Finding Balance Between Growth And Freedom | Dan Kuschell With James Shramko

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GTF 257 | Balancing Growth And Freedom


Balancing business growth and personal freedom can be a delicate balancing act. Do you have the right tools and strategies you need to do both?

In today’s episode, Dan Kuschell is interviewed by James Schramko on the show, SuperFastBusiness.  During this interview, Dan shares his 30 years of business experience to offer you key insights on game changers, getting clarity, transformation versus operating transactionally, how do identify your right fit clients, and a whole lot more. 

Dan is here to set you on the right path towards growth to freedom, and to help you grow with less stress.  Make sure you stay tuned for this inspiring and empowering dialogue!

Make sure you stay tuned for this inspiring and empowering dialogue!

In the episode:

  • What’s old is now new
  • Transaction versus transformation
  • What really lasts
  • Just what is sales?
  • From closing to enrollment
  • Why sell a business?
  • A powerful game changer
  • When it’s not what you expected…
  • Some life-changing questions
  • Finally getting clarity
  • How to Identify a Right Fit Client

Listen to the podcast here:

Finding Balance Between Growth And Freedom | Dan Kuschell With James Shramko [Podcast 257]

It’s not about us, it’s not about our product and our service, it’s what the problem you solve is. It’s getting clarity on that simple thing. What is the problem you solved? Ideally, how do you do it differently and uniquely to anybody else that someone can’t get it the way you’d package it and deliver it anywhere else? Then what is that solution?

You’re going to love our session, which is all about finding the balance between growth and freedom. In fact, originally this was an interview that James Schramko did on his show called SuperFastBusiness. I enjoyed the experience so much. I said, “James, can I go ahead and make this available to our following and tribe?” He said, “Yeah, no problem.” If you haven’t checked out, James, where he’s doing some amazing work, make sure you do that. In this episode, we talked about finding balance. Here’s the deal, I don’t believe in true balance. If you want to be a high achiever, a high performer, a super achiever, it’s BS. A lot of the experts that are leading you that way are leading you down the wrong path. In this episode, we’re going to talk about what’s old is new. We’re going to talk about transformation versus transactional ways of operating.

We’re going to talk about what lasts. We’re going to talk about the misconception of sales. What is sales from closing to enrollment? Why sell a business, which I’ve been blessed to be able to do? Game changers, getting clarity, how do identify your right fit clients and a whole lot more? If you’re looking for an action-oriented segment and session, you’re going to love this. If you never want to miss an episode, you can go to One last thing before we jump into this segment from the interview with James Schramko of SuperFastBusiness is this. If you’re a founder, if you’re a CEO, if you’re an entrepreneur that’s hyper-growth focus, you want to grow, you want to scale, maybe you’re looking at exiting 1 or 2 levels, either actually building the sell your business or exiting the day to day, to get freedom from the day to day, so you can stay in your sweet spot, you’d like to get clarity around that.

You’d like to have another perspective from somebody who’s been there, done it and work with hundreds and thousands of founders, CEOs, maybe like you. Take us up on our free strategy call. You can go to Fill in time, fill in some questions and we can talk about your business, where you’re at, where you want to go, how you’re going to get there and a whole lot more. In the meantime, if that’s not a fit, no big deal. Enjoy this episode. Enjoy this session in its entirety. I think if you grab a pen, grab a piece of paper, it is going to be a lot of wisdom. Most importantly, action steps that you can apply and put in place every day. Here we go in its entirety with my friend, James Schramko at SuperFastBusiness, talking about finding the balance between growth and freedom. We’ll see you on the other side.

We’re chatting with Dan Kuschell who has the Growth To Freedom show. We’re going to be talking about business, style systems, connecting a few dots, helping you get unstuck and general matters. Welcome, Dan.

James, it’s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.

We got connected by some mutual friends, Matt and Joe. They’ve been on my show a few times. We’ve done an episode where we shared it on their show and my show at the same time as well. It’s well-received, it was in the top ten. Any recommendation of this, I have to pay serious attention to because they’re good people. It’s good to connect with people out there who’ve sometimes got some similar and different stories and to see what patterns we can recognize, what things are in common. It gives a good platform for some stimulation around ideas.

In fact, on that topic, I read a book that came out, it’s called This is The Answer from my friend, Dan Norris. I agree with about 50% and I disagree with about 50% of what he said, but even when I disagree, I love the stimulation it causes. Why does my position on that differ from the author? A mentor of mine taught me that a book is one person’s opinion. When we talk about stuff here, it’d be interesting to see what experiences we’ve had that are similar and what are different. For one thing, you’ve been in the direct response and radio industry for a long time, longer than I have. That’s one thing that’s different. How much have you seen things change over the last many years?

A lot of it. What’s old is new again.

What was old that’s new again in particular?

People are coming back to more of the human being side of business versus transactions. Years ago, when I first got started, I got started in this crazy industry back in the ’80s and direct mail, radio, TV before the internet. At that time, you could put out an offer, generate a client and start the relationship. Not that you can’t do that now, I often have been quoted in the last couple of years is saying traditional marketing is dead. That old mindset of like, “Let cast a bait and let me catch a fish now.” It is a wrong approach for a long-term client relationship. It’s transactional. We have a choice to be transactional or transformational.

People are coming back to more of the human being side of business versus transactions. (James) Click To Tweet

If you want to build a great long-term business is more of the transformational side of things. It’s the human being, it’s the long-term relationship focus that matters. Similar traditional selling now is dead for a lot of similar reasons. The approach now is more about both marketing and selling is instead of catching a match. If you picture me striking a match and there’s a fireplace in front me and I throw this match into the fireplace to try to catch the log on the fire, 1 out of 1,000 will catch fire or a smarter, better, long-term approach to that is let me get this piece of paper, let me light that on fire and get a nice little flame going.

Let me set it down. Let me put some kindling on top of it and add some more warmth and value there. I got kindling going, let me take some small branches and put on top and let me go ahead and put the log on top. If you build that value the right way, building kindling, you can have a fire that will burn for days and days or translate that to business, you’ve got a long-term transformational relationship. When people hear this idea sometimes for the first time, it clicks for them to understand how do I go out there and build this long-term business? The other part is people have been misled unlike what is selling and what is marketing. I’m sure you see versions of that too, but that’s another big distraction people have this misunderstanding of what is sales? What is marketing in the first place? They confuse them and/or they have misconceptions. Those are a few.

GTF 257 | Balancing Growth And Freedom

Selling is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result – a bigger vision that is good for them so they can ultimately take action towards that result.


You’re touching my sweet spot too. On that fire analogy, what I’m saying are old school marketers. What I would classify as one-trick ponies. They know one trick, it’s finding out what people buy and then sell it to them. They’ve simply taken the direct response marketing tactics and then they’ve bludgeoned social media with it these days. There are a couple of people out there who are producing a constant stream of social media diarrhea of direct response sales videos with branded calls to action at the beginning of every single piece of content. They’re in your face, in your Messenger and in your email multiple times a day. I would say the analogy there is they’ve tipped gasoline onto the fire starter. They’ve got this huge flame and then they say, “Everyone, look at this amazing flame. It works.” They sell that process. Where’s that going to be in 2 or 3 years from now after they’ve burnt all of the gasoline up? There are no logs happening and think they’re going to get cold. 

It will resemble if you think about forests. The forest fires that come through and it’s completely gutted and it’s desolate. We seized the sparklers in the business site, they come and go. You light a sparkler up and they glow for a couple of minutes and then they fade away. There are a lot of examples and coming back to your direct question is if you look at what’s more important in business now and at any time. This is why what’s old is new again is this idea of the great ones of the past understood this as well or better than anybody. The better people understand this piece.

I didn’t invent any of these. They go through the experience of some failures along the way. Having built eleven companies, the couple I had to bury in my backyard so I could get grounded and get perspective. If we had to pick between what’s more important, tactics, principles, strategy, or psychology? A lot of people are selling what you described, which is tactics. Let’s go find that one trick, that magic button, that magic pill, that magic one-liner that’s going to convert. Go a little bit higher. People go to strategy or principles. That’s better than tactics for the long-term, but what’s even better and more proven to last over time is the psychology and the human being psychology things.

Get people connected to the right thing that's good for them. (James) Click To Tweet

Tony Robbins talked about it in terms of his Six Human Needs. Brendon Burchard has a version. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is when that old adage, find a need and fill it. In many ways, it couldn’t be more wrong for most business owners. It’s not finding the need and fill it. There are a lot of people with great ideas that filled a need but they’re broke because they didn’t fill a want. They didn’t fill that hungry desire for somebody. The Six Human Needs for example are certainty, uncertainty, love, connection, growth, contribution and significance, in no particular order.

Growth and contribution are the highest levels in Tony Robbins’ version that you can serve. How many people that you and I know that they confuse this whole Gary Halbert, who’s a legend in direct response marketing over the years? He says, “There’s no correlation between being good and getting paid.” What’s the difference between $1 and $100? If you put them up next to each other on top of each other, they’re both the same weight, size and color ink. The only difference between the two in the value is the message. When we get great with our message, great with the psychology, we can go out and ask 100 times or create 100 times more value out there. That’s a big part of what can separate all types of businesses, the little guy even from the big conglomerates, if they get tuned in on this. It’s a deep conversation but it’s something I love to talk about.

I saw a friend of mine, Brian Casingena, talking about that same thing except he would argue that people who want the Ferrari or want to have a $10 million business, for them, that’s a need. He said you should market to needs. You have to find the people who need to have that Ferrari. They’re going to have a much stronger desire than someone who wants a Ferrari. It’s an interesting angle on it.

The deeper level of it is that you find somebody with that wants what they want and the reason they want it isn’t what they think. That’s the other key there are layers of the want and desire. When you can tap into the emotional desire, you find out that the emotional need is what they want that connects that thing and not to get too deep on it. On one end, I would agree with that, when you connect the emotional need with that deep desire of what they want.

I’ve talked about this before. A lot of people out there pursuing things are not even actively pursuing something they even consciously thought about. They’re driven to prove something to their dad who harassed them as a kid or their teacher who told them they’re going to be a dummy and those things. That’s deep stuff that causes the drive. While we’re touching on that, you did allude to people having different versions of understanding of what sales are. I’m curious what you think sales is or how would you define it?

There are a couple of versions that I’ve come to enjoy. One of my first coaches, first teachers, his name was Tom Hopkins. He said, “Selling is helping people.” Simple for people to get. The more people you help, the better you’re doing. Another one that I love now that’s a hybrid of that is selling is serving. If you show up as a servant leader, you’re selling and serving at the same time. Another version is Dan Sullivan who runs a great company called Strategic Coach. I love his full definition. It’s deep but I’ll share it. He says, “Selling is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result that’s good for them so they can emotionally commit to take action to achieve that result.” Selling is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result, a bigger picture, a bigger vision that is good for them so that they can emotionally connect to that to ultimately take action to achieve that result.

Another simple version of selling is influence. For me, those are the healthiest of definitions that support sales in a good way. When we believe in what we’re selling and with 600 shows that you’ve done, all the incredible resources you make available, this event you came from. When we believe in what we offer, we have a moral obligation to share the value of it. We’d be doing a disservice or we’re not a servant leader if we don’t share all the value that we can. We’re not helping as many people as we can if we’re not sharing it. We’re not giving people the ability to experience a way to get their bigger future that’s good for them if we’re not sharing it. It ties in well.

It’s funny how I reject the idea of being a servant, but I’m okay to help people even if they’re the same thing. I find the word servant almost offensive. It’s got too much religious connotation for my liking. If someone in chains and shackles or waiting on a master who’s barking orders at them. That’s why I have a problem with that word. I don’t mind the helping thing, the definition of the sales that I’ve used as a foundation fits with most of the versions you’ve talked about. In fact, Dan Sullivan is an overextended version of this, more or less. I like the one from Neil Rackham from SPIN Selling that sales are a process of change from the current situation to a better alternative situation.

The whole frame that I put it in is if I’m selling something, the person has to be better off. It helps if they can see their current situation which that involves things like investigation, asking questions, and understanding them and knowing them. All good copywriters talk about the research phase. It’s the boring part but the best part. There’s the being better off. If they can see they’d be better off, often the sale happened by themselves. If you’re doing that well, the sale will almost happen automatically and you’ll never have to know 27 tricky Tom Hopkins tie-downs, tag-on.

My favorite offensive sales term is closing. Anyone who talks about closing is either doing that because that’s what their market needs to hear, to understand what it is that they’re talking about or they don’t know. Closing is the last part of the SPIN Selling methodology. He talks about obtaining commitment. That’s how they close. What’s the next step? This is important from all my years of selling. Sometimes the next step can’t be a purchase. It’s too early to make that call for a purchase. If you do that and you’re forceful, the customer may not be better off. They might not be in a position where that’s the best thing for them and they might need another step or an intermediary step in between.

For example, if I was helping someone find the right car for themselves in the Mercedes-Benz showroom, sometimes the next step might be to take the car to their house. It’s to let their partner drive the car on the normal route they would use to do the school pickup and to see if they feel comfortable with that. If that’s going to be better than what they’re using to do that and that would often be a more powerful step than to try and ask for the order from the person who’s not the primary driver, who’s not there. It’s like the classic roller door technique. They will not go to your house unless all decision-makers are there at that appointment.

I love that framework and as you’re reading, there’s so much wisdom that James is sharing. We look at that like we have shifted the conversation from closing to enrollment because enrollment leaves that door open for a follow-up. Similarly, we feel strongly in the idea that you want always to leave people better than before they met you, even if it’s not with you. Get them connected to the right thing that’s good for them. It’s no wonder why you have the impact that you are.

GTF 257 | Balancing Growth And Freedom

People spend so much time and money on so-called corporate values, but let their personal life go by the wayside.


Thank you. I like the idea of enrollment. Dean Jackson would call that someone raising their hand. They are identifying themselves as someone interested in what you have. I put a lot of work into creating an environment where people can see where they’re at and how they would be better off and they can join the dots themselves. That’s far more powerful from a persuasion perspective. If someone can join the dots and create the drawing as if they drew it than if you draw it for them holding their pen and say, “Look what you drew.” They’re like, “You were moving the pen. I don’t have any investment in that.”

They do not feel it was any of their responsibility. They feel pressured and icky. That was a good discussion. That’s something old that’s new. Frankly, I never understood how it got far off track anyway. It’s a classic that you mentioned humans because that was the theme of my event, where we met in person, where the quality of the people made the event what it was. One of the presenters, Angela Henderson, who has presented a podcast on the topic of human-to-human marketing, broached that subject at the event. It was a real success. It was in the top few presentations. We heard from Mike Rhodes talking about machine learning and AI.

The moral of his story was we’re going into a phase where we’ll be extra human. We’re still humans enhanced by machines, not replaced by a machine. That’s where I get concerned when I see people delegate their whole business off to automated evergreen webinars with chatbot sequences and everything other than human interaction. It can be quite dangerous as a path to follow because people will crave being looked after and cared about and having that personal connection. If you can supply that which is something I do in my coaching business and I’ve specifically wanted to ask you how you sold your coaching business because that’s going to be an interesting discussion. That’s something I supply that no one else can offer. There’s no one else in the world who can be me helping that customer as a human. That’s a good cashflow model. It’s a good position to be in from a competitive point of view. It leads me to our next topic, coaching business. You built up a big coaching business and then sold that coaching business. Can you tell me more about that?

It happened out of necessity. I have a vision that we were going to transform small businesses and help business owners be able to become champions in their own way. Over the course of a handful of years, we had over 250,000 clients take advantage of a lot of different educational resources we made available under a few different brands and experts. The first thing is I got myself out of the way. It made a ton of mistakes. It started out of a bedroom in my home and then I brought in one person and then that grew into a small little 400-square foot office with four people.

It grew to 40 and then it grew to 175 employees and a couple of offices and outsourced staff. We were generating at our peak over 2,000 clients a week with our education programs and it fed into our coaching model. It was about delivering the end-experience, the end-value, the transformation, the breakthrough. If I had to say what was a couple of critical key pieces are like you do from my observation of reviewing some of the work that you do and how you bring value in the market, it’s not about us. It’s not about our product, our service. It’s what the problem you solve is? It’s getting clarity on that simple thing. What is the problem you solve?

Ideally, how do you do it differently and uniquely to anybody else that someone can’t get it the way you’d package it and deliver it anywhere else. What is that solution? We had a suite of all kinds of different resources and tools. The thing that we had realized was getting like I didn’t want to build a guru business, it’s not my style. I built other gurus inside of our platform way before others were doing this. This was when I sold the company. It was several years ago. We had built a series of experts within our platform and we championed them, edified them. The thing that became the most valuable to our strategic buyers, we found later, was this massive community we built, this list that we built.

It was our number one asset. Our clients, which were over 200,000 and our subscribers, which grew to a couple of million subscribers. We had a system of follow-up and we had a system of generating clients and acquisition. When everybody started, everybody was going. The way I view it, as a lot of people are too lazy and too cheap to build a real business. What I mean by that is we were able to generate a lot of leads and sales online. There are a lot of people generating sales online now. What if you could have one thing that could be a game-changer that could grow your revenue and profitability exponentially 4 to 10 times? It’s one simple thing and I realized how valuable that was.

What I’m going to share with you is having people who buy online and then transferring that to a connection on a phone call. That one little thing, if you do it right, will help you increase your revenue and your profitability 4 to 10 times. When was the last time that when you made an order online for any program, product and service that you got a phone call from that company saying, “Congratulations, you’ve made a great decision?” It’s few and far between, if any. If you do that one thing, a follow-up call to say, “Congratulations, you’ve made a great decision,” with a voice on the other end of that phone line, you automatically are ahead of your competition.

Separate that if you call them to follow-up. What was the reason you got started? What’s the biggest problem you’re looking to solve? Intentionally, you don’t have to sell, you serve by helping and make them aware of other things you have available. You can offer a suite of things and because you connected with them to truly find out where they’re at, what their problems are, and if you have the solution for it, you make an offer, they’ll take you up on it. If you do that regularly in a sequential follow-up style every couple of weeks to a month or so of serving to help them solve their problem, you’d be amazed at the results. What we found in our system and the community and the client base that we had built was of immense value. Creating systems around that, creating that connection factor pays huge dividends. There’s a whole lot more, but that would be a couple of critical things that almost anybody could apply that’s in online digital marketing that would help grow their business.

A couple of things on that and to the prior show to this had similar advice to figure out what you can uniquely provide that no one else can provide and then provide the pathway to get that. I like what you said about the phone. Mixing marketing mediums is a good technique. I always send out physical things when people purchase certain stuff. The phone is great. I remember this famous video of Gary Halbert at a conference saying that if he could give online marketers one piece of advice, it would remove the purchase button off your website and go to the phone call because you’ll immediately increase your conversions.

As your conversions for a phone call could be much higher than a webpage. In fact, that’s how people come through SilverCircle. They can’t purchase that off the site. It goes through a phone call. That’s when you can have high personalization as well and make sure you’re only ever dealing with the right customers. With that business, I’m interested as you went through that journey from the bedroom through 175 people in an office there, it was serving the clients. Did it ever get to a point where it stopped serving you and became a bit of a devil or a Frankenstein you’d created the way you’re like, “This isn’t what I imagined it would be?” I see this happen a fair bit.

I could give you some BS answer and say, “It was perfect.” It outgrew what I wanted. The shorter version is I built up this business from the outside and people looking at it would go, “This was awesome.” It was in a lot of different ways except it wasn’t what I wanted. What ended up happening is I found myself like a lot of entrepreneurs where I was so committed and obsessed with the business. There are a few opportunities that I don’t love, shiny object syndrome. Through discipline, I’ve learned to say no a lot more, almost 9 out of 10 times now compared to then. I was working close to 100 hours a week and I had a couple of kids. I remember a couple of weeks after my son was born I woke up with chest tightness.

You don't have to build a huge business by going through the same experiences others did. (Dan) Click To Tweet

Imagine, you build this great company, you got 175 employees, things are going solid, well, good profit margin and you have your daughter who’s two, you have a son that was born a few weeks prior and you wake up with chest tightness. You call your doctor. He says, “Go to the hospital.” I go to the hospital and then they do some basic tests and then all hell breaks loose. They put you on a gurney, they get you into a room. It’s like 911. All craziness is going on. They’re putting diodes all over you and then you’re in this hospital for four days. They do a heart procedure on your heart. You have to sign a disclaimer. It says you have a one-in-X chance of dying of this procedure. What would that do to your state?

For me, it freaked me out and it got me to reevaluate everything fast. I believe God has a way of tapping us on the shoulder to see if we’re paying attention. If we don’t pay attention, which was the case for me, I’ll get a 2×4 hit. I didn’t pay attention to that. You’d get a telephone pole and rack you upside. That’s what happened to me. What I realized is I had burned out. I’m completely focused, obsessed and essentially, I have addictive traits and addictive behavior, addicted to building what I thought was my dream. In that hospital room, it got me the value. I remember balling up almost like a baby after I had to sign the disclaimer to do the surgery the next day.

I wrote what I thought was going to be an addition to my will for my family and my kids. I’m bawling, crying and sobbing writing out these last things to make sure if something happened in that surgery. I came through this process. Here’s a process called DABDA from a book called Death and Dying by Kübler-Ross. I’m sure I went through all of those stages from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to anxiety and then you come to a response. It was like, “God, when I come out of this, I’m going to be different. What am I going to do differently?” I’ve always believed in investing in myself and I’ve been an investor in high-level coaching for a lot of years consistently in coaching. I invested over $1 million now in coaching and training.

If I came out of this, I’m going to find me a coach to get me re-grounded again. This coach, her name’s Dr. Cristy Lopez, we’re still friends until now. She walked me through a product that wasn’t completely new to me. It’s not like I hadn’t heard this before, but she got me to focus on it plus when you’re in crisis mode, you have a tendency to pay attention more. It’s like that old adage. People will pay attention when they pay or when you pay, you pay attention. I felt I was in crisis pay attention mode. I hired Cristy, the trick I use to make every decision that saved my life is what it did. If you could get the picture, you can see me so you see this, but at my worst state health-wise, I was about 246 pounds. I weigh about 157, 155 now.

I hover in that range. How did I dramatically shift? First of all, I went from this obsess. I’m still a workaholic, but I put guardrails on now and I have discipline. My wife helps me and I’m not perfect at it. I can get crazy on this stuff. When you’re building your dream, if you’re a part of the community, you know what I’m talking about. You know what you want to do and how you want to impact the world. You can have it both ways. You can have a great life and you can have a great business. This whole idea of going out there and hustle and work, you can sleep when you’re dead is total BS. I didn’t understand that until I went through this process. Cristy got me to think of three questions.

Number one, what do I want? It’s not, what did my 175 employees want? It’s not, what did my wife want? It’s not, what did my kids want? I realized that I let go of my personal values to try to make everyone happy. That old adage, they call it the tail wags the dog. Are you letting the tail wag the dog? Are you letting your customers wag the dog? Are you letting your family wag the dog? Friends, their opinions, and their thoughts, your team, your staff? Are you making it based on what you want? Number one question, what do you want? What do I want? Number two is who you are. They’re not the labels, not the titles, not the human stuff like all these accomplishments that we can all dress up on our resume and on our business cards and our website, but the human being.

It’s coming back to that human factor that we’ve started this with. Who are you at the course of a human being? Number three is your core values. They talk about great companies have great core values. When’s the last time you sat down and personally evaluated your own personal values that you live by as well as your family? Isn’t it important to have a great family and personal values that tie-in with the corporate values? People go through and spend days and lots of money to do corporate values but sometimes we let our personal life go by the wayside. She got me to think, what do you stand for? In other words, values.

I have to tell you and I saved the longer story on this, but the first time she had me do question one, because she didn’t do all three in one sitting, she had me do these questions one by one. The first time I did each of these questions, I sat there in a chair writing one little gibberish answer, I was stuck. I was awkward and feeling like, “Holy crap.” At that time, I was in my early 30s and keep in mind, I had spent almost $1 million in personal development. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been exposed to this stuff, but I was sitting there stuck in this mode. It took me a few weeks to come up with some good answers for number one of what did I want and get selfish about it and be selfish to be selfless to others.

A drowning person can’t save a drowning person. If you’re in an airplane and the plane is going down and they say, “Put the oxygen mask on you first.” We can’t love someone else until we love ourselves. You can’t help someone truly get what they want if you aren’t getting what you want. I didn’t understand the core of that until I went through this experience. Along in the shore, these three questions allowed me to filter decisions to make better choices, better decisions, what to say no to, what to say yes to, being on your show to help contribute to the incredible community you’ve built. When I’m matched up, does it fit this? It’s an easy yes. Anyway, there’s a lot more to it but ideally, that gives some perspective on it.

If you’re looking for a way to get true clarity, certainty, confidence in what you’re doing and then where you want to end? For me, we can bring this all together. When I finally got that clarity, although this sounds great and it is great in many different ways, it’s not what I want. I sold the company, had a great exit. I was fortunate, blessed, then I was able to take some time. I worked on my health. I went from 240 down to this great fit. I was able to be a dad. I was able to spend time with my kids. Now, I come back full circle and I’m working with some amazing clients and helping them grow their businesses exponentially. Showing them how to create these sales and marketing systems instead of being broken, disjointed, fragmented, bringing those sales and marketing systems together to grow and to allow them to focus on the things that are most to them. It’s fun, it brings a lot of joy being able to do that and help some great influencers and experts out in the world as you know doing what you do.

GTF 257 | Balancing Growth And Freedom

You can’t help someone truly get what they want if you aren’t getting what you want.


I can see why Matt and Joe introduced us. We were on the same page. I’m sorry that you had to go through the near-death experience to get there. I didn’t push things quite that far, but I remember sitting in my house thinking, “I don’t feel happy.” I wrote up on the whiteboard all the things that I’m not happy about and I systematically crossed them out. It meant some big changes, but I sold off two of my business units. I moved to the beach. I’ve changed and a different person now than a few years ago. I like this concept. There was one thought that I had. I put it in my event and I shared it on a recap of the event. It’s good to do things now that will set the future of you up to have a better life. That’s the point of this show. You don’t have to build a huge business and going through the same experience. Take Dan’s word and my word for it that it’s a common trap. People start out, well-intentioned, they get excited, they have entrepreneurial tendencies, they keep growing and some people get into a pissing contest.

Let’s face it. I’ve seen lots of little pockets of gurus. One guy who I know is totally taken by that whole peer group thing of ego. Lately, I’ve seen him shift and start to focus a little more on the family. There was one thing that did it for me once he shared a screenshot for me of his schedule and every single hour of every day was blocked and get this. He showed it to me to impress me and I’m like, “You’ve got a major problem here.” I saw his little kid’s name and soccer on one of the things and he had a webinar blocked across it. I welled up a little bit. I felt sad for that kid and having experienced both being the working seven days a week phase and working from home now raising a kid again, the difference is unbelievable. It’s good if you can experience it. My message is you can and you’re proving that as well. What a dramatic transformation.

I want to close out with one different topic. You work with celebrities, influencers and famous people and I do as well. I’m wondering if we compare notes on this one. When you’re dealing with someone with a big ego, how does that relationship go? Firstly, that will prevent them from seeking help. Secondly, if they do, they most definitely want to keep a tight lid on it and almost keep it a secret and not share the secret sauce, their secret weapon. In my case, the secret weapon, a lot of them want to keep that hush-hush. You can’t use the testimonial in some cases. I’m wondering about your thoughts on this particular topic. You’ve been there.

I don’t have the perfect answer, James. What I can share is the experience, which is how I prefer to do it. I’m not a big theorist. I share the experiences of what’s worked and what hasn’t. In some of the cases, I’ve been able to use the testimonials. I’ve also experienced the case where they definitely don’t want me to share the experience as well. Some people don’t like sharing the stage with anybody else. That’s their approach. If I had to pinpoint what I attempted to learn from that is work with clients where the values are in alignment. You don’t always know that because what people say are their values are also sometimes different after a certain period of time. I hope this doesn’t come across cold or callous.

I have discovered that we all have seasons. Whether I’m working with someone in a short season or I have the good fortune to work with someone for a long season is making the most of that season to leave them better than before I met them. It’s the greatest honor for me, my kids, and my family that I can provide. It’s leveraging those celebrity expert stories. I would love to use a few more that I can’t use because of the agreements that are in place. Being a person who loves to help champion people and build people, at the end of the day, I’d love to get the acknowledgment for helping do a good job for somebody, help them get a breakthrough, and help them get a transformation. Some people hold their cards to their vests.

That’s the best thing I can share. Early in my career, I made my choices of who I worked with mostly on the financial opportunity. I learned this from two guys, Joe Polish and Dan Sullivan. Dan Sullivan’s model strikes me the most. Joe talks about it a lot and he’s done a good job in his own world adopting this framework. Dan Sullivan calls it his opportunity filter of how you make decisions on opportunities. I moved it towards how do you make decisions on working with people. There are five categories. At the beginning of my early days, I’d evaluate the opportunity. I’m going to say yes to this because we can do this together financially. Now, the financial is the least important of that piece, but it is a piece.

I don’t completely go. Money’s not important because that’s total BS too. It’s a factor but there’s four other criteria and filters to it and he calls it up enhance. When we come together, do we enhance each other? The second category is appreciate. Do we appreciate each other both in gratitude for what we do, but also do we appreciate each other in what we’re doing? There can be a season where you work together, whether short or for a long period, but you both mutually outgrow each other. That’s normal in life, in business, in relationships so enhance and appreciate. Would we utilize each other? Would we eat each other’s dog food?

Most of the clients I’ve worked with and/or do work with, I would buy and/or have bought their stuff and do buy their stuff because I believe in vice versa that they’re a client of ours. Utilize then refer. Is it easy to refer without any financial incentive? I’ve got numerous clients that I constantly refer to and advocate for and have zero financial interest in that relationship. The clients I choose to work with, I have to feel like I could refer them without any financial reward as a value. The fifth is what the financial reward is? Our criteria and working with our private clients, we have to work with someone that’s got that exponential mindset where they truly have a foundation.

They’re already at $1 million or more in revenue and they want to add another $10 million in impact to their business. That ends up being a good fit because that isn’t going to happen in 60 days. I’m not a magic button for somebody’s desperation, ploy, tactic, or whatever. For someone that wants to go to that next level, which is depending on where they’re at, 12, 18, 24-month focus, we’ve been able to help a lot of different experts grow exponentially with that focus. It’s those five values now. When I make a decision and I’ve made mistakes at this, I’ve done it wrong, you’ll work with somebody. I’ve had to come into the client work even in 2019 where we worked with them for 90 days and I realized they didn’t fit the values and we had to fire the client.

You don't have to build a huge business by going through the same experiences others did. (Dan) Click To Tweet

I remember a few years back, there was a big expert. Everybody would know the name in the US. A prominent direct response marketer came to us, offered us $100,000 upfront and then some royalties. When we got under the hood to see what they were doing, some of the carnage they had left behind with some of their clients, we turned it down. Having a filter process whether it’s this process or coming up with the criteria like what you shared about your whiteboard. What am I not happy about? A good exercise to do is what my most fun clients that I’ve got are? What are their qualities and characteristics?

Who are the clients I’ve had a bad experience with? What are some of those characteristics? Come up with your value framework. Dan’s model, the opportunity filter, appreciate, enhance, utilize, refer and then the financial reward has served us well to be able to make a better decision more often. I would say those are a couple of critical things. Deep down, here’s what I also know because success is an inside-out game. If I can’t use XYZ’s testimonial even though we did a great job, deep down and here from the inside-out we left them in the better place than before they met us. At the end of the day, that’s representative of being a great leader.

In some cases, when I’ve done a good job, the people around them notice it so much, they probe until they find out. I’m happy to do good work. I agree. We have to think it’s our own ego if we want to use it so much. I’ve become known for not standing on the heads of my customers to champion it, but it is a common conversion principle to use a celebrity in marketing. It’s a more conservative approach. That’s a role I’m happy to play. I’m glad we got to meet and chat, Dan. You’ve got a couple of websites. You’ve got Growth To Freedom show and you have, where people can find out more about you. I want to say thanks for putting aside the time and it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. I’m sure we could talk for another ten episodes on a number of topics. If we do get comments around this episode 657 on, let us know if there’s something you’d like us to talk about again because I’m all for a repeat episode if Dan is as well.

You count me in for that, James. I love the community you’ve built. I love your vibe that you come from. I’d love to help any way I can and it’d be an honor. Thank you.

Thank you.

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About James Shramko

GTF 257 | Balancing Growth And FreedomI used to be that overworked, stressed out entrepreneur who spent every minute working (or thinking about work.) I had success. But I was always too busy working to enjoy it.

For example, I:
Built and sold a 7-figure SEO business within 3 years.

Sold $10,000,000 of my own products and services.

Was the #1 Mercedes salesperson in Australia. And yet, all my nights and weekends were spent hunched over a computer, working…

But after 30 years in business, I was able to uncover the 4 key “Profit Levers” every business has.

Using them, I built a $100,000+/month business while working just 25 hours a week.
Now, I surf every day. And I have my nights, weekends, and even all Monday and Friday free. So I can catch a movie with the family or simply spend all day with my newborn daughter.

I privately coach top entrepreneurs on how to earn more while working far less. Including some of the biggest names in the industry, like Pat Flynn, Ryan Levesque, Keith Krance, Kevin Rogers, Molly Pittman, and Ezra Firestone.

I also coach 500+ up-and-coming entrepreneurs inside my SuperFastBusiness community.

These members are in every market and use every business model you can think of. Including e-commerce, affiliate marketing, consulting, information products, SAAS and more.

They earn anywhere from $10,000-$2,000,000/year.

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