Every business starts by presenting an idea out there that people can never forget. In this episode, Ken Courtright helps you take your first step in business—starting your first event. He talks about how you can create a big impact on your audience by working with the things that you have—from the business structure you should make and the purpose you should focus on. Extending it to your team, Ken also shares how they can help the audience throughout the event.
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This episode and every episode leading up to our event are sponsored by Digital Footprint. You can find that at DigitalFootprint.net. Once a year, our company holds an annual event. It’s fitting that this podcast is sponsored by DigitalFootprint.net because I was mentoring a group of people in Carlsbad. When I do group sessions like that, I take notes. I keep my cards. I keep 5×7 cards of tips I’m throwing out, nuggets I’m delivering. Anything that repeats, I started. I gave out a few different pointers to numerous people. To me, it’s relevant that this information gets out to the masses. I’m going to go backwards a little bit by going forward. We’re going to put on an event at a large hotel. There will be a couple of hundred business owners there.
We’re going to pick up the tab for all the food. We’re going to have speakers fly in from all over the world, from as far as London. We’re going to pay for the entertainment, we’re going to pay for a wine experience, and we are going to blow people away for four days. For the most part, we’re going to flip the bill. We charge little to get in, a couple a hundred bucks. We used to charge $3,000, but we changed our model. It is October 2016, when this event’s going to be held. Going back to 2013, our first event was held. I would like to tell the world how it happened. We’ll all get the point of this podcast. I had written my first book, Online Income: Navigating the Internet Minefield by Ken Courtright.
I get a call from a lady named Mary Glorfield. Mary heads up a large training company and she says, “I got wind of your book, Ken, and it’s the story of your first 200 websites. We have an event coming up called Guerrilla Business School. From what I’m hearing, the techniques you’re teaching in your book are exactly what our people need to hear.” I said, “Who are your people?” She says, “We’re going to have 300, 400 people there, and they are looking to learn today’s growth techniques of what works today.” I said, “My book will be perfect.” She says, “Come on out and speak for 90 minutes.” I said, “Great.” She goes, “What are you going to speak of?” I said, “I don’t know, I’ll read some chapters from the book.” She goes, “You’re not going to read from the book.” I’m like, “I’m sure I’ll put a slide deck together or something.”
She says, “No, here’s the deal.” She goes, “Don’t you speak a lot?” I said, “I’ve never spoken before in front of a group outside of a couple of universities.” She goes, “Slow down. I’m sorry, I thought you were a public speaker via this phone call.” I said, “Nope, I never spoke before.” She goes, “Here’s how this goes. You’re going to build a presentation and you’re going to give it to me over the phone. I’ll follow along with your slides. At the end, you’re going to sell something from the stage, either a course or another event or this or that. We’re going to get a percentage of what you sell. That’s how we make our money, and that way you can make some money, we can make some money and we don’t have to pay you to come in.”Always do the best you can do and with everything that you have. Click To Tweet
I said, “That’s an interesting model.” I said, “What would I sell?” She goes, “I don’t know. What products can you sell?” I said, “My products are too expensive, I wouldn’t dare throw them off your stage.” She heard the prices and she’s like, “That is expensive and that’s not going to work.” She says, “Here’s what you’re going to do, you’re going to do a three-day camp and you’re going to do teaching and training. You’re going to teach people and train people how to build or buy these large revenue-generating websites.” I said, “I’ve never done that before.” She goes, “I don’t care. You’re going to hold your event six weeks after you speak from stage. It’s going to be in the same town that you speak at.
You’re going to do it in the LAX area and that’ll work perfectly. Sell the event for about $3,000. That way when we get our percentage, it’ll allow us to have you speak.” I said, “Let me get this straight. I’m going to come out and speak in a few weeks. Six weeks after that, I’m going to fly my management team back to LA and we’re going to do a three-day seminar on how to build or buy revenue-generating websites, for our own company.” She’s like, “You got it. We get a percentage of however many people pay you however much money.” I said, “Okay.” I hung up the phone, and I built a 90-minute talk. At the end, we did a presentation about ten minutes towards, “You can give us $3,000 and we will fly our management team out and we’ll come back and train you.” Twenty-eight people came forward and gave us $3,000 and we put on our first event.
I would like everybody to be crystal clear of what our first event looked like, compared to our events today. Years later, we are a Forbes recommended can’t miss, must-attend business growth conference. The speakers get filmed in 4K, we have a huge production company that does all the filming with multiple cameras and multiple mic’s, huge screens, and it looks like a Hollywood production. It cost us more to put the event on for the weekend than my first home cost. To say elaborate is an understatement. It’s a good production. Let me share with you how the first event went. I did the presentation, and six weeks later we had our three-day event in LAX.
I ran into a problem a couple of weeks after I spoke, I didn’t realize that you should call these hotels in advance because there were no hotels in the LAX area. I had told 28 people that, “We will get back to you quickly as soon as we locked down the hotel. It’s going to be in the LAX corridor.” I didn’t realize you need to give them six months’ notice. With only three weeks to go, I’m finding myself on an airplane flying to the LAX corridor to knock on every single door of every hotel. We finally landed a hotel that had a cancellation and lo and behold, we’ve got a place to deliver our message to 28 people.
Knowing I’ve never done a presentation before or held an event before, I don’t prep any food. I have no have nothing, it’s a classroom, and there is no real screen. We found, at the last minute a small projector. It was a $300 Best Buy pocket projector. There was no audio or video. There were no microphones. There was nothing. I realized we fed everybody pizza every day for three days. I found out later you don’t do that. There are vegetarians. There are different needs. Our first event looking back, it was comical. It was a tiny little classroom, we had seven presenters and 28 people in the audience, and our team was in the back of the room. It was not an auditorium.
It was a literal classroom. It was a business classroom upstairs, in the middle of a nowhere hallway. These people must have thought this was a joke. With ten days to go, I had yet to tell the team that they’re speaking. My management didn’t realize I wasn’t the one presenting all day. They thought they were going to be in the back of the room in case people needed help with a website or something I said, “We’re all speaking. Everybody gets an hour.” What are we going to talk about? I have no idea. What are we going to talk about? The Wednesday before the first Friday, I got the first slide deck from my team to review it. It was not good. They had to redo it. The event started Friday.
Nobody had their presentations done the Monday before. They didn’t even know what they were talking about. Between the two all-nighters, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Wednesday, Thursday, when we finally got there, we scrambled. Everybody got up early Friday morning. We slammed together the Friday morning presentation and we were going long on time. The Friday afternoon sessions got canceled. That’s when we, at the last minute, came up with what later became the campfire. We were getting a little bit disheveled. There were a lot of animosities and worry about what are we going to talk Friday night on? I said, “Scrap the whole lesson plan that we had for Friday evening. Let’s all go to the bar I’ll buy everybody drinks. We’ll sit in a circle.”
I’ll go to the person to my right and say, “What is your business? What industry are you in and what’s your current business challenge?” I said, “Depending on how long that takes for the five of us, it was me, our COO, my wife, and our head marketing, Dave Conklin. We’ll see how long it takes us to answer how we would help them.” That started about 7:15 and a little bit past midnight, we were still there in that circle and nobody was leaving until we got to the last person. Everybody wanted to have their current business challenge heard and how our team, if it was us handling that, how our team would have helped there. By the time we got to the third person, I knew we were onto something. I knew that the 22 years of growth consulting, were all coming out what I call puking through our management team. We were helping many people in such a timely way that nobody could have guessed or predicted.A man with definite purpose goes through life and watches as the world step aside, come beside him, and help him with his aims. Click To Tweet
Needless to say, that campfire piece is now a real structured part of every Digital Footprint, but I can’t stress this enough. We were told, when we went to speak for the first time, “This is what you’re going to sell.” I had never sold a conference before. We were told what to do. I went on pure faith, I did a 90-minute talk, and I sold an event. I didn’t know if a single person was going to come forward and give us $3,000 to teach on something we had never taught before, 28 people trusted us. The best part of this whole thing is in the next six weeks, not me, not my brother Bill and not Mike Engstrom, our two sales reps, we didn’t call a single person that was at that event. In the three years since, without any person calling anybody in that room, 22 of the 28 people that were in that room have ended up doing some form of business with us. They did business with us because they realized, we had genuinely never put on an event before. We did the best we could with what we had, and they got so much value from that weekend, it was intimate and it worked and then we made corrections as we went.
Our next event was in a big ballroom, with a real stage, real screens, real microphones and real professionals doing AV. It wasn’t the absolute gypsy camp of our first little event in a classroom. The point of this podcast, you make the decision first and the directions and the deliverables will take care of themselves. We made a decision. We put a date on it. When you’ve made a decision and you put a date on it, it’s physically a miracle. What Napoleon Hill wrote years ago when he says, “Isn’t it amazing, that a man with definiteness of purpose goes through life and watches how the world steps aside and then even comes beside him and helps him with his aims?” That is exactly what happened with our first event. We made a decision. The world stepped aside. A hotel opened up. People opened up. They started coming to the table and said, “I’ll speak.” Members of our team came up and said, “I’ll speak, I can do a half-hour on design. I can do a have 45 minutes on how to write content.”
None of the management team delivered the best presentations. It was our subpart of our team that came forward and delivered great presentations. Our management team did a great job. Don’t get me wrong, but we had twelve talks over three days and it was all genuine from the heart. The people loved it. We made a decision. The world stepped aside and then came beside us and helped us with our aims. What does this mean for everybody? Everybody knows there’s something they should do. You know there’s something in the event you should put on, a couple of phone calls you should make to people that you cringe but you know you’ve got to call them.
You know you’ve got to either call them and apologize or you’ve got to call them and ask for the order. You’ve got to call them to borrow money to finance a deal that you know will make your company. You know there are calls you have to make. You know there are business structures you shouldn’t put in place. You know there are people you should fire that do not belong in your company, they’re not ethical, and they’re not honest. You know there are clients of yours that you know you shouldn’t let go. Here’s the point, make the decision, the directions and the deliverables will take care of themselves. One thing we did that you’ve got to write down, we made the decision.
We told the world we’re going to do it. We didn’t keep it to ourselves so we could change our minds, we spoke it to the world. We put up a website, we told the world, “This is what we’re doing. This is the date we’re going to do it.” It’s funny, how when you put yourself out there, you get hung by the tongue. If you have never read the book, Hung by the Tongue, please read it. The follow-up book, Tongue: A Creative Force is just as good, different author, but it’s considered the follow-up to Hung by the Tongue. If you want to get magical things done in your life, Hung by the Tongue, Tongue: A Creative Force, rock and roll. I hope that helps, take care.
- Online Income: Navigating the Internet Minefield
- Hung by the Tongue
- Tongue: A Creative Force