ERIC SIU | ClickFlow CEO Breaks Down How to Level Up Your Business | Millionaire Secrets
<i></i> Eric Siu: Gaming has taught me how to react to things quickly, how to, how to be resilient. Right? How to build the right team and all that or how to be a part of the right teams. And that has translated very much into real life. Jeff Lerner: Over 1,700 new millionaires are created every single day in the U.S. Alone and more than double that across the globe. They’re people from all walks of life, most of them people just like you and I. So the big question is this,
how are so many people who didn't inherit money or have any special advantages overcoming the odds and becoming millionaires? That's the question, and this show will give you the answers. My name is Jeff Lerner and welcome to Millionaire Secrets. And welcome to another episode of Millionaire Secrets. This is Jeff Lerner, your host. Riveted as always to be joining you yet again for a fantastic
conversation. This one I don't have to wonder about because this is a gentleman, I've actually been on his show. I've spoken to him multiple times. He's a certified, verified, bonafide marketing genius named Eric Siu. He's
the CEO and founder of Single Grain Agency. I might've misspoken that. I think he might've acquired it, not founded it. But we'll get into that. He's also the creator of ClickFlow software, pretty cool content marketing intelligence software that I'm selfishly going to ask him all about because it sounds like something I might want to use. He's got a new book coming out called Leveling Up that I'm excited to hear about because leveling up is what I'm trying to do daily. And he's a cool dude. He actually happens to be a really nice guy. He's far too successful to be as nice as he is. But nonetheless, Mr.
Eric Siu, welcome to Millionaire Secrets. Glad you're here. Eric Siu: Thanks for having me, Jeff. I might say the same thing to you. So. Jeff Lerner: Gee, thanks. Imagine, people that are successful and actually like each other. How about that? Yeah, man, I really enjoyed our last, our last conversation. I get the sense that we're of a like mind in many ways, and I'm excited to continue that here for the Millionaire Secrets audience. Why don't,
why don't we dive right in with the question that we all want to know? And not to throw you something that's too broad right out of the gate, but like I want to level up. Tell me what to do. Eric Siu: Yeah. Oh man. That is a broad one. You weren't like. So I think, man, if we're thinking about leveling up on a daily basis, you know, the late Tony Shay of Zappos, when I read his book, Delivering Happiness when I was about, it's got to be 22 or so, this one thing stuck with me. All you do is just get 1%
better every single day. Right? Just one step at a time. I think the worst is when let's say I'm starting out and I compare myself to someone like Elon Musk, it's too overwhelming. You know, you can't, your brain can't get over that. Right? So to think about, hey, like I'm just going to focus on being the best version of myself and getting better every single day, whether it's, you know, I got to create the right habits, the right health habits, the right kind of mindset habits as well, that's how you get there. And that, to me, you know, when people used to talk about mindset and like all this, it sounded like fluff to me. Right? I don't need this rah-rah stuff. I just need, I
just want to execute. Right? So that's like when you're younger, you're just like just let me work. And then you realize all this stuff later when you get a little older, it's like that's the stuff that matters. And you just got to stay consistent. And the quote that I love is, you know, if you're going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill. Right? So that is a broad
answer to your broad question. Jeff Lerner: Well, I think it was wonderful. And it is, man. It's just a little bit better every day. Right? You know, I do, I'm curious. What sort of habits or reporting mechanisms, self-assessment mechanisms, because it doesn't just happen by accident. And even with good intentions, there's got to be a methodology to it. How does that show up in your life in a, you know, kind of a precise way where you actually know it's happening? Eric Siu: That's a great, very precise question. I love that. So one of the
things that stuck with me is I do this thing called feedback analysis. And so every quarter or so, and I do this before the end of the year as well, I'm going to review all the big bets I made for the year and what ended up working out and what didn't. So as an example, when I first took over my agency, Single Grain, I made a really bad hire and that's my fault. I'm going to take full responsibility for that. And that was a big bet. Right? And I also made another
big bet around taking over Single Grain. Right? So how did those bets work out? Single Grain really worked out really well. The hiring bet didn't work out so well. So maybe that's a signal that, you know, I'm not so good at recruiting, but
maybe when it comes down to making big long term bets, I am. I'm just saying, that's just, those are two data points and maybe it's not enough. But as you keep doing this over two or three years, you start to realize, oh, this is actually what I'm good at. I should just focus on that. And then these are these things I'm actually bad at. I should probably stay away from them. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I like, I like so much what you just said. It's kind of an
addiction—addiction, no—addition by subtraction approach where leveling up, and I think this is so elemental and useful for people to realize, is that a lot of, a lot of getting better is just reducing what you're not as good at. You know? You can, you can, delegate, you know, what we teach either optimize, delegate, or delete anything that's not your strength. And you get a whole lot better, really fast just by getting clear on that. Eric Siu: I mean who said, I think it was Dan Sullivan. He brought up the whole, you know, a hundred thousand dollars an hour tasks. Right? A $10,000
an hour tasks. Like ideally, that's where you're working and you're not working on a $10 an hour task. So that thing has really stuck with me as well. Jeff Lerner: So you mentioned that you read this book when you were 22 years old. So by the looks of it, that was about five days ago. No wonder it was top of mind. But no, in all seriousness, I mean you are, you know, you're a younger guy, and you’re really from, at least from what I can tell, super damn busy. I mean you run Single Grain Agency which is, you know, there's a lot of agencies in the world right now. You know, this whole starting your own
agency, and I do this too. I might, my program ENTRE literally teaches people to start agencies. So I’m a culprit here. But I mean there's like every Tom, Dick, and Harry starting an agency now. Right? Single Grain, we're talking an agency that like works with like Amazon and Airbnb and I mean Salesforce and Uber and—these are your clients. Right? So it's not just a little, you know, startup side hustle agency. It’s a serious agency. You also created a software which I'm very close to releasing beta of some software right now. I know how much work that is. You also found time to write a book that's
about to be released which I'll be, I'll be reading as soon as you'll allow me. And you're, and you're the host, I was on Leveling Up the podcast with you, but you also co-host The Marketing School podcast with Neil Patel. Right? So that's a lot. I mean would you agree that's a lot? Like you're very busy?
Eric Siu: It's a lot. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. And you've ascended to all that relatively quickly. I don't know exactly how old you are, but I mean it’s pretty fast. Like so you've leveled up a lot. And correct me if I'm wrong, you were like not a superstar academically in school. Like you were not voted most likely to be the next Elon Musk at any point. Right?
Eric Siu: Nope. Jeff Lerner: Okay. So tell me then, what do you attribute that to? You got the hang of it a lot faster than most of us. Eric Siu: Yeah. So there's a lot in there. So I think the biggest thing is I can attribute it to gaming. Right? And I know a lot of people might not be able
to relate to that. But I'm assuming most people can relate to the concept of, hey, sports is very much a gateway to real life. I think most people can agree with that. Why? Because of all the things you learn. Teamwork, resilience, communication, and all that type of stuff. But you know what? Sports is just a game. So okay. So video games are the same way. It's just they’re not
interpreted like that. So, you know, when I was 12 or 13, you know, playing with the top teams in the world, whether it's a first-person shooter game or it's an MMO or whatever, I would learn a lot about these things. I’m like I'm learning a lot. Nobody has ever told me about these things. I didn't play sports. But the problem is my parents didn’t acknowledge it. You
know, they'd take my computer away and all that stuff. But anyway, long story short, you know, I just, gaming has taught me how to react to things quickly, how to, how to be resilient. Right? How to build the right team and all that or how to be a part of the right teams. And that has translated
very much into real life. And so, you know, that's kind of a broader answer to your question. And I think, you know, we can go a little deeper if you want. Jeff Lerner: Well, yeah, I would like to both in terms of the narrative and also the, you know, sort of the, I guess the science of what you just said. But first, let's talk a little bit more about gaming. And I have, I will say, I
mean just so you know how excited I am to dig into this, according to YouTube at least where this episode will appear on YouTube, about 20% of my audience is under, I forget, under 20 or something. A lot of teenagers because I talk about how to get, you know, maybe some alternative options for education and like not be on the mainstream path. And a lot of teenagers are having this very existential crisis, of course, like we all did. And I think it's very cool to talk about the lessons from video gaming. Because not all, not all teens,
myself included, were good enough athletes to really get those lessons out of sports. I mean riding the bench only teaches you so much. But a video gaming's this whole other world that may seem weird to most people my age. I'm 40 plus. But man, it's incredible what I see my kids into. And you mentioned MMO. If I'm, if I'm correct, that's like what? A massive, MMO is like massive multiplayer, I forget what the O stands for. Eric Siu: It's an online community basically. It's an entire world where you're playing with thousands of people.
Jeff Lerner: So tell me, yeah, give me a little more, you know, tangible description of what you're talking about. Like how are you pulling lessons out of what seems to a bunch of people like just wasting time? Eric Siu: Yeah. So If I think about a gaming anecdote, I'll apply it to business right here. So I remember, you know, one time I won this championship. Right? How did I win the championship when I got destroyed in preliminaries? It's because I saw someone doing something. Right? They were doing something unique that nobody else is doing. So it was a tournament. You know, we’re fighting each other. And their movements were very quick. Right? And I
was like oh man, I have those exact movements from this other game I played. So I basically ethically stole from that person. And I beat that person. I won the whole championship. Right? And so when you think about business, I mean Steve Jobs has said, everything's basically a remix. You look at the
microphone in front of you. I've got a mic over here as well. A lot of, there's not a lot of new stuff coming out. Sure. There's the people that are really pushing things. But even SpaceX is kind
of a remix of, you know, the rockets. Right now, they've added, you know, reusable rockets. Right? So that very much is the same thing. And also, what I learned from gaming is when I played World of Warcraft, I got to be a part of the best team. And I also learned that I can't do everything on my own. So to your point earlier, sure, there's a lot of projects. But I have operators that
run Single Grain, that run ClickFlow, and I just focus now on the highest leverage activities that only I can do which might be creating content or doing deals. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I mean I totally see it. You know, the other thing that occurs to me about video games is, you know, it’s literally making life and death decisions all the time but without real and death consequences. You know? It seems like so much of our education and our formative training and development is based around not making catastrophic mistakes. You've got to go
to the right school so you don't end up at the wrong school and work at McDonald's for the rest of your life. Or like there's always this like doom and gloom, almost like fear-based instruction from teachers and parents. Whereas with video games, you have permission to take massive risks, really quickly, make quick decisions. I mean and tell me I'm wrong. In business, quick decisions, massive follow through, and execution. Right? That's something you can kind of have permission to do freely in video games but not as much in the real world. Is that true? Eric Siu: Yeah. I mean, you know, what I've learned from having Asian parents
growing up is that, you know, they put you through a lot of pain. Right? So, you know, my tiger mom has just, overall, the lesson I've gotten from her is, man, you know, you're not, you're not getting enough pain right now. Right? And so school doesn't teach you to go through pain. In fact, you try to avoid failure. But in business, you got to fail a ton. Right? So when I think
about poker, here's another analogy right here. Poker has taught me resilience. Right? Because you fail all the time. And it also teaches you not to you—we're talking about risk of ruin here. Right?—Not to play above your means. But I've gone through periods of time in poker where I’d lose for two to three months. We're talking variance. Right? And the same thing happens in
business. You might go through an unlucky stretch. So you got to be ready to weather that and how you deal with it, you know, matters as well. And I've got that element of calmness from poker. Jeff Lerner: You know, I never, I never really thought about what a, what a unique laboratory poker is for business. But it is. It's like this tension between knowing that you have to lose a certain amount of the time, knowing that the game is based on at some level play, it is kind of playing beyond your means in the sense that half the game is about what do you do with a bad hand, but you still try to win. But at the same time, there's this overarching concept of like at the end of day, you can't really overplay your–what do they call it? Your pot or your bag, wherever you keep your chips. And so there's like your, it's
all about balancing risk. Right? That's so, that's so cool. I never really thought. I have another friend who actually owns an—I mean I'll out him. His name's Aaron Parkinson. He owns a great agency called Seven Mile Media. And he was a world-class poker player. Doesn't surprise, and an MMA fighter.
There's something about these, doing things at the, at the fringe. You know? That prepares you. Because frankly, entrepreneurship, and this is a lesson for the millions of aspiring entrepreneurs that are out there and at least a few of them listen to my show. It's a fringe thing we do. It is. It's not going to make your parents go, oh, that was, that was a smart bet in most cases. Eric Siu: By the way, talking about bets real quick. I mean on the poker side, some of the best VCs in the world, they have this poker game up in Silicon Valley and they very much attributed the same thing. Poker is basically a game of
investing. It's a long term game. Right? You deal with the short term, but it's the same thing as business and life. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. And losing and winning are both part of the
calculation. Eric Siu: Correct. Jeff Lerner: Cool, man. So, okay. So you played video games. Did you go to college? Eric Siu: I did. Jeff Lerner: And you graduated? You finished? Eric Siu: Yeah. So I'll tell you, I mean so what happened was I actually, so I
graduated from a school called UC San Diego. And basically, I actually was almost kicked out of high school because I didn't feel like going to this one class. It was this one required class. So that was the technicality there. I actually almost got kicked out of college because after my first year, I was playing too much World of Warcraft, and I had six withdrawals and two F's. And then I actually got fired from two jobs, one during college and one after college. The other one was because I was trying to start a business. But there you go.
Jeff Lerner: You're, I'd say you're on a level of societal dysfunction right up there with me, man. Welcome to— Eric Siu: It’s how we do it. Jeff Lerner: It's an elite club, man. So yeah, yeah. I got fired from the only job I ever had. I actually did get kicked out of high school, and it took me 10 years to finish college because I was playing jazz piano for a living.
Eric Siu: But you were good. That's the thing. So. Jeff Lerner: And so were you. Eric Siu: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Right? I mean that's, and you know, maybe let's talk about that. Because I'm sure you get a lot of outreach from aspiring entrepreneurs.
And that's just one thing that's kind of non-negotiable is you have to be, not, I don't even know if good is enough. Like I'll say it straight up. I'm a really good piano player. Eric Siu: Excellent.
Jeff Lerner: You're a really good video gamer. You know, my buddy was a really good fighter and poker player. Like entrepreneurs tend to be really, really good at stuff. I know, you know, Jeff Bezos at Amazon, he wouldn't hire somebody unless he could say, what is it—one of his hiring questions, fundamentals was, what is it about this person that makes them, I forget his term, but something like along the lines of a superhero? Like what is it about this person that's exceptional that's outside of work? That was a criteria. So what do you, how do you, how do you sort of tacitly or in a way that's not off-putting convey that to people? That like listen, part of the, one of the criteria here is just you got to, you got to be excellent. And in most cases,
that means you have to be better than you are, and that's on you. Eric Siu: Yeah. So everything you said is completely true. And the premise of the book is about going through life and collecting power-ups. Right? Because first we go to school, but then you've got to build great habits. Right? And then, so that's habits or power-ups, whatever you want to call them. So we
talk a little bit about having a growth mindset. Right? Beginner's mind, that type of stuff or resilience. All of this is set, and it's basically remixed into this you wrap it around this concept of gaming. And it's very much the same thing. Right? In gaming, you have to do it. In real life, you have to do it. And if you build the right habits, you have the right power ups, then you can get to the next level. Right? So, you know, maybe you build the right habits, you
start working somewhere and then you want to get to the next level. Okay. Go through all the pain. Go through all the obstacles. Boom. Next level is I'm going to start freelancing. Go through all the pain. Next level is
I'm going to build an agency or maybe you do drop shipping. Maybe then you do eCommerce. Then you go build other products. You can level up all the way up to like a SpaceX. Right? But look, how much pain, look through how much pain that Elon Musk went through to start SpaceX. $180 million bet. He gave away everything. Right? Slept on his friend's couch. Didn't need to make this bet. Right? And still did it. Right? That's what he had to go through to get
to where he is. A lot more than that, by the way. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. A lot more than that. I mean between PayPal and Tesla, he basically, he literally gambled virtually his entire PayPal fortune to start Tesla. And he had, think about the fortitude to do that. You know, who are
supposedly the smartest financial people in the world? Right? It's Wall Street. That's where the smartest supposedly financial brains in the world congregate, and those financial brains were telling him he was an idiot. Eric Siu: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: And he still took the bet on himself. Eric Siu: For sure. And so when you look at that, and you said the word gamble. Right? I'm pretty sure when we look at starting things, we don't think it's much of a gamble. We think it's a no brainer. Right? And you know, who said
this? Mark Zuckerberg said this. Right? That the biggest risk is not taking any risks. So that you should be taking those gambles because that's where success comes from. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. And actually, I just, I love, you know, words, etymology, word origins. I just looked up the word gamble. Guess what the origin of the word gamble is? Eric Siu: I have no clue.
Jeff Lerner: It comes from an obsolete old English word meaning or called gamel, to play games, from the verb to game. Eric Siu: I never knew that. Jeff Lerner: How about that, man? Eric Siu: That's helpful, yeah. Jeff Lerner: How perfect. Okay. So let's talk about it then. You get out of
college, and you get fired from your job because you're I guess trying to start a business or playing too many games. And so what's the latter look like from there to maybe what was your first, yeah, what was the first kind of hit? Eric Siu: Yeah, I think this will be helpful for the people just starting out right now. So when I had, when I graduated, it was when the financial crisis hit. Right? So I guess we're about to go through another one right
now. Knock on wood. But so we, the best job I could get coming out of a pretty good public school was a $32,000 a year job which, you know, in Los Angeles at least it doesn't pay the bills. Right? So I basically would, you know, come into work, and I would go spend money on Subway and Starbucks in the morning. And I was basically like a good chunk of my salary already. So my friend told me, and she works at Airbnb now which actually went public today, she said, hey, you should check out this digital marketing thing. Long story short, picked up an internship. Within the next, within the
next year, I changed five jobs. Right? So I kept looking for the next opportunity. I kept looking to level up. It wasn't so much about chasing the money. I was chasing the opportunity. And you know, eventually it got me to a
point where, it got me to a point where I worked for that one company that fired me for trying to start something. Then I got hired to become a VP of Marketing for an online education company. And then that led to Single Grain. Jeff Lerner: Okay. And Single Grain, I did, I corrected myself. You didn't
found it. You had an opportunity somehow to get involved in the early stage, and now it's yours. But how’d that work.? Eric Siu: Yeah. So perfect there. I mean we, the way I looked at it was there's multiple things. Right? How do I connect this with the world of gaming? It's just the way I thought about it was a little different than the other four co-founders. Right?. And by the way, Neil Patel who is one of my co-hosts for
Marketing School, he was one of the partners. And so what I saw at the time was, and they wanted out and Neil told me to get out. He's just trying to cover for his friend. Like there's no brand equity here. You should get out of here. This company's worth nothing. And I was like hey, why don't you give me a shot on this? Here, why don’t I buy your shares for $1 for 10%, another dollar for the other partners, and the rest were through the profits of the company with a contingency of, you know, if the company failed, I would own nothing. So to me, I was like the upside is asymmetric. Right? It's uncapped upside
versus the downside is I'm not going to lose much, and I'm going to learn a lot. So that was the entire thesis. And you're exactly right. I did not found the company. I took it over and had to turn it around. Jeff Lerner: You mentioned this concept of asymmetrical risk. This is something we talk about a lot as entrepreneurs, and it’s kind of inherent in the nature of entrepreneurs. Because as the multiplier of value, we, the human, it doesn't cost anything for us to operate. Right? Except our time. And our, I mean
we got to consume calories. Right? But you know, a lot of people I do think look at risk, and maybe we could talk a little bit about risk. I mentioned Jeff Bezos. I read a wonderful book about him called The Bezos Letters which is
something you might add your reading list. It's an analysis of his first, you know, 20 shareholder letters. But he talks— Eric Siu: It’s a not long book. Right?
Jeff Lerner: It’s what? Eric Siu: I think I have it. It's not a long book. Right? Jeff Lerner: No, it’s, I think they took the first 14 shareholder letters, and there's just a chapter on each one. And I actually interviewed the guys that, the husband and wife that wrote it. Really, really great interview. It's on my YouTube channel. But anyway, just Bezos, he talks all the time about return on risk. That's like a, that's like a KPI in his world. It’s not even a term that most, you know, accountants would even, they’d be like, what's the return on risk? Are you talking about return on investment, return on ad spend? What's return on risk? But it's because he's willing to bet when there's asymmetrical risk. Right? Maybe talk a little bit about that because, you know,
to the employee person who's like wait, you want me to invest $20,000 in an opportunity to have a business? That sounds, that sounds risky. How would you re-explain that back to the person to say, no, no, it's not risky all when you can make $10 million? Eric Siu: Yeah. I mean just simple math alone. You look at that. You look at the upside versus the downside. That's the first reason. But you know, if I think
about, if I think about a lot of founders that I know, what ends up happening is because, you know, taxes in the United States are very high. Right? I think in a lot of countries. They're actually incentivized to plow everything back into the business to grow the pie bigger, to grow, to make it have a bigger valuation. Right? And they just continue to defer like that. So you know, they defer and they understand that they're the best stewards of their capital. They're going to create more jobs. They're going to create more
upside. And it's just keep doing that. And then it just gets bigger and bigger. Now the normal person would say, why are you not taking the profits? You should be taking the profits for yourself, and then you should be living a really nice life. Oh, I would stop working, blah, blah, blah. That's the wrong way to think about it. Right? If they want to take the risk, they want to make the pie bigger, they're going to go for it all the way. Now look, if you have a family, you have other things to worry about, that's a different story. But that's one example of to me, it’s asymmetrical risk. Right?
You could, you could bet all your profits one year, and then all of a sudden, you can parlay it into like a $20 to $30 million thing. So. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I mean and I'll just use a brief illustration. My current business ENTRE Institute, my startup budget for that business was $25,000. You know? And that's, you know, what it does in a few hours now. Like it that’s the, that's what we're talking. I mean if you're out there, like there's this entrepreneurship thing, because that's a lot of my audience, like they're like should I? I'm saying like you're ain't going to find that in the stock market.
You know? Eric Siu: Here's the other thing too. So totally. Right? And the best bet is on yourself. But then Mark Cuban says this. You've only got to get it right once. Jeff Lerner: Yes. Yeah. So tell me about, have you, have you gotten it
wrong? Eric Siu: Oh yeah. So many times. I think, I forgot who said recently, they were talking about their hit rate. I think my hit rate is probably around 30% or 40%. So the very first business I started was, I actually bought it. So I actually did MNA quote-unquote. I'm air quoting because I didn't know what I was doing. The first eCommerce job I had, I bought from an employee. He had this
magic eCommerce store that was making like, you know, a hundred dollars a day or something like that. I was like oh my God. I got to buy it for $4,000. I thought it was a steal. So I learned a lot about that. Had another eCommerce site that I bought from the same guy. Failed on both of them. Worked with my high school friends on a couple, on one thing actually. That didn't work out. So
yeah, I've learned to kind of take my lickings. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I bought an, I bought an eComm store a few months ago for my son. I was going to give it to him. As like, hey, here's your first business. I
bought it. I bought it on Flippa, Flippa.com where you buy a web-based businesses. And I guess the guy had gotten a notification from Facebook that they were banning, that he had low customer satisfaction scores because, you know, Facebook surveys the audience. And so they were in the process, they had given him a warning saying, you don't bring this up, we're going to shut down your ad account. So instead of bringing it up, he just went and listed his business on Flippa based on the numbers that it had done to that point.
I acquired it. A week after I bought it, they said, yeah, this is your, you know, we gave you a warning. You didn't respond. And now that I was on the ad account, I got the notice. Said, everything's terminated, you can no longer run ads on Facebook. That was the entirety of the business. And so, and it was like 10 grand. Right? And I'm just sitting there like okay, well, and as it turned out, I was able to go through Flippa and, you know, the money was still sitting in escrow or whatever and I got it back. But the point is like
that crap happens all the time. But that's just, you know, when you, like you said, you only got to get it right one time, 30%, 40% hit rate, man. You're good. You're good. Eric Siu: Well, I think once you start to get used to it a little bit and you have some resources behind you, like you do as well. The hit rate goes a little
higher because we have people smarter than us working for us. Jeff Lerner: Right. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. So okay. So you started Single Grain. I mean it’s a nice store. You bought it for what? $2 plus some, you know, deferred profit sharing. And now it's a big booming agency. Can you walk us
through, like what does a gamer kid do to resuscitate a digital agency that supposedly is on life support? Eric Siu: Yeah. And by the way, I think this might be helpful. I think there's the mindset behind it where I knew if I took it over, I could take the cash rolls from a traditional agency model and do great with it. Right? But even beyond that, I want to go for even more asymmetrical upside. Right? So how do I
make it a pay for performance type of agency where you pay me per lead? And I focused on a specific niche. So that's what I did. Right? So being, because I kind of straddled the line between tech and kind of the digital marketing or the internet marketing world, you know, I know a lot of people in that world. So SaaS. Right? Software as a service. So we decided to focus on software as a service. And we decided to switch over from being an SEO agency to mostly doing
paid media work. So those are two big changes over there. And then, you know, once we started getting that right, you know, a lot of people pay lip service to, oh, you got to hire the right people. You got to have a great culture. But the culture is very much the operating system. It's the programming for the business. And once you get that right, man, that's how you keep the people for the long term. So
people is very much the product. I don't care what people say. And those things have allowed us to build something sustainable. So instead of trying to just say, hey, let's just do work. There's no mission. There’s no, there's
no vision. That actually gives people something to wake up for. Right? So our mission very much is to level up marketing businesses. So if you look at all the things that I work on, it mainly stays around marketing, and I don't try to stray too much from it.
So whatever, if I buy something or if I invest in something, I got to be able to help it in some way, shape, or form. So that's what it is. And I think beyond that, it's how did I turn it around? I'll tell you. I also had no clue what I was doing the first year. So I was willing to go through a lot of failure. I dropped all way down to one employee. Everyone left. Nobody believed in me. And I took my lickings and, you know, I've had to just kind of reassess from there and keep going. So there's that naivety about me to say, hey, I still think I can figure it out. So.
Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Well, I mean people, it sounds like in a way, you were, you were too, I wouldn't say too dumb, but I think you'd know what I mean if I did. Like too naïve, too inexperienced, too dumb. Eric Siu: Yeah, yeah. Jeff Lerner: To stop. Eric Siu: Too dumb is fine. Yeah.
Jeff Lerner: To stop. Right? Eric Siu: Yep. Jeff Lerner: Yeah, I like that. You know, again, man, it's like I keep quoting Jeff Bezos. I'm on a kick today. But he talks about always being a day one company which is, kind of feels a little bit like being, you know, embracing the idea of being naïve enough to stay optimistic because it's frankly pretty hard to do what we do if you're not optimistic. Eric Siu: Beginner's mindset. Yeah, man.
Jeff Lerner: Yeah. The beginner's mindset. Okay. So you scale Single Grain. Let's talk briefly, I mean that client list, some of the companies you've worked with, those are not easy accounts to land. Can you maybe talk a little bit about what it takes to get Amazon as a client? Eric Siu: Yeah. I'll tell you exactly what we did. So when I first took over the company, our blog was getting about 4,000 visits a month which is not bad for starting out. But since then, we've scaled it. It’s higher than that now, about 350,000. So it’s decent. It's not in the millions. But that lead machine,
the traffic that we get has allowed us to get like the Uber's and the Amazon. So it comes through inbound to answer your question. So 50% of our leads come from SEO, 15% come from podcasts, 35% come from networking, us throwing events or speaking at things. So that's largely what happened there. And I will say, okay, what do we do exactly? So we rank pretty well for a lot of agency type keywords and that's, you know, bottom of the funnel type stuff that helps us. Jeff Lerner: Cool. So how do you, how do you create the content for the blog?
Because obviously it's pretty good if it's having that effect. Eric Siu: Yeah. So what we did back then was, we did a lot of, look, these sound like old SEO strategies. So I'm still telling you though, this old stuff still works. And this was a long time ago too. We did a lot of guest posting on let's say HubSpot or Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur, and all those. And then we instead of publishing just once a month and maybe it was like haphazard content, we’re like okay, let's go for longer form, 1,500 to 2,500 words, try to publish three times a week. And let's focus it on marketing kind of, you know,
upcoming marketing trends, that type of stuff. Right? And that publishing schedule and the guest posting alone helped us, you know, scale it to kind of where we are now. Jeff Lerner: So for anybody who's not maybe, you know, doesn't have the background to follow everything you just said. The 1,500 to 2,500 word format. That's a long blog post.
Eric Siu: Correct. Jeff Lerner: Relative in the market. And so, you know, it takes a more work to make it high quality, but, you know, for the search engines, there's a lot for them to index and a lot for them to extract value and relevance for or from. And then guest posting the idea being that you go post on a higher page rank site. And because they're going to give you an attribution link, correct me if I'm wrong, but essentially you get a higher page rank site pointing to your site which boosts your page rank. Right?
Eric Siu: That's correct. And what you want to be doing ultimately is you're, just look at your website as real estate. Right? Because once your domain authority which is scored on a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being the strongest, the higher you get that, let's say you're over 70 or 80 or so, you can use a tool like AHrefs for this. You can actually, you'll find that whatever you start to publish will start to naturally rank. Right? You don't, a lot of the work has
been done because your site is now seen as an authority, and you can then parlay the authority that you have and start having affiliate content too. So I know a couple of entrepreneurs, one guy has a business that does $25 million in a year. He decides to make some of his content tied to affiliate revenue. And so on the side right now, the website generates additional 200 grand a month which $2.4 million in free cashflow a year, that's great. So. Jeff Lerner: Yeah, yeah. That's, I mean that's awesome. And I will say, I mean
as, you know, this is not, like you said, this is like old school kind of stuff that has a little bit of a bias now because it doesn't feel clever enough. But like my business ENTRE, we're literally right now instituting for 2021 a massive blog strategy that's literally built around, you know, in big part what you're describing. So it’s not out of date at all. Eric Siu: By the way, Jeff, I think, you know, a lot of people, you know, they're just like hey, let's just spend the money on ads because we know we're getting this return. But some of the smartest people I know are spending, we're talking a couple hundred grand a month on content and a couple hundred grand a month on links. And they're just pressing their advantage because they
know most people aren't gonna spend that. Because it's not very black and white. It's not like paid. Jeff Lerner: Right. Well, and the other thing that I've really come to
understand which is why I'm pushing hard on the organic content, the written content side, not just videos is, that when Google at least starts to rank you on certain keywords, they also decrease your bid costs on those keywords on the paid side if you're driving traffic to the same property that ranks on those keywords organically. They basically let you, they give you a better deal on your paid ads. Eric Siu: I don't know if I've seen that, but that sounds amazing.
Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Well, so I just was talking to a buddy of mine who has an agency, and we were going through a case study the other day. And he manages the paid ads for somebody who's currently ranking on over 3,000, 1st page on over 3,000, you know, like marketing and sales related keywords. And he was showing me their click costs. And it was, it was way less than comparable clients who don't have any organic presence. And that was really kind of the only we could ascribe it to. So, you know, look,
Eric Siu: You know what? Jeff Lerner: I’m not speaking on behalf of Google, but this is anecdotal. Eric Siu: So I think what you're talking about is this, and this is in fact true. So if you have, you know, on your landing page, you have the right keywords, the quality score of that page is going to go higher and your costs are going to decrease significantly and you're going to get, you're going to get the upside. That's basically what Jeff is talking about. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. And I guess those are the same factors that will lead you to
rank the content too. So you can kind of create a best of both worlds— Eric Siu: Correct. Jeff Lerner: Scenario. Okay, cool. So you get, when was the Single Grain thing? When did you start to ramp that up? Eric Siu: So I took the company over in 2014. Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Okay. And when did ClickFlow emerge? Eric Siu: So ClickFlow emerged in 2018. And yeah, that's what happened.
Jeff Lerner: Okay. So what was the impetus for getting into the, you know, directly into the SaaS game? Eric Siu: Yeah. So because I have a background in SaaS, I speak at a lot of SaaS conferences. I have a pretty good understanding, and this is very fortuitous actually. It's the Facebook algorithm actually popped up this thread in this, I forgot what group it was in, but there's this entrepreneur talking about how he's looking to work on his next project, how he's worked on a couple of SaaS projects. I'm like this guy's actually really smart. So what happened was I reached out to him, and we started talking. And in a couple of
months, we already had our prototype out and we had already started to collect revenues. And then, you know, there's been quite a bit of a journey up to now, but I'm happy to talk about the journey of product market fit. So. Jeff Lerner: Well, as someone who is, like I said, about to launch a software business out of or I guess into beta, yeah, let's talk a little bit about that. Let me learn, stand on the shoulders of your giant-ness. What did you, yeah, I mean how'd you get that to market? I mean SaaS is so sexy and everybody wants to do it. And then they actually do, and they go, oh crap, this is really hard. Like so what made it work for you?
Eric Siu: Great question. So I think, you know, one of the benefits for you is you already have an audience that's built in, and that’s an advantage that I have as well. I think most people think just because they have the audience, I'm not saying you, but I can just put this product out and it's going to do well. You know, I can, maybe I can make a course and, you know, we can launch it that way. The problem with SaaS is that if you want people to stick around, the [inaudible] have something that is great, you got to have great onboarding.
Right? And to have great onboarding, you have to do a lot of customer development. So a lot of things is you talking to customers and understanding what the pain points are. Because now you're in a situation where it really doesn't matter what you think is right, the solution you think is correct. It's actually what other people are saying. And so you have to constantly be
solving for that and talking to thousands of customers. Right? If you can. Because I'll tell you right now, one good example of this is a CEO of a company called Levels. He reached out to me personally. Doesn't know who I am.
Said, hey, let's get on a 45-minute call. Asked me all these questions, very targeted. He's doing customer development. I was like man, how many of these calls have you done? He's like over a thousand. I'm going to do more. So what that allows you to do is our problem was we were building in a, we were building in just on our own. Right? In a tunnel. Or not in a tunnel. In a cave by ourselves.
And so we had acquired, we built up too much technical debt. Right? Meaning that we hired all these different contractors. Like we should build this, we should build this, we should build this. And what we've had to do over the last couple of months is we had to unwind that. We had to fix all the technical debt. Right? Which took a lot of time. And we really focused in on a
couple of features that our customer said are necessary. So the mistakes we made, I'll talk about the mistakes, is we kept launching too many features. The product was unstable because we had all these different contractors coming through. And you know, we didn't focus on scalability and stability. Right? So for me, even though I have the audiences, you know, if this product isn't stable, I'm not going to push it out there. Because you only get one chance to make a good first impression. And what ends up happening is most SaaS
products, especially if you're doing like a free trial, 30%, sorry, 40 to 60% of people will not come back. If you have a terrible onboarding experience. So the game you're ultimately playing is you're playing a retention game. You forget about all the, you know, I think most of the internet marketing world is like let's drive as much acquisition, acquisition. This game is retention. Jeff Lerner: Well, yeah, because with software, your, usually your economic model only works with good retention. Eric Siu: Yeah. I'll tell you what, Jeff. I mean if you look at ClickFunnels
back there, I see you have, you have two of the plaques. They have a retention problem. And I don't think they're going to argue with you there. Because what they primarily sell right now are they sell bundles. Right? Most of the people,
and this is also the audience that they target to make money online crowd, a good chunk of them. Right? A lot of them are likely to churn out. Right? So that's why Russell does a great job as a marketer and a salesman as well, closes people on the bundles. And that's what really helps with their cashflow. Jeff Lerner: Yeah, yeah. You're right. Again, I don't know from the inside, but
It would be hard for me to understand how their customer acquisition model made any sense if they weren't selling thousand dollar programs that came with the software. Eric Siu: Correct. Jeff Lerner: Yeah, yeah. I mean unless again, unless you go the VC route and you have a hundred million dollars to market from, and you don't, you know, three years to turn a profit. Right? Eric Siu: Right. Jeff Lerner: Okay, cool. So, well, congratulations on building a successful
SaaS product because that is not easy. And for every sexy, fast company success story, there are a hundred funerals that nobody even attends. Right? Eric Siu: Totally. Yep. Jeff Lerner: Okay. Cool. And so then now at the ripe old age of 20… Eric Siu: So I’m 34. I'm not super young.
Jeff Lerner: 34? Okay. Well, you wear it well. And anyway, so and I'm 41. So I guess we're, eh, we're pretty close. Eric Siu: We're the same age. Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Same generation you'd say. What are we? Gen Y? Gen…
Eric Siu: I'm on the fringe of Millennial. So I barely qualify to be a Millennial. Jeff Lerner: So am I Gen Z? Eric Siu: I have no idea. Jeff Lerner: I don’t know. Okay. So then, here you are now. You did, you got the agency. And clearly, as you mentioned, you're very good. You must be
in order to do all this stuff at finding, do you find amazing operators or do you develop them internally and train them? But clearly, you've got these projects running in great hands right now without your day-to-day. Eric Siu: Yeah. So great question. I think, so I had this guy on my podcast, his name's Andrew Wilkinson. So he has a portfolio of companies, and he’s a great operator. So, you know, one of the key things he says is this. And the analogy he uses is, look, if you're going to hire someone to do a home renovation, are you going to hire someone that's done it over a thousand times or are you going to hire someone that has potential? And so I've gone down the potential route a couple of times. Usually, it doesn't work out. The vast
majority of the time, it doesn't work out. So what I've learned, and also Neil has mentioned this too with all the projects he has, it's look, you just hire for experience, you pay them really well, and let them do their thing and get the hell out of their way. So. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Neil, I actually met his operator in Neil Patel Digital. What was his name? Eric Siu: Mike? Jeff Lerner: Mike. Yeah, yeah. Mike Kamo.
Eric Siu: Kamo. Jeff Lerner: Kamo. Yeah. And I mean yeah, he's sharp. Like he's sharp, man. That's the kind of guy. You want that guy pushing all your buttons and working the switchboard so that you can go speak at conferences and, you know, biz dev and. Right? Eric Siu: Mike's a good example. Let's use him as an example real quick. So Keith Rabois, operator, used to be COO of Square. He said this. Right? You’ve
got ammunition in your companies, but what you really need are the barrels. Right? Because if you only have one barrel, you can only do one big initiative at a time. So you probably need, every new one, you could have like 5, 6, 10 barrels or whatever. Mike is a perfect example of a barrel because he's going to be out there, he's actually going to go, he helped recruit for all the other, you know, agencies as well. And so he will go figure things out. Right? You need those types of people. The more you can get, the more initiatives you can work on.
Jeff Lerner: So where do you go to find experienced operators that are also available? Eric Siu: Yeah. So great question. It's very difficult. It's, you know, you can use recruiters. What I do is I'll go to a lot of my founder friends. So I'm in a couple of networks like YPO or EO. I'll say, hey, who do you know that can do this? I'll ask on LinkedIn, hey, tag someone you know that can do this really well. And then you know, it kind of feeds on itself if it takes off sometimes. And then what I generally do too, over the years, is that I’ll, whoever I noticed as a potential barrel, I'll just continue to talk to them, and I'll just check in with them every couple months. Hey, how are things
going? How can I help? Blah, blah, blah. And I'm actually in the process of bringing on two new barrels right now. So. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. That's a great point that, you know, I think a big part of
entrepreneurship in general is understanding that the word no is actually code for not now. Eric Siu: Yep. Jeff Lerner: And when you find a great person, you build that relationship even it's not the right time. Right? I think that’s something you learn either by not
doing it a few times and then kicking yourself because you hear about so-and-so got snagged up by someone else or you heed the message and you do it and you'll be glad you did. Eric Siu: And then you pay them the big bucks. I think most— Jeff Lerner: Yeah. And good operators are expensive. Eric Siu: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: And they're worth every penny because they're a 10X multiplier. You know? Eric Siu: Yeah.
Jeff Lerner: Okay. So all that to say then, let's, we got, we got less than 10 minutes left here in our conversation. Probably a great time to bring all this to a head and say, clearly you reached the point where you're like okay, I've learned enough, I've done enough. It's book time. Like I should, I should package all this in an instructive way. So what was the spark that said, okay, it's time to write the book? Eric Siu: Yeah. So there's four forms of leverage. You have code, capital, labor, and media. And I think not enough people are paying enough attention to media
right now. Sure. You might have people saying, you've got to create content, you've got to create content. So let's say I have a decent sized marketing audience, and I want to take it one step further. Right? So I want to, with
leveling up, understanding that my unique advantages, I know marketing and I know the world of gaming, that's the intersection right there. That's my remix. Right? And just say, you know, my remix here is also this concept of power-ups or basically habits, it's not anything new. It's basically I'm targeting this gamer segment. Right? And so I've got a unique opportunity here where I could spread a message that I think is important because it's near and dear to my heart. But it's also another opportunity to build a new audience. Right? And to be able to serve that audience, you know, great. Whatever ends
up happening with it, that’s fine. Right? I'm not going to try to say, you know, I'm going to pay you 500 grand or a million dollars to try to get on the New York Times. I'm going to let it, if the message spreads organically, that's great. So we'll see what happens there. And yeah, if it changes a couple of people's lives, great. So. Jeff Lerner: That's so cool. It's funny you say that. Literally, what is it? Thursday? I think it was Tuesday, I was in my bathroom, just got out of the shower, and I had this moment where I was like—because I'm writing a book right now. The book's called Millionaire Secrets. It's kind of an extension at
the show brand. And you know, it's very kind of business and life focus. But I had an idea. I was like, you know what? When I get this, and it's, you know, writing a book is hard. So it's probably crazy for me to be already thinking
about the next book. But you know, I'm thinking every, there's a lot of books on the business of music. But there's, I've never heard a book on the music of business. Eric Siu: There you go. Jeff Lerner: And I kind of, when you said like you're this unique intersection, I'm like so am I. Right? Jazz musician turned entrepreneur. Eric Siu: Someone’s got to do it. You got to do it.
Jeff Lerner: And there's, and there is. There's a music and a rhythm and a melodic flow and an improvisation and, you know, a time signature to business. And I think that book, and it would. It would, because, you know, for me, there's millions of musicians out there and I don't think any, I don't think the vast majority of them realize how well equipped they are by virtue of their musical training, particularly if they're improvisers, for the world of business. Eric Siu: Oh my God, you've got to do it. It's basically helping these people. You're helping these people level up. Right?
Jeff Lerner: And ditto for gamers. I mean these are two categories that are kind of dismissed by the mainstream as like, you know, a waste of time or frivolous or not contributing in mainstream value. But the reality is there's so much cognitive development going on and emotional regulation that has to happen in these disciplines. Just the amount of work. You know? I think
that's super cool. Okay. So when is Leveling Up coming to market? Eric Siu: Yeah, it's going to be out February 24th, 2021. Jeff Lerner: Cool. My birthday is March 1st so I'm going to have to buy myself a copy for my birthday.
Eric Siu: Hey, I'll tell you what. We'll work out something where I'll send you a few. Jeff Lerner: Ah, sweet, sweet. Okay. I love it. Man, well, this has been, this
has been wonderful. I mean you have so much cool stuff going on. I’m excited to just be a fan and a spectator and a friend too. It's really cool how much, how much amazing stuff you're doing in the world. Let me ask you this. So to the person who's just getting started, you know, we've talked a lot about like let's say hiring an operator, you know, the intersection of marketing and gaming and, you know, some kind of I guess more, stuff that requires resources to materialize. Right? What do you think is the opportunity in the market right now for the person who's, you know, kind of ignorance on fire, maybe not a lot of capital, but really wants to develop as an entrepreneur? Where do you steer somebody? Eric Siu: Yeah. So there's this concept called the Launchpad Business, and I think there's really two routes that you can go through. One is you start out
freelancing, and you build an agency. Right? You can go through Jeff's program on how to build an agency. Jeff Lerner: Great idea. Great idea. Eric Siu: That's one. The other one, I think you can certainly start with drop
shipping first. It's not a lot of work. Right? Your margins are going to be a lot lower, but once you get that machine going, why don't you take some, take some more risks, take some inventory, and start to build a real eCommerce business if you so choose. And I think both of these will teach you a lot about all the things that you have to deal with in terms of entrepreneurship. There's not a lot of capital required to start with consulting. You know, maybe a little more with—actually, no, not a lot for drop shipping either. I think there is more risk though. But I think that's, you're not going to learn from taking,
you have to be out there in the market, learning after you take courses or programs. Right? Nothing, nothing is a substitute for experience. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I'm really glad you said that. I mean as a professional educator, I would love to say my courses are enough. They're not. They're
literally, all my courses are is a pathway to the starting line. Eric Siu: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Like I will get you informed enough to be able to line up on the blocks and wait for the gun to fire. And you have the gun in your hand, by
the way. Shoot it and then start. Like the experience, like you said. Eric Siu: Important. Jeff Lerner: Great, man. I couldn't agree more. I think those are, those are really the right places to start. In fact, when people come to me, I usually steer them agency in the absence of another reason to start somewhere else.
Man, tremendous. Thank you for being a guest on Millionaire Secrets. Where can people go to get deeper into your world, whether on the products and services side or just the I want to learn from this smart guy side? Eric Siu: Yeah. Thank you for all this. So you can go to LevelingUp.com if you want a free chapter of the book or you can just follow me on Twitter @EricO-S-I-U or you can do the same thing on Instagram. And yeah, that's where I hang out.
Jeff Lerner: Cool. Well, we'll grab those links and pop them in the description wherever this appears. Thanks again, man. This has been amazing.
Eric Siu: Thanks for having me. Jeff Lerner: Of course. And to all viewers and listeners of Millionaire Secrets out there, thanks as always for being here. You are the best part of this show and why we do what we do. We'll see you on the next episode.
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