While living in Rio de Janeiro in 2006, I was frustrated that I couldn’t work as a foreigner in Brazil. I reasoned that if I could learn how to promote things on the Internet, then I could work from anywhere in the world in the American market as long as I could get an Internet connection. Imagining that even if I was old with one tooth and unable to walk, I could still make a living if I could simply lay in bed as an invalid with a laptop. I decided then and there that I would learn how to make a living online.
For the next couple of years, I burned through over $40,000 investing in online courses and live seminars struggling to crack the code on how to make a living on the net. Gurus lurked everywhere in wait for me to see their ads and lure me in to buy their over priced courses. Everything looked so shiny and I confess, I often took the bait. Over time I realized that most gurus where only good at selling their courses, Internet marketers were simply marketing to other Internet marketers. I gained a few general tips along the way, but most of the courses lacked real “how to” content or they made me feel I was jumping on a horse and riding in 50 directions at the same time.
Fresh air arrived when I came across some reviews about Brad Fallon, Stomping the Search Engines and SEO. Online marketers were raving about Brad and mentioned how much a course called “Stomping the Search Engines” about search engine optimization had made a difference for them. I finally found a place to order a copy of it for $300. Everyone’s review sounded like it was really old and out of print so I felt lucky I was able to still buy it.
When Brad Fallon’s course arrived, I found it to be an 8 hour audio interview with him going from the basics to more advanced methods on how to get your website to the top of the search engines for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. Brad even covered black hat techniques that some marketers tried in violation of the search engines terms of service. I found the course astounding. Brad Fallon spoke with such authority.
Since the Bose iPod Docking station came out years ago, I put one in my bathroom and listened to podcasts and educational courses every time I took a shower. When I purchased Brad’s course, it immediately became the only thing I listened to for a year and a half. I must have listened to that 8 hour audio course over 60 times. I listened to it in my car; I listened to it while jogging. To me, it opened a door that was worthy of my commitment.
I started experimenting with Brad Fallon’s techniques on some small time sites, sheepishly. I was so afraid that I’d make a mistake, so I’d build some links then sit back and wait hoping I wouldn’t be banned by the search engines. It was a slow agonizing process until I started to realize that the techniques were working. In fact, I found that by dedicating myself to the execution of his theories, I was getting websites to the top of the search engines at will. For the next few years, I dedicated myself more and more, going from local sites to helping multinational corporations and international broadcasting media companies get to the top of the search engines. I started devouring everything I could get my hands on in organic search until I lost all fear of SEO. I practiced my craft for a couple of years and during that time, I got everything to the top of Google that I desired. I always succeeded. It became child’s play. The Google algorithm was a joke to me, even though they claimed there were over 200 factors in their rankings. Whoop-tee-doo…I found that, like politicians, Google’s declarations about SEO were duplicitous.
Invitation to Speak at Brad Fallon’s SEO PRO at $20,000 a Seat
I rarely go to live events because most of them are just sell-a-thons to create even more revenue while fleecing attendees when they are on an emotional high. However, Brad Fallon’s Stompernet events had a reputation of attracting serious Internet marketers while keeping the upsells to a minimum, so after Brad’s $300 Stomping the Search Engines course gave me such a solid foundation with zero hype, I decided to go to a Stompernet Live event at the W in downtown Atlanta.
One should know that I’ve been self-employed for over 20 years so I rarely show up for a seminar on time, I come and go as I please. True to tradition, I came into the event in the middle of a session while the speaker was talking. I tried to let the door close behind me quietly and the first thing I saw was Brad Fallon sitting in the back row taking it all in. I could have been a good little attendee and find a seat, instead, I beelined right over to Brad to introduce myself. I was a bit shocked that he was open to a quick quiet chat and asked if I had a card. I didn’t, so I told him I’d talk to him later.
After the speaker finished his seminar, people remained in the room to share ideas one on one and in smaller groups. After saying hello to the people around me, I zipped up to Brad Fallon and I talked about what a difference he’d made in my life and how I took his solid SEO principles and evolved them into strategies for defending someone’s reputation online. I called it online reputation management (ORM) and Brad called it SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management). I did ORM for a living and I’d never heard of SERM. My ideas intrigued him and he invited me to speak to a select group of committed marketers who had not only attended his SEO Pro events, but they had opted for his intensive high level training at $20,000 a person. This elite team featured guests from all over the world. Brad wanted a strong connection with this select group of marketers, so he invited them to come to his house for many of the sessions.
I came in the night before the event and I brought an old salt friend named John, who’d built a business for 30 years and had the scars and stories to show for it. Brad met us outside and we talked a few minutes before going into his Buckhead home.
Within minutes Brad sat down at his dining room table in front of his laptop and John and I sat in the living room about 20 feet away. The living room, dining room and kitchen were really all one big room visually divided in sections. The living room was separated from the kitchen with an island bar and the dining area was off to one side creating a large L shaped room with a high ceiling.
As John and I had light conversation, Brad became entranced on his Mac. Brad asked me a few minutes later if I’d seen his new uQast project that he was about to launch. I didn’t know much about it so he scooped up his laptop and brought it over and set it on the coffee table in front of me. Brad started clicking around the admin area talking about everything the site could do. His hair was on fire as he talked. Before long I realized he’d created a propriety platform for content providers to brand their own space on the site and share any type of content imaginable from written word to high def video. He said people could share their content or create a membership section for a fee. The owner would have complete control over their own space including whether links were follow or no follow.
Brad enthusiastically went on and on about it. He talked about how long he’d worked on the project and mentioned a little about each of the coders that he’d attracted to the site’s structure. I remember that they were from various countries, but in the end I think I remember him saying one of the lead programmers lived in Costa Rica. I think he’d dropped a few coders along the way as Brad was clearly a perfectionist. He even mentioned the price tag to date which I seem to remember was over 2 million at that time. Whew! When Brad jumps into something he jumps in with both feet. I could tell from his intensity that Brad spent a lot of all-nighters testing and retesting the site and making design changes until his vision was a reality. I completely respected his commitment level. Few are able to be that focused on anything, for Brad, he didn’t know any other way.
He mentioned a tip jar and asked me if I thought it was a good idea. He said people could see your content and then give you a tip if they found value. It could be a tip as small as 10 cents. Brad asked, “Glen, have you heard of micro payments”? I said no. He explained a viewer might want to leave a small tip for good content all over the web, but the problem would be that the merchant account would actually cost more for the transaction than the tip itself. I knew that was correct, because usually banks charge 25 cents per transaction, then an additional 1 to 3% of the total. He said to solve that problem, he’d set up a way one could create an account for say $50 with a one time traditional merchant fee, then once funded, they could tip people without any further charges regardless of the amount. Sounded smart.
He and his team had worked hard on creating a proprietary search engine with ranking determined through social feedback; so, the better the content, the higher in the search engine it would rank. Very cool.
We all started talking about going out for dinner and since Brad lived there, we let him decide. We went out to his garage and got into his late-model Mercedes that had that airplane wing arch from front to back. At first I thought it was a Maybach. It wouldn’t have surprised me as I knew he’d had businesses that had grossed 20 and 30 million a year. That was common knowledge.
The first restaurant he took us to was packed, so we all agreed that it was too much of a zoo. He asked if we had any preferences for the next choice. I said that I’d always wanted to go to a Brazilian restaurant that was closing their doors on a Sunday night right as we entered. I said I think it’s in Buckhead. Brad said, he liked it and it was just down the street. Yippie! I was excited because if you’re not familiar with Brazilian steakhouses, you’re in for a treat. They typically have multiple people waiting on you and you’ll never leave hungry with their rodizio style dining.
The Wikipedia defines it like this: “Rodízio (pronounced [ʁoˈdʒiziu] in Brazil, is a style of restaurant service in Brazilian restaurants. One pays a fixed price (prix fixe) and the waiters bring an offering of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signify that they have had enough. In churrascarias, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, or chicken. There are other rodízio style restaurants, for example serving pasta or pizza rodizio (where various pizzas are brought on trays). Its common, also, rodízio style sushi restaurants in Brazil.”
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
The one thing the Wikipedia didn’t mention is that it’s customary for the waiters to place a coaster in front of you as you sit down. They put it green side up which tells the servers to keep bringing you unlimited food. When you’re about to pop, you flip it over to the red side which let’s them know you’re finished. They’ll never create an atmosphere of guilt if you leave it green, they have the attitude of your grandmother where they get great joy watching you eat and are always happy to give you one more serving. That’s one thing I really miss from living in Brazil. There restaurants are world-class. I consider them better than American restaurants. Their eagerness to serve you is much better than the typical wait staff of even expensive restaurants in the states.
We had a great conversation and Brad Fallon insisted on picking up the check. I’m sure the wine cost as much as the food. Oo la la…thanks Brad! It was a treat I’ll never forget.
When we arrived back at his home, we went into the living room and as we were sitting down he asked us if we wanted a drink. I gladly accepted as I really wanted to let my hair down and get into a juicy conversation about life and business. Brad opted for an American light beer. I think he grabbed something like a Coors Light or a Bud Light. All I remember is that it was American and light. As I reflect, I think Brad was health conscious and I was flavor conscious. I had zero interest in a light beer, so I boldly asked if he had any Whiskey. He pointed towards the cabinet and said to help myself. I did. It was free pour for the rest of the evening for me. There wasn’t a shy bone in my body.
To my delight, Brad and John hit it off. When I could see that Brad liked John’s entrepreneurial stories, I remember, I kept telling John, oh oh, tell him about the time…John can tell a story like it’s an adventure and he shared gripping tales of how he saved his business from a sure demise over and over. They were accounts filled with humor and sheer guts. They were his solutions to ‘no way out’ situations. I must confess, his true stories keep you on the edge of your seat. John is the master of recreating an event as if you were there. He knows exactly how to pull you in and make you feel like you’re watching a good movie.
Brad asked me questions about my business and it was obvious he was disappointed that I did so much of the work myself. I could tell he thought I could delegate or automate a lot more of the work.
After hammering Brad with a bunch of personal questions, I could tell he was getting restless with my line of questioning. In fact, I’m sure I was irritating. I tend to push things until people open up, but that wasn’t Brad’s style. I like to force things until I can see where a person’s boundaries are, you know, where someone begins and ends. I became the odd man out at times.
We stayed up till 4 a.m. then realized we had a seminar to do in the morning which was fast approaching, so John and I headed back to our hotel.
We rolled in late the next morning and people from around the world had gathered in the same rooms we had spent time in a Brad’s house the night before. He had catered the event so everyone had food and drinks in front of them. Brad had food delivered all day.
Brad gave me a great introduction, then I went wild in front of a white board for an hour or more. The Internet marketers had great questions and to my delight Brad had scooted up close and sat on the edge of his seat. He was very interested in my SEO techniques. It felt great to see he was so into it.
Then, he invited my friend John to tell his story as an example of how to overcome the odds in business and got a hearty round of applause at the end. I was proud of him. He was inspiring and he had an audience that really appreciated his risk taking style.
That’s it, we hung out at the end of the day as we had dinner with the savvy attendee, then we headed back to South Carolina to our respective homes.
One thing I hope you get out of my post is that you can start in obscurity struggling online to crack the code on how to become an expert in online marketing and one day for all the dedication you’ve done in private, it can one day be rewarded in public. It’s like you have to go through a dark tunnel, but take heart, there is light at the end of it when you emerge. Try not to be like me when you surf the net and every guru has a course that sells for a boatload of money and they all look shiny. Have discretion and be skeptical. I dropped $40,000 one year on Internet marketing courses, but the only one that changed my life was a $300 course from Brad called Stomping the Search Engines.
As I finish this post, I’m looking across the room at that stack of products just sitting there and I shake my head.+Glen Woodfin