FYS 012 | Entrepreneur

012: Entrepreneur Mitch Russo

FYS 012 | Entrepreneur


The first thing I want to do is throw out some appreciation to everybody who has been downloading and listening and commenting on my podcast. I started this journey a couple of months ago. I wanted to throw it out there, all about overcoming adversity and finding success. That has come in a number of different forms. I’ve had athletes on. I’ve had business people on. I’ve had people in self-care, self-help. I will continue to do so. I have some really amazing people on the horizon that are coming up that I’m really excited about and I think you will be too. My guest is a guy named Mitch Russo. Mitch is a very interesting sort. Sometimes we’d have people like we did about the guy that was attacked by a fifteen-foot tiger shark and lived to tell the story. This guy is really all about helping people get to the next level. If you’re stuck in whatever you’re doing business-wise, this guy is the guy that you want to talk to, Mitch Russo. He’s got a long storied career. To me, one of the highlights was him forming a business with Tony Robbins and another guy named Chet Holmes. Chet, unfortunately, passed away, so obviously something that really affected that business plan they were working on. Just to spend so many hours with Tony Robbins who’s so inspirational in so many different levels, to work with him, understand his mind, what works, what doesn’t work and really move things forward. As always, I always appreciate you people going in and rating and reviewing. It does help us in the rankings on iTunes, so please continue to do that. On that note, let’s get into it with Mitch.

Listen to the Podcast Here:

Entrepreneur Mitch Russo

We’ve got a guy that is going to be a super interesting podcast interview because he’s done so much and interacted with some just amazing people. His name is Mitch Russo. Mitch, how are you doing?

Awesome. Thanks, Mark, for having me on the show.

What I think we’re going to get into is just all these amazing entrepreneurial pursuits that you’ve been doing throughout your life. You’ve had some just amazing accomplishments and I really want to go through those things and bring it full speed to today and what you’re up to. Like a lot of these things, for me, I’ve been very entrepreneurial over my life. Way back when I was nine, ten years old, I was delivering a newspaper up and down. Every day, every morning, I’d get up at 4:00, 5:00 in the morning and do that for years. That’s where I started the wheels turning on that work ethic. It sounded like you started way back in the day in high school with a rock band that you really understood, got up there, put in front of various folks and monetized off that.

Actually, that was a lot of fun. It turns out that we were, at one point, probably the highest grossing high school rock band in the entire area. We were able to get out there and really enjoyed playing music for people. We appeared at Sweet Sixteens. We even played at a Democratic Convention at one point.

Now, we’re back east and I assume you went off to college. Where is the platform where you really started to understand about making money and then helping people do that? We’ll get into these different programs you have getting on, but I just want to go back to where you set the stage of all this stuff happening.

I did learn so much building that band. The band for me was where I learned basically how to conduct business, how to do PR, how to get testimonials, really how to price. It was such a key element of my success without even realizing it. It wasn’t until much later that I truly realized how the experience in my band basically gave me the tools I needed to be the CEO of my own company. I ended up doing that later in life. I built a software company. That software company was probably the hardest thing I ever did. I started it with one other person in my garage and it grew to be over 100 people and we sold it for eight figures. It was one of those things that you might say that we probably got lucky, but at the same time, we earned it. We worked super hard and we worked long, long hours. We went seven months without a day off. We did what it took to make that successful. We didn’t borrow money. We didn’t have any venture capital. We basically ran the business out of our checkbook. We had a line of credit that we’d occasionally use, but we never really tried to have some vision of borrowing a lot of money, then blowing it all out and then paying it back later. Our goal was simply to build the business.

How did you make the leap? You’re talking about in high school, you were in this band and it gave you the framework to start up a software company. I’m trying to get the connection piece on how that all happened.

FYS 012 | Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur: Honestly assess your true worth and begin with pricing experiments to find your ideal price.

Let’s go back to the band itself. I looked at the band experience and I derived many years later what those key lessons were. The first lesson was to be disciplined. The reason I did that is because in the band, if we didn’t practice, we couldn’t get the songs right. That led to lesson two, “Don’t deliver a substandard product.” If you don’t have a good song, that means the people who are paying to have you play at their party aren’t going to enjoy it. That’s why you can’t deliver a substandard product. Lesson three came down to focus. I’m going to quote a famous American philosopher. You probably know him. His name is Colonel Sanders. He said something every day in his commercials, “We do chicken right.” For me, that was the siren call of focus. Instead of him doing hotdogs and pizza, he did chicken. We did classic rock; it was called acid rock back then. That’s all we did. We were asked to play dance music and we just couldn’t do it. Lesson four was, “Honestly assess your true worth and begin with pricing experiments to find your ideal price.” The name of my band was Absolutely Free. We would have played for free but instead, we kept raising the price and raising the price until we realized what the going rate was for having a live rock band at a party in 1971. That price was about $500 a night. Remember, that’s a long time ago. $500 was worth a lot more than it is today.

Lesson five was, “Get a testimonial after every service or product delivered.” This wasn’t conscious. I just got into the habit of bringing a clipboard with me and getting a mom to write a quick note about how much they enjoyed the music. Lesson six was, “Spread the word.” Don’t discount the value of simple acts like publicity. What I used to do is after every gig, I would write up the night before and I would send it into the local newspaper and they would print it. Before long, I would send them notice of where we were playing next and they’d print that too. Publicity for us was wildly fantastic and successful. Lesson seven, my favorite lesson of all was basically, “Have fun.” If you’re not having fun building your business, you’re not enjoying your life. It’s not worth it. Those were the lessons I took into building a software company.

When we started this company, we were passionate. We were super passionate about the product we wanted to deliver and the way we wanted to deliver it. When we started, we both put $5,000 into the bank and we never invested any more money than that. The $5,000 was our core investment. For the most part you might think, “How do you build a company on $10,000 total?” On top of having only $10,000, we actually wasted $6,000 of that. Now, we only had $4,000. The reason we wasted it is because we were convinced to purchase ads in a PC Magazine, which really was not even our marketplace.

The name of this company is called Timeslips Corp. Tell me what you did.

We built time and billing software for accountants and lawyers.

You burn through $6,000 on advertising elsewhere in going through this learning curve, then you figured out that that’s not the way.

Out of these ads that we ran in PC Magazine, we got a bunch of what the ad salesman called worthless Bingo leads. Those are the leads that when you open up the magazine and all the cards fall out, one of those cards is like a punch card with a hundred little numbers on it. It used to be before there was the internet people would circle the number of the ad that they wanted more information from and send that back to the magazine. The magazine would then distribute those cards to the advertisers that theoretically would be leads. They were very low-quality leads but they were leads. After spending $6,000, we basically had no way to generate interest, so I started to call all 500 of those Bingo leads. That’s when I figured out that my true market was going to be lawyers and accountants and not just the general public.

Then I took the balance of that $4,000 and I started buying small classified ads in legal and accounting publications. I was spending $35 and making one or two sales for $99 per sale. I had a model that started to work. Remember, going back to my lesson six was spread the word. The next thing I did is I started calling and mailing magazines, offering review copies of our software. I must have distributed over the course of that first year, several hundred review copies. I even flew to COMDEX, which was a big trade show in Las Vegas, and walked all over the tradeshow floor distributing review copies. My goal was to try and get magazines and periodicals and industry publications to write about us. That was the key to building the company. That was what made us great.

You started that in 1985 and then you sold it when?

The sale became official in 1994. In order for me to finish the sale, there was an earn-out period. When entrepreneurs sell companies, the buyer typically asks the CEO and key staff members to stay onboard for usually two years. Then there is an earn-out over those two years. I did the earn-out period. I had to move to Dallas, Texas. After my earn-out, the CEO of that company asked if I would stay on and run their company as the chief operating officer reporting to him. I stayed an additional two years. I hated the corporate life. I hated dealing with the stupid board of directors that didn’t understand my customer. Eventually, I left and came back to Massachusetts.

You come back, you probably have a few dollars in your pocket more than the $5,000 that you started with and you’ve got a world of experience in your belt. I think I read you started to dabble a bit into the venture market, helping and probably investing in companies and you were going to provide yourself as a mentor to those different companies?

Yes. It was a very visible company. We were the leader in our area. I just completed the sale and earn-out of one of the most well-known software companies of its time. I go back to Massachusetts and I’m thinking to myself, “Maybe I’ll get a job as a CEO of another company and run another company and take it public and get it sold or do whatever I need to do.” I decided to go to venture capital firms and make my services available. Shockingly, nobody wanted to hire me. I was 44 years old. I was young. I was smart. I was considered experienced and some people said that after what I did, I might know how to do it again. Nobody would hire me.

Why do you think that would be? I’ve raised millions of dollars in venture, so I’ve been in a lot of those pitch rooms and down on Sand Hill and a lot in Seattle. I don’t get why they wouldn’t take somebody with your street cred, your background and bring you in to help and mentor some of these different companies.

Let’s think about the timing. It was 1998. It was at the peak of the insanity of the dot-com era. I finally found out the reason nobody would hire me was because I was too old. Over the hill, 44, too old.

You’re broken down, you’ve got your cane and what are you going to do now?

I said, “Screw them. I’m going to do it anyway.” What I started doing was attending Angel meetings and I started going up to the founders and saying, “I think I can get you to the next step here and maybe even help you raise some money.” I built a little consulting firm called Assist Ventures. Assist Ventures was all about assisting other ventures. As an organization, we made nineteen venture capital investments of our own. That was ill-fated because of the time that I made those investments. Interestingly, what happened was that once I started doing that, I started to get the attention of the VC community again and now they were seeking me out to come in and consult with their broken companies, the walking dead of their portfolio. I would come in and really, very quickly, most of the time I would be able to fix the company. This one particular company, Zero Stage Capital, said to me, “You did such an amazing job here. I want you to run it as the CEO.” I said, “I’m doing my own thing now.” He goes, “Name a number. There’s got to be a number where you would do it.” I came up with the most ridiculous number anyone could imagine at the time and I said the number. They said, “Okay.” I said, “Now what do I do? They said okay.”

What I decided to do was basically to roll up my sleeves and go back in as CEO. I did. We had some fun with that until the venture firm itself came under investigation by the SEC. I got the phone call saying, “Mitch, by the way, the business was shut down by the SEC, so your funding is over. Have a nice day.” We were, within six weeks, running out of cash. At that point, I called my management team into my office. I said, “I’ve got to fire a bunch of you guys. The first one on the list I’m firing is me. Everyone else in the room, you’re next, except you.” He was the sales director. I said, “You’re staying on and you’re going to keep running this company and making sales while I figure out how to find a new buyer, a new home for us.” That’s what I did. I basically fired everybody, including myself, and I found a buyer. Meanwhile, my director of sales stayed on, kept pumping the gun and making sales. We’ve got rid of that and made it happen. It wasn’t the ideal outcome but it still worked out pretty well.

Then I did something really crazy. I decided I wanted to learn about money in a much different way than other people would. I decided I was going to go and get an MBA and really understand money, but I thought for a second it’s going to take too much time. Instead, I enrolled in a program to become an options trader on the stock market. I fell in love with trading options. I enrolled in program after program after program. I graduated the highest level program I could. I then hired a mentor at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange to make sure that I was doing it right and to take me to the next level, and he did. I’m trading options and options is a little bit risky. I’m swinging somewhere around $500,000 a month in and out of my account on trades doing options. All of a sudden, I get a phone call from an old buddy of mine, Chet Holmes. Chet and I had been friends for decades. He said, “I need some help. I’m starting to grow this little consulting firm. I want you to step in and give me a hand.” I said, “No problem.” Options for me take twenty minutes a day these days. When I wasn’t trading, I was studying. I said, “I’d be happy to help you.” I started helping him out and within six weeks, I tripled his sales force and he said, “Now you’ve got to stay.” I agreed to stay. Then we started to negotiate with Tony Robbins to build this company together.

I’ve got to tell you some disclosures. A number of years ago, I’m always trying to learn and get better. I had picked up Chet Holmes’ book. For those who don’t know, Chet Holmes was just a world-class sales guy. He had this thing down pat. He wrote a book. It was just full of all the different secrets that you need to do if you want to penetrate accounts and the discipline that it takes to win accounts. The guy was an absolute master. I think what he did is once he did that for a number of years, he turned around and then turned what he knew into a consulting-type practice. Where I came into the picture is when he had connected and hooked up with Tony Robbins and they had come up with a program together to really revolutionize the sales process and streamline and be all you can be. The bottom line is it is super effective. Chet had an unfortunate ending. I’m interested on him bringing you in to consult or whatever he asked you to do and how that connection piece went with Tony.

FYS 012 | Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur: The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies

The name of his book is The Ultimate Sales Machine and it was a number one best-seller. Chet and I started to get to know each other when he tried to sell me advertising back when I was building my software company. He was selling ads in vertical market magazines and legal was one of his vertical markets. He pestered me to death and he just would not let up. I was one of his Dream 100 clients and he refused to let go until finally I ended up negotiating a very sweet deal for my company. When I started to buy ads from him, those ads turned into one of the greatest growth elements of my entire company’s history. We became friends after that and we did more and more business together. Then we started to work together and before you knew it, he was flying out to go to dinner with me. We were just as thick as thieves in terms of friendship. We stayed that way all the years that we were together.

After I sold the company, I went and brought him back into the company I worked for, Sage, at the time after I sold my company. Later, when I was running that venture-backed startup I told you about, I hired him again with Jay Abraham to build a marketing campaign for the furniture industry, which we did and which was crazy successful. Chet and I had many, many interactions all throughout the years and we would talk at least once a week about life and family and all the things guys talk about. When I got that call from Chet, it was not out of the blue. It was one of our normal weekly calls and it was him being frustrated with what was going on at his company and I offered to help. That’s how I ended up with him in this company.

I’m not sure if it’s Chet or yourself who makes the connection piece with Tony to really scale. How did that all come about?

I had said before that Chet was a pain in the butt chasing me down. He calls that pig-headed discipline. That same pig-headed discipline kept him in touch with Tony Robbins for seventeen years, trying to get Tony to work with him on any level. Finally seventeen years later, Tony calls Chet back and says, “I’m going to be in Toronto. Why don’t you come up and see me?” Chet and Tony sat down and they only met for a few minutes, but Tony knew at that point that he wanted to work with Chet. He said, “Let’s get together next Wednesday or Thursday on the phone and let’s start talking.” At that time Chet said, “I’m going to be bringing my new CEO. His name is Mitch Russo.” Every Thursday night for four, five, six months, we’d be on the phone with Tony. It wasn’t every Thursday, but many Thursday nights. We would try to figure out what the best business model is and how each of us would own a piece of the company as we built it. That’s when we finally came up with the idea for the Ultimate Business Mastery Summit which six weeks later, we filled an auditorium in Las Vegas with 500 people and recorded about 60 hours of content. That became the home study program you referred to called the UBMS, the Ultimate Business Mastery System, which we sold millions and millions of dollars of. That’s how we built the company, Business Breakthroughs International, to over $25 million in sales per year.

Why don’t you tell the story? You know the story better than I, unfortunately for Chet, I think he got cancer and just didn’t win that battle.

Pig-headed discipline came into play once again. Chet came down with leukemia and the treatment for leukemia is very long and painful. Chet said, “I think there’s a better way. I’m going to do it holistically.” He just pulled out stops. He got every holistic doctor, every healer north of the Mississippi. He went nuts trying to get anybody who knew anything about how to cure leukemia to help him. Finally after months and months of trying, the doctor said, “You can continue to spend money and time while you’re dying or you can let me get you well.” He convinced Chet to let him do the bone marrow transplant and the anti-rejection drugs. This is what leukemia is all about. They did it. They went and they did a bone marrow transplant with his brother. They put him on the anti-rejection drugs. The miracle was that he had gotten better. The leukemia was gone. Chet being impatient, he didn’t want to stay on the anti-rejection drugs as long as they wanted him to because they make you feel pretty bad and he wanted to enjoy life again. He just spent a year being sick and being in the hospital. He just lightened up on the anti-rejection drugs and unfortunately, his own body, his immune system basically killed him. Unfortunately, that’s how Chet left this world. I was with him the last day of his last breath in the hospital with him because he was my dearest friend in the world.

It’s a similar story a little bit with Steve Jobs where he just rejected that medical treatment. At the end of the day, he lost his battle in the same way and that it was too late. It sounds like in Chet’s case, it’s just like he had solved it and he just wasn’t insistent enough about the longevity that he needed to stay on this medicine just to keep him alive and it caught up to him. That’s super tough. I imagine that between yourself and Tony and Chet at the time, you had this great business going. Then Chet, who I know was a major driver behind the whole business, he passes away. What did you do at that point?

Everyone was devastated. It was devastating. We lost our fearless leader. Chet was the personality of the company. I was the guy behind the scenes. For the most part, people were devastated. I had half a dozen people just quit on the week that he died because they just couldn’t take it any longer. That wasn’t going to be me because what I did is I came up with a seven-point plan that was going to revitalize the company and set it in a new direction. I flew to San Francisco to present it to Tony. I sat down with Tony. I took him through the plan. He loved it. We shot a video at 4:00 AM in his hotel room in San Francisco and we were about to start building our new company, Business Breakthroughs International, with just a different focus and a whole much bigger vision than we had before. What happened next was unfortunately what happens to many family businesses. His daughter who was a music major and who had been at an ashram came back when her father passed away. She decided that she was going to take over the business. Even though she tried her best with everything that she did, she wasn’t really positioned to do that experience-wise, so she brought in an advisor. That advisor and I did not see eye-to-eye. I felt like, to be fair to the family, the best thing for me to do was to exit, so I resigned.

What is Tony like? You see him, big personality, gets on, motivates. He’s got great content that comes out of his mouth. When all the lights turn off and you are just sitting there, is he that same animated, full of energy type of guy?

He’s not going to be his stage personality on one-on-one with people he knows and loves. He’s a person. He’s an incredibly warm and loving human being. I think what many people are surprised by is just how brilliant he really is. He’s one of the smartest people I know. It was a surprise for me to understand just how savvy he was and how intuitive he was when it came to business and when it came to sales and when it came to marketing. It came to all the things that you really don’t see on stage. That was really what impressed me most about Tony. On stage, he’s on stage, but behind the scenes, he was the most real, most honest human being with the highest level of integrity and intelligence I’ve ever known in anyone.

You leave the company and you go write a book called The Invisible Organization. What is that book all about?

FYS 012 | Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur: The Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs Are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies

You’ve got to understand I had never planned to leave this company. Chet and I had planned to buy matching Malibu beach houses and retire on the sand together. We had that dream. I don’t think either one of us would ever have sat very still on that beach. Our dream was to sell the company and we had actually found a buyer at one point who was going to buy the company for $150 million which would have given Tony, myself and Chet many, many millions of dollars and we would have been very happy with that sale. The sale fell apart and Chet got sick. I ended up resigning and here I am at that age, I had no occupation and I had no business. I think nowadays, the most important thing about any business is the list. I had no access to the list. It wasn’t my list. It was the family’s list because the business was in Chet’s name. I owned a share of it but not the list. That was all part of it. I started basically from scratch. I thought once again, “Maybe what I should do is run somebody else’s big training, coaching company,” which I was happy to do. I would love to have found something like that. I called my old buddy, Jay Abraham, “Jay, what do I do? Is there something I should do? Do you have any advice for me?” He said, “Mitch, the only thing I can tell you is you just cannot let what you know go to waste.” He said, “Nobody I know can do what you do the way you just did it for Chet and Tony, so you’ve got to find a way. You can’t just die with that information inside of you.” I listened to him and I hung up thinking, “How do I do that? What do I do?” I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. Was he saying I should go get another job?

Finally, I took a few months off and visited and catch up with family and just chilled out. Then, I decided that I would start writing and just see where that went. I started writing and writing and writing. I’m not really a writer in the sense of a professional writer, so I hired a book consultant. This woman was wonderful. She led me through the process. It took a year when we wrote a book and I just hated the book. I said, “I don’t want to do this.” I paid her whatever was the balance and I basically hit the delete button on my keyboard and the book was gone. Maybe a week or two later, I had what I call that inspired thought that gave me what that book should have been.

Once I understood what my true value was, because it took a while for me to really get it, and what I really, really wanted to convey to people was, “How do you build a multi-hundred-person company running nine figures to be completely virtual with no physical assets?” That became the basis of The Invisible Organization. That book is basically the blueprint for how to build a company and scale it to hundreds and hundreds of people without owning a copy machine, without owning a parking lot, without paying insurance and heating bills and without owning 300 computers for everybody who works there, without even having employees. That to me was the highest value that I had locked up in me. What I did is I spent another year with the idea that I now had and one day, the name came to me. You go on GoDaddy and you say, “I wonder if that URL is available. The Invisible Organization, that’s common,” I would think. Sure enough, it was available so I said, “That’s the sign I needed. I’m doing it.” That’s how the book came about.

You have these ideas on how to scale companies and now you’ve got to get the word out. It probably goes back to that high school band where it was number six about PR and spreading the word.

I brought in a company to help me and we did a lot of work together. At that time, I had never been on a podcast before. Now I have my own podcast, but it’s a long time since. It turns out that I ended up getting on about 40 or 50 different podcasts on the topic of my book. I hired a professional storyteller to help me craft the story that I would tell about the book. He did a great job. Then I started to do radio and press appearances and I started to get the word out. My book went to number one on Amazon and it was great, but I made a very big mistake. I want to tell you the mistake so that you don’t make it and anybody listening to the show doesn’t make it.

I was so happy to have launched the book, so proud of my book. It was like giving birth and you finally get it out of you. I didn’t give three minutes thought to how I would promote it other than free publicity and podcasts and things like that. What I was missing was a backend. What I was missing was a self-liquidating offer. What I was missing was, “What do I offer with the book to finance the advertising that I would need to get the book into the hands of hundreds of thousands instead of just thousands?” My second book is already written and it will not be released until the entire backend is ready and completely running. The mistake that I made is that I never used my book the way I should have, which should have been to create lead flow and build my list. I didn’t do it.

So often, people are thinking about it in terms of just the writing process. You’re so immersed in what that takes. I’m doing that myself right now. You’re just not thinking about the backend on getting it out there. What you’re really talking about is how do you monetize and post the book beyond just a book sale.

You could write ten books and never make your rent money on book sales.

I read this thing on your website, which I’m sure is an extension of what you’re talking about with your book. On that, you say you help people generate streams of reoccurring revenue. Who wouldn’t want that? It seems like a no-brainer.

It’s funny because a lot of companies don’t understand what that means. I do it in very specific ways. I have systematized business consulting for myself using my own base of experience so that I could work with any company. With the equivalent of one or two days of my time, I could not only turn around any company, but I can increase the revenue of any company I’ve ever run across just by working with them usually with the assets they already have without having to build new products or anything like that. One of the tools that I use is called certification. Certification is not new. In fact, it was one of the secrets that I discovered in my early Timeslips days for building my software company. We were doing great. The company was growing and all that. One day when I figured out that it made sense to certify my best clients, that became what amounted to a 350-certification workforce, tribe that was out there promoting my products, promoting my company and helping my customers make the most of the software they bought from me. That became the reason why we doubled the value of the company in the last eighteen months that I owned it. To me, certification was almost like a magic bullet.

This guy named Scott Cook, the founder of a little company called Intuit. Most people know Intuit through Quicken and QuickBooks. Scott and I were friends. Scott came to me and said, “What is this thing you’re doing with certification? Could you teach me how to do that?” I said, “Scott, I would. You’re my friend, but I do have a favor to ask in return.” He goes, “Just tell me.” I said, “QuickBooks is a closed environment and it would sure be great if I could link my Timeslips software to QuickBooks, then drop a flyer into every box of QuickBooks that you put on the shelf so that people who bill by the hour can know about Timeslips.” He says, “We’ll do that for you.” For me, it was a great exchange. I taught Scott Cook how to build the certification program, which later became the certified accountant program for QuickBooks.

This is the process that time after time transforms companies. I’ll give you another example. Another company you probably have heard of called Infusionsoft. What many people don’t know is that when it started, it was having a lot of trouble getting off the ground. In fact, the software was so hard to use it used to be nicknamed Confusionsoft. One of the things that they decided to do was figure out how to put staff in the field to help a client once they bought the software to learn it and use it. They basically took the idea of certification and built an Infusionsoft-certified consultant program. From that, they went from about $5.5 million a year in revenue to $50 million a year in revenue in a very short period of time. They’ll tell you it was due to their certification program. These are the programs that I build for clients. When I build a program, it causes explosive growth. It’s not the only thing I do, but it’s one of the fun things that I do because it works every time and it works so well.

This podcast is called Finding Your Summit. We all have things that hit us. I don’t know what exactly that is for you. Certainly, Chet homes dying, that wasn’t you, that was him but it did affect you in a profound way. Some of these companies, as you’ve told your story, have been where you’ve ramped it up, you’ve done something great, then there’s an ending to that and you’ve had to move on and reinvent yourself to the next deal. It almost sounds like in your case finding your summit, overcoming adversity. There are a lot of companies who probably reach out to you and say, “We’re having struggles in this certain area. How can you help?” It probably is very satisfying for you to go in and have complete transformation on what they’re doing, implementing some of these different strategies that you have through the certification program, then see them rock it off and find success. That must be very satisfying.

It is. In the last few years, I’ve had an interesting shift in the type of people who’ve been tapping on my shoulder and asking for help. It’s been transformational women more than anyone and it’s interesting to me. I don’t know exactly why. I never tried to figure it out. Sometimes what happens is that these women who are doing incredible things in their life and their business, they just can’t get to the next level. These women somehow find me and what I basically do is I become inspired by them. My joy is in helping transform them so that they too can be on the world stage. That’s really one of my passions today. I have to say I have many. One of my passions is working with transformational women in particular and getting them to the next level because the path itself is very straightforward and they can’t see it. Even if they saw it, they need to get the reinforcement from me and they need to get what I think of as the juice to keep them moving in the right direction. It’s one of my joys to be able to have several of these amazing women that I’m now helping really and coaching to the next level.

There’s that old metaphor about, “You can’t see the trees in the forest because you’re so far in it.” Everybody else can see it. As a third party, you can probably go in and identify what the problems are and what the straightforward path is. There are just too many objects in their orbit hitting them at one time for them not to be very clear about what that path is.

I think you could look over the horizon and say, “I want to be on that side of the planet when the sun goes down.” If you don’t know how to get there, it makes it much harder. My joy is in helping people in general. It turns out I can help people in a certain way. It turns out that certain people seem to gravitate towards me. Ultimately, I’m all about working with clients, helping people and helping them realize and become what they truly should be.

Becoming what your passion is, I saw that you’ve got a travel site. What is that all about?

Since I’m a little boy, Mark, I was a photographer. Being a photographer gives me some freedoms that you don’t have if you’re not a photographer. For example, I could pick up and go anywhere, anytime, and I always have a great excuse to do it. I don’t need to come up with a reason. I don’t need to call it a vacation. I’m just going to go and photograph. You have to look at my site. I travel all throughout the country. I photographed in Chicago before Japan. Before Chicago, I was in Iceland. Before Iceland, I was in Slovenia and back to Iceland and then Greenland. I was in Greenland for almost two weeks. I love to photograph and travel. I love to capture what I think of as epic moments. To me, if a photograph can’t be epic, it’s not worth making.

It certainly seems where The Invisible Organization really kicks in here. You can be wherever you want to be, on Iceland shooting polar bears and also talking to different people about how they can scale and move to the next level.

That’s the goal. To be able to do anything you want, anytime you want, all you need is internet and phone and you could still stay connected with your income, with your business. That’s what it’s all about.

Where can people find you?

MitchRusso.com, is the easiest way to find me.

Mitch, I totally appreciate it. It’s been very educational for me. It’s just great to see people out there doing awesome things and moving the ball down the field, helping people overcome whatever adversity they’re going through. You’ve done that and you’ve done that several times, so congrats to you.

Thank you so much, Mark. It was my pleasure being with you.

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