How do you fathom someone building a $250 million training company and a $750 million real estate development company at the same time? In this episode, Doug C. Brown has entrepreneur, philanthropist, and bestselling author, Russ Whitney, to answer that, helping us take our business to millions. He takes us throughout his entire career journey, from just starting to becoming a CEO and eventually leaving to pursue his passions and creating a bigger impact. Behind his success, Russ then tells us the key strategies on how he bootstrapped startups without a ton of money, marketing and sales, and more. He also lays down some of the mistakes he made as well as the common pitfalls many entrepreneurs encounter when starting their own companies. Plus, Russ shares with us his book, Inner Voice, providing some tips on unlocking your purpose and passion.
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How To Take Your Business To Millions With Russ Whitney
I have this amazing man who’s coming on. His name is Mr. Russ Whitney. Russ and I have known each other for years. I worked for him. I worked with him on projects. Russ has built some huge companies. He built a $250 million seminar training company. He built the $750 million construction real estate development company, all in Florida and both at the same time. He is a bestselling author of over 30 books. He is a wealth of knowledge and I believe you will probably get more information from this than you expect. The thing is about Russ and I, every time we get together, it’s like two guys having a conversation. You might find that the interview drifts a little bit back and forth, but that’s our style. Stay with it, write down the gems. You’ll pick up some amazing stuff as we go along.
You’re also going to pick up something Russ and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on a certain subject matter and we have healthy debates. That is something that I learned from him. That is a success trait in business. He always told me that, “Doug, the company needs the CEO, presidents, and partners.” All of these people are not supposed to agree all at the time because if you have partners and executives who are agreeing with you all the time, it’s time to get new partners and executives. You need that conflicting a contrary point of view in order to create growth. Get your pencil out, follow this through. You’re going to find nuggets all the way through. It’s a great pleasure for me to have him. If you want to learn how to take your business up into the billions or even the hundreds of millions or even tens of millions, Russ is the guy to listen to.
Let me introduce Mr. Russ, Whitney, and I’m going to welcome Russ. Also, go to BWQuickStart.com because you’re going to see in the interview that Russ is making this offer. He decided that he’s going to take all of his knowledge over the years. He’s going to put it into a portal and it’s for $249-lifetime membership into this portal. You’ll be able to access all of the information that we’re talking about and many of his courses in many different varieties of training, all for a lifetime membership of $249. I know this personally because I’ve studied a lot of this stuff. It’s worth over $50,000 and you’re getting it for $249, why would he do that? He’s no longer in the training or seminar business. He wants to share this information with others on how to build businesses, build themselves and build wealth in the process. Without further ado, let’s introduce Mr. Russ, Whitney.
I would like to welcome Mr. Russ Whitney to the show. Russ has been a mentor of mine. I’ve worked with him and for him, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him. Lean in and pull your chair up because you’re going to get a lot of great information here. Russ Whitney, welcome to the show.
Doug, it is good to see you.
I appreciate you doing this. Russ, I would like to jump right in. You have such an amazing history in business and life. You built a $250 million training company, and I believe a $750 million real estate development company. You did both of those at the same time.
I was in a construction company for six years, but I’ve been involved in the training business for many years since 1995 or 1996, where we have developed a long-term strategy to it, not just go to a website, get a 3 or 1-day seminar. We developed a long-term continuity program and that’s what took the company off. It went to $250,000 business a year.
You have 2,000 employees at one point. You were doing 600 live events around the world per week if I remember correctly.
It is from 500 to 700. We’re a public company, so all this is public information. You can go to SEC.gov and see all their audit statements. We have 2,000 employees in seven countries, including independent contractors. Also, then we were doing 500 to 700 live events a week. That’s exactly what webinars we’re doing, hotels live, find people all over. If you say 500 a week, you put it on automatic pilot as it does itself.
That’s a lot of coordination. As we’ve discussed, there’s more to grow in a company than in key sales strategies. You started this from startups. These were not funded companies right out of the gate.
I startup bootstrap without a ton of money.
What were some of the key strategies, especially in the sales side that got you in play from your first $5 million? What were some of the key ones that helped you build at least a $5 million?
Tell me who your audience is. Are these CEOs or managers? Who are we talking to here?
The people here are CEOs of companies, usually doing $5 million and up. Also, the people who serve them sometimes as consultants, coaches, and entrepreneurs.
What kind of companies are they? Are they direct sales business? Are they widget companies?You don't have to really know technology in order to make bilions of dollars Click To Tweet
It varies all over. They can be manufacturing companies. They could be sales-driven companies, auto dealerships. It could be all kinds of different companies.
Let me start by saying that I got involved in “the seminar business in 1984.” I started by buying a book. I bought a Courage to Be Rich book back when I was twenty years old and it was written by a ghost who is still a good friend of mine, Mark Haroldsen. His whole concept was to go to an area of town, look for properties that are run down, beat up, shape it, pay and clean them. You’re forced to value up. You don’t wait for the market to go up you forced that you can’t control it. The mathematical concept was easy. Get up the rents or projected rents so if you have a duplex and it rents for $1,000 on each side, you’ve got $2,000 coming in. You double tax, insurance, water, sewer maintenance, and vacancy ratio.
I did the mortgage too. If there’s money left over, that’s positive cashflow. I had got this stuff at the beginning of this thing in my brain when I was 29. I didn’t graduate high school. I got married when I was twenty years old. I had a baby by the time I was 21. I kept getting this message in my brain that I could do something better with my life, but no idea what that meant because I came from a total blue-collar background. My mother left when I was three. My father died when I was fourteen. I got this book and it was easy going to run down and be a very town.
I would get seller financing. In the first deal, I made $12,000, which was a year’s pay for me back then. What I didn’t do is I didn’t go buy a new car, jewelry or a depreciating item. The book said, “Invest all the money back into appreciating assets,” which income-producing real estate is. That’s exactly what I did. There came a point where I’m new at it. I bought a rundown piece of property, but I didn’t leave enough money to fix the whole thing, the run dry of money. I had to go scrambling for a loan. It wasn’t that I had bad credit. I was 20 or 21 years old so I had no credit. By searching, going, asking and not quitting, I found a bank that couldn’t lend me money on a regular home improvement loan, but they could lend what was called an FHA title loan.
It is a government-insured loan, which was designed by the government given to banks to get around what’s called redline. The redline simply means that banks discriminate low, moderate-income, and ethnicity. They do, whether they say they don’t have any debt. This was a loan that I could get and the bank would give it to me because the government-insured at 90%. I could borrow as much as $17,500. If I defaulted, the bank would get 90% of the loan back, but they also meet their qualification for bank regulations of non-discrimination. I used that money and what I realized is I got the work done that I said I was going to do for a whole lot less. I got to work them for $6,000 or $7,000. I bought $17,000. I had another $15,000 or $12,000, whatever.
I invested in two more properties. For two years, I built that up to enough cash coming in, where I could quit my job at 23 years old. I went on, four more years. At the age 27, I had enough equity and cash to become a self-made millionaire. Keep in mind, I had more equity to cash at that point because I could have leveraged more. I don’t want to make it sound too easy, but that was my first overnight success, which took seven years.
How did it feel, Russ, when you got there and you knew you were a millionaire? What would it feel like?
Mixed, in other words, it was like, “I’m a millionaire. However, equity doesn’t pay charge cards or your car payment.” Although I had equity in net worth $1 million, it was in IPO we also knew that million in cash money. It felt good. I was ignorant enough where that was a big deal. I never in my life dreamed I would be a millionaire. However, I shouldn’t say I did because when I read that first book, people say, “What drove you? Why did you work a job and do all this?” What drove me is I’ll put it out front. It’s getting rid of the pain. What I mean by this books that could make me a millionaire.
My parents died young. I got into trouble when I was a kid. I didn’t graduate high school. Books that I could be a millionaire all that stuck in my brain was, “If I could become a millionaire, I could show all those people who said that I was nobody or nothing, that I was somebody.” Years later, a lot of that anxiety goes away. I don’t know that I ever shove it down in anybody’s throat, but that’s what drove me was the pain of feeling like nobody. If I could have been a millionaire by looking at dirt off the street, I’d probably done. Sometimes it’s the pain and that’s the best driver and not so much the money. The money is the goal, and all that, but it’s not the sole driver.
I’ve noticed one trait amongst successful people. People who have grown companies, $5 million to billions of dollars are their determination. Every one of the people that I’ve ever interviewed or met over my career, they’ve had this, I’ll call it I’ll show you never-ending desire, driving determination to continue on. When they come up against challenge after challenge, it’s like, “I got a challenge. I’ll show you. We can overcome this.” This is what I think Chet Holmes called Pigheaded Discipline and Determination. How important is that for anyone starting a company?
I see it a different way. Sometimes when people get hit a goal and make a lot of money, they make some stuff up about or the determination of this. I started a group building company because it’s booming down here and I’ve got 27 single-families in permitting a 38-unit. They’re all selling. It is the last of selling in a day now. That’s how crazy it is in Florida. It’s a beautiful lot flocking from Northeast, New York, Jersey, and Connecticut because of all the shutdown. When we shut down in Florida, I went to the gym and it’s full. We don’t have a high ratio in this pandemic stuff. This thing’s running five years from now. People ever look back and say, “What was that pandemic about?” I’ll tell you that building is a bowman. You want to get a U-Haul from New York to Florida one way is four months wait. Six thousand people a month are piling into Southwest Florida to get out of those state income taxes and all this lockdown stuff is crazy. For me, it was pig-headed.
In a way, every time that something didn’t work, I attributed to the fact that I either didn’t understand the book, I had to get more information, or I had to give more. It wasn’t all like you go on the internet, find anything. Seminars were not readily available way back then. Few and far between of this type, how to make money? What drove me was I would go around it. I would go under. I would try because I felt it was me not getting it. The book sounded simple, but you go for a loan and I couldn’t get a loan.
I guess you could call it pig-headed but it was more ignorance. It is not like, “I’m smart. I’ll go and I’ll drive and it’ll work.” I was scared to death it wouldn’t work. In my first few deals, I had the biggest fear of failure ever. I had a blue-collar father-in-law that I didn’t have gun. He said, “You going to buy these rental properties? What happens to the tenants move out or the plumbing goes, or the roof goes?” I got to thinking rental real estate has been around for 200 years. There’ve been investors making money on it for 200 years because I buy one or the tenants are going to move out. It didn’t make sense. I had the talk with my ex-wife, “If we don’t do something, we’re never going to get ahead.”
We took that risk and bought the first one and it worked. What was scarier than that was the second deal I made because now I pick, “We go do this. We get greedy and everything we did right on the first one we could lose.” At the same talk, if we don’t try something from whatever we’re going to get it any further, then it comes to $500,000 deal, same talk. It comes to $1 million deal, same talk. I never had that talk again after that first $1 million deal until my first $5 million deal.
We’re failure. It is common. It’s part of the deal. You got to have a fear of failure, which is why you don’t go out blind. We’ve got to have a calculated risk, which comes to training and through a coach. Someone has already done it. There’s not much new here that someone hasn’t already done these new marketing methods know technology opens up some opportunity, but there is a coach. There’s a training program that one could go to continue. Number one, business experience, you could have the best accounting firm in the universe. The bottom-line boils down to how much it comes in, how much goes out, and how much do I get to keep? The sales and marketing are key.
After that first deal, when I made that $11,000, I thought to myself, “$11,000 is a lot of books and money.” I started buying every book and back then it was cassette tapes. I started buying everything I could get my hands off. I was so hungry to learn, and this was all new to me. I’d never heard this coming from a blue-collar background. It was amazing. It was self-help and learning. I was never a big reader, but this one got my attention to see what this was going to do something. I’ll put this out there. As we talked about, to have a conversation like this and talk to your clientele and not have somewhere for them to get more information if something I say strikes a nerve, this is like taking a shower with a raincoat on, what’s the point? He gets all excited, “What am I going to do?” “I don’t know. When I find it, I’ll do it.”
I would suggest this, I’ve not been in the seminar business forever. I resigned as Chairman CEO of the public company some years ago. Do I do some training here? Yes, but it’s with a higher-priced, more experienced type of people. The company took all of the training programs that I’ve done. One of the best I’d say communication, negotiation, and salesmanship. You could sell that better than I can. You told me it was one of the best sales courses and non-meat two courses you’ve ever heard.
I meant it.
What was different about it?
It was real. It wasn’t fluffy. It was right to the point. It’s about communication. It’s about how to design human engineering for a conversation that leads to a win-win outcome. It was clear from the beginning. The first time I started listening to the first fifteen minutes, I was like, “This is different. This is the real stuff.”
You have six hours. That’s what built a quarter-billion-dollar company. I know your part of this is sales, but let me say this, I know you talk real in my company on where to go, but we put all of this training in audio and video. There’s a video training. There’s an outlet in the field training. I do a lot of it myself, which I’ve been doing for many years. We always do a film. I read 30 books, three New York Times bestsellers, all business, except for one and sales. We decided since we’re not a business, why let all this information go to waste? Let’s put it out there. There were people who could not have afforded it or weren’t sure to pass can. You can get on that membership site for $39 a month or a one-time $249. You could get access for the rest of your life one time. I want to do it because I don’t have to.
I am thrilled to do this. Here’s the deal, Russ and I have known each other for a while. We don’t always agree on things, but we agree on this one. I can guarantee you that the building wealth component of what he’s designed, there’s over $50,000 worth of training that you can access for a mere $249. Go to BWQuickStart.com. You can go right there and you can invest $249. We’re in December, you get a tax write off, but the reality is this is real stuff. This is the stuff that I have studied. This is the information that others have studied. You can also find it through RussWhitney.com if you want to do that. The endorsement on the programs and the products, I’ve studied a lot of this stuff myself, so I can endorse it. I saw Tony Robbins, Kevin Harrington and Than Merrill on there. This is the real deal guys from somebody.
One of those names all came through my training programs and then started their own.
Russ, how many people in total came through your training programs?
In the US, it is six million.
Worldwide, you were in seven countries, so do the math people. It’s straightforward. In growing those companies to where you grew them, were there some specific things that you did that you would say, “That was right,” and every company out there should do these types of things?
I’ve had 40 different companies over the years. I’ll talk about the bigger ones that have what I think are the best lessons. Let’s talk about the real estate business. It’s what I do now. I’m in the seminar business. I’ve got a development and construction business. I do fairly big land deals. I entitled these land deals and then sell them for a lot more money. Entitled means I get them ready for a builder to buy them and do the building. If I don’t have to build that, it’s final. Right now, it is so hot that we are doing a lot of building as well. I have between Costa Rica, which is an international project. In the US, I have well-over 1,000 units, either in permitting.
We’re under construction. That’s included single-family houses, condo projects, not so much apartments, but I have several deals. Land deals that we’re entitling for apartments. One is for 265 units and other one for 48 units. That’s pretty much what I’m doing. I’m getting back to your point. Let’s go to the seminar business. Once I made that net worth. I moved to Florida and I was 25 years old and somehow, I got a bug up my butt. By the time I was 25 or 26, I wrote a book on how I did what I did, because everything I did, I didn’t invent. Most of it was taught to me by others. I may have had to tweak it here and there to get it to work for me because I didn’t have a lot of money and a lot of credit.
It was called Overcoming the Hurdles and Pitfalls of Real Estate Investing. The book is sold to date millions of copies over the years. I didn’t write a book because I thought there was a lot of money in it, believe it or not. There were a lot of seminars there so that did strike me as, “Let’s go get into that business because it can make money.” What happened is I sent it off to a bunch of publishers and I’m turned down. I sent it off to a publisher called The National Institute of Financial Planning. They love the book. They said that they would publish the book if I would agree to go speak at their seminars. They were in 2 or 3 in the country at that time.
I had never been to a seminar and I don’t know speaking in a seminar meant, but I had gone through a lot of sales training. Up until that point, I knew how to sell, but I’d never done group selling to a big audience like in a hotel with 1,000 people. The short version is I went to the seminar and I thought I was good. Now, they helped me create books and the cassette tape, the audio programs back then. It was 1,500 people at the seminar. Some of the top speakers in the world or financial guys back then. I get up and I give the presentation on how I did what I did, how I got to financial independence, and the net worth of a million.Many entrepreneurs hit on a good marketing program, and they rock it out, but they don't have the infrastructure to support it. Click To Tweet
It was very realistic. I wasn’t a polished speaker. When I’ve done, nobody bought a thing. I didn’t sell one book. I was crushed because my room was packed. People were crying. I was crying. I said to the promoter of the seminar, “I don’t know what happened. People loved it. I could see it.” He put his arm around me and said, “Russ, maybe you told them too much. Maybe what you need to do is leave a little out so they have a reason to buy your product.” I developed over time the philosophy that if I didn’t sell them that backup information, then I was cheating them because nobody’s going to take enough notes to go home and know what to do. They get enough information to get excited and be dangerous.
I started to compile it into an easy-to-understand step by step program where when they went home, they’d have something they could fall back on. We then created an 800-consulting line. It is a free consulting line, where they could call in and get help. That’s how it started. That business was up, down, up, down because the key to any business, marketing, and sales. You could have the best widget in the world, but if nobody buys it, you go broke. You could give the best education but if you don’t fill seminar seats, you go broke. Understanding education is an ethical and moral obligation. The bottom line is you don’t put a button to see all of this. I learned marketing. I can tell you the first one I spent $17,000 that I didn’t have on a direct mail company that said, “We know how to fill these rooms.”
I didn’t know about direct mail. I paid $17,000 and it was five registration. It was just a loss. I don’t know whether they didn’t know what they’re doing or I got taken for a ride with one way or the other. It’s the old adage. When two people get together, one has a knowledge and one has the money. The one with the money usually leaves with the knowledge. The one with the knowledge leaves with the money. They had the knowledge that’s for sure because they left the money. Anyway, it was up, down, up and down from 1980 all the way until 1995. In the books that you’ll read, my books are autobiographical. They’re not preachy or telling you what you should do, but what I did and how I would do it now if I was in this place in time.
I got out of the seminar business about 1991-ish because it was up and down, up and down, it was mentally draining. I thought, “I need to go buy a chain of 7/11 stores, convenience stores, or McDonald’s franchise as something that is going to be steady.” I started a company back then called Fundamentals Franchise. I won’t go into detail, but it was a franchise company, which over three years, I put my heart and soul and it failed. I lost a couple of $1 million that I didn’t have either. At that point, there was a promoter, the first name is Ron. He asked me to come and speak at one of their events. I hadn’t to spoke for three years and this is about 1994.
A lot of people that were recognized and remembered me said that the products are good that and it was sold out. I did that for a few more times, he and I got into a dispute and I said, “I’m going to get back in the seminar business.” The truth is he knows this story too. What we did at that point is we changed the whole business. We went to a free preview format to a three-day training, very minimal money where people get enough time with us to say, “This makes sense. I could see it’s real.” We then created an 18-month to 3-year continuity program, like a junior college or college. We modeled it after that and it took off. The first year, we did $5 million in sales. In the second year, we did $13 million, $26 million. We did $60 million, $90 million, $120 million all the way up to $250 million over maybe a little less than ten years. We were cashflowing $1 million a week.
What I learned there was even more on how to define take something that already existed in this type of training, but to redesign it and marry the customer over long-term like an Amazon or Zappos is doing. That’s what we did. It built a humongous loyalty rate in our $199 products. We have 10% as long-term training programs that were $15,000 to $50,000, but less than .05% to 1%. We had a total of 100% money-back guarantee. I was willing to put everything we do on the line because it was that good. I’m not that good because I’m a genius or staffing was a genius, it’s because we worked on it until we found what would work for each level of experience in a new customer sales. It’s critically important.
I’ve always known you to speak the same about marketing and sales. You took a concept, redesign that concept and then added, “I’m going to marry the client for the long-term.” That’s what drove you to $5 million in the first year and beyond. You then continue to keep doing that, but I remember I was talking in the past where you then got to a place where the business was getting a little bigger than you knew how to continue with.
You don’t have to be shy about talking it. It was over my head, no doubt.
The business was over your head, but you made the decision to go out and find people who were more skilled at doing this at that point in your life. You had to roll the dice at that point. You were at $60 million or something right in that area.
What’s good about the books and all that is I’ve read the training courses. There’s only one story. As people grew over, they get to started internalizing and then take action. That’s what works, but that’s exactly what happened. It happened about 1999. We started the company up in 1996. In 1997, I took it public. We became a NASDAQ traded company, which I took from $0.14 to $14 a share. I had some $5.5 million shares. You do the math. What happened is we got to $60 million and I want to say, call it 150 employees at that time. We had started several brands. It wasn’t just the building wealth brand. We had to teach me to store trade the Rich Dad, Poor Dad brand.
Most people don’t know that I own the Rich Dad education brand. Robert Kiyosaki had minor ownership. I had more than a majority on shit. Numbers of other big brands, that’s where we grew from. Not only organic but by acquisition. By being a public company, it made it easier to acquire other companies in the same industry and roll that up. At $60 million, I realized that I was over my head, not over my head in what we’re doing product-wise or the content, but how to run that and administrate that. I realized I bought some books like The GE Way Fieldbook by Jack Welch. I started to buy business books on how corporations grow. One of the things I learned was that there is a term called intrapreneur and one called entrepreneurial. Most of your people reading are entrepreneurs. The intrapreneur, the guy who goes to the business school and they work their way up the corporate ladder, but good companies like GE and other Fortune 500 companies, have immensely great training programs.
These guys learn how to run a billion-dollar division within the confines $100 billion company that may be GE or whatever it is. What I realized is if I wanted to grow this thing from $60 million to call it $150 million, maybe that was my goal. It was just a number to gut my head. There was no science to that goal. I knew that I had to go out and recruit from fortune 500 companies to get managers to come in and run these division administrators. They didn’t know anything about the content or how to make money stuff because they run companies again within the confines of other companies. You might say, why don’t these guys go out and start your own business? That’s not the mentality.
The mentality is they get rich with stock options inside bigger companies or bigger salaries, whatever the goal is. Anyway, that’s what I did. I hired a recruiting firm and they brought in people from Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Phillip Morris. These are the big Fortune 500. Those guys come in and they put organization to it, systems, process, resource, budget forecast. If you think about Apple computer, Steve Jobs, when you think about Hewlett Packard guys who started in the garage, there comes a point where that goes beyond. You could make all the decisions, it’d be the butcher, the baker, the candlestick. You got to have people to be able to do that. You got to have systems processes. You need resources for that and budgeting to go. They knew I wouldn’t know anything about that stuff. That’s all business school, college stuff.
My business plan was ready, firing kicks some dust-up and then go out and fix it. That works for me, but I now know better. I had ten different divisions. We did a number of acquisitions. As you mentioned earlier, we started a construction company during that 2,000 booms. We built 7,000 houses and sold 7,000 houses in six years over $750 million in housing sales while I was developing a 5,000-acre development in Costa Rica, which I kept 148, eight-piece. I’m finishing up 6,667 housing units along with 4 or 5 story mid-rises and get a community pool. If you go to the RussWhitney.com website up at the top, you’ll see managers’ RW Projects. You hit that and you can scroll. You can see bunches of the different real estate projects I’ve done over the years.
One of the things that I recognized through your stories and having the ability to spend fourteen months side by side with you is you measure and know everything. What I found is as I go into companies and I look at their sales, or I look at their ability to grow, one of the big things I found is most companies aren’t taking in measuring micro sales ratio as measuring ratios throughout their company. They get stuck. One of those entrepreneurs decided to back off because they making enough money and they stopped doing what they were supposed to be doing. We find these optimization points within companies or the blind spots within their companies. Can you share how much you guys did with the measurement? I remember you telling me a story one time, which is everybody thinks business runs smoothly. Once you’re there, the cash is flowing. Everything’s amazing, no problems whatsoever. You were telling me a place one time where you were at a place in the business where you had to look at the numbers and make some hard decisions, you had $4 million to decide to invest or cut at that point where you had to start taking.
That was 1999. When I hit the $60 million, I could have pulled $4 million or $5 million out, take it to an entrepreneur would want to or I had the choice to allocate that money to bring in Fortune 500 guys who take salaries from “$70,000 to a $250,000.” What I did is I left that money in and I rolled it back in. It took money to live on, but I rolled that money back in. It was the best decision I ever made because that year we went from $60 million to $90 million, to $130 million and $190 million to $210 million, to $230 million, to $250 million. I would never have been able to manage 7,000 people.
Here’s a lesson for everybody. You don’t have to know technology in order to make billions of dollars.
Probably 25 years ago, I hadn’t been a wreck because that went off. Let me go back. I rolled that money back in and the growth went from 2,000-ish to 60,000 people a month registering for a training event for live events in 70 countries. We were doing 500 events. That means you got to put coldness at 40 to 50 teams out. You got to put that many people on airplanes. You got to put that many people at the hotels. You got to have an in-house travel agency, 50 to 60 people in the accounting department. You need people to manage that. The company is cashflowing and you got to put into a system process, resource budget. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs hit on a good marketing program and they rock it out, but they don’t have the infrastructure to support it. The next thing you know, they’re out of business. There are more times than you can imagine, particularly in some of it.
One of the things that I want to shift to, which is you wrote this book and it’s called Inner Voice. It changed my life and it’s changed the lives of lots of people. I’ll ask you to explain what inner voice is because I can explain it as well as you can. Inner voice is getting clear and truthful with ourselves and listening to our own inner instincts on a daily basis and the power of the universe connection and letting that power of the universe guide us through the process of discovering ourselves and being coming less reactive, more kind, and patient person through life. Is that a decent description? It’s a business book when it comes down to it.
The bottom line with that book, it’s the only book that I’ve ever written that’s not financially, sales or business-related. It came about in 2008 where I went through the debacle of the crash of the real estate market. I was going through a divorce after 30 years of marriage, which I never thought would happen. My life was crashing into these when the real estate market crashed. I had tens of millions of dollars. The company went through an investigation where the SEC at which cost $22 million drop the stock, which costs $30 million or $40 million, which I laugh at now. Sooner or later, you’ve got to laugh. I work many seven-day weeks, fifteen-hour days when I can count. I saw that it all could be fleeting and gone in a moment.
Tony’s side that I was started Zappos, 46 years old, dies in a fire. That’s unbelievable when I heard that. I grew up in a religious background and I always thought, “We die. We get to heaven. We get angel wings and meet grapes and drink wine.” I got to think of it that this didn’t buy into that and that everything could be gone in a moment. I had a Citation VII jet, which is about an $8 million jet, ten cars, pretty much anything you could want. It was a bomb crash. I decided to put management into the companies. I took off for quite a few years, back and forth, but traveled over twenty countries, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Israel, Haiti, Columbia, Spain, all through Europe, South America, and Central America. I got to meet with some of the top business, spiritual-religious leaders. I had two questions. What happens when we die? When the lights go out, where do we go? I got some amazing answers that were different than what I learned in the religious training that had gone through. It was a real eye-opener. The other one is who’s right? Are the Christians, Jews, Muslims or Buddhists right? Are they all saying the same thing in different time, languages, and cultures?
Aside from getting answers to those two questions, I learned a lot about how life started, where it’s going, why we’re here. Did you ever think about that? Everybody reading this you ask yourself this question. You live for 70, 75 years, so far, it’s been a struggle, emotional problems, family problems, life problems, career problems, kids, you name it. There’s always a struggle. We then died at 75. If there’s a real God, it would have to be the main one. If all we did was put us in the struggle and then die and the lights go out and that’s it. It must be more to it. There is from what I learned. Inner Voice ended up to be a book. Although I never set out to write the book. It was published by Hay House, the largest spiritual publishing world that does Deepak Chopra books and Wayne Dyer. This book will give you some answers that will make a big difference in your life. It’s not a religious book, but it doesn’t conflict with any religion. It’s not a business or a book on success. Everything about it has nothing to do with how much it comes in, how much goes out, how much all the rest that makes, those funders work. That is also available. The whole course is available on our membership site.
It is in BWQuickStart.com. You have the book there. You have the course there that I saw.
The book is not on a membership site. If they get on the membership site, they supported it in Inner Voice and we’ll send them for free, but that’s a published book. We can’t give that away. We can’t sell it on a website. The publisher sells it and they pay me the commission. If we sell it, we buy them. We have a warehouse full, 5,000, and I give them free.
Don’t do that. You’re going to have to get on a membership site first. You can do it for $39 a month and you get off anytime you want, no questions asked, or you could get the $249 one-time fee for life. You pay a one-time fee of $249 and you get all $30,000 worth of training.
It’s not your average training people. This is the top of the top stuff. I’ve gone through it. Russ, I want to be a little contradictory with you. You said it’s not a business book, but I believe it is a business book. For me, it allowed me to build a sustainable multi-seven figure growth path in my businesses. It was because of Inner Voice. There were many things that are what I call emotional blocks that just lock us up. You worked with me and through the book. I’ve read that book many times. I learned something new from it every time. To me, it’s the business book of business books because we deal with people all the time and people have these challenges. When we unlock these challenges, magic things start to happen.
It’s a good point. I agree with what you’re saying. Why I say it the way I do is it’s not a book on ed brands, deducting expenses or necessarily sales strategies, although a great deal of inner voice when we’re dealing with truth and honesty or the strongest sales point. You’re right in a way, but this is not something I don’t think anyone will ever see in a business book within the inner voice.
They’re rarely going to see anything like this in a business book.
It’s a book too, by the way, that if you’re 35 years or older, it’s not a book that you’d thump on somebody at something. Somebody has to be ready for it. If you do get to the membership site and you do enroll, we’ll send you one out for free. I think you’ll thank me forever for that book. Keeping in mind again, it was things that after being around a seminar industry, talking to 6 million people at an immense success. These are things that I’m like, “How could I never have heard about these things?” I was flabbergasted. I said, “I’m going to write a book about this.” In 90 days after I started the process of that tour, the Inner Voice never came out until five years later. Every time I started to write it, I wasn’t ready. I had not internalized it enough to be able to present that to somebody else.Feed yourself a good positive thing. Click To Tweet
Russ, if someone asks to read the manuscript and they read your notes and everything, they’ll be like, “Russ, you’ve got to put this into a book because people need this.”
That was Larry Benet, the connector. He made a connection with me and Reid Tracy. He was the CEO of Hay House. It was rough notes. It wasn’t any manuscript at all when I sent it out there. First of all, I told Larry, “Why are they not going to listen to me? I’m not a financial guy. I’m not a spiritual guy.” He didn’t laugh at me. He said, “You need to do this. I sent that to Reid Tracy.” In less than 48 hours, I got a call back. He said, “We love this. We want to publish it.” They put out normally a deal like that on assignments with double days of the big of books I’ve done. It’s an eighteen-month process to get it off the ground. This was out in six months.
Russ, I have a couple of last questions if you don’t mind. People are facing challenges with the economy up and down the pandemic and everything else. What would you recommend to people to do to stay focused and those who are in business, to continue to grow through this time? What would be some advice?
Maybe you need a low refresher, but I am not good on advice or opinions.
How about life’s experience? What will you tell them?
What I do is tell them my experience and maybe what I’m doing. When you start telling people, especially in the Inner Voice, people can debate it, “Why can’t you do that?” “I don’t have time. I don’t have this. I don’t have that.” If I give it to you in my experience, “Here’s what I did, what I learned, and why my life is better,” we can’t debate that because it’s mine. What I decided to do is I’ll send you a picture. I don’t know if I did it months ago when this started. I had a surgery and so I was losing weight. I hadn’t been on a gym. I decided that it had three months. I was going to dedicate myself and get into the best shape of my life.
I was getting ready to get this Medicare and I thought, “That’s bullshit. I’m going to get gripped.” I sent of pictures when this thing happened so I got ripped. I focused on getting my butt in shape. That’s number one. Number two, I started feeding my mind. More feeding your mind is feeding your body. You eat every day because if you don’t, you still get dehydrated. The same is true of the mind. If you’re listening to all this crap about the pandemic and you’re listening to the radio and the news, and what you’re hearing is rape pillage, ponder, recession, depression here, and garbage. That’ll take you right down the tubes quick. Start feeding yourself with a good positive thing. It’s like the stuff that’s on the membership site or whomever. Our membership site is more growth from within, it’s not the fake it until you make it stuff.
I started looking at, “Where can I turn?” The seminar business now is on death row because you can’t have big gatherings like that. All of a sudden, one of the only things that I see that is an essential item, not being shut down is construction. Apartment buildings and getting into real estate businesses, buying for no money down to paint, cleaning, fixing up, and renting them out. Occupancy rates are higher than they’ve ever been. If you’re in New York, New Jersey, or some of the Northeastern states, you got to take a little part of that. If you’re in Illinois and some of these states, I don’t mean to get political on you, but the blue states are taking hits with all of this crap.
Any of the states that have high state income taxes, people are fleeing from there. They’re fleeing to Texas, to Arizona, and to Florida. They’re fleeing places that don’t have the state income taxes, where the housing market is booming. I’m telling you in these states that I mentioned booming, you can put a house on the market under $300,000. You’d pay $750,000 for some of these states and it sold in one day. My assistant and her mom have a duplex here, Cindy. She put it on the market one day and sold for $450,000. That duplex would be $269,000 to $270,000 years ago. It’s not too late. It’s still there. I would look at real estate. I would look at businesses that they call essential.
Go to BWQuickStart.com, pick up your lifetime membership here on building wealth. Russ, could I summarize what you said and maybe feed your mind, focus on solutions only, and ask yourself qualified and quality questions? Russ, I want to thank you because it’s always a pleasure to talk with you no matter where we are. I appreciate you doing this. I know that people who are reading this will grab some great gems of information. I want to thank you and I bid you a wonderful day.
Thank you. I appreciate it. Best to you and hope to see you soon.
Let’s unpack what we learned here. I was taking note after note. The first thing that I came up with was to feed your mind. What are some of the successful things that you can do? Number one, feed your mind, focus on solutions, ask yourself quality questions, and stay out of the negative mindset. It’s easy to get sucked into the negative mindset based on the doom and gloom that’s all over the television and the radio and everywhere else. My clients, I have told this through because this is not the first downturn we’ve had in the economy, nor is it the first health scare that we’ve had. We lived through AIDS, SARS, MERS, real-estate crashes, financial booms and busts. There are a lot of things that we’ve gone through in life.
One of the things I’ve always told my clients during the downtimes is it is the time to put the pedal down and focus on what matters. As what Russ said, “The key and success in the business now, marketing and sales.” If you don’t have sales coming into your company, as you know, you don’t have a working business that’s in the positive cashflow category. You want to focus on marketing. There are two types of marketing. One’s a direct response, which is you put a message out there and you want to have a direct response for them to buy something and/or get on a phone call together and set an appointment. There’s branding, which is creating the promise delivered, or what are people thinking about when they’re thinking about you or your company?
The majority, stay on the direct response and use the branding when you can. Branding will bring you passive leads. Direct response will bring you active leads. I love what he said in the beginning about what drives you? Fear of failure is what drove him and the desire to learn, the desire so that he can show other people that what he was feeling within inside himself was, “I’m somebody. I want to show everybody that I am somebody, especially those people who told me I’m never going to make it. I’m not going to be that type of person I grew up in this environment.” He’s a true rags-to-riches story. He did grow up in a tough environment that most people would have crumbled under and he had to go through life undoing some of the scripting that was taught to him.
I had the same thing. I’m sure that many of you could relate to this. It comes down to the truth. I remember Russ saying, “It’s the truth.” You want to tell the truth and the old adage, the truth shall set you free. A couple of things here, hire the best people possible. In other words, when you got up to $60 million, he realized, “This company starting to get out from underneath me. I’m not skilled to be able to take these facets of what I need to know next and put them in place,” but he was smart enough to hire the best people possible. By the way, that was an investment. Hiring the best people possible is an amazing trait and consuming information on a regular basis that can drive your own self to become the best person that you can.
I know Russ personally reads a lot. He listens a lot. He still studies a lot. He’s retired if he wants to be, but he’s never going to retire because he has this driving way about him that will continue to keep pushing him forward. He’s making millions or multis of millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. It is who he is and he’s come to recognize that. If you got anything else out of this, please share it with us. One of the final things I got out of this was that you want to take something that exists that’s working, you’re not pioneering new programs or products. You’re taking something that’s working and you’re innovating on that. The key is to marry the customer, marry the person who’s going to invest in your product to services.
When you do that, you’re thinking long-term. No one gets into a marriage hoping that it’s going to break up, few people I would say. You want to get in there and hold onto that. The client is extending the client engagement in a win-win fashion all the way through. When you do that, you get repeat purchases, referrals, expand the sales, sell more cross-sells, upsells, down sells. Everything that you can imagine could happen. Sometimes you build these great relationships and these relationships will then promote for you as long as you marry the client, marry the customer for life.
If you’ve enjoyed this, please share this with someone else. Post it out on your own social media circles if you believe this can help someone else. Please, if you love the show, give it a five-star rating. I would be grateful. Before we go, don’t forget to go to BWQuickStart.com and that’s where you can get your lifetime access of $50,000 plus training for a mere $249. If you want to check out more about Russ Whitney in general, go to www.RussWhitney.com. I thank you for being here and I will see you on another episode.
- Russ Whitney
- Courage to Be Rich
- Overcoming the Hurdles and Pitfalls of Real Estate Investing
- The GE Way Fieldbook
- Inner Voice
- Larry Benet
About Russ Whitney
Russ Whitney overcame a difficult childhood and went on to build a solid, successful life as a family man, civic leader, self-made millionaire, philanthropist, best-selling author, mentor and businessperson.