What is the one thing that you would tell your younger self?
Feelings are more important than logic. People don’t buy a car or get married on the basis of logic; they operate on feelings. When I was a young man, I used to be factually correct about most things. However, I was a fairly annoying friend and colleague to have. Reading the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie in my mid-thirties was incredibly important for me. Before reading the book, I would use my considerable linguistic skills to make myself sound right, instead of using them to make others feel good. Once I learned the completely obvious secret that “you catch more flies with honey,” everything changed for me.
What are other books and influences that you could recommend?
That is something of a difficult question, mainly because there are so many I could recommend! There is one book that I definitely have to mention: “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” by Carmine Gallo. I studied it page by page, and it has been a huge influence on how we approach communications at MAGFAST. It’s also perfectly aligned with the first book that I mentioned because it’s all about emotional impact.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
A “good” day typically involves rising early and going for a brisk 4-mile walk. It does not happen as often as it should, but I try to get some amount of exercise before I start my day. When I do this, I am brighter and sharper all day long. After a light breakfast, I typically have more important meetings from 9:00 am to around 1:00 pm. These meetings are conducted with my teams around the world, including China, Macedonia, the U.S., and Italy. It actually feels strange for me to use a phone right now, as I’m so used to working with video conferencing technology.
My productivity tends to be sporadic. If you were to look at it on a chart, it would be mostly “not” productive, with a few bursts of “off-the-charts” productivity. It’s not consistent. I basically get one-off game-changer ideas that completely transform what we are doing and get this great surge of energy, so I can run with them when they come. My productivity is related to new ways of doing things as opposed to a steady flow of productivity. There is a kind of “Seymour” value-added quality that is quirky and right out of left field, but at its best, it helps our teams go to the next level (when it doesn’t send them running for the hills!)
How do you bring ideas to life?
Using sheer life force and passion and an almost insane belief that it will come to life. Starting out, I rarely know how we’ll get to the finishing line of an idea, but the pieces tend to fill in once we all focus on the outcome. Absolute belief in that outcome is how it’s all made possible – with plenty of ups and downs, of course. Without sounding too “woo-woo,” I really do believe that when you have an intense focus on something, something out there will feel that intent and assist you. Unfortunately, it will also line up some really big lessons that you need to learn along the way, so the stars may not always appear to be aligned. Intensity of intent is key.
How long did it take you to become profitable?
MAGFAST was immediately profitable and always has been. We raised a quarter of a million dollars in our first 15 minutes after launching the business. It would be hard to find many companies that have done better. Our dollars per minute upon launch was spectacular by any standards. We were pretty pleased, but the risk managers at the credit card company had a conniption; they’d never seen anything like it from a brand new company right out of the gate!
When you were starting out, was there ever a time when you doubted whether it would work?
I always knew that if people showed up to the launch, they would love what we had to offer. My doubt was that they would show up in the first place. Starting out was terrifying in some respects. I don’t actually have any “hirable” skills. I add value in a way that is not conventional at all, and that is hard to sell to anyone. After the old company failed, I had to work on something big and give it my full attention.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Well, there is not really all that much “outside” of work at the moment. It’s pretty intense right now. I don’t really have that many significant external interests. A bit of travel, a bit of time to visit family, a good meal, a nice laugh. It’s more the simple pleasures of life for me. In 10 days’ time I’m going to Niagara Falls with my wife and younger daughter for a few days. I also have a 28-year-old daughter with whom I now have a very good relationship, though we have a long backstory that could easily have turned the relationship sour. Any time spent with family is precious to me.
So, you believe that you have found a good work-life balance so that you can spend time with your family?
I think the straight answer is that no, I have definitely not figured out the work-life balance. But at least working from home gives me more of a balance. For example, you could be in a video meeting with me, and my daughter might come and sit next to me for a time. It can even make the process run more smoothly without it being so formal and impersonal.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are looking to achieve a similar level of success as MAGFAST?
Marketing, marketing, marketing. It’s all about marketing. Unless you can sell whatever it is that you have, it’s just a hobby. I recently met to advise a British entrepreneur who has everything figured out in detail – except how to actually get visitors to his website. His website is gorgeous, but what he is doing is incredibly high risk. All of the past companies I was involved in that failed went under due to a lack of customers. Marketing is everything. Nobody cares that you make the most delicious cupcakes and a beautiful website unless they actually see it! You have to figure out a way to put it in front of people. Here’s one of the great pieces of advice that I was given and will always share: If you are not spending 80 percent of your time on marketing, you will fail. If you’re terrible at it, pay for somebody great to do it; then it can take less of your time, but should still be 80 percent of your concern.
What is the best $100 you spent recently?
I guess the best recent personal thing I can think of is buying my daughter a ticket to go to a surprise show. But I can tell you the next best $100 I will spend; it’s related to, yes, marketing, specifically using micro-geolocation. We are going to spend small amounts of money to get ads in front of our extended MAGFAST family, so they feel good all the time. If it works, you will see MAGFAST advertising targeted right down to the people who work in specific buildings. I’m good at spotting something small and leveraging it for maximum effect. This small project could have a massive impact by helping some of our teams overseas really take pride in seeing our brand.