Dave, it’s so great to have you on this show.
It’s definitely going to happen barring comets, meteors, or large trucks that might interfere with my plans.
All right, well David, it’s so great to have you on the show.
I’m happy to be here.
We had you on my other show, Get Yourself Optimized and that was a fantastic interview. You shared such pearls of wisdom about how to hack your biology, your performance, your brain, everything. And stem cells, we talked about all sorts of crazy, awesome stuff. Since then, I’ve had stem cell therapy from the same stem cell doctor that you had. Well, you’ve gone to multiple ones but I know one of your favorites is Dr. Harry Adelson.
At Docere Clinics? Yeah, I love Harry. He’s done a lot of work on me.
Yeah. It’s so funny. I interviewed him after I interviewed you. Then my wife and I decided to get stem cell therapy from him. On the intro call, to get things all lined up, he says, “By the way, you have a few more minutes at the end? Because I want to hire you to help me with my website and my SEO.” He’s got a whole new website.
Are you helping him?
Well, the website you see at Docere Clinics is because of me and Studio 1 Design, Greg Merrilees. Pretty cool. Anyway, that’s a little side thing. But I wanted to talk about marketing. You are not only the world’s preeminent biohacker. You are a brilliant marketer and business strategist. One of the top entrepreneurs in the world and I know we were just talking before hitting record here how your knowledge pound, your Wikipedia says that you are an American author instead of an American entrepreneur. That gets under your skin, doesn’t it?
Because I live in Canada. What the heck? I’m a global guide.
You’re first and foremost an entrepreneur. Secondarily, an author and, yes, you’re Canadian, not American. That’s awesome.
I’m still technically holding an American passport but I’m a global guy. I don’t care where you live. You’re human. Let’s upgrade you.
I want to know what has been the most impactful relationship as far as your business is concerned. I know you’re great friends with Jay Abraham. He’s been on this show three times. You’re friends with Roger Love, with JJ Virgin, a lot of really preeminent people in the business world, in the biohacking and life optimization world. Who’s been the most impactful person to your business?
It’s really hard to say this one person was most impactful without looking at the facets of impact. I read one of Jay Abraham’s books, one of his $1000+ books, probably the first month or two that I’ve started blogging in what became Bulletproof, and I haven’t decided to turn Bulletproof into a company. It was actually just, “Hey, I want to share this knowledge.” In fact, it’s going to be part of a nonprofit that was running but I was very happy years later to meet Jay and say, “Hey, Jay. Your book helped,” and it turns out he’s helped me a lot just as an adviser. He helped me think through things. It’s been really good.
One of the reasons that my first book hit the New York Times bestseller list and one of the guys who’s really been a super-connector for me is Michael Fishman. Michael was the founder of Rodale Health, all the health brands including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, all those things, and he runs a group called Consumer Health Summit, which is an invitation-only thing for founders and people who are really reaching large audiences.There will come to a point where if people don't get what they want from a search engine, they'll find a way to get it somewhere else. Click To Tweet
He just had me do a webinar about SEO and how Google has just decimated the alternative health space; Doctor Mercola, Doctor Axe, all these really awesome websites have gotten just decimated by a Google update.
Is Axe actually a doctor? Maybe he earned a medical degree somewhere.
That’s his website, draxe.com.
There you go. I guess you can buy your medical degree anywhere these days, but there are real doctors like Doctor Mercola out there who have been cranking it for 25 years and everyone who has a message about what works just got nailed by Google. It looks to be the work of big pharma with some tight connections there. We can only say what it looks like. We don’t know exactly why, but all I know is, I got to Google, but I can’t find anything I want to find anymore, so I actually started using other search engines.
Like what? DuckDuckGo?
Bing isn’t broken. They have pretty good coverage. DuckDuckGo works. Pretty much any search engine works except for Google. You go to Google, all you get are results from Mayo and Cleveland Clinic. No disrespect to WebMD, no disrespect intended. I already knew about your website. I want the other stuff and Google won’t deliver that anymore, so I’m bummed about that because I like to be able to use Google.
Just like Facebook. They changed the algorithm a year ago and people stop using it. I don’t go to Facebook nearly as much as I used to because they stopped being useful. There will come to a point where if you don’t get what you want from a search engine, you’ll get it somewhere else. You don’t get it from social media, you go somewhere else. We’ll see what happens there. I’m hopeful that Google will just realize actually their job is to give people what they want, not to give people what Google wants them to see.
I just met a Google whistleblower a couple of weeks ago through Ken Rutkowski. Fascinating what Google did to intimidate and terrorize him. They called a wellness check on him and then a SWAT team, all these FBI and police came and surrounded his building, shut off traffic…
No. At his home.
Where does he work?
He worked at Google. Google did this to him to intimidate him because he was blowing the whistle on them. He sent a bunch of confidential documents of Google’s to the Department of Justice. Lucky for him, he had photographic evidence that he mailed all the stuff into the DOJ which he produced on his phone to the SWAT team and everything that they might put all the guns down and said, “All right. It looks like this is not what we think this is.”
You’re telling me that Google swatted somebody?
Yeah. It’s called a wellness check. When you say that somebody is suicidal and go send some police, they did that knowing full well that he was not suicidal to send him a message.
I had no idea. You could say Google is probably a bad actor. I have so many friends who work at Google. I have relatives at Google. They all good people. You get crazy people at all levels and all companies, you get one or two bad apples. I can’t imagine that being a corporate philosophy for any company to do that, except for maybe Monsanto. I mean, for those guys, there are no morals.
We’re talking about something a little nicer. There’s Michael Fishman and…
Right. He’s awesome. He actually introduced me to BJ Fogg. BJ and I have become friends, we’re going to do a workshop together. We’re actually going to do that in October with Naveen Jain as well. The three of us are going to teach a workshop, but we had to postpone it because we didn’t get enough sign-ups. At the last minute, we pulled the plug on it but we’ll do it next year.
It’s funny you mention Naveen Jain because Michael introduced me to JJ, who helped me get my first book out the door. Naveen has been a great friend, mentor, and entrepreneur. He has been a great resource for me. I’ve been invited to his company as an investor. Peter Diamandis. How can I put one name? There’s a whole bunch of entrepreneurs out there and people who are influencers just want to do good. When they see someone who is doing good, they’ll just stand up and help without an expectation of the I’m paying it forward or anything like that. I just want good stuff and I’ve been blessed to meet some amazing people. I truly couldn’t tell you which one was most impactful but that’s a good list.
Well, I just had a sales call earlier today. One of the people I brought up in the conversation was Jay Abraham and I mentioned his principle preeminence. I said, “I’m actually going to send you to a competitor because I think the competitor can be a better fit for you. That’s what preeminence is all about and I learned this from Jay Abraham,” and he’s like, “Who’s that? And wow. Just hearing you say this makes me want to hire you on the spot, even though I can’t afford you.” He seriously said that. Really cool.
If you look at abraham.com, he’s like, “I have done 10,000 consulting engagements. I’ve created all this content. I used to sell it all at $10,000 for this and $5,000 for this.” He’s like, “I just want people to benefit. Here. I’ll send you a hard drive for some ridiculously long works. That’s all of my work. I’ll just mail you a hard drive,” and I think that says a lot about who he is.
He sent me hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of his information, products, trainings, and stuff. He’s amazing.
If people are stuck as entrepreneurs, there is no better guy to call and he’ll say, “Here’s where you’re leaving all the money on the table. He is like Neo from The Matrix. He sees everything ones and zeros. Jay’s like that for all the places you’re not making money in your business. His mind is very cool. He’s been a great help.
Very cool. What about your biggest or most impactful JV partnership?
You learn in business school that 99% of JVs, formal actual joint ventures fail as any form-a new company, the company contributes resources and all that. Then you get into this world of affiliate marketing and I was like, “I’m going to do a JV,” and like, “You don’t know what a JV is.”
It’s a very loose definition.
I went to the War Room. I ran strategic planning for a $36 billion company and I know what JV is. You’re not doing JV. What you’re doing is you’re basically doing this sex act. It’s this sort of thing where you’re both fertilizing each other, you’re sharing your list, you’re swapping diseases and customers.Authenticity in marketing today is getting more and more questionable, but we, marketers and consumers, should change that. Click To Tweet
Essentially, it’s a list swap for lack of a better word, but there’s an incestuous element to some of what people call JVs that is totally not energetically clean, it is not high integrity, and it’s “Oh, I’ll send for you,” but I’m not going to mention I’m sending to the inactive portion, the ones I listed never open their mails. They go, “Look I’ll send for you so we can be friends.” “Will you send for me actually next time?” I feel a lot of JVs are really ugh.
So, what’s been really impactful for me is the exact opposite of that. I’m like, “Look. I could do an affiliate for you but it’s not going to make sense.” I do this on my podcast all the time. People come and I’ve had many companies. I 10X their revenue when they come in and run an ad or do a sponsored episode.
So, I’m like, “Okay. We used to try and do all these complex affiliate things like that. You know what? Here’s the deal. I’m going to charge you a flat fee and it could be less then I would get paid as an affiliate. No clicks, people can use the code, you get the brand recognition, and then everybody wins because you know how predictable costs. I have predictable costs and the complexity in the business goes way down.
I like those and I’ve had some complex things where it’s, “Okay, you’re going to buy copies of Super Human, my new book, you’re going to send that your people. and I’m going to promote your thing. But this isn’t a JV. I will promote your thing because it’s cool and my audience would care about it, that is Jay Abraham’s preeminence thing. And if it’s douchey, I’m not promoting it. I don’t care how much you pay me.”
So, is it a JV or is it just two people with good stuff, sharing the good stuff with each other’s audiences without counting every penny? I find those tend to be really clean but I couldn’t tell you. There was this one JV. I made millions of dollars on it because I actually make stuff and sell it the old fashioned way. But if anyone wants to double my list size, I’m always down for it..
Do you have a very active list, one that’s super responsive?
I have two lists now. I’ve got on the Bulletproof side a sizeable list. It’s pretty responsive and varied. It’s people who are trained to look for Bulletproof content. We’re typically talking about coffee and collagen, things around areas where I’ve helped to create categories, MCT oil. It’s a big thing. And then, on the daveasprey.com site, where I talk about my books, about the future, about biohacking and all that. That list is very responsive and it’s going really well rapidly because I haven’t really done a lot on that side of things.
As I’m expanding the message and as Bulletproof is coming into his own as a mid-sized company, how can I talk about the things that really aren’t about food? I’m going to talk about the effects of orgasm on human performance and that’s just not something you want to mix with your food.
The idea that let’s just have adult conversation about all of the elements of being a human being that shows up all the way, some of those are in alignment with food and also have a list for the people who are all in, highly engaged, just highly curious about everything, want to read about the next book, hear the next guest and all that. There’s higher engagement, although it’s a little bit smaller list.
Okay. Do you promote Bulletproof Radio podcast on that list every episode, it goes out to that more fully-engaged biohacker list?
Once a week. I’m still planning some of the stuff. I have 3000 posts up there that I’m going through. Once a week, here are the two podcasts of the week list and here’s the other stuff that you want to know about. The idea there is not to send an email that’s, “Hey, go buy this thing.” It’s, “Hey, here’s some really good stuff that’s worth your time.”
The idea is if you spend an hour listening to the show, the ROI you got was worth more than an hour. You spend four hours reading Super Human, the ROI you got was greater than four hours. If you have an email and it takes 30 seconds to read it, you better get more than 30 seconds back or it’s not worth it. At the bottom, I’m going to put a link to cool stuff, including Bulletproof Coffee. If you want to click it, great. They don’t have to, but they always got more than the cost of opening the mail. That’s just a core value for me.
What makes your email newsletters or email campaigns remarkable, worthy of remark, or somehow differentiated from all the other newsletters that are out there? People are just flooded with their inboxes, spilling over with all these newsletters and stuff. Even good stuff I unsubscribe from. It’s really hard.
It’s really funny because there’s a lot of garbage newsletters out there. I read probably one of Jay’s books years ago. “So, let’s do a newsletter.” Newsletters originated with Agora sending direct mail letters to your house and now we have these things. Most of the time, people don’t want to go to the work of writing something that’s high quality, so they hire someone with very little experience for $23.95 an hour and say, “Can you crank out some content?” and then they send it out there, “I did a newsletter. I check the box.”
This is actually my true mindset when I’m putting together a book and when I am creating an episode of Bulletproof Radio. And I do 104 episodes a year. It’s in the top 0.1% of all podcasts and has been for 5+ years.
Thank you. The mindset is like this: Your list, let’s say it’s a million people, and you’re going to send some that take two minutes to read. Let’s just pretend everyone opens it and does it. That’s two million minutes. Now, I haven’t done the calculation recently for how many human lives that are, but let’s just look at that in terms of the number of hours. Two million minutes and we’ve got 33,000 hours. We got 1400 days. That one email cost you 3.8 years of a human’s life.
Now, what we’re through the Bulletproof Radio show, I got two million downloads a month. This is an hour, maybe an hour and 10 minutes, and there’s an 85% listen-through rate. Two million hours of human life per month. That means that if my episodes are not worth more than I put in them, I’m actually a mass murderer. I have killed 100+ people with Bulletproof Radio if I am not producing more value. And if you write your newsletter for your little startup with that in mind, that you are killing people when you send wasteful content, maybe you send fewer messages and maybe they will get more and you have to have that mindset. Is that important?
That’s powerful. I was just talking to a prospect yesterday and I was describing a campaign that I help a client within 2011. It was Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. Now they’re saying that not only did I really positively impact my client through this campaign that they have been repeating every year now—it’s a guy, 25 days of wonderful things like phoning a friend who you haven’t talked to in years and all this sort of stuff; every day is a different challenge. All these people have taken it. They’ve posted comments and they’ve hit the button that says I did this and everything. It’s been amazing, not only I impacted my client but countless lives through the course of the last eight years. It’s really cool. That’s the kind of marketing that I want to do.
You’re saying something really profound there. I gave a talk a while back at this group called Baby Bathwater. Michael runs it. Back then, that specific event had a huge number of Internet marketing guys, including some of—I’m just going to call them—the douchebag kind of Internet marketing guys. I’ve actually met some Fortune 100 CEOs there. This one particular event was just full of these guys. And if you’re listening to this, you know who you are because you have to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and you probably have a film on your tongue when you do it.
People were like, “Oh, I’m doing it for the mission,” and inside the voices were like, “These suckers believe me when I say that. I’m going to get rich and live on a beach. You’re willing to sell sh*t and you don’t care because it’s all about the numbers. So, if you’re one of those people, it doesn’t work. If you try to put that, “I’m killing people,” but you’re selling stuff that doesn’t do anything or you’re selling them stuff that’s actually bad for them.
There’s this thing called authenticity and people need authenticity. I’ve had many people say, “Dave, how do I make myself more authentic in my communications? The answer is really straightforward. You actually have to be authentic. You can’t make yourself more authentic. Either you do what you say, your words matter, and you choose them carefully, or you don’t. There is no faking authenticity. If you try to fake authenticity, it’s less authentic. You cannot break that. It’s a fundamental law.
Sure, there are sociopaths and psychopaths and they’re pretty good at faking authenticity. There’s always someone in the room that’s like that person there’s something wrong with them. All of us feel a little bit of that when we’re around those people, so you can feel enough people make a lot of money, no doubt about it, but you won’t fool everyone. You have to wake up in the morning with yourself.
A simple way to put it is by doing what you say you’re going to do. The people who say that they are full of integrity or full of authenticity are really full of it because somebody who’s very integrious or authentic doesn’t ever see themselves as that. That’s just the air they breathe and who they are. It’s just not a thing that they have to tout.
I learned this from Kabbalah. It’s this concept of revealing light. Everything I do, like this episode, I contemplated before hitting record how am I going to reveal light in this episode. Even though this a marketing show, I can impact people’s lives in a positive way and spread light in this world.
You’re really making me feel inadequate because I just contemplate like how do I get people to buy more coffee.
Of course, people who know you know you’re kidding, but somebody could totally take that out of context for this interview.
They totally could. No, look. If you walk around going, “How do I help?” people are going to pick up on that and there will be people who will also try and take advantage of it. The number of people who copy my content, straight up copy it. The number of people who add someone on my show and will call them the next day, “Be at my show,” as copycats. It’s maddening when there’s something that you have never read about before and the next day there’s three people who claim they invented it. You know because they’re reaching out to your people saying, “Hey, can I hire you?”Real entrepreneurs are the ones who create something new and improved, and of value. And then they use the power of marketing to sell it. Click To Tweet
There are onetrepreneurs, their job is to find something great, knock it off to a cheap, crappy version of it, and then sell it for less. That’s actually they think it’s being an entrepreneur and you’re onetrepreneur because of that. The real entrepreneurs create something new, of value, that’s improved, and better than anything else, then they use the power of marketing to sell it.
I decided to get decent at marketing because my work was in Silicon Valley. I was the first person to sell anything over the Internet, literally. The first e-commerce before we had the word e-commerce was a caffeine t-shirt out of my dorm room. I was accepting checks by mail because you couldn’t even do a digital check back then.
I’ve followed this whole path of how technologies happened and I’ve seen too many weird things to not just call that out. In the tech world, the best tech almost always loses because the engineers can’t sell crap. In the world of biohacking, do you know how many doctors are good at marketing?
Not that many.
It’s a really low hit rate. Engineers and doctors are generally terrible marketers. That means that the people who do the best work only do half of it. Creating something is half the work. Getting people to read it, to use it, to hear it, that’s the hard stuff for the real creators. It’s hard stuff for me. Recording an episode of Bulletproof Radio, I get to talk to a smart person about something I care about. I would do that for free in a coffee shop. But getting people to listen to it, to have a value and to know about it, that is actually much harder and more draining for me.
It’s a high bar.
It is. It’s the same with the book, it’s the same with the cup of coffee. Anyone listening to this, I don’t care how good your product is. If you can’t sell it, it doesn’t matter. By the way, if you use the power of selling to sell a sub-par product, you’re a bad person. Go get a life.
Revealing light toward or adding value in everything you do includes your email newsletter, the product formulation, and your customer service, it permeates the entire business. When I send out my Thursday Three or my team sends it out, which is my weekly newsletter, it’s three things. It’s what’s inspired me, what challenged me, and what intrigued me.
By coming up with innovative, interesting, novel stuff that they have probably not heard about, I get tons of great feedback. I’m not pushing hard my podcast episodes because I have the two shows every week without fail, a new episode, but that’s really in the background. That newsletter is really about those three things that I think are going to enhance their lives and their businesses. I get tons of great feedback, 10 times easily, maybe even 100 times more feedback from this newsletter than any previous newsletter and ever done, in any kind of the previous format.
It is because you’re actually sending them something that’s worth reading and most people are sending these letters today, not with the audience’s interests at heart. It’s with their own interests at heart. You get this list of bullet point things of, “Five reasons why…” and you never stop to ask yourself, does the audience actually want to hear about the five reasons why? If you want them to hear that and they don’t want to hear it, don’t send it. You have to send them something that they want to see and sneak your five reasons in a way that’s beneficial to them. Otherwise, you don’t have a good product.
I’m unsubscribing at people who put me on lists for no reason. By the way, if you put me on your list without me asking, I’m going to block you, mark you as spam, and I hope everyone listening does that to everyone who subscribes to them for no reason. But then, even if I get it and I look at it, did you think at all before you sent this? It goes from the newsletter styles all the way down to pitch emails.
I get these cold call emails from people that don’t have unsubscribe links, that are clearly from their sales force or whatever, and God knows there they get my email. I just like to schedule 15 minutes to talk with you about your IT compliance strategy. I’m like, “You just emailed the freaking CEO of a company that has $70 million in venture funding, okay? I am probably not the right guy. You didn’t spend the time to find the right guy. You went straight to ask for a meeting on your first email.” Seriously? It’s disrespectful and wasteful of people’s lives to do that.
If you’re going to do it and you do this crazy thing that salespeople are supposed to do, which is called targeting, you find the person—you can buy databases for this stuff—you’re going to send one email or make one phone call, and you’re going through to the person, but if you just randomly send to every address of the company, the mindset there is, “Well, someone’s going to answer and I’ll probably get the deal.” What you’re doing is you’re polluting the business environment, the same way as people turn plastic in the ocean. You got to cut that crap out.
Don’t you love those LinkedIn requests that seem legit and then you add them and then immediately you get some spammy offer from them as a message? Don’t spam on LinkedIn. That’s really not cool.
Yeah, it’s super uncool. I was probably one of those first 10 or 100,000 LinkedIn people and it was a huge thing for a long time in Silicon Valley. These days, I probably don’t use it as a marketer as much as I could, but I just got overwhelmed with requests to just have coffee.
“I’m good. I got plenty of coffee.”
Yeah. If I was selling my time, you couldn’t afford it. Yes, I would love you to pick my brain but there are 10,000 people who want to pick my brain.
That’s what your radio show is for, right?
Yeah, that’s such a good point. Between my social media feeds, I do just to have a thought. Go to my Instagram page @dave.asprey and if you want to know what I’m thinking, I’m probably saying from my sheep talking about something that has to do with biohacking. Otherwise, the one-on-one stuff is exceedingly rare and it’s usually just because the universe lined up and I have met someone on an airplane. It just happened. I was flying with someone and it turns out that they had a new water brand. I actually named the brand for them and told them the value prop they don’t know about, because it was like, “I don’t know. We have an hour to kill, so let’s do it.” If I was charging for that, I don’t think they could have afforded it, but it’s all good.
That’s the concept from Tony Robbins, that this network of people that you surround yourself with is who you become. You surround yourself with like-minded people who might be at a level above you and that rubs off. Also, the connections that they provide you are invaluable. The advice, the things you give to somebody you’re sitting next to on an airplane, that just happens at these mastermind groups and so forth.
I know we’re in masterminds together that are highly valuable. Do you want to share which ones are most impactful for you?
It’s not really a mastermind, more of a networking group is METal with Ken Rutkowski. Ken is one of those super-connector guys. He just knows everyone. I’ve known Ken for 20 years and he’s just been a consistently helpful guy since we’re both back in Silicon Valley working with what comes to be called Red Swoosh where Travis Kalanick was CEO way back in the day. I have to plug those people who are just giving, like open-hearted giving super-connector people. Another one of those is Joe Polish with Genius Network, his 25K group. I’m actually going there in a couple of days.
I’ll see you there.
Good. See you there. Joe has 500 people there or something. It’s like a wedding. Everyone who is sitting with anyone, there’s a reason for it. The first time I sat down that went to that, it was because of JJ Virgin with our mindshare group, which is also something I don’t miss. She’s like, “David, you need to go to this.” “God, this is $25,000.” But I said, “All right.” JJ’s given me some really good advice, so I’m going to do it. I did and he sits here right next to Peter Diamandis. I was like, “Oh, Peter from the same planet with me. I love this guy. He’s a super futurist.Brilliance means nothing if the world doesn't know about it or benefit from it. Click To Tweet
Peter’s like, “Hey, come to my 10th anniversary for the X Prize. We’re going to go to JPL. It’s for a good cause.” That’s a lot more than 25K. I just checked in with myself and said, “You know? This the single largest check I’ve written in my company, so I’m going to do it.” I went and I spent weekends with Peter and I’ve met Naveen Jain there, who’s a dear friend and adviser. I also raised $3 million in funding through that, after that meeting, and made some fantastic friends. And I became a member of Abundance 360, which is another group.
Yeah and we’re both in that.
Yeah, and then there’s Abundance Digital. By the way, I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this or not, but I am making $0 for it. People who want into Abundance Digital, if you use code BULLETPROOF40, I’m giving my affiliate commission on that as a scholarship to people. I want more people to think about the future, so for exactly $0 in my pocket, you get 40% off. I’m just giving that back to people to get more people in the program.
That’s very generous of you.
It’s bulletproofdigital.com, use code BULLETPROOF40, and seriously, there’s no financial incentive for me to do that. I just interviewed Peter for my show I think for the fifth time. I just like, “Look, you want to hang out with the right community? You got Abundance 360 at the Consumer Health Summit with Michael Fishman.” Genius Network is a really good one. MasterMind Talk to Jayson Gaignard, if you can get in, it’s pretty darn exclusive. There is a waiting list of 8000 people or something. It’s one of the most highly-curated groups out there.
Archangels is also really good. They have some great things, I mean YPO (Young Presidents Organization). They control something like $4 trillion worth of business revenue around the globe, but you have to have a business of a certain size to get in. It’s more of a networking group than a mastermind but if you get into a forum there where you have a group of just six other people, you can do some very powerful stuff.
As marketers and executives, one of the biggest problems is you can’t talk to your staff about certain things. There are things that only the top person in the company is going to be dealing with. It’s board dynamics, fears, and concerns. You spend time on a weekend with a bunch of other people who are doing what you’re doing, it can be really transformative. You realize that you’re not the only one. It’s actually lonely if you’re the top of the company as it grows. You care deeply about everyone but there are certain things you are not allowed to tell them.
Right and back in the day, it was 1999, and the only group I was in at the time was Vistage. It was called TEC back then in Wisconsin, The Executive Committee. There is a group of CEOs, small group, maybe 10 of us, but they were in such different industries from me, like one owned a sports facility and stuff.
I didn’t feel the same resonance with them, but it was very helpful for me to be able to bounce ideas off of them. And this crazy idea that I should go move to New Zealand and I’d never even been there. So, I bounced off that idea off them and they’re like, “That’s pretty crazy,” but I just went with my gut. I didn’t listen to anybody else and, of course, I couldn’t tell anybody on my staff.
What happened was—this is a funny story—I told my lawyer, “Mike is there any implications for me in terms of legal obligations if I moved to New Zealand and I want to lay most my staff off, and then rehire in New Zealand but keep a core skeleton team in my Madison office?” I just asked him about that and then he wrote up a letter and sent it to me. It was 1999; he could have sent an email.
I was away at a conference. One of my staff takes the initiative to open my mail. Unbelievable and she sees that letter, “There no legal obligations. You could totally move in New Zealand and lay everybody off.” She read that to the entire team. It was like somebody got murdered when I got back.
What a violation.
And the person of the low integrity read that to the teams and start calling you, saying, “What’s going on here?” I’m hoping you fired that person without severance.
Nobody got severance, but she certainly got laid off. I was not happy about that but it worked out in the end. As Orion says, sometimes you get the gift and the bow is on the bottom, the gift was nobody raised any legal claims against me because they all saw the letter. They’ve got no ground to stand on to make a fuss over this. It worked out in the end but what an incredible journey that was to be in New Zealand for almost eight years and experience of my kids had grown up there. It’s pretty wild.
I live up on Vancouver Island in Canada, which is a different country and a different world than Silicon Valley but I didn’t have to lay anyone off to move up here because Bulletproof didn’t exist. I started it on the island. No one likes to let people go. If you’re one of those people who likes to do it, you’re probably a sociopath.
It was one of the most difficult things to do. It’s six people off. At the time, I was still a small company. Then, I had to do lay-offs again in 2007–2008. We lost our biggest account, a seven-figure account with Zappos at the time. They were using our technology platform, it was a pay-for-performance technology platform, and I found out later that they built their own. That happens too.
I’ve got through Chapter 22. Do you know what that is?
It’ Chapter 11 twice. Not personally, but I was at the company that invented the data center business. Literally, the first data center where you could go and put your servers. Google was two guys and two servers, and they brought their servers to us. Hotmail was two guys and two servers. We would host them and grow them. We ended up opening 42 data centers. Google’s a major customer, Yahoo, Facebook.
Google went out and build their own data centers like, “Oh, that kind of hurts.” Eventually, that company went bankrupt, called Exodus, and the company that bought the assets went bankrupt. It was acquired after that. It was too funny but I was there for both of those. You’re talking about laying off thousands of people and throughout my career, it totally sucks. The people who are left, including the execs, the execs were like, “It’s this or there won’t be a company.”There are perils in joint ventures. In business school, it is taught that 99% of JVs fail. Click To Tweet
That’s why they do it because what we’re doing isn’t working. We’re going to steer the company and that means do less of something. The people who are doing that are not going to do it. The people who were laid off, especially people who are seasoned are like, “I get it.” I have been laid off. I’ve been laid off as a VP. You’re always going to be pissed like, “What the hell?” I thought what I was doing mattered and from my perspective it did, but from someone else’s perspective, even if you’re doing the best job on earth, the job itself wasn’t the right job. That’s what layoffs are generally about.
I’m into efficiency about choosing what to do, but then the mindset of the people who are left is also, “Thank goodness I’m still here.” Some people are guilty that they’re happy to have a job because like, “Oh, my goodness. I shouldn’t feel good about having a job,” but you should, actually. You can get rid of the guilt. The people who get let go, you take it personally even when it’s not personal and it’s normal. You’re supposed to take it personally even though it’s not personal and you’re supposed to feel guilty, but going through all the emotional garbage as my career progressed over 20 years and the VP level having to make hard calls as part of the leadership team, and I’ve been laid off at the VP level as part of the leadership team, you start to feel both sides.
No one teaches you this when you get out of school and your first job. It’s always a roller coaster and it sucks, but it’s a part of having a job or being an entrepreneur is just understanding. If we lose the account, we lose the account, even if you want to keep them up, you can’t keep them up.
Yeah. There’s this entitlement complex that I think is growing in the society, “No, I deserve this,” not necessarily that I earned it and that I have to continue earning this privilege of having a job every day or this whatever benefit I’m getting. I see that with my kids. They were very entitled and I had to work very hard on that. I guess it’s a generational thing but there is something happening in society that’s getting us off track and I think it has to do with our distractibility and our lack of focus.
I interviewed him, too.
Smart guy. It’s epidemic proportions what’s happening, but anyway, that’s for another episode. I know we only have a few minutes left, so I want to go into a lightning round. Are you game for a lightning round of quick answers?
All right, cool. What would be something that you dodged a bullet? I’ll give you a quick example of that and actually, this comes from your business. You guys were going to move your blog off of Bulletproof Exec to something, was it bulletproofblog.com or something like that?
I told Susan, “Don’t you dare. That will just decimate your Google rankings. You’re starting from zero,” and thankfully, you guys listened and didn’t do it. You put it all on bulletproof.com. There’s one example, but what would be the biggest example in your mind of dodging a bullet from a marketing or business perspective?
Here’s one. A while ago, I actually started a podcast with Jay Abraham. It ended up seeing the light of day on Jay’s website and I think he probably put it up as one of his things with entrepreneurs or something like that. I was going to do it, but the reason that would have been a bullet is that my team was already stretched too thin on running the business. I’m like, “I want to help people as an entrepreneur.” I’ve learned a lot of things and I feel there’s value to add that’s greater than the time it would take for me and for the people do it. Had I gone forward with that, I think I would have just broken my team with just yet another project.
I’m glad that I got to record it. I got lots of quality time with Jay, but I’m also glad that I didn’t turn into a regular thing. I wouldn’t have the balance for it. For me, the typical things are I have too many good ideas—at least I think they’re good—and usually the team does, too. So, that’s the risk is not staying focused.
Yes, and it’s important to kill off good ideas. PDMA (Product Development Management Association) was a client for many years and one of their axioms is product development should be final, not a tunnel. Not every good idea that enters the beginning should end up coming out the other end. You should kill off ideas even if they’re 90% of the way done. Powerful concept.
Okay, I love your sizzle reel and I think it’s just super cool. It’s one of the best sizzle reels I’ve ever seen. You have it shown when you did your keynote at Traffic & Conversion Summit, that was the first couple of minutes of your talk was the introduction of the sizzle reel and then you come on stage. First of all, what did that cost, roughly if you’re willing to share? And then, what has been the impact of having an incredible sizzle reel?
It was probably in the neighborhood of $20,000 and I would think altogether. It might have been a little bit less. I would tell you if I knew the exact number, but I know it wasn’t much more than that because I wouldn’t have approved it. Here’s the deal. Most people, even if they come to us, they don’t know how to introduce a speaker. I have spent a long time becoming what I would like to think of is a world-class speaker and I command very large speaker fees when I speak at an event.
Like how much? What’s the speaker fee that’s typical?
Okay. That’s respectable.
It’s respectable. Al Gore, I’m sure kicks my ass left and right.
There are folks who charge $100,000.
There are, but I feel it’s a fair thing. I’m giving up a day or two to get there.
Not just an hour talk. You’re not available for an hour for $50,000. There’s a whole lot of travel and all.
You got to get there, then there’s all the prep work and all. I don’t feel I’m being usurious. Anyway, if I’m going to show up at that level and then it’s like, “Oh, here’s Dave. He’s a serial entrepreneur,” and you come in, the room is flat, and you’re going to spend the first 10 minutes pumping up the energy. If you’re not a well-trained experienced speaker, you won’t even know the room is flat. The sizzle reel, the reason you have that two minutes there is by the time that sunk, people are like, “Oh, my God. I’m so excited,” and the music has gone and about. Then, you walk in and you got a warm room. They’re going to receive the value that you have to give.
I’ve spoken on Tony Robbins’ main stage at Unleash the Power Within. Tony’s people know exactly how to have a warm room and people on their feet jumping up and down. Another one, there’s a rock band that opens for you. I don’t need a sizzle reel. I don’t use a sizzle reel there. But otherwise, you give me this a reel because probably your emcee isn’t well-enough trained to do that. If so, how do you get an audience to warm up 10 times in one day?
For people listening, if you are a public speaker have a sizzle reel. And if you’re not a public speaker and you want to be, for God’s sake spend $20,000 not on your speaker real, on being trained on how to speak on stage because you have 10,000 people in the audience, you waste an hour of their time stumbling around, you don’t know what you’re doing, they didn’t get your message, they felt stupid at the end of it. That’s 20,000 hours. What percentage of human life did you just take away?
I love how you circle back on that. That’s great. And here’s a tip that I got from Michael Port, who is I think the best speaker-trainer in the world. I went through this whole undergrad and grad program. He’s amazing.
Wow. I haven’t worked with him.
He’s incredible. He says to record the audience, not just yourself so that you can see their reactions, see what falls flat and whether people are falling asleep. It’s brilliant. It’s important.
Okay, we’re out of time. How do folks learn more about biohacking? About all the amazing stuff you’re up to? How do they follow you all that?
My personal blog with my author stuff biohacking daveasprey.com, you sign up there. I’m @dave.asprey on Instagram, and all the cool Bulletproof stuff around, disruptive big food, what to eat and all that in bulletproof.com. It’s in the same place as it always been.
All right. And also the episode on Get Yourself Optimize where we chatted about all the biohacking stuff.
Yup. That’s an awesome episode. Thank you again, Dave. Listeners, do something amazing with this information. Change the world, reveal some light. We’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak.
Yeah, and kill fewer people.
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Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Be very careful and mindful of doing JV partnerships. I must treat my email list with the utmost respect and always deliver valuable and unique information.
Don’t say “yes” to sponsorships with random brands that don’t reflect my values. Thorough research any company or organization before agreeing to anything.
Nurture my list and find ways to collab with other people’s lists to bring more value to my subscribers.
Be authentic and always honor my word. If I say I am going to do or offer something, I should deliver.
Always provide value and seek ways to improve and elevate the lives of my customers so that my business stays relevant and of service to my niche’s needs.
Respect my leads’ time and boundaries. Make sure that there is value in my emails, social media posts, blogs, etc. so that I am not wasting their subscription on me.
Pay it forward. Keep spreading kindness and service to those who are in need.
Give credit where credit is due. Don’t forget about my mentors who helped (or are still helping) me become who I am.
Share the knowledge. Teach others in hopes of them improving their own lives and communities as well.
Check out Dave Asprey’s website for more mind-blowing content.
About Dave Asprey
Dave Asprey is the Founder & CEO of Bulletproof 360, creator of the global phenomenon Bulletproof Coffee, a three-time New York Times bestselling author, the host of the Webby award-winning podcast Bulletproof Radio, serial entrepreneur and global change agent.
Dave has dedicated over two decades of his life identifying and working with world-renowned doctors, scientists, luminaries of human existence, and innovators to uncover the most advanced methods for enhancing mental and physical performance. Dave’s discoveries and the companies he has founded offer tools that enable people the opportunity to take control of body, mind, and biology – elevating human performance far beyond what we ever dreamed possible (OR “what was previously deemed possible”)
By employing the principles of “biohacking” (a term added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in September of 2018 with Dave’s influence) Dave has lost over 100 pounds, upgraded his brain, learned to sleep more efficiently in less time and become a more effective entrepreneur, husband, father and overall human being. Dave has been featured on media outlets such as The Today Show, CNN, CNBC, Nightline, Dr. Oz, The Steve Harvey Show and more. His impact has been felt on a global scale. He is a true game-changer and maverick.