#32 To Play Or Not Play?


James ‘worked’ over the traditional January Summer break and made a tidy sum. Timbo played up and lost momentum. He had a good time, but lost momentum. There sounds like there’s a episode in that!  
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TIM:  Welcome back, listeners, to Episode 32 of Freedom Ocean, you favorite internet marketing podcast. I’m one of your hosts, Tim Reid, and that right there is…

JAMES:  James Schramko.

TIM: Good day, mate!

JAMES:  How are you going?

TIM: Good! Good! It’s been a long time between drinks out in the ocean.

JAMES: It has! A bit too long from my point of view!

TIM: Correct! And I take—by the way, a couple of false starts. We say that we can podcast from many where you got internet connection and one false start was me relying on my hotspot, my personal hotspot on my iPhone, which I absolutely love. But the Skype connection wasn’t quite up to it and a couple of other false starts in what has pretty been hot summer in Australia in January, which has required me to be down on the Freedom Ocean, in the Freedom Ocean, more than in front of my computer. Unlike you who just happened to tell me before we hit the record button, that you have made a significant amount of money in the last 4 weeks while I’ve been getting a tan, James.

JAMES: We’re talking about momentum and I think we hinted about this in the last episode we recorded, that a lot of people have a big downtime over their Christmas/January thing, and then they go back to the coal face and get into the into the work thing and you watch the general population go through that behavior. Whereas in my case, I have a more consistent approach. So little bits of work and little bits of play during the day every day. So I’ve had a pretty good routine—

TIM:  Do you have play during the day?

JAMES: Yeah.

TIM:  We used to record these shows face to face and I’d get up there and we’d get in the spaceship and I would see the Schramko residence in action. But my perception of you is that you love to get your sleep; you sleep in. But then you get up and you work your ring off until you go to bed. So am I right or wrong?

JAMES: No, that’s not entirely correct. I do sleep in, that’s true. And I have little mini-breaks during the day. So pretty much everyday up until today I’ve played Playstation with my kids, I’ve watched my daughter lunging the horse around the round yard. I’ve taken the kids out on little trips to magician shows and stuff. It’s been school holiday so there’s been a lot of kid stuff, but it’s sort of based around as if this was like a holiday house and we do little activities and then I chip away at work in little lumps. So I would generally attend a daily meeting with my team, which is around lunch time because they’re about 3 hours behind me. It’s perfect for me. I could sleep in, have coffee, attend the daily meeting, set the business up for the day. And then I’ve got some down time so that’s the time where I would go and get a haircut or go to the bank or I have a—

TIM:  Haircut? You haven’t got any hair!

JAMES: I do! They charge a search fee, but I still have hair! And I have the board of directors meeting with Janelle everyday, my wife. We sit down with a coffee and we talk about the business, the month, the products, our direction, our strategy. So I get to bounce ideas.

TIM:  What role does Janelle have? Is she like a sounding board that knows a lot about the actual intricacies of the business or just someone who gets a sense of what you’re into and what you’re not into?

JAMES:  She knows a lot about a lot. She’s the quiet type. She won’t talk too much but she knows all the people related to our business, she knows the numbers, the strategy, but it’s not her passion and it’s not something she’s engaged in daily. She’s just observing. And so she works from her little offices, near my little office, and I’ll get her to come and check a blog post before I publish it, if I want a little spell check and just a double check that I’m on the right plane. And together we make decisions, so when we changed our SEO teams across; she was instrumental in that massive move. So I guess her main role is as a co-director in the business to ensure that we’re plotting the right charts and when we make massive decisions, we do them together and then we—even down to price points, what’s a fair price for this or who’s our target market. She really does know a lot about that stuff, but she would never let on. She’s also busy helping out with all the other parts of the business that I don’t do, in particular, kid’s school lunches and stuff and looking after the household pets and things. That’s her area of interest.

TIM:  I guess getting back to that idea we were talking about, you know, momentum. And you do lose it. You know, I made a conscious decision, sort of late last year, late December, where I said you know what? Last couple of weeks of December and January, I’m not going to work as hard. And I’ve enjoyed some really good quality family time and we went away with my boys and like last podcast we did was when I was out on the road with my boys, and that was good. And been doing other stuff, but now that I’m back, the momentum’s been lost and it is hard to regain it. So… Different working styles clearly.

JAMES: Yeah. And I think when you work from home like I do, you see, I’m not doing client workshops. I’m not doing consulting, I’m not doing appointments. I very rarely need to leave the house. I see a lot of my kids and my family. My wife’s here all day every day. And my kids are here in the morning and at night. I don’t often see them in the morning, but I definitely see them when school comes home, which is about now. And I’ll see them until bedtime, so there’ll be some Call of Duty gaming, I’m sure. There’ll be some school projects. I basically tend to have the afternoon off and then I’ll pick up again after dinner for a few hours. That’s my absolute prime time is between 12 and 3 and then between 10 and midnight. They’re my two main slots of activity during the day.

TIM:  It’s interesting being able to listen to your body clock, I don’t know what it is, but having worked in corporate for so long and so did you. Even now, having been out of that jungle for 6 years, I still feel a commitment to go to my office from—not 9 to 5, but work regular hours and—

JAMES:  We’ve been trained to do that since school. I mean, school’s sort of like invented to train people to be factory workers in textile mills. And it teaches that control and that you go here for this amount of time and then you go back and they measure the wrong things, too. They’re measuring activities instead of learning outcomes. And I think if you want a different outcome than what you’re getting now, which it sounds like, then maybe you want to question a lot of your assumptions. Why do you do that? Why is that important to you? Could it be done a different way? Because that’s a big part of my business is innovation and challenging assumptions and saying why can’t I make a million dollars a year, why can’t I make 10 million dollars a year, and why can’t I do it from home without having to have an office or drive away from my family for the day. I’m pretty sure that I can rearrange things or strategize or systemize or leverage things to be able to get into that position and that’s sort of the fun of it for me.

TIM:  One of the things that I find and a lot of our listeners find and people I talk to is it just comes back to saying no to stuff, you know? Because if you’re a small business owner, if you’re a service business owner, if you’re a consultant, drilling right down, then some of us have this mentality that a bird in hand is worth two in a bush, so you take the opportunities when they’re there instead of putting, like you do, that filter over things and very quickly saying yes or no to them.

JAMES: I mean, take my example of having a job that for most people that’s the bird in their hand. And for me, that was a massive inconvenience. It’s all about perspective. And the way I got perspective was seeing other people doing better things with their time. And here’s the thing; you hear people say I don’t have time, this is quite a common thing, but that same person will sit on their ass for 3 or 4 hours straight watching the latest Today, Tonight, or Biggest Loser show! I mean, tell me that’s not time that could be better spent developing, designing your life, creating an ideal scenario and then putting in the work to get a better future by doing the work now that’s boring or difficult. That’s what I think. It  ultimately comes down to lack of knowledge or lack of effort. And I guess a lot of people would be lazy.

TIM:  Let’s use the Martian example. So Martian comes down to Earth looking for a job, doesn’t have any preconceived ideas, hasn’t been conditioned by human schools, and says to you, “Okay, I’ve got to start a business. I want a pretty good lifestyle, I want one of these lifestyles I’m seeing a lot of humans kind of scooting around on boats and driving nice cars and going on holidays and things.” What would you say to him? What are the 3 things that you would say to that Martian?

JAMES:  Well, what type of lifestyle do you want? So let’s get a sense of where you’re pitching at. Do you want the 8-foot rubber blowup dinghy or do you want a 65-foot cruiser?

TIM:  It won’t even be that? It will be just—because Freedom Ocean was always named based on this concept of having the freedom to choose. So it’s not about how big is the boat or how big is the car or how long is the holiday. It’s just Martian wants the freedom to choose.

JAMES:  Okay. Well basically Martian’s going to need to reduce compromise. That’s the goal. Reduce compromise as much as possible. One way that we know how to do that is to make more money on our terms, and that’s the important part. You can make more money but work yourself to death. But if you want to make money with a reasonable modicum of lifestyle, then it’s all about how much value can you create for other people and how many people can you create it for. They’re the main metrics. You’ll be wealthy to the extent that you can create value for as many people as possible.

TIM:  Love that! And the Martian can create a lot of value because everyone would be interested in what life on Mars is like.

JAMES:  Yeah. There’s different ways to create value. The Martian can go to McDonald’s and offer a low amount of value serving fries and burgers. It’s not that hard. It’s easy to learn. It’s probably not  enjoyable, but it’s not that hard. So you don’t get paid so much. You’re not putting your balls on the line so much. Or the Martian could be an entrepreneur, which means that they sort of try to gather and manage opportunities with assets that they don’t necessarily control, so there’s a lot more risk and fun involved in that one. But there’s also the potential to create much more value, more leverage, with a big payoff. So that’s the world that we sort of dwell in a little bit more where we’re master of our own destiny. And the goal is to continually put products out there and services and solutions, if you want to call them solutions, that’s nice. Problem solving and to learn what we can about how that delivers value to the customer and then to ramp up the good things and just keep leveraging it, or as The Lean Startup guy would say, pivot or persevere and just keep on doing it. And that’s what I’ve been doing with my business, especially since Christmas to now I’ve been really refining my business and scaling certain areas of it and getting fantastic results.

TIM:  You did. I’m still plodding my way through Steve Jobs’ biography and I’m sure you read it and are applying it because there’s a lot of similarities. How’s that for a compliment? But one of the things I saw in just a recent chapter that I read was where Jobs came into Apple the second time around and saw all the product lines that he had and he drew a simple matrix which from memory had desktop, laptop, consumer business person. And he said he wanted a product for each of those 4 quadrants and that was it. That was Apple going into the future and he kind of just got rid of all the other stuff.

JAMES:  Yep! That’s exactly what I—and before I heard about Steve Jobs, we were doing that with our own marketing in car dealerships and we understood about a different model appeals to a different demographic. You have SL’s which are for hedonists. And then you have the M-class, which is for the family. SUV, the sports utility vehicles.

TIM:  Who was the A Class for?

JAMES:  They didn’t know when it came out. And I sold the most A-classes than anybody in the country and that’s because I would quickly learn the demographics. There was the gay people and there was the people who valued safety but lived in small places, like elderly people, retirees with lots of money, could afford a more expensive small car but had small unit spaces to park in. And then I would map out those demographics and start finding more people just like them. And that was a really interesting experiment because I wasn’t constrained, but I did learn one thing about an A-class buyer.

TIM:  Yeah? What?

JAMES:  Because it was so unusual and so different, the best advocate in the world for an A-class is someone who just stumped up $40,000 for one. So word of mouth referral was far more interesting with an A-class than with all the other models because those people had to defend their decision to everyone at the next barbecue or the dinner party. Why the hell would you spend $40,000 for that weird looking thing? Because it was quite weird when it came out.

TIM:  Very!

JAMES:  And they had to defend it! So you listen very carefully when they’re defending their purchasing decision and you use those arguments back in the sales process.

TIM:  How did you embed—because word of mouth is great—but how did you actually become a call to action for that word of mouth?

JAMES:  Well, you actually follow up the customer after the purchase and there’s a novel idea that a lot of companies forget about. And you’d say, “Tim, how’s you’re A-class going?” And you’d say, “It’s great!” And you’d say, “Who have you told about it?” And you’d say, “Well, my next-door neighbor was interested.” And you’d say, “Do you mind introducing us?” And so you can basically leverage that network of that person by being interested in them and following up and asking the questions.

TIM:  Getting back to that concept of…so you waited out a lot stuff out of your business in December. You had a great January. Do you put that down to that just really, probably for a lack of a better word, harsh focus that you’ve given it?

JAMES:  Yeah. I’ve had a lot more clarity in everything that we do. I’m using a process that I call Wealthification. I know I’ve mentioned that before, but it is putting my business up on to a spreadsheet and going to the market with a minimum viable product, learning from it and then refining the model. So now we can actually map out which products we sell, who do we sell them to, how much does it cost us on a fixed and variable cost to supply that, so the cost of goods sold, and what happens when we scale that. When we introduce more marketing or when we change the product prices, and how many people do we need to deliver that product in 30 days, in 15 days, in 5 days, and then we can work out whether we’re growing or whether we’re shrinking. How many of those people are repeat buyers? How many people buy all of our products? So that’s’ a little bit like the Steve Jobs thing. You know that with my model, I put my business in a circle and I put the customer in the center of that circle. And that customer may deal with many parts of our business like the segments of a pie. Again, I learned that in the car dealership. The same customer would deal with servers, will deal with sales, will deal with finance, will deal with parts, and they will work their way on each part of the business. It’s the same customer. I even did a document on this in 1998 called One Customer. That is the first memory I have of identifying that all the different parts of the dealership, we’re dealing with the same person but they always treated it like separate silos and they had this fierce competition. And I said, but you’ve got the same customer! Share the customer! Introduce them to each other! And that’s a concept I brought to my own business and that’s what’s been working well for us because we supply software, education, services, and information products. So that same customer, probably a lot of our podcast customers, are customers of many parts of my business. So we’re working out how can we accelerate that exposure to the other parts of the business and when we learn something in one part of our business, we transfer it across to the other. So things that we innovated at the beginning of January for one of our teams is now across the entire company like a wildfire. We’ve almost moved ourselves completely out of base camp, for example, within a month.

TIM:  The circle thing—going back to the circle—you’ve got the customer in the middle, then all around it. What do you do? Let me visualize that. Visualize that circle for me.

JAMES:  So if you were to draw your business as a circle, everything inside that circle is your business and everything outside that business is other people’s business or joint ventures. I actually put them outside the circle because they’re not my business. There’s a part I share in the business, so I don’t count them. I count them as traffic. So everything outside the circle like marketing, things that push traffic into your business. In the middle of your business, the heart of your business is another circle and that’s your customer database and your support team. They’re exposed to every part of your business. Support team look after every part of it and the customer is able to move freely around your circle but still be close to the center. You don’t want them leaving your business if possible. You want the lifetime customer. Once they’re in the circle, they stay in the circle. So that means you can’t do cheap tricks or nasty tactics like a lot of other markets because they leave the circle and they don’t come back. And you didn’t just lose them for the part of the circle that they’re experiencing now. You lost them for all the future purchases that they were going to make but then they’re not going to because they don’t like you anymore.

TIM:  So then, within that circle, with the customer at the center and your products around the customer, how many databases do you build? Do you have—

JAMES:  They have one central database but you segment it. And you can do that either using labels like a filing cabinet. Some systems like Office Auto Pilot or Infusionsoft have labeling. Or you can do it using different lists within the one customer database. So for my Aweber account, I have customers on different lists depending on how far up the product cycle they are whether they’re free or paid or whether they’re recurring or single products. So I can actually identify which products that person has and at what level. And then there’s the other database that I have is my shopping cart. Obviously I can look up a customer record and see all the things that they own.

TIM:  Okay. And then they hop between. In fact, they’ll almost without knowing hop between lists?

JAMES:  They do and they don’t know it because there’s automation rules. They might click a confirm button but that might not be obvious to them what’s actually happening. So if somebody is on free podcast list, they’ll probably stay on that list, I won’t take them off. But if they go to my event in 2010 and then they go to an event in 2012, what will happen is when they sign up for the new event, they’ll get a confirm message saying “Allow me to send you event updates.” When they hit confirm, it adds them to the 2012 event and it removes them from the 2010 event. So now I know this is a fresh list. This is my very best customers, the most recent purchase, and the most current customers in the database.

TIM:  Right. That would get complicated.

JAMES:  It’s actually rather simple, but it’s just understanding what you’re doing in the first place. Just understand that you want to somehow tag your customers so that you know how they’re moving about your business. Once you understand it and measure it, that’s when the growth comes. See, I think a lot of marketers, are obsessed and focused—98 percent of their energy is on how they’re going to make their first hundred bucks or their first ten grand or their first 100,000, but where the real money is made, whether incremental hundreds of thousands, comes from understanding this stuff and making very small pivots and adjusting things, changing the growth engine for your business or changing the customer channel that you approach can have huge impact and that’s what’s happening to me. I’m starting new businesses that don’t exist, say on September or even October, and now they’re already successful six-figure per year profit sender from nothing, just from naught to 100, because I’ve been able to gather the data, build that relationship, introduce a new product, and move people towards it and then it takes off.

TIM:  You make it sound so easy!

JAMES:  It is after 7 years! (laughs)

TIM:  Then what’s this concept of pivot? It’s in the book, the lane starter, what does a pivot mean?

JAMES:  Look, the whole point of this book is simple. You go to the market with the minimum possible product, so about not being a perfectionist. Because if you do that, you’re not having any waste. Once you put the product out there, you find out what value the customer places in that product. And if they place a value in it, find out what that value is. It may be something that you thought it was, it may not be. They might like a little bit of the product or they might want more than your whole product. So you could have a zoom-in pivot where you zoom in on one part of the product and throw away the rest, or a zoom-out pivot where you pull back and add more things to the minimum viable product to make it a bigger product. So that’s two types of pivot. But there are other pivots as well. You might have a customer channel pivot where you say, “Oh listen, we’ve been serving the business to business market, but we should be business to consumer or we might go the other way.” So really it’s just about building something, going out to the market, measuring the results, and seeing what you can learn from that and then deciding should we do more of that or should we make a substantial change, come up with a new hypothesis and then go again. And if you take the approach that you’re continually in that startup mode, like I do, you’re always putting out minimum viable products and making pivots or persevering. So in just the last month, I’ve released my custom website business, I’ve released my low price done-for-you website business, I’ve released my brand-new blog with my daily short posts, and I’ve got new products rolling out like my Wealthification product, Fast Web Formula community, and Speed Dash. They’re all coming through the system. And as they come to market, I measure the feedbacks, so I’ve already got private users using all of those products. They tell me their feedback, I see what I can learn from that and then I decide what I want to change and then I move forward. So it’s this continual optimizing process.

TIM:  One of the examples that comes to mind with this whole notion of pivot is you know how much energy and focus by me and you put into building my marketing communications as master class that I ran last quarter of last year. It’s still golden content, it hasn’t dated, but I haven’t pivoted on it either. And things that are going through my mind with that are I know there’s a couple of sections in that master class 15 hours that more people like more than others, so maybe I should do something with them. I guess that’s a pivot, yeah?

JAMES:  Exactly right! Exactly!

TIM:  And another thing that I observed and done nothing about is the fact that who I thought might have bought it may still buy but it’s even better, it’s actually a good training product. So for example, what I’m saying that I talked to groups of CEO’s about their marketing on a monthly basis. And I pitched that master class to them and very few buy it, right? And I think you guys don’t know what you’re missing. What I’m missing is the fact that I’m pitching it wrong and here I am revealing my strategy on air.

JAMES:  You might not but you might be pitching it to the wrong person.

TIM:  No, I think I’m pitching it to the right person, I’m pitching it wrong. I tell you where the pitch should be and I just got to get around to doing this. It’s actually very good training for whoever does that CEO’s marketing.

JAMES:  Yes. Well, we saw this with Traffic Grab. One of my biggest audiences was business owners or marketers buying it for their team. You know how we figured that out? Because we were getting a lot of support request saying can I share this with my team member, with my staff. Because we have a little IP blocker that stops people accessing it from a whole bunch of different IP’s to stop theft. And we say sure and we make it available for their team. And so now when they go into the product, learning from this, it’s what we learn, and we say if you want to share this with people from the same company, ask us and we’ll free up the IP blocker or we can create a new email account. We say to people you set up a new email address from the same business and send us the details and we’ll create an account for you. And that’s a real value add. But here’s what I want to point out and this also comes from The Lean Startup. You’re probably measuring the success of your master class in financial terms, but that’s not the real asset that you get from that. What you get is you get a learning outcome. You’ve learned something and now the success this product can be enhanced by you taking that learning and making the adjustments. In particular, you might pull one or two of the most popular modules out and put them into your sales copy and use the highlights from that and do what I did with the A-class people. Go to the customers who purchased it and say what was the one thing that really impressed you the most about this product. And get their words and put that back on the sales page as the testimonial, like in inverted commerce, and see if you can appeal. That’s changing the pitch. But you might need to also consider what other marketing channels are suitable for this particular product. I’m sure there’s many, many things that could happen when you pivot it—

TIM:  You know Traffic Grab, how you pivoted, well you recognized that people were buying it as a training product for their marketing team, did you then go and drop the sales page that you had for Traffic Grab and re-do it, positioning it as a training product?

JAMES:  No. But I go back into the community and I’ll post Traffic Grab’s great for helping your team understand the processes that you do. And that’s giving people the idea that they didn’t know they had. That’s classic Steve Jobs. People don’t even know what they want until you give it to them. And a lot of people would go, “Ah of course! I’m employing my staff, I should buy this and give it to them.” Because Traffic Grab was more or less the training document that we created for our own team but expanded into a product.

TIM:  Yeah, it’s interesting, just re-looking at it. They’re not big ships. But what you’re talking about is Traffic Grab where I’m talking about with master class. The difference is you’ve made a pivot.

JAMES:  Yes! And keep doing it! And keep refining the product. The product itself is fine. I mean, the concept of, say, an automobile is still like a hundred years old but it keeps pivoting. It keeps being developed and changes make it new and exciting for different customers.

TIM:  Interesting stuff. What else you got, mate? What’s been the biggest surprise then in that last month? So you’ve got a month now to reflect on all the changes made. What’s happened that pleasantly surprised you that you didn’t expect?

JAMES: Probably one of the most exciting and interesting things for me is that I was—it’s just how capable your team can be when you empower them properly. And my example for that is we were reviewing our processes and I was asking a question—just one second, there’s a…you might want to edit this part. The dog is making an enormous amount of noise. One second!

TIM:  I’ll just play some thinking music.

JAMES:  Want to count back in?

TIM:  That’s all right, mate! No, no, I was about to lounge into some music, but we don’t need to. I can hear the dog.

JAMES:  Oh, I can. It’s having a greatest time with a bone ever. So selfish! In any case, we’re working and looking at our process and seeing where we can streamline because we do a lot of streamlining. It’s just always questioning our assumptions. How could this be improved? And we came up again with the same sort of thoughts that we’re having after reading The Lean Startup. We really want to reduce our batch sizes and we want to just in time article content system within our business. And the thing is my manager’s actually understood the way that I think and they understood that the question that I was asking, and unbeknownst to me, they went out n a Saturday, they all met because they work at home, of course. They all met, they travelled to meet each other, and they spent 5 or 6 hours sitting down, knotting out the process to fix this snag in our system, to streamline it and make it work, and they sat down until they figured it out and they documented it. They spent Sunday preparing it and then on Monday they announced it and rolled it out to the team with training meetings on GoToWebinar and—

TIM:  Tell me you got emotional when you found out about that.

JAMES:  I was! I was just so proud and excited at the same time because I fly over there every quarter and sit down and we sit down face to face and we really develop the business into the next stage. But for them to do this as if I was there, it was just so cool because we are all working as a team and for a common outcome, it’s how can we better serve the customer and make it better for our staff as well. So it was just such a positive thing and they didn’t ask for pay or anything. Of course I paid them for the day’s work when I found out about it, but the fact that they would organize it and just go to that next stage was one of the most surprising and delightful things for the last few weeks for sure.

TIM:  And in any one particular product that‘s surprised you more than others or have they all done well?

JAMES:  They’ve really all done well! We got rid of our old web contractor at the beginning of the month because the work started to lag and we just couldn’t get the level of design we wanted; it just wasn’t inspirational enough, so we made the tough decision to let that go and we brought in our own team and I got 5 people who’ve been begging to do customer work and because of our old relationship, I’ve held off and they’ve built all of my sites. And we basically switched our own site and within a week we had the most beautiful looking sites to sell our work. I was so amazed because I was used to things taking longer and being difficult and they were just fast and good. And then we started taking orders and instead of two-week turnarounds for mockups, we had them out the same day and I was just stunned. So our two new web development businesses have gone off to a roaring start and it’s been just the best thing ever. I should have ended the old contract a year ago. I was only holding on to it for relationships and I ended up getting my fingers burned there anyway because they tried to not only knock off my website copy, but also email my website database with my own offer but to their company. So I’m very strict now on being in-house supply. I’m not doing external contractor supply for anything anymore.

TIM:  Oh I used to work for a creative director when I was in advertising. He said, “Tim, you can have two of three. You can have quick-fast, you can have quick, fast or good. But you can only have two of three.” It sounds like you offered quick-fast—oh, not quick, fast and good. Cheap, fast, and good. He said you could have two of three.

JAMES:  That’s what surprised me the most. I was expecting that it would take us a bit of a run up. And I think basically because within our company, our culture is so strong now and they’re so dynamic that when I let them loose on the customers, of course they’re going to be match fit compared to a sloppy contractor who was just riding the gravy train. So it was so heartwarming and exciting. Our web development business is more profitable in January than it was in December and we only had half the month with my brand new team. But to put in perspective, they’ve built 10 times as many websites as our old contractor, but only for me within our own business. So they’re strong and good.

TIM:  Well, I’ve used your SEO service recently and wonderful customer service. Wonderful! And that from me who’s been asking a few questions—

JAMES:  Oh God! Poor Matt! (laughs)

TIM:  Matt and I are going to do a podcast in the future (laughs) and get you out of it! The premise of the podcast is Tim’s got a million questions, Matt’s got a million answers.

JAMES:  Matt will answer the questions.

TIM:  Yeah! He’s fantastic, so—it’s lovely to get that in there. That’s just a simple lesson just in the way that he responds and does respond, timely response, and quite educational because some of the stuff that you offer, if you’re not selling into a wholesale or selling it straight to someone who might have the complete know-how, the service is great. So James, it’s getting near the 40 minutes, mate. And I’m sitting here thinking what the hell do I write in the show notes to describe this episode. I’m not going to get too concerned about that. I’ll let people figure that out themselves, but—

JAMES:  I’ve got a suggestion.

TIM:  Yeah? What?

JAMES:  This is the one point that I want to make that we haven’t talked about but it’s involved in everything that we’ve just mentioned, and that’s small batch sizes. That’s the concept and it applies to your holiday versus mine. It applies to our business innovations. Try and reduce the batch size down to small. So you have big holiday and then a big work batch. And I have a small mini-breaks during the day and mini-work breaks, so I’ve got a faster rate. The same as the support. The reason our team is supporting so much better now is we’ve educated them in small batch sizes. I’d rather them update a ticket to say we got your ticket and we’re looking into it now, than waiting until they get the answer 2 hours later and coming back with the answer. So it’s about rapid response time in small batches. And here’s the example. You could have the ingredients to bake a big cake and you could put all the ingredients in the bowl and you could cook that one big cake and stick it in the oven. It could come out burnt, it could be perfect, it’s a bit of a risk. Or you could put that mix into like 12 little cupcakes. Stick the first few in, see how they turn out, get the oven just right, learn the process, and then put the rest in. And now you’ve got 90 percent of them are perfect. A lot less risk. You can start eating the first ones before the other ones are even cooked. So small batch sizes. That’s the biggest lesson that we’ve had in our business. How come we reduce things down to very small steps. And the ultimate case study for me has been my blog posts where I’m doing blog posts every single day because I don’t use pictures, I don’t have big, lengthy posts. I’m just doing a little tiny post that’s so small that they’re easy, they take me 5 minutes, and the customer’s loving it! They say I love these small posts, they’re easy to read, they’re easy to consume, and over a year I’ll have 365 blog posts versus saving up and doing like 10 big ones or 5 mega big ones.

TIM:  You’re not doing Project 3658.

JAMES:  No. I probably don’t like Project 500. I’ll do more than 365.

TIM:  You are the Seth Godin of the internet?

JAMES:  Well I think Seth Godin is the Seth Godin of the internet. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got his post for the day and I’ve resonated with the idea behind it. But mine is definitely not the same as his. It’s my own thoughts and it could be crap, I don’t know! I don’t care either. I’m just doing it because I think it’s a good habit and discipline to build up.

TIM:  It’s been a pleasure to get back out in the ocean with you. We’ll make it a regular date. In fact, we will hit stop very shortly, listeners, and James and I, the first thing we’ll do is get our diaries out. So welcome back, mate! Thank you for sharing. Anyone who is interested in following up anything we’ve spoken about, including what James has to offer, what I have to offer, you want to get transcripts of the show, go to FreedomOcean.com and it is all there waiting for you. By the way, mate. Just one last point.  I noticed our list doubled over the last sort of 6 weeks. I went into Aweber couple of days ago and it’s gone from about 600 to about 1,100., which is a good thing.

JAMES:  That’s nice, isn’t it?

TIM:  It is nice!

JAMES:  It’s one of those little things that creeps up on you.

TIM:  Yeah. It’s nice to reveal those numbers, too, because sometimes people can—I don’t know. You never know what people are thinking and it’s always good to kind of share the raw data to get people a sense of what we’re building.

JAMES:  Well if we’re going to analytics, I’ll be able to tell you where that came from.

TIM:  Well go on and do that. Do you want me to sing while—

JAMES:  (laughs) I think you want me to do it now, do you? I was just saying we do track such things, which is nice. And that’s my immediate thought is I wonder where they came from and I’ll see if it’s something we could repeat.

TIM:  Yeah, well okay. That’s a good idea. Repeat it! Repeat it by next episode, please.

JAMES:  You got it!

TIM:  And for those who are wondering, if you are a regular listener of the show, I’m slowly improving my rankings as marketing speaker in Google in Australia, so that’s a good thing as well. Not quite where I want to be. Marketing keynote speaker I’m number 3 on page 1, but marketing speaker, I’m still a couple of pages back but coming forward, so that’s a good thing. And once I get into page 1, we’ll reveal exactly what I did.

JAMES:  Ah, it’s 5 o’clock! (laughs)

TIM:  Well mate, it’s been a pleasure!

JAMES:  Alrighty!

TIM:  See you next time!

JAMES:  Thanks, Timbo!

TIM:  See you, James!


  1. Hey Guys,

    Lovin’ the Ocean. Great work. I was just having a bit of trouble downloading this episode. The download file is 0.0k. I can stream but like to listen to it in the ipod in the car. Could you please have a look and let me know if its something I’m doing wrong or not. Cheers Beau

  2. This is such a great episode that shows why James is the Top Gun in online marketing not just in Oz but the world. When it comes to the online game, James is the intellectual business strategist with resolute purpose to provide value and quality with integrity that will see any business he leads to success. Those previous employers of yours James, must regret the day that you started to believe in your own ideas and walked.

    Have they ever come back to you with an offer?

    What would you say if they did?

    BTW this is a great ” managers” episode, something I needed to hear was the bit about chunking your work. Less complications I guess.
    I killed my own IM site because of over complication so I’ll start it again with a little by little approach. My other businesses sort of auto happen these days.

    Have you ever murdered a site and had to start again?

    P.S. was worth the wait for this episode. Thank you.


  3. Re – I also deleted at least 50 sites to build a new community from just one.

    Wow so how did that happen?

    How did you do it?

    Topic for another FO episode I guess.
    Gee I am glad that you guys are back. I thought for a moment that something was wrong.
    I missed the Timbo and Jimbo show.

  4. I have got a lot out of this and I know I am on the right track. I knew I was anyway but you guys have confirmed it 😉 If I may say something to Tim, that struck a thoughtful cord with me, I would not aim for the CEO of a company because they already have what they want and are defending their position. I believe you would get more feedback by aiming for the people in number two or three position because these people desire the CEO position and so will spend a lot more energy on attacking instead of defending the position. Just a thought after a couple of vino’s 😉
    Kindly, Tim 😉

  5. Hi James and Tim,
    Great podcast and entertaining style…I learn and enjoy listening.
    James, you mentioned in a recent podcast (not sure it was this specific episode or not) that you had moved from Basecamp as your project management system. Did I hear that right? If so, would it be out of order to ask what is your new solution for PM and managing your team?
    Many thanks…Simon

  6. Alex Masseni says

    Hi James,

    Smaller blogs. Great idea. Now i can do one per day.

    Great podcast with a lot of great ideas and thoughts.


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