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Entrepreneurial Leadership: What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur With Ryan Moran
I am joined by none other than Ryan Moran, who is not only somebody who I consider a pretty good friend, but he’s an expert when it comes to building brands and then selling them. Ryan, welcome.
I’m usually the guy on the show with the cool radio voice, and then I’m on with Adam. I feel like the second card. This is embarrassing, to be honest with you, Adam.
You’ve got that cool, sultry, late-night voice. That’s what I think you’ve got going for you.
In America, we psychologically think that everyone who has an accent is smarter and better looking than us, so I don’t like being in second place.
Although when it comes to America, you also put the English guys as the bad guys.
You’re the good guys and the romantic ones. You’re everything to us. We put you on a pedestal in all situations.
I can’t tell you that I am 100% jealous of you. Ryan, why don’t you share with the audience your greatest achievement? If we go back many years, you were not in the same situation you are financially.
That’s true. Although are there many people who are in the same financial situation every decade? I don’t know. In terms of wealth creation, I’ve made 80% of my money building and selling internet brands. Internet brands mean they sell stuff. A mutual friend of ours, Perry Belcher, many years ago said, “If I were you and I was your age, I would focus on selling stuff, not hopes and dreams, not advertising.” I took his advice and that’s where I’ve made 80% of my wealth. In terms of non-wealth things, the biggest accomplishment that I have as a person is I left my faith.
That was probably the hardest time of my personal life of getting comfortable going against the grain of everything that I believe to be true and everything that made up my sense of purpose, my calling and what I thought my meaning was as a human being. When people ask what my greatest accomplishment is, I always have to differentiate that the biggest challenge I overcame was leaving the world that I believe to be true. Financially, my biggest win has been through building and selling companies. My biggest company had run rates between $11 million and $12 million, then selling that to our private equity group. I help other clients have similar results from a financial and business perspective. That’s my biggest accomplishment.
In the entrepreneurial world, we meet a lot of people who as you said are like, “Sell hopes and dreams.” They are people that are like, “I’m going to help you get rich quick with this seven-part system,” or, “You too can learn how to think as I do, so you can teach other people to think.” You are different. You sell actual physical things. What’s an example of some of the products that you’ve sold? How do you psychologically hack these new ideas? Where do the new ideas come from?
The first couple of businesses I had, I built and sold a yoga startup. I’ve had a supplement brand. I’m probably best known for a sports nutrition company I had called Sheer Strength Labs. I’m an investor in Onnit, in Outstanding Foods, in a food company called Flex. I’m an investor in a beauty brand called Foxbrim. I have a wide range across the board of the different types of businesses that I’m in. The singular asset that I focus on is the audience. What that means to me is if you can’t build a business around a group of people, then you usually end up having a hard time. The hack or the lever that you can pull is if you have a tension that you can send to any product, event or podcast, then you have the upper hand compared to everyone else.
Whereas most people are going out and they develop a product, then they’re trying to figure out how to hawk, sell or manipulate people into buying the product. To me, when you’ve got the audience, that’s the real asset. I was sitting down with a very prominent podcaster who gets about a million downloads a day. I’m looking at the numbers of what advertisers spend with him and it’s millions of dollars. I ask why and they say, “We’re their biggest salespeople. We have the audience and they have the brands. We bring them together and we create magic.” You have the asset. Where I have specialized is going out and building brands around the audience because I found that helps you get to the seven-figure level much faster, which gives you the runway to be able to create the systems to take you to eight-figures and beyond.
I loved that you mentioned systems. One of the things I was talking to you before is you’ve got it down to a system. I can’t tell you how often I see you post something like, “If you have a brand or a business or an audience that is of this specific criteria, then I know that I can take you to this other level.” Talk about what that qualification is. What would a brand or business have to do in order for you to consider working with them? What could you give them? I can give you an example.
We’ve got a brand that we’ve been building up on YouTube which is a gaming brand. We’re sitting at about 25,000 subscribers on YouTube. Some of our videos have had 250,000 views and the channel itself had millions of views. Would that qualify or would that be considered too small? Is that bigger? What could we expect? Because for us, this is something that we do as a passion project. We’ve not rolled out any branding. For somebody who’s reading this and they’re like, “I’ve got an audience of 10,000 or 100,000 people,” what would they need?The internet and internet audiences have not only built companies but have swayed elections, too. Click To Tweet
I have often positioned it as if you have an audience of at least 100,000 people. I know that I can build a seven-figure business out of that very quickly. My minimum is always 10,000. The real question here is what’s an audience? How do you determine whether or not that’s an audience? The way that I validate it is if you say something, what is the minimum number of people who will pay attention? I have a YouTube channel with 80,000 subscribers. If I put a piece of content on there, if it gets 10,000 views, that’s a good video. Whereas there are people who have 25,000 YouTube videos like you have in the gaming space and you could get 250,000 views. The metric that we track is not necessarily subscribers or even email opt-ins. It’s how many people are paying attention.
That comes down to how many people open the email? How many people watch the video? How many people come back to the sites? Not just find it on Google but come back to it. That’s a much more interesting metric to track. When you say something, who pays attention? Do they take the action that you intend for them to do? Because what we ultimately want is for people to listen to our recommendations. We want them to buy the product we recommend. We want them to go to the websites that we send them to. We want them to buy the affiliate product that we’re promoting. You don’t do that by just getting attention for a short period of time. We have to get them paying attention over a longer period of time in order to know that we can predictably get them to take that action.
It totally makes sense. I read a great article about Netflix. I’m fascinated by Netflix. The way that they do things is very similar to what a lot of online marketers do. I don’t know if people realize it. Do you know much about Netflix’s inner workings, how they designed their TV shows and things?
When they were creating their original TV series, the way that they did it was they used the illegal Torrent sites to see which shows were the most Torrented and which actors featured in the movies and shows are the most Torrented. They then built a show around that. They found what most people were downloading illegally. This was how they invented the House of Cards, a political drama, and Kevin Spacey was turning up more often than not. That’s how they created their show. I find it fascinating because I’ve got some friends in the film industry in LA and there was a show called Norsemen that came out. What they did is Norsemen knew that you could get a show on Netflix pretty easily, but you can’t guarantee that it’ll get watched.
The way to guarantee that your show is watched on Netflix is if they put you in the recommended to watch, but it’s a highly coveted space. What these guys did was they ran a Facebook ad campaign of twenty twenty-second videos showing highlights and saying, “Now featured on Netflix.” They targeted people that had liked similar movies in the same genre. They spent $18,000 on Facebook ads in a two-month period and this translated to so many views on Netflix that Netflix reached out to them and asked if they’d be willing to come to LA and talk about ways they could sponsor other series.
They essentially tested preview ads to see which ones would perform the best. Knowing that whichever won the best in a Facebook ad would be the preview they should run on Netflix in order to game into the recommended section. Is that right?
That’s exactly it and they were pushing viewers from that testing to Netflix anyway. Netflix is always looking at which things people watch the most. It prompted them to make it the suggested views. In fact, our gaming channel, we’re doing the same thing on Amazon. We have an Amazon TV show called Battle Report. It’s essentially one of our YouTube videos, exactly the same but reformatted for Amazon. We filmed it exclusively so there will be exclusive content. When we first pitched Amazon, they were like, “We don’t know if you’re going to get the right view count to be worthy of giving you your whole show on Amazon Prime.”
They agreed to put one episode up as a test and we were like, “Our audience is going to come.” All we did was run some ads, made some videos, put them up on our Facebook and YouTube. We started racking up about one million views on Amazon Prime to the point that Amazon said to us, not only could we upload the entire TV series, but they said, “We’d like to get in talks with you about season two and what you could do to make it better.”
That is the hack right there. The fact is that when you can get the attention of groups of people on demand, then the world comes to you. Being a Psychology Hacker Podcast, we could spend the entire time talking about Donald Trump. We could do an entire show talking about the 2016 election, but the real magic to that election was that he had an audience. He had a reputation and a brand and then he leveraged that to continue getting attention in the media, which is the name of the game if you want the world to come to you. If you’re pitching a TV show or you’re pitching something on Amazon and you have the audience, you can use that as the leverage point to get the rest of the world talking about you. That’s how you win or at least how you have a shot for your product to stand on its own or loose on its own. Most people are coming at it with a product-first mentality. I don’t think we get what we want in the world until we know how to sway the audience to come our way.
We’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve got to talk about it again when you say the Donald Trump thing. I often ask people, especially people that are anti-Trump. I’m absolutely fine with your political views, whatever they may be. I never share mine, but I’ll always say to them, “I’ll be impressed if you can remember Clinton’s campaign in 2000.” People can’t remember her phrase. They can’t remember the campaign. I say to them, “That’s why she lost.” Believe it or not, it wasn’t anything specifically that Trump did except that he stuck to his brand and his campaign and he ran the audience whereas many people loved her. I would argue some people loved her more than the fans love Trump, but her campaign wasn’t in place. She didn’t get her branding right. She wasn’t running an audience. I agree with everything you said.It's easy to sell to people when you know what they want. Click To Tweet
We can officially say that the internet and internet audiences have not only built companies but have swayed elections too. This is the direction of the world. If you’re not good at communicating to a group of people or to one specific person, then I don’t know that it’s possible or for you to end up getting what you want.
Let’s say somebody got their audience of 10,000 subscribers or followers, wherever they are. Every time they make a piece of content, they get at least 10,000, maybe 25,000 responses. How do you go about helping them? How can they make money? I know a lot of people that have a big audience that don’t make any money whatsoever. They phone me up and they’ll be like, “I had another video break a million, but I’m struggling to pay. What do I do now?” What do you do?
My background has always been in physical product brands or internet brands. That means stuff obviously. What it comes down to is, a lot of influencers struggle because they have no idea what to sell. They end up selling t-shirts, mugs and random knick-knack and they wonder why they can’t get ahead. That’s because the question of what to sell is the wrong question. The right question is who is it that I’m targeting? Who is it that I’m serving? Who is it that I’m speaking to? That’s the starting point. If you’ve got 10,000 similar-minded people within your locus of control, then you have a good idea of who that person is and what their behaviors are. The next question that we ask is what are the 3 to 5 products that they already buy without us having to sway them in any specific direction?
If you’re speaking to gamers and you were not selling games per se, we say, “What is in common with other gamers and how do we serve them?” If we’re talking about video gamers, then they were talking about chairs and headsets. We’re talking about magazines and subscriptions. We’re talking about online subscriptions. We can make a list a mile long about the things that that group of people already buy. Since I’m in the physical product world, I usually default to that. I like food brands, supplement brands, CPG brands, snack brands and drink brands. I would usually default to that type of thinking. Where in my skillset in the food and beverage, snack and that world could we work into that specific audience? That would be my specialty.
Other people are going to look at the information products world and say, “To this specific person, what are they going to end up buying?” One of the things that flip it in the mind of the entrepreneur is when they stop thinking about the product first and they start going after people. It’s easy to sell to people when you know what they want. We just look at their behavior to know what they want. Whereas most people are trying to develop a product and then hope that it fits in or they can craft a sales message to the specific person, then they hope it fits in. That to me is the backwards order of operations.
I love the way you’re thinking about it. It’s big. We’re huge on surveys in our companies to find out what people buy and what they want. There’s something true about what you said. When someone loves something, they’ll buy the same thing over and over again of different versions of it. We’re seeing that time and time again with our own research. They’re already buying it and they want every potential version of it that they can get.
This is especially true in food brands. It’s easy for us to look at our own behavior. For me, I eat protein bars. If there’s a new protein bar, I want to try it. I don’t know why. I’m just interested in that sector. For some people, it’s energy drinks. People will try different types of energy drinks. There is definitely a propensity for us to buy multiple variations of the same thing when we love something. Because it’s new, you get that dopamine kick. You want to be the first to market among that group of 10,000 people and you sit in that position as the leader of those 10,000 people, being able to lead the next action of that group of people.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you are trying to make money, then your job is to provide for that group of people. I have a student who sells knives for Fortnite gamers. His company is called Elemental Knives. It’s so specific to that audience that people eat it up. His audience is incredibly niched and targeted, then they’re releasing new items to that specific group. That’s a business. I work with a lot of Amazon sellers and a lot of them are selling widget, candle, fly swatter, whatever the random thing is. They’re obsessed with the idea of how do I sell more of these? That’s not how you build a business. You build a business by getting the one person to take multiple actions over and over again.
You and I both know that once you get somebody to say yes once, it’s easier for them to say yes again and again. It’s the first yes that is the hard one. The first yes in building brands is getting them to pay attention to you, open the email, follow you on social media or to watch the video, then to subscribe, get engaged and share. Later, it’s to buy and then it’s to buy again and again. That’s how scalable and sellable brands are built. Your job becomes how do we get more people that we can put through the rest of this process? Whereas most people are saying, “I have my thing. When do I get the world to come to buy my thing?” You don’t get the world to come and buy your thing until you aren’t focusing on specifically the person and how you serve them. Otherwise, you’re at the world’s mercy rather than the opposite.
That’s such a big thing and it’s so true. Selling to the same person over and over again is so much easier than finding new people. If you’ve got something that already sells to new people, they’ll slowly come in. Having a sequence of things you can sell to people is where most of the money is made. Let’s say someone’s reading this and they don’t have an audience yet. They’re like, “How do I get an audience?” Is that something that you help with or do you specifically need people to have an audience to want to work with them?
We can talk about it but specializing in building the audience is not something that I enjoy doing. It’s mostly because most people are trying to hack attention rather than operating from a place of service. It’s my opinion that you end up building an audience when you are focused on serving a specific targeted group of people. That’s how we end up creating the change that we want to see. I was reading one of Mark Manson’s book. He tells the story about the first Beatle, the drummer before Ringo, who was voted out of the band and how later in his life he says, “I became happier than the Beatles could have ever made me.” When he was asked why, he said, “Because all I lost was some money and some attention. There were a lot of people knowing what I was up to and a lot of people paying me money.” He had a different set of values than what most people perceived would make them happy, which is money and fame.Most people are trying to hack attention rather than operate from a place of service. Click To Tweet
What struck me about that is most people covet and crave the attention. They are doing whatever it takes to create noise. That does not create influence. Even if it creates an audience, it doesn’t create influence. It doesn’t create the impact that you want. There was a case study done with some influencer on Instagram who had a few million followers and she was showing pictures of her butt. She did a t-shirt line or some terrible product launch and ended up selling 22 units of her product, which is not a good conversion rate. The reason for that is because there’s no connection between people paying attention to what you look like when you’re bent over and wanting to buy a t-shirt from you. There are no brands to that. There’s no influence to that.
Most people are prioritizing attention over the influence. Attention is doing things to capture people’s attention for a short period of time, whereas influence is getting people to take actions. You get people to take actions by serving the person first. I think manipulation, even persuasion is overrated. We can get short-term results through manipulation and persuasion, but we don’t get long-term influence through manipulation and persuasion. We get influenced by having enough social credibility that comes from operating from a place of service, for long enough, for the word to get out that when people interact with you, they get more than they gave.
That is why we follow podcasts. It’s why we follow anyone that we pay attention to. We are getting more out of it than we are contributing. You have to develop a reputation to be able to do that by operating from that place of service. I go on this little rabbit hole talking about this because building an audience looks a lot like operating from a place of service for a very long period of time until there is a mismatch of value, so much so that people can’t help but pay attention to you. Most people think that building an audience is being attentive in the short-term so that then you can manipulate people to do what you want in the short-term. That is not how long-term influence is built.
If we look at anyone that we follow, Tony Robbins or whoever we admire in our space, it comes from people who’ve been doing the same thing from a place of service for a very long period of time, so much so that they have built a brand of followers who then are influenced to take action because they’ve been served long enough by them. I don’t think most people get that when they try to build an audience, which is why it’s very hard to teach someone how to build an audience. They’re coming at it from a selfish place of what do I get out of it rather than is there a commitment to be doing something in a place of service for long enough so that one day they have the attention and the influence they want to be able to create the change they want.
What I love is this is like a lot of what we do. It’s helping people build audiences and generate that. I find that the people that succeed are always the ones that do pretty much everything you said. The ones that fail are always the ones that start it and then they stop, then they start it again. Whenever I ask them why they stop, they always say, “It wasn’t doing anything.” What they mean is it wasn’t making them any money rather than doing it because they love it. Our gaming channel, we’ve not only been consistently creating videos every single week for years, but we’ve gotten to a point where we’ve increased the number of videos that we’re creating because we enjoy it so much.
That’s a good sign. When you’re enjoying operating from a place of creating value, that’s when you know you’ve got a shot.
Somebody got that and they’ve got their audience. What do they do if they want to work with you? Somebody’s like, “I need Ryan’s help.”
I’m not hard to find. My website is Capitalism.com. I’m @RyanDanielMoran. I’m pretty much in every social. What I usually do is I have workshops at my home where I work with people, with audiences to help them craft the first products that they’re going to bring to market. I help them bring it to market. If we like working together, I sometimes make equity plays or investments in those types of brands because I make 80% of my wealth-building these brands rather than selling hopes and dreams. I sometimes hold workshops at my home. I call them 8-Figure Exits. I have a small group that I run called The Backroom where I help people get funding, help them grow from seven figures to eight figures and prepare for sale.
Thank you so much for coming to join us.
- Ryan Moran
- Sheer Strength Labs
- Outstanding Foods
- @RyanDanielMoran – Facebook
- The Backroom
About Ryan Moran
As a serial entrepreneur, author, and investor, Ryan’s main focus is on creating lifestyle freedom — helping people create lasting businesses and investing the profits wisely, while enjoying a higher quality of life, and working less.
In addition to operating, selling, and investing in multiple million-dollar e-commerce brands, Ryan is best known for his work at Freedom Fast Lane – where he leads “The Tribe” and helps entrepreneurs develop their business plan, get results rapidly, and invest the profits wisely for passive income.
In The Tribe, he is responsible for creating 100+ millionaires, many of which occurred in 12 months or less following his philosophies on creating products people want, marketing them profitably, and creating life-long customers and brand evangelists. As a speaker, he delivers an honest and refreshing hype-free approach to building (and eventually selling) million-dollar businesses, investing profits wisely for passive income, and using the power of the Internet to achieve rapid results.
Ryan is driven by the belief that entrepreneurs solve problems, and that the world needs more empowered entrepreneurs. As the founder of Capitalism.com, his mission is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to create jobs, pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and uplift their families and local communities to create a better world.