My guest is a business expert who has walked through the wall of fire, of failure, cancer, being fired, but emerged today as a prominent coach and business expert. Jim Palmer, VP Marketing, lost his job, fifteen months of unemployment, then came down and found out he had cancer. That cancer was a rebirth for Jim. He started his first business, took a year to get his first paying client. Today, he has created one of the most powerful programs out there for businesses.
Jim Palmer Shares His Journey From Unemployment to Massive Success
Jim, welcome to the show.
Thank you very much, Mitch. Pleasure to be on your show. You’ve got to love a show whose mission is to help entrepreneurs get their first 1,000 clients. That’s a BHAG as they call it sometimes.
What’s amazing about that is that most people who get there have really been through the mill and have really acquired the thing that we now call wisdom the hard way.
I’m very prolific. I’ve written seven books. I’m blogging. I’m doing videos and all different things. One of the things I’m working on, sometimes I call it a summer of tough love where I just got to dish it out straight. I wrote something and it was basically, “If you’re one of these plug-and-play instant success types of entrepreneurs, you should stop reading now because I will frustrate you no end.”
You have to share it from your heart. I think that’s what we’re all doing. I think it’s what we’ve all learned. If we’ve learned anything about helping other people these days, it’s that information, which used to be expensive, is actually free. It’s implementation that is what’s more valuable. I’m sure you’d agree to that.
I do agree with that. The only caveat I think is there’s so much free information you really have to do your due diligence. In the space that I’m best known now as a Dream Business Coach, there are a lot of people who profess to teach people how to create $1 million business or multiple six-figure businesses. I interview some of them and when I dig deep they’ve never done it for themselves. They’ve read a lot of books, maybe attended a lot of seminars, maybe even taken some online courses. I think if somebody’s going to pay somebody to mentor them or to coach them, I think you really want to have somebody that’s actually done what it is they’re going to be teaching you.
Those are the instructions I give to anybody who I find looking for a coach. I do coaching and I specialize in discipline of coaching. I tell them right away if I’m not right for them. I tell them that they should try to find someone who’s done exactly what they’re trying to accomplish. We’re both on the same page there. The thing I like to do in all of these interviews is I like to go back to the beginning and get the story that got you to where you are because usually, it’s not pretty.
Mitch, there is a book and it was about all these very successful entrepreneurs who basically started their business after losing their job. That was my case. I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur. I worked for entrepreneurial companies my whole life. When I was 41, I lost my position; I was VP of Marketing with a training company. Even though I thought, “Is this my Get Fired Up! moment?” I had four teenagers at home and I honestly didn’t think this was going to be the best time to start a business, so I actually started looking for my next good-paying gig and it just didn’t materialize. Twelve months later, I’m still unemployed, looking for my next gig and that was when I was first diagnosed with cancer. That was about a two to three-month ordeal. The short story is in October of 2001, right after having gone through September 11th when I really did have a good prospect for a job, but that really evaporated with September 11th because the company that was going to hire me said, “We’ve got to put the brakes on our expansions and slow things down a little bit.” At that point, I was at the lowest point in my life. Not only did we obviously lose savings having all the overhead we had, but I was really racking up a lot of debt. When you get to a certain point in your life and it’s a very low point, there’s only one place to go, and that’s up.
I started my first business in October 2001. It took me a year to get my first paying client. As I look at it today, I call my first year as revenue-free. I was the founder and president of my own corporation, but we had no income at all. I figured that out and I grew that to multiple six figures. Then around 2006-2007 timeframe, I had been working probably 80 hours a week, although still very excited about being a business owner, my wife said, “Why don’t we go on a vacation? We haven’t been on vacation since before you lost your job.” I thought to myself, “I’m sure we could financially afford some vacation,” but that’s when I started to panic about, “Who’s going to run my business?” Because it was me. So many small business owners create a business where they are the sole employee and nothing happens without them. That’s when I started to figure, “I reinvented myself once, I’ll do it again.” That’s when I started learning all about internet marketing and I started in 2007 my first internet business called No Hassle Newsletters. I grew four more after that. The 2009-2010 timeframe is when I started my coaching program, which is primarily what I do today.
If we go back to that moment in 2007 when you had that realization, “Who is going to run my business?” help me understand some of the steps you went through at that point because I have a feeling that there’s somebody listening to this or many people may be going through the same thing.
That expression ‘chief cook and bottle-washer,’ that was me. I was writing and designing newsletters for local companies and corporations, non-profits and I was overseeing printing and mailing, answering the phones and meeting with clients. If it had to be done, I was doing it. That’s why if I was away, nothing would be happening. I read this book and it’s just fortuitous. That was the first time I read Think and Grow Rich. I also learned about a book very similar to my said book called The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz and Dan Kennedy. I learned about the power of your subconscious mind, number one. Number two, I learned about leverage. There’s a question in one of those books, I forget which one it is, but it basically said you want to plug in a few words that have to do with you and what you’re doing and then let your subconscious mind, which is like a super computer, retains everything you’ve ever heard or read or saw or experienced. It’s all up there, it never goes away. It will only be recalled when you try and recall it.
The question that I asked myself, “How can I leverage my skill and talent for writing newsletters and instead of being paid one client at a time then hoping, wishing and praying they come back next month or next quarter or anytime in the next twelve months, and instead be paid by multiple people?” That was the question that I asked. When you’re working with your subconscious mind, you don’t just say it with your internal voice. You just say it out loud and let your ears physically hear your voice. Little did I know I started getting introduced to some of the founders of internet marketing like Corey Rudl and some of the others. That’s when I first discovered Dan Kennedy. I started learning this whole new world beyond, “How many corporations can I call on within five miles of my home?” It became clear to me that one of these things that my clients hired me for was that they needed me to provide the content because they never knew what to put in their newsletter even though they knew they should have one. That always took them so long to do their own newsletter internally it never got done.
If you were to go to NoHassleNewsletters.com, which is still my flagship business, you’ll see I use that. The two main reasons to use a done-for-you newsletter service is that people don’t know what to put in their newsletter and it always takes too long. That’s why it never gets done. I’ve used what my clients told me and I also used that for my marketing. That only became apparent when I was suddenly looking for that information before I knew what the information was. I suddenly got super excited like, “If I can just get even two or three clients per state,” that seems very doable, doesn’t it?
Of course. That’s what the power of the internet is, it’s hiring. I ran a division for Chet Holmes and Tony Robbins and we basically were able to hire people all over the world because we set them up to work virtually.
That’s what I started doing. I started getting my first client, second client. I think my eighteenth client was from the UK and I suddenly go, “I’m international.” Then I got clients in Canada, in New Zealand, in Australia. This thing just kept growing far beyond what I thought it would do. It was pretty exciting.
The internet does provide that ability to scale very quickly. The thing about the internet is you could have the most beautiful website, you could have the greatest service in the world but how do you bring people into your world? How do you find prospects, clients and how do you then move them up the scale to the point where they pay you money?
That is something that I teach. It’s called The Million Dollar Platform. That is what I have created for my business and I show other people how to do that. I’m sure a lot of your listeners, Mitch, have heard of the word avatar. That’s your perfect prospective customer or client or patient, depends on what you do. If I was to ask you what your perfect avatar is and even said, “Geographically, I want to find all those people within a very specific area,” we could do that. What I’m saying is that even though we could find say 1,000 perfect prospective clients for you probably within five miles of your home, those 1,000 people, even though they have a lot of things in common based on your avatar, they probably consume information in different ways. Some people like to read books. If you just think of the book category, some people like to hold the paperbacks. Some people like to listen to the audio book. Some people like Kindles. People like to read blogs. Some people prefer to listen to podcasts. Some people like to watch and learn by video. That’s me. There’s social media. There’s article marketing. There’s blogging. All of these different platforms are different forms of media. The people who can master them all are the people who have very successful businesses. The people who ask a question that starts with, “Can I just,” and then fill in the blank, “Can I just do blogs? Can I just do videos?” what you’re doing is you’re eliminating a certain segment of your prospective audience and prospective clients by shortcutting what’s been proven to be an effective process.
Jim, that seems a lot to ask one person to become an expert in social media, blogging, article writing, video creation, book writing and publishing. It’s quite a challenge. You are obviously quite gifted at it, but what about everybody else?
I don’t do it all. The only thing I’ve got to be gifted at is finding the right talent then delegating a lot of the stuff. The cool thing about writing a book, and I’ve learned this with my first book, every time I finish a book, I give that manuscript to an editor and say, “Create 100 blog posts,” because you’ve already written them. That’s the beauty of a book. With those 100 blog posts, somebody could easily carve out some Facebook posts or some Twitter tweets. All I’ve got to do is write a book and I’ve got content for a year or two. That’s number one. Number two, I do my own videos. I do my own podcasts. I’m six years into my podcast and I’m a guest on a lot of different shows. That’s all me. I’m very big into Facebook, that’s me, but all the other stuff is either repurposed content through different programs like MeetEdgar or some of the other things and/or it’s me having a team that uses the content that I’ve already created through my books, through my videos which I’ve transcribed, etc. and orchestrating a well-thought out plan. I have the same 24 hours in the day that everybody has but I’ve also come to learn and appreciate leverage. I have a team of thirteen people that run my various internet businesses. I have the systems in place and procedures. I’ve trained them. I’ve empowered them so that they run all the things that they can do so I can focus my time on coaching with my clients and doing interviews because those are two things that cannot be outsourced.
What you did is you started solo. You got to the point where you were working twelve to fourteen hours a day. You realized that you couldn’t even take a vacation even though you could certainly afford one. Was that moment in time when you had that shift in thinking that says, “I need to delegate. I need to find a way to get other people to help me.” That’s when you started to hire people and then you started to do some delegation? Tell me about some of the first people you hired.
It’s such an important step. If you look at businesses that are struggling, you’ll find that it is the owner who is the bottleneck because he or she is probably stuck on the, “I can do it better, cheaper and faster than anybody else, so why would I hire somebody to do it for me?” That’s their mantra. It’s just hogwash because if you’re doing task-oriented activities that you can hire somebody for $20 an hour, when you do those activities, you’re worth $20 an hour. What I’m doing is I’m always focusing my time on high-revenue generating activities and I delegate the rest. In my book, DECIDE – The Ultimate Success Trigger, I think it’s chapter three, I entitled it Delegate or Stay Small Forever. I hired my first person to basically redo my crappy homemade website, the first one I ever made myself, and he did that. Because he did it and I didn’t have to, it’s interesting that I found myself with a little free time. That’s when I started writing my first book. I got used to hiring one person and then I brought on somebody else and we just kept going from there. I think my third person was a personal assistant who’s been with me for probably eight years now. Each time that I would invest, and that’s what it is, it’s not an expense and it’s an investment, every time I would invest in my business and myself, that freed me up to focus more on high-revenue generating activities. If I wanted to go exhibit at a trade show, it’s hard to delegate that; if I’m the brand, I would do that. There was one time, I think it was between my first and second book, I did 28 speaking gigs in a year. That’s something I can’t delegate. Because those people were coming on my team and doing other things that made it prohibitive for me to even envision having the time to do them, that’s why my business was lacking. When I finally realized there is a direct connection between letting go and then getting more done, that’s when my business really started to take off.
Jim, you’re both talented and lucky to have realized it at that moment. I was much more hard-headed than you were. I had started a software company over my garage and it took me almost a year to figure out that even though somebody else might not sell as quickly or as well as I could, it would give me the leverage I needed. I had to learn the hard way. We eventually had 100 people, so I did learn the lesson. It’s a hard lesson to learn because I see entrepreneurs struggle with this all the time. I think what you said is the most important thing, “If you cannot delegate, then you will remain small.” I can verify that is so much the truth. Thank you for sharing that, Jim. I really appreciate that.
There’s one more thing I’ll give people because they’re always looking to replicate themselves, “I’ve got to find somebody who’s got the same attitude as me and the same fervor for the business.” That’s never going to happen because only the owner has an owner’s mentality. Expecting somebody, even if you pay them $30, $40, $50 an hour to have an owner’s mentality when they’re not the owner, it’s not going to happen. What I look for is what I call the 80% rule. If I can hire somebody with a great attitude and teach them what they need to do, make sure they’re fully trained and understand how crucial customer service is and how the experience of working with our business is the reason we’re here. I teach all of that. Then I empower them to do what they think is necessary to keep our customers happy and they don’t have to come to me unless it’s something utterly huge. Let’s say we messed up on a printing and we forgot to print 30 extra newsletters. If we’re going to have to restart the machine, it’s going to cost a pretty sum rather than running 30 more at the end of the run of 300 or something. I say, “Go ahead and do that. Just run them. I’m not going to upset a customer and have them not come back over something that’s our mistake.” The thing is a lot of staff people, they want to protect the company from losses. In one case you could say, “That’s admirable,” but in reality, if you focus on keeping the customers happy even if your short-term profits take a little bit of a hit, I guarantee your business in the long run will be more profitable.
It’s happened to all of us in business. I had a guy basically ship a product that had an absolute flaw in it and it ended up costing the company over $15,000 to resend discs out to a particular group of customers. He came into my office and he said, “I know I’m going to get fired.” I said, “What are you, crazy? I’m not going to fire you. I just paid you $15,000 to learn a lesson. I know you’ll never do that one again, for sure.” It’s a good client who understands that the company will do whatever it takes to make it right and to do the right thing. That’s the most important thing. Once employees get infected with that culture, then from there they get it too and they will do whatever it takes to make the clients satisfied. I want to ask you a couple of questions here. These are the same questions I ask everybody, but everybody gives me another fantastic answer. I’m going to ask you and what your answers are. Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
I’m going to say Dan Kennedy.
You’re the first person that’s ever said Dan.
He’s a brilliant man. He’s a man who’s so finely-tuned to what works marketing-wise, what works with customers and clients and marketing. Everybody on this planet is born with a gift and his is pretty incredible. I’ve learned an awful lot from him.
Do you go to the GKIC Super Conference?
For about seven years. I haven’t in the last two years since they sold the business.
Dan’s still involved and he shows up and does his overhead slide projector thing and he’s great. That’s a great person. Thanks for naming him. The second question is the grand finale question and it’s the change the world question. What is it that you’re doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
Focusing more on serving others and focusing less on serving yourself.
Is that you or are you giving us a lesson here? I’m looking for your personal change.
That’s what I’m doing. It’s not only what I’m doing, it’s what I’m talking about. In fact, there’s a chapter in my latest book about that. Both my wife and I have learned about we’re not just supposed to write checks. It’s nice if you write checks and help people less fortunate than yourself, but it’s also about your time. It’s about spending time with people who are lonely or down on their luck or things like that. For the last five years, I’ve donated one Saturday a month to help rehab homes for low-income people. Most Saturdays, I’d be driving out to take a man. I’ve got a lot to do around my own house and I always come home with what I call #perspective. No matter what you’ve got going on in your life, all you’ve got to do is get outside your own little bubble and see how other people are living. Why don’t you put a little time to that and see if you can make a difference?
I love your change the world answer because it really is the highest purpose of humanity and that is to serve others. I think what you’re saying, it’s the same thing that I say is that when you actually do it, you feel a certain way. You feel as if there’s nothing else that’s more important. I love the fact that we’re aligned on that as well.
I struggled a little bit, especially in the internet marketing space. Some of my friends or people that I know they’re building schools in South Africa and they’re doing big, big things. I struggle with that, to be quite honest with you, because there’s so much need even here. I mean here wherever you are. Before we sold our house and moved on to this boat, we lived in a pretty well-to-do area. Literally about five or six miles down the road was some pretty extreme poverty. We don’t have to go far to make a difference. I don’t know if any one person can change the world, but everybody has the opportunity to impact somebody else or at least a neighborhood or something like that.
I remember a conversation I had with Tony Robbins. Tony said to me, “What are you doing this week?” I said, “We get together and we feed the homeless for Thanksgiving.” He said, “That’s wonderful. Where do you do that?” I said, “In a local church. We just go down and we feed about 225 families. What are you doing, Tony?” He said, “We feed a lot of people too.” I said, “Really?” He goes, “You didn’t know that?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “We feed about 1.1 million people.” Then all of a sudden it felt like, “It doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough.”
I would caution the listeners not to say, “I’m not going to get started until I feel ready.” If you’re walking and you see somebody that’s struggling or hungry, you can do that. There are so many needs and so many individual people. Don’t think of the planet. Don’t think of 1 million people. It’s great Tony can do that. The guy has got a gazillion dollars and I applaud his efforts. Think of what you can do. Sometimes the easiest way to make that happen is to think of what you can do wherever you live locally.
Jim, if people have been motivated to get to know you better after listening to you, how can they do that?
My home-based website is www.GetJimPalmer.com. I’ve referenced my latest book, Just Say Yes, and we’re still giving away free copies of that. If your listeners would like to get a copy of that latest book, they can go to JustSayYesBook.com and they’ll be paying $6.95 shipping and handling but we’ll ship it anywhere including internationally.
You did mention to me about what sounded like an incredible event called The Dream Business Academy. Tell me about that.
About every eight months, I do an event for about 50 entrepreneurs, called The Dream Business Academy. It’s a three-day marketing and business building event. I completely pull back the curtain on my own business and tell you how I created multiple six-figure businesses, how I run my businesses now from my boat. It’s a really cool event. I bring in some really excellent speakers. If people are interested in that, the website for that is DreamBizAcademy.com.
Jim, it’s been such a pleasure chatting with you and getting to know you. I hope that we get to connect again soon.