Ep 025

How to Write a Book That Grows Your Income, Impact, and Business


Chandler Bolt

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Inside This Episode

Today, I’m talking with Chandler Bolt, the CEO of SelfPublishing.com – an Inc 5000 company that he built from 0 to $43M+ in 8 years.

Chandler has authored 6 bestselling books and has helped thousands of people write a book that grows their income, impact, and business.

If you’re a financial advisor who wants to write a book AND leverage it to generate more business, Chandler’s here to share his proven formula!

3 of the biggest insights from Chandler Bolt

  • #1 Why writing a book builds authority and credibility as a financial advisor.

  • #2 How to write a book and leverage it to get more leads, more sales, and more referrals.

  • #3 Pairing your book with psychological sales principles to increase demand and interest at seminars.


  • 00:00 Why write a book as a financial advisor
  • 03:28 Using a book to get more leads, sales & referrals
  • 09:22 The follow-up process for book-generated leads
  • 12:18 How to use local media as a referral megaphone
  • 21:31 The lead-gen playbook for events and seminars
  • 30:57 Building an effective funnel through direct mail
  • 40:05 How Selfpublishing.com grew from $0 to $50M
  • 43:45 How extreme ownership can liberate advisors
  • 51:44 Being all-in on both business and life





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  • You can’t spell the word authority without the word author. And in the mind of your client, you become an authority by becoming an author.” – Chandler Bolt

  • “If they’re choosing between two people and you wrote the book on it, that solves the problem that they have. Well, then they’re more likely to choose you, right?”  – Chandler Bolt

  • “Confused people don’t buy.” – Chandler Bolt

  • “At the end of the day, if I’m the guy running the company, it’s my fault if something’s broken. And I love that. The moment you cross that line as a leader, it’s almost like you’re free.” – Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson: Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. We have special guest, Chandler Bolt, here today. Welcome to the show, Chandler.

Chandler Bolt: Brad, good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, man. Well, you were kind enough. I believe we were first introduced by Michael Hyatt. I know we’ve both done some coaching with him and just, obviously, that dude is as good as it gets. And so, any introduction I get from Michael, I’m like, “Okay, I don’t know who they are but I know they’re good people.” And so, he introduced us, and then as I got to know, really, you and your business, Selfpublishing.com, I believe recently kind of rebranded. You hopped on and you were kind enough. You did a private we call them a fireside chat inside of the Triad community and you crushed. It was just like anything book related, how to launch, how to drive appointments, how to write the book. And you just riffed for like 60 minutes. And we had crazy feedback from our Triad members that just like, “Wow, that dude just blew my mind.” So, it’s only fitting we come back here for a public-facing conversation on the podcast. So, I just almost just want to say if you’re a financial advisor and you want to write a book, what should you do, Chandler? I think I’d just let you run with that one, man.

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. When I think we ended up working with Kristen on her book too, as a result of that fireside chat and it’s been fun.

Brad Johnson: We did.

Chandler Bolt: It’s been fun seeing all the stuff she’s done with that book. I mean, so I think if you’re a financial advisor thinking about writing a book, there’s a lot of reasons to do it. One of the big ones that other financial advisors are kind of people in similar situations, one of the big reasons they do it is because they’re tired of going one-to-one and they want to go one-to-many. And so, we have this concept we talk about all the time. I know most people are probably listening to this but at the off chance you see in the video, it says leveraged impact, right? And so, leveraged impact means doing work once, creating this book. That book then goes on to impact thousands, tens of thousands, maybe even millions of people. And so, that’s leveraged impact. And so, for a lot of people, if you’re having to repeat the same thing over and over and over and over, right? You’re just tired of talking about every new prospect client, employee that you have to onboard. You got to train them in the same thing or say the same thing. Well, the best way to stop talking about that thing is to write a book on it and then point to that book. And so, that is what we found.

And then also, I mean, if you want to become an authority, you can’t spell the word authority without the word author, right? And so, in the mind of your client, you become an authority by becoming an author. And that is the virtual handshake. So, we can get into a lot of like I could go really deep into, hey, getting sales leads and referrals using a book like we’ve got a process that we teach and we can unpack that here but, I mean, the starting point is it brings leverage. You start having those conversations that you would be having one-to-one and now you’re having them one-to-many through the conduit of a book.

Brad Johnson: I love that. There’s also the phrase he or she wrote the book on it, and I found that to be so true. It’s like once you write a book, it becomes tangible and real. The idea becomes a physical manifestation of that. And so, just to piggyback on everything you just said, and Michael Hyatt, I remember he once told me it’s like there was life before the book and there’s life after the book, and it’s just a game changer for so many business owners. And I know you’ve helped a ton of people in many industries bring that to life. So, because I know my audience and because I know financial advisors, if they’re like, “Wait, I can use a book to drive appointments or drive referrals, their ears perked up there.” So, let’s maybe start there. Let’s say they either have a book because many of our Triad members do have a book or they’re in the process of writing a book. As soon as you get that book, how would you put that book to work for you?

Chandler Bolt: Great question. There’s a lot of different things I would do. But I mean, I think it starts with the three buckets of using the book to get more leads, more sales, more referrals. Right? So, more leads, these are people who hear about you because of your book. So, there’s a lot of people my book published. They have no idea what Selfpublishing.com is but they see that book, they read that book, and they say, “Oh, wow, this is interesting. This was helpful. I want to work with you, guys.” So, they read the book. They call my team. They sign up to work with us, right? So, they find out about your business through the book. Then there’s using the book to get more sales. So, this is, I mean, every advisor will have some sort of sales funnel from when someone hears about you to them maybe giving you their contact information, to them maybe setting up for an appointment or a consult coming in office or virtual to decide if they do business with you. And so, the more sales piece is how do you use the book to grease the wheels of any or every part of that process?

So, if you give us your contact information, we’ll give you this book. Or if you show up for this consult, “I’ve got a physical copy of my book, Waiting On You, is totally yours for free. All you have to do is show up.” So, maybe you boost your show-up rate. And the process you boost your close rate. Because if they’re choosing between two people and you wrote the book on it, that solves the problem that they have. Well, then they’re more likely to choose you, right? So, that’s the more sales bucket. And then the more referrals bucket, I look at that as how do you turn customers or in some cases even prospects into active referrers. And so, the way that I recommend doing that is you give two copies of your book to every new client or prospect and you say, “Hey, most books don’t come with strings attached. This one does. Like, all I ask is that you read this one and you give this one to someone you know who needs help with this thing.” So, someone you know, in my case, is like someone you know who needs help with a book or is thinking about writing a book.

But obviously, you translate that to the financial world. And then so they would never go around passing out your business cards, right? But they might hand the book over to someone else. And my mom raised me not to waste and so, it’s like, “I’m throwing away a business.” A lot of people say a book is the new business card. I’m throwing away a business card, I mean, within 24 hours. It’s not seeing the light of the day. But when someone gives me a book, I keep it and it’s in my office, it’s in my house. And every time I see that book, I think of that person. And it’s like, “Oh, I remember that author gave me that book.” And so, now you’re top of mind. And if someone’s at their house or their office or wherever, “Hey, what’s that book about?” “Oh, you can have it.” And so, now they just refer to your business. And one other like really small thing that we do, Brad, that might be helpful for you or might be helpful for some of your advisors as well, is we just have an easy link that people can remember. So, it’s whatever your URL is /friend. Right?

And so, we just say, “Hey, if you ever have anyone you know who’s thinking about writing a book, just go to Selfpublishing.com/friend I think is the one that we use, but just translate that to whatever your URL is, right? And say, “Hey, just go there and just fill in their information.” We’ll send them a book for free and tell them you sent it. And so, now all of a sudden we’re adding value versus saying you should do business with us. We’re just adding value, sending them a book, and so it helps them to more easily refer us business. So, I know this is kind of a monologue there but that’s how I look at, okay, more leads, more sales, more referrals, plug it into your existing thing. And I’ll go one final thing is if you already have a book, because I know you said, “Hey, some people already have a book,” ship a physical copy of your book with a simple letter to every past customer or existing customer and just say, “Hey, I would love to work with you again or do you know anyone that might want to work with us, we wanted to give you this free book. Hope you love it.”

We’ve had people do that and they instantly it’s zigging when everyone else is zagging. In a digital world you’re sending an analog physical gift in the mail, doesn’t cost you that much, and you’re probably all in $7 to $10 per package. And I just look at it as a cost of acquisition. You know, if I’m giving away a book for $5 or for $10, well, if I get that contact information or an appointment or a customer, like I know what I would spend on any other channel for that, this is worth way more because it’s a better quality lead-in customer.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, I can promise you, financial advisors are out there saying, “If I can get a legitimate lead for $7 to $10, I will do that all day, every day, all day long.” Many of them spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to manufacture a first appointment. I also love the URL/friend. I think the psychology of if you can let someone gift your book on their behalf where it’s like, “Hey, I was thinking of you. Actually, I got you a free copy of Chandler’s book,” not, “Chandler sent you a free copy.” So, now I’ve got some social currency that’s created by that gift that I created. And you’re creating an easy avenue for them to do that, which is I love that idea. That’s a really smart one. So, let’s look at your funnel because you’ve written a book, you’ve got this Selfpublishing.com/friends. The other benefit is now you know the information of a lead because you’ve got their physical address, you’ve got their names, so you can actually ship them a book. Where does it go from there in your personal business? Delivered book. Is there a sequence now that they’re in or is there a phone call that comes from someone on your team? What does that look like?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. That’s a great question. And as soon as you said that, I’m like, “Oh shoot, let me get to the stage real quick.” Make sure this is working. Yeah. So, basically what we do and I know nobody will probably see this but, I mean, we just set it up. It’s super simple. You say, “Hey, refer friends. Change more lives through books.” And so, then we just make it super simple. Then they come straight down. We say, “Hey, invite a friend,” and then you get $750 if they decide to do business with us. Super simple. Who’s being referred and who’s referring them? And then submit. And then there’s like an FAQ down there and all that stuff, right? So, we’ve tested a couple of different things, I think. And I don’t know if we do this still or not but at one point, it was a two-way referral program. We didn’t invent this. Obviously, this is a pretty common thing where it’s like, you know, it’s like somebody’s sending you their Uber Eats code or whatever, and you get $30 off your first order and I get $30 for sending it to you. So, you’re incentivizing the referral. But I think we did that to start where it was they get $250 off and the person who refers them gets $250.

And so, that’s a dual referral but that person basically just gets dropped into our contact follow-up where we say, “Hey, sent you a book. So-and-so sent you a book. We’d love to chat with you about your book.” And then we follow up. We follow up from there. Admittedly, we’re probably executing it like a five or six out of ten, whereas I feel like a lot of financial advisors could probably execute a lot better. We get about 15,000 to 20,000 leads a month and we can’t even call all of them.

Brad Johnson: Is that all only? Only 15,000 to 20,000 a month?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. I know it’s like cry me a river, right? We’ve got too many leads. We can’t call all of our leads. So, the way we approach a lot of the lead warm-up is a little bit more like, “All right. Let’s qualify,” and then hit the phones with all of our most qualified prospects, that sort of thing. But on the flip side, it’s like if I’m paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars a lead, then I’m going to be calling all of then three to five in the first two weeks. And like two is probably a more normal cadence for a lot of advisors.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Okay. A couple of different ways we could go here. You’ve got so many frameworks. I’m looking at my notes from our last conversation over here. If we go back to the three leads, sales referrals that you can do with books, what are some of the best ways you’ve seen? And maybe these are other industries, not financial advisors. Plug a book into their already existing sales funnel. So, maybe they’re doing live events, dinner seminars. Those are really big in finance. Maybe they’re doing TV shows, radio shows, podcasts. What are things that come to mind that maybe check how to use a book to drive leads, sales, or referrals off of some of those marketing funnels that you’ve seen work really well?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah, great question. So, would you say the lunch and learn or the dinners or the end persons, are those the most popular thing that people are doing?

Brad Johnson: I would say in our space that is probably marketing funnel number one. Yes.

Chandler Bolt: I see. And what’s the biggest bottleneck with that funnel? Is it getting registrants? Is it show-up rate? Is it close rate once they get there? Like, what’s typically the biggest bottleneck?

Brad Johnson: So, all of them, but if you looked at kind of as we go top of funnel down, let’s just start most of them send out a direct mail piece which says, “Hey, join me at Ruth’s Chris,” and it’s something like, “Hey, we’re going to talk about the three things that could get in the way of successful retirement,” whatever compliance will allow them to, say. So, if they send out a direct mail piece that is to a certain investable asset, a certain age demographic response rates, if they’re lucky, a 1%. So, there’s already a massive gap there. There’s 99% that are not registering for that live event. So, of the ones that register between 70% to 90% typically show up, depending on how good the registration funnel is. And then from there, I would say another average is about 50% convert to book a first appointment so about half the room converts there. And then 70% to 80% of those actually show up for a first visit. So, I’ll just stop there but that’s kind of that far down the funnel.

Chandler Bolt: Okay. Got it. Wow. That’s really intriguing. So, it feels like maybe top of funnel would be the best place. So, can you include a free book in the offer for the Ruth’s Chris session if we’re actually registering? Like, that to me is like, okay, that’s the first place that I would look because the book has inherent value, but so does the dinner. So, I really would question whether or not that’s going to move the needle there. Maybe it does. I think it would definitely be worth testing, but if nothing else, it credentialize it, right? So, if you get a cover of the book is, “Come here. The author of X book talk about the three things that prevent retirement. And oh, by the way, if you register, you’re going to get a free book and at the event, he’ll be doing a book signing.” So, I mean, that just automatically just edifies that person from Johnny Finance down the street. So, I don’t know who this is.

Brad Johnson: Love that. I’m going to use that one, Johnny Finance. Love it. It’s like Johnny Football. That’s what I’m picturing.

Chandler Bolt: So, in my mind, that boosts your registrant rate and your show-up rate. And so, that’s how I would look at it at the top of the funnel. So, that’s the workshop funnel and we work with some chiropractors and physical therapists who have done something similar. They have similar kind of workshop models and they’ve done the book funnel on that side of things too. It can work pretty well. That’s where the doesn’t come with strings attached. That’s where I got that idea actually was who’s the number one chiropractor in all of Canada and he said that he gave out about I think it was about a thousand books over the course of a year and got like 100 referrals or something crazy. So, 10% but it’s like if you look at the hard cost of all that, it’s like, “Okay. He paid maybe $10,000 for those thousand books. And so, his cost to acquire a customer was, whatever, $10,000 divided by 100. Was that $100 cost of acquisition and getting a really, really good customer? But so that’s how I look at it on the workshop level.

And then some of the other stuff, I mean, I’m trying to think what I would do if I were a financial advisor like I would do local PR for sure. That’s something we advise for a lot of our folks is, you know, they’re local TV, local radio, local newspaper, all that stuff. They won’t bring you on to talk about your business but they will bring you on to talk about your book. And now we’re bringing on the author of X book talking about the three things that prevent retirement. And so, I would just saturate that local market through PR. This is kind of the case for me. One of my early businesses, I ran a house painting business through student painters, college pro. You know, there’s kind of multiple of these companies, but I work with student painters and we knocked on doors to convince people that they needed to let us do an estimate to be able to paint their house as a college kid, right? And then we’re training high school door knockers and so they’re knocking on doors as well. And I just remember one day I’m knocking on doors and I’m putting fliers on mailboxes and I’m like, “This just seems wildly inefficient. It’s like I’m talking to one person at a time.”

And not even that like I got to knock on, you know, 20, 50 doors to even talk to one person sometimes. And so, I’m like, “Well, how can I get in every mailbox?” Like, I’m putting fliers on mailbox and like, “Oh, hold up, everyone gets a newspaper.” And so, then it just started clicking for me. So, I’m like, “All right. What if I spend an hour a week just reaching out to newspapers and then I kind of expand it out to TV stations and stuff like that, local?” And so, that’s what I recommend in this case is spend that hour a week or have someone on your team spend an hour a week, local TV, local newspaper. Now, you’ve got by the end of it, I had multiple features in the newspaper. I was on TV, we had a proclamation from the mayor, we had all this stuff. And so, when we started, it was like, “Yeah, low country student painters day.” So, we got our own day, but it just was so edifying.

Brad Johnson: Where was the site? You said low country. Was this South Carolina?

Chandler Bolt: Exactly. It was in Summerville, South Carolina is where I ran my – I’d never lived there but I lived with my brother for that summer and name my business and so I went to college at Charleston. So, yeah, I think you know my brother and his band and all that stuff, Needtobreathe. And so, it’s like at the same time they’re making hit records, I’m like sleeping on the couch, knocking on doors, trying to start a painting business and I have a zip code and some marketing materials. Like, there were no contacts. I knew no one but it’s just guerilla marketing. I’m kind of losing the plot of what we’re talking about.

Brad Johnson: No, no, no. This is fun. Well, there are a few lessons here. Number one, you’ve always thought like an entrepreneur because that’s 100% how an entrepreneur would think like a problem to solve. What are some creative ways to do it? For some reason, I got, like, a flash of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where, like, you’re this go-getter kid but the next thing you know, you’re like leading a parade around the town while the mayor’s like putting you on TV. But you thought creatively. You said, “Hey, problem to solve. This is a one-to-one,” back to how you started this conversation. A book is one-to-many. And so, you thought about scale.

Chandler Bolt: And looking for leverage like that is the big thing is just how do I go one-to-one to one-to-many? And so, I guess maybe even like landing the plane back to how this applies for advisors is I would look at PR and I would seriously pursue that. And then one of the ways that we do it, and I don’t know how accessible this is, it’s kind of the similar model but I’ll go out and give talks and I give away my books like crazy. And so, if I’m speaking at a conference, I’m bringing in hundreds of books, typically, enough for 40% to 60% of the room. And I’ll say, “Hey, I brought some free books for anyone who wants one, and I’ll do a book signing afterwards.” And so, now we just lead collect, I mean, over half the room or 30% to 50%, sometimes more than that. And so, I don’t know if advisors have any opportunities that where they’re speaking outside of a room that they own, then that’s a great way to say, “All right. Now, I’m going to use the book to do a massive lead collect.” And there’s a bunch of other things I could use on that but that’s how we use it kind of personally inside of the business.

Brad Johnson: Well, where my head goes, EO, YPO, these kind of groups that are always looking for speakers. Obviously, you’ve got to be high enough caliber speaker that it makes sense. So, let’s say they are in a room. Maybe it’s like, “Hey, there’s a community event. They’re invited to speak into as an author,” how does that lead funnel work when you say, “Hey, I brought some free books, whoever wants one,” like are they hitting a stand in the back where you get their name, address? Like, what does that look like?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah, that’s exactly how it works. So, sorry, I’m stepping away from my mic for a second because I had to grab this. So, we go old school. Now, we also will have a QR code on the slides, but we say, “Hey, here’s a free copy of Published.” It says that on one side and then the other side is just a simple contact card, right? And so, it’s name, email, phone number, city, state. And then they can check a box that says yes. It says, “Yes, I’d like to work with Self-publishing School.” These are kind of old, but, “Yes, I’d like to work with Self-publishing School to write and publish my book and would love a free one-on-one session to custom design my book strategy.” And then there’s a question that says, “Where would you like to focus over the next 30 days?” So, instantly people are self-selecting like the cream of the crop of like, “I want to talk to someone.”

And so, those are obviously our best leads. So, we bubble that up, and then basically there’s this whole flow of I’m getting in the weeds here but hopefully for you or for anyone else who speak in this will be really helpful because the first year that I started speaking, we did $1 million in sales for the business just from speaking. I spoke at 24 events. I don’t think any of them I got paid to speak, but we did about 42,000 I think it was per event from this. And we still do this. I mean, a few weeks ago we did $7,000 like on the spot of an event. And so, basically, what we do though is I’ll split the room at the end of the talk and so I’ll say, “Hey, how many of you are thinking about writing a book?” It’s like maybe someday, maybe next year last. And they just heard me talk about this, about how to do it, but it’s like, “Hey, it’s maybe someday, maybe next year,” and, “Okay, perfect. Fill this out, hand it to my team. We’ll give you a free copy of the book. That book’s there whenever you’re ready. And then how many of you this is a this-year thing or like next six months, this year, like this is a priority? Okay. Even better.

We’re sitting down with people while we’re here. We’ll map out a strategy for you to implement this and get your book done and we’ll talk to you about how we can help. And so, then basically we just book 30-minute back-to-back sessions. But we split the room so that obviously the people who are not interested in working with us in that moment, they just kind of self-select out. They’re pumped. They’re like, “I got a book. It’s $15, $20 just given it to me for free. Awesome.” And then if they check the box on this, maybe they check the box on this and then we can follow up with them while we’re at the event or after the event, sit down with them, chat about working together but then they can also self-select. It’s kind of a really interesting thing. Like, whenever we go speak at events, people are like, “How in the world are you doing this?” Like, everyone else’s booth is just dead and our booth is just popping. And I had somebody the other day I spoke at this event and he had a picture and he talked. He’s like, “Dude, I’ve never seen anyone rush a table like that.” And it wasn’t like I was like, “Go to the back of the room right now!”

Like, it was a throwaway comment. I was like, “Hey, we’ve got books. We don’t have enough for everyone.” I think we got 300 or 400 of them, and it was an audience of like a thousand people. And so, I’d love to give it to them as many as we can and then finish my talk, walked off stage. So, I was backstage, I didn’t see this. And apparently, there was a massive line and the next speaker was on and the event staff was having to come over to the booth and be like, “You guys got to sit down,” because it was in the main room and it’s just so loud. So, that’s an example and then another example from a couple of weekends after that similar thing, where just the booth is rocking. And you know, we’ve got a line of people waiting for signatures on books and stuff. And so, then my team is in there saying, “Hey, what’s your book about? Do you want to talk to the team?” And so, we’re just booking appointments like crazy. And then that leads to a lot of business from those events. So, that’s kind of our event and speaking playbook. There’s a lot of other different components of it but it’s really a fact.

Oh, and I’ll mention one other thing. If anyone’s going to exhibit at events or maybe locally or beyond that as advisors is the books, it just sparks conversation at your booth. So, even when we’re not speaking, we call them SDRs. It’s like the person who’s setting appointments, right? So, they’re at the booth and the question is like, “Oh, hey, did you get your free book yet?” when someone’s walking by and they’re holding the book, they’re like, “Oh, hey, did you get your free book yet?” They’re like, “What? No, I didn’t. What’s that about?” It’s like, “Oh, just fill this out. Perfect.” And then now they’re filling out the thing. It’s like, “Okay. Hey, if you write a book, what’s your book about? What would your book be about?” And then now they’re in a conversation, right? And then maybe they just leave with the book. And then when we’re at events, it’s like people are seeing this book everywhere. It’s like everyone’s got it. But if you’re just kind of taking over the conference and people are like, “What’s that red book? Like, what’s going on with that thing? Where do you get that?” And so, it just creates this virality in word of mouth, and it’s just wildly effective to lead, collect, to bring in customers, all that stuff.

Brad Johnson: I love that. I didn’t want to ruin your flow there. That’s a stellar idea. And we’ll relate how that could be implemented by financial advisors. But if you are listening on audio only, there is a YouTube version of this. Chandler just held up the actual card and kind of talked through it. So, if you’re curious, just go up to the YouTube channel Do Business Do Life, you’ll find it and you can see the visual there. Two things off of that. Number one, Dan Kennedy. Are you familiar with that name all?

Chandler Bolt: Definitely.

Brad Johnson: So, you took me back when you were talking about people rushing the booth. Dan Kennedy is the guy that I saw do that first. This was Cleveland, Ohio, in a little dumpy hotel when I was probably 28 years old. And he did the same thing and it was a roomful of financial advisors. He’s like here’s this thing, and there was probably 100 people in the room. He’s like, “We’ve got 20 slots.” And you should have – there were like guys throwing haymakers, crawling all over each other. So, just the psychology of that I think is something you can always use, which is, “Hey, we brought as many as we could but we don’t have enough for the whole room. So, if you’re interested, go get them.” And I’ve seen that in other events. I saw Tony Robbins do that one time and that was interesting. But I love the psychology, which I’m guessing that’s a little bit of it. Is that fair?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. Oh, no doubt. No doubt. And, I mean, it’s also just the logistics of like we don’t want to have to take a bunch of books back home. So, we ship for 40% to 60% of it and we know that it will create scarcity and urgency around the book. And we also want to make sure that we get rid of all of them so that we’re not having to fly them back or whatever else.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, the second piece of that is I love that splitting the room concept, and I’m just looking through the lens of a financial advisor doing a dinner seminar. If we incorporate the idea you shared earlier where, “Hey come out toward this event we’re hosting.” And by the way, everybody that shows up, you get a free copy of the book. We’ll do a little signing. Another take on that could be you offer a book to those that book an appointment. Where my head goes is you split the room of who here is planning to retire within the next 6, 12, 24 months, or actually outside of that? Here’s the book. So, get the information on how to make the most out of your retirement. By the way, when you’re ready, we’re here. It might make sense to come in and see us about your individual scenario, but if they’re planning to retire inside of that window, here’s what you should do. And it’s, number one, we’ll still give you the book when you come in for your first visit but you need to take action. You need a consultation on your one-on-one sort of deal. Any other thoughts you have? You’ve played this out a lot more than I have. I’m just ideating right now.

Chandler Bolt: I think you could certainly there’s a lot of ways you could spend it. I mean, you could do it exclusively for people who book appointments but you kind of stop the funnel at the show, right? And so, I’d be curious is for most advisors, is it like, “Hey, don’t waste my time. I don’t want a bunch of junk appointments on my calendar,” or is it more like, “Hey, the close rate is 30%,” so I would rather have more appointments and maybe they’re slightly lower quality because then it’s like book an appointment, you get a book or something like that and you could use that or you use it as a social proof mechanism to say, “Hey, I’ll give whoever a book but if you book an appointment, then skim it before our first session.” And so, now they’re showing up to that session primed and already kind of indoctrinated into how you do things and more likely to purchase.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. I like your original idea. It blows my mind because if you think about, I mean, to send out a direct mail piece, most advisors that do this consistently, they’re dropping 6,000, 8,000, 10,000 mail pieces because they’re working with the one, if they’re lucky, the 1%. It’s probably closer to a half percent that raise their hand. I just look at how could you better use that mailer real estate to if they don’t because it’s almost like marry me on the first date. You’re driving across town. I’m sitting in the room with a bunch of strangers and I know it’s some form of a sales presentation. It’s almost like, what if you use that mail piece to say, “Hey, if you’re not planning to retire, if you’re just curious about retirement and you’re not necessarily at the stage where it makes sense to attend our live event, go to Selfpublishing.com/friends or whatever free book and you could actually get generate people that just want to go on a first date but they’re not ready to marry you, you know, by going to the live experience. I’ve just seen some other ways you could potentially work a book into the mailer where you’re at least generating warmer leads as opposed to the ones that come in and see you.

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. That’s an interesting thought because my mind goes to probably two places. It’s like, number one, confuse people that don’t buy. So, my mind would be like, “I want to have one call to action and I would just want to narrow in what that thing is and when in doubt, be super generous, giving a bunch of people books.” That would kind of be my – because if I’ve got a book, I’m now in their home, and if I’m in their home, they’re going to think about me when they need it in the future. And so, it’s just like, would the Venn diagram of those two kind of decision-making criteria would be kind of how I would look at it? And then you get home the messaging to boost your response rates.

Brad Johnson: Well, the truth is that $7 or $10 a package, it might make sense to just do a mailer on a free book, “Hey, free book on retirement just published,” like just manufacture a ton of leads. You’d have to have… Yeah.

Chandler Bolt: Because how much are your advisors spending per mailer?

Brad Johnson: Mailers are $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, or $5,000, depending on the style and how many.

Chandler Bolt: But I guess on a per-unit basis, what? Like $1 apiece?

Brad Johnson: Like, a wedding-style invite, it’s like $0.50, probably.

Chandler Bolt: I see. Got it. That would…

Brad Johnson: Maybe more.

Chandler Bolt: That would be a really interesting use case, right, is because obviously, you’re going to explode your costs if you’re sending books. But if you could go higher net worth zip codes in your area and then go straight book and send them an actual book, you know, this is definitely getting opened. And I would suspect that the response rate would be higher because there’s reciprocity. But even potentially on the follow-on is almost like you send the book as the primer. And then now when your other stuff shows up, it’s like, “Hey, I’m the guy that sends you that book.” And so, just the likelihood of, I mean, I’m just thinking about like I’ve bought my first home and I’ve never owned a home before and so it’s like maybe a weird use case, but I live on the lake in Austin, which is like a high-end area. And like, we just get absolutely nuked with direct mail. I mean, just like, I think people are like, “These guys are rich. Like, if there’s one place we’re sending this direct mail is to these cats over here.” And I’m just thinking like, how much that would stand out, right? If someone’s sitting and gets a cool thing, I’m like, “Oh, hold up. I must know this person. Like, they sent me a book.”

Brad Johnson: Yeah, there was a…

Chandler Bolt: Just the psychology of that.

Brad Johnson: There was an advisor I crossed paths with. His name is David. I’m trying to remember his last name. This was like a decade ago. And what he did was a lumpy mail campaign, exactly what you’re talking about. But what he did was he cranked the minimum up. So, I think it was 500K, a million investable assets. The cool thing is mail houses have that pretty dialed-in where they can target the mailer that way. And I think it was a million plus that he targeted. And he did a campaign of three or four mailers. One of them was like a diary talking about writing their dreams for retirement. One of them was like, I forget, he got pretty creative with it, but the ROI was astronomical. And so, I love your idea of you could actually if you bump the minimum up, say a million, 2 million, if it’s the right area, if it’s your area in Austin, I’d guess there’d be quite a few. But actually, send them a free book, “Hey, this book just dropped. We want to get it in as many retiree’s hands as possible to make an impact.” But the layering on of like you give them the free book, then the next invite might be an ultra-exclusive, like high-end restaurant where the author they’ve already got your book is going to do a live book signing and talk about the three biggest things every retiree should make sure they’re covered on, whatever. That could be interesting.

Chandler Bolt: Yeah, that’s cool. Author’s in town doing a book signing. Now, the author also lives in town.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Author also… Yeah.

Chandler Bolt: That’s funny.

Brad Johnson: Hey, this is fun. Nothing like just a random mastermind strategy session on a podcast, right?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah, right?

Brad Johnson: By the way, for those of you that follow Chandler, complete way off topic here, but this dude has more fun than just about like we’re friends on Facebook and you’re on the lake and I’m like living vicariously through you because you’re playing pickleball in your backyard. I think you just built a fun house so that people can come over and get the boat where you’re like wake surfing or whatever it’s called. I’m like I just need to fly down just to hang out for a couple of days because it looks like you’re always having a great time.

Chandler Bolt: I would love that. I mean, it’s kind of a, yeah, I guess this is pretty off-topic but I like building a place where I can just… I love hosting. Probably just because I’m from South but I love bringing people together. And so, I’m also like 20 minutes outside of the city. So, I want there to be an easy reason for people to say yes to them coming here versus me going the other way around. And so.

Brad Johnson: So, it’s selfish, right?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. I mean, definitely it saves me time. I don’t like being in the car. And so, I love being able to end my work at 5:15, walk out and play pickleball versus to get in a court is impossible. You’re driving around. You’re waiting. You don’t get to play that much like they’re packed. And so, just being able to host and bring people together. I don’t know if you have a similar philosophy with your kids, but my mom’s thing growing up was always just like always invite kids over to our house because if they’re here, we know what they’re doing. And so, she’s like cook extra and do all the extra stuff because if you’re here, we know what’s going on and we know the rules that we have here. So, bring them over and, yeah, maybe that’s where that comes from.

Brad Johnson: Well, this podcast is called Do Business Do Life. So, we talk a lot about life. We talk a lot about leveling up as a husband, as a wife, as a parent. And so, I love that. You took me back to the first Front Row Dads Retreat I ever went to. We were talking about Jon Vroman, who’s in Austin as well, runs an incredible podcast called Front Row Dads. But the very first one, John Edmunds, I think, was the guy. He was in the Cutco Mafia. There’s like 15 Johns that all worked at Cutco at this event and you probably know all of them. Ruhlin, Vroman, Berghoff, all of those guys, John Kane. Anyway, he used that exact same philosophy. He’s like, “Here’s the deal. We open our home, we want all of our kids’ friends to consider our house like open, like they’re always welcome.” And it was for that exact same reason, he’s like, “We know the rules here. We are going to have a good time, but we’re also going to make sure that things are by our rules and we’re raising great kids.” And literally last night, Chandler, my wife, Sarah, and I were talking about we’d probably have to put a pool on the back of the house because we want our house to be the community center where our kids aren’t roaming around all over the place. And so, spot on. I couldn’t agree more, man. You just did it as an adult. That’s all.

Chandler Bolt: You say what?

Brad Johnson: I said you just did it as an adult. You kept it going. You don’t have any children. You don’t have kids yet, right?

Chandler Bolt: No. Not yet.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Love it. Love it. Well, I’d be doing you an injustice. We’ve talked about books a lot here. And by the way, if you’re listening in and you’re an advisor out there like Chandler knows his stuff. We’d hit the tip of the iceberg. He did a private call. I’m looking at pages and notes over here that he shared with the Triad community. But you’ve also scaled businesses incredibly quickly. And so, I would love for you to maybe kind of rewind the idea of what was Self-publishing School and it’s now Selfpublishing.com. How did the idea come to be? How quickly did you start to realize, “Hey, I think I’m on to something, we’re scaling this, now, I need help?” Like, kind of walk us through that startup entrepreneurial journey because I think a lot of advisors will relate to that.

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. I mean, I’m kind of the least likely to succeed with this whole book thing. I am a college dropout and a C-level English student with ADHD. And so, I dropped out of school because I was tired of learning how to run a business from professors who have never owned businesses. That made no sense. But as I was dropping out, I knew that I had some personal life experience that I thought would be helpful for people. And basically, the first book, it was these 15 things my brother and I were talking and we’re both from a small town where it’s like you got three or four career options, and that’s pretty much it. It’s like, well, you can do this, you can do this or this.

Brad Johnson: Sounds like where I grew up, man.

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. And so, he went on to be very successful as a musician, which everyone was like, “Hey, when are you going to quit doing this music thing and get a real job?” and then me as a business guy. So, we basically realized, hey, there’s these 15 things our parents taught us growing up that we thought were normal but then we got out in the real world and realized no one gets taught this stuff. And so, we said, “Hey, we should write a book on this.” And it would be his perspective as a musician. Like I said, my perspective is a business guy. And so, we wrote a book on it, and I wrote and published like that book and one other book as I was dropping out, and they did pretty well. And then people said, “Hey, how are you doing this?” And so, at first, it was just I’d get on the phone with somebody for an hour for free just to be a nice person and teach them what I knew and just say, “Hey, good luck.” I hope that helps. And then you do enough of those and it’s kind of like you only get smacked in the face so many times before you turn on and look and you turn around and there’s a whole line of people there asking for that thing.

So, that’s where it really kind of morphed into a business. We said, “Hey, let’s sell the first kind of beta version of that program.” And we had 44 authors, and I think it was over 60% of them wrote and published a book in less than six months, which is a crazy success rate, especially for that big of a life thing on that sort of a timeline, right? So, then that gave me the confidence to say, “Hey, I think we got something here,” and that is what became Self-publishing School and then ultimately now Selfpublishing.com. And so, just to give the high level for people, I mean, we’ve published about 7,000 books in the last eight years. We’ve been on the INC 5000 list a bunch of years in a row. That helped me to get Forbes 30 Under 30 and a bunch of other stuff. And we basically went from zero to a little over $50 million in that time period. So, we just passed the $50 million mark two months ago at the time of recording this. And so, we have scaled a lot. Obviously, that’s the highlight reel. There’s a lot of, I mean, it’s a roller coaster but that’s how I got into it. And then I’m kind of the overview of what we’ve scaled in that time period.

Brad Johnson: So, eight years ago and 7,000 books, which is a lot. If we rewind, was it a business? You obviously read a book with your brother, but was the actual book publishing business, was that Chandler solo when it started a one-man show?

Chandler Bolt: It’s so funny you ask. I started. There was three of us, me and two business partners. And then one guy wasn’t really doing that much work. Classic founder disagreements. And so, then we said, “All right, we just split up.” And then me and the other guy came and basically started from scratch and started Self-publishing School. So, the first iteration was called The Bestselling Book System. And so, then we left that and we started Self-publishing School. And then that was going well. We were scaling. And then I showed up to this is more answer than your question. Then I showed up to an offsite and we had already hit seven figures with this business. And I found out from one of my employees, my business partner was trying to kick me out of the business. I was like, “Oh, shoot. Well, that’s not good.”

Brad Johnson: Definitely not good.

Chandler Bolt: You know, not a good day at the office. It’s actually we’re in an office. We were at the offsite. And so, basically, we went through mediation and negotiated a buyout, and it was a multiple six-figure buyout. And I borrowed money from my parents’ retirement. I borrowed money from my brother. And I borrowed money from Hal Elrod, actually.

Brad Johnson: Did you really? Wow.

Chandler Bolt: Those I guess technically four people, but three groups of people. And so, then it was on the line. So, I bought them out and then the business was losing money at the time. We were hemorrhaging cash. Basically, I had to do a big turnaround and then that was a big moment where, you know, paid off all the debt and the next, you know, whatever it was about 12 months or so and have been scaling ever since. But long answer to a short question of there was multiple partners and now it’s just me.

Brad Johnson: How long ago was that buyout? When did that occur?

Chandler Bolt: 2016.

Brad Johnson: 2016. Let’s talk about the psychology of that because that’s a low, low, man. Like you’re in a business.

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. It’s brutal.

Brad Johnson: It’s almost like infidelity like in a relationship, right? It’s like, what the heck? How do you process that? How do you battle through that? Because that sucks and then now you’re having to borrow money from your parents’ retirement to do a turnaround. How do you navigate that mentally?

Chandler Bolt: Oh, it was brutal. I had a really great support system, though. I mean, that was the big thing that helped me through that because there was a lot of things bubbled up where I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this where it’s who am I if I’m not this business. I was about to lose a business and I’m like, “Well, hold up. That’s Chandler.” And having to learn, like, “No, that’s Self-publishing School. This is Chandler. These are two separate things with two separate identities,” which to this day is very difficult. Even though I intellectually understand this, it’s like I find that a lot of my personal identity is tied up into how well the business is doing. And it’s just a really hard thing to decouple. But that was a big thing to work through. And then, yeah, obviously borrowing money from your parents’ retirement, I mean, that’s not a great place to be. Failure, there is no option. And so, that was really tough. But it was kind of a dark period but I just had a lot of really good support system here, like, “Hey, we’re here. We’re here for you,” encouraging me, texting me daily, like stuff like that.

And so, that really helped me get through it and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It just instantly the clarity of like, “Alright, there’s an urgency because I’ve got to pay back my parents’ retirement.” And there’s the clarity of there’s no one to blame anymore. I think about a similar time period I read Extreme Ownership, which I think is one of the best books of all time, and just realizing like, “Hey, I had been pointing to a lot of other people.” It’s like, “Oh, my business partner. Now, I can’t do that.” Right? It’s like, “Well, who’s making the decisions? You made the decision. And maybe I’m pointing my employees. It’s like, okay, well, you thought they were amazing when you hired them and then you led them and managed them. You’re the common denominator. Like, if that didn’t work out, it’s your fault. And so, it was very liberating to just be able to say, “All right. Well, if this fail, if this totally burns to the ground, it’s my fault. And if it does well, I’ve got no one to blame,” which is funny. I’m sure you recognize this, Brad. It’s like the classic leadership thing. It’s like now especially having a team, it’s like, “Well, if this goes really well, we have a great team, and if this goes very poorly, it’s all my fault.”

Brad Johnson: Yeah, that’s right. That’s a John Wooden coaching principle. I remember the first time I heard that where every time they won a game, man, team did great, assistant coaches did great. Anytime they lost the game, my fault. And that’s really, really hard as a leader because it takes humility. It honestly sometimes takes taking fault when it probably wasn’t fully on your shoulders, but…

Chandler Bolt: Oh, totally.

Brad Johnson: You do it anyway. And I love it. So, Jocko spoke at our launch event in Austin like I failed you miserably because I was in Austin. I didn’t hang out but I think I just realized you’re in Austin before we went live here. But I love the Extreme Ownership because there are many times and if you’re a financial advisor out there listening and 15 years of phone calls, tens of probably thousands of hours at this point but it’s very common I’ve seen fingers pointed everywhere. And the truth is, I remember I had this breakthrough with this client, and this was after hearing the same story for like two years and I’m like, “Man, I’m going to have to be real on this one.” And it was always like, “Oh, this employee sucks at this, This employee sucks at that.” And I’m like, “Who hired them?” And they were like, “What?” I’m like, “Who hired them?” I think he thought it was like a trick question at first. And he goes, “Me,” and I go, “So, whose fault is it if they’re not the right employee?” And it was like that, like I wasn’t trying to be a jerk about it.

I was just like, “Dude, like okay. You need to change something with your hiring process, your training process. There’s obviously something broken if the right people aren’t on the team.” But it takes exactly what you said, extreme ownership. Like at the end of the day, if I’m the guy running the company, it’s my fault if something’s broken. And I love that. The moment you cross that line as a leader, to your point, it’s almost like you’re free. It’s like, “Oh, cool. I actually have clarity now. Like, I can make decisions that make an impact here.” So, fun story. I don’t know if this product’s live yet. Jocko has got a mirror coming out. Did you know this?

Chandler Bolt: Mm-mm.

Brad Johnson: So, a mirror like just that you’d hang on a wall and shows your reflection. Two words at the bottom. Guess what it says.

Chandler Bolt: I mean, maybe “extreme ownership.”

Brad Johnson: “Problem identified.” Don’t you love that? I was like, dude, he’s going to sell so many of those mirrors. He is an incredibly intelligent business guy. It’s pretty awesome to see.

Chandler Bolt: That’s super smart. That’s funny.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, hey, Chandler, I know you probably have pickleball to get to, so I’m going to… You are super generous with your time. I’ve just got one final question on my side. Unless you have any parting thoughts on just books in general or financial advisors, what they should do. I’ve just got one more life question than anything else.

Chandler Bolt: Hit me.

Brad Johnson: So, this is the Do Business Do Life podcast and it is our mission at Triad, do business do life. We believe in the “and” approach versus the “either/or” which is like you can do both. You can create freedom, you can create joy, you can create growth in your business without having to trade off if it’s built the right way. More integration. So, I’m curious, I know you like to have a good time. I also know you’ve grown an incredible business. So, what is Chandler Bolt’s definition of do business do life?

Chandler Bolt: Yeah. I think it’s twofold. One, I talk to my team about this all the time. It’s like, I want to build something that we can tell our kids and grandkids about and that years from now, decades from now, we’ll be able to point back to and say, “Hey, I helped build that.” And to do that, you need to do business and do life with a core group of people over a long period of time and go deep. And so, that means we prioritize in person, we prioritize relationships, and we prioritize getting people together and being very intentional about building relationships, having high standards, and calling each other to a standard of excellence. And so, I think that’s what that means in a lot of ways for me and then. And then do business do life I think in another way, the way I look at that is I and my team, I want us to always be all on and all off. And so, it’s like when I’m at work, I’m at work. And when I’m not at work, I’m not at work.

And so, I think having the kind of those where they’re both integrated but there’s also healthy boundaries of like, “Alright. Hey, I don’t want you checking your email while you’re at the beach with your kids. Like you’re off for a reason. Set yourself up so that you can be off and then don’t respond to emails or Slack or whatever.” But then when you’re on, same thing applies. I don’t want you being half on, half in, distracted. Like, be here. And I think that allows us, we always talk about, it’s Jocko’s discipline equals freedom. Like, we have a remote team. So, that’s a beautiful thing but we have to be disciplined within that to be able to have that freedom, to be able to do those things. So, that’s where I think it’s like when you integrate business and life together, it’s like it takes extreme discipline to be able to create some really magical integration that can happen. And so, that’s kind of how I look at it.

Brad Johnson: Love that, man. Thanks for sharing that. Well, as always, you over delivered as I knew you would. So, thanks so much, Chandler, for taking your time to share your wisdom when it comes to books and building businesses and everything else we got into. And yeah, man. Until we’re playing pickleball or on a lake someday.

Chandler Bolt: Thank you, Brad. I appreciate it.

Brad Johnson: Alright, bud. Take care.


Please note some of the strategies Chandler discusses may not be directly transferable to the financial services world, please be sure to run any new strategies past your compliance prior to implementing. These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations. TP08233061256 


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Exclusive Notes from Member's Only Chat with Chandler Bolt

Chandler shares his best self-publishing tips for financial advisors!