The Jay Kim Show #34: Josh Steimle (Transcript)
One of the things I love about doing this podcast is I get to discover talented entrepreneurs and business leaders around the world. I always get excited when I’m able to find show guest locally. Today, our guest just happens to be one of them. He’s been sitting right under my nose this entire time, just across the border in Shenzhen. His name is Josh Steimle and he runs a full-service digital marketing agency called. Josh is a serial entrepreneur. He’s written over 200 articles for big-name publications like Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, and Time Magazine.
Josh is a SEO entrepreneur, he’s written over 200 articles for big name publications like Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur and Time Magazine. Josh was based in Hong Kong for several years, just recently moved up to China, and he has some great advice on how to become an influencer. Becoming an influencer is all the range these days. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be featured in Forbes magazine or Entrepreneur magazine? But how do you get there?
In our current environment of infinite noise and social media, how does one’s voice get heard? Here’s a hint for you. He talks about how it takes a minimum of three years. If you’re looking for shortcuts; they don’t really exist. Let’s jump right into the show.Jay: osh, thank you so much for coming on the show. We really appreciate having you. For our audience, can you just gives us a quick intro of who you are and what do you do.
Jay: Josh, thank you so much for coming on the show. We really appreciate having you. For our audience, can you just gives us a quick intro of who you are and what do you do.
Josh: Sure. Thank you, Jay. Happy to be here. This is exciting. I’m pumped for this. Quick story on me is I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a speaker, I’m a writer, I have a digital marketing agency called MWI. I write for a bunch of publications like Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, Ink, or at least I have written for a bunch of these publications. I’ve written over 200 articles over the past four years. I also have a book out, called Chief Marketing Officers at Work that just came out late last year. I interviewed 29 CMOs from big companies like GE, Spotify, PayPal, Target, Home Depot, and as well as some startups. The main thing I’m focusing my time on these days is my agency and also I love to help people become influencers.
Jay: Awesome, great intro. Thanks for that, Josh. So just so the audience knows, Josh is actually based over here in Asia as well, which is a pleasant little surprise for me because a lot of the guests I have had on so far have been based in overseas, so it’s kind of nice to connect with someone more locally.
So Josh, I want to go into a little bit about your background, your history. You have quite a … I mean it looks like you’ve been quite a serial entrepreneur from the get. There’s a lot of sort of ups and downs and really exciting stories along your entrepreneurial journey. Maybe you could just, without going into … I’m sure this is, this could be a very long discussion, but maybe specifically how you first got into building companies and being an entrepreneur and some of the sort of ups and downs along the way. I know there were a couple of opportunities where there was some substantial money that you left on the table due to various reasons. I’d love to hear those stories and exactly what led to that.
Josh: Sure. Well, it really starts when I was a kid, when I was young my dad would pay me to do chores around the house and so he kind of taught me entrepreneurship at a fundamental level that if I did work and I provided value, people would give me money. When you’re a kid and you want to buy stuff, then that’s an attractive thought. I kind of latched on to that so I was always doing odd jobs here and there around the house and then around the neighborhood. I would mow lawns, collect cans and newspapers for recycling money. As I grew up I started little businesses here and there. I was a skater, skateboarder growing up, I still am.
Josh: I would … I contacted all these skateboarding companies and I started selling skate stuff out of my car when I was in high school and created flyers and would drive around the spots and sell the stuff. That gave me some training on marketing and just how to sell and how to provide value for people and I sold candy bars at school. I just did all this odd stuff, but to me entrepreneurship was something that … you just kind of do that. People just start stuff. I didn’t realize like, this is how big businesses get started. I never thought about this, and I was just planning on being an artist when I went to school, that’s all I knew how to do. I thought, well, I know how to draw, so I guess I’m going to be an artist because that’s all I know how to do and I didn’t like math.
I went to university and my first year I did art school and absolutely loved it, but then I decided that … I learned about business school and I decided man, this is what I really want to do. This entrepreneurship stuff, I didn’t know you could study this. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a business school at a university, I was just so ignorant. And so when I found that out I was like, aw man, I love this stuff. This is what I’ve been doing, this entrepreneurship stuff, and this is what I really want to focus on. So I switched from art over to business, then I had to go back and retake all those math classes I had failed because I didn’t like it. Then I found out I loved math once I was interested in it and I had a reason to be interested in it.
So then … while I was in university I got a job at a .com company back in 1999, and I was working for this company and I was watching the owners run around and meet with venture capitalists and hire people and build this business and they were having all the fun and I thought, man. It’s not about the money, I was getting paid $13 an hour US to be a web designer.
Jay: Which is a lot, back … I mean that was before …
Josh: I was like, super happy. I was like, oh man, thirteen bucks an hour. I mean the minimum wage was like five dollars an hour.
Jay: Five bucks, yep.
Josh: So I was like, you know, I’m getting paid $13 an hour but it wasn’t the money it was just … I looked at what they were doing and I thought, that looks so fun, and then the next thought was, why can’t I do that? These guys aren’t geniuses. They’re smart guys, but it’s not like they’re geniuses. I can do this. So I lasted about five months in that environment and then I was like, I can’t take this anymore I gotta start something this is driving me crazy.
So I quit that job right when they gave me … they came to me and they said, hey we’re issuing the first set of stock options in this company and we’re going to give you three thousand shares. We want you to quit school and come on full time. I looked at this and thought, this is really tempting. Stock options were all the rage, I mean this was 1999. I can’t communicate how big a deal it was …
Jay: Oh yeah.
Josh: To get stock options back then. It was like, everyone was going crazy trying to get stock in the right companies and invest in the right companies. And so here I am, working for this .com that’s growing like crazy, they come to me and say [crosstalk 00:08:00]
Jay: What was the business? If you don’t mind sharing, what kind of …
Josh: So at the time it was called My Computer. Com, it changed it’s name to Omniture and then Omniture … the story here is they offered me the stock options, I turned it down, and then later they got bought out for 1.8 billion by Adobe. And so if I had stayed there and I had kept those stock options, I mean I wouldn’t have been a millionaire, necessarily, although if I had stayed I could’ve worked up in the company I could’ve more stock options, so who knows. But if I had just taken those options that they gave me at that time, it probably would’ve paid for like, two houses or something.
Josh: You know, I … so there’s some money I left on the table. But I just couldn’t work for somebody else. I couldn’t be inside that environment, it was just killing me to look at what these guys were doing and think, I could be doing that, and then sit there and work my job every day. Just not made that way. So I quit that job, I started doing web design freelance as my own little business, and then it just grew from there. Well, I shouldn’t say it just grew, there were a lot of struggles there. But it would go up, it would go down, it went up it went down, but it turned into a real company with employees and a team and an office and all this stuff. Went through a lot of struggles, and long story short that’s the only job I’ve ever been able to keep more than five months. Everything else I either quit cause I got bored or I got fired from, again, because I got bored and then I didn’t do such a good job. This is the one job it’s always been exciting, it’s always kept me engaged and whether I was making money or not I thought, wow this is so much fun I’m so excited to get up and go to work every day.
Jay: And you’re talking about your own business now, right?
Josh: Yeah MWI. It’s the same business … I started this in 1999 when I started freelancing, and this is the same business I’m running to this day because every day it’s still exciting.
Jay: Right. Amazing. So how did you … when that company exited for 1 point whatever billion, that was several years later, but how did you feel on the day that you found that out. There must’ve been at least a tinge of regret, even though, you know, you knew that wasn’t the path for you. You knew you had to do something on your own. There’s always, you know, the hindsight 20/20 thing, right? How did you feel that day?
Josh: Yeah, I just had to laugh. It was just funny. It was just like, aw man. Well now I’ve got a story at least, about how I left all this money on the table. But it was … I had kept in touch with a bunch of my friends there and I was friends with the founders, and I would talk to my friends who were still working there in its … it was just like, some of them stayed for ten years there and I would look at that and I was just like, man I can just not imagine if I had dedicated ten years of my life to working for this other company. I just … that would’ve just driven me crazy. I can dedicate ten years to my life to my own company, even if I’m not getting paid, even if it’s going terrible, and still enjoy it. But I can’t work for another company, even if it is going great.
When I work for somebody else that way, it turns into just a job and I just can’t dedicate my life to just a job. Just to making money, just to supporting my family. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that. People do that, that’s what my dad did. He got a job that was interesting, but for him the purpose was hey, I need to support my family, I need to make money, I want to find something that’s interesting, that I can do that, and that’s what he did. For me it just drives me crazy because there’s something inside that makes me want … look at everything and say, oh there’s this opportunity I can turn this into this, I can grow this, I can create something here. In a normal job, you’re not allowed to do that very much. So that would just drive me crazy I wouldn’t be able to live in that kind of environment.
Jay: Yeah, and to credit the generation before us I mean, that was a different era, back then, you know? I think we’re much more blessed and fortunate in our current era where the cost of, you know, starting a business are as low as they’ve ever been, and there’s actually more freedom because of the internet to do some of these things. But back then it was a survival-type thing. My father was the same way. First generation immigrant to US, he just wanted to put food on the table, so there was no such thing as entrepreneurship. There was not … that word didn’t exist in his vocabulary, right?
But there’s an important lesson to learn here, Josh, and that’s basically, you know, when you work for someone else … I think there’s two types of people there’s definitely the type of people that should not be entrepreneurs, they should … they thrive in organization, a larger, you know, machine. But then there are the minority of people like yourself who, you know, no matter how much money it is, if it’s not your own thing then you just aren’t happy working there. So I think that it’s pretty crucial to recognize that as early as possible so you can start making the next steps.
So let’s talk about … well thank you for sharing that story, that’s a great story. Let’s talk about how your company, MWI, transitioned over the years. For you to now end up living in Asia, Hong Kong a few years and now you’re actually in China.
Josh: So I came to Hong Kong in June of 2013 and the motivation had nothing to do with business. Most people come to Asia because they have some sort of business reason to, but for me I could work anywhere I wanted as long as I had an internet connection, and then my wife and I … we have two children, our first child was adopted in the US our second child was biological and our third … we felt drawn to adopt from China, and we felt like we wanted to an adopt an older child. And so as we were looking into this process and thinking about it, we thought, why don’t we just move to China? Because if we’re going to adopt an older child then, she’ll come with the language barrier, she’ll be used to her food, the culture, everything, and we don’t know anything about this because we’ve never lived over there.
So we thought if we could move to China, then we can understand our daughter better, we can ease that transition a bit. But we were scared to move to China, to just up and go, come to China. So we moved to Hong Kong first, as a first step. Once I got to Hong Kong, we had to open an office of the business to keep the visa and stay in the country legally, we had to do something they don’t just allow you to move around and be there. So we opened an office of MWI in Hong Kong, and then it took off and it’s going well and we’re up to about ten people in that office. So once it got to that point and it was running itself, we started saying, well, we should probably move somewhere else and open another office in Asia while we’re here. And we were looking at Singapore, we were looking at Taiwan, and other places to go, and then a Wired magazine documentary came out on Shenzen about six, seven months ago. We watched this and it was all about Washum Bay and the startup scene in Shenzen and everything that’s going on.
As soon as that documentary ended my wife looked at me and she was like, why would move to Singapore? We should just move across the border to Shenzen. Look at what’s going on over there. I was like, yeah, let’s go, let’s move to China. So we … within one month we went from thinking about moving to Singapore and not really even having China on the map anymore, to, all right. We moved. And we went to China and we got an apartment and we were living in Shenzen within one month. It happened really fast.
Josh: It’s turned out to be an awesome decision, I mean, this is the center of everything that’s going on. This is the Silicon Valley of China.
Josh: It’s really kind of the center of everything that’s going on in the world right now. You’ve got the manufacturing, you’ve got hardware startups, you’ve got tech going on here. And when I got back to Silicon Valley … Silicon Valley awesome. It’s exciting, but I feel like there’s more going on here in Shenzen in that this is more grass-roots and this is … Silicon Valley was the last ten, twenty years. I feel like what’s going on in Shenzen is the next ten, twenty years.
Jay: Oh absolutely. And just for the record, that Wired magazine documentary was really well done. I mean I think it was the best … it definitely was … everything that I’ve seen, any sort of documentary that I’ve seen thus far in China has not really … I don’t know, it hasn’t been as good as that one. That one really sort of … it was definitely geared towards tech and whatnot, but it really showed the vibrance of the city.
That’s pretty fascinating, so, Josh let’s talk about MWI, your company, specifically. This is a company that you’ve built over the last almost twenty years now. From what started as I guess a web design company, now you are basically a full-scale digital marketing agency. Tell us a little bit about MWI. What exactly does your firm do? Who are your typical types of clients? What do you exactly help your clients achieve?
Josh: Sure, so MWI is … yeah it’s a full service digital marketing agency, like you said. So we do websites, SCO, paid search, social media management, content marketing. We do digital PR, so we get clients into publications like Forbes Mashable Tech Crunch, Entrepreneur Inc. the basic mission behind MWI is we want to help great companies grow. So we’re selective about the companies we work with, and when a company comes along we look at the product they’re offering, we say is this making a difference in the world? Is it really contributing something, or is it just fluff? And if we feel like it’s a great company that has great potential and is doing something good, then we take them on as a client and we provide all these services to help them grow. That’s how we feel fulfilled and feel like we’re making a difference in the world, is by working with these great companies.
So we have a team of about 25 people and that’s split between the US, Hong Kong, and now we’re building things up here in China. Clients come to us and say, we need to sell more stuff, essentially, and we help them sell stuff. We help them grow by increasing revenue. Either they’re selling products or services, and we sit down with them and create strategies and customized plans to say, okay, here’s the best mix of services for your business to grow as quickly as possible with the least expense possible. That’s what we do.
Jay: What are some of the typical … let’s talk about, specifically in Asia, and maybe even Hong Kong. Let’s go really home turf here. Let’s say … what are some of the typical types of businesses … are they brick and mortar type businesses that come to you, or are they larger, sort of Fortune 500 type companies that are just behind in the digital marketing game that come to you, that need help?
Josh: Yeah, sure, I’ll give you three examples to kind of show the spectrum of clients we work with, and some examples of what we do. So at the high end, two of our clients are Manulife and Standard Life. These are huge insurance companies. They’re multi-national, they’re global, they’re billion-dollar businesses, they’re huge. So with Standard Life we worked on a content marketing campaign with them where we wrote about 45 blog posts for their executives. So we write the blog posts and then they push these blog posts out. We’re basically ghost-writing for their executives. So that was a content marketing campaign we ran for them. For Manulife we developed a bunch of infographics. So these big, long, vertical graphics that get a certain point across. We developed some of those for Manulife and then they pumped those out through their social media channels, websites, their sales associates use these on iPads for explaining things to customers, so that was a program that we did for them.
On the other side of things, on the startup side, we had a young woman came to us in Hong Kong and she said hey, I’ve got a lot of contacts in the jewelry business and I sell stuff to my friends, and I want to … I’ve got the funding and the backing to go out and create an online e-commerce jewelry store. This was already out there, there are all sorts of huge competitors in this space, but she had a certain niche and we have experience building e-commerce websites and marketing those websites, so we built this awesome e-commerce jewelry website for her. And just launched that recently, she’s starting to grow and starting to build her business selling her jewelry online. And so she’s a small startup, it’s basically her and her husband and then she’s hoping to grow this into a larger business.
Then in-between we have companies like, Minibox sells storage. So this is a storage company based in Hong Kong, they have those few facilities there, and this is one of those places where you take your stuff that you can’t fit in your flat and you put it in boxes and you bring it over to Minibox and they put it in a room and you leave it there for two years until you need it or you’re moving or whatever. So Minibox came to us and said, hey our problem is we’ve got … we’re at 70 or 80% capacity, and we want to be at 95% capacity at all our facilities. So they came to us and we work on their local map listings on Google, we work on SCO, we manage their paid search, we do some social media management for them. And over the past few years we’ve taken them from whatever the availability was, occupancy rate was at the time I don’t remember exactly, but now we’ve taken them from … where two months ago they came and they said hey, we’re actually totally full. Then they scaled back on their services, which is like, hey wait a second we just did a great job and now you’re scaling back? But now they’re going to build more facilities because they’re full so they’re going to expand and they’re going to expand their services with us. So it’ll work out in the long run.
Those are three examples of kind of the big end, the enterprise, the start up, and then kind of the medium-sized business in the middle and some of the things we’ve done for them.
Jay: That’s pretty exciting. I think there’s a little bit of education, I think, for especially on … well, actually for both sides. I think … in the US I think that a lot of the larger companies are on the bandwagon now, which is good to see. But I think over in Asia there’s still a lot of growth there. And even large companies, like the likes of Manulife and such, a lot of them are not that active in digital, yet. Or maybe very arms length, and even if they are it’s some guy that’s maybe sitting, an intern or someone that has some experience on Facebook that’s kind of just putting stuff out but doesn’t really have much direction. So I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for you here in Asia.
What about specifically in China, now that you’re based in Shenzen, are there companies that you consult there as well?
Josh: Yeah. I want to touch on this though, going back to, you know, this challenge with big companies. The challenge that they face … a little backstory here. So in January I had the chance to go to Necker Island in the Caribbean, that’s Richard Branson’s island.
Jay: Oh nice.
Josh: Hung out with a bunch of marketers for a week. It was this incredible experience, and the head of the largest PR firm in the world was there. They do a lot of PR in advertising, so their clients give them money and they have to go spend this money on advertising and marketing and figure out where do we put this money. And he made this comment that a lot of people kind of rolled their eyes at, like, oh yeah you’ve got problems. His comment was, it’s really hard to spend 14 billion dollars a year. That’s how much money his clients give him to spend on marketing. And he’s complaining about this, like, do you know how hard it is to spend fourteen billion dollars a year? And we’re like, yeah. That’s a terrible problem you’ve got there.
But it really is a problem because this guy, somebody gives him a hundred million dollars and says, spend this in one year. He’s gotta spend that money or else they’re not going to come back and give it to him next year. And when he’s spending that much money for a client, he’s got to find stuff that he can spend … I mean this is why people buy super bowl ads for four million dollars, or whatever they cost. It’s because they can reach a lot of people really quickly, and they can get rid of some of that money that way.
But when you’re a big company and you’re looking at what’s happening with Facebook and with SCO and with all these different niches that people are targeting, you say wait a second, I don’t have the time to go spend money on these things because it’s too small. I can’t target all these niches. If I tried to spend on hundred million dollars across all these niches, it takes too much time. I don’t have time to focus on ten thousand different niches and so all these startups come in and then they say, well I’m going to focus on just one niche. And for a big company like this, it’s not worth it for me to spend five thousand dollars a month focusing on this niche. Twenty thousand dollars a month, fifty thousand dollars a month. It’s just too granular, it’s too detailed for these big companies.
So this guy was talking about how this is a big challenge for the big ad agencies because as advertising and marketing opportunities fragment into these smaller niches and these smaller channels, they’re struggling because they grew up in a world where they could go spend millions of dollars on radio and TV and print ads in magazines that went far and wide. But we’re seeing that these large publications or these large channels like TV channels, radio, magazines, they’re being broken up and what’s replacing them are blogs and social media channels like some guy’s social media page. That’s what replacing these huge publications and they’re all smaller. So these big advertisers are scrambling trying to figure out how do we get our money into these places efficiently, in a way that we can actually manage it. And it is a real challenge, but that’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurs. This is how entrepreneurs compete against the big guys.
It’s also a great opportunity for some entrepreneur to say, hey I can build technology or processes or systems to target all these niches, and then I can go sell that to these large corporations. There are some amazing opportunities to do arbitrage in the middle of that. So anyway, just an opportunity for some scrappy entrepreneur out there.
Jay: No, that’s really interesting. I think a parallel I can draw, being … I’m from a financial background, I’m an investor now. I worked as a broker for many years as well. But one of the parallels that I can draw is kind of like when you have this large fund manager, this long lonely fund manager who has x amount of cash that he has to invest in the market, and that’s part of the mandate of the fund. And they’re just trying to find stocks that have a good ROI that they can show their investors, but they have deadlines. So at the end of every quarter, you always see huge movements in a lot of these names that the long lonelies like to buy and sell, and it’s just that. It’s very similar, these large … I’m sure it’s like the same sort of talents. Where can I put my money, but have a very decent ROI that I can go back to my clients and show them the results, right?
Josh: Yeah, and I mean that’s the thing with these startups. A lot of startups, they’re like, man I just need a million dollars. I just need two million dollars and I could do so much with it, why can’t I get this big money from these big institutional investors or something? Well the problem is you’re only asking for one or two million dollars, and you can’t justify asking for 20 million when you’re starting up, and these guys are looking for an investment where they can plunk down 200 million or something. You’re just too small of an investment. They need bigger investments, yeah.
Jay: Also … so let’s talk about your website. You have a personal website, JeffStiemle.com. Which has a very evocative sort of tagline when you go on it, the landing page says, I turn people into influencers. And I think, this is great because right now in the world that we live in and of infinite noise and the overload of content that’s out there, people are trying to get their voices heard. So tell us a little bit about how does one become an influencer? What is your experience been with that? I know you are a very well-published writer, author, been published in multiple top-name publications. Forbes, Mashable Tech Crunch, Entrepreneur magazine, the likes of it, hundreds of articles. That has obviously been very good for your personal influence and career.
So tell us a little bit about how someone would become an influencer. What are the right steps for someone listening that they could take.
Josh: There are different stories for everybody who becomes an influencer, but my story is I always loved writing. I had a blog since, gee, 2002, 2003 I think I started blogging. And I wrote because I love writing. Whether anybody read it or not, I didn’t even care. If people read it, it was just, oh yeah that’s great. I love writing and people love reading it and they’re getting value from it. That was just extra bonus for me. But really I just loved writing for myself.
So I wrote for ten years, I probably wrote over a thousand blog posts, and it didn’t get a lot of attention. I’d get a couple hundred readers a month, but you know. Nothing huge like some people will get where they’re getting tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. It wasn’t like that. So I just had my small blog, and I’m going along writing and having a good old time and then I had a friend who’s this public relations guru, and she wrote for Forbes magazine. I went to her, this was about four years ago, and I was asking her how to grow my business and how to use PR and I wanted to get those badges on my website where it says “as seen in” all these big publications because I thought that would add credibility for my company and help me sell more of what I do.
So I went to her and I was asking her about this PR thing and then I said, oh hey Cheryl, how did you get on Forbes? That seems pretty cool that you write for them, like how does that work? Do you get paid for that or what? And she said no they have this contributor thing where they’ll sign you up as a contributor, you’re not a real journalist, you’re not a real Forbes writer, but you get to contribute articles and they don’t pay you but you get to have your content on Forbes and there’s a lot of value in that. And I thought, oh yeah that sounds pretty cool. And she said hey, my editor’s coming to town in two weeks, I can make an introduction. And I thought, the first thought I have was, well gee I’m really busy running my business I don’t know if I really have time. That sounds like an amazing opportunity to write for Forbes, but I mean I’m busy. I gotta run my business. I almost turned it down, but thankfully I kept my mouth shut and I said oh yeah that’d be great.
So two weeks later she introduced me to her editor and she had already sent him my blog and he said hey, I looked at your blog, love what you’re writing, I want you to write the exact same thing except it’s going to be on Forbes.
Josh: And I said, great! That sounds awesome, thank you for the opportunity. I started writing for Forbes and at first I just wrote about entrepreneurship and startups, I really didn’t want to do anything that could be misconstrued as self-promotional. So I didn’t talk about digital marketing, but after a few months I noticed well, everybody else is talking about digital marketing and they run digital marketing agencies, so why can’t I talk about digital marketing?
Josh: So I started writing posts on Forbes about digital marketing, about SEO and about other marketing. And as soon as I did that, we started getting tons of people calling us, because people would find one of our articles, which answered a question they had about digital marketing, and often these people were looking to hire digital marketing agencies. So they would look at my profile then and figure out who I was and see, oh, he runs an agency? Well, he’s on Forbes, so he must know what he’s talking about, and the article sounds reasonable. Why don’t we just go hire this guy to do this for us?
Josh: So then they would call my agency and the agent … that’s when our agency just took off. It just exploded, because we were getting tons of leads in, whereas before we were going out and contacting companies and saying, hey you should hire us. We have all this experience, we’re really good, we do this, and then people are like, well yeah you say that but how do I know I can really trust you? Now, people were finding us through Forbes and so that trust barrier was just gone, because we were on Forbes. So they would come to us and say hey, you’re on Forbes, I know I can trust you, I’m ready to go.
Jay: That’s awesome.
Josh: And so all these questions that usually come up in the sales cycle just disappear because we were on Forbes and we just started closing business just left and right and things started growing like crazy. So that opened so many doors for me to be writing on Forbes. It opened doors for me to write for all these other publications, I got a book deal out of it, I started getting paid to speak at events and it just grew and my personal brand grew as a result of this, and my agency grew. I’m looking back and I’m like, man thank goodness I did not turn this away. I’m too busy, like, come on. That would’ve been really leaving money on the table.
Jay: That’s such a great story. That’s such a great story, Josh. And it also proves that there, you know, there are these people that so oh, you got lucky. Or overnight billionaire, or whatever, you know. You’ve been writing for a decade, like you said, a thousand blog posts, and if you hadn’t had that backing … you put in the work, if you hadn’t done that, then the guy would’ve been like, okay well it’s a nice introduction but I don’t see anything on his blog really. Who is this guy? No, I’m going to pass.
That was very serendipitous, but it was also because you had done the hard work ahead of time.
Josh: Right, I mean, it’s a ten year overnight success story, right?
Jay: Yeah, exactly.
Josh: An interesting thing just happened in the last six months, which is for the past four years, three four years, I’ve been writing all this content, I’ve been pushing out a lot of content, and I built my personal brand by creating my own content. But within the last six months, really since my book came out, something flipped which is now people are coming to me and they’re asking for my opinion for getting into articles without having to create the content anymore. Other people are creating content about me, rather than me creating content based on my own thoughts. So now it’s just feeding itself where my personal brand has created this cycle of it’s own that feeds itself and so now it’s just this really interesting phase where I don’t have to work that hard because I’ve put in this investment over the past three years.
A few months ago I was listening to a podcast by Neil Patell, he’s a big marketing influencer, and he said … somebody asked him the question, how long does it take to become an influencer? And he said three years. And I looked at my own experience like, that’s exactly my scenario. It took me three years to go from the point of where I started writing content to where I feel like I’ve really arrived and become … built up a personal brand that is self sustaining. That I don’t have to push push push and create it myself, but now it’s feeding itself and it’s really taking off.
So I look at what I’ve done over the last three years, I’ve done a lot of work over the last three years, I’m still going to keep doing a lot of work and I’m still creating content, but now it’s gotten to the point where it feeds itself and it grows on it’s own. It’s kind of like launching a business and finally you see that, oh wow, this is actually running itself. It’s actually feeding itself. It’s self-sustaining. It’s an exciting point for an entrepreneur. That’s the point I’ve reached as a influencer, a thought-leader. It’s weird to call yourself that, but anyway, it’s this great point of self-sustaining success where I’m like, now it’s exciting to think about what I can do with that and how I can use that and grow that into something that helps even more people.
Jay: That’s amazing. That’s such a cool story and I think that, you know, it’s really cool that you’re on the other end of the hard work and you’re starting to see some of that leverage pay off and the flywheel spinning, which is really cool. And to be fair, in the grand scheme of things, three years is actually not that long of a time. I mean if you really think about it I think people are very sort of … they fantasize about the overnight thing or going viral or post going viral, and them making it overnight. But in reality, you know, three years of hard work for millions of dollars and a decade or decades of business coming forward is very small in the grand scheme of things. So I think that’s great.
Josh thank you so much for your time today, we have to wrap up. Just a final, a couple final questions for you. What’s one piece of advice that you would give maybe some of the young inspiring entrepreneurs who are listening to this podcast today?
Josh: Going to this point of, you know, three years is not a long time? That’s one thing I see with a lot of young entrepreneurs is they want the overnight success, right? And on the one hand, you are short on time. Time goes by really fast. On the other hand, you’ve got time, and what I see is that a lot of people think, I want things to happen in three months. I want things to happen in six months. When in reality, it’s going to take two or three years. And then what happens is because they’re going after the short term and they’re going for the quick gain, they never achieve the success, and then three years down the road they’re looking back and they’re thinking, man. If I hadn’t been going after all these one hits and thinking short term, where could I be today?
So on the one hand, you gotta look at the long term and think I’ve got time. I’ve got time to do this the right way. I don’t have to rush, I can take my time do it right. On the other hand, you don’t want to get lazy and think, oh I’ve got ten years, I’ve got twenty years, that’s going to go by really fast. And if you get lazy then you get caught behind as well.
Jay: Sound advice, Josh. Last question is, where can people find you, follow you, and connect with you if they want to reach out and learn more about you?
Josh: So my agency is MWI.com, my personal website is joshsteimle.com which is J-O-S-H S-T-E-I-M-L-E. Nobody can spell that right, so I’ve gotta spell it out. I’m also on twitter and everywhere else, but go to my website and all of my links are there.
Jay: Yes, and also if you Google search Josh S-T-E-I, then you’re like the top ten hits. For Forbes [crosstalk 00:39:15]
Josh: Yeah it’s not a common name, so it’s … I’m pretty easy to find once you get the first few letters right.
Jay: Awesome. Thanks so much for your time, Josh. I really appreciate it, and we had a great time talking to you today.
Josh: Thank you so much, Jay.
Jay: All right, take care.
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