Business Strategy

A photo of Julie Stoian

From Outside To Inside To Outside

Today I’m writing about going from the outside of a community, to right in the heart of the inside, to back out once again. All in the span of 2 years. I’m talking about ClickFunnels of course, and with the barrage of social media posts and stories about FHL this week, it’s quite top of mind.

It was February 2017, and I remember my first Funnelhacking Live like it was yesterday. I was there with my then business partner Madelaine, we were running a webinar funnel for Create Your Laptop Life ®, and we knew virtually no one in Dallas that week.

We nearly bought the all-in version of ClickFunnels when Russell famously sold a CF laptop sticker valued at $97. It was a compelling case for Actionetics, and yet the daunting task of moving all our content stopped us before we went “all in”.

I also remember pushing my way to the front of the crowd to try and ask Russell a question at the round table. He was still doing round tables at that event – with only 1500 attendees – it was still manageable. His bodyguard (aka Executive Assistant) stood behind him with a serious face and a low rimmed baseball cap that hid her eyes.

The question I asked him, “How do you differentiate between collaboration and healthy competition?” and his reply was classic Russell. Play to win, dominate your competition, and don’t feel bad about it.

Little did I know, that in the months that followed, I would become embroiled in a classic Internet Marketing Drama fest, having made the top ten on Russell’s Expert Secrets Affiliate Contest. It was me (one of the only females, and a no name at that), against Grant Cardone, Tony Robbins, and other scrappy small time marketers like Peng Joon and Dan Henry. I didn’t know any of these people at the time.

I remember feeling on the outside and wanting desperately to feel cool, included, and like one of “them”. I didn’t know the rules of the game and the community. I knew it was clique-y but I didn’t realize how much so. Despite working as hard as my fellow top-ten people (and honestly, harder), I was initially denied an interview by Russell… and took to the Internet to express my displeasure at the ever changing rules of the affiliate contest. It was a scathing review and went mini-viral. I’d touched a nerve. People were ruthless with me, even those I thought were friends…and I don’t think I cried so much as I did in those two weeks trying to navigate that hellish affiliate game.

At the time, on the outside, I had my values and principles guiding me. No sense of belonging to the community or attachment to the people, so I saw it for what it was. And I wasn’t apologetic about my opinions at first

Until I got invited in.

  • I got an interview with Russell.
  • A spot in the designathon.
  • An exclusive mastermind for the top ten affiliates.
  • A spot in the Inner Circle.
  • A job as Russell’s main content producer.
  • A job as a 2CCX head coach.
  • A partner role at the executive level.

The next two FHL’s were a whirlwind. Both in 2018 and 2019, I spoke on stage. I was the leading female voice in the community. I managed a team, oversaw 2CCX content, and yes – spent several moments alone in tears in a random bathroom trying to keep my shit together. It was all just a vortex of opportunity, and yet, the internal jockeying for position next to Russell made me feel like I was in a political quagmire.

With each invite in, I became more and more on the inside, and felt more pressure to keep my mouth shut about the things I disagreed with. The various excuses I made…

“It’s not so bad…”

“I just misunderstood…”

“It was my fault…”

As I rationalized why I was mistaken with my viewpoint, I also started to fall in love with all the people. The community. The good things that ClickFunnels had brought together. It’s hard to see things clearly when you are relying so much on that sense of belonging. And people I met then I’m still dear friends with today.

It felt like home.

The danger of course is that the sense of belonging silenced my voice. I contorted myself to fit the role I was cast in, and didn’t speak up when things happened that violated my compass of right and wrong.

As time went on, I felt like I belonged in a cult. I don’t think Russell would even disagree with me. After all, that was the joke right?

We humans like to categorize things in black and white. Right and wrong. And for a time, that’s the way I thought too.

By the time June of 2019 rolled around, about two years after coming into the ClickFunnels world, I had had enough. I was burnt out, exhausted, and swirling inside a system that felt like it was stripping me of my values, my voice, and my ideology. And I really had no one to blame but myself.

This wasn’t ClickFunnels fault. It was mine and mine alone.

In the drive to belong, I let go of myself. In the drive for security, I let go of myself. In the fear of losing friendships, I let go of myself.

I had no idea how to hold onto friendships, acknowledge the incredible opportunities I’d been given, and also honor myself in the process. It felt like an impossible task, but I set out to try.

I resigned in June 2019. I grieved so much for the community I’d lost. I stuck around as long as I could, but something funny began to happen. I found that the things that were good in my life – the people mainly – were still there. I had relationships that were incredible (and still are). And the desire to be on the “inside” started to fade as I let go of my fear of not belonging.

It didn’t align with me anymore. It wasn’t necessary to contort myself just to fit inside a community with a certain ideology.

I did attend FHL in 2020, about seven months after I’d left. It was a great time, and I shared a lot of great moments with people. Cathy and I got our 2CC award for Funnel Gorgeous. But I could tell, the culture was losing its grip on me.

So here we are in 2021, and this is the first year since 2017 that I’m not attending FHL.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to some degree. The people, the late night chats, the networking in the halls… it’s all just so fun and inspirational. Many of my dearest friends and clients are there. I’m home cheering them on, trying to find the balance between focusing on what I need to focus on, and not avoiding the pang of grief that I’m not there.

But I also know that sometimes it’s okay to be sad. Because for me, I know I’ll be healthier, happier, and more aligned with the destiny God has given me if I remain on the outside.

The culture at ClickFunnels doesn’t fit who I am or who I’m meant to be, and I can honor that and still honor the lessons and things I learned during my two year journey from the outside to the inside and back out again.

There’s a lot I’m taking with me. People are always the most important part of anything we do here on Earth, and I have relationships with many because of ClickFunnels and for that I am so grateful.

  • I have a better sense of what I want to stand for, and what I don’t
  • I can see where things can go sideways quickly and build guardrails against it
  • I have friendships that will last a lifetime
  • I know what values I want in my companies, and what I don’t
  • I can take the solid marketing strategy with me, and strip away the stuff that isn’t aligned

If you’re at FHL this year, have a blast. Take the good, leave the rest (and for pete’s sake freeze your credit card LOL).

If you’re like me, feeling like you’re on the outside, it’s just an illusion. You’re not really on the outside at all. Remind yourself that things that are meant for you, will stick. There are LOTS of communities that you can belong to, that will fit with who you are and what you’re trying to do.

xx Julie

Digital Insiders Mastermind Recap

The crash after a mastermind is hard to describe.

Think of the most epic roller coaster you’ve ever been on. Now imagine someone blindfolded you, spun you around 100 times, put you on the coaster, made you ride it 3 times in a row, spun you 100 more times after that, and then asked you to walk across a balance beam. Like that.

For someone like myself who prides herself on having the right words to say, I’ve spent the last three days at a loss. Taking naps, cooking food, hanging out with my new baby goats, making long lists of house projects… waiting for the moment to hit me when I’d finally sit down and try to debrief.

It was the first get together in 18 months. We had 65 people at the event and another 35 tuning in virtually with our first ever attempt at a fully functioning hybrid event. Two of my coaches – Helen + Emily held the space for the virtual crowd, while me, Nuno, and Jess oversaw the in person event. Digital Insider Dallin Nead and his associate shooter Josh, provided all the A/V support to make it happen.

 

As with most things I do, I underestimated the work/logistics involved AND I underestimated just how powerful a week long event with 100 people would be. I think part of me didn’t believe it would happen because of Covid.

Even though we had masterminds in 2020 that were virtual, it’s not until you’re in the room with people that you really feel the weight of all that genius + creativity. It’s completely overwhelming for newcomers, as I know many of them really didn’t quite know how to process everything that was happening.

  • You’re getting to know people and their businesses.
  • You’re hearing strategy.
  • You’re learning tactics.
  • You’re digging deep with mindset work.
  • You’re getting really uncomfortable with things like long term wealth and savings.
  • You’re learning about yourself.
  • You’re spending every waking moment for five straight days with inspiring people.

All of it is happening with a piddly one hour lunch break each day and by Thursday, you can’t hardly see straight.

  • Each day we have takeaways + shoutouts.
  • We have three to four presentations.
  • One keynote talk from me.
  • A DI coach hosts a talk.
  • Mini master hotseats.

Then there are five nights worth of dinner conversations, drinks, dancing. People are doing photoshoots and video shoots in between sessions.

I honestly wasn’t sure how to hold my emotions in check because I was so acutely aware that outside of my family, these people that make up Digital Insiders, are the foundation of all my non-familial relationships. And even though there is a very transactional relationship (coach to client, etc.), in order to do what I do, I’ve had to sacrifice a social life to focus all my emotional/mental energy into this group.

You can’t build a group like DI without a sacrifice somewhere, and that’s the one I’ve made.

But the mastermind is the ONE time I get to really experience the fruit of that hard work and sacrifice in the real world. I watch as relationships form, people bond, aha’s! are made, and I also get the privilege of enjoying all these people and it makes that sacrifice 10000% worth it.

I walked away from this week feeling so IMPRESSED by the talent in the room. There were talks on….

  • Retreats
  • Email Sequences
  • FB Group Growth
  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Automations
  • Self-Care
  • Virtual Summits
  • House Management
  • Org Charts
  • Finances
  • YouTube
  • Wealth Building
  • Social Media Frameworks
  • Launch Mindedness
  • Sales
  • FB Challenges
  • VIP Days
  • Project Management
  • Media Hacking
  • Challenges > Launching
  • Family Assistants
  • Digital Shops

I also laughed so FREAKING HARD. Humor is so good for the soul and it was there in spades. We played this game one night where each person had to say something they did in their life that no one else did, and let’s just say we have DIers who…

  • Saved a former vice president from death
  • Stowed away on a Russian military plane
  • Dated celebrities
  • Worked as a mortician
  • Got stuck in a Chinese jail
  • Broke the world record for # of tshirts worn

Those were just a few I could remember. There were a ton more.

With laughter also comes tears. So many groups and masterminds force people into a facade of sorts – feeling as if they have to protect themselves. In the room, all those pretenses shed and people opened up about their fears, insecurities, and gratitude. There were multiple times I couldn’t get the words out I wanted to because I was crying too hard.

By the end of the week, all of us were exhausted, inspired, excited to see our families, but also looking forward to the next time we’re all together. I’m aware that with something as special as DI, it will be a continuous commitment and fight to protect the power and vulnerability expressed, and I could not do that without my team, and the dedication of all the members who want to protect this space as well.

From a business standpoint, I spent a lot of my talks facilitating discussion around the changing landscape of online business.

  • How to make sure you’re building a business that fits your lifestyle
  • How to pick the right offers for your personality + people
  • How to build an ecosystem so you aren’t reliant on Facebook ads

I also dove deep into my own personal wealth building strategy, to help unpack what to do with your money once you earn it. All in all, we spent less time on the individual tactics of how a funnel is built (something we do constantly in the day to day of DI), and lifted our chins towards bigger and more strategic conversations.

I thought a few times what it would be like for someone to be a fly on the wall during a week like this. To hear and see and feel what it means to be in a tight knit community who not only have your back, give you ideas, and share their knowledge, but who are just hella fun to hang out with too. How much would it change the trajectory of your business to experience that?

With so many of us beaten down by the year 2020 and the pandemic, this was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I definitely think the two barn dinners were up there on the top ten list of the best nights of my life. It was surreal to be able to host 60+ people at our house, in our barn. We roasted s’mores, had steak and chicken, danced, celebrated wins, and yes… Alex and I were given two baby goats as a housewarming gift.

The wall of appreciation is a post we put in our FB group and has over 220+ comments and counting….all messages of encouragement, support, and thanks for fellow Insiders. If it wasn’t a private group I’d share because if you’re not in a community where that kind of camaraderie is normal, you don’t know what you’re missing and how mission critical it is to surviving business ups and downs.

A few takeaways from members…

“I realized I need one day a week just for daydreaming…”

“I can see so many radical ways to change our industries…”

“I’ve been rushing myself for so long and I didn’t even know why…”

“I think my biggest takeaway was that numbers are just…numbers. And that they don’t care how I feel about them. They aren’t a reflection of my personal worth. They just are. I feel so excited and hopeful and less scared to spend money since I have monthly metrics of where it needs to be hitting to be “on track”.”

“We can’t wait for FB Ads to come back, they aren’t. Time to get more creative. We are VERY close to being a sustainable ecosystem without any ads so we just need to dig into that more vs thinking I’m a failure for business not going as well…”

“We all have different strengths, weaknesses, goals, dreams, and ideals, and what is right for one person is not right for the next, and it’s OK to not want what everyone else wants.”

“My takeaway is that I need to stop trying to do it all myself and to stop being the tough guy all the time and get some darn HELP.”

“I never imagined being there virtually would be as powerful as it was. I am so grateful to be inspired, educated, and motivated by such incredible fellow entrepreneurs. I was also able to form connections with other DIers that I never dreamed would be possible not being there in person.”

“I was there virtually and it changed my life. That might sound dramatic but it’s true.”

161 days and counting til the Disney DI Mastermind but who’s counting?

Ep. 88 My Best Money Advice for 2021

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Full Transcript:

Hey everyone, this is Julie, happy 2021, sort of. It seems like 2020 has bled into 2021. But nonetheless, we are still here, we are still standing. Today I want to talk about my best money advice for 2021.



I did a kind of state of the union recap, and a lot of people wanted to thank me for that, because I shared more realistically my numbers, what it looks like in the backend, so to follow up, I wanted to give you some really practical advice about how to think about your revenue in profits now.

So this is going to work for anyone who makes $60,000 a year or more, and that’s actually exactly when I started this habit. I remember it really clearly, I was starting to exceed about $5000 a month regularly, now the habit is like second nature.

So step one, get a bookkeeper. This will be a lot easier if you do that. And if you really, really don’t want to pay a bookkeeper and do your own bookkeeping, my bookkeeper who is now my CFO, Emily Volz, she has a course called Automatic Bookkeeping. It’s like $27 or $37, it’s totally worth it. She’ll help you get set up with Quickbooks. So whether you hire or you do it yourself, you really need to be able to see your monthly profit and loss, which really is necessary for the rest of this work.

So step two is to start paying yourself a salary. This is sort of based on the Profit First Model, if you’ve read that book. If you’re an LLC, this is going to be kind of pretend because in an LLC you don’t really have a salary, you don’t put yourself on payroll, but we’re still going to earmark it and act as if you are. Now if you’re an LLC electing to file as an S Corporation, you will literally put yourself on salary. So it can be done pretend wise if you’re an LLC or a Sole Proprietor, or you can just do it on payroll if you are an S Corporation.

So everyone asks, “How much should I pay myself?” and really only you can answer that question. But pick a number that you can start at. So for example, if you’re making $5000 a month gross, maybe your salary will be $1500 a month to start. If you’re making $10,000 a month, maybe the salary will be $4K. This exercise is very important because as you grow, and I think this happens with a lot of business owners, when they first start out they think, “Oh, I make $5000 a month, I keep $5000 a month.” And what we need to do is train our brain to see the gap, because the gap will only grow as you grow. So you’ll be stuck with a lot of disillusionment if you don’t get that under your belt. $5000 a month business is about a $1500 a month salary. $10,000 a month business is about a $4000 a month salary. So that’s kind of how you work it.

Now step three is to make a plan with any of that extra profit. So depending on how much you’re making, after you figure out your personal salary and your expenses, there might not be anything left. That’s okay, but the goal will be to have additional profit at the end of the month. So that’s the goal that we’re working towards.

But with whatever you have left, I recommend you do the following. You’re going to set aside 30% of your remaining profit and put it in a tax savings account. Now, I know that’s painful to do, but please trust me on this. And once you start making more money, over $300, $400,000 a year, you’re going to get to put more in, like 40%, and I won’t tell you that I put in 50%, but I do. And I don’t usually need to use all of it, but it is my cushion, because I am in a high tax state, I also have employees in other states, which forces me to pay state taxes in other states as well. So when you add that all up, its pretty bad.

Okay, so then with the remaining 70%, you’re going to want to divide that again. And this is what I do. I take 70% of that remaining amount, and I put it into my personal investment, banking accounts to use for whatever Alex and I wish. The remaining 30% will go into a business savings account. And that money can be earmarked for a Mastermind, an event, a new project, a new hire, etc.

So if you look at someone up in the 6 figure a month range, so let’s say an average monthly revenue of $150,000, I am going to say, $150,000 a month is you know, it’s over a million dollars a year for sure. It’s close to two million dollars a year. So a salary for that kind, let’s put it around $250,000. So that’s going to leave you with an average monthly net profit of about $70,000 left if you have good profit margins. So I would split the $70,000 in half and I would put $35 into the tax account, and the other $35 is going to be divided again. That $35 is going to be divided into 70/30.

So that means out of $150,000 in revenue I’m getting a salary of about $10,000 a month, and I’m also getting a distribution of about $24,500. Then I have $10,000 saved in business and my taxes put aside. Now this is all creating a system whereby I am not struggling with cash flow. I have my tax money growing, and if you want to put that in some interest yielding account or invest it so that at the end of the year, or quarterly, (you should be paying your taxes quarterly so you don’t get a fine), then you have all that money set aside, you’re not worried about it. You also have a salary and a distribution that you’re taking, which is what you live on or invest with, and then you have business savings which allows you to make decisions not out of scarcity, because you have a savings.

So I understand that for some people that kind of walk through this exercise with me, they’re kind of like, “Wow. So you really only see about $30-40,000 a month when you’re making $150,000? That’s awful.” Now, that will feel awful if you’ve been operating in the world view, the false world view, which is the number that everyone tells you they make per month is the number that you actually keep. So what I’m trying to do through my email list, through my podcast, through my posts, is change that paradigm. So that people stop thinking that a six figure month means a six figure monthly salary.

Once you get used to it, and it’s way easier to get used to it when you’re making less, you won’t see numbers the same anymore. So now when I see a hundred thousand dollar launch, I’m proud, and I’m happy, but I have real expectations of what that money does. And for those of you guys that are just kind of like, taking the pill and waking up to this, it’s going to feel hard. But trust me, if you start when you’re making less, it won’t hurt as much when you’re making more.

You know, when I see at the end of the year, okay, my gross revenue was 2.2 million, that’s amazing, I’m super excited. I already know what 2.2 million kind of funnels down to in my pocket, so I’m not living for the high that I think a lot people live for when they’re looking at attaining those big numbers.
So I had a former Digital Insider who’s now making multi-million dollars a year reach out to me and say, “Thank you for teaching me this lesson about money, because it kept my business running smoothly during Covid because I had this foundation.”

So you can do this no matter what your numbers are, trust me, you will thank me eventually. And really the person you should thank is my accountant, who helped teach me this habit 5 years ago, and it is now allowed me to create wealth in ways that many influencers who grew quickly cannot. I appreciate you all, talk soon.

How To Know If You Can Afford A Big Purchase

This question comes up all the time. How do you know if you can afford that:

  • Mastermind or Coach
  • New House
  • New HIre

I’m going through that process right now with a home we’re thinking of buying. Can we really afford it? What does that mean anyway?

Last week I sent out my best money advice for 2021 and I hope you’ll read it and implement. Assuming you have, when a big opportunity, idea, or purchase comes your way, how do you make a good decision about where to spend your $$?

I’m sure there are a million ways to do this, so I won’t pretend to be the supreme authority on this – however as someone who’s been saving for the past five years – I hear from financial wizards things like “Yeaaaa you are definitely over the top when it comes to having cash flow”. I think people probably can’t go wrong if they do what I did.

So here are the questions I would ask yourself, and the ones I’m asking myself about this new home Alex and I have our eye on.

Can you afford the initial investment?

Afford could mean…

  1. Paid in full – you have the initial investment in cash ready to go (or you can liquidate something)
  2. Paid over time – there is a payment plan for the initial investment that makes it so you can make the first payment from savings
  3. Put on a credit card/equity credit line – you might have a credit limit that can support it and you’re willing to take the risk because of the answer to the questions below

With each bullet point, your risk gets higher but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means, ask yourself the remaining questions (you should anyway).

Right now the home we’re looking at is listed at 2,250,000. We had planned to spend 1.5M. So it’s above our budget. Can we pay 20% down on a 2.25M home? Yes we could. We’d rather it be smaller, but that would be $450,000 down to afford primary mortgage insurance. For us, we hit #1. There’s no option for #2 in home buying, and #3 is not an option for us.

Can you afford the ongoing investment?

This is a really important question to ask yourself. What are the ongoing payments to that program, coach, home, investment, etc. With this question, it really boils down to a percentage. In the home buying space, they recommend your mortgage, taxes, and insurance should be no more than 30% of your monthly budget. If you’re thinking about a mastermind or program, this percentage might be different BECAUSE of the money making potential return. Probably this question is the hardest of all since it varies.

This home with 20% down, $18k a year in property taxes, and insurance, would cost us somewhere between $8-9k a month. Right now I bring home about $30-$40k a month net, so this puts us at $9-10k a month for our home. So we’re still in that acceptable range of percentages.

Another thought is to see how much your savings is dented from the initial investment, and can it provide any “cover” for you in the event you’re stretched? For us, our down payment will not wipe out our savings. Our last house – it did. The house before that? I went into debt to buy.

What are the additional costs associated with the investment?

Most people skip this question. What are the other costs that come up BECAUSE of that investment. In a mastermind or a coaching program, are you going to have to pay for tools, for other hires, or ad spend? Are you going to travel or visit people? Doing this exercise is not meant to deter you, it’s simply meant to prepare you.

For our home, we know that the electric and heat will go higher, we also know closing costs will be around $30k and we’ll probably need another $50k in moving expenses/new furniture because the home is so much bigger.

We have the cash on hand, and we also have to work into our budget an additional monthly uptick for things that will cost more at the new house.

What are the ongoing benefits of the investment?

Now that you’ve done all the hard not fun work of thinking about those things, ask yourself, “What are the benefits to this investment?” Stick to NON monetary benefits first, because those are important too (and almost always have a monetary value somewhere if you dig enough). If you’re considering a coach or program, you might think the benefits are…

  • Having a coach that will help me not quit when the going gets tough
  • New referral relationships and connections that open doors I couldn’t open on my own

Just sit with all the benefits. Owning the home we’re looking at would provide a much longer list than I can put in this email. From experiences, opportunities, lifestyle change, hosting people, the list goes on and on.

Can you get the money back in some way?

Here’s the ROI question. After doing the benefits question, you might start to see ROI where you didn’t before. Of course when doing any sort of money making endeavor you should calculate the potential ROI in NEW revenue, SAVED revenue, or FOUND revenue.

  • New means new customers and new money.
  • Saved means learning to do things more efficiently so you don’t spend as much. Avoiding mistakes and lost opportunities you didn’t know about.
  • Found revenue means making more with the customers and offers you’ve got.

With a purchase like a house, generally real estate is a safe investment, especially over time. Now you could find plenty of people who’d say otherwise, but MOST of the wealthiest people on planet Earth own real estate. SO there’s that. In a worst case scenario you might not get all your money back if there’s a collapse. But if you can ride it out, the market usually recovers and you can AT LEAST get your original investment back. So that $450k we put in, will come back in the event we decide to sell.

What stage of life/business are you in right now, and is it conducive to what you want to do?

Really important question here for last. No matter HOW MUCH you think money is more valuable than time, it is not. Time is your most precious resource. Most of us have ZERO time to waste. Look at your life and what you’re trying to do. Is there a reason you’re saving for some time in the future that can’t be experienced and enjoyed now? There’s a book called Die With Zero and it’s a really good read. It helps you see how important it is to not over save. Something I think I’ve been guilty of. Now if you’re a mad spender, read Die with Zero with caution. Cause it’ll definitely give you a lot of hard evidence to keep spending on experiences and not waiting til the end of your life to enjoy your money.

This question for us on the house was – if not now, when? We’re certainly not going to buy a farm with 14 acres when we’re in our 60’s and all our kids are grown. Another issue for us is that if we want to change schools, we need to do it before September because we don’t want to move anyone who’s in high school (Evan is graduating and Ellie is in a different school system already, so we need to move ahead of Eden’s high school career).


I hope these questions help you when evaluating a purchase.

  • Can you afford the initial investment?
  • Can you afford the ongoing investment?
  • What are the additional costs associated with the investment?
  • What are the ongoing benefits of the investment?
  • Can you get the money back in some way?
  • What stage of life/business are you in right now, and is it conducive to what you want to do?

Remember that the benefits and ROI are AS important as the percentages and investment amounts, because while money replenishes, time does not.

xx Julie

2020

Every year I write a recap style blog post and I have to admit, I’ve been procrastinating on this one. Maybe it’s because we’re on day 6 of fever with my middle daughter and I’m distracted. Maybe it’s because I have no idea how to wrap up such a crazy year. Maybe it’s because this year has brought so many gifts and so much stress – all in one – I’m at a loss for how to write about it.

Most of you follow me for business reasons, and while that’s still been my primary content all year, you might have noticed that this year I also branched out into some topics that I never thought I would:

  • Politics + the election
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Coronavirus
  • Plant based living
  • Gardening + birds

Because of this, I’ve lost thousands of followers, and yet my business has continued to grow. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. Stay true to yourself and continue to deliver value and your business will be fine, no matter how dorky or unpopular your opinions are.

I wanted to share some insights into my personal business, and how it’s doing – since one of the key credibility markers in the online space is, “Is this person blowing smoke up my butt or are they legit?”

Without giving you too much backstory, here’s how things have gone in my business since 2014.

  1. 2014 I did $25,000
  2. 2015 I did $75,000
  3. 2016 I did $325,000
  4. 2017 I did $1.3M
  5. 2018 I did $2M
  6. 2019 I did $2M

What do those numbers mean? I joined ClickFunnels in late 2017 and so all of 2018 and half of 2019 were me juggling both my business and ClickFunnels. AKA – burnout city.

So now we arrive at 2020. This is the first FULL year post ClickFunnels. In my personal business, I’ve stopped a LOT of things that were bringing me revenue.

  • I stopped promoting CF as an affiliate
  • I stopped selling CYLL
  • I stopped selling TDG

The only current offer that exists in my personal business now is Digital Insiders. However, Funnel Gorgeous has continued to grow and grow, and that’s been where I’ve put any and all new content.

One of the things I encourage people to do when reflecting on their numbers is to see two or three layers below the first interpretation of your P&L and margin. Our business finances often tell a story of growth, change, failure, and success. It’s worth looking at, and most importantly – all wins, big or small – are worth celebrating!

So here are the numbers as of December 30th.

Total Revenue In My Business for 2020: $2,242,278.93

Net Profit In My Business for 2020? $1,431,744.97

So here’s the big point I’m trying to make….

My growth hasn’t been exponential. In fact, as I focus exclusively on ONE product – being an amazing coach and host of the Digital Insiders. And in Funnel Gorgeous, we’re growing quickly but there’s a lot more man power needed over there.

Despite all that, 2020 will be my most PROFITABLE year to date.

What I know (for a fact) is that for many businesses, it takes more than $3-$4M dollars in annual revenue businesses simply to net $1.4M and that’s all considered normal. So I’m super proud of the stories my numbers tell and I refuse to buy into the gimmick of exponential growth and hustle.

And true to form, I’ve always been more about quality than quantity.

My point is you don’t need to be a A-level influencer with millions of followers to live an incredible rich life with an amazing business.

And for all the flashy numbers you see out there, I’d be curious to see how many people are willing to share how that money works for them in their personal life, because even netting 7-figures is awesome but what happens once it gets into the hands of the owner?

When I first started making serious money, my goal was to get a house. I was able to do that in 2017. I bought EVERY PENNY Alex + I had saved and put down an $80,000 deposit on a $350,000 house. At the time, it felt like a stretch. I hadn’t even made my first million yet. But we did it.

At the end of 2017, Alex + I decided to do some cash value life insurance. Again, it felt like a HUGE endeavor. We had to essentially put in a hefty deposit and then be willing to put away $100,000 a year for the next ten years. But we knew that many successful + wealthy people hold these types of “vault” policies, so we took a deep breath and did it.

Now sitting here in 2020, I’m glad we made the investment, and continue to save each year since we don’t have your average employee pension/matching type programs in a 401k.

As time has gone on, we’ve continued to find experts to help us manage our money. We now have invested in several real estate deals (through my client and friend Aryeh Sheinbein), and our next big goal is to have $4,000,000 tucked away in money making investments for retirement, to get our kids through school, help them get married, and to keep building family wealth.

As of today, we’re halfway there with $2,000,000 in (post tax) savings and assets that we’re putting to work.

I will never be the most aggressive ambitious entrepreneur you follow. But I also think there’s value in peeking behind the curtain of someone who runs their business and life to keep TWO things in balance….

  • Delivering high quality content to those who need it + knowing the money will easily follow
  • Living a life that allows me to be in the present and enjoy my family and my hobbies without losing my soul

To me, that’s what these numbers show. At this point, I could stop working and we’re making enough passively to live on with just the savings we’ve built. Not the high life, but enough. The interest is compounding. And that financial freedom is the best feeling in the world.

So what else happened this year?

In 2020, here are a few of the things we launched (over on the Funnel Gorgeous side)

  • Marketer’s Heart Event
  • Launch Gorgeous (we did FOUR rounds!)
  • FG Society
  • Ads The Click Summit
  • One Funnel Gorgeous Retreat
  • Our new software FG Funnels!

In Digital Insiders, we grew! 2020 started off with about 40-50 members, and now we’re at 98!

We hosted two week-long Zoom masterminds, went on a 10 day cross country trip to Moab Utah for camping, and had many big celebrations (six figure launches, six figure launches, and yes, reaching that epic $1M mark).

I counted up how many Voxers and hotseats and audits I did this year. It’s a lot.

  • 90,000 + minutes of Voxer
  • 7,000+ minutes of Hotseats
  • 17,000 + minutes of Audits
  • 3,000 + minutes of group calls

It wouldn’t be a 2020 recap if I didn’t mention that Coronavirus hit everyone hard. What happened in March was truly a black swan event that sent businesses and families reeling.

During the first wave of the pandemic, I set up a $50,000 scholarship fund to float any Insider who was hit hard by the pandemic. We’ve used it all up but I’m very proud to say that everyone who wanted to stay in DI was able to! Another blessing afforded to me by my conservative tendencies to save and keep cash flow going.

Another thing that happened was for the first time ever, I used my email list to talk about something other than business. I sent out TWO emails that cost me many followers:

Both of these moments were pivotal for me. I knew that one of the main reasons I built a business was to take control of my destiny. But what destiny would it be if I couldn’t be myself? There was backlash of course, but it didn’t matter. The issues were too important to me to hide behind.

Throughout the spring and summer months, with travel ground to a halt, I took up two new hobbies: Gardening + birdwatching. Yes, I realize this makes me next level dork but there is something so calming about watching plants grow and birds flit about outside my window.

You know what’s funny? I now know all the types of birds in our yard. I know who belongs to who. We’ve named some. All these little details that I never stopped to pay attention to that were always happening.

It’s a business lesson too. There are SO MANY details you’re missing. Relationships you haven’t found yet. Ideas to be unlocked. There is always more going on than meet the eye but the only way to see it is to slow down enough to notice.

A few other fun tidbits about 2020….

  1. I was EXTREMELY inconsistent on my podcast, but managed to push out 23 podcasts.
  2. I wrote 40 blog posts.
  3. Got to speak during Pete Vargas’s Rise Up Challenge.
  4. Spoke on the main stage at Traffic + Conversion.
  5. Wrote around 90 emails.
  6. Produced at least 10 new presentations (outside of course content in FG) for the following:
    1. The Art of Delegation
    2. Is Certification In Your Future?
    3. My Top Takeaways From Running Digital Insiders For Three Years
    4. Google Productivity!
    5. Creating Irresistibility
    6. Building Courses People Finish
    7. Increasing Profit Margin Through The Way People Think
    8. Evaluating Launches That Flop
    9. Systems To Fix The Common Derailments of Business
    10. Working In The Midst of Trauma
    11. Strategic Planning
    12. Calculating Lifetime Value
    13. The Anatomy of A High Converting Sales Page

When it comes to charitable giving, I’ve been able to give to several organizations that I love to support!

  • Black Girls Code – STEM Education
  • International Justice Mission – Abolishing Slavery
  • Village Impact – Schools in Kenya
  • Sightsavers – Helping Children See
  • St. Jude’s Hospital – Pediatric Cancer
  • Farmer’s Footprint – Farming Without Pesticides
  • Lifewater International – Clean Water
  • Make a Wish – Experiences for Terminally Ill Children
  • Paws With A Cause – Custom Trained Assistance Dogs
  • Black Womxn Thriving – Research Fund

I’ve also been able to give raises to all my team members, as well as year end bonuses and most importantly – job security for 2021.

So what’s coming in 2021?

Right now there are a TON of cool things happening in Funnel Gorgeous in 2021. We wrote about them here in a State of the Union address. It’s definitely worth a read because there’s a lot to unpack.

For Digital Insiders, I’m looking forward to the return of in person events! We have an epic fall mastermind planned at the Grand Floridian in Disney World, and we’re hopefully going to do another week long get together in mid May in Connecticut.

I anticipate Digital Insiders will continue to be at max capacity with a rolling enrollment and waitlist, and just like years prior, we’ll be doing all sorts of group calls, sharing, collabs, and more.

We have plans to do the following:

  1. Run roundtables on various funnels, what’s working and what’s not
  2. Run group strategy sessions on copy, design, traffic, social, publishing, etc.
  3. Travel and hang out together
  4. Blow up group Voxer channels filled all kinds of topics
  5. Collab on places like podcasts, summits, Clubhouse, etc.

Very proud of all that 2020 has done in my life and business, even though a lot of things did not go as planned.

I hope this post inspires you to look at your numbers and celebrate all the wins, big and small!

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