Digital MarketingI AM CEO PODCASTMarketingOnline CourseProductivityResourcesSocial Entrepreneurship

IAM2118 – CEO and Founder Helps Entrepreneurs Monetize their Knowledge

Podcast Interview with Greg Smith

In this episode, we have Greg Smith, founder and CEO of Thinkific, the leading platform for creating, marketing, and selling digital learning experiences.

Greg shares his journey from being a corporate lawyer to launching Thinkific and helping entrepreneurs monetize their knowledge and passion. He also emphasizes the importance of equanimity in leadership, which involves staying calm and responding well in difficult situations.

For Greg, being a CEO means constantly evolving, learning, and growing in response to the needs of the team, customers, and organization.

Greg’s advice to entrepreneurs is to persist and continue moving forward, even in the face of challenges and failures.

Website: Thinkific
LindkedIn: Greg Smith

Check out our CEO Hack Buzz Newsletter–our premium newsletter with hacks and nuggets to level up your organization. Sign up HERE

I AM CEO Handbook Volume 3 is HERE and it's FREE. Get your copy here: http://cbnation.co/iamceo3. Get the 100+ things that you can learn from 1600 business podcasts we recorded. Hear Gresh's story, learn the 16 business pillars from the podcast, find out about CBNation Architects and why you might be one and so much more. Did we mention it was FREE? Download it today!

Transcription:

The full transcription is only available to CBNation Library Members. Sign up today!

Greg Smith Teaser 00:00

The reason I love the digital product concept is one, you're building a business, selling something, you add value in other people's lives, so you're creating this positive impact, but you're not using jet fuel to ship plastic around the world. And you're also your margins, because of that are much higher, right? Like you don't have things like returns, you don't have the cost of some t-shirt that you're gonna have to go and sell.

Intro 00:23

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:51

Hello, Hello, Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO Podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Greg Smith. Greg, excited to have you on the show.

Greg Smith 00:58

Thanks Gresh, appreciate it being here.

Gresham Harkless 01:00

Yes, appreciate you. And I appreciate all the awesome things that you're doing. And of course, before we jumped into the conversation, I want to read a little bit more about Greg so you can hear about some of those awesome things. And Greg is the founder and CEO of Thinkific, the leading platform for creating, marketing, and selling digital learning experiences. Greg is passionate about helping entrepreneurs create or grow a business around their own passion, knowledge, or skills.

Prior to launching Thinkific, Greg was a corporate lawyer for the largest law firms in the country. And during this time, he launched an online courses aside project, which allowed him to share his passion and expertise with thousands around the world. Revenues from his course soon surpasses salary as a lawyer and since then Greg and his team at Thinkific have grown to power the courses, membership and communities for over 50,000 entrepreneurs and businesses in 190 countries which have taught millions of students and help businesses educate their customers.

And one of the things I loved hearing when I was preparing for this is that when he's not empowering entrepreneurs, Greg can be found kiteboarding, sitting around a campfire, playing board games, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and his son. And I really enjoyed listening to his journey of thinking big and all the awesome things he's been able to do. But I think what really stuck with me is he said that he tries to help people's dreams come true. Greg, excited to have you on the show. You ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

Greg Smith 02:20

I am. Thanks. Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:23

Absolutely. Let's get it started then. I know I alluded to it a little bit. So, let's rewind the clock. Here a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Greg Smith 02:30

Yeah, I guess going back way before we started Thinkific, which was about 2012, this would be way earlier, 2005, I was going to law school, I was trying to pay off my pretty significant student loan debts. And so I started teaching and tutoring in person and couldn't usually put enough people in a classroom or a tuning session to make it all work. And so started trying to bring it online, mostly so I could help more people build a bigger business doing it. And we went looking for a solution kind of like what we were looking for, what we have with Thinkific today, which would be my content at the time, my courses all on my own site under my brand with the ability to market and sell it and build a business around it, couldn't find another software solution out there that did that.

And so we mashed together some custom code and a few different products to make something work. And that kind of, we jumbled it together for a while and it worked well enough to go and deliver and start to build a business around it. But then people started reaching out saying we want to do exactly what you've done. We've got our content, we want to produce courses or other digital products, we want to put it on our site, we want to sell it and monetize that knowledge to our audience. And so that's when we started building Thinkific to meet those needs exactly. And the same ones that I had started out.

Gresham Harkless 03:40

Nice. I absolutely love that. So many times you hear it scratch your own itch and it provides a really great opportunity. Sounds like you had that experience where you were able to have that side hustle that ended up becoming a really phenomenal company that you guys been able to impact so many people.

Greg Smith 03:54

It can be a blessing and a curse and that your customer so well, cause you are them, but then you have to sort of like at some point separate yourself from it and say, okay, I'm not the only customer. You got to learn from others here the whole way through.

Gresham Harkless 04:05

Yeah, absolutely. And I know one of the most enjoyable things you get to do is probably to help to serve the clients and make that impact. Could you take us through a little bit more on how you're doing that and how you're making that impact for the clients you work with?

Greg Smith 04:17

Yeah, the biggest thing, and I like the helping people's dreams come true, I say for me is if you ask 5 why's, why do you do what you do? But why, but why, but why, but why? It gets to the core is just like, and I think so many people at Thinkific we like making people's dreams come true. So for me, that comes down to the team, right? So how do we help them achieve their career dreams? Our customers, how do we help them go and take their knowledge and passion, share it with the world and build a business around doing it? So really that comes down to making sure they can get really good quality digital products, courses, memberships out into the world and have an impact with it and share what they're really passionate about.

But that they actually make enough money to make that sustainable and grow and in many cases become highly successful. And then even the people they're teaching and sharing their knowledge with, how do we help those people by building great learning products so they can learn and change lives? So it's really cool because while we have tens of thousands of customers, in each one of those, there's like thousands of stories of the people they've helped. So you get this really cool exponential impact, which is just what, for me, what gets me up in the morning and excited about what we do.

Gresham Harkless 05:21

Yeah. I could definitely visualize like that rock that you put in and you don't realize that it reverberates in so many different ways. And as you are empowering people to build those communities and impact those communities, it starts to imagine, of course, be able to share that expertise. But I say often we forget about the human part of business and the human part of life. And I feel like you have been able to help to amplify that so many in so many ways for different people.

Greg Smith 05:42

Yeah, and I'm sure it's true for so many people listening in their own businesses. If you're helping a parent being a better parent, you get obviously impact on their family, on the kids, but then also they often share that with their friends. And so it could impact the whole community in positive ways. So sometimes early on you only have a few clients and you're thinking, oh, it's a small business, but the impact can still be actually quite significant.

Gresham Harkless 06:04

Yeah, that makes so much sense. So for people that want to set up the courses and things, could you take us through what that looks like? What are those steps? If somebody has this passion thing that they're really great at, how do they go about using Thinkific and making that impact?

Greg Smith 06:16

Yeah. And I see people come at it from a few angles. Some are, they're already, they have this expertise, passion. They're already sharing it with others. That could be the coach, trainer, author, expert, yoga instructor. They're already teaching others in some form and they're looking at digitize it, bring it online. And then more and more, there's another group too, that is building an audience first. And so they've got to some level of fans or followers on Instagram or TikTok or YouTube. And they're saying, what do I do now? I'm passionate about something. I'm starting to share it with others, but I haven't monetized it yet. And so what we really do is in both these cases, that's where we can step in and say, we can help you get this to the next level and actually monetize it.

And so sometimes, usually it's starting with a smaller digital product. So that could be download coaching sessions, booking some time. Some people are already there and then they're going to the next level of building a community or something even bigger as a course. And from there, basically these are all just different forms of digital products. The reason I love the digital product concept is one, you're building a business, selling something, you add value in other people's lives. So you're creating this positive impact, but you're not using jet fuel to ship plastic around the world. And you're also your margins because of that are much higher, right? Like you don't have things like returns, you don't have the cost of some t-shirt that you're gonna have to go and sell.

And so once you've created this digital product, you can sell it a hundred times or a thousand times or a million times and each incremental sale is additional profit and additional impact that you're having in the world. So I just love the business model and for so many people it can be really lucrative especially when you compare it to say something like Ad revenue you look at someone on YouTube and typically you would do a $5 to $8 RPM or revenue per thousand views if you're lucky enough to get like a brand sponsor you, let's say Nike puts their shoes in your videos, maybe you make 50 bucks RPM. But with digital products, I often see people doing a thousand, 2000 dollar RPM revenue per thousand views. So it's, and the profit on it is so much higher. So It's often just about showing people what kind of an opportunity and then it's a real eye-opening moment of the kind of business they can build.

See also  IAM842- Co-founder Creates Custom Digital Marketing Solutions

Gresham Harkless 08:21

Yeah, I love that phrase showing people that opportunity. So would you consider that to be part of what I have to call your secret sauce? It could be for yourself individually, the business or a combination of both. But do you think that is that ability to of course be able to see the forest for the trees? But also it sounds like you're really dialed into that human part of business that we can sometimes gloss over in life and realize like how that impact is truly being made.

Greg Smith 08:42

Yeah I think it's part of it and then we go a bit further with the software in terms of how do we really differentiate. And so for us, usually it's about working with people where they care really deeply about the product they're creating. Look, when you get into the world of internet marketing, especially for digital products, there are those that are just, I don't care so much about the impact, I want to make a dollar. And we all need to generate revenue from what we're doing so that we can make a living and continue doing it. So all about that's table stakes, but we go a step further and it's really about making sure that your products that you're selling deliver value, that you can fulfill that vision you have for that digital product or that course or that community you're building. And so we tend to attract a different type of people who are deeply invested in the product they're delivering.

They care about the quality of what they're creating. I find that makes for a much more sustainable long-term business for them, which in turn works really well for us. So a lot of what we're focused on is aligning our success with that of our customers, right? If they succeed, we succeed. And so just find one of our differentiators being about that. Another one, and honestly, differentiation for us, you could go into dozens of things, but another one would just be, we work really well at scale. So it's easy to start, but we really focus on making sure that you can also scale to any level. So we have people who are generating tens of millions in revenue or have millions of students on the platform and it can still support you. So it's not like you start with something and it breaks at some size for you.

Gresham Harkless 10:06

Awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an Apple book or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Greg Smith 10:16

Yeah, look on the book side, I think I'll share a couple and the reason I share these, one, they've been instrumental in helping me build sort of business and strategy and two, if you're like me, you probably have more books on your bookshelf that someone told you to get and you ordered on and then put on the bookshelf and haven't had a chance to get to. So I definitely do that. I think I ordered another one last night. We'll see if I actually get into it. But these are both things that you can read in an hour or two. So the first one is Turning the Flywheel by Jim Collins. It's tiny. It's about 6 pages, but it's a small book too. So even those 56 pages are short. And the other one is What is Strategy by Joan Magretta. And that one is actually a picture book.

When I first brought it home, my son brought it to daycare because he wanted to show all of his friends the pictures of animals in it. So both of them can be read in an hour or two, but they have such powerful concepts. That concept I shared, which is the hedgehog concept of what are you good at, passionate about, and can be the best in the world at that's from the Turning the Flywheel. It also gets into looks at Amazon's flywheel and how they built it. And then what is strategy is just a beautiful, I've looked at so many studies of strategy and I find it to be a really dense, difficult topic to wrap my head around. And this was one that really stood out for me as really simplifying it, but in a powerful way that works.

Gresham Harkless 11:31

Yeah, so what would you consider to be a little bit more of what I like to call a CEO nugget? This could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client or if you happen to do a time machine, you might tell your younger business.

Greg Smith 11:43

So I think CEO specifically or founder or entrepreneur or really a lot of leaders, I think equanimity and that the concept there, I had to look it up when I first saw it. I think it was, who was it? Oh, I saw someone I love online mention it and I looked it up, but it was just this concept of basically staying calm and responding well under difficult situations. I'm probably getting the definition slightly wrong, but I've been working on it a lot. I find that the better you get at it, the more you can maintain that level head when things get difficult or tough or you're under attack or otherwise.

You just you make a lot less mistakes. You can make better decisions. You can be your best self in the right scenarios when it's most important. Set a good example for your team or your customers. So equanimity is a hack I guess I use to win it. And we're look, we're never gonna be perfect at it, right? But the closer you get to it. So things like meditation, helping getting there, but just being conscious of it and how powerful it can be. And then noticing when you do apply it, how well it can work is pretty awesome.

Gresham Harkless 12:41

Yeah, absolutely. What would you consider to be your answer to my absolute favorite question was the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And our goal is to have different quote unquote CEOs on this show. So Greg, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Greg Smith 12:52

Yeah, I think there's so many pieces to this. In its simplest form, I'd say you have to be constantly evolving, learning and growing and then and evolving in the in kind of response to your team, customer and organization. So for me, being in a high growth organization where the team size can change exponentially, the customer base, the revenue, the growth can be exponential, that required kind of exponential learning on my part to constantly be learning, taking courses, reading, leveling up my game to address the latest challenge.

But I think every CEO's journey is a bit different. But one central theme to that is just being able to evolve in response to what's going on around you and your organization and what it needs from you, as opposed to really trying to force everything to fit what you currently are. Right. Another way to look at it, I think is in, I've heard this said, if you're in an organization that's doubling every year, as a lot of fast growth ones are, then an individual in a team role anywhere in the organization probably needs to double just to stay where they're at, just to keep up with what's going on.

And so as the, and that within the team, that tends to adjust naturally, but when the CEO role, you really need to own that journey. Lots of other things, but that's probably the core to it. And the biggest tool for that for me is just being open to feedback. And I think making sure that the people around you, especially the ones that work for you are able to and willing to and comfortable giving you feedback and you respond well to it because it's such a such an exceptional tool they're the ones who get to see it and you're blind to it if you don't ask for it but if you respond poorly to it then it just stops coming and you've lost this tool you have for growth.

Gresham Harkless 14:32

Yeah. So has it been you having that mirror for lack of a better term and being able to say this is what we need to do? This is how I need to approach being CEO? Has that been one of the best ways to be able to create that culture where, learning, growing, continuing level, leveling up as part of that culture.

Greg Smith 14:48

Yeah I think it's a big part of it certainly for my own personal growth you realize and then it sends a message whatever you do embody I think it does send a message out to everyone else who touches your organization or was it is within it to that this is part of the culture. You don't become the whole culture, but you do influence it.

Gresham Harkless 15:07

Yeah, that makes so much sense. So Greg truly appreciate that definition. Of course I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now is pass you on the mic so to speak to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know and of course how best people can get a hold of you, find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

Greg Smith 15:23

Yeah I think look anyone in this journey one of the biggest things is just we've talked about lots of advice but one big one is just persist and persistence and continue going forward and that, yeah, failure is fine. We all fail tons. I certainly have challenges, difficulties, not being equinanimous, I don't know what it was. Losing your cool, there you go. These all happen, but you just, you learn and grow. You learn from it, you move on, you persist. It's really, it's when you give up that you don't keep moving forward. And that doesn't mean you always have to be on exactly the same journey. Sometimes it is time to make the decision of, wow, this isn't the right direction. We're going to give up on that direction, but pick a new one or a new business or a new way to go. But I think that persistence is just critical. Anywhere at Thinkific, T-H-I-N-K, so that's think, I-F-I-C.com or at Thinkific on pretty much any social channel.

Gresham Harkless 16:15

Awesome, awesome, awesome. And of course, to make it even easier, we'll have the links and information that show notes as well too, so that everybody can check it out and follow up and find out about all the awesome things that Greg and the team are working on. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Greg Smith 16:26

Awesome, thank you so much, Gresh. We really appreciate it.

Outro 16:29

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by CBNation and Blue16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at Blue16Media.com. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

00:00 - 00:22

See also  IAM1034- Digital Marketer Runs a Boutique Search Engine Marketing Agency

Greg Smith: The reason I love the digital product concept is 1, you're building a business, selling something, you add value in other people's lives, so you're creating this positive impact, but you're not using jet fuel to ship plastic around the world. And you're also your margins, because of that are much higher, right? Like you don't have things like returns, you don't have the cost of some t-shirt that you're gonna have to go and sell.

00:23 - 00:50

Intro: Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I Am CEO podcast.

00:51 - 00:58

Gresham Harkless: Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Greg Smith. Greg, excited to have you on the

00:58 - 01:00

Greg Smith: show. Thanks Gresh, appreciate it being here.

01:00 - 01:28

Gresham Harkless: Yes, appreciate you. And I appreciate all the awesome things that you're doing. And of course, before we jumped into the conversation, I want to read a little bit more about Greg so you can hear about some of those awesome things. And Greg is the founder and CEO of Thinkific, the leading platform for creating, marketing, and selling digital learning experiences. Greg is passionate about helping entrepreneurs create or grow a business around their own passion, knowledge, or skills. Prior to launching Thinkific, Greg was a corporate lawyer for the largest law firms in the country. And during this time,

01:28 - 02:01

Gresham Harkless: he launched an online courses aside project, which allowed him to share his passion and expertise with thousands around the world. Revenues from his course soon surpasses salary as a lawyer and since then Greg and his team at Thinkific have grown to power the courses, membership and communities for over 50,000 entrepreneurs and businesses in 190 countries which have taught millions of students and help businesses educate their customers. And 1 of the things I loved hearing when I was preparing for this is that when he's not empowering entrepreneurs, Greg can be found kiteboarding, sitting around a campfire, playing

02:01 - 02:20

Gresham Harkless: board games, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and his son. And I really enjoyed listening to his journey of thinking big and all the awesome things he's been able to do. But I think what really stuck with me is he said that he tries to help people's dreams come true. Gray, Excited to have you on the show. You ready to speak to the IMCO community?

02:20 - 02:23

Greg Smith: I am. Thanks. Thank you for having me. Absolutely.

02:23 - 02:30

Gresham Harkless: Let's get it started then. I know I alluded to it a little bit. So, let's rewind the clock. Here a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

02:30 - 02:57

Greg Smith: Yeah, I guess going back way before we started Thinkific, which was about 2012, this would be way earlier, 2005, I was going to law school, I was trying to pay off my pretty significant student loan debts. And so I started teaching and tutoring in person and couldn't usually put enough people in a classroom or a tuning session to make it all work. And so started trying to bring it online, mostly so I could help more people build a bigger business doing it. And we went looking for a solution kind of like what we were looking for,

02:57 - 03:25

Greg Smith: what we have with Thinkific today, which would be My content at the time, my courses all on my own site under my brand with the ability to market and sell it and build a business around it, couldn't find another software solution out there that did that. And so we mashed together some custom code and a few different products to make something work. And that kind of, we jumbled it together for a while and it worked well enough to go and deliver and start to build a business around it. But then people started reaching out saying we

03:25 - 03:40

Greg Smith: want to do exactly what you've done. We've got our content, we want to produce courses or other digital products, we want to put it on our site, we want to sell it and monetize that knowledge to our audience. And so that's when we started building Thinkific to meet those needs exactly. And the same ones that I had started out.

03:40 - 03:54

Gresham Harkless: Nice. I absolutely love that. So many times you hear it scratch your own itch and it provides a really great opportunity. Sounds like you had that experience where you were able to have that side hustle that ended up becoming a really phenomenal company that you guys been able to impact so many people.

03:54 - 04:05

Greg Smith: It can be a blessing and a curse and that your customer so well, cause you are them, but then you have to sort of like at some point separate yourself from it and say, okay, I'm not the only customer. You got to learn from others here the whole way through.

04:05 - 04:16

Gresham Harkless: Yeah, absolutely. And I know 1 of the most enjoyable things you get to do is probably to help to serve the clients and make that impact. Could you take us through a little bit more on how you're doing that and how you're making that impact for the clients you

04:16 - 04:16

Intro: work with?

04:17 - 04:41

Greg Smith: Yeah, the biggest thing, and I like the helping people's dreams come true, I say for me is if you ask 5 why's, why do you do what you do? But why, but why, but why, but why? It gets to the core is just like, and I think so many people at ThinkEvict we like making people's dreams come true. So for me, that comes down to the team, right? So how do we help them achieve their career dreams? Our customers, how do we help them go and take their knowledge and passion, share it with the world and

04:41 - 05:09

Greg Smith: build a business around doing it? So really that comes down to making sure they can get really good quality digital products, courses, memberships out into the world and have an impact with it and share what they're really passionate about. But that they actually make enough money to make that sustainable and grow and in many cases become highly successful. And then even the people they're teaching and sharing their knowledge with, how do we help those people by building great learning products so they can learn and change lives? So it's really cool because while we have tens of

05:09 - 05:21

Greg Smith: thousands of customers, in each 1 of those, there's like thousands of stories of the people they've helped. So you get this really cool exponential impact, which is just what, for me, what gets me up in the morning and excited about what we do.

05:21 - 05:42

Gresham Harkless: Yeah. I could definitely visualize like that rock that you put in and you don't realize that it reverberates in so many different ways. And as you are empowering people to build those communities and impact those communities, it starts to imagine, of course, be able to share that expertise. But I say often we forget about the human part of business and the human part of life. And I feel like you have been able to help to amplify that so many in so many ways for different people.

05:42 - 06:03

Greg Smith: Yeah, and I'm sure it's true for so many people listening in their own businesses. If you're helping a parent being a better parent, you get obviously impact on their family, on the kids, but then also they often share that with their friends. And so it could impact the whole community in positive ways. So sometimes early on you only have a few clients and you're thinking, oh, it's a small business, but the impact can still be actually quite significant.

06:04 - 06:16

Gresham Harkless: Yeah, that makes so much sense. So for people that want to set up the courses and things, could you take us through what that looks like? What are those steps? If somebody has this passion thing that they're really great at, how do they go about using Thinkific and making that impact?

06:16 - 06:45

Greg Smith: Yeah. And I see people come at it from a few angles. Some are, they're already, they have this expertise, passion. They're already sharing it with others. That could be the coach, trainer, author, expert, yoga instructor. They're already teaching others in some form and they're looking at digitize it, bring it online. And then more and more, there's another group too, that is building an audience first. And so they've got to some level of fans or followers on Instagram or TikTok or YouTube. And they're saying, what do I do now? I'm passionate about something. I'm starting to share

06:45 - 07:14

Greg Smith: it with others, but I haven't monetized it yet. And so what we really do is in both these cases, that's where we can step in and say, we can help you get this to the next level and actually monetize it. And so sometimes, usually it's starting with a smaller digital product. So that could be download coaching sessions, booking some time. Some people are already there and then they're going to the next level of building a community or something even bigger as a course. And from there, basically these are all just different forms of digital products. The

07:14 - 07:44

Greg Smith: reason I love the digital product concept is 1, you're building a business, selling something, you add value in other people's lives. So you're creating this positive impact, but you're not using jet fuel to ship plastic around the world. And you're also your margins because of that are much higher, right? Like you don't have things like returns, you don't have the cost of some t-shirt that you're gonna have to go and sell. And so once you've created this digital product, you can sell it a hundred times or a thousand times or a million times and each incremental

07:44 - 08:10

Greg Smith: sale is additional profit and additional impact that you're having in the world. So I just love the business model and for so many people it can be really lucrative especially when you compare it to say something like ad revenue you look at someone on YouTube and typically you would do a $5 to $8 RPM or revenue per thousand views If you're lucky enough to get like a brand sponsor you, let's say Nike puts their shoes in your videos, maybe you make 50 bucks RPM. But with digital products, I often see people doing a thousand, 2000 dollar

08:10 - 08:21

Greg Smith: RPM revenue per thousand views. So it's, and the profit on it is so much higher. So It's often just about showing people what kind of an opportunity and then it's a real eye-opening moment of the kind of business they can build.

08:21 - 08:42

Gresham Harkless: Yeah, I love that phrase showing people that opportunity. So would you consider that to be part of what I have to call your secret sauce? It could be for yourself individually, the business or a combination of both. But do you think that is that ability to of course be able to see the forest for the trees? But also it sounds like you're really dialed into that that human part of business that we can sometimes gloss over in life and realize like how that impact is truly being made.

See also  IAM1703 - CEO Runs a Tech-enabled Real Estate Brokerage

08:42 - 09:07

Greg Smith: Yeah I think it's part of it and then we go a bit further with the software in terms of how do we really differentiate. And so for us, usually it's about working with people where they care really deeply about the product they're creating. Look, when you get into the world of internet marketing, especially for digital products, there are those that are just, I don't care so much about the impact, I want to make a dollar. And we all need to generate revenue from what we're doing so that we can make a living and continue doing it.

09:07 - 09:34

Greg Smith: So all about that's table stakes, but we go a step further and it's really about making sure that your products that you're selling deliver value, that you can fulfill that vision you have for that digital product or that course or that community you're building. And so we tend to attract a different type of people who are deeply invested in the product they're delivering. They care about the quality of what they're creating. I find that makes for a much more sustainable long-term business for them, which in turn works really well for us. So a lot of what

09:34 - 10:02

Greg Smith: we're focused on is aligning our success with that of our customers, right? If they succeed, we succeed. And so just find 1 of our differentiators being about that. Another 1, and Honestly, differentiation for us, you could go into dozens of things, but another 1 would just be, we work really well at scale. So it's easy to start, but we really focus on making sure that you can also scale to any level. So we have people who are generating tens of millions in revenue or have millions of students on the platform and it can still support you.

10:02 - 10:05

Greg Smith: So it's not like you start with something and it breaks at some size for you.

10:06 - 10:16

Gresham Harkless: Awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an Apple book or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

10:16 - 10:41

Greg Smith: Yeah, look on the book side, I think I'll share a couple and the reason I share these, 1, they've been instrumental in helping me build sort of business and strategy and 2, if you're like me, you probably have more books on your bookshelf that someone told you to get and you ordered on and then put on the bookshelf and haven't had a chance to get to. So I definitely do that. I think I ordered another 1 last night. We'll see if I actually get into it. But these are both things that you can read in an

10:41 - 11:06

Greg Smith: hour or 2. So the first 1 is Turning the Flywheel by Jim Collins. It's tiny. It's about 6 pages, but it's a small book too. So even those 56 pages are short. And the other 1 is What is Strategy by Joan Magretta. And that 1 is actually a picture book. When I first brought it home, my son brought it to daycare because he wanted to show all of his friends the pictures of animals in it. So both of them can be read in an hour or 2, but they have such powerful concepts. That concept I shared,

11:06 - 11:31

Greg Smith: which is the hedgehog concept of what are you good at, passionate about, and can be the best in the world at that's from the turning the flywheel. It also gets into looks at Amazon's flywheel and how they built it. And then what is strategy is just a beautiful, I've looked at so many studies of strategy and I find it to be a really dense, difficult topic to wrap my head around. And this was 1 that really stood out for me as really simplifying it, but in a powerful way that works.

11:31 - 11:42

Gresham Harkless: Yeah, So what would you consider to be a little bit more of what I like to call a CEO nugget? This could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client or if you happen to do a time machine, you might tell your younger business. So

11:43 - 12:09

Greg Smith: I think CEO specifically or founder or entrepreneur or really a lot of leaders, I think equanimity and that the concept there, I had to look it up when I first saw it. I think it was, who was it? Oh, I saw someone I love online mention it and I looked it up, but it was just this concept of basically staying calm and responding well under difficult situations. I'm probably getting the definition slightly wrong, but I've been working on it a lot. I find that the better you get at it, the more you can maintain that level

12:09 - 12:37

Greg Smith: head when things get difficult or tough or you're under attack or otherwise. You just you make a lot less mistakes. You can make better decisions. You can be your best self in the right scenarios when it's most important. Set a good example for your team or your customers. So equanimity is a hack I guess I use to win it. And we're look, we're never gonna be perfect at it, right? But the closer you get to it. So things like meditation, helping getting there, but just being conscious of it and how powerful it can be. And then

12:37 - 12:41

Greg Smith: noticing when you do apply it, how well it can work is pretty awesome.

12:41 - 12:52

Gresham Harkless: Yeah, absolutely. What would you consider to be your answer to my absolute favorite question was the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And our goal is to have different quote unquote CEOs on this show. So Greg, what does being a CEO mean to you?

12:52 - 13:27

Greg Smith: Yeah, I think there's so many pieces to this. In its simplest form, I'd say you have to be constantly evolving, learning and growing and then and evolving in the in kind of response to your team, customer and organization. So for me, being in a high growth organization where the team size can change exponentially, the customer base, the revenue, the growth can be exponential, That required kind of exponential learning on my part to constantly be learning, taking courses, reading, leveling up my game to address the latest challenge. But I think every CEO's journey is a bit different.

13:27 - 13:53

Greg Smith: But 1 central theme to that is just being able to evolve in response to what's going on around you and your organization and what it needs from you, as opposed to really trying to force everything to fit what you currently are. Right. Another way to look at it, I think is in, I've heard this said, if you're in an organization that's doubling every year, as a lot of fast growth ones are, then an individual in a team role anywhere in the organization probably needs to double just to stay where they're at, just to keep up with

13:53 - 14:24

Greg Smith: what's going on. And so as the, and that within the team, that tends to adjust naturally, but when the CEO role, you really need to own that journey. Lots of other things, but that's probably the core to it. And the biggest tool for that for me is just being open to feedback. And I think making sure that the people around you, especially the ones that work for you are able to and willing to and comfortable giving you feedback and you respond well to it because it's such a such an exceptional tool they're the ones who get

14:24 - 14:32

Greg Smith: to see it and you're blind to it if you don't ask for it but if you respond poorly to it then it just stops coming and you've lost this tool you have for growth.

14:32 - 14:48

Gresham Harkless: Yeah. So has it been you having that mirror for lack of a better term and being able to say this is what we need to do? This is how I need to approach being CEO? Has that been 1 of the best ways to be able to create that culture where, you know, learning, growing, continuing level, leveling up as part of that culture.

14:48 - 15:07

Greg Smith: Yeah I think it's a big part of it certainly for my own personal growth you realize and then it it sends a message whatever you do embody I think it does send a message out to everyone else who touches your organization or was it is within it to that this is part of the culture. You don't become the whole culture, but you do influence it.

15:07 - 15:23

Gresham Harkless: Yeah, that makes so much sense. So Greg truly appreciate that definition. Of course I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now is passion and like some speak to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know and of course how best people can get out of you find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

15:23 - 15:55

Greg Smith: Yeah I think look anyone in this journey 1 of the biggest things is just we've talked about lots of advice but 1 big 1 is just persist and persistence and continue going forward and that, yeah, failure is fine. We all fail tons. I certainly have challenges, difficulties, not being equinanimous, I don't know what it was. Losing your cool, There you go. These all happen, but you just, you learn and grow. You, you learn from it, you move on, you persist. It's, it's really, it's when you give up that you don't keep moving forward. And that doesn't

15:55 - 16:15

Greg Smith: mean you always have to be on exactly the same journey. Sometimes it is time to make the decision of, wow, this isn't the right direction. We're going to give up on that direction, but pick a new 1 or a new business or a new way to go. But I think that persistence is just critical. Anywhere at Thinkific, T-H-I-N-K, so that's think, I-F-I-C dot com or at Thinkific on pretty much any social channel.

16:15 - 16:26

Gresham Harkless: Awesome, awesome, awesome. And of course, to make it even easier, we'll have the links and information that Sean knows as well too, so that everybody can check it out and follow up and find out about all the awesome things that Greg and the team are working on. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of

16:26 - 16:28

Greg Smith: the day. Awesome, thank you so much, Greg. We really appreciate it.

16:29 - 16:57

Intro: Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at imceo.co. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at Blue16Media.com. This has been the IMCEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.

[/restrict]

Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button