are the monsters?
And if you can look for patterns among asking all these questions over and over again, and then make people feel understood, that you have the mushroom to help them achieve their mission, that’s where you start to win.
And, language is super important. I know you are, like me, a big geek on words and language. We don’t sell ‘solutions’ or products or services. In our world, we talk about joining a movement and say, “Well, here’s where we’re heading. Would you like to join us?” And ‘us’ is a very specific word, it’s a very important word.
It’s not, “Would you like to join me?” I talk about being part of what we’re doing, which is bigger than me, bigger than the company, it’s something bigger.
15:37 Michael Port: Well, you know, Giovanni, there are certainly a lot of people in our industry who attempt to curate people and experiences and talk about collaboration and connection. I have yet to meet someone who lives that, the way you do.
One of the things that seems so important to the whole community, but also to the continued growth of it, is that you truly want to include people and put them on the stage. And it’s not about you. You’re like, “I don’t even want my face out there!”
And so, you do it with so much unreserved… You’re unabashed! That’s what it is. Like, “I want to know you. I want to know what’s important to you. I want to put you in the place where you’re going to experience things that are important to you.”
And it seems like that’s one of the reasons that you’ve grown the tribe so quickly. There’s not a question in there, just a statement.
16:48 Giovanni Marsico: Well, I think, yes, thank you. And, for me, I think the tipping point was when I had clarification around something important, which was, I know the Avatar, I know who an Archangel is, and everything sort of shifted and changed when I discovered that the members of my tribe knew who an Archangel was, without my involvement.
So, I stared getting e-mails, and this is when it clicked. People would do and introduction, especially for a masters group, and they would say, “Gio, I want you to meet Lisa. Lisa is an Archangel.” They already knew that she was aligned with our mission, that she was part of [us], that it was a disservice to us for her not to be in the tribe.
17:34 Michael Port: You know, it’s interesting, for a long time I’ve talked about and considered the idea that naming something can be innovative in and of itself, just naming something. So, for example, in the very first chapter, of the very first book I wrote in 2005, I titled it ‘The Red Velvet Rope Policy’.
So, instead of talking about, “You’ve got to work with ideal clients,” it was, “You need a red velvet rope policy.” And so, I renamed that concept, and because the book did well, that is the term that people started using and, often, they would have no idea that it came from my book, but it just started spreading.
And what you’ve done is, you’ve named, you’ve created a name that is associated with an identity. And so you know how to name each other. And when you are named in a way that you’ve chosen to be named, which is very important – most of us don’t have names that we chose – but they are choosing to identify as an Archangel, and they self-identify, and when they are called an Archangel, it means something to them.
Part of it is the naming. I don’t think it happened by accident. It may have happened faster than you imagined, or with more impact, but you were very specific, it seems, about the naming of what a community member would call themselves. Is that accurate?
19:12 Giovanni Marsico: Extremely. I was very intentional. Even the design of the logo was meant to look like the logo of a superhero that you could put on the chest of a superhero outfit. Because that’s part of who an Archangel is: someone who wants to create impact.
And the word has followed me my whole life. Like, my elementary school was St Gabriel, was Gabriel the Archangel, my high school was St Michael, the Archangel. So it’s always been there and I’ve loved the word.
I’m an entomology geek. I like to look up the history of words, and it comes from ancient Greek, where arkhi means chief or leader, and angelos, the word for angel, means messenger. And, you know, we are a tribe of leaders and people who share their message. But it’s so in line with what you do.
19:56 Michael Port: So, I’m looking for my glasses. I’ve got a couple of notes I wanted to ask you about while you were speaking. Okay, so I’m going to ask you a couple of questions that are based on some challenges that we sometimes have with our event, and I’m interested to know how you would address them, or if you’ve addressed them in your event.
One of the things that’s different is that your primary event is one day. There’s a day, there’s a pre-conference day that is for people who are part of the Archangel Mastermind. But the main conference is one day.
20:31 Giovanni Marsico: Yeah.
20:32 Michael Port: Our conference, HPS Live, is three days. So it’s a lot of days, and people often say, because we are teaching the core curriculum of HPS, and we’re teaching them to be better public speakers, and to stop speaking and start performing, sometimes they say, “Well, I don’t know if I’m ready yet.”
Now, of course, the only way to get ready is to actually do the thing that you want to be ready for. So, I understand how to address it conceptually. So, you might not have that issue where people say, “I don’t know if I’m ready.” Or maybe you do have that issue, or they say, “I don’t know if I can do the time commitment. It’s three days, it’s a big deal.”
How, do you suggest, one would handle those kinds of challenges?
21:19 Giovanni Marsico: I find that language like that is, often, either a conscious or sub-conscious way of saying, “I’m not good enough.” Or, “I don’t deserve it.”
21:30 Michael Port: “I don’t fit in. I won’t be accepted.”
21:33 Giovanni Marsico: I think, whoever is saying it is secretly wanting to change, but doesn’t know that they can.
21:41 Michael Port: Or they’ve tried and it hasn’t…
21:43 Giovanni Marsico: For me, I often hear, “I can’t afford it. Your tickets are so expensive.” Our general admission tickets are CAN$347 which is 10c US.
21:56 Michael Port: Yeah, exactly! Which is 10c US! Our general ticket is about $1,000 so, 347, when I saw your general admission, I was like, “Oh my gosh! That’s incredible!”
22:07 Giovanni Marsico: But then, I’m used to investing 25,000 for a ticket to an event. But not everyone’s at that level, yet. However, if someone is thinking that 347 is expensive, it’s because of their paradigm, the lens they’re looking through, and their relationship with money.
What I think they’re saying is, “I don’t deserve this. I’m not worth investing that much in myself.” There’s an esteem challenge, there’s something going on, and they’re afraid. To them, it’s a risk. They may not have the funds or whatever it is, no matter what the amount is.
And what you have to show is, one, that you completely understand them and that you want to make them feel understood; two, that you understand the pain they’re in; three that you have the solution to the pain, and the framework to help them get from where they are to where they want to be, and that you will help them through that journey.
That’s kind of, I think, what people want, and, for me – it’s probably relevant for you, too – I think it always comes down to branding. And branding is such a funny word, because, for me, it has so much deep meaning.
Like, if you’re watching the video, I’m holding an iPhone, right? That little apple isn’t a logo of an orchard or a place where you can buy apples to eat, it has it’s own separate meaning. People understand what this means.
Ad I want to get to the point, like Harley Davidson, where people are willing to tattoo the logo onto themselves because they’re so connected to what it means, and I think this is where we all should go, or strive for.
It’s, “What does it mean when I invest the money to buy this thing?” So, when someone invests in an iPhone, what are they actually saying about themselves? They’re saying, “I’m part of this tribe. I believe X, Y, and Z. I stand for this, I stand against this. This is my dream for the future. This is who I am.”
It’s an identity thing. That, to me, is what brand is, right? So, when someone buys a ticket to Archangel Summit, what they’re saying is, “I’m taking a stand that business should be around having an epic mission, and that it’s totally cool to make a lot of money, as long as that money is fuelling the mission, and money isn’t the primary motivator.
“And I want to serve humanity, and I want to make the world a better place. I want to share my gift, my superpower, my talents to help other people who need what I have to offer in a way that fulfils me, and creates meaning for my life.”
So, buying a ticket to my event, is all of that. That’s who I am, that’s what I stand for, that’s who an Archangel is.
24:44 Michael Port: So, in terms of the actual tactical aspect of the marketing, which really means, what’s the conversation that you have with people once they become aware of the thing that you’re doing, in this case, an event, until the time that they decide, to either say, “Eh, that’s not for me,” or say, “Yeah, that’s really for me, I want to do it.”
There’s no way that you have people who can talk to every potential attendee on the phone about a ticket. You don’t have that set-up. So, what do you do? How do you get them to see that this sales process is, in large part, about how they see themselves? Through that marketing process, how do you do that from a tactical perspective?
25:31 Giovanni Marsico: I find the coolest kid in every high school!
25:34 Michael Port: They’ll do it! The same thing!
25:37 Giovanni Marsico: In a totally different way. So there’s a really incredible, very popular old blog post called, ‘A Thousand True Fans,’ Kevin Kelly. Where it was meant for artists and musicians and, I think he says to get to a thousand in revenue, or income, you have to have a thousand true fans, who are the people who would drive across the state to come watch your concert, or they’d buy all your merchandise.
And he’s talking about musicians or artists, but I think its the same for what we do, right? So my philosophy or mission was to find the tribe of a thousand true fans. And that’s what I’m always striving for, to scale to, what we want to scale to: we want to get to 10,000 people for our event. And to do that, we need the thousand true fans, and they become the ambassadors to spread the word.
26:27 Michael Port: Now, in this particular case, I’m making the assumption that when you’re talking about your 1,000 true fans, you’re talking about 1,000 true fans who are influencers and they are fans of you and what you’re doing and they want to be part of the Archangel community as well. It’s not just a thousand people who show up?
26:50 Giovanni Marsico: No, well, for the thousand it’s a mix of both. They don’t have to be necessarily influencers in our context, or the way we would use that word. To me, that’s like the Dunbar’s number. Are you familiar with that?
27:04 Michael Port: Dunbar’s number of 150?
27:06 Giovanni Marsico: One-fifty. Those would be the influencers, right? So, to me, it’s like there’s the apostles, the twelve disciples, and the next level is 150 and the next level is 1,000 and the next level is 100,000.
27:20 Michael Port: That’s very interesting. Let’s highlight that, because that’s an interesting way, I think, people could think about who are the people that are going to help spread the word, and, of course, most people know, “If I get so-and-so to tell everybody to go, that’s going to be great.”
But you’re much more strategic when you’re thinking about it this way. So, you’ve got the first group of twelve, then 150, then the thousand, et cetera. So, that group of twelve might produce 80%, or the group of twelve plus the 150.
But there’s certain people in that group of twelve that are going to be more actively involved with more influence than in that group of 150, they’ll be actively involved and have influence, and the group that is in the 1,000, they may not have as much influence, but they may be even more actively involved.
28:11 Giovanni Marsico: Totally. They’re very aligned with who we are, they would consider themselves the biggest fans, using that kind of language, where they believe in the mission so much that they want to help spread the word.
And they may not have a million person e-mail list, or whatever context you want to use as an influencer, however, for them, they may have five people that will mean the world, because they understand that helping those five people have that transformation, is the best thing ever.
28:41 Michael Port: Yeah. So, tell me, what do you do for that group? Let’s call them, just for the sake of our conversation, let’s call them ambassadors – or, maybe, if you have something else that you call them, we can call them that – but we’ve done different things over the years.
Like, when I launched a book, we had a Steal the Show street team, and most of the people who joined that team were raving fans, but they also wanted to do it because they wanted to promote a book, at some point, themselves.
And they wanted to know, “How did they do it?” and so they were willing to get involved, help, and then they got to learn in the process. So, there’s a little bit more quid pro quo. What do you do for those thousand people, or for the whole community to help them spread the word, so that this person brings three people, this person tells two, this person tells five? What are you doing, besides the event itself? How are you motivating that behaviour?
29:42 Giovanni Marsico: The traditional way, especially in any kind of affiliate marketing, is to pay a commission, which is what you and I used to do when we were throwing our parties. But because this event is a giant fundraiser, I didn’t want to do that.
I didn’t want to pay commissions, so we’ve created perk concepts, that allow people, the more friends they invite – and, actually, what we’re doing this year is we’ve created a fundraising concept, where anyone who wants to be an ambassador, we’ll give you a promo code, like a discount code that you can share, that’s unique to you, every time someone uses your code, we will donate money to your favourite charity.
Because we don’t want to pay commissions, if it doesn’t align with what we’re doing. I thought this would be, since we were already donating money to charity. Now people are empowered to spread the word, and they want to do that.
30:39 Michael Port: How much do you donate per purchase? Is it a percentage of the ticket?
30:42 Giovanni Marsico: It’s fifty dollars per Angel section ticket, and one hundred dollars per VIP ticket. And then, depending on how much they raise for their charity, there are other perks, so they can have reserved seating; if they get to a certain level, they can be on stage during a check presentation, that kind of thing.
So, we’ve created perks that are still in alignment. They don’t feel icky in any way, it’s a win-win for everybody involved.
31:08 Michael Port: Yeah, see, the reason I don’t like doing commissions, is because if a raving fan is getting a commission, they’ve got a conflict of interest.
31:19 Giovanni Marsico: Right. They do.
31:21 Michael Port: So, I mean, if that person stands up and says, “Listen, you’ve got to do more with them, you’ve got to do this,” it just clouds it. And, of course, if the other people who were there because the ambassador invited them, doesn’t know that they’re getting paid for it, and they find out later, they might feel a little bit like a bait-and-switch, or something.
So, I’m not super comfortable with that, either, and for the kinds of things we’re talking about, I think there’s a place for it, absolutely, no doubt. I mean, I still get affiliate checks from a decade ago for one shopping cart. So, I think there are places for it, no doubt.
So, okay, perks. So, you have a long list of perks that you create and, based on the number of people that each community member brings, they’ll get some of those perks. Or they’ll get one or two, or however many of the perks that there are.
32:22 Giovanni Marsico: And then there are also a lot of meet-up groups that we work with, and we’ll do the same kind of thing. They’re not fundraising, but they’ll get a promo code or their members in their tribe, and, depending on how many people in their group reserve tickets, we will do more [perks].
So, one of the perks, for example, is I’ll do a master class with their members only. Or I’ll do a VIP…
32:47 Michael Port: So, talk to me about these meet-up groups. You’re not referring to just those general meet-up groups out there, these are Archangel Community meet-up groups?
32:56 Giovanni Marsico: No, so, meetup.com, they’re entrepreneurial meet-up groups, Toronto based, that on their own meet up on a regular basis. We’ve built relationships with their organisers, and said, “Listen, we share a similar audience, we want to help the people in your group, and the way we look at everything we’re doing is that Archangel Summit is becoming a gathering of tribes.
As the numbers get larger, what we realise, we don’t people to feel like a number or feel alone in a room full of thousands of people.
33:29 Michael Port: Yeah, I see where you’re going.
33:32 Giovanni Marsico: So, the easy way to scale the size of the event, is to make it a meta-tribe, like a gathering of mini tribes, so that, and what we’re encouraging people to do is, at the end of the event, meet up with your group, your tribe, and share notes, share wisdom. Talk about how are you going to execute on the things you’ve just learned.
So, it’s not just a one day event that’s for inspiration, because that’s great, but that dies away. How do you take the tactical wisdom you’ve learned and then apply it, and have friends or co-workers or whatever it is, other entrepreneurs, masterminds, we can keep each other accountable and help take what you’ve learned and do something with it.
34:11 Michael Port: Yeah. With those meet-up groups, do you specifically focus on meet-up groups that are local, or regional to the event?
34:17 Giovanni Marsico: Well, a lot of that focus is local, but I have a friend who is organising bus tours from Montreal. So he’s getting a hundred people in buses and driving down. There’s a bunch of people in Ottowa who are coming down for it, so it doesn’t have to be a local thing.
34:35 Michael Port: It’s so interesting, this concept of meta-tribes, tribes inside a tribe. And that does speak to your natural predisposition to collaboration. Many people wouldn’t want to do that because they might feel like one of the other tribes might get more popular and take over, or, “I don’t like this one thing about that group,” or, I don’t know, it could be a million different things.
Do you have some sort of filtration process, or red velvet rope policy, or criteria which any group, who you include, needs to either have, represent, adhere to?
35:26 Giovanni Marsico: So, the way we market the events that we do, creates a red velvet paradigm. People are either in line with us or they’re not. And I’m like you, I teach people that once you are super clear on who you’re serving, you just say no to everybody else. And that has to be apparent in the way you’re communicating what you’re doing.
In a gentle and loving way, where you’re saying, “You know what? You’re probably not right for what we’re doing,” but the people who it is right for, actually feel way more connected, because they realise, “Wow! I’m a ‘hell yes’ for this! And I’m going to be around other people like me.”
So we just sort of naturally attract the right people in.
36:06 Michael Port: You really do play the long game.
36:10 Giovanni Marsico: Yeah. It’s been a pain in the ass.
36:13 Michael Port: Yeah!
36:14 Giovanni Marsico: It’s not easy.
36:15 Michael Port: That’s a big difference, though, because a lot of folks do events that are one off events, or maybe they’ll do it for a couple of years, but you’re thinking far into the future. And so, the relationships you’re nurturing now might bring a hundred people or a thousand people in five years or seven years, might not bring it to this event.
36:35 Giovanni Marsico: Right. It’s been gruelling for the past five years because of how insistent I’ve been to this sort of way of thinking. They have to be aligned. I know that if they’re not, it’s like having a bad apple kind of concept, right?
The wrong energy coming in destroys everything. But the reason I think people talk about Archangel in the way that they do is because they feel so connected and often they don’t even know how to explain it. They’re just, like, “Oh, the energy is so awesome!” or, “The people are so great!”
37:12 Michael Port: Now, do you think that everybody in the community, first of all, do you think everyone in the community knows who you are?
37:19 Giovanni Marsico: No.
37:20 Michael Port: So, there are people who, if they met you, would say, “Oh, so what are you doing here?” Right?
37:26 Giovanni Marsico: That happens all the time.
37:27 Michael Port: Yeah, that’s pretty cool!
37:28 Giovanni Marsico: Well, both things can happen. I have these weird, I don’t know how to say it, like celebrity sightings. Like, we were just in Montreal and we were checking out of the hotel, it was just me and my family. And this couple walks up to us and, like, “Oh! Giovanni! Stephanie! We’ve come to Archangel Summit and this is the coolest thing ever!”
We’re in a strange city, and by serendipity, someone who is a fan, and wanting to come up and thank us for the work we’re doing, so cool! So they knew who we were, and then often, even at my own event, I’ll meet someone and it’s like, “Hey, what do you do?” And it’s like, “Oh, you know…”
38:08 Michael Port: The proudest moment I had at HPS Live last year is, on the first day, before it started, I was just walking around saying hi to people, shaking their hands, you know? And I always say, “I’m Michael Port,” even if I know they know who I am, because I just think it’s just polite not to make the assumption that people know who you are, and to always share your name.
But I met one gentleman, and I said, “Hi! I’m Michael Port,” and he said, “Hi, I’m So-and-so,” and I don’t know, we chatted about something, the seat that’s nice material, and then he said, “What do you do?”
He had no idea who I was! And that was a great moment, because one of the issues that we have, that it doesn’t seem like you have as much, because you have been intentional about this from the beginning, is that Amy and I are very strongly associated with the brand.
So, if Amy and I weren’t teaching at Live, would people go? The community that’s already been with us, would go, if the programming was what they wanted, but other people, may be a harder sell. It’s a different game, it’s a different play.
We want to move in your direction, over time, because if we want to grow this to be as impactful as we know that it can be and, of course, we can’t be the people that have our face on everything. So, we have some ideas of how to do that, long term.
But, with respect to the event, when you’re marketing, how much… Okay, let’s move to lead generation, because it’s related to what you’re going to say here. Lead generation sometimes is easier when it’s based on an individual, because it’s all about this individual, and they spread the word about this individual because this person is so good at solving this particular problem.
Yours is different, because they may not be associating with you, initially, they’re associating with the brand, like, “Oh, what’s this event, this big event? It looks cool. I think it’s for this kid of people.” But they might not think, “Oh, they solve this specific problem.”
And so, it’s a slightly different approach to marketing, I would think.
40:30 Giovanni Marsico: Well, we’ve done a much better job, I think, on the tribe side, on the community and not on the problem solving side, but you can do both. And you, specifically, you and Amy, can do both. We help this specific group of people solve this challenge. And I believe that you and I share an audience, where it’s people who have a message that, once they share their authentic voice and share their message, they’re actually serving humanity.
So, what you do is very specific to helping them through a transformational process. You have both, it’s really cool. You’re in a cool position to have the very specific tribe and solving the very specific problem for that tribe.
41:19 Michael Port: Yeah, you know, that’s interesting. When we started this, our focus wasn’t on creating the tribe, it was really focused on solving the problems, and because we organically created a very specific container for all of that transformation, we were so intentional about the rules and the frameworks and ways of being, that we expected from people inside this container, it created a culture that I don’t even know if we could have articulated before it actually was created.
So, that was a by-product that was so meaningful and now is a big part of what it is we do, but it was, in large part, based on how we created the container. Because people have to be safe, they have to be safe.
When they come to HPS Live, they’re going to be provoked, because they’re going to see things that are possible for themselves that they didn’t see before, and then they’re going to ask themselves, “Can I really do that?” And that can be provoking. We’re going to ask them to perform, that can be provoking.
So, just anxiety all over public speaking communication performance, and so, that has been a difficult thing for us to demonstrate before someone’s in the room.
42:54 Giovanni Marsico: Well, let’s have some fun here. Using my Super Mario analogy, who is your Super Mario? How would you define a dream client for, or a dream attendee for your event?
43:09 Michael Port: Yeah, so, I’ll use a particular person, for example, I’ll use Bob Baker, Dr Baker. So, Dr Bob Baker was a physician, he retired a few years ago from his practice, and he wanted to be a professional speaker. And he wanted to serve the medical community, and he wasn’t sure exactly how to do it.
And he came to HPS Live, or he read Steal the Show, actually, because it was reviewed in a book for magicians, and he’s a magician and a ventriloquist. So, this guy’s incredible, he went to five of the seven Ivy League schools, and so he’s incredibly bright, he’s incredible hardworking, he is focused on standing in the service of others, and he will follow the process that’s been laid out for him, and he will trust the process that’s been laid out for him.
And, as a result, his transformation has been rapid, and really quite complete in terms of…
44:16 Giovanni Marsico: Before you continue, when he first came to you, how did he define his mission? Saving the princess, what was his language for what he wanted?
44:28 Michael Port: So, I don’t remember his exact language when he first came, but, in a nutshell, he wanted to, you know how we talk about, in Steal the Show we talk about – because I remember he told me this – in Steal the Show I talk about how we play roles all the time.
All day long we’re playing different roles. I play one role here, I play another role with my staff, I play another role with my kids, another role… We actually are going to have coffee with Pam, and her wife, and we only know her because you introduced us to her. So, that’s today, at five o’clock, we’re going.
So, he read this in Steal the Show and he went, “Yes! That’s what I’ve been trying to say,” because the doctor is playing a role and the doctor-patient relationship requires a certain type of performance. And one of the reasons that bedside manner is so terrible, is that doctors are not playing the role, they’re not performing in the way they need to, to be in service of that patient.
They think their job is just to solve the medical problem, but it’s much more than that. And so, when he saw that, he went, “Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” and that was his mission, that’s what he wanted to change.
45:34 Giovanni Marsico: And what were the biggest monsters in his way?
45:39 Michael Port: One, he needed to develop the content; two, he didn’t know anything about the business side; three, he was a good natural communicator, and he had technique as a performer, because he was a magician and a ventriloquist, quite a good one, but he didn’t have the performance skills, the craft, that he needed in order to perform at the level he expects.
And the reason that he was ideal for us, is because he expects himself to perform at the highest level. He wants to be best in class.
46:17 Giovanni Marsico: So that’s part of your Avatar.
46:23 Michael Port: So that made a really, really big difference. So, he didn’t have too many mental blocks, he needed all those pieces, and when all those pieces were put together, he really began to master the whole process, the whole equation.
46:40 Giovanni Marsico: So, what would you consider then, your mushroom? Meaning, what is the tool that you provide to help him get from where he is right now, to his ideal future?
46:49 Michael Port: Craft. It’s mastering the crafts of performance.
46:53 Giovanni Marsico: And what happens once someone masters the crafts of performance? How would you define the after, if there was a before and after? So, they come to you, they learn how to master the craft, what does the outcome look like?
47:07 Michael Port: So, they can do a number of different things. They can either create extraordinary content, turn it into keynote form, workshop form, break out form, and then be able to deliver that content in such a way that they change the way people think, they change the way they feel, and they change the way they act.
And they can also do it extemporaneously, so they have control over their body, they have control over their voice, they have control over their mind, and, as a result, they are powerful. Because, when you control your body and your voice, and your mind, all at the same time, in high stakes situations where the pressure is on, then you feel powerful, you feel capable.
And if you feel powerful and capable, the world is yours.
47:53 Giovanni Marsico: And the last part of all this, what is the actual impact that gets created? How does the world become better once Bob has this process?
48:03 Michael Port: Well, our tagline is, “Saving the world, one speech at a time,” and when Bob has this process, then a couple of things happen. Number one, when he wants to go speak somewhere, they will give him that stage, because first you have to get that stage. They will give it to him.
When he’s on that stage, he will change the way the people in the room think, feel, and act, and, as a result, they will be better doctors. And, if they’re better doctors, it means patients are healthier, live longer, feel better.
I mean, just the work that he does, could change medicine throughout this whole country. That’s no small thing.
48:40 Giovanni Marsico: Right. So, now you have the framework for how to communicate your event. It’s like, you help superheroes unleash their superpowers through their voice, through their communication and through their performance.
And, by doing so, they achieve their mission of serving who they want to serve. And I think you mentioned he wants to operate on the highest level, and that’s who you want to serve. And I think that is probably your Avatar.
That’s who you want coming to your event. Someone who already wants to be at mastery level, and maybe already is, in a specific field or niche.
49:18 Michael Port: Correct.
49:19 Giovanni Marsico: Now, they want to take that mastery and use it to share their message.
49:24 Michael Port: That’s exactly right.
49:25 Giovanni Marsico: So now, that, see, the magic of all this is, now I know how to communicate it. The challenge for most of us is, we know, you know, because you’ve taken people through your framework or your process, and I know it’s an art form, you’re teaching art. You’ve done it so many times that for you to communicate it is easy.
The challenge is, you have to get your attendees to communicate it. That’s why I say, for me, the paradigm shift, or the tipping point was when other people started saying, “This other person is an Archangel,” without my involvement. They were recognising it.
So, I think, for anyone watching this, if there’s one big ‘make-sure-you-write-this-thing-down’, it’s you have to make it easy for other people to communicate the transformation, not for you to communicate it, but for other people.
50:14 Michael Port: Yeah. You know what? It’s amazing. I just spent the last three days at Audible’s headquarters. I did the audiobook of the third edition of Book Yourself Solid. So, this is the third time I’ve read the book for tape.
And I said to them, “Look, there’s a couple of sections that are the same as in the last book. Can’t you just lift those, add them in, and I’ll just do the new stuff?” And they said, “No.” But the reason I mention it is because I haven’t taught on Book Yourself Solid in seven years; five, seven years.
And it was lovely to go through the book again, because there were so many things that I had written about thirteen years ago, that I had not been thinking about in the work I do today. And one of them was just what you’re saying.
I had this whole chapter on referrals and how to help other people talk about what you do, but it’s not something that I specifically went through Book Yourself Solid and did for my business when we moved into Heroic Public Speaking.
So, it just goes to show you that not matter what you know, no matter how much experience you have, it’s very, very easy to have blind spots because there are so many different things that require your attention, it’s hard to see everything at the same time.
So, that reminder you just gave me is a fundamental. And, often, we need to go back to the fundamentals. People often think that mastery means that you’re always operating at the highest, most perfect level. And that’s not necessarily the case.
When I see people that are masterful work, when they have an issue, when something’s not working, what do they do? They don’t go to their bag of tricks. First they go back to the basics, the fundamentals. If you take martial arts, for example, first thing you do is, “Where are my feet?”
Because, if something’s not working up here, it might have something to do with where my feet are. And so you start to restack the building blocks that need to be in place, and you just reminded me of a really important building block that I think we could probably do a better job of.
And, I think we do a decent job, and I think we can do a better job of it. Especially around the event. I think people do well around a company, you know, in terms of what we do overall, but the event specifically.
52:45 Giovanni Marsico: Yeah, I think I have more clarity, too, in terms of how I’m going to refer people to your event, but I think focusing on the larger movement and the mission, and how someone coming to this event will literally change the world after attending, because you’re so specific, because you have the red velvet policy of who should be there, and what the transformation looks like, it’s a win-win-win-win-win, right?
So, the person doing the referral wins, the person attending wins, the people on their team win, who they’re serving wins, and the community wins.
53:25 Michael Port: So, what percentage of your ticket sales come from referrals from within the community versus paid advertising, Facebook, YouTube, any of those other channels?
53:41 Giovanni Marsico: I won’t have a specific number until after the event, but I would say the bigger number comes from within the community. But that’s like everything. People already know what to expect, and there’s the trust factor of someone saying, “You need to come to this event for this specific reason,” or, “Here’s what happened to me last year, and here’s why you should come again.”
54:04 Michael Port: Hold on, Giovanni, sorry, Ally just came in. I have only two minutes. Why? Don’t I have a half hour? I have a call two-thirty? Oh, with the football player. Oh, okay. I have to go. I have a call with a football player, and I don’t want to be late for that, because he’s a lot bigger than I am.
There was one other question I wanted to ask. Oh! But you do Facebook ads, because I’ve seen your Facebook ads. You also use YouTube?
54:33 Giovanni Marsico: Well, yeah, I’ve just hired someone amazing who’s going to do a lot more content management for us and we have so many video assets that we’ve done nothing with, so we will start a YouTube strategy. But, I think, even on the Facebook side, we’re shifting more towards creating conversations.
So, people will come in, through Facebook ads, but then, with retargeting, we can build trust and likeability and start a conversation with people to get them to know who we are, what the mission is, why they should attend, why this should be part of their community, so it’s more of a long play.
55:07 Michael Port: Yeah, I see what you’re saying. I have a thousand more questions, but as you know, I have to go, and I’m sure you do, too. But I know this was super helpful for me. I know this is going to be super helpful for the people watching.
55:19 Giovanni Marsico: Extremely.
55:20 Michael Port: Yeah, extremely. So, thank you very much, I owe you so many things. And I’ll shoot you an e-mail tomorrow and I’ll let you know how our coffee with Pam and her wife goes.
55:30 Giovanni Marsico: Amazing! Thank you!
55:31 Michael Port: You’re welcome, Giovanni, I’ll talk to you later, thanks!
* * *
55:34 Michael Port: Thank you for listening to Steal the Show with Michael Port, I’m your host, Michael Port. This podcast was produced by Laura Bernstein, our director of communications. With sound production and marketing by Kast Media. The music is mixed by Shammy Dee. And we recorded today’s episode at Heroic Public Speaking HQ, the most impressive public speaking facility in Lambertville, New Jersey, and, perhaps, the world.
A special thanks to our guest, and to you, for listening and learning how to be a performer in your spotlight moments. Make sure to reach out to us on Instagram and Facebook, @heroicpublicspeaking, and leave us a review on iTunes, if you liked the show. And, rate it. If you liked the show.
Oh! And make sure to visit heroicpublicspeaking.com/live to come to the event, October 1, 2, and 3 in Philly. Enter the promo code, stealtheshow, all lower case, all one word, and you’ll get 10% off your ticket price.
I love you very much, not in a weird way, but I love you for being the big thinker that you are, and standing in the service of others as you stand in the service of your destiny. Bye for now.