Dominate an Industry: Business Forward Key Takeaways

Two powerful forces in the digital space came together to share insights to dominating an emerging industry at Business Forward’s kickoff event February 9th. Michael Stelzner and John Lee Dumas could both be called the Godfather of their industry, Social Media and Podcasting respectively. The pre event marketing teased an evening of seasoned insights calculated to give you tools to conquer. 

And in short, they brought it.

While it was an entire evening of rock star advice, here were my two key takeaways:

Act “As If"

Formerly known as “fake until you make it,” both entrepreneurs validated the method of moving forward without tipping your hand that you are new to the industry. Everyone started at square one at some point. The key was to not let anyone know that happens the particular square you’re occupying. You’ll only be there momentarily anyways.

One of my favorite Stelzner quotes of the night was, “Create professionalism to overcome the ‘who are you’ complex.”

This gem came on the heels of describing how professionalism opened doors. Three days into launching his business, Stelzner requested an interview with a prominent business owner. The secretary pulled up his website for validation. Impressed, she scheduled the interview. That was a big win all because of a well designed website.

Dumas executed a similar strategy. He was able to secure several big names as guests for his “Power 30” interviews. Little did all the guests know this was just a fancy designation for the first 30 interviews to launch his podcast. But because leveraged the brand recognition of his first guests, secured through a personal relationship, he was able to lock down 40 interviews to launch his podcast.

This strategy also quieted the negative voices telling them that they couldn’t achieve their goals.

Free. Valuable. Consistent.

While it might be a short statement, those were three huge concepts.

Let’s start with free.

As Stelzner commented, it sounds like a funny business model. But this was how he built genuine relationships. Those relationships built the foundation for his business success and brand loyalty.

He drew a correlation to a parent giving a child a gift. You wouldn’t give a gift, then immediately turn on the child and demand, “Now what are you going to do for me?” That would be ludicrous. The same was true in the marketing world.

Instead he advised, “Give real gifts. Be Genuine. Don’t expect anything in return. You can be strategic. But take advantage of the abundant opportunity to give. Relationships will blossom as a result. 

And both entrepreneurs built phenomenally successful businesses based entirely around providing high volumes of FREE content.

Next, valuable.

If doesn’t have value, no one will care. And if no one cares, you can’t develop a following. Or much of a business for that matter.

Stelzner attributed understanding psychology as the defining mark between good marketers and great marketers. When he understood his audience, pinpointing their needs, he created better value. It was even better the more specific he got. It created a larger impact.

To further Stelzner’s point, Dumas brought Jimmy to the table. Jimmy was 35 years old, had two kids, worked in a job he hated and had a 27-minute commute to work. And he was about 70% fictional. Jimmy was EntrepreneurOnFire’s avatar. Everything Dumas created was specifically designed for Jimmy.

“What would Jimmy think about this product?”

“How would Jimmy respond to this ad?”

“Would Jimmy share this with his friends?”

EntrepreneurOnFire was created to give Jimmy the tools and motivation to launch. Talk about valuable.

Lastly, frequency.

EnrepreneurOnFire has always been a daily podcast. That was 7 days a week. It has been running for over 800 days. That was an unheard of level of frequency in the podcasting space. But it was how Dumas separated his podcast from all the other noise in the podcasting space. Now, he is one of the top ranked podcasts. Just by sheer numbers, how could he not be?

Social Media Examiner has exhibited a similar diligence with their daily podcast, tremendous blogging volume and bi annual conference. I tapped into their e-mail subscription about a year ago. I received daily e-mails jam-packed full of content.


Like I mentioned at the start, it was an entire evening filled to the brim with powerful tidbits for business. These were just the two that left a mark when they hit home.

Thank you to Business Forward for providing an incredible venue. And as I work these two concepts into my growing business, I will forever be grateful to both Michael Stelzner and John Lee Dumas for their gift of time and insights.