0:00:01 Michael Port: Welcome to Steal The Show with Michael Port, this is Michael. Today’s guest is Mike Michalowicz, and by his 35th birthday he had founded and sold two multi-million dollar companies. Confident that he had the formula to success, he became an angel investor, and proceeded to lose his entire fortune. Now let me ask you a true-or-false question, Mike, before I get into the rest of your bio. Is it true that after losing your fortune, your nine-year-old daughter offered her piggy bank savings to support the family?
0:00:37 Mike Michalowicz: Absolutely true, absolutely true. Humbling.
0:00:41 Michael Port: Excellent. Well at least we know she is saving her money, unlike the rest of us. Okay, here we go. So then he started all over again, driven to find better ways to grow healthy, strong companies. Among other innovative strategies, Mike created the profit-first formula, which I love, and I’m using myself, a way for businesses to ensure profitability from their very next deposit forward. Now Mike is running his third million-dollar venture. He is a former small-business columnist for the Wall Street Journal, is the former MSNBC business makeover expert, and is currently a popular keynote speaker on innovative entrepreneurial topics, and is the author of ‘Profit First: The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’, which Business Week deemed ‘The Entrepreneur’s Cult Classic’. So here’s some more true-of-false questions, Mike: Is it true that you are a recipient of the SPA’s Young Entrepreneur of The Year Award?
0:01:46 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah, I did get it, and that was back in my 20s, but yeah, I got it. That’s when I was young.
0:01:50 Michael Port: Is it true that you are a brilliant guitar player?
0:01:55 Mike Michalowicz: [chuckle] It’s true I play guitar, it’s not true that it’s brilliant, far from it. Dave Carroll’s brilliant, I’m far from that.
0:02:01 Michael Port: Alright, so I have to scold my research assistants, make sure that they’re all fired now. Is it true, despite the fact that I know you personally, that you’d rather have a beer than take a final exam, that you are a graduate of Inc and MIT’s Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurial Program, and are a guest speaker at fine institutions that probably wouldn’t have let you in when you were applying to school, like Harvard, Princeton, well of course eBay is not a school, but nonetheless, they’d have to hire you.
0:02:32 Mike Michalowicz: [0:02:32] ____. All of the above is true, absolutely true.
0:02:36 Michael Port: Oh wow! Amazing. Alright, cool. So, I love it actually, it was funny, one of the early speaking gigs that I got was for the screen actor’s guild, when I had left acting, and of course my opening was, “The only way I would get invited to do something special at the screen actor’s guild was to leave acting.” That’s the only way to do it. So, alright Mike, welcome, big thanks.
0:02:58 Mike Michalowicz: Oh, thank you so much for having me. Dude, it’s always cool to hang out with you, so it’s just a pleasure bro.
0:03:02 Michael Port: Well, so everybody listening, Mike and I have become good friends, so you’ll probably hear some banter back and forth, throughout. We’ve known each other for quite some time now, and Mike is going to be a special guest at Heroic Public Speaking Live in February. He’s gonna to sit on the business panel, because this guy can hack his way through almost anything, and he really hacked his way into the professional speaking business, and he’s got a lot to offer, and we’re gonna focus on that, primarily today, and you’ll be able to ask him your questions directly if you do attend Heroic Public Speaking Live. So if you want more information on that go to heroicpublicspeaking.com/live, that’s heroicpublicspeaking.com/live. Additionally Mike and I are gonna do something this summer on book writing, book publishing, book marketing, which is of course not released yet, but it’s gonna be pretty cool, because there is a very, very strong tie between being a successful author and a successful professional speaker and we’ll get into that as well. So, Mikey, how do you see your role as a professional speaker? And what do you find most rewarding about the role?
0:04:15 Mike Michalowicz: So, actually there was some guy up on stage who said something that changed my perspective of speaking forever, and get ready for the stroke ’cause it was you. You were on stage, I don’t know, three years ago I saw you speak, and you pointed at the stage, at the floor and said, “I have reverence for this.” And I’ll never forget that, that was a professional changing moment for me. I don’t know if I had reverence for it up to that point, or at least the appreciation that that’s what was necessary to do what I want to do and I think what you want to do. My role as a speaker is to change the world in the specific way I’m trying to do it, and what I’m trying to do is eradicate entrepreneurial poverty, and what I mean by entrepreneurial poverty is, there’s so many entrepreneurs out there that the money comes in but it doesn’t stay, it just kind of flows through, and then they start building anxiety toward their business, and ultimately resentment toward their business.
0:05:13 Mike Michalowicz: So, my job is to unwind all that, that’s what I’m doing as a speaker. The irony is, over time, it generates a serious income, and income means sustainability, and perceive value and allows me to go to bigger and bigger venues, but it was that realization of, to have reverence for the stage. It’s not a mechanism to sell people, it’s a mechanism to influence and get them to where they need and want to be but are starving to find a way to get there, that’s what the stage is about.
0:05:44 Michael Port: So, what percentage of your revenue comes directly from speaking, versus all of the other ventures that you have?
0:05:56 Mike Michalowicz: Before I started a membership organization, I would say the speaking generated one-third of income, so it used to be one-third of my income was speaking, one-third was book sales, which is atypical, most people don’t do well on book sales. I’ve taken the self-published route, and it generates a substantial amount of income because of… Mostly because of that, because of the volume of sales of course is critical, too. And then sponsorships is something that people don’t think about. So those three things were generally one-third, one-third, one-third. Well I started a membership organization, that represents now 50% of my income, and the other 50% is split one-third, one-third, one-third, between sponsors, books and speaking.
0:06:35 Michael Port: Oh wow, that’s interesting. Yeah, that’s a big change. One of the things I love about you is that you don’t always follow the typical model. You don’t blindly just pursue what others have done before you, but you look at what’s the best, most efficient, most profitable model for me based on my particular strengths and what I’m trying to accomplish, and the sponsorship piece is really, really interesting to me, and of course, the revenue that you generate from book sales is really quite unique in the industry, so I really commend you for that, it’s great.
0:07:19 Mike Michalowicz: Well it was funny is, if you follow the majority, you gotta realize, the majority fail. So the majority of authors are unsuccessful, they don’t sell any books, or very few. The majority of speakers, don’t speak. The majority of people looking to raise sponsorship money never even pick up the phone to make that first call. So, I discovered relatively early in my professional entrepreneurial career, that if I follow the typical or the average, that’s the formula to failure, so instead look for the outliers, and when I’m looking for outliers in different areas, when I was looking to write my first book I said, “Who are the people that are wildly successful?” Tim Ferriss just has breakout success with Four-Hour Work Week, and he was still accessible, so I met with him face to face, I interviewed him.
0:08:06 Mike Michalowicz: And by the way, the average author was saying, “You can’t make money selling books, there’s no money in the industry,” and I asked Tim Ferriss, and I’m sure you guessed his response, I said, “Can you make money?” He’s like, “Yeah! You can become a millionaire selling books,” and I think JK Rowling would suggest the same. So then I learned about their formula, and as you suggested then I said, “Well what naturally meets me?” So Tim Ferriss did it by going to all these different conventions, networking with the bloggers and so forth, it fit into his personality.
0:08:33 Michael Port: He’s young, not married, no kids, and loves to travel.
0:08:37 Mike Michalowicz: Right. Right. So I said, well it fits into my personality, but also exploits some of the stuff that he told me about, a big promise in your book title, and there’s different things that I kinda started discovering and it started to leverage in a certain way. And the result is, yeah, you can make a boat load of money selling books, and if someone tells you otherwise, screw them, you’re talking to the average. So talk to the outliers, and then replicate their formula but customize it to you. Some people have tried to copy me, but that’s not authentic of who they are, and then they fall flat. Other people have copied stuff I’ve done but applied it to their authentic self, wildly successful, and I think that’s what we all need to do.
0:09:23 Michael Port: You know it’s interesting that you mentioned the big promise in a book, and what we find is that people who have created really compelling books with really strong promises, big ideas, well organized, etcetera, in the self-help and business help space, often are great at organizing their material for their speeches, because the way that you organize material for a book is often very similar to the way that you organize material for a speech when you are teaching a curriculum-based speech, or even a message-based speech, and there are… There’s no one way to do either of these things, and that’s a very, very important part of our philosophy, is that this is art, and we’re often trying to break the rules to produce something even better than currently exist. We don’t break the rules just to be rebellious, but to try to make something quite interesting. And the reason I mention this is because people often ask, “Well, do you need to be an author to be a successful speaker?” And there are certainly people out there who are not authors, who are very successful speakers, often they’re celebrities.
0:10:39 Mike Michalowicz: Right.
0:10:40 Michael Port: That’s something that may take a little while to produce in another area, but if you are a consultant type and you wanna move into professional speaking, people often ask, “Do I need to write a book?” And I was talking to Scott McKain the other day, who’s a Hall of Fame professional speaker. He’s been speaking for 30 years. I said, “What’s a big mistake that you’ve made?” He said the biggest mistake I made was waiting too long to write a book.
0:11:04 Mike Michalowicz: Hmm, interesting.
0:11:06 Michael Port: And I was not expecting that answer.
0:11:10 Mike Michalowicz: I published one book through Penguin Books, my other ones are self-published, and always use the opportunities. Once you’re in a relationship, I think the standard fare for most of us is, “Well, I don’t have a publisher, just please publish my book,” but I use that as kind of insider access to understand the industry. So I sat down with the editor and Will Weisser over there who’s the marketing guru basically, and I said, “For authors to get a book, how do they need to come to the table for you to consider them for a book?” And this runs in parallel of course to speakers too. He said, “First of all, you have to have a platform… Or not first of all, one option is to have a platform.” Meaning, there’s a lot of people following you for some reason, and you have influence over them. So, what the publisher knows is if I have a platform, a sizeable one, the day I say I’m gonna introduce a book, they’re gonna buy my book. Lewis Howes, who you’re friends with, he’s a great example of that, a very established, wonderful platform. I presume, I don’t know, but I presume he got a good book deal, specifically ’cause he has a large platform.
0:12:13 Michael Port: He did, yeah. I know the numbers specifically. I won’t mention it but it was very good.
0:12:17 Mike Michalowicz: Okay. And I’m not surprised ’cause he had such an established platform. Now the challenge with a platform is it takes a lifetime. It took him years to develop that, he’s done an extraordinary job, and that’s the most common way. The second way they said is you gotta be a celebrity. Listen, Oprah is an author, but she’s not really an author, she just had a book spin out of her because of her celebrity status. If you’re someone famous like a President or something famous like that, it’s easy to get a book deal, or speaking, so a celebrity is the next the one. Then the one after that is a unique, extreme story. So, if you’re the guy who landed the airplane in the Hudson river, Captain Sully, yeah, you’re gonna get a book, you’re gonna get speaking, because it’s a unique story. And the last thing they said was extreme credentials. So if you have the highest credential doctor of doctors at Harvard, you can get a book and speaking. But it’s those four things that are necessary, and you gotta have one or a combination of them.
0:13:19 Mike Michalowicz: I think a lot of people go in with the fifth option, which is nothing at all, they just say, “I wanna write a book, I have a cool story, that I feel is compelling,” and then those fall flat.
0:13:28 Michael Port: So when Penguin picked you, you… At least from what I know, haven’t landed a plane on the Hudson.
0:13:36 Mike Michalowicz: No, no. I landed a little plastic aircraft. It was like one of those ones you throw up in the air and it kinda floats down.
0:13:42 Michael Port: And you were seven years old at the time?
0:13:43 Mike Michalowicz: Right, and it still sunk, and I was crying.
0:13:47 Mike Michalowicz: No, so it was a platform, it was a platform. Not Lewis Howes’ platform, but established enough, incredible enough, that I had influence over it. To get there, by the way, blogging, and speaking… There are certain types of speaking you can do without a platform, so speaking and blogging, and then building a list. An email list back then was the hotspot, now it may be is confirming to social media list, but a list of people that could immediately persuade and influence.
0:14:14 Michael Port: This sounds like you’re on the trading room floor there.
0:14:17 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah, so…
0:14:18 Michael Port: Your office is like on the…
0:14:18 Mike Michalowicz: Welcome to the smallest office on the plant. We have five of us here, and we’re confined within a 400-foot square space, and there’s no door on my office.
0:14:28 Michael Port: Oh my God!
0:14:29 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah.
0:14:30 Michael Port: You know what I have actually, Michael O’Neil, he sent these to me, he sent me these audio-sound buffering, stopping curtains.
0:14:43 Mike Michalowicz: Really?
0:14:44 Michael Port: Yeah.
0:14:45 Mike Michalowicz: So, was it Matthew Kimberly your partner there? He had like that egg thing, didn’t we see that…
0:14:52 Michael Port: No, that was something else, yeah. No, that was something else where you’d still pick up the background noise with that, but these curtains, you can enclose yourself in these curtains or you can just use the curtain and pull it across the door, if there’s door frame, if there’s no door there, and it will stop the sound. I think these are more powerful sound buffers than those type of egg-crate things you’ll put on the door.
0:15:18 Mike Michalowicz: I’ll be. They’re called ‘acoustical curtains’? I’ll be!
0:15:22 Michael Port: Yeah. You are one heck of a multi-tasker.
0:15:25 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah.
0:15:26 Michael Port: Acoustical curtains, so if anybody’s doing a podcast or they do interviews, that’s something that can be very effective. One of the things that I did is, I actually… I don’t have them up now because the house is quite quiet in my audio studio is… We have this suite in the basement for guests, and then my video studio is up in a different level of the house, different part of the house, but it’s really quite quiet down here because I’m actually… I’m right at ground-level on one part, but half of it is below ground-level, sort of we’re on a little bit of a hill. Anyhow, the point is, I don’t always need them, but I did put them up on these little tracks, so that I can actually close myself into a little box if I want.
0:16:05 Mike Michalowicz: That is freaking great! I’m just looking around space here, “I can do it, I can do it.” In any point, this is part of our profit-first mentality. I believe if I’m gonna have to teach something I have to live it. Do I have the means? And does the business have the means to have a grade-A space? Absolutely. Is that the profit-first lifestyle? No. And I don’t even feel compelled to get the nice space, the big space, because it’s inauthentic, it’s not who I am anyway. I wanna live a much more frugal and innovative life. But there’s this tradeoff, right? So noise… It’s getting to a point… We’re hiring another person out too, it’s getting to the point where it’s almost… Now it’s become a detriment to the business, it becomes a distraction, ’cause you’re hearing the background noise, they’re on phone calls right now with prospects and so forth, they’re hearing background noise. The perception is like we’re a call center, which, we don’t wanna have that perception.
0:16:53 Michael Port: Yeah. No, it does sound you’re a call center or on the trading floor on the New York Stock Exchange or something.
0:16:58 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah, yeah.
0:17:00 Michael Port: Okay, so listen, so let me get back to this, what you did as an author, because I think it’s very relevant to your speaking career. After the first book that you published with Penguin, you then started self-publishing, and obviously you still had a platform, it was probably bigger at that time. Why did you choose to go self at that time? And how did that affect your speaking career, if it did?
0:17:27 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah. So interesting, so the first book was actually self-published; the second book was through Penguin and a third book. So, I went from self-publishing to publishing and found that self-publishing is superior for me. The first book, I didn’t have a big enough platform so I did approach publishers because that’s what everyone does, but then I started interviewing people and they said, “No, self-publishing’s better and it’s growing,” and so forth. So I decided not… To stop pursuing that, and then I self-published my first book. The second book… The first book I had such traction that when I started to do a second book, Penguin actually approached me. I didn’t approach them, they were introduced to me through… I can’t remember how, but someone, they heard about The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and they said, “Wow… ” That plus the analysis of my platform, “We wanna have you”.
0:18:14 Mike Michalowicz: But then I went back to self-publishing. Why? There’s a couple things, the way consumers are reading books today is through… Generally, the desire for shorter, more concise reads. Most authors are moving to a technique called ‘front-loading’, where the meat of the book is in the first few chapters, like that whole concept can be grasped and drawn out, and then for people that go beyond that first few chapters, go into advanced material. Most books, historically, were throughout all the chapters, you built your thesis and delivered it through multiple chapters. Many publishing houses are still on that mentality of, “Well, it’s gotta be a 220-page book, it’s gotta be 80,000 words, and it’s gotta be laid out a certain way.” But the consumer dynamic has changed and I don’t think many publishers have really fully caught on to that. The way people are consuming content too has changed. So for me, only 20% of my sales are in physical print, 40% are in digital print; Kindle, Nook, all those, and 40% in audible and audio, and audible is the primary platform.
0:19:25 Michael Port: And you read your own books?
0:19:26 Mike Michalowicz: And I read my own book… Oh my God! Everyone listening, read your own books. Read your own books.
0:19:33 Michael Port: Now I would say… I would offer a caveat. There are some people who would be better served having other people read their books, but…
0:19:40 Mike Michalowicz: Okay, that’s true.
0:19:41 Michael Port: But if you are a professional speaker, the idea is that you are compelling, verbally, that people wanna listen to you. So, then in that case, you are definitely, definitely reading your own books. And it’s not something that’s easy, it’s something that takes technique. It’s something that we often work with our students around. I often joke that… When I was doing my first audio book, after [0:20:08] ____ the book, your self-seller came out, I said, “You know what? Actually this is the only thing I’m actually trained to do.” Because I was an actor, and then I had a good solid voice-over career. I did hundreds of voice-overs, there’s was the place I felt the most comfortable, was in the studio. So I love doing my books, but doing… My books are usually 70,000 words or so, doing a 70,000 word book over three days, is a significant amount of work, and you can only do it quickly if you understand how to work in the studio with an engineer and to punch in. It’s something that’s pretty significant. One of the things that often happens is, people will use words in their books that they don’t usually pronounce. They don’t usually say them out loud, or they use names that they don’t usually say out loud, and then they get into the studio and they can’t pronounce different names or words, and that doesn’t bode very well.
0:21:06 Mike Michalowicz: Well that does point to a technique that I use is… And I think… And actually I know you do too ’cause I read all your books, it’s consistency in voice. Some people believe that we have to write in a more educated tone or something like that, a more…
0:21:21 Michael Port: Academic.
0:21:21 Mike Michalowicz: Academic type… Don’t do that, have consistency in your voice, because your strongest fans will be ones who read your book, watch your videos, see you in person and say, “Wow! You are the same everywhere.”
0:21:33 Michael Port: Yeah. It really is… It’s remarkable to me, Mike, that when people come up to me after speech and go, “Oh my God, you’re just like you sound in your books.” At the beginning, when I first started it’s… When you first hear these things, when you start, they’re often surprising, and after awhile you get used to it and you get it and you understand it, why that’s often surprising to people, because it’s not typical. Or, for example, someone will say, “Oh my God, you have so much integrity, thank you,” which I think is… I don’t even know what to do with, that’s not something one should get a pat on the back for, but I understand in this industry, doesn’t always feel like that to the clients and the customers. So, to a certain extent, it’s not hard to be in service of others, if you are honest and you speak in your own voice, and you’re willing to share what you stand for, and to back that up in what you do.
0:22:30 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah, I’m into that. Going back to that question you had about the impact of a self-published book on speaking and so forth, no impact either way, if anything, a positive impact, because I can be more consistent with my voice as opposed to through a publishing house that edits it down. And they’re not being bad guys, they have to have consistency in their brand, so they need to go through editing process. But I use my own editors and wanna have the voice that’s true with my tonality. But really to drive that point home, I ran a informal, but a survey with my readers, and I said, “Of my published books which one is the most impactful?” And that was a trick question, ’cause only one of my books has been published through the traditional method and that was ‘The Pumpkin Plan’, but the favorite book was ‘The Profit First’. And what that points to I think is, for readers, they don’t know who published a book. Think about your favorite authors; Mine, Seth Gordon, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Port. I don’t know who published those books, I just open Steal the Show and I start reading it. I literally do not know who published that book. I know it’s a an amazing book.
0:23:35 Michael Port: I think it’s different now, I think… When I… I started in 2003, and I’d say in those days, even up until, maybe… God, what are we? In ’16 now? Even maybe… 2011 maybe, ’10, you could often tell a self-published book when… By holding it, you could feel it.
0:23:57 Mike Michalowicz: Oh, by the quality, for sure.
0:23:58 Michael Port: But now it’s not like that. One of the things guys that… One of the reasons I think Mike and I are continuing down this conversation about books is because we’ve been talking about it a lot together, and in fact after we finish this recording we have a meeting with our staff, Mike and I and our staff together, because we are putting together a retreat that we are going to hold this summer on book writing, publishing, marketing and more. It’s not something that we typically teach, but I’ve written six with the big publishers, and Mike has written four, as you know, with big publishers, and self publishing. So, between the two of us we have extensive experience. And we were looking around and we were looking at some of the programs that teach people how to promote books, write books, and we found that most of them weren’t taught by people who have big books.
0:24:57 Michael Port: Right. [chuckle]
0:25:00 Mike Michalowicz: Wall Street Journal best sellers, New York Times best sellers, these are things that aren’t typical. I’m not in anyway criticizing or disparaging other programs offered by people who have not had that kind of success in books, they might be great programs, but we thought it would be worthwhile, to our students, if we showed them what we have done over the years, because it’s been the driving-force in our success, of both as business owners who offer different types of learning programs, and as speakers on the circuit. So we will of course announce that when we are ready, but it’s gonna be a retreat, and I use that word because it’s not gonna be a big event open to the general public, but it’s gonna be a retreat that we do for some of our closer clients in a more intimate environment, so we can actually produce the material with them at the retreat, rather than just giving them ideas.
0:26:03 Mike Michalowicz: One thing that your book, ‘Book Yourself Solid’, your first book did, that we all should aspire to do, is what I call the ‘perennial best seller’, and the New York Times and those things are amazing achievements, albeit. Some authors choose to manipulate the system, to trigger that so they can have that title, but then a year later you never hear of that book again, it just fades into oblivion. But Book Yourself Solid is something that’s a perennial best seller, it’s constantly talked about. It is as relevant today as it was when that book was published, almost 10 years ago I think for you Michael.
0:26:42 Michael Port: Yeah.
0:26:43 Mike Michalowicz: And here’s the power of that, because of that your brand perpetually gets stronger and stronger. Every day another 20, 50, 100 readers or whatever are discovering your book, and your brand is expanding and expanding. It’s like an expanding… It’s kind of like the universe, right? It’s perpetually expanding. I think that’s what we should aspire to as authors, is to plant seeds to write books that are positioned and impactful that they won’t be quick flashes in the pan, but will change the nature of business, or the people we’re trying to impact, into perpetuity.
0:27:21 Michael Port: It’s such a great point. I watch some of our friends who teach social media, oh my God, and they’re re-writing their books every nine months.
0:27:31 Michael Port: It’s just exhausting. It’s just exhausting. And many of them, I’m sure you’ve spoken to them also, they just lament to the fact that they wrote that kind of book in the first place, and that they are in an area of business where things change so rapidly that they can’t even keep up. I’d rather focus on a business that has sustained ability in it’s consistency, because the principles behind say, getting clients, or the principles behind giving great performances and speeches, those are not gonna change. There are certainly techniques that one may use that will change over time say, with respect to marketing, but techniques are quite… They’re not complicated, once you understand the principles behind how something works then you can choose your techniques based on what’s available at the time. So, I’d rather focus on work that is evergreen, and is principled-based, rather than just technique based, which may be fleeting.
0:28:40 Mike Michalowicz: That’s right, that’s right. I know I’m over-driving home the power of books, but it’s I think to me it’s just important, that books are really a annuity. A check comes to me every single month, now if you’re through publisher it’s once every six months or once a quarter, it depends on your publishing agreement, but it comes to me every month, and it’s substantial and it’s growing, but it requires a decreasing amount of effort, which is the objective of an annuity, where it kind of facilitates itself. A well-written book… A really well-written book, the person who reads it says, “This has impacted my life,” and then becomes your marketer.
0:29:18 Michael Port: Yeah.
0:29:18 Mike Michalowicz: And it’s funny, there’s a quick analysis I figured out for myself, one of the things I’ll reveal when we do our conference together, I just did a quick analysis on Steal the Show, I can tell you that book is a perennial best seller already, and it’s a brand new book. But there’s certain metrics you can look at, the performance which indicates the behavior of the market, and that book is doing it.
0:29:37 Michael Port: Wow, I’d like… I can’t wait for you guys to show me this.
0:29:39 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah, I’ll give you the secrets, off the air. I wanna save that. It’s something I had to figure out for myself, right? I was like, “How do I know what books are making it or not and how do I position myself as a book that’ll make it?”
0:29:48 Michael Port: Wow, I just got the chills. I’m like, “I can’t wait to… ” One of the things that always impresses me about you, is that you are statistically-driven and you’re also creative, so you’ve got both of those things, and you are really good, for lack at a better term, at hacking your way into things. I’m not crazy about that term, in general, because it sounds like you’re a hack, but it is a popular term that’s used nonetheless, so I’ll throw it out there, but essentially what it is is you figure out the way to get into something you wanna do with the least amount of friction…
0:30:29 Mike Michalowicz: Right. That’s exactly right.
0:30:32 Michael Port: That’s how I think about it. And, interestingly enough, I did not plan on talking about book publishing at any length during this interview, I was gonna touch on it with you, most of my questions are around the speaking business, because of course so many of our listeners are interested in that. But it just goes to show you, first of all, how passionate you and I, of course are, around book writing and how much it’s done for our careers over time, but also, how important it is or can be, again it’s not the end-all-be-all, but it can be, if you want to get into speaking on a much more significant level, and if you wanna offer training programs, certifications, licensing, any type of offering based on intellectual property, that has leverage and scalability, whereas just professional speaking doesn’t.
0:31:27 Michael Port: I never wanted to become a professional speaker per se, that was never my goal in the early days. In 2003 I didn’t really know much about the professional speaking circuit, at all, that’s not how I started in this business, but I also knew that I don’t love travelling. I like travelling on my boat, I like that kind of travelling, but I don’t like airports, mid-range hotels in all sorts of random places that I don’t have a lot of control over. So, I’ll speak a couple times a month for the kind of venues that really mean something to me, both financially and philosophically, principally, I like the message that the company has or what they’re trying to do, but then I focus my business efforts on building a business, not just a practice. So, intellectual property is a key piece of that, and having something that is distinctive is critical in your development as a business owner, not just as a speaker. So, these things, books and speaking, go hand-in-hand, and they help you build a real business, rather than just a practice.
0:32:36 Mike Michalowicz: So true, so true. You know one…
0:32:40 Michael Port: Well let’s get into the hacking, if you don’t mind. So, how did you get into the business of professional speaking, because there’s lots of opportunities to speak for free, how did you start making money?
0:32:52 Mike Michalowicz: Oh. So I’ll give you the first mega-hack. So, first of all I determined of course I want to speak, I found it to be a good platform. I, personally do not enjoy to deliver coaching services myself. I like a coaching business. I don’t like doing that. I just don’t have the sustainability to stick with one subject forever, so I like kind of short impactful things, so speaking was a natural fit. And so, how I started, and then how I made it into money was first, I started speaking anywhere, and I think that was important for me because I needed to get the experience. I was a crappy speaker in the beginning, I didn’t know what to do and what worked and what didn’t work, so I’d speak and then observe. One of the things I did very quickly, was I started speaking to colleges, and I think anyone can do that. You can call your local community college, reach out to the professor of the topic that you’re talking about, for me entrepreneurship, so I reached out to the entrepreneur professor, or the entrepreneur clubs and I suggested… Or invited myself in basically to speak.
0:33:56 Mike Michalowicz: Say, “Hey, you need a speaker. I’d love to be the speaker.” And they said, “Sure.” No pay, no nothing.
0:33:56 Michael Port: “Hey, so, what are you doing on Tuesday?” “Nothing great.” “I’ll be there at 6:00, I’m gonna give a speech to your class.”
0:34:00 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah, that’s basically how I got started. The clubs I found were easier, because they have a mandate to bring in speakers, the club dictates that you have to have four educational events a year or something like that. So, that became easier, so that was the first thing. But the second thing is I’d asked to do two consecutive speaking engagements over, maybe a six-month period. So I’d come in once, and then come in again. The second one to the same group of people, I’d ask them what they remembered. Now here’s the interesting thing, no one could remember Mike Michalowicz, no one remembered my name, it was too hard to remember, but they remembered certain stories. I remember, before I wrote The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, that book by the way was called ‘Launch: The concept about launching a business.’ And I asked people about what they remembered from my stories, and they remembered the toilet paper story, the analogy used to explain entrepreneurship, and actually one of the students called me ‘the toilet paper entrepreneur’, and that’s where the title came from.
0:35:01 Michael Port: Oh, wow.
0:35:04 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah, so look for stickiness, so that’s hack number one.
0:35:09 Michael Port: No pun intended.
0:35:09 Mike Michalowicz: Now of course the question is how you get paid for this? Now, here’s the mega-hack: I started speaking at colleges with regularity, for free, local, and then I would tell the colleges, the student that’s running the club, “Do you know student, there is a thing called the Student Activities Fund or Student Affairs Fund? They give it different names, but usually student activities fund. This is a fund that every college has to bring in entertainment and educational events. When they do that big show, where the band comes in or a famous comedian, that money to pay that entertainer is coming from this fund. Well they don’t only pay that one big event, they will pay for small events.” So what I did is I told the student, “Hey you know, I normally get $10,000,” by the way I had never gotten paid at this point… “I normally get $10,000,” in my mind, “And, I’m willing to come in for a discounted fee, I’ll only charge $5,000, and additionally, I’ve prepared a letter, on your behalf, to give to the Student Activities Fund Administrator, saying that you’ve elected to bring me in as a speaker, that you’re requesting that the student activities fund substantiates or pays for a substantial portion of the bill, because you’re merely a club, and then they’ll issue you a check.”
0:36:13 Mike Michalowicz: And it doesn’t work every single time, but when you give your ‘client’, I’m doing air quotes, but those are my clients now, an easy path to follow, if it’s very simple for them, they’re likely to do it. And I remember Drexel University was the first university, they gave me $3,000 to speak. The club had some additional obligations to do some marketing, so in order to receive that funds they had to put up brochures and stuff, and it was humbling when I went to speak there was literally I think four people in the audience, but the $3,000 check made it much sweeter, and subsequently that became my approach.
0:36:48 Michael Port: What was it like, $700 and some odd dollars per person.
0:36:52 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Right, that’s one way to look at it.
0:36:55 Mike Michalowicz: Now, I subsequently did that at university after university to make money.
0:37:00 Michael Port: Well once again, there is highlighting the fact that you’re going in there and you’re reducing the friction, you’re making it easier for people to say, yes.
0:37:09 Mike Michalowicz: Exactly.
0:37:10 Michael Port: This is not just a concept that I think we should embrace to get booked to speak, but this is something that is critical across-the-board. Anytime… Look, one of the most important questions to ask ourselves is, “How can we be a person that others want to help?” And one of the answers to that question, there are many, but one of the answers is, “Make it easy for people to help,” and you’re making it really easy for these people to say yes. We were having a little issue with a couple of contracts that were sent out by my staff for us and they got a little confused about the engagements, ’cause we do a lot of different things with different people and they got confused, and so they sent the wrong contracts, and they created an enormous amount of friction, and what I was trying to teach the team was that their job in large part is to reduce friction, and they’re also representing of course, me, out in the world, so people have often more interaction with the staff than they do with me, and they will base their feelings about me and the whole company on them, more than they will on me. And so reducing friction is such a big part of that, so they go, “My god they’re easy, they’re so easy.”
0:38:41 Mike Michalowicz: Right, right. Isn’t that funny? I think about just trying to get an appointment with a vendor, like I have one vendor who I decided not to hire, who I left a few messages just to get a sales call back, talk about friction.
0:38:55 Michael Port: No, it is interesting. Sometimes, do you ever feel like, “God, I don’t understand, I wanna give them my money and they don’t want it.”
0:39:02 Mike Michalowicz: Right.
0:39:02 Michael Port: It’s so hard to give them my money. When we were picking… First of all you looked very handsome in your tuxedo at our wedding.
0:39:08 Mike Michalowicz: Thank you. That was an awesome wedding, my wife and I have talked about it literally every day since, every day.
0:39:13 Michael Port: Oh, that’s great, it really was… I clearly am a little bias, but I enjoyed the wedding myself. So, well the reason I mention it is because, when we were calling venues, or more specifically when Amy was calling venues, most of the venues would not allow you to put down a deposit for a day without seeing the venue. Now I thought, “Well, they probably have good reason to do that. I bet people put a deposit down then come see it, then change their mind and try and get their deposit back,” but the point of a deposit is that you don’t get it back if you don’t use the space. Or you can have specific rules around, “If you give a deposit you can have this much back after this date, this much back after that date,” etcetera. But we were sort of fraying our heads… ‘Cause we just couldn’t get there because of our schedule, so ultimately we had my mom go and look at it and then tell us what she thought and then we put the deposit down. But I remember that specific instance of how hard it was to get them to say yes.
0:40:11 Mike Michalowicz: That is funny.
0:40:13 Michael Port: I often joked that I’d love to do a book, a Book Yourself Solid edition, just for contractors, in the trades, and it would just be one page, just “Return phone calls on time, show up on time, and finish relatively close to budget,” that’s about it. Then you’re booked solid. You don’t have to do anything else, that’s about it.
0:40:35 Mike Michalowicz: I’ve found that communication is king in any kind of service, speaking too, writing books too. But I have a saying, I actually wrote a blog about this called ‘No News is Still News’, and what I mean by that is I think a lot of service provides, authors and speakers too, think when there’s nothing to report that it’s adequate to report nothing, and that’s a total lie, it’s wrong. When there’s nothing to report, the other side, your client, is still thinking about the situation, and since they haven’t heard from you will often go to the worst-case scenario.
0:41:07 Michael Port: Of course.
0:41:07 Mike Michalowicz: The contractor… I have a contractor who’s coming, he’s repairing our dishwasher, it just busted. Well, I got the call back today, after waiting for a week. Now, I was getting real nervous, I thought he forgot. I did an email reach out that didn’t respond to say, “What’s going on?” Then I thought maybe it’s not worth it to him. I started looking for another contractor last night. I didn’t find him yet, to his advantage. But I started looking for someone else, because I said he’s not calling him back, clearly he’s found an alternative that’s better, clearly he doesn’t care about this. That wasn’t the case, he was missing a part. So he called this morning said, “Oh, I finally got the part in I’ve been waiting for.” Just communicate that a week ago that you’re waiting for a part, and you wouldn’t have caused this [0:41:48] ____ for me and nearly lose me.
0:41:50 Michael Port: Yeah, and of course we understand that people are busy, but I think that part of working in the business is dedicating a significant amount of time just to that communication, it’s just as important as the work one does. Interestingly enough, so you know I bought a new boat, and this retreat that we’re gonna do is gonna be out on the boat, and it’s a pretty big boat and it’s a pretty pricey boat. The guys that sold… The dealer that sold it to me is out of Baltimore, and they’ve been working on me for a year and a half. For a year and a half these guys have been on me. And I had told them, when I first looked at that boat a year and a half ago I said, “I want this boat. I will probably buy this boat at some point, but just not today,” and they took me seriously. And so they’ve been working on me. I’ve talked to other brokers about other boats over the last couple of years, who would sort of disappear, and these guys stayed… Now, there’s… I could have chosen a different brand. I love this boat, but I love a lot of boats.
0:42:50 Michael Port: So, these guys, I think in part, they… And I wasn’t even planning on pulling the trigger on this new boat, but they called at the right time on the right day, again with the right deal, and I’m like, “You know what? Heck with it, let’s do it,” and then done. And I give them credit for it, I give them credit. Every once in awhile I was a little bit like, “Alright, guys, guys, I said I’m not doing it right now,” but they just kept on it, and eventually they got the deal, and it’s a big, big sale for them. So, that kind of communication on the sales end, and once you have delivered, now that they’ve sold it, they’re just as fast in their communication as they were before I had sold it, because if I had dropped this kind of money and couldn’t get them on the phone after I bought it, I wouldn’t be referring them.
0:43:36 Mike Michalowicz: That triggers a little example, but first I wanna share, I’ve seen Michael Port in love twice; once when you met your beautiful wife, who you just married; second, and almost as big, your eyes were open almost as wide, is when you saw that one boat, I was with you on your prior boat.
0:43:51 Michael Port: Oh yeah, you were there when I first saw the boat that I wanted to buy.
0:43:56 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah. Oh my God, dude, you were running around like a kid, the energy, and the excitement and the amore you had for that boat. So, it was just… I’d seen that.
0:44:07 Michael Port: Now, I will admit that it is not exactly living the frugal profit first life, but…
0:44:14 Mike Michalowicz: But it’s your passion, it’s authentically who you are, right?
0:44:15 Michael Port: It’s my greatest love, yeah.
0:44:17 Mike Michalowicz: So, that speaks to who you are, and you share it too, it’s very powerful. But the consistency. We are sales people too, when you’re a speaker you have to sell too. My biggest speaking gigs, I mean by biggest attendees and payment, have been in, I think most of the cases, because of persistent follow-up. I was the rejected speaker two years prior, but didn’t say, “Oh, they don’t like me, screw them.” Committees change, reasons change, authors change. Other speakers fade away and new ones grow. So I just stayed on top with saying, “Hey, last year it didn’t work out,” and I stayed persistent, and sure enough I got some major… It’s like at eBay, I got some major gigs because of that.
0:45:00 Michael Port: Wow. So how did you transition from doing that couple-thousand dollar speech at the colleges, to the larger gigs for more money at the corporations?
0:45:10 Mike Michalowicz: So I started off with niche speaking I think we all need to do that. So, while I’m a small business author, that is not a niche, that’s a… It’s a broad category. I said, “Who’s the community this will resonate with most?” For me, it was actually female entrepreneurs. It’s very infrequent that male authors can speak adequately to the female audience. We think we can as male authors, but we don’t know the nuances. We come across as panderers. We don’t come across as authentic, even though we think we are. So, I feel I have a little bit of talent in that category, and that category’s responding because when I was doing certain speaking engagements at the college level, it was the women, or female entrepreneurs in those groups that were emailing me and following up and so forth. So I said, “Oh, let me target this niche.” So then I started reaching out to female audiences, and I’d say, “I have the male perspective on the female entrepreneur, and that became a compelling subject and so I wrote a whole speech around that and started speaking to those communities, and the female associations, Women’s President Organization, and [0:46:15] ____, and all these different… Or NAWBO now.
0:46:16 Michael Port: And you’re just finding these organizations on the Google. You’re just researching, that’s all.
0:46:21 Mike Michalowicz: Oh yeah, so easy to find, so easy to find. And then you type in ‘events’, and you can see their events, and you see the event coordinator, and you know who the contact is, and you reach out. And once you start speaking to a niche, the first person hears you and says, “I’ve never heard of you nor has anyone else,” but the second person you reach out to, now there’s one other person that heard about you, in that category, and there’s a high likelihood they’re communicating with each other because they’re in the same niche. So very quickly, I mean within months, my name started circulating. “Oh yeah, there’s this author, this guy named Mike, who’s kinda giving the male perspective on female entrepreneurship.” And then once I got my first gig then the second gig almost became natural, and the third gig, and I started getting momentum that way.
0:47:05 Michael Port: So, what else is special about you as a speaker? I think it’s important for speakers to identify what makes them unique, because we all have different talents, and I think it’s important to recognize our individual strengths, and also recognize what we don’t do that well or don’t like to do that much, and if we don’t like to do it that much then we won’t do it that well. What else in addition to this ability to understand the female entrepreneur, what else is unique about you as a speaker? What do people comment on?
0:47:42 Mike Michalowicz: Self-deprecating humor, but not self-punishing. So, I use a technique called the ‘phoenix effect’ in my speaking, again, it’s all authentic, but the phoenix effect concept is this: If you’re watching a movie, an action movie for example, all those movies start off at the high point; Tom Cruise walking down the beach with his beautiful wife and so forth. Then you have the low point, usually in the very beginning, within minutes, he gets… His wife gets killed, kids kidnapped and so forth, the rest of the movie is the climb-out, the revenge, and we champion that along. Well I use that process in my speaking, I talk about kind of the vision, or sometimes even just the introduction, “This guys a multi-billion dollar business. He’s sold… Went to a Fortune 500,” blah-blah-blah. That’s the high point. Very quickly, early on, I will go through the, humbling and self-deprecating experience of my loss or the mistakes I’ve made, bringing myself to, hopefully the lowest points any audience member has experienced too, it’s genuine and authentic. Then the rest is I’ll say… I’ll explain, “This is how I am climbing out of it, and how I think you can use a version of this to do the same for you,” so that self-deprecating component’s very big.
0:48:50 Mike Michalowicz: The other part I use is, and maybe I… [chuckle] I borrowed this or stole this from you: No Power Points.
0:48:57 Mike Michalowicz: Actually you used a presentation very effectively with a Power Point, that’s hard for most people to pull off.
0:49:01 Michael Port: Once in awhile in different presentations, so I just… I was qualified because some… I think I’m getting this reputation out there that I’m anti-PowerPoint or something, or I’m anti-visuals, I’m not at all. I think in fact, visuals can be incredibly powerful, it’s just how you use these things that makes the difference, of course.
0:49:19 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah. So I don’t do any Power Points so that forces me to be very… It’s a one-man act.
0:49:26 Michael Port: Yeah.
0:49:26 Mike Michalowicz: The other thing I do, [chuckle] this is actually something I know I borrowed from you, is I was at your public speaking class and you said, “One of the rules is never turn your back to the audience,” and then you turned your back to the audience and said, “And always break the rules.”
0:49:39 Mike Michalowicz: Right? So I use that exact little thing. I have one presentation I do around Profit First, where I talk about the Frankenstein moment of how our business ultimately starts consuming us, if we don’t control the profits, we start resenting it, and I turn my back to the audience, and I go into the scene where Dr. Frankenstein is making the monster, but right when I turn my back, I stop, I turn and face the audience again and I’ll say, “Hey, if you’re looking to become a public speaker one of the rules is never turn your back on the audience,” and then I turn my back on the audience and I stick my butt out, and I say, “Unless you got this going on.”
0:50:18 Mike Michalowicz: Right? And then I go on with the presentation, and that brings a laugh, every time. And what it points to I, s self-deprecation, humor, engagement. I like to use common talk… It’s the same talk… I don’t like to speak as an academic. Now here’s the funny thing is, I enjoy some presenters, Malcolm Gladwell is one I think of, who is I think a very engaging speaker, and is very academically acute, presents in a very academic, professorship type of format. So, I just take the parts of me, and then accentuate them; the idiosyncrasies of me, I exploit.
0:50:58 Michael Port: That’s right, you amplify the most compelling parts of your personality for a given audience, on a given day, and that’s the key. So there isn’t one right way to perform, and the most authentic way for you to perform is gonna be the most compelling for your audience, and you won’t resonate with every audience, and that’s not our goal. Our goal is not to be Wonder Bread… Actually Wonder Bread’s not a good example because a lot of people don’t like Wonder Bread. Actually I don’t even know if it exists anymore.
0:51:27 Mike Michalowicz: I don’t know.
0:51:28 Michael Port: I don’t know. But, the point is, is that the amplification of the most compelling parts of your personality is what is gonna get you noticed in a crowded, crowded space.
0:51:41 Mike Michalowicz: Now I’m thinking, I think you can use Wonder Bread for sound curtains, by the way.
0:51:47 Michael Port: Actually, I think that’s Twinkies.
0:51:49 Michael Port: I think Twinkie absorbs the sound the best. So what about bureaus and agencies?
0:51:55 Mike Michalowicz: So, I’ve had poor to no luck with bureaus. I’ve had great success with an agent and… A moderate success with an agent. So bureaus is where… It’s a company that puts many authors… Speakers, many speakers on their list, and they are… They make money on a commission, the norm is upwards of 25%, so be prepared for a big commission, but they drive usually the marquee names. They’re looking to sell… Barack Obama, the second he’s no longer President, he’s gonna be the premiere speaker. All the bureaus want him because he’ll dictate a $200,000… $500,000 speaking fee. And then what these bureaus do, from my experience, is if they can’t sell the Barack Obama spot, then they slip down, they go down the chain to the cheaper and cheaper folks. Now I get, now $20,000… Well, $19,000’s actually the bill rate, but $20,000 for a speaking engagement. So, for a bureau, they’re interested in me presenting before the $5,000 guy just simply on a commission, so they actually go down. So if you’re not dictating out a bill rate like that, it’s… You’re little fodder, you’re not of much value to them.
0:53:10 Michael Port: Well let’s talk about the bill rate for a second, because people will say, “What? $20,000 dollars? I can’t… No one’s gonna give me that.” Do you… Can you recall, and then recant, when you doubled your fees? I remember very specifically when you did it.
0:53:28 Mike Michalowicz: Okay, so maybe you remember… I remember that eBay was a big one. That’s the first time I dictated $10,000. I went from asking $5,000, eBay called me, heard about my platform and all this stuff, and they had this… They had been talking to me for a long time, and then they said, “We have an emergent need, we need a key-note speaker,” and I said, “It’s 10,000.” And I remember just holding my breath saying, “Are they really gonna do it?”
0:53:54 Michael Port: And they didn’t blink?
0:53:55 Mike Michalowicz: And they didn’t blink.
0:53:56 Michael Port: Yeah.
0:53:56 Mike Michalowicz: I couldn’t believe it. And then… Oh, that turned, by the way, into a four or five-part series I did with John Jantsch, that’s how I met John Jantsch, was on the stage of eBay. And John Jantsch… I hope he doesn’t mind me revealing this, got $5,000 for that speaking engagement. Now here’s a funny thing, John Jantsch is, at that point, far more established than me, I think… I would argue he still is, but far more at that point. I just had finished Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, and he had Duct Tape Marketing out, and why more successful? The thing was, I think he had an established rate that he was just going with.
0:54:27 Mike Michalowicz: I was just the one who was audacious enough or stupid enough just to randomly pick a new number. And so I think, especially these large corporations, large associations, they identify a speaker they want, but I don’t know if they say, “This is the only price we’re gonna pay,” they’re gonna say, “I wonder what the speaker dictates, and then is it within our budget?” And that 10,000 number just happened to be within the budget, I was the speaker they wanted, and then that was the determination of my value to them.
0:54:54 Michael Port: Yeah. And I remember when you went from 10 to 20. I remember… Maybe this is just in my mind, but I remember, we were part of a network, like a speakers exchange group that Mike had put together, and you and why were talking offline one day, and we were talking about fees, and I said, “So how you’re doing? What’s going on with your fees?” And you said, “Well, I’m quoting 15, I’m getting like 10 sometimes.”
0:55:19 Mike Michalowicz: Right. Right.
0:55:20 Michael Port: And I said, “Why?”
0:55:22 Mike Michalowicz: Right. I remember that.
0:55:23 Michael Port: What do you mean?” I said, “Why don’t you just get 20?” You were like, “Well, I…
0:55:29 Mike Michalowicz: I don’t know.
0:55:29 Michael Port: “I don’t know.” I said, “Okay.” And that was the end of our… That’s the end of it.
0:55:31 Mike Michalowicz: That was it. I distinctly remember that, ’cause I remember hanging your phone call…
0:55:33 Michael Port: And then a week later you said, “Hey, I just got 20 for a gig.”
0:55:36 Mike Michalowicz: So, here’s what happened in my mind, I hand the phone going, “F-ing Port. F him. He gets 25, he’s waiving his big, whatever in my face.”
0:55:46 Mike Michalowicz: “Screw him.” And then I’m like, “Hold on, that was… That guy is a genius.” So I go through this… First like this resentment and anger, really at myself ’cause I wasn’t smart enough to even think about that, and then I was like, “Holy crap.” It’s true, that day I called my marketing person, the graphics person, Liz, and said, “Hey Liz, just change that number from 10 to 19.” And she did, and I would say within… I was almost… I’d say within three weeks, I had the first bid out, and got it with the next week, so within a month, I had a new rate, and I got the full fare too.
0:56:20 Michael Port: Yeah, you booked one, and there was the same amount of money earned, as you would if you had done two.
0:56:26 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah. I’m speaking at a college soon, this new year, $15,000. And it’s funny, I had in my mind, “Oh, the most you could get out of a college is $3,000, that’s the max.”
0:56:38 Michael Port: Right. See this is… You obviously… You understand the concept of anchoring, and it’s interesting because a lot… In sales, we often think about the anchor that the buyer has. So the buyer has an anchor and says, “Well, we’ve never paid more than 10.” And I’ve had that a lot from conferences. I said, “Well yeah, you’ve never hired a speaker that was worth 25 or 30.” Right? So they have… We’re worried about their anchor and their budget, but we often set anchors ourselves, so we set an anchor that says, “Well, a college never can pay more than three.”
0:57:11 Mike Michalowicz: Right. [chuckle]
0:57:12 Michael Port: Well, we set… Who set that anchor? We did, or somebody we talked to told us, “Oh, a college never pays more than three.” Well they never paid you more than three. So, all of a sudden you change that anchor yourself, you pull up the old one, you set the new one, and now you go in and go, “I want 15,” and now you get it from a college, you go, “Colleges pay 15.” So, it’s interesting, the pricing… And I’m not some kind of natural genius at this, I just forced myself over the years to recognize that, I don’t always need to lower the prices. I’m a terrible negotiator. I’m not the one that will just sit there and push for the biggest dollar. I just sold one of my other boats this weekend. You remember the fishing boat that I had?
0:57:54 Michael Port: Yeah.
0:57:54 Mike Michalowicz: I just sold that one, and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll take 600 more off.” I didn’t need to do that, and there was no reason, but I just, “Ah, take it.” So, I’m not good at this, but I do know that I don’t wanna be on the road all the time, so if I only wanna speak twice, wouldn’t I rather just get two at 30 grand, than more at a lower price? You see what I mean? So, even if more people say no, it doesn’t bother me because I’ll still end up with a number of gigs that I want, and at the fee that makes more sense.
0:58:27 Mike Michalowicz: I found…
0:58:28 Michael Port: Now one more thing, this is within reason, if I said, “Listen, I want a 150 grand,” they’d go, “Screw you, I’m gonna go get the President.” So, this is all of course, there are… There’s elasticity based on how well-known you are and how much effect you can have on that particular group, and then of course, what’s actually possible for them.
0:58:50 Mike Michalowicz: I would argue you’re probably a pretty good negotiator, because… I read an article about this, the key to successful negotiation isn’t how hard we are about it, it’s the first to set the anchor wins; for example, say you and I went to see the new Star Wars movie together, and “Oh my God, this movie sucks, I hate it,” and we walk out, but I don’t say anything to you, and you’re like, “That movie was good. Man, that was great acting.” Chances are my response to you won’t be like, “That sucked.” I’ll say, “Yeah… I guess it was pretty good.” I will move to what your comment is, as long as it’s within a range-of-reason.
0:59:24 Mike Michalowicz: If you would’ve said, “This is the best movie ever, This is life-changing. I think I’ll never be the same. I wanna be a Jedi Knight.” I’d be like, “Are you losing your mind?” And then I’ll go back to my original thought. But if you plant something first, I will adjust my beliefs to get closer to yours. Now conversely, if we walked out and I’m like, “That movie, man, that was a sloppy editing, there was lots of graphic errors and stuff, and it just didn’t flow right. The storyline didn’t connect. And the ending, jeez, the ending with Luke, hmm.” You would likely demote your feelings about the movie to get closer to mine. So, when it comes to speaking negotiation, get your price out there sooner. Don’t ask them what their budget is saying, “Here’s the honorarium I dictate,” and then watch their response.
1:00:07 Michael Port: Yeah, and of course you can always negotiate if there are other things that you think are valuable about that gig or that they’re willing to give you.
1:00:13 Mike Michalowicz: Yeah. And you’ll be surprised, I just returned from Mexico, I did a speaking down there, here’s what the package was: Speaking fee, plus two tickets, one for myself, one for my wife; plus hotel and lodging, not just for the speaking event, for four days; plus a tour of Chichen Itza and a city called Merida and other areas around there. Why? Because this event was in partly owned by a tour company.
1:00:41 Michael Port: Brilliant.
1:00:42 Mike Michalowicz: So they sweeten the deal because this is partly what they do and it wasn’t a big cost for them, but the benefits to myself and by wife, it became a vacation.
1:00:49 Michael Port: Yeah. That’s exactly what I did for a gig I had in Israel. I’d never been to Israel…
1:00:53 Mike Michalowicz: Oh, cool.
1:00:54 Michael Port: I took half the fee, and they sent me on a five-day tour with a few of the other speakers from the event and a private guide, all expenses paid; the hotels, the food, everything. And once they found out that I was Jewish, I’m not religious, but that I was Jewish, oh my God, then they went nuts. They were throwing everything… They wanted to take me everywhere. That’s part of their culture, they wanna show you what Israel is all about. So, absolutely, there are lots of things. Now, that’s different than if someone says, “Listen, come to my event and you’ll get exposure.”
1:01:29 Mike Michalowicz: Oh, I hate that.
1:01:30 Michael Port: Now, there might be some gigs that give you exposure. There are… Like I’m going to give a speech for Social Media: Marketing World, this year, which is Michael Stelzner’s event. There’s 3,000 people, a lot of our friends speak. They don’t pay, but I’m gonna go because Mike’s a friend, he’s done good for me. He’s done good for me in the past, now I wanna do good for him here, and I’ll see a lot of my friends and there’ll be about 3,000 people that may or may not know who I am, but it’s a worthwhile gig for me for a number of different reasons, a few of them I’ve just articulated. So we will do that from time to time, but more often than not people die from exposure.
1:02:19 Mike Michalowicz: Oh, that’s a good one. Do you mind if I borrow that? That’s…
1:02:22 Michael Port: You can steal it, absolutely.
1:02:23 Mike Michalowicz: That’s genius. Yeah, so I don’t ‘fall’ for that, and I’m not saying that they’re being manipulative, they authentically believe in the exposure. But think about your last year, and I’m talking to our listener now, the last year of watching events and all the things you’ve gone to, who were the speakers? Besides the obvious ones that you might know; you went specifically to Michael Port’s event to see Michael Port, but think about all their speakers. What were their names? What did you buy from them after you saw them speak, if they weren’t selling from the stage, which a person who has reverent probably won’t be necessarily doing that, so did you buy their books and so forth? I found, I can’t remember many speakers, particularly the ones who are seeking exposure, I don’t remember them. So, I don’t ‘fall’ for that, meaning I rarely, rarely accept a gig for just exposure. I’ll do it for a friend, for sure, but otherwise, if they don’t wanna pay, they’re also gonna attract speakers who don’t get paid.
1:03:25 Michael Port: I’ll tell you, there are a couple people in the podcasting world that do two-hour, two-and-a-half-hour podcasts, and I’ve always been like, “Who listens to a two-and-a-half-hour podcast?” Maybe there are people, I just… It just seems long. And now that we’re over an hour, I’m going, “I could do this with you for another hour or two.” This is great, I would absolutely keep going. But we have to wrap up, most specifically because you and I have a meeting and our probably staff is chomping at the bit going, “Those two… ”
1:03:57 Mike Michalowicz: “Those (beep).” Yeah. I gotta go to the rest room in the worst way…
1:03:58 Michael Port: Those (beep), they were supposed to meet eight minutes ago, exactly. So, I wanna wrap up, but I wanna make sure that people know how to contact you, especially if you… Not especially if you, but if you are an entrepreneur, you’ve gotta go read Profit First, that’s a must. I love this book. I read it, I bought it myself. I didn’t ask Mike for a copy, because I started hearing more and more about it. People at my events were starting to talk about Profit First, and I’m like, “You mean Mike? Mike Michalowicz? What? Come on.” I’m just kidding, that’s not exactly what I said. No, I’m like, “Of course.” But they just, over and over and over, I started hearing about this book, so I read it myself, and I immediately changed the way that I was organizing my bookkeeping with my bookkeeper. My bookkeeper is now doing the Profit First work, and that’s really cool, so obviously I’m a big fan. And Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, really weird name, great book. So I want you to read those books. And also if you wanna look at a great website for a speaker, for an author, you gotta look at Mike’s website, and you gotta click on the little button that plays a recording of a voice-over guy telling you the different ways to pronounce Mike’s name.
1:05:03 Mike Michalowicz: My name, yeah. He’s [1:05:04] ____.
1:05:05 Michael Port: It will crack you up, laugh out loud. So, it’s MikeMichalowicz.com.
1:05:11 Mike Michalowicz: Right.
1:05:12 Michael Port: But of course Michalowicz is a ridiculously hard name to spell, which, interestingly enough, I can spell, and I can’t spell anything.
1:05:18 Michael Port: For some reason I’ve been able to memorize how to spell Michalowicz.
1:05:22 Mike Michalowicz: All right, I’ve jammed it down your throat enough. Well there is a shortcut, go to Google, and this kind of maybe points to the platform, just type in the word ‘Mike’, and then ‘Mic’, M-I-C, and when you type in ‘Mike Mic’ you’ll find me. I’ll come down the drop-down, you can pick Mike Michalowicz. I promise, if you visit my website, which is MikeMichalowicz.com, it is the most different website you’ll ever experience, and maybe there’s lessons to be learned there.
1:05:46 Michael Port: It is a very, very good website, and there are… And what’s so cool is that you’re constantly tweaking, each time I’m there I’m seeing something a little bit different, which is a testament to the way that you are constantly focused on continuous improvement. You’re almost at the Seth Godin stage, where you can just put Seth in Google, and Seth Godin comes out.
1:06:07 Mike Michalowicz: I know, I know. I would argue Mike’s a little bit tougher than the word Seth.
1:06:12 Michael Port: Seth was just on the podcast and I was arguing that point to him, I said, “Come on, Michael, there’s nothing you can do with that, come on. Seth… ”
1:06:22 Mike Michalowicz: That’s tough. How many Seths are out there? But Seth Rogan…
1:06:27 Michael Port: That’s true. Seth Rogan is huge, but Seth Godin is bigger. So, the point is, is that platform really does make a big, big difference, and it does take time, and there are very few overnight successes in this business. Tim Ferriss is not a good example, because he was an overnight success in this business. That will happen from time to time, in any business, but for the most part, the rest of us put one foot in front of the other and we build it over time. And there is always farther to go, more to learn, and we are not done.
1:06:58 Michael Port: So, Mike, I’ll see you shortly. Everybody listen, he’s coming to Heroic Public Speaking Live, you get to hang out with him there. If you’re a VIP at the event you get to have a dinner with him. He is just an extraordinary guy. So HeroicPublicSpeaking.com/live. There is not a lot of time before the event, so you wanna go there now to get your ticket, certainly before the prices go up to regular price. You do not wanna wait and pay more later when you can pay less now. I love you all very much. Keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world, and thank you for listening. We’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.