Our episode today is going to be a general update and resources episode. Mike has been doing tons of traveling and he would like to discuss some of the places and conferences he will be attending. Grant is dealing with some shipping issues, and has some insights on networking and attending events, like conferences.

The topics we covered today are:

  • Mike’s business update
  • Grant’s business update
  • Upcoming Ecommerce Event: Sellers Summit
  • Upcoming Ecommerce Event: Ecommerce All Stars
  • Upcoming Ecommerce Event: Digital Marketing Guys
  • Upcoming Ecommerce Event: Ecommercefuel Live
  • Next week’s special guest
  • Learning from the school of hard knocks
  • The benefits of attending events
  • The value of networking at these events

We have a special offer for the upcoming Sellers Summit on July 15th. Click here for information.

Resources Mentioned this Episode:

Seller Summit

eCommerceFuel

Skubana

eCommerce All Stars

Digital Marketing Guys

EcommerceFuel Live

San Diego Mastermind

If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast please go to ecomcrew.com and fill out the contact form. Also we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening! 

Full Audio Transcript

Mike:   This is Mike.

Grant:  And this is Grant.

Mike:   And welcome to episode 34 of the EcomCrew podcast.  This week’s probably going to be a little bit of a shorter episode.  Grant and I were just kind of chatting about all the traveling I’ve been doing, ecommerce related, and I want to talk about that a little bit.  I thought it would be a good podcast.  Plus, we have two pretty sick offers that we’re going to be talking about in this podcast.  One’s about the Sellers Summit, where I’m going to be speaking on a live Q&A with a special discount.  It’s a special offer just for EcomCrew members.  And the next is going to be about next week’s podcast. Our guest is giving away a free book to everyone that listens to our podcast.  So that’s going to be pretty crazy.  So obviously, listen to this podcast about the author that we have this week, and don’t miss next week’s podcast about the free book.  It’s going to be available to everybody, no questions asked.

But before we get into all that, Grant, what’s going on this week, man?

Grant:  Well, this week I’m getting all my inspections done.  Not all of them, but actually a lot of them, and starting to figure out the ins and outs of getting shipments from halfway around the world and the various difficulties and not quite first world, not quite second world but maybe third world countries that don’t have addresses.  Fun times.

Mike:   I lived in one of those countries for a while.

Grant:  That’s right, yeah.  This is literally the same thing.  It’s 15 kilometers down this street, another 5 kilometers down that street, and look for the ratted-down hut and over there, you’ll find Grant’s goods that are going to be going out.

Mike:   Yeah.  My favorite was one time when we were living in Costa Rica, just so everybody knows, and I got an address to go visit a friend once and the address part of it was, “Make a left where the red Ford Escort is in the driveway.”  I’m like, “What if that guy goes shopping or something?”  He’s like, “Oh, no, it’s always there.  He never moves his car.”  And that was a part of the address.  So yeah, things are a little bit different in other parts of the world.

Grant:  Yeah.  I know.  They just don’t even name their roads, so sometimes I bet GPS coordinates would probably help more than anything for some of those places.

Mike:   Yeah.  For sure.  So any rate, yeah, I mean the main thing that I wanted to talk about on this episode is just kind of like continual education.  And all of us are entrepreneurs and I think anybody listening to this podcast is their own boss.  And even if you do ecommerce part-time, at least in the ecommerce world, you’re your own boss.  So you don’t have anybody ever telling you, “Go learn this,” or, “Go do that,” or any of those types of things.  So for me, at the beginning of 2015, it wasn’t like a New Year’s Resolution (I’m not that kind of guy), it just kind of happened to be around that same time, I was like, “You know what?  I need to, A, immerse myself in this community and not only learn stuff myself selfishly, but try to give back more than I get.”  And it’s actually really worked out very well.

I mean I go out of my way to help others in this industry and a lot of it’s this podcast and things that we’re doing with EcomCrew, but also eCommerceFuel and then other masterminds and get-togethers.  And what ends up happening is you don’t necessarily get something back directly from those people, but I’m a big believer in what goes around comes around, so there’s partially that.  And then the other part is just going to conferences, industry events, and meeting other people and making contacts, and you just never know like what’ll come from it.  And we obviously have other benefits that we can get out of it by running EcomCrew.  It obviously ends up being guests on the podcast or you become a guest on their podcast and things like that.  So if you’re not doing those things, you don’t have those benefits necessarily, but certainly benefits of, you know, if you’re running into a problem with a freight port or you’re running into an issue with a 3PL or sales tax or whatever and it’s something that you haven’t done before but you know there’s someone in your mastermind or your circle of friends that you’ve met, it’s a lot easier to email them and reach out and ask them versus trying to search Google and just read something from some random schmoe.

So for me, it’s really been a huge benefit.  It’s something that’s just paid in dividends and spade.  So I wanted to talk about just my schedule really for the rest of the year, and then also, like I mentioned, there’s a pretty special offer that we have as a part of this podcast.  We don’t usually try to pimp too many of our own offers, but this is something Steve Chu offered to me and our audience and I definitely wanted to take advantage of it, so I’ll talk about that here in just a little bit.

But as far as schedule for the rest of the year, the first thing I’m going to be going to is actually in August.  It’s Ezra Firestone’s event, the Ecommerce All-Stars.  This is one that’s in San Diego in early August.  I believe it’s sold out but I think you can still get a virtual pass for it.  And the main reason I’m going to this one is, again, it’s just to meet people.  It’s a small, intimate conference.  I think there’s going to be 100 or 125 people at it and there’s a lot of people going there that I just want to meet and learn from and hopefully there’ll be some advantages in the content that’s provided there.  So definitely interested in that.  The main reason I’m really going to that one also is it’s just local to San Diego.  I’m pretty tired of traveling.  I’ve done a lot of traveling already this year for these types of conferences, but I definitely think there’s going to be a lot of benefit to that.

The next one is going to be in September in Orlando, and I believe that this one still has some seats available.  It’s the Digital Marketer guys.  They do a Traffic & Conversion Summit and they’re been doing that for years here in San Diego as well and it’s just some of the best content.  Grant and I have been in this industry for a long time and I was talking about this at dinner the other night.  I mean it’s hard to like blow me away with new concepts, not because I feel like, by any means, that I know everything, not by a long shot.  But when you’ve been doing something for a long time, you should be learning little bits at a time and not huge revolutionary things because you’ve been doing it for so long.  The Digital Marketer guys like definitely knock it out of the park for me.  I mean they say stuff and teach things that even just blow me away.  So I’m definitely interested.  They’re doing their inaugural ecommerce-only event in Orlando in September.  And these things are obviously expensive.  It turns out the travel and your time I think costs way more than the actual ticket to most of these events.  The events themselves are like $500 or something in that range.  It’s not an immense amount of money but a plane ticket and hotel ends up costing way more.  So I think that that’s definitely going to be worth the time.

And the last one for the year I’ll be going to is the eCommerceFuel Live event in Savannah and I’m actually going to be speaking at that event this year.  Really excited about it.  Also, nervous about it.  Not really a big fan of public speaking and this’ll be my biggest speaking even that I’ve ever done, but definitely looking forward to it.  Love Andrew Youderian over there, and if you guys aren’t members of the eCommerceFuel forum, like I definitely recommend heading over there, eCommerceFuel.com.  We don’t get any kickback from them or anything, I just think that it’s one of the best things you can do as an ecommerce owner, is be a part of that forum.  If you’re doing – I think the minimum now is like a quarter million dollars a year, so like $20,000 a month, it’s the first place you can start by doing continuing education and becoming a part of the community without having to even leave your house.  So definitely recommend heading over there and doing that.

And then, Grant, you ready to talk about the special offer we have for our kiddos this week?

Grant:  Are you talking about Chad’s offer or are we talking about Unify?

Mike:   Chad’s thing.  Let’s talk about that first and –

Grant:  Okay.

Mike:   Just kind of give a little peek into what we’re going to be talking about next week on that.

Grant:  Okay, got it. Yeah.  Yeah, ignore that Unify mention, everybody.  I didn’t say anything about that.  So yeah, Chad is our guest that we had last week and he was the CEO of Skubana.

Mike:   It’ll be next week because we recorded this out of order.  But it’ll be next week’s podcast as far as people listening to this.

Grant:  Right.  That’s correct.  So yeah, Chad is CEO of Skubana and he is also a top 250 Amazon seller, which is an incredibly impressive feat, and so the guy’s moving 60,000 units a month.  Not $60,000; 60,000 units.  So anything that’s somebody that can move that amount of product I have to say is probably a very good thing, and Chad is giving us the promotion of having everybody that’s a listener to our podcast to get a free copy of his upcoming book that’s coming out.  And it’s going to be pretty amazing.  I’m definitely going to be looking forward to reading it myself.  So if you’re interested in learning from a top Amazon seller, I would highly recommend taking a look at Chad’s book and we’ll have more information on how to redeem that offer on our website as always, at EcomCrew.com.

Mike:   Yup.  So next week, when you guys listen to that podcast, as a part of the show notes next week, there’ll be a link in there on how to claim the free book.  And this week’s offer, the thing we want to talk about, it actually is with the same vein as this continuing education.  One of the events that I just went to was Steve Chu’s Sellers Summit in Miami and I was lucky enough to be one of the speakers there as a mentor.  Had a great time there.  Like I met a bunch of really amazing people, some of whom have already been on our podcast or I went and did their podcast.  But Steve actually asked me to come do a Q&A session.  He’s doing a virtual pass for Sellers Summit.  So if you guys weren’t at Sellers Summit, this is an amazing opportunity to learn all the things that we’re taught there.  He’s giving EcomCrew listeners $100 off, so instead of it being $299, it’ll be $199.

If you go to EcomCrew.com/Summit, it’ll redirect you over there so you can sign up for that for $199, and I believe if you sign up I think the date’s July 15th – I might be off by a day or two on that.  But if you sign up for the virtual pass by July 15th, you’ll get a free entry into a live Q&A session, which I’ll be a part of and there’ll be a couple other amazing people on there.  I know Greg Mercer from Jungle Scout’s going to be on there and Scott Walker from Amazing Seller and a couple other guys.  Obviously Steve will be [in there? 11:11].  It’s his event.  But yup, you go to EcomCrew.com/Summit, it’ll just redirect you over to the registration page for his event, and again, $100 off so it’ll be $199.  I believe in person, this even was $799, so you get obviously a much discounted rate and you get access to all the videos from all the speakers that were at the event and you’ll also get free access to this Q&A session.

So definitely take advantage of that.  Grant and I always like to do full disclosures if we have a dog in the fight here, so it’ll redirect as an affiliate link.  We’ll definitely get some revenue from this as a share from Steve.  He’s being nice enough to give us something for anybody that signs up, so we want to make sure people know that but we never talk about things on this podcast that I wouldn’t recommend doing myself, and this is an event that I went to that I spent a lot of money and my time to go out there to Miami, and for me it was worthwhile, so I think that if it was worthwhile for me, it’ll be something that you guys will all enjoy, and also, I think the Q&A will be like an hour or maybe even two.  It’ll be like a Google Hangout and anybody that signs up before July 15th will get free access to that.  So think that’ll be a pretty cool opportunity.  Grant, what do you think?

Grant:  Yeah, I think it’ll be very nice.  I mean the big thing that I think most entrepreneurs have that other people don’t have is we’ve got a lot of spirit and we’ve got a lot of gusto, but you don’t have a lot of resources out there unfortunately, other than the school of hard knocks.  And I think everybody that’s been doing business for themselves, school of hard knocks works in a very, very easy way: you lose money and you learn not to do it again.  So lose enough money, ideally, you’ve learned a whole bunch.  And so the type of education that is normally provided is a little bit difficult to get because I think most people are not all that interested in sharing their information, but when you go to an event where people are actually interested in sharing for once, it’s actually pretty enlightening.

And I’ll actually say that I used to be very much against going to events and whatnot, and with my SEO background, I just never really wanted to give away my secret because I always felt like I knew what I was doing, I didn’t need to share with other people, so why would I want to do that?  But the whole way that me and Mike met was actually at an event over in New York way, way, way back in the day and, man, we were pretty young when we met, Mike.  That’s what?  Ten years ago now?

Mike:   Yeah, actually we went to a New York Knicks game.  It was so long ago, that’s back when they used to be good.

Grant:  Yeah, that’s right.  Oh boy.  Knicks jokes.  Can’t get old.  I’d rather we make Yankee jokes, man.  Screw the Yankees.

Mike:   Unfortunately, they’re always good.  That sucks.  [Inaudible 14:04] that.

Grant:  Oh, it’s a problem, man.  Huge problem.  But yeah, if I had not gone to this event and met Mike, you know, my life would’ve taken a lot different trajectory.  I’d probably have a whole lot more time to do interesting things.  Just kidding of course, Mike.  But yeah, it’s interesting because the thing that you get from these kind of events, I’ll be honest, realistically, it’s usually not with the speakers; it’s really about networking.  And having gone to college and having kind of fluffed my way through, I was one of those like valedictorian type kids.  I was literally valedictorian in high school and so, you know, I’m very big on –

Mike:   Brag.

Grant:  Yeah, yeah.  Humble brag.  That’s straight bragging, yeah.  But I completely screwed off in college and I’ll admit to that freely.  I ended up passing college with like a B average, but what I really did is I met a huge amount of contacts in college and they all worked out great for me.  Like I got into my industry just because I met a bunch of people in college and it worked out really well.  I just was at the right place, right time.  And at these kind of events, it’s really about meeting people.  So that’s why they always have the happy hour afterward or the power hours usually always after those meetings.  So in my opinion, if you are somebody that can go out and enjoys talking to people, these kind of events are so much more worth it for you.  If you are a little bit of a hermit that likes to study at home and read by doing other stuff online, then you’ll probably get some value out of it, but the reality is that the value’s in the people that you meet.  So…

Mike:   Yeah.  I couldn’t agree more.  And I think that if you are a little bit more introverted, like the best possible conference to go to would be eCommerceFuel Live and I think that there’s only like 15 seats available for that.  And the reason I think that that’s the best conference, again, it’s only 125 people, everyone there is an ecommerce nerd, and the thing that Andrew and Laura do better than anybody else is, I mean first off, they pay for all the breakfast and lunches, and as a part of that, they set up for you like little meetings, you know, five-person meetings that they group like people together.  And I think actually, if I remember correctly, last year, even dinners they put together; you just had to pay for those on your own.  But I had three meals a day times two or three days times five people that I was just meeting five people at a time, getting to know their story, and a lot of masterminds came out of that and just amazing contacts.

And so even if you’re introverted and you don’t want to like try to talk to 125 people mingling at a party, this is a much more relaxed, informal, five-person type breakfast, lunch, or dinner, whatever.  And the hotel that they’re doing it at this year, they’re renting out the entire hotel.  It’s like a 140-room hotel and there’s 125 people coming so like basically the whole hotel is going to be nothing but this, so it’ll be a much more intimate feel and definitely a great opportunity to meet other people.  And I couldn’t agree more with Grant.  Obviously, they’re having me speak so it’s not going to be that interesting listening to the speakers, but it’s the people that you get to meet that I think will be the thing that you take away from it more than anything.

Grant:  Yeah.  Again, we’re not trying to like plug this at all.  We’re really talking about networking and the value of networking here, and so give some like concrete examples of why networking is important.  And I’ll say it again, but I used to be one of those guys that, because I didn’t really network that much, I just never really understood the value.  And for example, one of the very early podcasts that we did when I talked to just my account rep over at InXpress and I actually learned it was the owner of the company, I just ended up talking to him and what was supposed to be a 5-minute setup phone call ended up being about a 60-minute phone call.  And at the end of it, I got like some absurdly good rates from him over at InXpress so I could ship international at incredible discounts just because we hit it off really well and I gave him a lot of valuable information and he appreciated that so he agreed to kind of work with me and make it worth my while.

And that’s just like one example, but other examples are things that most people will never talk about that you will never get access to, or like negotiated rates for products, vendors, services, like things that have an actual fiscal impact on your bottom line.  And when me and Mike, for example, for onto Unishippers – and, again, we’re not employed by Unishippers, we just tell people to use Unishippers because they save us a gain-load of money.  And if you’re just paying the regular UPS rate and then you go to Unishippers, you could be saving 10%.  How much is it worth to save 10% on all of your shipping if you never knew about this before?  And me and Mike probably would’ve saved – oh God, it hurts me to think about how much we would’ve saved on Treadmill.com because with $1 million in sales, how much did we spend on shipping?  What, like $600,000?  $700,000?  Probably $600,000?

Mike:   Just on shipping?

Grant:  Yeah.

Mike:   Oh, I mean I don’t think it was quite that much, but hundreds of thousands of dollars for sure.

Grant:  Right.

Mike:   Yeah.  And we would’ve saved some low six-figure amount of money just knowing what we know now and it would’ve definitely changed the profitability of that business, and when we sold it for 3-point-something X (I forget the multiple we got for it now), that’s even more painful to think about.

Grant:  Yeah.  Exactly.  And one of the things, if we had gone to a conference and talked to somebody and said, “What do you use for shipping?” we might not have gotten the answer, but I’m sure if we talked to 20 people, we probably would’ve gotten a very good answer on, “Why on earth are you paying that much?  This is what I’m doing.”  So that’s just like an example.  There’s a whole bunch of other things, just like even your merchant rates and stuff like that, and we always talked about that here.  You know, you should always be negotiating your merchant rate and getting the interchange plus and all this kind of stuff.  But even vendors have to negotiate with vendors on all these kind of tools and tips that – everything these days loves to go to Google to try to like Google something up, but the reality is most guys that are doing pretty well don’t publish blogs and don’t publish all the stuff online.

And me and Mike were just talking before the chat about bringing some people on and I talked about knowing a franchise owner that owns 22 different franchises, an incredibly successful guy.  You will never see him publish any single article or do a podcast because he’s running 22 franchises.  He doesn’t give a hoot about letting other people know how he runs his business.  But he knows more about mall leasing and profitability and managing people and controlling all that kind of stuff than I would say anybody out there, short of another major franchise owner.  So it’s almost like being given access to trade secrets in a way that are not really trade secrets but nobody just talks about them.  So that’s kind of where the value of networking comes in because ecommerce is so new that there’s still not a lot of information out there.

Mike:   Yup.  So I think the takeaway from this is stop what you’re doing.  Go over to eCommerceFuel, sign up over there if you’re not a member, and use them, leverage them to get into a mastermind group and immerse yourself with other ecommerce people.  If you’re not at the level where you can qualify to join there, find some local people in your community.  I mean I’m a member of a San Diego mastermind, an ecommerce mastermind.  We meet once a month.  We go out to dinner once a month, usually for about three hours a month, and we just rotate around.  It’s a six-person mastermind.  I mean there’s all kinds of things you can be doing.  Go to one of these conferences I mentioned or, again, obviously we’re promoting the Sellers Summit thing here this week at EcomCrew.com/Summit.

So if you want to just do something virtually, that can obviously help as well and it’s $199 and you don’t have to leave your house and you can watch the videos at your own leisure and then obviously get a part of that Q&A.  So I mean to hire any of these guys on the Q&A for an hour would cost way more than $200 and you can basically ask them any question or I’ll help you on there was well if you have a question you want to ask me and that get that answer, plus all the other value.  So I think it’s one of the best values out there.  So again, Steve has been kind enough to give us a percentage of anybody that signs up through our link.  We want to make sure that that’s clear.  We usually don’t do these types of things on the podcast, but I just think it’s such an awesome value for our audience, that it’s worth it.

So check that out.  I mean of course, next week, free book, guys.  And we don’t have any dog in that fight at all.  Just a free book and Chad was so nice to offer that to anyone in our audience just completely free of charge.  So we’ll have the link for that in episode 35.  So what do you think, Grant?  Good for this week?

Grant:  Yep, I think so.  I think we’ve kind of beat the horse and then put it back up and then beat it again so yeah.

Mike:   Yeah.  Grant forced me to record this podcast.  I’m actually heading to Las Vegas as soon as I hit End on this, so he wanted to get me while I can still talk and I’m still alert enough for the next couple weeks trying to recover from that trip.  So should be a fun trip and we’ve got the next couple episodes in the can here so by the time we need to record the next episode, I’ll hopefully be revived.

Grant:  Yup.  I look forward to it.

Mike:   I’ll put it all on black.  Or is it all on red?  Which one do I do?

Grant:  Oh, gees, man.  You can’t lay the blame on me.  It’s going to be bad no matter which way you bet.  The house always wins.

Mike:   I think you bet it always on the green, right?  On zero, double zero.  Can never lose that way.

Grant:  Yeah, I remember reading that in the [inaudible 24:01] book of gambling, right?

Mike:   I think I wrote that book, didn’t I?  All right, guys.  Until next week, have a great weekend.  Or, well, you have a good weekend, Grant.  Everybody else on the podcast, have a good – I think this’ll come out in July, so have a good July.

Grant:  Yup.  Take care, everybody.

Mike:   Cool.  Take it easy, guys.

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