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Hitting Breakthroughs with Scott Duffy
We are excited to have a very special guest with us, Scott Duffy. If you want to know who Scott Duffy is, he’s a TV online personality and Founder of the Breakthrough Mastermind. He began his career working for bestselling author and speaker, Tony Robbins. He went to work for several small businesses that became big brands like CBS SportsLine, NBC Internet, and FoxSports.com. Next, he founded Smart Charter, an online booking tool for private aviation, which was acquired by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Scott has got amazing stories to share with you about Richard Branson too. Scott is a champion for entrepreneurship. He’s been listed as a top ten keynote speaker by Entrepreneur Magazine. He’s spoken at the New York Stock Exchange and provided commentary in numerous media outlets including CNBC, Fox News, and CBS Radio. He’s the co-host of Business & Burgers and the bestselling author of Breakthrough, a roadmap for building a great company. We are so honored to have Scott Duffy join us. How are you doing?
I’m good. How are you?
I’m rock and rolling and keeping busy. You are all over the place. You are busy speaking everywhere I see you go, which is awesome. You’re absolutely loving life.
It’s been an amazing year and I’m looking forward to 2019. It’s all good. The opportunity that all of us have now as entrepreneurs, whether we’re speakers or we have a note closing business, a training camp, whatever it is, is to have an impact leveraging social media, leveraging the tools that we didn’t have twenty years ago is so amazing. It used to be that big companies had every advantage because the cost of being an entrepreneur was so high. As a result, innovation moves slowly and things move slowly and a lot of people couldn’t jump in. They couldn’t do what they wanted to do. They couldn’t have the impact they wanted to have because there’s too much risk. Now, technology has changed the playing field. Social media has changed the playing field.
It’s cool because as entrepreneurs, we not only have access to the same tools as the big guys but they’re affordable. There’s an advantage to being small, to being an entrepreneur and the advantage is that you can get closer to customers. You can iterate faster. Now, small is the new big. Entrepreneurs are the new David. We like to smash down that Goliath every single day. It’s cool and this scares big companies because it used to be they could look outside their window and they could see all their competitors. It was that simple. Now there are millions of entrepreneurs nibbling at their feet, which is amazing.
The landscape has totally changed. We’ve known each other for about eight years. I figured out the landscape has changed dramatically in the last eight years. It’s totally crazy. There are so many more options. We have the same tools. I was reading an article about how Starbucks runs this $24 billion company and their social media is run by seven people.
I remember you were talking about Virgin. When I started Smart Charter, I remember we moved into this big office in Santa Monica at the airport. We had to go by email servers for this company. We had this big room and it had all of these servers in it and we needed our IT people. Everything was so expensive. Now you get Gmail and it’s free. That’s so cool. It’s hard for a big company because here’s what happens. What happens is that somebody wakes up and they have an idea and they share it with others. The company gets bigger. This is the way it used to happen. They get bigger and as a customer, I was buying that one thing from that company and let’s say it costs me $20 a month. What happens is over time, that company becomes more successful. It has to hire more people, which means it needs more space. Its costs continue to go up. What does it do? Either raise its prices or it goes out there and it adds new features in order to do so. Raise prices for the core product or you add more features or both.
What happens in this world, if somebody wakes up and they get their bill and they’re like, “This costs me $99 a month now and I started at $19?” They’re pissed off and they go, “Here’s how I’m going to do. I am going to start my own company and I’m going to do that one thing I originally signed up for.” They go online. They use a free tool. They incorporate. They get on LinkedIn. They share how pissed they are with some of their friends and an engineer goes, “I hate big companies too. I’ll code for you for free.” They go on social media and they start to test it. Here’s the thing, in 90 minutes for $90, they’ve started a company. It’s tough because they not only charge less than that $99 the big company was charging, they give it away for free. You’ve got this dilemma as the big company because you cannot change now because you can’t adapt. There are many advantages to being an entrepreneur. What’s amazing about this time of the year is this time of the year is a great time to be thankful for all that we have and start thinking about next year and how we can make an impact.
I’m so glad you brought that up because many people come to the end of the year like, “I’m falling behind my goals. I didn’t go work out this year. I didn’t start the group I wanted to do or I haven’t hit my financial goals, or I’m still in the job and I’m not going to get the raise that I want to.” There’s never been an easier time for people to put all that mental crap aside and literally go out and start taking action. There are many things that you can start doing, start doing it on your side hustle, started doing your 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM like Gary V likes to say. You’ve built some big companies. How has your mindset changed in the last few years because you’ve completely re-engineered, recreated Scott Duffy for the world?
For me, it’s fun because when we tell all these stories about these big brands and stuff, I laugh as you’re saying that bio because it’s never that easy. When you line up all the big brands they say, “It’s never that easy.” All of us go through it. We all go through ups and downs, highs and lows, good times, the money is in, the money is gone, the money comes back, and we all go through it. We all share that experience. Personally, I was affected when the market crashed. I went from having what I thought was much to having nothing being $400,000 in debt, having my first kid, being pregnant with the second and all happened in nine months.
What happens when the kid arrives, Scott? Something happens and then nine months later a kid shows up.
It does. It was horrible. I’ll tell you a story. When that happened, personally I did what every good entrepreneur would do, which is I curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the room. That’s what I did and I did that for months. I look back at it and what stands out to me is that my psyche wasn’t strong enough. I’m not going to let that happen again. Here’s the thing, I was in the fetal position one day and then I got a call. A buddy called me and he said, “Scott, I heard that you are on the market. I heard you’re looking for a company to run.” I said, “I am.” He goes, “You’re hired.” I go, “I’m hired?” He said, “Yes.” He goes, “Are you crazy? Why would I have you come run my company?” I said, “What am I going to do?” He said, “What does it matter? You’re not working.” I’m in the fetal position what does it matter? He said, “Come have lunch with me and we’ll talk about it.”
I remember I was in such a low place and will not call King. I was so excited. I was high fiving around the house and I was like doing my dance, my happy dance. I drove to Pasadena to meet with this guy. I sat down and said, “I have a question, what is it that you want me to run?” He said, “Since we talked and the time that you got here, I decided I don’t want you to run this company anymore.” I was like, “Really?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “I want you to be a salesman.” I said, “That’s cool and I’m grateful.” I said, “Maybe I can also contribute somewhere.” He goes, “I want you to sell.” I said, “Fine.” I said, “What am I going to sell?” He said, “Pee.” I said, “What?” He said, “You’re going to sell pee.” I said, “What’s that mean?” He said, “I bought a research lab and we specialize in processing urine.” He said, “Here’s the thing. What we do is we go to all the doctors’ offices and when people have to pee in a cup, what we do is we get the cup. We run it through a thing and then we give a report to the doctor that they can share with the patient.” He goes, “I have a vision for you.”
I was like, “Here it comes.” I was down at this point. He said, “Here’s the vision.” He said, “My vision is that in one year you’re going to call all the doctor’s offices here in Southern California and you’re going to win their pee business.” He said, “My vision for you is in one year you will be the king of pee.” That was my very first job offer after running a company for Virgin that I sold to Virgin. That’s what happened. All this completely upside down, all that. What do I do? I didn’t take the job. What I did is I got pissed off. I got pissed at everybody and everything. I was pissed at the market. I was pissed at the economy. I was pissed at the way I looked because it was somebody else’s job. I looked so stressed out. I was pissed at everybody. What I did is I went out to people. I have an amazing, I still do, great network. I went out to a lot of incredible people. I said, “I need help. Would you coach me?” I kept trying to start companies and they weren’t working. I have never gone through anything like this. I couldn’t understand.
Eventually, I hit my low point. Greg Reid always talks about your Three Feet from Gold. I didn’t think it could get worse than being asked to sell pee at the time, but it did. It kept getting worse. Maybe there are people out there who can relate to this where you’re in this spiral and so it did. Eventually one day, my tank was out of gas and I had hired all of the best coaches. Everyone was telling me I was doing all the right things, no one could figure out why I couldn’t turn it around. I called my buddy, David Meltzer. I love him to death. I love him for this. I said to Dave, “I don’t understand.” He said this, “Scott, here’s the problem. We’re going to stop working on your business. We’re going to start working on your head.” He said, “We’re going to do four things.” These are the four things that changed my life.
He said, “Number one, you’re going to be accountable for every single thing in your life, total accountability. Number two, you’re going to forgive yourself for everything.” To me, that was the hardest part and I still struggle with it sometimes. He said, “Number three, you’re going to find the lesson in everything. Number four, you’re going to be grateful for it.” He said, “The way that you’re going to get started is you’re going to practice something for the next 30 days. What you’re going to do is two times a day at the same time each day, you’re going to have a gratitude alarm go off on your cell phone.” He said, “When that happens, you’re going to say thank you because gratitude changes everything. The reason is it shifts your perspective from what you have, don’t have to what you have. If you do that twice a day for 30 days, your life will change.”
I practiced those things and that’s what happened. Finally, you asked me what I’ve learned and changes and stuff like that. When things don’t work for us and we’d been successful at anything, what we tend to do is double down on what worked. For me, I was trying to start these companies using a way of doing it that I was good at that and doing it one way. I kept coming back to that way, but the world was changing. What I learned is whatever it is that you are amazed or were amazing at five years ago, your one skill, your superhero power, that thing that made you five years ago is your baggage now. That’s the number one lesson I learned. With things moving as fast as they are, we have to do be accountable for everything, forgive ourselves for everything, learn from everything, be grateful for everything. We have got to be absolutely crazy, obsessively passionate with learning because the world moves so fast.
That’s one of the big things that when I’m coaching people and talk with investors, many people are bringing the baggage of, “I went through a divorce or I’ve been through bankruptcy. I have been through a short sale seven years ago. I’m getting laid off or I got laid off,” or things like that. I’m like, “Welcome to the club.” Everybody goes through those things.
I love what you said, “Welcome to the club,” because if you ask an entrepreneur, “How you do it?” If you have the entrepreneur gene, there’s only one answer to that question and the answer is, “I’m doing great. I’m doing awesome.” Even if things are totally in the toilet because it’s tough. It’s a tough balancing act because we have to be strong. We have to exude confidence in what it is that we’re doing. That confidence has to come out with our investors, with our employees, with our partners, with our family, who is equally invested with us in these ventures. When somebody asks how we’re doing, we say, “Great.” One of the challenges that entrepreneurs have is asking for help because they think that there’s shame associated with it. They think that they’re going to be judged for it.
The thing about people who are successful is they have all been through things as bad, if not worse than you. What’s incredibly amazing is when you’re part of that club of going through it, in sticking with it, you will always help somebody with empathy on the other side. There’s this incredible power to asking and there’s an incredible badge of honor in being able to give to people who are asking. If you’re stuck in a particular area, keep moving. If you’re stuck in a particular area, find somebody out there who’s producing the exact result that you want and tell them where you are. The more vulnerable you are, the more they will help you.
We as entrepreneurs had to keep things flowing uphill. We don’t let things flow downhill. We can’t share it with our clients. We can’t share it with our spouses because everybody looks to us to lead a lot of times. Now, you’re in a horrible mood. You’ve got to keep it going to your mentors or your peers or your mastermind of people who are doing the same thing, to talk with those people that are on that same level as you.
It relates to the people at home. I used to think back in the day because I started the company or I had a key role in the company that I was the most important person in that company. Nothing is further from the truth. What I learned is the most important person in any company as an entrepreneur isn’t you. The most important person in the company is the person you come home to. They have the worst job in your business. I don’t call them the CEO for Chief Executive Officer. I have a new word for them. They’re the CVO. They’re the Chief Venting Officer because we have no one to talk to so we come home. This is incredibly important. First of all, before you start anything or if you’re in something before you go a step further, you have to be on the same page to that person at home about how much time and how much money you’re willing to risk.
I would rather give more or give less time or risk less and be on the same page versus doing more. Having that person at home, always sleeping with one eye open at night. The second thing is everyone has a different communication strategy. Some cheap venting officers, they want to hear everything. They want the blow by blow. Other people, that’s way too much. What they want is they can hear it like once a week, whatever, because here’s what we do. What we do is we get home, it’s 11:00 PM. It’s time to go to sleep and just about we’re going to close our eyes, we let it all out. We feel amazing and we sleep like Rip Van Winkle. The person next to us doesn’t sleep at all because they’re up all night worrying. You have to understand not only how much communication, but when to provide that communication. That’s a conversation that you need to have that most people never did.
I’m thinking of Steph. She’s my CVO. Coming home, “How’s your day? “It was great.” “What’s the matter?” “Nothing wrong,” or vice versa. You’ve got to have that sounding board. Sometimes it’s better to filter through some things like, “I’m going to save a little bit. I don’t need to hit her all with this,” or vice versa. We hit our spouses all with things that are going on. Try to have to take it out in pieces a little bit and you have to judge what your CVO is capable of absorbing that time or how their day went because sometimes you don’t want to shove it all on there.
Doesn’t it feel good to let it out?
It totally feels good to vent sometimes. What’s funny is Steph gives me a hard time because I’m like, “How was your day?” “It was good.” If bad things happen, I let it slide off my back because I can fix it, don’t worry about it. If it can’t be fixed, don’t worry about it. If I can fix it, I’ll reach out to somebody to take care of it. It’s out of my head. I hold myself accountable to things, but there are still things that don’t happen. As entrepreneurs, a lot of times we’re spinning different plates out there. The hardest thing sometimes is to delegate that plate of venting. That’s the hardest thing sometimes.
I always say that life is made up of super and glass balls. What I mean is as entrepreneurs, we’re always juggling. From time to time because we’re juggling so much our family, our home or this or work, our employees, from time to time, we drop a ball. Rubber balls, they bounce and glass ball shatter. A rubber ball is something to me like a business. If I unplug, if I dropped that business ball for a little bit and I go wait but I come back and I reapply, things are going to come right back. A glass ball is something like your health where if you drop it, you may never be able to get it back. We have to determine what the glass and the rubber balls are in our life. As entrepreneurs, the other thing is we have to know what the most important job of an entrepreneur is.
The reason to be in business now is to be in business tomorrow. What we need to do is we need to focus the first thing that we need to do, especially for starting. If you’re thinking about 2019 and you’re planning to start a new business, the number one thing you need to be thinking about is this. It’s going to take more time. It’s going to cost more money and all that stuff. What you need to do is make sure that you have a solid financial foundation to at least pay your minimum expenses. If that means a job, maybe it’s part-time versus full-time. If that means a consulting agreement, whatever it is, it’s so important before we do anything to get our financial footing on the basics. What tends to happen is being an entrepreneur is filled with ups and downs. It’s a very stressful job. If we don’t have the financial foundations set, when things get stressful, we tend to go to a low point and we make these big decisions from these low points and that takes us off and it’s a disaster. It’s a slippery slope.
It’s totally right especially if you’re coming home to a spouse, they’re often worried about bills being paid. We as entrepreneurs are thinking about the next big deal that we’re working through. That’s one of the things we’d like to try to tell our mastermind member students like, “Figure out how many deals you’ve got to do to cover your basis.” Don’t leave your job if you don’t have any residuals coming in, if you don’t have any cashflow coming in. Make that transition a little bit, but know what your KPIs are, how many offers you’ve got to make, how many deals you’ve got to close to hit that number and transition from there.” Some people don’t think, “I’m going to quit my job tomorrow.” I’m like, “Is that a good thing?” or “I want to do what you’re doing.” I’m like, “Do you have reserves? Do you have some money saved or do you have any other money to come?” “No.” “You need a job.”
I run into this issue when I’m working with people that have nonprofits. What happens is they’re so passionate about their cause that they get it backwards. They focus on giving first. What you have to focus on is building a solid business that generates cash. Once you do that first, then you can leverage that cash. Otherwise, you don’t stick around. As our friend, Les Brown, would say, “Fill your cup first and let what overflows, feed other people.” That foundation is important.
Many people that are passionate about their nonprofits, they’re starving. They’re barely surviving a lot of times or you think about people that want to do some things, they can’t afford to pay their power bill, but then they’re going to the church and donate all this extra money to the church. God helps those that help themselves. Take a little time, pay your bills and then write a bigger check later on and do some real good versus a little bit here, a little bit there.
I have an expression. I got this from Dave and I integrated it into my life. My mission is I want to make a lot of money, help a lot of people and have a lot of fun. When they see that, sometimes what happens is people get upset that I start with making a lot of money. How could you do that? Here’s the thing, by making a lot of money, what I’m able to do is I’m able to access more of my pure potential. I’m able to invest in courses. I’m able to travel to see people. I’m able to buy programs. I’m able to do things to help me grow in a way that I couldn’t if I didn’t have money. I’m able to use that money to help other people. I’m able to use that money to have more fun. We need to start not finish from that mindset. Making money is a really good thing. It’s important. If you want to be your best, if you want your company to be its best, you need to generate cash. That cash is going to give you opportunities to grow and to contribute in ways that you can’t do if you’re broke.
Scott, talk a little about your book that came out, Breakthrough. It’s an amazing book, a bestseller. Talk about some of the things that inspired you to write that book.
What inspired this particular book is I wrote a book years ago called Launch, and the idea was how to take your idea to market. I have been incredibly fortunate because I’ve worked on the ground floor of a handful of companies. That over time became big brands and I was fortunate to work with and be hired by some incredible, like insane entrepreneurs that I got to learn from. What happened in those experiences, SportsLine USA becoming what’s now CBSSports.com and Zoom became NBC Internet and Fox Sports. I developed a formula for taking an idea to market and created a process and a system for that. I wanted to share that with other people. Because these companies that I’ve worked with had exits relatively quickly, I didn’t necessarily have to think about growth and scale in the same way.
I was like a launch guy. Over the last years, I have become absolutely crazy, fanatical, passionate about learning. Not only how people take an idea to market now because the world changes. Remember your baggage five years ago, once they get it to market, how do you grow in scale and position for sale? I went out there and I talked to everybody. I’ve interviewed everyone, Daymond John and Nicole Arbour and Sara Blakely. I’ve distilled what I’ve learned into this book, Breakthrough. It is a step-by-step systematic approach to doing those things. It’s fun because what we do is I’m not just going to share how you write a business plan, I’m going to share how somebody wrote theirs and the breakthroughs that they had in the process. The stories that go along with it and try and make this whole process fun. That’s what Breakthrough is all about.
You also have the Breakthrough Mastermind. Share a little about that, Scott.
That’s my passion right now. We have a group. We call it the tribe and we get together three times a year for three days at each event. We’re a group of people whose culture is absolutely 1,000% committed to seeing everybody in our tribe win. What we do is we get personal. We bring in great trainers to address current issues that our members are having. Everyone gets up in front of the group. They share where they are, what their needs and wants are. We all work together to contribute, to help them to get there. What’s also fun is I got a big bucket list, all these fun things I want to do before I kick the bucket. What we do is we combine each event with a once in a lifetime experience. Whether it’s watching a New York Yankees game with the general manager of the Yankees in his war room, learning everything you need to know about how this person manages teams, uses analytics, all kinds of crazy stuff or in January training with Navy SEALs in San Diego or fly fishing with billionaires in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
What we do is we bring these once in a lifetime events that helped to open your mind, create bonds with people that will be amazing resources for you in the future. By the way, if you want more information on the mastermind, go to ScottDuffy.com and you’ll be able to apply for the mastermind there. Also, if you are interested in the book, Breakthrough, I highly recommend you get it. If you’re interested in Breakthrough, it’s ScottDuffy.com, you can find it as well. If you order the book on ScottDuffy.com, we’ll give you a free Business Breakthrough Checklist, which is a step-by-step guide for everything that you need to be considering during every stage of your business.
It’s an amazing book and I love what you’re doing with the mastermind out there. Masterminds are a critical part of an entrepreneur, not only with people in your business but getting outside of your business sometimes, talking to other people that are doing different things. Our buddy, Greg, likes to say, “We’re the average of the five people we hang around the most.” If you’re not liking the income you’re making or the average you’re at right now, go find four more friends and hanging out with them.
It’s the craziest thing. I always challenge people to do this because we hear that thrown around all the time, “Do this. If you don’t believe Scott or you don’t believe me, do this, write down the list.” Write down the names of the five people you spend the most time with. It’s so simple, next to each one what you think they earn. Add all that up and divide by five. That is exactly what you earn. It so crazy the way this works and you can apply that same formula to every area of your life. People who are fit hang around fit people. People who are smart hang around smart people. People who suck hang around people who suck. What you need to do is pay attention because the difference between where you are now and where you want to go maybe as simple as the last five numbers you dialed on your cell phone.
Take the five that you’re around and average what you think and that’s what you’re worth. People have to up it, especially in 2019, if you want to do some things and it’s not saying you can’t hang around the people that you enjoy your friends, but sometimes we’ve got to evolve. Sometimes you’ve got to do bigger and better things to get where you ultimately want to be because sometimes I think we all agree. We have friends around us who are very happy at status quo or where they’re at right now. They don’t want to grow. They’re happy being in the beer leagues or spending time whatever they’re doing.
If you’re an entrepreneur, we all have a little bit of crazy mind. We always want to do bigger things, better things, expand stuff. Go find some people out there. Trust me. There are plenty of people out there. You’ve got a network, Scott. I’ve got a great network out there. We love hanging with those people and they’ve helped us make those breakthroughs in life. Scott, I know you’re a busy guy. Thank you so much for coming on the Note Closers Show. Once again, check out the book, Breakthrough. Go to ScottDuffy.com. Check it out there and check out the mastermind. Amazing stuff. Did you do a batting practice at Yankee Stadium too or was it hanging out with Cashman?
We had this insane behind the scenes tour. We were in this war room. I heard about this, but I wasn’t sure it existed. In Yankee Stadium, in the GM’s office, there’s this room with TVs and the head of player analytics, the head of player development, the head of this and the head of that. It’s interesting to watch them watch a game because this is a business. They notice things that you wouldn’t normally see as a fan. We had the premiere suite behind home plate. We brought these incredible speakers inside of that suite. We try and make it fun, and we try and make it an experience. What we have coming up with the Navy SEALs is the kind of access that we’re going to have and what you’ll learn from the people who lead these teams is going to be incredible.
I’m looking forward to it, to look more and seeing more stuff, more breakthroughs. You’re doing a great job. I look forward to seeing you. We’ll see you in San Diego for Traffic & Conversion again. Thank you so much for being on the Note Closers Show. We’ll see you later.
- Breakthrough Mastermind
- Business & Burgers
- Three Feet from Gold
- Business Breakthrough Checklist
About Scott Duffy
Scott Duffy is driven by one simple idea. Helping people live their dreams through entrepreneurship.
He uses his television and online channels, speaking platforms, best-selling books, mastermind and coaching programs, to serve as a catalyst for creating breakthroughs in your life and business. He leads the conversations that spark new ideas, innovations, and help the world’s top entrepreneurs and innovators achieve exponential growth.
Scott started his career working for best-selling author and speaker, Tony Robbins, and went on to work for several small businesses that became big brands like CBS Sportsline, NBC Internet, and FOXSports.com. Next, he founded Smart Charter, an online booking tool for private aviation that was acquired by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
Scott has been listed as a “Top 10 Keynote Speaker” by Entrepreneur. He has spoken at the NYSE and provided commentary in numerous media outlets including CNBC, FOX News, and CBS Radio. He is the Co-Host of Business & Burgers, and Author of “Breakthrough” from Entrepreneur Press.