For many of us, this is a difficult thing to even think about. It’s often a human tendency to overcomplicate and overcompensate, but this can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity, especially in business. In this episode of CEO Sales Strategies, Doug C. Brown discusses keeping things simple with Michael Lovitch, the CEO and founder of Baby Bathwater Institute. They also discuss the importance of a support system, why entrepreneurs are prone to deeper feelings than many assume, and much more.
Michael Lovitch, MA started a publishing company in the psychology space that ended up being a 7-figure endeavor, then parlayed that into a physician-based nutritional supplement company (RealDose Nutrition) with annual revenues of over 8-figures before he sold out his stake. Now, he is the co-founder of the Baby Bathwater Institute, a community that helps bootstrapped entrepreneurs navigate the crazy world of business ownership while having good times and making lifelong friendships.
Visit his website: www.babybathwater.com
We’re going to be talking with Mr. Michael Lovitch. He owns a company called Baby Bathwater Institute. He is a company creator. He’s created many companies and we’re going to talk about how he’s done that. What I want you to particularly pay attention to is the fact of how simple he keeps things in building his businesses. He’s been bootstrapping businesses for years. In other words, he hasn’t been taking funding on these businesses, so he creates a business from ground level up as many people have done. Once they get it to a certain place, then it’s potentially funding or whatever might happen.
The reality is he’s a pretty good, pretty smart guy about doing this type of thing. I want you to keep in mind how simple he keeps everything in the process of when he’s building it because there are a couple of things he focuses on. One is the customer journey to a sale and doing it the right way but keeping it simple.
I find too many people complicating this sales process, if you will, and trying to get so fancy on it that they create a lot of challenges for themselves in the game. We’re going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about marketing. We’re also going to talk about how entrepreneurs feel, how entrepreneurs need a network of support, and different aspects of that as well. Without further ado, let’s go speak with Mr. Michael Lovitch.
Michael, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
I appreciate you being here. You’ve got a cool background for people. Would you mind sharing a little bit about what got you here?
Professional life. I was a special ed teacher for a while. I burned out real fast because it’s a lot different than I thought it’d be, so it’s time to move on around in grad school. This is the ‘90s. I enjoyed grad school. They paid me $1,300 a month to teach and I got to learn and liked it there. I could live off that. That was fun.
From there, I did need money. I had a lot of debt, so I learned how to sell. I figured out that was only what I was good at. While I was doing so much academic stuff, I started selling cell phones, and then all of a sudden, I ended up being a good sales dude for a while. Selling got to the point quickly. I run some complex database encryption and key management to banks and the government getting a nice check. I wasn’t passionate about it, but I could work little and make what I needed to make. I never cared about accumulating well. I just cared about having a good time with my friends. I made enough to do that.
I then got a girl I’m still married to, and then a kid was coming. I started taking things seriously I didn’t care about before. I was flying to DC all the time for work to sell things to the government. I always wanted to do my own thing. That’s when I took a risk when my wife was pregnant. She’s starting our first company, a real one. The grad school came into play because I had studied trances and unconscious psychology at the University of California, Davis, which helped people.
I saw online that everybody was selling hypnosis New Age stuff that didn’t work. I knew from the research what they were selling was bullshit. I knew that the people claiming their hypnotist weren’t real. There was Google back then, but you couldn’t buy traffic, which you could buy on Yahoo and Overture. I reversed engineer that. I’m like, “There’s $5,000 a day in this and they’re all selling crap. What if I were to take real people like doctorate-level psychologists who have been in practice for twenty years?”
There are academic trances. There are well-studied trances that get results that aren’t magic. I’m like, “Because I have been in dialogue with all these professors and people making this stuff, what if I could publish them and take a piece of that?” That’s what I did. I did it from my bedroom. My sister’s aware. I read a book on how to be a publisher from Dan Kennedy. My sister wrote me a contract and I called up all these people who were legit psychologists listed in my textbooks and stuff. “Can I license your trance? Would you go to a studio and record it and I’ll sell it online?”
I showed them all the bullshit those things sold and I’m like, “By the way, you’re helping to clean up this crazy, unethical world.” They said, “Yeah.” I started it. I didn’t know what I was doing, but we had a good product. I used my sales skills and back then, there were things called affiliates. I don’t know if you know what that is, but it’s people who have a following online. Back then, it was bloggers. There were no YouTubers. There’s no YouTube yet. There’s been no Facebook since 2004.
There were a lot of people who had a lot of newsletters, which was the main thing. They had big email lists and a lot of following. I would find people who had big followings. Just like us, good sales guy, I’ve had my goldmine thing, act your little software yourself. I contacted 50 a day and I’d read their blog and be like, “I saw you talking about self-esteem. I liked this thing. By the way, we have a program by Dr. Sheilla McNeal. It’s incredible. You might be interested in this. Do you mind if I send you one for review? Let me know if you’re open to that.” That’s it. I kept doing that.
The process was sales. Meaning, I didn’t try to sell them anything. I would read their stuff and do a background check. I wouldn’t just blanket email people. I would read and decide if they were a fit, compliment them, and read their stuff. I’d give them an opportunity to sample what we had and then put them on a follow-up sequence.
After that, it was 50 new a day, and then once it was a week, “Did you get it? Let me know what you think.” “Did you listen to it?” Finally, when they started listening to it, I was like, “What did you think?” I knew I had the best thing. I started off with 10 therapists and 10 programs. They are the best in the world, so I knew that they were the best. I had Jack Singer, who coached Olympians on sports performance hypnosis. I had Roberta Temes, who worked with Dr. Oz before he sold out in the hospitals.
Everybody was the best. Maggie Phillips was a top pain therapist in the world. I had her pain trances. They were badass. “What do you think?” “Amazing. That’s okay. Here’s the deal. Would you mind sharing that with your audience? If you do that and they buy, I’ll give you X percent of the sale.” I was like, “Easy. Sure.” I didn’t ask them, like most people who try to recruit people, “You can make all this money.” It’s the opposite of that.
It’s an integrity thing like, “Do you think this is great?” I get people all the time going to me, “Can you promote this?” I’m like, “I don’t even know you. Why would I promote you?” I used to sell to chief security officers back in the day when I was selling that. There’s no BS. You don’t call them up like, “I got the software for you.” “What’s going on?”
You don’t just sell things to people. You make a relationship first, find out their needs, and don’t waste their fucking time. That’s what I did every day, and then eventually, it’s $1 million a year and then $2 million, and then $3 million because the person had a great product. They worked. It’s using sales for a great product with a system of interest. Make sure they dug it, ask them to tell the truth, and pay them for it.
You built that business up to a significant level doing this. You’re applying B2B sales practices. What you’re doing is you’re accessing other people’s networks, and then from accessing the other networks, what you’re doing is you’re providing value to them and confirming that they find value. It’s a win-win sale at that point.
You never want somebody to do something against their own ethics just for the cash. I don’t want to be the temptress. I do believe in an honest world and I don’t want to be a part of the problem. I only want people to endorse something that I produce if they believe it, and then you get much better results anyway.
They’re sharing it out to their audiences, so now you’re tapping the power to their audiences and you’re doing a share with these people.
You have commission. What I had to learn was copywriting because of persuasion in print. My background was persuasion and also being a special ed teacher, so I’m good at dumbing things down. Most people do that all wrong. They try to write in this complex way. To somebody who’s special ed, I write so simply that you cannot miss the point. It’s not fancy. The special ed training helped a lot because I could make it simple like, “What is this? What isn’t it?” I learned some copy stuff.
The stuff that we had, when people would share it, it converted high and people made lots of money, and then I’d say, “Do you want to make more money? Let me help you with your recommendation.” “You could say this. You could say that.” “Do you want to interview my therapist?” After they got results, I helped them get better results. I coach them on how to be a better salesperson, at least learn persuasion well. Having a Master’s degree in the social sciences didn’t hurt. Hypnosis is unconscious processing persuasion, so understanding how humans think didn’t hurt at all when writing copy.
I love what you said here about keeping things simple. There are so many entrepreneurs out there and I know I’ve been guilty of this myself. It’s not complex. When you break it down, selling to somebody is not complex. Copy is messaging when it comes down to it. Whether it’s verbal or in print or whatever it’s messaging me. How imperative is it for people to keep it simple in copy?
Very. Unless you’re writing to a technical audience, but even then, you can overcomplicate it. Let’s say it’s B2B and you’re writing to practitioners. We have Chris Kresser in our group. Let’s say you’re writing to him and he’s writing to other functional medicine doctors about things they can apply in their practice, scientific stuff. You have to go a little higher because you don’t want to bore them. It depends on your audience, but you don’t need to make it that complicated when you’re going to a consumer. You can then answer all the stuff in the FAQ that’s complicated.
There are some people, the high type dominance, if you will, that are not interested in something complicated. “Give it to me in five points.”
My favorite quote is, “Sorry, I didn’t have the time to write you a short email.” When you don’t have time, you blab on. If you have time to think about it, it should be sure.
The reality is that there are certain people who want more information, but then you can cover it in the FAQ or the frequently asked questions.
You want them to ask questions. When I first started, it was funny because I didn’t know what copywriting was. I just knew I had the best product. I did the old school and you still see people doing it, like, “Here’s the product description.” That’s how I did it and I learned that’s not the way to do it. You do that direct copy.
When I first started, I was getting some traffic. Traffic means people were coming to look at it. Cumbersome wasn’t what I thought it would be, and then I was like, “I’m going to learn copywriting.” Meanwhile, I hired a consultant because I believe in that. I hired a guy who was crushing it online, an older dude, to review my stuff. He’s like, “You got to write a copy. This is amazing stuff. It’s a lot of work.” “How do I learn it?” “I’ll coach you.” “What do I do in the meantime?” He goes, “Do this.” He was above the fold and online. Above the fold means you can see it without scrolling.
On your computer screen.
He goes, “Have a headline, describe it, and then have a big box. Any question you have, big or small, please ask it here. Have a big question box, and then do all your bullshit as you’re practicing.” I was going through our question. Half the people went to the site and we asked a question there. I was getting leads. This is genius. I wish I had thought of it. I just thought of advice.
Half the people went to my website. The whole goal of the page was to get you to ask the question, not to buy the product. He changed my focus and I got an email, which is amazing, so I could follow up and put him in my newsletter. I would answer the questions. Those people commented like crazy. I got in the dialog, and then I took all my questions and made it into a database, which isn’t hard. You start seeing the same questions, and then I’d see what answers worked for closing the sale.
It’s just me, and then I hired a customer service person and I was able to give it to them. I made a knowledge base. When I started to learn copy, which took a couple of months to get going on, I took my answers to all the questions and that’s how I wrote the copy up. If you don’t have that skill yet, go for the question and practice.
That was a lucky stroke of somebody who gave me good advice. It was converting. It was all night answering questions, but then I was like, “They’ll feel better about themselves,” because then I started to know what people wanted to know about each product. I had good answers. The answers were real. If you don’t have a good product, none of this works, by the way. Don’t sell crap. I don’t believe in selling crap, but if you sell crap, none of this would work.
You’re not going to get repeat business for sure.
If it doesn’t work, it’s stupid.
What I love about that is it’s so simple. You’re just asking, “What’s the most pressing question that you have on X?”
Most people say, “Get this free report.” That’s great, but you’re not learning, then you give them some PDF. Instead of that, go for the question.
You take in the answers from the question. We used to do this type of thing in focus groups years ago. We would spend lots of money and go do focus groups. We would get the questions and we would look through the data at the end of the two weeks of the focus groups or whatever. We’d say, “What’s all the crossover stuff happening?” We would take that crossover stuff, which we would use in the marketing side of the business. It’s similar, but online, you could do this inexpensively. We were paying people $100 ahead to come into the focus group. We’re doing four of those a day for two weeks.
You see the strings. I’d answer a question then I’d have a follow-up. Later on, you can take that and copy and almost duplicate it. You start to see a pattern, and then when you write this conversational copy, you write it like, “You’re probably wondering if that,” and they’ll have an answer to that, “You might wonder this,” and then take it. They think you’re a genius. I know what’s going through their minds then and I take them through what’s already in their heads.
You’re answering their questions, so now it’s positioning you as an expert. People are going to want to talk with you anyways at that point or buy from you because they trust you.
You don’t need to have that because your copy is so good. I can’t move in the box lower and lower.
You would write the copy and the box would go down.
Simple stuff like, “I bet you’re wondering.” You can write that. It’s pacing and leading, and then you’re right. You know what they’re wondering because I’ve answered that a million times. I know they want to know that. You run them through and they’re like, “You know me.”
You’re a company creator. We haven’t even gotten into all the companies. What I love about what you’re saying is you take things and you break them down into these simplistic forms. I know this in real practicality because you and I were talking about a company one time. You start and you keep things simple. As you’re keeping things simple, you’re doing the same thing in the copy. The whole theme of this thing, how you build up your businesses, is simplicity. I appreciate that because that’s a great message for people to understand that people complicate stuff.
You train salespeople in the Sandler sales summary. SPIN is great, by the way. That is such a simple, great method. I love that. People can make that complicated.
Not to beat up on Sandler because I went to Sandler training myself.
It’s great. It can just get super confusing.
It’s a methodology, but we’re not looking at the overall customer journey sales system.
I like Sandler as well, but I could remember doing all my sales training when I was learning. I was like, “I got to boil it down.” They’re all valuable. We’ll make them complicated. They’re all simple. It’s the way they’re taught and the way people try to do them that overcomplicate things. They’re all good systems.
You have a company that I’m near and dear to because of the vibe and the people. It’s called Baby Bathwater. I’m a member of Baby Bathwater. The people involved are great because I’ve had opportunities to interact with some of them now. How did you come up with that idea? I’m curious.
That was after the joke on good, but it was simple. This was never supposed to be something. This is my second company. My friend, Hollis, who’s my partner in this, exited his company years ago. We were bored. We were starting a company bootstrapping and you don’t have business experience. I didn’t go get an MBA. I didn’t have that Rolodex. I never rented a corporation. I know how that shit worked.
These groups are great. Some people call it masterminds, business shows, or whatever. I joined a lot of them to get help, “How do I do this? How do I do that?” There’s value there and that’s where I met Hollis. We decided that if he was going to go to one, I’d go to one. That’s why it’s Baby Bathwater. The baby was, you learned a lot of shit. The bathwater was, I didn’t like most of the people in them. I stopped sharing because I was like, “Can we get a bigger mastermind or whatever?”
I found myself not sharing the stuff I thought could help people with people I didn’t like, especially if they were unethical. I’m like, “I’m not going to help you sell your shit. You’re doing crappy lead gen. Why would I help you do that?” Fast forward, Hollis and I always said that we were going to do a company together when we both sold ours because we had different business partners, which is great. We said, “We should partner up someday because we’ve got the same vibe. We can have a lot of fun,” and we both did. I had a lot of employees in my second company. It was crazy. I didn’t want to work hard. My daughter was seven. As with my wife, I wanted some family time and Hollis wanted to go see the world, so we had to do something.
All our friends said, “You always make fun of all those groups. Why don’t you do something?” We’re like, “We’d do that.” We decided to throw a party with maybe the people we met over the last couple of years that we thought were our vibe. We made a bunch of rules, which was what we didn’t want to do. A lot of people talk about vision like, “What do you want to create?” We based on what we didn’t want to create. Nobody pays enough time to that, so we were a bunch of dumps. A lot of people say, “Have a vision.” To be different, you want to say what you’re not is almost way more important than what you are.
We went through all these things and we’re like, “We’re not doing this.” “We’re not doing that.” The Baby Bathwater was the name, the Baby Bathwater Institute. We thought it’d be funny that it was a higher learning type thing. The idea of Baby Bathwater, don’t throw the baby with the bathwater. It’s a life philosophy. There are a lot of ways to play with that, but it’s funny and we always talked about it. We named it that because we didn’t want to name it Next Level Mastermind, Ten ROI, Success You, or Genius Network. We didn’t want the type of people who would be a part of those things. We like silly.
I don’t link the status game played by entrepreneurs. That is the biggest pet peeve we have. The problem with a lot of these groups is, “I made figures.” “I’m a big deal.” This big deal-ism has to go. Have a company or do what you do but do it for you. The money is great but doesn’t do it for the status and the accolades. We’re none of those people. We call them Star Fuckers. If you need that, don’t come here. We don’t want those people.
What also bugged us about people was people are in it for the money. They didn’t give a shit about what they were creating. We call it Give A Shitters. We only wanted the energy of people who care what they do. If you love tires, the tire market is awesome. If you saw some opportunity on a spreadsheet for tires, that’s not who we want. I want somebody who cares about what they create.
If you have a digital agency that’s doing Facebook ads, you better love that and love helping your clients. If you’re doing that to create an agency, that energy is what ruins things. We want Give-A-Shitters and also people who are naturally generous. Some people are contrived generous. They read some book by Adam Grant, Give and Take, and now they put you on something and they’re going to be a giver, but they’re not givers. They’re soul suckers. We want energy givers and nice people.
We also thought that people would help each other if they liked each other. You only meet people. You don’t meet them around a room at a Marriott on some roundtable. You meet them by doing shit. You meet them while drinking at a bar, skiing, mountain biking, dancing, or listening to music. You don’t meet him over roundtables or some hotel. Let’s create a vibe that’s fun where people do shit together and share some content, but that’s not the focus. We created a bunch of notes and did the opposite and ended up with a group of neat people.
It took off. When I heard the name, I was cracking up. I loved it. The way I found out about it was through a successful entrepreneur. He had exited his last company and they sold it for $300 million or something of that nature. I was asking him, “Do you know anything legitimate where there are real business entrepreneurial people that don’t have egos the size of Montana? All they want to do is get together and they want to help one another, but they also want to do it in an environment that is a non-threatening or non-ego environment?” Your company’s name came right out of his mouth.
I’m spending some time on this because people who are in that play legitimately want to help people who legitimately are doing something already now. I wouldn’t say it’s so much mission-driven, but they have a passion. If they’re doing tires, they have a passion to help people be safe on the road or whatever it might be. Those are great people to be around. Any businesses I’ve talked to so far that are there are all cool people and they’re all successful people but they think business to business. They might be doing business as a consumer, but they think in terms of business, not ego, status, or hyperinflation.
They’re mostly B2C companies. We don’t have many B2B at all, but they’re mostly B2C. That’s our specialty.
I understand that. The mindset is whether they’re selling B2C or B2B, the mindset feels like it’s business-to-business because they think about business as a business, but they also have balanced ways of looking at life as well. Michael, I appreciate it.
Just so your people know, I don’t normally wear sunglasses inside. I had an eye procedure, so it’s pretty hideous under here. I’m not going to show you, but I’m not a guy that normally would wear sunglasses inside. Out of respect to you guys, I’m keeping them on because it’s pretty brutal under here and I don’t want to shock you. This isn’t a cool rockstar act. I bought these because I knew I was on here and I thought it’d be pretty yucky to see a bunch of scabs on some of these eyes while they’re talking. That’s what’s going down. I showed Doug before I put them on.
I was like, “Michael, put the glasses back on.”
It’s pretty bad.
I grew up in the medical field and even for me, I was like, “Put it back on.”
It’s a necessary procedure. If B2C people have questions, I’m pretty open and like to help people out. Anybody in the B2C space who’s doing stuff where I have a lot of knowledge there? If you have questions, reach out. I can help you that way. I know where the bodies are buried in that world. We’re not a baby bathwater bus kind of thing where we like to help people whether they’re coming into our thinking or not, if that makes sense.
It’s real people and real businesses coming together for a mission to have a quality of life. That’s what I got out of this.
You’ve got to have good times. What are you doing this for? You want to have a family. If you have a family, friends are your family. You have your wife, your kid, and your parents, but then your other family is your buddy. I have a lot of buddies who aren’t business people, but these are my business buddies. This is fun to do life together.
It’s challenging running a company because you have payroll and you have a lot of shit. It doesn’t all look easy. It’s not. It’s hard and nobody understands. Laying people off is not fun. I’ve had to do that. My companies didn’t always go like this. You’re firing people and their kids are in college. It’s heartbreaking. You have to tell your wife, “We don’t have any money this month.”
To have other people talk to you about that stuff who get it is nice. It’s nice to have people who get the thingy and who have perspective on life and know it’s a good time, but they are there for you when there are bad times. No matter how good you do, there’s got to be bad times. It’s the way it goes. Having a group with your back that you can laugh about and might give you a loan is certainly nice in the bad times.
It’s a wonderful place to be. I likened it to when I was in the music business. If you get into a van with a bunch of guys and you’re traveling around from gig to gig, eventually, you’re going to get a flat tire. That’s what happens.
Somebody’s got to go to rehab. People go crazy and you’ve got to have their back because everybody gets a couple of redos if you’re their real friend. People crack under stress and they get weird. You’ve got to be their buddy and you bring them back. That’s half of it. I found that entrepreneurs are emotional, rawer than most people, which can mean more power and more vulnerable. To be a good intrapreneur, you have to be able to rip all that off. It’s hard. Entrepreneurs can go down pretty hard emotionally because they’re so out there. They got to have friends to pick them back up.
I agree with that. What I like about everything we’ve talked about and even Baby Bathwater Institute, I know you’ve kept it simple going through the process. You’ve kept it digestible and easy to understand. Everything is simplistic throughout the thing. Throughout the show, I love that theme, and I appreciate you being on here, Michael.
Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. It’s fun.
We’ll be talking in the near future. Thanks again.
We have a lot to talk about. Cheers. Bye.
Simplicity is the theme of this episode. I break it down and access other people’s networks and keep that as simple as possible. When we’re communicating when human beings, human beings like to have clarity. When they have clarity, they feel comfortable. When they feel comfortable, they’re going to respect you, trust you, and like you.
Have you ever thought about when you’re confused on an aspect and if somebody is confusing you with the conversation, eventually it gets a little irritating? What happens during that irritation? The likability drops for sure and you don’t trust it as well. Keep it simple when you’re accessing people’s networks and you want to access people’s networks. Keep it clear. Let them know where you’re going. You don’t have to do razzle-dazzle marketing. It’s straightforward.
People love to be able to consume things quickly. Why? If you think about this in human nature, anytime they were growing up and couldn’t do so in school or whatever, they were admonished, embarrassed, and there were different things that happened to them. Nobody likes that. Keep it simple throughout this whole communication process and you’ll fare better. I highly recommend you check out the Baby Bathwater Institute. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re looking for a great place to be, have somebody be there when you need a little bit of inspiration, help, or advice. It’s an awesome place to be. I’m personally there as well.
That’s it, guys and gals. I appreciate you reading. Do me a favor. If you liked this episode, please go up and subscribe to the channel. The more subscriptions I get, the higher the views and the more the show is seen. That is my ask of a gift from you to me. I will keep giving gifts by bringing on quality and qualified people. If you would, let me know what you want to have us talk about. I will take that subject matter and I will put it together and deliver it back to you. If you like this, please subscribe. If you really like it, give it a five-star review. I would appreciate that as well.
If you need any help with the sales in your company or anybody who wants to get to the top 1% of sales globally or company wants to get to the top 1% globally in their industry, reach out to me Doug@BusinessSuccessFactors.com or DougBrown123 at LinkedIn or give me a call at (603) 595-0303. As always, go out and sell something. Sell a lot of it. Sell it for a high profit. Until next time. This is Doug C. Brown of the CEO Sales Strategy Signing off.
Michael Lovitch, MA is a former special education professional, over-educated grad student, and floundering tech sales guy who decided at the age of 34 to take the entrepreneurial path because nothing else was working. He started a publishing company in the psychology space that ended up being a 7-figure endeavor, then parlayed that into a physician-based nutritional supplement company (RealDose Nutrition) with annual revenues of over 8-figures before he sold out his stake.
Now, he is the co-founder of the Baby Bathwater Institute, a community that helps bootstrapped entrepreneurs navigate the crazy world of business ownership while having good times and making lifelong friendships.