Jeff Hoffman (of Priceline.Com & Best-Selling Author) Shares How to Nail Then Scale a Business

Show Notes

Jeff shares about his personal experiences with Sam Walton, Steve Wozniak, Jeff Bezos, growing, the importance of staying focused becoming excellence at one thing over a long period of time and much, much more.

  1. On today’s show, we are interviewing a man who has had the prolific success during his entrepreneurial career that most only dream about.
  2. Throughout his career, he has been the founder of multiple successful startups and has played critical roles with the company made famous by William Shatner,
  3. Jeff Hoffman has helped to create the self-check-in software and technology used by airlines all around the world and he is the best-selling co-author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back.
  4. Throughout Jeff’s career he’s been featured on Fox, CNN, Bloomberg News, CNBC, Forbes, Inc., Time, Fast Company, and many other leading media outlets.
  5. Unlike most entrepreneurs, Jeff has actually spent personal one-on-one time with many of the most iconic entrepreneurs including the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, the world’s wealthiest man and the founder of, Jeff Bezos and the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak.
  6.  In addition to being an entrepreneur, Jeff Hoffman has also produced movies and musical events with such artists as Elton John, Britney Spears, NSYNC, and others.

Book – Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back

  1. Jeff, for the listeners out there that are not super familiar with your background, I’d love for you to share about your childhood, and what kind of environment you grew up in?
    1. I grew up in the Arizona desert with a single mom
    2. I was surrounded with people who did not have big ambitions
    3. I had these big dreams and big plans and just did not know how to complete those plans
  2. Jeff, I know that you have worked with many huge companies throughout your career, but I’d love to have you share about your very first entrepreneurial endeavor?
  3. Jeff Hoffman, our listeners are always curious about how our guests created their own path and where they started. My friend, when did you begin to first gain traction with your career?
    1. When I decided that my way up and out was education.
    2. I decided that I would go to Yale. Everyone laughed at me.
    3. My mom had to call the school to get them to fill out the school side of the application.
    4. When I got to Yale, they told me that I didn’t have enough money and that I needed to go home. Day one at Yale, I couldn’t take any classes. I decided that I was going to accomplish my goals by myself and not with the help of Yale. I started my own business.
    5. The software that this business was founded on was giving businesses a top-down meta look into a businesses.
    6. It shows data that will give you intelligence on how to run your business. That field didn’t exist then.
    7. I did teach myself how to code. I sucked at it.
    8. I switched my degree in college and got a software engineering degree.
    9. Even when I had employees, they told me that I was the worst coder that the entire company had.
  4. Jeff, I’d love to have you share with our listeners about how your funded your first entrepreneurial venture?
  5. Jeff throughout your career you have worked with many well-known companies, including, ColorJar, and others. I’d love to have you share about your role with and the story behind how you started it?
    1. The company was started by Jay Walker.
    2. Jay had this idea of increasing revenue in the travel business by auctioning off empty rooms and seats.
    3. We all went to work for Jay to try to build companies
  6. How big of a role did William Shatner have in Priceline?
    1. The campaign started when William won an award, for having the worst music album, his Christmas album.
    2. His intentionally bad singing on the commercials went viral. People remembered it and talked about it.
    3. Shatner did an equity deal and not a cash deal. We were the 3rd largest IPO in stock market history.
    4. After that, every celebrity wanted to sponsor an internet company
  7. When did you realize that you are wealthy?
    1. When I started a tech company that I started.
    2. The little group of founders made a few million.
    3. The freedom day is what I really related to.
    4. Working hard enough to not have to do things that I hate doing to pay my bills.
    5. I made my first million in my twenties.
  8. Many people read the self-help books, go the seminars and listen to the podcasts, but struggle to ever turn their dreams into reality. From your perspective, what separates successful people from the intenders?  
  9. Jeff, I’ve heard you say that one of the keys to achieving success as an entrepreneur is to solve real problems. I’d love for you to share how this idea helped you to start the product that went on to become Priceline?
  10. Jeff, I’ve heard you talk about the importance of chasing excellence versus the importance of planning an exiting strategy when starting a business. I’d love to have you share why you believe it’s so important to chase excellence?
    1. It is amazing when I go to these startup events. Everyone is asking about their exit strategy. I’m asking, “What is your entry point?”
    2. People get so focused on the pursuit of money, they get distracted from what actually makes money.
    3. Focus on making the product and delivering the promise.
    4. If you don’t create excellence, you probably won’t get rich anyways.
  11. Jeff Hoffman, you’ve said, that so many entrepreneurs are worried about people stealing their good ideas? In fact, you spoke about why entrepreneurs need to let go of 5 out of 6 of their ideas if they want to be successful. In your mind, why is that?
    1. If you’re talking to reputable investors:
      1. You can’t in any universe get an investor to invest into your product if you don’t invest in things they don’t know anything about
      2. Reputable Investors stay reputable by not stealing ideas
    2. In life, you have a limited amount of time. You have to pursue things that you have an advantage in.
      1. If someone wants to steal your idea, they are 2 years behind in information and they have no relationships. They won’t catch you
  12. Jeff, I’d love to have you share about your friend Jeff Bezos and why he had to become the world’s best book salesman before he could become the world’s best “everything store.”
    1. The lesson I’ve learned is that successful people win gold medals in one thing at a time before moving onto the next thing.
    2. The companies that scale, scale when they pick something they can become the best in. They stick with it.
    3. Instead of a push strategy, Amazon used a pull strategy. Their service was so good, they wanted more and more.
    4. Priceline stuck with hotel rooms and became the best at it.
  13. Jeff, I would love for you to talk about your conversations with Sam Walton and why every other Friday he would put on a John Deere hat, a pair of jeans and buy people apple pie?
    1. Sam taught me that his business concept was a death sentence according to Wall Street. Sam did it and it worked.
    2. He told me that the reason why it worked for him was because he didn’t listen to Wall Street, he listened to farmers.
    3. He told me that he would buy people apple pie in rural areas and asked them what they wanted. I would ask them what they would buy.
    4. Immerse yourself in your customers lives without selling and get to know what they want and how they live.
  14. Jeff, throughout your career you’ve been intentional about surrounding yourself with people that are really smart and learning from them including Sam Walton, Steve Wozniak and Jack Welch. Jeff, I would love for you to share what you learned from you time spent with the co-founder of Apple, Mr. Steve Wozniak?
    1. Woz reinforced my focus on excellence.
      1. He always said that he would creates something that would present itself.
      2. Woz knew that if he wanted to create excellence he had to create a product that his average consumer could use and understand.
    2. Nolan Bushnell
      1. Nolan has a childlike curiosity that never ends.
      2. There are days where you should be picking up every shiny object and days where you have to focus and get things done.
  15. Jeff, we quote Jack Welch on the show all of the time and he is the former CEO of GE who was able to grow the company by 4,000% during his tenure. Can you explain what you learned from your time spent with Mr. Jack Welch?
  16. Jeff, I’ve heard you explain that as a leader “your job is to design yourself out of a job.” Jeff, I’d love to have you break down this knowledge bomb?
  17. Jeff Hoffman, you believe strongly in hiring people that are smarter than you. I’d love for you to talk about your career and when you first learned the importance of this principle?
  18. Jeff, can you explain why you actually became depressed for a short bit of time when you discovered that your Outlook calendar was 100% clear and that no one actually needed you to do anything at
  19. Jeff, you’ve worked with very successful people throughout your career. How is the work ethic and mindset of super successful different from most other people?
  20. Jeff Hoffman, you a very intentional and purposeful person, I’d love if you would share with the listeners what the first 4 hours of your typical days look like?
    1. I can never sleep when I am on a product. I’m not stressed. I’m excited.
    2. I’ll wake up at 3:00 AM because I am so excited.
    3. I start with info-sponging
      1. I try to learn one new thing every day that I don’t need to know but just because it catches my eye.
      2. Every piece of information is a puzzle piece.
      3. Just learn one new thing every day.
      4. I write down one sentence about what I learned
  21. What book would you recommend?
    1. The alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  22. What does the next year look like to you?
    1. 2 different T.V. shows that will show what we spent the last half decade learning.
  23. You’ve become successful as a result of doing things a certain way, what is one thing that you do everyday that most people do not do?
  24. What are the books that you believe every successful entrepreneur should read?
  25. Jeff Hoffman, if you could go back in time and give your younger self from 10 years ago advice or coaching, what advice would you give?
  26. Jeff, you have already achieved so much success, but continues to motivate you to do what you do on a daily basis?

Action Item – Pick one thing and stick with it. Become excellent in that thing instead of chasing every new idea that comes to mind

Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

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On today’s show, we are interviewing a man that’s so impressive. I think I’ll pop myself a beer. I wasn’t done with the read yet, but up. I’ll give it another try. On today’s show, we are interviewing a man who has had the prolific success during his entrepreneurial career that most only dream about how many nine full of batteries could he have possibly purchased. Hey, I realize that you have a huge head, but is it possible that it’s hollow? Hey, it’s only 11 and three quarters of this size and that boy’s head. Cause you guys tell Jeff that I want to do a guy named Jeff. It’s crazy. What are the chances? Probably one out of 100 wow. I’m not kidding. That’s like an odd and Janette today. Quit picking on the man with the massive malice. Oh, that’s a huge nugget. That’s a ventral. A planetary has its own weather system.

Throughout Jeff’s career, he’s helped to create the self check in software and technology used by airlines all around the world and he’s the best selling coauthor of the book scale. Seven proven principles to grow your business and get your life back. Throughout Jeff’s career, he has been featured on Fox, CNN, Bloomberg News, CNBC, Forbes, ink time, fast company, and many other leading media outlets. Unlike most entrepreneurs, Jeff has actually spent personal one on one time with many of the most iconic entrepreneurs on the planet, including the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton. Do you think he knows Colonel Sanders? Colonel Sanders is dead, so you won’t even try it. What if they have a spiritual connection? If you could leave the studio right now, that would be awesome. I can’t leave the student. I know I can do it. I could do it. I dare you. I’m picturing myself as a quiet great board.

Granted and boards don’t make any noise. Oh, tremendous. Probably a boring breathes. Let’s find the card. Is it really necessary to give him the nickname head? I know it’s a massive cranium, but hey, don’t be so hard that melon of yells, Hey Paula, I’m not going to get you and cranium about. Stop talking about the size of his cranium. I got to finish this. Read Matt. Jeff Hoffman has also spent time with the cofounder of Apple, Steve Wasniak. I also knew Steve, in addition to being a top entrepreneur, Jeff has also produced movies and musical events with such artists as Elton John, Britney Spears and sync and others. Jeff Hoffman has been the founder of multiple successful startups and it’s played critical roles with the company made famous by William Shatner, ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you Mr. Jeff Hoffman. Don’t forget to ask him about Colonel Sanders. I hate it. That carrying on with his week

PDI. I’m not smug. Look on his face. Ooh, you’re going to Bei my chicken. Some shows don’t need a celebrity narrator to introduce the show. This show does to

man. Eight kids cope created by two different women, 13 mode time million dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the thrive time.

Okay. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Thrive nation. On today’s show, we are interviewing the man, the man,

the legend, Mr. Jeff Hoffman. Welcome on to the thrive time show. How are you sir?

I am excellent and thank you very much for having me. On the show.

Jeff, for the listeners out there that are familiar with your career now but are not as familiar with your background, I’d love for you to share about your childhood and what kind of environment you actually grew up in.

Sure. So I actually grew up in the Arizona desert, a very small town feel okay. Single mother with four kids. And I grew up in an environment where nobody really wanted to do anything. People were happy where they were and doing what they were. And you know, I wasn’t surrounded by people with big ambitions. Most of the people that grew up with never left. Literally the area we grew up in, which is fine that we’re not judging anybody here. It just wasn’t fine for me. I had these big dreams and big plans and I was going to go off and see the world. I just had literally no means to do that and no idea how. Um, so when I would talk about those dreams, I didn’t get support. I got laughter. Hmm.

You know, you’ve worked with many huge companies today. I mean, you, you’ve, you’ve had so much success with your career. Could you share with the listeners out there who maybe can identify with how you grew up, you know, growing up where you don’t have access to a lot of capital or a lot of opportunities. When did you feel like you first started to gain traction with your career?

Well, it wasn’t a, I’ll separate that because the first time I gained traction in life wasn’t my career. It’s when I decided my way up and out with education and I set this absurd goal from where I was coming from, from a big giant public high school where, you know, percentage wise, not everybody, not a lot of people even went to college. Um, and I, uh, decided I was going to go to an ivy league school and I wanted to go to Yale. Um, which even my guidance counselor laughed. It means instead of encouraging me and said, let’s all not waste our time, my mom had to call the school in order her to fill out the school side of you application. And when I got to Yale because we were broke, I basically got sent home. They said, hey, you know, you didn’t pay enough.

We applied the scholarships you got, but it’s not enough and you can’t afford to go here and you should go home. And that’s how it started. And I wasn’t about to go home. So the first traction I ever had in my life, uh, I decided I wasn’t quitting. And I sat there on day one of my freshman year, couldn’t go to class and I said, you know what? I’m just going to start a business and find my own way to make money. So I started a little software company, literally the beginning of college and I wound up graduating in four years and funding my whole Yale degree by running a little business. That was my first feeling of traction. I set a goal and I found a way to accomplish it by myself. And that made led me to believe that maybe other goals we’re able to be accomplished. Big Dreams could be realized if your work ethic was as big as your dream was.

Software assault? What kind of, what kind of problem did the software,

well, ironically one of my biggest customers was Yale, a rewriting their whole sort of tuition billing and reporting system. But the software that I, that I made a living on a, was it that point in time, um, reporting and quote business intelligence didn’t exist. So lots of small businesses, we’re running a business without a top gown, metta kind of overview of how things were going. And so I was developing kind of a first level of sort of intelligent reporting that would look for trends in data and say, you know, these type of customers you’re putting too much work into and they’re not worth the money. These type of customers never stay with use of stop selling to them data that gave you intelligence about the way you ran your business. I developed software that could read through all your company’s data and give you business intelligence and that field didn’t exist then, which is why I was successful with it because most of the time I’d show it to a small business and they’d say, we’d love that. Sign us up.

Did you teach yourself how to code?

I did it to be getting. Um, and so now I gotta be really honest. I sucked at it myself. Teaching made me at best an average coder. So I switched my major in college and that’s the degree I got. Software Engineering. But again, be honest with you, when I got out of college and when I started my first company, I was informed quickly by my own employees that I was probably the worst coder in my own company. And so what they told me was, Jeff, this is not your expertise. I said, guys, I’ve got the same degree as you. And they said, and yet somehow we’re all good at this and you’re not. And I said, what is it you want me to do? And they said, you’re going to have to move away from coding. And I said such as, and they said, when we finish building this product, someone’s going to have to figure out how to market it. And no one in this building goes, what marketing is, go do that. So I became a technical marketer, which it turned out I actually was good at. And despite my degree, I was on a good day. In average coder,

don’t throw your career. I mean you’ve, you’ve worked with so many well known companies, ubid color jar and others I’d love for you to share about your role with, with Priceline and, and the story behind how the team started that company.

Sure. So the company was started by a guy named Jay Walker. Jay had an intellectual property company, uh, where they patented business processes to improve industries. That’s still what he does. So Jay have this idea of, of um, really reducing, uh, well actually let me rephrase that. Increasing revenue in the travel business by selling, auctioning off reverse auction, auctioning off empty hotel rooms and empty seats. So Jay had the idea and Jay assembled teams of people, contacted a bunch of people and that’s it. This is the beginning. That’s where I came in. Uh, and we all went to work for Jay to try to build companies out of his intellectual property ideas. And that’s where price sign came from. We had a team of people that started assembling a new buying service that use the reverse auction to sell excess inventory. And we, we tried a bunch of things. Nearly days we tried, we had a consumer company that I was the CEO of. J was the CEO of the travel company. We had a wholesale company trying to wholesale other products. We had a different CEO of, and so we spent time with the consumer markets trying to find what things people were comfortable buying and the one that rose to the top, uh, which is the one that’s the big one today is the travel product.

How big of a role did William Shatner is personality, uh, have in the success of Priceline from your perspective?

I think it actually had a lot. And the reason that I think that it had a lot was it was hard to, when everybody was launching an internet company, it was hard to break through the noise and it was hard to be remembered. And the Shatner campaign, which people may not remember now. The Shatner campaign originally came from the fact that Shatner won an award when some people in the music industry asks people to vote on the single worst album in music history.

And it was William Shatner Christmas album. Oh, come on.

Yup. So the idea of the price sign marketing team at the time was, let’s have William Shatner sing on television since he got labeled the worst album. And that would be funny. So he intentionally, the original commercials were William Shatner singing in a fake nightclub. And people yelling, get out of here, get out of town. But because he was a bad singer, know Shatner finally saying, okay, fine, I will, I will get out of town, but I’ll do it at 40% of what you would have spent. And the people in the nightclubs saying, well, we’re, wait a minute. Don’t leave. Tell us how you can get travel for 40% less. So the thing that resonated is his intentionally gad singing was viral. People said, oh my God, did you see William Shatner on TV night? So I think that those commercials with Shatner sense of humor played a large role and priceline’s immediate memorability. People remembered it and talked about it.

There’s so much internet, you know, mythology out there about the price line deal with William Shatner. And I’m not asking you to divulge the secrets of the contractual deal there, but did he earn some equity in Priceline or was he, was he paid as a traditional sponsor?

No, that was that, you know, that part of the folklore was true, um, that he did an equity deal, uh, and not a cash deal. And that equity wound up being obviously at the time Priceline IPO. Uh, we were the third largest IPO in stock market history. Um, so his equity turned into millions of dollars instead of hundreds of thousands, which you would have been paid, which is why you saw him for so many years. Yeah. So as the Priceline spokesman and then every celebrity in Hollywood after that, good news got out, wanted to go work for an internet company.

Let me ask you this, when did it occur to you that you were wealthy?

Um, you know, I, well before that, uh, we had another travel company. I did other products like, uh, we created the first, when you go to the airport now and you check in at a kiosk, print your own boarding pass. That was one of our first products many, many years before there was a price sign or anything. Um, and so that was a tech company that I started. Um, and uh, the company did well and we were able to sell the company and sell the company to where the little group of founders, everybody made millions of dollars. Um, and that didn’t, I was never money driven or material driven. Yeah, I get that. Um, it was, it was the Freedom Day is what I related to that. After we sold the company and everyone said, now what are you going to do? And I sat there and thought, man, I have a wide open, I have a clean slate.

And I was so excited by the fact that for once in my life, I didn’t have to be driven by what I have to do right now. I could be driven by what appeals to me to do. I still have to make it work, but I got to ask myself, well, what do you want to do? What are your interests and what are your passions? And that was the day I made the relationship between working hard enough to accumulate wealth equals freedom, to not have to do things you really hate doing, just to pay your bills. That was the day I said, okay, this making money thing ain’t so bad because now I’m free to focus on things that actually means something to me.

How old were you at that time? At that time,

it’s still in my twenties I, again, I’m not a material person, but we sold the company to a fortune 500 company. And so I made my first millions while I was still in my twenties

so you would in the late date twenties you know, started to realize, hey, I, you know, I don’t need to necessarily work for the doll. I want to work for something that inspires me. You know, something that you care about. And I, I heard one, and I’m paraphrasing, so if you can correct me if I’m getting the spirit of this wrong, but you’ve talked about some of your youtube, I’ve seen in some of your speeches about the importance of chasing excellence versus the importance of planning an exiting strategy when starting a company. Can you explain what you mean by us?

Sure. It is amazing. Now when I go to these various startup and entrepreneurship things and it’s a, it’s a startup entrepreneur and everybody’s asking about their exit strategy and I’m sitting there thinking, exit strategy. What is your entrance strategy? What are you actually doing? Your PowerPoint people are so focused on selling their business today. I literally saw a startup entrepreneur, he doesn’t even have a company yet, but he was looking online at new BMWs to see which one he was going to buy when he got wealthy. And so people get so focused on the pursuit of money that it distracts them from the only thing that’s ever gonna make you rich, which is excellent. You have to go out in the world and create something amazing. If you are heads down, focused on being amazing in your industry, you’ll never worry about money because it shows up.

People say, wow, you built that. That’s what happened when we created those ticket kiosks. Every airline in the world said, wait, wait, wait. You built these? We want those. So we focused on making the product deliver the promise. If you’re focused on excellence and you achieve it, the money always shows up. And we were blessed that I’ve built other companies that were acquired because we had excellent products, but I never sat and thought about the exit strategy because it doesn’t matter if you don’t create excellence, you’re not going to get rich anyway. And if you do, you probably won’t have to worry about the money because it always shows up. I will say, wow, you created this. We want it. So that’s why I tell people, stop counting your dollars and start focusing on doing something amazing so that everybody in your industry is talking about you.

You were talking in one of your speeches about these entrepreneurs who have no net worth, no traction, no customers, nothing really going on now, but they are worried that somebody is going to steal their idea. Jeff. You know what I mean? People are just so worried they’re going to steal my idea. Can you explain how we get over that? If you’re an entrepreneur out there with no traction, no customers, no revenue, why you have to ultimately get over that fear of people stealing your ideas.

Yes. So here’s a couple of things. First of all, um, choose who you’re talking to. So if you’re talking directly to bill investors, right? And I’ve had this, I’ve had somebody pitching me as an investor and I said, tell me your idea. And they said, well, we can’t really talk much about it. And I said, well, be happy to write you a check right now. And they said, really? I said, not in a million years. You’re not even sharing the idea with me and you think I’m going to fund this thing. Is it? The concept is ridiculous. So if you did any homework on me and discovered that not once in the history of my life have I ever stolen anyone’s idea or been accused of it, had been sued for it, you should rest assured that reputable firms and reputable investors, right? Don’t remain reputable by being sued for stealing ideas.

So do your homework. If these are reputable people, they don’t steal ideas for a living, they fund them and they funded many and you can’t find a lawsuit against them if you can then talk to someone else. So that’s my first thing is don’t talk to people that you don’t know enough about to trust. The second thing though is that I always tell people this, that in life you have a lot. You know, you only have a limited amount of time, so you should pursue things that you have an unfair advantage in. Anytime you can. You don’t always have that. But let me explain what that means. Um, after we did the, for us to build those ticket printers that printed your boarding pass. Yeah, we at the airline back end systems are written in a proprietary programming language that is intentionally not taught, not documented.

Why? Because the airlines don’t want you breaking into the back end of their systems. So it’s a really difficult language. It took us the better part of two years to reverse engineer it. It’s like learning Chinese with no teacher, no chorus and no book by just wandering around the streets of China and saying, okay, by the time I get home I’m going to speak Chinese. Good luck with that. We did that. Took two years. So, but they worked and every airline bought my product. So years later when we’re talking about a price line or something and people say, don’t tell them your idea, they’ll steal it. What I was saying is, okay, good luck with that because if you want to steal my idea, first of all, you’re two years behind already because I already know how to write this mysterious airline language. We’ve spent a long time learning it.

And second, when I pick up the phone and call the CEO of an airline, they actually answer my call cause I took good care of them last time. If you pick up the phone and say I want to talk to them, you’ll never even get a meeting. So I have to unfair advantages. I know that proprietary language and I have great relationships in the industry, so I’m likely to be more interested in pursuing business ideas that I already have an advantage in. Then saying I’m going to launch a healthcare thing. Even though I know nothing about healthcare. I’ve never worked in a hospital. I don’t know any doctors. Right? Someone that’s in the business probably going to kick my butt. So if you have an unfair advantage, who cares if someone even did try to steal your idea, they’ll never catch you. Okay.

Throughout your career you have been intentional about networking, masterminding, mining, mining, or investing time with people that are very, very successful. And one of your friends, uh, the, the founder of Amazon, Mr. Jeff Bezos, uh, you’ve, you’ve talked about how he had to become the world’s best book salesman before he could become the world’s best everything store. What do you mean by that?

Absolutely. So, um, the lesson I’ve learned from studying so many people, uh, as many success stories as I could was I noticed a common element. And that’s what those people want a gold medal in one thing before they tried to do everything. And then, and so let’s use an Amazon story from talking to Jeff. Way Back in the early Internet days when Amazon was just being built, um, excuse me, his focus was to be the best book seller on the planet. And the same way Tony Shay early on Zappos, they were going to be the best darn shoe seller and the companies that scale, remember I’m not talking about someday, I’m talking about from small to big. The scale happened when, when these companies became the best darn something in the world and they picked something they could win a gold medal. And, and what happened was by staying focused on only selling books, uh, you know, just like the other Jeff Skull and Pierre Omi dark, they stayed with collectibles for quite a while on Ebay by picking something you can be the best at.

So bayzos sold us books and nothing but books for awhile, but he became the best darn way to buy a book anywhere. And he was so good at it that you and I as a consumer said, wow, it’s just a book. But I love doing business with them so much. Tell me something else. So instead of a push strategy where you as the seller have to push the next product on me, it’s a pull strategy where the consumer says, please sell me something else. So the woman buying shoes from Zappos said, I love Zappos. Can I buy a handbag? Can I get some earrings? What else you got? So when you win a gold metal at something, people, you get a reputation for being able to deliver excellence and people want to do more business with you for more things. That is the lesson I learned from studying. Those people. Pick one thing. If you look at Priceline today, I think 93% or something of priceline’s, multibillion dollar revenue comes from one thing, hotel rooms. The company became the gold medalist in hotel rooms. They don’t sell luggage, they don’t sell travel insurance, they don’t sell maps, they sell hotel rooms, but there’s such a good gold medalist at it that they didn’t really need to ever do anything else.

You know, you have had personal conversations with, with people like Sam Walton throughout your career. I’d love for you to share about the time you spent with with Sam Walton, the man famous for wearing the John Deere hat and a pair of jeans and driving the beat up truck while running the world’s largest company or companies. What did you learn from your time spent with Sam Walton?

So Sam taught me one of the most valuable business lessons that I’ve ever learned and we were spending a day together. And I was asking Sam that his business concept, which was big box retail and small town America farmers and little towns was a death sentence. Suicidal, according to Wall Street and everybody in retail, you can’t build big box retail and small town America. So no one did it. Sam Did it anyway and it worked. And I said, Sam, how did you know it would work when everyone said it wouldn’t? He said easy just because I didn’t listen to Wall Street. I listened to farmers and I said, what do you mean? And Sam said, I wasn’t building a store for people that work on Wall Street and I wasn’t building the store for analysts in the, in the retail industry. I was building the store for small town farmers and he said, so I got in my little truck in my, in my jeans and my work boots, you know, and put on a John Deere hat.

And I drove over to their side of, and I hung out in cafes where these people spent their day eating apple pie and a Bot people apple pie and, and listened to him and he said, instead of listening to the experts or even people that worked for me that are not the demographic customer. Yeah. If you hang out with farmers, they’ll tell you how to build something for farmers to shop at. And so the lesson that I learned was every one of my companies, um, I would spend time, I still do this schedule time out of your office to go spend. Like I would do this once a Friday, one Friday a month. I would tell the team I’m not going to be in the office Friday. I’m going to change clothes, put on my John Deere hat and go hang out where our customers hang out, immerse yourself in their life without selling. You can’t wear a Walmart shirt when you’re there. You’re just there hanging out and listening and talking and getting to know these people where they live, how they live and what they want and need. And you are much better able in early Priceline days even, uh, I visited some, you know, we went to some discount stores to listen to discount shoppers and see how they make brand decisions. Um, which were different than my well paid employees own decision making.

You spent your time with, you’ve spent time with the cofounder of Apple, the world’s most valuable company. Most would say right now. Mr Steve Wasniak, what did you learn from your time spent with the wizard of laws

was, uh, had a lot of, reinforced me, a lot of reinforcement of on the uh, focus on excellence. Uh, according to what was told me, you know, jobs focused a lot on with stressed a lot on how we’re going to market and present things and was always said I’m going to build something that was so amazing or pretty much presented itself. And if you think about it, whether it was the Mac or just handing somebody an iPhone when it first came out, it didn’t really need the presentation. The products were so amazing that you couldn’t wait to get your hands on him and, and user intuitive use, right? And user interface and all those things. That was the kind of stuff that was said to create excellence. The world. I got to build something that my average customer just picks it up at immediately. Falls in love with it. And so he focused on product excellence. Um, and you know, let, let jobs go do the marketing. But they really did create amazing and excellent products. That was apple. That’s what apple was known for. Uh, even people that didn’t use Max would acknowledge, acknowledge the amazing interface of that or an iPhone, whether they use them or not early on. Um, and so that’s the, one of the biggest things I got. The other thing I got out of him and from another friend named Nolan Bushnell, Nolan’s the founder of Atari, who’s the guy that,

so we hired a little while jobs that no one has a pretty bad there, does not know about the history of Nolan. Nolan has got an exciting career, right? That is a guy you could spend years reading about.

Oh yeah, he’s amazing. So no one’s a friend as well, and spending time with him. Uh, the same as with wives. These are other people whose childlike curiosity never ends. I was literally what Nolan and I were being interviewed together at an event by the media. And while we were talking, somehow we migrated over to this table where they’re all these parts of something. And we were both, I didn’t even realize it until the reporters and the television crew started laughing. And I said, what? And they said, well, both of you spotted peripherally. All these tools and parts over on that table. And during the middle of the interview, you drifted over there to see what you could make out of all these loose parts. And he and I were assembling things and I was laughing cause I was thinking he’s one of the guys that taught me to don’t tune out your curiosity, follow it and see where it takes you. There are days where you should be picking up every shiny object and seeing what it is. And then there’s days where you got to tune everything out and finish the project you’re on. But schedule time for both. That’s what was, does he scheduled time to be curious? And that’s what Nolan taught me. Schedule some time where you can let your mind wander and follow your curiosity and, and just make sure you get your projects done too.

Uh, Jeff, I could spend hours and hours a losing track of deadlines interviewing you because I’m infinitely curious about you and your, your career. But I’ve got three final rapid fire questions for you. You got it. Ah, you are a very intentional person today even despite having massive, massive success, you know, you continue to be a proactive person versus a reactive person. What time do you wake up every day and, and what are the first four hours of your typical day look like?

So, um, when I am in the middle of a product, when I’m on an idea, yeah, I can never sleep. And I always tell myself I’ll sleep when I get older and I keep getting older down. What happens is, and it’s for the right reason, I’m not stressed, I’m excited and I’m so excited about the idea and seeing if I can make it work. But I’ll wake up at three and I’ll look up the clock and see you gotta be kidding. It’s 3:00 AM and then I’ll say to myself, look, you’re not going to sleep anyway, so you might as well just get up and go. In a, so when I’m building something, I have a tendency to get up in the wee hours and work. And if I fall asleep early, fine. When I fall asleep, when I get tired, I’m not productive anymore. So I just follow my body.

If I go to sleep at 10 at night and get up again at four, that’s fine with me. When I’m, when I’m excited and passionate, I’ll create. Um, but today, since I’m not currently building a product, uh, my day everyday starts with my Info sponging thing, uh, which is I take the first 15 minutes of every day and I try to learn one new thing every single day. But here’s the important thing. I try to learn one new thing that I do not need to know. And at the time I learned it. I have no idea why I’m learning it. Every day I go read something that catches my attention somewhere that I don’t know why I’m reading it other than it caught my attention. I follow my curiosity and then I write down one sentence of what I just learned. Um, and over time if you think of every piece of new you acquire as a puzzle piece.

Yeah. If I, if I were to give you a piece of a puzzle and say, what is this puzzle? You’d say, Jeff, you gave me a blue puzzle piece. I don’t know if I gave you two or three is still wouldn’t know. But if I gave you a piece of that puzzle everyday and everyday you moved them around your desk, one day you would call me and say, I know what this is. It’s these pieces are forming a castle in Ireland. I can see the pattern forming. That’s the goal of Info spongy. Just learn one new thing every day that the world has brought to you outside of your industry and outside of the steps you’re going to work on the rest of the day. If you’re in healthcare, get out of healthcare for 10 minutes a day. And so that’s what I do every day.

I go, I follow my curiosity. I read one new thing, I write down one sentence about what I learned and then I tossed it in the pile with the other pill puzzle pieces. I’m moving around the table and I tried to see if I can make something new out of the new piece of knowledge that connects the other pieces in a way they never connected before. Most days it’s no, but if 99 days in a row you can’t come up with anything and the hundredth day is Uber or Airbnb or Priceline or whatever it is, it’s worth your time to do it. That’s how I start every day.

My final two questions for you or are this, you’re a very well read person, so I’d love to tap into your wisdom about maybe a book or two that you’d recommend for, for all of our listeners and I would love to hear about your vision for the next 12 months of your life.

Um, you know, the books that influenced me a lot don’t tend to always be business books. They, they have tended to be fiction and I read a lot. That opens my mind. It makes me think differently. A prime example being when I read the alchemist and I read it under an international trips, I read the whole book on one trip, but it made me reassess the way I was looking at the world around me, so I’ve had books that influenced the way I attack problems that have been more important to me than just a thin as in any one business book per se.

Got It, got it. And what was the final question to do? The two part question, I know that’s always a brutal way to go there. The two part question there, a part two is you know your next 12 months of your, your career here, you’ve always have so many opportunities, so many things coming at you, the listeners are out there are very curious, what are you going to be doing the next 12 months of your career? What are the next 12 months of your career look like?

Sure. I’ll tell you what we’re focusing on. I’ve spent the last almost six years traveling around the world and my commitment to giving back mentoring entrepreneurs, but what I’ve really done is learn 10 times more than I taught by seeing entrepreneurs all over the world, the problems that are attacking the ideas and the resources and the way they’re attacking those problems. So what we’re focusing on now is we’re going to try to turn that into deliverable content. And right now that’s looking like TV. Two different TV shows shows that we’ll share with everybody what we’ve spent the last half decade learning the stories of amazing, resourceful, innovative entrepreneurs. And so you would probably attack the way they attacked it and ultimately how they it done so that people can one, be inspired to go do something themselves and too can learn from other people’s struggles and triumphs and shortcut their own path to success.

Yes, I cannot thank you enough for taking time out of your schedule. When I first read your book scale, I thought to myself, I want to interview this man and as I built my own multimillion dollar companies, I kept thinking I have to harass and interview this man. And so thank you for allowing us to chase you down and Ohio. I just, you’re a, you’re a blessing for so many people. Your parking space theory, your concepts on scaling systems, so many of things in your book scale have helped me tremendously in a lot of our listeners. And I just want to say thank you.

Thank you very much and I really appreciate you taking the time and I hope that for your listeners’ sake that we have added some value.

All right my friend, you have a blessed night and be safe. Thank you sir. Now I know we just heard an interview that was filled with knowledge bombs. Jeff Hoffman is a very wise guy, but I wanted to still one action item, Andrew, for all the listeners out there. Yup. You coach clients, but before coaching clients, you have shadowed me coaching clients. And before that you were a photographer, uh, for our business epic photography. That’s correct. Let’s talk about epic photography now I know I don’t own the company now, so things are a little bit different. But, um, when I own a company, well let’s go with elephant in the room. Okay. Are epic photography or anything? How often do you hear me obsess about writing content for the website? Adding content to the website? All the time. You’re always talking about adding content to the website to increase the Google ranking.

How often do you hear me obsessing about asking customers for objective reviews? Uh, again, every day, every single customer that walks through the door. How often do you hear me preaching the good news of the group interview? Every single week we talk about it. Cause if we do it, we see it every single week. How often do you hear me in our team meeting mentioned in some way the idea of automating your savings, whether it be passively, aggressively, aggressively, aggressively, whether it be through a teaching moment, whether it be through a, a, a, a lyrical miracle, whether it be through a poem, whether it be through a Haiku. How often do you hear me reference automating your savings and the importance of doing so at our teams, staff meetings at our team staff Minea is weekly at a 9:00 AM. Why? Uh, why do I do it and do I do it every week?

Yeah. And we do it every weekend. It’s on, it’s actually an item that’s on the agenda because it’s, it’s, it’s an important part of being successful and a, you want your team to be successful. And if you remind them and keep it, hold them accountable and keep track of it, they will become successful if they don’t follow up and do it. Now, Jeff Hoffman though, he talked about this, he said it’s a very important that you pick one thing and stick with it. You got to become excellent at a thing instead of chasing every new idea that comes into your mind. And if you don’t do that, Andrew, what if you are an entrepreneur out there who’s an idea hopper? You hop from one idea to the next, to the next. Do you do whatever feels good, but you never stick with a particular course of action in particular business?

What’s going to happen? You won’t die. Gain any traction. You’ll keep finding something new and you’ll never get any further in your, uh, your main item. Are you saying you might not get ahead if you keep jumping from new idea to new idea, you’ll probably actually go backwards a bit. Are you saying that you, so what, let’s say that we opened a full package media right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yep. A business that we’re helping to franchise, right? Let’s say that you bought a full package means right here in Tulsa. Got It. How much is the first shoot? It’s a real estate photography business, right? Yup. So the business model does a lot of things well, but let’s say we did the first shoot for a dollar. Okay, so we’re calling every realtor in Oklahoma to ask them if they’d be willing to try out our services and we’re going to do the first shoot for a dollar.

Right? Even if you had a busy week your first week out of the gates and you had 25 shoots, how many dollars will you make the first week? First Week you will make a whole $25 now, if you’re paying a member of your team to make those outbound calls, you know, let’s say 500 bucks a week or whatever that is. If you, if you brought in $25 and you spent 500 Ah, how much did you lose? $475 then when should you go ahead and try it out for maybe a week or two? If you’re thinking of, if you say, I’m going to try out this franchise model for a week or two to see if it works and it shows you to try it out for a week or two. If you’re going to try it out for a week or two, you probably shouldn’t even try.

You’re just going to try just a week. So are you saying that you wouldn’t actually want to try buying a franchise unless you’re committed to it? I think that’s what I’m saying. How long do you think it would take you, Andrew, if you owned a full package media to gather a hundred reviews from real ideal and likely buyers, real customers who’ve actually tried your service at the absolute best you could possibly go the fastest pace possible. What is the most number of objective reviews in shoots that you could possibly do in your first 30 days in business? First 30 days. Uh, I wouldn’t know the exact number, but reviews live. I think I can get probably 75 to a hundred reviews in the first 30 days for sure. So you think you could probably get out there, you’re saying, and I, and I’m not holding you accountable, I’m just kind of curious.

You’re saying, Hey, book here. If I’m aggressive, I’m cold calling every realtor possible. I could probably get 75 shoots, probably get 75 reviews in those first 30 days. Now how many months in a row should you keep doing that until you become profitable? Really, and then once you’re profitable, should you keep doing it or should you switch to a new business? I will. You’ve probably should keep doing the thing that’s profitable, that’s bringing in the money. Papa gallows, a great pizzeria we work with and beautiful Florida. Where in Florida are they located? They are located in satellite beach. Every week you talk to those guys and every week they do such a great job of gathering objective reviews and making fresh pizza and great salad and why can’t they just, you know, change up the format of the, of the restaurant, make an Italian tomorrow and then make it a Mexican the next day and then maybe Asian food the next night.

Why do they have to be consistent with being a pizzeria for the good people of Satellite Beach? Yeah. Because if you’re not consistent, then first of all, you’re going to confuse your customers when they walk in and they’re like, what is going on? This is not what I expected. So you’d have to reeducate your customers every single time, which takes time. You’d have to remark it everything, and you’d have to Redo everything. So it’s a better idea to stick to it. I’m not sure who out there needs to hear this, but you got to pick one thing, find it, find a need and fill it. Find a problem that you can solve and stick with that business until you achieve the success you want. And then once that business is achieving success, don’t move on to the next business until you’ve found a way to make your business scalable without your direct involvement. My name is Clay Clark. I’m a business coach. We like to end each and every show with a boom. Andrew, without any further ado, here we go. Three, two, one.


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