Tucker Max : 0:04
What I call it: smart person blindness, right? You know your stuff so well, you almost can't remember what it's like to not know it. And you can't even imagine a universe where... I can't imagine a universe where you don't understand how to tell a story. And most people have no idea how to tell a story. And it's not that they're dumb, and I'm smart, I just have a skill that they don't have. Right? And so that the thing that I've really learned over the last five years is how to bridge that gap. And that's probably is the most important thing a book does, one of the most important things a book does for business owner/entrepreneur. It not only helps them clarify their thinking. I definitely got... The first version of this book was probably 200 pages. We're on version three, it's 500 pages now. And the overall structure hasn't changed that much. The knowledge hasn't. It's just the depth of the explanation has changed.
Steve Brown : 0:57
Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI Online Podcasts where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown, and this is the place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Welcome back, everybody to the ROI Online Podcast and today I'm really proud to introduce you to Tucker Max. Tucker is the founder of Scribe. He's also the author of four New York Times Bestsellers, three of which what ended up on the best selling list at the very same time. You know, Tucker has game. He's a Duke Law graduate. He got fired a couple of weeks after nailing his law job. He worked for his dad. And it only took him six months to get fired by his dad. But more importantly, he's helped a lot of folks like me really nail my messaging, and set me up to become more professional and bring my message to the world so that people can grow from it. Tucker, welcome to the ROI Online Podcast.
Tucker Max : 2:25
Thanks for having me, Steve.
Steve Brown : 2:27
So, today I really wanted to talk about there was a point in your life when (in your professional life not have really don't want to spend a lot of time on your books that that got on the best selling list), but there is a point that in your business, you came to this epiphany where you needed to nail a book and why it was going to help you help more people with Scribe. And that's what I want to talk about. Tell me about that day that the light bulb went off for you. Obviously it had been there, but it's came really clear one day. Do you remember that?
Tucker Max : 3:05
When I decided to write this book, "Scribe Man?
Steve Brown : 3:08
Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Tucker Max : 3:10
So it was basically, there was two things. One was kind of just eating my own dog food, right? And so we're gonna tell business owners and entrepreneurs that they need a book and the reasons why, and we don't have one, then that's kind of disingenuous. But the other thing was... It's weird. And this is probably what you're trying to get gave me and I see what you're doing. I didn't realize how much I actually knew about writing books and how little most people understood. I didn't understand that gap until I sat down and started writing it out. Right? Because it was so funny. When we started our company, I have honestly have not learned a huge amount about how to write a book in last five years. But I have learned just astronomically amounts about how to teach people how to write books, or why books matter. Right? Those are totally different things. I knew my skill very well. But understanding the gap between what I knew and what they didn't know was mind blowing to me. It was so funny, man, early on I'd be like, "Alright, well, you know, we'll do this and this and this." And they'll be like... People kind of look and nod their head. And I'm like, "You understand why, right?" And they're like, "No, I have no idea what you're talking about." "Well, this is obvious. It's because of these reasons." And they're like, "I have no clue what you're talking about." "How can you not see this?" Because, you know, all of us, we're experts in our field. And we're so stuck in our field that we have like, what I call smart person blindness, right? You know your stuff so well, you You almost can't remember what it's like to not know it. And you can't even imagine a universe where... I can't imagine a universe where you don't understand how to tell a story. And most people have no idea how to tell a story. And it's not that they're dumb and I'm smart. I just have a skill that they don't have. Right, right. And so the thing that I've really learned over the last five years is how to bridge that gap. And that probably is the most important thing a book does, one of the most important things a book does for business owner/entrepreneur, it not only helps them clarify their thinking. I definitely got... The first version of this book was probably 200 pages. We're on version three. It's 500 pages now. And the overall structure hasn't changed that much. The knowledge hasn't. It's just the depth of the explanation has changed, right? And so I've learned a lot about how to explain what I know, and how to teach it to people, and how to quantify the value to people and how to tell the story of value really, really well. But then, also, I've kind of figured out how my people think, how my clients think, how people like you think who are smart, accomplished, skilled, but don't know what I know. So how do I meet them where they are, and explain something to them that is good for them in a way that they'll understand?
Steve Brown : 6:11
Writing a book is really challenging for your personal... just how you see yourself, your identity. And first of all, you go to this argument. "You're not supposed to write a book, Steve, what what are you..."
Tucker Max : 6:26
in your own head? You mean?
Steve Brown : 6:27
Yes, exactly. And so you're losing that argument for a while, and but it eats on you. And that still, I would imagine you still have that conversation before you begin a book.
Tucker Max : 6:40
So I don't have the conversation about should I write a book, because for your first one you do. After you write your first one, the conversation is, "Who are you right in this specific book?" Which is the same conversation. It just feels a little different. I just got done with a book. I was talking to you about. Dan Sullivan and I are writing a book on why every entrepreneur should write a book. And he's kind of the world's premier entrepreneur coach. He's coached like 25,000 entrepreneurs. And even that one, like you couldn't pick a field where I'm more of an expert. I was like... It kind of immediate came out as I don't want to do it, because there was no argument that you can make where I'm not an expert. I'm just an absolute expert on this. And so I came out as I didn't want to do it, right. But I'm doing another book with a guy Dan Angle about integration from psychedelic psychotherapy. And that one, I definitely like, "Who am I right this?" You know, blah, blah, blah. I have all the same thoughts. I have a whole deck about this, about... Go down. Find all the great writers in history. I do this in my workshops. I'm like your name great writers. People are like, "Tolstoy or Hemingway or whatever." And it doesn't matter who they named because I have like 50 slides. "Oh, you said 'Hemingway'?" And put up the slide where he's like, "I feel like I'm a fraud. I feel like I don't know anything." "Oh, you said, you know, Elizabeth Gilbert?" "I feel like I don't know anything. I feel like I'm a fraud." "So you said Tim Ferriss? I know Tim. He's my buddy. He definitely feels like a fraud every single day, right?" If you've done the list. It doesn't matter. There's I can't think of a counter. I'm sure there's one. But I can't think of a counter exception, where someone is an accomplished well known writer who didn't have all the exact same emotions new writers have.
Steve Brown : 8:33
So it came across as you didn't want to do it. But was it going on in your head that what if this book sucks? What if I'm miss the mark?
Tucker Max : 8:42
What if I do a bad job explaining something I'm supposed to be an expert? Yeah. Oh, of course. Oh, like Oh, just like it... And what that causes me to do is overwrite and overargue. And so it's like, I have these ridiculous like, 6000-word chapter that has bulletproof logic and arguments. And then I already know my product. I know my issues now. So what I do is I've got a person on my company, I send it to them and I'm like, "Cut this in half at least. Cut out all the bullshit where I'm arguing with myself to prove to myself that I'm actually an expert, and just leave what what my readers will actually care about." And we already know. We laugh about it. It's like go scrub my stuff of my emotional issues.
Steve Brown : 9:25
Yeah. So does that fit? Some of it might feel a little bit personal or are you you're over that where it doesn't feel so personal when someone takes out something. "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. That was really important. That's why I spent some time here."
Tucker Max : 9:37
Yeah, so I have a meme about this. Do you know the Orange County chopper meme where the dad and his son are arguing and throwing chairs? You know what talking about? And so basically it's like the dad says, "This is my favorite paragraph in the book." And the son's like, "It doesn't... It shouldn't be there. We need to cut it. It's not add anything." And then the Dad's like, "No, it's staying in, it's my favorite thing." And the son throws the chair. "It adds no value to the reader or the book. It's only about you." And the last one, the dads yelling. He goes, "I'll change the whole book to keep it." So absolutely. Every book, there's at least a sentence, if not a paragraph, or even a chapter, that I just think is amazing and brilliant. And like three other smart people who I know and respect to be like, "Dude, this has nothing to do with the book. You have to cut this." And I'm just like, "No, but it's my favorite part." That's just ego, man, getting in the way. Like, it's just like a business. A business just exists to meet the needs of the people that is serving, right? Both the owners and the employees and the customers exist to meet everyone's needs. And so I know you know, these business owners because I know too, where they make their business about them. It loses the mark, and oftentimes it fails because of that. Same thing is true with a book. If the book exists to meet the needs of the writer and the reader and that's it. And the needs of the writer are only follow on the needs of the reader. So the only way you're going to get your needs met as the author is to meet the needs of the reader. So that's why this book doesn't have a bunch of stories about me in it because... It's got a couple, but the only ones that are about me are in service of teaching something that the reader cares about, right? Same thing for all books. You can talk about yourself a bunch, as long as the what you're saying about yourself is giving value to the reader. If it's not, cut it.
Steve Brown : 11:29
Love it. So the way you get past yourself is thinking about value for the reader. Okay, so now let's pretend we convince this business owner that they should. What's the next step? What's the next great excuse to not follow through?
Tucker Max : 11:49
"I'm afraid it's gonna look bad. I'm afraid I'm gonna look bad." Those are the... Almost all of them boil down to that, but there's a ton of variations on that. There's "I'm afraid I don't know what I'm doing." "I'm afraid I'm going to upset someone." "I'm afraid I'm going to offend someone." "I'm afraid of the time commitment." "I'm afraid that I won't finish." "I'm afraid is going to look bad, which is a variation of I'm going to look bad." And there's so many. "I'm afraid..." Here's a big one. And this is no one ever says this. But usually if I start asking questions around their fears, we get to this. A lot of people are afraid of failure. They understand that. But there's a huge segment of people who are afraid of success.
Steve Brown : 12:44
Tucker Max : 12:45
No, seriously. And so like when you really unpack... There was one author I'll never forget. She was pretty open and wanting to talk about this stuff. And so it was at a workshop and so I was able to kind of unpack her stuff in front of a bunch of other people and it broke things open for other people. And so long, long story short, I was like, "OK, what happens if you like, let's say a magic this book into existence and get it published tomorrow, and it's perfect. I mean, it is the perfect title, the perfect subject, like it is everything you can imagine. It's there. What happens then?" She's like, oh, our face drops. She's like, "Oh, my God, you're right." I like, "No, no, no, tell what happens. It comes out. It's perfect. It hits your target audience. They love it. What happened?" She's like, "Oh, my God, my business is going to double. It's going to triple. I don't know how to run it. I don't know how to scale. I'm not going to be able to spend any time with my family. I'm going to be a failure as a wife." And it's like, "Ah, see, you're afraid of succeeding. Right?" And of course, those are all manageable things. But like she had not really unpacked the actual fear. She was afraid of success. And that is super common for people. Because, look our brains have a part of a part of it that...A lot of people call it the ego. Psychologists called the ego. And the most people think ego is arrogance or narcissism or "I'm better than everyone" or like Trump or whatever. That is a way an ego can express itself. So I like to call it the, just because it's better for laymen, I like to call it "the protective self." And the job of the protective self, which psychologists called the ego is to keep you alive. And the way it does that is to keep you the same. It's the part of you that tells you that change equals death. And everyone understands bad change. But people, entrepreneurs and business owners especially, are very afraid of good change a lot of times. "I've got a business that's working. I'm in a stable situation." Change is risk. There's no doubt about that. That's true. And that part of you is trying to keep you safe. It's trying to serve you. And so you don't have to reject it or the ego is not the enemy. That's a bullshit idea. Ego is a part of you. Sort of like a CFO, right? The CFO job and the lawyers job is to manage risk. The the entrepreneurs job is to look for opportunity. Right? And then but you got to balance those. Same thing with yourself.
Steve Brown : 15:14
I call that part of the brain "the bodyguard." Yeah, deciding keep you safe, but...
Tucker Max : 15:21
But we'll start, "No, can't go there, that person can't come in." But because they're all... It's like a CFO only gets judged on if things go wrong. Same as a lawyer, right? So all their focus is, "Things can't go wrong." For businesses don't grow that way. And all entrepreneurs know that and a good entrepreneur. That's why there's no entrepreneur CFOs and there's basically no entrepreneur lawyers, because they're trained like government bureaucrats. Limit risk, because they don't get paid on upside. They only get paid on stopping problems. So in their mind, nothing should happen basically. And you can't blame them. People respond to incentives, that's their incentives. But leaders and risk takers win on upside. And it's a good thing to limit risk. You want to limit downside risk. It makes sense. But the only way to grow into new stuff is to take some risks.
Steve Brown : 16:13
So I think that part of the conversation that I really didn't pick up as I went through it, being a marketing agency, I think I was doing it naturally. But right now I'm, "Alright, I'm gonna do this book, even though I might be scared of success. Or I might, whatever." I get past that, but now we need to think about the branding part, OK? The positioning part, and how is this going to help facilitate an outline, a better image, a better explanation of what we do and what we bring to the world? Tell us some good thought processes or framework to kind of work through that to start the nail that better.
Tucker Max : 16:59
Well so, we see this a lot. People will come in with an unclear idea of who they are in the world. And they try and use the book to brand themselves. I would not recommend that necessarily. it's not the optimal way to do it. For most people, if you're confused about your brand and your offering and your value, you're better off finding a really good branding person and working that out first. It shouldn't take long, a couple of days in a room and a whiteboard with a good person is usually enough, right? If you're kind of clear, but you've never articulated it precisely, then our process actually will work really well. But if you're genuinely unclear, like, "I don't know what I should call my company, or I don't know what value I provide," then starting with a book is... We will get you there, but it's a rough long road to get there. But if you have a general idea, then really... we call it "positioning" in books, which is basically the same thing. As marketing, and so the positioning is really asking three questions. What do I want to get from this book? What do I want to get from me? Who needs to read it in order for me to get it and why are they going to care about the book? Right? So a simple example, if I want to be considered a thought leader in the plumbing supply space, and get a lot of clients who you know, who are plumbers, then who needs to read it are plumbers and people who follow the plumbing supply space. Right, right. And why are they going to care? Well, I better write something that gives them knowledge on how to solve a problem or create a transformation they want. I have no idea what that would be because I made up plumbing supply. I don't know anything about that. All right. I'm sure you could. I'm sure there's lots of things that they could do to improve their business. Like just off the top of my head, my guess is the plumbing supply businesses 10 to 20 years behind Internet tech business. offices, and they could probably update really well and save a lot of money and do things way faster and whenever. And so like, if you know how to do that, then you could write an amazing book that would serve them and then they're all going to come to you.
Steve Brown : 19:12
Right. So I think about the folks that really gel with our process, our experience. They started the company, they've got good employees, they've got good customers, they've got good product or service and then one day, they look up and they go, "We need to get our act together now online." OK? And so they're out of certain maturation point in their business and their growth as a business owner or a professional. Where do you see folks that really do great at the book phase? Where does that fit in the progression of your business?
Tucker Max : 19:52
It can be a lot of different places, but you kind of nailed it someone... OK,, I'll tell you who does bad. If you should show up with an idea of what you want to do, not write but do, that doesn't work. So like, we'll get someone in. And they're like, "I want to write a book, teaching people how to get their lives together." It's like, "OK, cool. So you coach this, right?" They're like, "No, I just have some ideas about this." "Well, OK, we can write a book about that with you, but it's gonna be bad, because none of your ideas are tested, and you have no idea what you're talking about. So either your ideas are gonna be your random nonsense, or you're going to be just cribbing stuff from other people you've heard." So if you don't have a lot of experience... let's say if you haven't sold what you're trying to write about, don't write a book. But if you've sold it, and when I say sell, I mean that in the broadest sense, like you've coached it, you have services, products, anything like that, right? You've persuaded other people to give you their time and money and you have created a transformation in them or solve the problem for them. That's when it's time to start thinking about a book, and the more you've done that, the more you should write a book. And so like, you know, you've coached 60 people through something, 50 people, that's great. That's a great start. And that might actually... We have plenty people who start relatively early. Now, that takes them longer to write the book because they have less reps. And what the book does, the process does is reveal to them all the gaps in their knowledge, which is fine. A book is a great way for you to learn what you don't know about your field or how to explain your field, like I said earlier. I know my field backwards and forward. I didn't know how to explain it to people who didn't understand.
Steve Brown : 20:07
Tucker Max : 20:10
And so it is a great way, great way to learn that. Although it's not necessarily the optimal way. The optimal way is more like, "I've been doing this for anywhere from two to 20 years." 20 probably, you're probably probably way beyond two to five years. Or it could be one. And really truly I've we've had a lot People who've been doing something for a year and are ballers at it, and they come to the writer grateful. But for most people, you're doing it for a few years. You really know it. You've got clients. They really like and trust you. They've seen great results. And so now the book is about expand is about articulating what you do in a really clear way. Really sharpening how you talk about it, really refining all the things you're already doing and making the implicit explicit, and then positioning yourself in the market and basically creating a way for you to go out and sell that to more people and much easier way. Because you read a great book, you now have a salesman that works 24/7, presenting you in the best possible light to people all around the world you can never reach.
Steve Brown : 22:48
One of the things that I described my book writing processes. Over the years, I've had these tornado of ideas and concepts in them. And it's like, "Oh, that's perfect right there," but it just kept swirling. And every once in a while it might stick on a branch like a piece of toilet paper in a windstorm, you know? But by stopping and writing the book, I took that brain and I dumped it out on the table and started to get it organized and started to get clarity. But the other thing I experienced, Tucker, is there were these this explanations that came out of me I didn't expect. I was amazed that the clarity that just showed up from doing the exercise.
Tucker Max : 23:34
Because you knew your stuff. The more you know your stuff, the more questions like that help you and the more they help you refine what you know, in your head, right? We have a lot of people. So we probably turned down 10 to 15% of the people who come to us to work with us and have money and are like, "I'm ready to sign." And our sales process is also a discovery process. Truly. I'll tell you, what we learned the hard way, man. If you come in and don't know what you're talking about, our process exposes you. And then what happens? Some people like, "OK," like they don't get that upset, but a lot of people get real, especially the narcissists, get really butthurt and angry at us, not at of themselves. They get angry at us because we have exposed their shame, I guess, or whatever, instead of looking at as an opportunity to grow, like, "Oh, wow, I don't know this well enough yet to explain it or whatever, I need to go learn it better." No, they see it as like an attack or whatever. So we have to really we've had to really refine our sales process to make sure that we don't take people who don't have a book in them. Right. And so yeah, dude, it will expose you if you go through this. It's just like... Think about it this way. Our process in a lot of ways is like that 5-year-old kid who keeps asking you, "Why?" I tell people all the time: You can judge your parents. If there's if I'd have one question ask someone to judge what their experience was like as a child. The question would be how did your parents respond to questions? 'Cause like, my parents didn't like questions, because questions expose the fact that they didn't know what the fuck they were talking about. And they hated that. Whereas, I'll answer my kids questions all day. And there's plenty of things where I'm like, "Buddy, I don't know the answer. Let's go look it up on YouTube," or I'll say, "No one knows the answer to that." You know, like, there's plenty of things. Does God Exist? No one knows. Here's the arguments for, here's the arguments against. I don't know. I'll tell you what I think but no one knows. And so like, my kid's just about to turn six and he's definitely eyes wide. "Why this? Why that?" And my three and a half year old. She's like, "Why this? Why that? Why, why?" And they want to know why we tell them to do stuff. And it's like someone who is very into power is very threatened by that, right? Anyway. So a book writing process at its core is like a five year old asking you why. So if you don't like that, you shouldn't want a book.
Steve Brown : 26:23
So when I went, I went to the process and one of the things, Tucker, that really surprised me. So I get my first rough, rough draft back. I read through it. I put it away. And I had had an anxiety for like three or four days. I couldn't sleep. I went through all these scenarios. I really was... I couldn't even go back for two weeks. I disappeared for a little bit.
Tucker Max : 26:51
That happens all the time, though.
Steve Brown : 26:52
Why? Why does that happen?
Tucker Max : 26:54
So why did it happen to you?
Steve Brown : 26:57
Well, at first I realize how much more work I needed to put into this to get it to where I envisioned it at first. But first, all those same arguments started to come back that I had gotten past. To even begin, it was like "See? Told you, you're spending all this money, you're investing all this time, you should have just kept selling, doing whatever you normally do." It was scary. I want to pause here just for a moment and talk to you about a program that we have just released called the ROI QuickStart Academy for authors. Every day. I talk to business owners just like you who struggle with quickly getting their fundamentals in place. We want to create a great foundation and we want to grow our business but things that are in our way: our lack of knowledge about the specifics we should put in place, what kind of technology, what kind of messaging and what kind of campaigns? And that problem exists for authors as well. And we just gel so good with authors because, well, I'm an author, and I understand everything that you struggle with. You have a great idea. You have a great book. But what do you want to do? You want to get your book in front of more people. You want to make it easy for them to find you, learn how they can schedule a time to talk with you, hire you for a conference, or maybe sign up for the services that your book promotes. So what is the QuickStart Academy for authors? Imagine working with a small group of like-minded authors, and the experts from the ROI QuickStart team. It's a great way to get your messaging clear, to be confident with the technology in your marketing automation, and how to run a strategic campaign to get you more of what you want from the investment of your book. To learn more about the QuickStart Academy for authors, you can visit roionline.com or click in the link in the show notes below. And now, back to this episode.
Tucker Max : 29:09
So, okay, how'd you get past them? Did you talk to your team? Like, this is why... This is what they're trained. They probably came.
Steve Brown : 29:16
They did. No they did. Okay. So Brannon was my scribe. So, but in the back of my head, I'm thinking, "Well, she's supposed to say this." OK? Right? Is she really being nice, or is she embarrassed about this as much as I am? And so I was wrestling with... But I think what happened is I just did what a normal entrepreneur does, and just showed back up, got dirty, and started pushing through, even though I didn't feel good about it.
Tucker Max : 29:16
Mm hmm. So what made you feel good? Was it putting in more work? Or was it realizing that the critical voice in your head was wrong? Or both?
Steve Brown : 29:59
I think both. I think I had to continue on, but I could see where that personality, depending on the personality that you have, how you would push back on your Brannon. And I can't imagine because I went through a lot of emotions there and... Gut I had to overcome it and then get back to work and then.. But it was a long road.
Tucker Max : 30:26
Hold on, so we try and teach this to authors. It's not always easy, but we teach you're not trying to overcome emotions. Really the best thing to do is to sit with them and feel.
Steve Brown : 30:37
Tucker Max : 30:38
No seriously like it. I mean, that's what you do with all emotions, like if you want to deal with them effectively. You push them away, then like they don't go away, man. It's like putting debt on your balance sheet somewhere else. It's gonna come back and get you and you're gonna have to pay it right. So the best thing you can do is sit with that and feel that. Working on the Dan Angle book, the one I didn't feel like I knew what I was doing or I felt like it was... I literally would just sit and be like, let myself feel that anxiety and insecurity. And then once you feel it, you can kind of let it go. And it's not that it goes away. It's just like... It's almost like in an argument, you've been arguing with someone where they don't. They're not listening to you until they've been able to say what they want to say, then they'll listen. I think of emotions like that, right? So I've got to listen to my anxiety first. OK? And then I don't get to push it away. I'm just like, "OK, I hear you, I got it. I'm still gonna go back and do this. And then we can talk about this later. Right?" It's the same sort of thing. It's a super normal thing, because what people do is they attach the identity to the book. The book's not a thing you do, the book is who you are, right? Because your name is on it. And a lot of people are like... This is the way they deal with their business. But this is such an amorphous thing. Whereas a book is like a physical thing with your name at the bottom. And in a lot of entrepreneurs didn't do that well in school so they don't have like those credentials to fall back on, right? Like I did. That's how I know their bullshit. But like, so for a lot of entrepreneurs, this is like their first, whatever you want to call it, school based or smart person credential. And so they it brings up all the stuff from like their fourth grade teacher told them they were an idiot or whatever, like, because they were dyslexic a lot of times. And so all the all that anxiety comes flooding up. And that has nothing to do with the facts of the book at all. It could be an amazing book. And like, I will tell you, man, we do train our scribes this way. Because part of our marketing is we will hurt your feelings before we let you publish a bad book. We tell our authors that. And like at first they're kind of shocked and they're like, "Oh my God, thank you. That's amazing." Because they realize they can let go of like, "Is this bad?" Because we promise, "We'll tell you if it's bad. We'll be nice about it. But we're going to tell you, and we've absolutely..." We have had rough conversations with authors. We're like, "You don't have enough for a book or this thing you want to put in here is going to make you look terrible." And we've done absolutely that in the past. We've had a couple, not many, a couple of situations where we parted ways and we funded a bunch of the money to an author because they didn't like the truth that we told them. OK, cool. That's the price we pay for people like you being able to relax and calm down and know Brannon, I trust Brannon. Brannon especially will tell you the truth like she, she don't mess around, man. We have to be careful who we put her with because sometimes she tells too much truth, right? But it's why the people like you and I think 10 other authors that have worked with her that love her. Like they absolutely love her because they feel safe with her because they trust her to tell them, "Does this look good or not?"
Steve Brown : 33:55
Totally. I think what started to happen was she helped me... She's like, "You ever laid a path where you put the guardrails, you kind of scrape the earth and then you bring the bricks out. And so you start," and then I was able to go, "OK, I'm supposed to decide what brick goes where." And that's where I started. She helped pull it out of me, but the depth in the book, what needed to come out of me and my self identity changed from, "I think I should be an author" to "I am an author." It was... I didn't expect that transformation to happen or per that professional growth, but it was a growth stretch.
Tucker Max : 34:43
No, we do that in... So you went through the interview process was kind of our higher-in process. In the mid tier process, where people write their own book but with our coaching and guidance, the same system they just do themselves, we teach that about identity. We have like a very specific process I put them through. So they like... They have to write author on a name tag instead. And they have to, like write their name on their outline where it says "author" and a lot of people get like... Seriously, they'll get clammy and stuff. Yeah. And then we have all kinds of other process to walk them through where they realize, because that, for a lot of people that is a massive change to their identity. They are now stepping up and stepping on stage and raising up in a way that is threatening in a lot of ways. It is. You can't... Everyone knows the benefits. But what most people don't talk about are why... I mean, dude, I can't say we have two dozen people whose books are done. Done. And they will not press publish, like you know, proverbially, like the ghost on us. Paid. They've paid everything. Everything was done. It's a great book. We have so many of these people, they won't even tell... I swear to god, there's a couple that have change their numbers and moved because we want to publish their book and they're so freaked out about... And they won't face any their issues. And so it's just sitting there.
Steve Brown : 36:09
So relating with all these authors, there's probably an area where you get a little emotional when you see them move or grow that really touches you because you were there. I'm curious what that is.
Tucker Max : 36:31
I tell this to authors in workshops, because I lead the workshops, I tell them "We don't do this for you." I love to see our authors grow. I love to see them accomplish their books and all that sort of stuff. That's cool. And I'm down for that. And I like... Most of our authors are, you know, high level professional. So like, there's almost no shepherds like we have a few gas lighters every now and then but pretty much everyone's an awesome person. So like, we're really lucky in that we don't get Karen's, you know, like, we don't get the people like... So it's pretty nice. We got pretty good client list. But I tell them the reason we do this is actually for their readers, not for them. Right. And the example I give is just because it's so powerful, is go look at the Audible reviews for Tiffany Haddish's book. Tiffany Haddish is a female black comedian that we worked with. And this is especially relevant in the current climate, but I've been talking about this for years. I personally wrote her book, and her book is like... This woman came from nothing. About as rough as it gets. And she wrote about her childhood, and she's a famous actress and comedian now. She's as big as it gets. Oscar nominations and all this crazy stuff. And she told the whole truth in her book about what it was like to be a foster kid. About abusive relationships. About just the dirty, nasty stuff that no one ever wants to talk about. She did. And, and specifically look at the Audible. I mean, she's got... the book's got whatever 7000 reviews on Amazon and that's 50,000 on. And because so much of our audience are young black girls, right? Who listen to audiobooks and aren't readers. You can't go to pages reading that without starting crying. Because it's like some 16 year old black girl will write, "Oh my god, I had no idea like that this hero of mine came from where I came from, and suffered through what I'm suffering through. I believe in myself now. I believe I can make it. I believe I can get out. I believe it's worth it." Like, it's just page after page of this. I told Tiffany when we first started writing, I'm like, "If you don't want to be honest about your past, that's cool. We'll find you a different writer. But if you want to show up and tell the hard truth for those girls, for who you were at 15, then I'm in." And she's like, "I'm in." And she did. And so like, man, it's just it's still goosebumps thinking about it. You can't read those without... And almost all of our books are, you know, not all of them impact 15 year old black girls who come from poor areas, right? Of course. But for the vast majority of the books, you're gonna find reviews where it's like, "Wow, this book totally changed someone's life." You know, even books, you might not think. Business books are out, "What does it matter?" Well, a struggling entrepreneur who feeds a family and who employs 20 people who feed families, and you change their business. I mean, it's what you do. I'm sure you could tell stories about this all day long. Like, tell me that doesn't matter. That's what that's what it's about.
Steve Brown : 39:54
Totally. So people struggle to read books. Sometimes I when I suggest someone read a book, they struggle with that. It's like almost I gave them a homework assignment. And so and I've experienced this here. Read my book. I put a lot of work in so I wanted to help you and change you. And so I think about text but also think about... I did the Audible version.
Tucker Max : 40:25
Steve Brown : 40:27
Where does... You go from text to voice to video. How does that how do you see that happening in the future? How can you flip a book into a video area?
Tucker Max : 40:42
I don't think you do. You have to look at different mediums differently. So I'll tell you what we've done. So I like I said, wrote The Scribe Method. 500 pages now it's I think it's more 550 or something obnoxious like that. And this is way too long. Like I know, like for most of our authors, we tell them, "Your book should be about 125-150 pages." This is long for very specific reason because I want people to see writing a book is hard. There's a reason you're paying us a lot of money. So you here's our exact process, go do it yourself or pay us. And then they get it. So it's a specific strategy. But what happened, just happened in March? Coronavirus, hit quarantines, locked down, our sales call calendar went from full to zero in 3 days. We had no calls. And it was like, "Alright, what do we do?" And so I was like, "Why don't we teach the book?" And so this is something we've been talking about a long time. Because there are all kinds of marketers who don't know shit about writing, who just sell courses, who do books like courses on how to write a book, and they don't know what the hell they're talking about. And the courses are terrible, but they do all their high people shit and it sells for like two grand. And so it's like, "Let's put them out of business. Because I hate that." Nothing wrong with courses, I just can't stand hypee bullshit. And so, I spent a week for like four hours a day. And I mean, we went systematically through the entire book and taught the whole thing. And I taught it live, you know, webinar style, thousands of people watching, I would teach, take questions, teach, take questions. And like, dude, it blew up, we had 5000 people. And it was so funny. I told them like, "I'm not gonna sell on this webinar, because you can go to Scribe Writing and see our services. But you're listening this because you want to do it yourself." That was my assumption. I was totally wrong. There were all kinds of people who were listening and watching who either wanted to start themselves or had been thinking about us. And so we had a bunch we ended up selling like 150, $2,000 worth of of the normal packages that start at 10 grand and go up because like they were blown away at how comprehensive our process was and how good it was. Then there was another set of people who were like, "This is amazing. Can't afford your high end stuff, but I want to buy other stuff from you." And I was like, "OK, well tell me what you want to buy." And so basically what they wanted was like a coaching and accountability program, which I'm like, "Oh, we could do that easily." And so we rolled up like, like a $,1500 and $5,000 program, called it Scribe Writers Room, rolled it out two weeks later, ended up selling $200,000 worth of packages, and now we do it every month. And we got hundreds of people in this coaching program. And what's crazy is so many of them, they're all high level people. These aren't like schlubs who are paying with their credit cards. These are like people like you like all high level business owners, smart people, whatever. A lot of them just want to go to it a different way. You know, they don't want to invest a lot upfront or they whatever. There's a million reasons why they want to go through the lower price programs as opposed to the higher price. But all of them are having the exact same experience, whether it's you go into the high-end interview program, or someone paying 90% less, because they're going through the same process, right? And so, to answer your question, the point of a book, and the point of video, and the point of podcasts are not different. The point is to share what you know, to help people, and then some portion of those people are going to want to pay you for your products or services or things that you just can't get through me. Like, we don't sell information ever. I refuse. But we sell expertise, we sell time, we sell coaching, we sell question answering, we sell services, right? And but the thing with the video is: I didn't turn a book into video, I use the book as the foundation because the knowledge is the same and I know it cold. So I felt like I need to read the book. I know all this stuff. And so I would recommend that people look at different mediums just as different ways to meet people where they are. Some people don't read cool. I'll do video. Some people don't like video, they want podcasts. Cool, we put it all in podcasts. You can get the whole thing on Audible or on iTunes or whatever or Spotify. Like you can get them all. It's all the same knowledge and so it's like we're just meeting people where they are. Some people listen some people listen and watch and some people want to read. I'm a reader. I don't want to watch your damn video. Put it in text. But I'm like an old person apparently, that's that's that's probably about 20% of people. 20, 25. The majority of people want either audio only or audio and video. It's true.
Steve Brown : 45:37
Self-publishing, it seems like to me that's that's a tougher game to do it right than it is to convince 500 people that tell you no, and and hopefully get one and then they're going to boss you around to tell you how to do it differently.
Tucker Max : 45:56
It used to be. That's not true anymore. It's today, in 2020, you're far better off self-publishing. The difference is you need to go with a self a professional publishing firm, like what we are. Right. And I would say there's a lot of other people who do it well. There aren't. There really aren't right now. There's a couple of like small little boutique houses who are OK. We're the only one doing it high quality at scale. That's it. There's only us, there's another company, Advantage Forms Books, you can go look at them, they literally just did their second round of mass layoffs. They're spinning the drain. They're going to be out of business soon. And they don't do a good job they do a terrible job. But whatever. The point is, it's the difference is not self and traditional anymore. The difference is professional and amateur. Right and what someone especially entrepreneur and business owner should do is they should really make sure their book is super professional. And that does not... Traditional publishing does not mean professional automatically. Do not assume that any more. That is not true. I could line up... I could pull 20 books off of these shelves and put them in front of you. And you would not be able to tell, which were published by us and which were published by traditional publishers. In fact, if I wanted to be a dick, I could make the 10 by us tech way better than I could feel I could easily without working hard pull 10 off by traditional book self published without I would not be hard at all. So like, that's the thing. And for most business owners traditional is a really bad decision. You don't control the rights. You don't own the royalties. You don't control the creative decision. It's going to take at least twice, usually three times as long. It's a huge pain to get a deal. Even if you can, you probably can't get one, the overwhelmingly almost certainly cannot get one. But even if you can, it's a huge pain just to get a deal. And if you're a business owner, entrepreneur that you're using the book to market you. But a publishing company expects you to spend time marketing their book, because that's how they make money. It makes no sense at all for your audience to do traditional. Really seriously. It's an ego play. And what's funny, it used to be vanity publishing and traditional like 30 years ago, right? And so if you went vanity, that was an ego play. It's actually reversed now. Now the people who are trying to prop up their ego go traditional because they want to feel picked and important. The gatekeeper selected me. David Goggins had the second best selling book of the year last year, and he went all through us. "Can't Hurt Me." I'm sure you know, his books coming out in three weeks, he did it with us. The Nobel Prize committee just did a book we just released. Did through us. We're gonna have to list like a lot of really big players are moving into not self but professional, which is like a... It's like high-end self publishing, basically.
Steve Brown : 48:54
So give us some examples for for those that maybe couldn't tell the difference. Tell us what to look for.
Tucker Max : 49:02
So, here's the thing about how people judge a book. The first thing you judge by let's just assume you like, you're hearing it from someone that like you respect, right? So like if you told me recommended a book, it's like, "OK, this is a valid source." So the first thing you judge is the title. Right? That's the absolute first thing. It's the most important marketing decision you can make is the title. So you want the title to be short, memorable, grab attention, and then tell people who the book is for that it's for them. Like "The Scribe Method." Okay, you can have a "I'm not sure what that means." As long as the subtitle is. "The best way to write and publish a nonfiction book." OK, got it. Totally. Right. So but the title and subtitle should combine let people know exactly if the book is for them or not. Right. It says nonfiction book, not book because I don't want novelists buying this book. "There was nothing about my novel in here." Yeah, you're right. So I want to signal to them to not buy the book. Title's number one. Second thing for most people is going to be cover, right? Because then they're like, if I hear about it from you, I go right to Amazon, I look it up, boom, cover. So, cover, man, I cannot say this strongly enough. Do not design your own cover. I don't even care if you're a graphic designer. Unless you have experience designing book covers, you will screw up your cover, and people will notice it. They will get it at their gut, even if they don't believe it. Even if it can't tell you why. Right? Like you look at this cover. or I can pull it. Go pull up David Goggin's cover, "Can't Hurt Me." That cover is amazing. We had our best designer work on that. And she actually spun that up quick, and people were like, "I want Goggin's cover." And we're like, "OK, cool. Then you have to do what Goggins did." And they're like, "What did he do?" Goggins said, "I trust you. Go do the best you can and then bring it to me." Whereas most people like, "I want to see eight comps. I don't like this and what about yellow?" And they don't know what they're doing. They're just throwing bullshit against the wall. They're like, "I couldn't do that." And it's like, well, then you're not going to get greatness if you don't trust great creators to be great.
Steve Brown : 51:07
You don't know how many compliments I've gotten on the cover. Yeah. And you hear that: Don't judge a book by its cover, but...
Tucker Max : 51:17
Everyone does. Everyone judges a book by the cover. And it's like, so understand, if you want a good cover design, you're going to spend at least $1,000 minimum and that's like, that's pretty solid. It's not a great one. The gray ones are $2,000-$3,000 bucks for a cover. Right? Those are the ones the ones that work with us are charging $2,000-$3,000, freelance. So then after that you're looking at it kind of depends where they're looking at the probably book description or blurbs. Blurbs are just a social signal like, "Did people validate this book? Either do I know who they are? Do they have job titles that matter to me in my field?" Then the book description. That should be really well written copy. Then at that point reviews, reviews are really important. How many are there is the first thing I look at. And then I try and look at... No one reads the five star, the one star reviews,. Everyone reads the 3,4,2, 2,3,4. Because they feel like those are the people who actually read the book who are thinking critically. Right, right. And so like that that's really important. Then they're looking at size. Bigger books do less well, because it's an investment of time. Yeah, people are intimidated. By the time you said earlier, "No one wants to read a book." Right? So if the book looks long or complex or difficult, you're pushing people away. Unless it's like academics or something, right? People want to solve the problem. They don't want to read your book. They don't care about your book, they care about themselves, right? That's the number one thing is: how does this book helped me? Because no one cares about your your book. Only about themselves. And so like, like, understanding how to get all those things right and then get them right on the Amazon page, get them right on the book. You know, like, that's just a level of professionalism. It's like anyone, any monkey can set up a funnel in Click Funnels, but you want your funnel to work. You got to hire someone like you because there's a million details, right? Same thing is true with a book. It's exactly the same, man. Any monkey can go hire a bunch of idiots on Fiverr to put up a crappy self published book. And you're gonna get crappy results. That's how it works.
Steve Brown : 53:34
Yeah, that was something that was... You're buying... It's like Simon Sinek. This gets you the next audition, which is the subtitle which gets you the next audition. Which gets you closer to the author bio. And, yeah, that started to make sense to me, but it took me a little while to go, "Oh." But it's like I was totally clueless at how to approach that. So the process was really edifying for me.
Tucker Max : 54:03
It's not any different than the other marketing. It's just there's a million details that are weird to me. And the details in the book business are so counterintuitive and weird and different. If you don't know them, you will get lost and trapped. It's such a weird business.
Steve Brown : 54:18
So the marketing and all that should start way almost before you start writing that book.
Tucker Max : 54:25
The marketing starts with position. That's the first thing we do is we tell people, "The most important marketing decisions you're gonna make you make in positioning." "What do I want? Who do I have to reach to get that? Why are they going to care?" That that is the marketing actually because the decisions you make there determine the marketing. We have half of our business, Steve, is our author marketing component. We don't even advertise it externally. We don't accept clients who are not who don't do their books with us. And the reason will probably change out eventually, honestly, but the reason is because if you didn't do your book with us, chances are extremely high it's bad. Yeah. And we can't marke, a poorly positioned book, there's nothing we can do to save it. If your goal is to be a thought leader to tech people, and you got a picture of your face on the book, and it's about, you know, hopes and dreams, there's nothing we can do to get you in front of those people. They will never take your book seriously, because you did not make the correct positioning decisions and cover decisions and design decisions, and you are sending the wrong signals. And that's it. It doesn't matter what you pass.
Steve Brown : 55:30
So we do a similar process where we're like Scribe for flipping your website into a machine that will help you grow your business, right? And so it's a very similar process. And that's what I was drawn to you guys. But I notice our latest clients, a handful of them, are authors. And we're able to take that book and weave it into their overall existing platform to really optimize on how they're going to bring that book in the opportunities that it brings to them into their business and harvest those and develop relationships and grow customers. I'm amazed at how many opportunities there are, that a book will bring to you that you would have never, you would have never had had you not gone through that experience. So this has been an excellent conversation, Tucker. So what's the one question that nobody ever asks you that you wished people would ask you?
Tucker Max : 56:39
If there's something I want to say, I just use that as the answer to a different question. No, I mean, like, you covered almost all the big points. You know, like I think we covered all the relevant things. Honestly, look, man, if you are a serious business owner and entrepreneur, there truly is no reason not to do this. There's every reason to do it. And so if you're not doing it, then then you got to ask yourself, "Why?" It maybe like I can understand, like, especially recently, you got financial issues, you know, on the cash flow. OK, cool, I get it right. If there's a cash flow issue, I get it. If you're saying it's a time issue, that's bullshit, you can hire a company like us, and you're spending like two hours a week on the phone. So like, that's, that's doable. And then, you know, you hire someone to manage it like us, whatever. Right? So if you don't want to learn, or you don't have the time, you can pay for that. The issue that really sounds people's fear, they're afraid, right? So you need to either really to kind of dive into, "Am I afraid of failing or am I afraid of succeeding or both? And what what does that look like?" And the way I really do it is I try to get people to think about: who does your book really serve? How does it serve you really, and who does it really serve? And what would happen if you didn't write it? Like get them to imagine writing it and the results and then get them to imagine not and they're like, "Oh, Like, okay, so fuck those people? Is that what you're saying?" And then they're like, "OK, I gotta do this now."
Steve Brown : 58:09
Awesome. Tucker, I'm grateful for your time I value and I appreciate you. How can people get a get a hold of you or find you?
Tucker Max : 58:18
I mean, you can go to scribewriting.com. That's the company, or I'm on social media, all the normal places.
Steve Brown : 58:26
Totally and he answers his email.
Tucker Max : 58:30
Myself. Yeah, I don't have a VA yet, which is probably a disaster.
Steve Brown : 58:33
Yeah. All right. Well, Tucker, thank you so much for being on ROI Online Podcast. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better, be sure to pick up your copy of my book, "The Golden toilet," at surprise, thegoldentoilet.com. I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast.