Brian Kelsey built and sold his first Amazon business. He currently runs two multi-million dollar businesses on Amazon with his wife, children, and a team that grew from five to 35 people in less than 12 months. When COVID hit, one of Brian’s businesses made over $3 million and has grown even more to about $4.5 million since that time. Brian’s second business does over $2 million and is on track to hit $4 million in the next 12 months.

Brian’s ethos on building a team is to empower people and have genuine conversations about their work and happiness. This interview is packed full of valuable lessons, including

  • Why paying people well is actually better for business
  • How Brian empowers his children in his business
  • Why holding authentic conversations is the better way to hire
  • Finding and targeting the right people: influencers and marketers
  • Using the base pyramid to grow
  • Winning the image
  • How MDS is helping Brian and his friends grow their businesses

Brian Kelsey Interview with Nick Shucet

Nick (0:03):

Hey, what's up, everyone. Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers podcast. I'm your host, Nick Shucet. And today we have Brian Kelsey on the call. Brian, what's up, man? How are you doing today?

Brian (0:15):

Hey, it's good to see you again. I think the last time was in Santa Monica, so good to see you.

Nick (0:20):

Yeah man, Santa Monica. And we had Puerto Vallarta not long before that—it was definitely a good time, man. I really enjoyed it.

Brian (0:29):

A hundred percent. Me too. I think getting together face to face is really good within the MDs group.

How Brian Blends His Personal and Business Life Together

Nick (0:36):

Yeah, man, I always come back so motivated and inspired. And, you know, that honestly reminds me of one of my favorite things about you, Brian. Whether you know it or not, you inspire me in so many ways. Your personal life—like how you are with your children, how you're committed to taking those time-outs with your wife, and how you guys spend time together every week.

Like seriously, man, it has motivated me and inspired me so much to just really cherish the time with my kids and make sure that I pencil in time with my wife, just like I do for my work stuff. Because I believe making those commitments in my personal life, helps my work life. If I'm stressed out about my marriage, I'm not going to perform well at work—at least as well as if I wasn't stressed out.

You know, you've really touched me in many ways when it comes to that stuff. And I thank you for that. And it kinda leads me to my question: I'm wondering who inspired Brian in his younger days to really be that way? Like who was that person for you that, you know, made you decide how you wanted to live your life as you got older and built your family and your life?

Brian (2:10):

Yeah, that's a good question. I come from a corporate background. I'll never forget getting introduced to a consultant that the company brought in and he sat down and he just wanted to do interviews with the senior staff. And the first question he asked me was, how's your marriage? I'm like, pardon me? And I got to know this guy over time. And I learned, you know, a couple of valuable things.

One thing that stood out: he had been married for 50 years. And he taught me that in life, people think it’s about compromise—it's not actually. His take was very simple: He's like, “Hey, your wife wants to go to the mall shopping. You want to stay home and watch a football game. What do you do? You're either going to do what you want to do or you're going to do what she wants to do.”

So it's a hundred percent her way, or it's a hundred percent your way. The wise person has to pick which one of those it is.  So everything really kind of stunned me. Cause I always thought like, oh man, it's all about compromise. Like, you know, “I'll take the trash out later” and everybody can relate to that. But I learned a lot from that guy. And moving forward, you know, I come from a blended family. I'm on my second marriage and we have five kids together.

Three of them are mine and two of them are hers. And we knew going into this thing that divorce rates on second marriages are pretty high. And through family counseling—you know, people get a little weird about talking about mental health issues and should they seek counseling and stuff like that. But man, we all have our issues.

And so through counseling, I learned that it is so important to take time, to just work on your marriage and that's what we do. And so as young—I'll tell for the viewers like you—I have talked about this. But it's something that you got to schedule and it's something that you gotta work on. And even though we have five kids with school and sports and you know, social calendars and all this other stuff, we make it a point to travel together somewhere.

It may be to a movie or it may be to Mexico to go visit you guys. But we go somewhere once a month just us and half the time we're working and that's okay, but it's just us. And so it's time away from the kids. And sometimes when I see younger parents, I ask them—like I asked you [when] I saw that post you put up on Facebook—I'm like, “Hey, make it time for just you.” And I come from experience with that. Like I've seen the hard results of that failure.

So I'm focused on total success in that department. And I guess ultimately my wife would be the judge of that but we have a pretty full travel schedule.

Brian On Integrating His Family Into His Business

Nick (5:15):

Nice. Yeah, man, I love so many things that you mentioned there. And I love it because I also see you doing it. Like I see you posting pictures of you and your family out by the pool, like all working together or you're in an airport lounge and you're working together. And like you're making amazing things happen in your business. And you're including your family in this.

I don't even know if I can gather the words to really explain how critical it is for your children to see that—to empower them, that they have this opportunity in their own household to build their life the way that they want to. You're talking about mental health here. And I think just that opportunity is so good for someone's mental health because you've put them in this position where they can truly build their life how they want to.

Versus like, I think how a lot of us grew up—kind of school shapes that vision of how we think life should be. And then we have this conflict with like, well, I don't really want it to be that way, but you don't have any other option. At least it seems like you don't have any other option But clearly, your family knows that they have options. And I just think it's so great.

Like that is what I want to give my family—like exactly what you're doing with yours, man. And probably not a day goes by where I don't think about that.

Brian (6:58):

Yeah. I mean like I'm a big believer in, “You don't know what you don't know.” And so when you put it in the context of children, they don't know. Like, they're learning, right? So specifically we have two older children, one's 24 and one is 20. And the 24-year-old, we've looked at how do we level him up? And I kind of subscribe to the Ezra Firestone method, which is like “teach people.” You can bring in people who think they know what they're doing—and they do know what they're doing—but oftentimes those turn out to be mistakes.

The alternative to that thinking is, as Ezra believes, leveling up people and teaching them a skill set that could be helpful for them and the long term on their own level.

It's not so much about school anymore. Yes, our daughter's going to college, she's getting a well-rounded education, but she's getting real hands-on information. And so with respect to those two kids: one of them's a full-time student in Oregon State, and we reached out to her and gave her a pretty kickass part-time job working on our social media.

You know, she's of that age, where she moves in those circles, she can do it better than anybody that we have in-house. And we can kind of guide her in a skillset that could be with her for the future and she's majoring in business. So what a great kind of real-time way of working on business issues, right? And the other child of ours is 24 and he was working in the production department.

We manufacture all of our goods and my wife and I sat down and said, how could we level him up? He's super analytical. We had him get Google Certified take the training and do these different things. I can report to you today that we're in the process of letting go of our core tile subscription, and we're going to move PPC in-house and he's going to manage it.

So those are skill sets that these kids—from a parent's point of view—could have jobs anywhere. You know, I look at the power of MDs and the group of people in there I'll guarantee you as well as I do, I could post in there, like, “Hey, I've got a kid that is looking for a job.” Boom. There'd be 25 people that would want to hire them. It's not so much about school anymore.

Yes, our daughter's going to college, she's getting a well-rounded education, but she's getting real hands-on information. So she will know, instead of don't know, it's kind of the way.

Nick (9:29):

Yeah, I like it, man. I like it. And I think it's great that you've put her in that position to be able to be up to speed on what's happening in business right now. Because I think a lot of people would agree that school doesn't keep up with that. You know, they're just not able to keep up with the technology changes because they have to integrate it into their curriculum, which takes time to get something in there.

So, man, she's just going to be a powerhouse with that traditional education. But that up-to-date experience of, you know, cutting-edge tips and tricks and technology—because you're able to expose her to that stuff through your business.

Brian (10:11):

A hundred percent. I mean, you know, the picture that you saw of us working in the pool and the picture that you saw in the, you know, in the Delta connections lounge, you know, it's all been an eye-opening experience to her. And she's like, wow, I've never worked at the airport. And I'm the first person to say that work is a grind. So, you know, I might say that I work part-time, but part-time is 12 of the 24 hours a day.

And so when you're on the move, it's time to work. So we sat down and we got our laptops open and it's like, okay, let's come up to speed. Let's get this stuff done. Let's keep working in real-time. It doesn't matter if you're traveling across the country or not. And so she's soaking it up because it's super exciting stuff to her, but it's a way that we can kind of work one-on-one in real time.

And so she's gotten a lot out of it and I got to say, it's good dollars invested because she's doing great in our social media stuff. So that's ultimately what we got to get out of it.

Nick (11:06):

Yeah, man, it's just amazing to check off all those boxes from like a father level and a business owner level. Like you're just crushing all of it at the same time. And it's just super motivating to see that. And like, that's why I love MDs, man, because guys like you come in there and they just motivate the crap out of you. Like you think you've made it like you're in MDs, man.

I made it! And then you get in there and you're like, “Oh shit, I've got a lot farther to go.”

Brian (11:38):

Yeah. I feel the same way. I mean, MDs have been a little bit overwhelming because there are so many bright people in there. I don't like to say recruited people for MDs, but I've come across people in my—in my daily life—that it's like, man, if you're doing over a million dollars, you need to be in this group. And it's like, and that's coming from a place of love.

He's like, you know, “I was in another group and it was like $35,000 a year and I got nothing out of it,” and I just cringed

Like I can help your business if you join this group. It's that good? The last guy that came in was Mike York. And he's like, you know, I was in another group and it was like $35,000 a year and I got nothing out of it and I just cringed. Wow. You know, so it's, it's exciting to see the group help people, but the groups helped me too. You know, I've gotten my motivation from, you know, I'm in that growth curve, right?

Where I'm trying to grow. And so at the summit in Mexico to listen to guys like Travis, talk about running five different businesses and moving to scale and putting systems in place like EOS, like all this stuff really resonated with me. And I walk out of there, like with my brain on fire.

Discussing Brian's Business Accomplishments

...And what we quickly found out is that having a divided focus is really a problem.

Nick (12:53):

Yeah. Travis is something else, man. I tell you what it can be. Uh, these guys in there that are like, you know, younger than me doing like way more than me in business. And it's just like, man, there are just some amazing people in there. It's just crazy to think about just, you know, the age that some of these guys are at the things that they're doing, and the path that they're on.

It’s just like constantly blowing my mind. I love chatting with those guys and just seeing what they're up to man. There's just so much value to be received from everyone in that group. But man, I want to chat a little bit about what you've got going on at work. I mean, you've been able to accomplish so much in your personal life by building this business and integrating your family.

But without giving anyway giving away any MDs-only secrets, you know, why don't you tell us a little bit about your business what you've been able to accomplish in the past one to three years, and where you're heading?

Brian’s Tactical Play of Selling His Business to Focus on His Wife’s Business

Brian (14:06):

Sure. So a little bit of background on me. I recently sold one of our businesses—my wife six years ago—we had two businesses. My business was in the audio world and it was a little more traditional. Had to do with Marine audio. Her businesses are in the skincare world. And what we quickly found out is that having a divided focus is really a problem. And that kind of plays back to that.

COVID hit, we had a pretty big windfall. We did about $3 million of sales on one product... that we manufacture, over 90 days… in FBM

How do you take care of your marriage if you've got businesses going in all different directions and so made a decision to sell your business? And it was—I don't want to say it was a blow to my ego, but, you know, I made cool products for guys and she makes cool products for women. And so the smart play though was to sell my business and focus on her business.

Brain on Staying in His Lane

Nick (14:57):

And we completed that sale and took some money off the table and you know, took some focus to put on the table towards her business. And I've been involved in her business for a little over three years now, I guess it's been exciting because I'm kind of a student of business. I don't care what we're working on. I'm a chess player. Like what's the next move and how do we do this?

And how do we architect this? And I was able to come in and help her in areas that are her weaknesses.

Our team went from five people to 35 people and it was out of control. But we looked at that and we said, okay, well, where do we go from here?

And so we have like, here's a great takeaway for your viewers that we have this saying that we say to each other, “Stay in your lane.” So the question is, what's your lane? My lane is sales and marketing. Her lane is skincare formulations—formulating and operations. All right. I don't play in her lane. She doesn't play in my lane. And so when you have that harmony together, you really can do some magical things.

On Hitting $3 Million During COVID

Brian (15:56):

And so you asked where we were, where we are. Right. So where we were, as we sold my business, we focused on her business. COVID hit, we had a pretty big windfall. We did about $3 million of sales on one product—an Aloe Vera product—that we manufactured, over 90 days, everything that we could to really stay on top of that. And speaking to Amazon sellers, we did $3 million in FBM. So we shipped all that stuff ourselves.

Like, I mean, it was crazy. Our team went from five people to 35 people and it was out of control. But we looked at that and we said, okay, well, where do we go from here?

Scaling, Expanding, and Launching New Product Lines

Brian (16:40):

And so what we did is we doubled down. We made a bunch of money. We reinvested in ourselves, and our team, and we grew our team in areas that we couldn't afford to in the past. So the first step we did was we bring in an in-house designer and we expanded our logistics people. We brought a warehouse manager in we grew the team in a way that would equip us to grow the way that I'll call it the Travis ways. The EOS way.

Now we have one chugging along at about $4.5 million dollars. And we have a new brand… that's chugging along at about $2 million. And it'll probably double to $4 million next year.

But to do so, we had to grow the team. And so, you know, specifically where we're at is we have two different brands. Now we have one chugging along at about $4.5 million dollars. And we have a new brand that you know, about the candle brand. We started this cool company called Wax and Wet, and it does sassy sayings on soy-based candles and that's chugging along at about $2 million.

And it'll probably double to $4 million next year. I mean, it's just on fire. And so we got no complaints from a financial point of view. Our trajectory is a steep climb. And on top of that, through MDs, we've started to private label some stuff for different clients. And we don't want to become a 3PL but we can because we have the space.

So really where we're at today is kind of like restructuring the business and looking at how we reorganize our financials and our brands. So we could possibly be in a position to sell one of them and take money off the table. And so that's where it is. That's where we're at today.

How Brian Is Implementing the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS) in His Business

Nick (18:25):

Nice man. So, what are some of the specific things you guys are doing to build that EOS? For those that are listening that don't know: EOS, Entrepreneurs Operating System. A great book called Traction that I like to I think they mentioned this in the book, it's like, you know, a computer has an operating system. Macs operate a certain way, Windows operates a certain way.

EOS provides a proven system for businesses to operate—to achieve their goals. Is that something, are you self-implementing? Have you looked at bringing on an implementer or what's that looking like for you guys?

Brian (19:09):

Yeah, so that was one of my big takeaways from Mexico. When MDs had that lady come in and speak about EOS in a very professional and structured way I left Mexico did a little due diligence and talked to people. And one of the biggest takeaways that I've had is don't try to implement it yourself. I talked to a couple of different people and they all said, “We did that route and we failed.”

And I said, well, why did you do that route? And they clearly did it to save money. I can understand because it's expensive to bring people in. But we're in the early stages of it. And we've interviewed some implementers. I'm reading the Traction book. And every time I turned into a page, it's like, yeah, “So we need to do that.” Or every time I talked to somebody running it they explained to me five reasons why I need to do this.

And just it's really the operation system. That's what it does. It's that blueprint for success. And more importantly, it's that blueprint for success to go to scale. And so we want to grow, we want to go to scale and I believe that is going to be our next hurdle. If you will achieve that, you know, I was also blessed to go and sit in on a few different meetings.

So one MDs member invited me to his level 10 meeting—they call them. And I was just blown away. I was like, “Wow, this is so organized.” And they're looking at every aspect of the company. And it was just like, you know, it wasn't the owner running it. It was his employee—the integrator—I guess, is the right [way to call them]. And man, it was cool.

Like, and it just showed me like, this is our next step. This is where we're at. And so, uh, the difficulty with that is, is that we have to find time and plan time to make that happen. And we haven't done that yet. So we're, we're in that early stages, but I bet you, uh, you know, in the next six months, you and I will talk again and be like, I've taken that punch.

So that's where we're at. that point, it wasn't EOS selling me. It was a company using EOS showing me success.

Nick (21:14):

Nice. Yeah, man, you know, I self-implemented. And I think for me it was my main decision was, you know, money. I was trying to save money. But I've got a lot of overseas employees and it just seemed like the way to go. And like, I would rather do it with an implementer, but for anybody listening, man, like just

  • Doing the vision traction organizer
  • Identifying my goal and clearly expressing it, and then
  • Implementing the level tens was huge for me

It really brought a lot of clarity to my business and where I want to go. And I was able to trickle that down to the team. So for anyone who's looking for something you know you need it. If you're in a spot, kinda like I was. Check out that vision traction organizer check out the level tens and just try to get that going and start from there.

And when the time comes to hire an implementor they'll still be there for you. You know I think that's one of those things where if you can just get started you're going to gain some traction and get going with something good.

Brian (22:33):

Or just sit in a meeting. What to me was a huge turning point was watching it in action with somebody else. And, you know, it's confidential information. Like you're watching somebody, the inner workings of their business and where they're at in sales, where they're at, in launches, where they're at like everything. When I watched that I was sold like, you know, at that point it wasn't EOS selling me. It was a company using EOS showing me success.

That was what really got my attention. So yeah. For people listening, definitely look at EOS.

Nick (23:10):

Yeah. Check it out. It's definitely helpful. No matter what stage you're at in your business. And I think some people including myself are like, “Ah, I'm too small. I don't need that.” And honestly, the smaller you are, the better it is to implement because you have less stuff to figure out. Like when I tried to implement it, I was like, “Oh my God, I've got like multiple businesses. I've got all this different stuff going on. Like, how do I get this under control?”

It was not easy. It took a long time. And I would definitely start when it was just me back in the day, hitting retail stores, and sending stuff to Amazon.

Brian (23:52):

No, I a hundred percent agree. And it is a little daunting, like to be candid. We're looking at all this stuff and it's like, our business has grown too big. Like how do we get ahold of this? And now we're backtracking. Like if we had done this five years ago we probably would have been 10 years ahead. So yeah, that takeaway is you're not too small to do it.

Nobody is too small to do.

Nick (24:15):

Definitely not man. Get that stuff out of your head and on paper—some type of digital document—and start trying to replace yourself one way or another, as much as possible. I know that's my biggest hurdle right now it’s like I'm in the way of my own business—in so many ways. We've hired a couple of people recently and it's changing to move in the right direction.

But man, for so long, you know, I was the one standing in the way of our growth thinking I was saving myself money by doing so much when in reality I was just choking our growth.

Brian (24:51):

You see Nick, like, here's the thing.  Like I call it—this is another thing that I have in our company. And it's called the two-hand syndrome. You got two hands. Do you want to work on this? Or do you want to work on that? Like you can't do it. All right. So the biggest fundamental shift that we've had is biting the bullet and increasing the payroll and really focusing on a granular level: what do we want to do and how are we going to do it?

And as an employer, there's a sense of we're helping people better their lives by giving them skills, and paying people real living wages is another big thing

And so, you know, one of those things that we did is—I told you—we hired a graphic designer, really bright girl, that's out of school and she's hungry to contribute. That was a home run. We leveled up one of our internal production employees and I'm working her into a brand manager role she's super bright and she gets it and she doesn't know the limit of what she can do.

I just need to show her that path. And so she's, she's walking that path with me. And, you know, for the first time we're launching a product and I like to log on to look at what's going on. And I'm like, it wasn't my two hands that did it and I’m like, wow. Like, you know, it's a micro thing, but it's like, wow, we get this down and we can go to scale and we can do this stuff. And it won't be all me.

And it's not about doing less work for myself. But that means that my two hands can be focused on another area of business, whether it's working with my spouse on what the vision is the future product rollout is, or what the capital requirements to roll these products out are. Well, my two hands need to work on that. So we've been excited to see our team really start to flourish.

And like, I see it again and again with my e-com friends, like, “Hey, how do I hire a team?” There are a lot of ways to hire people. You don't have to bring them all in-house. That's been my strategy, but you have to look at how you grow your team and you have to not accept that it can't be done because there are 450 people in the MDS Facebook group that have figured it out.

So yeah, step up. And that's what lights my brain on fire. Like, in coming away from Mexico, we've continued to grow our team and it's gonna pay off big time. So it's increased our capacity. It's increased their know-how. And as an employer, there's a sense that we're helping people better their lives by giving them skills, and paying people real living wages is another big thing that comes mainly from my wife. But the people that we hire, we pay them well.

So those are all good things.

Nick (27:32):

Yeah. I think you're touching on a lot of things that really, you know, it boils down to mindset. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs go through this evolution where at some point you have to realize that what got you where you are is probably not going to get you where you want to go. And you know, that was a big one for me. Like, yeah, I've been a million-dollar business on my own, through reselling which is different than Private Label.

Like I didn't create a brand. I didn't have to have a graphic designer. I didn't have to run ads and that got me somewhere, but you know where I wanted to go is having my own brands, selling a company, growing, and scaling. And what got me where I was, was not going to get me where I wanted to go in that sense, because now I was trying to be a graphic designer. I was trying to be a marketer. I was trying to design websites and all these things. And it was just a nightmare.

Brian (28:33):

Yeah. And then now that holds you back, right? Yeah. So that's the thing. I mean, one thing I've learned in every person that's sold a million dollars which really is a low bar in this day and age. Like, you know what I mean, my kids are making a hundred dollars a month in allowance and stuff.

Luck is not going to get you to $20 million—it's not. A team is going to get you to $20 million. So you have to assess what are your goals. Do you want to grow?

It shocks me.  But you know, the thing that I see is that when you talk to every one of those people, I think if they're humble, they're going to say “I was lucky.” “There was some luck,” “Things happened to me to make this happen” And I subscribe to the same thing. I've been lucky all my life and the things that I've done now. I think I'm a smart, intelligent person and I make things happen, but you know what?

I've been lucky. And so now I think once you have made that million dollars, you have to look at things a little differently and say, “Hey, how do I put the team together?” Like luck is not going to get you to $20 million—it's not. A team is going to get you to $20 million. So you have to assess like, well, where, what are your goals? Do you want to grow? Or do you just want to be lucky?

If you were lucky, then you can fool around with the half million bucks sales or a million dollars worth of sales. But if you want to go to scale, there's less luck involved and more thought and planning involved. And that circles back to EOS.

Brian’s Hiring Process

Nick (29:53):

So Brian, you touched, you talked about hiring and, you know, hiring is scary for a lot of people, especially when they're first doing it. What advice do you have to give to someone who knows they need to hire somebody they're a little hesitant to do? So, like, I imagine you didn't just throw a job description out there and take the first person that came across your plate. Like, what did you do to ensure that you had a good result for your hiring process?

Have Authentic Conversations When Hiring

Brian (30:24):

I've done hiring all my life, whether it's been in the corporate world or in the entrepreneur world. In the corporate world, I was the manager who got all the top employees, and what I've learned in all my experiences: have real authentic conversations with people.

Get away from the high horse questions about ‘Where do you want to be in five years?’ Nobody freaking knows where they're going to be in five years, but what makes you happy today?

And I'm talking at the executive level and I'm talking down to the micro—you know—the production person just be open, honest, and human. And what I mean by that is to get away from the high horse questions about where you want to be in five years. Nobody freaking knows where they're going to be in five years, but what makes you happy today? All right.

Pay People Well

Brian (31:05)

And so this is what I've learned is one, pay people well, all right. It takes more time and effort for you to go through that hiring process if you've got somebody that works for you for three months and then bounces, cause they got a better job offer somewhere else. Right. And I give you this example, we start people off at $16 an hour in our production. All right.

The minimum wage in Oregon is $12 an hour. So why do we do that? Because you get better people. All right. So another thing is that when we go up the ladder, we're looking at changing how we hire a brand manager, which is okay. We're going to pay you what we'll call a reasonable wage, but we'll give you a piece of the business upon exit.

Like, let's get you some skin in the game, right? Let's tie you to the business.

Don’t Micromanage Employees

Brian (32:00):

So in terms of hiring, I think the worst thing that you can do is get data paralysis and look at things at a too micromanaged level. I don't want to say I'm a coach, but I coached somebody recently on hiring somebody. And I just finally had to tell them, “Hey, look, it's really simple. Try it for 90 days. See what happens. And they're either going to level up and they're going to bring the right mindset to the table and they're going to execute the KPIs that you set forth or you're going to level them out.”

And so it's a really simple thing.

Simplify Your Employment Offer

Brian (32:36):

Try it, you know, I don't think that you have to give people your employment contracts and all this other stuff. Let's see if you like me and I like you. We can work together. And that's what works. I think that's the simplest thing. And so, you know, don't get wrapped up and, you know, crazy offers, you know I have a friend that is going to work for Apple and it's like, I looked at that, the offer and it's like 20 pages long.

We're in the entrepreneur world. Keep it simple.

Pay Attention to the Personal Happiness of Your Employees

Brian (33:06):

Have authentic conversations with people, and ask them, “What do you want?” “What makes you happy?” And then as an employer, I really think that we have to pay attention to the personal happiness of employees. You have to put the shoe on the other foot.

So we kind of put the onus on them, “You want to grind along until four o'clock or you want to step up and contribute and get out early.”

Are they happy? We do fun stuff. Like, go use my timeshare that I'm not using because I'm too busy doing other stuff. But to them, that's a big deal, right? Or, “Hey, Friday, barbecue.” We do a thing in our manufacturing. This is a little tidbit where we end the day at four. All right, that's our hard stop. But we start cleaning at a quarter after three.

And if everybody gets their area clean and the whole place spans, and it's ready to go, then everybody handwrites in their time as four o'clock and you get out of there 25 minutes early. So we kind of put the onus on them, “You want to grind along until four o'clock or you want to step up and contribute and get out early.”

Like it makes them happy. And so we don't mind doing that.

Put These Things Together

Nick (34:11):

And so I think that when you put all those things together, what we have to do with the people that we hire is create a happy workspace because nobody wants to come to work in a grind. If they're coming to work in a grind, they're looking for a different job, they look for a different job. You're replacing them. And now you're back to your two-hands syndrome.

So, hire well and be authentic. That's my advice.

Nick (34:34):

I love it, man. And I hope that people really see the value in what you're saying, because they might hear this and be like, oh yeah, that's common sense stuff. But a lot of people get that shit wrong, man. Like, you know, they get wrapped up in this—like you mentioned a 20-page offer—and all this stuff. And like, what's the point, man? If you really do just have that conversation with someone, get to know them, and give them that trial time to prove themselves.

‘Cause I tell you what I can, I could sit down with probably about 90% of people and impress them with one hour of conversation. But what's going to happen the next week and the week after that? And you know, when something's going on in life, how am I going to show up? Those things, you can't gauge in one sit-down meeting, you just can't.

Do a 90-Day Trial Period

Brian (35:31):

Yeah. Rubber has got to meet the road. And in 90 days they're going to know, and you're going to know. And I mean, we have a tendency, I think as human beings to lock into a solo focus.

And that's important too. Like what is the scope of the job? Like everybody that I know who has a bad hire, they didn't get the scope of the job.

So my focus as the employer I'm going to know. But as employers, we need to turn it around and go, “Hey, what does 90 days look like for them, like where are they at?” You can't just throw them to the wolves. Right? Like, they have to have a process to level up. And that does take some time. So I believe in 90 days, you're going to know damn well whether you hired somebody with the right mindset to contribute to your company and achieve the KPIs that you set forward.

Define a Realistic Scope of Work

Brian (36:11):

And that's important too. Like what is the scope of the job? Like everybody that I know who has a bad hire, they didn't get the scope of the job. So yeah, you set them up for failure and they were stupid enough to take the job. You're writing bad on them and bad on you. But define the scope of the job, and have authentic conversations with people. And it's easy to not do that because I think we live in a world that’s digital—like you and I are sitting on a Zoom call right now.

We're not face-to-face. It's hard to have authentic conversations. But if you really get to know the people and you really ask them, “What do you want?” “Where are you at?” ”What's a choke point for you?” “What's something that would make you excited” Then you have those things in. You'll get good results every time—every time.

Nick (36:56):

Nice man, definitely some solid advice. I hope I have some people take advantage of it and just start having those real conversations with people. And, you know, be willing to put that other shoe on your foot, man. You know, think of it from their position as well. And be a good employer because, you know, that will attract good employees as well, if you're a good employer.

And I like your strategy of just paying people more money right off the bat, because yeah, you got a better chance of attracting those higher quality people that you want in your organization.

Hacks vs Long-term, Evergreen Processes

Nick (37:33):

I just love this common theme that I get from your life—it's just like, you're really empowering people in so many ways to live life on their own terms while benefiting your business and your vision as well. And like, man, talk about getting people in a boat and all rowing in the same direction. Like that's what EOS talks about. And, you know, I just think you're really setting that up for success in so many ways.

I mean, you haven't even really implemented EOS yet. You have all these great things and you've shared some really great stuff with MDS. I would love for you to touch on how you seem to implement these processes that are like evergreen. They're always going to work and they're never going to go away. It's not a hack that is going to go away tomorrow. And I'd like you to just touch on how you really view those things.

How do you handle that hacking culture versus the long-term success processes that I've seen you put in place?

Two Primary Types of Sellers: On Building a Brand

I think we live in a world where you have to be really good at what you do and that's growing a brand.

Brian (38:45):

So I think people have to ask. I've met a lot of different sellers through MDs and other Facebook groups and stuff like that. And there are really two primary types of sellers. And that is one that they're growing a brand and they started this business. Sometimes people are too close to their brand and that's a danger. But they're growing a brand. What can I do to grow my brand?

And then there are other sellers that are selling anything they can get from China. And they're freaking out about paying $12,000 for a container and they're just slinging goods. Right? I think that the danger is the slinging goods. And I think that we live in a world where you have to be really good at what you do and that's growing a brand. I don't necessarily think that people buy brands per se, unless you're, you know, the mega Nike people. People do buy, you know, the one-and-done buyers, right?

But if you can establish a brand, you have a shot at a higher lifetime value customer. And that's important off Amazon, which is not an area I've been super successful with, but it's the right metrics. It's the right thing to do to grow your brand. So, the things that I'm risk-averse to are all the hacks because I can't afford to get suspended. And like that's a fear, every Amazon seller has, like, that's gonna have real implications to this team that we're growing.

Like I don't want to have to let them all go because we got suspended for doing something stupid. And we live in a world with a lot of stupid stuff going on, right? Like we're all reading about how Amazon's taken down some of the big Chinese sellers. Like that's always going to happen. There's always going to be cheaters. There's always going to be these things. So, from my perspective, I'm looking at what can we do today to grow our brand and do it in a way that is going to be evergreen.

Driving Traffic to Your Amazon Listing

Brian (40:37):

And so one of the things that I've made kind of my niche and you know, this is the Instagram outreaches and using social media to leverage the brand and use it in a way to help launch a product and bring external traffic to Amazon.

So whether you're launching from a list you're launching from a social media platform, or you're launching with internal traffic via PPC, bringing traffic to your listing is what it's all about.

And I believe that some of those metrics like external traffic are very important to Amazon. So whether you're launching from a list you're launching from a social media platform, or you're launching with internal traffic via PPC, bringing traffic to your listing is what it's all about. So I don't want to ever use the word expert, but I know my shit, and that’s traffic.

So those are the things that I'm focused on.

Test Things, Build SOPs, and Scale the Work with Your Team

Brian (41:25):

To be honest, it's like sometimes I feel like I'm popular on prom night with all the questions that I get from people like, “Hey, how do I do this?” Because it's a fundamental thing. Like how do you use social media to leverage your stuff? There's a lot of ways of going about it. And so I've tried to perfect ways that really work. Without going into all the mundane details, like there's stuff that works and there's stuff that doesn't work and it's a test, test, test.

And so when I find things that work, that's when I, I offload that to my team and I create SOPs and we try to push it more at scale. And so those are the things that I'm focused on—using evergreen tactics that work.

Finding What Works

Brian (42:11):

And so what are those tactics? ‘Cause everybody's going to say, “Hey, he told me general stuff, where's the nugget here.” It's kinda the same thing as hiring. Be authentic with these social media people. Like, tell them, “Hey, I want you to help me.” You have to realize that if you get these influencers they're like, “What's in it for me?” And you're like, “What's in it for me?”

So you have to have that meeting of minds. And it's different for everyone. Like if you have an influencer that's got a ton of followers, they're gonna want to be paid, but guess what? They command a big audience and their time is worth money. And it may be beneficial to you, right? Because you have to ask yourself, what's the goal here? You want to bring traffic—that could bring the traffic—or you may work with a small, micro influencer that is just happy to get a product for free.

He or she wants to build their own subscriber base. And maybe that works for you. Right?

Like if you have an influencer that's got a ton of followers, they're gonna want to be paid, but guess what? They command a big audience and their time is worth money.

So there's a lot of different things that you can do. But the sky's the limit.  There are so many different social media platforms. We found really good success with YouTube. We've moved away recently from YouTube and into Instagram. But I love the YouTube videos because those things are evergreen and they keep sending you traffic every day. They're out there on YouTube, but you have to have a product that people want to go see.

Like our skincare products do well. There are a million girls out there who are looking for tips on how to do their skincare better. So yes, that stuff works. I had one guy who asked me, how do I use YouTube to do my gun carry cases? And I'm like, huh, well, it's just, you have to ask yourself. There’s a different way to slay every dragon. Well, maybe what you do is pick out some gun reviewers who are doing the latest, cool gun.

You have them do shout-outs and do a little in-depth talk about your gun carry bag.  And maybe that works and you know, there's always a way to do it.

Focus On Connecting with the Relevant Audience

Brian (44:09):

And I'm a real big preacher on relevance. Like, you talked about that bell last meeting, and it's all about relevance. So it's like, you don't take your gun bag to the skincare girls and vice versa. Right? You have to have the right audience. You know, I had one guy who asked me for help and I've told this story a bunch of times. He's got a pet treat that is like a doggy downer. And he's like, you know, I'm trying to find people to do this and I'm just not having good luck.

I think that all Amazon is about is about relevance. That's why products rank. And that's why some people find success and others don't —it is about relevance.

And I said, “Hey, send me your listing. I looked at it, it's a bottle with the Husky on the thing. I've got two Huskies. I noticed those dogs are spazzes. I'm like, “Hey, this has gotta be a great product. Right. You need to be searching for Husky owners.” He hit me back two weeks later and he's like, “Oh my God, it works.” Because it's relevant. So like, sometimes I feel like walking around with a big t-shirt on that says it's about relevance.

I think that all Amazon is about is about relevance. That's why products rank. And that's why some people find success and others don't —it is about relevance. That's where we're focusing our efforts, how we bring relevant traffic to Amazon, off Amazon, and Amazon will reward you. I'm pretty certain of that. So that's where we're going with that. But the one takeaway is to remember relevance. If you're trying to do something and it's not relevant, stop, that'd be my advice.

Nick (45:46):

Yeah, man, I love your advice, Brian. I've seen the inner workings of your SOP and your processes and like, you have to be in MDS to see that stuff. And that's what is so valuable because like what you provide people is literally like the keys to making it happen. But for those people that aren't in MDs, Brian, it's literally just what Brian is saying.

Talking to the Right People

Nick (46:10):

Have authentic conversations with people relevant to what you're trying to do. If you can find those people and have those conversations and you have a good product, then it's just as simple as saying, “Hey, we've got this product. Here's what we're trying to do. We think you're a good fit and here's our offer.” And just send that out to as many people as possible. And if you do that a hundred times, you're going to get one person.

It sounds like a low conversion rate. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But you know, how many people do you really need to make that happen? And it's probably not as many as a lot of us think. For some reason, I have a habit of always jumping to the advanced stuff. If you tell me, like, go on Instagram and you know, maybe we're talking about posting. Well, I'm going to be like, what time of day should I post?

You know, like that's where my mind goes. In reality, Brian would probably say just freaking post it, just make the post.

Brian (47:18):

Here's the thing it's like, there's many people like you like that. Let's look at it. Like, I'm a visual guy. I got an acronym for everything. Like I call the Instagram outreach speed dating. We got to talk to a hundred people to get one, to say yes. But hey, that one person that says, yes, it's highly relevant. And they're like gold. Like, that's the one, right?

When you went dating in your younger years you were looking for someone to say yes, and you were excited when they said yes, that was relevant to you. Same stuff. So I call it speed dating.

Build the Base of The Pyramid: Focus on the Foundation First

Brian (47:49):

But, to the point that you made about data paralysis: what time to post or how to do it? You gotta look at it as a pyramid. Build the base of your pyramid.

Like if we're talking about PPC, even, if you need to be doing long tail keywords, that's the base of your pyramid. If you want to go for that heavyweight, you know, 400,000-search-term, that's the top of the pyramid. The only way you're going to get to the top is by climbing that pyramid one block at a time, and it starts with the foundation.

Don't do the top of the pyramid, build the base of the term. Like if we're talking about PPC, even, if you need to be doing long tail keywords, that's the base of your pyramid, right? Like if you want to go for that heavyweight, you know, 400,000-search-term, that's the top of the pyramid man. The only way you're going to get to the top is by climbing that pyramid one block at a time, and it starts with the foundation.

It starts with the widest part to get to the smallest part. But in people's minds, it’s like, “You know what, screw it. I want to rank for that 400,000 keyword.” And they fall on their face or, I mean, we could talk for hours about ranking. You know, it's something that I've made my thing, but I can't tell you how many people, I don't mean this to sound general, but it's just the fact—people rank for the wrong keywords.

And when they do and they get to the top, they can't sustain it. And if you just ask yourself, it's so obvious. If I could get to the top of a keyword, that's 400,000, can I stay there? Why are the other people there? Well, guess what, because their offers are really kickass their listings are really optimized and their conversion is really good. Right?

And if you're ranking and I'll call it cheating the system, you know, like if you're sending that relevant traffic and Amazon's algorithm says, “Hey, we better boost them here.” You better be able to stay there. And so many people miss that, they just don't understand it. They look at their PPC and they're saying, it's converting at a hundred percent like you don't have a good offer. So, it's really kind of like what I've been preaching.

Sense-Check Your Listing: Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

Brian (49:37):

I don't know how long we're into our call here. But what I've been really preaching in 2021 is if I can share with the viewers, one thing, I don't care how good you are on Amazon, you better sense-check your listing. Because there are people that are doing it unbelievably well. And they're doing it better than you. They're doing it better than me.

They're doing it better than people who think they know what they're doing. And you had better optimize, optimize, optimize.

You better use stuff like PickFu to check your images and really look at this because you're playing against people who are doing it really well. And so we're taking that advice ourselves.  And we're, re-engineering our listings and we're rethinking all these new candles, about how good are the sayings or which one would you pick or which one's most relevant or which ones to exclude.

And really looking at it. Garland in MDS mentioned “Win the image,” right? That's really stuck with me. Like you better win the fucking gallery image or you're not going to win the sale. And so that's a big deal. And so my mission in 2021 is we've got to improve our conversion by having better listings. And that's the base of the pyramid stuff, guy, right? That's not the top-of-the-pyramid stuff, but that'd be some free advice I'd give people.

My mission in 2021 is we've got to improve our conversion by having better listings. And that's the base of the pyramid stuff

Nick (51:01):

Yeah. That main image is definitely critical, man. I mean, that's what grabs attention in those search results. And yeah, you got to nail that one, man.

Brian (51:09):

Yeah. And if you think it's good, you're wrong. That's how you have to look at it. And that's why services like PickFu or there's probably a dozen other ones, but that's why services can run a hundred or 200 people to it. Like we did a survey and I think that I'm good at this and I'm wrong—I was wrong. I got to shake my head and say, you know what? 67% of 200 people they were right and I was wrong.

So it says, it's sense-check stuff. I always offer to help people. If people listen to this and they want some help, hit me on Facebook, I don't mind. You know, people are like, “Hey, what do you charge?” And I just laugh. And I'm like, Hey, it's always, it's always fun to see what other people are doing. I would say rely on other people that got experience to help you get to that million dollars.

And you get to that million dollars, get your ass in MDS. It'll really set your mind on fire. True—those are honest words

Surprise Benefits of Joining MDS

Nick (52:40):

Yeah, man, it's such a great group, man. And, you know, just the fact like that the people you get to meet, man, there's just so many great things that happened in MDS. Like, I mean, I consider you a friend, Brian, you've inspired me to be a better father to be a better husband and you inspire me to be a better business owner. And that probably wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for MDs.

You know, I wouldn't have these people to look up to say, “Hey, I want to be there.” You know, “I want to be that type of father.” “I want to be that type of husband—that type of business owner.” And it just constantly keeps me leveling up in so many areas of my life that you know, you only get that when you have a circle of people around you that are doing bigger and better things.

Not to say that anyone's better than anyone else. You know, ‘bigger and better’ just means, you know, they're inspiring me to really be who I already know I want to be. And you're just paving the path you're showing me: Hey, you know, take your wife out once a month. You know, go somewhere, just you guys, you know, go out to dinner once a week. It's like, okay, these are my weekly to-do's that I need to do to make this happen. Which is just great, man. And I'm so grateful for it.

Brian (53:39):

I totally feel the same. And you know, like we're all part of different Facebook groups, right? Like that's where I found MDs. And I had no idea that I was going to find the things that you just listed. I had no idea. I just thought like, okay, well, what are the new hacks that I don't know about? It's less about that. And it's more about what you said and I've found great friends, like you. And I have talked about losing weight together.

I was just down in Arizona and I got to connect with my buddy, Mike, who I think is two months into MDS and I'm always genuinely curious. I'm like, so how's it working out for you? And he's like, man, it's life-changing. Yeah. And I chuckled because I know—I'm there too.

Like I would have never known you unless it was through MDS. And so I've had access to some people in different areas of my life that have been fantastic. And in the professional sense on Amazon, yeah, it's been super good. You know, I can't speak highly enough about the group. It's the best group out there. It really is.

Nick (54:28):

Well, you know, my favorite thing about doing these interviews is obviously, we're trying to highlight the group. We want people to know about the group. I never have to ask someone to talk about the impact that MDS has had on their lives. It always just comes out because it’s that powerful and it’s that real. And it will change your life in so many ways that people just want to share that because they want other people to have that experience as well. 

Brian (55:00):

A hundred percent Nick. I was just down in Arizona and I got to connect with my buddy, Mike, who I think is two months into MDS and I'm always genuinely curious. I'm like, so how's it working out for you? And he's like, man, it's life-changing. Yeah. And I chuckled because I know—I'm there too. Like, there's no difference. I really generally like—if he said, “Oh man, this is really not for me.” I'd be—it's not even that I'm concerned—it's like, “Wow. Where was the disconnect?”

I'd be curious to know what that disconnect is, and I've never come across it. It's just for our business. You know, it has helped us level up our business. Honestly, I'd never stumbled across EOS unless they came into MDS. And so that's where we're, that's where we're headed. And I firmly believe EOS will level our company up. Absolutely.

I'm grateful that MDs brought that to me. And that was by going to one of the events and going and doing the free workshop. And I brought my wife to that and she was like, “Oh my gosh, we need to do this.” Just that simple thing. It will level us up. So yeah, I don't mean to, you know, sit here and stroke the MDS wagon, but it's been really good. It's been good. So I'm grateful for it. Really grateful.

Nick (56:18):

Well, Brian, thank you so much for coming on and sitting down with me for a little bit. It's always a pleasure chatting with you. I look forward to seeing you again in person, and I'm sure it won't be that long before we make that happen. But yeah, man, I'll be talking to you in the group soon, and thank you so much for coming on. You

Brian (56:39):

You got it, man.

Nick (52:40):

All right.

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