Some of them are, I would call them conference junkies. They’re just going and getting their next fix at a conference but some of them, a good percentage of them had really come in to learn the system that exactly what I do, have worked it on their industry, and they’re the ones that end up getting booked. And if you look at it, same kind schedule, it’s usually 18 months to 3-year journey that they have in front of them.
There’s another principle that I’d say, I paid a play or in other words, when I know people are paying to be in part of mastermind groups that I lead, that as far as speaking. But for instance right now, I’m in a 3-year mastermind program where it’s a very significant investment to be a part of it. But it gets me around other high achievers and people are trying to maximize their impact in their income at the same time. And so those are the type of people I’m trying to spend time with.
And so I try to take on that attitude of every year, I want to pay for something whether it’s for coaching, for conferences, for mastermind groups, I want to pay something to play with bigger fish.
James: All right, welcome back my friends to yet another edition of the Big Value Big Business podcast. I am your host, James Lynch. I am really big, big, big time super excited about my very special guest today. His name is Mr. Kent Julian. Kent comes to us from liveitforward.com. Kent is a family man, an author, an entrepreneur and the founder and president of liveitforward.com LLC. It’s a personal and professional development company devoted to equipping people to show up and shine in their life and in their career. I like Kent’s tagline. He says “There are two basic choices in life check out and whine or show up and shine. I love it. It is my pleasure to welcome Kent to the Big Value Big Business podcast. Hello, Kent! How are you?
Kent: Man, it is great to be here. I love your energy, buddy.
James: Thank you very much, thank you. I sense you a pretty high energy yourself, you would have to be to keep up with your schedule, you’re travelling speaking around the globe and based in with the Youth that you work with. I imagined, you got to stay in shape to keep up with the youngins.
Kent: Yeah, it’s great. That is one of the fringe benefits of working with students for as long as I have.
I do a lot with adults as well but I just can’t let go of that student-market especially for the high-level, high-achieving students and they really do keep you young. In fact, not only the students but some of the other people in that industry, some of the other speakers, most of them are easily 10, 15 years younger than me. And so you got to stay up with them, so I work hard.
James: Good for you. That’s awesome. Yeah, I know the feeling. I want to hang out with my kids but they don’t want any part of me so I digress, not totally true. But yeah, hey, I want to thank you again. I know you’re a busy we can make the move to the work in the life that we truly love. I think that may sound familiar. And does that sound like a plan, sir?
Kent: It sounds great. We love to talk about that, one of my favorite subjects.
James: Awesome, awesome. I’m going through some transitions, myself. A lot of my folks that are listening are authors, speakers, consultants, small business folk and we want to get back to doing the things we love and to get paid for it. There’s nothing wrong with that. If we could start, maybe get a little history from you sir. Find out where you came up from and a little bit about the journey that’s brought you here to where you are today.
Kent: Well, I’ll give you the clip note version. And then, you can ask any questions you want.
James: Sure, sounds good.
Kent: I started out as a Youth pastor. I was at a very, very small church, very humble beginnings. If you just look at it as far as a career, I was pretty successful and real quickly went from a small church to one of the largest churches in the US at the time. And then by the time I was in my very early 30’s, I was in the National Youth Director of a couple of thousand churches. So great, just a great experience, loved it. But the longer I was in it, the more I was realizing while it was a great opportunity to serve and I did well at it. I really didn’t fit it super well especially kind of the corporate structure of being involved in church, and then once I got to a larger setting, the national setting, the corporate structure for that.
So I took a number of years just to try to figure some things out while I was working. I finally decided I wanted to start my own business, had no idea what I was doing, ended up getting a lot of coaching, going to a lot of conferences. And long story short, nine years ago, I launched Live It Forward totally as a bootstrapping company, bootstrapped it for three years while I had a fulltime job, was able and it started primarily as a career coaching company, was able to grow it to the point where I could quit my fulltime job and then over the last six years, I have been doing that. And now, it has evolved into where I speak a lot in a particular market, a student market that works with students that or pursuing something.
They were all pursuing professional. They’re really trying to figure out what they want to do in their lives. So that fit very well with the career aspect. And then on top of that, I started adding things… conferences and shaping the coaching I did for people who specifically want to earn money as speakers and writers. So I’ve been doing that and the brand just continues to grow but it’s been a great journey, have learned an absolute ton, love getting up every day and I love what I do.
James: That’s fantastic. So yeah, just to fill in. It seems like you started… first of all, just to go all the way back to corporate structure/within the youth pastor, one wouldn’t equate that much corporate structure with that type of position. But I guess I have the wrong perception.
Kent: Yeah. It’s really interesting in that when you think about how a lot of nonprofits and so I’m going to put a church in a nonprofit. When you start, if you’re in a smaller setting, it’s a little bit more entrepreneurial and Youth minister, the great thing about being a Youth pastor is that’s one aspect of the church that’s very open to kind of free agent entrepreneurial type of concept. They really want you to get out there. So that’s great. But when you’re in a church, you’re dealing with boards. You’re dealing with, the second church I worked at, the staff was always probably 50 on staff. There are, I think, 20+ pastors. And you’re dealing with boards, and then once you get into a national level, and you are working with 2000 churches, there are all kinds of different committees and boards.
And it’s just very structured, corporate might not be the right word, but just very, very structured. And to get anything done, you have to jump through multiple loops to accomplish anything. And the more that I had to do that, it’s not that it’s bad. The more that I had to do that though, the more I realized, boy, this is not the way that I’m wired.
James: Yeah, and I want to agree because, just in the business I’m in, agency work, but being a hands on kind of guy and successful in what I did and then becoming management and in getting in, trenched in that, it’s different. You’re doing more managing, people in process or in your case maybe, was navigating the processes rather than doing boots on the ground kind of thing. It takes a way from your true calling, do you agree?
Kent: Yeah, and here’s what is really interesting. I did super well because I had so many good people around me. And what really woke me up that said, I need to get out of this and go do something else was when I made a transition to a team. And it was still a good team but instead of being a team of leaders, it was more of a team of people I had to manage. And that’s where I real… I had a career crisis when I hit that. And I didn’t even realize it. I was pretty young so I didn’t realized it was almost by luck that I had hired so well at one place and the key hires, all of them, I hired highly capable leaders who could pick up the ball and run with it. And then I moved into another situation, and the other situation I had to walk into a staff that was already there, and the staff that were there, very good people but definitely more people that had to be managed.
And I realized real quickly. Man, I do not like managing people. I don’t mind running with leaders. In fact, that’s what you do as an entrepreneurial. If you’re going to connect with other people and you’re networking and you set up affiliate business opportunities with other people. You’re working with other high potential leaders that are going a hundred miles per hour along with you. And so that’s one of the reasons I moved in to entrepreneurship because I felt like I was going to be around people that are wired like me. And I definitely don’t have the management wiring at me.
James: Agreed, agreed. I can totally relate to that. So back in 2005’ish, that we decided to build on in bootstrap, Live it Forward. So you were some three years in the making before you were able to fly fulltime with that. Is that correct?
Kent: Yeah. So it was and it was a real interesting journey. I share this in other places but…
James: Sure, please do.
Kent: The first year of my total revenue bootstrapping, and this is working probably, well not probably it was minimum of 15 hours a week, sometimes as many as 20 hours a week bootstrapping. My total revenue first year, not income, not money in my pocket, revenue was 4 grand. My second year, it was 24 grand but what’s really interesting is the first six months was only 6 grand. So if you look at the first 18 months I worked, the total amount of revenue I produced was $10,000. But the next six months was $18,000. So I doubled my income in a third of a time, and then the next year was $68,000. And that’s what I really had enough momentum going on and I knew what I was doing to launch.
And when I’m working with speakers or writers and we’re trying to help them launch, I really tried to help them understand how important it is to have a long runway and that’s what bootstrapping allows you to do it. It allows you to have a long runway because most people drop out before they have enough speed to really take off. And they think, oh, I’m going to be able to do this in 6 months or 12 months. And occasionally, you can do that. But I have rarely ever met an entrepreneur who bootstrapped, who was able to get their business off the ground, really less than 18 or 24 months. And I’m often held up as an example of, hey, this is the guy who did a good job at it, and it took me three years.
James: I loved that because again, I spoke to who my audience is. It’s so applicable, myself with this podcast, six months and bootstrapping like crazy. Yes, so what is the, might be just a little off but what would you say the opposite would be investors of people investing in a project rather than the bootstrapping because I see our bootstrapping going hand in hand with kind of finding what your doing or refining your process, your products, your services, how you’re going to serve your audience and defining that audience. So I’m trying to picture in my head if these several questions I just threw out there. But the opposite of bootstrapping was obviously you had a solid project with a business plan and you present and you get veture capital and that gets invested. And you could get going with revenue maybe sometime before you’re in the block. But the bootstrapping, I guess what am I asking is fair to say, you, while you’re traveling down that runway, you’re honing your offering so to speak?
Kent: Absolutely. I did not know what I was doing. I knew, I compare it to a, you’re on a… you’re following a treasure map. So unlike following a map, quest map, you have your X marks the spot and you kind of know what’s there. You know it’s valuable. You know what kind of money you want to make. You know what activities you want to be doing to make that money. You know probably the theme that you want your business to revolve around but that’s it. So bootstrapping a lot of it, especially at first during the journey is figuring out what the heck am I doing. And additionally, this is something that’s really interesting.
I used to do a lot more just pure career coaching when I first started. And I actually had, when I was working with someone who wanted to start their own business, I was able to talk about this runway with them because I bootstrapped with, I just had no money. So I had to bootstrap with my time and effort. I had a buddy who started his business that had saved up enough money that he could quit his job and he had about two years of living expenses put away so he could quit his job. But what’s funny is that, so he… I was doing a part time, he was bootstrapping fulltime, and while his money, the amount of revenue he produced, his was, his first year is about 25, the second year, I think was about 75 and his third year was a 150. If you look at those percentages, they’re the exact percentages in growth as mine was, just bigger.
I then, had to add one more thing. There’s a great book. I’m looking on my bookshelf right now. It’s called ‘From Zero to One million.’ And it’s about the guy who started eye contact which is very similar to Mail Chimp – Constant Contact. And he did the investment route to where he was able to start with enough money, enough investors. He had a staff of six and he, it’s a… what makes the book so great is that he really shares a lot of the details including the finances. And again, his numbers are much bigger. We’re talking the first year is like $900,000 the next year. But if you look at the percentages, it’s the exact same kind of growth that just, instead of one person part time or one person full time, now, he was starting with five or six people full time but the exact same percentages.
So no matter how you do it, you have to have a runway. You have to have enough time to launch this thing. And if you give up on it too soon, you’re not going to be able to take off.
James: All right. So that brings perfect segue into… you coach a lot of the folks. How do you… I’m saying as a statement. You do coach a lot of folks and a lot of folks, the best intentions, the best circumstances, the hardest work ethic. But how do you help them stay in the game?
Kent: That’s a great question. I do coach a lot of folks. Primarily now, people who are looking to add speaking and writing either doing that kind of fulltime or doing that as a major revenue stream. And I would say two things. One is I tried to provide a lot of inspiration not inspiration as RA RA!, all right. But…
James: You give real life examples. I can tell.
Kent: Exactly. But then on top of that, I think the biggest thing that I do and even the way that we host when we put on a conference, the way we host conference and then the way we do all of our coaching and mastermind is teach the systems that work. So in other words, it’s not just, I love two types of conferences. One type is when I go and it’s just about coming up with ideas and trying to figure out, oh, I could do this. I could do this. I could do that. But once I know what I want to do, then – this is how I am, I pay money to teach me, here’s the system that I’ve used to, if I find a speaker that I want to follow I want to find out what that person has done, how have they marketed their services, how did they figure out who were they’re going to go after and speak.
James: Yes, it is strategies.
Kent: It’s not just strategies, even systems.
James: Systems, yeah, yeah, correct. I’m sorry.(crosstalk)
Kent: Systems and step by step by step by step by step, so that really, I always tell people when we’re going to the coaching, if they have found people that can teach them the system that they did and teach it to them in detail, if you work a good system that good system will end up working for you. So to me, that’s the difference. I’ve worked with a lot of people. Some of them, they’re just never willing to work the systems. Some of them are, I would call them conference junkies. They’re just going and getting their next fix at a conference but some of them, a good percentage of them had really come in to learn the system that exactly what I do, have worked it on their industry, and they’re the ones that end up getting booked. And if you look at it, same kind schedule, it’s usually 18 months to 3-year journey that they have in front of them.
James: Interesting. Well, that’s a yeah. Tell me about a day in the life, present day. Now, you’re speaking around or you holding conferences? Do you one-on-one? Do people come to see you? Just kind of get a glimpse at what your business is like?
Kent: An easy answer to that is yes, of all that you just said. I actually love variety, love it, love it, love it. But I like variety within my sweet spots, the things that I really like to do. And the other thing is, I know a lot of contemporaries of mine who are speakers especially those who started out in the speaking business. I was fortunate to start out as a Youth pastor that had a lot of speaking with it. But I had a full time job and kind of learn that, because I started with my business in my later 30’s versus somebody who came out and was an entrepreneur and especially a speaker and started speaking in their 20’s. Some of my contemporaries, 70% of their revenue will come from key-note presentations and then 20% from back of the room sales, and then maybe 10% from other things. But what that means is in order to make a great living as a speaker, they’re doing 60, 70 engagements a year
I shoot for about 40 engagements a year. And so when you look if… the best way to look at just what, The Day in the Life, that’s not really a good way to look at it. It’s more of a Month in the Life of Kent..
James: Taking the average.
Kent: Yeah, I would say and then just look at the revenue, I would say that 40% of my revenue took 40 to 45% of my revenue comes from speaking in back of the room sales. 20% of my revenue comes from live event things that I do in my hometown that I’m totally in control of 20 to 25% and then another 25 to 30% or so comes from coaching in mastermind programs that I put on. And so those are the primary ways. And then I have other things. I do some affiliate things. And I have every once a while, take one-on-one clients. So I have other ways to make money but that’s the vast majority of it. So I speak a lot.
I do some live events. I do coaching and mastermind. And then to market my services, I do a lot of writing, blogging. I’m about ready to start my podcast myself. So those are some things that I do that I just… I absolutely love that you’re constantly doing that help your market and just serve people. I’m a big believer that the best way to market is to actually serve and give. And if you do that, you’re able to really market your services well.
James: Absolutely. The rest takes care of itself. Absolutely, I love that. A couple things popped out of me. You’re a really big percentages of allocation and it’s great because you get the high level view and when that starts to get skewed, you know. And like you said, your reference is your sweet spots and that is… I’m looking on your KentJulian.com, and how you invest your time. It’s broken down by percentages.
James: I love that.
Kent: Well, what’s really cool is I don’t have to hit the road, I can actually take a month or two off from speaking when I want to do that. There’s a lot of variety in two days are the like when I’m tired of, hey, I haven’t been out on the road. I’ve been kind of hold off in my office for the last 3 weeks. I usually got two or three gigs coming up. Excuse me, I don’t like to call them gigs. Engagements coming up…
James: I get it.
Kent: And so it just brings a lot of variety, all of those things. It’s a different fleshing out of… it’s all on the topics that I’m passionate about. But it’s using different gifts and fleshing out. So when you’re keynoting on stage, it does very different than when you’re writing a blog and that’s very different than when you’re doing coaching in mastermind. And I love all of those activities. But they’re all around the topics and themes that I absolutely love.
James: Yeah, that’s great. And interesting how you made the comparison between some of your contemporaries in yourself where they’re out 70% of the time out beating the bushes, and I keep thinking about Michael Hyatt. And he used to be of that ilk when he was 70-80% out on the road. And he’s turned that around considerably using online systems and digital delivery. And I think that is becoming more and more, more prevalent Would you agree?
Kent: Yeah, I would. I would say the difference between a Michael Hyatt and there’s a couple of other people who have made that transition is I absolutely love keynoting. So I have… a good buddy of mine is Dan Miller…
James: Oh, I love Dan Miller. He’s great.
Kent: Yeah, he is a great buddy of mine and we actu1ally do some work together and some business together. But he would almost be like, yeah, you don’t want to do that at all. I don’t know why anybody would want to go out and keynote. And I’m — that’s my absolute favorite thing to do is to keynote the audiences that I get to keynote in front of. Right now, my primary audience are again, high-achieving, really focused high school students that are focused on going somewhere. And most of my… a small audience for me is around 500. Typically, I’m working… I’m in front of 1500 to 4000, 5000 students. Oh, it’s just a rush.
James: Being like a rock star! You’re like a rock star. I love it.
Kent: And they’re just so motivated. And I mean, I come back just energized from those kind of things. So doing 35 to 40 of those engagements a year, I absolutely love that. But if it was 60 or 70, now, you’re talking about being on the road 125, 150 nights a year, you’re away from your family that much. So unlike Michael where I think he’s okay with maybe doing 6 to 10 a year. (He has really cut back)Yeah, he really has. And I really, really enjoy that part of my business and can never see me not doing 35, 40 engagements a year.
James: Well, see the whole theme of this, the whole analogy is if you set it up right, if you have somebody like Kent Julian that’s helping you put your act together, you can speak 10%, 20%, 50% of your time on the road. However you set it up.
Kent: That’s it. That’s the key. That’s figuring out the life you want and then try to figure out how to make work fit into that life.
James: Absolutely. That’s fantastic. Personal note, you sound, dude, you have it totally together. I’ve seen some of your videos, energy plus some… passionate. Where do you go to the well, Kent? Where do you go for your inspiration, be it mentors, your faith, your family? What comprises this enthusiasm that you have?
Kent: The easy answer to that is, yes as well. That’s all those things.
James: I usually ask, who is your favorite author? Do you work with a mastermind? But you’ve taken another level, and I did a little research on you and I know that you’ll draw all your juice from all of those sources plus… I imagine.
Kent: Yeah, I would say there’s a number of things and which really interesting, my wife and I were talking about this just yesterday. I’ve listened to some podcasts, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts. I ‘ve listened some podcasts about living balance and things like that, and it always amazes me that sometimes some of the people who are sharing those podcasts are so out of balance and I don’t know if they’re doing it as a way to try to get in balance. But I would say that in some ways, I’m out of balance but on purpose. And so what I mean by that is there are certain things that have just been high priority. I read Seven Habits very early on, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Besides the Bible, the most powerful book in my life and really as a young 20-year-old, really went about to trying to live that kind of life. And so now, in my late 40’s, you look at that. That’s been 25 years that I’ve really been trying to live those principles. So I spent every morning, I do a thing that I call, leading my life from quiet where again, I like variety. So I do a lot of different things, No two mornings are alike but I black out about an hour to where I’m just starting my day from quiet and trying to lead my life from that.
I exercise very regularly in doing things that I enjoy on exercise. I have amazing relationship with my wife, absolutely amazing. We work at that very hard. We, my faith in Christ is… that’s who I’m living my life for and so I’m trying to honor him on all that I do and trying to follow him. And then I’m a big believer on Jim Rohn called, ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ So I spent a lot of time with my wife. I spent time with people like Dan Miller. I, there’s another principle that I’d say, I paid a place or in other words, when I know people are paying to be in part of mastermind groups that I lead, that as far as speaking. But for instance right now, I’m in a 3-year mastermind program where it’s a very significant investment to be a part of it. But it gets me around other high achievers and people are trying to maximize their impact in their income at the same time. And so those are the type of people I’m trying to spend time with.
James: Absolutely, the Jim Rohn experiment. Not even experiment, the Jim Rohn lifestyle. But tell me about that pay to play. Could you expand upon that a little bit, just positioning yourself to be within these groups then whatever the cost is?
Kent: Yeah, that’s basically it. What always cracks me up is people are looking for the cheap way to get into stuff. So hey, can I sell books in the back of your room so I can come to your…
Kent: Yeah, and here I was, a Youth pastor, the first… just in case that you don’t know what a Youth pastor is, I know you do James. But just in case your audience doesn’t know, it’s not a highly paid position. So I’m a Youth pastor. I’m actually the National Youth director at time, and I… the first speaking conference that I went to learn, I didn’t need to learn how to speak. I needed to learn how in the world you do a business based on speaking. So this is not eight years ago, I guess. I’m dropping 3 grand to go to it. But I had done my research and said, I know this person knows what they’re talking about and so I’ve always had this idea that that they are worth it. I’m going to pay to play. And so I tried to take on that attitude of every year, I want to pay something whether it’s for coaching, for conferences, for mastermind groups, I want to pay something to play with bigger fish.
And I don’t know if you ever feel this way, but whenever I feel like I’m becoming… I understand that when I’m doing coaching in mastermind for speakers that I’m suppose to be the smartest guy in the room with that. So I understand that. But whenever I look at all of the rooms that I’m in and I go, holy, cow! I’m becoming the smartest guy in the room in all these rooms, I feel really like, I’m in trouble. So paid play helps you put yourself in a position to where you, you are not the smartest person in the room. And you put yourself around other really smart people that are going to push you and make you achieve.
James: That’s so, invaluable to be able to recognize and see and realize, yeah, I’m kind of maxing out this so I got to raise the bar a little bit and keeps stretching.
Kent: Yes, absolutely.
James: I love that. So tell us, as just we wind down. I usually do 30, 40 minutes and I value your time. I just want to kind of wrap with what you have going on present day with… what do you have available for my folks and feel free to tell us about mastermind groups programs you have, some information where we can go and download it. And let’s hear a little bit about what you have going on, Kent.
Kent: Well, LiveitForward.com is the place to really find out kind of everything about what I’m doing, and we’re in the midst of pretty major website overhaul. So, that will maybe even by the time this comes out. But probably, by the fall, that is going to look very different. From there, we’ll be starting podcast, Live it Forward podcast, How to show up and shine everyday in every way. So we’re going to do that. And then I would say that the… if there’s people out there that are really interested in being a speaker or especially adding revenue to either your business or just even your life, in something you want to do on the side. We do a Speak it Forward boot camp. And if you got liveitforward.com, we always link to the Speak it Forward site when it’s time to start promoting that.
But that’s going to be November 6 to 8 of 2014. That’s the next one coming up so it gives people plenty of time. That is a boot camp. That is not just random ideas. It is really how do you maximize your impact and income as a speaker. And we teach systems of how do you figure out what you want to speak about, how do you put that together, how do you set up your platform for that. And then how do you market it. And it is really step by step by step, and the thing that I love about it, that I get compliments because there’s a lot of those conferences out there. And I think there are probably most of them, I haven’t been to all of them, but I’ve been to a lot myself. And most of them are good. The one thing I would say that makes ours really unique is we talk about, not just talk about, but show you how to go from an unknown to a 6-figure speaker within two to five years.
And that’s exactly in the market that I’m in, and it’s called the Career and Technology Student Organization. I was a nobody and had never presented, they have never heard about me. I didn’t have a presence. I didn’t have a website. And within three years, I was booking 35-40 engagements a year in that market.
James: Wow. So is this obviously, a live event and it’s in there in Georgia?
Kent: It is. It’s a live event in North Georgia, the North, it’s actually the North Atlanta area. We usually have anywhere from 35 to 60 people so it’s kind of intimate that way but it’s a really strong event.
II absolutely love doing it. Besides keynoting, that’s my favorite thing to do.
James: I love it and you love it. Okay, so we’ve got Live it Forward. And you will be linking off to speakitforward.com for the boot camp shortly. Speak it Forward, we can go there now, correct?
Kent: Yeah. Right now, it’s just a blog that we try to encourage people through occasionally by sharing some different things. But speaking is one of those things you can get a lot of really quick fixes and until you really learn how do you do the business out of this, it’s really hard to launch. So we share a lot of information there but we also realize in order to… if you really want to do this, you got to get serious and figure out some way to get trained in the business of being a speaker.
James: Sure, sure. No, I totally agree. All right and where we can find you hanging out? I see you on Google+ a lot. Do you do Twitter or Facebook?
Kent: Yeah, Twitter, big time. Twitter and yeah, Facebook too. A little bit more personal there but I connect with anybody. But I would say, the two places I enjoy the most are Twitter and Instagram. And it’s @kentjulian on Twitter and then instagram, some other guy got Kent Julian before me. So I’m kent_julian.
James: Oh, well. Darn it!
Kent: I know, I know, man. I’ve always got Kent Julian before anybody else but this time, I wasn’t quick enough.
James: That’s okay. That’s okay. Well, listen sir. I appreciate everything. I wish we could just talk all day. I’m going to check you out. I want to maybe get into one of your groups or see some, see what I can see for my self-improvement, self-enrichment there. Inspiring, great upcoming story, I thank you so much for your time. I look forward to talk to you again, I hope.
Kent: Yeah, man. Let’s stay connected. This is great. I really enjoyed my time with you, James.
James: Awesome, awesome, and I do too, sir. And I thank you very much. We’ll talk soon.