Strategies for Building a World­-Class Network

Tim Ferriss. Seth Godin. Gary Vaynerchuk.

Jayson Gaignard, like most people, didn’t know these names back in 2012.

But over the last few years he’s managed to connect with them personally, had the opportunity to get to know them, build up a personal relationships and even speak at their first-class conferences.

There’s an art to building an amazing network of contacts and Gaignard has figured out how to do just that.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How to meaningfully connect with someone busy and well­-known like Seth Godin
  • The top things that people do to sabotage their networking efforts
  • How to network in a genuine way without being sleazy or shortsighted

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com and Jayson Gaignard of CommunityMade.com)

Andrew: Welcome to the eCommerceFuel Podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven figure entrepreneurs build amazing online companies and incredible lives. I’m your host and fellow eCommerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian.

Hey guys, it’s Andrew here, and welcome to the eCommerceFuel Podcast and thank you so much for joining me on the show today. And on the program is Jayson Gaignard who is the man behind Mastermind Talks as well as the Community Made Podcast. And Jayson’s a guy I got to know in the last year or so, and really interesting particularly because he’s proven himself very adept at building a world-class network very quickly.

His Mastermind Talks event, which I eluded to is about 150 people. It’s a very high price point, about $10,000-ish, application only, and he puts together, you know, really high-end events with people doing a lot of really interesting things, and over the years has built relationships and connected with, you know, some of the most kind of well-known people in the tech and media industries: Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, and he just has built out a world-class network, and that’s what I wanted to talk to him about today, because ultimately at the end of the day like, yes, we have…you know, you can do a lot of stuff with page traffic and build up a following that way, but I would say probably even more powerful than that, especially if you’re playing the long game, is the relationships you have especially in your niche for marketing an e-commerce store. At least for me, some of these relationships with, when I think about marketing my stores in the past, when I even think about marketing and building up the community here at e-commerce fuel, it’s so relational. It’s kind of cliché a little bit that so much in life is about who you know, but it’s true.

So I wanted to talk to Jayson about how he’s able to genuinely foster relationships and build that network, and particularly how he was able to do it so quickly. So I mean, we’re going to talk about things like how he meaningfully connected with someone as busy as Seth Godin, and had him, you know, come onto his podcast, the things that people do to sabotage their networking efforts, you know? How to network genuinely without being sleazier or spraying your business cards, you know, to everyone in a room. Because that never works so well, right? We talk about a lot of those things and also talk about a little bit…not network related, but touch a little bit on the state of community in society today, which is something I like to geek out about as a…or lament. Both actually. As someone who really is in the community building space. So a little bit ancillarily, if that’s a word, connected to e-commerce, but I think it’s a crucial topic in general for all of us in business. So I’ll go ahead and get into my discussion with Jayson, I hope you enjoy it.

Before we jump in, I wanted to say a big thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible. First to Liquid Web, who is offering a completely hosted solution for managing WooCommerce, and the level to which these guys have geeked out in the best possible way to make WooCommerce run at its peak is impressive. One little anecdote, I was sitting down with the Liquid Web team over lunch, learning more about them before they became a sponsor, and one thing they told me is they identified that the database calls for writing orders in WooCommerce can be really slow, especially if you have a lot of traffic or concurrent connections.

And so they built a custom plugin that really, really handles completely differently how orders are written into the database, which provides a massive speed boost. Not only that, but they engineer it in a way where if you want to leave and go to a different host, you can take your data with you, it doesn’t lock you in. That’s just one small anecdote to the level at which these guys have thought about optimizing WooCommerce. So if you’re on Woo and you want a highly elastic solution that you can stress-test your store with and be confident it’s gonna run really well, check them out at ecommercefuel.com/liquidweb.

And secondly wanted to thank Klaviyo, Klaviyo who makes email automation easy and powerful. Of course their killer feature is their segmentation and the ability to create dynamic flows that go out. But one thing that they have that gets overlooked a lot of times is the depth of their reporting. So you can, on a flow by flow basis, you can get a sense of open rates, click through rates, conversion rates, and most importantly revenue, so you can tell which flows are working, which aren’t. On an aggregate level you can look at your open rates and unsubscribes over time to make sure that your deliverability isn’t suffering.

And perhaps my most favorite and the most addicting is the real-time flow, where you can see minute by minute what’s happening across your entire store. From people placing orders to starting the check-out process, to opening emails, to clicking on your marketing campaigns and emails. It’s pretty cool. So check them out, great platform for running all of your email marketing, and you can get started with a free trial at Klaviyo.com. All right, let’s go ahead and jump into today’s discussion.

The Relationship Game Plan

Andrew: Jayson, I’m excited to kind of get the sense on a high level of how you approach relationships and networking and your philosophy there, but I thought it would be fun to, right off the bat, talk about a concrete example and then we can extrapolate from…the general principles from there. So let’s say for example you want to get to know someone high profile for, could be any reason. Let’s say Kevin Rose, somebody I just kinda pulled out of thin air. Assuming you don’t know Kevin Rose, which if you do maybe you could tell me, and we could pick someone else, but assuming you don’t, how would you approach getting to know him, and just so, if people don’t know, Kevin Rose, he funded Reddit, I think he’s a partner with Google Adventures, cool interesting guy in the tech space. So what would be kind of your approach, your game plan for trying to get…build a relationship with him?

Jayson: Yeah, so I think a couple of things. One is, whenever I have anybody that wants to connect with a big name, I always ask, “Would he be friends with you?” Meaning, if you want to connect with a millionaire or a tech titan in this case, what would make you fascinating to that individual? And that doesn’t have to be apples to apples. Like if you wanna connect with someone who’s well off financially, you don’t have to be well off financially, but you have to be interesting or fascinating on some level. So for example, I have a friend of mine who’s traveled to 119 different countries. He can sit at a table with almost anybody and hold a great conversation, because he’s fascinating.

So that’s kind of the first thing is really like one thing I’ve always done a pretty good job at is we do balance sheets for our business. Our assets, our liabilities, those kind of things, but I’ve kind of shifted that and have done like personal balance sheets. What am I really good at? What are my strengths? What are my areas that I can improve upon, what are my weaknesses? And again, I’m always looking to be more interesting. I think that’s kind of the first point. Because before you reach out to anybody, even in a mentor/mentee capacity, you have to be somebody worth investing in as far as just the relationship and time. “Would you be friends with you?” is the first thing. The second thing is, have a strong “Why?” I think this is a mistake a lot of people make, and I’ve made this mistake as well, is that we want to connect with people.

You Need a Strong “Why?”

Andrew: Picking their brain is a strong “Why?” right? Just for the record.

Jayson: Well that’s exactly it. So didn’t mean to pick on that specifically, but I get asked for introductions all the time. When people ask for introductions, I always, I wouldn’t question it, I would just facilitate the introduction. And then I would see the follow-up email that they’d do, and I’m like, “Aw, this was a terrible idea.” So instead now I’m like, “Well, just give me a desire, what’s a desired outcome for the introduction?” And 90% of the time, they won’t follow up. The need for the introduction will just die. So having a clear and strong “Why?” for an introduction or a “Why?” for a reason to reach out to a certain individual I think is really, really important. And those are two things that people don’t talk about, and I think that’s much more important than the technical, like, how-to.

With that said, if you are interesting on some level and you do have a strong why, then different ways you can go about it, one of the easiest ways, not easiest but best ways and most effective ways is through a warm introduction. So ideally try to find someone that you are mutually kind of connected with who can facilitate that introduction. If not, then you may have to reach out cold. There’s a bunch of different ways you can figure out people’s email addresses, there’s a lot of great blog posts out there on how to do it, so I won’t, I’ll spare you the details. But in that cold outreach, there’s a saying from a great book called “22 Immutable Laws of marketing”, which is, what works in the military works in marketing, and that’s the unexpected. And I think the same can be said when it comes to trying to build relationships with people.

You know, somebody like Kevin Rose may get 500 emails a day. So if you’re going to send him another email, how can you make that email pop or stand out. So could it be an emoji in the title, I use video emails a lot, so I’ll use a platform like ViewedIt, I feel like I’m in a spelling bee. And you can basically record a video email. And that stands out. And in that email, usually what I do is I say…I’d have a text version and I’d have a video version, but ultimately I would try to see if I can connect with them on some level, whether it be an uncommon commonality, so Kevin Rose is big into tech, so see, you know, if you can leverage that uncommon commonality that you guys share or we always, like all of us have a deep desire for significance and praise, and those kind of things.

So if you’re going to praise somebody and use that in your outreach, don’t just say, “Oh hey, I love your work.” And leave it there. Like be very specific. The more specific you can be the better. And that may just buy you enough time to catch their interest to read the rest of the email. But to me, again, “Would you be friends with you?”, having a strong “Why” are two, really big components. And plant a seed, meaning if you wanna connect with Kevin Rose, better to try and plant that seed now than two years down the road when you really want to connect with him, and I’ll give you an example.

I know Tim Ferriss, for example. I met him initially in 2011, it wasn’t until I saw him five or six times in person that we really struck up a decent conversation. So again, don’t be scared to plant that seed. If you have an author that you love his work, send him an email or tweet and say, you know, “Love your work and here’s the reason why.” Or those kind of things. You never want to, ideally you never want to start an outreach with an ask.

Putting Principles into Practice

Andrew: What about, so maybe we can go hypothetical to more specific. You, on your podcast, you had Seth Godin on your show. So how did you, how were you able to…he’s a guy that’s obviously in huge demand for speaking, and I don’t think he does a ton of interviews especially. So how did you use those principles to get him on the show?

Jayson: So Seth is a unique example in the sense that him and Gary V., in the business circle and business environment, are probably the most accessible guys, in the sense that they read their own email. So they don’t have gatekeepers. They really strive, I know them both personally now, but they both strive to like reply to all the emails, and those kinds of things.

I remember my interaction with Seth. How it happened basically was, I went to an event that he facilitated and got huge value from it, took action on a lot of things that he shared, and then followed up with him months later telling him, “Well, this is what I learned from you , this is how I took action, these are the results I got, and would love to interview you for the podcast.” He said, “That sounds fantastic, but I’m…” I don’t know if he said he was, “busy at the moment,” but basically, I was very early on with the podcast and I guess there’s a lot of people in the pod-casting space. It’s very sexy right now to start a podcast, and not too many people are veterans like you that have been kind of doing it for a long time.

So oftentimes those big-name people wanna see that you can actually stick with the consistency of doing a podcast. So I think at the time, I was only at a couple episodes, he said, “Well let me know, you know, how you’re doing in six months or a year.” So I follow it up afterwards, I think probably six months or a year later and said like, “I’m still at it, love to know if you want to get on the show. Here’s some of the past guests,” and those kinds of things.

But I think I opened that with somewhat like praise and again, significance, in the sense that I took what he said, I took action on it, I got a result, and I followed up with him. So I kind of closed that loop. Because oftentimes as people who are thought leaders, you know, they write a book, they spend a year or two years writing this book, they put it out to the world, they don’t necessarily know how it’s received, or what is taken from it, what people take action on. And to me as an author, when I have people reach out to me, because I wrote a book called, “Mastermind Dinners”, and they take action and do a dinner themselves, and they send me a photo, I mean I will make time for that person, because that’s like the greatest expression of myself is that book, ultimately. So yeah, Seth Godin is a unique case, but that’s how that happened.

When To Make Intros, When To Not

Andrew: How do you decide what new interest to take? One of the things about networking is…especially I feel like today in like 2017, you get to a certain point and you have a lot of inbound requests, so people asking for your time to either help them or to connect with somebody interesting, but there’s a balance between taking interest and always kind of exploring serendipitous leads and relationships and being focused on cultivating the network that you have, on executing on what you need to get done. How do you find that balance, how do you decide when to take intros and when to, you know, kind of respectfully decline?

Jayson: Yeah, so it’s more of an art than a science. I mean at the phase that I am at, which is I have an abundance of friends and connections and contacts, for me the key to a strong network is subtraction and not addition. It’s one of those things that if I say yes to somebody who is maybe like a B player or C player, let’s say, I’m saying no to somebody that’s a relationship that I need to invest in, ultimately. So, and when I say B player or C player, it has nothing to do with success, but just really like the quality of a relationship. So yeah, I mean there’s something called the Dunbar number, which is the amount of stable social relationships that we can have, which is 150. So I try to be very conscious as far as who I spend my time with.

I look at my network almost like the Spartans. It used to be said that one Spartan was worth several men in another state, so I’m always looking for opportunities to refine who I spend my time with, and you know, weed out people if need be. So as far as, again it’s a fine balance. Because when it comes to introductions it depends how it comes, because I’m a firm believer that amazing people know other amazing people. That’s how my network grows at this point in time, it’s generally through introductions. And if somebody I know and trust says, “Hey I have somebody that I want to connect you with,” I almost always take that introduction, even if I don’t know it’s necessarily a great introduction, I don’t turn it down because I never want them to second-guess doing introductions in the future. Because you know, who knows? Out of five or ten introductions, one of them may be a life-changer for me.

So I always say yes to those introductions, or at least I try to. When somebody reaches out to me cold, again I always say it kind of ties into what we talked about earlier, I mean it really depends on how they reach out and, you know, I guess how promising they are as far as if I do give them feedback, will they take action on it? And those kind of things. But it’s one of those…a lot of people don’t invest in relationships because they can’t peg an ROI to it, but Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you just need to trust that they’ll somehow connect. ” And the last thing I would ever want to do is kind of burn bridges or any of that kind of stuff. Because I’ve seen people, amazing people becoming increasingly amazing over time.

And for me to be able to invest in somebody like you would invest in a business, find somebody who’s undervalued and support them, believe in them, offer them guidance and advice. You know, five years down the road that could be the next Tim Ferriss, or 20 years down the road that could be the next Elon Musk, you never know. It’s a fine balance of managing your time and trying to kind of help everybody, but again, it’s, to me the key to a strong network is subtraction and not addition.

Rules for Making Introductions

Andrew: You mentioned introductions. You know, what are some good rules for making good introductions, for being a facilitator there? I think one of the most obvious ones is double opt-in, making sure that both people are interested in the introduction, so you don’t blind-side somebody with an intro that they don’t necessarily, you know, is not a good fit for them or they’re busy. What other rules, or maybe concepts, do you have for making, you know, introductions where both people are really excited about it? Is it primarily just about thinking through the value that both side is going to receive, and making sure it’s a reciprocal relationship, potentially?

Jayson: Yeah, well you touched on, I think, the most important factor that’s unfortunately not obvious, the importance of the double opt-in introduction. Again, it’s, I’m always blown away how many times I just get a random introduction in my inbox. And I’m historically not great at answering email in a timely fashion, and because of that, when I get a random introduction, it puts the onus on me to drop everything to reply back to that person as quickly as possible, not only to be nice to that person that is being introduced to me, but also to be respectful of the person who made the introduction, because I don’t want to make them look silly either.

So double introductions are huge. And I think again, vetting the individual who wants the introduction, if they ask for it, as far as what the desired outcome is and why they want to connect with that person, I think helps them get their house in order so that when you make the introduction it’s not like, “Hey I just wanted to connect with you because I think you’re interesting,” or something like that. So I definitely don’t want to glance over the importance of a double opt-in introduction. And I mean yeah, it depends on the context. If it is someone reaching out because they want to connect to a certain individual, when I do do that double opt-in and I reach out to the other individual and say, “Hey,” you know, “this is who I wanna connect you with,” I also don’t…I give them an escape in the sense that I don’t make it…I say like, “There’s no pressure expectations for this introduction. If you have no desire with connect to this person, or you see no value, then please just let me know.” And I can easily do the dirty work and say, you know, “He’s busy right now,” or those kinds of things. Some people still do double opt-in intros with me, but it’s so hard to say no, there’s no out. So I think that’s an important factor. The vetting is an important factor.

And then facilitating the introduction itself, giving context. I see so many people make that mistake, is that I’ll get this introduction, I’ll say you know, “Hey Joe, meet James. I really think you two will hit it off.” Then I’ve actually hopped in on a call with these people where there’s poor context for an introduction, and neither of us know why we’re on the call. So setting the tone as saying like, “Hey James, you know, I want you to meet John. John is a phenomenal entrepreneur, XYZ, this is, you know, he’s brilliant at this, and this is why I thought I’d introduce you and vice versa.” And also, it’s a great opportunity to stroke the egos of both individuals, and say, “Listen, I’m a huge…” And, you know, if it comes from a genuine place, that you love this person, or you respect them for these reasons, it’s just another opportunity to invest in those relationships. So those are some ways to kind of go above and beyond when it comes to introductions.

Value of Building Connections

Andrew: Seth Godin, he wrote the book called “Tribe“, and you know him personally and the importance of being a connector, and you’re kind of in that place too. You know a lot of different people, kind of built a career on that at this point. Where do you see the biggest value in being a connector? I mean you could kind of play devil’s advocate and argue on the other side, that being that connector, or that spoke, you connect a lot of other people but you yourself may not get the value, you’re just the conduit through which, people, you know, connect. And what are your thoughts on that? Like where do you see, in the end-game, the long-term game, you receiving value by connecting people the right way?

Jayson: Yeah, I mean it’s tough. Because people look at the work that I do, the value that is created from it, and they think that I should try to monetize those said relationships. So if I introduced two people and they started doing business to get there, I should get a cut. And I know some people that kind of approach business and life that way, but for me it just makes things transactional and makes things sticky. So I don’t do that. And I could be missing out on, again, a financial ROI, but you know, based on where I’ve been, I’ve understood the importance of relationships and how that has kind of showed up for me. You know, when you hit rock-bottom in life, and we all do, there’s two things that at least became clear to me back in 2012. One was, you never know the value of relationships until you really need it, and the second thing is the integrity of your word. And never tarnish your word and always invest in your relationships.

So to me, again, people who don’t invest in relationships because they can’t peg an ROI… I’ve been investing, I’ve been doubling down on relationships for the last four years, I’ve never felt more fulfilled, I’ve never been in a better financial position, to me it’s the safest and wisest investment you can make.

When to Leverage a Network

Andrew: What about when it comes time to leverage your network? Now leverage is maybe a bad, I mean, it’s a loaded term, it sounds very ominous. Like you’re sucking the life out of people. But do you think people do it enough, do you think they do it too much, should you come with a philosophy of building a network for a specific reason, or do you think that you should just build it to have because you don’t know…obviously it’s nice to have. You don’t know what’s gonna happen, so it’s nice to have there as an insurance policy, but what are some of the ways that you think through, you know, tactfully leveraging that network when the time is right?

Jayson: Yeah, it’s two-sided. I mean I, historically myself, I’ve been guilty of building out a great network but not asking for help when I need it. So I think that’s, again, a lot of us fall into that category, where we build out all these great relationships but have a hard time asking for help. So I think asking for help is the other side of the equation that a lot of us kind of miss, and to me it’s baffling how many times I’m struggling with something and struggling and struggling, and then I look at my peer group, and I’m like, “This guy has the answer. Why did I not reach out to him to begin with?” So it’s a fine kind of balance. It’s a fine dance.

As far as like the term leverage, yeah. It does have an icky feeling to it, but I totally understand why…it’s kind of position it as such. To me it’s like, my philosophy is just almost “Give ’til it hurts.” I don’t invest in relationships for the sake of reciprocity, but I never want to…almost look at it like a bank account. Like I’m investing in relationships, investing in the relationships, I never want to be in the position where, you know, I ask for something and it puts that relationship in overdraft. So yeah, I mean, I have people that I’ve invested in for the last…or relationships that I’ve invested in for the last four or five years that I haven’t asked anything. And it drives them nuts from a reciprocity perspective. They’re like, “Please, like let me do something for you.” I’ve just gotta get better personally at asking, myself, so that’s a personal kind of challenge I’m trying to overcome.

Anything Is How You Do Everything

Andrew: What kind of details do you read into that maybe other people don’t? And maybe a broader question than that is, do you read into small details? So for example, if you sit down with somebody that you’re thinking about potentially investing more in, or getting to know better, what kind of things that are seemingly inconsequential do you think kind of speak to larger character traits, or tell you something meaningful about a person, that some people might not…think are no big deal?

Jayson: Yeah, I mean I fundamentally believe how you do anything is how you do everything. So I’m always looking for those small little quirks in their behaviors and personalities. So if you’re out at a restaurant, how they treat the server, or those kind of things. Or how they talk about other individuals, you know? I had, for example, a really close mentor kind of friend of mine have a business fall-out, and I’ve been friends with him for 10 years, and I was not 100% on board with how he treated that relationship upon the exit. And I’m like, if it happened to his business partner, it can happen to me. Or it can happen to somebody I know. So I distanced myself from that individual. So I’m always looking for these very small cues that, again, some people would glance over. But how somebody treats somebody in their personal life is how they’ll treat them in business or in a business partnership, and vice versa. So I’m always looking for those small little cues of lack of integrity, or ego and those kind of things.

Avoid Self-Sabotage

Andrew: What about things that people do to sabotage their own networking? I mean, I can think of kind of a real obvious one, if you’re at some kind of event and if someone comes up and within 15 seconds they’ve shoved a business card in your face, that tends to be a pretty bad… So, I remember some of the times that that card just gets tossed out, and you send a pretty bad signal right out of the bat. Any other things like that that you think people are inadvertently doing to sabotage themselves, connecting with people meaningfully?

Jayson: I think, again, it’s the transactional side of things. I mean, a lot of the gospel in the networking space is very in transactional, the word networking, like some of the synonyms are like, “hob-nobbing,” and those kind of things, nothing I’d want to be associated with. So again, looking at a relationship from an ROI perspective right out of the gate, that you want to ask for something, and people are not stupid. I mean, we generally have a pretty good internal kind of compass and radar when it comes to somebody wanting something from us. So I think that’s where people miss the mark when they think of the term networking, which is a term I’m not, obviously, a fan of, but I haven’t come up with a better term. It’s just, again, very transactional, the reason you’re doing it is to further yourself, further your business, at the expense of others oftentimes. And that takes the form of, again, shoving business cards in people’s faces, and you know, unnecessary kind of follow-up and those kinds of things.

It’s In The Details

Andrew: What about the importance of small details? Things like personal details, birthdays, interests, family, you know, people’s backgrounds? It’s, you know, you’re trying to get to know people. These things, they do matter, but also, they’re easy to forget. So like, I guess what I’m asking is, how much do you think about those? Do you write them down? If you do write them down, do you keep them like in a CRM? Does that seem a little bit, once you get to that stage, does that seem like that’s almost like too robotic and mechanical, and at that point you’re not necessarily being really relational, you’re just, you know, kind of getting back to that more synthetic, fake relationship building? How do you think about how the small details tie into building genuine relationships and you know, how far you take that?

Jayson: I’m glad you brought it up, it’s absolutely crucial. You know, for me I have something called “the biggest fan” philosophy, which is, how somebody would look at investing in a business, I look at investing in people. So somebody tries to find an undervalued business and invest in it, I try to find people who are undervalued, diamonds in the rough so to speak, and invest in them. And that doesn’t have to be financially, it could be with time, it could be with a connection, it could be with just belief, right? I think as entrepreneurs, anybody in general, we all can think of a time when somebody believed in us when we didn’t necessarily believe in ourselves and the impact that had on us.

So for me I’m always looking for those little things and in the context of like these things that are unique to them, whether it be the name of their kids or where they grew up or what excites them, I mean that’s when you really start to build a deep relationship with somebody. So I capture as much of that as I can. Whether that be over email, if somebody says, “Oh, sorry I’m late, I had to put my kid to sleep.” I’ll be like, “Oh, what’s the name of your child?” Or, “How old is your child?” And those kinds of things. And I’ll capture that. Or if I’m in conversation at lunch or something like that, I’ll ask, and I’ll dig for things and it’s genuine interest, it’s not from me trying to extract things, but genuine interest, and I’ll pay attention to the things that matter to them. And after a conversation, or after a lunch, I’ll either write things in a notebook or I’ll do an audio recording and I’ll save it. And then that will go into a CRM that I use.

And it’s just one of those things, I did a lunch today where I have all these important points, like the name of his wife and you know, what keeps him up at night, and what he’s working on and those kind of things. These are all just great starting points for our next conversation. And I can tell you, man, I went to an event in 2011 and I remember meeting one guy named Mike, and his daughter was three months old and she was born blind. But she was getting better over time. And I still remember that. And six months later I followed up, and I’m like, “Oh, how’s your daughter?” And it had nothing to do with business whatsoever, but it was something that mattered immensely to him, and there’s a saying by Tony Robbins that if you want to influence somebody, find out what or who already influences them, and I take that, if you want to care about somebody, care about who they care about. Or care about what they care about. So I try to capture all those things. So obviously somebody cares about their daughter who’s three months old, so that’s a talking point for me. Or you know, what they’re passionate about, whether it be a sport or whatever the case.

Those are all unique points that deepen the relationship far faster than, you know, “How’s business, or how’s the weather?” and those kind of things. So that crucial component to building deep, genuine relationships and the only reason you put it in the CRM is, truth be told, we live in a time that we are absolutely overwhelmed. So to be able to create these kind of data bases of important quirks and facts and dates and names and those kind of things pertaining to certain individuals, I think is priceless, and it’s a best practice that I’ve been doing for the last couple years.

The State of Relationships Today

Andrew: What do you think about, the state…kind of more broadly, maybe away from networking for business, and just people’s relationships and community in general. What do you think about the state of community today, I’ll just say in North America? It varies throughout the world, but you know, North America, just to give us a framework, there’s an interesting book I’ve read, I’ll link up to it, called “Tribe” about kind of how so much of society today is less focused on community than it was even 50 or 100 years ago, and people have fewer and fewer close friends. I mean, you know, kind of generalizing a little bit here, but have you seen that? Like do you feel like that’s a systemic problem with a lot of our society today, or do you think that’s overblown?

Jayson: Yeah, so “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger is one of my favorite books of all time, by far. It’s an absolutely brilliant book. And I think social isolation is an epidemic. You know, we see it everywhere. I mean in Sebastian’s book, he talks about PTSD in the military and those kind of things. There’s even, bringing it back to business a little bit, A. Webber partnered up with Copy Blogger a few years ago, and they discovered that there was one email title that opened, had super higher open rates across industries. It worked for personal development, it worked for potty training, it worked for Viagra, it worked for selling cars. And that email subject line was, “You are not alone.” And I think it’s telling.

There’s a book called, “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, he wrote another book called, “Who’s Got Your Back?” And in that book, he interviewed a thousand people and asked them one question and one question only, “Who has your back?” And surprisingly, 55% of people felt like nobody had their back. Even more surprisingly, 60% of the people who felt like nobody had their back were married. So I think we are in a time where on the surface level we feel like we are more connected than ever, but we’ve never felt more isolated, and it’s showing up everywhere. It’s showing up in the depression rates, suicide rates, especially amongst young, I guess professionals, who were young kids that have grown up on social media I mean, the suicide rates are just going through the roof.

It shows up in different, there was a TED talk on the 76-year…it’s still going on, it’s like a 76-year study on adult development. And basically, they found out the biggest predicator for longevity wasn’t your diet, wasn’t your exercise, but actually your social ties, and how tight your social ties were. So I think it’s not only like the business component where you’ll benefit from having tight relationships and that kind of stuff, but also mental health, physical health, longevity, overall happiness, like all of these things are tied to relationships. And again, it’s one of those things, I think we’re drowning in connections but we’re starving for community. We see it time and time again, and I don’t think it’s gonna get any better, unfortunately. So I think, you know, having a community whether it be joining a community like yours or creating a community of your own of like-minded individuals and peers, I think is absolutely priceless.

Mastermind Talks

Andrew: And kinda tying into the importance of community being in person, Mastermind Talks is kind of one of the keystone events, or the keystone event, you’ve really built up over the last few years. Can you give people a sense, who haven’t heard of it, what Mastermind Talks are and what you do differently to make it really unique from other events?

Jayson: I’ve gotta say, that was a beautiful segue, I’m very impressed. Yeah, I mean, so Mastermind Talks initially was just a fun project, but I always say that ignorance, hard work and confidence can go a long way sometimes. And I didn’t know what I was doing, and because of that it turned out to be a big success. And it’s been an evolution. I mean, our first event was geared towards wanting to be almost like the TED Talks for entrepreneurs. So it was very kind of content-heavy. But because the attendees were so curated, there started to be this community that formed. And when we had our first event we had 15 speakers. 10 of them came back as paid attendees the following year.

So every year we’ve kind of evolved and leaned more into the whole kind of peer to peer model and if…you know, we just finished our last event in Carmel in May and our next one is in September of 2018. If I could boil down the essence to anything, Mastermind Talks is great people, great food, great experiences in a beautiful setting with learning intertwined throughout the event. Because my belief is, the best learning doesn’t happen in a conference room, it happens at the bar, or it happens over yoga and those kind of things. And also, you know, if you want to hear someone like Tim Ferriss speak, and you know, he’s a friend, he’s brilliant, but to invest four or five days out of your calendar to sit down passively listening to a speaker speak to you when you can consume that content in a podcast, or you know, listening to a TED Talk on the way to the gym, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense, so we’ve really shifted from…we always say people may come to Mastermind Talks for content, but what brings them back year over year is community, so we are very, very focused on building that community. And we do it through our three-day live experience, and then we pull those relationships online throughout the year.

So now that we’ve done five of these, looking at the feedback forms, the most common words used are “community” or “family” and those kind of things. A lot of people feel that this is almost like a family reunion for them, which is a beautiful thing, because we have 150 people at our event, or a part of our community. I’d easily add 135 of them to my wedding. I mean, these are my favorite people on the planet. So yeah, it’s very much a community focus. I hate kind of lumping it in with events, but that’s really where it kind of started and that’s somewhat still what it is with the three-day live experience. It’s really just a beautiful community of people.

Importance of Live Events

Andrew: Yeah, I love the approach there. It’s kind of similar to what we do at eCommerceFuel for the events, because events are not impossible, but at least for us, I’ll speak for us, there are, especially for how much work goes into them, we do not do them to try to make money, because that is a…it’s just, our hourly rate would be, you know, dollars if not negative. And so, but for us it’s about really building the community and bringing people together and solidifying what we’ve tried to start, or at least catalyze online with relationships. So it’s cool you’ve done that as well, and we sat down in Toronto and you were kind enough to give me some…really share with me a lot of what you guys do at your events, a couple ideas of which I stole for this upcoming ECF live, so thank you, I really appreciate your thoughts on that, man.

Jayson: Well, I’m a huge fan of what you do, and I was…as we kind of talked about it offline, I came and checked out the meet-up you had in Toronto, and you had a phenomenal group of people there, and especially in the e-commerce space, especially entrepreneurs in general that play online mostly. Again, they miss out on that face to face component, and it sounds like you’re doing a beautiful job bridging the two, so honor the work that you do.

Andrew: Well thank you, I appreciate it. It’s a lot of fun to do. But hey, in closing, Jayson, I want to talk about your podcast, “Community Made.” Obviously, people that are listening to this, it’s something I think would interest them. And it’s, you’re getting ready to release your second season, it’s focused on relationships. Can you talk about what, you know, if people tune in to that, what can they expect to hear?

Community Made Podcast

Jayson: Well, basically I’ve been somewhat positioned as like the master kind of networker, connector, that kind of stuff. And to me, I haven’t put that much value on it, because it felt like it’s kind of come naturally, but I’ve really over the years, kind of dissected the things that I do and those kind of things, and basically, I’m putting it all in to season two of the podcast.

So season two is all about how to grow your network, and that includes how to network at events as an introvert, and just kind of grow your network in general, especially in today’s day and age. How to nurture your network, and I think that’s something, again, in our current kind of social fabric is important to do, because we have a lot of connections but again not a lot of really deep connections at that. There’s a saying, “It doesn’t matter how many friends you can count, it matters how many friends you can count on.” And I believe that to be true. So the importance of deepening those connections and then kind of amplifying. So whether that be building community and those kind of things. So season one was all about the notion of scale, where I talked about my views on scale and I had Gary Vaynerchuk on and a bunch of other people, and season two is all about relationships. And so I’m really excited about it.

Andrew: Love it. Yeah, communitymade.com, I’ll link up to it and I’ll be listening to it when it comes out. When does that season two hit?

Jayson: That’ll be mid-January, 2018.

Andrew: Perfect. Just in time to gear up networking for 2018, yeah.

Jayson: Exactly, that’s why we timed it that way.

The Lightning Round!

Andrew: It’s almost intentional, it sounds like. Jayson, one last thing I want to do in closing here if you’re up for it is do a lightning round. Is that cool with you?

Jayson: Yeah.

Andrew: All right, so first question. If you had to identify the number one thing you’re trying to optimize your life for right now, what would it be?

Jayson: Personal time.

Andrew: Who is someone you strongly disagree with?

Jayson: Aw geez, my wife. I’m trying to think, Grant Cardone, that’s an individual, he’s public. Not a huge fan of Grant Cardone.

Andrew: And I’m not super familiar with him. What…if you can maybe in one sentence, what is his fundamental stance, or what is it that he stands for that you disagree with?

Jayson: I mean he’s well known in the entrepreneur space. Similar…I don’t know if you’re familiar with like Ty Lopez? I don’t have anything against Ty Lopez. Teaching people how to start businesses and those kind of things. Yeah, kind of the whole notion of building business at all costs and also just really, really not a fan of his marketing tactics.

Andrew: How much money is enough? What would be your number of money in the bank where you’d be able to say, “This is good. This is enough.”

Jayson: I…yeah. To me it’s almost like not a set number in the bank, as silly as it sounds. It’s more like a consistent cash flow. Because I feel like if I have x amount of money in the bank I’ll probably find a way to spend it, as opposed to finding consistent cash flow, that would be a little better than if it came up to me in chunks. But really probably, I mean my monthly burn, to live like a really great life is about $15,000 a month. So whatever that would be for the rest of my life is probably…taking into account inflation, is probably whatever that number comes out to.

Andrew: Okay, nice. What’s the worst investment you’ve made in the last 10 years?

Jayson: That’s a tough one, because even when you have bad investments you try to justify it as a learning experience. We’re all, as humans, we’re meaning seeking machines. So even if something was terrible, you’re like, “Oh, well there was a message in there.” So I’m having a hard time identifying…it’s probably something around time, because I mean financially I could care less. Because I mean, I’ve lost money in bad business partnerships and those kind of things, but to me time is obviously irreplaceable. So it probably revolves around time, I just can’t put my finger on it right now.

Andrew: Now, on the flip side of that, what’s the best investment, outside of your core business, you’ve made in the past 10 years?

Jayson: Relationships.

Andrew: Softball, baby, I just threw that one right up for you.

Jayson: There you go, thank you. Yeah, no. I mean, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s relationships. It ties into, I guess, my business on some level for sure, but even if I wasn’t in this business, I would be doubling down on relationships all day long.

Andrew: And finally, what was the first CD you ever owned?

Jayson: What a curved ball. Softball to curved ball. Honestly, it wasn’t a CD, maybe I’m dating myself, it was a cassette, and it was Snoop Dogg and NWA.

Andrew: That’s awesome, I love hearing the answers to those. Jayson man, well this has been a ton of fun. Thanks for coming on, and if you didn’t catch it the first time through, make sure at the minimum, to check out communitymade.com, that’s where Jayson’s got his podcast. Season two on relationships, dropping in January, and Mastermind Talks, we’ll link up to that website, mastermindtalks.com if you’re interested in learning more about the event. There’s a really cool video that kind of highlights that, so if that’s something that you’re curious about or want to check out, I highly recommend it. Jayson, it’s been a lot of fun, thanks for coming on. Thanks for all your help and support and advice you gave me in person in Toronto, and looking forward to catching up soon, man.

Jayson: Awesome, dude, I appreciate these well thought out questions.

Andrew: Thanks buddy.

Jayson: See you, brother.

Andrew: That’s gonna do it for this week’s episode, but if you enjoyed what you heard, check us out at eCommerceFuel.com where you’ll find the private vetted community for online store owners. And what makes us different from other online communities or forums is that we heavily vet everyone who joins to make sure that they have meaningful experience to contribute to the broader conversation. Everyone who we accept has to be doing at least a quarter of a million dollars in annual sales on their store and our average member does seven figures plus in sales via their business. And so if that sounds interesting to you, if you want to get you know, check in with a group of experienced store owners online, check us out at ecommercefuel.com, where you can learn more about membership as well as apply.

And I have to, again, thank our sponsors who helped make this show possible. Klaviyo, who makes email segmentation easy and powerful. The cool thing about Klaviyo is they pull your entire catalog, customer, customer and sales history to help you build out incredibly powerful automated segments that make you money on autopilot. If you’re not using them, check them out and try them for free at Klaviyo.com.

And finally, Liquid Web. If you’re on WooCommerce, if you’re thinking about getting on WooCommerce, Liquid Web is the absolute best hosting platform for three reasons. One, it’s built from the ground up for WooCommerce, and optimized by some of the best industry professionals in the WooCommerce work best space, they really know their stuff. And it’s highly elastic and scalable as well as comes with a whole suite of tools and performance tests to optimize your store. You can check them out and learn more about their hosted WooCommerce offering at ecommercefuel.com/liquidweb. Thanks so much for listening, really appreciate you tuning in, and looking forward to talking to you again. Thanks, bye.

Want to connect with and learn from other proven e-commerce entrepreneurs? Join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight-knit, vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter of a million dollars in annual sales. You can lean more and apply for membership at ecommercefuel.com. Thanks so much for listening and I’m looking forward to seeing you again next time.

 

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