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Terminal Value

From Let Go to Growing a Business on Nine-Five to Freedom

Doug Utberg

Business Growth Authority | Technology Strategy & Resourcing | Cost Optimization Expert | Business Process Architect | Financial Strategist | Founder - Terminal Value Podcast

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I went to work in finance for Intel Corp, you know, giant Corporation Woohoo big, secure job. So I got a

half hour meeting on my calendar on April 20th 2020 with no subject that only showed up about an hour and a half beforehand. So I’m like, this is weird. Ok, whatever. And so I call in and he says, okay, well, yeah, as you know, we have budget pressure, so your position is being eliminated. And then my network access is cut off and it’s over.

Welcome to episode 83 of the Nine-Five Podcast. That was just Doug Utburg. And as you heard in that clip, like so many others, Doug was let go in 2020. Amid all that pandemic stuff going on. Now, rather than trying to build a reputation at a new company, climb the corporate ladder, and ultimately continue on that same path, he decided to build something of his own. Today, Doug will be sharing what that experience has been like, as well as the steps he’s taking to further grow the multiple businesses that he’s currently building.

Hey, guys. Before we get into the interview, I just wanted to share a quick message. If you don’t already know, I’ve been helping podcasters get started the past several years, since launching my own show, the Nine-Five Podcast, back in 2020. Throughout the launch of my show and helping many others get started, I’ve learned a lot about the process and I want to share that with you. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own podcast but are overwhelmed by all the tech and software involved and don’t really even know what you want your show to be about, I want to help head over to ninefivepodcast.com start and there you can hop on a free call with me where we can put together a plan for your new show. Thanks, guys. Enjoy the episode.

This is the Nine-Five Podcast. And I’m your host, Nick Nalbach, where we get into the minds of entrepreneurs and people just like you so you can start, build and grow your own online business.

Welcome back to The Nine Five Podcast. This is the show where we interview entrepreneurs and business owners to help you start and grow your own business. And today on the podcast, I have Doug and I’m going to screw up this last name. I should have asked you beforehand. Utberg.

Well, that’s actually probably the appropriate pronunciation. So my grandma always said Utberg. She unfortunately passed at the end of I think it was the end of 2020. It’s been a whole year now, but yes. So my grandma pronounced Utberg, so that was how I grew up. But Utberg or Utberg is almost certainly the appropriate native pronunciation.

Okay, Doug. Utberg. Well, Doug, welcome to the show. I’m glad to have you here.

Yeah, I’m glad to be here. Especially glad because I think I get excited about the idea of people who want to I don’t want to say want to join the entrepreneurial life because people who say that don’t know what it means, but people who want something different and have a message they want to bring out to the world, which I think is a little better, which I think is a little more accurate of a description of the way you need to look at it if you want to succeed.

No, I really like that. I think that’s a great way of looking at it. It’s kind of the entrepreneurship. We’ve talked about it on previous episodes, but it’s kind of got this glamorous.

There wasn’t always that way.

Yeah, right. And it just kind of popped up in the headlines more and more. So I think it’s really interesting hearing what entrepreneurship means to everybody. I think that’s really fascinating.

Yeah, absolutely. If you don’t mind. I’ll get into it. I’m an old school comic superhero fan. I’ll get into what I call the backstory because every good comic character always needs to have some kind of backstory that takes them to the weird situation they’re in right now.

Absolutely. Yeah. Who is Doug Utberg?

Well, it’s just our kids kind of cuddle up to the fire for story time. I finished undergrad from Portland State in 2000, and I did a brief stint selling life insurance. But after that, I went to work in finance for Intel Corp. Giant Corporation Woohoo big, secure job jackpot. And so I was there for almost 18 years, long time, rotated between a whole bunch of different groups. I had some fits and starts. I kind of advanced, stalled out. Advanced, stalled out. And then I eventually kind of just sort of stalled out to where it’s like my management was not really supporting me to continue growing. I really liked my team, but I didn’t really feel like I was going to be able to continue moving. Because if anybody who’s not familiar with how the corporate game works is that usually you’ll get promoted pretty quickly when you first start up. But then

once you get to a certain point in your career, you really need to have managerial support. You need to have really strong support from the people above you in management in order to continue ascending.

And if you don’t have that, basically if you don’t want your career to flatline, you either have to leave the company or go to another group anytime you do either of those. It’s about a two to five year process to get the people who are in your senior management chain to trust you enough to where they’ll say yes, they’re ready to move up. And if there’s like, for example, a reorganization or an acquisition or a divestiture that can throw that whole thing up in the air. So anyway, what I did right about 2018 was I moved to Lattice Semiconductor, and I went from finance to information technology because I was the program management office director, although I was kind of in it, although the CIO that I was working for didn’t like dealing with the budget or finance, so I managed all that stuff for him. So I kept joking that I actually did more finance in it than I did when I was in finance. But anyway, I was going through all that, working on kind of putting their technology stack back together, blah, blah, blah. And then on April 20th of 2020, what had happened the month before was my boss, but he’s actually unretired by now. But he’d actually moved out or was moved out because the management structure wanted to put in a new chief information officer. Fine, that’s life. So we had a guy who came in from the Bay Area, and the first thing he did was he got rid of the old guy’s inner circle. This is a classic bay area management type of move, which is where all the people who were in the other person’s inner circle, they’re gone. And you put your own people in while I was first on the list. So I got a half hour meeting on my calendar on April 20th of 2020 with no subject that only showed up about an hour and a half beforehand. So I’m like, this is weird. Okay, whatever. And so I call in and he says, okay, well, yeah, as you know, we have budget pressures. So your position is being eliminated. HR comes in and says, okay, yeah, you’ll get a message to your personal email, outlined the package, and then my network access is cut off and it’s over. And so here I am, dropped on the street in April 2020 alongside about 2020, 5 million other people who had all been either furloughed or fired that same month. And in the subsequent months, I put in hundreds and hundreds of job applications. Nothing, just crickets, because everything was just in this big, chaotic swirl. So then what I ended up doing was I’ve always had a draw toward the idea of doing my own thing. I just had this pesky mortgage that I needed to pay, and I was married and had kids who were going to private school and had a lot of money that needed to go out for that kind of stuff. But more or less where I got to was I was saying, okay, I’m looking at three to five years wherever I land to kind of get back to a, hey, this guy’s leadership material. Let’s move him up. And I’m like, okay, in that same three to five years, I can stumble through getting my own business up and going and staying together and be doing something that I really want because I think there’s a lot of romance about getting to the end point of being an entrepreneur, which is where you’re able to pay all your bills. What nobody ever talks about is when you start off at that point where you have absolutely no income and you’re burning money and you don’t know where your next dollar is coming from. That part is not sexy, but that’s the part you have to get through in order to get to the mission driven business, fulfilling your life’s purpose, changing lives, all that kind of stuff. And all that stuff is great, but you have to get through the I call it the swamp, right. You have to get through that swamp of not knowing where your next dollar is coming from and figuring out how to pay for all your stuff. And so I think that any conversation of entrepreneurship that doesn’t involve the swamp is missing a really big element, because getting through that swamp is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome. Anyway, I’ve talked a whole lot serving the ball back to your side of the court.

Yeah, that’s really fascinating. And I’m always really interested in how people kind of came to that point where they’re like, okay, I’m going to start my own thing. And you were kind of forced into it at a certain point. You had to make that decision. Do I want to try to recline the corporate ladder, or I would just want to build something my own and kind of what you’re talking about with the swamp. Are you familiar with the dip or the valley of despair?

What we used to do is we used to call the enthusiasm cycle. So what we did was we said, okay, you have your starting point, you have the peak of unrealistic expectations. Yes. And then you have the valley of despair, you have the regression to reality, and then you have kind of a linear path of sustained growth.

Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking about when you were bringing up the swamp. Kind of getting we all are super excited when we start, and I don’t know how many different things I’ve started and been just like, this is it, let’s go. And then it slowly teeters down to that value to spare. We’re like, okay, what am I even doing? Am I even making the right decision?

Yeah, well, in my case, kind of talking about getting through the swamp. So what I ended up doing was I ended up starting up an expense reduction consulting business. It was through a franchise outfit called Expense Reduction Analyst. So the side that I’m on is business development, which is a fit for my skill set, and my counterparts are cost category specialists. The way it works is actually pretty slick. Where what I do is I go to a company and I’ll say, hey, look, everybody has a bunch of expenses. We specialize in contract basis outsource expenses. What we’ll do is we will go and renegotiate those on your behalf for no upfront costs. And all we do is we just bill you for 50% of the achieved savings for 24 months. Sounds like a no brainer. Yeah, try doing that or resume with people who have never met you before. Because that’s the thing. A lot of these really good opportunities have really long sales cycles that are extremely difficult to accomplish if you can’t actually meet people. Because now that I’ve actually been able to go start talking to people for lunch, I’m like, oh my God, this is so much easier because I was trying to get people to meet over Zoom. And of course I’m trying to get them to respond to emails and email response rates are like almost nothing. It’s kind of trying to start that whole thing during a pandemic was probably not the wisest thing to do, although I’m hesitant to say to put too much kind of hindsight looking judgement on it, because there is almost no entrepreneurial venture that is a good idea. Almost everyone, if you really think about it, it’s pretty stupid. What you kind of end up doing is cycling through a number of really bad ideas, or might be good might be bad ideas until you hit the right one at the right time and it takes off. I think actually one of what is now becoming one of my favorite books by Scott Adams, how to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. The way that he described entrepreneurship was, he said, it’s like standing at a slot machine where instead of putting money in, the main thing you put in his time and essentially what you do is you just keep pulling the handle and at some point, at some point it will pay off. You don’t know when that is. You may have to pull the handle for a really long time, but as long as you just don’t make the same mistake more than once, your odds will inevitably improve. At some point, as long as you don’t repeat the same blunders over and over again, you will get to something that works. For example, in my case, I started doing expense reduction really long sales cycle. So I’m like, okay, if I want to stay married, I’m going to need to generate some kind of positive income. So I started a contract role for a little while. This is another thing to think about, right? Just because if you’re an entrepreneur, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not going to have to hustle to pay the bills. Now, as a contractor, I had the advantage of not needing to spend all my time posturing to try to get promoted because I’m a contractor. So then after a little while there, I was actually able to go into another role, another hustle that I’m currently doing, which is doing IT resourcing for a local It services company, It resources and services company called Server Logic, and I’m on the business development side. So the good part there is that my activities in business development between developing IT business and developing expense reduction business overlap. Here’s another nugget, which is that

sometimes you can combine two or three hustles together and if those hustles all overlap, you can get a lot of time synergies.

And one of the other reasons why I ended up picking this one is because in contrast to the corporate environment, which has almost every day is locked up with meetings, the gig that I’m at right now has two standing 30 minutes meetings per week, just two. That’s it. All the rest is go out and do stuff. And so I think another lesson to take out of that is that

sometimes you need to value time over money.

Because the amount that I’m making in base salary, I’m a 1099. So it’s not really salary, but I guess you say base compensation is considerably less than where I was out on the contract. It’s little over half, but not that much. Now, of course, there’s commission, there’s upside all that kind of stuff. But the real advantage is that I am able to develop both businesses simultaneously, and I’m able to weave doing my podcast in with all of those. And so what that’s done is that’s created some of the space for the current rabbit hole that I’m in, which is digging into sales funnels and taking clients down a defined journey. Because I think it’s funny because every now and then you find that right vehicle. Because of course, I’ve been reading about self development, about copywriting, about all these types of things for 20 years, and all of a sudden you start saying, hey, wait a second. Oh, I see where this applies. And that applies. And if you continue consuming quality development information, you will get to a time when all the pieces kind of fit together, but you don’t know when that is. And so a part of what you need to do is just continue showing up until that time comes, which is hard to do because when you’re on the other side of the fence, you’re like, oh, yeah, I totally knew it was going to happen. You didn’t know, you hoped it was going to happen, but you don’t know. The only thing you know is that you’re going to die and pay taxes.

You make a really great point because I’ve consumed I don’t know how much content over the last several years. And I got to a point where I had to stop because I would just kind of get excited about the next thing and I’d be like, okay, I just need to tilt myself down.

One of the things that have happened with an obsessive content consumption or content absorption type of mindset is that you’ll be absorbing content and some of it will contradict itself. There’ll be some authors. Yeah, I totally get it. Another authors. I’m like, yeah, I totally get it. They’re telling me to do different things. And so what you have to do is you almost have to kind of build you have to develop a corpus or a body of knowledge and then really decide what your point of view is and then kind of continue down that direction. Now, if you’re just starting out, I would say don’t take any one piece of information too seriously, but just really build that base of information. Now, for me, I’m a serial audible subscriber. I have like 160 audiobooks on my account or something like that. It’s a lot. But the ones that are good, I’ll listen to 5, 6, 8, 10, 20 times because for me, I’m an auditory learner too. So what that does is that helps to implant it in your subconscious to where when you really get to that direction that you want to go, you can start really diving deep to where you’re like, hey, I’ve heard it. So we’re like, okay, no, now I really get it. Anyway, enough for me to continue.

I interrupted you. No, you’re good. You brought up a really great point. And I think until you actually start putting some of that stuff to action, regardless of how much contradictory stuff is out there, until you actually start doing something with it, I mean, you never know. You have no idea everyone’s business is going to operate differently. But to your point about kind of actually having things kind of click together, I kind of had that AHA moment just recently, actually. We’re talking with some peers of mine. We’re discussing how I’m kind of building the business in the direction I want to go and all that and every business book, entrepreneur book, whatever, always talks about branding, messaging, like all that kind of stuff, being clear about who your audience is and all that. And I understood that I was reading, yes, that makes sense. That makes sense. That makes sense. But until I actually got down into it and was like trying to identify each and every individual piece of it, it just kind of made sense in my head, but it didn’t really make sense. And once I started kind of unfolding that it was like, Holy crap, this makes total sense. Why was I not doing this?

I think the way that I look at what you just said is because I would articulate a little differently. People say, be really clear on who your audience is. I would say be really clear on who your audience is, not because the thing is, if you think about, well, who’s my audience? I want everybody to be my audience. No, that’s stupid, right? Because there is absolutely no way you can be appealing to everybody. What you need to do is you need to decide, who do you want to be appealing to and who do you not want to be appealing to. And in some cases, what you can do is you can have a two or three or four niche audiences that kind of feed into a bigger audience. For example, with the way that I’ve been developing my business is, of course, say I have financial decision makers on expense reduction, and I have IT technology decision makers. And it’s all feeding into kind of a founder, executive decision maker type of type of customer group. And so that means that by definition, my audience is not people who are in that type of position. Does it mean that I can’t help them? Not necessarily. But it means that they’re not the people that I’m going to go and try to find. There are many other people who are out there to serve those folks. And it’s not that I don’t want to serve them, but if I have to water down my message enough to where I’m appealing to everybody, it just won’t be that appealing to the people who I really want to find.

Right. You, in a sense, end up appealing to nobody.

Yes, exactly.

Too broadly.

Because of course, if you try to appeal to everybody, you’re not going to say you’re not going to have any strong opinions, because if you have strong opinions, you could get canceled. You get canceled, then you’re going to end up with a bunch of haters and people won’t like you. Okay. So what that means is that isn’t going to work in the 2022 world. You need to have a defined group of people who you identify with them and they will identify with you. I think that’s what really makes a difference, because just intellectually taking it on a tangent toward, like, say, kind of having an online business, because in some way or another, just about every business ends up being an online business now. And so for the longest time, I couldn’t really figure out what the thing was with these people who are making just gob tons of money online because of course, I did the math. And I’m like, okay, well, if I buy something, we sell it on ebay, I’ll make a few dollars, but it’ll basically come out to minimum wage. Well, that’s stupid. I’m not going to do that. Okay, well, it’s like if I go and write and write a sales page for an affiliate product, I’m competing with thousands of other people selling the exact same product. And the amount that I’ll make will basically be knocked down to about minimum wage. That’s stupid. Why am I going to do that? How are these people generating so much money? And the answer is what they are doing is they’re developing an audience of people, a list from that audience of people who they identify with their audience. Their audience identifies with them. They communicate with them enough to where they build the truck to where they build trust. And then when they say, hey, I tried out this product, it was really good, you should give it a shot. And it’s an affiliate product. They’ll get a percentage will go by kind of without question because they already have the trust.

You cannot make online sales work if you don’t have that trust with your audience.

Yeah, I completely agree, because I’ve tried all of that wait, I’m going to exercise my powers of cognition.

I’m going to guess that you burned a whole bunch of money on ads and couldn’t figure out what the problem was.

I was luckily conservative with it because I knew that was going to be a risk. But yeah, essentially put a lot of money into ads that yielded absolutely no results. And it’s a frustrating thing. But it also comes back to trying to sort of shortcut some of the stuff. And it was like, I’m reading all this content, I’m taking in all this information. It’s like you can’t take shortcuts, this is how you have to do it. But that’s going to take way too long.

Yeah. That’s going to take like years.

Yeah. Like I need it now. I’m going to run ads that will get you there and it just doesn’t pan out. So where are you? I was kind of browsing around on your LinkedIn, and you have a lot of people engaging with your stuff over there on LinkedIn. How are you actually kind of cultivating this audience or getting your message out to where it’s attracting new people?

Yeah. So what I’m at in my journey right now is I’ve had my podcast going for about a year. I have decent engagement, but I’m still fairly early in the real list building. And of course, I have a whole bunch of people’s email who I connect with. That’s not really a list. A list is people who have said, I want to hear more from you. And when they hear more from you, don’t unsubscribe. That’s what a list is. Not that many people have. Because what I’m working through right now is building that sales funnel progression so that I can say, hey, I put a free report together. Okay. Hey, I have a big giant bundle of information products I’m going to give you for a ridiculously low price. And then ascend to, oh, hey, by the way, I built a 30 day challenge that will help you get to your goals and eventually ascend to, hey, I have this inner circle group that all have escalating costs. Well, that all takes time to put together. And so what I’m doing is I’m focusing on that front end side of that front end lead capture part of the funnel, particularly because for both of my kind of core businesses, the IT resourcing and expense reduction, those are pretty high ticket services, right? They are high cost, high value services. The problem is that getting somebody to go from, who the hell are you to, I trust you enough to do a high value, high cost service for my organization. That can be a long road. And so even if you’re in a professional services, putting together a sales funnel that gets you from, that gets you from. Okay, I’ll give you my email. I’ll see whether you’re legit or not to, oh, my goodness. Yes. Just come in and help. Just tell me what you need. It’s taking people down that path. And similarly, I was like, oh, God, that’s going to take so long to put together. I don’t want to do it. But when I got back to was, all right, the amount of time that I have to burn to try to get people down that path kind of manually, right where it’s like, okay, first I have to get them to pay attention to my emails, then I have to try to schedule a call. Then I’ll have to do, like, say, lunch or coffee, and then I’ll have to do some kind of follow up. And it’s just an extremely time intensive process to develop business without some kind of path or funnel that you can automate, because that technology based automation is really what makes a difference. It’s not just, hey, send somebody to a squeeze page, have them buy a product that gets fulfilled by Amazon. That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean, sure, you can do that, but that’s one sale and you won’t make any money off of it. You’ll need to do, like 200,000 sales in order to make it clear any kind of decent margins. I’m talking about progressing a relationship from somebody has no clue who you are, but they’re going to give you a chance because it looks like you’re giving them something that might have some value to. No, I really trust this person. I know they have my best interest. They’re an expert and come on in and help us out. Right now, I’ll just full disclosure, I’m in the middle of Russell Brunson’s one funnel away challenge. You’re consuming content through a fire hose. And I’ve noticed that in the online arena, anybody who you listened who where they’re in kind of like an enterprise services, B2B type of thing, start looking into sales funnels, because almost all the use cases are kind of like ecommerce product, say fashionwear, supplements, or like, say, online sales, social media influencers. I mean, there’s thousands and thousands of thousands of people who kind of fit in one of those categories, and that’s where almost every case study is at. But the exact same process can be used to warm people up for, say, like, enterprise sales, because almost all enterprise sales or business development is done 1990 style. People, they make phone calls, they send emails, they schedule coffees or lunches. And there’s absolutely no ability to scale. At least one of the things that I think really astute entrepreneurs do is find something that you already know works and find a part of the market where it is not yet being applied, because then you can take something that you already know. The framework works and apply it simply someplace where nobody else is. And I am talking again, way too much. So take the mic.

It’s fascinating. Yeah. It kind of blows me away. There are still people that I’m on their newsletter and I’ve either purchased products from them in the past or I don’t know, have been a fan and I can now open their emails for months and then one email will catch my attention and they’ll be offering some kind of product and I’ll be like, Holy crap, I need that, I need to get involved with that. And I completely agree with you. That email that sales funnel processes. It has to be probably one of the most important aspects of any business. I can’t remember the exact statistic, but I think it was like 40% of revenue across all industries comes from email marketing, and it’s a result of being able to build that relationship. And I know everyone likes to think that email is dead because of how big social media has become, but it’s still incredibly effective.

Yeah, but I think there’s an unspoken element in what you’re just saying, though, which is that I think email is incredibly effective when there is a trusting relationship already in place. Because I get probably a good couple of few hundred spam messages a day. Thankfully, my spam filter blocks out about half of them. But the thing is, if it’s something that’s unsolicited and you don’t already know, like and trust them, then you might as well be throwing rocks at a brick wall. It doesn’t matter. But on the other hand, if you have cultivated that relationship and this is kind of getting back to what I was saying at the very beginning, which is where I think that where the entrepreneurial journey ultimately needs to go. Once you get past the swamp you’re paying your bills, you have to figure out, okay, what is that message that you want to bring out into the market? And then because what you’ll do is that’s how you cultivate that community of like minded raving fans who have extremely high trust, whereby not that you can go and rapaciously monetize, but you can bring value to them and you will bring that value to them in exchange for equitable compensation, which can and will result in you doing very well if you structure it correctly.

Right where I’ve personally struggled the most. And maybe you had a little bit more success and experience with this because you’re a little bit further along, but kind of getting that initial person in the door and maybe that’s way off. But I feel like once I would get them in the door, I have the ability to kind of cultivate that and groom that relationship. But that initial of like getting someone to click on this lead magnet or download this PDF or kind of get on that list because they want to be there. Getting eyeballs on it seems to be one of the most difficult things. So are you doing anything specifically yourself to get more eyeballs on your stuff and find that audience?

So that’s actually a part of the reason why I’ve gone down the sales funnel rabbit hole, particularly with generating the lead magnet that you can because for people who aren’t initiated, the idea of a sales funnel, the way that it works is that in a lot of cases, you’ll have, say, some kind of free lead, and then when somebody registers for the free lead magnet, there will be some kind of one time offer that’s some kind of ridiculous information product value. And then if they purchase that, there will be some sort of follow up offer. Because essentially what you’re looking to do is to get to where your average revenue for the people who click on your lead magnet link exceeds your cost of running ads. Because then when you do that, you can build a list of targeted clients without incurring a net advertising costs. That’s the proverbial growth hack that you’re looking to do with a lead funnel. And so I think that the short answer to your question is I’ve accomplished a few conversations, principally through largely through what I would call unskilled effort, which is calls, emails, lots and lots of bombarding people with messages, trying to get them to pay attention. And what I’m working towards right now is getting to where I have something that’s repeatable and scalable just because there’s only so many hours in the day. And if you either run out of time or if you happen to be at a low engagement time of the year or whatever, you can go a long time without getting any engagement at all, unless you’re lucky, right?

Yeah. He was posting up in the DMs all day long.

Precisely. Yes. And of course, when you’re starting out, nobody has a sales funnel when you’re starting out, because if you had a sales funnel, you would already have you already have a business. And so nobody has any of this in place when they are starting out. And that’s kind of a part of what makes the swamp so tricky is because you’re simultaneously hustling to try to get something together through. I’m going to date myself here. You’re kind of trying to MacGyver a deal together. I mean, please tell me you’re old enough to recognize Richard Dean Anderson references and at the same time, you’re trying to put together something that will be sustainable for future growth. But of course, if it was too easy, then everybody would do it, right?

Yeah, exactly. There was an episode. It was back in episode 62. Alex San Felipo.

I like Alex. He’s a quality guy.

Oh, yeah. He’s a blast.

When I chatted with him on my podcast, we were talking about the importance of authenticity. I’ve since used that as a crutch to do very minimal editing on my shows. It has saved the world as far as my time is concerned.

That is awesome. Yeah, so he had talked about doing the things that don’t scale, and that’s kind of like the stage that you’re in right now is focusing on things that don’t scale, but it allows you to build relationships with people. You can’t shoot to the moon tomorrow, but you’re slowly kind of cultivating that list. And that one on one interaction does go a long way.

Precisely. And the thing is, it always takes some time to kind of figure out what’s that right mix of stuff for my particular business, and you necessarily have to go through some trial and error. Now, I think this is actually where reading a lot can be helpful because one line that I heard, I don’t want to claim credit for it. I think it was Tony Robinson who first said this, but it’s basically what you figure when you read a book, you essentially get ten years of somebody else’s life over the course of about two to 3 hours. And so if you think about it that way, again, assuming you’re not reading novels or other kind of obsolete content, if you’re reading Evergreen content, then what you’re essentially doing is absorbing a decade of somebody else’s life every time you read a two to 300 page book and thinking about it in that context, you would say, oh my goodness, I should read as much as humanly possible. Yes, you should. There is absolutely no bad time to read more because it will help you assimilate more information, more ideas, more different modes of thinking. Because I think the way that I think about it is that right. Your first challenge is to get what I call that first efficient sales. So in other words, get to that point where it’s like, okay, if I do X, Y, and Z, where I know, how many people do I have to call, how many contacts is to take? When do I get to where I have I know if I do X, Y, and Z, it will get to a sale. First step is to get to that point. Next step is to make it better and then to automate as much as you can. But until you know what it’s going to take to get to a sale, as long as you’re kind of scratching around, trying to see what happens, you’re kind of fumbling through the dark. And that’s a lot of what the Swamp is about is kind of figuring out what is that path to an efficient or effective sale in my business.

You got me thinking about a lot here now.

Hopefully that’s a good thing.

Yeah. No, it is. So with that in mind, are you tracking a lot of the stuff? So when you’re doing personal outreach, say you are jumping into DMs or sending emails or whatever it is, are you tracking, like the number of emails or DMs you send, how many get responses, how many turn into potential clients, or how are you able to kind of define a process that is now improvable?

Yeah. When I first started out, there was no tracking whatsoever. I was just sending out a whole bunch of messages and trying to make something happen. What I’m doing now is I’m actually running all of my tasks, your email marketing calls, et cetera, through HubSpot, because one of the things that HubSpot’s really good about is tracking conversation strings. So, for example, then what I can do is I send someone a message. I set up a follow up task a week from now. Well, then what I can do is then I can go in. And if they reply, I can sort last action and I can see, okay, or of kind last contact or last time something happened, I’ll say, oh, somebody replied, I’ll go in. And basically what I can do is I can essentially track I can use the task, email tracking, and those types of things to essentially track a pipeline outside of out. Because I think the problem that everybody is going to need to find their own system. But the problem I had was that there’s so much noise inside your email box that trying to use that as kind of as a client management system is so hard that you will almost certainly while you’re juggling the balls, you’re going to drop a lot of them just because of all the noise that exists within email. So what you really need to do is you need to figure out some way to get a focus on the core activities without getting lost in the noise. For example, one of the things that I’m kind of working on now because so originally I thought that I was going to run my whole business, digital everything all through, all through HubSpot. Where I’m kind of headed now is that I’m kind of using HubSpot for the CRM and for my Brochure website. But then I’m going to be running my sales funnels through Click funnels. And then essentially, you’re kind of using Zapier, one of the other integration tools, to keep the two tools in sync. And when it comes to technology, that’s one of the things you have to figure out is what is the right tool for the thing you need to do. And just understand that it may take a couple of different tools. Try to keep it to two, Max, three, because once the number of tools you’re using gets too high, then keeping them all in sync will get impossible.

Right? That’s you. And then kind of like what we’re talking about. Before, I was actually having a conversation earlier today with someone, they were talking about how they used all of these tools to automate everything and how they finally got to a point, they’ve developed a process where it’s like, okay, now can I shave some of these tools out of the workflow and still be efficient? Because I just don’t want to worry about managing all this different stuff. So I like the two rule. I’m a tool freaking everything.

Yeah. Especially because in my background and with enterprise, it one of the things that I saw a lot of times would be you kind of come into a place and there will be just this amalgamation of a whole bunch of different software systems and they don’t talk to each other and the data tables are always out of sync. And so what ends up happening is if you get too many of those types of situations, you’ll get to where you just can’t trust the data anywhere. And then what’s the point of having tools? Because it’s been long enough ago now to where it’s not private confidential information. But like back at intel, we had a very large acquired company that had no interest in integrating onto the enterprise resource planning system. And so the way that we consolidated their PNL, this is like a billion plus dollar subsidiary was by emailing, excel spreadsheets and Outlook email spreadsheets back and forth. This is in a world class technology company for a billion plus dollar subsidiary, and they’re consolidating through emailed spreadsheets.

Dang, that blows my mind because that’s not the first I’ve experienced some of that myself where it’s like, okay, there’s all these systems out there that can do amazing things and still operating in excel. I know Excel is great. You can do a lot of things with it. But managing a multi billion dollar company probably one of the things you should do.

Yeah, it’s one of the things that you should not be doing. Yes, precisely. Precisely. Because I think that’s one of the things is that getting your systems to stay in sync and talk is actually very important, and it’s a lot more work than anybody thinks. Now, that’s a great point.

So, Doug, I do want to be conscious of your time, but I do want to ask you, with everything that you’ve gone through, all the experiences that you had right now, if you had to start over and knowing what you know now, what would you do differently or what would you do the same?

I think the big thing that I would do differently is I think the principal blunder that I think I made was I jumped right into a product or solution. Because the thing is that what I found was I’m like, because I could talk to expense Russian consulting. I’m like, hey, the value proposition here is great. Everybody will be all over this, not until they trust you. So where I would always start is figure out who your people are. And most likely there’ll be people who are very similar to figure out who your people are and then build a strategy to collect them together and get them to trust you. And then this is going to sound stupidly simple, but ask them what problems they have and go and solve them. If I was starting it all together, I would just build your community, get your people together, get them on a list where they know, like, and trust you. Ask them what their problems are and then go and solve them and sell it. I have a hard time feeling that you would fail with that strategy.

Yeah, it is stupid simple.

I can’t claim credit for that. I first heard that from Frank Kern, unfortunately, after I’d already written a disturbingly large checks. So I’m kind of back fitting it into what I’m doing right now. But yes, that is the Frank Kern strategy, which is to just find your group, figure out what their problems are by asking them, and then go solve them.

Yeah, no, it makes sense. It’s so easy to find. Like what you’re saying, find the solution, find the product, and then go look for a problem that serves.

Yeah, exactly. Because that’s what we say. Hey, this is so cool. Let’s go sell this. Well, who are you going to sell it to? Well, people who need it. Well, who needs it? People. Okay. What people? I don’t know. Well, figure that out then. What if those people don’t identify with you? Well, I’ll figure that out. Okay. Well, why don’t you just start with people who do identify with you? It’s so easy after you get to all a few times.

I am completely with you there. I’ve been through the same struggles as well.

Yes, absolutely. Hey, I really appreciate the time. Thank you for letting me on the show. Yeah, absolutely. Dude, is there any links, social media website, any place you want to go or check out the podcast, obviously. Yeah, absolutely. The site for my podcast is just terminalvaluepodcast.com. That’s terminalvaluepodcast.com spelled like it sounds. And my website is terminalvalue.biz don’t click around too much quite yet because I’m still building it. But yeah, that’s it. Definitely. Go and check out the podcast. And on both sides, there’ll be links to my LinkedIn and Twitter and all that. I’m most active on LinkedIn. So then for LinkedIn, just Doug Utburg. There’s only one of us on the planet. There’s no numbers after it’s D-O-U-G-U-T-B-E-R-G.

Beautiful. Well, I will put links to that in the Show Notes for this episode. So if you want to get in contact with Doug or check out his podcast, which I highly recommend you do, you can go to the Show Notes and check that out. Doug, thank you so much for coming on, man. This was a blast chat with you today.

Thank you. Yes. Good times.

That was Doug Utburg. Doug brought up a lot of valuable points throughout this episode, and much of what he spoke about tie really well into the last few interviews of the show, episode 80 with Tanya Eberhart and Michael Carr , and then episode 82 with Peter Moore. So if you haven’t already listened to those episodes, I definitely recommend you jump back and give those a listen.

Coming up with a solution before understanding what problem that solution is for is a huge issue when it comes to getting started and one mistake that I’ve personally made multiple times. Additionally, your branding and your message is what’s going to get people to align with you and your company. When your brand message is clear it becomes much easier for people to relate and align with what you’re doing. I hope this episode was inspirational for some of you who may feel stuck on that corporate hamster wheel feeling like you’re just spinning in place and hopefully you were able to gain some valuable insight from what Doug has shared with us today. Now, Doug did mention a few links in books during this episode so if you want the links to any of that or links to get in contact with Doug or listen to the Terminal Value podcast, head over to ninefivepodcast.com episode 83. That’s 8-3. Lastly, like you heard at the beginning of the episode, I want to help you start your own podcast. If you’re ready to take that leap and work with me personally in a one on one setting, I will provide a link in the show notes for you to pick a time where we can hop on a Zoom call and chat about what a launch might look like for your show. Well guys, that is all she wrote for today. I hope you have a great rest of your week. Stay safe and I will catch you all in next week’s episode.

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