Famous for his expertise in virtual hiring, Chris Ducker is back on SuperFastBusiness to talk about business, marketing and some of the secrets behind his success. Tune in to gain insights and tips from this well-known speaker, author and “virtual CEO.”
In the podcast:
00:54 – Back from a world tour
02:05 – A bit of background
02:50 – Why you need a plan and how to do it
04:21 – The virtual team management structure
05:56 – Long-term career growth
06:56 – How to utilize a VA
08:00 – The myth of the super VA
08:57 – Post-travel routines
11:17 – Standout moments on Chris’ trip
12:00 – How virtual freedom changed people’s lives
13:32 – The power of the personal brand
16:33 – The most effective book promotion channel
20:24 – A video marketing binge and its outcome
23:45 – Balancing quality and quantity
27:24 – All noise, no signal?
30:35 – Why is Chris coming to SuperFastBusiness Live?
32:35 – Here comes the curveball question
34:43 – Choosing just 3 people to follow
36:19 – Adventures with Scott Stratten
41:06 – Chris’ personal mantra
See Chris Ducker present at SuperFastBusiness Live
James: James Schramko here, welcome back to SuperFastBusiness. I’ve got a repeat guest not because he was slow the first time, but because he was popular, and for that reason he‘s coming to my live event so I wanted to get on Skype, have a chat to Chris Ducker, welcome back.
Chris: Hello mate, how are you?
James: Now you’ve been busier than I have, so I’m probably more relaxed. You’ve been travelling around the world, I can still see the burn marks in your wake. What’s it like getting back after doing a little world tour?
Chris: Mate, it’s good. You know, I went into 2014 knowing that it was going to be a bit of a whirlwind, with the book coming out in the beginning of the second quarter and all the travelling and the speaking schedule that I had in place. I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work. But I also knew when it was going to come to an end, and that was right at the tail end of October.
And it’s been nice, I’ve got to be honest with you. November so far has been really relaxing, a lot of decompression, a lot of just switching off a little bit, and then… You know, we’re already in sort of planning mode for the first quarter of next year with the businesses and everything, but yeah, it’s good. It’s nice to be able to be back on one time zone and not have to worry about when I need to be in a bloody departure lounge or anything like that, you know?
James: Yeah, that is nice, and I can relate to it. I think you now feel, because we’re not so much stuck to a desk, we do tend to roam around a bit, explore new markets. That’s kind of what I want to touch on today.
Virtual business superhero
So just first off, by way of introduction, Chris Ducker, superhero in the virtual assistant space, “Virtual Freedom” book, also has a call center, hundreds of employees, super famous success star of the world, based in the Philippines but from London…
Chris: You’re making me sound like a rock star. This is great, keep going!
James: This is a privilege, it’s special. We will link back on our website to our previous discussion where we’re talking about your Virtual Freedom the book, and some of the things you should know about hiring and training and running a team. Today I want to challenge you though, Chris – would you be prepared to answer a grab bag of mixed questions?
Chris: I am prepared.
Chris: I’m bracing myself currently as we speak. So let’s do it.
Planning and goal setting for business growth
James: Yeah, you should be braced for this one. First up, when you say you’re going to plan next year, as a business owner, what sort of things do you think a business owner should be looking to plan?
Chris: Well, I think, you know, there’s two ways to look at that. The first thing is why you need to plan, and secondly, how you should plan. I think more than anything else, I think, what you should be planning. I think that planning and goal-setting is incredibly important to business growth.
I tend to plan out my businesses year to year in two different ways. I put a yearly goal in place, or maybe a small collection of yearly goals. And that might be increasing my revenue, it might be growing out a new area of the business, or whatever the case may be.
And then I put quarterly goals, or 90-day goals in place. And they’re the ones that I really focus in on month to month, quarter to quarter, day to day, to make sure that I hit. And for me, that goal setting really enables me to stay on track and make sure that I’m being productive for the majority of the year.
Because you know, there are times where we lull, and we lose a little bit of energy. We might maybe get sick, maybe we go on vacation or whatever it is. There’s times when it’s time to work, and I sort of try and put those goals in place so that I make sure that I’m as productive as I can throughout the course of the year.
And the other thing, then, is obviously the execution of those goals, and making sure that everybody in the company knows what those goals are, why we’re working towards them, and then how we’re actually going to achieve them.
Chris’ management team
James: Alright. And do you have a team of managers, somewhere between you and the rest of the business, or are you running a pretty flat hierarchy for the marketing side of things?
Chris: We have a team of management in place. So we’re currently at about 280 employees now, and we have a team of around 20 or so managers. Some of those, obviously, have obviously nothing to do with the marketing of the business.
James: I’m glad you continued that sentence. Probably a listener to this, wondering, if you think they don’t do anything…
Chris: Yeah, right. No, with the marketing. And obviously, there are a handful that are quite involved day to day on that. Everybody knows their place. They all know what their individual goals are based around our goals as a business, and we all work very closely together from a management perspective. But out of that 20 people, I only work very closely with probably just five of those people. And then everything just sort of disseminates down the line.
James: Do you have a virtual assistant?
Chris: I have three full-time GVAs, currently, and obviously the rest of the staff are internal.
James: Right. So it sort of does begs the question, you’re like the king of VAs and hiring, you must get to cherry-pick the talent of the talent of the talent. I imagine they feel quite privileged, working alongside you.
Career growth with long-term perspective
Chris: I hope so. I mean, I certainly hope so. And yes, we do get to cherry-pick, obviously, and we make sure we make the most of that privilege. It goes both ways, though, James. Here’s the thing. It’s like, it’s all very well for them to feel good about working for us, and for me, but you know I also have to feel good about working with them and what their plans are long term with me.
I mean I’m all about long term growth. I don’t think we’ve advertised a middle management position upwards externally as a corporation for the last four years. So when people come to work for me, they know that they’ve got a genuine career path that they can start on from day one. And I’m all about promoting from within, but from time to time, we do need to hire lower level staff externally, and we’ve got no problems doing that.
James: Yeah, it’s a good point. My management team have been in place for five years now.
Chris: Yeah, and you know, they’re invested in you just as much as their own career.
James: Oh, I’ve watched them, you know, buy houses and raise kids. It’s very exciting and interesting but there’s something in common, you know, it’s something that someone might pay attention to.
How do you utilize your VA?
James: I suspect, I know the answer to this, but I’m going to ask you, do you think that most business owners, especially small business owners, are utilizing their virtual assistants the right way?
Chris: I think they’re utilizing them, but the right way is going to be different for every business owner, obviously. But I think ultimately across the board, there’s definitely room for improvement. For a couple of reasons: number one, they’re just not utilizing their VAs enough. I see that happening a lot, and in four, five, six months down the line, they end up a lot of the time letting the VA go, because they feel as if they’re not getting their money’s worth, which is just ridiculous.
You know, you put enough tasks in place, enough SOPs in place for them to follow, and they’ll always have something to do. You know that just as much as I do. And the other thing is that VAs themselves want to grow. They want the odd curveball. They want to pick up new skills. And as their bosses, it’s up to us to give them those challenges.
James: That’s it. I think you’re really touch on, I think it’s a human need to develop, to want to grow. And a lot of the things that I see, especially complaints, are people who, and you do see it, especially if you go to a Facebook group or something, people will just be complaining about how terrible the outsources were. I think they expect they’re going to get a fully tooled machine who can do everything without, you know, you just push the button and everything will be done automatically for you. I don’t think they have any intention of putting in effort or training or guidance or even acknowledging that this person is not indeed a robot.
Chris: Yeah, I mean I call it the Super VA, don’t I?
James: I think your book addresses a lot of this stuff and it’s a good recipe for people who are trying to get a handle on what is reasonable to expect and how you go about it, so I do recommend that book, “Virtual Freedom.” I’ve got the T-shirt, I’ve got the book, it’s all good.
Chris: You do have the shirt, you’re right.
Returning to your routine after travel
James: How important is routine? When you get back home, to switch back into the way that you were doing things before you went on your tour, do you have an on ramp, or a way to reset back into old ways?
Chris: I don’t have a sort of a system or a process, per se. What I tend to do, particularly after a long trip, you know, I was on the road for like five weeks, between the last week of August right through to the end of September, which was sort of my second large tour, so to speak, where I did like eight speaking gigs in six cities in four weeks or something insane, it was crazy. And the week that I got back, my schedule was entirely blank. Because that’s getting reacquainted with the family, that’s getting over jet lag, that’s getting to the gym, and in the pool, and all that sort of stuff for me.
I don’t think there’s a process, per se, but there’s definitely, now that I’m back and I’m sort of relaxed and a little bit back to normal, so to speak, there’s definitely routines on a daily basis for me, in terms of when I’ll start work, when I’ll stop work, when I’ll exercise, and that sort of stuff. And that’s something you don’t get a lot of freedom with when you’re on the road, when you’re doing a lot of travelling, and it does take a toll on you. It does, it takes a toll on you. And I think that getting back into the routine after you come back, you’ve got to try and get back into it as soon as you can.
And I only work Monday to Thursday. I don’t do Friday, and I haven’t done for a number of years, and I only work about five hours a day. And that’s from like noon to 5 p.m. And so I have this rule where if I want something done, I schedule it within those five hours. If something is not scheduled, literally put it on my calendar, if something is not scheduled then it will not get done.
So I make sure that I don’t put too much on there and I don’t overload myself. I hate procrastination. If something’s on the schedule, it’s getting done today. I’m not going to swipe it over to Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday.
James: And what do you use for your schedule?
Chris: Just an iCal.
James: And does anyone else have access to it?
Chris: Yes, my PA and my wife, the real boss, as I call her.
James: Ha, ha! Enough said. All right, let’s move on.
Chris: Yes, let’s move on from that one.
James: Yeah, end of story.
Chris: There we go.
Three lives changed
James: So, all right, in all your travels, in the last few weeks, I think it would be a great opportunity to ask: what was the most incredible thing you discovered while you were away, the most amazing revelation or A-HA or best tip?
Chris: I don’t think there was sort of one particular new thing that was presented to me, but there were two or three things that really stood out on this travel recently. The first one was being able to meet the readers of my book. That was absolutely life-changing for me.
Because you know, when you write a book, you put a lot of time, energy and effort into that. Like way more, way more than you initially think you’re going to need to put into it to make it happen. And you know, there were three people that I’ve met in different countries, or actually different cities that have come up to me, and I keep remembering them all the time.
There was one guy who lost his wife a few years ago to cancer, and his little daughter who was two years old, two or three years old, I can’t remember exactly how old she was now. But he’s recently lost his wife, very young daughter, and he said, “Your book enabled me to put in place three virtual workers that can do the work for me so I can carry on running my business and look after my daughter myself instead of having to put her in daycare and have to get a real job.”
James: Yeah, that’s profound, that’s great.
Chris: Another guy said it saved his marriage, because he stopped being a micro-managing overworked, stressed-out business owner. And then there was another lady who came up to me and directly said, “Your book changed my life.” And I said, “Well that’s a little vague, give me details.” And she said, “Well, within 30 days of hiring my first GVA, I could directly associate additional revenue of $6,000 in a month because I have more time to spend on my business instead of being trapped inside it.”
James: OK, now what’s a GVA?
Chris: General VA. Admin-type VA.
James: OK, thank you for clarifying that. Even I didn’t know what that means.
Chris: It’s all right, mate. You learn something new everyday, don’t you?
James: I do.
The importance of the personal brand
Chris: So that for me, that was the biggest thing. The other thing was, and this is really where my kind of focus is of particularly as an online business owner going forward into next year is going to be, was just a kind of, the confirmation and the validation, the importance of the personal brand and what that personal brand can do for you even as an enterprise owner, a business owner.
You know, this year, it’s funny, I was on the road promoting the book and talking about the book a lot. However, the one keynote presentation that I got invited to give at events more than anything else was my “Business of You” presentation, which was about personal branding and developing P-to-P or people to people relationships to be able to build a business in a smart manner. It wasn’t the “Virtual Freedom” keynotes. I did it a whole bunch of times, but the “Business of You” presentation probably outweighed it 2 to 1, throughout the course of the year.
And so when I meet people and they get it, and people come up to me and say, “Oh, I’ve done this, I’ve done this since hearing you speak,” here and there, it really validated the concept or my particular views and concepts of building a brand personally based on experience and stories and what you as an entrepreneur, as a business owner can give your customers and your audience and the world as a whole. And that validation was really important to me.
And I wanted to start pulling the trigger on it, getting into next year. Because we doubt ourselves a little bit, from time to time, as business owners and entrepreneurs, and I think having that validation from the people that you’re meeting physically face to face is huge.
James: I’ll validate you, Chris. I think you’re all right.
Chris: There you go.
James: I mean you’re automatically validated by me because I asked you to come and speak at my event in March, and there’s not that many people who I would like to have come and share with my audience, you know, because these are the best customers I have and I want them to be moved. I want them to go from where they’re at when they arrive at the event to somewhere better and I bring people who I think will facilitate that. And you being so much more to it than just the VA or GVA stuff you’re an expert in, you’ve got all this other stuff, the behind-the-scenes things that I think is interesting.
I mean, I’ve met you a number of times to talk about these things. And just as a support thing, even though I’ve got my business built around a brand name, the number one search query that brings people to my site is my own name, so there’s no surprise that personal branding is very strong.
Chris: Yeah, and you know what, you’re not the first person to say that, “Yeah, you’re known for the VA stuff, but we also know that there’s so much more there.” And there is, and that is what I’m now going to be unleashing.
James: Oh, you heard it first, folks. I’m getting the scoop on this.
Chris: That probably sounded a little bit more powerful than it really is, but you know what I mean.
Powerful book promotion
James: Chris Ducker unleashes… Of all the things you did to promote your book, what was the number one best master marketing move that you did?
James: The podcasts.
Chris: Without doubt, yeah. Getting on the right podcasts. I want to clarify that, the right podcasts. Not just as many as I could get on. I think I probably did burn a little bit more of the candle on that as I wanted to, I spun my wheels a little bit.
James: Well, there’s going to be an 80-20, right?
Chris: Yes, exactly.
James: How would you determine what the right podcast to be on is?
Chris: I think it was a combination of a couple of things. The first thing was the relationship that I had with the podcast owner. I noticed that if I had a good relationship with the podcast owner, and I was coming on the show to talk about my book, and they, as a matter of way of having me on the show to talk about the book ultimately endorsed that book, and influenced their audience by having me on the show to buy that book, because of the relationship in place there was obvious winners there, yourself being one of them. When you had me on your show, I saw a whole bunch of sales come through on Amazon.
James: Oh, the people listening to this show are absolutely buyers. I mean podcast is my number one traffic thing.
Chris: Oh, yeah.
James: And I experienced this firsthand when I was a guest on Tim Reid’s show and Luke Moulton, they had Small Business Big Marketing and I was a guest, and we sold so much of my product, and they were as affiliates, that Tim was blown away and he said, “Let’s do a podcast together.” And I’m like, wow, this podcasting thing is pretty cool. And so I got into it from that point, and you’re saying it, I’m saying it: podcast is the number one way to get the marketing happening.
Chris: It is. And I think the other reason why it works so well was because I’m more of a talker than a typer.
James: Me too.
Chris: I mean I could have gone down the guest post route. And I did a handful of guest posts, which were literally just text pulled from the book, ultimately, tweaked a little bit. I’d say probably 40% of the book was out on the Internet before it even came out, on my blog and other people’s blogs.
And here’s the other thing. I’m going to be able to sell my own book better than anybody else on the planet. Just like I’ll be able to sell my product better than anybody else on the planet. But that being said, the power of having an influencer endorse that book, like yourself, like Lewis Howes, like Pat Flynn, you know, I was on all those shows and they all did extremely well for me in regards to the book sales.
Now there were smaller shows, not-so popular shows that I was also on, which also created sales, and I wanted to do those slightly smaller shows because of a number of different reasons. There was everything from saying “thank you” to the owner of that show for supporting me for so long, and this and the other, because obviously I could only do so many in a space of time. But podcasting by far brought in more sales per capita than any other marketing activity that we did for the book, hands down.
James: It’s huge. Yeah, I had a lady just in the last few days interview me, and then put it in front of three huge Facebook groups, and she’s gone straight to number one in the Australian business marketing category, and she implemented everything I told her to do, which was the whole topic of the podcast. I’m leveraging that with an infographic, and now I’ve just generated a huge audience. So it pays to have your own podcast and it pays to be a guest.
A video marketing binge
Now, next topic is videos. You went on a bit of a video marketing binge. I’d love to know, what was the outcome of that?
Chris: Well, there were a few outcomes.
James: Tell us about it, just because I think it was great fun and you made a little campaign around it, you were doing a video a day for a month, I think.
Chris: Yeah, I mean I…
James: Most people grow a moustache, not Chris Ducker. He just puts out a video every day for, was it November or October?
James: September, right. What happened? Did it change your traffic, did it teach you something new, did it improve your camera technique?
Chris: There was a few things. I mean, the real reason why I did it was I used to a lot of video.
James: And me too.
Chris: Yeah. Over the last year or so, I did a lot less, because I was obviously focused on writing the book, editing the book, putting a marketing plan in place for the book, and then all the travel and the rest of it, around the launch of the book. So here I am, I’m about to set off for a month-long trip, all these different events I’m going to, all these different cities, etc. etc. etc.
And I’m thinking, well, I haven’t done any video for ages. So let’s do a video a day with my iPhone, real simple, real quick and easy. I’m going to have so many people to talk to, I can do stuff on my own, I can do stuff with other people, it’s going to be easy. And ultimately the creation of the content for the most part was easy.
But I‘ll be honest, and say that the 25th of September, I was 3 ½ weeks in, right? The 25th of September, I was in Portland, Maine, in the United States, it was my first night there, I’d just had dinner with Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Greg Hickman and a few other people. And myself and Pat went back to the hotel, and we were sitting in the hotel lounge bar, having a nightcap, it was 10:30. And I realized that I hadn’t uploaded my video for the day. In fact, I hadn’t even shot the video for the day.
I looked at Pat, and I said to him, “You know the whole “Vidtember” thing that I’ve got going on?“ He said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.” I said, “Well, I didn’t do a video today, so, you know, I kind of just screw it. Forget about it, I’ll just do it tomorrow. “ I mean, he looked at me with these bug eyes of his, and said, “No no, wait a minute. You can’t miss a day now. Like, you just can’t do it. Get your phone, we’re shooting a clip right now.”
So publicly I’m announcing, Pat Flynn saved Vidtember. Because I would have blanked it that day, I’ve got to be honest, I would have. It became increasingly harder, over that final week, to come out with content that was really going to help or entertain.
James: That’s it. I think you can, you know, I call this like the Seth Godin effect. Like he sort of puts out a post everyday, but a lot of it’s crap.
James: And I think because he’s, either because he’s artistically wanting to just be a, get that roll-up-the-sleeves and produce something, or whether he’s got a stubborn streak, but I’m actually, I’m more for the Pareto these days. It’s like, I’d rather just put out something when I’ve got something to say. So there might be a hiatus, there might be a gap, and then there’s something… Like this, you know, we’ve got something to say, and we’ve rolled out the microphone and away we go.
But I will say that putting out more frequent stuff has shown me that you get a lot more downloads. Like, when I looked at the last 30 days, my SuperFastBusiness podcast has almost 10 times more downloads than any of my individual joint venture podcasts where I’m podcasting less frequently. So there’s a balance between quantity and quality.
James: And I think what you’ve tested there is the boundary on the quantity where you start to lose that creative spark, maybe.
Chris: Yeah, I mean, the other thing was that the 80-20 rule always comes into play with anything and everything you’re doing, output-wise. And I look back at those videos now, 20% of them are great clips, great tools, resources, tips, tactics, the whole kit and kaboodle. And the other 80% was just content. Just consumable content.
James: It’s like, yeah, so, I’m the same. I’m looking at my stuff from a year ago, two years ago, and here’s something that’s not often done. You’ve got to curate your own stuff. And sometimes it pays to just clean up old things or delete stuff that you no longer feel meets the minimum standard. So I’m constantly refining stuff.
Chris: Totally agree, yeah.
James: Just like your rose garden. If you let it all grow, it’s going to start having dead buds, and it’s taking oxygen from the good stuff.
James: So pruning back a side or a channel can actually help you direct more energy to the good stuff.
Chris: Yeah, and obviously, throughout the course of September, I got more video plays on YouTube, I got more new subscribers on YouTube than I usually do, because of the content that I was creating.
James: Yeah. And you probably motivated a bunch of people.
Chris: I did. But I also heard from several people, several people throughout the course of the month, not just one or two, I’d probably say seven or eight people, reached out to me in one capacity or another and said, “Chris you know, we love what you do, man, but this is just overwhelming. There’s just too much content to consume here. You know, it’s almost off-putting.”
James: That’s it. I was getting feedback from people, too, that they’ve got my emails in their inbox but they haven’t got to it yet. So it’s good enough not to delete, or unsubscribe, but there’s too much of it for them to actually get through. It’s like you’re serving them a meal every hour. They just reach the limit.
Chris: Yeah. And I think, this is a great part of this conversation, because there’s a lot of lessons to be learned.
James: I hope there’s a few, Chris, I hope there’s a few.
Chris: I bloody hope so, you’re right, yeah. I think what it is is the other thing that people online now are worried about is content marketing. It‘s a big thing right now. The big question is, how much is enough, or how much is too much.
And one of the things I’ve learned is that throughout the course of the last 12 months, my social media engagement and interaction with my readers and my subscribers has gone through the roof, and the number of blog comments that I get has dropped. So people are now taking the content to social, and they’re discussing it via social media rather than actually on the site that it’s produced on.
James: Well, you know, one of the big popular sites turned off their comments and said, look, you go and talk about it on social media if you want to talk about it.
Chris: Yes, yes.
Is it just a lot of noise?
James: Interesting, but is a lot of that just noise, and here’s something I’m passionate about, and I made a members’ webinar about this and I shared a snippet about it on my public blog. And I got a lot of emails. In fact, I got more email replies to that broadcast than any in the last few months. And it was from people saying Thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes. Thank you for reminding me.
And my rant was that all these freedom and lifestyle designer success stories are sitting on frickin’ Facebook for 14 hours a day. That’s not lifestyle, that is chained to a machine. And I think that there’s a bit of a misnomer with social media. There’s a lot of noise, but I don’t think there’s a huge amount of signal. I’d take an email list over a social media list any day.
Chris: Yeah. I agree with you 120%. However, I will say that because of the changes that I’ve seen in the way that I’m interacting with my subscribers, like yes, I get replies to emails, and I think that if I was to openly ask for feedback for a certain blog post or podcast or video via email, I know my people would hit Reply and send me that feedback via email. But I have seen the numbers of blog comments drop, and the amount of interaction and discussion on social, particularly Twitter and Facebook, go up.
James: But it’s partly the way that you syndicate your content. I think you actually put raw stuff on the social media sites directly at times, is that right?
Chris: I do, yeah.
James: And I don’t.
Chris: Yes. No, there is definitely….
James: So you’re saying, Look, I’m just going to put my stuff over here, I’m happy for you to stay there.
James: That’s not how I roll, though.
Chris: Yeah, no, sure. And I mean, I don’t know whether that will be my tactic forever, but it is right now. But what I’m trying to get about here is sometimes with the blog comments and things like that, I am very seriously contemplating turning mine off and focusing in on a) the list a lot more, and b) the social interaction a lot more. I mean, what are blog comments for? It’s to interact with your community, to get feedback, to hear what they’ve got to say. They can do that via email. This is a discussion that can go on for hours.
James: Yeah. Well, my short answer to this is, from my perspective I’m just going to keep building my core property, I‘m going to have the discussion at my site. I don’t worry so much about YouTube and stuff. I’m happy to syndicate to iTunes, and I’m really mostly focused on my blog, because that’s where my Purchase buttons are…
Chris: Love it.
James: …and my email list, and that’s really the result that I want. So everything’s geared around the result.
Chris: Yeah. I agree, I agree.
James: And I use syndication to get people back to the site.
Chris: Yeah. And you know, that is ultimately the best way to look at it. That’s the best focus to have on that. And you know, it’s all about your hub. It’s all about your hub.
Why will Chris be at James’ event?
James: So next question: why are you coming to SuperFastBusiness Live in March?
Chris: So you can give me a surf lesson.
James: I will. I’ll do that.
Chris: You know, I’ve never surfed in my life.
James: You won’t be able to say that after the event.
Chris: There you go. Well, make sure I don’t get eaten by a shark or something, will you?
James: No one’s been eaten by a shark at this beach since the 1920’s.
James: Since they put a net. Statistically, you have a lot more chance of being run over crossing the road to get to the beach.
Chris: Awesome, good to know.
James: Yeah, no problem there.
Chris: Yeah. Now, I’m coming because, first and foremost, you’ve invited me, and you and I are friends, and you are also speaking at Tropical Think Tank in May next year, so it’s my way to be able to say thank you to you for having time out of your schedule to come to my event. And it will really, you know, enable me to try and provide as much value to your audience as I possibly can. And you summed it up perfectly: these are my best customers, and I think that it is important to zero in on those best customers whenever you possibly can as a business owner.
And for you, SuperFastBusiness Live annual event, get-together, get everybody in one place all at the same time, bring in the experts, and just lay down as many value bombs as possible, that’s what it’s about.
James: Yeah, that’s it. It’s what we do. It’s the 10th time, and I do it for them.
Chris: Yeah. And let me tell you something – even if you weren’t coming to speak at Tropical Think Tank, I would still come over to SuperFastBusiness. I would still lay down those value bombs and interact with your audience, because I know that you’re a top guy, and I know that your customers are extremely important to you, and therefore they’re also going to be topnotch people as well. And I like hanging out with topnotch people.
A curveball question
James: Yeah. The vibe is incredible. I want to ask you just a random question, OK? You don’t have to answer this if it’s too sensitive, but this is probably a curveball. Are you ready?
Chris: Oh, God. Go on.
James: OK, so Mr. VA, travel the world, keynote speaker, call center expert, you recently did what looked to me like an affiliate promotion of someone’s website service. And I was just curious, is affiliate marketing one of your income plans? Is it successful for you, do you still do it? I do it, and it’s not obvious to a lot of people, but it’s still a significant revenue stream for a business that has a good database.
Chris: Yeah. I have not done a lot of affiliate marketing up to this point. I’ve done a little bit, here and there, and it has made me some money, but it has not been a focus for me. But going into 2015, with my focuses as a business owner shifting pretty much 80-20 towards online properties rather than the stuff I do offline, because I’m a big bricks-and-mortar business owner, as you know. Now I have an online presence and a relatively popular blog and podcast and whatnot, but for me I am at the very core a bricks-and-mortar guy, but that’s changed slowly over the past five years that I’ve been active online.
I celebrate five years of blogging in January 2015. And so my focuses are changing, and one of the things that I will be doing more and more of, going forward, will be teaming up with the right companies and services.
James: You did, what you did very cleverly is you selected something you use yourself and just talked about it..
Chris: Yes, and I think that’s the best way to do it.
James: That’s my core. People are going to ask you anyway, so if you get a little bit of reward for it, it means you can put more effort and attention on it. So it’s a nice way to do it. I just thought it would be interesting to ask you, because it’s something I haven’t seen or haven’t noticed before.
Chris: And for very good reason.
Finding 3 inspirations a year
James: And I pay attention. Like you’ve got this thing where you follow some people for a year and see what you can learn.
James: Can you describe that one?
Chris: Yeah, this is something I’ve been doing for probably three, four years now. I pick three people at the end of each year to follow for the entire year going forward. I unsubscribe to everyone else’s lists, everyone else’s blogs, everyone… Like literally I go completely dark on everyone else except these three people.
There is only one person that has been on that list every single year since I’ve started doing this, and that’s Sir Richard Branson. He’s the only guy that I will consume the majority of what he puts out week in and week out, day by day, etc. etc. There’s just something about Richard Branson that as a fellow entrepreneur, I get, and I‘ve felt like that ever since I read Losing My Virginity, which is his biography, which he launched several years ago, and…
James: I thought it was an instruction manual.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s, the guy’s legit, man, you know, he’s had plenty of failures, and he admits that, but there’s just something about Branson that if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re not following him, there’s something wrong with you. That’s the way I look at it. But the other two people do change every single year, and the focuses for me in picking those people also change every year, based around my goals for that upcoming year.
And so, yeah, it’s been an interesting journey following those different people each year. And you know, one of those people a couple of years ago was a guy called Scott Stratten from Unmarketing. He was on my list in 2012, and I had followed him throughout the course of that year, and then I met him in Canada where I was speaking at a conference. And as I was coming down an escalator, he and Allison, which is his partner in crime and life and business, were coming up the other escalator.
And I’d never met Scott before, we’d never tweeted, we’d never had any interaction, and I looked at him and I said, “Woah, Scott, Scott, wait at the top, don’t go anywhere.” So I go down to the end, I turn around, I gun back up to the escalator, and there he is, he’s waiting for me. And I said, “Hey Scott, my name’s Chris Ducker, you don’t know me, but I’m not mental.” And he just looked at me and said, “OK, you got my attention.” You know, that’s fair enough, what do you want kind of thing.
And I told him: every year, I follow somebody online, three people, actually, online, to learn how to build my own business. This is what I do, and this is why you are on my list for this year, and I was wondering if you’d like to come on my podcast. And he said, “Yeah. Oh, yeah.”
James: Oh, he’s a great guy. I met him at Underground 5 – 2009.
Chris: There you go.
James: And we sat at a dinner table together, him and Dean Hunt and I, and we shared a private joke that was so funny I was crying with laughter and there’s a serious presentation, and the whole table was just laughing when we weren’t supposed to and it was like a naughty school kid. And he’s extremely humorous. Some of his videos are hilarious.
Chris: I mean, I’ve seen him present three times now, with his keynote. And his keynote is ultimately the same message, with some of the same examples and things like that, but he changes about 20% to 30% of it on every gig, depending on who he’s speaking to. But even though you know certain jokes are coming up, you still lose it, because the way he delivers them are just so damn good.
And you know, we’ve since become friends. And he and I actually were on a podcast, he came on the podcast, it was around, I think October, 2012, something like that. No, this was last year, so 2013. So he came on, and we somehow got on to the subject of Las Vegas, and the fact that we were both speaking at New Media Expo, and then we got on to the subject of shows in Vegas, and then he said, “Hey, have you seen the Michael Jackson show at Mandalay Bay?” And I said, “No, I haven’t, I’m a big Michael Jackson fan.”
And he was like, “Well, you should go see it. In fact, we’ll go together. We’ll have a man-date.” And I was like, “What now?” And bear in mind, other than the escalator meeting, I’d never spoken to him since. There was about a four-month lag or something between meeting him initially in Canada and getting him on the show, and here he is saying that he’s going to take me to a Vegas show.
True to his word, I swear to you, this is all true, you can go listen to the episode. True to his word, he emails me about 3 or 4 weeks before the event, and he says to me, “Do you still want to go to the MJ show?” and I say, “Yeah, sure.” He says, “Great, I’ll get tickets.” He ended up getting four second-row center stage tickets for him and Allison, myself and Erz, my wife, to go along and see this show.
And let me tell you, it was an amazing show. Like it was honestly the only show I’ve seen in Vegas where I walked in, saw the show, walked out and could have quite easily walked back in and watched it again straight after. It was that good. And I told this story, actually, a little bit, at NMX, right before, I think it was the night before I was going on my man-date with him. And everybody was just in uproar with laughter about me chasing down and all the rest of it.
But there was this something, there’s something to be said, I think, for following influences for specific reasons, and this year I wanted to get more active on social. And so that’s why I followed Scott, because he really truly is one of the best influences, and the way that he interacts via social is just, it’s a joy to watch. He’s just so good with it.
So that’s what I do. Every year I pick out my three influences. This year I’m going to be doing it probably in a week or two from now, I do it in December based on my goals. Sir Richard Branson will be one of those three, again, I can’t stop following Sir Dick, and so we’ll see who the other two people are.
3 words to live by
James: Good on you. Oh well, hopefully you’ll share some of the insights you’ve picked up along the last few years when we catch up again at our event. So I want to say thanks for coming along. Just the final question is, do you have a phrase or a mantra or a philosophy that you draw back to often along your journey?
Chris: Yes. Over and over and over again, and I believe it is an original Ducker-ism. I don’t think it’s one of those famous quotes or anything like that. But it’s three words, and I say it all the time. And it is, very simply, “Chase it down.” Just chase it down.
Anything you want in life, you’ve got to chase it down. It ain’t going to land in your lap, you’re not going to get lucky, don’t think you are. If you want something, you’ve got to chase it down. And I say it consistently, over and over and over again. Chase it down. That’s it.
James: That’d be a great name for this podcast episode.
Chris: Boom! You’ve just done it.
James: Thanks, Chris.
Chris: All right, mate, it was a pleasure.
See Chris Ducker present at SuperFastBusiness Live
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