EcomCrew Podcast

E495: How Masterminds Have Changed Mike Jackness’ and Steve Chou’s Lives

Masterminds are one of my favorite segments of a live event. Whether it be EcommerceFuel, Seller Summit, or whatever event that takes place, Masterminds give everyone an opportunity to voice out their problems and get actionable advice from a like-minded group of people. 

Steve and I first met during Andrew Youderian's event, at a Mastermind where Steve asked the table for a critique of his website, and we've been friends ever since then. 

This episode is more of a fun recap rather than an actionable advisory, but there's a few takeaways to learn from this episode. You'll learn about

  1. The costs of cranking up, and keeping your work burner as high as possible. 
  2. How opening up and trusting like-minded individuals can be more valuable than you think. 
  3. Why it's good to have a group of friends that can't relate to your entrepreneurial lifestyle.


  • Intro – 00:00  
  • An overview of what Seller Summit is, and how it's different – 2:42 
  • How Mike and Steve Chou met for the first time – 5:06 
  • TAKEAWAY #1: Masterminds give you the advice you need to hear, without the fluff – 7:33
  • How Steve Chou got into selling on Amazon – 9:58 
  • How Steve Chou got marital advice at a Mastermind – 12:22 
  • How Steve Chou saved Mike's marriage – 14:08
  • How Steve Chou made $60k in 90 minutes – 18:03
  • How Mike deals with old friends who aren't in eCommerce – 20:51
  • Why venture backed businesses are a different gamble – 23:40 
  • Steve and Mike's experience investing on an eCommerce business together – 25:15 
  • Why it's important to surround yourselves around those who trust you – 27:55
  • How events during the pandemic weren't the same – 33:55
  • Seller Summit 2023 details – 36:08

Lots of thanks to Steve for doing this episode with me. If you're thinking about going to Seller Summit, here's a link with a special discount code for Ecomcrew listeners. You can check out all of Steve's other awesome stuff over on

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes. Until the next one. Happy selling!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike Jackness [00:00:34]:

Steve Chou. Welcome back to the EcomCrew podcast.

Steve Chou [00:00:37]:

Glad to be back. And I am broadcasting from an awesome place called Jackness Live.

Mike Jackness [00:00:41]:

I was going to say Steve Chou's in the house. He's like, literally in the house. So we have a little guest house on property and you're in town. And what a great way to be able to use our own microphones and have no echo in the background but still be in the same place recording a podcast together.

Steve Chou [00:01:00]:

Yeah, it's a funny story. I'm actually here for a Mastermind, but I could not get any sleep at the Mastermind house. So I begged Mike to crash at his place, and thankfully he said yes.

Mike Jackness [00:01:10]:

Yeah, let's face it, the real Masterminding happens when I'm around.

Steve Chou [00:01:14]:

Yes. We'll be Masterminding on the GoKart track shortly.

Mike Jackness [00:01:17]:

That's right. I gotta make excuses to my team of why I can't have pre-planned meetings as you made me come do GoKart racing. One of the guys that does the editing for this podcast is the one that I'm having to cancel with so sorry, Ben.

I apologize, but Steve is dragging me off to GoKart racing but I'm looking forward to meeting these guys. It's a Mastermind that you're here for that's talking about content marketing.

It'll be a different group of people that I never met, so it's always good to network. And speaking of networking, another great place to network is at your event, Seller Summit, which I have attended as a speaker for the last six years and as an attendee, I think for the last seven years or whatever it's been, I might be off by a year there. But one of the awesome events in the industry, I've cut way back to attending significantly fewer events.

I go to Ecommerce Fuel live. I go to Seller Summit. I'm not sure that I'm even going to go to another event. There was just Prosper, literally here in Vegas. I didn't even go to that. I just think that you can get overloaded with these events.

Most of them are kind of like sales pitches the whole time you're there, the speakers are getting weaker and weaker. The events get bigger and bigger and more monetized, and you end up with something that becomes more and more different than what you host, which is a small boutique event where there's lots of really awesome networking. I think the speaker pool is way better —

Steve Chou [00:02:39]:

Are you patting yourself on the back? The speaker pool is a lot better.

Mike Jackness [00:02:42]:

I am, that's right. But in all seriousness, it really is just an awesome event. So I want to take some time to just kind of talk about that event. I think you guys should listen. This is not going to be a 30 minutes commercial for Seller Summit, but there's just lots of really cool stuff that happens at events and networking.

Steve Chou [00:03:01]:

I mean, there's not much to say, Mike, and let's not talk too much about the event here, but basically only large events make money. I don't like large events. I'm like you. So small, intimates. We cut it off at 200 people.

We run a Mastermind for the first day, where Mike has helped also, we basically break up into groups of ten to twelve and go around hot seat style and help each other with our businesses. And that's probably one of the best value adds of the event. And then I only invite speakers who have brands, not like CEOs of huge corporations and whatnot. Just guys you can relate to. It's really a conference for six, seven, and even some eight figure brands.

Mike Jackness [00:03:41]:

If you are to attend Seller Summit, at least from my perspective, the funnest and most enjoyable part is the day that we host those Masterminds. And I've done that for the last, again, five, six, seven years, whatever it's been. I actually kind of lost track.

One of the years was virtual because of COVID but even as someone who is spending my time to go there and I guess theoretically give help to other people or coordinate the Mastermind or help facilitate it, I find it to be an awesome day.

Like, I learn a ton because you're in there really just coordinating amazing conversation. The format that we use in my room, I don't know if everyone uses the same thing or not, but we give everyone some time to discuss a problem that they're having, and then everyone else has to give a value add, and we break it up into two separate things.

So we start with the value add. We start with the fun thing. There's something that someone can go around and share with the group that other people might not know or that they've experienced that helps out. And then usually each person gets 30 minutes for their problem that they're having.

And so everyone brings something to the table that they're struggling with. And usually by the end, I would say nine times out of ten, they've been helped, or at least they have a direction to go in when they leave. And the reality is that ecommerce is hard and business is hard. And so having a group of your peers to discuss something with that you might not have an outlet to discuss otherwise, I think is incredibly valuable.

Steve Chou [00:05:06]:

And we never let Mike talk about his problems because that would take the entire day right? But no, I agree. I thought it'd be interesting, Mike, to talk about how Masterminds in particular have affected both of our lives.

And just let me start here for everyone listening. I actually met Mike for the very first– it's probably the first time, it was in Montana at Andrew Youderian's Mastermind. And I remember casually going up and saying, hey, would you guys critique my website?

Mike Jackness [00:05:40]:

Laughs. I remember this.

Steve Chou [00:05:41]:

I knew the website needed some work, but it was converting really well. I was waiting for, like, a mixture of good comments and bad comments and that sort of thing, but that Mastermind group tore it apart.

I can't remember what you said, Mike. I remember certain people. I'll remember the comments I remember. Dana said, this is the exact type of business that I like to buy because I know I can make significant improvements to it and boost the profits.

Mike Jackness [00:06:07]:

Right. That's so passive aggressive.

Steve Chou [00:06:11]:

I know. Stecko said, “I know you run a class, and if I saw this website, I would not sign up for your class.”

Mike Jackness [00:06:20]:

Oh, man. That's funny.

Steve Chou [00:06:21]:

I think you were more tactful, actually, because maybe we didn't know each other. I knew both of those guys, Dana and Kevin, pretty well. I think you were a little more tactful.

Mike Jackness [00:06:29]:

That doesn't sound like me at all. I'm usually as sarcastic as can be.

Steve Chou [00:06:34]:

Not at first. You're not sarcastic at first.

Mike Jackness [00:06:37]:

That's probably true. I think I handle social cues pretty well and realize that if it's someone that you're just meeting and they don't understand your sarcasm, that it can come off pretty rudely if taken that way. So maybe I was nice. I actually remember Kevin saying that and laughing pretty hard because you're just like oh.

Steve Chou [00:06:57]:

I was hurting, man.

Mike Jackness [00:07:01]:

But the point is that if I remember correctly, because I think that I did a follow up episode with you about this, or you told me in passing. After working on it, your conversion rates actually improved significantly after.

Steve Chou [00:07:14]:

Yeah, it was 40 something. I don't know the exact percentage because I did a blog post on it, but it was over 40% increase in conversion rate. I remember literally, as soon as my hot seat, so to speak, was done, I immediately messaged my developer. I started wireframing the new design and everything and got that whole thing done in seven weeks.

Mike Jackness [00:07:31]:

That's awesome. Yeah.

Steve Chou [00:07:33]:

But the point is, I never would have done any of that stuff if I hadn't interacted with you guys that day.

Mike Jackness [00:07:39]:

Yeah, I think that's dead on. And for me, I find that- we meet monthly. I'm in one mastermind. I try to limit this. I used to be in two.

I find that if you try to do too much of it, just like anything else, it starts to diminish the value, and you kind of get the opposite of economies of scale by trying to do this because I find that a really good Mastermind. You're pretty emotionally invested in the group. The Mastermind that I'm in, I've been in now for seven years.

We've become really good friends, and I find that we discuss a variety of things now that have nothing to do with business. It's a lot of family things or personal struggles or whatever it might be.

Also, you need to be in some sort of a group where people are willing to push back and tell you your website sucks, or whatever it might be. Because the reality is that no one else in our lives is going to do that. Your employees aren't going to do that.

They're probably scared or feel like it's inappropriate, or certainly it's not their job to tell you like it is, or to tell you something that you're really passionate about. You have some new idea that you want to go off and start a new business or start this thing or invest in this or whatever it might be for huge amounts of money, and no one else is going to tell you that that's a ridiculously, stupid idea. And in my mastermind group, that's exactly what happens. I mean, there's been things that I have not done because of them, which I think, in the end was the right thing in the moment. It's very exciting to have a new idea or want to go do something, and they prevented me from starting anything new for the last couple of years, which is–

Steve Chou [00:09:16]:

Are you willing to get specific? It'd be interesting to..

Mike Jackness [00:09:17]:

Probably not here. I'll tell you, maybe.

We're supposed to hold everything confidential from that group. And so it's just more at a high level.

There's also been, like, other things that have happened. I just did an episode about this on the EcomCrew podcast here, but I just had a relative come and pass away, and it was very difficult for me, that period of time, and just having someone to talk to about that was just very helpful.

It was kind of a therapy session, if you will, and also just discussing how it was impacting our business in my life and just the ability to continue to try to run a team when that's like, the last thing you're thinking about and dealing with. And so those things have been incredibly helpful for me, and I am very thankful for them.

Steve Chou [00:09:58]:

I mean, for me, I would say my group has been responsible, or I should say people I've met at events are responsible for every major key turning point in my business. Let me give you another example: Lars is ECF. I'm not sure if he's been on your podcast before.

Mike Jackness [00:10:14]:

I don't think he has. But we should get him on. He's awesome.

Steve Chou [00:10:17]:

He's the one who got me on Amazon.

Mike Jackness [00:10:18]:

Is that right?

Steve Chou [00:10:19]:

The funny story was he just would say, hey, Steve, I think you should be on Amazon. I'm like, yeah, whatever. I'm doing fine on my website. But he kept hounding me, like, literally every single week.

He would either send me a text or an email, and then he started sending me income reports. He's like, oh, yeah, apparently you don't like money. And so I was like, okay, fine. Let me just list a couple of products. And I remember that this is back in the heyday of Amazon. I listed, I think, like, six products, made an extra five grand or something like that. Just like that. I was like, okay, this is great. And now Amazon is a significant income source because of Lars, who I met either at ECF or Seller Summit. I can't– yeah, it couldn't have been Seller Summit. It's probably through ECF.

Mike Jackness [00:11:00]:

Yeah, I mean, he's awesome. I'd love to get him on the podcast. Him and I actually you were just sitting there when we were talking. We were just discussing just kind of the future of Ecommerce at an EcommerceFuel live event that we were just at.

He was in the crowd, and you just happened to be sitting at the same table at the time that I struck up a conversation with him. And I'd love to get him on the podcast. I'm going to forward this episode to him and then see if I can talk him into coming on.

He's also just been a good friend. He's just been a great person to chat with. I wish that he lived closer and we got to spend more time together. Just absolutely brilliant guy.

But yeah, I mean, these live events and Masterminds really help with this type of stuff. And it's hard to develop a friendship and a relationship with someone that's going to be willing to go out of their way and do what Lars did for you, getting on Amazon. If not for going to these events or being in a Mastermind, it would be kind of inappropriate or awkward for a random person to email you that hadn't been in that situation.

And if they did, you probably would ignore them or give it less credit because there's all kinds of random crap that happens on the Internet, and we get a lot of emails, and most of them get put in the circular file. And so having someone like him push you is incredibly valuable. And I've had him email me other things in the past as well, and I don't know where he gets the energy from quite frankly, it's pretty amazing.

Steve Chou [00:12:22]:

He's turned into a great friend. I would say almost all of my Internet friends are from events. I've never really talked about this publicly before, but Tal, who's a mutual friend of ours, who I definitely met at ECF, he was responsible for helping my marriage. Did I tell you this?

Mike Jackness [00:12:39]:

Is that right? No. Which is interesting because he's not married.

Steve Chou [00:12:43]:

Exactly, but he is really good with relationships right? This is an ecommerce podcast. Would this be interesting to your listeners? I don't know.

Mike Jackness [00:12:50]:

I think it's interesting. I mean, I find this stuff to be the most interesting.

Steve Chou [00:12:53]:

So what happened was during COVID, we were just fighting all the time. And maybe it's because we were just hanging out and my wife felt under appreciated and at the same time, I was just trying to hide in the office because she was irritable, because when you don't feel appreciated, that's what happens.

And we were going on this spiral and Tal is like, well, did you try talking to her about it and telling her that you appreciate her and everything? And it's hard to do that, especially for someone who's just kind of brought up not to be like that. That's just generally not my personality.

Mike Jackness [00:13:28]:

Yes, I'm the same way. I mean, that's definitely how our family was growing up. And yeah, it's very difficult to show your emotions or say those types of things if you are brought up that way. And I get it.

Steve Chou [00:13:41]:

What Tal did is he called me up and he said, I want you to have that talk with your wife. And I was like, okay, yeah, whatever. And then he literally started texting me every other day until I did it.

Mike Jackness [00:13:53]:


Steve Chou [00:13:53]:

And then finally I was like, hey, stop texting me, dude, okay, I'm going to have the talk.

And I did, and immediately things changed. It was a 180 flip. And then we got out of that spiral and things were fantastic again after that.

Mike Jackness [00:14:08]:

It's interesting you mentioned that about Tal. I don't know if I've actually told you this or not. I think I have, but you talk about him helping save your marriage. I feel like you did the same for me.

Steve Chou [00:14:17]:


Mike Jackness [00:14:18]:

Yeah. Maybe I haven't– I talked about this on the podcast, but maybe not with you directly, which is interesting, but we had talked about that four burner theory in Austin, and we were having a pretty open conversation.

I think that maybe that was right before COVID at the time, but I was struggling kind of things with my wife at that time a little bit, and I think maybe you were having similar things and you're talking about the four burner theory.

And sometimes I think it's just a matter of circumstance. I think you can be told the same thing at different parts of your life, and maybe it means something differently each time or unless you just happen to be in a receptive mood at that point or something, that it kind of just clicks.

And that conversation that we had really clicked, which was just basically you got these four burners, and if you're cranking the work burner up, then something else has to give, right? It's your health, your family, or your friends.

I just kind of in that moment really realized that I had been cranking up that work burner, no doubt. I mean, it was about as high as I could possibly get it.

The first thing that I would turn down would be my health burner, just kind of not taking care of myself as well, which is bad. Really the other big repercussion of that was turning down the family burner, which for me is my wife.

I think, what ends up happening, unfortunately, or the thing that I kind of thought about and this is just an unfortunate circumstance of just kind of how life is. But we had been married so long at this point — when we had this conversation, I think maybe ten or eleven years at that time, maybe twelve, that you just start taking things for granted just because they've been there.

I think we've probably been married a similar amount of time and there's like this period where you're just like, they've always been here, they're always going to be here. Where are they going to go? I don't know. I don't think you consciously think this, but certainly subconsciously I just had this feeling of like, she's just going to be there and deal with this. And not again, outwardly thinking this, but as we were talking about it in the Four Burner theory and the conversation progressed, I was like, wow, I'm the one to kind of blame here.

I need to do a better job of this. And it's not something that really happened overnight but I think our relationship now is better than it maybe has ever been. A lot of that is that I've turned the work burner down. Turned her burner up.

The thing that's crazy is when you look back at it, it doesn't take a whole lot of effort. People just want to be appreciated and shown some affection and spend some time with them or whatever. It doesn't take necessarily a whole lot, but I put the effort into it and it has made a big difference. And so I'm really appreciative that we happened to be sitting there that day having that little kind of mini mastermind because there was a few other people there, and it just really clicked and it really took some time, took a couple of years, but it really put me on a path that changed everything, including the way that I work. Because now I work fewer hours.

But now it's forced me to work smarter, not harder. And it's really just forced me to think about the traction business model, the EOS model, give people a set of tasks and let my team do their thing and not be the obsessive business owner that's in there doing everything all the time, trying to do with brute force all myself.

It's allowed me to spend more time with my friends, allowed me to spend more time with my family and my wife and also spend an hour in the gym every day, focus on my health as well. And so now I have this time to go do those things and I think I'm just as productive at the end of the day in terms of total output than I've ever been because now I'm purposeful with my time at work.

Steve Chou [00:17:48]:

Which means I might not be able to beat you in tennis pretty soon.

Mike Jackness [00:17:55]:

That's probably not true. I know you're still in better shape than me. I jiggle and you're like a rock. So I got a little bit of work left to do.

Steve Chou [00:18:03]:

Yeah. I have so many stories just like this actually, for courses, we both sell a course.

There was a time where I was just relying on email to sell my classes, and then it was both Tony, who's my business partner today, who I met at an event, and this guy named Grant Baldwin. He was like, hey, why don't you try doing a webinar?

And I remember at the time, I was like, nah, the course is selling fine as is. Plus, I didn't really like going live on camera like I'm used to it now, right? We're doing this podcast right now.

But at the time I was like, nah, I don't really want any part of that. So what did he do? He started sending me income reports every single month, and he was pulling in like six figure months just doing webinars. And it was something similar to Lars.

He was like, hey, Steve, I guess you don't need an extra $100,000 a month in your life, right? And he gave me his net profit, like, basically his balance sheet for his business. Like, who does that? And then finally I tried it and I made like 60 grand in 90 minutes after that. And I've been doing webinars ever since.

Mike Jackness [00:19:03]:

And it makes sense, right? Because, I mean, if you think about the format of a webinar, it's long format compared to an email, which might take a minute or two to read.

The bulk of email ends up in a circular file as I said. When you're reading something, it's not anywhere near the same emotional connection as being on a webinar. So now you're talking to somebody and interacting with them for 60 to 90 minutes, kind of forming a relationship with them that they've already kind of started, probably from reading your content, listening to your podcast, et cetera. You can demonstrate stuff in long form content format to really upsell whatever it is that you're talking about. And so it's not surprising then that would be something that would convert way better than an email.

Steve Chou [00:19:43]:

I mean, the thing is, nothing is logical. There's so many things I do that are not- I don't obey logic, right?

Mike Jackness [00:19:49]:


Steve Chou [00:19:49]:

Sometimes I need someone to hit me over the head with something.

Mike Jackness [00:19:52]:

Really, I mean, just being honest about it, because I go through the same thing. So I'm not being hypocritical here at all.

But there's a lot to be said for complacency and success, right? And so because you were making a lot of money already, the motivation is not the same as when you were poor and broke and had your back up against the wall.

This is something that I think about often because it's just like, how do I go at something with the same intensity and passion that I had when I was 25 and had not a penny to my name and would run through fire to be successful? And now it's hard to get more motivated to get out of bed or get off the couch or whatever it might be to do something when there's already enough money in the bank to cover your bills.

And so maybe that webinar was just like, yeah, like, whatever, I'm doing okay. And there's certainly a lot of things in my life, in my business. Like I said, I'm not being hypocritical. I mean, I think that it's just kind of a victim of success in that circumstance.

Steve Chou [00:20:51]:

You know what's sad, I think, and I was just chatting with my wife about this the other day, is that my friends back home, I don't relate to them as much anymore because they're not doing the same things that we are.

So I can't even talk to them about this stuff because they can't relate to it. And my only outlet for that is events and my podcast, which I use to outreach with other people. How do you do it? Is that the same for you?

Mike Jackness [00:21:13]:

Yeah. So it's interesting to mention this because I love that other group of people in my life, because I love getting together with a group of people. And we have a pretty large circle of friends here in Vegas, I think probably have met some of them here or there.

And none of them do ecommerce. It's just like they're a real estate agent or a nurse or they work as an accountant at CoxCable or they're a poker dealer, whatever.

They don't want to hear about what I do at work, and I really don't care or hear about what they're doing at work. And we're just there to have a good time. And so I love having these opportunities to hang out with people without the expectation of discussing work because it really separates my life.

Now, it doesn't mean that I don't love hanging out with you or my ecommerce friends, but the reality is that it's pretty hard for you and me to hang out and not talk about work naturally where the conversation is going to go.

And again, I'm not saying it's a bad thing because I really enjoy the conversations that we have and I find them to be valuable and I find that I enjoy the conversation. But at some point it's nice to have a group of people that allows you to break that circuit breaker and not have the expectation that you're going to talk about that.

In fact, they don't want to hear about it. Like, I mentioned to them that we're doing this, that or the other, and their eyes glaze over and I've learned that just not even discuss it.

Steve Chou [00:22:26]:

That's funny, actually. My friends, they try to understand, but then they all have their own things. We end up talking about kids most of the time, which is fine.

Mike Jackness [00:22:36]:

It's going to be difficult for them to understand because I've been in this position. You have too. You've had a regular job. Right? And so it's hard to imagine a world where everything is on the line.

They probably think that we're insane. You're investing hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars into inventory. You have all these employees and all this other overhead that you're responsible for. When something goes wrong, it's all on you. And no one's there to kind of help you.

There's no such thing as a steady paycheck or steady anything. It's like I mean, if you look at our income graphs, they're usually as entrepreneurs, kind of up and down and oscillate quite a bit. And so this is like a very foreign concept to probably 90 something percent of the country or of the world. And so I think it's hard for them to relate.

The reality is, the thing that I've kind of come to realize is that we're really the oddballs, not the other way around. It's kind of nuts when you kind of start spelling it out in that way that anybody would ever want to go do what we do. That's where I get my excitement from. So that's my drug or whatever.

Steve Chou [00:23:40]:

Yeah, same here. And what's unfortunate is there aren't that many people where I live. They're all doing, like, venture-backed businesses, which is- It was my thing at one point, but it's not anymore.

Mike Jackness [00:23:53]:

Yeah, a venture backed business is obviously very different from a bootstrap business. I mean, it's interesting that there's that much money in the way that money flies around in venture capital land.

But I can't afford to take any of the types of bets that venture capital-type backed businesses take because it's our money and it was very hard to earn. And we don't have, in the grand scheme of things, a lot of it. Relative to other people, I get that we've done very well. But when you start talking about building a business and needing millions of dollars of capital, all of a sudden, I feel very poor. Or it's the type of bet that I just can't bet everything that we've worked 20 years to make in one thing.

And so its versus having venture capital or venture debt. They raise millions of dollars in the hopes of one thing out of 100 being the thing that becomes huge. We're not operating in that playing field. There's no outsized win for us in Ecommerce for the most part. I mean, there are obviously are exceptions to this, but the types of things that we're doing, it's not plausible. So yeah, it's a different world for sure.

Steve Chou [00:24:57]:

I mean, bottom line, I think for most of us, we just want to make enough money to have freedom, right? So I just know all my friends who started venture-backed companies. They're probably the most stressed people that I know because they're under pressure to deliver.

Mike Jackness [00:25:15]:

Yeah, and I can relate to that because we did this ECF Capital investment, which we've talked about on the podcast before, and you were one of the investors in that.

I've invested in other companies. It feels way different being the investor versus the operator because of that pressure. And it's something that for me, I'm not sure that I would go through again. I think everything seems so sexy, whatever it is, before you encroach upon it in life, a lot of times you have to go through.

I always use the kid putting their hand on the hot stove. Like even though your parents tell you not to kind of thing and until you bring your hand, you're like, it seems like a great idea. And so I feel like for me at least, it's a level of pressure and scrutiny that I haven't really enjoyed.

I think a lot of the pressure, realistically, looking at it objectively, I've created for myself. It is not like we have a bunch of high pressure investors. In fact, no one ever says anything, which is pretty wild.

Steve Chou [00:26:12]:

I've said a couple of words.

Mike Jackness [00:26:14]:

Well, you have. Which is usually just good job, like being serious, like not sarcastic for a minute. I mean, it's been an amazing experience from that perspective. But again, it's hard as the person that's actually running with the baton not to put undue pressure on yourself.

And so, yeah, it's interesting to think about all those people that are in that position that maybe found themselves there without realizing it at the time. And some people probably thrive off of that. It's just not my thing.

Steve Chou [00:26:39]:

Yeah, well, I know that for ECF Capital you were the right guy for the job and I knew that it was. I mean, anything you touch pretty much turns to gold. I don't know.

Mike Jackness [00:26:50]:

Yeah, not necessarily. I mean, realistic, and I've talked a lot about this here as well. I've done a lot of stupid crap and had things fail. And I think what I'm good at is just sticking with something and being persistent, not giving up, adapting to change or whatever it might be.

I think, unfortunately, just being realistic in society, a more and more rare breed of just being dependable and reliable and trustworthy, which is just kind of talking about this in another mastermind group recently where it feels like things have changed quite a bit where people are just less dependable and reliable and don't do the right thing when the hard time comes or whatever.

From that perspective, I think I've done a good job. It's been not the easiest road, but I've always put everyone else's investment and well being first. And unfortunately, again, people sign up for that but don't necessarily follow through with it, which is unfortunate and probably makes me a more reluctant investor.

Steve Chou [00:27:55]:

I would say that you're a role model for that. Like you, Youderian, D'Alessandro. I trust you guys with anything. I won't even ask any questions. Just take my money.

Mike Jackness [00:28:07]:

It is humbling. It feels really good in a lot of ways because I know those are the things that never get said, but you realize when you start thinking about it, like, holy crap, there's all these people that just wrote a pretty sizable check and didn't really ask any questions. Haven't asked, it's been years now and still don't really ask any questions.

And if they do, it's always more out of curiosity, right? Like, you can tell. It's just like, I'm kind of wondering I haven't really heard about much anything lately, like, what's kind of going on? It's never like, what the hell are you doing? Or like, you should do this or do that, or why did you make that decision? Which is pretty freaking neat when realistically, I probably would love to hear your ideas because they're all people that I look up to. It's been a pretty cool pool of people.

But again, I'm very aware of the fact that it's just all things that I manifest in my mind of the pressure part of it. And I just think that's natural. If you care, it's natural.

Steve Chou [00:29:04]:

I mean, I just met this billionaire because I was doing a podcast interview down in LA. And this billionaire, he invented these tags that go on clothing, like at the Gap or JT so he's a billionaire, but he contracted stage four cancer while he was running it.

And while he was sick in bed, his business partner went out and tried to steal the business from him forging documents and everything, and they were pretty tight. And so as soon as he recovered from his cancer, he had to fight and go through all that. I mean, it's just ridiculous. It's a crazy story. I can't wait to have him on the podcast.

Mike Jackness [00:29:38]:

Yeah, it's so sad. I'd have a hard time having that interview or conducting that interview because it just makes me sick. I've been through these things myself. I've never been a billionaire, but I certainly have had someone do this to me. Unfortunately, we moved our family years ago, started our business, and something similar happened.

I mean, not maybe to the level you're speaking about. I've seen things happen after my cousin's pass just with people and money and whatever, and it seems like it brings out the worst in everybody. And it's always the person you're most surprised with too, right? The person that gets you in life. It certainly was the thing with me as the person I trusted the most. I had been doing business with them for years. I knew that they had plenty of money, or at least I thought they did.

We had a great relationship going into that, and it's the time I let my guard down. Normally, I'm like, I grew up in the big city. I grew up in Washington DC. I'm like, I don't really trust anybody that I just first met and have a lot of trust issues in general with people. It's like, what's your angle here, man? Why are you even talking to me? Because it's just the way that it is growing up in a city. And when someone kind of over the multiple years gets past that, I find myself very vulnerable to being exploited in that way. And it sounds like a very similar situation here and obviously in the most disgusting way.

I mean, this guy's like, got stage four cancer laying in the hospital. It's like, how do you do something like that when you're already wealthy yourself? I mean, like, it isn't like the other guy wasn't equally as wealthy. Like, what the hell are you doing? It's unbelievable. If it was me as the other partner, I mean, I would be like, doing everything I could to make sure that my partner's life was as easy as possible and pay for whatever expenses I had to out of my pocket to begin with and hope to settle up later or whatever. And if I never saw the money again, who cares? It seems crazy. It'll be an interesting episode to listen to after you record it. And I'm sad that somebody that I know even had to go through that.

Steve Chou [00:31:34]:

That's why I'm thankful for everyone who I've met. And there's no way I would have met these people had I not gone to events or had my podcast. Just by the nature of what we do, we get a chance to meet a lot of cool people and I'm just really thankful for that.

Mike Jackness [00:31:49]:

Yeah, no doubt. I think you actually asked this, or maybe I think we both came to the same conclusion separately. It was funny actually now that I think about this, because you were just like asking what was the number one benefit of doing the Ecommerce Crew podcast? And I was like, well, just the people that I've met, right? I mean, if it wasn't for the podcast, I never would have met you and a whole host of other people.

And I think you had kind of said the same thing. And then the same thing could be said for going to events. And same thing with Ecommerce Fuel live. All the people that I met through there, through the Ecommerce Fuel community, through Seller Summit.

There are dozens of people that I've met at Seller Summit either in the speaking circuit because you also do a mastermind for our speakers afterwards, which is the same thing that we do for the attendees to begin the event. So it's like kind of a bookends, right? I think it's a really cool event.

It's the only one that I get to experience that because no one else does that. But the people that I meet in the first part in those rooms we all exchange numbers and we all become friends by the end of it. It's a totally different vibe than when you first walk in the room, kind of almost to strangers.

And over the years, you see some of the same people in those mastermind rooms. But a day later, after spending a full day together and kind of pouring out your soul about whatever problems you're having, it's hard not to have that relationship. And the same thing happens in the speaker's version of that that we get to have.

And I just find that all of these experiences, you just never know who you're going to meet, who is going to become a very instrumental and important part of your life. And if you just stay home and never put in the work, you're guaranteed to never meet any of those people. And so that's why I keep on flying across the country every year. And one of these days, maybe you'll move the event to California. I know it's never going to happen, but it would be nice. So I don't have to travel across the country.

Steve Chou [00:33:46]:

Well, I'm traveling across the country too. I'm traveling farther than you.

Mike Jackness [00:33:50]:

But Toni does everything for you, so you just show up. And that's true.

Steve Chou [00:33:55]:

She does do a good job. I mean, I'm just actually also thankful that this whole virtual stuff is kind of coming to an end. I miss in person stuff. I was suffering when I was on Zoom. I actually suffered when I did the virtual event or virtual version of Seller Summit because it just wasn't the same.

Mike Jackness [00:34:13]:

Not even remotely the same. It makes me sad because Mia, who is like our leader in our Philippines team, who's been working with me now for seven years, was supposed to come to that event live.

And it was like this big because we were doing maybe it was 2021. So we did a thing about hiring remote teams, and I was going to have her come. We got a Visa for and everything and have her come speak at that event. So I thought it would be an awesome opportunity for her to come to the US. And see that we would spend some time in Miami, then come back to California where I was living at the time and spend some time there.

Just an opportunity to just really kind of show her a cool time. But also I thought it'd be like neat from a career standpoint for her to have that ability to meet these people and have that experience. And then COVID happened and we had to do all of it virtually, which I was just like, oh, that sucks.

We still did the talk, but it wasn't anywhere near the same thing. And I agree, these events, it isn't necessarily the talks in the room. When you're sitting in the 150 person or 100 person room listening to someone talk about something, there's definitely things to learn there for sure.

But for me, the real value is the breakfast or the lunch or the dinners or the after parties or whatever, the conversations that happen in the hall. When you're sitting down for lunch with somebody at the event, you're on a table of eight to ten people, whatever the size of the table is, and you start having conversations with somebody and really get to know them. And it's a two way talk versus when you're listening to someone speak at the front of the room. It's kind of a one way communication, and I think that those two way communications are where the real gold is at these events, and the virtual version of that can never produce that.

Steve Chou [00:35:54]:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm looking forward to it. Looking forward to hanging out, actually. I've seen you a lot lately, so yeah.

Mike Jackness [00:36:01]:

A little bit of Mike Jackson's overdose, probably for you at this point.

Steve Chou [00:36:04]:

It is. I wasn't planning on crashing here either. You saved me, though.

Mike Jackness [00:36:08]:

See, I'm always there. So Seller Summit is coming up May 24, right?

Steve Chou [00:36:16]:

May 23 to the 25th. Yeah, it's a small event. We're actually almost sold out of tickets, but any friend of Jackness is a friend of mine, I think.

Mike Jackness [00:36:26]:

So you just use the code Jackness or friend of Jackness. Friend of Jack gets you 50% off the event. Is that a little too much? A little aggressive?

Steve Chou [00:36:34]:

Drinks are on you.

Mike Jackness [00:36:36]:

Drinks are on me. Okay, that seems fair. But in all seriousness, go check it out. Is there some sort of a discount for the audience.

Steve Chou [00:36:43]:

I'll give you a link for a discount. I'll give you a link for a discount.

Mike Jackness [00:36:45]:

Perfect. So we'll throw that in the show notes, but and go check it out. The discount will be in the show notes, in the link. We'll also probably email about it as well.

Steve Chou [00:36:59]:

Just for context, a lot of your listeners don't know me, but I'm kind of like a no nonsense guy. So all the sessions are designed to they're all taught by brands and designed to be actionable. And we all eat together, we all party together at night, and so it's just networking and learning.

Mike Jackness [00:37:17]:

My favorite session at any live event I've ever been to was at the Seller Summit last year.

Steve Chou [00:37:23]:

Really? Which one was that?

Mike Jackness [00:37:25]:

Yeah, I think her name was Laurie. I might have got her name wrong. Oh, Lori.

Steve Chou [00:37:28]:

Yeah. When she did the live selling?

Mike Jackness [00:37:30]:

Yeah. Oh, man, I absolutely love that. What a badass woman she is.

I mean, it is so tough to get up in front of an audience and do something that isn't completely planned. And not only did she do it, but she crushed it.

And it was just, like, so entertaining to just watch her work. I mean, I've never been more captivated.

She got done talking, and I was just like, holy crap, I didn't touch my phone for the last hour because we're all just so distracted all the time, and I don't know that I've had my attention captured like that for an entire hour for ten years. I mean, it was unbelievable. She was just awesome.

And there's been other great talks there as well, but those are the types of things that you'll see there just unique things, just real people. She's in the trenches selling stuff. I think a lot of people probably went home and tried to figure out how they can do something similar in their businesses, and those are just the types of talks. And literally, I've been to dozens and dozens of these things at this point, and most of the time at this point, I'm like, skipping sessions and just kind of like or falling asleep or spending most of my time on a phone or an iPad in the room and just, like, whatever. And a lot of the talks that are there are really interesting, and including Lori's last year, which was just phenomenal. Yeah, really good stuff.

Steve Chou [00:38:47]:

Yeah. And your talk is always well received. Also, if you guys want to see Jackness in the flesh right there, he's always mobbed, though. That's the problem.

Mike Jackness [00:38:56]:

100%, but not even sure what I'm talking about yet, but I think we have it figured out.

Steve Chou [00:39:00]:

We do. Yes. We might jointly talk about something. Yeah, we might. So, yeah. Hope to see you guys there.

Mike Jackness [00:39:06]:

Yes, absolutely. All right, signing off, everybody. Be good.

Ecomcrew Outro [00:39:12]:

We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Ecom Crew podcast. If you haven't done so already, please head over to itunes and leave us a review. It helps more than you know. Did you know that Ecom Crew has a ton of free content, including Ecommerce courses? Head over to free to check it out today. That's going to do it for this episode of The Econ Crew podcast. Until the next one, happy selling, and we'll talk to you sooner.

Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.

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