Wake up your network and launch your idea to an audience of people that need AND want it. Robbie Samuels is what some would call a “multi-hyphenate.” In his case, this means he's a professional speaker – business growth strategy coach – virtual event design consultant – executive Zoom producer – emcee – podcast host – author – virtual presentation skills trainer, and so much more. Tune in for the exact steps he took to reinvent himself and create a multiple six-figure business in 2020.
Some of this weeks episode highlights are:
10:36 So you can have a great idea, but if you don't have the right audience it won’t work. You could have the best hotdog stand in the world, but if you don't have a hungry audience, it doesn't matter. But, if you have a starving audience, you can have mediocre hot dogs and make millions.
16:34 Kaizen - continuous improvement: It's about being 5% better. Every time you host or speak online, like every single time, you touch this, you're going to get 5% better.
27:01 Experts often have "expert syndrome." They know exactly the solution that people need, but the person they're working with does not yet know that is what they need.
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Robbie Samuels (00:00):
It's always about just like little tweaks you're going to make. And that was what I was doing, you know, being fibers and better. And I was hosting so many events in the very beginning that I just had a lot more opportunities to get 5% better quickly. And so you add that up and it's exponential.
Welcome to the SideHustle Lounge. If you're looking for flexible ways to earn income, grow your mindset, and live the lifestyle you've always dreamed of, you are in the right place. So lower the lights. Grab your favorite beverage and join your host. Founder of NotaryCoach.com and Amazon bestselling author of Sign and Thrive: How To Make Six Figures As A Mobile Notary And Loan Signing Agent, Bill Soroka.
Bill Soroka (00:55):
Cheers and welcome to my next guest today. Robbie Samuels, he's a fellow multi-passionate entrepreneur recognized as a networking expert and an expert in digital event design. Robbie, thanks for being here.
Robbie Samuels (01:07):
So, so happy to be with you Bill.
Bill Soroka (01:10):
I've been looking forward to our conversation because, you know, since we first connected, I think it was 2017, right after your book was launched the idea of being an expert in digital event design, I'm not even sure it was around back then. The world has changed and you have reinvented your business. And that's what we're talking about today, since then. Can you tell us more about what happened in March of 2020 for you and your business?
Robbie Samuels (01:37):
Well, as you know, prior to March of 2020, my focus for over a decade was teaching people how to network at conferences. And that was really because we all say the reason we go to events, the reason we get on planes travel is not just for the content, but it's for the possibility of making great connections.
Robbie Samuels (01:58):
But in reality, we fail miserably and our follow-through. So our intentions are higher follow through are poor. So I was working with both individual participants as well as organizations to help them design more engaging events. And that work became let's just say not needed in March, 2020, when events became all virtual and virtual events really became synonymous with events. So eye contact business cards, shaking hands, body language, which had been the things I talked a lot about. I mean, I'd written a book about, as you mentioned, a podcast for almost five years, did a TEDx… I mean, coaching on it all gone. So my focus in March was how do I show up, add value? That was a mantra for me. How do I show up and add value? We will remember people who showed up and added value. So I did have a little moment of hesitation.
Robbie Samuels (02:52):
March 11th is when I think I accepted this was happening March 13th. I met with my peer mastermind and they kind of kicked me in the butt and said, Robbie, you don't think of networking as a thing that only happens at events. I'm like, you're right. You're like, you've built an amazing global network over the last five years. Why don't you just write something to help people do that? And like, oh, okay. That makes sense. I, as the thing I can do, so I wrote nine ways to network in a pandemic and I shared it on March 12th, which was Thursday and it got a good response. And then that night I thought I should probably do one of these things. And I was looking at the list and on the list was host a virtual happy hour. And I'm a big proponent of hosting dinner gatherings. At conferences I'm always organizing dinners. I've organized dinners for conferences that were in my town that I wasn't even attending, but I had friends attending. So I thought I should do this. And I put out a note to one of these online communities that I'm in, Hey, if I do this tomorrow, you come. It was like eight o'clock Thursday night. And they, couple people said yes, right away. So I was like, all right, it's happening? So the reason I've hosted a, a weekly, no more bad zoom, virtual happier every Friday at five o'clock Eastern is because I came up with the idea the night before, and that was my first open, like opportunity. It wasn't like I did research about when to do it. You just do it. And within a few weeks, I came to realize this was a thing by April 14th, I bought the domain NoMoreBadZoom.com.
Speaker 1 (04:16):
And I also, that week announced that I was going to be running a pilot four week program to help people improve their skills around virtual presentations and online facilitation and virtual event design. And that's because I had been fielding so many catch-up call, coffee chats, pick your brain calls in the last few weeks. And I knew as a coach, as a business strategy, coach the pay attention to that. And I knew it wasn't sustainable, even though I had nothing else going on because I didn't have a business. My business went away, even though all that went away, I knew it wasn't sustainable to just have those calls and that this was… there was something I could offer as a group program. And I did pilot it and I ran it four months in a row. 40 people went through it and it became a certification program.
Robbie Samuels (05:07):
So that really was the beginning of that reinvention. And somewhere along the way, people started to realize I had these skills and wanted to hire me. So by the summer people were hiring me and I had to stop running the program briefly. Serve my clients all fall, hit six figures and eight and eight months. And it's just been, it's been rolling along since then.
Bill Soroka (05:32):
Yeah, that is insane. So you hit six figures as a zoom producer within eight months just helping other people. Yeah. Teaching other people and running these zooms.
Robbie Samuels (05:45):
It was, it was a combination of multiple new revenue streams. So the, for the weekly events for, and always has been but then the four week program, you know, it started out as a $500 pilot and then it went to a thousand and then $1500 and then $2,000, right?
Robbie Samuels (06:02):
Like this year I ran it twice to $2,000. And it got better in that time. I got to have all this content now that people get access to over 60 zoom tutorial videos that I've created and shared online that are organized into a learning management system for people who take the program or they get access to it for weeks in advance and come ready to really dive into the topic. But I didn't have that initially. I had nothing pre recorded for the first four. In fact, there was no mention on my website that I even did this for the first - let's see, 20 people that came into the program, the first 20 people that came into the program, nothing on my website. And then I just made this like static homepage. Like I'm not a graphic designer, let's just say, and that's all I had.
Robbie Samuels (06:49):
And I got a new website at the end of the Q1 2021. So I didn't wait to build a website. I didn't have a landing page. I just like told people I did this thing. I had a Google doc. I had a Google like yeah, I had a Google doc that explained what was in it. And, and that's how it's got - it got started, you know? And it was like paying attention to what people needed. And, and partly, I think I responded this way because I was also in the moment I was working with a company doing business strategy and I was working with about 12 or 15 entrepreneurs a week on business strategy. With these a year long programs together. And so they were going through the same stages, right. Trying like from ideation to product market fit to lead generation, right.
Robbie Samuels (07:41):
To, you know, higher conversion rates. And I was coaching them on that. So then they, you know, one of the other coaches started to just ask me questions about my process as like a learning. And I was like, yeah, I'm basically doing all that. And so I think I, I also wasn't tied to any outcome. I - what I'm not mentioning Bill, the things that I tried that didn't work? Yeah. Right. Cause there's plenty of revenue streams. I attempted that like went nowhere quickly. But the point was that they quickly like went nowhere and then I was able to go onto the next thing on to the next thing. Yeah. That's what light touch, piloting something. Yeah. And then I got hired by some big companies and now I have, I only have a handful of, of event clients, but they have repeat work. So it's been really great.
Bill Soroka (08:32):
That's what really stands out with your story though, is your number one, you were in the arena. You didn't tuck your head in the sand and worry about what's going to happen. You started adapting very quickly. And I think that was one of the keys for everything. You get down there and you start doing it. So you're coaching entrepreneurs probably on the best practices, but when your environment changed, the best practices have to shift too, right?
Robbie Samuels (09:00):
Oh yeah. I mean, I think that one of the things that happened in that moment, like the early parts of the pandemic is that there was no, there was nothing about failing, because everybody globally, our world had shifted. So first of all, no, one's paying attention to me. Right. Everyone's focused because the world just rocked their, you know, their, their horizon changed too. Right. So, you know, there was no scrutiny and anything, you tried, people were grateful for the effort, like, like the, the openness to anything, which is why early on, there was so many virtual what were those even called - summits.
Robbie Samuels (09:44):
There, there was like all these virtual summits because people were like, I want to offer a way to help. And this is the thing I know how to do. And it's like, we were inundated by virtual summits and I kept saying yes, but that's, we're not missing content. We're missing community. We're missing connection summits as like dripped out content, which is what they traditionally had been, wasn't going to suffice. So one of my revenue ideas, it didn't come to fruition was that I, I helped a few friends who I got interviewed, but then I also ran a, you know, a, I guess you'd call it like a happy hour or like a, a group discussion live where people got into breakout rooms based on different topics that they were interested in. And I thought, oh, you know, this would add a lot of value to what our entrepreneurs running these summits, because then these are the people who would be even more keen to buy their products.
Robbie Samuels (10:33):
But the entrepreneurs themselves were not flushed with money. So you can have a great idea, but if you don't have the right audience, like I just heard a great analogy about like, you know, you could have the best hotdog stand in the world, but if you don't have a hungry audience, like, you know, it doesn't matter. But if you, if you have a starving audience, you can have a mediocre, hot dogs and make millions. I think that it wasn't the right fit. But it gave me an idea that people were craving this. And I was trying to, I kept trying to like figure out like, what's the hook here? How do I help? And ultimately, and now I'm going back to really just thinking through this process for other people, like I'm no longer working at that company, partly because I didn't have time.
Robbie Samuels (11:18):
Like by, by December of last year, I worked every day past April, except for father's day and Thanksgiving. I mean, it was just, and Thanksgiving doesn't count because it doesn't end in Y I mean, I work every day. It ends in Y all right.
Bill Soroka (11:32):
Well, I love that. And the evolution doesn't start there. And I think you're kind of, you're hinting towards this right now is everything that you're learning. You've learned it with all your previous experiences as well, but this process of creating a product, launching it, even if you're, you don't have a huge audience that's is that the next step for you?
Robbie Samuels (11:53):
Yes. And I've also to say about kind of in hindsight, it's inevitable that I ended up building the business I did, but in the moment it felt anything but inevitable. And I want to mention this because I wrote an email about this.
Robbie Samuels (12:10):
I write a weekly email, it's got a little story with a little business or life lesson, like a little twist in it. And I wrote at one point last year I, I mean, I will tell you that prior to the pandemic, I did not identify as an MC. And I clearly am an MC I didn't market myself as an MC. I did MC roles type, I would say MC like roles, but I did not market that. And I have an interest in tech, not like heavy duty programming, but I like technology as far as how it serves me or makes me more productive. And I've taught people how to use technology more efficiently. So this is all these little things that you have, you sort of realize you have all these skillsets that no one ever valued before you never valued before.
Robbie Samuels (12:56):
So my first time I did the virtual happy hour, I facilitated online and it was okay, but people loved it because it was so much better than what other people had done and the expectations for what people thought it was going to be. And then what it turned out to be were so high, but I got the end of the hour. I was like, I'm not going to do that again. We basically went around in a circle, you know, everyone had their three minutes, but I knew how to keep things moving the following week is when I opened virtual, sorry, opened a breakout rooms for the first time. First time, first time. So I'm telling you that I, March 20th, 2020, I opened breakout rooms the first time discover that I had them because everyone didn't know, just like, I'm just, I didn't know, no one knew.
Robbie Samuels (13:36):
And then by March I'm selling a product. So that process of like listening to your audience and iterating and applying like a piloted, like minimally viable way, that is now the forward momentum for my work. I have still sort of this split vision in my business where I'm doing the virtual event, design the executives and producing piece of it that's happening. And then I'm also really digging deeper into my business strategy side, new book coming out in October as called Small List, Big Results - Successfully launch a new offer, no matter the size of your email list. And so I've got a multi step launch plan that is with the book, but it also goes into a year long mastermind that I'm selling. It's a premium product, but everything that I'm doing this this fall was going to be low cost and free content is all about getting people to the point where they realize they need that.
Robbie Samuels (14:32):
So I'm following my own best practice in a macro level while teaching it, it's, it's sort of, it's very meta in a way.
Bill Soroka (14:41):
Well, this is how things get done. I think there's this perception sometimes from, from those who haven't stepped into this arena quite yet, that we've got it all figured out and that we have this huge master plan from the very beginning. And that when you were three years old, you just knew you were going to all this experience was going to culminate into this, and you've got all the answers and you've got all the certifications. It's not though, it's sometimes you're just figuring it out and piecing it all together. And I think you're, you've got a great demonstration of that. And I also want to share too, is I'm amazed by your story because you just shared in March, it was March 13th, 2020, then it was just a couple of weeks after that, that you're doing breakout rooms.
Bill Soroka (15:28):
And I had the pleasure of being a part of an event that you emceed and produced for us in November. So we're talking about six months later and there are still people here we are almost a year later raving about that event and how it was the best online event they've ever attended. Not because of the content, the content was great, but it was fun. And everybody had zoom burnout by that time anyway. Right. They're just fried. And then the event that you led just inspired so much, it really re-invigorated online events for us again. So that, that exponential growth from when you first started this in March to being where you were just in November. And I can't even imagine where you are right now is inspiring. And it, it, I hope that people hear this and realize that they can figure things out when the world shifts on them adapt.
Bill Soroka (16:29):
The ability to adapt is so key to this. So thank you for, for that part.
New Speaker (16:34):
Well, something you're touching on that I want to underscore is the idea of continuous improvement, which in Japan, they call it Kaizen. And I, I think this is so important. And before I knew the concepts, like in the world, it was something that I was, I was doing. And I was even teaching. In fact, the four week program that became the certification for, for virtual event professionals is called the 5% advantage program. And my wife, who's not an entrepreneur. I was like, no one, no one wants to only be 5% better. Like what, that's not a good sales pitch. And I said, no, no, no, no, no. It's about being 5% better every time you host or speak online, like every single time, like you touch this, you're going to get 5% better.
Robbie Samuels (17:18):
It's always about just like little tweaks you're going to make. And that was what I was doing, you know, being fibers and better. And I was, I was hosting so many events for free for my friends, for myself, for low money in the very beginning that I just had a lot more opportunities to get 5% better quickly. And so you add that up and it's exponential. And so by November, I really did have, I mean, when I was first hired in, I was hired in August to do my first event. And I, I, I was still trying to foresee what it would look like. But when I got on the call with them, it was two, two guys who were like on the committee for this chapter of a national association. I was able to ask them all these questions that help them figure out what they even needed.
Robbie Samuels (18:13):
And that made me realize how much I knew. Like I didn't, I didn't know, going into the conversation exactly how it was gonna turn out, but I knew how to have a conversation about it, that elicited from them, what they even wanted, because they didn't have words for it. And that's when I started thinking, wow, this is different. So when I charge to, to host virtual events, to produce virtual events, to do the, the speaker prep, the training, all that stuff, I'm, I'm at a premium level because what I'm offering is very different. I'm not just opening breakout rooms for people. And I actually signed a really big client and the end of 2020 in part of the process was they asked me to be email. Can you put the client wants to know it was like a third party hiring me. The client wants to know, can you put 10 people in a breakout room for 10 minutes and then put five people in a breakout room for 10 minutes later on at the same event.
Speaker 1 (19:09):
And I answered yes, but I can't think of any circumstance where that would make sense. There are best practices about how do you use breakout rooms. And yeah, I, I would share that with you, if the client was interested and then they were like, can you tell us much more? So I said, I have best practices on these like six things here are all around breakout rooms. Let me explain this one in particular and the other person that was vying for the job answered. Yes.
Bill Soroka (19:36):
Oh, that was it.
Robbie Samuels (19:38):
Because technically you can do it technically you can do 10 people for 10 minutes and five below for 10 minutes, but I'm thinking strategically, what is the outcome of the time that you're spending with people? Like, what are you trying to achieve by doing this exercise? I'm a real fan of purpose. First design. Don't just like, do this gadget, you know, this plugin, this, this program, whatever.
Robbie Samuels (20:01):
Don't just do it cause you can like, how, how is it? So the strategy piece, which again goes back to the strategy piece for business. Like these are all skills I've developed over time, but I, you know, I didn't value that the same way. Back when I had a Blackberry and my friends would invite me to coffee and I would let them pick my brain. Right. So so I, I think that we're all sitting on a lot of unrecognized talent and we also, our other huge resource that has untapped is our network.
Bill Soroka (20:36):
Yeah. How do we, how do we get over that? What were some of the things that you did to recognize that? Because I run into this a lot in my own coaching is people it's like, they shut the door when they walk into a new opportunity and they leave those skills, all those things that made them amazing in the previous ventures or jobs.
Bill Soroka (20:57):
And then they start from scratch. How do we get through that?
Robbie Samuels (21:01):
The primary demographic that I work with one-on-one tends to be entrepreneurial women over the age of 50 and a common thing that happens with this demographic, which I don't think is universal to just them. But I think is widely associated is this idea that like now they're on the cusp of something new and they feel like a novice and a, like you said, really aren't digging into the network they built for 20 or 30 years. Aren't digging the skills they've, they've developed over 20 or 30 years. And me reminding them of that is what's opens up so many doors. And and when I run masterminds, it's similar. It's, I'm trying to get people on the same page, I think about their own networks. So the reason the book is about how to successfully launch a new offer, no matter the size of your email list, because yes, I do believe we should develop our email list.
Robbie Samuels (21:51):
Like I'm a proponent of that, but we all feel like it's an adequate to the task. Like our results are never where we want them to be. And we feel like we're all waiting for the next. And by the way, you could be a 2000 and want 5,000. You could be at 5,000 a month, 10,000, you can be at 10,000 a month, 40,000. Like no one feels like they're there yet. And so how do we think about this is I have a whole process I call wake up your network where you go through either your LinkedIn list or your Facebook list, or your phone contacts list, your email contacts, list something, and you identify people that you would, that you enjoyed getting to know that would remember you years later, like these are people that you, you know, you had a good connection back when you knew each other well, and you'd welcome hearing from them out of the blue.
Robbie Samuels (22:45):
And then you had to do sort of this this little metrics thing where you're trying to figure out, you know, how well is your connection? How strong is their influence, and how strong is their interest? So their connection is obvious, right? How strong is your connection to you? Would they quickly answer your email or your call? Their influence is interesting to think about because if they have a, like, you've, you have a lot of influence, right? You run a whole community, so you have great influence. So by me reaching out to you, I'm also thinking about you as a referral partner, not just as a prospect, even though you might be both. I want to be thinking about you as referral partner, but then someone else might have low, low influence high on the interest side. Right. And that person is likely prospect.
Robbie Samuels (23:35):
So, and then there are other people who, the numbers that you add them up across, like they're not, they don't rank very high at all for anything. So you're just, you just kind of drop those people off the list for now. And you look at them again later, and then some people are gonna end up being coffee chats. So in the end you ended up with likely prospects like the referral partners and coffee chats and coffee chats are, you're like, I'm so excited. I remembered so-and-so and they don't fit neatly into a category right now, but I would love to reconnect with them. That energy is so important when you're starting a new thing. I think that like having someone who already thought of equal well of you and reminds you about a time, you really competent and who knows, they might end up being a prospect, they might being referral partner, but it gives a chance for you to practice what it is you're talking about in a low stress environment.
Robbie Samuels (24:27):
You're not pitching anyone, you know, it's just, Hey, what have you been up to? Yeah, well, I'm actually working on this new thing. Like, it's just a coffee chat, it's chill. And I think getting a few of those kind of done and figuring out our systems for tracking, you know, how we're going to keep track of the messages that we have, and also even a calendar system. If you don't already have one set up for booking online quickly, like working that all out with good coffee chats would be helpful. So for me, it's like start by doing this assessing. And with my coaching clients, I've always set a goal that they should find a hundred people. And I'm actually working on this for my book. And these pop-up masterminds that I'm doing this fall and I set the bar at 50, but I also know that the effort it takes to make 50 you'll end up finding 200, like the goal is to get started.
Robbie Samuels (25:13):
And then the question is, well, what do you do? You know, how do you engage this list of contexts you've identified, right? And that's where you get into research calls and, you know, listening and identifying problem language and, and then eventually piloting. So I think that first step is so critical and it's a misstep that wake up your network part. I actually lost a client because we worked together for a year and she signed up for another six months package. And we met for the deep dive. And I'd given her homework at the end of the last six months that she do this. And she said, Robbie, I have to tell you that I got a job offer for making those calls. Now she's an entrepreneur and was not looking to get hired. And she gave all the reasons for why she didn't want to get hired.
Robbie Samuels (26:01):
And they kept throwing more and more into it. Like, you can have your business still, whatever pay you want, whatever hours you want, travel budget. I mean, like sweeten the deal to the point where she just couldn't say no. And she ended up not continuing coaching with me because she landed this role. And why did she land it? She became top of mind to someone in her network who had a need, because she reached out to them for coffee chat. It's so powerful on it by offering her a job.
Bill Soroka (26:34):
Unexpected result. Yeah. I love that. You, you teach this, I teach something very similar. I love the words that you placed, but, and you tell me, do you, this is what most people resist the most. They just don't want to contact. And they don't know what to say when they do, what do you tell your clients? If you get that level of resistance?
Robbie Samuels (26:53):
Well, I get resistance on a few levels. One is I work with experts, and experts have what I call expert syndrome. They know exactly the solution that people need. They can read the situation and they're like, oh, I know what you need. Problem is the person they're talking to does not know what they need. And so it's a mismatch. So if you have someone who is symptom aware, not yet problem aware, and you're selling them a solution, they think it's disproportionate to their need. You're not talking to them and they move on. And so experts go and create courses and programs and packages in a vacuum with no input from likely prospects and are miserable by the results. So rather than do that, taking the time to have conversations with people, not to pitch your plans, tell them your program, how many weeks, none of that.
Robbie Samuels (27:55):
But just say here's the overall sort of general sense of things I'm thinking about. I love to hear your feedback about it. I feel like you'd be person have a lot of great insights. You know, what's your experience been? And in fact, if you can come with three problems, the three questions, the three scenarios, so we can just talk through, and then instead of solving quickly, those three things, then spending some time helping them understand, like, why, why did you pick these three? Like, are they more urgent? How are they impacting your life? What have you tried? What do you think would work? Like really helping them start to see how these fit into our larger problem and avoiding the mistake that we all make, which is to give away an hour's worth of free advice. Yeah. We've all done that. And then we're shocked that no one comes in and buys from us.
Robbie Samuels (28:39):
But here's what I think happens. Bill. If I give you an hour's worth of free advice, I feel awesome. You're feeling pretty good, but in reality, you're not going to actually implement an hour's worth of free advice. Cause I didn't help you prioritize. I didn't tell you which thing to start with. I just like loaded your brain with tons of 20 ideas. And so you keep having it written on your to-do list, but you never really get to done and you start feeling kind of bad about it. And then you see me online, you see me at an event and you're like, oh, I should. And you want to like avoid me? Cause what if I asked you about it instead of reaching out to me, you don't want to bother me because you still feel like you want to follow through and all the free advice I already gave you.
Robbie Samuels (29:19):
So then even if you need help, you ask somebody else what? That is the exact opposite of what we want our prospects to do. So I have this, like, I'll tell you as moment in my head, I was moment I had where I'm talking to someone, it could be a coffee chat, it could be a sales call. It doesn't matter where I suddenly realized my brain is exploding with ideas for them. And I've already given them, let's say one or two kind of like big picture things to think about. Here's what I think might be going on. What do you think? Kind of questions. And I'll say, wow, I have a lot of ideas in my head that I could share right now because you sound a lot like the clients that I work with, Hey, would you like to hear, what would it be like for us to work together?
Robbie Samuels (29:59):
And that invitation, that permission based like, let's go to the next stage. It frames the conversation immediately. I'm now a guide or a mentor or an expert coach. And they're a person who's considering whether or not they want to work with me. So of course they're going to say yes, because I've already given them something to think about. And then I then share an outcome. Well, here's someone that comes to mind. Here's how we work together. And here's the results. They achieved. Two minutes story. Are those the kind of results? Is that the kind of outcome you're looking for? They're like, whoa, you're in my head. Like, this is totally, have you been reading my journal? If they say that, then it's like, okay, would you like to hear a little bit of how we would do this? And now of course they're on the edge of their seat.
Robbie Samuels (30:46):
So again, I don't go into the super details. I'm like, well, you know, I tend, I have either a group or one-on-one like, what is your preference right now? Are you looking to go fast and like individualized attention? Or you liked the idea of having community support group countability. And they tell me, and then I might say, okay, well here's a general structure, you know, is that every two weeks, whatever the rhythm is. And then they're like, yeah. So meanwhile, I'm looking for yeses, I'm looking for lots of yeses. There's a whole series of yeses. Right. And then I'm like, I've explained the whole thing to them. I've dealt with any known reasons. Like they might say no. So if I'm worried about how much time is going to take, I talk about that. And I handle that. If I think about the like whether the outcome is going to be right for them, we talk about that.
Robbie Samuels (31:37):
We talk about all these things and then I I've talked about now everything's up to the money. And I just say, is there anything else? I'm, you know what, please let me know. What else would you like to know? And then eventually they'll say, well, there's no way I'm able to afford this. Like, you know, how, how much is this Robbie? And I'm like, well, it is an investment. And it's about working on your business. But you know, 18 months from now, you could be well on your way to that goal. You're just talking about what would be possible if that were happening. And they'll tell me, and then I'll ask two or three more questions about their, their big dream of what would be possible. And I said, okay, well, we'll have that in mind. Here's the investment. And I got to tell you, I only work with people who are willing to do the work.
Robbie Samuels (32:19):
So that's something for you to think about for yourself. And I don't even want an answer right now. I want you to go and sit with this because I know the number one reason people are successful is because they commit to doing the work. So you can call me back in 15 minutes or we can schedule a time two days from now. But you know, I want you to sit with this because your outcome is based on their own effort.
Bill Soroka (32:40):
No, Robbie, I'd like you to take my credit card right now. I don't even know what you're selling and I'm ready. I'm ready to buy it.
Robbie Samuels (32:46):
It's it's, it's just like you just, I, I don't want their cell. Like I don't, I'm not needy about it. I'm not begging, I am an offer. It's a gift I'm making. I'm like, here's the gift. And I'm telling them that the work is all on them.
Robbie Samuels (33:03):
I will guide them, but it's their business. Right? And even if I give them advice in the middle of that call, I'm like, listen, I got points something out. We've been talking about this for 15 minutes. There's no way I know enough to diagnose what's going on here accurately. I'm merely able to give you some ideas. Please do not take this as a diagnosis. There are so much more, which leaves the door open for them to come back to me when they run into trouble. I'm like, listen, this isn't, there's no way that I, what I'm telling you is perfect. Like, let's just be real photography for 15 minutes. So I want to leave myself as a resource to them, not the person they avoid when they see online or see in person. So yeah, extra beat.
Bill Soroka (33:39):
Yeah. And it's not about closing the deal. So at that phone call sometimes, right? You're just delivering the value.
Robbie Samuels (33:46):
We'll have to say Bill. That's the thing that separates us from a lot of people on the online marketing world, because there's a lot of people selling you on the need to make it a sell that moment. So all about scarcity and all, I mean, all of that stuff, which is how we've all ended up buying courses and programs that we don't actually end up using. Right. and that doesn't benefit anyone except the person who will, you know, the, the, the huckster who was selling that. So no, I more want them to walk away thinking about the cost of inaction. So I mentioned earlier, Bill, I'll go through all the stages. This is actually originally was written about in a book in 1966, I'm blanking on the marketing book.
Robbie Samuels (34:33):
But I heard about it from Danny Iny who's runs a company called Mirasee, which is where I was working in 2019 and 2020 coaching entrepreneurs. And then I heard a variation of this from Jason van Orden, who is the host of the Internet Business Mastery, LLC. So people are symptom aware, right? Then they are problem aware, then they're solution aware, okay. Then they're YOU aware? And then they're NOW aware. So if they have let's say you had an itchy arm, you kept getting a rash. It would go away, comes back, go away and come back. So you come to me and I take a look at it and I'm immediately realizing what it is, but you're coming to me and you have an idea of what the remedy is. You're like, I would like some anti-itch cream, please. So that's your understanding of the problem.
Robbie Samuels (35:23):
And I look at you and I'm like, oh my gosh, this is poison Ivy. You're, you're coming haunting of poison Ivy on a regular basis. And it keeps happening and I'm asking you questions. And we come to determine that it's all over your backyard. So I, for the phone number of a guy I know who has a bulldozer and I hand it to you. I tell you, you need to go. And let's like clear and raise your entire backyard, dirt and start over again. And that's how you're going to solve this problem. But you came to me looking for anti-itch cream, right? You are not interested in my solution. It is a disproportional response to what they expect, so instead you've got to walk people through, what do you think the problem is? What have you tried? What else could you try? Okay, well, why don't you try that and come back, you know, you know, and then help them start to realize, wow, this is a bigger problem than I thought it was.
Robbie Samuels (36:15):
This is a big "P" problem. That a little "p" problem. I need a better solution. Robbie seemed to know a lot about this. Oh, Robbie's the person I should go to. You aware, Robbie's the person I should go talk to. And then now aware is the cost of an action. The urgency is now, now that I realize that I have this problem and I have this possible solution, how could I not move forward? What if I don't do this, then this will keep happening. And I'm no longer head in my sand about it. I know what's happening. And I've tried on my own and I know how far I can get on my own. And I know that there's a limit and I know I want to go further than that. So I'm wanting to go further than that. And then I got to work with Robbie.
Robbie Samuels (36:53):
Well, how's Robbie going, gonna help me. And then they come to you asking for a solution. So there's not even a sales call. It's just working out the details.
Bill Soroka (37:02):
Yeah. And it sounds like that's something that can be done with a conversation or even just with sales copy or when, if you're keeping that process in mind, you can build your brochures, your website, everything around meeting people where they are. If you have that in your mind.
Robbie Samuels (37:17):
Right now, I am in the process of setting up these pop-up masterminds, they are a one time, two hour, eight person session around the topic, the topic being how to successfully launch a new offer, no matter what the size of your email list. Cause that's my book. And that's what I'm working on right now. Right? So there's pre-work and by the way, it's a hundred bucks.
Robbie Samuels (37:43):
So this is not the offer, right? This is like, I just want to get people have some skin in the game. The pre-work is where they do that assessing of their network. And they start discovering all these likely prospects and these likely referral partners. So they come in to the call now like, oh wow. I actually have people now I'm really at this confused point. What do I do with them? And so we're going to talk through, how do you approach, what do you write? How do you follow up? How do you structure the call? Just how do you set up a calendar link, whatever it is, right? Just get people to the point of, okay, you now know there's something you can do. Now. People will then go on their own and try to do some stuff. But then my book comes out and my book will walk them through more of the process.
Robbie Samuels (38:24):
And then I have three free masterclasses coming up later in the fall, which goes further into the details of the book. And at some point they're going to be people who initially worked with me. You know, this September, they are actually come across the inkling of an idea that they think actually has legs and they're going to want it to actually happen. And the idea of it not happening is to be more painful than the cost of writing a check to me. And next year, I'm running a year long program to help people follow through on, on all of that in groups. So initially the group is going to be focused on a cohort of entrepreneurial women, 50 plus, and then I'm going to have a second cohort for everyone who does not identify as a part of that demographic and anyone who comes in ready to go and do the work is absolutely going to get to the end of the year with a revenue stream.
Robbie Samuels (39:12):
Either figure it out or a process that they can rinse and repeat to get the, get the right offer, right. They will learn a ton doing that, but I need to lead people from symptom aware symptom being, I have a small email list, which is why I can't sell anything. That's a symptom. That's not actually a huge problem, right? The problem is that they're limiting how they think about who their audience is. And they're not testing before they sell. They're building and trying to sell to the marketplace who doesn't care. So once I make them aware of that disconnect, well, now they're going to look for a solution. They're going to try it on their own. They're going to see the limitations of that and not all people, but some people are going to be like, wow, actually, I'd like to do this for real.
Robbie Samuels (39:59):
So the entire course of the fall for me is about moving people from some unaware to problem aware solution aware to me aware to now aware. And if you said it could be in your marketing material, it could be your emails. It could be brochure. It could be what programs you offer for free or for low costs.
Bill Soroka (40:17):
Well, I love the I love that whole process, but I love that you are providing a service that in, for lack of a better word, hold somebody's hand through a extremely confusing process. Because if you just jump on Google and say, start an online course or develop an online product, you're inundated with a material and a lot of it's good and a lot of it is not. But then jumping in and trying to put all the the moving pieces together is so overwhelming.
Bill Soroka (40:55):
So you're like this beacon of light to people and giving them support. I love the concept now. I want, I would love to. I, first of all, I, I believe that probably everybody who's listening to this Side Hustle Lounge podcast either has a book idea or a business idea, or an online product idea inside somewhere. It's, it's been percolating for years for some of them. But they don't know necessarily how to identify it. So I have two questions for you. The first one is, do you have a methodology to help people identify a product so they can be prepared to join your mastermind?
Robbie Samuels (41:39):
Yes. actually on my website, RobbieSamuels.com/masterclass. I have a series of free masterclasses that I developed a few years back. And one of them is called discover your ideal client, because I don't think it's actually about figuring out what to offer.
Robbie Samuels (41:56):
It's figuring out who to offer it to. So it's a Venn diagram. And mostly we think about these Venn diagrams as the Venn is what to sell. And I'm, I'm saying that Venn is who to sell to. And the process is about discovering because these people are already coming to you for support and service and guidance, right? And you're just not thinking about them in the way that you could be. And if you don't approach this correctly, you end up in certain pitfalls. That could be, it could be a hobby. It become a trap where you're doing work that you don't really know very well. But you're working real hard. It could be burnout because you're, you're doing things that are the expertise that you want to be known for. So it's really about thinking that process through, and then once you start to have a better sense of who your audience is, then the next stage is to go and have conversations with them.
Robbie Samuels (42:54):
And, and within some parameter of this is the stuff I know about, ask them what their challenges are, do everything we talked about earlier, right? What are your three questions? And then tease that out and then transcribe that and zoom now has the ability to have transcription enabled it's free. And so when you get the recording, you get the full transcript to go through that, looking for problem statements, putting that all in a spreadsheet, identifying levels of urgency, categorizing. I mean, it's a process, no one, I listen, I've worked a lot of coaches through this. No, one's been excited about it. A lot of them have resisted for a number of different reasons from I'm an expert already to, I have no one to talk to. So there's two extremes, but those have gone through this process fully have been surprised by learning things.
Robbie Samuels (43:49):
Some of them, it's not that they learn something new about what people needed because they really are experts. They really did know that, but they learned something about language. So let's say I was offering something and I kept talking about people being, you know, I work with women who are fatigued and I kept using the word fatigued, fatigued, but I never once on these calls, hear that word instead. I have a lot of people talking about being exhausted, right? Tired, exhausted, exhausted. Well, then I should stop using the word fatigue and switched it to exhausted. Like then people will read the copy or hear it and be like, oh, you're talking to me. So sometimes these little tweaks and I've also had, I'm another coaching client right now. Who's basically thrown out her initial idea and is now developing kind of a related idea that she didn't think she could do.
Robbie Samuels (44:41):
Like part of the reason she never pursued it is because she just didn't have full belief in herself. But when it became apparent that people needed this, like she's now, she's now still transcribing and categorizing and all this stuff, but she's going to put out a pilot offer and, and test it. And I also think what's great about testing in this way is that you haven't sunk a ton of money and time in, so you don't feel precious about it. And if you have to scrap it or change it or whatever you don't feel like, but I can't, I've already spent $20,000 at that company that helped me create my thing and branding. And like some of these people like you, you go hire someone, they'll go through your content and they'll find a course for you to sell, but they're not going to help you find an audience like, so I think the first part is find the audience, because if you have a great idea for an audience that you have no access to, then you don't have a great idea.
Bill Soroka (45:34):
That's really good perspective. I love that you start there. And it just reminded me that one of the great copywriters I've worked with in the past Ray Edwards, I took a mastermind with him and he even took it a little bit further. And he said that, no, who you're going to sell to first, but then also, what do you want your life to look like? Because when I learned this lesson, the hard way, sometimes you have, you do have a good idea. You have a product that people will buy, but then your life servicing that product is not what you might picture it to do. So if you kind of fast forward yourself, two or three years down the road, whether you want your life to look like you can reverse engineer it and make sure there's alignment there.
Robbie Samuels (46:22):
I think that makes a lot of sense because those of us that are maybe still working and doing a side hustle, we dream of being full, full entrepreneurs, full-time entrepreneurs, but you're just trading in 40 hours of work with, you know, your side hustle to a hundred hours of work on your business.
Robbie Samuels (46:40):
That's not freedom. And you know, like my 2020 the, I mean, I never want to repeat that schedule again like that, that was holding on for dear life, working that many hours. And I have the most like supportive and understanding spouse ever. I have two little kids, you know, so I, it's not sustainable. It was a moment in time. It was necessary. It was a bootcamp experience is how I thought of it. But it's not how I want to design my life. So this year is all this year, 2021 has all been about sort of designing my life differently. Being thought about what I say yes and no to, and, and making sure it's aligned with like one of my goals and all those things. Just being better about passing along offers to other people, if it's not a right fit for yeah.
Robbie Samuels (47:31):
But when you're hungry and you're determined, you end up almost over-committing and it's not all lines, and then you're not known for anything. No one can refer you if you're not known for (inaudible) particularly if you do everything you're not known for anything. So it kind of, yeah, it kind of shoots you in the foot. It's, it's not a good strategy. And I think it's so hard to step back. It's really hard. So I really like about waking up your network is that it gives you like a different perspective that there are people that you have connections with. You could be having these of …
Bill Soroka (48:04):
Robbie Samuels (48:05):
So even if you just listen to.
Bill Soroka (48:07):
Pressure-free conversations, it's not about selling anything.
Robbie Samuels (48:10):
Bill Soroka (48:11):
Robbie Samuels (48:13):
Once you figure out what do you think it is you want to sell based on these calls, you then want to figure out the outcome that you think people are looking for.
Robbie Samuels (48:23):
Right? So you make your best guess as to what you could describe. A one, two sentence statement, you know, at the time, at the end of the time that we work together, you will be able to, or you will experience, whatever it is. And then you want to contact handful of six to 10 of the people you had calls with and asked to run stuff past them and be like, you're, you know, this is the particular thing you said, and you can repeat it verbatim in the email cause you transcribed it. That's really resonated with me. And it stuck with me as I was developing this. And I just I'd love to run. I'm still working on this, but I'd love to run it past you in this point in the process and who wouldn't want off their advice. Everyone wants, you know? Sure.
Robbie Samuels (49:01):
And then you're like, okay, get on the call. And you're like, all right, here's the outcome that I, you know, here's my promise that people working, they will achieve like, let me run this past you. And then you just ask them, like, what do you think? And you listen to them, like either they're going to be like, wow, you totally in my head or they're going to be like, yeah, you know, and they're going to give you feedback now, grain of salt, everything from one person. But if you hear from six people that it's not work, you got to tweak things. And then you also can say, here's a general outline of the program is going to be four or five or six sessions is going to, you know, whatever. So, and then you just kind of get yeses from them, like, yeah, that would work.
Robbie Samuels (49:40):
And then you're like, there's a reason I really re reached out to you is I think you'd be a great fit for this pilot. Not only does it sound like it's alined, I wasn't sure until I talked to you, but now it seems like it's really aligned with what you're looking for because they just like, they just told you that. And I would love your ongoing feedback. So in exchange, I'm going to give you this huge discount, right? The program is normally going to be whatever, and here it's going to be 50% or less. And you know, I I'd love you to join. What, what do you think? And then you get quiet and then they, and for this, it's not even a huge, it's usually not a huge dollar amount. You know, comparatively, you can go, you can, we usually get someone to say, yeah, that sounds like something I want to do.
Robbie Samuels (50:19):
And that's how you find your first six, eight, no more than 12 people to run a pilot with for a handful of weeks, get their feedback and iterate from there.
Bill Soroka (50:30):
Robbie Samuels (50:31):
So you're never building something from scratch. You're building always with them. Co-Creation.
Bill Soroka (50:37):
That's perfect. Segue into my might be my last question for you. And I love that you titled the book, Small List, Big Results. I think one of the biggest quote, unquote insecurities is that our lists are too small. There are so many people who just number one, don't even recognize that they have a list, but they believe that it's too small. So what do you, what advice do you have to the person who might have an idea, but they're not willing to move forward on it because they don't think they know enough people.
Robbie Samuels (51:11):
I think doing the wake up your network exercise would be really, really helpful. You know, the idea of just making a list of people and then figuring out their connection to you, their influence in the world, their interest, and then developing like a list of people to reach out to from that would be a great first step for everybody. Even people who are, who have a pretty strong offer and it's going well, people get stuck because they've stopped. It's all word of mouth. I mean, a lot of people are just not having developed really strong marketing systems. They're so busy executing. This will help you discover a whole new realm of people that you could reach out to. And you may be able to then develop some sort of marketing system that is more automated based on these results. If you already have a proven method, if you already have copy that sells, then you can start to do things like Facebook ads.
Robbie Samuels (52:09):
But prior to that, it makes it's like flushing money. I mean, just give me your money then like, I'll spend it on coffee or something. I don't know. But like, it's silly how people spend money on, on things that are not proven yet as a tactic. So I would start with that. And as far as email lists, I mean, I think they're important. I think that you have a network that goes well beyond that though, you know, keep figuring out how to develop your network, keep thinking about how you can build your email list by offering great gifts or lead magnets. But yeah, don't, don't worry about that so much because you will build the right email list if you offer something of value to the right people.
Bill Soroka (52:54):
Great. I think too we underestimate the size of our list too. Maybe we just keep thinking, we talked to the same 10 people over and over repeatedly and we lose sight of the true size of our network.
Bill Soroka (53:07):
So I think if you look through your phone contacts, your Facebook messages, even your Facebook friends, your Instagram, and all of your emails, you really get a different picture for how big your network is. And if you handwrite your list on a legal pad, which I, I did when I first started really scaling up my business, my hand started to hurt. It wasn't oh, I was like striving to reach a hundred. No, it was all of a sudden, I've got thousands that I have to write on this list. I'm like, man, why do I talk to so many people trying to scale it back?
Robbie Samuels (53:41):
This is where spreadsheets and Google sheets makes sense. I also just want to note something you, you loved by my title and I will tell you that I workshop that title with my, with my likely readers. I had a title in mind and I put it out to a few Facebook communities that had my ideal readers.
Robbie Samuels (53:59):
And initially it was Small List, Big Ambition. And I discovered that women over 45 do not identify with the word ambition. And since I want to attract that audience, it didn't matter that people under 45 did. And so we, yeah, we had then for a moment. It was Goals, Small List, Big Goals. And then someone said, I got plenty of goals. What I want is results. And then I put that out into the world and I listened. People were like, yes, you now, Bob Berg, who was the co-author of the Go-Givers Sell More said that I, now the problem and the solution and the outcome that people want in four ways (inaudible).
Bill Soroka (54:38):
New Speaker (54:38):
Problem is I have a small list. What I want big results. So that's, yeah, like if I had done this without that input, I would have written a book and had a title that did not identify with people that needed it. And so nothing should be created in a vacuum. And by the way, that's all marketing to. Now, I've these people who are waiting to have my book come out, you know, and they're all going to join my launch team. They're all going to get early access to the book. I'm actually offering a librarian, led book club discussion for people who joined my awesome launch team.
Robbie Samuels (55:16):
I'm full of surprises. This fall Bill.
Bill Soroka (55:18):
I can't wait to see it all kind of thing. Please include me on your launch team too. I loved your first book and I'm going to look forward to this one too. You know, you've said, you've mentioned a couple of things along our conversation, and you just touched on it again, is this sometimes emotional attachment that we get to titles, to concepts, to ideas, especially when they've been around for a while, you might think this is going to be the title of my book, or this is what the course is going to be about. And when you get contradicting information, how do you let go of that? Is it, is it just a switch for you or like what the data says this, or I'm going to switch it or do you have to walk yourself through some whether it's ego or just the emotion of letting go of some of that stuff.
Robbie Samuels (56:03):
If one person gives me feedback, it's one person, you know, but if you start to see a trend and I try to get this information from people before I've locked into it, you know, now I, now that I've gone through this process, I'm pretty committed to the title that I have. I was actually debating whether it would say like how to successfully, or to start with successfully in the subtitle. And I've just determined. They will just start with, you know, like I, you know, little things, but I'm pretty locked in now. So now I will not be as open to the feedback, but I had a few weeks there where I actually, there was one week in particular where I just was getting tons of information and I'm doing that same process right now with the pre-work workbook that I give out to people from my pop-up mastermind.
Robbie Samuels (56:51):
I was developing the content and then the cover. And so I sent it to a few people and quickly was iterating. Like finally, I had to figure out how to share the Canva links that I didn't have to keep downloading, updated PDFs for people who are sending me feedback, but it's just, you know, I want this to really work for people. And so getting that, getting that feedback and iterating, but then, you know, at some points, right. And, you know, let me know if you see a typo kind of thing, but other than that, like, I'm not, I'm not looking to read that.
Bill Soroka (57:24):
Yeah. If if anybody listening would like to get dialed into Robbie and his masterminds, I've got a whole section inside the VIP room where you can do so at https://www.sidehustlelounge.com. Robbie, if, if a listener would like to join your masterminds or even your year-long mastermind, how does that work? And does it have a start and an end time for enrollment? Or is that a year long enrollment?
Robbie Samuels (57:57):
Yeah, so I'm doing the pop-up masterminds or these two hour, one time offer for a hundred dollars. That's just a little taste I'm doing early access. The actual deadline of that has already passed. But that was again for me to soft test this with a small community people, I got 24 people signed up very quickly and I was like, okay, this is a thing. And then starting in September, I was broadcasting it to the world. And so I'm basically filling eight sessions of eight people each. And when this airs, you'll still be time for you to go check out the link in the VIP section (https://www.sidehustlelounge.com/VIP), because the deadline to sign up for one of those is September 15th. So you can go check that out and then we can get you, you know filled in for one of the, one of the slots has coming up and then my year long program I'll be really making the offer for that in November.
Robbie Samuels (58:49):
And there are some early signing bonuses where it's 10 monthly sessions, 10, 10 monthly mastermind sessions, and at least two and up to five one-on-one calls with me. And so the additional one-on-one calls are for people who sign up early. So if you're like, I am so, I know this is I don't need to wait all fall to know this is the thing for me. You basically go to my website, RobbieSamuels.com, go to the coaching section. You fill out a little form, we schedule a call if you're sold on it. And I think it's a good fit to the sooner you sign up the earlier you, the more bonuses you get, you get an additional one-on-one call for me. So it's like basically the end of September 1, October 1, November 1 are all deadlines to get additional bonuses.
Bill Soroka (59:38):
Awesome. Robbie, well, I can tell that you're going to be bringing so much value to the community and for anybody who has that idea churning inside. So I can't wait to see where you go with this. Thank you so much for spending so much of your time and sharing your ideas and inspiration with us.
Robbie Samuels (59:53):
My pleasure Bill. Thank you."
Robbie Samuels is what some would call a “multi-hyphenate.” In his case, this means he's a professional speaker – business growth strategy coach – virtual event design consultant – executive Zoom producer – emcee – podcast host – author – virtual presentation skills trainer, and I'm likely leaving something out… He has been recognized as a “networking expert” by Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Inc, and as an “industry expert in the field of digital event design” by JDC Events. He assists organizations with bringing their events strategically online with less stress and greater participant engagement. He coaches entrepreneurs to leverage their virtual network to launch new offers even if they have a small email list. Since 2016, he has hosted the On the Schmooze podcast and since March 2020, a weekly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hour. He's here to talk about how he reinvented himself in 2020 and launched a thriving multi six-figure business.
Connect with Robbie Here:
www.NoMoreBadZoom.com - join Robbie at his free weekly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hour - Fridays at 5pm ET. These are a fun way to network and discover new ways to design engaging online experiences. The first 75-90 minutes is a mix of Zoom tips and lots of networking, followed by 60 minutes of Q&A. Usually, about 50-60 entrepreneurs attend.
www.the5percentadvantage.com - ready to improve your Zoom game? Learn more about my four-week certification program that helps presenters and meeting professionals grow in their confidence with Zoom, online facilitation, and virtual event design so they can reduce their tech angst and host more engaging online experiences.
www.OntheSchmooze.com - guests share untold stories about leadership and networking in this weekly podcast (over 200 episodes!)
www.CroissantsvsBagels.com - download the free bonus bundle for "Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences" (over 200 reviews worldwide!)
www.robbiesamuels.com/coaching - my coaching and mastermind programs
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This episode was produced and marketed by the Get Known Service