Ep. 102 – Entrepreneur Magazine put Josh Steimle on their 50 Inspirational Entrepreneurs to Watch and Forbes recognized him as one of 25 Marketing Influencers To Watch In 2017, And yet he says “If I’ve had any success, I’ve had 10 times as many failures”
Josh Steimle Show Notes
Josh Steimle is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, and executive coach.
He has written over 300 articles for publications like Fortune, Time, Forbes, Inc., Mashable, TechCrunch, and Entrepreneur, and is the author of Chief Marketing Officers at Work, which was recognized in Success Magazine as one of the 5 Best Business Books of 2016.
Entrepreneur Magazine put Josh on their 50 Inspirational Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017 list, Forbes recognized him as one of 25 Marketing Influencers To Watch In 2017, and he was ranked #7 on Richtopia’s list of Top 100 Most Influential CMOs.
Josh lives on a farm near Boston with his wife, two children, and 27 horses, and is an avid reader, trail runner, triathlete, and skateboarder.
Most passionate about
- What I’m most passionate about today is personal influence. I believe most people are good people, and if I can help people to increase their influence, to be more influential, then they will use that influence to do good things and make the world a better place. So, that’s my mission. I’m on a mission to help people become more influential so they can change the world.
- I have courses, and a book that I’m writing called, The 7 Systems of Influence, I have my blog, email newsletter, and I’m active on social media, but the way this all came about is because I have a business, a digital marketing agency.
- We don’t focus on personal branding or influence, we focus on helping businesses to sell more, so we do SEO and things like that. A few years ago I started working on my personal brand as a way to market that agency and it really worked in a huge way.
- It was that experience of working on my personal brand and seeing it build my business that made me think, this is fun and this is something that I would love to help other people do. I’d love to help other people work on their personal brands so they can build their business or get their message out and that’s how this all started. Then, I went from coaching to these courses, to working on this book and I’m trying to get the word out any way I can to help people understand how personal branding works, how influence works, so they can apply it in their businesses and lives.
Joshua’s best advice about approaching customers
- Even more foundational than market fit is something that I learned when I was writing this book. The way I wrote this book was I went out and interviewed 30 CMOs from large companies; from Target, PayPal, Spotify, GEE, as well from as a bunch of startups. As I interviewed these brilliant marketers who had successful track records in these companies, one thing stood out across the board: empathy. These marketers really understood their customers, they could get inside the minds of their customers, they might do focus groups, they would do testing and such, but they really understood, fundamentally, what their customers wanted.
Biggest failure with a customer
- I’ve had so many failures. If I’ve had any success, I’ve had 10 times as many failures. Life’s interesting, especially as an entrepreneur and as somebody involved in marketing, you always show off the successful side of what you’ve done. You trumpet your successes; you hide your failures.
- Most of my biggest failures have to do with people; where I made a bad decision either in hiring the wrong person or in hiring the right person but putting them in the wrong role, or I hired the right person, maybe I put them in the right role, but the way I managed them or the way I set up their relationship was the wrong way.
- For example, in 1999 I started my first real business, MWI, which is the marketing agency that I still run today, and I brought on a partner, after I’d known this guy for literally 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of meeting this guy, I though, this guy is great, he’s gonna be awesome, I should hire him! I offered him10% of the business and he became my partner. Over the next 3 years, it was a nightmare. We didn’t get along well together. Now, this guy was a good guy, he was not dishonest, he was smart, in fact, he’s gone on, after we parted ways, to start a private equity firm that ended up with $3 billion under management and he’s got a successful VC firm.
- The mistake wasn’t that I hired somebody stupid or somebody who was the wrong fit for the job necessarily, but he and I just didn’t get along personality wise, and also I was young and foolish, and didn’t know what I was doing, so I was a poor manager and leader. We clashed and parted ways and I lost my business over that! I had to start over from scratch. So, it really cost me in a huge way to have hired this guy on. Now, if I’d gotten to know him, maybe for a week or two or a couple of months, I might have seen that we weren’t the best fit.
Biggest success due to the right customer approach
- In 2013, I got the opportunity to write for Forbes, I also brought on a partner for my business, Cory Blake, and he’d just come on. Right when he came on, I started writing for Forbes; when I first started, nothing good was happening. I was getting attention on my articles, people liked them, but it wasn’t doing anything for my business.
- This is because I didn’t understand who my audience was, and I didn’t know how to write for my audience. So, after a few months, I realized this is taking a lot of time, I’m spending a lot of effort, and I’m not getting anything out of it other than it’s fun and building my ego, but it’s not generating anything for the business and I can’t afford to do this unless it’s benefiting the business.
- I started looking at this and thinking, well, who am I writing for? Who’s my audience? Who should be my audience? I realized I was targeting the wrong audience, I was writing for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs don’t hire my agency. So, I asked, who is hiring my agency? Well, mid-sized to larger businesses mostly, and really, I’m looking for people who are looking to hire marketing agencies, that’s my audience.
- Once I understood that, it totally changed the content I was creating. I wrote one article that was the golden one. I created an article called, 4 Tips on How to Hire an SEO Firm. This article came out of frustration because here I am, running an agency, and clients would come to me, potential clients, and we would pitch them and sometimes they would hire us and sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes, they wouldn’t hire us because we weren’t the right fit for them, but sometimes they wouldn’t hire us, and I knew we were the best fit for that company and yet, they still didn’t hire us, which frustrated me.
- So, I wrote this article to say, hey, when you’re hiring an SEO Firm, here are the things you should do: ask for references, make sure the firm is the right fit for you, and I explained to people, here’s how to hire the right firm. I don’t care if they read that article and don’t hire me, as long as they’re hiring the right agency for them. After I wrote that article, because it was on Forbes, it had a lot of credibility and it jumped to the top of Google whenever somebody searched ‘how to hire an SEO firm’. And who is searching for SEO firms on Google? People who want to hire SEO firms!
Joshua’s most recommended tool
- It’s a scheduling application, so that you can schedule appointments with people. But it’s not Calendly specifically. What I’m really getting at is meeting with people in person, so no technology, but I use Calendly to schedule appointments, but the best value I get is sitting down with people and talking with them face to face. I learn more for that than I learn from any application, any technology that I could use, and phone is great, email is great, but meeting people in person, things happen when you meet in person that wouldn’t happen any other way.
Joshua’s key success factor
- I really care about people, and I try to treat people as individuals rather than as objects, rather than as transactional, and this is hard when you’re running a business, because there’s the math of the business, there’s money coming in and going out, and you have to make decisions based on that math.
- Sometimes, the math doesn’t work out and you have to let somebody go that you like, that you really enjoy working with and you care about and yet, you still have to go to that person and say, I’m so sorry, we don’t have the money, we can’t justify this position, we have to let you go. I’ve really struggled with that over the years, letting people go, and often I’ve kept people on for too long because I care about them as people and I’ve tried to push the math into the background and it always comes back to bite me when I do that, but at the same time, I feel caring about people has also been what has led to success because those relationships that I have with people, where I care about them and I know they care about me, those have born the most fruit and even if it hasn’t been the most financially lucrative decision to care more, it’s been the more satisfying decision and I don’t regret caring too much, except for sometimes it does force me into awkward situations where even though I’m caring about the person, I have to let them go and it’s painful, but at the same time I wouldn’t give that up.
Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get a fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, or conquering the mountain; I want to ask you if there is a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed.
- I grew up camping and hiking. My father loves camping, loves the mountains, so I grew up going to the High Sierra in Southern California, and then, when I moved to Hong Kong, I lived there from 2013 to 2016, I got into trail running out there. I used to run up and down the mountains there. Well, run is not quite the proper word, maybe a quick hike is a better way to say it. I’m not physically fit enough to run up a mountain, but I spent a lot of time out on these trails, on these mountains and it’s just gorgeous out there and I loved being out in nature, I loved the sense of accomplishment of straining to get up this mountain, being drenched in sweat, but then reaching the top and thinking, I made it.
Josh’s Book: READ THE CMO BOOK MARKETERS ARE RAVING ABOUT
The Chief Marketing Officers at Work, which contains 29 interviews with CMOs from organizations like GE, the Harvard Business School, Spotify, Target, and PayPal and was recognized in Success Magazine as one of the 5 Best Business Books of 2016.
“This book will show you where the top marketing minds see things going.”
Michael Brenner, Author of The Content Formula
Chief Marketing Officers at Work
- Calendly Homepage – Say goodbye to phone and email tag for finding the perfect meeting time with Calendly. It’s 100% free, super easy to use and you’ll love our customer service
The best way to connect with Joshua:
More resources for Entrepreneurs
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- Former interview: A special Trio Chat for International Women’s Day: How an awarded business woman and a brilliant, 19 year old student founded an entrepreneurship