“I think you can train anybody to technically do something. But what’s hard to do is arrange and create a strong culture of cooperation and camaraderie.”
Mitch Russo founded Timeslips Corp., which he sold for eight figures, and then became the CEO of Tony Robins and Chet Holmes’s Business Breakthroughs International. Now he helps businesses get to the next level and scale with his proven systems.
“Sometimes you just need to elevate others in order to connect with them.”
Listen to this episode to get a brief look at Mitch’s entrepreneurial journey and find out
– the business challenges he faced with Timeslips Corp.
– how he overcame his top mistakes in business, such as reluctance to delegate tasks
– his business motivations and more
Reach out to Mitch online:
Personal website: https://mitchrusso.com/
John Vuong: Thanks for listening to Local SEO today. Don’t forget to subscribe and share this episode. Joining me today is Mitch Russo. Mitch founded Timeslips Corp. which he sold for eight figures and then became the CEO of Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes’ Business Breakthroughs International. Now he helps businesses get to the next level and scale with his proven systems. Thanks for being on our show today, Mitch.
Mitch Russo: My pleasure John, great to be with you.
John: So I always start this off with just advising some of our listeners who don’t know you, a little bit about who you are, what you do today or what you’re known for and a little bit about your back story.
Mitch: Sure. So what most people know me for is my association with Tony Robbins which is not, I mean it’s wonderful that they do, but that’s not the most important thing. Tony is an incredible individual and we had a lot of fun for five years building the company, the three of us Chet Holmes, Tony, and I. That company went from about 3 million when I joined too but 30 million right before I left. And it was really an incredible experience about working with Tony and my friend, my deceased friend, Chet Holmes. So that’s where a lot of people know me for, but most of my, I would say my skills came from building my own company from zero to ten plus million in revenue. That’s where you know, when you all go to school if you will then the world of experience comes in and make sure that we know what we’re doing or else we get, we don’t get to succeed. And so I learned a lot in that journey and then from there, you know, I went on to invest in other companies and take what I knew about building companies and helping others do the same. I still to this day, help many many CEO’s scale their company in many unique and different ways.
John: That’s amazing. So how did you start this journey? So did you go to school for business like when you started this whole journey right at the beginning of finishing college or university? Can you go way back, if you don’t mind?
Mitch: Sure. All the way way back and telI you that I got my real first business education, working with my dad in his candy store business. So my dad was a serial entrepreneur, he would move from location to location all over New York City and open candy stores. And he was a brilliant marketing strategist in his day, he was unusual that he would build his stores backwards than most people would because he would put all of the roasting nut, roasting equipment in the front of the store and vented out the front window. And we would get in on a Saturday morning at 8am or 7:30 and start the roasters and 35-40 minutes later, there was a line of people outside the store at 8 o’clock in the morning wanting to buy a bag of roasted cashews. So my dad understood stuff like this, we would, on Easter Sunday we would fill the trunk with baskets that we built the day before and find a corner, pick up 2 pieces of wood as a sawhorse, you know like a tilted sawhorse and find an old door or something in the street and set up shop on the corner and we would sell out usually in 3 hours and this was my dad’s way of teaching me how to be an entrepreneur. So as I grow up I had a rock band in school. Now I started a rock band John, you may have heard the story, because I was really a very shy kid and I had no female friends and wanted some and so I figured a rock band would be a great way to meet girls. Well it was. And it turns out that I learned a ton about scaling, and promotion, and quality, and testimonials, and advertising, and we eventually in less than two years became the highest paid highschool rock band in our entire region. Now go back to 1968 and 69, we were billing 500 dollars a night for our little 4-piece band and we weren’t even old enough to drive so it was because we have paid a lot of attention using what you might call market research to what kids wanted to play and hear and do at parties. So we would learn a song and take us a month of practice to get a song to the point where we felt it was really professional and then from there, we would go out there and promote and we would, we ended up with gigs that we couldn’t believe we really landed. We ended up with the mayor of New York’s election party playing on a ship for their party which was incredible, you know and it was just a lot of fun and anyway, it was only later that I found that my path through university was fractured. I didn’t enjoy college. I found that there was some very interesting things about schools and I literally went from school to school and I’ll have you know John that I’ve dropped out of some of the finest universities in this country. And I learned a lot during that process too but, eventually, what it came down to is having two things— a good idea and passion. Now I didn’t say a great idea, did you notice that?
Mitch: The reason I didn’t say it was a great idea because I don’t think any single idea starts out great. If we go back to Federal Express, you know the federal express story about how Fred Smith took his plan that he had for Federal Express and turned it into his Thesis teacher. Thesis teacher gave him a C. And you know the story of what happened? He gets in front of the Thesis teacher. Thesis teacher, and he goes back as well “I thought this was a great idea, why did you gave me a C?”
And he goes, “Apparently you didn’t think this too very hard, did you?”
He goes, “What do you mean?”
He goes, “Well, your idea which is brilliant, which is to shorten the time it takes for banks to process checks from 7 days to 1 day, relies on loading all of these checks onto planes with all of these processing equipment on the plane itself and then delivering all the checks into a hub which then would separate them out and spread them out throughout the banks in the region. Brilliant! Except one small problem, Fred.”
He goes, “What’s that?”
He goes, “All that equipment and all that paper? Too heavy, won’t fly.”
So Fred had to go back to the drawing board and refine his idea. And that idea became, the genesis of the idea really became the hubs. And the only thing out of that idea that stuck was this ability to deliver, to pick up packages, deliver them to a hub, and then with that hub, go out and deliver them individually and then do that in one day. That became what we now today know as FedEx.
So in my own case, we started a software company around an idea that was basically mandated by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), and that idea was you had to keep contemporaneous records of your computer usage if you want to deduct your computer from your tax returns which I wanted to do. That’s how I got involved in this. I got a computer for 6,000 dollars and I couldn’t deduct it because it wasn’t a business tool unless I could prove it. So I looked around for software that help me do that, I coudn’t find any. So I decided to build it myself. And I got a partner and the two of us fleshed it out over six months until eventually we got it finished. And we quit our jobs. The following day, my accountant calls me up John, and he says, “Mitch I got some bad news for you, is it okay?”
He goes, “Well you know that great idea that you had and that software that you’re building?”
“Well, I’m sorry but it’s all obsolete”.
I said “What do you mean? ”
He goes, “IRS just completely removed and relaxed those rulings, no one needs your software anymore”.
Well, at this point I was heartbroken, I had no job, and I was desperate so my partner and I got together, and we brainstormed, brainstormed, brainstormed until we figured out that there were other people who needed this type of product. And we then made a list of everybody who needed this type of product, then most of those people were lawyers, lawyers and accountants. So after blowing our entire 6,000 dollar marketing budget on useless ads, we regrouped and focused on tiny vertical markets. And that’s how we scaled that company from zero to ten million without any investment capital at all.
John: That’s amazing. So how long did it take you to do that?
Mitch: Well, you know, people say that this is, you know, that I was very lucky and I have to admit I was very lucky. The situation for us was that we, I was in the Electronics industry and it took me 14 months before I earned my first commission check. And most people wouldn’t wait around 14 months to make a commission check but I was determined that I knew I could. So by the time this came around, this whole story behind that, by the time I ended up making that money, I had gone 14 months with virtually no remuneration at all. I had savings, I had built several real estate developments, and I had some savings, so I lived off my savings but I knew in my mind that I had a vision for what I could do with this job and I did it. Because my first big commission check from maybe fifteen hundred dollars previously was 34,000 dollars a month. So now I’m 24 years old generating 32 to 36,000 a month in commissions and I did it in a very unconventional way. And what I ended up doing is being an engineer because I had studied engineering in school. Instead of going to sell my products to the purchasing office where all the other salesman were collecting in the lobby, smoking cigarettes, and trying to get the purchasing agent out for a drink, I, instead focused on the engineers. I went back—coz I felt comfortable with my own kind, I went back to the engineers and I show them the magic that our products had and I got them to design those products into their circuits. Many of them were custom-engineered products. With that meant, is that there was no price negotiation. Why? Because I’d show up at purchasing and say, “Okay, I needed— I think you gonna have to place your order for— I have a million of these parts at 26 dollars apart”
And the guy would say “What do you mean? We want a better price”.
I said “Nope. Sorry.”
“Well we don’t work that way, we negotiate”.
I said “Well I understand but this is a customed part that we designed for your company”
and he said “How did you do that?”.
And the bottomline is that he had to place the order. So I started generating all this income and I was so unsophisticated financially that I would go from bank to bank, deposit my checks, until that each one had a hundred thousand dollars, and I take the passbook. Remember passbook savings accounts?
John: Yeah, yeah.
Mitch: I’d take the passbook and throw it in my sock drawer and I moved on to another bank. And until I had a basically a sock drawer filled with these passbooks, I was afraid I might lose one, I didn’t even know how many I had because the money just kept coming and coming and coming. And then at that point there was a huge downturn in the industry, and with that downturn, I started asking other people what’s going on and they said “Oh, you know, the electronics semiconductor industry is cyclical and we’re gonna go through a cycle right now. But don’t worry, 4 to 5 years from now we’ll come back strong”.
And I said to myself, “4 to 5, what?! Are you nuts? I’m out of here”.
And that’s when I used that capital to start Timeslips Corporation with my partner Neil Ayer. So Neil and I, Neil is a brilliant technologist who had built five programs before, and I was the business strategist so I said I was, I’d never done it before but I, I knew I could. I had that confidence. And so we both put 5,000 dollars into a bank account. We spent, I would say a quarter of that money on working together a partnership agreement with a lawyer. Half of that money to buy Neil an IBM PC which we didn’t have and the rest of that money we had set aside for marketing. But both Neil and I were able to support ourselves through this journey. We figured it would be six months to a year before we made a salary. Well, we were wrong. It was two and a half years before we made a salary. But we had an incredible journey along the way. My first real act was because I didn’t have really any money to market other than wasting the money we started with. I figured the only thing I had was my enthusiasm, my passion, my energy, so I got busy. And I went from trade show to trade show. I walked the floors in Las Vegas, 2 million square feet. I covered most of that in almost two weeks, wore out shoes, and you know, exhausted to the nth degree but six months later, those review copies I had dropped off started to become little seeds turning into oak trees. One in particular grew through the chance meeting with one of the senior reviewers at a big magazine called InfoWorld.
Well InfoWorld published a review of the Timeslips software and rated it the highest rate ever rated at any other product. Now before that review came out, we were comfortably selling 6, 7, 8 copies of timeslips a week at 99 dollars copy and we were okay. Meaning we could flow to company on that little amount of money because we’re working from home, we both could support ourselves, our expenses were very low. And then when that review came out, all of the things that I had been working on like trying to get into major retails, trying to get into distribution. No one would talk to me. Everyone turned me down until that review came out. Because I had those connections all of a sudden, we went from selling 6 copies, 68 copies a week, to 600 copies a week, in one week. And it wasn’t because we were brilliant or smart, yes the software was fantastic, but it was because we worked really really really hard. We paid a lot of attention to what customers wanted, we did a lot of the legwork to get the PR in place, to make the connections, to build joint ventures. So the 3 key things that I did to start that company because I didn’t have a lot of money, was PR, and joint ventures, and then eventually that PR led to interviews, radio interviews in particular, some television interviews too. So using those 3 tools I was able to create enough growth to get to that company to the point where it hit seven figures and kept climbing and that’s when we’re able to finally afford to employ other tools. Now notice I didn’t say we would then able to afford to pay ourselves because we didn’t. We wanted to plow all the money back into marketing. We knew that we had a great product and we also knew that time was not on our side, competitors were fierce, the market is fickle, the software platforms change all the time, so we had a window of opportunity and we had to grab it. So that’s what we did.
John: That’s amazing. Now I love that, that you’re telling me like you’re a salesperson at heart, right? You were out there hustling, and that’s, that resonates with me because that’s how I started my whole career, right? I was traditional advertising sales, and I worked at Yellow Pages, and I was more about the grind, the telephones, the outbound solicitation, getting to understand and meet people, and that’s what hardwork is all about before you even start anything. And you going out there and really bringing value, listening, understanding where the gaps are, and then going back to your tack , you and your partner, in refining the product so that when it goes to market, people will actually give raving reviews. Actually have a really good experience and I love that. So how long afterwards, did you exit? Or do you currently still have it until you started working with, you know, Tony Robbins and Chet?
Mitch: Well, the company had grown to the point where we were, you know, we started out with the 5,000 dollar line of credit with the local Beverly National Bank and by the time we were in the almost 8 figures, high 7 figures, our credit line was close to 2 million dollars. So what would happen in the software industry is that we would grow the company, the company will continue to grow but so with the expenses so we would typically spend more throughout the year than on our average we would make until the upgrade cycle. So an upgrade is when we announce that the user base that we have a new version and they have to pay 69.95 to get the new version. Well, that would bring several million dollars overnight into the company within 30 days. So what we would do is we drawdown the line of credit so that we could build up to that upgrade cycle, and then boom, that upgrade cycle would generate so much cash, we pay back the line of credit back to zero which is what the bank likes, and then from there, once the line of credit was at zero, we’d start borrowing again until we hit upon something interesting. And I’ll tell you the story because I think stories that happens in our lives are elements of learning that could be shared. So I wanna share this with you and your listeners. We were very sensitive to the influencer community and one of the big influencers are Bar Associations throughout the country and every bar association had a legal technology chair. And so when we got a phone call from the legal check technology chair for Los Angeles Bar Association, and she said that, “Timeslips crashed my computer. You people are crooks. You’re stealing money from lawyers and we’re gonna come and get you. Unless you come out here and fix my computer right now”.
I had this moment in time where I said, well look, you know, she paid 99 dollars for the software, I’m about to spend 2 to 5,000 dollars to go fix her computer but it’s worth it, right? That makes sense. So I was about to do that but I couldn’t get out there in time. Back then, you know, to make an airline reservations in one day was very hard so I had this moment, an inspired moment and I thought, well you know, I was just in Los Angeles for a PC User group meeting, back then that was very popular, and a woman came up and introduce herself and told me how much she loves Timeslips and how she runs her very busy legal firm, all with Timeslips. And so her face shot into my mind then I figured , you know what, she may not remember me but I’m gonna give her a call and I did, and I said, “Hi Anne! You don’t know me, my name is Mitch Russo”.
And she goes, “Huh?! Mitch Russo? The president of Timeslips?”
I said, “Yes.
Then she goes, “Oh I’m so thrilled, I’m so honored to speak………..”
And I said, “Thank you very much Anne but I have a question for you. I’m wondering if I could get some of your help.”
And she goes, “What could I possibly do to help you?”
And I said, “I have a customer who’s not too far away from you and she’s having difficulty with her computer. And I would pay you to go over and help her if you wouldn’t mind”.
And she said, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s done. I’ll just, I’ll go over there. In fact, you know, I’m on my lunch break now, I’ll head over there right now”.
So I was thrilled, I called this other person, I said, “Don’t worry, I was sending someone over right now”.
And it was Los Angeles and I’m in Boston, there’s 3 hour time differences. So now it’s, you know now until the evening, and I haven’t heard back yet, I’m worried. Finding the phone rings must have been 9 o’clock at night my time, and it’s Anne. And she goes, “Oh, don’t worry Mitch, everything is solved. She loves Timeslips. I fixed her computer, was not even your software and now we set up her system and she goes doing all the billing, she loves it.
I said, “Anne, I’m so happy. Thank you so much for your help. How much do I owe you?”
She goes, “Mitch? Don’t worry about a thing and you’re not gonna believe what happened to me”.
I said, “What’s that?”
She goes, “She gave me a hundred dollar bill”.
I said, “Really? I’m so happy for you Anne, you deserved that”.
And then she said the words that changed the trajectory of my life. Simple sentence.
She said, “And Mitch? If you know anyone else who needs my help, let me know ‘coz I’m available.
So now I’m seeing stars in my mind as this brainstorm erupts and I said to myself, I said, “Thank you so much” and hung up but then I couldn’t sleep because all I could think about is “What would happened if I had two Annes in Los Angeles? No, ten Annes in Los Angeles. No, a hundred Annes all over the country, not a hundred, maybe 200, maybe 300 people trained to help my clients one on one with their software. What would that do for my company? And that’s when I invented Certification. So I created a program where we started out with a test, a simple test. We charged 500 dollars for the test, we figured five or six people would buy it. 200 people bought the test. So we created a very nice little revenue stream, six figure revenue stream just from selling tests. And those who passed, which were about 20% of the people who bought the tests, would become certified. So, you know, happy days are here again, we have a new revenue stream, we have the certified consultants, but then something goes wrong. What ends up happening now about 60 days into the program, we’re getting phone calls and tech support about the certified consultants. Some of them don’t know what they’re doing. Others are rude. Others, you know, show up looking like Elmer Fudd and don’t know how to dress and smell like, you know, three bottles of Scotch. And eventually we now get threats of lossage from the, because of these certified consultants. So what do I do? I’m convinced this is a great idea. So what I do is I shut down the program completely. I rescind everybody’s certification and tell them if they wanna stay, they have to requalify. Then I spend six months rebuilding the program based on 60 interviews I did with customers who had bad experiences with my certified consultants. And John, here’s what I learned. I learned that it’s not about the technical training. Yes that’s critical and that’s important. It’s more about the soft skills and it’s more about the culture then it is about the technical side. I think you could train anybody to technically do something but what’s hard to do is arrange and create a strong culture of cooperation and a culture of camaraderie among the group. And so what I then embarked on is learning how great culture is all created, because I hit upon that pretty early on in my research realizing that this was a group that didn’t support each other. This is a group that found, that they were thinking of each other as competitors. And that’s just wrong. That’s not what I wanted. That’s not, it does not adhere to my values or my vision. That’s why I shut the group down. And so when I reopened the group, we previous, before doing so, we built a culture in advance and make sure that people signed-off and understood what that culture was. And once I did that, not only did the complaints stopped, but the compliments started. The range of incredible experiences my customers were now having because of the work had just completed. And that team grew from what I shut down which was 60 and I fired them all, restarted from scratch, 18 months later, I had 350 certified consultants. But here’s the surprise in all these story I’m telling you. Of those 350 people, it turns out that those folks wanted desperately to sell our services and products to their customers. Well I had resisted doing that because I didn’t wanna cause channel conflict. Eventually, I said okay, and I engineered the way so that it wouldn’t cause channel conflict. And they became my 3rd largest selling platform. So I had my retail business, I had my direct sales, and now I had my certified consultants sourcing product directly into their clients. And they were also selling my support plans because they didn’t wanna be bothered with every little phone call. So now, that certification was dropping a million in cash in profits to my bottomline just from certification fees. Another million plus in sales, and yet still reduction in expenses because our tech support calls now had dropped 20%. So this was what I would call a brilliant mistake opportunity that I was able to capitalize. And to this day, after writing the book Power Tribes, I now build this types of conscious certification tribes for my clients.
John: That’s amazing. I love that. So in terms of like, obviously you’ve learned a lot of the last couple of years building this company. Were there, like challenges that you can really think of because it seems like you’ve pivoted. Eventhough there was a big mistake or something that really impacted your bottomline, and then you pivoted, you found value and opportunity to really enhance your product and enhance the moral and you know, the core values of your whole company, right? Bringing everyone together. What was the biggest, I guess, mistake along the way that you can think of?
Mitch: Two mistakes that come to mind. Number one was I, my nature was stopping me from expanding my growth. I was, I was too insecure to delegate. And so I had to learn from others how to build a team and delegate. Because my belief and this may sound like ego but it’s the opposite, my belief is I’m the best at everything that I needed to get done in the company and nobody could do it as good as me. That’s really not bragging at all, that’s fear saying no one else can get what you do, or do what you do so therefore you have to do it yourself. Well that is a death sentence both for the person and the company. So instead what I had to do is I had to learn how to train people. And I had to learn how to delegate. And that’s where I got deepen to understanding how people learn. I was lucky enough to, while working with Tony Robbins, I got to build a training system with Tony, and Tony taught me so much. Tony is the master at how the mind works and using the experience that we had together, I have today taken that and I work with my clients to help them build conscious learning systems that generate a hundred percent comprehension. So these are all the things that people need to look out for, delegate quickly, and do it with the proper amount of training. The second thing that I had difficulty with was once I hired somebody. I had a hard time letting them go. And so one of my biggest takeaways was hire slowly, fire fast.
John: Fire fast. Yeah I always like that.
Mitch: And what I found is when I started doing that, we we’re able to unblock the growth in the company. We were, at one point we had plateaued about 3 million a year and I, I was trying desperately to figure out how to solve this problem, there was no such thing really as business coaches back then, but I had a great attorney and he was a, he became a very close friend until he passed away. But he was really my confidant and I asked him what he thought, he shared with me this idea. He said, “Well, look. You know, Mitch, you’ve done an amazing job, you really had no experience, you don’t even have a college degree. Look what you’ve created. You’ve created a world class brand that is the number one product in the field, but you’re stymieing your own growth because you don’t have the right people”. And he said, “Further, not only don’t you have the right people, you actually have the wrong people”.
So I took what he said to heart, and I fired my entire management team. Everybody. And I started rehiring everybody. But now I’m hiring people with experience. And usually I hired people who would cheap ‘coz we couldn’t afford to pay them very well, so we hired low-paid folks and taught them. And they were nice people and I love them desperately, but unfortunately they did not have the skill to take us to the next level. When I broaden the skill, that’s when we busted through the plateau we were on and finally reached next 5 million and then above. And that’s how we, that’s, those were the probably the two core lessons that I learned and the mistakes that I made. Maybe could have gone a lot faster. There’s one other thing I’ll mention. I told you earlier that I was financially unsophisticated. That led me to never raising money for the company. I never did. I think in retrospect that was a mistake. I think if I would’ve understood venture capital and would’ve had the right investor team to come in with me, we could’ve grown that company not to 10 million or 20 million but to 50 or a hundred million. I don’t regret that because the outcome for me was incredible. You know I became financially free at the age of 40 and it have been ever since. But more importantly, the experience, lessons that I’ve learned I’ve been able to share with many many many other entrepreneurs to have helped them become the success that they were meant to be as well.
John: That’s, that’s amazing. So along the way throughout your journey of starting your own business and working with Tony, were there like people that really helped you, guide you, mentor you because I know you mentioned you didn’t have them paid like mentors and coaches and go through VC or angel investing, but were there people that were inspirational to your kind of success to where you are today?
Mitch: Yes. You know there were books and then those books, the people who wrote those books would go out on the speaking circuit and there was one man in particular. His name is Tom Peters. Tom Peters, probably in his late 70s, early 80s by now, but Tom was a passionate speaker and you know, Tom wrote the famous book In Search of Excellence, lessons from America’s best run companies. And you know, I was so moved by that book, I then went to see him speak. I flew to New York City to see him speak. And that was so impactful that I came home and booked all of his other locations and flew out to every one of them to meet/see him speak over and over again. And so Tom was, not realizing, not realizing he was my mentor, Tom was teaching me so much from stage and from his books until full circle, just a few months ago, I got to interview Tom Peters on my show, Your First Thousand Clients. And it was very fulfilling.
John: Well, and that’s what it all transpires, right? There’s people that you look up to and there’s things that you’re gonna do to really wanna be a part of, you know, because you admired them but they have no clue who you are, right? And there’s a lot of fans out there, of yourself, and of Tony, and of Tom Peters, and everyone else. But how do you impact them in a way where they feel comfortable to want to share that insight, right? Like reach out, the challenges, there’s so many people that are maybe struggling or they have this dream of being like them but they’re afraid. They’re afraid to take action or do something about it. At least you went out there, pursued, you know, went to his training, read his books, and then now at a stage where you have your own show, you’re able to have them as your guest and it was amazing. So very similar like I love how this podcaster have your own business or a website or youtube videos. It allows you to connect with people that you’ve always looked up to.
Mitch: That’s right. You know it’s funny because I’ve interviewed a young man. His name is Zachary Babcock. You might know him, he’s a podcaster. And he, he had an interesting life, he apparently was, you know, basically in a gang, got arrested, went to prison, came out of prison, tried to get a job, no one would give him a job, and somehow he ended up figuring out he might want to start a podcast which he did. And then it’s interesting because people who would never give him the time of day, all of a sudden were showing up to be on his show. So he had this realization that, you know, sometimes you just need to be able to elevate others in order to connect with them and that’s what podcasting is all about John, that’s why you do it by interviewing me, you’re showcasing my story which I appreciate but you and I would probably never have come into contact if it wasn’t for your show. And I feel the same way about the 250 guests that have appeared on Your First Thousand Clients as well.
John: Yeah, it’s, it’s all about giving, right? And this is what people have to understand. It’s not about you, it’s about them and the more you understand the world of how everything is revolved around in sales and also in life, right? In general, people love talking about themselves, they love wanting to know what is in it for them. So if you, if you understand the whole concept of buyer behavior, the intention, and really the mindset of what’s going on, people have restricted time allocation, and if you can value it so that you’re giving all the focus on them so they can amplify the message. It gives you an opportunity to, you know, interview some great people, get to know some great people on a more personal level, and it allows you to build a real relationship, right? And this is just the beginning of our relationship Mitch but I love that because it’s true, it’s the honesty of what life is all about, right? In terms of, I just have a couple other questions.
Mitch: Go ahead.
John: How has it been working or how was it working with Tony?
Mitch: You know, people ask me that and they expect some, I guess some kind of a, you know, like a behind the scenes answer like, Oh well Tony is this or that. Tony is exactly how he appears. Tony is one of the most genuine individuals I’ve ever known. You know I considered Tony a friend. I don’t hang out with him, but Tony has called me and I’ve called Tony after our time together at Business Breakthroughs and I’ve done work for him, he asked me one of my superpowers is scaling radio programs so I, when I was building Business Breakthroughs, we went from spending 2,000 dollars a month to 125,000 dollars a month on the radio and we did that at a profit. Very few people know how to build radio campaigns profitably and scale not just the front end but the back end too, that includes all the tracking of all of the elements of a radio campaign, knowing which spots are working, knowing what day parts are working, knowing which stations and audiences are working and knowing how to engineer that mix so that is profitable. Plus build all of the recurring revenue streams behind all of that, well that’s something I did naturally as part of my job at business breakthroughs as President and CEO. Well Tony and I work together on that again and I still to this day help people as well do the same thing. So you know, Tony has taught me so much, I am a student of Tony Robbins and to this day I was the luckiest guy in the world to be able to have my mentors be it Chet and Tony, for five solid years where both of them where you know, a text or a phone call away anytime I needed them. And it, and it benefited them greatly and I didn’t take it for granted and I didn’t abused it but I learned a lot.
John: And I, I think that’s the most invaluable thing, right? There’s people that surround you, your business and even maybe it’s family or friends, right? And you don’t know what they’re bringing to the table and until they’re ultra successful or whoever their influence or brand name, they could be just your neighbors, right? But they made such a big impact in your life, right? And those are the people that you wanna surround more time with and focus helping and, you know, building, and connecting, and being curious, and asking questions because I’m ultra curious all the time, right? So I’m always like, you know my, my story is a little bit different as well as everyone else’s but everyone wants to learn a little bit more about other people and if you ask the right question, people are willing to open up, they want to embrace you, and share, and this is storytelling, right? 101, but it’s all about like helping others amplify their message and understanding, you know, sales, you’ve been doing sales all your life and it’s all about like understanding the gaps and relationships of it all, right? So I love the fact that, you know, you’re able to connect with them for five years, but there’s other people that also made a big impact , right? And walking the floors of Las Vegas doing those, you know, trade shows. I mean, I’m sure that was tough but you learned so much doing it, right?
Mitch: Oh, yes.
John: And those are the times that people don’t talk about. They want to talk about when you’re with someone but it’s those other 10, 15 years of hard work, grinding it, the grit, determination, that no one wants to talk about.
Mitch: Well, you know, again I , I mentor many people and I coach a lot of business owners, and what most people are not willing to do , they’re the select few that are, most people are not willing to do the work. They think that the internet takes the work away or they think that, you know, other people, “Look that guy two years ago had nothing, now he’s a millionaire or something”. But on the other hand, if you’re willing to do the work, and if you’re willing to take some guidance, you can go really really far in life and my recommendation is always the same. You know, be willing to do the work, be willing to engage a mentor, and try and figure out how they and their experience can save you time. So realistically, without mentorship, without coaching, you’re setting yourself up for a much longer journey, and you’re risking your success because with, I, I’ve had clients and it’s on my website, if you go to mitchrusso.com you’ll see dozens of coaching testimonials from my clients and usually they say that one or two sentences in a, in, you know, casually offered during a coaching session, changed the course of their business, why? , because those were years of experience condensed down into an idea. And that’s kind of what, you know, the whole idea of working with the right coach is all about.
John: I totally agree. Shrink time allows you to really take advantage of the market, right? Because time is scarce. If you’re running a business, there’s always competitors, there’s always things especially in technology, there’s always things that’s going to overtake you faster, quicker, cheaper, everything else, right? Service. So you need to be nimble and fast, right? So I love the fact that you’re talking about mentoring, coaching, and taking advantage of it as an entrepreneur. There’s so much to learn. If you can gain insight from someone with 20, 30 years of experience, that saves you sheds one or two years out of that learning curve, or even five years of that learning curve, it’s gonna exponentially increase the revenue and sales and profitability in your business, right?
Mitch: That’s, that’s why I use that phrase, I say basically working with me will compress a year of time into about six to eight weeks.
John: There you go. That’s from Mitch himself. So that, I love that. So right now, it seems like you enjoy this coaching and mentoring aspect of your business. I know you’re an author as well. What motivates you, what drives you today?
Mitch: Well, you know, there’s a point in one’s life where you have to consider the life of a person, not just the money in the business. One of the things that I, that I value is having learned to be able to appreciate what I have. Being able to appreciate what I have has allowed me to have more. Being nervous about the future and scared and insecure has in the past stopped me from having what I want. So what I do today is I try to basically spend as much time as I can on the things that make me happy and that’s it. So if working with a client makes me happy, I work with that client. I recently fired a client because they didn’t make me happy and I was happy to refund their money because they weren’t, they weren’t doing the work and I don’t, that’s not fair. I can’t take somebody’s money if they’re not going to receive any value but at the same time, they can’t get value unless they follow the lead and do the work. So from my perspective, I just want to work only with people I like working with, I don’t want to work too much. Usually three days a week, I work three days a week, five to six hours a day on those three days. The rest of the day I, the rest of my time (excuse me) is spent on me doing my podcast, enjoying playing the guitar, living by the ocean. I’m a passionate photographer. I travel the world. When I photograph. All these things are super important to me.
John: That’s amazing. I love choice, right? When you get to a point where you’re ultra grateful on what you have, living presently, having the abundance, and having choice. That’s the ultimate. Because you’re able to pick and choose how you want to run your life, who you want to spend it with, what you want to do. And if you’re in business, who you want to work with, right?
Mitch: Yeah, that’s right.
John: So I love that because you know, that’s what entrepreneurs all dream about, right? But they don’t understand what it takes to get to that level and there’s a lot of time that you’re gonna struggle, right? There’s gonna be a lot of peaks and valleys for sure, but if you can fast track it with a mentor or a coach like Mitch, he’ll save you time. So I love that. Some of the pillars that sounds like you’re traveling, you’re loving the photography, and you’re loving the podcasting, right? So how has that been because for me, I’m a podcaster as you know and I’m enjoying just conversations with great people that I fully respect and that’s what I get out of podcasting because I’m actually having fun.
Mitch: Yup. Yup. Exactly. Well, you know, I think I mentioned to you right before we started that my podcast is one of the primary sources of my business consulting particularly with certification. So you know, what I did is I carefully designed my show to attract my ideal client as my guests and when I interview somebody for an hour we build a relationship. I mention briefly that , “Hey, you know, if you wanna work with me there’s, here’s some of the things that we might, might be able to do together”, that kind of thing. And in many cases, they say, “Yes Mitch, thanks so much for offering, I’d love to work with you”. And in some cases it doesn’t work out and it shouldn’t because it’s not a fit. So I use the podcast as a vehicle to connect with people on a much deeper level and I think everybody can do that either as a guest through guest hosting or as a show host yourself.
John: That’s awesome. I love the fact that at least you’re being transparent and honest about like the purpose and people do podcasting for multiple purposes, right? They obviously want to grow it to monetize, most of the time as a business vehicle. I do it for fun. But it’s because I already have my company, I enjoy the process and I, I’m already very grateful to be living in a Western country and society where my parents from Vietnam left the Vietnam war and I didn’t have anything growing up so being at that stage and understanding how the bottom is to where I am, I’m ultra grateful for everything that I have. So I love this, Mitch, how can some of the audience members get a hold of you, reach out to you, check your website, or follow you on social?
Mitch: Well, I actually have a free gift to your listeners, if you’d like I could share that.
John: Yeah, definitely.
Mitch: So I, I put together a guide that shares the three key strategies that I use and I have used in my 40-year career to build my businesses and most of them are free. That free guide is called profitstackingsecrets.com and if you go there you could basically enter your email address and you’ll get there, it’s the whole guide which is a paid guide is 28 strategies including 30 additional lessons that come with the guide itself. But you get the first three for free just by going to profitstackingsecrets.com and my website for my personal coaching is mitchrusso.com so and if you want to communicate with me, just go to mitchrusso.com and there’s a form you could fill out to drop me a note. Go to profitstackingsecrets.com and get your free report. I suggest that you grab the paid version which is I believe on sale right now for 27 dollars. The companion spreadsheet system is on sale normally a hundred for 19 dollars. So my thought is if it’s something, if you’re serious about marketing, and you wanna shortcut the process and you wanna grab 40 years of wisdom in a relatively, for a relatively small amount of money, go get that.
John: Awesome. I really appreciate that Mitch. I’ll probably do that because for me, marketing is my life, I enjoy it. But I really want to thank you for all the time and wisdom and value that you brought to the show, and we’ll stay in touch for sure if you’re ever in Toronto, Canada, let me know, we’ll hang out. And if I’m down in Florida, I’ll definitely ring you up. Thanks a lot Mitch.
Mitch: Absolutely. Please do so John. Thank you.
John: Thank you.