Success doesn’t come overnight. It’s a process, and sometimes you need the one thing, the edge to push you over the top. Sometimes, you need the help of your community to get there. Mitch Russo talks all about businesses success with the co-founder of ProduKtive, Geoff Woods. Geoff and Mitch discuss how Geoff came up with the concept that became The ONE Thing. We hear how they built a community that helps push others to succeed. Geoff shares insights on creating revenue streams, redesigning business models and creating better products. Tune in and learn how inspiring a community can make for a successful business.
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Geoff Woods And The ONE Thing Your Business Needs To Succeed
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Go to GetClientFolio.com. He is starting as a medical device salesman. He decided to start a podcast and attract better people. Knowing that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with, he then figured out how to turn that content into cash and then discovered an opportunity to do so on a much bigger scale.
Welcome, Geoff Woods, to the show.
Mitch, thanks so much for having me.
Let’s go back to the beginning and tell us a little bit more about how this whole thing came about for you.
I found myself in medical device sales, which was a great job. I woke up every day, running through hospitals. I got to sell a device that saved lives. It was a dream job. I felt what a lot of your readers feel, which you finish the workday and deep down, you know you are meant for more. The problem is I had these amazing golden handcuffs on.
I didn’t have a compelling reason to make a change. Two things happened in my life that changed all that. First, a colleague of mine had a stroke at 35 years old. My wife and I had bought a house in Orange County. We had our first child. My wife decides to become a stay-at-home mom and I’m standing in my kitchen wondering if what happened to my colleague had happened to me, what happens to my family? Which was extremely unsettling.
My company needed to make a change to our commission structure to remain competitive in the marketplace. The consequence was I lost 40% of my income overnight. For anybody who has ever had a big pay cut or job loss, it can rock you to your core. That was where I was. All of a sudden, I’m going, “What am I going to do?” I’m watching us hemorrhage cash month after month. The bank accounts are almost at zero.
I’m introduced to this quote from Jim Rome, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It made an impression on me to the point where I grabbed the pen and a piece of paper. I asked the question, “Who are the five people I spend the most time with?” I made the list. As I reflected on the list, I realized I have five amazing friends, but I have zero amazing mentors.
It is interesting that you bring this up in the way you did because we have a lot in common. I started my life as an engineer. I went into sales. I became the third top salesperson in the entire state of Massachusetts. When all of a sudden, my boss, the company that I worked for, decided to change the commission plan. All of a sudden, I went from earning $36,000 a month at the age of 26 down to $6,000 a month. I had saved quite a bit of money, but I knew in my heart that I could no longer ever be under the control of another human being.You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Click To Tweet
In this case, if I wanted to make my own way, I had to find a way to do so. That is the origin story of how I got to figure out which of the five different companies I started would succeed. Like you, I looked for that mentor in the beginning as well. It is an incredible pathway that you took. It is so illustrative of how great entrepreneurs must proceed if they are going to be successful because we can’t do it alone.
No one succeeds alone. The truth is you are going to make mistakes. The question is how do you fail forward as fast as possible and not fail unnecessarily? You don’t have to make all the mistakes you can learn from other people’s mistakes. When you have the right mentorship, you collapse time because you get to start where they finished.
You get to apply their lessons without having to feel their pain, which is the same thing. I love that analogy. Like you, I spent quite a bit of time up-leveling my relationships. Possibly my strongest was with my friend Chet Holmes, who you know and our partner, Tony Robbins, which changed my life in ways I couldn’t even begin to tell you because it was so dramatic. From there, everything else changed as well. That is what happens. You also met someone incredibly influential along this pathway. Who is that?
Fast forward, it’s our national sales meeting. I walk into this ballroom. There are 1,500 chairs. On every chair was a copy of a book called The ONE Thing. I picked it up and I went, “This looks interesting.” Jay Papasan who is one of the co-authors of the book walked out on stage as our keynote speaker. For the next hour, he is blowing my mind. He is sharing how his co-author Gary Keller started a company called Keller Williams. It is the largest real estate company in the world and how he lived his life by these principles and scaled it to what it is. The whole time I’m sitting in the audience going, “What would my life look like if a guy like Jay or Gary were one of my five?” I couldn’t even comprehend.
Jay finished speaking. He gets a standing ovation. When 1,500 people sat down, I found myself still standing. It was one of these defining moments where your mind is telling you to do one thing, but your heart is pulling you in a different direction. My mind was saying, “Sit down.” There was something deep inside of me that was compelling me to run down the ballroom. Before you know it, I’m in an all-out sprint down the ballroom and I almost tackled Jay. I had to be the first person to speak to him and that began our relationship.
What I was unaware of was it the one thing that had already become one of the highest rated business books of all time. That created a problem because Gary Keller’s One Thing was running Keller Williams. Jay’s One Thing is writing books with Gary. They had actively been searching for someone whose one thing would be the one thing and that became my opportunity. On November 1st, 2015, the three of us co-founded this company on a mission to help people better invest their time so they achieve extraordinary results.
I mentioned to you that I listened to the book. I prefer to listen to books because I can absorb them faster and more completely because when I read, my mind drifts, but when I’m listening, I have to pay attention. That is what I love about audiobooks. When I listened to this book, the first thing I thought of is by the second chapter, it was a very interesting story, but I was waiting for him to get the one thing that is so simple.
You almost don’t need a whole book to describe the process. The stories are so beautifully written about how that one thing process has changed, in this case, Gary’s life. You met Jay and you put together a business around the one thing process. That is great. I am sure we can chat a lot about the business, not on this show though. This is a show about community and tribes. Let’s talk about that. How, where and why did this community form?
It was on the roadmap from Inception. They asked me to cast a vision for the organization in terms of what I thought this might look like. Based on benchmark marking lots of other companies, I figured, you’ve got an intellectual property at the center. You have an email list. Ultimately, you are going to build a content strategy, whether those are podcasts, webinars or social, you’ll pick what avenue is right. How do we go about creating a community? It’s not just about customers, it’s about community.
Peloton is a great example of this. What makes that company so remarkable is not just the product or the number of customers that they have, it’s the engagement of their community. That was something right off the bat that we said, “We want to create a community of ambitious professionals who are dissatisfied with the status quo and are unwilling to accept the idea that to succeed professionally, you have to sacrifice your personal life. You can thrive professionally and personally.” That was on the roadmap from day one.
When I think about a tribe, I think about it from two perspectives. I believe that the person who leads a tribe should have a manifesto, vision, mission and purpose. Using that manifesto, the emotional tone of the community changes because without one, you are just a group of people. You need that passion to exclude those who don’t belong as well as become a magnet for those who do. Tell me about that.
It’s something we have figured out along the way. We didn’t have that level of clarity at the beginning, but it was, “Let’s take one step at a time.” What is interesting is that Gary wrote the book while they wrote the book for the small business owner, it was written to the slant of the people in the cubicles because from the idea of a Blue Ocean strategy, they didn’t want to write to the corner office. They wanted to write to the masses. It’s that ambitious professional. For a book that was written for a very narrow group of people, it’s going to help everyone.
Before you know it, you have stay-at-home moms reaching out, telling us how to live a better life with their children. You’ve got executives, employees and mid-managers. We struggled because for a book about One Thing, we felt the pull to try to serve everyone. We understood the number one live productivity is the live at everything matters equally. In this case, you cannot treat everyone like they matter equally when it comes to prioritizing the design of your product, which is how it got narrowed down to the ambitious professional.
We are not designing a curriculum or solutions for the person who is happy with the status quo. There is no judgment with that, that is not who we serve. We want to serve that person that wants more, knows they are destined for more and very specifically is unwilling to sacrifice their personal life for professional success.
You know exactly who you are trying to attract, which is perfect for the beginning of a community. How do you transition a reader who reads the book? I assume that was your key lead source in the beginning into a community member.
When I stepped in, there was a book. It was already very successful. They had already built an email list, which is massively important. They were doing a free monthly webinar. There were no paid solutions. The first thing I did is I asked the question, where do they need help most? It’s the survey. We got a very consistent theme, which is they needed help with time blocking and battling distractions.
Time blocking is the act of blocking time with yourself to do whatever is most important. While we’ve all done it, most of us struggle with the idea of protecting those time blocks and battling those distractions. I pre-sold a solution. I didn’t have it yet. I said, “We are going to come up with a program.” We called it a Time Blocking Mastery. “We will help you identify one thing. We will help you time block it and we will help you turn it into a power habit that sticks.”
We were transparent about the fact that we did not know what the curriculum looked like, but we were going to design it for this early group of people we called our founding members. People had to apply to be founding members and pay in advance. I learned a very powerful lesson on this because we said it was $1,000 to apply. We said we would cap it at 100 people. Between you, me and every other person who is reading this, I didn’t think we’d get 100 people.
Two hundred five people put their credit cards down. This was in the first 60 days of the business. When we have zero revenue, we have expenses and I had to refund $105,000 for a startup business, which was very painful. I learned a lesson, which is that your values aren’t your values unless they cost you something. Our word meant something to us.
We stuck to the hundred. We delivered. We created a great product, but after probably six months of driving this product, we realized we had a problem. We are in the business of saving people time. We are in the business of helping people better invest it so that they can achieve extraordinary results but we had a flaw in our business model.It's not just about customers. It's about community. Click To Tweet
We were selling a one-time product, which meant that every month we had to sell all over again to cover our expenses, which if all you do on your email list is sell, you undermine the trust with your people. That was when we realized very quickly, we had to make a change. We shifted away from that type of model and shifted toward building community through a continuity program, which is still alive and well.
Take a step back here and let’s unpack some of the things you did wrong as you reached that point. As it has been for me always, there is always a long list. Let’s talk about mistakes. Where would you say are some of the glaring ones that are instrumental to those who are reading?
Every single one of us, when we start a business, look at other similar businesses and ask how did they do it. If you are trying to build an online community, you have probably studied internet marketing. That’s what we did as well. What does it look like to go from book to online training? We benchmark to the best of the best and looked at the proven models for how to scale that. Here is the lesson. Just because it’s a proven model for the industry does not mean it’s the right fit for your business.
We followed the proven models of doing Facebook ads, drive traffic to a website that captures the email that gets them to sign up for a webinar where you offer value, but you make an ethical offer. You follow up via email to maximize conversion. When they convert, you have upsells and down sells. Super standard, but we never once, at the beginning asked, “Are we saving people time when we do this? Are we helping them better invest their time and achieve extraordinary results?” We didn’t do that.
I remember the first sales webinar we ever did, we made more money in a day than we had ever made at that point. I remember ending the webinar, looking at my partner, Jay and saying, “We can never do that again.” It was not aligned with our brand. I remember when the day came when we had to completely abandon that model. We shut down all Facebook ads. We completely stopped long sales campaigns on our list. Wondering what tanked the company. Shockingly, revenue went up.
Where did people come from after you turned off all of your lead generation systems?
Fortunately, our book is very popular. We get a lot of organic traffic to the site through the book. Also, our SEO is pretty strong at this point. I had launched our podcast, which has a pretty large audience.
As instructive as this could be, if you are starting a community and you are listening to a speaker, take a look at how this book played such a significant role in the process. The book is the manifesto.
We call it the lead domino that when you knock it down, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary.
The passion behind this comes from seeing the person who wrote it and the results that they have achieved. We start with a concept or in this case, a cause or mission, we then follow our instincts and make it work for us and others notice and then follow. It sounds like you did a great job. Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of stuff. You got all these people and you have them in your community. How often do you communicate with your community?
There is a weekly email.
How often do you have two-way communication with your community?
We are in the process of redesigning what that offer is to bring even more value. If I gave you the 20%, meaning the 20% things we do that have driven 80% of the results, there is a weekly newsletter for our community members. Once a month, we do a live group coaching call that everybody can attend that is interactive. Throughout the year, we will do challenges. We are in the middle of helping 2,000 people to form their next power habit.
They will make achieving their number one goal in 2022 possible. There is also an engaged Facebook group where we have built a community where we have elevated community members to positions of authority. They don’t have to come to my team or me. We have community members that have been on this journey for years that have achieved extraordinary things that are able to step in and be an authority.
What you described are some of the concepts that I talked about in my book, Power Tribes, which is how to create a tribe and elevate that tribe. Give them the chance to ascend inside of the environment that you have created. You did an incredible job with that. It is instrumental to the growth of a community. You can’t do it all yourself. You can’t have one person forever be that leader without having a level below you that handles in a much more intimate way. The folks who need that one-on-one support are so well done. What about the tools? What tools do you use software-wise to do this? What other ways do you use software to re-enhance the experience for the community and to make it so that you can scale this beyond 5,000 or 10,000 people?
There is what we have done and there is what we will be doing. We are at a redesign point. The initial setup was ActiveCampaign as an email service provider, Kajabi as an LMS and Stripe as a payment processor and Facebook as an online community. That has allowed us to scale to multiple seven figures in revenue. Going from getting your first 100 members, what scales for 100 members is different than what was a scale for 1,000. When you hit about 1,000, you started to hit the ceiling of achievement and you have to redesign the model.
There is another ceiling at 10,000, which when we look at between our individual members and corporate members, that is right about where we are. This is where we are having to do some heavy-duty research in terms of high-level LMSs or an LXP, Learning Experience Platform, possibly a custom build. That is where we are going next.
For those who are starting, it sounds like LMS, CRM system and Facebook group could about be everything you need to get maybe to your first 1,000 members pretty easily.
That is all you need for 1,000 members, whether or not getting to 1,000 is easy or not, I can’t say for you. It is not easy for us.
It is not easy for anybody. I know that as well. Once they become a member and you have immersed them in their community, you had started to say earlier, when you first began, there was nothing else. Now that you have some experience here, show us the pathway so that when someone begins inside the $1,000 a year, is that still available? Is that still what you are selling?Your values aren't your values unless they cost you something that's right. Click To Tweet
It is $299.
They pay $299, and they immersed themselves in this community for a year, which sounds amazing. Where do they go next after their year is up?
We started as an online training company for individuals. All along the while, we are getting companies that are reaching out saying, “Can you come to speak at our event?” The impact is our number one core value for our business. I would always circle back 60 to 90 days after a keynote or workshop and ask, “What have you done with it?”
The answer was often, “Nothing,” which drove me crazy. Accountability is a core value of ours as well. I view it as our fault. Therefore, I ask, “What are we going to do about it?” That started morphing into corporate training and consulting. You mere that pathway which with when we speak to our individual members and we ask them, “You have achieved so much for the past years, what is your biggest challenge?”
There was a unified answer. “I want to live this, but my company does not support this way of thinking.” What we realized is if our mission is to truly change the way the world views time to where they wake up and do it as an investment and hold it accountable to delivering a return personally and professionally, we cannot realize our mission if we do not focus on the organization.
All of a sudden B2B became our one thing with a minor in B2C. The whole goal is whether you are an individual who is signing up as a customer yourself. The goal is how do you start living this and become a practice leader so you can empower other people to live this in your organization. At an organizational level, we have tools for how you create clarity and alignment across an entire company so that everybody can go on a mission to better invest their time.
The way you did it, which I love, is that you stopped and asked questions. A lot of people don’t. A lot of people will build a community and feedback is incidental, but you have deliberately stopped and set up a system and a series of questions that guide you into your future. Isn’t that interesting in a way if you think about it? Here, the people who pay you are telling you what to sell them next.
You have a career as a great salesperson. A great salesperson does not push their agenda. They ask questions to understand the customer’s problem and then they show how their product can solve that problem if it solves that problem. You don’t make an offer. You don’t talk about your product until you are clear on what the problem is. The only way you can do that is by asking questions.
It is so important to make sure that you don’t skip this step. It sounds simple. When I first started TimeSlips Corporation, which was my first software company, we blew our entire marketing budget on two ads and PC magazines. That was over $6,000 at the time and we made 5 sales of $99 each. We were miserable at that point. We didn’t know what we did wrong.
The man who sold us the ad said it would work, so we listened to him. It’s how smart we were at the time. About six weeks later, he stopped by and gave us a big fat envelope, 5,000 bingo leads. Remember the cardboard inserts in the magazines where you circle the number? I’m looking at this and said, “What are these for?”
He goes, “You can throw them away, but I have to give them to you.” We had run out of money at that point. I decided to call every single person that I could get ahold of who had filled out that card. I asked them, “Why did you circle that number?” In that process, I sold another 30 or 40 copies, which again was no big deal, but more importantly, that is who I figured out who my ideal audience was.
I went from advertising broadly to specializing in advertising into my target market at the time were lawyers. That was how we built a $10 million-plus company and then prepared it to be sold. Asking questions is so important. I have to stress this because it’s a step that is almost too simple to conceptualize unless you build a business around it and you did, which is amazing.
When I think about the corporate side of our business, which is the lion’s share, I think about some of the organizations, one came up with one of the vaccines for COVID. When COVID hit, I had already been working with some of the senior leadership doing workshops. I remember connecting with one of them. I called all our past customers and did what I call the Adele script. You called them and I asked, “Hello, how are you?” That was the conversation. I was genuinely curious. The world changed. “What are you focusing on? What is your biggest problem?”
They shared that the CEO had come out with a mandate. They have thousands of highly paid sales reps that need to go to the market, but cannot go to the market, they didn’t have a plan and they weren’t clear what to do. I knew what their problem was. I didn’t have a quote package like, “This is the gold plan.” I knew what their problem was and how to solve it. Before you know it, we facilitated a series of workshops that helped them lay the foundation for their future go-to-market strategy in terms of what their workforce would look like. It wasn’t something I was pushing. They had a problem. I had a solution. There we go.
It started with, “Hello, how are you?” That is brilliant. It is simple, but it changes everything.
I have to give credit where credit is due. I got that from Gary because Gary got on a webinar for 200,000 Keller Williams agents who could not sell real estate at the beginning of the pandemic and said, “Go build a protective moat around your database. Who knows if you can sell something or when you are going to be able to sell something? Get on the phone and ask hello, ‘How are you?’ Build a moat around your customers.” I listened and I executed it.
Real estate has exploded at this point. Geoff, this has been incredible. As I do with every interview, I’ve learned so much from you and I appreciate you spending the time with us. I understand that you have something that you would like to share with our readers.
If you head on over to The1Thing.com. First and foremost, I would benchmark our site in terms of what does it look like? If you search for free resources, you can download a free resource there. If I can only point you to one, what percentage of the audience would you say has a significant other if you had to guess?
Maybe 50% or more.
This is not just about professional success. This is about thriving professionally and personally. If you are reading this show, my hypothesis is you naturally are wired to think about business. Isn’t this very well may be your sport, which may also mean that you are not naturally as wired to focus on the personal side, we have something called a Kick Ass Guide to Your Couples Goal Setting Retreat.It’s not just about professional success. It’s about thriving. Click To Tweet
I would strongly recommend you download that. This is a way for you to take proven business principles, to sit down with the people that matter most to you and ask powerful questions so you can grow together. There are a lot of other resources on there. I’m specifically sharing this because I think this is what might bring the most value to you. It has nothing to do with me.
I also wanted to ask one other question and this is more about your philosophy. Once you have achieved what you have and built this company and it is running and successful, what is next for you?
I ask this question a lot. I’m fortunate that when I wake up, I feel like I’m living my purpose every day. Growth is my number one core value, I cannot see another place where I can grow faster and make a bigger impact than doing what I’m doing. I’m also a partner in the business. For me, this is about scaling this to as big as we can go. I’m not always going to be the person at the helm, driving the organization. I’ve already replaced myself running the operations, but I see my life is dedicated to sharing this message.
When one is on a mission, it changes everything about life. When one has a job or one starts a business, one can become wealthy, but when one is on a mission, everything is fulfilled at the same time, which I love. Geoff, thank you so much for your time. It was great chatting with you. Readers, you know where to find us. Go to TheTribeBuilders.com and in particular, Geoff Woods’s page and everything is there. I look forward to chatting with you again soon.
- Geoff Woods
- The ONE Thing
- Power Tribes
- TimeSlips Corporation
- Couples Goal Setting Retreat
About Geoff Woods
Geoff Woods is the Co-Founder & President of ProduKtive®, the training company behind The ONE Thing, and the host of The ONE Thing podcast, which is in the top 5% of all podcasts in the world. Geoff is an advisor to executives ranging from small businesses to the Fortune 500, helping them design the future of work, and create cultures where people are clear on what matters most so they achieve extraordinary results. Geoff is a keynote speaker and consultant.