IVZ 30 | Detours Of Entrepreneurship

 

Successful entrepreneurs make entrepreneurship look easy but it’s almost never a straight line. Before you reach any measure of success, you may have to take a detour or three. Each time that happens, a negotiation ensues between your ears. How do you respond? Do you give up or do you pivot? Do you stagnate or do you innovate? Mitch Russo has had his share of detours before becoming the successful entrepreneur he is now. A powerhouse businessman who loves to help companies scale, Mitch drew his business savvy from years of using his resourcefulness to find possibilities and go after them. Joining Christine McKay in the Venn Zone, Mitch shares some of the most important things he learned about entrepreneurship and negotiations from his long and winding road to success. Plus, learn more about Mitch’s coach practice management system called ClientFol.io.

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Negotiating The Detours Of Entrepreneurship With Mitch Russo

I am very excited to bring my guest on. Mitch Russo is a dynamite guy. He is a powerhouse businessman. He started a software company in his garage and sold it for eight figures. He then went on to work with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes and built a $25 million-plus business with them. He has been nominated twice for Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year and he loves helping companies scale rapidly. He is the author of two books, The Invisible Organization, and his second is Power Tribes – How Certification Can Explode Your Business. Both of those have sold thousands of copies. He has got a project that he has been working on that I’m excited to talk to him more about, which is focused on helping coaches. He has a coach practice management system called ClientFol.io.

Mitch, thank you for being here. I am so excited after I have got to hear you on Bill Walsh’s stage. I’m very honored to have you.

Thank you, Christine. I’m thrilled to address many of the things that your audience cares about.

First, start by filling in the blanks. That is quite an amazing career. Congratulations on all that success. It’s phenomenal.

Anybody reading that intro would think it was a straight line of some sort, “I was born and then I started a company with Tony Robbins a few years later.” None of us ever make it from one place to another in a straight line. I’m not attesting to my driving skills, although that’s an issue as well. I’m more talking about life. I started life and I was a smaller boy than the others. I was a bit overweight at that time and girls didn’t pay attention to me. What I decided to do in what I would call a method-based strategy to pick up girls was to learn how to play the guitar and start a band. I did that.

I started a band and all of a sudden, I can meet girls, but something interesting along the way happened. I learned a lot about how business works because when you start a band, you have to promote your band. I learned about PR. When you start a band, you also have to learn how to charge. I started charging $50 per performance. Later as time went on, I learned all about price testing. I figured that using price testing, I was able to get the price of our engagements up to $500 a night. Let me remind you this was in 1970 that I did this. $500 in 1970 was about $5 billion in nowadays’ dollars. We were pretty happy about that.

The other thing I learned is how to manage the group. Management skills became a very big part of it. Discipline became a very big part of it because we all like to smoke pot as kids. I’m not going to hide it. It’s part of life, but I had to create a rule that said, “No getting high during band practice and certainly, never at a gig.” The guys didn’t want to listen. We had normal band practice and I turned on the tape recorder. Everyone was like, “That was so great. We had so much fun.” I said, “Let’s tune in here and see what it sounds like.” We rewind the tape, played it, and it sounded like crap. I said, “Now, do you see what I mean?” That was the end. Everyone agreed, “Yes, Mitch.”

I learned all about setting the tone and discipline. Finally, what I learned a lot about was, at the end of every gig, I would bring a clipboard and a pencil with me. Typically, we played a lot of sweet sixteens. I had asked the moms who hired us if they could write a small sentence or two about how we did that night. We would then get these testimonials. I learned all about how to capture, collect testimonials, when and how to use them. All of this came from needing simply a way to meet girls in school. Again, you find your path later in life. There was a dark side to this path and I’ve been telling this story for a while.

The dark side of this path was that I became involved in narcotics. At the age of sixteen, I was a full-on heroin addict. I was shooting up every day in the boys’ bathroom using what I would call not particularly sanitary conditions. I got to the point where I was within ten seconds of losing my life. There was an intervention. My life was saved and I tell that story from the stage as a keynote many times. The bottom line is that this is not a straight line. What did I do is I needed to go into drug rehab. I needed to take a break from life and figure out who I was, “Did I want to be a dead junkie or did I want to be an alive thriving adult?” That brought me to the point where after dropping out of high school, going in for rehab, coming out strong, healthy and cleared of all emotional trauma in a crazy family environment that we all have, I started life. That was for me when life began.

IVZ 30 | Detours Of Entrepreneurship
Detours Of Entrepreneurship: You will likely be successful if you negotiate between your ears. Keep telling yourself that this is the path that you’re supposed to be on.

 

Thank you for sharing that. That’s an incredible story. I have friends who have similar backgrounds and stories. Some have come out of it like you did and some, unfortunately, did not. One of the things that our stories highlight is our humanity. As a negotiator, humanity is where we find common ground. It’s in those stories that we can find ways to resolve conflict. I wish in business that more people shared those kinds of stories because we would be able to move forward faster and be more successful overall if we built off that humanity factor. I appreciate that.

My pleasure.

You came out of that and then you started a company in your garage. Tell us all about that process. You’ve got these amazing skills from running a band. I’m sure that when you were in that, at that time, one, because of the heroin, but two, now reflecting on it, all those business skills that you got from that process. What led you to start a software company in your garage?

Like all of us, I graduated high school and I went to get a job. I moved from job-to-job for a little while. I didn’t like what I was doing, but I found that there was something about this whole thing of control that was going to be a problem for me. I knew this from my nature. I knew this from growing up. I can’t stand being controlled by others. It’s probably a form of a personality flaw, but I chose to embrace it and said, “If I despise being controlled by others, I should start my own company.”

At that point, what I did was I started honing my skills before even leaving my job and then circumstances arrived in such a way that leaving my job was the most obvious thing to do. When I left, it was after I had already been working on an idea for five different businesses. If we had more time, I would tell you some of the funny stories that came out of those five different adventures. Meeting prostitutes in the back of a restaurant on a Sunday morning was part of one story. Some of the stuff was insane that I was being introduced to her and saying, “This is our new partner.” I said, “Really?” At that point, I was gone on that one. There were four more that were very interesting as well.

The one that I would call the dark horse was a chance meeting with my brand-new next-door neighbor who moved in. I went over to say hi. I took a look at him. He is a long-haired guy with a hippie beard and all this other stuff. Even though I was clean-cut, I remember I still have the DNA of a hippie back from my early days. I immediately bonded with him and we became very good friends quickly. One day, I was sharing some of the problems I was having. I was selling semiconductors at a very high level, like $10 million to $20 million worth of semiconductors. I was having a hard time keeping track of everything. I wanted to build a database and a tracking system. I shared all this with him.

Out of this conversation came a problem I was having that my accountants let me knew I was having was that we couldn’t deduct our computers that we had spent $5,000 each for from our taxes because they weren’t considered business tools. They were considered toys, but if you were willing to keep contemporaneous recordkeeping of its usage, then you could. I thought, “Perfect. I’ll just find a software program that I could run that does that.” There wasn’t any. I figured to myself, “I’m not the only person who has a computer and uses it for business.” I did a tiny bit of research. It was not enough, of course.

I decided at that point, I told my partner Neil about it. He thought it was a great idea. He counted on me for having done the research. I was upfront. I told him, I said, “I don’t know this any better than you do, but here’s the bottom line. I think we can sell a bunch of these.” In a matter of a few days, he designed the basic interface. It was at the time when the semiconductor industry was crashing that Neil decided that we would quit our jobs because we had this new idea, this new program. Here we are. It was Monday morning. We had quit our jobs. We were sitting in the garage. We were talking about how to market this new program called Tax Kick, which was how we figured it out anyway.

That same day, a call came in from my accountant. He said, “Mitch, I got some bad news for you.” I said, “What’s that?” He went, “The IRS has relaxed their rulings on recordkeeping. I’m sorry, but you don’t have a product that has a need anymore.” I went, “We burned the boats. We quit our jobs. What do we do?” After thrashing about it, screaming in anger and all this other stuff, we settled down and said, “Where else can we use this?” We started figuring out where else time-tracking systems could be used. We came up with a host of ideas, but we settled in on time-tracking and the billing. That was what we did. We then went deep for three months into research. I was able to find other time billing systems, particularly for lawyers. We dissected them and figured out what they were doing to serve their clients. We built a system based on our technology with learning from other products out there already.

Again, the short story there was we were on our own. We had no expenses. We would sell 4, 5, or 6 copies a week at $99 and we could survive. We could live as long as we had to because of a lot of hard work. It’s hard to go into all the stories. I would love to tell them all, but the bottom line is that I had gone out to COMDEX, which was a tech show. I had spent ten days walking the floor, giving out software and trying to make connections. As far as I was concerned, I was an optimist. I said, “Nothing yet,” because I came home with virtually nothing, but then the phone rang three months later and they said, “We’re doing a fact-check. Are you Mitch Russo? Are you the President of Timeslips Corporation?” I said, “Yes.” They said, “Is this phone number accurate?” I said, “Yes.”

If you fail, reformulate your plan. Pivot; don’t quit. Click To Tweet

I said, “Before you go, who are you doing a fact-check for?” He went, “There’s a publication called InfoWorld that’s going to be reviewing your software.” InfoWorld was, at that time, the premier technology journal when it came to software reviews. Even a mediocre review in InfoWorld of your product, you might as well shut the doors. It’s like damning with faint praise. It’s over. You’ll never sell another copy. We were nervous. Neil, my partner, went, “They don’t have the latest version. How do we get them the latest version?” I said, “Neil, there is nothing we can do.”

Another month went by and it was about 6:00 in the morning. I was sleeping above in the house and all of a sudden, I heard six telephones all ringing at the same time. With this big idea that we were going to be getting a lot of phone calls, we installed a system of six actual telephones we would rollover. I ran downstairs in underwear in the garage and I was sitting there, “Hello, Timeslips Corporation. How can I help you?” I was writing orders for the software one after the other until finally, I got one breath and said, “Could you tell me where you heard this about?” He went, “You didn’t see your review in InfoWorld?” I said, “No, we didn’t get our copy yet.” He went, “You blew it away. You got a 9.3. This is the highest InfoWorld has ever rated a software.”

We went from selling 6 a week to 600 a week overnight. That was the key element that kickstarted the business. The reason we were able to do that was because we failed first. We reformulated our plan. We pivoted. We didn’t quit. The fail word is the bad word here. I should have said that we paused in our process of marketing the software until we figured out who we should market it to and how. Three months later, we came back and we had it right. There was a lot of hard work, but there was a lot of luck here. We hit the market at the right time with the right product. The conditions were right. The hardware environment was right. We were very lucky. I would never forget that. I do live a blessed life and appreciate that. This is an example of one of those blessings.

I’ll fast forward, we grew the company. It was getting bigger and bigger. We kept having to move into bigger and bigger space. Finally, we decided that it was time to sell the company. It was a very hard decision to make but the company becomes so valuable and the float of what we were needing to provide in terms of cash every week was getting beyond our personal abilities to handle that. We would sell an upgrade and $2 million in cash would come flooding into the bank in 6 or 8 weeks, but in between upgrades, we had to beef up our infrastructure because we had more customers and more support needs. We were going to the bank for lines of credit. We were getting them, but they went from $2,000 when we first started to over $1 million lines of credit by the time we ended.

It got to the point where we were on the line for these. We were personally responsible. My partner, Neil and I, said, “How long do I have to do this for? I’ve been doing this now with you, Mitch. I love you and the business, but I’m bored. I want to go out. I want to have fun.” I said, “Neil, you need a vacation. Get the heck out of here.” He went, “No, I’m talking long-term.” I realized he wanted to do this. At that point, we brought in some help to help us figure out what to do and started prospecting for the right buyer. The short story is we found the right buyer. We were able to optimize the sale. We had two buyers at the same time. At that point, we were on our way to the next adventure.

I want to go back into the story about when you thought you had to take that three months and pivot. If it’s okay, I would like to give you another word to think about that moment because you were very resourceful. It says a lot to be able to have your accountant call you and say, “That business you had is all dried up,” and to then pause instead of having a panic, even if you did have a momentary panic, but still you got resourceful to say, “What else could we be doing? Where else could we be doing it? Who else could be using this product? What do we need to do to meet that market need?” I talk about resourcefulness a lot because, from a negotiation perspective, you have to be resourceful to be successful in negotiation. It’s all about trying to understand, “What are all the possibilities that are available to me? How do I choose which possibilities to then go after?”

The other thing I like about your story is that one of the sayings that I have is, “The hardest part of any negotiation is the negotiation we have between our ears.” I can imagine you and your partner negotiating a lot between your ears on a day-to-day basis, but overall, where do you go? Even all the way to the end of that story, there was a point where it was like, “I don’t want to keep negotiating this way with myself all the time. I want something different and then being able to make that change.” What were some of the lessons that you learned in the process of selling the company, from a negotiation perspective, you think that readers and small business owners should know when they’re thinking about selling their organization?

We were following what I thought were best business practices. Every year, we had a CFO. The CFO would tell us what our potential tax burden was. We would quickly spend all that money on marketing so that we wouldn’t have to pay taxes because we would rather spend it on the company than give it to the government. That, of course, on the surface, makes sense, but when you’re going to sell a company, people don’t want to buy nonprofitable companies. One guy came to us. He did a full examination of the company and spent two days doing it. He said, “I love your business, but I can’t buy a company that’s not profitable.” I said, “I showed you how with a few small tweaks, we could be profitable.” He went, “Do those tweaks and then come back to me in a year or two when you have.”

That was a very important lesson I had to learn. Paying taxes is part of being in business and yet at the same time, there is still a balance. Over 2.5 years, we didn’t pay ourselves because we wanted to funnel all of whatever we might have paid ourselves back into marketing and growing the business. If you’re broke, don’t start a company. If you don’t have a way of supporting yourself outside of your business, don’t start a company. That may mean to some people that I don’t start a company, but it also may mean, “Maybe I should be more prepared before I do.”

That became a real mantra of mine when I started investing in other companies, which was these guys are raising money to pay themselves big salaries. I want no part of that. Find somebody else to pay your salary because I’m not doing it. I learned the hard way what a bad idea that was. If people are prepared to do yeoman’s work, to do the hard stuff, the beginning stuff and struggle even if it means struggling personally, selling your house, moving into a small apartment or moving back with you or your spouse’s parents, that, to me, is an indicator that you will likely be successful if you negotiate between your ears. Keep telling yourself that this is the path that you’re supposed to be on.

IVZ 30 | Detours Of Entrepreneurship
Detours Of Entrepreneurship: Until you understand the needs of the other person, it’s hard to figure out what will make them happy.

 

I want to tell you one quick negotiation between my ears. Before I started my company, I was selling high-end, very expensive custom-designed systems and custom-designed circuitry. My commission on anyone sale was at least $10,000, but it took me about 100 sales calls to make one sale. I would be depressed for 99 sales calls and elated on the 100 sale until having coffee with another terrific sales guy. He said to me, “You’re looking at it all wrong.” I said, “What do you mean?” He went, “You’re being paid $100 every single time you make a sales call. There is no difference between the one you closed and the one you don’t. If you take that attitude, it’s going to change how you feel about selling.” I said, “That’s a smart guy. I’m going to try that.” It was literally a shift in perspective that made me even more successful.

The story that I told you has one element in it that I need to share. As I was building Timeslips Corporation, it was a guy named Chet Holmes who was pursuing me to try and sell me advertising. Chet was a pain in the butt. His pig-headed discipline was leaking out all over the place and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like being pushed, but I eventually did buy from him. It turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I had made about growing the company. It’s because of that, we became best friends. He would come to Massachusetts at the time and take me to dinner. I would fly to Los Angeles where he was and hang out. Later in life, after I sold the company and I was off trading options in my little cave enjoying that, he called me up and said, “Let’s talk about working together again. I want you to help me run my company.”

The short answer here is I did. Six months later, we were negotiating with Tony Robbins. The next thing I know, we were building a company with Tony, Chet, and I called Business Breakthroughs International. Frankly, that was the opportunity that I would have never dreamed would happen just by helping a friend who wants a little assistance. You never know. Opportunities come up all the time. It’s, “How willing are you to recognize an opportunity when it shows up?” We got to the point where we had to negotiate with Tony in order to get a deal that would provide us with what we needed and still making him feel as if he was all-in. That was a long negotiation that took months of meeting almost every Thursday night to talk about this.

What made it so hideous or arduous? What drove that?

Tony was playing with a 500-pound deck and we have our cards. We have good cards. Don’t get me wrong, but he’s the master at this stuff. He wanted a lot and we were unable to give him everything he wanted. We were like banging heads at this point before we can figure out how to find common ground or a medium that we would both agree with. This is an important thing about negotiation is that until you understand the needs of the other person, it’s hard to figure out what will make them happy. What Tony needed and what Chet and I needed were completely different. Tony is all about building and growing his audience and having an impact on more people. Chet and I were thinking, “Let’s make a lot of money here. Let’s build a great company, find a way to sell it and make another fortune.”

Our perspectives and objectives were different, but once we understood completely that in others the very important subtle elements of this incredibly complex man, we were able to find a way that allowed us to, in fact, do that. That was even down to the last minute if you will, we needed to figure that out and make sure that we got Tony onboard. He was as happy as we were. There was no doubt we were in a place where we needed him, but we were doing quite well also. It wasn’t like we would have been damaged or broken if we didn’t. However, because of what we did do with Tony, we were able to increase the value of the company by ten times rapidly.

I liked that because one of the things I talk a lot about is the importance of getting clear on what you want and why it’s important to you, but also getting clear on what your counterpart wants and what’s important to them. I was speaking at an event and it was a woman’s group. They do multilevel marketing. I was like, “I’m not sure how negotiation plays here, but I’m curious to see what you talk about.” I did my talk and then she came on Zoom. She was like, “I learned that I have to think about my counterpart.” One of the challenges I see in many companies going through and many individuals is they get so focused on what it is that they want and they need that they miss the opportunity to ask questions and be curious about what the counterpart needs. It’s in that curiosity that you then find those opportunities and where that common ground exists. You also start to create a common language, too. It doesn’t necessarily exist upfront.

There’s something else that I’ve found for myself is that I have to remind myself to have 360 vision. What I mean by that is that I’m focused on what I want. I know what my negotiating partner on the other side of the table wants, but until I move mentally over to that side of the table, I don’t fully understand what they want. Sometimes, it requires digging deeper behind the scenes to understand what the issues are at a company or an organization and how, what you do or what you have might fix or solve those issues.

I’ll give you an example. When I was in the process of negotiating the sale of my company to a large legal software vendor, it seemed like a very straightforward, “You have software. We have software. We would like to buy your company so that we could offer more software.” Ultimately, that wasn’t why. I didn’t discover that until I had done some research in the market to find out that their software sales were falling off a shelf. Their products were old. They didn’t support them well. They were hoping they could buy their way into more and more law offices, which we had many.

Once I understood that, it became very easy for me to see their perspective. It also gave me the perspective to use them instead of as a potential partner. I traded that for a negotiating chip with the other buyer. I said to the other buyer, “You’re not even in the legal business. These guys are. They’re willing to pay full price for us. What are you going to pay?” That’s how having what I call 360 vision, knowing what is impacting that your negotiation partner helps build the confidence to create a deal structure that benefits both of you.

Opportunities come up all the time. How willing are you to recognize one when it shows up? Click To Tweet

I talk about that a lot. It’s the importance of research. I tell a story about how I bought two cars for the price of one plus $5,000. Part of how I was able to do that was I researched. I knew the product. I knew who the market was. I knew who the competitors were. I knew how the dealer made money. I had an estimate of what the cars were costing them to sit on the lot. I did a lot of research to determine whether it was reasonable for me to believe that a dealer could fill me two cars for the price of one.

I determined, based on research and analysis, that it was reasonable given the model we were buying and when we were doing it. When we got there, I discovered that my estimates for holding costs were wrong. We increased the offer to offset the number because I wasn’t trying to screw them or anything. It was a good deal for them and us too, but you can’t get to those points if you don’t invest in research and analysis to study what the possibilities are.

That’s well said and well described. I like how you think about this. That gets us to another topic here, which I want to touch on. As I evolved myself, people noticed and wanted to work with me and wanted me to be their coach. I didn’t know what to charge. I reflected on my old rock and roll days and said, “First, let’s get some results. I’ll charge $150 an hour.” The money wasn’t that meaningful to me, but I needed to understand, “What is it that I’m worth?” I started very low. I got some great results and kept getting good results. I would raise my price gradually. The reason I would do this is because my thinking was, “If I’m not providing 5 to 10 times the value I’m charging for, then it’s not worth the money and I wouldn’t advise my client to hire me.”

For me, I tried to find a happy medium. I haven’t raised my prices again because number one, I like who I work with. I believe that if I raised my prices too far, I would attract a higher-end client, which is nothing wrong with, but I like helping entrepreneurs. That lower price point helps me reach more entrepreneurs. I started coaching other coaches and one of the things that we all had in common was this mess of admin we had to do. I’ll give you an example. I get on the phone with a client and I’m very intentional in understanding their situation.

I’m listening carefully and taking notes. At that point, I’m providing immediate feedback. We put together a game plan for the session and then for what they will be doing in between sessions. I’m using a spreadsheet to keep track of their goals and metrics. I’m using Evernote to keep track of notes. I’m using browsers one for my calendar program and one for my email program. I’m using mind mapping software because that’s how I think and that’s how I plot things out. On top of that, I have another window open for Zoom.

In front of me, I have two screens that used to be mounted on walls to cover all the applications I had to have open in order to run a single coaching session. After the session was over, I had to pull from each of those different applications and create this homework email. The good news is that it took me 45 minutes to do that, but it was a very well-formatted email and it provided my client with everything they needed. The bad news is, next week, I not only had to do it again, but I had to go and figure out all the things I did last week for this particular client. When I have had enough, I decided to buy some professional coaching management software. I feel like I’m a pretty bright guy, but I couldn’t learn it. It was all so complex. There were so many details and the burden of all these texts and emails going to clients and coming back to me and all the things that would pile in that I didn’t need.

I finally got to the point and said, “I’m going to write my own.” I have a team of programmers in different parts of the world and I chose my team. I said, “Guys, this is what we’re doing.” I did my market research. We did an interface design. We did a feature set and a spec. We engaged in this process. I released this product and it’s called ClientFol.io. I’m very proud of it because I’ve been using it and I love it. My admin time takes 5 to 10 minutes now and everybody who tried it said the same thing. That was easy, ten minutes to learn the whole program and use it over and over again. From my perspective, I needed a tool that I couldn’t find. It reminds me of the Timeslips story. I just did the same thing again.

I love that you’re working with coaches. A lot of times, coaches will say to me, “I don’t negotiate.” I’m curious to see your reaction to that because of the work that you’re doing with ClientFol.io. I’m not a coach, but I imagine all the things that you’re going through. I have coaches, so I know what they’re going through and what they’re doing with me. There’s a constant negotiation. Keeping track of it is a big deal because, in any negotiation, the process matters a lot. Tell me about what your thoughts and reactions are to a coach who says, “I don’t negotiate.”

There are two reactions that I have to that. I think it’s perfectly normal and it’s actually healthy to say that because if a coach doesn’t have the self-esteem to ask for what he’s worth, then he probably shouldn’t be a coach. The second aspect is that also tells me that you’re not hungry. You’re not sitting there, starving and waiting for your next client just to show up. I’ve had that happen to me. I had someone asked me if I would give them a discount on my fees. I said, “No, I don’t discount my fees and you shouldn’t either.” They said, “I understand.” They paid full price. Once again, it’s not like I’m being arrogant about it. I know what my work is worth, which is a form of negotiation.

The negotiation is that if you want to go and find cheaper help, you should go somewhere else because you’re paying for something very valuable here and I don’t discount it. I’m not trying to say I’m gold, but it’s like trying to buy gold for under-spot price. Unless it’s phony, you’re not going to be able to do it. To me, when it comes to being in a negotiation, it means that you have to first understand the value of who you are and what you have. If you don’t and you’re coming from a place of need instead of service, then you’ll become a victim. At that point, if you accept the lower amount, your new clients should fire you.

IVZ 30 | Detours Of Entrepreneurship
Detours Of Entrepreneurship: Knowing what impacts your negotiation partner helps build the confidence to create a deal structure that benefits both of you.

 

One of the things that I like too about ClientFol.io as a product is it helps the coach. If you take that time, that 45 minutes at the end of the session and the additional time before the next session, you’re able to do more coaching. You’re able to help more people, increase your revenue and improve your profitability as a result because of ClientFol.io as a product, which I think is fantastic. That should be informing additional value to a certain extent for the coach.

The other things I decided to put into ClientFol.io are some of the lifelong tools I’ve used to create success in my life. Again, a lot of coaching programs, I don’t think any of them have what I’ve built in. They’re very simple. They’re concepts you’re already familiar with and something that you probably already have in your life. One of them is accountability. Either you have an accountability partner or you would like to, that’s how I look at it. A good accountability partner is simply there to hold you to your word. It’s that simple. “Last week, you said you would do this. Did you do that?” “No.” “Will you do it by next week? There’s no punishment or penalty for not, but I’m holding on because next week, you know I’m going to ask you the same question.” Accountability, for me, is a key element of being a good coach.

Another key element is knowing what you are being accountable for. What I do with every client is we, together, come up with a series of statistics that we want to track every week. For one client, that would be sales, revenue, profits, number of new clients, number of unsubscribes from their mailing list, and number of new subscribers or whatever they might call it. We can have up to six in ClientFol.io. Here’s the interesting thing. When I send out their client report, we graph all of their stats onto their report every single week. They can see all of their stats on every client report that they get. We give that to them in an email and the option to print out a PDF so they could print it out and put it right next to their computer as they’re working. For me, these are the simplest tools I can think of that will create the most value for the most number of people.

I’m going to be sending the link to my coach. I love the ability to see and track versus just seeing the numbers visually. I spent some time up on the website and it looks like an incredible program. For everybody who is reading, if you are a coach, you know of a coach or you use a coach, this product is fantastic. Hats off to you, Mitch, and to the entire team for what you’ve done to create it because there’s a definite need for it in the market. Thank you for doing that. I appreciate that. How can people find you?

Again, we already gave out the URL. It’s ClientFol.io. Anybody who would like to connect with me directly can go to MitchRusso.com.

You have a fourteen-day trial for anyone who wants to try ClientFol.io.

With no credit card. How’s that?

That’s pretty awesome. I’m new with the whole hosting thing. I’m getting the hang of it and trying some different things. What is your favorite book that you’ve read?

It’s not really a business book. It’s a love story and it’s a philosophy. Anybody who has not read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, then you’re missing out on the ride of a lifetime. Here’s why I mentioned it. I reread this every few years because the values in the book, not all of them, but many of them are the same values that I hold dear. Have you read the book yet, Christine?

I have not read the book.

After this interview, I hope you get a chance to do so. It’s a big book. It has a lot of words. Here’s the thing. This woman has found a way to write in such a captivating manner. She has the most beautiful use of the English language I’ve ever known before and it’s a story. In some ways, it goes back into her own life, about life in the Soviet Union. Coming to America and seeing America turn into the Soviet Union philosophically. This was happening when she saw this. That’s why when you read this book now, it’s like it was just written.

In any negotiation, you have to first understand the value of who you are and what you have. Come from a place of service instead of need. Click To Tweet

My husband keeps wanting me to watch the movie and I’m not a huge movie person. I’ll read the book instead. I will go get that because I’m always looking for new books. I finished Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. I love Geopolitics. It’s an interesting story of why things are the way they are in the world. It taught me that not everything is negotiable. Some people say, “Everything is negotiable.” Mountains, rivers, oceans and waterfalls are not negotiable. They’re navigable, but they’re not negotiable. You’re in Florida. You guys are far more open than we are here in California but I’ve also been asking people, where do you want to travel outside the United States once this pandemic is in the rearview mirror?

I’m already setting up my next trip to Iceland. I run a trip to Iceland every year or two with other photographers. We’re astrophotographers and landscape photographers. It’s a small group. I take them to Iceland. I’ve been there many times. My daughter asked me when we’re going to Spain. She wants to visit Spain. I’ll take her to Spain. I have several trips already planned in the United States for photography. Hopefully, in 2022 or late 2021, I’ll be going to Scotland as well.

I love international travel. Thank you so much, Mitch. It has been awesome to have you here. To all of our readers, I’m so honored that you have chosen to spend your most valuable resource with us, which is your time. Check us out at VennNegotiation.com. My first book with the editor is called Why Not Ask? A Conversation About Getting More. Until next time, have a great day. Remember, negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship and you cannot win a relationship. Happy negotiating. Thanks, everyone.

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About Mitch Russo

IVZ 30 | Detours Of EntrepreneurshipMeet Mitch Russo, who started a software company in his garage, sold it for 8 figures and then went on to work directly with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes to build a $25M+ business together. Nominated twice for Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, Mitch helps companies scale rapidly!

Mitch’s 1st book is “The Invisible Organization and his 2nd called Power Tribes – How Certification Can Explode Your Business has helped thousands of companies scale rapidly. Today he’s here to help Coaches solve an age-old problem with his new coach practice management system called ClientFol.io

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