74: Planning For Positive Impact: A Vision For Every Entrepreneur with Michael Alden
There is no business that starts from ease and fun. It is from hardships that successful business owners gain quantifiable experiences that allow them to use the obstacles they encounter to grow. Michael Alden always knew he wasn’t a big fan of the “If only I had” syndrome. As he was envisioning his first business, Michael was also planning for positive impact on people’s lives. Nine years later, he and his company were able to do that. Michael Alden shares his story of starting a business, the struggles along the way to success, and how they kept true to their core values.
Planning For Positive Impact: A Vision For Every Entrepreneur with Michael Alden
Here’s the truth about being in business. Most of the time, it’s hard. Most of the time, it’s not fun. Stress is through the roof, and there are struggles that keep us up at night. My guest is no stranger to struggles. He started a frozen alcohol pop company when he was still in school and almost lost his entire business several times, but what he gained in experience at this early stage of life paid dividends many times over. Currently, he runs an Inc. 500 fastest growing company, builds award-winning infomercials, a regular speaker on national TV, and holds a doctorate degree as a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Michael Alden, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much.
You’ve built this incredible machine. You’ve built this amazing business in my home state, Massachusetts. I want to hear how you started. Could you take us back to the beginning?
You’ve mentioned one of my companies, the frozen alcohol pop or Zeus Juice. I talked about that in pretty much all of my books. I started my company, Blue Vase Marketing, in late 2008 and early 2009 in what I like to call the worst economy in the history of the world. I’ve had people argue with me about that, but if you look at it from a decline, it was the worst economy that we know of in present modern day. I don’t watch the news. I don’t read the newspapers. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have started the business, but I started this business with nothing, a little bit of about $25,000. I had some credit cards and I had some people that started this business with me because we had an idea. We had a vision. We had a plan to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Fast forward now, nine years later, we’ve done some great things. We’ve had a lot of struggle throughout the way, we’ve had lot of triumphs throughout the way, but we started again with those core values. We also knew that we wanted to be great at what we did. A lot of times people say you want to write down goals, you want to write down your vision, or you want to write down whatever it is you want to do in life. We just said we wanted to have a positive impact on people’s lives through the world of health and nutrition and also on education, and that’s what we have done. It got us to where we’re at today. At one point, we had almost 200 employees and we’ve done hundreds of millions in sales, and we’re having a lot of fun. At the same time, it’s not easy.
As I started another business yet again, we’re going through many similar problems as we do with every business that we start. What I’m interested in is how you got this thing off the ground while going to law school and while earning a doctorate degree. Why didn’t you think to yourself, “I could put this down. I’m probably never going to be an attorney and I want to focus on my business.” Why didn’t you do that?
I started my freeze pop business a couple years out of college. I graduated college, I was selling cars. I came up with the idea in college with this frozen shot deal. I’ve always told myself that I didn’t want to be that guy with the “if I had only” syndrome, “If I had only done that. If I’d only tried that idea, this is what my life would look like.” I started that business in the late ‘90s, and it ultimately collapsed. I re-launched that business in 2006 and we did some great things with that as well. I was in law school, and as a result of me having to declare bankruptcy because of that business, I needed a job in order to sustain my life. I found a job in a call center in my hometown, and that’s how I got indoctrinated into this world of direct response, into the world of health and wellness, into the world of dietary supplements. I also have a background in dietary supplements. Since I was a kid, I was always taking things. I used to drink Korean ginseng, the bottles that still have the root in it, and I would use that for energy before football practice. When I was in law school working in a call center, I was making a great living, and then I ultimately passed the bar exam. I did not pass the first time. Some people will say I failed. I just said I didn’t pass the bar exam the first time.
When I ultimately passed the bar exam, I got hired as in-house counsel for this company that was doing the same thing that we’re doing now. The day I started with them, the FTC, Federal Trade Commission, came after them, the Food and Drug Administration came right behind them, the IRS was right behind them, and then the Department of Justice, criminal things were happening. That’s how I started out as a lawyer. Being thrown in the fire is an understatement. If you look back on it, it was the most amazing experience you could possibly imagine. I went to Springfield College and I went to Suffolk Law at nights, and I’m in federal court defending a huge case with huge implications and people’s lives in line and hundreds of millions on the line. It was just an amazing experience. Here’s the other thing that I learned. I learned how not to run a business. When we started our business in late 2008, early 2009, we took all the great things that we did learn from that business and we took all the stuff that wasn’t so great and we got rid of all of it, and then we just improved on everything else that we’ve learned.
You are so lucky to have had that experience. You and I have that in common. When I took a job in sales, I was hired by a guy who absolutely had to be the worst business person in the world. I was new at this. I didn’t know better. I took a job without a contract. Fourteen months later when I finally started making big commission checks, he decided that it was a little too much money for a 26-year-old to make, so on the spot, he lowered my commission. I had no recourse because I had no contract. I learned how not to run a business from this guy. Like you, when I finally started my business, I had a fantastic experience of how to get it started right because of all the things this guy did wrong. Congratulations on being thrown into the fire the way you were. What happened next?
When I talk about the history of that company called ITV, I don’t hide behind it or I do not tell people about it. There were some negative things that happened with that company. When I started in 2004 up until when they ultimately closed just before 2009, they didn’t have any major issues after that. I came in as a young lawyer, not knowing anything, and did a good job of cleaning that business up. We had a lot of successes throughout. They had almost 400 employees, and when it got to the very end, when things were just ultimately over, I was the one who brought every single employee into our cafeteria and told them that it was over. My bosses were out on their jet skis and boats and not in reality because they didn’t want to face it. I learned early on that you got to deal with this stuff. You have to face these challenges and figure it out, and also give people the common decency to let them know that it’s ultimately over. I had an amazing education, not only as a lawyer, but also as a business person there because at the very end, my two bosses just checked out. Somebody had to do something, and that’s what I was doing there.
When I started Blue Vase, we looked at all the bad things that they did. We looked at all the great things that we did. We started out with five people and we started running our own direct-response infomercials on television. The first night, it was just me and my CIO, and we were setting up and programming the phones. The funny story is a classic story of the beginnings of business. We’re there that night and we had a buy that was coming in at 3:00 in the morning. We had been there for 36 hours already and we woke up at 7:30. We slept through our first buy so we don’t even know if the phones even rang. From there, we slowly grew it out. We started hiring people. Every dollar we made, we kept putting it back in and kept bootstrapping it, hiring people here and there.
We were using outside fulfillment houses, outside call centers, outside customer service centers, outside printers, outside manufacturers. We were relying on a lot of different people and a lot of different companies. We slowly started to bring that stuff in house. The reason why is because I’m a control freak. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that because I care, more than anybody else does, about my business. I wanted to make sure that our business and our customers were treated the way I wanted to be treated. That’s difficult to do when you’re contracting with a fulfillment house or a customer service center that’s taking calls or shipping stuff for dozens of clients. That’s how we grew it out. We literally do everything under one roof now. We have our own customer service, our own sales center, we have our own production studio, and I’m in our radio studio. We ship our own products. We control everything because we want to make sure that it’s the best experience for our customers.
I love the way you do that because I did exactly the same thing with my software company. Instead of having my discs manufactured outside, we brought all the manufacturing inside, just like you did. We made the decisions for the same reason you did too. We wanted to control the customer experience. We also wanted to control the quality of the final product. As a result, we were able to produce a higher quality product and save money by doing it all ourselves, which is part of why all of us would do something like that as well.
Even in that scenario, sometimes it could be a little bit more expensive, but that experience that you’re talking about is sometimes not quantifiable. You probably could now, when you talk about the lifetime value of a customer versus you doing it versus the outside third party doing it. I always tell people that I want to treat my customers the same way I want to be treated. I’ve been on the phones with credit card companies, with other companies where I’ve bought things and they’ve over-drafted my account or charged my card too much, been on hold forever, and receive product that was damaged. I am a consumer like you, and so I wanted to make sure that the service that I was getting from some of these was not the same. I wanted to be better. We’re not perfect, but we can always improve upon it.
You and I talked about your audience, a lot of them are people that are maybe still working and they’re trying to break into a new business. One of the things that we do at our business that is valuable is at my company, Blue Vase, every employee from whatever department, whether you’re in shipping, IT, sales, customer service, graphic design, marketing, whatever it is, we all work in each other’s departments in the very beginning to understand how the whole thing works. At the same time, we also still contribute on a moving forward basis. In other words, there are times when I still jump on the phones and take phone calls or I’ll take customer service calls. I’ll have my accountant, my CIO, my assistant do it, not because I’m punishing them, but because they have a different perspective on the business than I do, and we always get better that way. It’s amazing. Even when we do it now, we’ve been doing it for years, and someone will get on the phone and say, “Why do you do it like that? Why does your return policy say this when I think it should say this? Why is the script path with this product here, shouldn’t it be here?” We think about that and we have this open door policy as it relates to what we’re doing here. We call it a beehive mentality where all of the bees, meaning us, are ultimately serving the queen bee, which is the company, Blue Vase.
This is a process that evolved. If we’re talking about the beginning of a company, we’re talking about the first production you did and sleeping through the airing of your show. How did you book that for show? Did you have these contacts from when you worked at the other company? When you started this company, what was your first client call like and how did you book that?
We met through a gentleman by the name of Larry Benet. I don’t know if he coined this phrase, but he’s the great connector and he talks about connection capital. Whatever business you’re in, no matter where you’re starting, you’re developing relationships. A lot of times when a lawyer represents a client and that lawyer leaves, if you have a great relationship with your client, with that individual, a lot of times those clients come with the lawyer. It’s not with the law firm, it’s with the actual individual. Throughout the years as a young lawyer, as a salesperson, and as a business development guy all wrapped up into one thing, I developed great relationships. I met a lot of great people., When we started, we leveraged those relationships that we had because even though the company failed and there was a lot of negative things that happened, there were still a lot of great people there, including myself, who had great relationships with people. When we started, we were able to reach out to them. How did it first happen, that first buy? There are media agencies that buy stuff for us. I go to those media agencies that I met throughout the years as a lawyer and say, “We have this advertising,” the one thing that we don’t do is we don’t buy our own media, “We don’t buy media. We need you to buy it for us. Can you do it for us?” This is something innovative which a lot of companies don’t do. “Can you finance it for us?” We didn’t have the money. I was able to leverage my connection capital based off of the relationships that I’ve built. I did not only have them buy the media for me but to finance it for me. It happened literally just on a handshake, no contracts, and we’re talking millions of dollars. That doesn’t happen in the real world, but if you are able to foster those relationships and have a true, genuine interest in the people that you’re dealing with, it can happen.
The power of relationship capital. Michael Alden, you did the amazing. I bought millions and millions of dollars’ worth of radio for Tony Robbins and we had to pay for a media upfront. You never could get media financed. The fact that you did that, that’s a testament to the types of relationships that you’ve built back then and I’m sure to this day still build.
There have been times where things go wrong too. One in particular, I owed this one company $500,000, and they started getting nervous. Then I owed another one the same amount of money and they started getting nervous. I wasn’t nervous because I knew the money was sitting in an account. When I graduated law school, you then take the bar exam so you need to study for the bar exam. The first time around, I only studied for a few weeks. I went into that, I wasn’t prepared, and I got to the second day. It’s two days. The first day is multiple choice, eight hours. The second day, it’s the same thing, eight hours and it’s essay. When I got to the second day and I flipped over to the second question, it was about commercial paper and secure transactions, a lot of banking stuff, stuff that I had no idea about. I didn’t study it in law school. I didn’t understand the underlying principles, the theories, none of it. You can’t bullshit on the bar exam. I knew right then and there that I was probably not going to pass the bar exam because you can’t just blow off a question.
When I started working for that company called ITV, they had to bootstrap a lot of things as well. I was able to convince the media buying agencies to buy the media in advance. It’s usually two weeks in advance and we didn’t have the funds to do that. We did have merchant reserves, money that was sitting in a bank account that neither one of us could touch but it was coming in on a rolling basis like every couple days. It was still coming in from six months prior. I was able to secure the transaction of them buying the media for us against the money that was sitting in an account that we couldn’t touch, i.e., a secured transaction. I probably would not have even thought of that had I had passed the bar exam the first time.
I think about it differently. You are a guy who is guided in this world by a spirit greater than ourselves. I feel the same way, Michael. I feel as if things happen and people show up and I’m taken to places that I need to be. It sounds like you are too. You were shown that question at that moment in time because it was important that you saw it and you would need it later. That to me is one of the most beautiful things about life. If you allow it to happen, then serendipity will carry you forward in the most beautiful way, but you need to be prepared. You need to show up. You need to do the work. That is how you prepare for those things to happen. Getting back to the beginning of your company and the way you started, tell us exactly what it is your company does today.
We are a full-service direct-response marketing firm. What that means is we market products and services directly to consumers. The world is changing. Our core business is television, what we call long-form infomercials, and our format is somewhat unique. We sit down at a desk, and it’s usually me as the host having a conversation with somebody on the other side of the table who bought a particular product or service. The reason why I still love that format to this day is because it’s 30 minutes and we’re able to have a real discussion about the problem and the solution. That’s basic marketing stuff. “Here’s the problem and we have the solution. Here’s why.” That’s our core business, but then it’s evolved. Because the world is changing and technology is changing, and you have things like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and all these other things, long-form infomercials aren’t nearly as successful as it used to be. There are not as many eyeballs, plus now there are 1,000 stations so it’s difficult to get people’s attention. What do we do? We evolved. We adapt. We do some stuff on radio. We do direct mail.
People now think that direct mail is this old antiquated thing. It’s making a great comeback because of technology and email is clogging up our boxes. Now, when you get something in the mail, you pay attention to it. It’s a little bit different. It’s not like what it used to be. Direct mail is something that we do well. There is a technology and it’s changed my business. It’s called Ringless Voicemail Drops. A lot of people have never heard of it. I have over 10 million phone numbers in my database. Of those 10 million phone numbers, a good portion of them by the way the laws are, I cannot contact them because I no longer have an existing business relationship.
With this technology, the Ringless Voicemail Drops, I can drop a voicemail into their voicemail, so from me to them. It’s one server/computer talking to another server. It’s not an actual phone call. The FCC has also decided not to regulate it at this very moment. The best part about it is it’s pennies, $0.20 to $0.30, depending on how many you’ve sent. The other part about it is it’s instant and has a 20 % response rate and an 85 % listen rate. If you are a marketer, whether you’re small or big, it doesn’t matter. Ringless Voicemail Drops is awesome for so many reasons. You can change on the fly. I’ve recorded messages on my cell phone in my basement that have generated us hundreds of thousands of dollars going back to our database. It is awesome technology, and I would implore anybody who’s a marketer, whether small or big, to use it.
We’ve used it is well with some of my consulting clients. What I love most about it is that the response rate is very high. You can deliver a lot of value in a Voicemail Drops that most people never realized. What we’ve used Voicemail Drops for is to follow up on an existing program. If you’re a coach or a consultant and you run a class or a webinar and you follow up with a detailed voicemail that even provides more value, then you’ve increased the value to your end user and your clients and increase the chances of them buying the next thing you offer. Are you also integrating internet marketing with everything else that you said you’re doing?
The world of the internet is changing things. Our customer base is a little bit older and so they still are calling us. They’re sending us checks. They’re not using credit cards. You still have that group of people that no matter what happen, they’re still going to do that. That’s how they’re comfortable. We are doing some stuff on the internet for social media. Everyone talks about social media and there’s a big misconception with social media now. They think it’s free and you’re going to grow your business. It is free, but it’s work. If you want to grow your brand, if you want to grow your business, if you want to get brand awareness out there, social media is certainly a great thing but it is work. Social media like Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Live, musical.ly, Periscope, live.ly, all these different things you can do, I would strongly advise people not to use automated technology and be real about whatever it is you’re doing. We’re in this voyeuristic world where we want to see what’s going on with the business or with the person or with the brand, you’re best served when you’re doing something that’s tied to an actual human doing it.
Give me an example when you say, “Be real.” If you write a tweet, is that not real? I’m not sure what you mean.
There are different platforms where you can pick a bunch of pictures and write a bunch of stuff on it, and then schedule them to go out. I see all these guys doing that. That’s not real to me, and it’s so obvious. That’s what I’m talking about. For instance, when you were doing intro, I took a picture of myself and I put it in my Instagram stories and I said, “Always grinding,” with a hashtag for my book Blueprint, #BPTB. That was a real moment, it happened, and I’m showing people, “If you want to market a book, if you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to do stuff.” Now I could have prescheduled that as well, but it’s fairly obvious I got it prescheduled. You got a lot of guys out there that are doing it. Tony Robbins, when you look at his stuff, from what I can tell, most of his stuff is him doing it or someone on his team doing it. He’s not pushing out memes with quotes from historical figures throughout the world trying to just build up content. He’s giving you a real life perspective of like, “Here’s my latest event and this is what I’m doing.” If you’re not on Snapchat, you need to get on it. It’s not what people think it is. It’s not just for kids anymore. With Snapchat, it’s very difficult to do that, although it can be done. Snapchat is those ten-second clips of showing what’s going on in your life. Try to be as authentic as you can as it relates to the content that you’re pushing out.
That’s better than saying, “Don’t use automated social media.” What you’re saying is if you’re going to use it, use it as part of your life experience. Use it as a communications tool. Don’t share silly quotes that frankly nobody’s going to read and most people are going to ignore. I believe that’s what you’re saying, and with that, I completely agree. That’s the useful nugget I got from what you said about that. You’re using all these tools and you’re building these relationships with millions of people. Does all of your customers come in through this mechanism, through your phone numbers and through your infomercials? Do you market it any other way?
Yeah. It is changing and we’re evolving. One of the things that we launched is network marketing. I was a general counsel of a network marketing company. I wasn’t a big fan and I’m still not a big fan of how most network marketing companies operate and a lot of people aren’t. Over the years, we have 1.5 million customers, and over time they’ve always asked us, “Do you have a way for us to buy your product and resell it?” Because of my experiences as general counsel and also in other network marketing companies, I didn’t want to do that because of the control factor too. Then we would have people buying our product, figuring out a way to get around us, buying the product and selling it online, and hurting the brand and not giving us the ability to control a lot of different things. We launched a network marketing division. We’ve taken our direct response model, we’ve taken all the things that we’ve done, from the scripting to the advertising to the technology, and we’ve rolled it up into a network marketing company. The name of the company is CloiXonné and it comes from the book, The Go-Getter. What we’re doing is we’re touching customers in ways we’ve never been able to because if you’re an ambassador, you have relationships with people that I don’t, and they’re more likely to talk to you or more likely to connect with you. That’s the one path we’re going down. Despite the world of disruption, everything’s being disrupted and the world is changing. Here’s one thing that I guarantee is never going to change ever. We’re always going to be buying stuff and we’re always going to be selling stuff. You have to figure out what side of the table you want to be on. Most of the people are always selling stuff.
Are you saying that you’re setting up network marketing companies for your clients or you built a network marketing company that you’re bringing product through?
Yes. We built a network marketing company. It’s called MichaelAlden.net. It comes from book, The Go-Getter, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. In The Go-Getter, Bill Peck, the main character, was given the impossible task of getting the blue vase. Hence, my main company is called Blue Vase Marketing. The vase in that actual story is called the Cloisonné. It’s this ornate pottery that’s inlaid with gold and precious metals and things like that. We started our own network marketing company. We’ve incorporated all of the direct marketing stuff that we do here. When you talk about training and all this other stuff, we’ve taken all of that and then we’re giving it to our ambassadors because most network marketing companies and most people don’t realize that they are in fact salespeople or they just want to be salespeople. Everyone loves the idea of making more money and going on vacation and doing all that other stuff. A lot of these network marketing companies do a great job of selling you the dream. I tell people to stop dreaming. Dreaming is for sleeping. In CloiXonné, we show you the realities of marketing and I give you actual tools, the things that we’ve developed and literally spent hundreds of millions of dollars on over the course of the years of things that work, the processes that work. If you want to be a part of our company, great. How else is the marketing happening? It’s happening through the power of network marketing. To this day, it’s still probably the most powerful marketing there is because it penetrates your home. People still come into your home and talk to you about the products and services that they’re trying to show you, and that’s why it is so powerful.
Are you looking for people to join your network marketing or are you looking for products to bring into the network? What is your current stance on that?
We have the product part taken care of, because this is what we do. We sell products and services on television. We have been selling mostly dietary supplements for years, all science-based. Over time, I have probably the best digital library than any other marketer. I have in-house counsel, I have people that study this stuff and study the science. A lot of times, you’ll see marketers who quote a study, and then when you go and try and find the study, you realize that the study was conducted in German. What we’ve done over the years is we’ve had those studies translated so that we look at it and say, “We can in fact substantiate that claim.”
We’ve developed a lot of the products. We’ve had a lot of partners, a lot of people have come to us with particular products, and we’ve rolled them up into CloiXonné. Our hook is called, “Try it for free, it’s on me.” What it means is that in the world of direct marketing, especially in this world that we’re living in with all these different points of contact and ways that people are trying to get people’s attention, one of the most powerful things in the marketing world is the word ‘free’. We allow our customers and ambassadors to truly try a full month supply of our products for free. They pay a small shipping and handling charge. The stuff we sell for $100 to $150 a bottle. Try it for full month supply with no strings attached. You’re not going on auto ship. You’re not going on a continuity thing. If that product works for you, then you come back to us. If you want to be an ambassador, you can grow your business by allowing other people to try our products and services for free. That is how and why we’re growing the business. No other network marketing company is doing that.
I talked about the frustrations in network marketing companies because all they try to do, and even despite the fact that the FTC is always trying to shut these companies down, is they want you as an ambassador to buy a bunch of product, and then you’re going to hopefully try and sell it to your friends, relatives and neighbors. It never happens that way. I say, “We have great products. If they work for you, I’m going to give them to you for free and they’ll come back.” That, in and of itself, is a marketing technique that anybody can use in any business. A lot of people are afraid to give away their product. I have a friend that owns a peanut butter company. It’s called HomePlate Peanut Butter and he gives away these little pouches of the peanut butter. It’s expensive stuff because it’s super clean, non-GMO and no sugar. He says, “Mike, a lot of people said, ‘Don’t do this. Don’t give away stuff for free.’” I learned this from him. If they like it, they’re going to come back.
This is an important lesson. If you have a great product, sample it. Let people try it first. My dad used to roast nuts in front of our candy store in New York City, and he would vent the roaster to the street so it would bring hundreds of people to our store. I would stand there with a tablespoon handing people samples of nuts. Some people walked away with your sample, but we had a line of people wanting to buy our nuts because they tasted them. They were fresh roasted, ready to go. Mike, spell the name of the company?
It’s www.CloiXonné.com. It’s taken us a long time to get it to where it’s at today. We’re not setting records. Because I understand business and because I understand so many things can go wrong in the mechanics and all these other things, compensation plans, software and shipping, and all these other things that can happen, we wanted to make sure that we had our ducks in a row and make sure that the systems are working and that they’re in place and that it makes sense and that it’s duplicable. In most businesses, it needs to be duplicable, it needs to be replicatable, so that if you’re not familiar with the business like me and you do come in as an ambassador, you can look at how to get in the business. One, you join. Two, you have two join you. Three, your fourth three, you get your product for free. That’s it. That’s our system. It has to be simple. Now we’re going into 2018 and we’re going to blow it up because we wanted to make sure that it made sense for everybody and we wanted to make sure that it worked. It’s not going to be perfect. Things are going to break, things are going to go down, there’s going to be things that we missed. The biggest travesty in business and in life is so many people are so caught up with paralysis analysis because they overthink things and they want it to be perfect and it’s got to be this way, that way. When I sold cars right out of college, every year I sold Ford Lincoln Mercuries, and every year, the Lincoln Town Car got a little bit better or changed and there were different things added to it. It doesn’t mean that the year before was a bad car, it just means the following year they got a little bit better.
Michael Alden is a master experimenter par excellence, and I want you to learn from him. I want you to go to Michael Alden. Understand what he’s doing, look at the way he’s crafted this business after decades of experience, and see if there’s anything you can model because modeling is the most powerful way of growing. Michael, I want to thank you for sharing that with us. That’s an incredible experience that you’ve talked about. I myself am on the page, and I want to learn more about how you did it and what you’re doing as well. I want to ask you about your books. I know that you love to write and I enjoyed reading Blueprint to Business. It’s so good because you’re honest. You share everything. I love that about the way you write.
We met because of my first book, Ask More, Get More, and I felt like that was a pretty honest book. Then my other one, 5% More, is the same thing. You have decades of experience. You’ve been around the greats. You’ve done great things. You’ve had businesses, you’ve had successes, you’ve had what Zig Ziglar taught me, which was temporary defeats; we don’t like to call them failures. You’ve lived life and you’ve done a lot of great things. The thing that drives me nuts out in the world of social media, and I probably shouldn’t care, but I do because this has such a negative impact on society as a whole, is there’s a lot of people out there that are projecting images that aren’t real and they’re projecting images as if they are like business rock stars. I’m not calling myself a business rock star, but I realized throughout the years that I’ve done a lot of great things. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I continue to make mistakes and I continue to get kicked. The stuff that’s been going on in my business, nobody could survive mentally. It hurts and this is the life of an entrepreneur. I was talking to my producer, I was getting myself all fired up and I’m like, “You can keep hitting me and hitting me and hitting me.” As entrepreneurs, we get up because there is no other alternative. Those guys that are out there that are projecting these fake and even unrealistic things, they drive me nuts.
In Blueprint to Business, I tell people what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, the ups, the downs, the peaks, the valleys. It’s a beautiful thing if you want to be an entrepreneur. It is what it is. The entrepreneur lifestyle isn’t for everybody, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to be an entrepreneur, if you want to start a business, if you want to grow a business, if you’re already in business, if you’re thinking about starting a business, Blueprint to Business truly is a blueprint from the most basic things like forming the business, to the things that a lot of people overlook. I’m an attorney by trade so I’m dangerous enough to know about intellectual property to some of the negotiation things that I deal with. One of the things that I talk about in Blueprint to Business is when you’re negotiating, like I have throughout the years, most of the times I’ve been in a position which is not a position of strength. I’m not sitting on millions of dollars in my bank account. I don’t have all this power behind me. A lot of times I’m negotiating with entities that are even much bigger than me.
When you’re in a situation like that where you’re ultimately going to lose, if you can understand or get comfortable with what I like to call the worst case scenario, think about the worst case scenario in that negotiation that you’re going through, like what could possibly happen, try to think it through, and get comfortable with that. When I say comfortable, I’m not talking about sleeping on your couch at home. I’m talking about the type of comfort where you’re sleeping in a tent in your backyard. Get comfortable with the worst case scenario, and then go from there. Once the other side knows that, you now remarkably all of the sudden are in a position of strength because you truly have nothing to lose. It is one of the most powerful things. Most people don’t want to admit the fact that they’re not in a position of strength. My entire life, I’ve been in a position that wasn’t in a position of strength. This is how I’ve grown as a person and also how I’ve grown my business. That’s one little tip that a lot of people can learn from.
This goes back to my negotiation training at Harvard University. It’s called BATNA. If you’re familiar with that, it’s Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. What you’re basically saying is get comfortable with not an exact outcome that you want, and that’s a great place to start and get comfortable with having it not work at all. Mike, this has been great. I have enjoyed our conversation and I hope listeners enjoy it too. Mike, is there any place that you would like to send listeners to learn more about either your books or your product? We know they’re going to go to Michael Alden, but are there any place else we can send them?
If you like some more information about me, I am starting to become pretty active on social media. You can find me, it’s @MikeAlden2012. That’s Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also go to my website, it’s Michael-Alden.com. If you have a question, if you have a business idea or there is something that I can help you with, I try and do my best, and nine times out of ten if someone responds, it is me.
Michael, thank you so much for your time.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Michael Alden
- Blue Vase Marketing
- Larry Benet
- Ringless Voicemail Drops
- The Go-Getter
- Blueprint to Business
- Ask More, Get More
- 5% More
- @MikeAlden2012 Twitter
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