Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have Marissa Levin on the show. Marissa owns two companies – one called Information Experts and the other is Successful Culture. I was reading her bio and there were so many awards I couldn’t even list them all here so I am really excited to have her on the show today. Thank you so much for coming on today, Marissa.
MARISSA LEVIN: Thank you, it’s a pleasure.
JAIME TARDY: So let’s start off with sort of how you got started in business together and sort of what the pivotal moments were to start your first business.
ML: So I started Information Experts about 17 years ago. It’s kind of an interesting story. I don’t have a business background per se. My undergraduate degree was in English with a concentration in Shakespeare. I know, not exactly the direct path to business ownership. When I graduated I became a journalist actually covering Capitol Hill, the telecommunications industry and I kind of really became very proficient in that industry and that technology and from there I was actually recruited by a very small company that provided training to the telecommunications space.
So that was kind of my first foray into consulting and instructional design and curriculum development. I put myself through a master’s degree program in about 18 months there and when I went into really quantify my work to the owner of the company; he told me that I would never be worth more than $34,000 while I was working there. So he basically capped my worth at $34,000 and it was just kind of a light bulb went off. It was at that time that I just decided, you know, I was making him a lot of money. He was double billing me and double booking me on different projects and I was bringing in clients. I was project managing. I was putting out great content and I had a lot of value in the market and I just decided, you know what, I think I can do this myself and that is really what gave me the motivation and which was the catalyst for me to go ahead and start my own firm which is Information Experts.
JT: So how did you do that being a journalist, knowing your trade really well, but then jumping into business ownership? What was that like and how did you do it?
ML: You know, I think when I did it I kind of, I really didn’t know everything that I was biting off. I didn’t know I was biting off more than I could chew and I was really coming from the place of I knew what I didn’t want more than what I knew what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want to work for a company that had the value system that that company had. I knew that I was worth a lot more and I just kind of had an idea of what I wanted my life to look like and what I just wanted my path to be and I just didn’t see it happening where I was working.
So it wasn’t that I started a business with a grand vision of what I wanted, I was starting from a place of knowing more of what I didn’t want and what wasn’t working for me and I just felt that the only way that I could really create the future and the life that I wanted was to take ownership for it. That’s basically how I started. My first contract was actually $35,000 in three months, so I made a $1,000 more over three months than I was making in a year. After that first contract, things just started to roll and I never looked back.
JT: So did you land that contract just from the skills that you had already had before?
ML: I did. My skills were analysis, connecting with the clients, communication, writing, all the fundamental skills now that I look for really in every hire that we make and information experts. It’s all getting back to the basics. I really think that I’m doing what I was meant to be doing. I connect with people. I help people figure out how to get over the roadblocks that are impeding them in their ability to reach their potential. I write, I speak and I think that’s always who I have been at my core. Staying true to your core and who you are at your core and what you believe in and what you believe your mission is, it just seems that, for me, that has been what my secret has been to my success.
JT: And it’s so much more enjoyable too I bet, because then you can live what you really feel like instead of being capped at anything else, right?
ML: Yes and I do think that, I mean coming from an employee’s perspective, I think you need to be working at an organization that is aligned with what you believe and what your core value system is. I was actually just reading the article on Greg Smith, the person who retired from Goldman Sachs.
JT: Oh I just read that too.
ML: A lot of the reason that he left is because a disintegration of culture and that the company no longer aligns with what he believes. So I think if employers can be cognizant of that, of building an organization that is coming from a place of strong value system and employees, if they can keep in mind that they need to always be aligned with the core values of an organization, if those two can be on the same page, then you’re going to have a winning combination.
JT: I want to talk about that soon too because that’s pretty much what your new business is all about. I will definitely set aside some time so that way we can definitely go over that. So 17 years ago is when you started this company, which is kind of crazy, because I feel like information nowadays is huge but 17 years ago it wasn’t like the biggest thing ever. The internet wasn’t as cool as it was now, you know, it barely existed. So how did you do that? Did you know you were sort of on the forefront? I mean you named your company Information Experts, which is an awesome name. How did you know as you went through?
ML: Well, it’s interesting. When I was at my company prior, one of the things that that company did focus on was and that they educated me on was information design. So one of the leaders in information design is actually Edward Tufte and he’s a professor, I believe he is at Yale, and I actually had an opportunity to study under him and I was very much of a prodigy to the owner of the business where I worked and so I really got interested in information design, how you display information and how you use information both qualitative and quantitative, really the usability experience, long before we even were aware of usability from an internet perspective, because this is going back even before the internet existed.
But the idea of creating information so that it resonates with your user audience, so that it’s designed in such a way for maximum impact, that was just always something that I was really passionate about and that’s where the name Information Experts came from. So you’re right, it definitely is a very current name even though it is 17 years old.
JT: You were ahead of your time, right?
ML: I was. I definitely was.
JT: That’s awesome. Do you have any resources because I love that stuff too. I really enjoy that information. Do you have any resources that you’ve used or that you found magazines or books about that specifically?
ML: About information design?
ML: Well Edward Tufte is truly, I mean he’s the godfather of information design. He has written five or six books and he still tours nationally and does intensive workshops and anyone who is in communications and information should definitely know Edward Tufte.
JT: Well it’s funny because nowadays there’s so many like online information products. It’s like now the cool hot new thing, you know what I mean to deal with that stuff, and a lot of people don’t have any background in designing products or information at all.
ML: Well they don’t think about it.
JT: Well exactly. Like here’s information, learn it. That’s not a really good way of doing it. So do you have any tips or advice for someone who maybe is just getting started in the information delivering kind of space or design? What sort of tips do you have for them?
ML: From an information design perspective, well I mean there are a lot of resources. At Information Experts we have a full strategic communications, marketing and graphics design communication strategy practice. That’s one of our practices and those people are really my experts at Information Experts. But the people that we have, I mean they all have master’s degrees in fine arts. We have one of the nation’s only certified usability specialists on our staff. I mean there are only a handful of them.
So I think from an employer’s perspective, if you are in the business of putting out content and designing information, make sure that you’re giving your team and your staff all of the education and resources and training that they will know that’s available. Embrace the learning. I mean that’s a cultural initiative. Have a learning centric organization where you’re allowing all of your people to always stay up to speed on what’s going on in their industry.
JT: How many employees do you have right now?
ML: We have about 45.
JT: Nice. How big of a company is it? Like 17 years, can you sort of tell me about the growth a little bit on how that went?
ML: Right now I think we’re averaging, I think for 2012 we’ll probably be at around $15 million. That’s probably where we’ll end up. So it has definitely been an evolutionary growth rather than a revolutionary growth. I mean it has slowly evolved. We’ve gone from $1 million to $3 million to $5 million to $7 million to $9 million. It has been very kind of consistent and stable. There haven’t been any like major spikes in our growth. It has just been very consistent.
JT: So like what did that look like year two, after you got that $35,000 contract? You’re sort of doing it yourself. Did you have any employees at year two?
ML: I don’t think I had employees at year two. I think I was still doing it myself and my first employees were actually subcontractors. What I’ve learned as I have kind of moved through the progression is that when you start a business as a boot strapper you really are a practitioner where you’re doing everything that your selling. You go out, you sell it, you come back, you deliver it and you produce it and you basically are the practitioner. When you grow, you realize I can’t do everything. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ve got to do marketing sales, finance, ops, I have to do delivery. I just can’t do everything. I need some help.
JT: Yes, 17 hats on one head kind of hurts after a little while.
ML: Yes, I mean there are just too many things so you’ll go out and you’ll get one or two people who are either part-time helpers or subcontractors. Then what you do is you find yourself in a position of management. So you’re doing practitioner role and you’re doing management role and whether or not you signed up for it really is irrelevant because if you’re going to grow the business beyond yourself, you need to start surrounding yourself with the people who can do that.
Then as you evolve past just practitioner and manager, you really move into the role of leadership, if you kind of have gotten beyond the $1 million mark and you realize that you need an infrastructure. So you might have to hire a manager for this particular function or a head of this group or this practice. Then all of a sudden, not only are you moving farther away from the practitioner, but you’re actually moving into a role of leader where you have managers underneath you and you’re basically guiding them and advising them and making sure that they have what they need to be successful.
And then if you continue up the trajectory, the path of growth, then what I have discovered that where I am is that you kind of go into a role of advisor. That’s kind of where I am now. Where I have a really solid leadership team under me and my role, actually the company functions much better if I am not involved in the day to day.
JT: Good to know!
ML: Yes. If I’m kind of in there kind of tingling with everything and saying why are we doing this and why aren’t we doing that, what I am doing is I am actually getting in the way of progress and I think that as businesses grow, what CEOs need to realize and business owners is that first of all they can be their own worst enemy in terms of growth and progress. Number two, they’ve got to be willing to get out of the way because you need to be able to delegate to others who want to be involved in your growth and the company can’t be CEO centric. It has to be organizationally centric where everybody in the organization counts. It isn’t just about the CEO holding everything together.
JT: But of course when it’s you and you start the whole thing, it’s hard to get out of that role. I mean the good thing it takes the evolution but still it took 17 years to get to that point. Beforehand, you were doing hardcore stuff and really being involved. So I am sure that’s something difficult to do.
ML: You want to. Like you want to get rid of it but then when the time comes and you got to let go, it’s hard.
JT: Like kids leaving the nest, right? You’re like well I want you to go but I don’t want you to go.
ML: Yes. Be careful what you wish for syndrome.
JT: Exactly. And it’s funny because I can hear from you just speaking is you actually work a lot with the entrepreneurs organization and I can tell like as you’re going through, you’re probably really used to sort of mentoring and advising people to hit a million dollars in their net worth also, right, and their growth.
ML: Yes. I get a lot of calls. A lot of asking for assistance with whether it’s putting, I mean I am helping one of the Accelerator participants right now. He needs to implement some processes, some structure and so I am actually going to be assisting him with that and assisting him with implementing potentially an advisory board because he’s definitely at the point where he just needs help. And that’s okay. I think one of the most important factors for success is to always be asking for help and to always be looking for help,
I do a lot of the personal one on one mentoring and coaching on culture, strategy, values, infrastructure, business development, federal marketing, contracts.
JT: Anything they ask for?
ML: Yes, I love Accelerator; very, very committed to it.
JT: I think that’s awesome that you’re giving back and stuff, especially with all the knowledge you have because there are people that are listening right now too that are listening and going I need this information because we don’t have it. We don’t have your experience and it’s really, really awesome that you can give it to us so freely. So what’s one of the things that you see often keep coming up in your Accelerator program? Like what are some of the constant problems that people are going through and what sort of advice do you have for that?
ML: I definitely think the biggest thing is time management. That’s kind of been just what I’ve heard, it’s I don’t know how to get everything done. I don’t have enough hours in the day. Like I was just mentioning earlier, you know, how do I spend the time selling? How do I spend the time writing my proposals? How do I spend the time delivering? How do I have, for lack of a better word, balance with the rest of my life and that’s definitely something. I mean I’ve got two kids, ages 11 and almost 15. I have had my business 17 years so my whole life that I’ve had my kids, I’ve been raising them through my business.
One of the things that I tell people is that I have had to sacrifice the growth of my company for the development of my children and that’s okay and I would make those choices again in a heartbeat. You have to just really be gentle and kind with yourself and do all that you can do and not compare yourself to others and not get frustrated if things aren’t moving as fast as you want them to move with the business, but just to trust the process and continue to try and enjoy the journey and stay focused on why you’re doing what you’re doing. I would definitely say that time management, I mean that’s kind of the biggest struggle I see is that people just don’t know where to put the limited number of hours. They’re pulled in a lot of places. It’s just there’s a lot of competing demands for people’s time.
JT: It’s funny, I feel like you’re speaking to me. I only work part time because I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old and I’m going it’s not going fast enough and my mentors are like relax. Okay, relax. It’s so difficult to let yourself have patience to really step back because it was your choice. I know it was my choice and I’m okay with that. I love the fact that I made this choice but it’s still kind of hard. It’s kind of funny what our brains sort of automatically do. We know logically but it’s hard to get ourselves to actually enact that. It’s funny I hear the time excuse too.
I call it an excuse that comes up over and over and over again because there’s a great quote. I’m probably going to bosh it but it’s by Lao Tzu and he said, “Time is a created thing. To say you don’t have time is like saying I don’t want to.” So it’s sort of an arrow through the heart when you hear something like that but it’s all about your choices.
ML: Your priorities.
ML: It comes down to what’s important to you.
JT: So what do you tell people? What sort of advice do you have? Patience is one but what do you actually have them do to try and feel like they’re getting more out of their time?
ML: So I really come at it from a place of being a mom. So I mean my kids are already a little bit older and I can’t believe I’m going to high schooler next year.
ML: It goes really fast and you just can’t get that time back. I’m telling you this that I have to preach this to myself. I mean I just reached out to a friend earlier in the week completely panicked that things weren’t moving fast enough and that I’m pulled in a million directions because I’m trying to get one of my kids through a transition to middle school, ready for middle school and one getting ready for high school. I get frustrated that I can’t be here and I can’t be there and he said to me, he’s like, “If things get delayed a year, you’re still going to be okay but your kids need your focus.”
So I also reach out to get that type of support. It’s not like I’ve got it all figured out. I just tell people, I suggest you do the best you can and you celebrate the wins every single day. You look back on your day and you say well what did I get accomplished? What did I achieve? What went well today? And focusing on the positive versus what didn’t work. At the end of the day, we can only be grateful for what we’ve achieved and there’s just no point in hitting ourselves over the head for not moving the ball forward as fast as we can.
JT: Yes, it’s the moving it forward at all that matters more than just how far.
JT: I want to kick it though, I want to kick it and I’m throwing it very slowly.
ML: It’s true.
JT: It’s really great to hear though that you have the same thing. I mean you’re running huge million dollar organizations and you still have the same issues. So I guess that’s a good thing. We’ll have to deal with it now and we’ll have to deal with it later too, which I guess is good; very good practice for everybody. So as you’re going, when did you start the second company? It sounds like you’re sort of pulling away from Information Experts as you’ve grown that and you’re starting something brand new, which sounds like you’re passionate about it, but when did that start? When did you start Successful Culture?
ML: I started Successful Culture in July 2011. So I guess that’s like 7 or 8 months and it’s not that I’m pulling away from Information Experts. It’s that my role at Information Experts is very much the culture, the vision, the mission, the values, it isn’t the operation side. I’m definitely the CEO and I’m definitely the face of Information Experts and my heart is in Information Experts.
What Successful Culture is though is it’s a platform and it’s something that has enabled me to really connect with other business owners, aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs and other business leaders and share my lessons learned of what I’ve gotten from building Information Experts both the successes and the failures. You know, all the fires that I’ve put out, all of the challenges I’ve overcome. I’m a very process oriented person so I’ve developed certain processes on how to do things and I want to share those to make the road a little bit easier for other business owners.
So Successful Culture is really my platform to be able to do that and that will be a full online information product organization. So it’s interesting I’m kind of living in two worlds. I’ve got this 17 year old brick and mortar company, right, that’s every established and is very traditional for all intents and purposes and I also have a complete online information product organization that’s completely in the startup phase. So I am literally living in two places. What’s interesting is that Information Experts, the products that we provide are strategic marketing, education and training, human capital, interactive website design and development, conference planning, I mean a whole host of strategic communications services and they’re everything that any startup needs. Successful Culture is actually a formal client of Information Experts.
JT: That’s really interesting.
ML: It is interesting because basically I kind of feel like a college student that has moved out from home but I keep having to go home to get my laundry done and raid the parents’ refrigerating because I want to be independent and I can’t do it by myself. I’m like man I need help, I need my website done, I need my social media done. Like I can’t do it all myself, I have to keep going home to Information Experts.
JT: How perfect of a set up is that for you? That’s what I was going to ask you about. How are you dealing with a startup now? Like you said, you’re 7 or 8 months old, so how are you dealing creating this brand new thing, especially in a different kind of world?
ML: I’m in major learning mode.
JT: Tell me more. What are you trying to learn right now and what do you really see?
ML: I’m on the lowest rung of the learning ladder. Like the only place I can go is up because I was in the I don’t know what I don’t know quadrant and now I’m kind of moving into the I know what I don’t know quadrant. There is just so much to know about the online information product space, about building webinars, about building your list, getting followers – not necessarily fans because they don’t really always convert into revenue – but how do I build the list? How do I get people to opt in to my blog, which is at SuccessfulCulture.com. How do I build that online presence and brand?
So that’s really what my learning curve is right now and it’s great because I literally, I mean at the end of all of this, I’m just going to be an expert on all brick and mortar as well as the whole online information product.
JT: You’ll start a new company for that, right?
ML: And what’s really interesting is that I started this wanting to have this platform to do what I love which is to mentor others and to connect with others and to use my communications gifts to help them reach their goals. But everything I talk about has to do with my experience with Information Experts so the brand visibility and awareness of Information Experts right now is going through the roof and it’s driving more traffic now to Information Experts. I mean so much actually that our website actually crashed earlier this week because this spike in traffic.
I mean it’s like a harbored textbook case study of how a CEO can develop a personal brand to actually drive brand awareness and visibility and traffic to their mother brand or their home brand. It’s a really interesting dynamic to watch it all happen.
JT: That’s amazing. So that’s really, really interesting; I don’t think you could have planned it any more perfect than that.
ML: I didn’t plan it.
JT: Things just happened perfectly. So tell me about some of the struggles that you’ve gone through right now, especially in your startup because we hear a lot of oh my gosh this is perfect, like we were just saying and then we miss out on some of the oh my gosh I don’t know how to do this late night trying to figure this out kind of stuff. So what sort of struggles have you overcome already in that business, the new business?
ML: Well I’m in a learning curve. I’m in a learning mode and I would say my biggest struggle has been learning and what I’ve done is I’m just surrounding myself and I’m immersing myself in everything I need to know and I say, “Here are my gaps, here are my knowledge gaps. Where can I go or who can I go see that can help me?” I’m basically following the same strategy I did with Information Experts of surrounding myself with the right people. But the thing is the people that were the right people for me at Information Experts are totally different than who I need for Successful Culture.
So I literally have entered a new universe. I’m in a whole different circle. I’ve got a mastermind group which is phenomenal. I am joining other organizations that are specifically geared towards the online information product space. I am investing in going to different conferences and spending time with those people and I’m putting myself out there as a novice saying, “Can anybody help me?” I think that that’s probably the biggest lesson when you’re starting a business – really identifying where your knowledge and your skills gaps are and then going out and saying, “I need help. Can you help me or can you direct me to someone that can help me?” That is really what needs to be done when you’re initially starting a company.
JT: It’s funny because in two hours I am actually interviewing a millionaire that does information marketing. So I’ll have you listen to that interview. If you have any questions for him, relay it to me and I’ll ask him.
ML: Who is it?
JT: His name is Sean Donahoe.
ML: Don’t know him.
JT: Yeah, he was really, really cool. I actually know him from before and I am really excited to do that interview too, because I do a lot of online stuff and if you have any questions for me, definitely let me know. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now.
JT: I think that’s what’s really cool is you being able to put on the hat of a novice because a lot of the times we’re like oh my gosh, $15 million company, she knows everything.
ML: No, I don’t know everything. In fact, I’m still learning a lot at Information Experts, believe me. There’s still plenty of struggle going on at Information Experts. So it doesn’t matter what level of growth you get to, if you’re going to continue to grow, then you’re always going to be the smallest fish in the pond. I mean that’s kind of how you look at it. I might be of a certain level right now or a certain plateau, but my plan is to get bigger so I always am in that learning at the growth mode. You can’t leave that mode.
JT: And sometimes that mode hurts too. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. That’s why I do these interviews. Like I talk about real talk with real millionaires. They’re just people. You’re a person.
ML: Yes, it’s people. It’s actually, I mean the growth is painful in an organization and it’s not for someone who doesn’t have an iron will and who doesn’t have a thick skin. I mean you really need it. It’s a long journey. It takes a lot of endurance.
JT: Well let’s talk about mindset. I just did a webinar last week on mindset and I was really surprised at how low people were rating. It was a rating so I had everybody on the webinar actually rate themselves. I was really surprised at how low everyone was rating them. So what sort of advice do you have for mindset?
ML: For mindset?
JT: Yes, trying to improve. You know what I mean?
ML: How to improve?
JT: Yes, so like for you, you have built a really large company. You have confidence. You know what you’re doing, at least for some things, you can admit where you don’t know what you’re doing but for other people that are just stating, they don’t even want to step out of their shell just because they don’t even know what’s out on the other side and getting out of their comfort zone and that sort of stuff is really scary. So what sort of advice do you have in regards to that?
ML: I mean that’s a confidence issue and you know what, you just have to suck it up and get over it. I mean you just have to. If you’re going to do this, if you really want to grow a business, you’ve got to stop telling yourself negative things. One of the resources that I have gone to, I meditate a lot. I definitely have a very strong spiritual side and one of my favorite books is a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
So the four agreements are, the first one is to be impeccable with your word and the word impeccable actually translates in Latin to without sin. So the first rule is to basically is be without sin with your word. But what does that really mean? It isn’t just like the words that you speak to others. It’s actually the words that you tell yourself. So what are the messages that we tell ourselves and what are the words that we speak to ourselves and what the book actually talks about is that we could go through life and we could identify people who have not been nice to us or been verbally abusive to us or whatever it would be, but the truth is that no one is as hard on ourselves, on us, as we are.
So the first step actually in creating a strong mindset is to be impeccable with the words that you tell yourself and to be cognizant and aware of it. Like you are your thoughts. I mean the power of your thoughts, it’s so strong. If you’re sitting there saying, “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough. I don’t know enough. I don’t know as much as that person. I don’t think I can handle this. I’ve got too much on my plate.” If that’s what’s rolling through your head all the time, that’s going to manifest in reality.
But if you can do positive affirmations and you can wake up and you can say, “Today I am going to accomplish this” or “Today is going to be a day of greatness” or whatever it will be, what are the messages that you’re telling yourself and start there in the very beginning of your day and do what you need to do whether it’s creating a vision board so that you actually have visual cues of where you want to be in the future, whether it’s, like for me, honestly I’m a writer so one of my affirmations that I have written down and as a visual cue is New York Times bestseller.
That’s just a goal for me. So if I can look at those words and I can look at that visually every single day, that’s what drives me. It’s all about creating a very positive mindset and you have to feed that. No one else is going to feed that. All of that affirmation and all of that mind setting is going to come from you. It will not come from any external sources. Now that being said, we also have to look around at the people that surround us because research has definitely proven that we are the average of the seven people that are closest to us. So who is closest to you and who is in your inner circle. Is it people that really don’t deserve to be in your inner circle? Is it people who aren’t supportive of your goals or your dreams or who are getting in the way of you achieving what you want to achieve?
Be very, very selective about who you surround yourself with because those will be who you become. They seem very esoteric and not very concrete suggestions but you mentioned mindset and mindset is a very powerful thing that you alone control. It’s not controlled by anybody else outside.
JT: That’s awesome. I love those and the vision board I think is great. I know exactly what you mean and I think one of the things I would love to add to that is I remember I did a vision board and I wanted to be in a magazine. I didn’t know how I’d ever be in a magazine. I didn’t know any editors or anything like that and it just sort of happens. I mean I got contacted, which was really cool. I was in Success Magazine last month. I was in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine and when I put that on there.
I mean it was up there, when I put that on there I had no idea and I think part of it, you want to be a New York Times bestseller, let me know how I can help too by the way, but it is one of those things that you probably don’t know exactly what it’s going to take to get there and that’s okay. You don’t know all the steps to already hit it.
ML: That’s exactly right. You don’t know what’s going to come along on your path and I think that a lot of people for some reason, whether they feel they’re not entitled to happiness or whether they feel that it’s egotistical or selfish to go out and pursue your happiness or to claim your happiness, those are mindsets that they seriously need to get over. I mean I just really feel that way. I feel that we all have a right to claim our happiness, to own our outcome and when we give up that right or when we delegate that to somebody else, we delegate our own choices for our own life.
So that’s really what it is at the core I think to be an entrepreneur is to, you know, you want to put your stake in the ground. You want to say, “You know what, this is my little piece of the earth, of the world that I own. This is mine and I’m building it and I’m going to do it my way and I’m going to go out and I’m going to claim what I want.” There’s nothing egotistical or selfish about that. In fact, when we tap in to what we’re best at, right, when we tap into our greatest potentials and we bring those to everybody else around us, then everybody benefits. It all gets back to lifting where you stand, right?
Being your best and bringing that and sharing it to the world, with the world and that all gets back to the mindset of saying, “I’m entitled to claiming my own happiness.”
JT: You gave me chills, thank you. I think that’s huge. I think that’s huge. Well for a couple, we have a little bit more time and I see all the books back there so I know you’ve already talked about Four Agreements, which I absolutely love that book. Can you give me some other books that have been pivotal in your life? Like what’s really, really impacted you?
ML: Definitely, I mean The Four Agreements first and foremost is definitely at the time. Let me think. I’ve got a couple other books. I mean I’m reading my friend’s, I’m going to give my friend Yanik Silver a plug. He’s actually an EO member in D.C.
JT: I didn’t know that.
ML: Yeah, he’s great. He has a book about the maverick entrepreneur and I would definitely recommend for all entrepreneurs to get Yanik Silver’s book.
JT: Yanik’s great. I should have him on the show.
ML: Yanik has a great book and he’s going to be thrilled that I just gave him a plug. I also am a big fan of The Blue Ocean Strategy. Basically what that says is that rather than competing with a competitor, what you want to do is really create uncontested market space. How can you basically become one of a kind in a sea of competitors? It talks about great examples of how that’s happened. So I think that’s a great book.
I’m also a big fan of Marshall Goldsmith. He’s written several books about, like one of my favorites is What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and that talks about the journey of the CEO as the business grows and how what you need at one level may not be what you need at another level. I’m also a big fan of Patrick Lencioni. He’s written The Five Temptations of a CEO. That’s a great book. When I read that book I kind of felt like I was being stalked. I was like has he been watching me because it’s so accurate. It is eerily accurate. So that’s really a good book.
Also I’ll give a plug for Inc Magazine. I am a religious reader of Inc Magazine both online and in print. To talk about manifesting what you want to occur, I’m actually in discussions to get a column in Inc Magazine in print and online. So we’ll see where that goes. But I’m a huge fan of Inc Magazine.
JT: Yes, me too. You’ll have to let me know how that pans out. I can’t wait to read you in print. That would be great. Awesome, thank you, those are awesome and I love having books that I haven’t heard of. I have a huge bookshelf too and I’m sort of like I know so many books but I love the fact that you’ve actually introduced me to a couple so that’s really great.
Just to wrap up, for the last question I always ask, every single time, is what’s one action that listeners can take this week to help move them forward towards their goal of a million?
ML: You mentioned to met you were going to ask that and my initial response was going to be really come up with one thing that you can focus on. Like look at your list of the 50 things that are on your to do list, but what is the one thing that you can laser focus on for a priority? So that was going to be my answer but I have to say that now that we’ve had this discussion I would have to change my answer to shifting your mindset. So everything that we just talked about your mindset, I would say to do a pulse check on your mindset to see where it is and how healthy it is because everything starts with your frame of mind, everything.
So if you can get your frame of mind right and believing in yourself and believing in what you’re trying to accomplish, and more importantly believing that you have a right to go out and own your outcome, if you can start there, then the rest will fall into place.
JT: I love it! I love both but I love that one! So where can we find more information online. I know you’ve got the new site, we’ve already mentioned it, but plug that, any Facebook, Twitter, anything you need to plug right now, go ahead.
ML: So I’m all over the place. I mean people can link in with me on LinkedIn at Marissa Levin. Twitter I’m @MarissaLevin and Success_Culture. If you type in Marissa Levin both will come in. I’m on Facebook personally and then I really would love for people to go to SuccessfulCulture.com and you’ll get an opt in, they’ll flag you, they’ll ask you if you want to opt in to my blog because I’ve got a great blog on leadership and organizational culture and I only put up valuable content.
I mean I’m really, really specific about my content making sure that it truly impacts the way people can lead their organizations. So SuccessfulCulture.com. I’m also on Quora, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Quora. So I’m on Quora. I’m on clouds.
JT: You’re all over.
ML: Yes, kind of all over. I’m on Google Plus. Join my circles on Google Plus but first and foremost, hit SuccessfulCulture.com, opt into the blog, download a white paper on how to create extraordinary culture and take a look at some of those – SuccessfulCulture.com.
JT: Awesome and I’ll make sure to link up everything, maybe everything. You’ve got a ton of stuff there, right? I’ll definitely link up Facebook and Twitter and Google Plus and all that fun stuff so that way anyone can just click to follow you. It has been awesome. I really appreciate you taking the time, Marissa, and I hope you have an amazing day.
ML: Thanks and I wish everybody the best and go out there and earn your outcome.
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