This week on The Elite Advisor Blueprint, Tucker Max (@TuckerMax) is here to share some serious entrepreneurial wisdom (much of it geared toward you financial advisors out there). But Tucker’s knowledge, stemming from his work both as an independent writer and at Scribe Writing (formerly Book In A Box), is applicable to anybody planning to write a book or start a business in our ever-changing world.
Tucker Max is a super-successful writer and one of only three people to have three nonfiction books on the New York Times Bestseller List simultaneously. One of his greatest challenges, however, was co-founding and running his game-changing company Scribe Writing. Scribe Writing helps busy entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and professionals get a book out of their head and into the world where it can have a real impact. Tucker will be the first to tell you that starting a company (and then deciding to fire himself from being its CEO) has changed his perspective on business for the better.
- How Tucker used intentionality to meet his wife
- Why writing a book is such an effective way to establish yourself as an authority in your field
- The kind of success authors typically experience after using Scribe Writing
- The steep investing learning curve Tucker weathered before he hired a financial advisor
- How Scribe Writing grew out of an embarrassing encounter with a fellow entrepreneur
- How Tucker and his co-founder handle delegating tasks and giving up the reins in their business
- A bunch of Tucker’s recent reads and most recommended books
- Tucker’s thoughts on the corporate structure so common in business and how it will change in the near future
Tucker’s straight-up storytelling and advice cuts through all the noise out there about what it means to be successful, to market, or to write. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn some critical lessons from somebody who constantly challenges himself to be better at it all.
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- Listen to it on iTunes.
- How Tucker deliberately changed his social circles, activities, and self to meet a woman he’d like to marry. [0:20]
- How Scribe Writing helped a financial advisor exponentially increase his business in a very specific niche. [5:45]
- Whether or not you should directly pitch to your reader when you write a book. [11:24]
- The money and time you can save when debating hiring a writer or using Scribe Writing. [15:00]
- How Tucker chose his financial advisor, and the role his friends played in convincing him he needed one. [16:00]
- The encounter with a fellow successful entrepreneur that left Tucker embarrassed, yet yielded the idea of Scribe Writing. [20:45]
- Traditional publishing versus self-publishing, and how to choose which avenue is best for you. [26:25]
- The route Tucker took to publish his own books, which became NYT Nonfiction Bestsellers. [28:30]
- Advice about how to market a new book. [29:55]
- A simple explanation of Step Two in marketing your book: content marketing. [35:15]
- Why having a niche isn’t just recommended in business today, but absolutely critical. [36:44]
- Why and how Tucker and Zach fired themselves as CEO and COO of Scribe Writing. [41:56]
- How Tucker overcame his ego to make the right choice about his leadership for his business and employees. [45:45]
- Tucker’s morning routine and how he structures his day. [47:55]
- Thoughts on meditation, mindfulness apps, and learning how to meditate. [50:00]
- How Tucker still finds time to read and why you should quit bad books. [54:00]
- What “being successful” looks like to Tucker now. [55:00]
- Whether Tucker has had mentors during his journey. [55:50]
- Tucker’s all-time favorite novel. [57:15]
- The best business advice Tucker’s ever received. [58:18]
- How the current corporate structure of businesses is going to change. [1:00:00]
- The one piece of advice Tucker credits for his continuing growth and success. [1:01:20]
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Tucker:
- The Scribe Writing Method: The Groundbreaking New Way to Write and Publish Your Book by Tucker Max and Zach Obront
- #35: Scribe Writing with Tucker Max on Jon Vroman’s Front Row Factor Podcast
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
- Cameron Herold on Making an Impact On Your Industry, Finding Great People, and Why Meetings Don’t Actually Suck on The Elite Advisor Blueprint
- The Pop Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connections in a Digital Age by Melissa Gonzalez
- Muse Meditation
- Buddha In Blue Jeans: An Extremely Short Zen Guide to Sitting Quietly and Being Buddha by Tai Sheridan
- The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
- Hal Elrod – Author of The Miracle Morning
- Robert Kiyosaki – Author of Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Jon Vroman – Founder of the Front Row Factor
- Cameron Herold – Founder of COO Alliance and Author of Meetings Suck
- John Ruhlin – Founder of The Ruhlin Group and Author of Giftology
- Malcolm Gladwell – Author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and more
- Michael Lewis – Author of The Big Short, Boomerang, Moneyball, and more
- Russell Brand – Actor
Brad: Welcome to The Elite Advisor Blueprint podcast. I’m super excited today. I’ve got the one and only Tucker Max on here with us. Welcome, Tucker.
Tucker: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Brad: So I’m just going to dig in. I’ve got a laundry list of questions here. And you’re a guy that I just love to interview for days. But we’ll just dig in. So I was listening to my buddy, John Vroman’s podcast. And you shared a story — I don’t know if you even remember this — but you shared a story on how you actually met your wife. And I thought it was really cool because you were super intentional about it. I think you even wrote out a couple of rules as far as “here’s what I’m looking for.” So if you don’t mind just sharing, as you were going to meet your wife, I just thought it was cool how you said, “I’ve got to hang out in different circles, if I want to meet this type of person.” Can you share that with the listeners and just the methodology? Because I think there’s something everyone can take from that.
Tucker: Right. So I actually wrote a whole book about this, not just that. But essentially, like a modern man’s guide to sex and dating, and that sort of stuff. And what I talk about in the book at what I did with my wife is that when you’re going out looking for something — and it really applies to everything in life — but most people never apply this idea to dating or relationships. If you’re looking for something short-term, that’s totally fine. And you need to go find women who are looking for something short-term, and then right with them. The long-term, that’s also great. And you need to find women who are also looking for the same thing, and then interact with them. And so, the problem is a lot of guys conflate the two. They think, “A bar is where I meet women.” And it’s a place where you meet a certain type of woman at a certain stage on your life looking for a certain type of thing.
But it’s generally very different than a woman looking for something longer-term. So what I did was I just kind of understood not just what am I looking for in a woman. I came up with very specific, there is only three specific must-haves and then three nice-to-have traits. And then I thought to myself, “OK, where are these women?” The women that I am looking for specifically, what activities does she do? What social groups is she in? Where is she spending her time? And I came up with a list of about, I don’t know, I think it was something like 50 different things that this potential woman would be into.
And most of the things are the stuff I just don’t care about. I’ll never even going to do. But there were like 5 or 10 things that I also really liked. And I have spent time doing, but I wasn’t doing. And so, I was like, “Well, obviously, I’m not meeting this woman because I’m not doing the things that I even like that I could spend time around here.” One good example is working out. I work out. I don’t need to go to a class to work out. I don’t need CrossFit. I don’t need any of those things. I know exactly how to do a squat and a deadlift and a power clean. And I do those on my own, right? Because it just fits my own schedule better. But, the type of woman I was looking for, there was a high likelihood that she would be into CrossFit, right? And so, I could just work out in a group with cool people at CrossFit. And I wasn’t. So I thought, “All right. I’m going to go do that.” And there were 5 or 10 things like that, that I went and started to do.
And what’s crazy is the idea in my head at the beginning was, “All right. I’ll meet my wife doing these things. I’ll meet the woman I want to date.” I wasn’t necessarily sure she was going to be my wife, but someone to have a serious relationship with. And I didn’t. What I did was I met all of her friends. And then, I got to know her friends and her friends introduced me to her. And so, that’s the key about doing the sort of activities that the person you want to meet is doing, that you also enjoy. If not, just meeting them. It’s getting into those social circles where those people are. Because even now, most people meet partners through other people.
Internet dating has taken a huge chunk of almost all the other ways that people meet off, even without market share, so to speak. But the one thing that stayed fairly consistent and still is in the highest sort of ranking weight is through friends or through an introduction. And so, most guys especially have pretty limited groups of friends and are not friends with the type of people who are friends with the woman they want to be with. And so, that’s what ended up happening for me. I met a lot of great women directly. But the woman I ended up dating seriously now and married to and have a kid with, I was introduced to her by people I met doing CrossFit actually.
Brad: So what was crazy about that story number one was the intentionality that you had. Have you read Darren Hardy’s book “Compound Effect” by chance? I know you’re a well-read guy.
Tucker: No. I haven’t, actually.
Brad: He basically wrote same sort of thing about, basically, my future wife. Here’s the qualities I wanted her to have. But he kind of flipped that around too. Here’s the qualities I need to have to attract that person.
Tucker: I went through that too. That was the way on it, yeah.
Brad: So he ended up meeting Georgia, his wife, now. But as I was listening to that story, I was just thinking about it. Obviously, this is a podcast for financial advisors. I was like, “Man, there’s so much an advisor can take from that for trying to attract his avatar client, right?” Here is the ideal client that I want because no different than when you were dating, I’m not going to probably meet the woman of my dreams in a bar. I’m probably going to meet her hanging out with people doing good things with their life. And so, if we flip that concept that worked for you. Do you have ideas? I know you’re a genius when it comes to marketing. Do you have ideas on if I’m a financial advisor, and I want to start to work with high net worth individuals…
Tucker: Dude, I can tell you exactly how. We’re actually doing that with my company. I think we have a crazy number of financial advisor clients. So my company’s called “Scribe Writing”. We essentially created a new way to turn an idea into a book where we structured interview process. And pretty much, all you have to do is spend time on the phone with us and know what you’re talking about. And we turn your ideas into a book in your words and your voice. And we have a lot of financial advisor clients, for the reason I’m sure that you and your listeners understand, is because it’s very hard for financial advisors to advertise. In most ways, you can’t advertise by law. And most sort of ways that other types of businesses find customers, you guys can’t do. So he came to us with the exact same problem you have, and I kind of spitball with him. And what I realized was the bulk of his clients — he has a wide client base — but he has two kinds of specialties that he kind of locked into. But they became specialties for him, one was entrepreneurs, especially in direct sales and Internet marketing, and the other one was high net worth divorced women. They had two varying clusters of clients.
And so he was trying to figure out a way he could write a book to talk to both of them. And I was like, “There’s no way. There’s nothing you can say that is going to be interesting to both of those groups of people.” So instead of trying to get both with one book, we did one book that was geared only to high net worth divorced women. Because you kind of look at the market and realize that there were no really good financial planning books for women going through divorce and who came from a high net worth situation.
Meaning we define “high net worth” as $10,000,000 in assets or above or something like that. He was confused because he’s like, “Dude, 80% of the advice is going to be the same as almost in the other financial planning book. It’s only maybe 20%, maybe even 15%. It’s different. It’s very little that’s different.” And I’m like, “Dude, you’re thinking the wrong way. You’re thinking from your perspective as the writer.” Just like guys think, “Well, I’m all these good things so I should meet women.” But if you don’t put yourself in front of those women in a way that they can understand you’re those good things. They aren’t going to come find you. Same thing with him. You know these things for high net worth divorced women and that very few other people know, but they aren’t going to go looking for you. You need to go show them who you are and what you know. It needs to be for them, not for everybody.
So what he did was, we wrote the book that’s essentially the guide for managing your money for divorce for high net worth women, specifically. And it was very detailed, fantastic. And then, instead of doing any sort of nonsense marketing, like trying to get attention on New York Times or whatever, what we did was print out. We got a bunch of hard covers, I don’t know, 5,000 – 10,000? And he lives in a big, big city. And he went on to every divorce attorney in the city and gave them 50 copies and used a beautiful hardcover, the best thing you could find in Barnes & Noble, was what it looked like. And to give those to the divorce attorneys. And the divorce attorneys loved it because what is the third question every woman asks to a divorce attorney? “What do I do about my money? How do I manage my money?” And lawyers either can’t or won’t give them any advice about that.
So what the book was a way for the lawyer to feel like he had serviced his client. Here is the book on this subject, how to manage your money for a woman going through a divorce for $10,000,000 or more in assets. Like very, very specific, very niche. So she felt like, “Wow. This guy has a book that’s just literally for me specifically.” The lawyer felt great because he helped her but didn’t have to learn anything else or violate any practice boundaries that he’s not allowed to violate. And the book was amazing for the financial advisor. Why? Because 40% of the women who got the book did at least one call or consult with him because, “OK, this is called genius, but I don’t want to do this myself. I mean, if you’re worth $30,000,000, you don’t spend your time managing your money. You spend your time making money and you pay someone to manage your money.
And so he ended up, I think doubling or tripling the size of his practice, his entire practice. And his assets under management or whatever, however he measured it, but I think he’s coming up on tripling it through this one way. Because he went after a specific niche. But he created something that spoke directly to that niche, specifically to that niche. Does that kind of answer your question?
Brad: Yeah. He essentially positioned himself as the authority for divorced women.
Tucker: Funny thing because he already was. He already had a bunch of those clients. So he kind of knew all their specific differences from other clients, and all the tricks and tips, and things that they had to worry about. But he was relying on referrals or he’s relying on them to find him. If you approached dating like, “I’m great. People should find me.” It’s kind of an entitled mindset. You’re going to end up either alone or with someone lame. But if you are great and you go and search for great people. If you put yourself in front of the right people and display your greatness in a way that they can understand, then they’re going to get it. And they’re going to connect with you.
The exact same thing is true for financial advisors. If you have a specialty or an expertise or a skill, or like wisdom that other people don’t have that is valuable to a group of people, you need to display that to them in a way that they can understand and they can engage with. And then, they’ll connect with you, because you understand the benefit that you can provide them. Makes sense?
Brad: Right, yeah. Completely. So to piggyback on that thought, how do you write a book, where you’re the authority? And so for example, this guy we’re referencing here. How do they contact him from the book? Is there a soft sell or a way to position yourself towards the end of the book maybe or throughout the book of, “Hey, here’s how to contact me.”, or “Here’s how to take the next step.”?
Tucker: What we recommend for our clients is they don’t really sell it all. Because no one likes to be sold. No one wants to be sold. No one trusts anyone selling. So the best thing you can do is kind of what I’m doing right now actually. I’m not saying all your listeners should come write a book with us because of these reasons. As soon as I say that, their minds are going to turn off. So what do I do instead? I talk about what we actually had done with an actual client who’s exactly like most of your listeners. And what that does is that lets people sell themselves in their own mind. It displays my expertise. It tells people that my expertise matches up with their need or the problem they want to solve. And if it does, what they start doing is thinking, “OK, can I do this myself?” And in most cases, some people can and that’s fine. But most people either can’t or don’t want to.
Financial advisors and me are kind of in the same boat. People can learn what you guys do and do it themselves. But the opportunity cost of learning all that, and the learning curve is steep. And the opportunity cost is high. So it’s usually much wiser, especially with a lot to ask. [inaudible – 00:16:50] And let you do what you do best. I’m in the exact same boat. I know books in publishing and writing better than any of our clients.
They’re all smart people. They’re all professionals. Could they learn what I know? Of course, they could. Could they learn it to be as good as I am? Given enough time, yeah. But if you’re a financial advisor, your time is worth hundreds, thousands of dollars an hour. Why the hell would you spend it learning a skill that’s only going to benefit you once in a specific way? You should just go higher the expert at that and let them do what they do in a way that it can help you. So a lot of financial advisors would tell us, they’ll say, “If I put everything I know in the book, why is someone going to hire me?” It’s for that exact reason. Because doing everything that you know how to do, it can look easy, but it’s not. You have a book that outlines our entire methods. It’s called the “Scribe Writing” method. It’s all the templates we use. It’s our exact process.
I cannot tell you how many people have bought the book, started, got maybe a third or halfway through and came to us. And was like, “Your method is genius. This is way harder than I realized. Can you guys just do it with me or for me?”, or “Let’s just pick it up. Let’s start again. And let me pay you. And let’s do it right.” That’s probably 10% of our clients. And I think at least we’ve seen with our financial advisor clients, it’s the exact same thing. They write about their expertise and then what happens is they just talk about, “OK, with client X — you know, pseudonym — she had this problems with her money. Here’s exactly how we solved them. Here’s the lessons you need to take with your money.” And you don’t say, “If you’re a client of mine, I’ll do the those things for you.” The invocation is there. And then you just talk at the end in your bio, “I own X company. Here’s my contact info, et cetera, et cetera.” People will reach out to you, if you have knowledge and wisdom and expertise that will solve the problem. In fact, if you can do it really well, you have to turn people away. It’s the opposite problem. The more you pitch, the harder it is to get them in the door. The less you pitch, and the more you show them and tell them how to solve the problem and help them, the more they want to work with you.
Brad: Well, hey, I’m a good example of that 10% you were just talking about because I had a professional writer, hired, I’m in the middle of your process right now. And prior to hooking up with you guys, I probably spent 6 or 8 months, great writer. I was going to pay him a lot of money. And just your process, it’s seamless. It’s, “Hey, if I can, like you say, get the idea into a book, so if I can verbalize it, I can write a book. And just luckily I had a couple of good friends that turned me on to you guys, John Ruhlin, Cameron Herold who’s been on the show before. So I’m just glad I found you. I would have been struggling for probably another year to get this thing out.
Tucker: It’s so funny you say that. I would do the same thing with my money. When I came into a bunch of money, I was like, “I can do this myself.” I don’t want to talk about this stupid thing that I did. And eventually, same thing, I had some friends, really rich friends, who are like, “What the hell are you doing? This is why wealth managers exist.” I talked to 4 or 5. And now, I have my own financial advisor. And I don’t think about it anymore. I just worry about running my company, instead of worrying about my money.
Brad: I’m going to throw a different question, actually, than the one that I prepared here, because that opens up another avenue. Somebody that’s, well, I put this in the intro, but 3 number one New York Times seller and also — this was crazy stat I didn’t know — 1 of the only 3 guys I think still to have 3 on the New York Times Best Seller nonfiction list all at the same time.
Tucker: Yah, me, Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis.
Brad: Craziness. So obviously, that can lead to a nice stream of income flowing into the bank account. How did your existing financial advisor — you interviewed 4 or 5, you’re an intelligent guy that has a lot of money — why did you choose him or her?
Tucker: So basically because I made the mistake a lot of newbies make. I knew nothing. And I got a little bit of information. I thought I knew a lot but didn’t. And so, eventually, I was humbled, training myself. Of course, I did poorly. I think it was the worst. Because I did really well at first. I thought I was a genius, which is the worst.
Brad: It’s like gambling on sports. That always works.
Tucker: That’s exactly what happened. And so, I’ve offset enough money where I was like, “OK, I’m being stupid. I’m not smart. I need to go find experts.” And so I basically just want to tell all my rich friends. And I know quite a few billionaires. And so I just asked them, “What do you do?” Whatever, and they walked me through. And all of them said the same thing. So I’m not a super expert at the financial planning space and all the different types of advisors. But the big thing they all told me to do was you want someone who doesn’t make money selling products to you. You want someone who essentially is like fee-based or percentage-based. So essentially, their incentives are lined up exactly to what is yours. When you make money, they make money. When you lose money, they lose money.
I’m not sure the difference that it makes. But one of my buddies connected me with his guy, and his minimum sort of client number was like 10 times what I had. But you read my stuff in college, my books, and so he’s like, “Dude, I don’t give a shit. I’ll take you on as a client because I just want to brag to my friends you’re my client.” And so, it is enough doing really well with my stuff. And it’s been great. But it comes out of basic human psychology. You want to work with people, not just who are good, but people whose incentives are lined up with yours. That was the lesson. And then they walked me through the specifics of it. But it really boils down to basic human psychology for me.
Brad: There’s a lesson there for financial advisors. You didn’t go to a public seminar. You didn’t listen to his radio show. You just had rich friends that worked with them already, so that circle of influence.
Tucker: Word of mouth, that was 100%, yeah. There was nothing any financial advisor could have done to sell me on this. Because I didn’t know enough to even know what to look forward to read. And I didn’t want to invest in learning, the time to learn all this stuff. So I just went to the people who knew. And then they kind of cut through all the noise and nonsense. And said, “Here’s the two things you have to look for. Go meet my guy.”, or “Here’s 3 guys I know that are good.” And then that’s kind of how it worked.
Brad: One other question on that. Was there any sort of an office that integrated tax planning, estate planning, an all in one at planning?
Tucker: No. Man, I would love that. No. I’ve been looking for that, for a really good, comprehensive family office that integrates all that. The problem is that I’m finding is I’m in the seven-figure range. And the really good family offices that integrate all those services, basically you need mid-to-high eight figures really at all to lock in the door with them to make it worth their time. I’m just not quite in that range. I’m trying. I’m not quite in that range. I’m in the millionaire range, unfortunately. I’m not the– (crosstalk)
Brad: I’ll give Scribe Writing, like probably one or two more years. It’s not going to be long, buddy.
Tucker: Yeah, I know. But I’ll tell you. There was a financial advisor that integrated all that, especially. I know that there’s a lot of software platforms trying to do that both at once, like robo-advisors, they’re not there yet. I don’t know if they’ll ever get there because the complexity of that. I don’t know if that will ever happen. But I do know, there was someone who could do that at scale. For people like me who have money but are not really ultra high net worth wealthy, that would be a no-brainer for me. That would be easy.
Brad: It sounds like the story about how Scribe Writing was born. That entrepreneurial problem that you need to fix. So if you have some spare time this week, you can get started on that as a side gig.
Tucker: Yeah. Right, because I got all the time in the world.
Brad: I know you’re not very busy at all. I think this is a huge lesson for financial advisors. You already said it. Their time is worth hundreds of dollars an hour. But what I find is even some of the very best get bogged down in just the minutiae of day-to-day stuff that high net worth client like Tucker calls in, has an issue of “now I’m on the phone with him for 30 minutes to an hour”. And even some of the very best have issues here. So there’s a lesson in how Scribe Writing was born, how you basically just decided, “I’m going to fix the problem”, which is a lot of people want to write books, but nobody actually writes them. Can you tell maybe the short version of that story, the challenge that was made to you? I think there’s a lot that it can really bleed over in the financial services as well.
Tucker: Yeah. So I was in an entrepreneur dinner, and this woman came to me and she’s like, “Hey, you’re the publishing book guy, right?” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s my entire identity, it’s books.” And so, she’s like, “Yeah, I’ve had people ask me for 10 years to write a book about what I know about what I do. I tried and I hated it. I don’t want to sit in the computer for typing. And I have a family now. I run a big business. I don’t have time for this. But I want to get this book out of my head. How do I do it without having to go through that process?” And I got confused when I looked at her. I’m like, “Are you asking me how to write a book without writing it?” And she said, “Yeah, actually, I kind of am.” And then, of course, being the total elitist asshole writer that I am, I started making fun of her and started calling her out and saying she doesn’t work hard and all that kind of stuff, which is, of course, total nonsense. This woman had done way more in her life than I had. And so she stopped me and she rolled her eyes at me and stopped me. She said, “Tucker, this is an entrepreneur dinner, right?” I’m like, “Yeah, of course.” She said, “Are you an entrepreneur?” And I’m like, “Well, yeah. I mean, I’d like to think so.” She said, “I don’t know. I don’t think so. An actual entrepreneur would help me solve my problem and not lecture me about hard work.”
She was right though, man. I was so gut-punched because she was a 100% right. And so, of course, I became obsessed with this idea, “How do I get a book out of her head without her having to sit down and type it out?” And i couldn’t get past the idea that you can’t write without sitting down to actually write, et cetera, et cetera. And then, it all came to me in a flash. I was being an idiot. That think about this, most of the great books of Western culture were not actually written down by the author. Socrates never wrote a word down, Plato did. Jesus Christ never wrote a word down, his apostles did. Buddha never wrote a word down, his disciples did. Malcolm X didn’t. Marco Polo didn’t. Churchill dictated most of his books to his secretary. And we can go down the list. And I realized, “If Jesus Christ can do it, why can’t Melissa?”
And so, I got on a white board and I wrote down every single thing I have to do to write a book, when I go to my process. And I realized that I can do everything in that process for her, except the ideas and the content. Because her book is like, about, I don’t know, some nonsense about pop-up retail. Some nonsense topic that I don’t care about and I’m not going to learn about. That’s ghostwriting. If you pay someone to learn about your topic and take your ideas and just write their own book, that’s called “ghost writing”. That costs $100,000 or more.
And there was no price that you could pay me to learn about retail. I hate it. So I was like, “OK, how can I do this where I get her ideas and words into a book, but she doesn’t do anything back-end?” So I basically realized I just get on the phone with her and interview her. And I thought it would be as simple as just interviewing. But interviewing was very complicated. And so I kind of had to figure out a very structured way to do it, almost like an algorithm. I do one side of interviews, I get one thing. I structure that properly. I go to the next. I go to the next. I go to the next. And it ended up working great.
We did a book. The book is called, “The Pop Up Paradigm”. It’s in its second edition now. And it blew up. And it blew up in the retail space. So Melissa went from… She tripled the amount leads of her business, doubled overall business. It’s probably made her a couple million dollars, the book alone. She’s find all kinds of deals, like national brands, major mall companies. All this stuff, because it was the first book in pop-up retail. And it branded her as the authority and the expert. Well, she already was, it was just kind of the proof for that, right?
And what’s crazy is it blew her business up. And it sold only like a thousand copies. Because the space of people who care about pop-up retail is tiny. But those people are all decision makers. They’re all influencers. They all have money. They all actually apply these ideas in their business. And so that book alone, not only did it launch Scribe Writing, it totally reconceptualized for me how modern books are going to be used and how most professionals should be looking at their book, not as a piece of their identity, or something that is going to be their legacy, or something it has to appeal to a million people. It’s really more of an advanced business card marketing sort of technique to show their potential clients why they should hire them. Not tell them, not sell them, show them.
It’s a way to create trust with a potential client that is more affected than almost anything else I know of other than direct word of mouth, direct referrals. That’s always the most effective, and second most is the book.
Brad: You said it somewhere, it might have in a conversation we had prior. But, hey, if the idea sucks, then the book’s going to suck, right? So the ideas have to be great anyway. And all you’re doing is just putting them in a package that’s easily transferable to other people. So this is good timing. So I feel like Book in a Box came around at the perfect time, because back in the day, I’ve got a great idea. But I’ve got this small niche market. We had a great conversation on traditional publishing versus self-publishing. And I could have had a great idea back in the day, but if I didn’t have the big enough audience, no traditional publishers run in with that idea. So can you give us kind of Tucker Max 101 on traditional publishing versus self-publishing and just your unfiltered thoughts there?
Tucker: So the world has totally changed. 25 years ago, it is exactly what you said. If you wanted to do a book, your only real option was a traditional publisher. And so that means going to Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, whoever, Random House. And then you had to write a book that had a big enough audience that they would want to pay you money to write it, because they think they’re going to sell copies. And that’s fine for that model. The only other option was what we call “vanity presses”. And those were like the millionaire ego pieces. The only two options.
Now, it’s 25 years later. And the world has totally changed. In fact, I would say it’s switched. I would say traditional publishing is now the vanity press. Because it’s so easy to self-publish and it’s so effective. And if you use the right people, you can do a book that is just as professional, if not better than you would ever do with the traditional publisher, that the only people who now, aside from the people who are selling millions of books, like Malcolm Gladwell. The only people going to traditional publishers are the ones who feel like an ego boost of being chosen and selected by the system. It’s a total vanity ego play. There’s almost no reason to go with traditional publishing otherwise. You just want to feel good about yourself of a bunch of elitist literary snobs in New York. For real, that’s it.
Again, aside from, if you’re a big-selling novelist, if you’re Malcolm Gladwell, if you’re James Patterson, it can make sense. But even those people now are starting to build their own publishing companies. I mean, I was the first one to do it. And I taught Hugh Howey you a bunch of other people probably how to actually do it, then some of the big authors are leaving and it’s going to accelerate.
Brad: So along those lines, you had three number one New York Times Best Sellers. Were all of those through traditional than self-publishing? What was the mix there?
Tucker: Yeah, so they were all through traditional publishers, because if you’re a professional writer, you make money by selling your words, then it is a slightly different calculus. Here’s the problem with almost book in publishing advice. It’s geared towards professional writers. Your audience are not professional writers. As much as financial advisors like to fancy themselves creatives like, “I’m a great writer” or whatever, you might be even. But you’re not selling your words, you’re selling something else. And your words are a way to get people in to sell something else. Writers actually sell their words.
And so, those are totally different groups who should look at traditional publishing and self-publishing from totally different angles. What I was just saying, all my advice is geared toward financial professionals or CEOs or business people who look to write books or writes for them, or may use books to help their business. That’s what I’m talking about. We can talk about traditional publishing from the writer’s perspective, if you want. It’s not totally different. But it is different enough that the same advice is not applied for two different groups.
Brad: Yeah, I think at this point, traditional publishing makes zero sense for 99.9% of all my clients. So I think that’s great advice. So let’s flip the script. Obviously, to have New York Times Best Sellers, even as a traditional publishing client, you had to know how to market. And that’s one of the cool things as I’ve been exposed to more of your ideas. You’re a guy that knows how to market whatever you decide that you want to get behind. So if you have advice, I’m a financial advisor. I just came out with my first book. I want to get the word out. What are some ideas of how they should do that?
Tucker: Here’s what they will tell you about marketing, because the position you just set up is so great, because I get this all the time. A lot of our clients have Scribe Writing, but other people will come to me and say, “OK, I wrote my book. Now, how do I market it?” And I’ll look at the book and I’ll say, “You can’t market it. It’s terrible.” And they’re like, “No.” But I’ll ask them, “What’s your book about?” “Just pretend the book’s great, what do I do to market it?” So then, I’ll say, “No, I need to look at the book.” And I look at the book and I’m like, “There’s nothing you can do. You can’t market this.” And they get upset. And I’m like, “Well.” And then I walk them through why the book is terrible, even though the ideas in the book are good. All the decisions that they made before they started “marketing” determined the marketing path that they can take. And they screw themselves. And they did really something terrible. Which is why I can’t tell you how many times people have written books.
And it started to happen a lot on their own. “But I don’t need Scribe Writing to do it on their own.” They come back to us and they’re like, “Hey, can we do this again and do it right?” It looks easy. But it’s not. So here’s why the best marketing you can do, to put it safely, the best marketing you can do is write a great a book. And when I say “write a great book”, I actually don’t even necessarily mean beautiful sentences all that sort of stuff. By “write a great book”, I mean, you need to identify why you’re writing this book, what is also that you’re trying to get from the book. Then you need to identify who the audience the book is for. And you need to identify why that audience is going to care about your book.
So if you go back to the example I gave, the financial advisor that we worked with. He wanted to write a book about general financial advice. I’m like, “Dude, there’s a million of those books. No one cares. If you don’t have a different angle, you’re not going to sell at all.” It’s not going to attract anyone at all. And so we drilled down. Why are you writing this book? And for him, it was client acquisition. And he wanted the book to be an authority piece and a lead generation for client acquisition. “So, OK, great. What audience are you trying to reach? What client?”
And so that’s when we drilled him down. His two big clusters are direct marketing entrepreneurs and high net worth divorced women. And it took him a while to realize this, even though it seems and so obvious to all your clients. There was no way to talk to both of those people at once. There’s no overlap between those groups. There’s no subject where those two groups unite on things. And so, he realized, “I got to pick one.” And he picked high net worth divorced women. And then, the next question was easy, “Why are they going to care?” And he’s like, “Oh, as soon as they get divorced, the first question is, “How do I manage my money?” And there’s 20 things that they need to do that are different than other people.”
Great. So then, it became really easy. The actual process is called “positioning”. It comes from the old school book publishing terms, where like literally what place in the bookstore? What position on the shelves is the book going to sit? Is it a marketing book? Is it a self-help book? Is it a business book? So we positioned his book as solving a very specific problem, money management, for a very specific group, divorced high net worth women. Marketing was super easy for him.
Now, he’s not going to sell a million copies. He won’t even sell 10,000 copies. But the first set of marketing that we talked about was giving out copies to divorce lawyers. And he actually has not moved on steps two, three and four yet, because he has too many clients with just that one step. You could not think of anything more niche marketing-wise than what he did. And it cost him. At scale hard cover costs $2 a copy, with shipping and everything. Let’s just call it $3 a copy. So 10,000 copies, he spent $30,000. And even opportunity costed his time. Let’s just call $50,000 there. He spent 50 grand. And I think a client is worth, I don’t know, something like 25 grand to him or more.
And so he’s, I don’t know, dozens of clients alike. I mean, I think he’s getting close to breaking a million dollars worth of clients. And people think, “Well, that’s not marketing.” That literally is marketing. Marketing begins by thinking, “Why am I writing a book? Who am I talking to? And why would they care?” And if you know that, marketing is easy. Now, I’ll tell you what steps two, three and four are for him are doing content marketing, pulling content out of the book and putting it in places online where divorced women look. It’s getting in front of your audience. So where are high net worth divorced women getting their medium? Getting it from financial sites, certain women sites. And so he’s just going to put his content on those sites. And then, those women will come to him because he is now the expert for their specific problem. Does this make sense?
Brad: Yeah. So to clarify there, “Here’s my book. It’s 250-pages long. Here’s a little sample section of it. I just turned that into an article. Put it on a website where I know my ideal client is going to be. And by the way, they now know I’m the author. They will go out to get the book or contact him directly.”
Tucker: Yup, exactly. You can even do that as a service. It’s called basically “Thought Leader in a Box”. And like people who want to use sort of ongoing content marketing to establish themselves as an authority of thought leader in this space, to create a big flow of clients, we just rolled that out. We have about 10 clients who we do that with. And the book is from the beginning. And then, we build the whole platform for them. It doesn’t make sense for everybody that a lot of people makes a lot of sense for. And then it’s really, really simple.
The problem is so many people think of marketing as like, “How do I get famous? How do I get on everyone’s lips.” And you can’t because no one cares about you. They don’t. I don’t mean that as an insult. They care about themselves. And so, if you can produce something that matters to them, that’s how you get on their lips. And so if you’re an expert in a small space, you’re just not going to get on everyone’s lips. It’s just not possible. And why would you care? Why would that guy care about, I don’t know, Uber drivers and people working at McDonald’s knowing about him and his book? They can’t be clients. Why would they care about getting in front of them? It doesn’t make any sense. Then it’s just about ego. It’s not about actually marketing your services.
Brad: It’s interesting. I was just thinking today’s day and age. So go back 25 years ago when we’re talking about traditional publishers, there was like 25 TV stations or 30, or however many back in the day. Now, you’ve got–
Tucker: Four. You’re too young. You can’t remember when–
Brad: We do have the same age. What are you talking about? You’re like maybe 40 tops.
Tucker: I’m 41.
Brad: There you go. You got 5 years on me. So, that’s intriguing there because as the age of the iPhone just overwhelms people with information, it’s even more important to go deeper in that niche than it used to be.
Tucker: It’s not even important. It’s crucial. It’s the only way. It’s the only way.
Brad: Very interesting. So we got to step one. He went to his, call it the top of his lead funnel, which was the attorneys that were actually performing the divorces. Content marketing, you said was step two. Three, four, five, you have any others you’d like to throw out?
Tucker: Again, it’s just getting in front of your audience in different ways. So it’s creating content marketing, putting it high-end financial channels, getting him established. So getting him on CNBC and stuff won’t be hard, because those channels are watched by rich people. And how women should manage a divorce, they’re going to be happy to do a 10, 15, 20 minute segment on that. It’s not a problem. It’s not a problem because he has specific information that is valuable to a specific set of people that that media channel talks to. Those are essentially the next steps.
And then, well, I think he’ll eventually end up becoming a client for Thought Leader in a Box, because he’s building his practice. I think he’s going to build an entire practice on high net worth divorced women, instead of bringing in other financial planners who work under him. And he’s essentially just going to create the top of the funnel and then push clients and different people in his little splinter group. And we’ll just build the top of the funnel for him. It’s just a matter of marketing is really easy when you think of it as people have a problem, I have information that can help them solve the problem. I’m going to find a way to put it in front of them. That’s it.
Then it’s really easy. Marketing is like, “Yeah, that’s it? That’s all I have to do?” The problem is most people think that marketing in a Hollywood, entertainment way, like, splash and pizazz, and cool tricks, and stunts, and wage profiteering and all this nonsense. It doesn’t make sense for most people, man. If you’re Russell Brand, and your whole thing is being funny, and a comedian being shocking, and whatever, then that’s great. Then you should absolutely use all those tactics. Those tactics apply to .001% of businesses.
Most businesses exist to solve a problem for people. So all you have to do is identify who, what the problem is, and then show them how you can solve it. Don’t even sell them on. Just show them. There’s no trick to it. It’s just that the people who ask for tricks are the ones who are selling BS, quite frankly. And so they have to trick people. Or it’s people who, like I said, have a different conception in their mind of what marketing has to be versus what actually works.
Brad: But here’s what’s crazy. This guy wrote one book. It was right in the niche for you to be in, literally build an entire practice off of it. Let’s say he exhausts all high net worth divorced women. Now, he just read titles to niche number two, which was the online entrepreneur. And probably 80% of the same content, a few new chapters that apply to them. Is he already writing it?
Tucker: No, because he’s been too busy with the divorce women.
Brad: When he has time, right?
Tucker: When he has time after all these clients are serviced and set up, he might move to his other niche.
Brad: And then, by the way, he’ll probably come up with some other niche. Well, Hal Elrod’s doing it right now with “Miracle Morning”. He’s digging into the Miracle Morning for entrepreneurs, the Miracle Morning for families. And what’s interesting is he’s bringing in a co-author that knows that niche as well. So he’s bringing in their tribe as well. I’ve seen a few different guys do that. All right. This will be a fun one.
So I read a blog post of yours. And what I loved about it, the beauty of your writing is you’re vulnerable and you share, “Here’s what was going through my head.” And this one was actually the story of how you fired yourself as the CEO of Scribe Writing. And the reason I bring up this story is because if there’s one thing that financial advisors struggle with, and I think all type A personalities and entrepreneurs, “I’m the guy that can do everything best. Therefore, I really have a tough time delegating and handing out tasks and trusting.” So can you give us your version of firing yourself as CEO and what that did for your business when you did it?
Tucker: So, basically, Zach and I, my co-founder and I started the company. And we did a pretty good job once we realized what we had in our hands. We did a pretty good job establishing it. And we got product market fit almost out of the gate. That’s what we did, actually, out of the gate. We did a really good job bootstrapping it. We haven’t taken any of the seed money. We’re profitable, self-funded. We did a great job getting to the first critical mass at the transition stage. And I was like, “For our process, if we’re signing 5 authors a month, we can basically handle with 4 or 5 people, and then freelancers.” But once we got to be about 15, it didn’t just get three times more complicated, it got 300 times more complicated. It became exponentially more complicated. There’s a difference between making a Ferrari by hand and the Ford Fusion assembly line. They’re not a little bit different. They’re totally different things.
And so, Zach and I both just assumed because we started the company and we’d been really smart in how we grew it, and all these sorts of things, that we could also just stay on as CEO and COO and scale it and whatever. And we realized through a series of stupid mistakes that we were failing as leaders of the company, as the managers. And basically, we were about to screw up. And not even like the product. The process was great. We were doing great books. It was like everything else. It was the logistics and the mechanics of it, and the organization of it, and all.
These sort of adult business aspects, we were just not doing a good job scaling those. And so, one of our clients actually had just scaled the software company from $2,000,000 to $100,000,000. And he was doing a book with us. And he’s the type who’s like me. He’ll just tell you straight out. And he kept calling me like, “Dude, you’ve got this amazing company and this amazing service. And you guys are screwing it up.”
Every time he would have an interaction with our company, he would call me. He’d be like, “Here’s what you did wrong: this, this, this.” And he was right every time.
Brad: Those are fun calls!
Tucker: Dude, he was brutal because I couldn’t even argue. He was just right. Anyway, long story short, eventually, I got him to come on board as advisor. And once he saw behind the curtain, he realized the company was actually even better than he’d thought in the ways that he was excited about. And we’re even more screwed up in the fundamental ways than he understood. He’s like, “Because these are all fixable things. These are all really simple to fix.” We just didn’t have the skill to fix them.
And so, basically, Zach and I had to admit to ourselves we didn’t have the skill-set, which is most people look at the outside like, “Who cares?” So you’re not 7 feet tall. You can’t be an NBA center. It’s fine. You can be other things. But when you start the company name, and when you kind of get that momentum, you attach, I think, a lot of identity to that. And plus, I was like, “Oh, CEO, whatever.” It’s this high status position and all these sort of things. You kind of get stuck into that trap. But I kind of saw what I was doing. And so Zach and I decided to fire ourselves from our positions. And we hired JT, because he replaced me as CEO. And then he brought his number two to replace Zach as ops director essentially.
And so, Zach and I are obviously still in the company. We’re just doing totally different things. We’re only focusing our time on the things that we’re good at as opposed to trying to do everything, and things we’re not good at. And now, we’ve had back-to-back multi-million dollar quarters. We’re a hundred times better as a company. In six months, this dude has been here. And it’s breath-taking to see the difference actually.
Brad: So that’s only been six months ago that that happened?
Brad: What’s your revenue down in that six months, percentage-wise?
Tucker: We’ve done 35% of the revenue we’ve done in the two and a half years we’ve been operating as a company, he’s come in the last six months.
Brad: Wow. That’s exceptional. Congrats.
Tucker: And maybe 40% because of JT.
Brad: So from a psychology standpoint, I think what’s interesting is really smart people get the “I should probably step aside and let somebody else do this.” It’s just the ego, like you’re talking about, “Hey, I’m the CEO. I have this certain title.” It gets on the way. Was it just you woke up one morning, you’re flipping a switch, “I’m just doing this”? Was there a turning point? Was there something that triggered it where you’re now cool with it?
Tucker: I’ve done a lot of work in myself. I spent four years in psychoanalysis, going four times a week in meditation. And I think it was just the product of the work that I’ve done with myself, man. Doing great work on yourself doesn’t mean you stop having negative emotions or you stop making mistakes. It means that you’re seeing them quickly and you have the tools to fix them and correct them. That’s the mistake I think a lot of people understand. “If I meditate, I could push all these emotions away.” And it’s like, “No, the feelings are not going anywhere.”
What meditation does is it gives them a space to come up and have their say so they’re not screwing with you in a different time when you don’t realize it. And so, that’s really all it was, man. I think it was just an accumulation of all the work I’ve done. I was able to see that it came down to either I can make this about me. I could make it about me, stay as CEO. And at best, greatly throttle the world to this type of (inaudible – 00:50:11) to do this job. At worst, possibly sink the company because I don’t learn how to do it fast enough. Or I can realize that it’s not about me. That I’m just one part of a team and a mission. And the job has grown past me. And I need to step aside for someone who can handle it. And once I realized that, it’s not about me. Then, it was actually way easier to stomach. It feels like, “OK”. It’s not that I am a failure, it’s that i don’t have a skill-set necessary for this role for the next 5 – 10 years. So I need to step aside for someone who does.
Brad: And what’s cool about that is you obviously do have some incredible skill-sets. So now you’re doing those probably full-time, and 10 times better.
Tucker: Exactly, yeah.
Brad: All right, so you’re guy that gets a ton of stuff done. I mean, you’re writing books, you’re running companies. Do you have a morning routine you stick to? What’s the driver of being able to?
Tucker: I feel like I don’t get everything done. So I have a two year old son and we got another one coming. So we have to have routines. I get up at 6:30 AM every day with my son. My wife is pregnant so she gets to sleep in. I get up at 6:30 AM and we go for a walk. Me, him and the dog go for a walk around the neighborhood. Come back, he watches his iPad. He loves craft shows, how to make things. Any video, that’s what he watches. And he watches Peppa Pig in Spanish. I cannot understand. He’s obsessed with it.
Brad: On his own? He watches it on his own?
Tucker: I mean, his preschool, one of the teachers only speak Spanish. So it makes sense. But he loves Peppa Pig in Spanish. And it’s so weird because it’s Spanish with an English accent. So it was interesting, but he loves it. Then, I’ll make breakfast. And we eat our oatmeal and eggs and do whatever. And then mom comes down. And when she comes down, I usually go up and meditate. Then, I come back and then usually, she takes him to preschool.
So we have an office that we work, which is great. We work at the back. I love to do what I do. I have a pretty creative job. So I’m on the phone all day or doing podcasts or writing. And so I do that. And then I’m home usually by 5 o’clock. And then 5 to 7 is my family time, so dinner, playing with Bishop, doing whatever. And then he goes to bed 6:30 or 7:00. Then, 7:00 to 10:00 is my wife and I time. Either we catch up on work or we hang out. We do whatever. And then I’m in bed at 10:00. I’m an old man now.
Brad: I feel you, man. I have 3 kids. They exponentially suck energy out of you, the more you have. So get ready for number two.
Tucker: Yeah, we actually already hired a live-in, because of the creation of number two. We have a guest house at our house. And she’s already moved in. We got her set up, everything, household manager, everything.
Brad: Smart man. So to that, I want to rewind a second. You mentioned meditation. I dabble in it 2 to 3 times a week. Do you have a certain app that you use? Is there a set way that you found that just works for you?
Tucker: It’s all bullshit. If you’re using apps, and I know this is not a popular opinion, I will just tell you. If you’re using apps to track meditation — and there are smart people who disagree with me, so I can be wrong — I think you’re totally doing it wrong. It’s like the people that wear little FitBits to track their steps. And then if they forget their FitBit, they don’t care about walking around. It’s like you’re not walking around for this stupid thing on your wrist. That’s supposed to be a tracking accountability device for you. It’s not why you’re doing it.
And I feel like most of the people who use meditation apps, that’s what they’re doing. It’s like, “OK, I’ve got to get my mindfulness today. OK, I got my mindfulness. I’m going to do something else.” You have fucking lost the point. You are gone. No, so I did. I use Muse for a while. And I realized I was falling into that trap. So I stopped.
Brad: So let’s hit on that. Because I’ve used Muse too. And it felt stressful to meditate because it felt like it made it too much of a game where I was competing for those chirps every time I did it.
Tucker: Yup, exactly.
Brad: So you just go to a quiet place and hang out for a while.
Tucker: So I stepped it down to its essence. I literally went back to that. I’m a big fan of primary sources. Most people have opinions and they don’t even know where or how they got the opinions. Like, most people couldn’t tell you, “Oh, yeah, I believe in free speech. Well, recite the first amendment for me.” “What?” “Exactly. Get out of here.” You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just repeating someone else’s opinion.” So for most things, I go back to primary sources. And so, I did that for meditation. I had literally went back and read primary sources for Buddha. And then the closest we can get obviously on what his disciples wrote down, so we don’t actually know Buddha literally what he said. But that’s pretty close.
And the way he describes meditation makes a lot of sense to me. It’s basically sit lotus position. Focus on your breath. What comes up, recognize it, except that it’s a thought. Investigate it. Let it have it’s sort of space and make no judgment of it. And then refocus on your breath. And that’s it. That’s all it’s about.
Brad: I’m sorry. I want to make sure I get the book in the show notes. What book did you read there?
Tucker: The one that I would, I mean, I’m a lunatic about this stuff. I went back to Blue Cliff, I would not recommend reading that stuff, it’s hard to get through. “Egyptian Book of the Dead” is like nonsense. I’ll recommend two. One is called “Buddha in Blue Jeans”, which is really short. It’s 40 pages. If you just want a short form of meditation, what I just said, it says 15 different ways. It’s really good.
Because people try and make it complicated. And what Buddha in Blue Jeans does is emphasize very much that it’s not complicated. It is simple to understand. It is hard to do is the problem, right? If you want to really deeply understand, sort of, Buddha and why he created the techniques, how he did and how they worked mentally, I would actually recommend a book called “The Trauma of Everyday Life” by Mark Epstein. And Mark Epstein is one of the only, he’s a psychoanalyst and a Buddhist. And he’s one of the few people who kind of bridged those disciplines. He’s a friend of the Dalai Lama and stuff, a really, really smart guy. And that book is a psychoanalytic reading of the Buddha. And it’s not complicated. It’s actually really straightforward and amazing. Or a third one I would recommend is in between those two that is simple, easy-to-read, but a little bit more in-depth than Buddha in Blue Jeans, it’s called “10% Happier” by Dan Harris, I think, which is basically this newscaster that used this when he had a panic attack and he learned meditation.
And he’s one of Mark Epstein’s students. And so, if you like 10% Happier, you’re going to find Epstein, you’re going to read his stuff, anyway, because that’s where Dan got everything from. But that book is a lot easier to read for a lot of people.
Brad: Cool. Appreciate that. Check those out. I haven’t read any of those. I’ve got to read more, man. So you’re a well-read guy, when do you plan time to read with children now? Is that morning, evening?
Tucker: iPhone, man. I’m all e-books now because with my kid, it’s basically, he goes to pre-school by 8 and doesn’t come home until 4 or 5, so I’ve got plenty of time during the day. And now, we changed that. We have a machine in our company now. I have time. So I sit down. I make time to read. I sit down. And the thing that I’ve gotten really good at is being ruthless about what I finish. I’ll start a lot and I finish almost nothing because most of it is nonsense, or not value add. So that’s where most people are like, “Oh, you know, if I started, I have to finish it.” No, quit bad books. I do it every day.
Brad: How do you know it’s a book worth finishing?
Tucker: If you finish it. Dude, Jerry Seinfeld had the best thing about this ever: “There’s no such thing as attention span. There’s only interesting and not interesting.”
Brad: It’s a good point. All right, dude. Are you ready for rapid rire? Just throw a couple to wrap this thing up today?
Tucker: Let’s do it.
Brad: All right. This would be a fun one for you. I know you’re a well connected guy that knows a lot of successful people. When you hear the word “successful”, who’s the first person you think of and why?
Tucker: I don’t think of a specific person, man. Honestly, I get a scene in my mind is someone old, on their death bed, surrounded by people that love them and that they love whose lives that they’d better. That to me is success. It’s when your time to go, you have done so much and you have so many great relationships that you’re surrounded by people who love you. If you’ve been successful, that’s what your life would look like.
Brad: Is there a mentor that you’ve had where what I love about you is you’re a guy that’s evolved a lot through your career. And you’re still a young guy. Is there people that have come into your life who were like, “That’s pulled me in a direction I want to go”?
Tucker: No. I’ve never had really a mentor. I’ve kind of just taken a little bit from a lot of different places and sources. I kind of wished that the problem with me, man, is for most of my life, I don’t think, there were not a lot of people who could have mentored me. And the ones who could have, probably didn’t want to put up with my BS. I actually might be finally getting to the point of my life where I could actually have a mentor. The problem is who’s going to mentor me? There’s a lot of people who know a ton of stuff that I don’t know, of course. And so in a specific field, like meditation or financial planning or whatever, there’s a ton of people who can mentor me in the field. Not like in terms of overall life mentor, I’m sure there are people out there. I’m not sure who would be. I’m not sure what that relationship would look like. But, listen, I’m always willing to learn more. I feel like the older I get, the more I know and the less I feel like I know.
Brad: I live my life the same way. As you open a door to a crowd of people just have a different knowledge base and maybe a different level that they aspire to be at, and then you’re like, “Wow.” And then it’s just the next level, and next level, and next level. So I’m with you on that thought. I don’t know if you can give a short answer to this one. Favorite book you’ve ever read and why?
Tucker: I’ll stick with “A Confederacy of Dunces”, because it’s almost the perfect novel. It’s still funny. It’s still brilliant. It’s a novel that makes me sad in a way because I know I’ll never would be able to write like that. It is amazing.
Brad: “A Confederacy of Dunces.”
Tucker: Super famous, yeah. John Kennedy Toole. In my opinion, the best novel ever written in English.
Brad: Is there a book that you’ve gifted over the years to people?
Tucker: A lot. Probably the one I’ve given away the most is “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, because I have a lot of writer friends and creative friends, whatever. Probably that one.
Brad: Is there a reason you gave it away? Is there a specific thing you’re like, “I want people that I care about to notice out of that book?”
Tucker: That book is very applicable to a lot of creatives.
Brad: Let’s go with this one. Best business advice you’ve ever received.
Tucker: I don’t know if it’s advice. It’s something I realized. I don’t know if I’ve read it somewhere. It’s one of these things, it seems obvious. Except most people just don’t really get it. I think most people forget what the purpose of business is. Business does not exist as entity unto itself. Markets don’t exist as an entity to themselves. All business is, is just meeting other people’s needs. That’s all that is. It’s all about solving problems, meeting needs of other people. Outside of human interaction, there’s no such thing as business. You’re not supposed to state a business or some business cloud somewhere in the end of business. It is just meeting each other’s needs. That’s all that is.
And people forget like, “What about the economy?” I’m like, “What are you talking about? The economy is just a bunch of transactions where people are adding value to each other’s lives. You give me money. I give you a sandwich. We’re both better off.” I think people forget that. They look at it as this independent thing. “It’s just business.” No, you’re screwing me. For whatever you want to call it, call it what you want. But if you understand that that’s all business is. That’s the entire point of all economic transactions. And then it helps you take a step back and keep that perspective. And make sure you avoid the game of business or business theater, all of these things.
Brad: It’s interesting just because that I feel like as things are getting more complicated in today’s digital world, you look at these big corporations. I mean, the reason I left a big corporation, because I had 10 levels of management stacked on top of me and it was the most depressing thing in the world. And I see now you created a company out of nothing. It’s literally nothing. One day it’s an idea at the dinner table. And now, it’s a legitimate real business. And it’s really not a massive corporation. It’s just a bunch of people very well aligned to fix problems.
Do you see with the digital economy? Do you actually see where someday, corporations could go back the other way and kind of crumble to either more collaterally built?
Tucker: Of course, man. This is what some of the best lines of businesses are actively debating on the edge right now. The theory of the firm, like coasting all the great minds in the University of Chicago, where I went to college, the entire theory of the firm is a way to reduce transaction costs. Well, in a world, the zero transaction cost of information, the theory of the firm breaks down. I think it’s very interesting that we end up being replaced by it. We’ll end up being replaced by network tribes that will have, in certain ways, more arm’s length relationships, and in certain ways, far more emotionally connected relationships. I know that the corporation will be a relic of the industrial era. It’s a way to reduce transaction costs in a world of high cost-to-capital, high initial investment. It’s what’s it’s for.
Brad: All right, man. Last one. This has been a blast. So I appreciate the time. One piece of advice, so obviously around financial advisors or I guess entrepreneurs in general. What’s one piece of advice that you would share that’s led to your success?
Tucker: I’ll got a little bit meta. The more truly curious you are, the more you ask questions, and the more you deeply, deeply try to examine reality for what it is and not what other people tell you, the more successful you will be at business, especially in entrepreneurship. If I’ve been successful, I think that’s probably why, because I’m willing to ask the first question and then just keep asking. And I’m willing to sort of check presumptions and call out the ones that aren’t true. Well, people aren’t. And there’s no entrepreneur who’s not good at that.
Brad: Thanks, man. This has been an incredible hour, almost an hour and a half, man, so, I appreciate it.
Tucker: Of course.
Brad: Well, Tucker, thanks for joining us. You’re welcome back any time, man. And on a final note, for those of you out there that have that idea in your head, I can speak personally, Scribe Writing is a great way to get it out there. So, thanks for creating it, Tucker. I wouldn’t be writing a book if it wasn’t for that.
Tucker: Of course, man. My pleasure.
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