Transcript of Interview With Mike Dillard
Dan: Welcome to another episode of Shoulders of Titans, this is Dan Lok and today I am very, very excited I have the privilege of introducing you to another successful entrepreneur, a father, an investor, a podcaster, author and freedom fighter, a mentor to hundreds of thousands of people. His mission is to empower the people who want to change their lives, change the world with the knowledge and skills that they need to do so. Not only is he an entrepreneur, he’s also a very good friend of mine. I’m very glad that we can reconnect through Shoulders of Titans. Mike, welcome to the show.
Mike: Yeah, glad to be here Dan. It’s a pleasure, brother.
Dan: Now, in case for listeners who don’t know, Mike and I we actually met at a three day event, Robert Kiyosaki event at the time. Actually at the time I was just still building the company was actually becoming more successful but at the time Mike was already very successful and I believe Mike at the time you were just planning to launch the elevation group which was one of the most successful launches online, like over ten million dollars in sales in one year. We know where you are today, but Mike maybe take us a little bit back and say where you were and how did you get into what you do?
Mike: Oh gosh, well you know I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur probably by the time I was in high school waiting tables at the original Romano’s Macaroni Grill in Berkeley, Texas. That was before it was bought by Brinker and turned into a chain and I realized how much it sucks to have to wait tables you know on the weekends, Friday and Saturday nights when your friends are out having fun and the fact that somebody always had control over my schedule along with the amount of money that I could make just did not sit well with me at all and that really is what planted the seed to become an entrepreneur. I can remember getting home from work at midnight, one o’clock in the morning, smelling like food and would decompress. This is in high school at the time, I’m in my parents’ living room watching TV and what is on at midnight, one o’clock in the morning? Infomercials. So, you know, Tony Robbins and Carlton Sheets and all of those guys would really fuel my fire to follow that path even more so.
So that led to, that was in probably late ninety’s, early two thousand, led to an interest in the network marketing industry that was really all that was available at the time if you were, you know, a broke kid in their late teens, early twenty’s to start a business at a reasonable financial clip if you will. So I got involved in that industry, took me about five or six years to figure it out before I really made any money and then discovered Dan Kennedy and direct response marketing and really applied those skill sets direct response to network marketing for the first time. So instead of going about the industry as it traditionally would have been through.
Dan: Which is starting with family and friends, dragging them to meetings and all of that?
Mike: Yeah friends and family, or holding home meetings or hotel events which I just I didn’t like any of that stuff. I learned how to really start generating leads online. Google Ad Words had just come out at that point, email auto responders had just come out at that point and I taught myself how to write sales copy and essentially wrote a long form sales letter that sold the business and the products for me. So I would generate leads on Ad Words, send them to this presentation which would generate interest or not and I would only talk to people who are essentially ready to sign up. So that changed everything for me.
Dan: That was revolutionary. It’s never been done before, right? Such a new concept
Mike: No, not really. Yeah not to that degree and not online. There’s been some offline stuff previously in the past but I think I kind of introduced that industry to the internet marketing world and married the two for the first time and from then within eighteen months I went from waiting tables to making my first million bucks.
Dan: At the time you were about 27, right?
Mike: You know, I started that progression probably a 25, learning that skill set, and then by 27 I hit my first mill.
Dan: And is that also when you launched the Magnetic Sponsoring? That’s your first kind of book.
Mike: Yeah, so that started as a training manual that I wrote for my team and it essentially taught attraction marketing and applied it to that world. So how to you use direct response to essentially attract your prospects to you instead of chasing people down and cold calling them. It went from a training manual into a book. That was I guess my first info product that I ever created and sold and that just kind of took off.
Dan: I’ve got to ask this, did you expect that it would sell that well?
Mike: You know I’d assume no. I think within three months I was selling a physical copy of it that I’d get made at Kinko’s for three bucks a piece for forty dollars online on Google Ad Words and I was making 50-60 thousand a month just from the sale of that book within a few months. So at that point I was like okay, I figured out what I’m really good at here which is direct response marketing and really taking complex things like a business opportunity and communicating them in a really simple format that a lot of people can grasp and understand and kind of went from there, turned into a publishing company for five years under the brand magnetic sponsoring with multiple products and courses. The business did about 25 million in revenue and then I moved on to elevation after that.
Dan: I’m curious because most people, that’s one thing I think that I resonate with you and why I have so much respect for your work, as you know a lot of people in the education space or information publishing space, I think you notice the same thing, a lot of our friends that’s the identity, that’s all they do and then they stay there for many, many years in spite of the changes within the industry, things that are happening, they’re kind of stuck. They do events, they always do events, right? They always sell information but you did something different because I think it’s very difficult for anyone that’s listening. Okay, you know what, I’ve got a business, let’s put those tens of millions of dollars, and to let that go and to transition into something else, I’m curious what inspired you to do that and what’s your thinking process?
Mike: You know after being in that industry for 6, 7, 8 years I became the number one distributor in the primary business that I was building, I built a huge brand for myself through magnetic sponsoring, sold millions of dollars’ worth of eBooks. After 5 or 6, 7 years of that, I didn’t have anything else to contribute. I felt like I’d said everything I needed to say. When people would ask me questions, “How do you build a business?” I’d either be like hey, go read the book, buy the product, you know, everything is there and I’d done it all. So there were no additional challenges in that industry for me and I just started to get bored and you’re never staying the same in business you’re either growing or you’re fading and I could see that that had started to happen to me in that regard. So I just lost my passion for that industry and was like okay, what’s my biggest problem now personally?
And it was really money, figuring out what to do with the money that I had made because you know here I was a kid in his 20’s making millions of dollars and I was blowing in on houses and cars and trips and all kinds of fun crazy stuff and then I hit thirty and I was like okay, I’m officially an adult now and I haven’t saved any of this money that I’ve made or invested any of it, I need to stop wasting this opportunity and grow up here and learn how to invest it so all of my businesses have always been built around a personal problem that I’ve been inspired to solve for myself and I figure if I have this problem there’s probably a large number of people who have it as well and in the internet marketing world, the network marketing world, there’s never an end of people or information who are willing to teach you how to make money but there were very few people out there who were willing to teach you what to do with that money once you made it.
Dan: How to keep the money not make it multiply.
Mike: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So I wanted to figure that out and that’s when I had the idea for elevation group. I was reading about finance and investing every single day, that was my biggest personal passion, trying to kind of crack that code but I was not the expert in that industry so it was a very different approach. Excuse me, one second. It was a very different approach to the business because I’m no longer the guru, in fact I’m the idiot. I’m the village idiot who doesn’t know anything about money or investing and I’m trying to figure this out so how in the world do you start a business around that? Well the logical conclusion was to essentially be like Oprah, be the host, right? Oprah’s unbelievably successful and all she does is sit and ask other people questions. So I was like alright, I’m going to start a private monthly membership site and the tagline is essentially learn how to invest like the rich because the way the rich invest and manage their money is completely different than how the average middle class person would.
Mike: And I was just going to do an interview format. So once a month we’d find someone that I’m learning from or investing with, maybe it’s in multifamily real estate, maybe it’s in precious metals, maybe it’s in fine art, maybe it’s an oil and gas, who knows? But we’re going to interview that person on camera and we’re going to turn that into a monthly lesson and I’m going to document everything that I’m doing with my money. So if I make an investment, I’m going to document that on the site and for better or worse we’re going to learn from it. If I do well, great. If I bomb and lose my money then that’s an even more valuable lesson learnt.
Dan: It’s kind of like being your own. I love it because the motto is basically sharing your journey and documenting your journey and you kind of be the guinea pig for the audience, right?
Mike: Yeah, I mean I think when I had this idea the first thing I did is I went and I bought and I studied every other major financial newsletter product out there, Stansbury, Agora, Motley Fool, like all of them and what I realized is that all of these guys have been doing the same thing for 20-30 years. They have a physical newsletter or its email but it’s all text based and it’s all stock charts and stock picks. Really boring technical stuff that is for their primary target audience which is usually people in their 50’s and 60’s and I intentionally said okay, I’m going to do the complete opposite of what they’re doing in every possible way.
So if they’re putting everything in writing, I’m going to do everything on video. If they’re using technical charts and technical analysis, I’m not going to use any charts or any analysis I’m going to use layman’s term and I’m going to speak how I normally speak. So that was really the approach from kind of a look, a feel and a brand and we instantly stuck out, instantly, overnight, and I think that was a huge part of the success was the authenticity, the vulnerability, the transparency and the fact that in the sales webinar the first thing I say is, “I’m not a financial expert, I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m going to figure this out and if you want to follow along then hey you know let’s do this together,” essentially. So we charge 97 a month or 597 a year with the thought that if anybody applied to any one of these lessons over 12 months especially through the resources and the Rolodex, they would be very, very handsomely rewarded for that kind of a price point and within the first 7 days I just launched it to my list that I built in magnetic, we did 3.2 million dollars, we brought on 8600 plus members in a week and it just took on a life of its own from there.
Dan: And in the first year I think the list grew to almost like 400,000 people if I’m correct. Almost 10 million dollars in the first year, right?
Mike: We eventually had around 50,000 active members. I think that around the one year mark when we had done about 10 million in revenue.
Dan: That means it gross significantly.
Mike: Yeah, right. That was gross.
Dan: So I’m curious because people only look at and hear these numbers, I want to dissect what is the secret sauce from the magnetic sponsoring? Obviously, it’s also what you teach in the program about building the list and from there how you leverage to the next venture. What do you think made that successful and how could our listener as an entrepreneur apply those lessons their business?
Mike: You know first and foremost is taking a long term approach to your personal brand and your reputation. The only reason elevation group was as successful as it was right off the bat was because I had built up trust and rapport and a list and a customer base for five years previously through magnetic, right? And if I had done those people wrong or compromised myself in some way then that wouldn’t have happened. So that’s piece number one is just treat your audience really, really well. Be really cool to them and never put money before your trust and your relationship with them. I don’t promote anything unless I personally, truly believe 100% percent of it and I’m a customer of it. For example I did one affiliate promotion this year, for the entire year I’ve promoted one product that was not my own and if I wanted I could do it every single month and I could just promote, promote, promote and it might work a few months but eventually people are going to feel like cattle essentially and that I’m just using them to make money and that’s just not going to work out in the long run.
Now with that being said I did one single promotion, I sent four emails. It was for a crypto currency newsletter that I had been a customer of for about probably 9 months. I absolutely loved their research, it was the best that I found in that world and I had no idea if my audience was into crypto or not and I just said, “Hey, this is really a great publication if you’re into this space or if you’re thinking about getting in it, at least acquire some of this knowledge which is produced by a very successful hedge fund manager and consider reducing your stupid tax if you will when it comes to this new space.” So 4 e-mails were sent and I sold over 1.2, 1.3 million dollars of that publication at 2000 dollars a piece and made around 600,000 dollars in commissions which is 100% net profit with 4 e-mails. So that’s only possible because I have a great relationship with my audience and I haven’t been pushing stuff down their throat for the previous year, right? So that’s one of the other big things for sure.
Dan: I think that’s a very big point because sometimes people, they put money first or they just keep promoting all kinds of products because I’m on your list as well. With Mike it’s always like your podcast, Self-Made Man, like it’s value, value, value like I rarely see any promotions, rarely. It’s always value, value but even the content piece, even as little as the podcast notification, those emails are very well written and the content of course the show is awesome. It’s building that good wheel in trust so when you do offer something, people might be like, “Oh yeah, Mike just sent out 4 emails,” and you make 600k. Yeah it’s not quite exactly like that, it’s because of all the little steps, all the relationships building, all these years, right?
Mike: Yeah, that’s cashing in years of equity.
Dan: Yes, so it’s not like 4 emails or easy money, 600k, not like that and I love what Mike just said about it’s something that you love, something you subscribe to, something you use and it’s more like I’m sure like you said you don’t even know. You say you know what, this is what I like, I benefit from this, it’s very kind of chill cool kind of approach but you want to enjoy this as something to help you check this out, right? It wasn’t like a super hard push kind of promo or anything like that, right?
Mike: No, just being authentic. That’s it at the end of the day.
Dan: Talk to us about the elevation group. So you launched that, it became very, very successful and then after that what happened?
Mike: At which point, after elevation group?
Dan: After elevation group, yes
Mike: So after elevation group we had a rough spell where one of the people we ended up promoting, ended up being a con artist and that threw a huge wrench into that business in a very unexpected way that consumed about 2-3 years of my life. So by the time that was all done and those guys went to jail, I was ready to move on to something else just from stress and emotional baggage and all of that stuff that surrounded that. So I essentially gave my half of the business to my partner at the time, Robert, and he continued on with it for about a year before he sold the company but I was ready once again for another challenge at this point between magnetic and elevation, I’d been in the information publishing space if you will for 10 years, I’d made over 50 million bucks in gross revenue and I was kind of tired of it. I was tired of being the guy because it’s a great business to be in especially if you build it around something you’re passionate about but you it’s a treadmill you can’t get off of. You can’t sell the business-
Dan: Because you’re the guru, right?
Mike: What’s that?
Dan: Because you’re the guru, you’re the expert, people want to buy you, right?
Mike: Yeah exactly. Yeah, I can give it to my business partner, Robert, and you know he ended up selling it for pennies on the dollar essentially. So Tony Robbins can never sell his company.
Dan: I guess without Tony, there will be no Unleash The Power Within, right?
Mike: Yeah, well you’re right. People think you’re in the publishing business but you’re not, you’re in the leadership business and you just can’t sell a company like that so once again it’s a treadmill you cannot get off of and I was kind of tired of it, I wanted to do something different. So I was inspired by Peter Diamand, this is work, and around all of the exponential technologies that have started to come online over the last 10-12 years, the decentralization of so many different industries and I live right across from the corporate headquarters of Whole Foods here in Austin so every single day I’m at Whole Foods walking through the produce section, buying groceries, and I thought it was absolutely horrific that you essentially have to be wealthy in America in order to eat food that is not covered in poison and I just think that’s the most ridiculous thing ever. So for me I saw kind of a convergence of technologies and timing coming into play in the agricultural industry where the technologies essentially coming online to allow the automation of farming, specifically through hydroponic format and obviously people are into health and fitness more than ever, they’re into detoxing more than ever, they want to buy clean organic food but it’s just expensive.
So how can we decentralize the agricultural industry was the question that I started to ask myself and how do you reduce food cost by 80-90%? Well the only way to do that is to essentially decentralize it like Air BNB did for the hotel industry, Uber did for the taxi industry, 99 Designs did for design work or Odesk did for outsourcing tech work, right? You get rid of all of the intermediate infrastructure. So if you want to reduce food cost by 80-90%, it’s really easy. You get rid of the farm, you get rid of the tractors, you get rid of the farmers, you get rid of the 18-wheelers, you get rid of the processing plants, you get rid of the grocery stores. So how do you do that? Well at the end of the day I was like okay, we have to start and end the entire grow process in somebody’s home and if we can decentralize it and put three square feet of organic farm in everybody’s house, we don’t need these fields upon fields of farmland that are being polluted on a daily basis.
So I had no idea how to grow plants, never had a garden, I didn’t know anything about hydroponics, I didn’t know anything about building a technology platform so I literally started this journey by buying five books on hydroponics off of Amazon and by going to Odesk and I had kind of a vision in my head for what I thought the product could look like and I picked up a picture of a nice kitchen off of iStock Photo or whatever and I went to hire the designer on Odesk and I said, “Hey, put this in Voss water bottle here in this kitchen setting, take off the logo and fill the middle with plants and put this little logo on it and that gave me essentially a visual aid to then go jump onto Google and I started doing Google searches for industrial design companies, I’d never talked to an industrial design company, didn’t know what to ask or who to ask for, I just started cold-calling them and I said, “Hey, I’ve got this idea, can I email it to one of your account reps and go from there?” and so that little aid gave me a foot in the door in a lot of these companies who thought it was a really great idea and I eventually hired a company out of Silicon Valley, one of the top three industrial design firms in the country who’ve done a lot of really cool, high tech products and for me I wanted to build something that looked like a modern piece of art.
If Apple was going to design an automated farm for your living room or your kitchen, what would it look like? And this company specialized in creating tech products with that kind of look and feel. So that started that two to three year long process, we were all figuring this out as we went, I was literally just sketching things in a notebook, drawing ideas, trying to figure out how can you create a unit that can grow enough food to meet all of your produce needs or greens needs on a monthly basis for at least two people and how do you design a system that can have that kind of growth volume and plant volume within a given footprint or space or size constraint if you will based on the fact that it has to fit through a standard sized door frame? And that was our primary size constraint.
No matter where this thing goes, it has to fit through the smallest standard size door frame there or else someone is not going to be able to get in their house and it’s just going to be a disaster. So that gave us our basic size constraint and then we just played with all kinds of geometry and angles based the amount of space we would need for the plants, the amount of space we would need for lighting, the angles on the lighting and all of that crazy stuff and eventually just, you know, over the course of a year and a half put together a working prototype which I still have a few feet away from here in my living room and that was an interesting process. I like to tell people that you’re going to pay your stupid tax one way or the other when you get into anything new and option A is you’re either going to pay for your stupid tax in the form of education, you’re going to pay money for courses, for consulting, for help and expertise or you’re going to pay in the form of mistakes because you didn’t go get those things.
Dan: Correct, correct.
Mike: You know for me we had a great design team but no one on their team had ever worked with hydroponics or growing plants either so we were missing one key skill set which was the actual horticulture side or agricultural side if you will and that was a huge mistake because we had to go back and redesign things and shift things and at the end of the day I ended up putting in at least a million dollars personally to get that prototype made and then about 2 years in, I got to a point where I was like this is exhausting because to make a million dollars in cash if you’ve got a profitable business let’s say that’s 20 to 30 percent profitable which is very, very, very high profit margin for the average business that you’ll typically only find in internet info publishing, you’re still looking to get a million dollars in cash flow, you’re looking at a business that has grossed 4-5 in sales to end up with a million in profit that you can then go put into another project, right?
So that’s a lot of money and I was like okay guys, this has been a year and a half, 2 years, I’m a million dollars into this, how much more is this going to take to get to production ready? We’ve got to go through tooling which I didn’t know about when I first started this thing, we’ve got to go through safety testing and we’ve got to design the boxes, we’ve got to build the website, the shopping cart, the customer service team and at this point I still don’t have a single employee, I just have the design firm that I’ve outsourced this to and they came back to me and they were like, “Well, probably you’ve got another 2 and a half million,” I was like, “S**t.”
Dan: And that we don’t know, it’s just rough figures, right?
Mike: Yeah, yeah exactly. When I first started this I thought, you know, the estimate was like 500 grand, right? Now I’m looking at 3 and a half mill at best estimate with a mill already in and that left me with really one option which was to go raise money and did I want to do that? I don’t know, not really but at the same time a primary competitor in the space, they’re called Click and Grow, had been around 7 years but they only had a little countertop system that grew three plants. It grew basil and mint and that’s cool but that doesn’t solve the problem, it’s not putting food on people’s plates at a reduced cost at scale. Well they were backed by Y Combinator, seven years old that had a staff of twenty people and what I didn’t know is that they’d been working on for the last two years on much bigger systems.
So right around that time when I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do with EverGrow, which is the name of the product, these guys come out with three new products in the span of three months, a system that grows nine plants, thirty five plants and fifty one plants and frankly they have a better business model; they sell little seed cups like your coffee cups which is great from a renewable revenue standpoint but they didn’t need to have all of the sensors and tech that we put in our systems because of that either. So their thirty five plants system compared to my thirty six plants system would retail for 1000 dollars and mine would have to retail for 3000 dollars. So here now I’ve got this competitor who’s got 20-30 million dollars in funding and a team and a seven year head start has now instantly come out with
Dan: With a competitive priced product.
Mike: A much more competitive priced product. It didn’t look as good as EverGrow, but they beat us in every other category. So now I’m like well, I can’t go raise money in good faith from people I care about knowing that we’re going to be second best in the market at this point. So I’m like, “What do I do?” So I end up calling the founder of Click and Grow, having a few conversations with him and I end up investing six figures into them during one of their bridge rounds that they were raising and so at that point I pulled the plug on EverGrow, wrote off my million dollar loss, invested in Click and Grow and my hope and expectation is in five to seven years when they have an exit I’ll make my million bucks back. It was a very, very interesting project; one I’m super proud of because we actually did it. I literally am very proud of the fact that I went in with this massive game changing idea in an industry that I’ve never been a part of and literally from the ground up took it from an idea to a living, working device that’s in my house right now. In that aspect it was really cool, at the same time I’d love to have my million bucks back.
Dan: You’ll get it back one day.
Mike: Yeah, you know, it’s something I had to do because I would have spent the rest of my life wondering and regretting if I had not, right? So I pulled the plug I think on that about nine months ago, you can go to Evergrow.com and I put up a whole video on kind of the entire story, you can see the system and kind of a retake of what I just mentioned but I think it’s a good lesson learned for entrepreneurs who are afraid of failing or whatever it may be. For me, instead of putting up a victory for sale video for the system, I’m putting up a, “Hey, I struck out,” kind of a deal. But if you look at the comments below it, you’ll find that all it did was increase the emotional equity that I have with my audience because I’m taking them through my journey for better or worse, being transparent and authentic with them and they’re just unbelievably grateful that I’m willing to do that and it just builds an even stronger bond, right? So there’s a lot of positive and upside that you can take advantage of if you’re willing to just be authentic.
Dan: I’m curious about your perspective. Here’s what I’ve learned, I think maybe you think alike and agree with this as well because from the information publishing business, what I’ve learned is it’s a great cash business because the margin is good and you can make a lot of money with relatively very little cost and you can scale that pretty quickly. I’m fortunate that once I made the money and we sort of went through the same thing, the car, the house and all that stuff, right? Blowing the money. Okay, now you know you got to save it. It’s one thing to make it, it’s a whole other thing to keep it.
Mike: Yeah, yeah absolutely.
Dan: And then and good (INAUDIBLE[00:31:26.25]) on the profit of putting into other, lack of a better word, like real businesses? It has nothing to do with me, it’s jewelry, it’s real estate, it’s those more tangible assets, right? I’m fortunate to do that and I figured that for me, the both worlds that I know the information side, the personal branding side, that’s good. It’s almost I look at it not as a business, I look at it as a skill. You can speak, you can sell, that’s a skill that we have that brings an income but when you convert that into tangible assets or build net worth, what’s your take on that? And I also want to have you talk a little about Tiger 21 as well.
Mike: Yeah well, the ability to make money on demand is a skill set and it’s a skill set that’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in the fact that you can do that, but in my experience it’s been a curse because you don’t necessarily have the same amount of respect for money that you would otherwise because, you know, “Oh, I’ll put 500 grand into this,” or I’ll go buy that or whatever it may be because I know if I need money I can just go make more and that’ll work for a little while but you know as you start to get older, it gets tiring to have to do that or to put yourself in positions where you weren’t as responsible with your money as you should have been or conservative.
So for me that’s a lesson I’ve had to learn as I’ve gotten older which is the fact that it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep. So yeah, for those of you who are just getting started maybe you’re making your first million bucks this year, all I can suggest is to put a plan in place; a financial plan in place for your life when it comes to saving, investing, spending and a charitable giving side to it and if all you’ll do is put a plan in place, you’ll succeed. If you follow the plan, you will absolutely succeed. If you don’t put a plan in place, you’ll spend the money and that’ll lead to a less desirable result so that’s the biggie.
Dan: And I think sometimes entrepreneurs that we think although you might have the phenomenal year of that product or that tipping point where okay, this is awesome and sometimes entrepreneurs, this is what I’ve learned, I thought before it’s all because of me that my ability and my skill and my vision and my team that I’m able to pull this off, as I get older kind of the whole factor of it I’m like yeah, you know what, that maybe is like 20%. A lot of that is timing, a lot of that is marketplace, a lot of that it’s not just because of my skill and ability.
Dan: It is a factor, right? And we don’t always have those wins and there’s ups and downs and that’s one thing that why I have so much respect. You share the good, the bad, the ugly side of business. It’s not always we all win all the time, it doesn’t always happen.
Dan: Right? And what about your involvement with Tiger 21? In case like for listeners who don’t know what Tiger 21 is, maybe give them like a one minute overview and why is it such a powerful social networking group?
Mike: So Tiger 21 is a like you said kind of a social group or a mastermind group for essentially high net worth individuals who are trying to figure out, they’ve basically had their exit, they’ve made their money and they’re trying to figure out how to invest it wisely and what to do with it from a legacy perspective whether it’s family planning, asset protection, philanthropy, whatever it may be. So Robert and I were the founding members of The Austin Chapter three years ago and The Austin Chapter is a little bit different. In most Tiger 21 groups, you’re going to find the average age of the members is in their fifty’s or sixty’s, in Austin the average age of our members is forty’s fifty’s. It’s definitely on the younger side, all of us are still active building businesses, we’re all founders and we’re in our kind of prime revenue generating years but at the end of the day the value that I get out of it is deal flow.
So from an investment perspective we get pitched every single monthly meeting by at least one or two businesses that have been vetted but by Tiger and it could be in all kinds of industries; real estate, oil and gas, tech, pharmaceutical, who knows? All kinds of stuff, but just sitting through dozens of those pitches I’ve learned a ton but being the youngest member in our chapter and the least successful by a long way, the biggest value I get out of it personally is that I’m surrounded by individuals who are more successful than me and that’s a really rare opportunity. If I’m in my circle, I’m usually one of the most successful people and there’s just not a lot of value in that. It might feel good but you’re not going to grow from it or learn anything from that so for me I like being the dumbest guy in the room for once but that’s what Tiger’s about.
Dan: That’s awesome and just to give our listener, what’s the criteria to be a member? Because I know that Tiger at this point is letting in 500 members who they manage over I think 50 billion in personal assets, something like that.
Mike: Yeah, it’s one of the most concentrated groups wealth wise in the world which is pretty cool.
Dan: Very private, right?
Mike: What’s that?
Dan: Very private.
Mike: Yeah, so the minimum criteria to be considered for a membership is at least 10 million in net worth and other than that basically you would go potentially get a chance to sit in at one of your local chapters’ meetings and you’re going to be vetted by the group and they’re either going to say, “Yeah, we like John,” or, “No, we don’t,” just from a personality fit perspective, right? The group gets really, really close because you find out everything about everybody’s stuff. You go through one member’s financials where everybody gets a binder of your everything about your financials on a monthly basis.
Dan: Oh wow
Mike: Well, you do that once a year as an individual but you’re doing that if there’s twelve members in that group every single month you’re doing essentially what’s called a portfolio defense and that gives everybody else in the group the chance to say, “Hey look, you’re at risk here, there’s an opportunity for you here,” and just get kind of a group mind think if you will around somebody’s life and things get really personal and you have to fit in to your group because you become really, really close.
Dan: It sounds to me it’s like a very high, super high level mastermind group. Not just you get ideas but like you said you look at the portfolio, the financials, that gets very personal right?
Mike: You get very close to the guys, you talk about the problems people have in their marriage or their family or things like that and you start taking trips together and it becomes a really cool group.
Dan: And the membership fee is how much?
Mike: I believe it’s 30 or 35 thousand a year. At least it was when I joined and if that’s on the high end then it’s not something you should be considering. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re in the building phase right now, you are much better served if you join EO than Tiger. You’re going to get the most value from Tiger if you’ve had an exit, you’ve sold your business or you’ve got, again, at least 10 million bucks laying around that you’re looking to protect or to invest or to diversify, whatever may be and then you’ll get a lot of value from it. If not, EO is a better choice.
Dan: And then also, I think they talk about the age group. What about businesses in terms of Tiger 21, are they mostly in financial or?
Mike: Oh, everything. I think a lot of it depends on the location. I think in the New York group, you’re going to find a lot of guys in the financial sector. Here in Austin, it’s very diverse. We’ve got people from almost every industry.
Dan: I saw also now we have a pretty good picture of your career. I’m curious if you could, that’s a question I ask my guests, if you could travel back just imagine like time travel back to one of your early start up days and just have a ten minute conversation with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with intentions of saving yourself mistakes, headaches. What would you tell yourself?
Mike: You know, I wouldn’t pursued building businesses that had an exit opportunity first if I could go back, I would have focused on that again because if you’re going to spend 5, 6, 7 years of your life building something it’s really nice if you’re building an asset that can essentially be sold and you can retire off of that if you wanted to. So the companies that I built previously haven’t had that opportunity which I think was something I would change if I could go back and do that again and then have a plan when it comes to your finances. What are going to do with the money once you start to make it because again without that plan, you’re going to find ways to get rid of it very quickly so those would be the two biggies for me for sure.
Dan: And Mike, so are you still active in the whole internet marketing space because I know you do a little bit of the coaching, little bit of mentoring through your Mike Dillard mentoring I know that you’re still active in that. I guess for someone who wants to learn from you obviously they can go to your podcast but are some of the other ways that they could do that?
Mike: So Mike Dillard dot com is kind of where I’ve got everything, EverGrow is on there, Self-made Man is on there, but we’ve been working behind the scenes for about a year now on turning Self-made Man, after EverGrow Self-made Man became my primary project, and again how can I turn Self-made Man into a business that I can sell at some point in the future is the goal for me. So for about a year now we’ve been working behind the scenes on turning it into that, building the tech infrastructure to allow that to become essentially its own brand that I’m not really a part of. I’ll host the podcast but that’ll essentially be it and so we’ll be launching that here in February.
Dan: Oh, nice.
Mike: Yeah so I can’t go into too much detail because I haven’t told anyone anything about it yet.
Dan: Oh if you’re listening you’re the first to hear about it, a little glimpse!
Mike: Yeah, we’re getting close but the whole goal is to essentially build a big platform that serves entrepreneurs and that really becomes a competitor to Entrepreneur.com or any of those other success dot com kind of publications. So that’s just a couple of weeks away, we’re working on that every single day and have been for the past year and looking forward to giving birth.
Dan: Mike, I don’t know if you’ve realize this but it feels to me now there’s a term called disruptor, right? It feels to me that every industry you get into, the home business industry, the investment world, that’s kind of what you do. You see a sort of way of things being done, “Yeah, you know what? I think I can change that up.”
Mike: Yeah, I mean it doesn’t interest me to copy what other people are doing constantly, right? That works really well for the information publishing space because it’s a very simple business, you don’t necessarily want to do anything disruptive if you will but the money that those businesses have brought in have really allowed me to take some much bigger chances to do something that I think is much more unique and has an opportunity to disrupt things. It’s nice when you can build something that makes an impact and that raises the bar versus everything else that’s out there.
Dan: That makes sense. Mike, thank you so much for inspiring us today with your story and all the battlefield, the lessons you’ve learned and sharing your thoughts and ideas. I mean, we love you, thank you so much, I appreciate it.
Mike: Yeah Dan, happy to support you guys. Thanks for what you’re doing and thanks for having me on. It’s good to hear from again.