The Keys to Building a Genius Network | Joe Polish | 338

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Joe Polish

Joe Polish is the Founder of Genius Network®, an exclusive group of the most brilliant and successful entrepreneurs on the planet. He is a world-renowned marketer and has helped thousands of businesses, from large corporations to small family-owned companies, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Additionally, Joe is the Founder and President of Piranha Marketing and the host of three top-rated business and marketing podcasts, including I Love Marketing. He is also a passionate philanthropist and the Founder of Genius Recovery, which works to change the global conversation around addiction and recovery.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Joe Polish shares the driving forces behind his work at Genius Network® and Genius Recovery
  • How to develop a “genius network”
  • The biggest networking mistakes that business leaders make and Joe’s tips for building better connections
  • Joe reveals some tried-and-true strategies for growing your business
  • The importance of relationship capital for entrepreneurial success
  • Where can you learn more about Joe and his addiction recovery organization?
  • How to effectively manage your time as an entrepreneur

In this episode…

What does it take to become a wildly successful entrepreneur? A great idea? An effective marketing strategy? An expert team? While these are all important components to business growth, Joe Polish says that true success lies in relationships.

So, what is the key to forming great connections in your industry? As the creator of Genius Network®, Joe has built relationships with some of the top entrepreneurs in the world. According to him, genius networking is about leading with value, helping in a genuine way, and being a results leader rather than a thought leader.

Joe Polish, the Founder of Genius Network®, joins Dan Kuschell in this episode of Growth to Freedom to talk about genius networking and how to forge valuable relationships as an entrepreneur. Together, they discuss the biggest mistakes business leaders make when growing their network, the best time management strategies for entrepreneurs, and Joe’s tips for building a successful business. Plus, Joe shares the driving force behind Genius Recovery, his addiction recovery organization.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

Thanks for listening to this episode of

Are you struggling to get a steady flow of new clients every day? Or maybe hit a plateau or hit a wall in growing your business? Well, let’s help you solve this problem today. Let’s review your business and have a conversation. You can do that for free today at That’s

In addition, if you’re looking for a simple way to implement some of what we’ve been talking about in today’s episode, I want to encourage you to get our free small business toolkit. You can get that at That’s

If you’d like access to the special resources and all the show notes for this special episode, make sure to visit

Episode Transcript

Dan Kuschell 0:03

Welcome to, the show that brings you inspiration, transformation and leadership. We’re helping you connect the dots, see the blind spots, and get unstuck. So you can go out and generate more leads more sales, more profits. More importantly, so you can go out and have a bigger reach, a bigger impact and make a bigger contribution. Welcome to this segment of, I have a question for you. How big of an impact would be creating value, connecting with others and building what’s called a Genius Network means to you in your business? Now, you might ask, Well, what is a Genius Network? Well, today’s guest expert is definitively qualified to talk about Genius Network, he went from a dead broke carpet cleaner to being one of the most connected people in the world. He’s one of the most sought after marketers and business people known for his ability to connect with almost anybody people like Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Forbes, John McCain, to name a few. And he leverages this concept called genius networking with being able to build what’s called a Genius Network, a community of people who shoot for moon shots and multipliers. That’s me, like right there, that little speck like back there, right? They’re one of 1000s of people that he’s impacted hundreds of 1000s that he’s impacted over the years. And with his events, as well as consulting. Joe has built 1000s of businesses, he’s generated hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients, and he’s changed the lives of others. And more importantly, he has a big impact and has a big heart to have a big impact with things like Joe Volunteer, Artists for Addicts, Genius, Recovery, and helping reduce suffering not just for entrepreneurs, which he does and has done for, you know, decades and decades and decades. But also, for the human spirit, the human condition and transforming lives. He’s a good friend, he’s someone I’ve known, well, how long have we known each other 17, 18 years now?

Joe Polish 1:57

Oh, yeah. A long time.

Dan Kuschell 2:00

Yeah, it’s been a long time. So it’s amazing to have you here with us, Joe, thank you. Thank you. I want to dive right into it. Because I mean, there’s so much wisdom, and we promised that this would be a short segment, we’re celebrating 300 episodes, 30 years of business, the people have been important in my life on this journey, and identifying that we’re just all one real breakthrough away. So why are you doing what you’re doing, Joe? With, with the work that you do?

Joe Polish 2:25

Well, you know, I mean, because it’s exciting because it makes money because it’s, you know, it’s it’s hanging around really smart, intelligent people bringing them together connecting them, I you know, I do that at Fortune, I figured out a way to charge for the I would still do it for free if even if I didn’t get paid for it. But I work intensely, I mean, my big goal is to is to fund change in the global conversation about how people view and treat addicts with compassion instead of judgment and find the best forms of treatment that have efficacy. And so that’s one of my big projects. And any problem in the world can be solved with the right Genius Network, which simply means, you know, people that have capabilities and skills, bringing them together, collaborating with them. And then you can figure out how to grow a business, how to solve a problem, how to deal with a challenge, how to get in better physical shape, I mean, the focus for me is health, mental and physical health, because all the money in the world is useless if you’re laid up in a hospital bed, and you can’t function mentally or physically. So health, and then wealth, not just making money, but not losing it. And then ELF, you know, doing things that are easy, lucrative and fun, versus, you know, what we call half hard, annoying, lame and frustrating. And that requires smart people, smart decisions, you know, designing a game that works, you know, for you, not, not against you. I think the way a lot of people work doesn’t work. I mean, I’m even taking next year as a sabbatical. So I’m not working at all, which, you know, a lot of people think that I’m the last person, they would expect to do that. But I’m going to immerse myself in music, and art and recovery work and health related stuff, and get myself so perspective. And so while I’m doing that, you know, Genius Network is going to be run by its members. So we have a whole faculty, that’s gonna run it, people that pay me to be members will actually run it. Because I don’t want to build around me, I want to build around the people in the groups. And so to have a Genius Network, if you’re the smartest person, you don’t learn anything, you’re not coachable. So my whole thing is curate people that are more capable and more intelligent and more, you know, skilled in areas that I have not, but by bringing them together, it makes everyone better. And so everyone can tap into that Genius Network. So I think everyone in any area of their life, you know, parenting, health, business, whatever your goals or objectives are, who has the skills and capabilities and that’s a Genius Network. And in order to have a Genius Network, you need to do genius networking, which is connecting with people of those at that level. You need to be a genius networker, which basically means the way you get things done in your life is you focus on what’s in it for them. And just be helpful and be useful and be generous with the right people in the right way. Because you can be very helpful and useful to people that don’t give a crap about you. So you got to be discerning, but it’s about being a giver, you know, I’ve a book called, you know, life gives to the giver. And so and it takes from the taker. So those are my thoughts. So just, you know, but it put in a bunch of givers together and amazing stuff happens.

Any problem in the world can be solved with the right genius network. - Joe Polish Click To Tweet

Dan Kuschell 5:30

Though, speaking of amazing stuff, you’re gonna want to come back to this segment, you get the full series of episodes and That’s So, you know, genius networking, Genius Network, you can have a half business or you can have a elf business. Easy, lucrative and fun versus hard, annoying, lame and frustrating being a giver, not a taker. I mean, there’s so much wisdom that Joe just laid out for you in like, two minutes, that you’re going to want to come back to this and you know, Joe, what is, you know, like, having worked together not knowing each other for a long, long time. You know, you inevitably get asked by people, you know, almost like I say this sarcastically it’s the wrong way to go and approach someone like you where they go, Hey, can you show me how and tell me how I can get connected to Richard Branson? Or Forbes or whatever? It’s nonsense, all this bullshit that people do with you. And what do you see are some of the biggest mistakes right now in relationship? Or, you know, your version genius networking that people do that, like they could solve just really easily in your mind?

Joe Polish 6:35

Yeah, you know, I mean, really not doing homework on people. And what I mean by homework is, is genuinely like asking someone for something without creating value for them first, or just assuming because you’re a hustler? Or because you’ve learned how to persuade or that you’re good at some certain things, and people somehow should give you time and attention and that they should care about what you want. When in reality, people care about what they want first, and you have to genuinely you know, it’s like people don’t buy from you because they understand what you do people buy from you because they feel understood

People don't buy from you because they understand what you do. People buy from you because they feel understood. - Joe Polish Click To Tweet

And the more that you are you go into something without a agenda where Oh, I’m going to be tricky. I’m going to be sneaky. You know, the world of marketing is filled with magicians. But a lot of these magicians are unethical. A lot of these people have these, you know, they’re egotistical, they’re narcissists. So you know, it’s not, it’s not showing up with with true value patient, it’s showing up mistakes are showing up with an entitlement attitude. Showing up is expecting a pro to give you the time of day when you’re not acting like a pro, you can, like go to a pro as an amateur, even if you are an amateur. I mean, look, I started out not knowing what the hell it is I was doing. But as I’ve built and grown my business, if I wanted something from somebody, I try to figure out what can I do to be helpful to them? And do it first not talk about what I’m going to do, but demonstrate it like demonstrate usefulness? You know, people want to get hired. So I can build websites for someone or I can do their marketing? What if you actually create a result in advance? What if you show up with a mock up website? What if you show up? Have you read their entire book before you’re asking them to do an interview with them how often you become a client of theirs before you ask them to do something for you give them money, buy some of the stuff, you know, and so the biggest mistakes are just people that are egotistical, that they watch some, you know, expert, and they try to act like they’re that before they are bad. And that’s different than you know, because you don’t have to work your ass off in order to be valuable, you know, part of it is just being a genuinely caring, you know, helpful person and figuring out what that person may need. I mean, I know a lot of billionaires, I’m not a billionaire, you know, but I have a lot of friends that are billionaires because there’s ways that I’m useful to those people that isn’t about making more money, it’s helping them with their addictions, it’s helping them with their connections and you know, things things like that. So be it be a result leader, not a thought leader, any idiot can come up with a thought, you know, it most people steal their thoughts from other people, and they’re not they’re not even their own thoughts. You know, they hear someone read a book say something and then they regurgitate it, and they somehow think that makes them an expert, and it may make them sound like an expert, but after a while, you get found out and yeah, so the world of personal development is filled with pontificators. You know, the reporters of success, people that are really successful. So part of real success is, you know, it’s an internal thing, you know, as much as it is an external thing.

Be a result leader, not a thought leader. - Joe Polish Click To Tweet

Dan Kuschell 9:35

That I mean, there’s again, so many layer layers of wisdom as you’re watching as you’re listening right now. Just show up and create value in advance. Like you’ve got a story that you can go learn about it. And, go to,, I mean, you got so many different examples of people who showed up in your world like Jonathan Kronstadt you shared a story about Jonathan how he called And he just was at a place in his life at that time. And now he’s a president of a big software companies ask of any right? And Jonathan, he just wanted to add value. And he said, I’ll pay you for like, three minutes, I’ll pay you X dollars for three minutes. Like just to see if I can get some insight like that’s showing up. Like, with not without the entitlement attitude, right? And

Joe Polish 10:21

oh, yeah, no, actually, like he should. So he didn’t have my consulting fee, which is $6,000 an hour, you know, in minimum chunks of two hours minimum, right. And so he called the offices I can I pay Joe $500, for 10 minutes. And I was like, like, if the guy is enough, you know, balls to like, at least offer that which most people don’t, then I’ll talk to him, and what did I do? I talked to him for an hour ended up, you know, when I went out, this is like, a decade ago, yeah, he ended up, you know, coming to work for me. But it’s like, you know, I went to dinner with him and stuff like that, because he and he admittedly, will say it saved him, you know, probably $200,000 Because he had this money saved up that he was going to invest. And, you know, he literally, I shouldn’t say 200,000? Because he No, actually, I think that’s what he said, I think he said it was $200,000 because he was going to go borrow money and do all this stuff to do it. And it’s funny, because I ended up being a sponsor of my events many years later, and we’ve known each other over all the years. But yeah, that’s, you know, when I, if you don’t have any money, what you got is you got time and energy, because people like, I don’t have money to go, it’s like, well, you know, when I was broke, I had a lot of time, a lot of energy, and you have to tap into, you know, your resourcefulness. And so, yeah, and that it’s the same thing. Like all the stuff I do on addiction recovery, I don’t make any money off of it. But it definitely there’s, there’s other ways to get paid in life other than money. You know, there’s, you get rewarded with money, but people appreciate you that utilize you. They refer you and it enhances you. And I learned that from my buddy, Dan Sullivan, who, you know, amazing founder, Strategic Coach. And so yeah, that’s, that’s, it’s an operating system, and everyone could operate that way. And of all things I’ve done to him, by the way, congratulations on 300 episodes, which is Thank you, brother, it said, it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of effort, it’s a lot of time. And, you know, part of that the lesson there is just stick with something, right? If you want something to grow, you know, stay with it be consistent. You don’t just work out once and you’re healthy, eat a healthy meal once in your health. I mean, it’s, it’s a consistency. So part of this is just don’t be useful one time and think you’re going to you know, it’s consistency. And believe me, if I went through all the horror stories and all that crap of trying to build and grow a business, you know, it’s, there’s a lot but there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of lessons with it, too. And so yeah, my whole thing is, is keep giving, Ivan wrote a book called Life gives to the giver. And you know, it’s You know, and it’s done, put people into an upsell funnel that requires them to buy other stuff in order to get the good stuff. It’s a good book, right? And if people you know, come into my world, it’s a way to do it. So anything that you’re selling, put information in front of it. That’s what my my friend and client Jason flatlands says. So we’ve been doing that when I was dead broke carpet cleaner. You know, we did consumer guides, we put information in front of people a podcast, like you’re doing here, you know, you’re putting information in front of people that’s hopefully helpful to them, build rapport, and then by doing that, you know, they will hopefully become a client and things like that. The key though is you put useful information in front of somebody first, and don’t do it in such a salesy pitchy way. Because then you, you know, you scare people off. And frankly, I mean, I undersell most of the things I do I give away so much stuff for free, that people like Well, damn, if he gives this away for free, How good will his stuff be if I pay for it, because most people can’t afford 25,000 a year program, they’re not making a million dollars plus a year, which is the stuff I actually sell. So, you know, there’s there’s lots of ways to be helpful in the world. And, you know, I just, I just love that I do my best to encourage more people to just be a giver. And do your best to avoid takers because there’s a lot of takers in the world.

Dan Kuschell 14:03

Absolutely. And you know, another good example, you’ve often described how someone treats somebody at a restaurant really shows their character in the rest of their life and be careful of how you treat people on the way up because they’re the same people on the way down. And like, you know, Jonathan is a good example of your character. Like Jonathan was kind of a newbie at the time, yet you treated him with utmost respect, and then it expanded and then you know, now they’re still amazing strategic byproducts out of that relationship for both of you.

Joe Polish 14:33

Yeah, that’s nothing to remember at the time. He’s like you. He wanted to first borrow money to hire me for a full consultant. And I’m like, No, you don’t need you don’t need to do that right now. I’m not going to take your money. That’s silly. And anyone that would know in your situation is stupid, because you know, build it up and do that, you know, so yeah, even even if you can get money from somebody doesn’t mean you should, you know, it’s only in the value creation process that that is the best thing and when When people know that you’re looking out for their best interest and not taking advantage, they never forget that. And to this day, you know, Jonathan, anything I need calling to refer, you know, things like that. And I’ve got hundreds of people like that. As a matter of fact, I was funny. I had a guy named Ken Rakowski over my house last night. We had my buddy Mark Tarbell, who won Iron Chef was cooking us dinner. And then we had Chris Voss, who wrote the book Never Split the Difference. He’s now on the Genius Network faculty. He’s one of our trainers. And, you know, camera Toski has this group called metal International, we were all over here. You know, at my house last night, having a whole conversation he had just gotten done with this, you know, this, I think it’s four or five day men’s Ranch, where he took a group of people and just how impactful it is bringing people together and helping them and changing their lives, and doing that sort of stuff. And so yeah, I mean, like, just do gatherings put people together, create value for people, you know, that sort of stuff. And it just, it just pans out. We’re just telling the stories of all the people that have helped us in the beginning and growing and building and everyone that has really achieved success. They didn’t do it alone, they have someone that helped them. But it’s really about relationships, it’s not about just business strategy, you know, money is not in anything other than in relationships,

Everyone that has really achieved success—they didn't do it alone. They had someone that helped them. - Joe Polish Click To Tweet

Dan Kuschell 16:22

relationship, capital, relationship, capital, you’re the best in the world I know about it. And, you know, I’m proud to know you call you a friend. And, you know, also someone who would challenge our thinking, challenge us to be better. That’s what you do. You You challenge people to be better versions of themselves. And you’ve talked about that for decades. And, you know, it’s amazing. So, if you’re, if someone’s inspired, if they’re ideally going, Wow, this guy packs a punch in 1015 minutes, where can they reach you we’re gonna connect with you, where would you want them to get connected with you?

Joe Polish 16:53

Yeah, just go to, download the book for free. You can you don’t have to pay for anything. If you want a physical copy, you can pay for shipping and handling, it will send you a physical copy, but you don’t even buy anything just and life gives the giver and then beyond that, you know, Google search in my name will find everything my podcast Genius Network, you know, my, if anyone struggling with recovery, that needs help with addiction go to That’s our foundation. And it’s all links to to meetings, real and virtual meetings that people can find all over the world and every type of addiction drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, gaming, workaholism, codependency, eating, I mean, you name it. And there’s an open letter of my views on addiction, there’s videos with, you know, all kinds of amazing people like Gabor Ma Tei, one of my dear friends, stuff like that. So anyone that has a family member or yourself that is struggling with a behavior that you cannot stop, that is creating, you know, just real pain and angst in your life. Because, you know, addiction is a solution, it’s a solution to pain. It’s not a great solution, because it can kill you. But it’s an attempt to soothe pain. And so you can’t punish pain out of people, you can’t punish pain out of yourself. And so my whole thing is reduced suffering. And so that’s the, that’s the addiction side. And a lot of entrepreneurs are addicts, you know, because workaholism is the respectable addiction. And so yeah, yet take care of yourself, take care of others. And you know, really, just look at the production that you’re doing. And drive is great, as long as the drive is not driving you off a cliff. So it’s, you know, be careful who you take advice from, because there’s a lot of people that are, you know, talking about how to be successful. And if you saw the backstage, their lives, you’d see a lot of a lot of pain. And I’m in a bizarre sort of situation, because I get to see, I know a lot of people and I get to see that part of the world too. So it’s given me a great perspective. I’ve I’ve done more to building role myself as a human with addiction recovery work than I have from, you know, reading business books and stuff. So but I like both, you know, I like both because businesses are amazing. If you design an elf business, and if you do something that you’re really proud of. So yeah, it’s hard work. It’s always going to be hard work. But the hardest work in the world is designing a game that doesn’t allow you to, to enjoy it when and create value. So however, whatever you learn how you do it, apply it in a way to where, you know, you’re really you can wake up and say, Man, you know, I’m doing my best, I’m doing something good in the world. And that’s, that’s what you know, I think creates the continual enthusiasm and forward progress of entrepreneurship.

Drive is great, as long as the drive is not driving you off a cliff. - Joe Polish Click To Tweet

Dan Kuschell 19:33

So if you want to create a business that creates value that helps others that has a bigger impact that shows people how to be able to go out and make a bigger contribution. Using some of the concepts Joe is shared with genius networking, and a whole lot more then go check out his book,,, if you know someone who’s struggling with addiction go to, You just never know who it might be like, it’s suspected that one out of three people suffer from some form of addiction. It’s a hidden, you’ve talked regularly about, we’re as sick as our secrets. Don’t let that secret impact your family the wrong way. Joe’s got amazing resources, amazing people connected to this, they can help resolve and help you reduce suffering. Joe, I want to ask you one of your favorite question. I think it’s one of your favorite questions. What’s a question? I should have asked you that I didn’t?

Joe Polish 20:28

Oh, gosh. You know, I mean, there’s so many I mean, the big thing is when when people are trying to ask, How do you do this? How do you do that? The way I think of? There’s a great question, what needs solved, so what book should you read? What should you listen to? You know, one of my members, I was interviewing him and he, I asked him, you know, what are you doing? You buy more books that 10 times the speed than your ability to read them is like, well, I just, you know, asked myself what needs solved, and I read what, based on what needs solved in my life at that time, that’s what gets my time and attention. So the number one thing to protect is your, you know, your attention, your gratitude, your confidence, you know, as an entrepreneur. And so when it comes to time, you know, really focus in on what needs salt, and how do you solve one problem that solves you know, 50 problems, it solves 10 problems. In sometimes at sleep. I cannot tell you how many people are like, Yeah, I need to build and grow my business. How’s your sleep? It’s terrible. Well, if you want to build and grow your business, fix your sleep, you know, don’t eat crap food, learn how you know, learn how to eat and drink water, learn how to breathe, you know, the book, Breath by my buddy James Nestor, an amazing book. And they’re one of the best health books I’ve read in years, you know, I’ve learned, you know that I wasn’t breathing, right? Because I was breathing through my mouth because I have a deviated septum in my nose. And I just never learned how to stuff that I never even realized that no doctor that no health person, you know, I’ve been through numerous breathing sort of classes, I meditate. I’ve done. I’ve done so much crazy stuff. And I realized reading this book that you know, I wasn’t even breathing accurately, most people aren’t. And so things like that What need solved. And so how do you solve one problem that solves? You know, many more, and sometimes that’s getting out of a relationship? Sometimes that’s deleting your social media apps from your phone. If you’re overwhelmed, you don’t have enough time. How much time are you wasting on shift? It’s really not moving the dial for you. And so yeah, this isn’t that he didn’t ask me it’s like that’s the stuff that comes to my mind right now. You know,

Dan Kuschell 22:38

like, Joe Polish, I encourage you to go check out Joe’s book,, checkout,, check out, check out You’ve heard this before, it’s on over 150 episodes. Talking about these things, I encourage you to go now you’ve got a chance to meet them directly. hear from them directly go to If you know someone who’s struggling or needs some solutions around recovery go to That’s Joe, thank you. I appreciate Well, this is not normal for you. So I’m just incredibly grateful for you taking the time. Thank you.

Joe Polish 23:18

Absolutely. And I wish all of your listeners and watchers and however they digest this very best. And so have an awesome day, Dan. You bet.

Dan Kuschell 23:25

Seize the day. Make it a great week. We’ll see you on the next segment. Thanks for listening to this episode of Are you struggling to get a steady flow of new clients every day? Or maybe hit a plateau or hit a wall and growing your business? Let’s help you solve this problem today. Let’s review your business and have a conversation. Do that for free today at That’s In addition, if you’re looking for a simple way to implement some of what we’ve been talking about in today’s episode, I want to encourage you to get our free Small Business toolkit. You get that at that’s If you’d like access to the special resources and all the show notes for this special episode, make sure to visit

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