Episode Thumbnail
Episode 114  |  34:31 min

#111: Why Steli Efti Thought Branding Was Bullshit

Episode 114  |  34:31 min  |  02.09.2018

#111: Why Steli Efti Thought Branding Was Bullshit

00:00
00:00
This is a podcast episode titled, #111: Why Steli Efti Thought Branding Was Bullshit. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Steli Efti is the co-founder and CEO of Close.io. He’s Silicon Valley’s most prominent sales hustler, a YC alumni, advisor to several startups and entrepreneurs and the author of The Ultimate Startup Guide To Outbound Sales. Oh -- and as DC says, he's "the only guest that has successfully invited himself on Seeking Wisdom, for the record." Steli is awesome, and we went deep on brand, how to be successful in a crowded space, modern sales, and how he learns. Make sure you let Steli know you heard him on Seeking Wisdom by Tweeting @steli @dcancel and @davegerhardt.
If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Steli Efti is the co-founder and CEO of Close.io. He’s Silicon Valley’s most prominent sales hustler, a YC alumni, advisor to several startups and entrepreneurs and the author of The Ultimate Startup Guide To Outbound Sales. Oh -- and as DC says, he's "the only guest that has successfully invited himself on Seeking Wisdom, for the record." Steli is awesome, and we went deep on brand, how to be successful in a crowded space, modern sales, and how he learns. Make sure you let Steli know you heard him on Seeking Wisdom by Tweeting @steli @dcancel and @davegerhardt.

Adam: All right. We have a very special... We got a lot of feedback on guests lately, so we're doubling down, we're bringing you more guests. We have a very special guest on the line today, Steli Efti. Steli, what's up, man? Thanks for coming on.

Steli Efti: Thanks for having me.

DC: So, if you don't know Steli, Steli's a legend. He's the CEO of a company called Close. io, and he has a podcast with a friend of ours called Heaton Shaw, and it's called The Startup Podcast. Please check it out.

Steli Efti: The Startup Chat. It's The Startup Chat.

DC: Startup Chat, damn. Oh, damn. I screwed up already. Heaton would love that.

Adam: That was on purpose, DC is Seeking Wisdom to the core.

DC: inaudible.

Adam: So Steli, let's dig in. Actually, is this true? You're a fan of Seeking Wisdom?

Steli Efti: Fan is a strong word.

DC: Oh.

Steli Efti: I have to jab you back. You got me, I got you back.

Adam: Come on.

Steli Efti: No, before we recorded I think I used the word fan, so I'll stick to it. Yeah, I love your guys' show. Obviously we have a common friend, Heaton, and I remember when I started listening to you and I saw the name for the podcast. I was telling Heaton," Shit." Can we curse on this? We can, right?

Adam: Yeah, yeah.

DC: Hell yeah.

Steli Efti: I was like," Shit, I love their name much more than I love our name."

DC: crosstalk say that to Heaton, it must have lit him up.

Steli Efti: No, you know what? Well, it's a totally different story when it comes to the brand. But to a large degree, what Heaton and I do are we're trying to get smarter while talking to each other. So, Seeking Wisdom is just a beautiful name for the podcast. And I love the two of you and the ideas that you guys have pushing forward in the marketplace and in the world. And so, I had to invite myself on the podcast to have some fun, and learn from you, and hopefully seek some more wisdom.

DC: That's how you know Steli has skills. Steli is the only person who's successfully invited himself on this podcast. I'm telling you, zero other people have been able to do it, zero.

Steli Efti: But DC, I'll tell you a little behind the scenes hack on this. I waited patiently for the right moment-

DC: Oh, yeah.

Steli Efti: ...and here's what happened, listen-

DC: Ah, that's when you did it.

Steli Efti: ...Dave reached out to me to do a little interview at a conference where we both spoke at, and then he had the nerve to stand me up. So, we had an appointment, I'm waiting there, I'm all excited. I put on my favorite t- shirt, and he's nowhere to be found. I'm emailing him, I'm like," Yo Dave, are we still doing this?" And he emails me back," Oh shoot, I'm already on the way back to the airport. I had to try to close a deal, you'd be proud of me, but let's reschedule another time."

DC: That's cold. So, he flipped it on you, Dave, and he used reciprocity on you. He hit you with multiple dimensions.

Adam: Yeah, but here's the deal. I know he still respects me. Because if it was anything other than closing a customer, which they are now a customer, by the way, shout out crosstalk I would be dead.

Steli Efti: You would be dead to me.

Adam: I love it, I love it, I love it. Although he did, he said some nice stuff to me in an email, and then instantly I was like," Okay. Yeah, let's get him on."

Steli Efti: Let's do this.

Adam: I'm a big fan of your take on the sales stuff. But I actually think, let's talk about brand. You said that some of the stuff we've been talking about brand has, I don't know if you said changed your perspective or something that you've been thinking about. But you're a sales guy at the core, let's talk about brand. What did you-

DC: Tell us how you inaudible.

Adam: Yeah.

Steli Efti: So, yeah. So honestly, full disclaimer, five years ago, when anybody would approach me to talk about brand and how to build a brand, I was just translating this to bullshit. I was just hearing," Let's talk a little bit about bullshit."

Adam: Bullshit, yep.

Steli Efti: Because bullshit is really important in the marketplace, and I wanted to spend an hour talking about bullshit. And that was kind of, my ears selectively would just translate that to that. So, I always had a very little opinion on that because it was this, I don't know, this nebulous thing. For new companies, for startups or small companies just starting out, to me, it seemed like brand was a time to waste time because it was so hard to measure. It usually meant a lot about doing things that might not matter as much. You think about PR, thinking about going to big events and having big displays, and being a sponsor, and doing things that have a big billboard on a freeway, doing things that are nice for the ego, and are fun to do honestly, but maybe are not moving the needle for your business. Right? That's how I used to think about it. And I even remember Heaton, anytime on the startup side that we talked about content, Heaton always would mention," Well, one of the really big, important parts about doing content is brand." And I was agreeing with him, but honestly I had no fucking idea what he meant. Like I was like," Yeah. Yeah. That makes total sense. Yeah, I agree with you." But in hindsight, I realized I've never really understood what all this meant. Right? Coming from a sales perspective, I always cared about reputation. Right? And reputation to me was always kind of something I had an easier time understanding. What are people talking about when I'm not in the room? What is my worst moment? What if that was the only opinion, the only experience that people had with me? That was always a thing I really worried about, but brand was this thing I couldn't really grasp, and I didn't really want to think about. And today, over the last few months, a few things have happened. A, you guys have started talking a lot more about brand. And I've recognized and realized, and I want to give props to you, that you have done with Drift and amazing job, building a super vibrant and sexy and kind of hot brand. You've created an energy around the company that goes beyond the product, the features, the blog posts, it doesn't go beyond all these little details. And I think that that has captured people's imagination and attention. The next thing that happened is that more founders are reaching out to me today and asking me to explain to them how Close. io, how we became so successful in a space that's so crowded, the CRM space. I started realizing that brand played a big part.

DC: A huge part, I think.

Steli Efti: And just because we didn't know that we were creating a brand doesn't mean that we didn't do it. Right? So now, I've started explaining to people, all the things we've done that has created a brand that stood out, that helped us win in the market. So now, I'm slowly but surely, I'm coming around to this, and you've played a part in it, Heaton has played a part in it. And then also me, I think just maturing and realizing as I was trying to find answers to the question," Why are we succeeding?" Coming back to the answer," I think we've done a really good job establishing a strong brand and a brand that people resonate with."

Adam: I love that.

DC: crosstalk Put it on the website. Steli Efti, right there, bolded, you got that? I'm going to sign all my emails that way. And then-

Adam: I was actually going to interview you back, DC. Because Steli, I love that. And it's cool hearing your perspective on it. Because I think that's kind of where this whole thing started. DC, I think it'd be great to follow that up with, maybe to even tell Steli back... Because it's been that way, I think our brand is starting to poke through now, but this is actually, we have been this focused on it since day one, before we even had a product to sell and a website and anything. DC, talk about why you have cared, and believe that this is the way to win. Why have you cared so much about brands since day one, and the age that we live in today?

DC: Yeah. I think it's pretty simple. I think the short answer is infinite supply, and in SAS we've hit the point of infinite supply. And Steli could tell you this, owning a CRM company, right?

Steli Efti: Yep.

DC: There were days when you would compete with two CRM companies, and then 10, and then 50, and then it seems like there's a hundred CRM companies. Maybe there's more, I don't even know how many there are. But we're living through the days of infinite supply, and anyone with product and account could try to create a competitor. Whether they last or not, it doesn't matter. But in terms of noise, anyone could get out there in terms of software. And so, how do you defend yourself? And so, when we were starting the company, we were thinking about that and thinking like," Well, what other markets have infinite supply?" And for me it was the consumer package good market, right? It was like shampoo, and face cream, and detergent, and all the stuff that we buy in the supermarket in the middle aisles. That was the stuff that was infinite supply. So, how do you differentiate? So, I started to look at brand and that's when I got lost in the Ogilvy stuff and all that stuff, and saying," Wait a second." I'm a believer that marketing's all about arbitrage. So, you go where other people aren't going right now and you kind of revisit themes. And I thought," Wait." Brand was this big thing that I never knew what it meant 15, 20 years ago, or longer, that part of my career. And now, I didn't feel like anyone was talking about it because of digital marketing. It was all about lead gen, demand gen, this, that, measure that, attribution, blah, blah, blah. And I was like," Let's do the opposite. Let's go the opposite way." Because I think that's the way the world is going. And also because no one is talking about it, no one's writing up blog posts about it. So, maybe there's a little bit of arbitrage left in the market that we can go and seize because everyone's busy with this highly measurable, highly repeatable thing. Which by definition, if it's highly measurable and repeatable and scalable, there's probably no arbitrage in it. So, that's basically where we started down this road. But we didn't know, just like Steli was saying, we didn't know what brand was or what shape it would take. And then, I started to look at companies like Steli's, like Close. io. I looked at MailChimp, I looked at early Zendesk, I looked at a lot of these companies. And the thing that I actually loved about all of them, beyond the product, was that they were building this thing, which I didn't know what to call it, but now I call it brand, and that I felt an emotional connection to them, even if I didn't use the product because of the way that they talked. I've listened to Steli and The Startup Chat for a long time, and I've seen his videos, and I just like his personality, and I like his Israeli- ness about him. Right. Because I'm a New Yorker, so I liked that style," In your face, let's go, let's get it done." I love that. And so, I loved Steli and what he was doing outside of his company. And that's what made me passionate about brands. So, all of these things, I think, are coming together and now we live in the age of brand. And if you're not building a brand right now, you're basically building a commoditized, widget, software product, whatever it is and there'll be no premium for your product if you're doing that.

Adam: I love it because like the other thing I think that doesn't get talked about a lot when we talk about brand is that this shit is really hard to fake. You can pay anybody to write a blog post for you or-

DC: Yes.

Adam: ...optimize some stuff on your website, and even code up a new feature and clone whatever our competitors do. But like, I think our obsession with brand also comes from the fact that it's really hard. It can be a moat for our business, and it's really hard to fake it. This is why, actually, we've invested so heavily in this podcast, it's why we're investing in video, Instagram, real videos of us, real pictures of us. Because you can't fake that. I can get on a video and you're going to say," This is really me. This is really the marketing person at Drift. And this is really DC, the CEO and founder." There is no faking that. And I think, it's 2018, you and I, we're all more skeptical than ever as buyers. And the only people that I do business with are the ones I feel like really get me. And I think that's what we're trying to achieve as a brand. We want people to be like," Yeah, they really get me." And that helps break down that door for that first conversation.

Steli Efti: Yeah. I love that. And I believe that seeing a competitor's landing page and copying that, or seeing a competitor play in the marketplace develop a feature that people like or people resonate with and then copying that, that's fairly simple to do, easier than ever before. Right? But copying a point of view, copying a voice, copying conviction, that's really hard to do. It's very tough to fake, just like you said. And I think that self- awareness, self- love, these all things play a part, organizationally, to building a really strong brand. You guys, you stand for something, you know who you are and who you aren't. And you know what to stand for, and you're not afraid to go out there and say it in a very strong way, deliver what you stand for in a really strong way, and that's what makes people either totally attracted to your brand, or might be pushing some people away.

DC: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Steli Efti: But that's something that I think that most companies that I meet, I meet so many SAS companies and founders and software businesses. Most of them, they don't have the self- awareness to know," Who are we truly, and what do we stand for? What makes us different from everybody else? What do we truly believe in? What are we willing to stand for?" And then, having the confidence and the self- love and self- acceptance to completely go all in on that. Instead of being like," Well, how can we be kind of middle of the road in a way that will not upset anybody? Let's not curse because some people will hate that. Let's not be too strong in our opinions because some people might not like it." And as you are confident as an individual or as a company and a team to stand for something, and to know what you're really good at and what you're not, I can't imagine how you can build a brand with that. So, that makes it a really strong, unfair competitive advantage today.

DC: You know, what you were describing is basically everything that I've loved about you, about following you along virtually, was about your strong conviction about you standing up for who you were, and it might piss some people off, and it might get other people to love you. But I always say like," Hey, you know what? The enemy is indifference." The enemy is not hate. The enemy is," No one gives a shit about what you're doing or where you're building or what you stand for." That's the enemy that all of us, so many people actually move towards because they don't want to offend anyone. It's like, you want haters and you want lovers because it's easier to convert a hater than you can convert someone who's indifferent about you and doesn't care. And I think you were building a brand, even if you didn't know it, because that is your person, it seems like, at least virtually that is your personality, right? Like, from what I know-

Steli Efti: Yeah.

DC: ...you couldn't help but do that.

Steli Efti: Yeah. But you know what, DC, I also think that it's tough to deal with the haters or the hate-

DC: Yes.

Steli Efti: ...to deal with rejection. And I think, coming back to the self love and self awareness part, if you are lacking the confidence to believe in yourself and to be at peace with yourself, then the moment somebody throws a little bit of hate or shade your way, it's kind of ruined your life, right? It's going to really mess with your emotional household. Right?

DC: Yeah.

Steli Efti: And not to say that I enjoy it if somebody sends me hate mail, which doesn't have that often, but once it happens, I don't like it. It's not necessarily my favorite thing in the world, but I get so much love, and I have so many experience to draw on, and I think I know who I am more or less, that it doesn't completely destroy my self image, it doesn't ruin my life or completely occupy my mind space. I think that that's really important. And I've been teaching this in sales for a long time, making that connection here, where I've always taught the follow- up, right? And the follow- up to me is where winning happens, where all the value is created. And follow- up and follow through is really where nobody's competing with you.

DC: Yep.

Steli Efti: And oftentimes founders would ask me," Well, Steli, but what if I annoy somebody? What if I follow up with him four, five, six times, they really get angry with me?" And I always told people and taught that in my personal philosophy is that I'm not in business to be loved, I'm in business to create value, to make things happen in the world. And if four out of 10 people love me and work with me and we create tons of value together, and six out of 10 people are slightly annoyed with me. That's much better to me than having 10 out of 10 people that are completely indifferent on my existence and nothing ever happened. crosstalk Tell me what you just said.

DC: Oh yeah. I love the... I've heard your talk on the sales kind of follow- up process and I love, love, love it. I'd love for you to tell this audience, who may not have heard it, what your philosophy is here. Because I love it.

Steli Efti: Yeah. So, the follow- up advice and philosophy that I teach is the highest ROI piece of advice I'd give, just measured by the amount of, I get four or five emails a day at this point. People showing me," We closed a quarter million dollar deal because we follow up 12 times and followed your advice. We just raised money because we followed your follow- up advice." There's so much value created through it, and it's such a simple philosophy. My followup philosophy is that if I get in touch with somebody, if there's a positive interaction, a call, a meeting, whatever it is, some kind of an exchange that it shows promise of both ends, that there might be opportunity to work together. Once I get in touch with you in a followup with you, if you go silent on me, I will follow up forever until I get a response. I'm a very simple man, right? There's no complicated mathematical formula here. It's forever. People always ask me," Steli. Really, forever?" Yes, forever. Forever. Because in my mind, most people, when somebody goes silent on them, their interpretation is," I'm being rejected. Or this person is annoyed by me/ or I'm not good enough." And so they stop, right? We all stop. We send two, three, four emails, and then we go,"Oh, this person really hates me. They think my shoes suck, they think I'm ugly." Whatever story people wake up in their mind, they feel really terrible about it, and they stop trying to get in touch and rekindle the conversation. In my mind, when you go silent on me, you just got busy, right? You have a life. I'm not the center of your universe. You might've gotten sick. You might have problems with family or your spouse. The business might be going through a crisis. Something else happened. You had a big email campaign, and you have like thousands of emails in your inbox, and my email went to inbox nirvana, never to be seen again. There's things that have happened that have stopped you from getting back to me. And it's my job to champion the conversation and the relationship until the timing is right. I tell this famous story, oftentimes. There's this billionaire founder, I'm not going to name him. But his product is something everybody who listens to this podcast has used before. This is seven years ago, I got introduced to this billionaire by a common friend to set up a meeting. And the billionaire replied and said," Yes. I'd love to meet with you, Steli." So, I emailed him enthusiastically and said," Should we meet on Monday or Tuesday? This time or that time?" Silence, email another time, nothing. And another time, nothing. It took me 48 emails, 48 follow- ups, to get a response. You know what the response was? Steli thank you for all of you for your follow- up and follow- through. We had a big crisis overseas, so I was traveling. I'm just back in the Bay Area. Can you make it tomorrow at 1: 00 PM in our office? That's it, it only took 48 emails to get that response. But I can't tell you how many incredible things I was able to accomplish. Not because I'm smarter than others, because we know that's not true. Not because I used some kind of a black belt sales technique, mind reading, hypnotic pattern. No, I just follow up and follow through more thoroughly than anybody else that competes with me for people's attention. So to me, it doesn't matter if they tell me yes or no, no is good. Yes is better, obviously, but no is good as well. Both are clear outcomes. Maybe, that space of emptiness where nothing happened. We had a conversation with two calls and nothing ever happened afterwards. That's where startups go to die. That's where value goes to die. To me, that's the biggest heartbreak. So, I try to never allow that from happening.

Adam: I love that. As a marketer, I can't tell you how many times I've sent that. I've sent the link to the podcast and the video to that, because I'm like, just follow up. Everything will be fine, Steli followed up 48 times. One question, one thing I want to dig into with you is all right, I get that. That's the followup approach. Right? But that seems like maybe it's not the opposite, that's persistence, but I want to talk about the modern sales process you've been doing. You've had Close. io for a couple of years now, you've been in the sales game for longer than that. What's been the biggest things that's changed? Or maybe if I were to ask you, what do you think the modern sales process is today? I would love to hear your thoughts on that, coming at it from a sales perspective. Because DC and I talk about it a lot, but neither of us actually are doing sales. I'd love to talk about the actual modern sales process with you.

Steli Efti: Yeah. Before I get into that, I'm not going to let you get away with the statement that neither of you guys are doing sales because you do.

DC: crosstalk Of course. Yeah.

Adam: We both know that we do do sales all the time. The problem is I don't have a monthly number. I just have an agreement with DC that if I'm not also selling, then I'm going to be in trouble.

Steli Efti: Yeah. And obviously you're doing it well because you stood me up to close the deal and rightfully so, as we mentioned and established at the beginning of the episode.

DC: Yeah. Ice cold.

Steli Efti: So, let's talk about this a little bit. So-

Adam: They did listen. One of our reps listens to this, shout out Mike Castillo. This was the deal that I bailed on. I went upstairs, we helped close it. That's all you need to know. Okay. Move on.

Steli Efti: There you go. Mike, a big shout out to you. All right. So, happy to talk a little bit about the modern sales process, but I'll give a caveat out. To me, the question has always been not what is changing this month or next month or this year or next year in sales. But the question has always been what will never change in sales? But what are the proven in a fundamental truth that if you master them and if you excel them individually, as well as organizationally within your sales team or your company, you're always going to be crushing the competition. That probably is going to be usually distracted by the shortcuts, the hacks, FOMO," Oh, my God. This other company's implementing this new tactic to close some deals with this new tool set." And they're just going to be zigzagging while you're crushing it by having a north star that's not going to be changing every few months. So honestly, I love a lot of conversations that you guys had previously with humanizing a company, that was the brand conversation we had, but humanizing the sales process to me is a really important part. Because as long as we don't live in a world where computers buy and sell everything and make all decisions between themselves, right? Once the AI overlords rule everything, anything I say isn't the whole truth anymore. But until then, and until humans are still involved in making decisions, humans will always need help both from a rational point of view, but also from an emotional point of view, right? I mean, rationally giving people information, giving them all the tools they need and all the data to make good decisions, that is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the sales process, more so than it used to be. But there's also an emotional component to buying. It doesn't matter how rational your buyer is, there's going to be an emotional component. Some fear, some doubt, some conflicting interests within an organization. And you as a sales person or as a sales organization, you will have to have a high empathy level for that, for that emotional human connection, and know how to navigate that. One thing that I'll put in, and one framework that I teach of the modern seller and hopefully the modern sales team is the model of friendly strengths, right? So, if you think about a quadrant, this comes from some psychology book I read many years ago. I don't even know which one it was, but there's a simple quadrant to like categorize humans in four basic archetypes. One is hostile and strong. Then the other one is friendly and strong. And then below, those are the top two quadrants, and then the lower two quadrants are hostile and unfriendly, and weak and unfriendly. If you think about hostile and strong, that's the original sales master. That's the wolf of Wall Street. That's the bully. This hyper aggressive sales rep that was bullying people into submission, into purchasing whatever they wanted. The people that were out there to crush the competition, to steal money from the customers. These people succeeded because they were strong, because they bullied weaker prospects into buying, but they did it in a way that destroyed value for their companies and for the marketplace. And that was acceptable or at least feasible in a world where you didn't have transparency. Today, this is less and less feasible. Right? Today, if I push a prospect to do buying clothes, the next day they wake up and they have buyer's remorse. They can just cancel it because there's so much subscription software out there. They could go and give me a bad review. They can use social media, they can really damage me in a way that I can't erase anymore. So, that model is dying out. It still exists in certain industries, the hostile and strong sales model, but it is dying and rightfully so. You would think the exact opposite of it, the friendly and weak, you would think that is the model of the future. You think these people are the most loved people on the planet, but unfortunately they're not. Those are the people that people take advantage of. And nobody wants to buy from weak people, no matter how friendly they are, right? To give you a good example, this is maybe your least favorite arts teacher in preschool or something. Somebody that always apologizes that they exist. They always whisper so you can't quite understand them. They make you feel weird, and entire social dynamics dictate that we are actually going to become aggressive towards these people and take advantage of them. And we don't even know why, it's because of the way they act. The ideal model, and I think the model of the present and the future is the friendly and strong model of sales. To me, somebody that's friendly and strong, friendly means they want to help the customer. They want to create value in the marketplace. They want to do what's right, but they're doing it from a position of strength. And the best model I can think of, there's one that's funny, which is being a good parent. I'll put that aside. The other model that might be more relatable for most people, especially the ones that don't have families, is a good doctor, right? If you go to a good doctor, you want somebody that's friendly, that's empathetic. They will first ask lots of questions, listen, and truly try to diagnose what is going on. And can I really help you? And how can we help you? But once the doctor, the expert made their judgment, called their diagnosis, once they know what you have, they're not asking you, they're telling you what to do, right? It's not an open discussion about," Well, I think you might have cancer. I'm not really sure. It could be this, it could be that. Some people say you should deal with it in this way. But other people say something else, there's many opinions. I'm not really sure what to do. What do you think we should do here?" And you don't want to hear any of that shit. You went to the doctor to get somebody that's an expert that knows more about this topic than you. You want somebody to tell you what to do and how to fix this problem. Right? My older brother brought his little son to hospital last Sunday, he was really sick and had high fever. And he encountered a weak and friendly doctor, and was super frustrated. He was like," This doctor was like, I don't really know what to do here. I'm not really his doctor. I'm a holistic doctor and I use all this alternative medicine and I'm not sure if we should use this or should just wait until Monday and bring it back to the doctor." And she was having a life crisis in front of my brother. My brother was like," What is this shit? I have a little boy that's suffering, and I just need an expert opinion on what to do here. And I don't want to hear your life crisis on not knowing what to do, and being in doubt with yourself." To me, friendly and strong is how the best sales teams of today and tomorrow are being built and how the best salespeople act. You want to have empathy. You need to be out there to do what's right for the customer. You need to be listening carefully and well, which is the hardest skill to learn in sales. It's always been the hardest skill. Most people just ask questions to get through their to- do list, but they never really pay attention. But if you ask the right questions, if you pay attention, if you truly care, and if you make the prospect feel truly understood, how many times does it even happen that you talk to somebody and at the end, you feel completely understood by them? If you're at that point, and then you are telling them from a position of strength, what to do and why to do it and how to do it. And it's not a debate anymore, you're the expert and you're taking charge. You're always going to have people that will want to buy from you. You're always going to create incredibly strong reputation and brand, and people will want to come back to you because they know you have their best interest in mind. But they also know you're strong. You're successful. You're convinced. You're comfortable and confident. And that's an incredibly attractive trait in a world that's so busy, so noisy, and where nobody knows what to do and what to recommend and what opinion to have or not to have.

Adam: I love it. Steli, DC and I have been messaging each other behind the scenes during this whole time. crosstalk I'm done. No, no. The real thing was, I messaged DC and I was like," I hope he doesn't give it all the way now because we need him to speak at Hypergrowth.-"

Steli Efti: Yeah. Let's get it, brother.

Adam: ...which will be amazing. Because you should go deep on that.

Steli Efti: Let's do it.

Adam: Okay. So, look, we could talk forever, but I want to wrap and I want to wrap with-

Steli Efti: Let's wrap strong.

Adam: Let's wrap strong, a big theme on seeking wisdom and really why we started this in the first place was all about learning. So, I don't know if it's books, certain books you recommended, books that have had the biggest impact on your career, books that you've given away the most. I would love to just learn about how you learn, and basically what your routine is, how you bring that into your daily and weekly life.

Steli Efti: Yeah. What a beautiful question. I share a deep love for learning, books saved my life, literally. But that's a totally different story. So, I love learning with a passion, and I do read a lot. There's a bunch of books that are really near and dear to my heart. One that might be an unusual recommendation on this podcast is a book on mindfulness from Jon Kabat- Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are. It's a small book. It's a book that I find a lot of startup entrepreneurs and tech people love and enjoy and have an easy time reading and digesting. It's not super esoteric. It's very practical, very short, but beautifully written and very, very thoughtful. It's a super impactful book for me. So, that's one book recommendation I'll throw out there. The other thing that I'll throw out there, which is an unusual recommendation when it comes to books is one thing I love to do, and I find a lot of value in and I've recommended to lots of people is go back to books you've read, many years ago, three, five, 10 years ago that you still remember had an impact on you and read them again. I find that books change as I'm changing, and if I read a book that I've read five years ago, it's going to be a completely different experience. I will be mind blown that I was like," I could swear this was not in the book five years ago."

Adam: crosstalk This is what DC would tell me all the time before I really started reading a lot. Because I didn't like reading, and now I've understood that books have different meanings based on the problems and things that you're working on or going through at the time. And so, whether it's a book about marketing, about mindfulness, you have to be ready for it, and you have to be in the right frame of mind. And all of a sudden, the stuff that you didn't know was in the book is going to hit you. And we talk about this a lot. Different books, you might read them two or three different times and get two or three different things out of them.

Steli Efti: Yeah. I love that. I do this with books that I really loved, and with books I really hated, and I couldn't read. And funny enough, oftentimes what happens is I try to read the book and I'm like," I cannot read this, it's too much work. It's not the right time." And then three years later, I look at it and I'm like," Oh, my God. I can't believe this, this is amazing. It's so easy to read." And it's just, I changed. My life has different context. So, the book is changing what I can get out of it. And I find that people are always searching for more and more new books. And I see a tremendous value going back to old books and revisiting them, that can be tremendously powerful for me.

DC: Damn boy. Amen. Steli is taking me to church today. Woo. Listen, I'm fired up. Steli, you need to be my motivational coach.

Steli Efti: This is a give and take. I love you guys, and I'm getting a lot out of the conversation. And we should talk regularly-

DC: Let's do it.

Steli Efti: ...this was a ton of fun.

DC: I love it. Let's do it. So, if you love Steli as much as I do. If you've gone to church as much as I have in this episode, please go check out Close. io, follow Steli, listen to the Startup Chat with Steli and Heaton, and leave a six star, you heard me right, six star review for us only.

Adam: Only.

DC: Let me know, send me a note directly. And to Steli, if Apple's hating on us and keeping us from getting six star glory and leaving a six star and when you shout out Steli on Twitter, say," Steli, I'll see you at Hypergrowth." Let's go. He's at Steli, S- T- E- L- I on Twitter. Follow him now.

Adam: Love it. Thank you, Steli.

DC: Thank you. This was amazing.

Steli Efti: Thanks guys.

More Episodes

#171: Working Backwards with Amazon's Colin Bryar and Bill Carr

#170: Avoid Consensus (Unless You Want Average Results)

#169: Introducing The American Dream with Elias Torres

#168: Seek Arbitrage Opportunities

#167: The Culture Episode

#166: Why DC Went on a News Fast and How You Can Too