TONY WHATLEY | Side Hustler Becomes A 7 Figure Business Mentor | Millionaire Secrets
<i></i> Tony Whatley: But what I've noticed is that critics are only about 3% of your audience. So just like the people that are, you know, it's like a hundred people listened to you, you're going to be a three people that just talk shit and make comments that are just rude, right? So why are you not serving the 97% of people who would support you or need what you want because you're so afraid of these 3% jackasses that are saying things or talking about you or being an ass. 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 are 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. Welcome to another episode of Millionaire Secrets. This is Jeff Lerner with you as always and thrilled to be here. And today I am joined by Tony
Whatley who I'm really excited to have on the show because genuinely I've been a fan in his world for, it feels like about six months ago, his face or name or post popped up into my Instagram world and I hit follow. And you know, I've been a fan ever since. He really is doing great work in the world. He's known as the side hustle millionaire after he published a book by the same name that became a number one bestseller. But he came by that name and that idea honestly. He worked in corporate America for 25 years, had a
really successful career. But like you hear this nowadays and we'll dig into it, started some “side hustle” businesses and realized that his corporate income was no longer required because I think his side hustle businesses had surpassed it and probably were allowing him a lot more fun and freedom and flexibility in life too. And since then, he's been, you know, doing coaching, writing, he has a community. It sounds like he was just recently out in my neck of the woods in
Zion National Park which I want to ask him about, hosting an event and just doing a lot of amazing work. Tony, I'm so grateful you're here on Millionaire Secrets. Tony Whatley: Hey, Jeff, good to connect. And it's been mutual. I've been
enjoying your content as well and seeing the guests that you bring on your show. And we're on the same path, man. We're out there trying to help people learn from our mistakes and some of the things that we've learned along the way. And I
can't wait to help your audience learn some things too. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I appreciate that. Yeah, it's fun to get to get to meet people that you kind of like you already know and you know you respect and vice versa. So yeah, let's just, and I do agree. I think we're on a very similar mission. We were joking before the show and actually, I wouldn't say it's a joke.
It's very serious. Like we're in our 40s and life becomes about a few different things maybe in your 40s. And you know, for anybody out there who's, 20, 20-something and cynical, or not that you have to be young to be cynical, but you know, like you really do. You get older and you're like I actually want to do some good, meaningful things in this world. And you know, this is our way of
doing that. So in that spirit, why don't you take us back? And I'm sure everybody wants to know like how you did it. You know, you're in the corporate job, but you were never a slave to the corporate world it sounds like because you were already giving yourself permission to start a side hustle. It's easy to start
a side hustle once you've made millions of dollars starting a side hustle. But that first leap requires some faith. So take us back. Like what'd you get into and what drove you to do that? Tony Whatley: Man, that's a, yeah, that's definitely a good question that’ll apply to a lot of different people. And for me, I grew up lower
middle class. So my dad was a U.S. Marine, Vietnam vet. My mom's a Japanese immigrant. So I got to see the value of hard work. After my dad got out of the military, he worked in the chemical refineries here in the Houston, Texas area the rest of his career until he retired. My mom was a cafeteria worker
in the public school system her entire career. So I got to see that money didn't come easy. And they were basically, I don't think either of them made over a hundred thousand dollars for their career. And I understood that for
me to go out and do something, I had to figure it out for myself. And that's what my parents would tell me. So they said, hey, you need to, we set you up in a good public school system. You got to figure out the rest. And so for me, we always chased that middle-class dream of getting a six figure income, right? It's still the American dream. It's been the same six-figure dream since the 1960s when
you think about it. And people don't even think about inflation and stuff. And for me, that was like, okay, I guess I got to go to college because my age, your age group, we were told if we didn't go to school that we're going to be failures and we'd probably be digging ditches or hanging on the back of the garbage truck, you know, were those kinds of horror stories that we heard. And I said, well, okay, well, I need to figure out how to go to school. And so I put myself through engineering school and it took me seven years.
I did school part-time. I went to at night. And in that meantime, I was working construction and chemical refineries just like my dad did. And I was waiting tables on the weekends and I was wrenching on cars at a mechanic shop on Saturday mornings through afternoon. So I was working three jobs, that whole 24/7 hustle and grind, going to school at night, sleep deprived, losing my health and my mind really because there was just all those things going on. I'm super busy. And when I finally graduated and I got a big boy salary job of
$45,000, I felt like it was a part-time job. Like these 40-hour work weeks. I felt like a part-time job to me. I was getting home at 4:30 in the afternoon after doing that for seven years. And I was like, well, I could go be a young single dude and chase the bar scene or I could figure out how to learn some new skills and maybe make some extra money. And I'm saying that because when I started the company, I didn't think about becoming a multimillionaire. I just thought about maybe I could make a
few hundred extra bucks a month. And you know, eventually I did that. I taught myself HTML, how to code web pages and taught myself Photoshop and I taught myself photography with DSLRs and I was out there building these rudimentary three-page websites. These were in the early 2000s, you know, late 90s, early 2000s. And so that was my first side hustle was I was working an engineering job, I'd come home and I'd make these little simple websites for car manufacturers and manufacturing speed shops and things like that because I'm a car guy, right? And that's what led into me building the community that I grew in 2001 was LS1 Tech.com. It’s the largest General Motors performance website on the internet.
And it grew to over 300,000 registered members. And through the course of that, it was advertising marketing. We made our advertising revenue. We had over 150 advertising accounts, even Chevrolet and Cadillac and all of them were advertising with us. And a lot of the people that wanted to advertise with us didn't have a website. But guess who knows how to make websites? So I was basically doing verticals, you know, without even understanding what that meant. And then I started going, people needed me to control their ad buys on different websites because they didn't know how to do that. So I was marketing
that. So I was good at building verticals and services within my community. And I was able to take that same business model and build Performance Trucks.net which grew to over 200,000 registered members. So I knew that pretty early on if I could build massive communities that I would attract eyeballs which would attract revenue which would create leverage for the things I needed to achieve. And the funny thing about this is that when I started those websites, Jeff, my goal was to make $500 a month because that was the car note of the Trans-Am that I'd bought myself when I graduated college. I said, man, if I could make $500 extra a month, it'd be like having a free car. And within six months, it
was making about $10,000 a month. And so things just kind of got out of hand from there. Jeff Lerner: So you just bought 19 more Trans-Am’s, right? Tony Whatley: I kind of did, kind of did. Yeah. I went a little crazy in those times and it was easy to have that kind of money. And plus with the engineering job, that kind of just went through. I was really good at navigating
the corporate career. And eventually, I was making about $240,000 a year just in my corporate career. But my side businesses were earning between $400,000 to $500,000 a year. So I, people always ask me. That's probably the question on your mind. Like why didn't you quit? Why didn't you quit that and just do the full time thing? It’s because I got really good at making money part-time and I know you're exceptional at that too because we like to compress time because we understand time is valuable. But me having a full-time job and later a family and
child, and I needed to make money with less time. So I got really good at doing things like that. And so I would build out processes and systems and train other people to do the things that I was previously doing. And I was able to step out of it and actually just use the websites as more of a consumer and a face of the company that would go build the relationships with the advertising accounts and the members and being the leader but also being immersed into the communities. And so I was able to step out from the day-to-day operations and
it only took me an hour a day. So people are like why didn't you quit? It's like well, what am I going to do for the rest of the day? I don't want to just sit around. I can go make $200 grand a year with my corporate career and chase the executive role and still make those two. So I kind of just did both. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. That why don't you, why are you doing this? Why don't you quit? Why don't you? Like that question, I mean I remember two years ago when I sold my agency and I started, you know, what's grown into ENTRE Institute now, I mean it was, that first year was like, it was the hardest I've ever worked and yet I just sold my company and the same questions. Like why? Why are you doing this? And it's like what else am I going to do? I mean I don't know. I don't, I
get, I mean I have a hard enough time taking the entire day off on Christmas Day. By the end of the day, I'm like I didn't produce anything today and I’m going nuts. And maybe that’s just how some people are. But, well, that's a good question. Is that just how some people are? Or is that something that was nurtured and cultivated and that you ultimately figured out you could feed and grow so that fire would not go out or would continue to I guess burn even hotter? Tony Whatley: I think individuals on a rare scale are wired like you and I. Because you described to me too. Like a lot of people think about retirement or vacation and they picture sitting on a beach with a colorful drink with an umbrella sticking out of it. And they're like, oh, this is great. And I think,
yeah, that's great for about an hour. And I'm like, okay, let's go do something. Let's go get on the ATVs or the side-by-sides. I know you're into those. And let's just go do something. Let's give a zip line. Let's go scuba. Let's just go do something. I can't just sit there and be static for very long unless I'm reading or doing something that's still being productive. And I've always been that way. I've always been something of a busy body and kind of a
daredevil and just always willing to get in and try new things. And I really started being more proactive about facing things that I fear and going and taking those head on and trying to figure out how to overcome those. And that's just really who I am. I'm just kind of that daredevil that tries new things, becomes exceptional at it because I get really driven and really focused at things. And then I can't wait to get the results from like
studying those things or practicing or doing the reps. And then once I get the results, I can't wait to teach it. So I like to always pay it forward. So I'm like the teacher that has a proven lead by example. But that's who I've always been even as a kid. Jeff Lerner: So, well, actually, and I got to ask for context. So you grew up in Houston? I know you live in Houston. But you grew up there?
Tony Whatley: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Okay. So, and my audience, and I assume you may know, I grew up in Houston too. Tony Whatley: I didn't know that. Jeff Lerner: Really? Okay. Yeah. So I don't know that it will necessarily
serve our audience in such a great way to just go down that rabbit hole together. But I'm like, I want to know where you went to school and I want to know where you worked and I want to know like all this stuff. We'll talk about that. But yeah. So I kind of kind of feel like I have some visuals on what you're talking about. But yeah, I love that you, I love how casually you talk about making a couple hundred grand a year at a 40-hour job. I love how casual you are about that. One of my favorite concepts, I'm sure you're familiar with
David Goggins. Tony Whatley: Oh yeah. Jeff Lerner: And he talks about the 40% rule, right? How like when we hit what we think is like hard or we start to burn or buckle or cry uncle and go, oh, this is tough. I don't want to keep going. That's usually when your body is telling you or your mind or whatever that you've hit about 40% of your capacity. And so I
look at success and I look at the world and say, it's not who does, who does stuff that's hard. Because have you ever met anybody and said, hey, do you, is anything in your life hard? Everybody thinks life is hard, right? Everybody does the 40-hour job. Everybody has the challenges growing up. Everybody whatever. All you're measured on, all you're valued on is what you do after it gets hard. And so for you, you were doing the thing that most people think is hard which is working a full-time job and succeeding at that and thriving at that. And you're going, okay, that's a nice start to my day. Now what am I
going to do? And whereas for most people they would go, okay, that's good. I checked the box for the day. Now I can go do happy hour. But that's life. That's the 40% rule playing out in life. So how did you, you know, again, I don't know if it's
cultivate or develop or I don't think it's as simple as just saying, oh, you were just born that way. How are you this person that does what most people consider to be a fully, an all-consuming hard thing which is get a corporate job, work it 40 hours, make your money, climb the ladder, go home and for you, that was just like the warmup to your day? Like how did you become that guy? Tony Whatley: Man, it's kind of weird because my parents definitely were not wired that way either. So I think it started as a child. Becoming an entrepreneur or what we call that today, to me, that was just a way to facilitate getting new things. So when I was the 10-year-old and I wanted a new skateboard or the newest video game, and I knew that I wasn't going to get any gifts or an allowance until Christmas which was once a year or maybe my birthday, I had to figure out how to go make that. So for me, becoming a
business owner, well, I was the kid that was knocking on doors,, asking if I could mow the yard or wash the car or walk their dogs or do that kind of thing. So that's kind of entrepreneurship as a child. I would go buy Jolly Ranchers and Blow Pops at the corner store, the whole box. And I would take them to school and put them in little Ziplocs and be like the crack dealer of candy. And I would just kind of double my money. And it's kind of funny because the guy that was working at the stop-and-go, he would see me buying these boxes and I wasn't like a fat kid. He's like you buy like a box every week. Like what are you doing with this stuff? And I told him. And here's the funny thing about it is after I told him what I was doing, he started giving me a discount. He was actually supporting me as an entrepreneur, as a
kid-preneuer, right? And so for me, that's the mindset I've always had is like I could always do more. If I want something else, I can always do more. And what I find is that there's a lot of people out there, Jeff, that don't have that mindset. Like you said, they check the box. Like they work their 40 hours. They check the
box. There's the income. And they rely on other people to either pay them more or get a promotion or just kind of go up the corporate ladder. And that's how they kind of increase their income. They think about, I need to go trade my units of hours per units of dollars. And I used to think like that because that's
how my parents were. Hey, if you want to make money, go get overtime. If you want to get extra money, go pick up a second job, go pick up a third job. It was always trading your time, trading your time, trading your time. And that's what we call employee mindset. And a lot of people get stuck in that because they don't know any different. You know, when you and I tell people like, oh, like we
made a hundred thousand dollars in a weekend. They're like pfft. They're like that doesn't even make any sense. You know? It's like first of all, they think you're full of crap. Second of all, they
think that's not even possible. And third, they don't believe it's possible for them at all. Like it's not even close. So how do you come up with it? I think that we just get the experience and we start to do the reps, we start to get the results and then we start to get the confidence. And then you start to
repeat the results. You're like, hey, there is actually something to this. There’s actually a process that you can actually do. It's not luck. You know? But for me, it was like going through corporate and seeing people, like I always had like nicest cars at work, right? Because I was making outside money. And people that would have the same title as me, maybe senior project manager or a business unit director or stuff like that, they would see the stuff I have and the lifestyle I had. And they’d go, it must be nice. We must be paying you too much. And I’d say,
well, actually, no, you're paying me the same as you make. Well, how do you afford all this stuff? I was like, well, because this is my part-time income. And it would blow their mind that someone that could have a six figure salary would call it their part-time income. And I wasn't saying that to be arrogant, but that was the truth. And the close friends that I'd meet and the colleagues
I worked with, I was always giving them advice. And they saw what I was doing. And they're like, dude, this is crazy. Like making money is really easy for you. I was like it's not easy. Like I had to put in a lot of work to get this. This is the result you're seeing after years of putting in the reps, but it's possible.
And for me, it was just like I can go home and sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix for the next two, three hours. Or I can go teach myself a skill that I can monetize or do a service or just do something to bring in extra and then it kind of just grows from there. So, you know, it’s what do I want and what am I willing to do to get that? And for most people, they just want to hand you an excuse and say, well, I got kids, right? You know, my wife, this and that. And it's like you know what? Show me your calendar. I say I’m a coach. You’re a coach. We’ll say, show me your calendar. And they're like, what do you
mean? I was like, pull out your phone and show me your calendar. Well, yeah, I don't have a calendar. It’s like, well, how do you know what time you're wasting or not doing? Or how do you know when you're being productive if you don't even have a calendar? It's like so for my clients, I'll say, hey, let's set up your calendar. And then
we'll put every single thing on there that they do. If you've got a normal job, there's eight hours blocked out for your calendar, commute time’s on there, your exercise, your meals, your social time, all that's on there. Because if you’re not measuring it, you're going to start to see that you think that you don't have any time. But you and I both know, that's the biggest BS excuse there is.
Jeff Lerner: So, because you asked, because I think, I really want to illustrate your point. Like it's true. I'm going to show you my calendar. And I know some people are just seeing this on podcast. But like so this is my phone. This is my day.
Tony Whatley: Yeah, I see it. There you go. Jeff Lerner: It starts at 3:30. Oh, wait, I'm moving appointments. Uh-oh. And it's color coded. But like it goes to 7:15. From 3:30 to 7:15, almost every minute of my day is, I've already decided that I'm going to end the day with no regrets and no excuses. Like if there's something that didn't get done
today, I will know it's because it literally could not get done today, right? Or because it wasn't the most high priority thing to do today. And I agree. I just think people are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for. So in the work that you do, I know that you do events. I know that you do coaching. You obviously work with a lot of people,
your audience. I mean I'm on, I see the kind of content you put out. So I can kind of reverse guess who your audience is. They're aspirational, they're entrepreneurial, they're 365 driven type of people. How do you work with people to help them understand this? I feel like this is what I do. It's to realize that it's not just changing what you do. It's growing and evolving who you are. Like it's going to impact everything in your life. You're going to talk, you're going to show up differently with your
kids. You're going to show up differently with your wife or husband. You're going to show up differently in your career. You're going to show up so differently in your career that it might become, like you said, from full-time to part-time because you have so much more energy and time and resources and abundance now that you realize I've got time for a whole other thing now. Like everything in your life is going to change. And as you said it, people just don't think it's possible for them. So what's the work that you do with people
to help them cross that first bridge of belief before they can actually get in and do the work in an effective way? Tony Whatley: The foundation of everything is mindset. You know that. And the first two chapters of my book are on mindset specifically for that reason. And you think about that. People are thinking about oh, mindset. That sounds foo-foo, right? What are you talking about? Mindset? Well, if you study the people who have become successful and all their information is out there. Your information's out there. My information’s out there. Historical leaders, their information's out there. You start to see a pattern forming and it's the belief systems that they carry into their success that are pushing away some of the things that they thought they believe, maybe they picked up from their environment or society or friends or teachers or their parents. And the
thing is I always tell people you need become a free thinker and you need to challenge every single thing that you believe because the reality is that no matter what you believe in anything, even things that are very polarizing, let's say religion or politics, right? Things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table. Those belief systems are cultivated based on where you were born, who your parents were and how you were raised. And when you start thinking about that, you may feel very strongly about some kind of belief. You might be like I'm a Democrat, I'm a Republican or I'm a Christian, I'm Jewish or whatever you want to say. Understand if you were born in a different household on the other side of the country or in another country, you know, just somewhere different, you probably would have a completely 180 degree different belief system and you would believe in an equally strong. And when you start to think about that, like
holy crap, we are products of our environment. It's true. So knowing that, kind of take a step back and go, hey, do I truly believe this? Or is this something that I was fed because I didn't have a baseline to compare it to and absorb it like a sponge at an early age and I carried it to my adulthood and I just act like I'm firmly believing in this? But you have to ask yourself, does this align with my core values? Does this align with where I want to go? What are the goals that I have in life? Does it align with that? And when you start to do the balancing and looking at does it really align, you're going to see that a lot of things that you believe in are just really bullshit in your mind that you start to look like, well, where did that come from? Oh, my friends say that all the time. You know, maybe your friends are the wrong people to hang around with. You know, when you're hanging around
with people that challenge the things that you want to do rather than support it, maybe you're having these people, we always talk about the friend circles and how that matters. But a lot of people hear that and they nod their head, like, oh yeah, yeah, your circle matters. Yeah, I get it. But you know what? None of them are willing or courageous enough to push the toxic people out of their circle. They hear that and they go, yeah, that makes sense. But they're not willing to
actually take the action to push those people out. I'll tell you a story. 2019, my wife and I were in vacationing on New Year's in Colorado. And we got up that morning on New Year’s Day. And we said, you know what? We need to clear house. And she's like, okay, what's that mean? It's like okay. We know that there's people within our lives, some people we've known 10, 20 years, family members even sometimes, they're toxic. They don't support you. They golf clap you, but they want to stab you in the
back or they talk negatively about you and don't support you. Or they only reply to your post to condescend or argue or criticize what you're doing. Pay attention to these people. Okay? They're stealing your energy and they're never going to support you. So we made lists. We said, okay, you go over there and sit on the other side of the hotel room and you go write names that you deem this toxic people. And I'm going to write my own list. And since we're
married and we [inaudible], we're just going to remove those people from our life. This is taking action. She had about 12. I had about eight or nine. And we just agreed like, oh really? That one bothers you? Yep, it bothers me. Okay. We got rid of those people.
We unfollowed them from Facebook and Instagram and just created barriers and not really spend any time around those people and do things differently. And that's called taking action. Okay? And I'll tell you that the first month or two, it actually was kind of painful. It's kind of mourning, right? Because
it's a loss. It's people that you've known and they may be good people, but they're just toxic and they're just drawing energy from you. So you got to think about like, man, I feel like, you know, I kind of feel like I betrayed them a little bit but I kind of don't and I kind of started feeling it. At
about three months in, you start to realize that was the best thing I've ever done. And most people are unwilling and don't have the courage to do that. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. You know, I live in Utah and, you know, it's the central, center of the world of the Mormon church is here and that's the massively predominant prevailing culture and how people are raised and how they're indoctrinated. And you know, I don't have a dog in the fight. I’m not taking a position, but I will tell you the number of conversations I have with people who I think by virtue of what I do and the fact that I'm not enmeshed in that community here, they feel like there's some safety in talking to me and my wife. Like there are so many people that don't believe a word of it, but they are terrified to do anything about changing it in a way that would just create some more flexibility for their life. Like they're so locked in and that's a particular religious microcosm of what you're describing.
But the reality is probably everyone still has some baggage of stuff that was just taken for granted and assumed for their life by the people that reared them or, you know, they grew up around that, you know, how liberated would they be? But yeah, it is. You know, my experience though is to take it all the way, you know, it's easy to make a few changes. Like I remember I had this friend that told me like they were feeling really shy and really like, you know, limited in the world. They weren't accomplishing what they want in this
world because they were so shy. And so they made themselves, they went to a bar, they had a bunch of drinks and they got up and sang karaoke. Tony Whatley: Like a challenge? Like they dared each other or? Jeff Lerner: No, they did it. They did, I mean it was kind of because of the conversation we had. I was like. Tony Whatley: Okay. Jeff Lerner: Like you cannot, like if you're going to keep living this way, then you just got to live this way and accept it and be that. But if you're
going to keep complaining about it. Tony Whatley: And not doing anything. Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Let's make a change, right? So they were like, so they came back. They're like I did it. I did it. I overcame my shyness. I sang karaoke. You know? I'm like first of all, you had a bunch of drinks. So I don't know.
Tony Whatley: Oh, that's liquid courage, right? Jeff Lerner: But then it was like to them, they had like, they had like checked the box. They're like, oh, I'm brave now because I sang karaoke. I'm like, so you did one thing in a fairly meaningless environment powered by liquid courage that didn't actually do anything for your life in the grand scheme just so you could change the story to yourself and be like, oh yeah, that doesn't really limit me anymore. It's like no, you didn't go all in on bravery. You went like 1% in on bravery. And because it felt brave and exciting to you, now you're self-satisfied and you're going to stop growing. That's not what we're talking about. Like to go as
all in on whatever the thing is as I think it really takes, and I'm curious your thoughts on this, it generally involves putting yourself out there to a degree that's going to seem weird for lack of a better way to say it. Like you’re gonna be a weirdo. Really successful people are weird. Not everybody likes them. I mean am I wrong here? Tony Whatley: I'm weird. You're weird. We're all weird. Jeff Lerner: We're all as weird as we give ourselves permission to be, right? So how are you weird, man? Like what makes you a square peg in the round hole of the world? Tony Whatley: I’m gonna give you some good stories because I think this will be really relatable to your viewers and listeners. But here I've always been introverted and I was kind of hidden in the background and I was always good at executing things from the background. And I never really wanted to stand in
the spotlight because for one, in grade school, I had bullies and I learned that you just don't do things to stand out because you might get picked on or punched. So you try to do really, you know, high school, try to be popular, you try to fit in, you try to do things just to get along with everybody and make everybody like you, right? So you carry that into adulthood and you realize like, hey, I'm still doing pretty successful things in the background here and I don't have to put myself out there. And you know, we all have insecurities and things about. We don't like how we look. We don't like how we sound. We don't like our accents or just whatever.
Insert blank there. Right? And for me, building companies and selling them and making millions of dollars and doing the corporate thing in the background, I had a very comfortable life and I didn't feel like I needed to stand in the spotlight. I was very good at taking photos, but I didn't like being in front of the camera, right? And so one day I was doing a consulting gig for a natural gas company and the vice president asked if I would just go represent them at the safety convention, right? And I said, okay, it's right by my house. I live in
the Woodlands. You know the Houston area. So I went to the Marriott there and they had a safety convention and it was a thousand people in this room. And I was near the front table because we were one of the honored guests for that company. And he was supposed to be there. I was taking their spots. And the guy on the
stage asked for an example of something. He started taking some feedback from the audience and I raised my hand and I was thinking like he wasn't gonna call me first. But guess what? He called on me first. And I never really got on a big room like that. I mean these round tables, a thousand people. It's not like a thousand people in rows. It was the round tables, right? And so I raised my hand and I'm really close to the stage. So I blurted out the answer. And he's like, hold up, let's get this guy a microphone so everybody can hear his answer. And so I'm like shit. And so I could feel the body core temperature
starting to rise. I started to feel the cotton mouth. I started the sweat droplets forming on the top of my head. And the lady with the microphone , she’s like on the other side of the room. She's like walking really slow and it felt like an eternity. And she's just hobbling over towards me. And I'll take the microphone with my cold, sweaty hand and I kind of had a shaky voice and I gave the answer and everybody gave me applause and I sat down and that whole process took maybe two minutes. But then I sat down and I was like what the fuck just happened
there? I've never felt this before. And I was like, I didn't think I had staged fright because I've been a leader in corporate world and I've given hundreds of slideshow presentations to a captive audience group, people reporting to me and I've done the pep talks in front of the team. And I always thought, hey, I'm good at public speaking. I don't need coaching. I got this. My ego was said, like I'm good at this because I had the occasional courage to stand in front of people who were captive, who couldn't take a piss break or get on the phone because I was the boss. And I thought I was good at public speaking. But in that moment, when I was
outside of my element in front of a thousand people, asked to stand on a microphone and stand up in front of everybody, I felt those physiological signs of fear. And so I was like holy crap, I have a fear of public speaking. And I'm writing a book. What happens if the book does well and people want to interview me or they ask me to come on TV or podcast or stage? I was like, I need to get over this fear. Like some people would be like, well, shit, I'm just never going to put myself in that situation ever again. I'm just gonna
avoid taking microphones. But for me, I got kind of excited, right? Because I'm that daredevil type. It’s like, I found a new fear. I got excited. So it was like I need to go figure this out. How do I get over this? You know? So I joined Toastmasters. This is how you go all in, right? So I joined Toastmasters. That's only an hour and a half a week so that's not enough reps for me. So I was like, well, what can I do in between? So I
said, okay, the things I'm going to learn at the Toastmasters public speaking, I'm going to implement by doing videos on Instagram and Facebook. So I started doing videos and I sucked at it and I knew I sucked at it. But the thing is I would, I was so afraid of doing that and putting my voice out there. Dude, I used to record these in my truck in the parking lot. I'd get off
work. I’d still have my tie on from my consulting gig. And I would sit in my truck and I would put the phone on the little stand on the windshield. And I would just start talking about something, sharing something or teaching something. And even then I felt really awkward because I was speaking monotone and I’d messed up and I'd flub on my words. And I just felt nervous and my eyes would dart around like this. And I couldn't look at
the lens. And it was just kind of weird. Like just, like this is out of my element. And if people walked by in the parking lot, I would turn the shit off and act like I wasn't doing anything. So that's how the level of like me being
fearful of doing these kinds of things was. And that was only three years ago. Okay? And so you have to be willing to suck and you have to be willing to do these things. And here's what happened. Okay? I did a video every single day. Sometimes it would take me 10 takes to where I finally got one I thought was good enough to share. And that was the best I could do at that time. And I would share
that. And initially, people were like, hey, you know, good job and, you know, because they see you're doing something different, right? You're being weird. You're being weird. You're doing something outside of your norm. And you're like, oh cool, I've got some support. So it's not so bad after all. Maybe this isn't going to be so bad. And you know what happens with this. It's after about two weeks, like nobody's replying or liking your stuff anymore.
And you’re starting to think, is this me? Is there something wrong? Is my message not good? You know, all these people were golf clapping and giving me likes before, but now they're not even replying. So maybe I'm just sucking. Ah, screw this. I'm just not cut out for this. And that's how most people think. Like I'm just not meant for that. You know, I just can't do this. And me knowing from business and anything else I've gotten into, I know I have an advantage if I just stick it through because most people will quit in that moment. And maybe if you're listening to this, you started something and you quit two or three months later. You're that person
I'm talking to you right now. Understand that to win these games, it's a long game. And if you're not willing to commit yourself to at least 12 months of doing that, showing up every single day which is what I call 365 driven, if you're not willing to start and do it for 12 months even if nobody looks like they're watching, then don't even start. Because people like me, people like Jeff, we know the advantage of just outlasting you. And if we can get past that hump, we're going to be ahead of 80% of our competition because they quit too soon. And then we'll have to really hang out with the top 20% who we're doing some pretty incredible things anyways. So about nine months in, people will start coming back around because
you've earned their trust and you showed that you keep being consistent and you're delivering value. And now they go, hey, this person is actually pretty serious about what they're doing. I'm going to start paying attention again because you've earned their respect and their trust. Now they're listening to the message again. they're liking your stuff here and there. And a year in,
they're replying, hey, that was a really good message. I needed to hear that today. Thank you for sharing that. 18 months in, a year, two years in, people are starting to tag you and tell their friends like, hey, you need to come check this person out. Come check Tony’s stuff out. Come check out Jeff's podcast. Tony, but you need to like do this. And then really about two year mark is where I started to see like I'm getting tagged hundreds of times a day all over the internet by people I don't even know. And it's awesome to see that.
And I always try to take the moment to go and like their post or just say, hey, thank you. Because I still want to be approachable and being accessible to the people that are supporting what I'm doing. So these are the tips to building your influence strategy. Most people just quit too soon, man. They don't believe in it. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I look at, I mean it's funny. People want it to be
sometimes so much more complicated than what you just said. But like I just love endurance. I love stamina. I'm obsessed. I just, I think those concepts are so fun. And this may sound almost kind of like a jerk thing to say, but I love them because if you obsess over them, you can make them so much easier for yourself than they are for other people that they become your, they become your like inevitable advantage. There's such an advantage that they become, it creates inevitability. That like you will just outlast. Just outlast. You know, a hundred yard sprint, I'll never win a hundred yard sprint. But I
believe, and I haven't taken, I haven't challenged, the longest I've ever run is 20 miles and it wasn't in a competitive race. I just said, I'm going to go run and I just kept running and I ran 20 miles. Tony Whatley: You pulled a Forrest Gump on us? Jeff Lerner: I went full Forest. Yeah. But I believe like even if I couldn't
win a hundred mile race, okay, that just means somebody else hung in there as long. Like I'm not going to be the fastest, but maybe I need to go another a hundred miles. Like at some, there's a point where you'll just win because there's nobody else hangs in there. And that may sound like misery. But I don't know, man. I think there's just something so like existentially nurturing about realizing that all progress is happening when it's really, really, when it's so hard that most people have already bailed. Like to the
point, like at the end of the day, it's 4:30, you're clocking out of your corporate gig. That's what most people have bailed on work. You're just getting started. Tony Whatley: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Right? I mean. And anyway, so I applaud you and I know what those
first couple years of making clumsy, online social content are like. I literally just went, I mean I'm only two years and two months into that process. So I feel you, man. But it's so cool. It's so cool to see people do that. And
just because, maybe you can talk about that. I'm so passionate about it. Like who did you become in that process that you weren't when you started other than just I'm not scared anymore? Tony Whatley: Dude, it's definitely been life changing because when I started to do the public speaking and I hired a speaking coach and doing those things and doing the videos, I was doing that just to really to prepare myself to have some kind of, a little bit of confidence just in case like this happened. Like you and I are on a podcast or someone has me on the radio or a TV. And all
that has happened, right? So I was preparing myself to be the right person to carry my message. But what I unlocked is that I really like public speaking and I actually developed a skill. And I think it's a little bit of my obsessive compulsive type situation where if I'm going to get into something, I go all in. And what I did is I started studying the people that I admired doing that. So I'd watched basically we like The Game film, right? And I was watching Ed Mylett and these people that I admired speaking, and those guys became my mentors. I joined the Arete Syndicate and actually stood on the Arete Syndicate stage with thousands of people and was up there talking. So I figure out how do I quickly get to the right level of, I guess proficiency and who can make that happen and who do I need to learn from? And that's who I became is the person that was the person afraid of being on stage to someone that actually loves doing something. Like I unlocked
something that I didn't think I would love. I just didn’t think it was like in necessity. And now I love it. Now I became the president of that Toastmasters club after a year and recruited a bunch of people and saw all their transformations. And what I also find from coaching is that, you know, we talk about money and yeah, it's nice to make millions.
I'm never going to say like don't go make money. That's not cool. Like go make a lot of money because if you want to make big impact, you need to have big money. And for me, I was always finding that fulfillment came from helping other people achieve their success. So even there was 12 people in my first company
that I built and sold that I helped become millionaires by helping them build businesses within my business. So my dream was big enough to create their dream and coach them. And they're always telling me like, hey, you should be teaching people. You should be teaching people. But it all went back to that, eh, I've got this job and I've got this family. And it was really me being a coward is what it was. I didn't want to put myself out there, right? So I did it privately. And as funny as it sounds is that even in the course of
writing that book, Jeff, while it's cool to be an Amazon number one bestseller, and it wasn't like in some bullshit, like you know, wills and testaments, it was like the business category. So it was actually legit. Like I beat Donald Trump and most people haven’t, right? So when you start thinking about seeing that up there ahead of Gary V and Simon Sinek and the people I admire, my book was in front of them. It was like holy crap, this is like a legit thing it's going on. And it changed my life. And here's the funny thing about it is all the accolades, it was really a kind of a cowardly play. Now, see, this is kind of
weird because most people are like, man, you wrote a book and then became a number one bestseller. Like how was that cowardly? Well, let me explain. I wasn't the confident person who’d get on the stage at that time when I was writing the book. I was preparing myself, but I didn't have that. So when you think about that, you can actually write a book and it could become a number one bestseller. But you could do that in secrecy and no one ever has to see your face or your name or anything.
Like you can completely hide because think about this. There's New York Times bestsellers and Amazon number one best sellers. You could literally walk by those people on a sidewalk and you wouldn’t recognize them. So it's an instant way to get your message amplified and impact people, but you can do it in the shadows. And so that was how I was thinking. Like man, I can just
put this, like I have this knowledge in my head and all this experience and how am I going to get it out there? Well, I could write a book. You know? And I could kind of still stay in the shadows. And me joining and doing the Toastmasters and doing the stages and speaking actually extracted me out of the shadows to a skillset that I didn't know I had and became a passion that I like to teach other people to do. So
I've changed in many ways just by, I think you get more opportunities in life when you put yourself out there. You'll agree with that. Building a personal brand is very important and it's only going to be more important as time goes on. And it’s amazing how few people actually understand that. You know, I'll go speak to these conventions with hundreds of people and I'll ask them, how many of you have done a video to promote your business? And it's usually about 3%. Just, you know, raise your hand. Only like 3%, like 3 out of 100 people.
And I'm like why are you not doing videos? Like oh, I'm worried about what people are going to say and all this. It’s all the head trash, right? The insecurities, the fear of public speaking. And I get that because I went through all of that. But it's so crazy to think about now on the other side. It's like why wasn't I doing this sooner? And I wish I would've done public speaking at 18 instead of my 40s. But I changed that way just being able to be more vocal and be able to tell my opinions and my thoughts more freely.
Jeff Lerner: So I mean yeah, I couldn't agree more. You know, your personal brand is the one thing that in any aspect of your business or your career, it's the one thing that nobody can ever say, oh, I've seen that before. I mean if you sell, you know, an innovative way to, you know, make, I don't know, get more miles to the gallon out of an engine with a gasoline additive or like it really doesn't matter. People say like, oh, I've heard that before or my buddy's a chemist. He told me about that thing or whatever. But like nobody can
ever say, they've seen you before. Tony Whatley: No. Jeff Lerner: Right? You're the one unique card you have to play and yet you're the card that most people are the most terrified to play. And they wonder why they're not getting traction in the market.
Tony Whatley: You know, people talk about it's a fear of failure. They go, oh, I'm afraid of failure. Hold on. Nobody's afraid of failure. You and I both go to the gym. Do you usually fail your last set?
Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Tony Whatley: You fail every last set. Jeff Lerner: Yeah, that’s right. I fail every set. Tony Whatley: Sometimes you eat an unhealthy meal and you failed. Sometimes
you don't do your follow-ups on your business that day and you failed. So we fail every single day on something. And we're okay with that. We're like you know what? I'll just pick it up tomorrow and I'll go harder next time. And so we recover from failure pretty easy on a day-to-day basis. So what is it we're
really afraid of? We're really afraid of what people are going to say about our failure. That's the truth. Nobody likes to admit that because they say that, hey, fear of failure is the surface level excuse that everybody kind of perpetuates And they talk about that amongst our average aspiration friends. I'm just afraid of failure. I don't have time. All the excuses. That's surface level. But when you dig deep, it comes down to man, I'm really afraid of what other people are going to say or think about my failure. And when you think about
that, it's like, wow, would you rather try something and fail and actually have tried and gained some experience? Because nobody's a hundred percent perfect. You know, I talk about, you know, the Major League Baseball, that top level batters, Hall of Fame batters only bat 30%. So 3 out of 10 times, they stepped up to the plate, they hit the ball and, you know, 70%, they failed. And when you think about that, I even looked at my business. I've started nine companies and three of them did very well. But what if I would’ve quit after the first loser didn't take off, right? Ah, I give up. This isn't meant for me. No, you just take the lessons and you roll
them into the next opportunity and you keep getting better. But thinking about people holding you back, that is the number one thing that holds everybody back. It's the number one thing. And you've got to realize that you will have critics. I guarantee you have critics, Jeff. You put your content out there. We see the comments. And thing is that people are so afraid of the critics. But
what I've noticed is that critics are only about 3% of your audience. So just like the people that are, you know, it's like a hundred people listened to you, you're going to be a three people that just talk shit and make comments that are just rude, right? So why are you not serving the 97% of people who would support you or need what you want because you're so afraid of these 3% jackasses that are saying things or talking about you or being an ass. So also, think about like how many years did I waste hiding in the shadows from these three assholes out of 100 that held me back from my potential in life when if I was to die today, would they be at my funeral? No, they wouldn't. They’re not people I respect, admire or love me. So why am I, why do I, why do we allow these assholes to hold us back in life? The life we're living right now. And they wouldn't even
be at our funeral. So when you start thinking about that, I was like dude, I just need to tell these people to screw off. And I'll tell you, like even in my group, we celebrate haters. We don't hide from them. Or like, hey, you know what? If you have haters and critics,
that means you're finally doing something worth noticing because there's too many people out there that like to be likable and they don't want to make anybody upset and they just play warm, fuzzy, middle and they just try to do things and not be polarizing and everybody get along. And that shit doesn't work, guys. It doesn't work. So you got to understand that you will have haters, you will have critics. But you should celebrate that because it means you're finally not obscure and you're finally doing something worth noticing because when you do, you will have those. Jeff Lerner: Amen to that. Bring me some haters, man.
Tony Whatley: Celebrate the hate. Jeff Lerner: Oh, I can't get enough. Haters, what is it they say? Having anger towards everyone reaching success, right? That’s what haters. Tony Whatley: You'll never find a hater doing more than you. Jeff Lerner: Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh, yeah. You can measure yourself by the gap between yourself and your haters. I have an, I'm looking at an email that
the subject line is I'm fucking 12. I'm like, okay, why did you opt into my stuff? And this email says, I'm 12, you little creep. Leave me the hell alone. I don't care that you're rich. It's $40, you little asshole. I'm like how did this make it through my filter first of all? But it's like, but yeah, the point, I mean I get that stuff every day. I try not to look at it, whatever. But that
one literally came in while we've been on this conversation. And I'm just like ah, whatever. Tony Whatley: Hilarious.
Jeff Lerner: But yeah, I mean you're getting attention. Be grateful, man. Like I promise you, like what is like the, who are like the saddest characters in like books? Think about like Charles Dickens novels and like it's the lowly workers that are just obscure and they have this quiet, non impactful life. Nobody knows or cares who, like obscurity is death.
Tony Whatley: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Go make some noise. Get some attention, please. I love that you're, you know, on that same plane. I just, if everybody could just, just take it up a level. Tony Whatley: You know, if that was the one thing I could teach. Jeff Lerner: All the fives and sixes make me nuts, man.
Tony Whatley: Yeah. If that was the one thing I could teach everybody in this world, it would be to just not worry about what other people think and say about them. If I could just give them that one power, it would change everybody's life at once. Because there's so many people out there just focused on what other people think. And you know what? Your mom may not be your biggest fan. Your uncle that's talking trash on your comments, he may not ever
buy anything from you or refer business to you. And that's okay because, you know, he's older. He's probably going to die before you anyways. So what are you going to do after he's dead? You're going to be like, well, my Uncle Charlie like screwed my life up all my life and, you know, now I'm 55 years old and I'm trying to figure shit out. It's like no, dude. Just push those people out of your life, limit your access to them and go do what you need to do. Because every person in history
who has made a real impact in the world has had critics, haters or murderers. Think about that. Jesus Christ was going around, trying to share his gospel, trying to help change the world and improve the world. He had haters, he had critics, he had murderers. Martin Luther King, trying to go through the civil rights, trying to bring everybody together, trying to make people not see color, doing the great things, haters, murderers. So you can be impactful and understand that there's always going to be critics. Nobody is liked by
everybody. So don't try so hard to be liked by everybody Jeff Lerner: Amen to that. So I have a question. The marketer in me kind of mentally keeps looping back to something you pointed out and I want to touch on it. And then we'll be kind of up on our time. But so you built, I know with LS1, you built a community of 300,000 plus registered members. And I can't remember that other website you mentioned. You had like another 200,000. So you've
built like these really massive online communities. And typically when you think large online communities, like I have a pretty large and growing online community, but everyone in the community knows who Jeff Lerner is, right? Like I'm the figurehead of the community so to speak. But it's not that often that you necessarily hear about, although they're out there, the reason you don't hear about them is because nobody says what isn't, but you built large communities without achieving prominence yourself within those communities. Because, as to your point, later, when you wrote a book, you're like, oh, I might have to give a talk or something, right? Which meant you have $500,000 worth of community member or not, sorry, not $500,000. It was probably more than that. But 500,000 community members worth of audience that don't actually
know who you are necessarily, right? How did you do that? Because typically when people think about creating a community, they think about building a brand and then attracting people to the brand into a membership. Tony Whatley: It was very similar to Facebook if you think about that just earlier because we started in 2001. I sold that company in 2007. Facebook launched in 2008. So it's really similar business model. Like Zuckerberg is not
on your friends list and hanging out with you. But he built the community, right? But for me, I was building project cars. So my cars were part of the draw, right? So I would have like sponsors and advertisers and I built over 40 project cars. And those would be in magazines and covers of magazines and we would have racing events. So the people that would come to the events or
I would go to the conventions like a performance like PRI and SEMA, those people got to know who I was because that was how we built relationships at the time. But everybody else just knew me as a nine ball. That was my screen name because I was a collegiate nine ball champion. And I just, they knew me as a persona and they knew my cars. So it was always Tony Nine Ball, guy with a bunch of cool cars, right? And so that was part of the draw. But how do you build a community? That’s one of the questions people come to me. How do you build a massive community like that? Well, what I see is people doing things wrong especially on Facebook groups and even nowadays with communities I see in entrepreneurship at our level, right? Jeff Lerner: Right.
Tony Whatley: I find a lot of people will start communities out of ego, right? They want to be sitting on a pedestal and act like they're better than everybody in their community. And for me, building those massive ones, I understood that I had to embed myself as an active member within the community and be a contributing value creator within the community. So I was always the person even before I started my websites that would answer people's questions. If I knew the answer, I would take a few minutes, give them a response, maybe refer them to where they can find the information. So I've always been helpful in that regard. And even within Facebook groups, before I started this one, I would be in entrepreneurship groups or speaker groups or things like that. And if someone had a legit question, I would
just give them the answer. And so people started to see my name pop up and that's how I kind of grew my other car businesses. So when it came time for me to go start my own business, my own community, they're like, hey, this dude is always answering all of our questions. Like let's go support him
now, right? So I built that notoriety and I've always just been that person to answer questions. And I've always been accessible and approachable. And just try to just be a part of the community rather than thinking, hey, I'm the king of this place and my ego’s super important and you guys are all here for me. It's like no, because I wanted to make sure that my users and my advertisers had an awesome experience that would entice them to keep coming back. So we were always ahead of it on the server speeds and software updates and securities and backups. And we wanted to make sure they had a good user experience, always. And
so I always providing them value and they kept coming back and they got the content and they got direct access to the people that they admired or saw on television. And the automotive shows, they were all there. Everybody in the automotive performance was hanging out on my website. So it was kind of this enticing thing. And we would do giveaways. So here's what I'd do, a win-win win. You know,
this is a good one because I would look at my sponsors and I would say, hey, I'm going to go talk to these three and see if someone would like to be the featured sponsor for the month. And now we're gonna call them and say, hey, Jeff, Lerner, Lerner Performance, I'm gonna make you the featured sponsor, but you need to give me a $500 gift certificate that they're going to spend with you. But in return, you'll be the featured sponsor and we'll do a drawing for the people who have to be registered to win and they'll get to spend it [inaudible]. I will get more enrollment because people that are lurking, we used to see 50% lurkers versus enrollees. Jeff Lerner: Right.
Tony Whatley: And then once we started doing the giveaways, that went down to 25% lurkers because you had to register and have an account to win. And they saw people winning $500 eventually became like $1,500 a month we’d give away. But it didn't cost me anything because the sponsors would donate that because they're going to spend it with them. So they get a customer, the winner gets a part and we get far more people enrolling. So it kind of just grows that way. You can do that now wit