Everyone’s Story Has A Beginning…
I’m often asked how I got my start as an entrepreneur, and how managed to quit my job and go full time…
Well here’s my story, timeline, and some valuable lessons that I’ve learned along the way that should save you from making the same mistakes I did…
If you’re just starting out, here’s what’s important to remember…
Everyone’s story has a beginning, and everyone’s journey is filled with challenges that must be overcome.
Who you are today has nothing to do with who you can decide to become tomorrow…
Jennifer Aniston was both a telemarketer and waitress before hitting it big.
Brad Pitt delivered refrigerators, drove exotic dancers around in a limousine and wore a chicken suit and danced around for el Pollo Loco.
Kanye West folded clothes at the GAP.
Halle Berry worked at Higbee’s Department store in the children’s department.
Johnny Depp was a telemarketer. He sold pens.
Before his big break, country singer Kenny Chesney worked as a valet attendant, telemarketer, and mail sorter.
Before Nirvana, the late Kurt Cobain worked as a janitor for Lemons Janitorial Service.
Diddy was an intern at Uptown Records where he did grunt work like washing cars & fetching coffee.
Simon Cowell started out as a mail room clerk for EMI Music Publishing where his father worked.
Michael Dell washed dishes at a Chinese restaurant for $2.30 per hour.
Tom Hanks once worked as a hotel bellman and carried bags for a number of celebs.
Ashton Kutcher swept cereal dust at a General Mills factory to help with his living expenses and sold his blood for extra cash.
Well, that brings us to Chapter 1 in my career… Which is basically five years of failure, after failure…
I got my start as an entrepreneur back in college when I found the networking/direct sales industry.
The first five years were a miserable failure. I’d go to hotel meetings, post fliers on phone polls, cold call lead lists, and drop “sizzle cards” in mall parking lots. Anything and everything that might work…
After years of chasing the dream, I had an epiphany… I realized that I was always looking for success to come from something outside myself.
I thought success would be the result of finding the right opportunity, or the right product, or the right mentor, or the latest marketing system gimmick…
And as a result, I failed over and over again…
Finally… Five years in, a mentor told me what I really needed to hear…
He said, “Mike, if you want to make $50,000/Mo as an entrepreneur, you have to become someone who is capable of that result. Simply put, if you want your results to change, you need to change.”
And he was right.
All of these years, I had been looking for things that would allow me to avoid facing my fears, and there was always an endless supply of marketers who would happily sell me a magic bullet that would cater to my weakness.
So at this point, I’d had enough. I realized that I needed to do something different, so I took his words to heart and decided that I needed to transform myself into a real business owner and learn the skills of the trade.
Fortunately around that same time I had discovered direct response marketing, which is basically the ability to market and sell products directly through advertising.
I spent the next year teaching myself how to write sales copy and use Google Adwords.
The goal was to learn how to create automated marketing campaigns that would generate leads, and sell our products without the need to talk to anyone in person. (I’m an introvert).
And it worked.
Within 18 months I had mastered the skill of copywriting, taught myself how to design a basic web page, and learned how to use Google Adwords.
As a result, I went from dead broke and waiting tables at PF Chang’s, to my first 7-figures and a brand new Aston Martin.
In 2005, I documented my methodology in my very first book called, Magnetic Sponsoring.
It was a 55 page Word document that I had spiral bound at Kinkos. I designed the horrific cover art myself and never had it spell-checked. I sold it directly to consumers via Google Adwords for $39 a copy.
Within a few months, I was selling 40-50 copies per day… Which was around $60,000/Mo in sales.
The strategies in that book would end up revolutionizing the industry.
It sold well over 100,000 copies without ever seeing the light of day in a bookstore, and put my name on the map.
I would go on to write and produce several additional courses on marketing for people in the networking industry over the following years.
In 2009, customers were purchasing over $500,000/Mo worth of my training materials through word-of-mouth and referrals, which was a nice indicator of the amount of value I was delivering.
Five years after publishing Magnetic Sponsoring, I was getting bored and no longer inspired.
I’d become the #1 distributor in a networking company, I’d offered all the value I had to offer in the courses I’d written, and accomplished every dream I’d ever had in the networking industry. There was nothing left in that world for me to do.
Chapter 2: The Rocket Ship
My lack of interest in networking industry had shifted to something else… The economy and investing.
The world was still recovering from the crash of 2008, which had made one thing glaringly clear to me… I’d spent the last few years learning how to successfully make money, but I had no idea what to do with it.
As a result, I did what most single guys who are making millions in their 20’s would do… I spent it… On fast cars, big houses, boats, and trips all over the world.
And yet here I was… 30 years old, and I didn’t have a dime saved up to show for it… No insurance, stocks, or even an investment plan.
It was time to grow up, but there was one little problem…
No one had any idea how to invest in a post-2008 world. Every book I found at the store was written for a paradigm that no longer existed.
And yet a few savvy investors like Kyle Bass had made a fortune during the crash. I realized that if I wanted to build real wealth, I needed to invest like the wealthy.
I needed a blueprint, and in a post-2008 economy, the world needed a better alternative than the retail financial services industry which was designed to slowly drain their clients through fees.
So just as I had done with Magnetic, I decided to create the solution that would solve my own problem… I was going to travel around the world and interview investors and entrepreneurs who had successfully turned the active income from their business, into real wealth.
And on top of that, I’d document what I was doing with my own money, for better or worse, as I started to invest with the people I met, and the strategies I learned.
It was essentially a private online diary with a new video interview/lesson each month. I decided to charge $97 per month or $597 per year for access.
I launched the company with a very transparent pitch that basically went like this…
“I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to investing, but I need to figure it out. My plan is to learn how the rich invest, and to follow in their footsteps. If you want to follow along with me on the adventure, here’s how you can join…”
The timing was perfect, and my audience from the Magnetic Sponsoring days were eager to participate in my next venture, so I launched the business in December 2010 with my fingers crossed.
Over 8,600 people joined in the first 7 days, producing over $3.2 million in revenue in the first week.
I had clearly tapped into a sentiment that was shared by a lot of people around the world.
Overnight, my intention of creating a little lifestyle business had sprouted into an opportunity to create something far more meaningful.
I started building a team, and we purchased a beautiful office in Austin.
The business was growing like crazy. Within our first year, we’d hit $10 Million in revenue, making us one of the fastest growing companies in the world.
We started to make our first large charitable contributions as a company and were named the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Company of The Year for Texas in 2012.
Chapter 3: The Rocket Explodes…
After producing 17 amazing lessons and interviews in our first year and a half, we decided to fly down to interview a gentleman in Australia to discuss the Forex market. It’s a subject that I didn’t really know anything about, but the numbers his trading firm was producing were impressive…
Our community loved the interview, so a few months later he came to our office in the US to talk about his trading company.
I invested some money, as did many others. Six months later, we all woke up to a 64% loss in our accounts.
When I inquired as to what happened, he said it was a human error, and that if we just invested more money, they’d make it back even faster.
The next call I made was to my SEC attorney, and the next call he made was to the SEC, and CFTC, and FBI.
We had been conned.
Everything they had shown us was forged or fake.
The rocket had exploded.
The Feds immediately went after the bad guys and filed fraud charges against them.
Thankfully it was clear to them that we were not involved in their scheme, but they included our names in the lawsuit because we hadn’t registered as an introducing broker. (I didn’t even know what that was at the time, let alone that I had to fill out a piece of paper to become one).
None-the-less, the trolls smelled blood and came out from under their bridges to drag the one thing I value more than anything else… my reputation, through the mud.
We had just scaled up the company, built a new office, and now sales and revenue dropped 80% overnight, while our legal bills rocketed up to $60,000+ per month.
My business partner Robert and I gave up our salaries in order to keep the team on board and weather the storm.
My marriage was already on shaky ground, and the implosion of the business was just too much for it to bear and we separated. More lawyers. Yay.
The stress continued to take its toll…
Within a few months, Robert’s health started failing. He received a phone call from his doctor with some test results a few minutes after we took this picture on the day of his wedding. He had Leukemia.
I had fallen into a depression trying to deal with the fact that some asshole on the other side of the planet had used me and my name to harm my customers.
I asked a mentor for some advice, and what he told me was one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned…
He said, “Mike, sometimes bad things happen to good people. All you can do is decide how you’re going to react when it does. Right now, the only thing you can do in a situation like this is to be completely honest, fully transparent, and apologize.”
So I spent the new few weeks writing a 30-page blog post that outlined the entire series of events, and that included posts of all of my sworn affidavits in order to provide complete transparency.
I didn’t send that post just to those who were affected by the con men… I sent it out to our entire email list of around 500,000 people.
It was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. Instead of letting the trolls make up whatever nonsense they were spewing, it allowed me to tell the truth, and to do so with complete transparency.
By 2014, the company was alive, but still on life-support. I’d gone through so much emotional trauma that I needed to walk away.
I gave my half of the company to Robert (who had successfully recovered from his Leukemia) and made a clean break. It was time to start over.
In 2015, three years after the saga began, the legal proceedings finally came to an end. The bad guys were found guilty and either went to jail or received judgments against them for substantial financial damages. We had survived the ordeal, but it had nearly killed us in the process.
Between the divorce settlement and this mess, I’d had to sell my house, and liquidate all of my investments.
They say you’re not a real entrepreneur until you’ve made it, lost it all, and then made it all back again.
Well, now I could scratch off the first two… There was only one step left…
I was officially at the lowest point in my adult life. The only two things I had left were my knowledge, and the blank canvas of a future that was mine to paint.
But I needed help. As much personal development work as I’ve done over the years, the depressed state I’d been in for the past three years had become my new normal.
That help came in the form of a phone call from my friend Suzanne. She was heading to Tony Robbins Date with Destiny event in a few months and suggested that I go as well.
I did. Ironically, it was the very event they were filming to turn into the documentary released on Netflix.
That five-day event was my turn-around point.
It was an intense process… We went from 9:30 AM, until 2:00 AM every day for six days, without a formal break.
That insane schedule was intentional.
It was designed to break you down physically and emotionally, so you could get to the core thoughts, beliefs, values, experiences, and emotions that have made you who you are today, and then change them in order to create your new destiny.
Part of the process was determining what you want your mission in life to be.
I’ve always had an idea of what mine was, but I’d never taken the time to consciously articulate it.
Here’s what resulted once I did…
“The purpose of my life is to lead others into their greatness, and create works that change the world for the better”.
Short. Simple. Challenging. And a mission that will result in a life worth living.
So now what?
Well, I had nowhere else to go but up, so I decided to dream big.
There were two massive problems in the world that I wanted to solve…
The first was the lack of clean, pesticide-free food available to the everyday family.
Our farmland is filled with toxic pesticides and poisons. Our water reservoirs are running dry.
The average bunch of spinach you buy at your local grocery store has traces of more than 50 different chemicals and pesticides.
Organic is the only alternative, but the prices are too high for most.
The fact that most people can’t afford to buy food that isn’t covered in poison is completely unacceptable to me.
The second problem I saw was the massive degradation in values here in the US.
Over the past decade, I’ve watched this country’s values disappear with my very own eyes.
When I think of America today, and look at the leadership found in Washington, words like deception, corruption, greed, treason, and secrecy come to mind.
Today our leaders do not do the right things for the right reasons, they do what’s right for them, and when those are the types of values demonstrated by a society’s leaders, that society is doomed.
So what can you or I do about it?… How can you change the destiny of a society without using the barrel of a gun?
The answer: You must change the values held within the hearts of the men who inhabit it.
If a generation of children grow up without a family…
Without fathers who can provide discipline or successful role models who can provide inspiration…
Without knowing the difference between right or wrong, or hard work and a handout…
What kind of world will we have within one or two generations?
It’s not hard to imagine, as we’ve already begun to see the result.
On the other hand, if you change a man, you change a couple. If you change a couple, you transform a family. If you transform a family, you impact a community. If you impact a community, you uplift a nation. And if you uplift a nation, you can bring about change in the world.
So creating solutions to these two problems became my passion.
But an idea is just an idea. Bringing it to life is the only thing that matters, and I’ve always found that it’s best to start with the end result in mind, and then work backward to create your plan of action.
My primary mission was to build the hydroponic food company, and the goal was to create a beautiful appliance that would be used in your home.
It would grow enough organic food for at least two people each month, and be fully automated. Simply drop in the seed pods, and the system would do the rest thanks to sensors, nutrient dispensers, LEDS lights, wifi, and a smart app on your phone.
As a result, it would completely eliminate the entire supply chain from the farm to the transport trucks, to the retail store, which means it would eliminate all chemicals, pollution, and pesticides from the food, reduce water consumption by 95%, and the cost of your produce by 80-90%.
I started putting my first ideas onto paper in July of 2014.
With the idea in hand, the search began for the right industrial design firm to bring it to life.
I eventually signed on with Whipsaw in Silicon Valley, and the adventure officially began a year later in September of 2015…
But there was one big problem…
It was going to take at least two or three years to develop, cost at least $2,000,000 just to get it to the prototype stage, and I was still recovering from the EVG disaster.
I needed to build a second business that would provide the cash flow to pay the bills and develop the hydro system.
That presented the perfect opportunity to start SelfMadeMan.com which would allow me to pursue my second mission of impacting the values of young men around the world.
The business model would be pretty simple…
The centerpiece of the company would be the weekly Self Made Man Podcast.
The goal of the show is to provide a new generation of men around the world with access to mentors who can give them the knowledge, wisdom, and leadership they need in order to fulfill their highest potential in every area of life… From business to relationships, to health, to finance, and legacy.
I’d never run a podcast before, so I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I literally went to YouTube and started watching videos on what kind of microphone to buy, etc…
The feedback was fantastic, and the show rocketed to #1 on iTunes for it’s primary “self-help category” within 24 hours, and was featured on the iTunes homepage for “new and noteworthy”.
Since then, we’ve been joined by amazing guests like Daymond John and Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank, along with Mike Rowe, and Tony Robbins.
Within 16 months, the show hit the 1,000,000 download mark.
While podcasts are great for delivering value and attracting an audience, they’re not very profitable. I needed to develop a handful of products to offer my audience of entrepreneurs.
The first was List-Grow… An incredibly comprehensive, step-by-step course that teaches small business owners how to build large emails lists, and in turn their expertise or passion, into an information-based business like I had done for EVG.
By the time you’re done with the course, you have a complete, working business that can acquire customers, accept credit card payments and deposit money into your business checking account.
And in an effort to keep transparency at the heart of everything I do, I’m teaching the entire strategy for free on this training webinar. If you want help implementing it, you’re welcome to take the formal course, but it isn’t necessary.
In addition to List-Grow, which is a very detailed course on a very specific topic, I wanted to offer something that was more accessible for beginners, and more fun…
So In January of 2016, I launched the Self Made Man Society…
The goal was simple… I wanted to travel around the country for a year in order to produce 12 video lessons on 12 different topics that had been key to my success over the past ten years.
From starting your company and making money, to improving your health, to investing, and asset protection, or traffic generation… Students would join me on a virtual adventure around the US, as my videographer Jeff and I brought them a new lesson, on an extremely important new topic each month.
It’s been an incredible journey so far, and over 3,000 entrepreneurs from around the world have joined us…
- Students have learned how to write a book that can produce millions in revenue with 3-time NYT’s best-selling author, Tucker Max.
- How to invest in apartment complexes that produce passive income.
- How to lawsuit-proof their lives.
- How to make over $100,000 per month in revenue with Facebook Advertising.
- How to create a morning routine that will change your health and your life with Hal Elrod.
- And much more…
In fact, here’s a quick trailer for The Society that we’ve been advertising on FB…
If you haven’t managed to build a 7 figure business yet, I HIGHLY recommend joining The Society. You can learn more here.
And finally, in 2016, I launched “7-Figure Sales Presentations” which is a comprehensive course that will teach you how to create automated video sales letters and webinars that can sell your product or service for you.
It covers everything from writing your sales script, to recording your videos, to setting up your webinar.
Most people have great products or services, but they have no idea how to write a compelling sales presentation. This course solves that problem so you can successfully turn cold traffic, into paying customers.
You can sign up for the next training webinar here, which will walk you through my entire process for free.
Thankfully, all three courses have resonated with my audience, and have exceeded expectations based on the feedback I’ve received.
I think a big part of that was the launch of my “Completion Challenge” for both List-Grow, and 7FSP in 2016.
Simply put, I want my customers to use my products and succeed. If you do, then I know you’ll be a customer of mine for life.
So in 2016, I issued the “Completion Challenge” for both courses.
If you finish them and actually implement what you learn within 12 months, I’ll send you a check for 100% of your money back. As far as I know, I’m the only person in the online education space willing to make this kind of offer.
The feedback has been awesome, and it’s been amazing to get new success stories every single week from people who were motivated by the Challenge to change their lives.
In total, gross revenue from all three courses that have exceeded $2,972,982 in the past 14 months which has allowed me to fund the development of the hydroponics system, and to pay it forward…
In 2015, I had a chance to spend a week with Scott Harrison on Necker Island. Scott is the Founder of CharityWater.org.
The next month, I joined Tory Birch, Tony Hawk, Gary Vaynerchuck, Jeff Foxworthy, and Matt Mullenweg as a member of The Well for Charity: Water. Approximately 100 Well Members cover 100% of CharityWater’s operating costs.
And as for the hydroponics system, the first prototype was delivered to Austin on September 16th, 2016 which has allowed us to begin media production… Time lapse photography, stills, etc…
There’s still a long road ahead.
We need to settle on a manufacturer, go through tooling and testing, and develop the mobile app and e-commerce platform, but progress continues, and the world has been conspiring in subtle, but amazing ways to support us.
In summary, it’s been a hell of a few years which have included the highest-of-highs, to the lowest-of-lows.
And if you’ve managed to make it through my story here, I would just like to say THANK YOU.
Thank you for your attention, your leadership, and your support.