The following is the full transcript of Remarkable Episode 3: Aaron Walker on The Keys to Podcasting and Business Success
In this week’s episode, I have the opportunity to speak with a seasoned entrepreneur, successful businessman and life coach who was interviewed on more than 150 podcasts in 2015.
He has over 35 years of experience, he’s built 8 successful businesses, and he credits much of his success to being in mastermind groups with the likes of financial guru Dave Ramsey and Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love.
My guest has been interviewed on podcasts more than anyone I’ve ever heard of. During our conversation, we talk about that process and the significant impact it’s had on his business.
I personally wanted to reach out to him to get his perspective on what it’s like to be a podcast guests, and what things we should keep in mind to make the experience better for the people we interview.
We cover a wide range of topics related to podcasting, business and life. He shares his best tips for how to treat your guest, and the number one key to growing your podcast or business.
We also talk about whether you should follow your passion, or follow your money – and the number one tool for achieving success, regardless of what you’re working at. Make sure you stay tuned at the end, he’s generously provided you with a few resources you can grab today for free.
Alright, so if you have listened to any his 150 interviews from last year, you already know who I’m talking about – but if not, I’d like to welcome Aaron Walker
Dave: So Aaron! Welcome to the Remarkable Podcast, so glad to have you with us today!
Aaron: Thanks David, man I appreciate you having me on.
Dave: And, as we were just talking a little bit before we got started, I’m really looking forward to getting your feedback and your insight as a podcasting guest. So I’ve already mentioned to my audience that you don’t currently have a podcast, but tell us a little bit about, for example, how many podcasts have you been on this year.
Aaron: Well, okay, thanks David, I’ll try to keep my voice up because I’ve been on a lot of these interviews, and so I’ll get right into that. It was very strategic in nature. After I really understood what podcasts were about, but this is somewhere (I’ll have to look) but somewhere between 150 and 160 interviews I’ve done in 2015.
Dave: That’s really amazing. So, I just wanted to get that number out there to start with. Now let’s back up just a little bit, and tell us – how did you get into podcasting and how does that impact your business today. And then, in a minute, I’ll go back and ask you a little bit more about some of your background.
So you’ve been on 150 – 160 shows this year. I know you’ve got more lined up – how did that come about?
Aaron: Yeah, there again, it was very intentional. Once I really discovered what podcasts were, I was familiar with them, but I wasn’t like sold out, like I am now. It’s going to be the radio of the future, without a question.
Dave: Yeah, I agree.
Aaron: People don’t want to hear all that stuff, they don’t want to hear, they want to be very selective in nature as to what they listen to. I started listening and hearing podcasts talk about the amount of downloads that they were having monthly.
And I revert back to my years in the brick and mortar business and I thought – you know, the county that you were in and maybe the surrounding counties, were your avatars, and you could spend $5000 in a newspaper article or magazine ad, and pray to the Lord somebody read it and come in.
And then I started thinking – these multiples that I’m hearing on the listeners of the podcast interviews are mind blowing. You know, you’ve got guys out there, new guys that are starting that don’t have as many – but even hundreds is big!
And the second thing I started thinking about is ‘this is evergreen’. It’s gold – it’s not like a newspaper ad, that someone sees it for a week, and then it’s burned up and no one ever sees it again. These interviews are forever. They’re going to be repurposed over and over and over.
And then, you can take the interview and transcribe it and put it into a blog, etc. etc. There’s just so many ways to use these interviews, and then you can send it out to your audience on LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook, and Instagram — and there’s just so many things that you can do, virtually, to get the interview out there.
Retweeting it, or putting it on their Facebook and tagging people, and I said there’s no end to this! It just goes exponentially. And then I started hearing some of the larger podcasts hosts talking about they have a million, two million, three million downloads a month.
You start doing the math on that and it’s like – it doesn’t take long to really really get your word out.
And so a year and a half ago, two years ago, they were one of the larger podcast and I wrote him my story and he invited me on, and then it kind of spiraled out of control almost, as a result of that.
And now we spend a third of our time booking interviews and doing interviews, and I’ve got a full time assistant that does nothing but reach out to podcast hosts, booking and scheduling interviews, introducing me.
You know there are what, less than three hundred thousand podcasts. I won’t live long enough, David, to be on all of those shows! I’ve only scratched the surface, to the amount of interviews that I could do.
I just thought it was an excellent way to leverage my message with your audience. And so that’s the reason I’m doing it. Here’s the best part- they’re free! I’m not paying thousands of dollars for a magazine ad.
These are free – and now I’m not only national, I’m international. Because we have podcast hosts that have 150 different countries they’re in.
Dave: Absolutely – so how did that first request go and turn out? How was that experience for the very first time.
Aaron: It went well, I guess it’s okay for me to share here, but it was John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire, and I knew John Lee had a great audience, and some people that run in my world had told me about him, and I started listening, and I really loved what he was doing and the interviews that he was doing. I thought he only does 365 shows a year, there’s no way he’s going to have me on the show.
But I wrote my story, and I’ve got kind of an interesting story and a background, and I came from a very humble beginning, and I did okay. At 27 I retired, and I had other businesses, and we may or may not get into that, but that’s not the point.
The point was, is he loved my story. He invited me on the show. I did the show and it was the most commented on in the history of his show.
And so, he invited me back on for a second time. And we did complete interview on how to live a successful and a significant life. It was the second most commented on in the history of his show. It put me at number four in his top ten. And I can’t even tell you what that’s done.
And so from that, other interviews have come and we reach out, and now it’s like, you know, we’re on four to eight shows a week, and so that just continues to grow. And it’s not because I’m that great a guest, it’s because my message is so strong.
And my message can apply to everyone, and that’s how you can live a successful and a significant life. Because if you only do one, you’ve missed out. And so I help people focus their effort and energy and help them build a plan so they can simultaneously be successful and significant.
Dave: That’s a great story, and a good segue too. So you mentioned your story, and your story is absolutely important. It would be helpful for us to hear, just a little bit, maybe two or three minutes about your story. I think it’s going to be applicable to our listeners here, who are looking for guests, and are looking for people that have their story and are willing to hear their story.
So give us just a little bit of a background about that story that resonated with John Lee Dumas.
Aaron: Sure, sure, well we all have stories, right, David? And mine is just a little bit unique.
I started early at 13 years old working with my dad. We remodeled a pawn shop, I fell in love with that business at 15 years old, and decided to make it a career. I went to summer school and night school for about 18 months, I had enough credits in the beginning of my junior year of high school to graduate so I didn’t have to go to my junior and senior year and I worked full time.
I came as I said earlier, from a very very humble background. We lived in an 800 square foot house, four children. My dad never made over $15,000 a year in his life. I know all about being broke and poor.
So I met two guys with a lot of money, introduced myself, told them I wanted to go in partners with them – that was a whole other story in itself.
When I was 18 years old I owned a third of it. I went on to successfully build three other stores. When I was 27 years old, a Fortune 500 company approached me, and made an offer that set me up. I mean, quite honestly, and I retired.
I became extremely bored, I gained 50 pounds in 18 months because I had no purpose, I had no reason to get out of the bed.
I went back to the company that I started with when I was 13 years old and I bought 50% of it. We spent the next 10 years building that company four times the size it was when I started with him.
August 1, 2001 was the day my life changed forever. I was headed for the office, I’d been very successful, I’d owned a number of stores, I’d sold out to this Fortune 500 company. But I hit a pedestrian crossing the street.
Dave: Oh man.
Aaron: And it killed the pedestrian. And it was so surreal. It was like watching a video in slow motion.
Dave: I can’t imagine.
Aaron: My whole life felt like it unfolded before me, and it was devastating, to say the least. So the next month kind of unfolded, and I decided to retire. I was 40 years old and I decided to hang it up. I was going to quit because I was so devastated.
I agreed to sell the business I owned and I did, I sold it. Robin and I moved, we built another house locally here in Nashville where we live.
We traveled extensively for about 5 years. We had to regroup, we had to rethink, there were some other things that we were experiencing and going through, and I needed to take a break. I had really really been a hard charger, I had worked hard, and what I discovered in that process was that I had been extremely successful financially, but I had no significance in my life.
I had done nothing for others, I had not looked out at all. There was a void, there was a hollowness in my life because all my focus and effort and energy was on myself. And so at that time I made a commitment that I was going to continue to grow businesses, I wanted to work, I didn’t’ want to sit on the porch and rock myself to sleep, but I was going to enjoy today.
I was going to choose to be happy because it’s a choice. It’s not a trait. I elected to be happy even in spite of the circumstances. You don’t get over killing a pedestrian, you learn to deal with it.
Through God’s grace, he’s given me the ability to deal with that. It did change the trajectory of my life. It did change my thought process where the world doesn’t revolve around me. But it’s about other people. So now I intentionally build relationships, I intentionally do random acts of kindness, I give, I help.
I help be a catalyst for other people’s lives, and that’s why I started view from the top, because I can help other people achieve their goals and dreams, and so that’s a little bit. That’s a 37 year history there in three minutes, but that’s kind of the path that my life is on now.
Dave: Yeah, I can see a life changing moment like that can have a significant impact.
Aaron: See we’re smart enough that we don’t need to have an automobile accident to change the trajectory of our life. We can choose, right? We’re educated people, and we can decide.
I’m not going to wait until the heart attack to quit eating fatty foods. I’m not going to wait until the accident before I make a significant difference in the lives of other people.
And that’s my message for people today. Listen – wherever you’re at; I don’t care what widget you’re selling, or what service you’re providing, you can choose to be significant today in the lives of other people simultaneously making a living and a life for yourself. It can be done.
Dave: Yeah, absolutely. And so I’ve taken a look at your website, and I’ve heard you on some other podcasts, so tell us a little bit about what you’re doing today with View from the Top. What’s that about?
Aaron: Yeah, well in 1995 I met a guy that was starting a radio program in Nashville, I had never heard of and he gave me advertising to try in one of my businesses, and that’s Dave Ramsey. Dave has become a lifelong friend now – not a lifelong, since 1995, but he invited me to join his personal mastermind group and I did. And in there, I met people like Ken Abraham.
All these guys were kind of new in their career — it was two decades ago, and so they were just kind of really getting there career ramped up. Now Ken Abraham is a ten times New York Times number one best seller, he’s got over 100 books in print.
Dan Miller was a member of the group, he has 48 days to the Work You Love, Dan was just started his journey. Dave Ramsey had never been heard of, you know, there were three people working in his office at the time, and now he’s got 500. He’s on, you know, 800 radio stations talking to 8 million people.
And so, at the time, he was just like me or you or anybody else, and we joined forces and we encouraged, empowered, we held each other accountable, and we all grew our businesses.
Well, when I retired at 50 years old out of the construction industry – we had bought a construction company and built it to number one builder three consecutive years here in middle Tennessee, Dan Miller and Dave challenged me.
They said ‘you’re not just going to sit down! I mean, you’re 50, what are you going to do?’ So Dave Ramsey gifted to me the Entreleadership Master series, which is a pretty cool gift, that’s about a $10,000 present. He said ‘come through this’ so I did, and I loved it.
Dan Miller said ‘hey, come go through Innovate,’ and I did and he texted me on the way home that time. He said ‘Aaron, did you notice that the guys at your table were like leaning in like they were listening to what you had to say? And the reason? Not because you’re that good but because you’ve had 37 years of experience and Robin have been married successfully for 35 years. They’re interested in what you have to say and you need to Coach.’
I said ‘I’m not coaching anybody! I’m retired, I’m done!’ And he said ‘no no no! Seriously! Just try.’ And I said ‘I don’t have the credentials to coach.’ He said ‘Are you kidding me? He said man, you’ve got 37 years, 8 successful businesses, a Fortune 500 company, and you’re telling me you don’t have the credentials to coach?’ I started laughing, and I said ‘point well taken.’
So I started coaching guys, and then one thing led to another and then I started getting guys from all over the country, and I started one on one. Well, you can’t scale that. You’ve only got so much time, so I started mastermind groups.
So now I have a virtual mastermind group where 10 guys come together – we do this virtually.
We have guys all over the country, now we have international people that are joining. We started the community where guys come together in a forum and then I do webinars. It is just gone crazy, David, just to be honest with you!
Dave: That’s great.
Aaron: Guys are hungry to learn the truth and how they can live a successful and significant life. And that’s what I teach and that’s how I coach.
Dave: That’s great. Well, let me bring it back full circle now. So, you being the guest on so many podcasts, I imagine has quite a significant impact on your business because you’re able to get that word out and your message out and let people know what you’re doing and what you’re passionate about.
Do you do other marketing activities as well, or is the podcast interview really what drives your business?
Aaron: You know, the podcast interviews is 95% of what drives the customers to my business. We do some other things, you know, on social media. The normal things that people do, the LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, we do all that stuff, but 95% – maybe 99% of the lead generation is out of these podcast interviews.
Simply because guys are having hundreds and thousands and millions of downloads a month. You just do the math. You start being the guest on 150 or 200 podcasts a year, I don’t know. I’d like to – I guess I could take the time to figure that out, but that’s a lot of people.
Dave: Yeah, that’s awesome.
Aaron: We don’t need a ton of people to be tremendously successful. And it’s true for anybody. Well, a lot of people say ‘well I couldn’t do that.’ Well, why couldn’t you do that? Because if you’re an expert in your field and you’ve got a story to tell, there’s other people interested and podcast hosts are looking for great guests, and so why couldn’t you do it?
Well, I’ve introduced a lot of my clients to this, and now I’ve got one guy in particular that has a franchise business, School Spirit Vending, and he is using this same method, now he’s got more people than he can see after in regards to people that are buying School Spirit Vending franchises.
And so there are just so many opportunities – and here’s what’s the cool thing – is it’s a pleasant experience. This is like fun! It’s not burdensome, it’s fun to be able to encourage others, and it’s fun to tell your story, and it’s fun to offer value to other listeners. And so it’s a win-win for everybody.
Dave: Yeah, it really is. I think it’s a fascinating platform. Let me ask you this – if you could think of one, you might have to dig around for a minute, what’s been your most favorite interview or podcast to be on so far if you don’t mind sharing.
Aaron: You know, I don’t know that there’s one in particular interview that’s been like the bomb. Jerry Weis is a really good guy. Jordan Harbinger has done a great job, Jamie Lee Tardy was fun, Pat Flynn was fun, John Lee Dumas – I don’t want to leave out anybody because on 200 interviews, you know. I’ll say this – they’ve all been enjoyable to some degree.
None of them have been just like terrible, like get me off of here. I haven’t stopped an interview yet, you know. There’s a couple that I’ve come close to, and I’ll tell you why – I think it’ll be a good thing.
Dave: That was going to be my next question – you don’t have to name names, but what makes a bad experience, and how did that go.
Aaron: I can tell you exactly, is you can tell when the podcast host is more interested in his next question than he is listening to the response. And I even tell people in coaching. Stop waiting your turn to talk! The conversation will go much better if you will listen.
And that’s true in our business life, with our relationship with our spouse, with our children – but a lot of times it takes a lot of discipline because we’re sitting there waiting and thinking about what we’re about to say rather than engaging the guest and listening.
I’ve been on interviews before where they were no more listening to what I was saying than a man on the moon. They were reading the next question. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience for everybody if you will ask the question and listen to the response.
You may not even get to the next question. That may take you down a whole different road. It is much more beneficial for the audience than just your list of questions.
I love formatted, but I also like when it takes you to a different direction that has more meaning and purpose. And so, if you really want to be a great podcast host, engage in the guest and listen.
Dave: That’s fantastic advice. That’s a really good tip. Do you have any other tips related to how you’ve been treated? Maybe prepped ahead of time?
Aaron: Well that’s always helpful.
Dave: Anything that we can learn from?
Aaron: That’s always helpful, getting questions before, just so you’re not totally off base, you know, but like I said. The interview may go a different route. No one likes to be caught off guard, you know, because that’s embarrassing for the host, it’s embarrassing for the guest.
They’re fun, and sometimes you’ll say I know you’re not prepared for this but here’s a curveball. Those questions are fun, you know, but no guest wants to be like blindsided. Because that’s embarrassing. So I was say preparation is good in regards to sending the questions early if it is a formatted schedule.
A lot of the interviews I’ve been on there are no questions. It’s like tell us your story and we’ll see where it goes. So that’s good as well. I don’t think one is any better than the other – it’s just different. But I think the engagement part of it is probably paramount regardless of the format.
Dave: Yeah, one theme I keep hearing throughout all the various answers and things that we’ve been talking about already is just how you treat people, and focusing on other people. I can’t emphasize that enough, and I know that’s part of your message.
Tell us a little bit about how podcasters can maybe incorporate thinking about other people and paying it forward and being generous into their podcast. Any feedback or thoughts on that?
Aaron: Yeah, I can help with that a lot. Genuineness is the word that comes to my mind. And no facades. I don’t like facades. I like things that are genuine, that are real, I like transparency.
I have subjected myself to the scrutiny of others for so long in mastermind groups and accountability groups for three decades, and I find out that the experience in life is so far greater when you’re real – you’re vulnerable, you’re transparent.
See, that’s one of the things I don’t like about Facebook and Instagram. Nobody puts the picture on there of an argument that they just had with their wife or with their kids.
Everything is glorious. Everything is the best. Everything is utopia. Everything is optimum. And that’s not reality. The reality is we all have bad days. The reality is we all struggle. The reality is we have blindness, and we have weaknesses, and we have trials and tribulations and struggles. That’s genuine.
And when people can say ‘I don’t know the answer to that’. I get asked questions sometimes and they’ll say ‘everyone give us your tip.’ And I’ll say ‘well, I don’t have that tip.’ I mean, I don’t know. It’s not an area I’m experienced in. And I think the host and the guest are much more believable when they’re honest. But when everything is the best, and today is the greatest – that’s not reality.
Now, I think your glass should always be half full – I don’t like people to get in the doldrums and stay there, and they suck the energy out of the room. I’m not talking about that. I’m just saying being real.
And so, I so enjoy when I’m on interviews and the host says ‘you know, I’ve had a bad day today, and I’m trying to figure out how to get over this,’ and we talk and we get through it. But this superficial hype, you know, people can’t identify with it. What they do to get off to themselves is they think what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be that way?
But the reality is they’re not that way either. And that’s why I have accountability groups where I go in. It’s funny we do these interview on Thursdays. And Thursday mornings at 6:00, I meet with the three guys that I meet with forever. We’re very transparent, we’re very vulnerable, we’re very honest. We also offer encouragement, and we empower one another and we lift each other up.
But the reality is, let’s just be real because it’s exhausting when you have to put on this facade. It’s like who am I going to be today? I’ve got to be this and I’ve got to hide. And I’ve just got to say let’s just be genuine. Let’s just be real.
And I think if podcast host would do that, and the guest would do that, people then have something that’s believable that they can make applicable to their personal life and that we can get on and do better and do real and do good things.
Dave: Yeah, another great tip. I want to ask you a little bit – I want to pick your brain about some of your business experience. How has building relationships with others impacted your businesses, and what do you think that somebody that’s building a podcast – how can they build relationships and network? What are some keys to relationships in business?
Aaron: It’s the number one key. Period. If there were one thing that’s caused me to be successful in business, it’s building relationships intentionally. Genuinely caring about – genuinely caring about other people.
And here’s the thing, and I give these little analogies and they’re kind of silly, but it’s true and you can apply this. When your telephone rings, David, and you look down, and you see it’s Aaron – something comes to your mind. It’s either ‘Oh, God. What does he want?’ ‘He only calls me when he wants to borrow something.’ ‘He’s sucks the life out of the room.’ Or ‘Man, I can’t wait to answer this cause this is gonna be good, he’s gonna lift me up, he’s gonna encourage me, he’s gonna empower me.’
And then I answer ‘Hey David, how’s it going man?’ ‘It’s going good.’ And we go on. In most conversations, about halfway through, go ‘David, while I’ve got you on the phone, let me ask you a question.’ And I’m going to go ‘You liar! That’s why you called, now we’re getting to the truth.’
Dave: Yeah, right.
Aaron: And so what I teach people to do, is don’t do that! Call David, and say ‘David, how’s Mrs. Mooring doing? Your children okay? Your business good? I had you on my mind this morning, I was thinking about you – and I just wanted to tell you man, you’re doing great in this podcast.’ And the truth is you’re waiting for the question.
And when I say ‘okay, man, just checking on you’ and I hang up. It leaves an indelible impression on your mind because no one does that. And you’re thinking ‘Aaron really cared about me. He was – like that was really a phone call about me. That wasn’t about ‘hey, can you introduce me to another podcast coach.’ And ‘can you help me with this, can you help me with this marketing strategy.’
I do that in the mornings, oftentimes. I’ll write endorsements for people that don’t ask for it. I’ll write letters of encouragement that they don’t ask for. I will tweet somebody out to my social media that didn’t ask for it. I’ll call David and say ‘I’m checking on ya, I’m praying for ya, I hope your business is well.’ And the natural reciprocity out of that is they want to be around you.
Dave: Sure. Sure.
Aaron: They want to be around you. My motive was pure. We can’t help intellectually to know that that stuff works, but my motive was pure. Well, when you build relationships like that, they last. And then when people do things for you, don’t take advantage of that, but write the handwritten card. Write the endorsement without them asking for it.
Send them that little gift. Do something – some random kindness. Some random act of kindness- pay attention. Recognize it, and then encourage others. If it’s at your office walk through and grab Billy by the shoulder and say ‘hey, man, I’ve noticed you’re rocking it. And I want you to know I’ve noticed it.’
Just simple things like that. People want to be recognized. They want to be lifted up. They want to be encouraged. And when you do that – in whatever service industry you’re in, whatever widget you’re selling. When you do that, your whole life will change for the good.
Dave: Yeah, absolutely, I agree. I teach a lot of small business owners about marketing, and I try to get them to take this mindshift out of ‘how can I promote myself to everybody, and how can I get on twitter, or Facebook or LinkedIn and tell people what I do?’
And I always tell them ‘it’s the harder job, it’s the hard work, it’s more difficult, but look what’s going on there today on twitter, or Facebook, or Linkedin, and tell us about your favorite business, or client, or customer. Who did something well for you today?’
Aaron: Yeah, don’t do it to get – you know relationships are about what we bring, not what we take.
Aaron: Adam Grant wrote a great book called Givers and Takers. We’re one or the other. Right – I want to be the giver. And people say to me all the time ‘yeah, if I had your kind of money, I’d be the giver, too.’ I challenge them, and I say ‘money magnifies what’s already in the heart, it doesn’t change it.’
If you’re not already doing it on some degree, some percentage now – wherever you’re at – you wouldn’t do it if you had a lot of money.
We can do random acts of kindness without finances. There are things we can do with our time. We can give people smiles, we can give them words of encouragement. That doesn’t cost anything.
Dave: Right, right.
Aaron: And if you’re not doing that today – don’t think a different position or more resources is going to cause you to do that. Because it’s a matter of the heart, it’s not a matter of the pocketbook.
Dave: Where do you think the importance of what you’re passionate about comes into play with – to me I feel like if you’re doing what you’re passionate about, it’s easier to come from a standpoint of giving. But I know there’s a lot of business advice out there that says don’t follow your passion so much, follow what the market wants.
Aaron: Yeah, I think it’s two fold. I think that we’ve got to be really careful with that comment, because I’d love to be a professional golfer. I’d love to be a professional basketball player. I’m 6’4 and I can’t touch the net so that’s not going to happen.
Dave: Right, right.
Aaron: Lewis Schiff, in his book ‘Business Brilliant’ he said ‘you can follow your passion but a little bit of you better follow the money.’ The truth is we’ve got to make a living.
Dave: Otherwise, it’s just a hobby,right?
Aaron: Yeah, exactly. For me, my first commitment is to my wife and to my children and my grandchildren. And I want to play basketball and follow that passion, or ride skateboards, or be a professional golfer all day long.
And it’s not going to bring one quarter into the Walker household, I promise you.
But things that I am good at, that I enjoy, is encouragement. It is empowering others. I feel like God uniquely ordained me to be able to have kind of a sixth sense in seeing opportunities. I do know how to make money. It’s not that hard to make money.
It takes a lot of diligence, grit, perseverance, and I think that when we throw out enough seed eventually something’s’ going to grow.
I’m all about consistency, even the mundane things that are not producing fruit today will, later, if you throw enough seed. And so I’m all about consistency. I’m all about accountability, and there are things quite honestly that I do now that I’m just not totally excited about, but I know it’s necessary to grow a successful business.
I’m a early riser. I get up early every morning, and so that’s not always fun – it’s like oh, my goodness, okay I’ve got to get up. Because I can’t lay here in bed and get things accomplished. It’s discipline.
Charles Duhigg wrote a really good book called ‘The Power of Habit’ and you need to learn more discipline in your life I suggest you get his book and read that. Another really good book Greg McCallum wrote called Essentialism.
And it helps us really focus on the vital few things that are important, and allows us to dismiss the nonessential things in our life. We only have so much time, effort and energy, and you can only spread it so thin. And we think that if we can do 15 things, we’ll be better off.
And the truth of the matter is we need to niche down to 1 or 2 things and do focused blocks of energy on those and become proficient at it and become an expert at those things, and there is where the revenue stream will come from.
When you niche down to a point where you’re talking to a very specific audience. If you’re talking to the world you’re talking to nobody. You’ve really got to niche down into what your targeted audience or your avatar is, and that is where the rewards will come.
Dave: I know a lot of people are, they get kind of scared about getting down to a niche that’s a little bit too small. Do you have any thoughts about how to find that perfect niche?
Aaron: Yeah, I do! Let me challenge you on that. This is funny, I heard two stories recently. I was at a social media examiner in San Diego, and one of the guys was giving a talk and he said that, for the people that are concerned about that, one is one guy developed a course on how to operate a toll booth, okay?
Aaron: Now you think about that for a minute. We have seven billion people on the planet, and we have millions of tollbooths, and people have to operate those. That’s pretty specific. Another guy owns a business called Chicken Whisper. And I’m like ‘what is Chicken Whisper?’
This guy teaches people to raise barnyard chickens in their backyard. He’s now got a podcast, he’s now got a magazine. This guy made a million + dollars teaching people how to raise chickens in their backyard.
And I’m like ‘hey, if you’re worried about niching down to far, don’t. Get over it.’ Because there are so many niche markets out there, I can’t even begin to describe to you. It really allows you how to focus your target, your effort, and your energy to a specific arena that’s going to pay the dividends.
When you’re broadcasting it all over the world and you’re not really talking to anybody specific, you’re probably not going to get any clients.
Dave: Tell me a little bit about – you’ve mentioned several books – and I’ll make sure that I go back and add those to the links at the end. But it sounds like you read a lot. Is that intentional, or do you just enjoy reading? It’s kind of a leading question, because I think I know the answer, but how important is reading to your success.
Aaron: Well, yeah, it’s paramount. You know, historically I’ll read a couple of hours minimum a day because we don’t wake up smarter. You don’t get up in the mornings knowing more than you did the day before. And so, I’m really big in listening to podcasts. You know, I read a few blogs. But reading is absolutely essential.
And I wasn’t a reader a couple of decades ago. As a matter of fact, I didn’t like to read at all. I would even use the excuse that I don’t have time to read. But the truth is, when I got involved in mastermind groups – these guys really challenge you to read. And when you’re in a room with an author that’s got a hundred books, you can’t tell him I don’t read.
And so we started reading personal development books, and studying and I’ve even started outlining books now because the comprehension is far greater for me when I’m outlining than when I just read it. A lot of audio fans out there, you know, that don’t like to read but they’d like to listen.
For me it’s not as good, I don’t comprehend as much. I don’t like listening to books. If you don’t like to read, but for me, I’ve got a sunroom, and I’ve got an office and I enjoy sitting and reading books.
Even on viewfromthetop.com, you can go, and there’s a number of books. Yeah, in our groups, we’ve read hundreds of books nonstop. And a wide variation of books. I like personal development, biographies. I’m not a fiction reader, but that’s just me. I don’t care about reading fiction. But, I love personal development books, and there are some fabulous authors out there that have books.
I don’t know, there’s not a mathematical percentage that I can give you on what it’s done for my business life, but I know it’s huge because I’ve been able to implement strategies that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.
There’s strategies in being a good dad, you know. Being a good husband. What I’m saying is we just don’t naturally know some things. And reading absolutely is a must.
Dave: Yeah, and I asked you the question because I agree and I wanted to get your thoughts on one thing that I struggle with, and I’m guessing that other people do as well. I know that a lot of people that are into podcasting are educated, and there’s a good chance they read a lot.
Occasionally I listen to people who are very successful entrepreneurs. They’ve sold businesses, and they know a lot. They’re successful, and they talk about reading a book a day, or a book a week, or it just seems like they spend a lot of time.
I run into people that ask the question – well, when I’m successful, I’ll have that kind of time, too. And so there’s this ‘do I put the time in now to become successful, and maybe not do some other things? Or do I continue to build and then when I’m successful, reading becomes kind of like an investment down the road.’
Any advice for where to find the time and the balance to put it in the hours every week when there’s so many other things you could be doing. That’s always a challenge, to decide, you know the chicken or the egg.
Which do I do first. It goes back to my example earlier about giving. You know, people say, you know when I get a lot of money then I give, and I’m like well, you won’t!
And the same way with reading. You say ‘when I get the time, I’ll do it.’ You’ll fill it up with something else. We’ve just got to make intentional choices- you know, what is priority in our life. I really highly recommend writing down your schedule, your time.
Dan Miller has probably helped me with that more than anybody because we try to multi-task, which is a farce. You really can’t multi-task because you can’t give it your total devotion and attention.
And even mentally – you can’t physiologically. You can’t think of two things simultaneously. You’re divided even at that. In the same way with this, I would just encourage you to set down and allocate a certain amount of time to reading.
I’m very regimented. I’m pretty boring, actually, in a lot of things, but the consistency as really paid off for me individually.
I get up at pretty much the same time. I’m an early riser, and I’ll go through kind of a meditation, a scripture reading, a prayer list that I pray for, a time of listening to praise and worship, kind of center my day, and kind of get my focus and I’ll do that for the first hour every morning.
Other areas I’m not as disciplined in, quite honestly, like exercise.
I mean, it’s good and I do exercise. Not like I probably should, but there’s other things that I’m more disciplined in, like the reading and writing, coaching. And you’ve just got to intentionally decide. This is going to pay benefits long term. And you’ve just got to build your schedule. And it also keeps you from chasing the shiny objects.
If you’ve already committed and you’ve made a plan, you don’t need to decide later. You’ve predetermined, kind of like a budget. I tell people, when you do a budget, you don’t have to decide when you’re looking at that new flat screen TV. It’s not in the budget. Our plan is, Robin and I even do this now.
We sit in our sunroom and we’ll say, these are the large purchases we want to make, you know, when do we want to do that? And we’ll do that June of next year, we’ll do it March of this year. Whatever, we do it intentionally. Most people will go and think ‘we’ve got a little extra money, let’s buy a new flat screen.’
Same way with your time, and if you don’t give your time a place, someone else will fill it. And you’re schedule is very important, your time is very valuable. So, just decide ‘I’m going to read 15 minutes every day. And it will become a habit over a period of time, plus you’ll learn more as a result of it. And consequently, you’ll profit more as a direct result because of it. So if you want to take your business to the next level read more.
Dave: And for all my podcasters listening in, reading is going to give you a lot more insight into the industries and the people that you talk to. Ideas for questions, and it just gives you so much more of a rounded perspective of life and business.
Yeah, that’s great. I think that’s a really good piece of advice – setting aside time and then allocating that time to reading.
You talk a lot about systems, so let me start taking us back, a little bit more into marketing. What are some of the systems or the activities that you’ve built businesses with in regards to marketing? What is your philosophy of marketing and getting the word out, and how did that impact your business?
Because I think we can learn from that as people are trying to build their podcast. If they look at it as a business or as part of their business? What can you share with us about marketing from your experience?
Aaron: There again, it goes back to focus because you can’t do everything, and so there’s a few things that really work well for us. I’m a big LinkedIn fan. And we do a LinkedIn strategy to where people look at our profile, we’ll go back and send them a thank you and tell them ‘hey, I appreciate that, anything that I can help you with let me know – but by the way, here’s this document that’s been beneficial to me. I’d like to gift it to you.’
And you give it to them. A couple of weeks later, we keep all this on a Google Doc. A couple weeks later, we’ll go back and say ‘hey, Billy, I hope you enjoyed the document, it’s been very helpful to a lot of my clients, and this is another document that I wrote. Maybe it’ll be good for you – maybe not, but here it is.’ And we’ll give it to them.
And then a couple weeks go by, and we’ll say ‘hey, by the way, Billy – hopefully those things were helpful to you and if you’re interested in more of what I teach, more of what I do, we have Iron sharpens, Iron Mastermind, we have the community, I do one on one coaching, I don’t want to force myself on you, I just want you to know I’m available and these are things we can help you with.’
It’s kind of permission marketing. Gary Vaynerchuck wrote a great book called ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.’ And if you give and you give and you give, now you have permission to ask. If you go straight up, you know I heard Chris Brogen speak recently. He said man, don’t come straight up to me and ask a favor! You’re not invested any time, effort, energy in my life – you don’t know what I’ve got going on.
It’s the same thing. I tell people it’ll be like going on a date, and you walk up to the girl and say hey, I’m Aaron and you grab her and kiss her. Well that ain’t the way it works, right? You get to know each other, you might hold her hand, you might get a little smooch, you know, 2 or 3 dates from now.
I’m saying it’s the same in business. We go right up and we go for the kill. If you want to be deliberate, and I call it a dripping early and often, is that you want to drip on people regularly giving them value. I know I’ve got a friend of mind in the digital world.
He gives away 95% of his content. That’s a lot. And he makes MILLIONS on the other 5%, because he’s constantly giving value. The other thing that we do is we really, really keep up with people and we send thank you cards. We send little gifts for things that are exceptional.
Even with the podcast hosts, you know, we have the number on a google doc, we have the number of the show they are, the interview, their name, who they are, their URL, how we contacted them, when it was recorded, when it’s going to go live, their contact email, the personal hosts name, any notes that we have. It’s just a way to keep up and follow up.
Because when you’re prepared, you know, that’s when you make money, is when preparation meets opportunity.
Now we’re ready, because we’ve got all the details. We’re factual and we’re ready to go. If you do things haphazardly with no rhyme or reason, no system. The biggest thing is – whatever you pick, be consistent. And there’s where we lose most people, is because it doesn’t show fruit immediately.
Aaron: And we set it aside. And it’s like ‘dude! If you’d have dug three more shovels full, there was the gold nugget!
Aaron: They just don’t keep on keep on keepin on. And that’s where that mindset, you know, don’t quit comes in. And consistency is probably the number one tool.
Dave: Yeah, and it sounds like consistency and then somewhat of a focus.
Aaron: Intense focus. Very deliberate.
Dave: Yeah, and it sounds like you’re maximizing the LinkedIn platform rather than scattering across.
Aaron: Yea, why would you not do that? Listen to this: there’s 380 million active users on LinkedIn. They want to do business. Those guys, there, they don’t care about your dog on Facebook. They’re there to do business. Why would you not capitalize on that? And then you can do advanced searches for your particular geographical area.
You can hone it down – it’s like shooting a rifle. You can so dial in to your avatar. And so reach out to those guys, and connect! See, here’s the myth: that we need hundreds of thousands of connections. You really don’t. You just need to be really deep with the ones that you do connect with. You really need to know them.
One time there was a friend of mine, he owns a bank here in Nashville. And the grandfather was standing outside, and I was standing besides the grandson. And the grandson was going to be taking over the bank. And there was a customer walking away, and Mr. Claude said ‘John Claude, who is that customer.’ And he said ‘I don’t know, granddaddy.’ And he said ‘when he turns around I’ll tell you. You don’t know the customer well enough.’
That made a real impact on me. I’m thinking we really really need to know the people intimately that we’re doing business with. Instead we try to get six million Facebook likes, and we try to have four trillion LinkedIn connections.
And what we need is engagement. And when you really engage with a few and go deep, you’ve got all the business that you’ll need. So quit trying for volume, and go for depth.
Dave: I think you hit the nail on the head right there. And I want to respect your time. That was really really good, as far as really focusing in on engaging with the people that you have in front of you. And I think that’s a lesson for any business, especially podcasters.
Tell us a little bit, as we wrap up here, where can people go to learn more about you, and I know you mentioned, before we got started recording, that you had something you’d like to share with my audience.
Aaron: Well, thank you David, first of all I want to say, man, what a delight and joy you’ve been. You’ve made me feel very comfortable and I enjoy that, you’ve been a great host.
Dave: Thanks, I appreciate that.
Aaron: You get a 10 in on the scale of 1 to 10 today, so you’re an awesome guy, but thank you. You’re audience can connect with me a viewfromthetop.com. A couple of different options that they have if they want to further engage, I do one on one coaching with entrepreneurs and help them grow their business.
We have what’s called iron sharpens iron mastermind groups to where you can be anywhere in the world and participate in this virtual conference room where we challenge each other and go to the next level.
And then the community is something that’s really exciting that I started several months ago, we’ve already got national and international guests there. We have people that are brand new and we have seasoned veterans that are participating in the community – it’s really affordable, it’s like $37 a month. And it’s the most affordable way there is to have interaction and contact with me individually.
There are three documents that I wrote that I use daily in coaching. One’s called a Personal Assessment to where we look at ourselves individually, we look at our identity, our ideals, our career, our relationships, our faith – it’s just kind of a deep dive into yourself.
The second one is called ‘What Do I Want?’ And David this is the biggest problem with most people, they don’t even know what they want. They just want to go fast and more, get, shiny — it’s just give me more stuff. They don’t live their life intentionally, they don’t live on purpose. So this document helps you focus that.
And then people told me ‘Aaron, I understand who I am now, I know what I want, but I don’t know what to do next, and I wrote a three page document called ‘Steps To a Productive Day.’
It’s kind of a to-do list on steroids. It really takes you through the whole day. It kind of implements a strategy how you can live your life the most productive every day.
I’ve taken the price off all those, and I’m going to give them to your audience. And I’ve created a landing page viewfromthetop.com/remarkable. All in lowercase letters. You just go to the landing page, you can get those documents, and hopefully it’ll be a catalyst to help you live a life that is successful and significant.
Dave: Yeah, I appreciate that and I’ll make sure that I include that link in my show notes as well. And if there’s a podcaster in my audience, other podcasters, if a podcaster would like to talk to you or see if you’re a good fit for their show, is there any particular place where they should reach out to you? Or connect with you, or find more about you for that?
Aaron: Yeah, there’s a couple of different ways. There are three email addresses I’ll give you – you can contact either of my assistants, you can contact Brooke[at]viewfromthetop.com or Hollie[at]viewfromthetop.com.
And either one of those can send you my calendar, will schedule a time to talk, and I would absolutely love to be a guest on your show and hopefully add some value to your listeners.
Dave: Yeah, that’s great, maybe next year at podcast movement, maybe you can get a reward for being the most listened to guests or something.
Aaron: I’m going to be there, man, I’ve already bought my ticket. I can’t wait, it’ll be a blast!
Dave: Yeah, I’ll be there as well.
Aaron: I look forward to meeting up with you and I’ll buy you breakfast out there, David, how’s that.
Dave: If you’re serious, I’ll take you up on it.
Aaron: Well mark it down, we’ve got an audience that’s going to test to my commitment to you, so, breakfast on me in Chicago.
Dave: Awesome. Aaron, thanks again for your time, enjoy the rest of your beautiful fall afternoon.
Aaron: You too, David.
Dave: Take care.
Aaron: Alright, bye bye.