Episode #16 : Using Skills from Your Day Job to Create an Online Business with Tommy Griffith
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No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, you’ve undoubtedly faced (and hopefully conquered!) some key challenges: how do I find clients? How can I improve my product or service? What’s the optimal way for me to structure and run my business? And since entrepreneurship is a difficult but ultimately rewarding journey, it can help to get inspired by fellow business-builders to hear how they’ve made it in their industry.
Tommy Griffith is the founder of ClickMinded, a digital marketing course platform for entrepreneurs. He began the business while he was the SEO manager at PayPal and later Airbnb, eventually growing his “side project” into a complete replacement for his corporate income. He’s learned some important business lessons along the way, some of which he’s sharing with us today.
Tommy and I talk about how and why he started his business as a side project in 2008 after being inspired by the then-new wave of digital nomads and online entrepreneurs. He shares the early structure of his business, why he’s so passionate about SEO, how he used strategic business partnerships to get his business off the ground, and a lot more about the technical side of his business. Tommy also shares some valuable (and funny) stories about the mistakes he’s made as an entrepreneur, what you should keep in mind if you’re starting an online business, and how to use your current experience as a launchpad for your future success.
In this episode, we’re discussing…
How Tommy was inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Workweek and how his first business fared.
Why he started offering SEO trainings in person before moving to online teaching.
What to keep in mind when considering business partnerships to help grow your business.
Why working for PayPal and Airbnb didn’t totally prepare Tommy for the realities of the SEO world and running his own business full-time.
How he transitioned out of his full-time work as an SEO manager and into teaching online digital marketing courses for entrepreneurs.
Tommy’s Top Tips:
Start building a client base offline first - instead of trying to build a company entirely from the solitude of your own home, get out and meet people in your community who are interested in what you do. MeetUp.com is a great way to find people who might be your first users!
Consider business partnerships – this can be controversial, but offering a cut of your revenue in exchange for distribution of your product or a physical space to offer your courses might be a great investment.
Think about your exit velocity – how does what you’re doing right now prepare you for your next venture? Maybe you can talk to coworkers about what they’re looking for in a product. Maybe your current role offers you learning opportunities. Try to maximize the knowledge you’ll take away to your side hustle.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Like what you’re hearing on The Richer Geek? Have questions you want me to cover? Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know – I’d love to hear from you!
+ Read the transcript
Nichole Stohler 0:01
Welcome back to the Richer Geek podcast. Did you ever read the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss? Well, today's episode is all about having an online business as originally inspired by Tim's book. Our guest today is Tommy Griffith, who's the founder of ClickMinded, which is a digital marketing course for entrepreneurs. Tommy was previously a SEO manager at PayPal and Airbnb. What I love about Tommy's story is that he's realistic about the challenges that he went through in building his business. But the other thing is, it's inspirational that Tommy took something that he was already doing for his full time job and realized that he could build a business out of it. I am thrilled to have Tommy Griffith from ClickMinded on our show today. Welcome, Tommy.
Tommy Griffith 1:33
Nichole, thanks for having me. Really appreciate it.
Nichole Stohler 1:35
You have a extremely interesting background, you've done a lot of interesting things. I'd love to have you kind of take us through who you were working for what you're doing and kind of that overall background. Just kind of tell us a little bit about yourself.
Tommy Griffith 1:51
Yeah, sure. So my main business is search engine optimization. I've been doing SEO for about 10 years, I kind of have done a number of different things leading up to that the last eight years of my life. So I was doing kind of more core pretty SEO stuff, managed search engine optimization, and PayPal and then Airbnb. And what we're probably going to talk a lot about today is my side project called Quick minded. It's just funny, I still call it a side project, even though it's been my business for two years full time. But yeah, click mine is a digital marketing training platform for entrepreneurs and marketers. It's an online course, we train people on how to do how to do digital marketing. I guess I got my start in 2008. Like a lot of people did sort of in this industry reading four hour workweek. Did you ever read the four hour workweek?
Nichole Stohler 2:38
Tommy Griffith 2:40
I'm actually curious, have you have a lot of people either on a show or people you work with that? Do these kind of side income things? Do they get their start with the four hour workweek? Do you see that often?
Nichole Stohler 2:51
Oh, that's a good question. I have mostly, at this point in the show, mostly folks kind of doing more brick and mortar types of things. I see that that's a that's a great question.
Tommy Griffith 3:03
Yeah, so that's how I got my start was like, reading this book. Now, it's a little out of date . But it's sort of the catalyst that kicked off a lot of remote businesses, which is doing an internet business, outsourcing your staff earning sort of while you sleep sort of thing. And that's how kind of how I got my start was reading that book, and then trying a bunch of things that mostly that didn't work, and then ultimately one sort of hit.
Nichole Stohler 3:26
Fantastic. It's such a great background. And by the way, the trying a bunch of things that didn't work. I think that happens in in really all business definitely happened for us in real estate even so we're talking about physical property, but trying the first time and not having it work. So I think everyone can relate to that. I'd love to have you share a little bit of how you originally got started with your side project while you were working full time.
Tommy Griffith 3:53
Yeah, sure. I think the big catalyst for how it got started was because I put myself in a lot of debt. And this is a lot of people don't like to talk about this, I was absolutely blessed and gifted. My parents paid for university, I came out of college with no debt, which I know is very, very lucky. And I ended up putting myself into a bunch of debt by trying my first business. I'd read four hour workweek I tried to small business is actually a funny story. But I wrote a, I wrote an E book, I wrote a very dorky ebook, and try to get it ranking in Google. That's how I learned search engine optimization. I started selling the book for $10. Nobody bought it, I dropped the price to $5. Nobody bought it. And then I increase the price to $47. And 250. people bought it. So I was like, What internet marketing is cool, right. And so that was the first catalyst to try business. A friend of mine and I, we had this idea, we took out a bunch of loans from family and friends, we worked on it for a year, and I just did everything wrong, everything wrong, and ended up you know, eventually quitting giving up, going back with my head down back to you know, I was traveling to the diamond back to the US. But I had spent a year learning digital marketing. And ultimately, it was just kind of right place right time, PayPal was hiring an SEO manager I applied. I had been doing SEO nonstop on this failed business for a year and a half or two years. And it ended up like what do they call it failing up failing, failing into a job kind of thing. And that's sort of how I moved to the Bay Area to start managing SEO at PayPal, I had all this debt, and sort of was like, okay, you know, I have this job. But I have to start paying that some of that debt that I acquired, and actually told us other people before I think the single biggest motivator you could ever have is being miserable and in debt. Because sometimes when you're very comfortable, it's hard to want to wake up on that Saturday morning and work on that side project, something like that, you know, so I was living in a tiny little shoe box of an apartment in San Francisco. Expenses are high, taxes are high. So salary was low, you know, the debt was still there. And so I tried a million different things, so many different ideas, right? Some of them would last a couple months, some of them would last a day. There's an ongoing joke we have with some of my friends were like, you know, you're kind of a neurotic sort of idea tester based on how many unused domain names you have in your web hosting account. I'm sure a lot of your audience can relate to this, like, why did I buy that domain three years ago? Am I going to renew your account, renew it for another $10 and never do anything with it? Right? My domain hosting account is just a graveyard of these things. I mean, there's so many click Lana was the one that worked, my boss actually asked me to do like a SEO training course a physical in person training for my colleagues. And it was a two hour course put it together got a lot of really good feedback on it and decided to start doing it on the weekends. So I was physically training startups on Saturday mornings in San Francisco, it would be one to five people kind of all day. All you can SEO, right. And so they've come in and out physically prepare for the lecture, look at their domains and do this really comprehensive sort of in person training. And that's, that's how it got started.
Nichole Stohler 7:12
So it's interesting how the two are connected. So the fact that you learned SEO, which then helps you get a job, then while you were working in that, then you were teaching people about that. And so that was became like a side project. But they're very closely related is so interesting. I don't have that mine are not related at all. So I think that's quite fascinating that you, you had a skill set that was high in demand, and you capitalize on that.
Tommy Griffith 7:44
Yeah, and actually, I have a quote here that I really like to talk about, I wrote about it in this post that kind of summarized the last two years of my life. But there's this idea. It's called exit velocity. I really liked this idea, especially because my first attempt was a failed business where I do went about it the wrong way, I went into an industry I had nothing to do with, I was very young and dumb. And I actually get myself even too much time to work on the business just like did everything wrong. But the second time around, I accidentally did what's now known a friend of mine, his name's Dan Andrews, he runs an entrepreneurship group called dynamite circle. And he coined this term in the book was called exit velocity. His definition is the amount of professional and entrepreneurial momentum you have when quitting your job. And starting a new venture. Momentum can come from a variety of sources, investment, capital, experience, anchor clients, industry knowledge and connections, aka unfair advantage. It doesn't necessarily apply to everyone, but it's very helpful for me, like if you think about your side project, it's like a cannon, right. And you know, if you have no momentum, no running start, you know, no relation to the industry, that cannon is just like pointed horizontally. But the you know, the more connections you have, the more expertise you build up, the more brand leverage you can have you point that cannon kind of more up, and up and up and up and up so that when you actually launch, you have that at all compound. So yeah, I was in this weird situation where I was managing search engine optimization at big brand companies, but then also was not only learning every day, using that brand leverage, I didn't realize this at the time, I'm just looking back and thinking like, that's how it worked was I sort of, you know, I was getting paid by someone else to do my work every day, but also was taking components of that and compounding it into my side projects.
Nichole Stohler 9:26
And you had credibility because of your title and who you were working for whether it was PayPal or Airbnb at the time? How did you transition from this Saturday, all day? In person training to something that was more online?
Tommy Griffith 9:42
Yeah. So this was, what's the term, the trough of sorrow? Have you ever heard that term? Like, you know, anytime you start a side project, or a business, you can get this initial bump of enthusiasm and revenue and sales, and then this devastating crash immediately after, that's where most people give up. So I really excited about this business. And then after two or three classes, I realized that it was terrible, was a terrible business. I was physically training in person, right, I would do a revenue share with the CO working spaces because I didn't have the money to book places and then get really stressed out about filling them in, people would come in and you know, I we were charging and give you the numbers. I was charging $500 per person. And so all day Saturday, and so when I would have classes of four or five or six people, it was great. But anytime I had a class with one person, it was terrible. And I had this moment, did a talk about this once and I called it this moment in time, sad Saturday, I had this guy emailed me, he said, Hey, I want to come in. I want to learn SEO. But I can only come in on this certain day. And it's only me. And so it was I remember that. So clearly, it was my 26th birthday. It was a Saturday morning. He was like, Can I come in? And I'm like thinking about all this debt I had. I'm like, Okay, fine. You can come in. He's like, give a promo code. And yes, okay, here's the promo code. And then he came in. And but I did the math. It was terrible, right? Like, there was a 5050 revenue share with the CO working space. You know, I printed out materials, I would buy the guy lunch, right, like event, right fees, PayPal fees. You know, I spent four hours preparing for it all. I did all the math, and I was making about $12 an hour and separate San Francisco minimum wage is $13 an hour. And so I was like, This is not working. What ended up happening. And the problem was that I loved it. I love teaching. I'm really passionate about search engine opposition's very dorky, but I try and talk to people about it in bars, they run away from me. So when I get people to pay me to talk about it, like, it's great, right? I ended up being really right place right time with this kind of online learning Renaissance that we're in now. So there's 2012, you to me was sort of just starting to take off. And the SEO courses either weren't that good, or there are non existent. You know, I had done 10 live SEO courses back to back to back to back you to me was actually based in San Francisco, and I sort of put together the first one on you, to me, that ended up changing the business entirely and the pivot to online. And then since then, yeah, it's been it's crazy. But it's been about seven years since then. And every year we've refilled the course and updated and obviously grown and grown and grown and grown. And there's a lot of details there in between. But the basic idea was once it became an online course, I started using it at PayPal to train up my internal team on SEO, I said that I start using an Airbnb to train up my teams, everyone that joined the SEO or the growth team at Airbnb took the course. And then three years ago, it ended up eclipsing my salary at Airbnb, so came higher than my salary that I eventually left. And now we do we have seven digital marketing courses, I have a small staff, and it's kind of an online product from there.
Nichole Stohler 12:50
It's such a fascinating story. And I love how you did the math and found out that that it wasn't working for you to do in person and then transition to online. I'm imagining that some people listening may have something that they're also passionate about teaching, and whether it's in person or online, actually, let's talk about the in person. Because if they're thinking, Hey, you know, I, I'd like to maybe test this out, that's probably a good way to test are people interested? And you can kind of fine tune what are the things that people ask about? So you found a co working space, you did a revenue share with them? How did you actually find clients? What did you do to advertise - and this is more of like the in-person non SEO, or maybe you use SEO, I don't know.
Tommy Griffith 13:33
You're going to make fun of me for this. And all of your listeners are going to make fun of me for this a lot. So as a lot of people know that are familiar with search engine optimization, SEO takes time, right? It's a it's a great channel, it's free, but it takes a lot of time. And so while I was kind of waiting for my rankings to go up, and yeah, SEO is a massive part of our business. More than 90% of our traffic now comes from search engine optimization, but at the time when you have a brand new website that's a few days old. You're exactly right. How do you find clients? And that's the chicken and egg. So my first attempt at this, I went old school, I printed out 3000 flyers. And I physically walked around to every single lamppost in San Francisco It was like a cold December dad his big jacket on and I had duct tape and I was snipping them at the bottom. You know like you see those posters like at the laundromat or like the babysitter's that do that was posting them on every single lamp post. And halfway through, I was like, I think I did this exact same tactic when I was 11 years old, trying to mow lawns. It was terrible. It was a terrible idea. It didn't work. It drove no client. But the most fascinating part about it was I had some friends that saw me doing this and they started helping me, cut them out, cut out the flyers, and one of my friends said is I'm never gonna forget this. He said, this is gonna work. And and I said, What? And he said, maybe not this tactic, but your your business is going to work. And he and what he was alluding to was that everyone just talks, especially in San Francisco, I don't know if it's specific to the Bay Area. But everyone's got an app idea. Everyone thinks they're genius. Everybody, you know, has a PowerPoint presentation that they're ready for investors. But no one's willing to be a dummy and go around posting up flyers to try and make it work. So it was really fascinating because it didn't work at all, but actually got a lot of momentum and energy behind it. Because like, I tried it right, and then it was on to the next thing. But now to seriously answer your question. The way I got all the first customers, it actually was through partnerships. And there's a lot of really controversial advice around this. But all of my first couple of deals were through partnerships. So I'd find co working spaces that would do 5050 revenue shares, you to me would be an example of a partner, right? They take a cut of everything, the CO working space and take a cut of everything. Another partner, I had a company called app Sumo. They are Yeah, Groupon for nerds, basically Groupon for digital products. And they were another example as well, where we work with them, and sort of give them big revenue shares in exchange for distribution. There's really interesting feedback around this. Because anytime you talk about this, especially non entrepreneurs or people that aren't really in the game, the first thing everyone asked is, what's the revenue share? How much are they charging you? Right? It's kind of logical, but then they always say, Oh, that's a bad deal. Oh, you're giving away too much? Oh, why? You know, why are you paying the CO working space that much? I have a friend who has a basement or Oh, why are you doing that you're like, it's always about the margin. And when you have no traction, and no users, I'm absolutely convinced that the margin is actually really not something you should be worrying about as much, especially if you have a digital product. So at first, I thought I was humble enough to like, take a bad deal. But later on, I realized I was being smart in that case, because I was sort of leveraging up to the next level, right, the next platform like No, I wasn't making a ton of money, but I was getting my first users. Right. And so that ended up being really helpful.
Nichole Stohler 17:01
I think everybody has to start somewhere. And it's interesting that you talked about those partnerships that they bring an audience or a knowledge or a skill set or a physical location that you wouldn't have otherwise. So I I agree that you need to start and then grow. And then you can be maybe in a position where you're negotiating a little bit more aggressively. How did you structure your side business? Like, did you from the minute that you started teaching physically in person? Was that something that you had structured into an official business? Or was it more further down the road?
Tommy Griffith 17:39
Yeah, really good question. So the business started, I didn't worry too. And I actually love talking about this stuff. Because now I'm a big nerd about how to structure different things, and you know, tax stuff while I was traveling and different state and being when you live in California, you have to be relentless about this stuff, because they, they really go after you when I did live in Colorado. Yeah, so I started as a sole proprietorship, and probably didn't register until yet the first, maybe after two or $3,000, then I sort of registered it, and then turned into an LLC, maybe by the third year or so. But actually find it fascinating. How many people over prioritize this, and I was very guilty of it as well, caring about tax, corporate structure, all this kind of stuff way earlier than you should be, seems to be very, very common in this sort of a negative term. But the term entrepreneur is kind of thrown around sometimes. And I just see this so much like people caring so much about, yeah, the revenue share with partners, the tax rate that you're getting based on where you live all these other things way before, they should, but it really should be users sales, solving your customers problems like first, second, third, fourth, and fifth place for the first at least year, but probably you been even more than that.
Nichole Stohler 19:01
Perfect. Thanks for it, I think it's a great point. And people get hung up on other things, too, like logos and names, and none of that, really -
Tommy Griffith 19:10
We should do a whole podcast on just that stuff. I mean, like, there's so many red flags, and I'm only You're such a pro in this because I was so guilty of this myself, logos and corporations, the perfect domain, all this stuff, all this stuff is you have to ring the register first. And it's the problem is is because it's sexy. It's like people like to do that stuff. They like to pass out their business card, they like to talk about their idea. And it's not the hard work. And that's why people do it. It's like it's the resistance, it's them avoiding the picking up the phone to do cold call or going around and posting up your flyers, even though it's not going to work. So it's a lot of it's a lot of resistance to the hard work, unfortunately.
Nichole Stohler 19:51
Great point. How did you manage your schedule when you were working full time? And you were building the online business?
Tommy Griffith 20:00
Yeah, that's a really good point. And I think that I'm actually I have a lot of strong opinions on this one. So when I first was trying to get out of this debt that I had caused for myself, and I was trying a bunch of different ideas. Yeah, here's a funny example. Like, I had this idea for an iPhone app, lead generation site. And so you know, it was 2011, iPhone app development was really starting to take off, lots of people had different ideas, and they were looking for iPhone app developers to get quotes from. And so I looked at the search volume, I had this idea, like, okay, I'll get a site ranking for the term iPhone, app developers, or iPhone app development companies, grab all the leads, and then you know, sell the leads, right. And I worked on it a little bit, it started working, I got it ranking really high. And I just hated it. Like I hated the business. And every morning when I would wake up on Saturday morning, I would just knock it out of bed, right? I was just like, so grumpy and didn't want to do it. And I was very not motivated at all. Even though the business was working like everything I Mike, my guests was correct. And everything was working. And it probably could have been something but like, I just wasn't personally motivated by it, right? And I'm not saying that it's like, I'm honorable or anything like that. I just personally wasn't fired up on Saturdays, right? And so I found that this whole, like, how do you manage your time thing, it all disappears. This is so cliche, you're gonna make fun of me, but it's all disappears. When you love what you're doing, right? Or at least when you're when you're solving your own problems. I guess there's another way to say it, right. And so I've gone both routes where you have a business, that's like a good viable opportunity based on the numbers and something that you actually like. And the problem with the side projects as like, in the early days, the single biggest engine is you, right, like you have to be, of course, later on, you want to have staff and you want to processes and all these things, but like you are the driving force at the beginning. And if you are not motivated. It's really, really hard. And this kind of stuff that you've asked around, like time management, and where do you find the time and if you have kids on that, like, yes, it's a thing. But it all sort of disappears if you love it, if it's more of a hobby than anything. So for me cook minded was idea number 15. And the time management stuff almost sort of disappeared, because I would wake up at five in the morning on Saturdays and run to the coffee shop and work on it, because I really, really, really enjoyed it. So my hack to this, again, super dorky is do what you love, or at least tangentially related to what you love. Because it ends up solving a lot of the problems of like, Okay, I need to allocate time.
Nichole Stohler 22:34
It's a good point, I think it's interesting, because I have also had someone on who talked about, you don't necessarily do something you're passionate about you do something that you know is going to consistently make money like owning a laundromat, people are not passionate about it. But it's I think it's different because you're talking about the online world. And it is a constant evolving, you have to keep up on trends. As opposed to always laundromat, you just had to have picked the right location, and you need to be priced appropriately. And you need to have you know, the right kind of staff. Other than that, you really are not having to constantly tweak it like you are an online business, which is exciting, but also can be challenging. If you don't like it, and you're not super interested in the topic. It's like writing blog posts about something you don't really enjoy. It's pretty hard to do.
Tommy Griffith 23:27
Exactly. And I think the thing to keep in mind is there's no one right way different people are driven by different things. I know plenty of people that have boring businesses, but they love operations, they love writing processes. They love that stuff. Even if they don't the laundromat is a great example of that. They're not necessarily passionate about laundry, but they love looking at the operational processes of the books and things like that. It just depends on how you're driven. And I was just once I finally started getting honest with myself, I wasn't driven by the other things. And so I found the piece of it that I was driven by and it's a very weird combination. I really love search engine optimization. It feels like a video game to me. I really love teaching. Right? I've taught for a while. And I like sharing stuff with other people that are also passionate about it. So it's just this weird triangulation of things. I'm not saying Oh, all these businesses are cool and all these businesses are boring. Only pick the cool businesses. Not at all right? It's more about being really honest with yourself because it's just it's just an advantage. It's just an unfair advantage. This guy Deval Robuchon, absolutely obsessed with me, but tech guru, follow him on Twitter, the way he describes it as when you're doing work, I'm going to butcher this quote, but it should feel like play for you. And other people should view it as a work, right? Like when people look at you, it looks like you're working but to you it's just play. And then like all that time management stuff. It's just like, what do you mean time management? It's like I'm playing kickball, right? or playing football, whatever. It just feels it just feels fun.
Nichole Stohler 24:53
Yeah, that's such a I love that such a great point. What advice would you give someone who's looking to do or your friends, your family? If you give them advice? They're looking to do a side project while working full time? What are some pieces of advice you'd give?
Tommy Griffith 25:07
Yeah, so I really like I've two strong pieces of advice. The first one is around Yeah, exit velocity like, and it's not universal. There's plenty of examples of people that don't do this. But the exit velocity stuff, which is taking what you're doing at work, and using it to some degree in what you do next. And that can be a ton of different things. The simple one is the logo, the company I work for, but like yet dog food in your product on your current customers or using your co workers to ask them questions, anything like that, right? It just because it gives you that advantage, you're getting paid by someone else. Of course, don't, you know, Don't slack at work, you still need to be contributing value every day, you still need to be an all star player, but using any of that leverage as much as possible. And it was a huge advantage for Airbnb, I put everyone you know, I didn't charge the company anything, of course, to go through my training and was training up everyone on the growth team on SEO. So the company got a big advantage out of it as well. The other thing I like, as well, it's very counterintuitive, especially if we're going to be doing an online business is I really like this idea of starting offline, I was able to get and this was this was what my early advantage was, in the beginning, all of my competitors were kids in their basement, creating an SEO course, with zero feedback, right, just creating in front of their laptop not being real about it. And I was the opposite. I started in the real world. So like when I would teach something and it wouldn't hit or it didn't connect, or people didn't like it or the joke was bad. You see it on their face right away, right. And so I started extremely small in a way that didn't scale at all. Like it did not scale at all teaching these individual people on my birthday on Saturday. And San Francisco does not scale at all. But you learn you improve the product super, super, super fast. And this is actually sort of related to what we were talking about before, which is your first users. My big hack for this that is still super underrated is meetup. com. meetup is the In my opinion, one of the fastest way to bootstrap a user base in an email list. It was true back in 2012. And it's true now. You can go to meetup com as an organizer. I think it's $15 for three months. And you can pick your topic right you pick your city and your topic. And meetup. Well then email everyone in that city that that's interested in that topic and say, Hey, by the way, this new Meetup group started, do you want to join? Yes, no. And what I did was I started the San Francisco SEO meetup in 2011. It cost me $15, meetup email, their whole user base, and I had 100 users within three days, I helped one or two happy hours for free, like picked a bar in San Francisco and said, Let's meet at this bar at 6pm and nerd out on search engines. And then that first hundred users was 100 people in my city interested in SEO, that I emailed them. That was actually one of the first prerequisites before the online course was that email, everyone said, Hey, I'm teaching this SEO course, it's normally $500. It's going to be free. But only 20 people can come. Let me know if you want to come. Everyone scrambles to get in, they all want to come. And then they give you feedback. They give you Yelp reviews, all this when I launched on you to me, I gave everyone a promo code to try it for free. I asked for review. And so it ended up becoming this really important first hundred users. But it all happened offline internet entrepreneurs, they always want to do something from within their basement. And I actually highly recommend getting out into the real world and getting that real, real feedback first, before you take it online.
Nichole Stohler 28:33
You know, it's interesting, I actually host a meetup that is real estate specific. It's for helping women invest in real estate. And if you do get I'm not to really teaching, but I am trying to bring in speakers that are specific to what they're looking to learn. And it is interesting, you're meeting amazing people as a result of it coming from all over. And I'm actually meeting different people. So I have different groups coming through and then continues to grow. So I like I like that advice. So anyone listening that has a hobby or something that you enjoy teaching. And you want to kind of get a feel for if there's a market if people want to, you know, invest their time and invest money and learning. Start a meetup, it sounds like!
Tommy Griffith 29:19
For sure. And so when you started your meetup, like was there a goal? Was there an intention? Are you just passionate about real estate and and wanting to share with other women? Or like, what was your motivation for starting it?
Nichole Stohler 29:29
Well, that's interesting. I'm actually - I volunteered to be part of its kind of a national women's group women in real estate investing. So I offered to or volunteered to start the Scottsdale Arizona chapter. And it mostly because that's something I'm passionate about. I love real estate investing. I think everybody should do it kind of like you think everybody should focus on SEO, right? It's, it's a passion of mine. And I, I really want to encourage more women to get involved in invest. So it's kind of That's for me, was it It wasn't really anything else. But it's interesting how our listeners could apply toward, you know, something that they that they're passionate about, or might want to explore.
Tommy Griffith 30:13
For sure. what you just described to me sounds like a ton of work for me, I don't know a lot about real estate, but to you, it's just play. This is what you do every day, this is what you love, right? Likewise, I doubt you would have a lot of fun talking with me at the bar about search engine optimization, right? That's probably sounds like work to you. But it's just plain to me. So it's an unfair advantage that we both have when you just sort of follow what you're genuinely sort of aligned with.
Nichole Stohler 30:36
That's a great point. Now you left your full time job in 2017. That was after five years of really working on your side project your business. Tell us about that decision. And you know what, how you made that transition.
Tommy Griffith 30:54
So that one was was pretty interesting, because I wasn't the business had Eclipse my salary a year or two earlier. So I was probably able to leave much earlier than I did. But I sort of just wasn't really done yet at work. I was in this weird position where I actually loved my job. And, you know, there was projects we hadn't finished yet. There was like some stock stuff that I wanted to finish up. I was dating someone or there's personal things. But I was so over the city, I was so over San Francisco, and I really wanted to get I've been there six years, that's a really long time. For me, I like to travel. So I was wrestling with this a lot. It was just it wasn't like is the business big enough yet, because I hate my job, which is a lot of people's Decision Matrix. But for me, it was this a bunch of different things. And by the time I left, it was just sort of more personal stuff than anything, I was just sort of ready to go. And the basic plan was go full time on my business travel for a year to and work on it kind of non stop that was sort of the decision process there.
Nichole Stohler 31:55
And you had some realizations in that transition process, kind of the differences between you know, you were working for big massive companies, right, that that had access to resources and all all kinds of things like that. What was tell us about when you were in the trenches?
Tommy Griffith 32:12
Yeah, so the first six months was absolutely brutal. And I think the first disservice I did was, I set my own expectations way too high. And I actually would give this advice anyone who's thinking about this now, the more time you give yourself, for your great escape, the more you plan it out, the more miserable you're going to be. I gave myself this home, way too long of a window, maybe about a year of planning what I was going to do next, right, so I was so excited to leave San Francisco, I was going to go to Bali, I was going to you know work on my laptop. And this idea of familiar with this term digital nomad people going abroad right to work on their businesses. And it very, I kind of romanticized it in my head, I was very excited about it. I was gonna sell everything I owned and put it on a backpack and like work on my business. And you know, surprise, surprise, reality, slap me in the face, right? I went to go film, the next version of my course, all seven courses. And I moved to Bali, I was robbed. My first day I was there, I got food poisoning all the footage. And I spent almost $15,000 on all the footage and everything was was nearly ruined because of the audio quality we had it was started raining in this warehouse we had rented. And so I'm just sitting in Bali, like looking up at the sky, I'm throwing up from food poisoning. I'm thinking about, you know, unlimited breakfast, lunch and dinner at Airbnb and the coolest people I've ever met. And you know, the bean bags and the Mac books kind of thing. And I'm just like, what am I doing? Like, why did I leave? I'm sure a lot of your audience can resonate with this. And they're working in high profile tech companies that are vicious about recruiting talent, and they, you know, a lot of tech companies are more like all inclusive resorts at this. Right. And so I'm sitting there just like whole, like collecting under this hard drive. I have a footage of busted and terrible audio and just gotten robbed by a police officer in Bali. And she's like, oh, boy, tell me what have you done. And so I started to recover from there. I was like I, you know, get yourself together. But one of the big things I realized when I was developing the product as well, on top of this was, I was incredibly overhyped. Having worked at some of these big brands, and I worked at PayPal and Airbnb, and those are kind of well known names. And people give you this false sense of authority. When you work at these big companies or people know, PayPal started, PayPal might be a bad example, because people are very grumpy about PayPal all the time. PayPal isn't as as loved, right. But Airbnb is very loved. And people would give me sort of the benefit of the doubt, you know, you go to the conference, and you have your name on the on the badge, and it says Tommy, Airbnb. And they sort of give you that benefit of the doubt. And then when I went out to go create the next version of my product, my realization was that all of these people, people in my industry and digital marketing that I'd never heard of, we're way, way, way, way better than me, they knew more, they were more articulate than me, they were doing more interesting things. And I had been behind the guardrails of the big fortresses that they castle because of the cushy sort of company thing. And this is sort of the skin in the game kind of stuff, right? Like the brutality of entrepreneurship versus being in a safe company. And so I had this realization kind of early on that, like, I have a lot of work to do, you know, I my knowledge of search engine optimization may have actually regressed in the six years, I was working at big companies, because a lot of the stuff I was doing every day wasn't transferable. Right, it was how to navigate the company was the office politics of the company. And I'm not necessarily saying anything bad about my two former employers, I'm just talking about the nature of a big organization, like a lot of the stuff you have to do is just boring. It's just shepherding stuff to the finish line. And it's not a perfect reflection of how the real world works. So once I got out, I had this image of myself in my head that was just brutally beaten down the minute I left my company, and came to the realization that like, I have a lot of work to do. So it was, it was a tough look in the mirror to say the least.
Nichole Stohler 36:14
You have such an interesting story. And I think there's probably a lot of people think, Hey, I don't want that to be me. And if so then that's fine. There's other things, you know, maybe you're not quitting your job, or you're just to do your continuing to handle something as a side project. But that's, I think it's great that you took the leap.
Tommy Griffith 36:34
I'm so glad you could laugh at my misery, Nichole, I really appreciate it.
Nichole Stohler 36:39
Exactly. Well, I think that we are coming up on our time. And I'd love to just share with listeners how they can get in touch with you and learn more and even read some of these stories that you're kind of sharing.
Tommy Griffith 36:51
Yeah, sure. Yeah, we're at ClickMinded. com, on Twitter, I'm at Tommy Griffith. And then I have a bunch of free resources for you. I could give you, if you want to put them in the show notes for people if they're interested in SEO, the SEO checklist, and digital marketing strategy guide. It's all it's all free. So I can hand those over to you.
Nichole Stohler 37:09
We will do that. Thanks so much.
Tommy Griffith 37:10
Nichole. Thanks a lot, it was a lot of fun.
Nichole Stohler 37:13
Before we sign off for today's episode, I wanted to share with you that I had the opportunity to take Tommy's course, because I don't actually know anything about SEO, I haven't had a need to it's not really part of our real estate business don't need to know it from my full time job. So while I have no intention of trying to manage SEO on my own, I did want to understand some of the fundamentals because I was looking to hire someone to work on my website. And I was also looking to give direction to different folks that I subcontract out to do different marketing pieces around the podcast itself. And I needed to be able to give folks direction around keywords. Tommy's course was really very helpful for me because I I'm a complete newbie to SEO, I didn't really understand some of the basics and the fundamentals. And he goes into all those details. But what I really like is he also included an audit that comes in handy to verify you're actually getting the service you paid for. So you can go through this audit checklist and then see did all of those pieces actually get implemented as a result of paying someone for example, to do your website. So check out click minded calm if you have any interest in learning about SEO. And then as Tommy mentioned in our show notes on the website, you'll be able to get access to those free resources that he mentioned as well. Thanks so much for tuning in. Thanks for tuning in to the Richer Geek podcast. For today's show notes including links and resources. Visit us at the richer geek calm. Don't forget to head over to iTunes, Google Play stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts and hit the subscribe button. help us spread the word by sharing with others who could benefit from listening and leave a rating and review that'll help us get the podcast in front of more people. I appreciate you. Thanks so much for listening.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
ABOUT TOMMY GRIFFITH
Tommy is the founder of ClickMinded, a digital marketing course for entrepreneurs. He was previously SEO manager at PayPal and Airbnb. He feels weird writing about himself in the third person but admits that it sounds slightly more epic.