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Ep. 033 – The one key success factor of successful entrepreneurs like Michael Stelzner, Jeff Bullas & more


33rd Episode’s Show Notes

Michael Stelzner founded Social Media Examiner in 2009, and his biggest success was the Social Media Marketing World Conference. Jeff Bullas’s blog receives over 5 million visitors a year. David Beebe 

Is an Emmy-winning Branded Content Producer, Keynote Speaker,

and Content Decoded. Jeremiah Gardner has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Lifehacker, and The Guardian. Mike Allton is a Content Marketing Practitioner, an award-winning Blogger and an Author. John Nemo is a Bestselling Author who wrote 7 books, a former Associated Press Reporter, Award-Winning PR Director and Social Media Consultant.

These are the most successful people I have chosen to share their key success factors with you.

Hello, Reach or Miss listeners. It’s almost impossible to tell what exactly makes a successful entrepreneurial brand so successful. However, I discovered that when we dig deep, all of the leading entrepreneurs have the one key success factor that works for them.

I’ve chosen 6 successful guests to share their 8 key factors of success, which can be implemented by any entrepreneur that is looking to break their own records and become a market leader and a successful entrepreneur. 

The one key success factor


Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder of Social Media Examiner, author of the books, Launch and Writing White Papers, and the man behind Social Media Marketing World–the industry’s largest conference. He’s also the host of the Social Media Marketing podcast, founder of the Social Media Marketing Society, and host of the weekly Social Media Marketing Talk Show.

There was a very clear motto in Michael Stelzner’s interview. When I asked Michael about his best advice for entrepreneurs and new small business owners, he had a clear answer:

  • I think that when you get started, you really need to talk to a lot of people to really understand what their problems are. That could be through going to an event where a lot of people that meet your customers happen to be, and talking with them to understand what the customers’ problems are. If you already have some people in an email list, you can send an email to them, asking them questions, to understand what their challenges are. I think it’s the number one way that anybody can be successful.
  • A lot of times we think that everyone is like us, which is totally not true, and we say “if everyone is like me, then they would be interested in that,” and then we just throw it out to the world and hope it sticks.

Michael Stelzner’s one key success factor

  • I would have to say truly knowing who our audience is and giving them exactly what they want, for free, over and over again.


Jeff Bullas

Jeff is a digital entrepreneur, marketing blogger, keynote speaker, digital strategist, consultant, and bestselling author.
He works with companies and executives to grow their online businesses through social, digital, and marketing automation.
His blog receives over 5 million visitors a year and is found at He has spent most of his business career involved with information technologies, telecommunications, and the web.

For Jeff Bullas, starting his social media career was a result of four different influences that happen around the same time: 

  1. He was looking for a new career path.
  2. Jeff told me he read David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, in 2008. Meerman talked about the power of content to attract the audience instead of having to go out and chase them and it sounded like a good idea to me because most businesses use cold calls..
  3. He came upon Tim Ferries, who he worked for and Tim Ferries liked the idea.
  4. The last piece of inspiration was reading a blog post of HubSpot saying that if you don’t have a clue of what to start a business on then start a blog…

“For me,” he says, “it was the right timing. When I started my blog, there weren’t many bloggers on social media, I got my voice out there, got heard. I picked the trend early, and it worked.”

What is your one key success factor?

  • This is something I’ve been doing for the last four years; getting up at [4:30], sitting down, creating, searching, writing, and then publishing and sharing those ideas with the world. That one particular habit was the biggest transformation of my life.
  • You have to create and block the time to do your day’s work and then do one more step: share that work with the world. I believe the most powerful inspirers and creators in the world are the practitioners; the ones that actually do it and share their journeys.


David Beebe 

Emmy-winning Branded Content Producer | Keynote Speaker
Co-Founder, Content Decoded

Declared by AdWeek as a “Branded Content Master Who Makes it OK to Love Marketing,” and named by Ad Age as a Top 40 “forward thinker, risk-taker, and rainmaker in marketing,” Emmy-award and Cannes Lions winner David Beebe, who founded and led the Disney/ABC Television Group Content Studio and Marriott Content Studio, and produced branded content for Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, LOST, Scrubs, and original series for Showtime, DIRECTV, Yahoo, and PBS, is one of the entertainment and marketing industries most influential producers, brand storytellers, marketers, advisors, and keynote speakers with real world experience.

What is your one key success factor?

  • Being curious. That’s always been a great part of success. Meaning that you’re always exploring and discovering what’s happening next, and how do those things affect what you do.
  • There is so much happening out there in the world. So much technology and innovation happening; look all over and not only at your competitors.


Jeremiah Gardner

Jeremiah Gardner helps organizations create value. He is an international keynote speaker, the author of the bestselling book, The Lean Brand, and Principal at Moves The Needle, where he has advised companies like GE, ING, eBay, Intuit, and Cisco in building their Innovation Transformation practice. He has been featured in several media outlets including Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Lifehacker, and The Guardian. Jeremiah tweets @JeremiahGardner and blogs.

When I asked Jeremiah what he is most passionate about, he talked about his customers and the change his team helped them to make, but then he talked about his inside passion, “Ultimately, what drives me and where I’m at, is when I’m teaching, speaking, and writing; so I really try to organize my life around that.” And that’s what his key success factor is all about.

What is Jeremiah’s one key success factor?

  • For me, what continually led to success is:
    1. Putting myself in a position where I’m at my best, 
    2. Continually chasing the unknown and knowing that I’m wrong.
  • We should ask ourselves, “Where am I making the biggest impact?” The answer for me was teaching and sharing and helping others achieve more than they thought possible.

I would like to talk for a minute about Jeremiah’s say regarding “continually knowing that I’m wrong”. I think this is one of the most important factors while looking to understand market behaviors, and especially while trying to sell something to people.

I always say a good marketer knows he knows nothing, not only when dealing with new unfamiliar markets, but especially when dealing with your business’s well known audience, because we create “our story and interpretation” and we believe this is reality. It’s not. It’s the reality seen through our eyes and brain and perceptions.

If you want to succeed selling to customers over and over again, there two behaviors you should adopt:

  • 1st – really knowing you don’t know anything or in other words – understanding that what you see is not where your customers are, it’s where you think there are.
  • 2nd – always get help from an outside source to search your market. Neither you nor any of your team can be objective regarding the market you are serving.


Mike Alton 

Mike Allton is a Content Marketing Practitioner, award-winning Blogger, and author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early 90s, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media, and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.

Mike Altons key success factor is connected to his own experience of success. Listen to Mike’s story about his biggest success and his top key factor.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach or focus

  • A few years ago, Google+ Hangouts was very successful for me. I was a guest in many of these shows. And one of the ladies invited me to assist in one of her Social Media Boot Camps, and I helped her and her audience for free. Sometime later, this lady asked me for professional help, and I found out that, in her previous job, she was a TV producer in Hollywood. And she connected me in one of her projects with the successful motion producer, Gary Goldstein, who had written a book that he wanted to turn into an online course with a membership, which are all the things that I’m doing and it turned out to be a very nice and fun project.
  • I got to work with Gary, and for him, for months. And it all happen because I came one night to help this lady’s social media class for free….

What is your one key success factor?

  • One thing that comes to mind: have specific online relationships with people that can help you and show you the way to achieve your goals.


John Nemo

John Nemo is an Online Course Creator and Bestselling Author who helps Business Coaches, Consultants, and Small Business Owners generate quality leads, build their client base, and increase revenue using digital marketing platforms and tools, like LinkedIn and Webinars.

The author of 7 books, John is a former Associated Press Reporter, Award-Winning PR Director, and Social Media Consultant based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

John has personally rewritten LinkedIn profiles for A-List Entrepreneurs, including Chris Brogan, John Lee Dumas, Bob Burg, Jairek Robbins, Ray Edwards, and many others.

In addition, John regularly guest blogs for Inc. Magazine and American City Business Journals, and his work has also been featured in The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and many other online publications.

What is your one key success factor?

  • I think that number one thing is not trying to get my personal needs met through work. Not trying to get validation from customers, prospects, critics; viewing that as just business. I struggled so much with taking criticism personally, and taking business personally, and the biggest factor of my success is now viewing that as business and use the critics to improve my business.
  • The only people that aren’t successful are the ones that quit.


I think ending up with John Nemo’s last key success factor would be the best point to end today’s episode. Not giving up is probably the most inspiring yet most difficult factor for each of us entrepreneurs and small business owners.

I would like to advise each and every one of you, my listeners, to first ask yourself the same question I asked our guests: What is my key success factor until now? What really helped me achieve success? And listen carefully to your own answer. This is probably your own most significant key success factor.

And second, look at this list and decide which Key Success Factor(s) of these successful entrepreneurs you plan to adopt. 

Here is the full list of the best Key Success Factors we collected from our most successful entrepreneurs:

  • Don’t give up
  • Don’t try to get your personal needs met through work
  • Cultivate specific online relationships with people that can help you
  • Put yourself in a position where you are at your best 
  • Continually chase the unknown and know that you are wrong
  • Be curious
  • Get up early, create, search, write, and then publish and share your ideas with the world
  • Truly know who your audience is and give them exactly what they want

Resources Mentioned:

Recommended Books:

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest post: The three free, most practical steps to researching and locating your market
  3. Former interview: With Mike Stelzner’s biggest success is the Social Media Marketing World conference: I realized that going to conferences is really the secret sauce to success for so many of us.


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