An experienced pro, Jay has given hundreds of insightful, humorous presentations world-wide to audiences as large as 6,000. He’s a renowned business strategist, keynote speaker, and a popular emcee and event host.
Jay is also a New York Times best-selling author of four books who travels the world helping businesspeople get and keep more customers. He has advised more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, and thirty-one of the FORTUNE 500.
Jay is the Founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service.
The Convince & Convert Media division produces one of the world’s biggest (and best) content marketing blogs, multiple podcasts, and many other education resources for business owners and executives.
In this episode Jay Baer and I discuss:
- How Jay turns his books into keynote speaking gigs all over the world
- The perils and rewards of living on the road as a professional speaker
- How he comes up with killer book topics and speeches
- His plans for creating passive income from courses and training modules
- Why being a great speaker is really about being a great entertainer
The Show Notes
- Jay’s Book: Youtility
- Convince & Convert
- Jay’s Speaking Reel (Video)
- Author Marketing Institute
How Jay Baer’s Books Have Opened Doors to Keynote Speaking Gigs around the World
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Jim Kukral: All right, so when I think ‘authorpreneur,’ I think of Jay Baer. Jay, you’re killing it with your books and the speaking that you’re doing these days. I’ve seen you speak at least five times, and I’ve got to tell you, you really have it down where the audience is eating out of your hands. Welcome to the show.
Jay Baer: Thank you Jim, I appreciate that. Those are kind words.
Jim Kukral: Well, it’s true, man. You’re really kicking butt out there. You are the authorpreneur personified out there — a road warrior, aren’t you?
Jay Baer: I’m definitely on the road quite a bit. I did probably 55 keynotes last year in 2014 and will probably end up doing about the same amount this year. It’s a lot, absolutely, but I love it. It’s a good gig.
Jim Kukral: If you love it, there’s no problem, right? I personally don’t want to be on the road. Frankly, I don’t write as good of books as you and am not as good at speaking as you are, but if I wanted to do that, I would probably put a little more effort into those things. I don’t like being on the road, and it always amazes me that people do like doing that. But if you like it, it’s good, right?
Jay Baer: Well, I’ve been in marketing for almost 25 years now and have been a consultant for a large percentage of that span. The one thing I realized a few years ago, Jim, is that nobody gives standing ovations to consultants. When you finish that PowerPoint in the conference room, nobody ever stands up.
Jim Kukral: Now wait a minute.
Jay Baer: Nobody wants to autograph anything.
Jim Kukral: Wait a minute.
Jay Baer: Maybe I’m just not doing it right. I don’t know.
Jim Kukral: I have had a standing ovation in a conference room. No, I’m just kidding.
Jay Baer: You’re the man.
Jim Kukral: That’s funny. You’re exactly right. It feels good to be on stage. I like to perform. I like to be on stage.
Anyway, let’s just get right into it. The show’s all about being an authorpreneur. We’re interviewing people who are out there killing it and doing it. Let’s talk about it, because the business model is really different for a lot of people. Obviously you’re using the books that have a direct impact on your business. We all know that having a book’s the best business card you’re ever going to have. You would agree with that, wouldn’t you?
Jay Baer: No question. Absolutely. Although I will say that having a blog or other content assets, a podcast like this one, et cetera, is in some ways even more important because it sets you up to do the book.
In my case, it was 20 years of being a marketing consultant — or 18 years of being a marketing consultant and owning several different marketing consultancies — and doing a lot of things, but then, start a blog, do some podcasting, write a book, write another book, write another book, write another book — you know, that kind of thing.
Jim Kukral: Well let’s talk about that transition, because it’s kind of interesting. I like to ask people about this. You’re working for a business, and all of a sudden you’re like, “Okay, I should write a book, and then I’m going to go on the road speaking.” How does that transition happen?
How Jay Turns His Books into Keynote Speaking Gigs All over the World
Jay Baer: I was an entrepreneur and working for myself for a long time before I wrote a book or really gave very many speeches at all. I had always done a little bit of speaking — two or three gigs a year locally when I lived in Phoenix. I’ve been in Internet since ‘93, so long ago we actually called it ‘Internet.’ I was always the Internet kid who would come in and speak at Rotary or whatever, so I did that for a long time.
I started my own firm for the first time in 2000. I’d had several other companies that I’d kind of co-managed or managed, but it wasn’t purely my own thing. In 2000, I said, “You know what? I’ve always wanted to do this myself. I’m going to,” and just went out and started a digital strategy agency.
But I really wasn’t doing anything from a content-creation standpoint at all. It was sort of pre-blogging, and I certainly didn’t feel like I had the chops to write a book. Fast forward a long time, and a lot of things happened, including having a successful blog. You sort of get to the point where you’re like, “Yeah, I’ve got enough to say that I can say something credible.” It really helped to have, in my case, a co-author for my first book, because it made it way less scary.
Jim Kukral: Yeah. The first book was which one?
Jay Baer: The Now Revolution, which I wrote with Amber Naslund. Wiley published that book, and it came out in 2011.
Jim Kukral: 2011, okay. Let’s talk about your business model here, because it’s different for all authorpreneurs. Authorpreneurs make money in a lot of different ways. Obviously speaking, some do speaking and consulting, have agencies, service businesses, training, workshops, information products, courses. Of course usually, sometimes if you’re good enough, you actually make money from your books.
Jay Baer: Right.
Jim Kukral: Let’s talk about what your business model is. Obviously you’re on the road, so I’m assuming you’re making a lot from the speaking fees.
Jay Baer: Yeah. My company is Convince & Convert. There are 12 of us in the organization now virtually located throughout the US. Most of the people at Convince & Convert are half time. Many of our senior folks have some of their own clients on the side. One of my senior guys, for example, is writing his own book right now.
It’s almost like Google’s strategy of giving people time to pursue their passions. We sort of have the same model where the people that work with me at Convince & Convert have time to do other things. It’s not 12 FTEs, but it’s 12 different people.
We have three primary business lines at Convince & Convert. We have the consulting business, and we work with large companies in North America on social media strategy and content marketing strategy. We also support a number of agencies with similar needs. Consulting is probably 35 percent of the business.
There are robust speaking opportunities. As you mentioned, I do a lot of speaking, as I mentioned a moment ago. Some of the other guys on my team do some speaking also. Speaking is about a third of the business as well.
Then we have a media company, Convince & Convert Media, which consists of our blog, Convince & Convert. We have one, two, three, four podcasts, and we’ll have seven relatively soon. We have a daily email and a bunch of other things that we do. We have, right now, 17 different corporate sponsors of our different media enterprises. That part of the business, the sponsorship side, the media company side, is roughly 30 percent of the business as well.
It’s really a three-legged stool.
Jim Kukral: The question then becomes, obviously — I think you can say this — is that the books are a huge factor in driving those businesses. The question is, do you consider yourself an author first or a business first?
Jay Baer: At this point I consider myself a speaker first.
Jim Kukral: Speaker first, okay.
Jay Baer: Because I spend more actual time, of my personal time, doing that than anything else. We’re a very robust consulting business, a very robust sponsorship media business, but in terms of how Jay spends his time, probably half of my time is spent either speaking or getting ready to speak or that part of the business. When people say, “What do you do?” I’m on an airplane and somebody’s like, “Hey, what do you do?” I’m like, “I’m a speaker.”
Jim Kukral: Yeah, but you have to admit, the books are a big part of why people choose you to speak.
Jay Baer: Of course. I speak about the book. Without the book, I suppose I could still be a speaker, but it would be much different business, a much different trajectory.
Jim Kukral: Do you think you would have as much success as you’re having right now without the books?
Jay Baer: Hmm. I don’t know. I’d like to think so, but it would probably be a different success path.
Jim Kukral: Right.
Jay Baer: You mentioned information products in classes and workshops. I don’t do any of that. That’s one of the business models that we’ve never pursued. I certainly want to pursue it for my new book that I’m writing now. It’s in the plan to get into that business because it’s kind of silly that I never have.
I tend to think that if I didn’t have a book — or now, I’m writing a fifth book, so if I didn’t have a whole litany of books — I probably would have spent more time on that or building products or things like that. I’d like to think I’d still be successful, but it would just be a different mix of activities.
Jim Kukral: Well of course. Yeah, you’d still be successful. I guess the point I was trying to make is how important these books are when people are trying to book you for an event. Obviously your speaking reel and your referrals …
Jay Baer: Yeah. I tell people this all the time. As a speaker, you only have two options. You either write a book that meetings planners actually care about, or you’re famous in some other way. That’s it. I know lots of my friends who — and lots of our mutual friends, Jim — want to be speakers, but don’t have a book. I’m like, “Well that’s going to be really tough.”
It doesn’t mean they’re not a good speaker, and it doesn’t mean they don’t have amazing things to say. The difference is how meeting planners book speakers, which is, “Hey, this person has written one or more books.” Therefore, that gives you this aura of credibility. Deserved or not is immaterial. It’s just how the business works.
Jim Kukral: Yeah. My problem has always been, and I’ve had conversations about you privately about this, I don’t write for the same audience that you do. My books are more for small business and entrepreneurial kinds of people and consumers. I don’t think the same way you do, plus I don’t want to be on the road. I don’t pursue that path. Someday I hope I aspire to finally put out a book like you’re doing and do that. That might take more time.
Jay Baer: I’m trying to do the same thing a little bit. The Now Revolution was for primarily big companies. Youtility was for all companies but certainly for companies. My new book, Hug Your Haters, I’m trying to make it an even broader audience, really tap into a small business audience but still be relevant for enterprise organizations.
I’m trying to get to the point where the book is valuable to a larger group of people because, number one, it’s just better for book sales. Number two, it certainly opens up additional speaking opportunities when everybody’s audience is an audience.
Jim Kukral: It’s interesting that you bring that up. One of my questions is, “What’s the plan for the future?” Do you want to stay on the road forever? Do you want to stay in consulting forever? The thing is, that’s a very labor- and time-intensive lifestyle, to be on the road, to deal with customers. Is there ever a plan to get into more of the passive income type of thing where you don’t have to do all that kind of stuff?
Jay Baer: Yeah, we’re certainly hoping that the courses and membership clubs that we put together around modern customer service that will be part of the Hug Your Haters book and that roll out will allow me to spend less time doing some of the things that we’re doing today.
The Perils and Rewards of Living on the Road as a Professional Speaker
Jay Baer: In terms of being on the road a lot, yeah it’s a drag sometimes. But again, it’s hard to complain about the speaking business when you’re really active in the speaking business, because people don’t want to hear it. They’re like, “Oh, woe is me. Another limo and another nice hotel room and another appreciative crowd of 1,000 people and another giant check.” Right? It’s just not good form to bitch about that. I try not to.
Jim Kukral: For a couple hours of work and some travel, it’s a good gig. It definitely is a good gig.
Jay Baer: It’s a super good gig.
Jim Kukral: I’m not saying it’s a bad gig. It’s a great gig if you can do it and you like doing it, which you do.
Jay Baer: For me too, my kids are of the age where I am five years away — actually that’s not true — four years away from both of my kids being in college.
Jim Kukral: Oh, okay.
Jay Baer: That changes the calculus of what you do as a speaker quite a bit because then you’re not feeling guilty every time you get on the plane. Then your wife comes with you more of the time, at least to places she wants to go to. It’s a whole different deal then.
Jim Kukral: Absolutely. Anyway, it’s not something I want to do because I don’t like being on the road. I do love speaking, man. I tell you what. It is really an energizing thing going up there and presenting and having people look at you and nod their heads and laugh. It’s a great feeling, and you do it so well.
Jay Baer: Thanks. Certainly I partially write books because it helps the speaking business and the consulting business, too, but I’m really in the teaching business. What I should tell people when they ask me what I do, I should just tell them I’m a teacher, because that’s really what I do, right? Whether it’s on the blog or on my podcast or in books or on stage, I’m trying to educate people.
I don’t know if we ever had this conversation, but my plan was to go teach at university. When I sold my last company a few years ago, I did fairly well on that deal. Then I invested it at the wrong time: a huge real estate collapse and a bunch of other things. It didn’t end up yielding what I thought I would yield.
My plan was, “Let’s go teach at university.” I had a bunch of opportunities to do that. My parents are both teachers, and I really have a passion for education. I’m kind of glad I didn’t because I’m not sure I would succeed in that very structured higher-ed environment. I kind of realized a couple years ago that I am a teacher. I’m doing exactly what I set out to do. It’s just on a much bigger landscape.
Why Being a Great Speaker Is Really about Being a Great Entertainer
Jim Kukral: You’re also an entertainer. Getting up on stage, you’re entertaining people. How many bad keynotes have you seen where people are falling asleep. They just want to get the hell out of the room. You have to be an entertainer to be up there.
Jay Baer: Yeah, and you know who really helped me with that is Scott Stratten. Scott told me something a few years ago that really changed my career. It’s when I started to do more keynotes and fewer workshops. He said, “Look. Remember that the role of the keynote is to be entertaining first and have great content second.”
It had a huge impact on me. I was trying to say, “Okay, now I’m on a keynote, and I’ve got a bigger stage. Now let me tell you even more things.” It was essentially like a super detailed workshop in a keynote format, and people couldn’t follow it, and it wasn’t what they wanted. They wanted to laugh, they wanted to have a good time. You know, it’s the old saying of, “No one remembers what you actually said. They just remember how you made them feel.” That was a really important lesson that helped me a lot. Every time I see Scott, I thank him. I just saw him a couple of weeks ago, actually.
Jim Kukral: You can see that in your Youtility stump one you do, which I’ve seen three or four times. You can see that come through with that, because it is very entertaining, I think, first. Let’s face it, it’s Youtility. It’s just a perfect combo. Good job on that.
Jay Baer: Thank you.
Jim Kukral: I really love what you’re doing with Youtility. If you guys haven’t read Youtility yet, if you haven’t seen Jay speak, you should book him, and you should read the book. This is one of the smartest things I’ve ever seen an authorpreneur do here, is you’ve taken the book Youtility, which was kind of like a generic marketing book for anybody, and now you’re branching it out into different niches or industries.
You have Youtility for Real Estate, Youtility for Accountants. I think this is the smartest thing ever.
Jay Baer: Thanks. I appreciate that. I actually stole it from the Chicken Soup guys, literally. It’s the same idea. The thought was, “Okay, how can I unlock other speaking opportunities and other consulting opportunities in high-target environments?” and also “What industries really need to be transformed in terms of how they think about marketing?”
The Youtility vertical project has been great. I would love to do more of them. They’re all ebooks, so they’re Kindle-only, $2.99, which is a smoking deal. We may end up doing more of them. We’re setting it aside temporarily while I write the new book, the new full-length book, but once that’s done, which is actually soon, unfortunately, I may this fall try and squeeze in another Youtility vertical or two.
The other thing I did on that book, which I think people might be interested in, is I had a co-author on each of those. That co-author was a subject matter expert in that industry.
Jim Kukral: Of course. Yes.
Jay Baer: A very prominent accountant co-wrote the accounting book, and a very prominent person in real estate marketing helped me with that one. We also had sponsors of those books. We actually had corporate sponsors of both Youtility for Accountants and Youtility for Real Estate to help underwrite distribution and marketing of those projects, which was really cool.
Jim Kukral: I really think this is such a smart idea. Once you get a brand that people recognize, taking those lessons and transferring them to a different vertical is just so smart. I talked with David Meerman Scott, you know he obviously wrote The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Then he created the New Rules of Sales and Service. You know, Michael Port is another guy — Book Yourself Solid.
It’s just a smart, really smart idea. I think the point I want people to take away from listening to this show today is that once you get that idea, you can transfer it. Let’s be honest. The basic concepts that you had in the first book could be transferred to any genre, and that’s so smart that you brought in different people who are experts to translate that.
Jay Baer: Because what you do, or at least what I do, is you take the manuscript that you already have, and you rework it a little bit, partially because I’d had another — probably a year, maybe more than a year — since I wrote the original book to let Youtility roll around in my head more. There’d been new developments. I took the initial manuscript from the hardcover and reworked it a little bit based on, you know, changes in my thinking.
More than anything else, I just changed out the case studies and the examples. Instead of this example, it’s a real estate example. Instead of this example, it’s another real estate example.
The reason you have a co-author is that they already know all the stories in that industry. I didn’t have to research all the real estate examples. I said, “Hey, Erica Campbell Byrum” — who is awesome by the way, she’s the head of digital at ForRent.com — “tell me all the stories that are worth telling in your industry.” She’s like, “Okay, here’s 15 people you’ve got to talk to.” I talked to those 15 people, wrote it up, and boom. Now you’ve got a super-relevant vertical book.
Jim Kukral: All right. Now you have to answer this question, but you can’t answer it with the answer, “Write better books.” What’s the biggest factor, besides writing great books, that has transformed your success over the last few years? Can’t answer, “Write better books.”
Jay Baer: Just being super-consistent. I think I’m fairly good at writing books, but it’s more all the other things. People can’t escape me. That’s by design. We’ve got a blog that now publishes 10 times a week and multiple podcasts. I do tons of webinars, tons of speaking, a daily email. The Jay message is out there in a lot of different ways in a lot of different places, and that’s not an accident.
The by-product of that is you’re working your ass off all the time. Here’s the truth, Jim, that nobody wants to talk about. If you look at people who are successful authorpreneurs, every single one of them works their ass off. There’s no shortcut. There’s things you can do to be smarter. This is a great amplification strategy or a great marketing strategy, or you get lucky or whatever. Generally speaking, everybody who does this well is hustling it. There’s no substitute for that. I know that’s a stupid thing to say, like, “Oh, Jay says ‘work hard.’” Well, I know that’s not a very satisfying answer, but it’s absolutely true.
Jim Kukral: No, it’s absolutely true. I always say, “Surround yourself with people who are really killing it if you want to be like them.” You really learn what the heck is happening, how hard they work.
Jay Baer: No doubt.
Jim Kukral: Nobody gets lucky. I always say, “There’s not many people that are born into the lucky sperm club.” You’ve got to work to make your success. Some people don’t like to hear that, though. People want to think that it just happens overnight.
Jay Baer: No. Some people just don’t want to work that hard, and that’s totally cool. It’s not for everybody, trust me. The amount of family stuff that I’ve missed to do what I do both as an author and a speaker and a consultant is a lot. Am I the best dad? No. Am I the best husband? No. There’s a lot of things that I’m not doing great at because I’m stealing time from those things in order to do these other things. That’s not always an easy balance.
I’m super fortunate in that my kids are a little bit older, and I’m super fortunate in that my wife is a rockstar in terms of being able to deal with everything when I’m not around. Not everybody has that, and not everybody wants to make those tradeoffs. It is an absolute tradeoff choice. Now, when I’m 65, will I look back and say, “Man, did you make the wrong call? That was really stupid?” Maybe I will, but for now you’ve just got to keep your head down.
Jim Kukral: That’s right. Let’s talk a little bit about leads because, you know, everyone who speaks or writes books or whatever, you need leads. It’s easier, obviously, to get once you wow somebody on a stage. And you probably get 500 people — I’ve seen them — come up to you at the end of a speech and hand you their business card and say, “How can you help me, Jay?” Obviously that’s one way you get leads. Obviously through the books, you get leads as well.
How does your lead funnel process work? They come in, they go through your team, and then you guys pre-qualify them. How does that whole thing work?
Jay Baer: Yeah. I actually suck at it, really. I’m not very good at positioning what I do, or what we do as consultants, from the stage. I just never have been. I’m not super comfortable with it, and I’m also just not good at it. It’s something I’m really actively trying to work on. One of my mentors is Rory Vaden, which is annoying because he’s like 10 years younger than me. He is a genius, and you should definitely have him on the show if you haven’t.
Rory owns a sales training organization and is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and a brilliant, brilliant guy. He keeps trying to get me to position things differently on stage and also in the book, for that matter.
When we do get leads — I shouldn’t complain, we get a lot — I’m just not as smooth about it, that hand off, as I should be. Typically we get leads through the site, actually, through Convince & Convert on the consulting side. On the speaking side, they usually come through JayBaer.com, which is our speaking dedicated website. If it’s somebody that I know or somebody that I’ve recently met or interacted with, then I’ll call that person as quickly as possible. We try to call people within five minutes of receiving a lead.
Jim Kukral: Five minutes. Wow.
Jay Baer: Yeah. We try to do it within five minutes and sometimes faster. For speaking leads, sometimes we’ll call people within 15 or 20 seconds. Your conversion rate, when you’re that fast on the first touch, is massively, massively higher than if you let it sit for even an hour or two hours. It just shocks them into like, “Holy shit. These guys are totally on it.”
We try and do that real quick and frame up the opportunity and say, “Okay,” especially on the consulting side, “all right, what is it that we can do for you, and what do you need?” and work that through. Because I’m on the road so much now, our business development person, Kim Corak, who’s a delight, typically handles the first inquiry, both on speaking and consulting, just to frame up opportunities and see what it really looks like. Then I’ll get involved, or our director of operations will get involved and take it to the next step.
Jay Baer: We don’t do a lot of marketing automation and sequences. Infusionsoft is a client of ours on the consulting side. We don’t have a whole lot of branches set up and a lot of tickles and all that. We say, “Okay, you’re in the funnel, and we’re going to interact with you until you either sign or you don’t sign.”
We’re getting to the point now where we’re going to start doing more of that marketing automation and lead-nurture programs, but for now it’s very high-touch, which is sort our brand anyway. My brand is high-touch. I’m not quite ready to put it on the mechanized version of that kind of follow-up, but that day will definitely come. It has to.
Jim Kukral: Oh, it has to, especially if you’re moving into the passive income business where you’re creating coaching products and products like that. You’re going to have to automate that stuff.
Jay Baer: Absolutely.
Jim Kukral: You’re never going to be able to handle hundreds and hundreds of leads per day and things like that.
All right. There’s a fun segment we like to do here on the show. I’m going to drop this on you now. Basically, what I want you to do is read one of your bad reviews from one of your books.
Let’s be clear. The vast majority of reviews on your books are amazing five-star reviews. I don’t care who you are, somebody always leaves a bad review on a book. If you’ve ever seen the Jimmy Kimmel Celebrities Read the Mean Tweet thing …
Jay Baer: Yes. Love it.
Jay Reads One of His Worst Reviews
Jim Kukral: I found one review in your Youtility book. You had 1 one-star review, and I found that one-star review, and I’m going to paste it here into the chat, and I would like you to read that and react to it any way you would like to.
Jay Baer: Okay. It’s funny you say this, actually, because this review is actually part of my new book, because the book is called Hug Your Haters, and it’s all about the intersection of technology and customer service. If The Now Revolution was a social media book and Youtility was a content marketing book, the new book is really a customer service book. That’s intentional. I want to have that triangle. It’s a triangle I can speak about. It’s a triangle we can do consulting about. That’s an intentional topic on my part.
It’s funny to see this again, because I actually have a section — well not a section but a couple pages in the book — about this review, because it is the only one-star review I’ve ever gotten.
The headline is “Waste of Funds.” The review is from JayBird who is “the photo man.” I don’t know what that means, but his name on Amazon is Jaybird “Photoman.” I’m not sure what makes him a photo man. August 9, 2013. It goes on to say: “Poorly written gibberish. My 11-year-old is better at marketing than this bozo. Don’t bother. Buy a latte instead. Thank you.”
Per the thesis in Hug Your Haters, which is that you should answer every complaint in every channel every time — that’s the core of that book: every complaint, every channel, every time — I answered and said, “JayBird ‘Photoman,’ if that’s the case, please have your 11-year-old son send me a resume. We’re always looking for interns. Apologies the book didn’t live up to your expectations.”
Jim Kukral: Sorry. I hope you took this in the intention it was supposed to be. I love reading my bad reviews. It just grounds me, very much. People leave bad reviews for the weirdest reasons. I love the fact that you responded to it. However, I will tell you that in the community of people who write books, there’s a very strong other side of the argument where people say, “Never, ever, ever respond to a bad review, especially on Amazon,” but you’re taking a different tack with that.
Jay Baer: Yeah. I think those people are incredibly misguided.
Jim Kukral: Okay.
Jay Baer: Everybody deserves to be heard, even if they are incorrect, and when you don’t reply, you are actually replying. What your reply says is, “I don’t care about you or your opinion.” I don’t think that’s ever a net benefit to any business or author.
Jim Kukral: This is a story that I tell. One time, I was on a website, and somebody left a really bad review of one of my books or whatever it was. I saw it in the comment. It wasn’t on Amazon, it was a comment on a blog.
I clicked on the guy’s name in the comment thing, and it took me to his website. I found his phone number, and I called him. It turns out he was from Cleveland. I called him up, and he was at the gym or something. I called him up, and I said, “Hey, it’s Jim Kukral. I just saw you left a really bad comment about me on this blog.” He’s like, “Who is this? What is this?” I go, “Yeah, you just left a bad comment about me. I’ve never met you before. I don’t know why you would say something so mean for me. I just want to change my opinion of you.” He was blown away, blown away.
I had a conversation with him, a five-minute conversation. I go, “Where do you live?” He goes, “Why?” I go, “Because I’m going to take a copy of one of my books right now that you didn’t read, but you said I wasn’t a good guy.” I signed it. I took it over to his house and stuck it in his mailbox 20 minutes later.
I said, “When you get home from work, that’s going to be in your mailbox.” Now the guy always talks about what a good guy I am, so I would agree with you. People want to be heard, and you know, if you can communicate with them, it usually works out for the best, as long as you take the right tact, right?
Jay Baer: Yeah. Well, I mean, look — especially for authors, it’s really easy to get defensive because your book is your baby, right?
Jim Kukral: Yeah.
Jay Baer: You put so much time and effort into it, and it’s a reflection of your own self. It’s just like small businesses or restaurants or anything else. When somebody really trashes them on Yelp or what have you, it’s really easy to just kind of see red.
In fact, there’s a whole chapter in the new book about that, about how to not take it personally and understand that. Certainly there’s some trolls out there. There’re people who are just trolling just because it’s lolz. They’re just trying to be funny.
For anybody who’s got a legitimate negative opinion, the reason you need to hug your haters is that they’re actually taking their time, they’re spending their time, to tell you something. Whether you agree or not is not relevant. The dangerous customers are your three-star reviews.
Jim Kukral: Yeah.
Jay Baer: Actually, the dangerous customers are the one- and two-star reviews who never leave a review, because they’re the ones who, when somebody says, “Hey, how’d you like that book?” They just tell them word-of-mouth style, “I didn’t like it.” It’s what I call the “’meh’ in the middle,” the people who really don’t like you but don’t even take the time to let you know. They don’t email you. They don’t leave a review. They don’t leave a blog comment. They’re just like, “Screw that guy.” Now you have no evidence that they exist, so they just fade into the ether. That’s the dangerous group.
How He Comes up with Killer Book Topics and Speeches
Jim Kukral: I always admired how you come up with really amazing titles for your book. Youtility is just such an amazing brand to build off of.
Jay Baer: Thank you.
Jim Kukral: I love Hug Your Haters, hearing about this one coming out, because it just sounds like you’re going to be able to really take that in a really fun direction on stage.
Jay Baer: I did my very first keynote of it at Social Media Marketing World in March. It might be interesting for the show. I write books a little differently than most people. I do the speech first, and I polish it as a keynote. Then I take that keynote, I record myself doing it, transcribe it, and that becomes the spine of the book.
Jim Kukral: That’s interesting.
Jay Baer: One of the reasons why I think Youtility has a strong narrative flow to it — it feels like it has a beginning, and a middle and an end — is because it was based on a speech. It was a speech before it was a book. Hug Your Haters is a speech now. It will become a book. Most books are not written that way, of course, which is why most books don’t feel like they have a beginning, a middle and an end in the business category. They feel like it’s a collection of ideas that are randomly assembled. I think it does help make the book read better.
I did the first Hug Your Haters keynote in March in San Diego, and man, it was such a blast. Number one, it’s really scary, and I do not recommend this, doing a 2,000-person keynote for material you’ve never done before. No warm-up audience, just like, “Well, let’s hope this goes well because if it doesn’t, this book could be DOA.”
It’s such a fun keynote to give because you think about how many hilarious, outlandish reviews there are out there, and more every day. Some of these people who leave reviews on Yelp and stuff like that, it’s just awesome. It’s just absolutely awesome. Certainly there is a major important business lesson there as well, but it is fun because the examples are pretty great.
Jim Kukral: It’s interesting that you say you work that direction. I always tell people when they are thinking about writing a book, “Look, you’ve got to find your voice and the way that you want to write it. If you want to write the speech first, write the speech first.” It’s great that you validate that statement, because if you just sit down and try to write it the way that you were taught or somebody told you, maybe that’s not going to work for you. That’s really smart that you do that.
Jay Baer: Yeah.
Jim Kukral: I love the way that your books have that middle, beginning, and end thing. That makes a lot of sense to me. I’m glad that you brought that up.
Jay Baer: Thanks.
Jim Kukral: All right. We’re getting ready to wrap up here. I want to ask you a couple more questions, and we’ll get you on your way. I don’t want to turn this into the ‘traditionally versus self-publish’ show, but I do know that you traditionally publish. I guess the question is, what’s the big reason you stay with traditionally published?
Jay Baer: I certainly have had that thought. I worked with Wiley on The Now Revolution, and then I switched to Penguin Portfolio for Youtility and the Youtility verticals, and Portfolio will publish Hug Your Haters as well. The good news is that based on the success of previous things I’ve done, I do get a pretty decent advance from my publisher. That is nice, but basically all it does is fund the marketing of the book. It’s not as if I’m really ‘making money.’ It’s just they’re loaning me money that I’m going to spend to market the book that they’re going to profit from. I look at it like that. I say, “Okay, whatever the advance is, that’s the marketing budget.” That’s literally how I think about it.
Jim Kukral: Smart.
Jay Baer: I don’t think of an advance as being paid to write the book. I never have, because as you noted at the top of the show, I get paid from consulting and speaking. I don’t seek to make money on the book. I don’t expect to make money on the book, so if I do, it’s gravy.
That dynamic is nice, to get paid up front. I feel like — and I’m not certain this is true — but I feel like at the level of speaking that I do now, and the size of organizations that I’m working with, having a major publisher like Penguin on the cover of the book does add a small dose of credibility.
Does that really matter? I don’t know. Do I actually need that now, considering how many people have heard of me in this category? I don’t know. Do I feel like I’m going to need that credibility booster forever? Probably not.
The down side of course — well, there’s many downsides of working with a publisher. One is that they don’t really do much, no offense intended. Two, the intellectual property rights can be a little tricky. For example, I wanted to give away the audio of Hug Your Haters as part of the marketing. They’re like, “No, we wanted to sell it to Audible.” I’m like, “That’s just stupid. Who cares?”
There’s just some things like that, where you are not fully in control of your own destiny, and as somebody who is very entrepreneurial and has been self-employed now for a long, long time, that can get a little annoying, actually. We typically disagree on marketing, sometimes, and I usually say, “I actually do this for a living for some of the biggest companies in the world, and you don’t, so I think we’re going to go with my suggestion on the marketing of the book.” It’s got to be hard to be a business publisher when everybody thinks they’re an expert in marketing, and you’re like, “Hey, we’re just a publisher.”
The other thing that bugs me, Jim, especially now, is the cycle time. Like I’m turning this book in at the end of July, and this book comes out next year.
Jim Kukral: Yep. It’s the worst.
Jay Baer: It’s like a seven-month gap.
Jim Kukral: Why?
Jay Baer: They want to hit particular release windows, and blah, blah, blah, and it takes them a long time to edit it, and you know, whatever.
Jim Kukral: Come on.
Jay Baer: Especially because this book is based on research and not just my opinion, that annoys me a little bit. I would like the book to be out faster, just because you always want the new baby to come out of the incubator quicker.
It’s going to take them literally twice as long to produce the book as it took me to write it, and somehow that seems wrong to me. I know if I self-publish, I could have this out in October, September, and doing it traditionally, it’s going to take an extra four or five months.
But as my friend Rory Vaden said, you’ve got to look at that as good news in some way, because it gives you that much more time to pre-sell and tie books into speaking gigs this fall and build demand for the book pre-release, and that is a good point. It’s not necessarily always a bad thing.
I think part of it, too, is that I know I can give them the manuscript, and while I’ve got to get involved and I’ve got to approve things — I’ve got to edit and all that — I know they’re going to get it done. I know they’re going to hit their deadlines, even though their deadlines are obviously extended. Whereas if I self-publish it, I probably would have to have a little more active role in the operations from manuscript to production.
It’s not like I couldn’t do that. We do a lot of complicated stuff at Convince & Convert, especially on the media side. As I said, we’re doing multiple podcasts a week. We could certainly get a book out the door. It’s just one more thing on my plate that I would prefer to not have on my plate right now.
Jim Kukral: I’ve always said that, in my opinion, the only real reason to traditionally publish anymore is because you’re doing exactly what you’re doing. You’re running a business, and the books are just feeding the business of the speaking, and you want somebody else to handle all that stuff for you. It makes perfect sense for me for guys like you to continue to do it that way. I wasn’t trying to lead you either way. I was just curious.
Jay Baer: Oh no. No. I’ve certainly thought about it lots of times, and I don’t know. After this one, we’ll see. We’ll definitely see. I certainly reassess it every time and say, “Okay, what’s the paperwork look like? What’s the math look like to do it yourself?” You’re right. It is definitely more of a convenience factor at this juncture than anything else.
Jim Kukral: Yeah. All right. We’re getting ready to wrap up here. Let’s talk about where people could go to learn more about booking you and getting your books. Where can they go?
Jay Baer: Two best places: go to JayBaer.com, which is all the speaking stuff, or go to ConvinceandConvert.com which has all of our stuff — books, blogs, podcasts, ebooks, SlideShares, videos, all those things.
Jim Kukral: Jay and his team will call you back in less than five minutes, guaranteed.
Jay Baer: I don’t know. I wouldn’t say ‘guaranteed.’
Jim Kukral: No, come on. ‘Guaranteed.’
Jay Baer: Less than five minutes optimally.
Jim Kukral: ‘Optimally.’ That’s the new word that we’ll put at the end of our disclaimers.
Jay Baer: Thank you.
Jim Kukral: “Optimally, we’ll call you back.”
Jay Baer: Thank you.
Jim Kukral: Well, thanks for coming on the Authorpreneur show.
Jay Baer: Oh, my pleasure, man. Great.
Jim Kukral: Everyone who’s listening, please check out Jay’s website, JayBaer.com, and check out ConvinceandConvert.com. It’s good stuff. Also check out, Jay, real quick, your MarketingPodcasts.com. Talk about that real quick.
Jay Baer: Yeah, thanks. We started this project last year. It’s called MarketingPodcasts.com. It’s the only search engine for marketing podcasts. It was pretty crazy, because I was just trying to find some other shows, and I realized that other than iTunes, which is a hot mess, there’s no way to find shows. I’m like, “I can’t believe it’s 2014 and this doesn’t exist.” My team and I just built it.
We’ve got over 600 marketing podcasts in the database. They’re all ranked, scored, and reviewed, so if you want a show just about entrepreneurship, if you want a show just about content marketing, you want a show about social media, you want a show about marketing for lawyers, whatever your bag is, whatever is your jam, we’ve got podcasts for you. It’s been a really fun project. We love it.
Jim Kukral: All right. After you go check out that, if you are an authorpreneur or an aspiring authorpreneur, you can and should head on over to my website, which is AuthorMarketingInstitute.com. Learn more about the business of writing and marketing books. Also, grab our free video course called ‘How to Sell the First 100 Copies of Your Book.’ You know, that’s always the hardest part, selling that first 100 copies. Head on over to AuthorMarketingInstitute.com. All right guys.
Jay Baer: Farmer’s market, right? That’s what you do? Just go to the farmer’s market.
Jim Kukral: That’s exactly right. All right guys, cue the music.
It’s time for all of us to get back to writing books and building businesses. We’re all busy. Jay needs to get back to his business.
I’m Jim Kukral, and I’ll be back with another authorpreneur show guest, too, soon, who will help you on your journey to becoming an authorpreneur yourself. Hope you guys enjoyed it. Thanks for listening, and as always, reviews and shares of the show are greatly appreciated. All right. We’ll see you next time everybody. Bye, bye.