All of us dream to be more, and while we all start at some place, not many move on to have their dreams realized. Starting out as a dentist in the 1980s, Ira Wolfe thought there has to be more, and so he stepped out of his role and started to help other dentists and, later on, professionals build their practice and business through his company called Success Performance Solutions. This episode is about living your dreams, and Ira Wolfe inspires you to achieve that just as he has. While sharing his story, Ira imparts the lessons he learned about understanding your marketplace, stepping back a bit from what you love, and producing content in this digital world. Don’t miss out on more things Ira has to share – from growing your business and clients to increasing your revenue.
 

Achieving Dreams, Helping Others, And Growing Your Business with Ira Wolfe

This show is about you. It’s designed to get you to the next level, to take the next step and to excel past your current perceived limitations, but hearing how others have done so too. Each show is packed with wisdom from company owners who have achieved their goals and now want to help you achieve yours. Our guest started as a dentist in the 1980s and he practiced for several years after he realized that there had to be more than life. He stepped out of that role and started to help other dentists build their practice. This episode is not about dentists. It’s about the dream realized and the lessons learned. He continued to work as an advisor, then as a social media consultant and realized that he loved helping people grow their business and he’s built a life around service. For the audience, you know what the universe gives you when you give first. You get to live your dream as he has and he is here to help you achieve yours. Welcome, Ira Wolfe, to the show. 

Thank you very muchMitch. I appreciate it. It’s a great opportunity to share my story. 

It’s very interesting. Who wants to be a dentist? It seems like dentistry is not the most pleasant job in the world. I’d like to hear about how you got started. How did all of this start? How did your career start? 

It’s interesting. We had this conversation within the family and they go, “Why did you ever go into dentistry?” I still remember in fifth grade, the teacher went around and said, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I don’t know exactly why I selected dentistry other than an influence. In our home, it was said you were going to grow up and be a professional. My choices were a physician, dentist, accountant or attorney. That was one of the four. Somewhere along the line, I liked their lifestyle. They all had nice homes in the community. Nobody worked Wednesdays. There were a lot of reasons. 

I came around and I said I was going to be a dentist and I was too stubborn to change that because then you go to every family engagement, they said, “Do you still want to be a dentist?” You go, “Yeah, sure.” I went through that and I did well. I had the grades. I had choices. My counselor in college said, “You can go to medical school because you have the grades.” It’s not that way anymore, but at one time you need better grades to go to medical school and dental school. I said, “No, this is my path.” Multiple times during the way I was thinking of opting out. I was looking at different routes but every time, I went back and stuck it out. I practiced for several years and one day they said, “It’s time.” For anybody who listens to my TED Talk, I shared it at the beginning. The theme was dancing with change and I’ve always danced with change. The line that I came up with during that and it stuck with me has been, “I loved everything about dentistry but dentistry.” 

Ira, you had this whole dentist thing going. Was there a catalyst? Did you wake up one day? Was there a patient? What was it that gave you that moment in time where you said, “Now, it’s over?” 

There were two things. My daughter graduated and at the end of that month, I had a clause. I had brought in an associate who became a partner and I had a clause that I could leave without penalty. It happened to be at that end of that month. One is if I left that, financially it was a better deal. A few months prior to that, one of the vendors I worked with came to me. It was funny because it was the first time I ever met the guy, although he lived there. He came and he brought his lunch and he said, “I want to let you know I’m going off doing an adventure. I’m going to work for a sales training company.” He said, “Even professionals need to know how to sell.”  

I grew up in a retail environment. I understood the model. He said, “I want to invite you to a session.” As I was sitting in the session, it translated to how to do a better evaluation, how to do a better interview because the session I happened to attend to asks more questions, be curious, don’t go in and sell someone, listen. The process they used for sales, for qualifying and learning about the customer and active listening, I said, “This would be great. I can translate this into how to do better interviews, how to do better performance evaluations, how to do better workups with patients.” Even prior to that, the reason that it even fits is as soon as I started my practice, there was a local group of dentists and they called it study club. 

It’s the modern-day mastermind. We got together once a month and sometimes we’d look for speakers. I had started my practice. I loved the entrepreneur part. I love marketing. I’ve always been a marketer. In fact, I was going through some pictures, going through an old box and I found the newsletter that I produced in 1980. That was my first month I was in practice. It wasn’t a mimeograph copy, which is what most practices were doing. It was in one color. It was orange for fall. I’ve always loved marketing. I love educating people. I love creating awareness. Right away at the study club, I introduced how I built my practice. 

FTC 154 | Growing Your Business

Growing Your Business: Dentistry is about entrepreneurship. It provides an opportunity growth being your own boss.

 

You were around in 1980 in business. If you recall, that’s when interest rates prime was 18%. We had a lot of layoffs. Gold at 800 for the first time, which then I was living in the 50s and silver hit 50. We had the Gold Rush. That was the year I opened my practice. It was a horrible year to start and yet because I took a different approach than most professionals did, I listened to what the community needed. They complain that their dentist wasn’t open in the evenings. They didn’t treat kids. They didn’t do root canals. They didn’t do surgeries. They didn’t accept insurance. It was a long list. That was my business plan. I listened to the community because I lived there for a year before and what all their problems were, what they didn’t like about going to the dentist. I said, “I’m going to fix that.” Anything that I could, take all the pain away, something you try to make people comfortable, but there’s no guarantee. There were a lot of business decisions that could be made. I opened my practice and despite the recession, despite the largest employer in a town of 5,000 people laying off the first time in their history, I had ordered more equipment and opened a third room a few months later.  

For the audience, what you’re learning from Ira is to listen to what people are saying. Understand what your marketplace needs and be responsive because in certain professions, people aren’t very responsive. Businesses aren’t responsive. Ira, you are in a profession where I would agree dentists were not very responsive to the needs of their patients. It sounds like that was in a sense a secret formula. 

It was and I don’t know how the secret was. I thought to me it was lowhanging fruit. Many years later, there’s still a lot of lowhanging fruit. I have a lot of competitors. I’m in a fairly easy-entry field. There are people that are very talented and very skilled. I have lots of experience, but with my business, we do preemployment testing and everybody says, “I sell them.” It can become a commodity. How do you differentiate yourself? I haven’t changed in many years. I still do newsletters. I produce a ton of content. I treat people well. What we provide our commodities. What I can provide are service and support. People know, whether it’s a weekend or a night, I’m pretty connected. 

You have to have an understanding family and understanding wife that you’re going to check emails a lot, but it’s not that I’m doing personal stuff and playing games. I just check to see if anybody needed anything because I deal with clients all over the world and we’re in different time zones. That allows us to have the lifestyle we want. Going back to the early part, even though I was new in practice, it was only open less than a couple of years. I presented to this local mastermind group. This is crazy. We had ten dentists in this town. There was one over the age of 50. Everybody else was the late 20s and 30s. There were ten dentists. I opened a new practice. The biggest employer shuts down and the country’s going through a recession. Interest rates are 18%. If I had floated my loan, I would’ve had 22.5% when I opened my doors. I fixed it. It was bad time. Here I am telling dentists that had several years of experience what I was doing to take their patients. 

Did they say, “That’s a great idea. We should do that too?” 

The only way to truly learn something well is to teach it. Click To Tweet

Exactly. When people would say, “Why are you doing this?” Because it’s so easy. One of the simple things that I did was we sent birthday cards out to everybody who was under twelve and now over 50. That was our older patients. We did that and we go, “Can’t we duplicate that?” We go, “Of course.” We did a newsletter. “Can we duplicate that?” “Of course, they could.” I need their money. The reality is because it’s easy doesn’t mean that people will do it. We had a system in place and everybody until the day I left, we had a huge practice. I used to see 70 to 80 people a day. I had the largest practice in that community several years later, but we still continued that practice. Everybody got birthday cards, everybody got newsletters. It wasn’t direct mail. It was only patients. We took care of them and until the day I left, no one else in that community did what I did. 

I have a story that’s similar to yours. My readers know that I started a software company in the 1980s and I grew it all throughout the 1980s until the beginning of 1990s. We came up with something very simple as our big differentiator. We said that we probably had about a few months of clear space before we would be bombarded with competitors. It wasn’t until a few years later that anyone tried to compete with us using the same idea that we had introduced all those years later. I don’t know what it is. Do people feel as if, “He’s doing that, so I don’t have to. I don’t want to look like I’m copying him?” I copied everybody just like you in business. When I got started, if I saw somebody doing something good, I duplicated it. 

I R&D’d all of the features in our software. Do you know what R&D means? It means rip off and deploy. If I saw a feature in the software that somebody else had, I’ll say, “We should have that too.” I put it on the list. I push it to the top of the list and said to my developers, “Get this in the next release no matter what.” Sure enough, that was being responsive and that’s what you were doing. You were responsive to the people in your world who were your patients. Somebody is sitting there in a dentist chair and they’re vulnerable. To think somebody’s listening, that’s valuable. Good job. 

Part of it was perspective too because this is transferable into a lot of businesses and it doesn’t have to be dentistry or other professions. I had a business that happened to be providing dental services. If I take it a step further, I probably had a marketing company that happened to be in the dental industry. This goes back to Michael Gerber’s book, E-Myththat there are people that are the bakers and the dentist and the candlestick makers. There are people who own a business that happened to make candlesticks and bakery goods and provide dental services. I always looked at myself as that, therefore I developed skills which led it from me to be an easy transition. To this day, I haven’t picked up a driller and a mirror in many years now. People looked at me and said, “What a big change.”  

I said, “What I loved about dentistry is the entrepreneurship.” Most dentists are solo, but it was the opportunity to be your own boss, to grow that. More so it was about working with patients, working with clients, being part of the community, giving back. I loved everything except when I had to pick up the drill and I’m going to drill and fill. Part of what I learned is how to run a business and how to treat people well. We always joke how my mother’s maiden name is Matlow. We grew up in a retail family. Everybody was in retail. Everybody had these stores and treated people well and delivered good customer service and be part of your community. 

I transferred that. That’s a transferable skill. I don’t care what business you’re in or what size of business you have, those are all transferrable. My education did teach me how to drill and fill teeth, but more than that, it taught me how to think critically. When I left, people would say, “Why? How did you make that change? I said, “I didn’t do anything differently. I used to get paid a lot of money to take X-rays and diagnose and then treat. What I now get paid, which is not covered by insurance, is I do an assessment for hiring. I evaluate it and I give my recommendations. I don’t have to pick up a drill and fill.” It’s transferable skills that which would go for any business.  

That’s the important thing to be clear about here because what I learned building a rock band in high school are the same basic lessons that I used when I built a software company of $10 million. The lessons of life in business are the same. They expand. Furthermore, my family too was in retail. My dad had a series of candy stores in New York City. I’ll tell you one story about something I thought he did, which was very clever. What he did was when he built a new store, he would put the cashew roaster in the front of the store and vent out the front window. I couldn’t understand why he would do that because it took up so much room. I watched at 8:00 AM, 30 minutes after the roaster started, the line outside the store for freshlyroasted cashews. It was unbelievable.  

That’s funny because I grew up in a small coal town in Pennsylvania and I’m about a block away on the main street. I was right next to a shoe store. There was a peanut store and that’s what he did. He’d walk by there and the aroma brought me in.  

To me, you’ve done a lot of the same things. I liked what you said before because what it reminded me of is it gave you a platform to experiment on what brings in patients and whether it’s what brings in patients or what brings in clients, the lessons are more or less the same. You’re not going to write a newsletter about dentistry if you’re not a dentist, but the point is you should write a newsletter if that’s what works for you. I love the lessons you learned. Get me to where you are now. After the dentist thing was over and you realized that it wasn’t for you, you went out, you helped some other dentists, where did you transition to what you’re doing now? 

You got to step back from something that you love and recharge a bit. The mind simply needs a break or else it starts to become weary. Click To Tweet

The official launch, I didn’t get paid for what I did helping other dentists. I talked to some consulting groups. I did a little speaking, wrote a bunch of articles, but that wasn’t my business. At that time, I was also golfing a lot, which I found was not that I liked golf, but it was better than being in the office. When I left and attended the sales training, they were talking about having someone come in to help them reach the professional groups. I figured that was a good opportunity. My daughter graduated college and I looked at my partner on July 1st, but pretty close to that and said, “I’m leaving. I’ll either buy you out or sell or you buy me out, but I’m going to leave either way. It’s nothing against you personally. I’m burnt out and I’m going to start something new.” 

It happened pretty quickly and we can talk a little bit about the mistakes of the way I did that, but within a few months, I was gone. I set up shop in the sales training offices. We started to build a little bit of a clientele. Frankly, most of my clients were dentists too. We had a monthly mastermind group. I had a good transition income. I was getting paid from the sale of that practice, but I had a transition income coming in immediately. I didn’t like consulting to dentists. I couldn’t fix their problems if they didn’t participate. I also didn’t like the arrangements. There was no place for me to grow. I was way too entrepreneurial to have an office in somebody else’s office.  

The first name of my business happened to be Busy Practice. It was about putting the business into practice. We’re targeting the accountants, the physicians, the attorneys, the engineers. My first big client was a manufacturing client and I had nothing to do with that, who said, “I can do this anywhere,” once we got beyond the hurdle and I understood that I had these transferable skills, that we’re able to transition over. The other thing that attracted me to the sales trading company is they were using assessments. Even in my practice, I was pretty progressive. We did team-building exercises. We used things like DiSC if you’re familiar with that. 

I had taken enough leadership courses along the way to get probably three MBAs. I was exposed to Myers-Briggs trying to improve myself. There were a lot of intrinsic things and when I saw that the sales training company had it, I said, “Who runs this for you?” They said, “We just give them out at sessions.” I saw an opportunity to turn that into a business. I saw the opportunity there. It resonated with me. I had a passion for it. What I didn’t do well was in that transition because for anybody thinking of getting out, I pushed myself to the point where I was burnt out. 

FTC 154 | Growing Your Business

Growing Your Business: The more content you produce in this digital world, the more chances people will find you.

 

I could’ve walked away and I would have accepted anything. I needed to get out. I wrote this in one of my books that I hated Sundays because it was one day from Monday and I had to start the routine. Even the weekends were enjoyable for me other than I spent most of them on the golf course because I knew what was coming up. I saw an article about that. Now there are a lot of people that have that same feeling because they’re always connected. I can’t remember what they called it, but it was like the Sunday blues or something about that. When I got out, it was time, but I literally didn’t plan well enough. I could’ve had a better transition. I fell into this. Through gumption, initiative, entrepreneurship and also have a pretty big cushion because I had sold my practice.  

I want to comment on what you said before about staying connected on social media. Some people are realizing now as you’ve mentioned that it’s not a good idea. What I mean by not a good idea is that the mind simply needs a break or else it starts to become difficult and weary. My passion is business, helping clients and building certification programs but honestly, my real passion is landscape photography. I travel all over the world to take photographs. If any of the audience wants to see my photography, they can go to MitchRussoTravels.com. The point I’m making is that there was a moment in time when I was doing gallery shows, winning international competitions and showing up in magazines all over the world.  

There was a part of me that felt ego-gratified by it, but there was another part of me that turned my passion into work. I absolutely hated it and I made a conscious decision never to try and sell another photograph again. I haven’t tried it. People have bought my photographs. You can go to my site and buy a picture. The bottom line is that the business of photography was not for me. What we’re talking about here is one of the lessons that you learned too. You’ve got to step back from something that you love and recharge a bit. Is that right? 

Absolutely. As you were sharing your story, I keep going back to the concept that I probably have a marketing company that happens to be in the HR industry. Part of it is I get all these ideas and I started to write to put the ideas on paper and to get those out and then flush them out. Sometimes you realize it’s a stupid idea or you can’t articulate it. How can I articulate my idea if I can’t get it on paper? How can I articulate my idea to someone else? By writing, it allowed me to congeal and take all these ideas and curate them. If I don’t produce at least the blog and article or a video every day, I feel deprived, but I don’t do it. 

People say, “How many people viewed it? What did they get from it?” I produced content. I hope people will read it. Part of it is it’s my learning experience. It’s my growth. Fortunately, I’m able to blend the two together because the more content you produce in this digital world, the more it is out there, the more chances people will find you. They read it, they’re interested or listen to it, then they come back to you. Maybe I was many years ahead of my time because now it’s all about sharing. It’s about sharing your knowledge. You certainly want people to be able to click on it and come back to you, but it does not always have a price tag on it. It’s a matter of educating, it’s giving away, it’s sharing, whatever term you want to use. 

I haven’t changed in many years doing stand. I don’t care what I’m doing. It’s also funny because I was called a few years ago. I moved to Maryland and then I moved back to Pennsylvania. When I was there, somebody said, “You’re like a renaissance man.” At one point our renaissance man was saying, “You can’t hold a job down. You went to dental school. You quit that. You started this business, you did that. You moved to Maryland.” Now it’s a sign that you’re constantly remaking yourself. 

The other thing is you made a point that I have found to be true very much so. The only way to truly learn something well is to teach it. I started writing software reviews many years ago and that’s how I learned the software business. That’s how I got started in the software business from reviewing other people’s software. I used to write for a little publication called Byte magazine many years ago. The whole idea here is that what you’re doing is exercising that muscle that says, “I write, therefore I am.” I exercise that same muscle and I bet a lot of the audience does too because it’s a muscle that really makes you stronger. That’s the part that I love most about it. You now have a company that does personality profiles. Tell me what your company does. 

Everybody is curious, but we teach people how to be fearful of making a mistake that they are afraid to ask questions. Click To Tweet

The short version is we help companies recruit faster and hire smarter. The main part of that is we provide preemployment and leadership testing that runs anything from as simple as a typing test, data entry, can they do Word and Excel. We’ve got a couple of publiclytraded companies that we’ve helped them evaluate the members of their C-suite. You name it, we can test for it. That’s the primary part. When my book came out, which was Recruiting In The Age Of Googlizationit’s my last book. I’ve written a couple of other ones. That was more about recruiting in the modern world.  

The first half of the book, the title was supposed to be When The Shift Hits Your Plan. It was about exponential change, how fast the world was changing and how business had changed to adapt it. I am a futurist in some ways, but I didn’t want to be a keynote speaker and a consultant on that. I flipped it around and it became about recruiting in the modern age world. We’re now working with a lot of companies, helping them improve their recruitment process, bringing it from the 1970s into at least the 21st century, into a digital world. That’s what we do with small and medium-sized businesses. 

Our past has some crossover points. When I was building Business Breakthroughs with Tony and Chet, one of the first things that I did for the company was to build a recruiting division. The entire division was built entirely on the premise that Chet wrote about it in his incredible book, The Ultimate Sales Machine. The premise, as it’s mentioned in the book, is that when you hire a person, you’re hiring a personality, not a skill. If it turns out that this person had a dad or a mom that destroyed their self-esteem, no matter how hard they try, they will never consistently be great in selling. It was that basic concept that led us to create an entire recruiting-based system that worked better than the very highend, expensive, recruiters for hire or feebased recruiters as they call them. It’s amazing that even now, everything in every area is changing and it changes quickly. It sounds like that’s where you are, you’re in that cutting-edge space of wanting to make sure that change happens for the best as it possibly could for your clients. 

Here’s what’s also amazing because they still get that question about how did you go from being a dentist to doing what you do? I was retained. I thought it was a hoax when I got this call. There’s a big event in Saudi Arabia. It’s about the fourth Industrial Revolution and the future of jobs, and I’m their keynoter. When I got it, I thought it was one of the Nigerian Prince emails because it was a pretty large fee and a lot of things attached to it. I was going to get paid, but I wonder what type of information they wanted from me to be able to do that. I did a little vetting and then they called me and verified that it was a for-real deal. Other than going in and getting my hands wet every day, I don’t think I’d do anything differently than I did many years ago. 

Good luck with that, as long as they didn’t ask for your bank account or a $5,000 fee. 

I was a little leery of it, especially that it also comes out the same day as Capital One. 

The first time I ever got one of those letters from the Nigerian Prince, it was, believe it or not, 1986. It wasn’t an email. It was a letter in the mail. I took it to my banker. I said, “Do you want to have some fun?” Let’s open up a dummy account and see what happens. He goes, “Sure, I’m game.” He was a cool guy. We did that. The request was all we need now is simply to get your existing account numbers. That’s the scam. You bring up a very important topic here and that’s what you do affects much more of the world than you realize. When you said you had no idea that this was coming, you didn’t know that you were going to be invited to be the keynote speaker in Saudi Arabia, why is that? It’s because of the web. It’s because the internet makes everything we do completely visible to the rest of the world. That is one of the most important reasons to constantly produce content, constantly be out there and talking about the things you are passionate about and showing people what you can do. 

It’s continuous. Many years ago, I built a website to be able to promote the business. I saw that was the direction and it transformed where I was. At that point, we were putting brochures up online. When 9/11 hit, at that time I thought I wanted to be a speaker and I had an AM radio show at that point. It was bad timing. My second episode was the week of 9/11. Who cared about hiring and leadership and anything at that point? It was more about survival. I went through the dynamics of that. It was fascinating how we made that transition and continuing on the leadership path, on the learning path. Somebody asked me, “How do you teach people to be curious? I don’t know. My belief is that everybody is curious, but we teach people how to be fearful of making a mistake. Therefore, they’re still curious. They’re just afraid to ask the questions.  

You mentioned Michael Gerber and I want to give a shout out to Michael. I know that he sometimes reads the blog and he created a fantastic interview. He and I got on the phone and we spoke for almost an hourandahalf and it was probably one of my favorite interviews because I love Michael so much. If you want to read about Michael Gerber, what life is like from his perspective, go onto YourFirstThousandClients.com and look for Michael Gerber’s show page and you will find it. Ira, we’re at a point where now we convert this show from a story about your life to a master class. What can you tell us about what you do and how other people can do it too to grow their business and get attention, new clients and increased revenue? 

One is everybody needs to be on a learning curve. There’s something I wrote about in my book and I took it from another model. It’s about the growth mindset. Some people call it the beginner’s mindset. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. We all make mistakes. We made tons and dozens of mistakes. I’ve been in business for many years and there were some colossal make mistakes I’ve made. You learn how to recruit and you come out better for it. I made a mistake at the beginning of the year and learned how to come out better for it. We’re all on this journey. You have to be comfortable with taking some risks, learning new ideas, integrating them and surrounding yourself with other people. 

We were talking about the internet and the availability of information. If you like to read, read blogs. If you like to read but you don’t have time to read, you can listen. You got podcasts. If you can watch, there are videos. There is so much good content out there by so many good people that are sharing it. People just have to open up their minds and translate that. The other thing and I don’t have an exact formula for it, but I probably have a marketing company or a content creation company that happens to be in the business of HR. You have to think differently about what your business is. Otherwise, you’re going to be a commodity. There’s no business that’s not going to be affected by automation and digitalization if it’s not already in the coming years. Think differently about your business. There are tons of good people that can help do that. 

FTC 154 | Growing Your Business

Recruiting in the Age of Googlization

In your business, when you started and you had one customer then two, then 1,000. Tell me about the transition. What changed in your business? For me, I had to fire my entire management team because we couldn’t get past $2.5 million in revenue. I had realized finally after struggling that the only way I was going to do that was if I had people who knew how to do it and I didn’t. I had to literally do the most heartbreaking thing possible, which was to fire everyone and start over with new management people who had already been there. Were there any lessons like that you learned? What did you see that changed as you started to increase and scale your company?  

We’ll start out with firing. The first year I was in this company and they wanted to go to professionals. I reached out to all my dentist friends who were in the community and the surrounding communities because they all said, “We’d love to do what you did. We don’t want to be in this business a few years from now.” I knew they did is they loved what they did. They just hated running the business. That’s what I was good at. When I created the mastermind group, it was that busy practice putting the business in practice. I said, “It’s lowhanging fruit.” All these people love me. I had ten practices and there were fourteen dentists in this group. I had an ongoing income that was coming in. What a great way to start.  

At the end of the year, I hated the business. I hated where it was going. I felt like I was a babysitter. I didn’t feel good. They said I was helping them. I didn’t feel good about it. I said, “At the end of the year, I’m not going to renew anybody else’s contract. You come to me. Let’s talk about what you want to get out of this. How are you going to measure success at the end of the year? I’m not going to continue coming to your practice every month. We’re going to sit around and talk about the same old problems and nothing changes.” I fired them and it was about $200,000 in business. I started and said, “I’m taking a different outlet.” That’s when I opted to become a specialist in the assessment business. I went out and I started to speak and one year into it, I was one of the breakout sessions at the conference. It had nothing to do with teaching people about the assessments. It was how you run an assessment business. 

What was it that you did that was different than other people when it came to assessments?  

I looked beyond it. I wasn’t a one-trick pony. There’s a lot of assessment, a lot of people that get certified in DiSC. They get certified in Myers-Briggs. They align themselves with one publisher. I fully recognize that human behavior is complicated. There are a lot of different factors. There’s no one test that can say you would be a good hire. If you pass this test, you’re going to make it. I integrated multiple tests. The publishers hated it. When I say integrated, it wasn’t physically integrated. In my mind, it was integrated. I found two or three different models that answer different parts of the question. At some of these meetings, they say, “Aren’t you duplicating your services? Aren’t you charging them three times for the same test?” I said, “No. They each provide me a little bit different piece of information.” I integrated it, so for the first several years of my business, half of my business came from other consultants in my business. 

They were my direct competitors because they were expert in one of four tools that I used. I didn’t opt to say mine was better. I said, “I can make yours better. If you utilize any of the other tools that I’m recommending, your tool will be much better. Because most people won’t do that, now you have a unique productunique service and unique expertise. You’re able to integrate two different models or three different models.” That was my distinction and now I had people at the top of their game wondering what I was doing. How was I using two competing models when they viewed them as the same product? I viewed them as different.  

Tell us the lesson here. What does that mean to the audience? 

The best way to explain that was years ago, Jeff Hoffman, who was a Cofounder of Priceline, I met him and I heard him speak. He talked about info-sponging. What he does every morning is he gets up and he says he picks up something, whether it’s a blog, a magazine, an article or a podcast that has nothing to do with the business that he’s working on. He listens to it and he says, “I wonder how something similar to that might impact the business I am working on right now.” I’m not sure if he gave this example or I read it somewhere else. In the 1950s and 1960s, the first drive-in was a McDonald’s type of food, the hamburger joints. You’d drive up to ice cream places and you’d get it there. The banking ministry, you had to walk in and it was 9:00 to 3:00 and there was no such thing as a drive up. All of a sudden somebody said, “If you can do it for hamburgers and French fries, why can’t you do banking through a drive-through?” The model came from a different industry. 

There is so much good content out there by so many good people. We just have to open up our minds and translate that. Click To Tweet

I took products and merged them together to create a different solution. Look outside the industry. What’s happening that might affect you? Uber didn’t come from General Motors. Airbnb didn’t come from Hilton and Marriott. I had an interview. I was talking to a consultant and he was asking me about the job boards. What’s the next model? We went through CareerBuilder and Monster and then Indeed. There’s ZipRecruiter and all these other ones. He said, “What’s the model?” I said, “Uber.” He said, “Why Uber?” I said, “Uber owns a database of people. They know what their educations are. They know their job availability. Almost all Uber drivers are looking to supplement their income. They’re between jobs. They’re living in the gig economy. What the staffing industry isn’t looking at is what the next biggest threat is. Personally, it’s somebody like Uber because they have the information, they have the database.” Look outside and see how you can apply what some other industry is doing, even how far-fetched it is of how that model might affect your business because it will and then take those lessons and implement them. 

I appreciate you bringing that up because it’s the cornerstone of many successful businesses. Know what to change by looking at other businesses and see what’s working. We’re at the point in the show where we need to get some more information from you. This is the type of information that tells the audience a little bit more about who you are. I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to think about it and give me an honest answer the best that you can. It’s a simple question. 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? 

This has nothing to do with religion or faith because I’m not Christian. I grew up in a community, it was 95% Catholic. My neighbors were all of another religion, but I went back to school several years ago and got my Master’s. I had a choice of an MBA or leadership and I took leadership. One of the people we studied was Jesus. I had a completely different perspective because I always looked at him as a religious leader of another religion. It was fascinating. There are other people I’d like to go back and be able to talk to like my grandparents who I never met, but I would like to understand what he thinks of the world now. 

It’s a great suggestion and on top of that, we’ve had a lot of people say Jesus when asked who they’d like to spend an hour with. Everyone who has, I would say it’s primarily for different reasons. I love the fact that you have a completely different reason as to why and it makes sense. We’re at the point where I’m going to ask you the grand finale, the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to change the world literally? 

I pursued a career path that I didn’t like and I don’t look back that way. I wasted many years of my life and a lot of money. It was a journey. I worked hard to try to figure out not necessarily what makes people happy but gratified. What roles are you in? You love doing photography for landscaping. How can you get somebody to love what they do? Maybe the job is a means to an end. Maybe in my case, I love what I do. I’m well past the age when I could’ve retired and people ask what I want to do. I hope that I can help people find a path, a role and an opportunity that they enjoy and is fulfilling for them. It allows them a high quality of life and that if they’re happy, they’re going to share that message within their family and within the community one person at a time. 

You have to think differently about what your business is. Otherwise, you're going to be a commodity. Click To Tweet

Ira, I’d like to invite the audience who would like to learn more about you to go to your website and I understand that you have a giveaway for my audience. What would that be? 

Anybody who comes up to the website, they can download a PDF of my book. You can certainly go up and purchase it up on an Amazon, but if you want a free copy of it, you can download a copy of Recruiting In The Age Of GooglizationThere are also a whole lot of other resources up there that you can download like eBooks and so forth, but you get a free copy of Recruiting In The Age Of Googlization. It was listed as the best all-time HR and recruiting bestseller book by BookAuthority.com 

Ira, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and telling your story. I look forward to the next time we speak. 

It’s an amazing experience. I enjoyed it. It was good to share that and best of luck to you too, Mitch.  

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Results Breakthrough

www.ResultsBreakthrough.com

Use the Event Code: WINNER for free access.

 

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