Significant number alert! This is episode 500 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast, and to celebrate the milestone, we're doing something a little different. We're flipping the script. Today we have a guest host running the show, and although we won't say who it is (you'll have to listen—or read the transcript—to find out!), you may remember this person and his wife from two hugely popular episodes of the show (122 and 265). Anyway, our mystery host is taking over the mic today and interviewing our “guest,” Pat Flynn, about his online journey.
They talk about Pat's experience losing his architecture job, and how he started, built, and grew his first online business. Yes, you've probably heard some version of this story before, but this episode is different. Pat and our host go really deep to uncover some of the nitty-gritty details of the struggles and the excitement on Pat's path to creating multiple online businesses and becoming a trusted educator for entrepreneurs everywhere. Pat also reveals a little about what's coming next for the SPI community, and for this very podcast. As for our mystery host, well, what can we say? He's a delight. We think you'll agree that this episode is the perfect way to cap off the first 500 episodes of the SPI Podcast, with many more to come.
Today's Guest Host
[REDACTED] is one half of the dynamic duo at [Name of Business]. Together with his wife, [REDACTED], they've built an online membership business that generates hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in profit, while only requiring a few hours of work per week! Now they help other families build & grow online memberships of their own!
- How the Smart Passive Income Podcast set our host and his wife on their own online business journey
- How Pat got into architecture, and what it was like to work in that field early in his career
- How Pat's very first blog led to his architecture study guide (which would launch his online business career)
- Why $1.18 was some of the most exciting money Pat ever made
- The amazing offer Pat turned down (on his Motorola Razr phone, no less)
- What our host means when he says, “When that fear comes in, I just see Pat do the next thing”
- How Pat narrowly dodged a branding misfire in the early days of SPI
- Some of Pat's favorite episodes from the SPI Podcast archives
- Why our host gave Pat a rock, and why it makes both of them cry
- What's on the horizon for Pat and SPI in 2022 and beyond (including a coffee table book!)
SPI 500: Session 500! A Mystery Host Flips the Script!
Hey, you all. Welcome to episode 500 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. I'm your guest host today, Shane Sams. Now I know what you're probably wondering: “This is episode 500 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Where in the world is Pat Flynn, and who is this guy that is talking into the microphone and into my earbuds right now?” Some of you may know me as the host of the Flipped Lifestyle Podcast, but most of you will know me from episode 122 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast.
On that episode, my wife, Jocelyn, and I came onto the program and told our story of how we discovered the Smart Passive Income Podcast. We listened to Pat Flynn and we went out and started, built and grew an amazing online business that would eventually let us quit our jobs and change our family's future forever. That episode would go on to become one of the most popular SPI episodes of all time. And over the years, we've had the great privilege of becoming good friends with Pat.
Pat reached out to me last week and said, "Hey, Shane. The 500th episode of SPI is about to come out. Would you come and flip the script and be the guest host and interview me on the SPI Podcast?" And without hesitation, I said yes, and that's why I'm here today. Like many of you, the Smart Passive Income Podcast really changed my life. I will never forget the first time that I ever heard SPI. Back in 2012, I was a schoolteacher in Southeast Kentucky. I taught history and coached football, and my wife was an elementary school librarian.
One morning I discovered that someone was mistreating my son at his daycare center. I needed to take the day off to go investigate the matter, but my boss told me no. When I asked for the day off, she said, "Mr. Sams, I know your son needs you, but your job needs you too, and you're going to have to handle your personal problems after work." That sent me on a mission to quit my job, become and stay self-employed, and to get my family to a place where nobody could ever tell me I could not be there for my children when they needed me most.
I was having absolutely no luck trying to figure out how I could start a business or make a living, and one day I started looking for podcasts about business. One of the first podcasts that I found had this weird little podcast art. If you guys remember the old SPI art, it was a black background, and it just had Pat's eyeballs looking over the bottom of the square. So I clicked over to his website, and the first thing I saw was a picture of Pat Flynn holding his son.
And I said, "Hey, here's a guy that cares about his family." So I downloaded that first episode of the SPI Podcast that I found as I was getting ready to head out and mow my grass. So I get on my lawn mower, I put in my earbuds and I hear Pat just start telling this story. He starts talking about how he got fired from his job, how he created his blog, and how all of a sudden people started coming to his website, how he got traffic.
Now just a couple of weeks before this, I'd been in the car with my wife, Jocelyn. And for some reason, this thought just bubbled up in my head, and I looked over at her and said, "Jocelyn, what if I could get a hundred people to pay me $50 a month?" And she looked over at me and said, "What are you talking about?" I said, "Think about it. If I could get a hundred people to pay me $50 a month, I can make $60,000. That would replace our income, we could quit our jobs and we could be there when our kids needed us."
And my wife's—beautiful, smarter than me wife—looked at me and said, "Yeah, but how are you going to do that?" I said, "I don't know, but it sounds good!" So that's what I was looking for. I was looking for some way to go out and get a hundred people to give me $50 a month. And as I'm driving around my yard on my lawnmower, cutting my grass, I hear Pat talk about how he turned part of his blog into a PDF, and how he went and put a “buy now” button on his website. And all of a sudden, someone clicked a button and gave him not $19 for that PDF, and then another person clicked the $19 button and gave him money for that PDF, and sale after sale after sale kept coming in, and in that first product that he launched in his online business, he made 7,900 bucks.
And y’all, when I heard him say that, I about wrecked my lawnmower. I about flipped that thing straight off the side of the hill. I left a big fishtail in the grass. And I jumped off of it, and I ran inside, busted into my kitchen. My wife was over making lunch for one of my kids, and she said, "What are you doing?" I said, "I figured it out. I figured it out. I know exactly how we can get a hundred people to pay us $50 a month. This dude did it selling emails. I'm pretty sure we can do it." And my wife looked at me like I was crazy. But I made her listen to this podcast, and I said, "There's this thing called online business. There's this thing called passive income. There's this thing where you can take your knowledge just like Pat did and put it into a product just like Pat did and put it out online and if you do that, people will send money back."
Over the next few days, I devoured every episode of the SPI Podcast that was out there. I listened to Pat every single week. And from the inspirational stories of amazing online entrepreneurs that he was bringing on the show, to following his own journey as an online entrepreneur, we were able to replace our entire income. We were able to quit our jobs. We were able to become and stay self-employed, and we have been online entrepreneurs ever since. Like many of you out there, I can honestly say Pat Flynn and the Smart Passive Income Podcast changed our lives, changed our family's future, changed our family tree forever.
So on that note, I am super excited to be the guest host of episode 500 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. We are going to flip the script, and I'm going to interview Pat about his online journey. We're going to go back and talk about what it was like when he lost his job, how he started, built, and grew his first online business. And we are going to talk about what's coming next for the Smart Passive Income community, what's coming next for the Smart Passive Income Podcast, and how Pat plans to serve you and the world for the next 500 episodes of the show. So with a huge congratulations on episode 500, and a big thank you for letting me host the show, without further ado, my guest today is Pat Flynn.
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host: Congratulations, Pat and Team SPI on session 500 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast! It's been a pleasure to be your voiceover for every single episode: Pat Flynn!
Pat Flynn, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast.
Thanks for having me. It's weird, that's so weird to hear.
Yeah, I'm sure our wives have been looking at us funny all day as we've been marching around giddy to hang out and talk. But before we get started, dude, congratulations, man. 500 podcasts, that's 10 years of podcasting. Do you realize this?
That's crazy, man. You make me feel really old when you say that.
Well, when I met you for the first time, you had no beard, and now there's gray in your beard and I got gray in my hair. So I think we've kind of grown old together through this.
Yeah, for sure, for sure. But no man, thank you so much. This is unreal to be here for episode 500. I couldn't have asked for somebody better to come and bring the energy to take whatever... Like, let's just... we're going to have fun. And you all listening, we're just going to have a good time, and hopefully you can celebrate with us today.
Yeah, man. Talk to me a little bit about before all this started. I mean, you were one of the most consistent, prolific, relentless podcasters and entrepreneurs I've ever met. But there was a day where you were not a podcaster or an entrepreneur; you were actually an architect. So take me back to that: young Pat, just married, gets out of school, and all of a sudden, you're drawing buildings, like what were you doing back in the day?
Yeah. I mean, I'm literally sitting in front of a computer for 8 to 10 hours a day drafting up blueprints and stuff, drawings for different clients like Gap, Yard House restaurants, some Apple retail stores actually, we started working on drawings. And they were interesting, but honestly, my work, as awesome as that sounds, was really just boring. It was not as cool as like, for example, a project manager on a task or on a client relationship because I was just behind the scenes. And you know, I have my fingerprint and I often say this, I have my fingerprint around dozens of buildings around the United States and nobody would ever know. Nobody would ever know.
Yet those were some of the hardest times because oftentimes I would do so much work and stay 10, 12 hours a day working on something, turn it in, and it was like, "Okay, cool, next thing." All that hard work didn't get really recognized; it didn't get really appreciated. It was always like more things to do to help serve the client and my uppers to get what we needed done, and I felt like a grunt a lot of the time, actually.
Was it a dream job growing up that you wanted to be an architect or was it something that... like I became a schoolteacher because my dad was like, "You'll always have a job." It was like the ultimate fallback safety valve for them. Was it something like that, or why did you even become an architect in the first place, or what happened?
Yeah, I'm remembering when I was asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" when I was a kid. It was not an architect at first, actually. Architecture started entering the picture around high school when I started thinking about my career and my future. An architect was right there in the traditional family I had with doctor, lawyer, architect, all the really prestigious jobs that give you a good career. So that was kind of within that.
And when I was applying for college, decided to, when I was applying to Berkeley, to apply for the College of Environmental Design, which is where the architecture program was because for two reasons: number one, that was most interesting to me, and also number two, I thought I was being smart. Because I was like, "Okay, all my friends are choosing biology and all these other sciences-related things. I'm going to choose something else because I'm guessing that other people will choose architecture less so I'll have a higher chance of getting into school." I have no idea whether or not that's true or not, but I got in.
But when I start thinking about like when I was a kid and what I wanted to be, I wanted to be a baseball player. I was actually the first person on my team to be able to throw the ball over the plate and then all of a sudden, everybody kept growing and then I stopped. So then I wasn't capable of keeping up with everybody who could hit homers off me all the time. Then I played soccer. I wanted to be a soccer player for a while.
There was actually a time where I did want to be a lawyer. And I remember this specifically because it was, I think it was 9th or 10th grade. Again, the prestigious job that paid a lot of money, a lot of clout came with that. And then I went on a job shadow. So job shadow in downtown San Diego. We got to go through a public defender's office. And there was a group of us who all marked that we wanted to be lawyers, we were walking through. And honestly, I knew from that day forward that I would never want to be a lawyer in my entire life.
Why is that? Well, just because everybody was wearing suits or what? I mean, what were they doing?
Yeah, no, it wasn't the suits. I was excited about that part in architecture even though I never really got to that point yet. We were discussing like some of the cases some of the people were working on there. And maybe it was because I was at the public defender's office versus a different kind of lawyer but these people were celebrating the fact that they were able to get criminals lower life sentences or something like that. It was just like, "Oh, you're kind of playing devil's advocate here." And that doesn't really feel good. That doesn't really align with who I want to be no matter how much money would come my way.
Yeah, super heavy, man. So you go on, you do become an architect, you get married, and then we fast forward a little bit and you're like, "I did it. I snuck in, in the place nobody was paying attention to, and I got in where nobody else was applying. I got my architect. I tricked this amazing woman into marrying me." You're starting a family, right? And then all of a sudden, you go to work one day, and you just lose your job. Did you even expect it the day that you lost your job?
You know, I didn't expect it, but I also partly was not half surprised either because a lot of my other coworkers were getting laid off. This was around 2008, a lot of people were getting let go. And we were letting go of people who just weren't pulling their weight, and I was pulling all their weight and then some. So I was sort of banking on the fact that I was doing a lot more than I was asked of so that we could last through the recession and I would still continue to keep my job, and I would take on other people's experiences and job descriptions so that I could get further ahead and increase my résumé in a way to have that job security.
Yet I think they held me on as long as possible. I remember walking into my boss's office and he was like, "Hey, sit down, Pat." And I knew something was up because he would never ever say that. He usually just brought me in and tell me what to do and then I'd walk out. But he told me to sit down and I was like, "Uh-oh, something's coming." And then he pauses for a moment. I could tell something hard was going to come up, and he said, "Pat I'm so sorry about this. You're one of the hardest-working, youngest, brightest guys we've ever had in the firm, but unfortunately we have to let you go."
And man, when you consider the fact that you had just gotten married, you're planning on starting a family, literally maxing out your 401(k), everything's the way it was supposed to be. I was following life the way that it was all mapped out to be for me. And then having that just like—you know when you see dominoes go and it's like just automatic, and then all of a sudden, all you have to do is put your hand down and it stops everything? Like, everything that was ahead of you is now worthless. I didn't know what to do. I actually freaked out. I started to close up. I had a lot of anxiety. My initial reaction like most of the time when there's an issue is I try to solve the problem as fast as possible. So I start negotiating with him, right?
I don't even talk about this very much, but I was like, "Okay, what if we do this? Maybe I take a month off and I come back." And he's like, "We don't know what's going to happen. We cannot do that." And then I go back to my desk and I start calling around all the engineers and plumbers and mechanics that we've ever worked with, old architecture businesses that we've ever had contact with. And I start begging, literally on the phone kind of like, not necessarily all the way under my desk, but I'm on my chair hunched over so people don't hear me, and I'm like, "Please, is there anything that you have open? I don't care what it is."
I couldn't imagine life without architecture because that was what I had planned out. And I remember going home that day, and my wife was getting off of work and she was coming over to the apartment. She opens the door, and I was just bawling. I was like, "I failed you," like, "I'm so sorry. I am not who you thought I was going to be." Because again, this job was taken away from me, and it's just when I sit in retrospect and think about this, it's like, wow, all those things that I was telling myself were a result of something that I had no control over, and I was writing this story in my head about what I was going to become or who I wasn't going to be based on something that I legit had no control over.
But yeah, she was there for me, and she's the reason why I'm here today. She was just like, "We're going to get through it. We're going to get through it." And that was key for me, the fact—the “we” part was the most important part. And I was like, "Okay, this is awesome." Because no matter what happens, I always have a partner with me, and that was huge.
You said something really interesting there, too. You concluded later, of course—I think everybody on the other side of the tidal wave kind of realizes there's things you can't control in life, there's things you can control in life. But you said, "I was making it. I was doing everything the way it was mapped out for me. It was mapped out the way it was supposed to be." Do you think all that anxiety and stuff you felt when you got fired came from that you had bought into that? Like, this is it, you go to school, you get married, someone gives you a job, you have a 401(k), you retire, you die. Is that where some of that came from because you were kind of afraid to tell April you had messed it up or something?
Yeah, 100%. I mean, when it's like, “They mapped it out for me,” it's like, who's “they?” “They” can be my parents, and “they” worked because they had lived their life in that way and supported the family and I was kind of following their footsteps in that way. “They” is school: here is the plan. You go to college and you get a job and this happens. “They” is just my friends and everybody else around me, my coworkers. I didn't know of anything else. What else was there? Right? And here I was getting... I thought I was going to be homeless.
And the funny thing is, again, in retrospect, I'm like, "That was impossible to happen because of my parents and her parents." They were going to... If push comes to shove, they would take us in and help us out, right? It wouldn't be ideal, but they would help us out. And guess what? That's exactly what they did. So April because we were getting married, we were engaged, she moved back in with her parents to San Diego. I moved back in with my parents in San Diego, back in my old room, the one that I left to go to college for.
Here I am back in it, and it has been half converted into my dad's office now. It's just really strange. And again, every day I woke up, opened my eyes, there I am back in my old room. I'm like, "Wow. I'm back where I was even before going to college and working hard. This is a failure."
How old were you at the time when that happened?
Dude, so you all were engaged. I thought you all had just gotten married. You're sitting there at the desk, calling plumbers going, "This girl's not going to marry me. I've got to have a job."
She has an out still; she still has an out at this point!
I did not know that. I thought you all were just married, man. Now I can see why you had a lot of stress and anxiety on top of losing the job. So tell me this: had you been blogging about architecture to this point, or was this now, alright, you're freaking out, you can't find a job, and you discover online business? Where did you discover blogging? Was it before this, or after the getting fired?
I discovered blogging actually in college. There was a platform, I don't know if you remember this platform called Xanga, X-A-N-G-A. And it was literally like just... it was one of the first platforms where you could just kind of write content and select from different themes. They were all super generic looking. And most people who used them just documented like a journal, the things they did that day. I didn't know of anybody using it to sort of teach anything back in college.
And I had written maybe a few months or a couple semesters worth of kind of what I was doing in the band and those kinds of things, fun things that have happened in college, different parties I went to and whatnot, but never really did anything with that. In fact, that then just expired. When I was studying for a particular exam when I was still in architecture, hadn't known I was getting laid off, there was this particular exam called the LEED exam, L-E-E-D, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it was the most difficult test I've ever taken.
I mean, I graduated magna cum laude from Berkeley, and I still on my first practice test got 25%, which was worse than failure for an exam, especially somebody who grew up more of a perfectionist. So to help me out with that exam, I knew that I was going to have to create a lot of resources to help me memorize and create patterns within this thing that I had to memorize for this test. And so I created a blog to just literally be a place for content that I could go back to to study from because I was traveling a lot. I was on the road. I went to Florida to work with the Hilton crew and a few other clients. And I was always on the road, so I always didn't want to take 25 pounds of books with me. So I just put all the things I was learning, essentially my notes online.
And I had the added benefit, and this was the plan, I was going to share that website, that blog with my boss and be like, "Hey, you see how much initiative I'm taking to pass this exam. I want to offer this to anybody else in the company who wants to study too."
Nowhere in my mind that I ever think that this could turn into anything other than just a resource to help me and some of my coworkers pass this exam. I wasn't savvy enough to understand that well, also because it's online, it could help how many other people around the world too. That was the story about that blog. It was actually initially called intheleed.com, L-E-E-D. I later had to change it because I got a cease-and-desist letter, but that's a different story.
You don't know what you don't know and you just start throwing your study stuff on your own little virtual filing cabinet so you can access it in Florida that a big corporation may come after you at some point, right?
Oh dude, that almost derailed me. I mean, there's several of those kinds of stories. But I remember passing the exam going, "Yay. Okay, I'm done," like, "I don't need this anymore. I'm moving on to the next exam." When I got let go, I had a lot of time on my hands, right? So I was listening to podcasts. Podcasts had just started becoming something that people were getting involved with, with the iPod and podcasts. And I discovered this podcast called Internet Business Mastery.
And I was looking for any kind of solution. So I was looking up things like business and how to start a business. I remember picking up a book at Barnes & Noble, it was How to Start a Business for Dummies, and literally reading through that. And I remember another time a man had come up to me and he said, "Hey, are you looking to make some extra money?" which is very shady sounding just now that I'm talking about it. But I was like, "Yeah." And he was like, "Oh, well, why don't you come to this meeting tonight? There's a whole bunch of us talking about this really cool opportunity." And me being desperate at the time, I was like, "Okay."
So first of all, that's a very dangerous situation. Second of all, I went, and it was this well-crafted concert of an event choreographed, which was just essentially, I'm not going to name any names or brands, but it was just a pyramid scheme situation that was happening where I was going to eventually have to sell my friends on a bunch of things that they shouldn't need or don't need at the time. So anyway, I backed out of that, thankfully, although it was very intriguing, especially the double diamond platinum members who came and shared how this business changed their life.
The more desperate you are, the more that double diamond platinum level looks like in your life when you go to those things.
Oh man, if I could just get single platinum diamond, that would be cool, but double diamond, maybe one day. But I found this podcast, Internet Business Mastery, huge credit to Sterling and Jay who were the hosts, changed my life, changed my life. They became two people who I could trust online. I didn't meet them until much later, but I became friends with him through your show. That's what drew me later to starting a podcast because I had seen what a podcast had done for me.
And what did it do for me? It gave me inspiration. It gave me some specificity into actual, actionable things I could do, and it gave me hope. But there was one interview in particular that was on that show, it was with a man named Cornelius Fichtner who was teaching people how to pass the project management exam online on his website. And he was very open with how much money he was making; he was very open with how he did this. And of course, me being somebody who was in an industry that had a lot of exams, and I had just taken this really difficult one and knew about it, I put two and two together and I was like, "Wow, maybe there's something I can do with this website."
So discovering a little bit more, diving a little bit deeper, I was like, "Okay, first thing I need to know is how many people are going to come to my website?" Once I start sharing it with people somehow. I don't know how I'm going to do that. I just need to figure out if people are actually coming. So I started to include a tool called Google Analytics on the website, which I didn't do before because there was no need for me to. I wake up the next day and there's literally thousands of visits, and I'm like, "This can't be right. Did I visit the website a thousand times in trying to fix it or something?"
In your sleep, clicking WordPress?
Exactly. Like, "Is it hacked or something? I have no idea what's going on." And then I noticed that the time on the site is like 12 minutes. People's average time on the site is 12 minutes, which is huge, especially nowadays. But what ended up happening, and I found out, was that people were linking to this website on architecture blogs, architecture forums, like, "Hey, I found this random website." They were calling it a diamond in the rough, which is funny because that’s said in Disney a lot, and I remember that phrase. This resource that was essentially giving away all the things that people needed to know for free. So it was just getting spread about.
And of course, Google picked it up because it was shared and linked to so often, and there's a lot of backlinks that I didn't even know what a backlink was or keyword research or how that was done. And I remember one day turning on comments, turning on comments and then this flood of questions started coming in from random people from who knows where, and I was like, "Wow, they're asking me these questions?" And I started to retreat. I was like... I turned them right off.
I was like, "Holy crap." Like, "Am I even allowed to answer these questions?" Like, "Who am I to answer these questions? I know the answers to some of them, some of them, I don't." I'm like, "I don't want to... This isn't what I meant to do. I'm trying to figure things out." And again, I hadn't seen what was right in front of me, which was the opportunity to help and serve people who needed this exam material. Taking this exam was a huge dollar amount to take whether you fail or not, and it was a huge pain in the butt to go and find study materials.
So eventually I ended up investing what little money I had into the Internet Business Mastery Academy. So, this is their program. I started connecting with some people there—Mark Mason, Sean Noonan, a few other names come to mind—and they started providing a lot of inspiration and help and direct help to me, in fact. And then something interesting happened. Sterling, or Jeremy Frandsen—Sterling was his sort of stage name—he mentioned in a podcast that he was going to be moving to San Diego, which is where I'm from.
And so my heart started beating when I heard this because I was like, "Oh my gosh, this guy who I idolized, he was helping me out with this. I'm trying to figure out business, he's moving to San Diego." And he said, "Hey, when we get to San Diego, maybe anybody who's in town can meet up and we can kind of have a mastermind meeting together." And I was like, "What's a mastermind meeting? That sounds official."
And so anyway, he shares in the forums that he's going to be at a Panera Bread. He puts the address in. I put it in Yahoo! Maps or whatever, and it's literally 0.9 miles away from where I live. I'm just like, "This is fate, or somebody's having a really sick, cruel joke being played on me right now." I drive up in my Toyota Tacoma, and I have no idea what the meeting's going to be like, and I drive by the Panera. I drive by first just to kind of scope it out, and there's this group of guys sitting around, and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, that's them." And I recognize Jeremy. And then I drive out of the parking lot because I'm scared. I don't know what I'm going to say, I don't know what I'm going to do. Do I even belong there?
You were afraid of another double diamond moment?
I was. So I turn around because I'm like, "There's something here that is for me or else this wouldn't have happened in this way." So I approach the guys, and they're very welcoming, they're very friendly. They extend their hand, I shake them, and they introduce themselves, and then we have our meeting. And the meeting consisted of all of us going around in a circle, which I'm like, "Oh my gosh, that means it's eventually going to get around to me."
So I sit on the end where I know it's going to be later, and then I just start listening. And everybody starts sharing their business and what they're up to and what they need help with, and then everybody pitches in. I have nothing to say. I have no idea what even they're talking about in some cases.
And then eventually it gets around to me and I'm like, "Hey, I'm Pat. I just got let go from my architecture job." And one guy was like, "Congrats." And I was like, "No, no, I don't feel that yet, but I'm just struggling to kind of figure out what's going on." And they're like, "Okay. So are you doing anything online, or are you just trying to figure it out?" And I'm like, "Well, I'm trying to figure it out, but I have a website." And they're like, "What's the website?" And then I tell them about it, and they're like, "Okay, cool. This is a very niche website and we've never heard of this exam." And I'm like, "Of course you haven't because like nobody in the world knows about it."
Then they go, "Okay, well what's your traffic like?" And I'm like "5, 6,000 visits." And they're like, "Oh, that's pretty good. For a month, that's actually a lot you can work with." And I'm like, "No, that's actually per day." They're like, "Wait, what? 6,000 views per day?" And I was like, "Yeah, is that—that's good+" And they're like, "That is amazing. What are you doing to potentially monetize?" And I was like, "Nothing." And they're like, "Oh my God."
The whole conversation, all of them start pitching in for literally the next 20 minutes on what they would do and what I should do. And even Jeremy was like, "You should write an ebook." And I'm like, "I have no idea what that means. I've never heard of that before." They're like, "Oh, well, you can create a PDF file." I'm like, "I know a PDF file." And they're like, "You can make one and then you can sell it on your website." And I'm like, "People would buy that?" And they're like, "Yes, think about it. People can get it right now when they need that study material. They don't have to wait for anything. And likely you could charge a lot cheaper than these other guys that are out there that are hundreds of dollars."
And I was like, "Wow, you're right." And I'm like, "Okay, well I don't even know what to do." They're just like, "Write the book. And then I promise you, when you have this thing finished, you're going to figure it out. You are going to work to figure it out." And that was a really good piece of advice because my mind was like, "Well, I don't know how to sell it. I don't know... how do I even do that? How do I even charge for this? What about taxes?" All that stuff, all those questions I had, they were like, "Just write the book because when you have this thing that you know is now valuable, you're going to figure out those answers when you need them." And I was like, "Okay."
So I spent the next month and a half writing this ebook. In the meantime, I was also putting some... another person recommended I put Google AdSense on my website. And what? You just put some code on your website and you can start making money? And they're like, "Yeah." And I'm like, "That sounds illegal." And they're like, "No." Because again, all the things that I could say to counter that this was actually possible, I was thinking about.
Why do we do that, man? You know what I mean? Why do we... Because you and I have now in the last 10 years since we've been helping other people, I'm sure you've seen the same thing I have. You always see this resistance to it. I don't know why that is. They fight the fact like, "Am I expert? Can I help someone else? Is this really real that you can make money like this?" I wonder where that comes from in us. I don't know if it's a training like we were talking about earlier or the fear or the anxiety. I don't know where that comes from, man.
I think a lot of it has to do with how we've been conditioned as we've grown up to believe certain things. And maybe it's the fact that it's so easy that it almost undermines all the hard work and schooling and all the things that we put in before that was supposed to happen a certain way. I don't know if that's it. I also know that because it's technology-based, because it's new, new can often mean scary and getting into waters that you're just not familiar with, I don't know. But it always shows up, and it still continues to show up even recently with the launch of SPI Pro, our membership, and all these new things.
You’d think that after 12 years of doing this, that I'd be over the nervousness and the fear and the resistance, but no, it's always there. I just know what it means now. I know it means that there's something awesome on the other end. I know it means that it's something that's important to me. I know it means that I'll have to probably find help, which was another thing I struggled with when I tried to figure this all out myself initially.
But I added some AdSense on my website. Literally the next day I woke up, and it was $1.18 in my account.
Let's go, let's go, baby.
And I was like, "Let's go!" I couldn't believe it. And I know you've experienced your first dollar or some odd cents.
It was 11 cents. You were 10 times better at this than me when you started, son.
Right. That wasn't even the good math, 11 times.
But that matters so much because it's like, “That wasn't there before, and here it is now. Let's scale it up. Let's keep going.” And so the AdSense started to increase. I started to make maybe $15, $20 a day while I was writing my book. And I was like, "Wow. I almost feel like I'm getting paid to write this thing now in a way," even though that still wasn't enough to go off and get my own apartment or anything yet. It was a start, right? It was a start, and those little wins motivated me.
And then I remember after a month and a half, I wrote this book. It was a study guide. It wasn't the best design, but it was as good as it could get for the skill that I had. I didn't have any money to pay anybody else to do it for me, and then I was like, "Okay, guys. I'm in the forums." I'm like, "Okay, I got the book done. What do I do next?" And they're like, "Okay, you got to go sell it." And I'm like, "I know, but how?" Okay, here are the tools you need, here's what you need to have on your website.
So they hooked me up with a tool. It doesn't exist anymore, but there's other ones like it now, SamCart or Gumroad or any of these other ones that allow you to essentially upload your file, get a buy button that you can then put in your website that literally will connect everything together. And so I just put the “buy now” button on the website. And I remember I was working on it all night, and I put it on the website at 1:00 in the morning, and I was like, "Okay, this is a big deal," like, "This is it. This is the moment."
And so I put it up on the website, and it's just there. And I refresh the page. It's there. I go on my other computer. It's there. I'm like, "Okay, it's actually there now. Now what?" Well, it's like 1:30 in the morning, so I'm just going to go to bed. And I wake up. And I wake up at 6:00, and I go and check my emails: nothing. I start feeling very deflated. I start feeling like maybe this was all for nothing. This was a complete waste of time. Everybody had it wrong. These guys are liars, these guys are scammers. Like, "This stuff is not real. Maybe the Cornelius guy who was on that episode, those guys hired to say those things so that I can join the..." I just started making up this story about how I was scammed.
But then I realized, "Okay, it's only been literally four and a half hours. Maybe I could wait a little longer. And who buys study guides at 6:00 in the morning?" So I was like, "Okay." So I go and then I come back to the computer at 8:00 o'clock: still nothing. Come back 8:30: nothing. At 8:41 AM, I see an email in my account. It says notification of payment received from PayPal. I check my account, $18.41 because it's $19.99 minus the whatever fee from PayPal. I'd made my first sale. And holy crap, the feelings that I had, the rush of both excitement and nervousness and fear, all at the same time. I had literally almost a panic attack. Because again, I had worked on something, I had created it, I put it up there and I actually made money. That was really cool.
But then I was like, "What if this person doesn't like it? What if they ask for a refund? What if they sue me because they don't pass the exam, even though they bought my stuff, and then I'm actually going to be homeless again?" Even though I wasn't homeless in the first place. But then I went on a walk because I had to think about these things, came back, and then I had another sale while I was on a walk. And I was like, "Whoa." Like, "This happened while I was out. Let's just see how the month goes."
And every day, 7 to 9 to 10, sometimes up to 15 to 20 sales coming in. Then, near the end of the month, I started getting emails from some of my customers. And I remember that one of the first ones coming in, I was so scared because I was like, "Uh-oh, if I open this, it could go one of two ways."
This is the first haterade that's getting poured over my head for starting this business, right?
Yeah, right? It's either going to be Gatorade or haterade. I'm not sure. It's going to be one of the two. So I open it, and this person just right away was like, "Thank you so much. I passed the exam thanks to your guide." And that felt so good. And the cool thing about this email was he said, "Pat." Like, "Hey Pat, I wanted to send this email to you, let you know I passed the exam. Your guide was essential for it. Thank you." And I was like, "Wow, that felt really good."
And this person, who I didn't even know, never had met in person in my real life, was recognizing me and thanking me for the work that I did. People who I saw every single day in architecture never gave me that kind of thanks and recognition sometimes. And again, more of those emails started pouring in. So by the end of the month, $7,908.55 in profit.
What did you get paid at your architecture job?
So I was getting paid gross $4,500 a month.
That's double, that's pretty much double on your ebook that you didn't even know existed before you went to this random meeting with a bunch of internet marketing masterminders, man. That's unbelievable. My mind is... I did not know that. I did not know that part of the story that it was like, "Hey, I started a blog, and I have a PDF, and I think this button works." And eight grand, that's double... Then you’re calling April like, "Really, I got fired on purpose because I knew. I knew, baby. Come on, can we get married now? Please don't leave me." Right?
No, I showed her. And she was like, "Is this real?" And I was like, "I think it is real." And I remember because the money was in my checking account eventually after I transferred it from PayPal, and I was like, "It got in the checking account. It actually got through!" I thought it was some funny money that was like if I triggered it to transfer, the FBI was going to... Literally I was thinking these thoughts. I just could not believe it. But here's the other part of the story that's interesting. Even though the next month I had made $9,000, the month after that, it was in the five-figure range, I was still applying for architecture jobs in San Diego.
Because I didn't believe that this was going to last. I didn't believe that it was real. I didn't believe that this was the path that I was supposed to be on. I was still sitting in chairs, doing interviews, showing them that I knew how to do AutoCAD and just waiting for calls. And thankfully, nobody called back.
When we started our journey, I started emailing you because that was back before you had 19 billion people emailing you all the time. And I remember me and you would email back and forth, and I would tell you what was happening. And I remember I have the email still where I told you we quit our jobs.
I still have it, too.
That's what I'm talking about, man. It was funny because this fear you had, even after we quit our jobs, we're 13 months in, until we came to see you in San Diego at that One Day Business Breakthrough in June, I mean, it was still every day getting up, going, "Get our résumés ready, honey, we're going back to..." I mean, it was just this constant fear that there was no way this could keep going. And I remember after One Day Business Breakthrough, we talked to you and Ducker. You all gave us some amazing advice.
We had the most unbelievable two months that I still can't believe happened to this day. And in August, two years in, was the point that I was like, "This is the point of no return. I know I can do this. No matter what happens, we'll figure it out. We're never going back." So when was that for you? When was that point of no return when that fear was like, "Wow. I think even if the LEED exam site burned to the ground, I could still pull something off and do this." What was your point of no return when you knew you had it under control?
Yeah. I mean, there were two different moments. There was the point of, "I don't want to ever go back to what I was doing." Not that it was a point of no return, but it was a point of, "Okay, I'm moving on to the next phase of my life now." And that was May of 2009. So seven months-ish after I started making money from my architecture stuff, I get a call on my cell phone. I think it was a Razr flip phone at this time. It was from the boss who had let me go, and he was checking up on me. He said, "Hey, Pat. I know we left on tough terms, and it was nothing personal. I hope you understand." I was like, "No, it was fine." And he's like, "I hope you're doing okay. I hope you're doing okay." And I'm like, "I'm actually doing really well right now." And he's like, "It's okay. I know it can be tough."
I may be doing better than you, son. I might be doing better than you, bro. I'm just telling you. You want to work for me? You come work for me.
No, I didn't say that. No, it was like I could tell he was sensitive to what had happened and was just wanting to make sure I was cool, but also he had an offer. He said that he had left the firm as well, but on his own choice, and he took some of the clients with him. He had started his own company. He had brought some of my favorite people in the world, some of my coworkers along with him, and he said, "Pat, I want you to move back to Irvine. I will pay for your move. I will pay for a year's rent and I'm going to give you a promotion. I want you to work for me."
And I did not hesitate more than two seconds before I said, "Thank you for the offer, but no, thanks. I think I'm good with where I'm going." Obviously, he was very surprised and started asking questions. And he's very supportive, so thankfully he wasn't like, "That's dumb. Don't do that. You're losing out on this opportunity." I bet you he could have argued me back, but honestly, I knew this was the next phase of my life.
This was the moment when, and you've seen us at FlynnCon when I transitioned from the corporate ladder, I took my final foot off that ladder and brought it to the entrepreneurial ladder, a ladder that had much more upside, that was a lot more fun, that could provide a lot more freedom for me because I had just experienced several months of that freedom now as a result of what I had just done. That was to me, the point of no return to what I was doing before. There were still moments though where I'm like, "What if this was just literally a flash in the pan? What if it is something that goes away? What if..." There was so many what-ifs.
But I think once I saw that I’d started something new like my Security Guard Training website, and then the FoodTruckr website, and then smartpassiveincome.com started to generate its own income and get a huge following, I was like, "Wow. I can do whatever I choose to put my mind to. Whatever I want to focus on, I think I could make it work." Because I kind of have the idea now that as long as you're serving people within that community and you really, really work hard to solve their pain points, then you can create a business out of that. And that's true.
Yeah, man. I wrote this down as you were telling this story because I mean, we're friends, but man, I consider you like a mentor. I do, man. I mean, and you've been so gracious to me and my family, and just the openness you have with your community. I do want to talk about why you started SPI, some of your favorite episodes, and things like that, but when I hear your journey, I hear everyone's journey. It's like the first thing you do is just like, "What do I know that nobody knows I know?"
I just have to tell them, and maybe money will come back. And then there's fear, and then you create content, and then there's fear. And then you engage with content, and then there's fear. And then you're like, "Am I expert enough?" And then there's more fear, and then it's like... But then you did the great thing of going to surround yourself with other people trying to do this, creating a product, putting a PayPal button on it or whatever, and then the fear comes back. And then it's not like the fear goes away.
And I think that's what I've learned most from you over the years, is there's lots of tools and lots of trainings and lots of everything that we do online, but when that fear comes in, I just see Pat do the next thing. I've always watched you do the next thing, and that's always given me the courage to do the next thing. And when I see my students or your students, if they just keep doing the next thing, that's the people that make it. So I guess that leads me to, so you're doing the LEED exam, okay, you realize you can do all this other stuff. Why start SPI? What was the inspiration for that? Was it somebody in your circle that told you to do it or did you realize you were good at this and wanted to pay that forward? Why SPI at all?
Yeah. I mean, SPI happened because as I was creating this other business in the architecture space, a lot of my architecture friends who were also laid off had started hearing about it. I was telling them kind of what I was trying to do, and then I was showing them the website, and people were seeing the comments and how much of an audience I was building. And I didn't tell them at the time how much money I was making, but they were curious because they were like, "How is it doing compared to architecture? Do you think this is going to be your full-time thing now?"
And I didn't know the answer at that time, but all I knew was a lot of other people wanted to know how to do what I was trying to figure out how to do. They didn't have the ability to afford any courses. They didn't have the ability to even believe in themselves. So I wanted to show them that, "Hey, I was just in your position not too long ago. Let me share everything that I did, good or bad, and you can make your own decisions on what to do with that information. But I'm just going to tell it like it is." The reason why I wanted to share this was because I wanted to get in front of those people who were trying to take advantage of people who had just gone through what I had gone through.
The diamond double, double diamond diamond dimers. That's what you were trying to do, stop those guys, get in front of them.
Exactly. When I was researching internet business after, actually it was discovering Internet Business Mastery, and I was like, "Okay, who else is out there?" I mean, I think I got lucky that I discovered them pretty early on because I discovered so many other people who talked a good talk. If I didn't get in with Jeremy or Jason, probably could have convinced me to spend much more money and not get as much back. And so that, number one, taught me that, serve first and help others like Jeremy and Jason did with their podcast because that then convinced me and allowed me to trust them to then pay for something.
But secondly, everybody was just like, "How'd you do it? Could you just share?" And I was like, "Yeah, I'll share it and I'm going to share it for free. I'm not going to charge you, I'm not going to pretend like I'm some expert. I'm just going to share exactly what I did because that's all I know." So I built smartpassiveincome.com, but the funny part was, and some of you may have heard this story, it wasn't initially called smartpassiveincome.com, it was called Passive Aggressive Income Dude.
I did not know that. That's amazing. I did not know that. I did not.
You didn't know this? So the acronym is P-A-I-D: Passive Aggressive Income Dude.
Oh, I see what you did there. That's pretty smart. I see what you did there.
I hired a person on eBay with some of my architecture money that I had gotten to draw a character that would become like the GEICO Gecko version for Passive Aggressive Income Dude. And it was a superhero who had P-A-I-D on his chest like a Superman with a cape. And then I looked at that and I was like, "Is this who I want to become? Am I a superhero here and I'm going to rescue the world?" And I was like, "No, because I don't know how to do that. All I know is I built a business and it's working. Let me just show other people how to do that, and get in front of all these other people who are trying to take advantage." And so I scrapped that, thankfully. I have been looking for that drawing. I do not know where it is. It's not in my archive anywhere.
That was a great call. Good job on that. It was probably an early first decision that was excellent in what you did there.
I was not good at branding back then, but I was good at recognizing that that's not the direction I wanted to go. So Smart Passive Income came from, well, what do people ultimately want? What was I earning? I was earning passive income, a way for literally earning money while in your sleep. But that sounded dirty. There was a lot of websites that were talking about that. But I wanted to bring some truth to it, and I wanted to have people approach that in a smart way, which was not “Pay for this thing and then sell it and then live a beach laptop lifestyle.”
It's like, you’ve got to take a smart approach to who it is you're serving, and learn what they need help with just like I did, and then serve them in that way. And that's why “serve first” has always been a part of my philosophy. Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience. And of course, passive income is a big topic at the time because Tim Ferriss had just come out with The 4-Hour Workweek. So with all those things combined, I was like, "Okay, so passive income, I want that in my domain name," because in my research, back then, if you had your keyword in your domain name, you'd be able to rank a little bit higher for those keywords so I was like, "Okay, cool."
But passiveincome.com was taken so I was like, "Okay, let's just put smart in front of it." I want people to take the smart approach to this; not the fast approach, not the get-rich-quick approach, but the smart approach, the one that's going to give them hopefully a long-term return on the work that they do to serve an audience. And so Smart Passive Income was born at the end of 2008, and I just started writing about the things I was doing on the architecture stuff and how I quit my job and how I had got let go and the things that I was trying to work on.
I also, at the time, in addition to building the architecture website and sharing my income reports, which was something that put myself on the map. Very grateful that I had been inspired to do that. There was actually a personal finance blog called mymoneyblog.com. And the reason why I loved mymoneyblog.com, I don't even know if it's around anymore, but I was a big personal finance blog nerd when I was in architecture. That was the only one that was legit sharing the exact mutual funds that he was investing in. He didn't ever share his name, but he was like, "Hey, this month I earned this much and I'm putting this much in this account, this much in this account and this much in this account."
And I was like, "That's so handy to see exactly what's happening." You're not just like, "Put this here and that there." You're literally showing me through your own example, how you're doing that. So I brought that forward into the online business space. Apparently, I wasn't the first person to do this. There were some other people, John Chow, et cetera, but I think I really put it on the map. And a lot of other people who have started to do this, John Lee Dumas, et cetera. I'm grateful that I've been able to pave the way for more transparency and authenticity online, which was missing at the time.
So I started other experiments. I started writing for ehow.com to earn more passive income. eHow was a website where anybody could write an article about anything. It gets put into the eHow library. They put AdSense on it for you and then you do a rev share with them on the AdSense on your articles. So I was making like 150 bucks a month with that. It's funny, because even though that paled in comparison to the architecture stuff, those articles started to get ranked really high.
The ones that I was writing and the ones that I was writing about on SPI, and I attracted the whole crowd of eHow members to my website to learn how to do eHow better and earn more passive income in that way. And that's when I started getting into keyword research because keyword research was important for that. And then keyword research turned into a challenge with a friend of mine at the time to create a niche website from scratch to build.
And then I shared that exactly how it went down, and that was the securityguardtraininghq.com website, which after 73 days became number one in Google and just completely launched our affiliate earnings on Smart Passive Income. Because when people saw that experiment and exactly how I did everything start to finish, they were like, "Oh, Pat, you just shared exactly everything how to do from scratch. I'm going to do the exact same thing that you've laid out and I'm going to click on your affiliate links to pay you back in return."
And I remember my affiliate earnings for the hosting company I was promoting at the time was like hundreds of dollars a month. Literally after that experiment, it went to $7,000 to $8,000 a month, and the keyword research tools and all this stuff. And that was a surprise. I had not started Smart Passive Income to make money. It was there to show how I was making money elsewhere. I also talked a little bit about an iPhone app company that I had with my friend from high school that we then sunset, and other experiments that went down from FoodTruckr and just a whole bunch of other things.
And I remember there's this one time I commissioned Chase Reeves to design my website. And he actually came over to the house, locked himself in my office for two days, and came out with this beautiful website. And he put a placeholder tagline on the homepage that said “the crash test dummy of online business.” And I was like, "I've never heard of that before. What makes you say that?" He's like, "Oh, it's just a placeholder, but that's kind of like what I think of you. Because you always try these things and then you share all the information for all of us for our benefit."
And you just kept that?
I kept that.
That was a flippant placeholder, not an... I thought that was a master stroke. When I first saw that I told Jocelyn, I was like, "That's genius. Man, he must have really worked hard on that one." But it was like, "Nope."
Nope. That was a placeholder, thanks to Chase. Thank you, Chase. Yeah, Chase Reeves and shout out to the guys over at Fizzle, Corbett Barr and back then, Caleb Wojcik, Barrett Brooks. Those guys were key sort of relationships in what I was doing. But to go back to Jeremy and Jason, they inspired me to get started, but they also inspired me to start a podcast, which came out in 2010. And the podcast, as you know, has been just, here we are, 500 episodes later and that's where it started. Thanks to them and their podcasts helping me. I just wanted to pay it forward. And man, it's turned into something incredible.
The podcast is great because at the time when we were trying to start our first online business, I just was like, "Well, we've just got to..." When Jocelyn finally got on board, she was not in until I proved something could happen. But when she got on board, she was like, "Well, how did Pat do it?" And I'm like, "Well, he's got a podcast, and he has an email list, and you click things. So let's just start there."
And so we were wondering like, "Let's start a podcast. Let's figure out how to do it. Let's try to do this. Let's try to do that." And I'll tell you, not just your story because I did hear you way back in the day when I heard you talk about that. Like I said in the intro, I about fell off my lawnmower and killed seven people in my neighborhood when I heard what happened and what you did. But there was another episode—it was the scrapbook lady. What was her name?
Yeah, Lain Ehmann.
Yeah. When she talks about unfair advantages, unfair advantages. Well, my unfair advantages where I sound like a redneck and I started out in my high school football coaching career 0 and 10. And when I heard her say that, I was like, "But how many people sound like me?" Nope, not many, so I should start a podcast because not many people sound like me. How many people have the experience of going from 0 and 10 to 6 and 5? I go home happy more Friday nights than not.
And your podcast inspired us to start the Elementary Librarian podcast. Riveting? I know it, everybody's dying to find that one in the archives somewhere, right? Where Jocelyn interviewed librarians. But dude, podcasting is just... there's nothing like it. I know video's awesome, I know blogging is incredible, you just build that relationship. So that's two of my favorites, the one where you first told your story and the unfair advantage episode, other than me and Jocelyn, of course. No, I'm just kidding. What are some of your favorite episodes of the podcast?
That is one of my favorite episodes for sure. Episode 122 with you guys was incredible. People talk about that all the time. There's a number of different standout ones. There's episode 51, which was the episode where I got to interview Tim Ferriss, which was a huge deal for me. I was reading his book as soon as I got let go and that was very inspirational to what SPI eventually became.
And I remember that episode because I spent the first five and a half minutes fanboying the entire time, not realizing it when I was recording and I eventually had to end that scene to then actually have the actual interview. I was just so, so thankful for him. There's so many episodes, jeez. There were a lot of success story episodes early on that were really inspirational to a lot of people where we had all types of niches from the wedding industry to Magic: The Gathering, people just sharing how they were carving their own little niche.
The riches are in the niches, I often say. And those were really inspirational, and that was the kind of the first time I realized how powerful a success story can be. Not just like a testimonial on your sales page or whatever, but when you actually go through the story like the hero's journey, the “Here's where I was, here was the challenge, here's where I entered into a new world and was trying to figure things out, here were the obstacles, and look at where we are now on the other end.” And I use that same formula for marketing and storytelling all the time now, and it's so key.
So to bring that onto the show, I started noticing how powerful that was. And I think that's why your episode's been so key. There was another episode that actually stands out: it's episode 263 with Clay Collins, former CEO of Leadpages. And I remember that episode because when we recorded that, it was 50 minutes to an hour's worth of content. I listened to it, and I was like, "This is terrible." I don't know if it was my energy or his, we weren't aligning, the episode wasn't very good.
And when you're a podcaster and you record an episode and you know it's not great, you have sort of a fork in the road. Do you publish it anyway because you've already spent that time to interview, or do you do it again, or do you just scrap it? Thankfully, Clay being a good friend of mine, I reached out to him and I was just honest with him. And I was just like, "Clay, this episode, I listened to it, it's not very good. And number one, nobody's at fault here. It just is the way it is, but what are we going to do about it?"
And he was like, "Let's record it again. I'm going to make it the best podcast episode you've ever heard." And I was like, "That's exactly what I want to hear. And I promise I'm going to bring my A game, too." So we rerecorded that episode, and it became an hour and a half episode. And anybody who's ever heard of laddering up or the “laddering-up episode” on Smart Passive Income, that's the episode.
That became the most downloaded episode within the shortest period of time. It hit a hundred thousand downloads in less than a week because it spread so, so quickly. And I have people email me all the time and say, "Hey, Pat, that episode with Clay"—I don't remember the episode number, it's 263, but most people don't remember the numbers. They're like, "That changed my life." And that episode helps you get from four figures to five figures, to six figures to seven figures kind of situation, right? 7,000 to 70,000 to 7 million, potentially.
Another episode, episode 96. That was one where I interviewed an artist, somebody who helps artists make money online, Cory Huff. But what was interesting about that episode was that I thought it was going to bomb because it was so specific to artists. Literally painters, sculptors, those kinds of people who work with their hands and their craft, how do those people make more money online? I knew that most of my audience were not those people.
But I had gotten some inspiration from Derek Halpern who said, "Hey, when you create a niched episode of anything or a niched blog post, a niched video, sure, you're leaving a load of people out, but it's going to better serve the people who you are targeting, and they're going to spread it for you." And I was like, "Really?" So I said, "Okay, I'm going to try this, but I'm not feeling it." So I found Cory, we did this interview together, I published episode 96. And this was back when you could share something on Facebook pages. It would spread if it was good. Now pages are just nothing. But it was the most shared episode ever. It blew my mind.
It had so many more downloads, like five times more than I thought it was going to happen. And it was because the few people in my audience who were artists just were stoked about it, right? So they went to their communities of artists and were like, "Yo, you got to listen to this episode with Pat. I listen to him, and he usually doesn't talk about artists, but in this one he does. You got to listen to it."
Also, people in my audience who weren't artists but knew artists were like, “Yo, you got to listen to this one with Pat. He made this just for you.” And then within forums and Facebook groups and stuff, pages, people were just sharing it like mad. And I think I remember having like 1.2k shares on that particular single Facebook post where I shared this, which was really cool.
Episode 99 with Cliff and Jessica Leroux. This was the first Amazon FBA episode that kind of blew my mind because they were talking about how they go to places like Target and Walmart, they go to the clearance aisles, they have a little app that they could scan the barcodes on and go, "Okay, okay. This is being sold here for $10 each and there's like 50 of them, but they're being sold for $25 on Amazon. Okay, let's buy all 50 and then sell them on Amazon under our account." So this is retail arbitrage. And man, I still get people today who message me and say, "Hey, I've gone full time with Amazon FBA thanks to episode 99 with Cliff and Jessica."
And I met them through your event, and they're great friends of ours now too. And it's just so weird, man. I would hear people, then I'd meet people, and they're like, "What is happening?" The world became so small through podcasting and internet marketing. It really did, man.
I mean, there are so many episodes, from the 15-minute episode I had with Gary Vaynerchuk because he literally was like, "Okay, go." And I said, "Okay, I have you for an hour." And he's like, "No, you have me for 15 minutes." And I said, "Okay."
That's the most Gary V. thing ever.
Yeah, that was a very short interview. Who else? Jeez, there's so many, from Donald Miller, somebody who I really admire now from StoryBrand, to... Man, I could go on for days about all these episodes. There's too many to mention, man. But those were some of the standout ones right now.
Yeah, man. I know, man. Everybody's got their favorite SPI episode. That one thing, that one story, that one place where they like, “Daggone, man. I think I can do this."
If you're listening to at me @PatFlynn, and what's your Twitter?
At Flippedls, at F-L-I-P-P-E-D-L-S.
Okay. @ us on Twitter, or @-reply us both on Twitter and tell us which episode of the SPI pod is your favorite. I’d love to know.
Oh man, you just gave me a midnight rabbit hole I'm never going to get out of when that thing starts taking off, dude. All right, man. Well, listen, man, let's start moving toward wrapping this up a little bit. I guess a lot of people are like, "Man, Pat has been doing this for so long, and it just gets better and better and better." What's next for SPI? What's the next 500 episodes look like? What's the mission right now, man? Because you've got so much reach and so much impact. That's a lot of responsibility, but also Pat's got his goals, he's got his dreams, he's got his life too. So what's next?
I mean, there's a lot of things coming, but I also got to give a big shoutout because yes, it's episode 500 of my show, the one that I started, but it's not just me anymore. It is also my team, from Matt and SJ and honestly way too many to mention. But from the support of the team, we're able to do it here. Jess, especially of course, especially helping coordinate all the interviews and whatnot. I mean, it's a team effort at this point, for sure.
They've enabled me to spend more time doing the things that I love to do, which is actually doing the interview part versus the editing part and the publishing part, to actually make connections and go out there and create more rapport with people. But for the future, you're going to see more podcasts, not necessarily... Well, yes, definitely more podcast episodes of SPI, but you're going to see more shows, actually, more shows that not only I will be a part of, but some of my team members and even other people in the SPI community are going to be a part of.
So I'll leave that at that, but that's really exciting because we're going to start to involve more people and more community members, more audience members into creating content and sharing all the information that we have to help and serve each other. SPI Pro still continues to be a just absolute blast. SPI Pro is our private membership group. You can check it out at smartpassiveincome.com/pro. But we have hundreds of members there, many who sign in every day to communicate, to share, to ask, to serve.
And we have events that happen all the time. I'm likely going to see very shortly here, some of our first because as things open back up again—we actually brought that forward from 2022 to 2020 because people were missing community during the pandemic. So we brought it forward, and it's become absolutely a fantastic community, and just we've specifically hired people to focus on that community, which has just been incredible. Jillian, especially, leading the charge there.
We're going to see a lot more opportunity to make that even better, including in-person events. Not just FlynnCon type things or maybe an SPI conference of some kind, but also small little gatherings and meetups in different communities. This reminds me of Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Legend, rest in peace. He lost his life climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. He still lives on through the community that he had built prior to going to that trip.
His community, the Live Your Legend community still meets in person with each other all around the world. These little pockets of communities within this community are keeping his message alive. And that to me, speaks to legacy and bigger purpose. And those are the things that are on top of my mind now, especially as the kids are getting older, but also as the community grows bigger and the impact can even be greater.
I'm thinking beyond just helping people with online business, but helping with education. People have heard me talk about that many times. And I do have, especially as the kids are getting older, I'm getting a lot more time now, and the team is growing to support a lot more time and effort and focus into educating kids on entrepreneurship, for example, and using a lot of my time for that.
I do have this idea, you're the first to hear about this, in fact. This is a bucket-list project for me, but I think it can be done if I execute it correctly pretty shortly here, but a coffee table-style book that is, tentative title, “101 ways for you and your kid to make more money this summer” or something like that. Literally every page turn is a different kid making money with some cool little side business in his neighborhood; it's like a lemonade stand, but different. For example, a friend of mine, actually my trainer, Jeff McMahon, his son and he go out and they rent a pressure washer and they go and they do these blast washes of people's driveways for hundreds of dollars.
It only costs a little bit of money to rent these things, and now this kid has money to buy computers and stuff. There are so many more of those opportunities available to us today, and I want to be a person who puts them all together in a nice book, really featuring the kid and the hard work that they're doing to hopefully inspire others to do the same. I think that could be a really fun way to start to inject a lot of education on entrepreneurship into the world. Perhaps not through schools, but through publishing. And it could be an Oprah select book, right? Kind of thing. I think it could do really well.
I think that could do very well, dude. I would buy that book tomorrow because we're at that age, 10 and 12, where it's like, “These kids can do something.” And I didn't learn these lessons until I was 26, 27, after I got out of school. What if they learn it at 12 and 10, man? It just changes the world, dude. Well, that's it, man. Can't stop this interview without talking about a gift I gave to you because I think it's really, really important. I gave you a rock. Everybody's like, "You gave Pat Flynn a rock?"
Yeah, onstage in front of everybody. It was like this beautiful box. I open it up and I look inside and I pick it up, and it's a rock.
And I told Jess that I was going to do this and you didn't know about it when I gave it to you. And she goes, "Oh my God, Shane, you're going to make him cry." She said, "Please don't make Pat cry on his stage at his first big event like this that he's hosting." I'm like, "Nah, I'm making Pat cry." So this rock is very, very significant to us. It's a huge thing in our own community and personally, and it comes from a story from Mother Teresa. My reporter was interviewing Mother Teresa and he said, "Do you really..." It's just all sarcastic and cynical. He said, "Do you really think you can change the world?" And Mother Teresa looked at him and laughed and she reached down and grabbed a rock off the ground and she said, "No, I do not think that I can change the world, but I can cast my stone out upon the waters and cause many ripples." Man, and I told you back then that when you decided...
Dude, you're going to make me cry now, bro.
I know, man. It makes me cry every time I think about it, man. Because I think about you moving forward after the most horrible thing that had happened to you after that point in your life. And then you served an audience, and then you realized that you could serve other people and you picked up your stone and you cast it out upon the waters, and you launched the SPI podcast. That goes out onto Apple.
And just this old guy from Kentucky, man, he's getting ready to mow his lawn one day and he picks it up, his earbuds, and puts them in and that ripple hits me, and then my family's future gets changed forever. And then I just keep listening to your podcast, and I keep hearing people about that you're changing their lives and all these crazy things happen. And then I go see you in San Diego and you had every reason, every reason, when we asked you, "Do you think we should do something like what you're doing? I think we could help couples. I think we could help families. Maybe we should launch a podcast too."
And you just immediately picked up your stone again and said, "Yes, yes! You guys start it. You're a different voice, a different person. And we're all working together to change as many lives as possible." And then we picked up our stone, and we've seen our ripple hit so many people. And I just know, man, I'm pretty sure I can speak for the entire SPI community and all at Team Flynn to say, man, dude, you’ve got to keep picking up your stone.
You’ve got to keep throwing that rock for 500 more episodes because there's so many people out there shaking their heads right now going, "Man, SPI changed my life. Man, Pat Flynn casting his stone really caused a ripple that changed my life and my family's future, helped me leave an inheritance to my children's children." And man, there's no telling how far the ripple from the next 500 episodes are going to go. So on behalf of the entire SPI community, entire Team Flynn, man, thank you, brother. I love you so much. I appreciate you so much, and man, I cannot wait to see what you do next.
I love you too, man. I love you, I love Jocelyn, your family, everybody listening to this, you and your families. Thank you so much for the support. This has been an incredible journey, and trust me, we've got a lot more rocks to pick up and throw. We're going to cause more ripples during the next 500 episodes. We got this. Thanks, everybody.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at smartpassiveincome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.