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Passion Projects,Your Entrepreneurial Journey with Guest Mark Sisson: MakingBank S2E15

with

Mark Sisson

Passion Projects,Your Entrepreneurial Journey with Guest Mark Sisson: MakingBank S2E15

with

Mark Sisson

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Summary

Looking for an idea to start a business?

Instead of searching fruitlessly for that perfect marketing opportunity, or trying to reinvent the wheel (“only better”), why not look within?

Why not look within?

Why not look at yourself—your interests and your passions—to find that brilliant business idea you so desperately want?

Passion projects and personal interests are often the easiest way to jumpstart an entrepreneurial journey. When a business is built on your passion, it transforms the day-to-day grind of entrepreneurship from “a mission to accomplish” to “a joy to experience”.

When your passion and personal interest is behind the business, you’re motivated to create more than content, you’re motivated to create killer content. You’re compelled to create more than unique products and services, you’re motivated to create the very best products and services that you can.

Products and services that lead to long-lasting professional accomplishment.

Building a business that’s rooted in passion is something today’s guest knows all about.

Meet Mark Sisson, a man who built an uber-successful brand built on nothing more than his passion for health, wellness, and athleticism.

As a successful runner, Mark competed in a number of intense races, including the US National Marathon Championships, until a number of injuries like osteoarthritis and tendonitis started inhibiting his athletic career.

Unwilling to let a few chronic injuries derail his passion for running, Mark started searching for natural ways to optimize his health, cataloging his research (and findings) publically in a tiny little blog called  Mark’s Daily Apple.

Mark’s little blog-based passion project would eventually attract millions of readers, inspiring him to write both The Primal Blueprint (best-selling health book according to both Amazon and The Wall Street Journal) and The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.

Today, Mark is running his own company (Primal Nutrition LLC) and helping people (including many former readers) lead lifestyles of health and movement so they can achieve their wellness goals.

Tune-in to this episode of Making Bank to hear host Josh Felber discuss Mark’s story, the power of passion in shaping the entrepreneurial journey, and other topics including…

  • How building a loyal readership is brand building
  • Why your health the KEY to extracting joy and pleasure from life
  • How to tailor products to meet the needs of your audience
  • Why sticking to your beliefs is the best way to set your company apart
  • The value of being present, right here, right now
  • Why you need to take a chance on yourself

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Transcription

I am Josh Felber.  You’re watching Making Bank, where we uncover the secrets and the success strategies of the top 1%, so you can amplify and transform your life and your business today. I’m really honored here. We’re actually shooting this live at the Bulletproof Conference. I’m excited for my guest today. I’ve followed him for years, through nutrition and eating paleo and my family and everything else. It’s a great honor to actually have Mark Sisson here on Making Bank. He is the author of the number one bestselling book on Amazon, The Primal Blueprint, as well as The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, Mark’s Daily Apple, as well as founder of Primal Nutrition. His company is devoted to healthy education and nutrition, as well as his business for supplements and keeping you staying healthy in your life. Mark, welcome to Making Bank.

Mark Sisson: Pleased to be here.

Josh Felber: Awesome. Well I guess tell me like how you got started in all this, or what was your natural …

Mark Sisson: Well, I mean it’s an evolution. It’s a long life. Lot of things have happened. I was a athlete in my younger years, and wanted to pursue endurance training. Became a pretty good marathon runner, and later on triathlete. The lifestyle, the training, even the diet sort of caused me to have to retire early. I got injured. I got sick a lot. I was not positively impacting my health at all, so I ceased the training and I started to look at ways in which I could maximize performance without having to hurt so much. Without the struggling and suffering that I was going through and so many people were going through.

That led me on a career of looking at supplementation. I started designing supplements for athletes, that athletes could to use to recover from, without having to engage in any sort of performance enhancing drug protocols. Wound up designing more of a lifestyle product for people were into the anti-aging movement, which is sort of coming to the front of the health consciousness in the 80’s. I have a line of supplements.

Was very interested in direct response marketing. I didn’t want to be in stores. I wanted to educate my consumers about the benefits of the products, so I went on television to explain health and diet and exercise, nutrition and medicine and how all this stuff works. Oh by the way, I have these awesome supplements that are sitting here too. I grew my business on the strength of my television appearances. Creating content. Building sort of a brand.

About five or six years into this, the model for direct response television started to dry up. There were now 300 cable stations. There was Dish and Direct and the internet was starting to come on board as a means of this. I started to lose my market share, if you will, and I looked at blogging as a way of creating an audience and rebuilding what I’d had on television. Because I had information, I wanted to give information, so I started this blog ten years ago, Mark’s Daily Apple. In which I was thinking to myself, I’ll write something about health and fitness every day for a year, and at the end of the year I’ll have said everything there is to say about health and fitness. It’ll be done and it’ll be evergreen and it’ll be up there on the internet forever.

Well, a year into it, all it did was open more doors, more questions. I grew an audience, I started to grow a brand. About a year in, people said, “Well you’ve got all this great information about how to live an awesome life. Can you put it into a book?” I wrote The Primal Blueprint. The Primal Blueprint became my sort of house brand. In the world of paleo and ancestral living, the primal side of it is me. I’m big on primary, of first importance, and so primal took on this life of its own and that sort of began this brand, which became The Primal Blueprint and Primal Nutrition, and Primal Fuel, which is one of my products. Now Primal Kitchen, which is a food company I started two years ago, which is taking off. Then I have a restaurant group called Primal Kitchen as well.

All of this goes back to the concept of brand building. Starting out with a passion, and starting out with a message and content that I wanted to put out there, I wanted to share with the world. Creating an audience, building a following, building a very loyal following. Essentially creating a market.

Josh Felber: Right. I guess, first you said one of the things was you just started making supplements. We have a lot of entrepreneurs that watch our show and everything. We’re all into taking risks and figuring out how to do things. How did you say, “Okay hey, I’ve just got to create supplements so I’m going to go do that.”

Mark Sisson: Yeah. I mean I had gone to college as a pre-med candidate. I had a bachelor’s degree in biology. I had been very well versed in supplementation over the years, just as an athlete, trying to find, is vitamin C going to possibly impact my immune system? Is vitamin E going to give me a benefit in delayed onset muscle soreness? Certain types of esoteric supplements at the time, like creatine to benefit my training. As much information as existed in the world of supplementation, I sort of knew it.

Then kind of tangentially, in the late 80’s, I got co-opted to be the anti-doping commissioner for the sport, Triathlon worldwide. I started to become party to all the information on these illegal performance enhancing substances. Between my background in nutrition, and evolution from biology from college, my experiences personally as an athlete trying to improve performance, naturally and legally. Then through my administrative experiences, basically having to adjudicate every positive drug test in the sport, triathlon, for 15 years. I just got a nice collection of different skills, if you will, that allowed me to get into the world of creating supplements.

To be truthful, there’s not a lot of magic in designing supplements. It’s not like stuff will blow up if you mix it higher.

Josh Felber: Chemistry class.

Mark Sisson: Yeah. It’s just basically deciding which of these raw materials to put together. Do they have any sort of a synergistic effect? Do they cancel each other out? Some of those things, and some of that stuff’s in the literature. For the most part, if you were to ask me like, what’s my strength of all of the skills that I have? It’s probably creating products, is probably one of my biggest strengths.

Josh Felber: I know just knowing who you are and have seen your brand over the years, that was one of the biggest things I think that you’ve established, like you said, for yourself, was that brand aspect. Did you go into this thinking, hey, this is what I’m going to do, just create a brand?

Mark Sisson: Yes.

Josh Felber: Okay.

Mark Sisson: That’s a good point. I was already old by this time, so I already had enough life experience to not want to just take a random shot in the dark and see what happened. I had thrown enough stuff against the wall, and some of it stuck and some of it didn’t. I realized from the beginning that I did want to create a brand, that I wanted the brand to have uniqueness and strength and power and credibility, and I wanted it to appeal to the greatest number of people. That was always foremost in my mind, was create the brand, and do so really not even knowing what I was going to be offering as a product. Create the brand, build the brand around a lifestyle, around a protocols, around a diet, around just sort of this intent on living an awesome life.

Because that’s what I had learned in my years, is really we’re here to extract the greatest amount of joy and pleasure possible from every moment. How we do that is up to each of us individually, but one of the things that’s sort of common throughout this is, if you don’t have your health in peak sort of shape, you won’t be able to experience that joy and pleasure and satisfaction and contentment and fulfillment to the greatest extent. It came back to, create the brand. Then within that brand, what is the market I’m creating?

This is how the food company came to be three years ago. It was like, oh my god, all of a sudden we’ve created a loyal following, millions of people who are sort of do it yourself-ers, minimalists, who want to make their own bone broth and render their own lard. Do all this awesome stuff outside the gym. Do all these workouts without a lot of equipment. Really kind of a minimal lifestyle. They want to access clean, healthy foods. Then they go to the store and there’s not a lot of selections, other than produce and some other stuff. We wanted to create products that actually fit the need that we had just created, by telling people, here’s how you can live your life.

Speaker 3: Hi. I’m cooking up a fresh batch of my Sun Up Before Sun Protector. Last year my family headed off to the sunny beaches of Riviera Maya for a much needed vacation, but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy myself if we were smothering our skin with ingredients that cause reproductive disorders, hormonal imbalances, even cancer. Kind of takes that ah feeling out of a beautiful day, right? Now you can make every beautiful day delicious to your skin, by using Sun Up Before Sun Protector by Primal Life Organics.

Josh Felber: We use the avocado oil mayonnaise. It just, like you said, when you go to a store there is not all those things. As entrepreneurs, one of the biggest things I think a lot of people, at least questions that I always get emailed is they tend to neglect that health and that nutrition, because they’re so focused on their business and building and driving. I think was one of the key points you said is, knowing and making sure you have the right health is going to allow you to have the right kinds of business.

Mark Sisson: You know the stories of all the coders who spend 72 hours at their desk and pee in coke bottles so they can keep going, and order pizza in. I mean that’s, companies have now launched, just to address those programmer, because they don’t want to eat. They don’t have time to eat, and so let’s make a food for them, that they can slam down, because eating must suck for some reason. I’m looking at this going, eating doesn’t suck. Eating is one of the great pleasures of life. I want every bite of food I put in my mouth to taste awesome. If you tell me, “Hey, try this Josh. This is really good for you. It’s really healthy.” If it doesn’t taste good, out it goes.

Josh Felber: Sure. Slam it down just because you tell me it’s healthy. That’s what a lot of people run into, is they take good food, but it sucks, it doesn’t taste great. I think that’s one of the great things that you created, was those products.

Mark Sisson: First criteria of anything you make is it has to taste great. Now it also has to fit the stats, the criteria, being healthy ingredients, clean ingredients. All this stuff, it’s paleo, primal, ancestral, but it still has to taste good. It has to taste great first.

Josh Felber: As you’re building your businesses, you’re focused into it, and you have, okay we want to build this brand. There’s a lot of companies now, especially with all the online, internet businesses and different things, people are just scaling for that cash and they’re not really focused on building that brand. Do you think building that brand is still important, or is that something that’s …

Mark Sisson: You have a lot of companies online now that are sort of one hit wonders. Fly by night companies. Somebody has an ebook that takes over and does well, and sells a million and a half dollars worth and everybody’s happy for a little while. Then how do you follow that up? If you didn’t have the credibility, if you didn’t have the brand, if you didn’t have the loyalty, if you didn’t develop a clear plan of action for growth, then you’ve got this series of one hit wonders, some of which work and some of which don’t.

I think we’re coming into a time of like two choices. One is a raise to zero margin for commodities. Everybody’s trying to sell on the internet, at the cheapest possible price that day. Everybody buys at the cheapest possible price that day. The most prescient, early comment about the internet still holds true today. It’s a race to zero margin, unless you have a brand. Now if you have a brand, now you can command a certain range of margins and prices that you can hold to, that reflect the attention and love and detail and care and research that went into creating a product. Presumably if it’s a one of a kind product that no one else has, something like that, then the brand, that backs up the brand stature.

I see these two paths. One is sort of the commoditization of the world. The other is the real refining of brands, to where people become loyalty not just to the brand, but to the community that the brand represents. They want to feel like they’re a part of some community.

Josh Felber: What was, I guess one of the biggest challenges that you experienced building your brand?

Mark Sisson: A lot of challenges. It’s tough, writing a blog post every day that’s well researched and can be substantiated. I mean, I’ve taken a lot of positions that are contrary to the medical community, they’re contrary to conventional wisdom. Yet I feel good about each one of those positions, but only because I did so much research. Yet every time you do that, you’re sort of putting yourself out there for being put down by somebody who said, “You’re full of crap. Don’t know what you’re talking about. This is what the medical community has been saying for 20 years. How could you go against that now?”

In the same sort of statements that are unique to the brand are the statements that make the brand unique because they’re contrary to other brands or other ways of thinking. It’s a fine line that you kind of walk, in that regard.

Josh Felber: One of the best things that had worked for you then is taking those positions and knowing where you stand with them, allowed you to really hold and find that spot in your space.

Mark Sisson: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of health companies, for instance, on the internet that say the same pablum, same sort of rehashing stuff that’s been written. Repurposing content. WebMD, it’s a huge company, but basically there’s not a lot of original thought there, but that’s an approach. We wanted to be kind of the leading edge of a new movement that looked at, how can we achieve levels of health without relying on medicine? By relying on good, wholesome, healthy food. By choosing exercise that benefits us and doesn’t tear us down. It was, again, it’s all kind of well thought out, but that planning, that early planning has paid off.

Josh Felber: I think that’s a lot of times too, we get so excited we start running with our business, and we want to see it grow and make it happen. As entrepreneurs, we tend to forget to sometimes make those plans, or really kind of generate that path that we want.

Mark Sisson: Well sometimes we don’t have that luxury. I mean I had, I already had a business. I already had a infrastructure. I already had a warehouse. I already had people working for me, so I didn’t have to like put everything on hold for three years, not feed my family. Cross my fingers, raise money, do all that stuff. I had that luxury of being able to be methodical about it. Go, I’ve got everything else kind of handled, so for now, let’s really put the time into building this brand.

Josh Felber: Right. What’s been, I guess your best path that have kept you healthy and kept your mind strong and everything building your business? Because you’ve raised a family, you guys do millions and millions of dollars a year.

Mark Sisson: Yeah. Some things, like just taking the time to spend time with my kids, going to soccer games. My kids are 25 and 22 now. I was building this business while they were in their seven, eight, nine, ten years old, up into their teens. To this day, they thank me for the presence. Not with a t, but with a ce. My being present at their events, and participating with them, that means a lot to me now, and it’s not something that I’d go back, I don’t have to go back, “Oh shit, I wish I had spent more time with my kids.”

Something just as simple as that, which is a stress reducer, which keeps you centered and focused and said, look, I know I’m on a mission to build a game changing, world altering business, but this is now, this is life, this is real. I can’t live in the future, and I can’t just ignore what’s happening right now, because one day maybe I’ll have built this big business. For me, just keeping in the present has always been the big deal.

Josh Felber: Awesome. I guess, what are three success strategies that you’ve utilized that built your business over the years? That we can share.

Mark Sisson: I mean, number one, always invest in yourself. I had no money until I was in my 40s. I was, now it’s 20 years ago, I left a well paying job, with a wife and two kids. No money in the bank, to start my own company from scratch. That was investing in myself. I think that, that’s point number one. I think point number two is, the importance of hiring good people cannot be overstated. It’s critical to hire team members that get the concept, that understand the company DNA, that are good people that are loyal. In my case, I just came back from Italy last week. I was there for 10 days. It seems like my company runs better when I’m gone, because I’m not around to interfere, because I’ve got good people who are running it.

Invest in yourself. Hire good people. I think enjoying the process of building a business, because I’ve seen enough successful business people who don’t enjoy the process, but when they finally get to the point where they sell to a large company, or they cash out or wherever they go, “Oh geez, what was that about? I mean I got a big hit for three days as we went public, or as they sold, and now back to like, what’s next? God, I wished I enjoyed more of the process of getting here.”

It’s really critical to, every day, kind of go, god, this is so awesome, what we’re doing. Even the problems. I mean I hear [Derry V 00:21:44] talking about, “Well when you’re a CEO, life is really just about problems, because you’re the one who has to deal with all the crap.” Well, it’s true, but if you can keep a mindset that is, this isn’t crap, these are hurdles, and if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Here I am in a position to be able to make these decisions, and stand by it.

Josh Felber: Yeah. Those are all awesome points. Investing in yourself. Hiring the right team. Do you tend to spend more on somebody that you know, hey, they’re the right person.

Mark Sisson: Oh yeah.

Josh Felber: For sure.

Mark Sisson: Yeah.

Josh Felber: That’s one of the things I’ve found as well. What’s one piece of technology that you couldn’t live without?

Mark Sisson: Well, I mean probably my cellphone, but something that I wish didn’t exist. I mean, the fact that everyone has one makes it that I can’t live without it. If it didn’t exist, we’d be killing it, because no one else would have a greater advantage than I do. I don’t know. I mean I think everyone, to this day, if they don’t thank their lucky stars the internet has allowed them to leverage literally a hundredfold what they could have done 20 years ago, then they’re missing the point.

Josh Felber: Have you seen a bigger difference now that the Internet’s there, with your business?

Mark Sisson: Oh god, sure. It’s orders of magnitude what you can do, and how you can leverage. How you can, something as simple as the old days, well printing. We used to take all the shit down to the graphic company, and they’d do multiple layers and they’d have to cut it out and do all this [line-o 00:23:33] stuff and typeset and all this stuff. Now it’s done. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars that we would have spent doing that, that you can do in an afternoon now, with the right graphic designer who knows how to do that. It goes on and on and on.

I mean, the ability to, in the old days of infomercials. You’d do an infomercial. You’d spend a lot of money to produce it. A lot of money to air it. Then you’d have to test it in AB, and then you’d have to go back. It was like a half a million dollars to get a campaign going with an infomercial. Now you can do that with, look at the size of this camera you’re using here, Josh. You can do all the stuff and throw it up on the internet. Do an AB test, and test different offers and different stuff. It’s incredible what you can do. It’s still the same concept, but it’s been leveraged so highly.

Josh Felber: Definitely. Where can people find out more about you and what you do?

Mark Sisson: Sure. My blog is MarksDailyApple.com. The commerce site is PrimalKitchen.com. All of our food is on PrimalKitchen. We have a training program, where we train coaches to do what I do. That’s PrimalHealthCoach.com. We’ve got Primal Kitchen Restaurants. PrimalKitchenRestaurants.com.

Josh Felber: Now are those restaurants that are opening up here?

Mark Sisson: No, it’s a franchise concept. We’ve sold seven franchises. We’re actually building the first one right now.

Josh Felber: Awesome.

Mark Sisson: We’ve had a lot of, again the brand, a lot of traction with just the concept.

Josh Felber: Cool. You guys have a retreat too, right?

Mark Sisson: We stopped doing that. We did ten of these Primal Time Retreats. They were massively fun, but they were such a production. Expensive production to put on.

Josh Felber: Cool. Well I appreciate you taking the time out today. It was an honor to have you on Making Bank.

Mark Sisson: Pleasure being here, man.

Josh Felber: Appreciate it. I’m Josh Felber. You’re watching Making Bank. Get out and be extraordinary.