134: Simon Severino | Investing in One Person and One Problem a Day

Simon Severino is the CEO and founder of Strategy Sprints. Strategy Sprints is a global team of certified Strategy Sprints® Coaches which offers a customized strategy to help clients gain market share and work in weekly sprints, resulting in fast execution. He is also a Forbes Business Council Member, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, and a member of Duke Corporate Education. Simon and his team are dedicated to helping business owners in SaaS and services discover how to run their company more efficiently, which results in sales that soar. Through the Strategy Sprints® Method, business owners are able to double their revenue in 90 days by getting owners out of the weeds.

In today’s episode, Simon will let us in on the power of investing in one person a day by solving one problem a day. Simon talks about why finding a mastermind that helps can change your network and grow your net worth, and he also gets us into how to build the circle for someone’s superpower. Check it out!

Simon and His Experience with Self-Education

 

The Mastermind Effect:  02:34

I feel that the ability to learn and have access to people, like you and I right now we’ve got access to each other, has changed over the last 5 to 10 years. When you and I were younger, it was textbooks, teachers, co-workers, family, friends, and the people around us, but that’s like a sliver of what’s possible. How would your learning change from your early years versus today?

Simon Severino:  02:54

I was always a contrarian in terms of traditional school. I never liked school a lot. I’m an avid learner. My teachers were like, “This is a contradiction. You’ll learn so much. You’re so smart, but you don’t engage, and you always make our life so hard.” So in the traditional world, that wasn’t very impactful.

In the New World, this world of possibilities right now accelerated via the pandemic. Am I having fun? I am learning every day from the best people on the planet. Many of these things are for free on YouTube. What I am learning about Bitcoin right now is incredible. No investment MBA can teach me that. I can listen for 20 minutes to Michael Saylor, and I have learned for my life and the life of my children in very practical things.

The masterminds we have, I am hanging out with Los Angeles and San Francisco with Hollywood because we just hang out. It’s easy. You can get people as we would never sit together pre-pandemic because you were on some flights or at some conference and speaking at some stages. Now we can talk, and this is happening, so I brought together my 50 collaborators. We made a mastermind out of that, and we are meeting every day. We talk about everything. We talk sales, marketing, and operations. This is possible. On my podcast, which is a daily podcast, I had Perry Marshall, Rita McGrath, and Neil Iyer. Would you imagine this, like five years ago, they have no time, and you need to be a TV show to get them. Now, this is all possible. It’s mass intimacy, intimacy at scale right here for everybody.

The Mastermind Effect:  04:57

That’s not something you can find. I love how you phrase intimacy at a scale because there are more ways right now than learning than ever. That’s what you were talking about there, how you were able to take 20 minutes and learn about Bitcoin that you can’t get from an MBA and a college professor. But it does cause some form of confusion because of the amount of information we have access to. Some people learn from a mentor, a mastermind, an online course, YouTube University, and lots of ways to learn. Who are you currently learning from above who you just mentioned? How did you connect with them and actually reach out and say, “Hey, I’m Simon; I want to learn more?”

Simon Severino:  05:36

I’m learning from Thomas Norman, who was teaching for 20 years in a public university in Los Angeles, how to run businesses. I met Thomas every Monday in the Monday meeting, and we’re all Avengers come together. So I just say, “Hey, you’re amazing. Do we team up?” I don’t come just with this. That’s one part, and it’s an important part; to be vulnerable enough to say, “I want to be friends, let’s be friends.” That’s important. Maybe it’s 50%. The other 50% is that you can filled; you don’t come empty. When I ask this to Thomas, I have made sure that I have a big network that I can bring to him, and I have superpowers that he doesn’t have that complement his superpowers. So I do my homework, strategic collaborations, and strategic analysis before. Then I come filled, and I say, “Hey, Thomas, do you want to collaborate?” Now? Thomas is on my team, and every Monday, I learn from him.

The next guy I’m learning from is Marcos. He was the head of Google in his country. Same thing. “Hey, Marcos, do you want to be part of an Avengers team?” I’m learning from Zac, who has scaled Uber Eats from zero to what it is right now. He is my B2B Saas whisperer and my network effects genius. “Zac, do you want to be part of the team?” Zac is learning from me. I am learning from Zac. Our clients are learning from Zac, and I am learning from our clients. One of our clients is a he’s a mindset coach. I have now hired him, and I’m working on a weekly basis with him. So we are scaling his sales systems. I am walking in the park and doing mindset work and internal work with him. It’s amazing. His name is Sam Morris. Another client of ours is Anthony Iannarino. He is doing his workflows improvements with us. I am reading his book, the Lost Art of Closing, and it’s an amazing B2B sales book.

As you can see, I could go on forever. This is just an example of how I start and curate relationships because that, for me, is the most important thing. I always go for win-win-win situations where three sides win. I come prepared. I come with something, and I don’t come needy. I come open to however the answer is. I think this is important.  I come prepared. I have done my work on my site.

The Mastermind Effect:  08:36

Now you mentioned in there win-win-win, and I’ve had a few people that talk about that. But I want the listeners to hear your definition. I want you to dive a little bit deeper into the win-win-win. If you wouldn’t mind, you’re so far along in your journey, and someone says, “Well, Simon’s got access to these people.” So I’d love to hear more about the win-win-win. Then where was that turning point? Because it didn’t just start with Google and Uber Eats people and these amazing people like you, and I get to talk to you now.

Simon Severino:  09:22

I started from zero from three and a half years ago. I have been in this game for 18 years, but I started from zero because I had the courage to dial in on what I stood for three and a half years ago. For 18 years, I did just help a ton of founders manage everything thrown at them. But I found the courage to say this is what we stand for, only sprint method, only 90 days, only with this specific set of three goals and three KPIs, which is a very narrow thing to do. You need the courage. From the internet, clarity to do it, and it can go wrong.  So this is just three and a half years old. You could say a startup. It was very vulnerable at the beginning. Just one guy going to an office saying, “I want to start a company. What’s the name of the company?” I had to find two words, and it became Strategy Sprints. I’m happy that it wasn’t a disaster of a name. My publisher in the UK said, “Oh, it’s a good title for a book. It’s iconic.” I was like, “Oh my god, yeah, cool.” But I’m not a branding expert, and I didn’t start with everything laid out.

Three and a half years ago, I was like, “Hey, life is short. Let’s do the one thing only that I am the unique person to bring into this world. That seems to be my mission. So let’s go for it. It can go wrong. I will give my best every day.” My goal was to solve one problem for one person every day. I didn’t go in and say, “Hey, let’s build them a billion-dollar business.” I still don’t think in these categories. I think in one superfan per day. By superfan, I mean listening so good that I understand where you are and where you can be and help you solve it right now, today. I’m not talking about things, but right now going directly into problem-solving mode.

I do this with one person per day. My thinking was if I just kept doing this, in less than three years, I would have helped 1000 people. That’s the Kevin Kelly number. He says if you have 1000 superfans, you don’t need more. You have a healthy ecosystem as a foundation for everything you do. So I never thought of lead generation. I never spent one cent on ads. So far, we are starting it right now. The first part of three years was just help one person every day. And whatever works, you save in a way that the next one that needs it gets it quickly. This is what we call the sprint templates. “Hey, we’ve done this last week, take this go faster.”

What to Expect from Simon

 

The Mastermind Effect:  12:30

I think it’s so important—three years into this journey. Now you had a previous life before that, but three years, one person a day. Now you’re at the level of where you’re at, and you’ll continue to hockey puck up. It hasn’t been that long of a journey. Many people look at someone like Simon, and they’re like, “he’s so far removed from this.” No, here’s still in the bushes. You’re helping one person today because he added another three years, and you’ll have helped over 2000 people, and that’ll probably exponentially grow from there. An important thing to realize is that the people you’re listening to on the mastermind effect are still in the trenches and still want to help.

When someone invests in themselves, I think that the biggest investment, bigger than the housing and stock markets, is investing in yourself. What should people expect when they choose to invest in themselves and, in turn, also invest in you? What should they expect when they’re coming to Simon, and they’re working with you?

Simon Severino:  13:27

It depends on which year you are with your business. I think in the first year is just service: who are you here to serve and serve one every day,  as good as you can and learn from that. In the first year, you have to find the magic there, but you have to unearth it. The way to unearth it is to invest just in one person per day. Operations is the first year investment. That means you don’t have to invest any dollar in anything. Just solve one problem with one person every day. You will need a little bit of software for that. Okay, invest in that software. You don’t need many people at the beginning. Go lean, and everything serves just this one person per day,

At some point, it might be after six months or 18 months, and you now need a sales system. You need to make this more of a steady thing. It’s important that you have around ten conversations per week on your calendar in a steady way. The first year was basically paid research. The second-year is now creating a business. Now, you start creating the sales system. Sales are the means to create a steady pipeline of conversations in a very structured way, and we implement this one-to-one with our clients. Basically, it’s what you do in the awareness stage, in the engagement stage, in the highly engaged stage, the 80% ready, and in the closing. You map this out, and for each of these stages, you have one action template to click. In our case, it’s an email. In one of these stages, we call the people. That’s it. You have five to eight stages, and you know exactly what to do in each stage.

Now you start having more conversations because you can follow up more and have one action per stage. So, for example, the first year, I was doing a webinar once a month because I just could follow up with 20 people. But in the second year, I started doing bi-weekly webinars because now, from every webinar, 30 people coming in, I had 30 follow-up tasks, and I could do it because it was now systemized. In the third year, we can do triple of that.  I have on top of that daily podcast that generates conversations. We have hired the Google Ads expert, and he’s doing Google ads to have even more conversations. I’ve hired the head of sales and salespeople, and they call people. In stage two, when they have given us their phone number in a specific form on our website. They want to be called, so we call them. We do it in the next 48 hours.

As you see, this is year two, when you need a sales machine. Then do this for one to three years, and then comes scaling. Scaling is when you start doing marketing. Before that, don’t spend one cent on marketing because you don’t have the back-end machine that turns attention into dollars. That’s the sales system. Now, you’re in a position where the more attention you have, the more conversations you have, the more clients you can close. This is the moment when you start amplifying the marketing. This is when you can and should start writing books, having podcasts, etc. All these things that now you have time for because the machine is running.

The Mastermind Effect:  17:09

Let’s see if we can get a little more and simplify just a little bit more. Who’s that ideal client for you?

Simon Severino:  17:26

Consultant and they marketing consulting, management consulting, strategy consulting, IT consulting. They are five people. They are doing 35,000 per month, and they want to get to 70,000 as quickly as possible. So they’re ready to scale. They are male, and they’re around 39, they are also runners, they have kids. If I look backward, there is really this core similarity in the people who work with us. They are small agencies doing around 35k per month, and we have them double it in 90 days.

The Mastermind Effect:  18:15

When people invest in themselves, from time to time, they surprise us. They get out of that human mindset. They’ve got that champions mindset when they’re coming to you and working with you. I’d love for the listeners to hear a success story like this person came, and here’s where they’re at, or you implemented these items right here, and within 90 days or six months, they were at a different level. Give us a success story of who it was, what the problem was, and what the outcome was because they worked with you and your team?

Simon Severino:  19:03

There is a team of marketers. They are very creative and cool people in Berlin. They called us and said, “Hey, this is so complicated. Every time we have a client, we have a lot of work, but we are starting to hate our clients because every time there is scope creep, then we start with the logo, but then we have to do all the WordPress maintenance and everything. So scope creep, how can we package the offer better?  What we did was pretty smart. I said, “Hey, can we write down what happens in week zero, week one, week two, week three.?” They’re like, “it’s so creative? It’s so customized.” I say, “Pick your favorite client of last month. What did you do in week zero?” They told me exactly what they did. What did you do in week one? We mapped it out with them every week. Then we said, “Okay, let’s package now this baby. This will be the front of your store. In the front row, you have just this product.” They said we don’t have a product; we are a service business. If it was a product, how would you package it? How would you name it? How would you price it? So we started putting that, and it said, “You work with us, we can tell the story of your brand on your website, it takes us two months, it costs 25k. This is what we do.”

Now, they had a wonderful packaged offering that was very clear. It was clear how long it takes, what the client gets, and what the price is. They felt well on the phone, explaining that because it was much clearer, much simpler to tell. Also, their friends got it.  So their friends started telling others, “Hey, called Bob because Bob can do your website for you.” It was simpler. The sales game got better; they started hiring. Now in the back end, they’re still doing whatever they want. So after two months, if they like the client, they will also do the rest for them. They say, “Okay, I can also do your WordPress maintenance monthly and everything.” But if they don’t, they just have this standardized start, which is very clear to do. It’s also so simple in operations that interns can do a lot of the fulfillment work now.

The profitability is so much higher, but revenue is similar. They are just happy, and they enjoy their business again. They have cool team meetings, they invite us, and we have fun because it’s simple. It’s like this is what we do, this is the time it takes, this is what you get, do you want it?

The Mastermind Effect:  21:58

You help them define their ideal client, which they liked, and then take them through the process. If someone sits there and wants to have a little a la carte and wants to plug in some other things, they can have the conversation. But now the people coming to them already know before they have that conversation. They actually shortened all the extra Q&As in between it, and it was just by just tweaking “Who’s your favorite client you had last month? Here you go.”

Simon Severino:  22:27

Exactly. It’s not a theoretical exercise. You go through the last weeks, and you say, “Wow if I could just go with one of them, I would pick this one person.” Then you start thinking about it, why do I like working with this person so much, and you will go a little bit deeper. You will find the criteria that make your ideal client. From there, we work in systemizing all the rest of the operations, sales, and marketing much later.

The Mastermind Effect:  22:57

I have to imagine a lot of people that come to you, and they’re stuck. It’s almost like we get in our own way, and we’re our own worst enemy. But over the last 18 months or so, we’ve had the pandemic, but to me, it allowed us to reset how we accomplish things and how we’re able to communicate with people. How have masterminds helped you when you’re looking to get unstuck and reset how you move the needle forward?

Simon Severino:  23:24

I would say masterminds are 80% of my effectiveness, my network, and my learning. They are the core of what I do. There are three masterminds where I am part of. I’m a member of a community. I contribute to the learning of everybody.  I listen, and I hold the space for people when they need it. When they need some support, we are here. When they are flying high and scaling staff, we challenge them to help them not get too crazy. They do the same thing for me. So this is belonging. It’s a community, and it’s really beautiful. It’s much better than everything I had pre-Corona because now we connect in a much more accurate way. We are so aligned that whenever we meet, the energy is super high.

There is another network where we talk about how to be a better man, a better husband a better father. Again, we are just a brotherhood. We come in together, and we immediately go deep. We talk integrity. We talk trust, about being a role model, being a masculine energy field, and what that means for our kids, our wives, and our friends. So they are specific.

Then there is a mastermind about sales that I host. This is where I have put together the 50 people that I want to be around most. I want to talk to them a lot because they are our venture partners, suppliers, and clients. We have skin in the game; we go deep with each other.

I want relationships to be deeper and better and more fulfilling every month, every year, over a very long time. Because our networks is 80% of our net worth, this is what we have, and we are nothing else that are networks, then relationships. If you want to de-risk your business, increase the quality of your relationships and the number of qualitative relationships. That’s the one thing that you can do to de-risk because new information will pop up.

Masterminds have kept me connected, energized, inspired. Sometimes I need it, and people say, “Oh, come on, Simon, think bigger.” I need this kind of energy. Sometimes they say, “Oh, but you are missing that point, Simon.” And so I need the challenge. This is the magic of a mastermind.

The Mastermind Effect:  26:57

It is amazing. You get to learn. You get to see around corners. It’s like watching a bullet fly, and it can turn a corner. That’s what a mastermind can do, the right mastermind. One of the bigger hurdles is number one, saying, “Hey, am I ready for this?” How do I find the right mastermind out there and making sure when I enter that room, I’m bringing the value, and the value there is going to be there for you.” But like someone sat there and said, “No, I’ve done this for three months already. Don’t spend your money in this PR, and we’re not knocking PR, but at the stage of whomever they were at. It wasn’t ready for that.” That is one of the biggest things right there. They can be from different industries, all different walks of life, but if they can say we’ve tried this, and you want to wait until x, y, z happens, I think it’s so impactful and so important to the success of one’s business, whatever it looks like.

A lot of the time, in the solo shows, we talk about success and what does it take to be successful? A few things are mentorship, partnership, experimentation, willingness to fail. Then on the flip side, willingness to define success, and why so many of us don’t define success, is because once we do, we’ve also defined failure. We don’t want to think about that. What do you think is a key attribute when it has come to building your success?

Simon Severino:  28:13

In one of our masterminds, we have two daily routines. One is very early in the morning, and we do some Wim Hof breathing together. Twenty people are together, breathing for 17 minutes in a specific way and holding their breath. This brings us in a peak state, meditative, and a very centered and calm but clear state. Then we go through our goals, the big goals, and it can be business or life. Then we really visualize these goals, sit with them a little bit, and then we share around. Then everybody’s day starts. This is one of the things that helped me because I think we need help in thinking bigger, most of us, at least.

So one powerful thing is if we want to help each other, we can help each other see the uniqueness and the superpower. For people listening, I have a T-shirt of Captain America right now because I see superpowers in people, and I have them see it. That’s the Golden Circle of every relationship to your kids or a teacher to students. When you see their superpowers and help them see it, they can identify with this. This is a beautiful circle. That’s a start of a coaching relationship or have a good mastermind peer-to-peer learning and accountability relationship.

If you ask me how did I get to my goals? Every day, I visualize them. They change all the time. Every couple of weeks, they change, but it’s an inner work to expose myself to be vulnerable, hear from others what my superpower is, and do the same for others. By that, we clarify what we stand for and what we are all about. Then it’s a daily practice of really shaping these goals and embodying them. So that later the next eight hours of the day, I feel them in my body, and every simple decision will contribute to bringing that into life. Also, stuff will go wrong, you will have people want a refund, and it’s okay. It’s part of the game. Just be quicker than they are. Get the weak signals and show them. Okay, I see it. Let me work on it. Let me improve it. You just need to become quicker at that. That’s the daily sports, and where do you get the energy? From this centering and inner work. Then you go out there with your team and make it happen?

Closing Segment

 

The Mastermind Effect:  31:39

The 17 minutes just to get your day going with the right people from around the world to bring that harmony into play. Then from there, to unleash it and to help people find that circle, which is, as you’re describing it, their superpower, and bringing it to the forefront and letting them realize this is what it is. Then you’re able to help them take that on the world. It is just amazing.

So I’ve got a few questions as we come closer to the end here. There are always new ideas brewing in times of prosperity, and it’s like the winds come in a lot easier when the world is winning. But creativity and ingenuity come when we feel the squeeze. The world kind of felt a squeeze over the last 18 months. What are you working on right now that’s going to take place over the next 12 months that excites you?

Simon Severino:  32:28

I love that the pandemic has stripped away from us everything that was an illusion: the illusion that if you sit in planes, you are so important; the illusion that you can build whatever big stuff just alone just by pushing people aside;  the illusion that everything is easy and always goes up into the right and the illusion that if you just have bonds and stocks, then you can sleep forever.

All of these things have crumbled. I like it because they inspire me every day to go back to the fundamentals, one person per day, help them. What is value? What is a store of value? How can we create value? How can we maintain value for future generations? What is a good father? What is a good husband? How can I be it today? Who will I meet today? How can I be of service? That’s it. That’s what I think about. If I find myself thinking about something else, I go, “Simon, where are you right now? Come back.” That’s it.

The Mastermind Effect:  33:36

That’s the big thing right there. It is leading with the give mentality, helping solve a problem. Money is a byproduct of helping people solve a problem that they have out there. It happens because you’re leading with the give mentality; you’re trying to help one person today solve their problem, and that exponentially grows right there.

What is a tip, a tactic, and an actual item, if anyone is listening right now and implement it over the next 30, 60, 90 days, they would see a real impact on their business life or their personal life?

Simon Severino:  34:10

I have written something because I don’t just want to talk about stuff; I want to give you the real stuff. If you go to strategysprints.com/equalizer, I share the real tool that I use every month to do all of these things to find my uniqueness, define where to cut costs, and invest more in it to swim away from the competition. You have to do this regularly. Otherwise, you will be back in comparability, and then you have a problem. You have to carve out and find your uniqueness, but then you always have to regain comparability because you will be compared again to stuff, so you have to do this every month. It’s a practice to do every month, and I’ve put together a spreadsheet and the 30 minutes videos that show how I use the spreadsheet and it’s free. That’s the equalizer, and I think it’s really helpful right now for every business owner. strategysprints.com/equalizer

The Mastermind Effect:  35:09

strategysprints.com/equalizer. It’ll be again in the show notes. Head over there, Simon is giving you as the listeners this content and information to help do what he’s doing and what he’s implementing. We’ve got the Founder of Strategy Sprint’s, Simon Severino.

Simon, thank you so much for what you brought today, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Simon Severino:  35:33

It was fun to be here. Thank you so much. Keep rolling. Awesome.

Tweetable Quotes:

“I come with something; I don’t come needy. I come open to however the answer is, and I come prepared. I have done my work on my side.” – Simon Severino

“I want relationships to be deeper and better and more fulfilling every month, every year, over a very long time. Because our network is really 80% of our net worth–this is what we have, we are nothing else that are networks, then relationships.” – Simon Severino

Connect with Simon on LinkedIn YouTube, or send him an email at severino@strategysprints.com. You can also check out his website at www.strategysprints.com.

It’s time to Stand Up, Show Up, and Level Up! Download The Success Finder on Apple and Google Play Store.

You can connect with me, Brandon Straza, on LinkedIn, Instagram, or send me an email at brandon@thesuccessfinder.com. I’d love to get in touch and talk more about personal development and how you can live past beyond your limits.

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