Chris Ducker talks about the importance of hiring a good VA in order to build up your business and create communities around it.
Matt Coffy: So we have got Chris Ducker on the podcast today and you know what, Chris, there were two people I wanted on my podcast. In our initial launch with Step Up, we really started with my local hero in New Jersey, Gary Vaynerchuck. He came here in the podcast. You’re my international hero.
Chris Ducker: I’m so very privileged. I’m honored.
Matt Coffy: For at least a year, there was only one book on my desk and it was from you because I knew if I looked at that book everyday, I could grow my team. And we’re gonna talk about that. Talk about what’s going on with your life. So, Chris, let’s first talk about Virtual Staff Finder because it was the core piece and probably still is of really how you became visually aware in my mindset because you came across so many podcasts and you talk about the just the main play of how that kinda like initially started you can take me back a little bit, to know how important Virtual Staff Finder is and just because it’s really difficult people think that finding VAs is easy and I’ll tell you, no.
Chris Ducker: It’s not easy, particularly, if you’ve not done it before, obviously. Like with anything else that you do you get better at it with more practice and hiring particularly than arm’s length you know there’s an exception to the rule. It’s funny, Virtual Staff Finder, it actually was born, we’re talking middle of 2010. We started working on it middle of 2010 but it launched September 2010 and it came out of a blog comment and I’m a big advocate of building people to people relationships. I’m all about listening to your audience, engaging with your community, and so I wrote a blog post on the benefits of working with virtual assistants and why solopreneurs should consider hiring one just to free up more time, buy more time ultimately as a result and it got posted really, really well. It got shared many times and then this blog comment came in and said you know I picked up the Four Hour Work Week.
I read all about VAs. I’ve tried to hire a couple of people here and there and in India and what not and it’s always been a complete disaster for me. If there was just a service, a go-to source that was out there that I trusted knew of that had a visual brand to it, that would find VAs for me, hell, I’d pay for that. So, obviously, the entrepreneurial alarm bells went off and literally like 4-6 six weeks later, we launched Virtual Staff Finder and since then we’ve now hired within able to something like 400,000 VAs hired by entrepreneurs all around the world. It has been a great journey.
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Matt Coffy: So that’s really your kick off point for me and I think for a lot of people getting to know you and you’re a great personality. Obviously, you’re full of energy and everybody who I know follows you. In certain circles we all kinda know the general people that are good to listen to and have good coordination or guess and, of course, we know a lot of the same people. We’ve talked to a lot of the same people as well. What really makes you tick? What is driving the whole engine here?
Chris Ducker: It’s action and I’m a very action oriented, goal oriented person both in business and in life. And so I’m all about helping people take action. That’s my all-out focus. I suffered that burnout which I talk about in the book in late 2009 and that was really the catalyst for me even though at that point I had well over a hundred people working for me. I wasn’t delegating anything. I was typical A-type micromanaging pain in the butt boss and so it really, that burnout was really the catalyst for me to start taking action for myself. Not just as a business but for myself and so you start delegating, you start automating, you start marketing a little bit more seriously. And with a little bit more purpose behind it and for me it was all about really learning to how to set goals and take action on those goals.
And since then, I’ve now been able to start help other people do that as well. And that for me is what gets me going. That’s what gets my juice going more than anything else is really people saying in January 1, I’m gonna launch a landing page with a brand new opt in net that I’ve just put together, I’ve very confident about this, I think it’s gonna be great and I can’t wait and I’m gonna run some Facebook ads. I’ve got a budget of 500 bucks. I wanna see how many leads I get and then 30 days after they give me an update and say I launched the page, the opt in did great, I spent $500 and I’ve got 12,000 new leads. That just gets me going. I love that stuff.
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Matt Coffy: That’s great. You’re a hardcore hustler in your own words. I mean you’re sort of the guy who seems to me have the energy and the drive and I think a lot of sales people have this sort of mentality to win and they’re interested in the game. That’s a big Gary V thing is that he really likes the game. It’s not necessarily things that they win. But passing that on, and I wanted to say a quote here and I wanted you to tell me what you think. "The way to being nothing is to do nothing." Where did that come from?
Chris Ducker: My dad. Not originally. That would be really cool if my old man came out with that. No, but you’ve obviously heard me all talk about that quote somewhere else, that’s my favorite quote of all time. It’s actually originally came from a gentleman called Nathaniel Hawthorne. And it took me quite some time to figure out and research that because many people have been credited with it but apparently it is Nathaniel that said that originally but what happened was I was in my school I was doing my exams we call them the GCSC exam in the UK which I guess is kinda like the SAT in the US that kinda level of 176 you roll that sort of type of thing and I was flunking and we were halfway through the exam season. I knew I was doing badly. I was bumming off. I was playing hoops, and skateboarding, and chatting with girls, doing all that stuff.
My father knew it and one day I came back from, I don’t know what the hell I’ve been doing and I walked up to the top of the stairs and saw one of my father’s business cards who was very, very successful architect in the city of London for a big firm. You look at the London skyline, he had his hand at 30 to 40% of those buildings in some way of shape or form back in the 80's and the 90's and he just wrote that at the back on one of his business cards. And it was the only kick in the butt I needed to start properly and I was able to claw back and I asked teachers if I could retake a couple of the exams. At first I got some no’s and then my father wrote some letters and we got some yeses and all that sort of stuff and I ended up doing quite well. I still flunked a few and had to retake them the next year but that really was the quote that kind of started me thinking me a lot more seriously about just the future in general because he was right. And Nathaniel. The way to be nothing is to do nothing. If you expect to be able to just sit back and have everything that you want in life and desire and aspire to be, just land in your lap, you’re high. Like you’re actually high on drugs. That is not going to happen. You’re hallucinating. If you want anything in life, you gotta chase it down and that’s exactly my mantra. That’s what I’m all about. Chasing it down.
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Matt Coffy: So 2008. You’re calling for cash, right? Those were the years where you really had to work right? You had to get on the phone and this is before the whole process of, again, you came into visibility between 2010 to 2013 for most people. But what was the biggest lesson you learned in those years where you kinda, it was one of those touch and go things where entrepreneurs kinda go through that phase where they’re like holy crap how am I gonna pay people? What was the lesson you learned in that until you got stability and then the book came out and then forget it. You’re not. You’re fine. You’re more than fine.
Chris Ducker: I’m doing okay, Matt. We were 6 months in business wise and I looked at my online banking and I had enough money in the account for two payrolls so a month basically we pay every two weeks here in the Philippines and at the time I had maybe 30 or so people working for me. And I had to make a major decision. We were on the cusp of going bankrupt after 6 months of business and so I fired the toxic client that was taking up all my time that was not allowing me to do any real sales or marketing or bus dev work at all. I fired that client on a Friday afternoon via email. I chickened out. Didn’t get on the phone and I obviously got a barrage of emails back over the weekend but whatever.
My business is more important than yours kinda thing at this point and I had to put all of my 30 staff on what they call here with the Department Of Labor And Employment in the Philippines as a floating status meaning, they’re not fired, they still got a job. They’re just not gonna work for the time being which means they’re not gonna get paid for the time being and I put everybody on floating status and I said you guys are gonna give me two weeks. You’ve been with me for six months, I’m asking you to give me two weeks. I’m gonna do my best to turn this around and if we do turn this around, we’re gonna be stronger than we ever have been. You have to trust me. And all of them said okay, yes.
And I hit the phones hard. I went back to my old school sales marketing days of cold calling and follow ups and I worked a good 12 hours a day for those couple of weeks and I was able to call in around about 17 or 18 seats worth of business for the call center which was all we needed to keep things moving. And after the 30 people that ended up on floating status, they were 22-23 that came back. The others have already found other work.
And the lesson to be learned from that is that ultimately when you are running a business it always comes down to you as the business owner. You can’t bitch and moan and cry over spilled milk and blame other people because at the end of the day, it’s you. it’s your business. You’re the helm. You’re the captain of the ship and you need to steer the ship in the right direction. I did what I needed to do at that time to make sure that we didn’t go under very prematurely in my mind, it would have been a real shame. But here we are now all these years later, we’re at 450 people. I have an entire management team built out. I have three floors of facility and clients all around the world in multi seven figure business. So it’s all down to you man. That’s where it comes. It all comes down to you.
Matt Coffy: I agree and so I was out taking the trash this morning and it just so happened the trash truck drove by and I kinda giggled to the guy, hey, it’s a warm day out. And he said, you’ll get used to it. I didn’t really notice it but it was only 15 degrees Fahrenheit out here in New Jersey so that’s pretty cold. I didn’t really notice it and I don’t think that guy picking the trash, we’re kinda used to it, it’s cold. Who cares. But the reason why I’m saying that is I think we get used to our environment. And imagine if you didn’t fire that client. So I’m just thinking, do we need the necessary kick in the ass to make our change in our living or can we subliminally try and push it in and this is a big discussion because that’s where I think that sort of that next level thinking starts to happen is when you don’t get forced into making like a bazillion calls and having to cram and twelve hours a day. What happens if you actually figured it out and said you know what, I’ll just work harder or work smarter whatever you wanna call it. Just because you figured out to do it that way instead of being forced to do it. That’s a big question. So are you just getting used to things or should you sort of mentally or subconsciously. But I think that’s where I’m trying to sort of now tie together Youpreneur. So you build out your community. We all know that this is the future for a lot of people who are let’s just say in the know, been through business, get it, have made it pass the point of stability to well for at least two wealth levels where you’re comfortable. Things are moving. In Youpreneur, when you start your community, you start to bring your intelligence in, do people necessarily need a kick in the ass or can you almost unconsciously get them aware of things they could do to change the way that they look at the world and how they could grow their business cause that’s kinda what this is about. This is about how do grow our businesses faster without the need to have a $15,000 client fall off the planet. (15:39)
Chris Ducker: Exactly. I’ll tell you this one thing. I’ve never met an entrepreneur in my life that doesn’t need support from like-minded people and that doesn’t need to be held accountable ever. I’ve never ever met someone that doesn’t need that kick on the butt from time to time. Myself included. Usually it’s my wife that’s doing that. Actually one of my closest managers who’s been with me since day 1, they’ve been regularly kicking me up the butt. He needed to be focusing on all the things right now and I think it’s important. I think it’s incredibly important for people to have that support and that accountability and when I used to travel around speaking, I used to do these mastermind sessions where we would get a room full of people, 10 people usually and I would notice that by the end of the day even though the majority of people in the room to begin with were ultimately strangers. They might have maybe tweeted each other a few times or something but they’ve never met before. By the end of the day they were very close already. Like to the point where they were telling each other seriously big secrets about their business. Money. Losses. Profit margins. The whole kinkaboodle. Stuff that I don’t even share that I am very close friends with and I think it really just comes down to the entrepreneurial loneliness that will suffer sometimes when you’re building a business particularly online because we’re ultimately working alone the vast majority of the time and people need that support. They need those like minded voices and those eardrums and that’s what I think communities and surrounding yourself with the right people. That’s to important to your business growth.
Matt Coffy: This is the new new. This is the new now maybe. Then that’s probably part of the strategy of how we’ve got reciprocity between a lot of different environments that if you can get the right people, it grows on its own like a little flower it just keeps budding. And speaking of which, so let’s talking about getting into some game changer things and I really, I like the fact that you’re on periscope. You’re digging Snapchat now. These are the new tools of the trade. I really do think the live broadcasting is the new TV. I really do think that’s where it’s heading cause all the kids are not Youtubing. There’s no TV for them anymore. I don’t even think my son something n watches TV. He just goes on Youtube so the new love broadcasting with Periscope and of course Facebook got their own gig now and Meerkat but I’m just wondering you have now 1500 coming to your sessions on a live event. How has that changed your marketing and how is that affecting your revenue?
Chris Ducker: When you’re live you get that instant audience feedback. That’s the thing. It’s like crack for egomaniacs. I’m all about wanting to connect with the right people and with something like periscope, when you tune into somebody for the first time on periscope, and I mean literally when you tune in to somebody for the first time in periscope, you are gonna be able to suss them out pretty quickly. You’re gonna like them immediately or you’re not gonna like them and you’re just gonna click away. And that’s great because your videos will attract the right tribe for you. and I think that’s the key right there to these live streaming and I think that term live streaming I heard someone say this from a few days ago on Snapchat actually. And I think he’s so on the money with his. I think the term live streaming is slowly gonna disappear. I’m now gonna start calling it as I know Mike is and I will credit Mike for this because he’s a smart fellow. I will say that his term and the term I’m now gonna be using is live video. Simple. Because it’s not just gonna be about streaming from your phone anymore. It’s gonna be like where is Youtube in this game? Seriously? When Youtube comes out with whatever live video option or app or whatever it is that they’ve got to offer and you know it’s coming, it’s got to be coming, it has to be coming, when they do that how much of a game changer is that gonna be for that platform as a whole? I mean we have a cable TV show of our own in our pockets right now with Periscope and nobody’s really talking about Meerkat anymore. Blabb maybe a little bit but I hate the name but Periscope for me is the 800-pound gorilla of live video right now. And now that we’re at features where you can watch videos in the Twitter feed directly now you’re gonna have to be in the app anymore, that’s gold man. And that will grow, the Periscope app very organically and such a small move from Twitter so I think that when you’ll be able to have an audience in front of you, it’s that instant gratification that instant feedback. TV stars don’t even get this. They go on the studio, they shoot the show, it goes live 6 weeks later whatever it is maybe it’s after Jimmy Fallon but the fact of the matter is they don’t get that instant gratification. Yes they can a little on the airs where they can pop on Twitter or something but I mean actual one on one communication right there in the moment. that’s what live streaming and live video is gonna do to you. I wish this was around five years ago. It would’ve been a total game changer for my business but it wasn’t so I’m engulfing myself in it now.
Matt Coffy: So I think currency today is attention. With that in respect to Google owning Youtube and whoever ends up winning at the end of the day, I think of the impact from an SEO perspective when the live stuff gets pulled up in search results and that attention span goes right to a live feed. It can’t get better right? And Google’s gonna love cause they’ll run ads in it. You’ll see your little bleeps coming up and people will live through that because it’s live and I’m learning and I was looking for this but now I can see somebody talk about it right now. It’s all good. One of the things you talk about is ego and I do get the sense that you have a good personal branding strategy but a lot of people have a company brand and I wanted to just touch on this because you come out really as your own brand but Youpreneur is a company brand but it’s still kinda you. It’s still Chris. What do you of personal brand versus company brand? Gaining traction in either personal brand because obviously there’s an element of trying to, I guess I always thought the personal brand was gonna be a challenge compared to trying to help my team be part of it. I always thought there was, it’s like a band. It’s not just me it’s the team, the band and I wanted to hear your opinion on that.
Chris Ducker: I think there’s room for both and I have several businesses, Virtual Staff Finder was built very much on my personal brand when we got going. But now that we’ve been going for as long as we have been going on to our 6 years now, I’m very out of that business like I’m not seen on the website. I am not in the marketing for it , it’s very much become its own brand. So you can pivot. I don’t think there needs to be a hard and fast decision from day 1 in regards to what you do from a branding perspective however I will say that I think that the personal brand is something that every CEO of every business should be looking to build because it will help that business in the long run. And particularly in today’s social world where everything is so, everybody is just so darn accessible nowadays. I think that a SEO that does not have a personal brand attached to that business is asking for trouble in way shape or form whether it be via complaints or whether it be for lack of visibility or whatever the case maybe. And you look at people like Richard Brandson, Virgin, or Trump, the Trump Crew. Even Gary Vaynerchuck with VaynerMedia. Nobody hides in the media because of Gary.
Matt Coffy: I agree and so I think this is one of those marketing questions. We deal with a lot of small businesses and medium sized businesses and I always come against this because they all want the company to succeed and I’m like well, you’re probably right at some level but at a higher level people wanna do business with somebody, not a company and we’re gonna go through this revolution where I think there’s gonna have to be some of this business of trying to enlighten people on visibility from a corporate perspective because they’ve really, old corporate, people for these, beyond, they’re not into it. they’re gone. They’re like I’m not doing that. But there are some of us who are very aware of how much that can be an advantage in the market space so I wanted to talk to you. we have a couple of minutes. I wanted to have a couple of points across. I have a bajillion questions but I narrowed it down to a few that I can ask you. what’s growing your business the fastest right now? What is the thing that you think is the most important thing that is driving new customer acquisition and the longest or as you see maybe the longest run for a good tool trick or tip that you could impart with our listener.
Chris Ducker: Right now, it’s all about content, content, content. It’s content on the blog, content on the Youtube channel, content on the podcast, content on Snapchat, content on Periscope. Content, content, content. All day and all night. Plain and simple. We’re in this age right where people genuinely are almost expecting for businesses to create this content. This helpful original high value type of content that will enable them to solve problems for free in their life, their business, their endeavors. Whatever the case may be. For me right now, we are all out. my company is all out on content right now across the board and that’s not just content publicly that’s also content behind the scenes as well. So when I say behind the scenes I mean email funnels. I mean copy for landing pages that have yet to leave. Opt-ins are begin created and yet to be released, all these things are happening right now behind the scenes that will slowly but surely be tripled throughout the course of this year so it’s all about content right now. It’s all about content and adding that value.
Matt Coffy: And you’re gonna have a great value piece of content coming up in a few months at tropical think tank. And maybe some of that content will be you singing some blues songs.
Chris Ducker: We’ll see. There’s a lot of factors involved in that Matt. Number one is the band good cause we don’t jam to the bad bands and we don’t hire that band so that’s take off right there. Number two is there enough good quality bourbon in the house that night. If there is now the likelihood of me jamming goes up just a notch or two. And then there’s the vibe of the party get me going which it usually does so yes it will probably be jamming a little bit.
Matt Coffy: I’m glad to hear in 2017 you know if you’re own my roadmap and you’re on my radar screen and I’m sure that Matt Kembly will join you for a bourbon or a single molt right.
Chris Ducker: Usually a single molt with Matt which I’m actually fine as well but Matt is generally speaking just not have a problem in trying a nice bourbon or a nice single malt.
Matt Coffy: I’m dying to join you and help jam up the night and I’d be happy to light up a searing hot blues guitar with you. guess we can get in there. So let’s talk about the wrapping this up with your real story which is Youpreneur which is what I wanted to get to tell people how, why, when, and really, I think if you can leave us with a few good call to action I think that would be great for people to understand who. We’ve got this in your earbud right now, if you’re gonna join a community this is the one.
Chris Ducker: I will say it’s not for everybody. I wanna say that right away and then some people might see that as playing a bit of a takeaway but I’m serious. This is the Youpreneur community is a community of people that are full and they are full of energy and enthusiasm and they are all about taking action. And that for me is the key. And so like I said, that’s what gets me the most jazz. That’s what gets the most excited. And Youpreneur is about helping people build a business around their personal brand, their wants, their desires, the people they wanna serve and that’s sort of type of thing and for me, when you attract those kind of people, it’s so rewarding because when you’ve got the right kind of people like that all together and you’ve got the right kind of leadership involved as well, it just gels. It just gels. We’d launch September 1. We currently have just over 400 members and they are all doing incredible things. They’re the mastermind call us night and some of the stuff they getting up to is just blowing me away. They’re just so hot right now in regards to their goals and ticking off goals. Halfway through January and the ticking off goals like it’s the middle of March. It’s insane. It’s about enthusiasm. It’s about support. It’s about accountability and if you say you’re gonna do something by a certain date and you don’t, people will call your ass out in the forums. I mean myself included because I want people to succeed. I want people to genuinely build that dream that they wanna be proud of and that’s exactly that Youpreneur is all about.
Matt Coffy: Great and they can obviously go to ChrisDucker.com and find Youpreneur there or they can go where else?
Chris Ducker: They can just go to Youpreneur.com as well. Let’s make life easy.
Matt Coffy: I know that’s why I was saying you have a personal brand, you’ve got Youpreneur, you’ve got your other business units. All this stuff is easy to find. You’re pretty well accessible so in all the social channels you got 55,000 Twitter followers so a few people know you.
Chris Ducker: I’m really blessed to have the following that I have the climbs and just everything. Like the audience is just incredible, everyday I wake up and there’s emails and tweets and all the rest of it and it’s just, I’m very blessed to be in the position where I am now. I didn’t think it would be like this in this point in my career but I’m very blessed to have the people following me that I do.
Matt Coffy: Awesome, and we are blessed to have you on the podcast and I’m excited to get this out there have our listeners really get some gems. This is some great consent and thank you Chris, I appreciate you jumping on the podcast. Hopefully, we’ll see you at live soon and then you know we’ll be doing something completely different.
Chris Ducker: We probably will be and it was all my pleasure. Matt. You’re a real inspiration, Matt. I appreciate it.
Matt Coffy: Awesome, man. Thank you.