Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire Podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have Jim Bellacera on the show. Jim is an author, speaker and business owner and he created Successful Thinkers, a national networking group that brings together success minded people not only at local events but online as well. I met Jim this summer when he actually came to visit our local Successful Thinkers group all the way in Maine even though he’s from California. So I really appreciated meeting him and thank you so much for coming on the show today, Jim.
JIM BELLACERA: Thanks for the invite.
JAIME TARDY: So first, let’s sort of get into it. I don’t know too much about your background. How did you even get into business when you first started?
JB: That’s actually a really good question. I was 18 years old and I was hired with cabinet top and I was all excited about it because it was an opportunity for me to work in an area that I was pretty comfortable with and that’s working with my hands and after one year of working with that company I had been fired three times by the same company and realized that, you know what, as long as I’m working for somebody else, I’m always going to be kind of their servant, their slave and no matter how hard I work, no matter how good I do for them, if someone doesn’t like me they can get rid of me.
After being fired three times and going back to the actual owner of the company each time, he of course put me back on the floor and I was able to continue to work but after the third time I said this is it. I cannot work for anybody ever again if this is what having a job is all about.
JT: That’s great. So what did you do from there?
JB: I actually started my own cabinet shop. After one year with that company I actually learned every phase of cabinetry from laying out the job, measuring the job, cutting up the lumber, milling the wood, doing the doors, staining, painting, delivering and installing. So I basically learned the whole trade over one year and from there I went into business for myself and also got my general contractors license so I was building and remodeling homes and building cabinets.
So that’s kind of what I did from there and then it kind of progressed from there after I got hurt. I was delivering a job and I remember I was 26 years old. I was jumping off of a trailer, when you’re 26 you’re vibrant and you’ve got plenty of energy and I was pretty strong at the time and I just jumped off the trailer with it in my arms and crushed my back and that led me to basically be laid up for seven days. During those seven days, at the age of 26, I didn’t know when I was going to ever walk again, I started thinking that I’ve got to change careers and basically change my life and thankfully, with a chiropractor and believe it or not he adjusted me and I was able to get mobility and do my thing.
But I was basically desperate at that point emotionally and I also remember something that somebody said to me that scared the pants off of me. I looked up on the roof when I went to go measure a job and the general contractor’s first name was Joe and I said to one of the guys that was probably my age. I said why does Joe have this wide belt around his waist holding up his nail bags? The young man said, “Oh when you’re his age you’ll be wearing one too” and I literally never stopped thinking about that because I had been hurt and then I went through the process of contemplating my future and I realized if I am going to change, I’ve got to change careers completely so I’m not using my back, I’m not using my hands and it really changed my life.
JT: So what was that like and how did you know what to do next?
JB: I didn’t have a clue what to do next, are you kidding? When you’re desperate you start really, you do your homework. You start thinking about it. Somebody came along in my life that had already come along into my life, somebody else had some along in my life and offered me a specific business model in the network industry and first time around I allowed the influences for me not to do it; my friends giving me a hard time and people telling me that I don’t have what it takes.
Well, this time around I was determined and I got involved in the business and my best friends started laughing at me and telling me, “Jim, you’re not cut out for that kind of a thing. You’re not in sales.” I really was successful in the construction industry. I actually owned my own home out right, cash outright. I didn’t have no car payments, no house payments so it wasn’t like I wasn’t successful as a carpenter but I never done anything in the arena of selling or talking to people or trying to convince people so I had to basically start from scratch but when you’re determined you do what it takes, right?
JT: Yeah, definitely. So what made you so determined that networking, I’m assuming network marketing, right, was really going to be it for you?
JB: Well, first of all, it was the shift that I was looking for. I was looking for something that would pay me beyond my own time and effort, create a passive income. It was completely out of the realm of physical labor and it was something that could potentially go on beyond even a day’s work or beyond the month’s work and year’s work and obviously it’s true and I believed in that. When I was young I had a dream of becoming a millionaire and I would ask people that were millionaires what do you do? How did you become so successful?
They would tell me the different things that they did. Some of them required an education. Some required a lot of money to get into and I really didn’t have a whole lot of money even though I owned my house. The reason I didn’t have a lot of money was because I paid for everything. So I needed something that would be reasonable for me to get involved in and yet I could take my energy and my effort and I became a student. When the dream is big enough the facts don’t count even though I felt like I didn’t qualify to do what I was doing, they told me I could learn. I could overcome. I could become.
As a result, I started reading books. In fact, I read a book called The Uncommon Freedom. It was the very first book I read and prior to that, my entire life, I only read one book. I’m talking beyond when I was in kindergarten and stuff like that. I mean all the way through elementary school and high school, I read one book for English. So, all of a sudden, now I’m thrown into a new life changing experience and I was handed about four or five books. One of them was called The Magic. I think another one was called The Uncommon Freedom. I really wasn’t interested in any of the other books that were in the box but I opened up The Uncommon Freedom because that title really got me.
As I read the book, it was about people that had started, whether they were a school teacher or somebody in construction or highly educated or non-educated that had achieved a level of success in their career through that program that actually gave them a freedom that quite frankly nobody else I knew that ever had. So, by the time I finished reading that 400 pages, which was the next morning, I couldn’t stop reading it. I was convinced that I could do it too. That started my whole journey.
JT: That’s outstanding. So what exactly, when you were going through that and becoming a student and really learning, what were some of those pieces of advice that you really took in and learned and changed your life with?
JB: Well, one of them, which was probably really important to me and I say it all the time, when fear knocks answer the door. No matter who you think you are, you can become better and if you want something you better go after it. The advice was just endless. I believe that all the principles for success, I don’t care who you learn from, I don’t care if you get it from the Bible, if you get it from gurus. I don’t care who you get it from, it’s information that is the same information and success is relative.
If you want something in your life and you begin to hear these principles whether you read them through books or you hear it from people that are speaking from stage or online webinars or going to seminars, it really boils down to you need to look in the mirror and say, “I’m the only thing that’s holding me back.” It’s the guy in the mirror for me that’s holding me back. It’s not my friends, it’s not people who say I don’t have what it takes. It’s not people who say I don’t have the education.
Steve Jobs just passed away and he talked about how he dropped out of college. I did too. I went to college twice and both times I quit because I felt like I could make more money just being in the construction industry because I was making more money than all the people that had careers that I was supposedly going to have to go to school for anywhere from four to eight years to get involved in their careers. It didn’t make any sense to me. I just believe that the principles and they just continue to come. I mean take action. If you’re going to become a leader, how do you become a leader? You just put one foot in front of the next and you say “I’m a leader.”
You just know. That separates people from those who are the followers. It’s really interesting. I look at all the things that I’ve done, all of them including Successful Thinkers. Every business that I’ve ever started, started with Jim Bellacera. They didn’t start with anybody, nobody financed me. Nobody showed me the way. Nobody held my hand along the way. All I got was ridicule and criticism along my way but I just kept going and I looked behind me and there was an army of people behind me in every case.
Why me? Is it because I was lucky? Heck no, luck is being prepared for opportunity. It was really just that I realized I separated myself from the crowd by just simply doing things every single day that would get me where I want to go.
JT: So how do you deal with that fear though? Like you said, if you look in the mirror and you say I’m the only one, I’ve got to open the door, how do you push past that?
JB: Just do it. You know, Nike has a saying, “Just Do It.” Well, quite frankly, I’ve always had that saying before I even knew what Nike was and if I was supposed to do something, whether it was put out the trash or make a phone call or build some cabinets or whatever, I just, you know, it’s like I got to get it down so I would just do it. The interesting thing was even when I was afraid, I did it and I was stuck in that momentum.
So unless I was calling somebody to schedule an appointment to get together with them or I’ve already got the appointment now I’ve got to do it because I’m talking to them or I’ve scheduled it in my calendar so I didn’t have a choice to deal with fear because my integrity, my accountability was on the line and so I would either make the phone call because it was in my calendar or I would show up to the appointment because I made the appointment. So now I just had to deal with it and even though I stumbled, at least I stumbled forward meaning if I fail I was falling forward.
Some people, they’re afraid to make those mistakes because they don’t want to look bad. Well, I look bad all the time but I got better all the time. No, truly. I mean I’m serious because I walked away from some of my meetings and go why did I say that? But, I was able to reflect on the things that I said and the way I responded and those became lessons for me where some people were experts.
I’ll never forget I was at a certain level in my first experience, what I call the people business which you call network marketing and a guy walked up to me in a three-piece suit, highly educated, owned his own business. He was the president of the corporation, drove a Mercedes. I drove a, back in the day it was a Datsun pickup truck with dings all the way around it because in the cabinet business you just don’t care what your truck looks like. By then, obviously, I progressed to a much nicer car but anyways, he walked up to me and he said, “Jim, can I sit down and talk to you? I said, “Sure.”
He says, “You know, I got to tell you something.” I go, “What’s that?” He goes, “Well, I remember meeting you.” He says, “You were young, naïve, gullible” and I had a slip-on tie when I first got involved. My hair was parted down the middle. I was just young and naïve and he said, “Jim, I told my wife I give that kid two weeks and he’ll be gone” and he goes, “I’m looking at you right now and not only have you surpassed me in this business, you’ve blown other people away.” I looked at him and I was trying to think of an answer and I said, “Perhaps maybe it was because I was so naïve I believed. I believed what other people told me. That’s why I did the work even though I was afraid.”
JT: So like you said before, it’s almost as if your dream was so big that you just sort of had to just keep moving forward anyway.
JB: Like I say, if the dream is big enough the facts don’t count. So, for me, my facts were no education. I’ve always worked with my hands. If I shook your hand I would have scratched your hands because I had calluses so hard on my hand. I was one of those people who it was completely obvious I had never worked in the people industry. I used to hide my car because it was a truck. It was a beater. I didn’t want, I mean it’s funny here I had a house that was paid for but I was ashamed of the car I drove. Isn’t that weird?
JT: Yes. Well it’s not. I mean that’s what funny. We always tend to see the more expensive things whether you have a payment or not doesn’t matter. It’s the stuff that shows us that we’re successful and it’s not. I mean you were working your way and even when you were successful you didn’t even have a nice truck at that point and that’s okay too. So how do you do that stuff? When you first started in network marketing or the people business, what do you really think you did? Like why did you surpass this person that spoke to you before when he didn’t even think you’d last two weeks?
JB: Oh, well, I had urgency. I wanted out of the cabinet business. I wanted to create the income sooner than later, right. So I basically just worked harder than other people. It was pretty basic stuff. I mean schedule more appointments. You meet more people. You go through more no’s to find yeses. You learn more about people along the way. It’s kind of like there’s a saying that a rattlesnake is more afraid of you than you are of it, right. So what I discovered is people are the same way. As your posture gets better and stronger and as you begin to realize that your posture is how you present yourself, I mean I was sitting down with people that are attorneys and professors and highly educated people.
I’m not kidding you when I say this, I mean I’m sitting down with professors at Chico State University, attorneys and the list is huge of people that are highly educated who intimidated, intimidated the heck out of me and yet once I got to that place mentally where, look, I got something for them and I had to believe that. If you don’t believe it then you’re really wasting your time. As I’m talking to them, they’re looking at me going really? Even though they might not have said the words “really” they’re posture said “Really, I can too?”
They were making more money than me because, at the time, I actually, by the time I got that posture, I had gone through enough people where I actually went full time. I was only making a couple thousand dollars a month where I am face to face with people that are making 70 to 100 grand a year or more when I’m full time. But, they looked at me like well this kid has got something going on here and I want a piece of it. Isn’t that interesting?
JT: Yes. How did that belief in you change then? How do you feel about beliefs and changing your beliefs that way? Is it just doing the work and you eventually get over it?
JB: No, I think it’s a combination of doing the work and hitting your goals. As you set your goals and you achieve them, even if you miss the dates on them, but you see that you hit those marks. I mean I don’t know if you know who Robert Schuler is but he wrote a book called Peak to Peak and, in that book, he talks about how people believe that they can achieve a certain success, whatever it is. I mean I don’t know, I mean it could be learn how to drive a car. It could be getting hired in sales or hitting a certain number of sales per week or whatever and you hit that then all of a sudden you realize well if I set my goals a little bit higher and I worked a little bit harder, I can do more,
So basically as I would achieve one level of success, I could now see over that peak into the next peak and set a new goal that would help me get to that next phase or that next level of success whether it’s economically or a level of recognition within the company, whatever it was. I think that people, all of us, as we begin to see our accomplishments, then we know that we can do a little bit more. You know the analogy of the rubber band. You stretch a rubber band it never really ever totally goes back to its original shape because you stretched it.
What happens when you set goals? You’re setting goals because you’re trying to make yourself do something that you wouldn’t normally do. That’s why you set goals. As you set those goals and achieve those goals, even if you don’t hit them all the way, you’ve done more. You realize you can do more and, as a result, you do more.
JT: So it sounds like big goals are huge but what if you set your goals so big that you don’t even come close? Have you done that before?
JB: My whole life. That’s what my life is about.
JT: So what do you do then?
JB: What do I do? I keep going. I mean it’s like, okay well, I mean if you understood where I’m going with Successful Thinkers, which people just look at me and they think Successful Thinkers is just mixers. They haven’t a clue. It’s so much bigger and grander. It’s worldwide. It’s bridges, countries and all kinds of things but you know what I realize? If you believe it, you’ll find a way to get it. All my life, that’s just the way I’ve been. People call me a dreamer and I’m not ashamed of it.
I may not hit those goals, certainly at the level that I thought I was going to but at the end of the day, I can look back and I can honestly say, “Well gosh, I did a lot more than I thought, I mean than most people will ever do with their life.”
JT: So let’s talk a little bit about Successful Thinkers because I know this is what you’re in right now. Can you walk us through from idea of Successful Thinkers to sort of where you are now and just sort of see the progression of what’s happened?
JB: Sure. Successful Thinkers didn’t start the way it is today. My goal was to basically interview entrepreneurs and it’s funny because I started with Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I thought okay what I am going to do is interview people like him that have done some amazing things and have significance in terms of other people in other people’s eyes and I interviewed Jack and I was really excited about it honestly and I started thinking these are the folks that I know that I can interview that are in the same range as Jack Canfield and then it hit me.
What was it that motivated Jim Bellacera through his career? It really wasn’t the people that were already there that had created so much significance. It was the regular people that I could relate to. And honestly, most people can’t relate to Jack Canfield or Rudy Ruettiger or all these other people because they’ve got so much notoriety. So I started interviewing every day entrepreneurs that created success in their own life and I wanted to find, just like you’re doing with me, I wanted to find out what drove them. What was the motivation behind their desire to become an entrepreneur and then to push through all the trials and tribulations as we’re discussing this here today.
I did 50 interviews and during that process I began to realize I needed to get an audience because I couldn’t use the audience that I had with the company I was with because trust me I had hundreds of thousands of people that I had a database of, who knew I was but through this other company. I had to start organically and start from one meaning me all over again. That’s where the idea and the concept of Successful Thinkers, as we know it today, was born. Where I began to build an audience of entrepreneurs that meet together in mixers and even then I didn’t know what to do because I never ran mixers. I had been to them but I had never ran them and quite honestly, when I started to run this, I didn’t like it.
It was like everybody is pitching their business, throwing their business cards at each other, learning their elevator pitch and I saw people kind of sitting by themselves because obviously you could tell they were uncomfortable and you saw people that were talking to each other and somebody is pitching them their business and the person they’re pitching to is looking to meet someone else because they’re looking to get away from that person. Then you see the social butterfly people that could talk to anybody and they’re just making things happen and I just, after the third meeting, it was a third meeting.
I started in Raleigh, North Carolina. Did my first one, my second one was in Stockton, California and my third one was in Roseville, California which I live in Rocklin, California which is right next to it and so it would have been the fourth one. So the fourth one we started doing exactly the same thing as we did the other three and about 30 minutes in I said, “Everybody stop” and everybody looked at me funny like what is this guy talking about. I said, “Everybody put your business cards away and I want you to do what you would do at a party.” I said, “Quite honestly, I see what’s going on here and quite honestly I don’t like it. To me, this is not normal. Stop your elevator pitch. Stop pitching your business and keep that business card because you’re going to do business with people that you know, like and trust.”
You can’t trust somebody, you can’t know somebody if all you’re doing is pitching them. As soon as they put their business cards away the decimal level in terms of volume of the noise from people talking went from wherever it was to like ten times the noise level and I was going oh my gosh. I looked over at Robert Velarde and I go, “Robert, I think we’re on to something here.” That’s how Successful Thinkers built the culture that it has. We call it the Successful Thinkers Network Family. We’ve got a family. So people now, they gravitate to each other and they want to work together and, if you’re going to do business, why would you do business with somebody you don’t know.
If you’ve got a printer or a web designer or you got a social media expert or a real estate agent or a mortgage broker or an accountant, insurance agent, whatever it is that you’re looking for and they’re in your family, why would you go outside of your family to do business with somebody else?
JT: Makes no sense. They’re your family. That’s who you rely on, right? So you have a whole network of family. That’s great.
JB: I tell people, I go your Facebook friends is not what counts. It’s who is in your address book whether it’s your smart phone or if it’s in your address book in your laptop or if you’ve got a paper address book which I don’t know too many people that do anymore, but that’s what counts because on Facebook how many people do you really, I mean you could have 5,000 friends. How many of them have you communicated with, talked to, create a relationship with?
I mean big deal you can call them friends. That’s what Facebook tells you you call them. But that’s not what a friend is. A friend is somebody that knows you by name and knows a little bit about you. That you’ve taken a little bit of time to develop some sort of a relationship and from there, Successful Thinkers really begin to create a culture and some sort of a magnetism if you will and it’s different. Then I started thinking that Successful Thinkers really, when I step back, Successful Thinkers was launched on purpose, with a purpose for a purpose.
One of them, of course, was to help people obviously to move their businesses forward. For a purpose was the opportunity to really do something significant not just for themselves but now also for other people, in the community and whether they want to give back to charities or whatever. You can’t do it if you don’t take care of yourself. So the on purpose was to help people take care of themselves then give them the ability to do something purposeful in their life and then for a purpose.
We are in an economy right now and, of course, Obama is on his soapbox telling people that they’re going to do this and that and take money away from the people, the millionaires to put back into the economy to help create jobs and so forth. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that but wait a minute. How are you really going to make a difference in the local economy? If it’s taking money from one place and putting it and giving it to somebody else and I don’t believe that totally. I do agree with the concept. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything the politicians say but I believe that this country and every country was born at the grassroots level.
When I say for a purpose, Successful Thinkers strategically on purpose pulls people off the internet using social media and so on and so forth, beyond word of mouth and bringing people to meet face to face wherever it is that they live. So whether it’s in Portland, Maine or Sacramento, California or Seattle, Washington or whatever, we are coming together, doing business, meeting people and at the end of the day, a lot of these folks whether it’s insurance, mortgages, accountants, etc., you could hire people anywhere in the country and sometimes out of country and that means if you do it online, you do it away from your community.
That means you’re spending your money and it’s going elsewhere rather than being spent where you live. If you do business with people that you know, like and trust and you’re doing it face to face, you’re now putting money in the hands and the pockets of people that live in your community and those people turn right around and spend that money in their community whether it’s to pay their mortgage, their rent, the car payments or go to a restaurant or whatever and think of a domino effect of that. As soon as you pay for something, now somebody else can be paid for their wages for whatever it is that that money was paid for.
Then you’re also circulating the tax dollars right there in your community. So, when you think about what I just said, if we all did things that were selfish in nature, we would not be spending money where we live. We would end up spending money where it makes the most sense for us mentally and logically rather than how can we make a difference in our community. Even at the cost of $0.50 more, $20 more, would you rather spend it with somebody that you know, like and trust?
JT: Definitely. I have to commend you because you got me out of my own office. I’m so used to just sitting in front of the computer and talking to people over the phone or on Skype and yeah, you actually got me out and it was so nice to actually be with real people instead of just seeing an image of somebody on the screen. So that’s huge. Not only that but being able to really support your community and buy locally and meet some local people that I know people all the way across the world. I don’t know some of the people that are really local.
So what you’re doing is quite amazing. It’s sort of turning things around and going from social media because I heard about you guys on social media and then bringing us back sort of into the real world back offline, which has been amazing. So how did you go from three meetings to this?
JB: Well obviously I’m passionate, right? Before I answer that question, remember that question. I want to share something with you because this is really important. We are in a state of emergency right now. Not just this country but the world and it’s only getting worse and part of it is not just the economy in and of itself. It’s because you can’t ignore the internet. That’s part of the problem. The internet has given us an opportunity to really have no boundaries; there is no walls. Our opportunity is endless with the internet. Information is just streams into our brains and just all kinds of stuff can happen. Business can happen anywhere in the world which is fantastic.
Now that we’re in a state of emergency and I really wish and I’m not kidding you, this is not coming from an egotistical state but I’m going to say it. I wish that the President of the United States or somebody can put me in his office and I can have a real heart to heart talk with this guy because the truth of the matter is that we, just like if there was a tsunami or a tornado or a forest fire that burned down communities or an auto accident or flood, whatever it is. What happens when something of that catastrophic happens to other people? You and I would not even think twice, not even think twice about rolling up our sleeves and if we need to sandbag a wall, a retainer wall so the flood doesn’t, like it happened in gosh now I’m embarrassed, I can’t even think.
JT: New Orleans.
JB: Yes, New Orleans. That’s exactly what I was looking for – New Orleans. You and I would be there in an assembly line of people grabbing sandbags and building the retainer wall. Yes or no?
JT: Yes, my aunt was down there. Yes, definitely.
JB: Okay. If there were people that lost their home because of fire or flood or whatever and they’re over there in some gymnasium somewhere, would we not go in there and help feed them and if we had clothes that we could give them would we not do it? We would do it because that’s who we are. Because now it’s a cause. It has nothing to do with money anymore. Has nothing to do with race, religion, color, nothing. It has to do with that’s my brother, that’s my sister and I need to go help them.
So now, right now, we need to get, it needs to be on the freaking television. It needs to be on the internet that this is a cause. That we need to support our communities and we need to get back to the basics. Yes, let’s use social media because it really does help us in every way, shape or form but we need to do business face to face and we need to do it here. 2700 post offices have either closed or will be closing right now because those local communities cannot support those post offices anymore. That’s something that you and I have taken for granted our entire life and they’re closed, which means all those communities have just put another group of people in an unemployed situation. The post office is $3 billion in debt.
Now I’m not saying that we have to use the post office but I’m just making a point. The community is not even supporting it. Communities are doing things somewhere else in a different way. So we need to look at getting our communities back on track as a cause and we ban together and actually do that on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose well then aren’t we going to help our state and then at the end of the day help the nation?
JB: Can you see how passionate I am about this?
JT: Yes. It’s great. You don’t hear about that very much anymore. You know what I mean? You hear social media is the wave of the future and stuff like that. The internet is where it’s at. We don’t sort of go back to the roots and go wait a minute, it might be hurting us too.
JB: You know what, social media is not a bad thing. All I’m trying to say is we just have to learn how to use it so that we don’t get caught up in it and only do business online. I mean I know some people they don’t like people and they’re more comfortable there but the reality is I know a lot of people that use social media to make a living and they don’t. They don’t. As soon as they get out of the house and they get into a business setting where they can meet people, they actually start making sales and they got a smile on their face and they’re happy and they’re moving their life forward. So the social media can be a blessing and a curse all at the same time.
JT: That’s sort of what I want to talk about too. I still have the previous question. I definitely want to get back to that but it is amazing what face to face and I know you’re the guy that’s like yeah let’s do it face to face because it makes all the difference in the world and I know whenever I go to conferences or anything like that, having that actual time in front of someone is way different. So even if I met them on social media and we started a relationship online, it makes all the difference of going and actually seeing them in person.
I don’t know why specifically that is but it’s huge and so that’s what it sounds like that you’re really sort of seeing all across the country with everybody instead of being in front of the computer and building relationships just that way. Actually being face to face really makes a big difference.
JB: Do you remember the movie that George Clooney did not too long ago maybe within the last two years where he flew around the country firing people. His job was to fire?
JB: I was bored to tears in that movie. I like George Clooney as an actor, I truly do but I am like bored to tears. I’m thinking what is the purpose behind this movie? At the end of the movie, I began to realize what was going on, what they were trying to tell me, the message wise. There was a young gal who was all about technology and about saving the money, saving the company money and we can do this through cameras on the computer using Skype and so forth and we just fire them. Then you don’t have to spend the money on traveling, hotels and rent a cars and food for eating out and these people can stay at their office and fire them over the webinar.
Quite honestly, I’m very emotional about this because these are human beings that have a wife or husband and kids. Getting fired means they’re going to lose all that and the company didn’t have the decency to respect them as a human being, to let them go even though it was, they didn’t have a choice because the companies were downsizing or whatever but they had to make the decision do we let this guy, I forget what George Clooney’s name was in the movie, do we let him spend all this money to fly around the county and meet these people face to face and acknowledge them as a human being or we just do it very impersonally and personable, impersonally there we go and just tell them, you know, listen, as a result of the circumstance and everything we have to let you go but you’re sitting in your office and you’re going to go home. You know what I am saying?
JT: Yes, definitely.
JB: It really hit me. It hit me hard because when you connect with somebody you’ll buy from them. When you connect with somebody you become their supporter. You become their cheerleader, their fan. This is Successful Thinkers.
JT: Yes, Successful Thinkers is so much bigger than just a networking group.
JB: I barely touched the surface with what Successful Thinkers is with you, Jaime. You have no idea.
JT: Then let’s get into that because you went from three meetings and realizing that networking events aren’t handing out business cards. It’s way more than that. We’re talking about people. Like you said, you’re in the people business and now you’re bringing the people business over to networking and actually being with people, which is amazing. So how did you go from three meetings, changing it up to where you guys are now? You’re national, you’re huge.
JB: Well we’re international now as well, which is kind of cool. Obviously the original plan was to be in every city across America and then start bridging the gap around the world and I had to drive it and so we did a, what I call a major event November 2009 and we had 60 days to do it in from the time I actually got the church to basically lend it to me for free and it held 3,000 people. So my goal was to bring 3,000 people in and 10,000 people on the webinar to basically do a launch.
Now we had already been in motion from that first meeting in March 2009. So this would have been November, obviously several months later. But, by then, we only had 300 members. We had probably in the greater Sacramento area we probably had three to four meetings going on. Certainly we were already in Maine thanks to Jeff Ball but we had 60 days to promote it to the local people, to fill up that facility that holds 3,000 people. It was the largest theater in Sacramento.
I was a little nervous. No, I was really nervous but I just started promoting and we created some incentives for people to promote it to the people that they know and we ended up with 1,000 people there and 2,000 on the actual webinar and people from around the country and around the world saw it and next thing you know we started getting requests from people from all over because they fell in love with the concept for what you and I have been talking about here. The long and short of it, we began to open up chapters like we get on airplanes and fly to the new cities that would open up because somebody was willing to plant the flag, the Successful Thinkers flag, in the ground.
I knew that Successful Thinkers was not just mixers. It’s the foundation for what the real dream is for Successful Thinkers. I remember watching American Idol that year and I was watching it and I said, “You know what, this is what Successful Thinkers is.” It’s the American Idol for the entrepreneur because there is no other platform in the world where somebody could fall into, I mean you can’t accidentally fall into it but fall into a position where they could actually have an audience and my goal is to have an audience not just at the mixer level because we have speakers at every one of our mixers and most of our mixers are actually weekly. They’re every week which is just mind boggling that people just, they keep coming and bringing new guests. It’s just nuts. It’s nuts.
But anyway, someone who may not have had the opportunity to have an audience to teach on whatever they’re an expert on, not their business, not pitch their business but teach on something that could influence people in a positive way whether it’s for business or personal development. So that’s the first level. The second level would begin to have audiences of maybe four to five hundred people to a thousand where we come together with some people who have done significant things where they have an opportunity to share the same stage and get recognition because they have been paying it forward with Successful Thinkers and then the next level would be where we start to fill up coliseums.
That is in the works and then the next level would be to create the bridge from the U.S. to other countries and other countries back to the U.S. I like as Robert Boone even says. He says, “You know, it’s like the Autobahn. We can become the Autobahn for our import/export.” Obama talked about exporting product out of this country. We used to be number one. Now we’re number three in the world. There’s a lot of countries out there that can reduce the cost through labor to manufacture products and services, technology but the truth of the matter is that we have brilliant minds that live in this country.
We have the ability to create things and build things that the rest of the world wants. Europe is probably the most expensive place to manufacture and people still buy from Europe. So it’s really how well we can create something and sell it all at the same time and we can increase our exportation out of this country. I believe that Successful Thinkers could be extremely instrumental in creating a worldwide link to exporting as well as importing. There’s so many things, if I sat you down, you would just freak out where we’re going, the strategies that we have in place. We will become the hub for the world from every level of business you can imagine.
JT: That’s unimaginable. That’s great. Well, okay. So you talk about this amazingly huge dream that’s really inspiring. How are you guys making money off of it? I know you have to live. What’s the business model of Successful Thinkers?
JB: The business model is not to take away from what anybody is doing. So we have a whole strategy behind it. I don’t really reveal all the steps to that because it’s in our business plan and until we get our investment dollars, I’m keeping some of those things close to my chest. But the bottom line is I’ve done this multiple times and what I do is always free so it’s good. We will have things that make sense of business that will help business owners and we’ll have a university obviously. We’ll have other things that make sense but it’s funny because people just sit there and scratch their head.
You know what, I can’t make money without money and that’s just a reality so what we have to do right now is just what we’re doing until we get funding and once we get funding then I can have IT and I can have customer service and I can have all the things that are necessary to do what I need to do to actually create advertising dollars and things like that that make sense for us because I have a whole Angie’s List concept. I have a whole brick and mortar advertising program. I mean we’ve got things that are on our books that will incorporate brick and mortar companies. We will be in Angie’s, you know what Angie is, right?
JT: Yes, definitely.
JB: We’ll have that in place. There’s multiple things that people need and they need access to these people and we’re going to be like a Better Business Bureau for true entrepreneurs not just in this country but around the world but they’re all built in. Problem is it takes money. My budget with my last company was $150,000 a month. That’s what it was. Unless I have the budget to do these things, I’ve just got to wait it out. That’s the frustrating part for me because I’m a very, very, very impatient person.
JT: I want to say the reason why I ask that question is because the events are free, right? I mean I know the local ones are. That’s amazing because a lot of networking events aren’t free. So I was wondering where the heck you guys doing it. So it’s definitely in the plan.
JB: Right now we’re not making any money obviously. I would hope that says something, that I am still willing to work at this thing nonstop, 24/7 because the dream is bigger than, it’s not about the money. Here’s how I look at money. You have two ways to look at it. Number one, that people look at people as money and people are byproduct of the money which means it’s not a good thing or people look at people and money is a byproduct of the people. So I know that through servant leadership, that’s how Successful Thinkers was built. Period. End of story.
I knew that I could get people to follow something that was a cause, something that really, you know, I mean giving back to the community and helping each other and pay it forward, developing true business. If I could teach them and given them an arena to do that, they’ll do the little things that are necessary – find the restaurants or find the facilities that will say, “Okay, we need business and yeah, we’ll open our doors to you. We’ll take the risk with you” and they’ll do it for free.
Then they find out that we’re the real deal. I mean we’ve got a hotel that doesn’t even serve food and we’re in there every single Thursday. I may have anywhere from 60 to 100 people every single week, every week. They give us free coffee. But they know out of that people have stayed at their facility so they love us. We have another hotel, they serve food and they saw us go from 19 people, I think it was 19 people and then it grew to over 100 people so they opened up the ballroom and put us in there. They put linens on the tables and the nice chairs and they were serve us food like if you were to pay for it, you know, $30 a plate but instead they charged us I think it’s $12 a plate.
Whatever it is, they began to realize we need money and these are real people and some of these people are going to buy a meal. So they’re giving back to us if we give to them and that’s the power of servant leadership. We have been proving ourselves every day.
JT: That’s brilliant. I could talk to you for a lot longer but I know we’re just about out of time. So for the last question, what’s one action that everyone that’s listening right now can take this week to move them forward towards their goal of a million?
JB: Number one, I think you need to start with stop your excuses. I don’t care how scared you are. I don’t care what has or hasn’t gone right in your life because I can tell you that nothing has come my way easy. Absolutely nothing. So the action step is look if you haven’t written it down, write it down and then do it. Act on what it is that you want to accomplish and if you don’t know how you’re going to get there then your action steps should be to do the research and meet the people that can get you where you want to go. But make sure that you research those people because there’s a lot of people out there that will tell they’re all this and a bag of chips and the truth of the matter is that they’re liars.
You need to work with somebody who is telling you how to do something because either A) they’re working with people that are helping them help you or B) they are where you want to go. But if they’re just telling you they’re all that and they haven’t done anything and they’re not working with anybody and they’re saying they’re the messiah, then you need to rethink that process because the reason I share this with you is once you find somebody that can be your mentor or you find that group, then you need to take the action steps to get your where you are going to go which is just basically move forward, just do it. Don’t think about it, do it.
JT: Outstanding. That’s amazing advice. Just do it already. The term you coined even before Nike.
JB: Here’s the thing, Jaime. I don’t have anything amazing, intellectually to tell you. I have never been one of those people that dissects things all the way down to its core and said oh that’s why. I’ve learned all the things I need to learn to understand human behavior and things like that but that was all byproduct of just learning. I realized that I was so blue collar that things had to be so simple for Jim Bellacera. I didn’t need somebody to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s just so that I understood why I need to do it. I just needed to know what I needed to do. You tell me what to do, I’ll do it. But people who want to dissect those things unfortunately they hold themselves back.
JT: That’s great advice. So I identify who you are and how you learn and just do it anyway.
JB: And you will learn all the intricacies of what you’re doing along the way but don’t wait. Don’t wait.
JT: Thank you so much, Jim. Where can we find out more about you and Successful Thinkers?
JB: Start with, because we just shutdown the old website, we’ll launch the new website shortly. Go to Jimbellacera.com for the moment and probably by the time this is out the new website will be up. That’s right. Successfulthinkers.com that will take you to the new website.
JT: Excellent. So what we’ll do is I’ll definitely link everything up in the show notes so that way they can check out your website and they can check out Successful Thinkers too. I highly recommend it. My group locally is really amazing people. So you should check your local one too because I’m assuming you probably have one. They’re everywhere. If they’re here, they’re everywhere. So thank you so much for coming on today, Jim. I really appreciate it.
JB: You’re welcome. Thank you for your time.
Just to note, you can download the Top 10 tips from these millionaire interviews on the blog.
Thanks for listening. You can find out more great information like this on eventualmillionaire.com.