5 Business Lessons I Learned from Life Insurance Marketer – Chris Huntley

College is not the real world. And it is imperative to take the time in college while you can to fully understand how different it can be.

Because once you’re a senior and about to graduate, you will have a limited time to boost yourself above your peers to truly exceed.

Now recently, I had the privilege of interviewing life insurance agency owner, Brian Greenberg. It intrigued me how Brian bucks the trend of your traditional face-to-face insurance agent, by not only selling insurance 100% over the phone, but also generates his leads almost exclusively on his website.

So I looked to interview one more expert in this space, and found, to my estimation, one of the most prolific lead generators in the life insurance industry. Chris Huntley is owner of multiple insurance sites, including www.InsuranceBlogbyChris.com, a life insurance site for consumers which receives over 20,000 unique visitors per month and produces over 1,000 life insurance leads per month.

After having a long conversation with Chris last week, I thought I’d share some of the key business lessons I learned from him. Many of these lessons can be applied to any business.

  1. Niche Down – Want to be successful in business?

 

According to Chris, you simply need to solve a problem for a niche audience. He says:

“We found that on our websites where we provide information for “anyone” searching for life insurance, only 5% of our visitors request a quote.

However, when we built www.diabeticslifeinsurance.org, we targeted diabetics specifically.  By targeting a “niche” market, we are able to differentiate ourselves from the thousands of other insurance sites out there.

The result… an eye-popping 21% of people request a quote on our diabetics’ site.

In fact, many of our clients have commented that when they saw our site, they filled out the quote form because they knew we could help with their specific needs.”

Bottom Line:  Focus on a particular niche, provide the best resource online to serve them, and watch your conversion and sales jump through the roof.

 

  1. Build a Better Wheel – We’ve all heard it said, “Don’t reinvent the wheel”. Chris adheres to the philosophy that you should see what’s already working online, build something better, and then market that resource.

 

For example, Chris recently created a page about saving on life insurance called Affordable Life Insurance – The 8 Most Overlooked Savings Secrets. This was no ordinary post. It was over 3,000 words long and was professionally designed.

 

Here’s how he chose to write about this:

“When I saw using Google Keyword Planner that over 2,000 people search for ‘affordable life insurance’ every month, I then analyzed who was ranking on the first page. I quickly learned that none of the resources ranking on the first page were really giving people much value. They were filled with your typical advice like ‘work with an independent agent’ or ‘make sure to get multiple quotes’. I knew if I created a resource superior in both content and design, I could overtake them.”

 

Chris didn’t guess what he should write about. He did his homework first. In summary, he found a term getting a high volume of searches per month, found other sites that were successful (already ranking on the first page for his insurance keyword), studied their content, and built something better.

 

  1. AB Test – Remember the proverb: “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, and give careful attention to your herds.”

 

In any marketing effort, on or offline, you’ve got to keep track of your numbers to be successful… Conversions, cost per lead, cost per client acquisition, etc. Then make small changes to your marketing message and test the result. This is called AB Testing.

 

Chris gave me an excellent example of a recent success he had AB Testing:

“The last few years, I noticed that the percentage of mobile traffic coming to my site had increased from 20% to 40%, and since my site wasn’t built in a responsive design, my conversions were dismal on tablet and cell phones at 2.8%. So I had my site upgraded to responsive design, and conversions on mobile traffic increased to 3.4%, which may not sound like a lot, but on a site with our number of visitors, it equates to almost 100 additional leads per month!

 

  1. Diversify – In any business, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. Chris admitted that for several years his business was heavily dependent upon organic search traffic from Google to his main site, Insurance Blog by Chris.

 

That’s why he has ventured out into lead purchasing, pay-per-click marketing, and revenue share agreements with other insurance lead partners.

In addition, he has created multiple other sites, such as the aforementioned diabetic’s site, as well as:

Chris didn’t stop his diversification with creating his own sites.

He’s also helped hundreds of other insurance agents learn online marketing tools at his site, eLifeTools.com. Now, besides just selling life insurance, Chris is teaching other agents how they can build their own sites, rank in Google, and follow in his footsteps.

Chris says his two best two students – who created www.termlife2go.com and www.lifeinsuranceshoppingreviews.com, receive a combined 10,000 visitors per month.

If Chris woke up tomorrow and found Insurance Blog by Chris had lost all of its rankings, his income wouldn’t be lost with it.

  1. Be Persistent – Insurance Blog by Chris only generates so much traffic and leads because Chris consistently posted high quality content to the site over the years.

 

As an example, Chris’ site has over 300 pages on it, but says 80% of his traffic comes from his top 20 landing pages. That tells me that the majority of the posts on his site were not big winners. But he stayed persistent, continued to post good content, and eventually found the posts yielded results.

 

And now that you know as a college student at W.P. Carey, start now.

 

  • Niche yourself to the job and market you want to ensure you get your dream career.

 

  • Reinvent the wheel by never just follow the pack, whenever you enter a new field or organization, take what works and is useful and simply combine it to what you already know.

 

  • Following through on your actions is important, but never as important as measuring the results and efficiency of your actions. That’s why the most important thing to do is AB Test.

 

  • The word “Diversify” is overused, but is important. It’s important to ensure you will always have a job either through freelancing, corporate, or any other organization. By diversifying your skills so people are always clamoring to have you work for them.

 

  • And as always, Be Persistent. As college is not the real world and half the time what you learn there is not directly translatable to the real world. You need to be persistent and use college in a way to have it deal more directly with the real world.

 

In conclusion, it is in your best interest to act today and find people who are successful in the real world. Talk to them. Help them if you can and learn from them. See what they do right and build upon it.

 

It’s your future. W.P. Carey is just the beginning. Imaging all the possibilities if you follow Chris’ advice.

Thanks to Chris Huntley for the interview!

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3 Business Lessons I Learned From a Local Plumber & Attorney

If you were to seriously consider the top attributes that make or break success in businesses, many things come to mind, but three are fundamental to all others.

1. Integrity

Integrity is the one quality that tips the scale between a person or business that succeeds and one that fails.

In an interview with the owner of API Plumbing, Bill Ayoub, integrity is important for being a plumber, important for being an entrepreneur, and even more important for being a moral person in general.

To begin with, it’s a fundamental requirement for customers to value a company or even an employee. They need to know they can trust you in terms of reliability, quality, support, and character.

Once a customer or employer takes the risk of investing their time and money into a you, it’s highly beneficial to…

  • Ask for feedback
  • Use the feedback to gauge quality standards and evolving expectations of you and your services/products
  • And build strong and honest data the you can grow on.

Furthermore, it is crucial to always keep in mind that those who pay you for your labor, services, or products are KING. And you have to ensure you uphold all contractual obligations and promises to the best of your ability to ensure people trust you to be able to do what you say and say what you do.

If they are left unhappy, you could lose their business, any business they could have referred you, and also any business that they drive away will have negative comments about what you do, thus causing even more damage.

Therefore it is vital for you to:

  • Gain their trust in those moments, by honoring their opinions and doing what is right and necessary to remedy the issues.
  • Take a hands-on approach for accounting and recording so that the progress of the company can be tracked and questionable actions can be addressed
  • Ensure You and your leaders  keep integrity as an aspect in every decision and action so it trickles down to every level of the organization.

Real business is based on trust and no one prospers and no business scales if you don’t have integrity.

2. Soft Skills

The second piece of advice that I learned, based off of the book The E-Myth Revisited, is important for understanding why being an entrepreneur is what actually helps you scale. API Plumbing also realizes that for them, a one man plumber would not scale, but an entrepreneur who hires amazing plumbers can.

They understand that many small businesses don’t work because it’s lead by technicians who know how to do the technical role of the job, but might not always have the soft skills needed by an entrepreneur to take themselves or their business to the next level.

As a technician, being an expert in their field, only enjoy working on what they are good at. They lack many soft skills, and often neglect other aspects of the business such as customer service, networking, and management.

An entrepreneur on the other hand, always has the future in mind and thinks steps ahead rather than the work that they are currently doing right now. While both roles or components of a business are necessary, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur if you are expecting your business to grow.

A great example of this is LaShawn Jenkins from The Jenkins Law Firm. He’s the owner, and his goals are to scale his law firm across the country. In order to do that, he needs more leads, more cases, and more revenues. Thus, he’s scaling up marketing for his law firm and getting more traffic. If he tried doing marketing himself, he would never scale because he can’t do everything. Thus, he’s applying the methods from the E-Myth perfectly: hiring others to follow processes / systems to achieve your results.

3. Maximize Customer Experience by Exceeding Expectations

And lastly, API Plumbing recognizes how valuable it is to think about the customer experience first to ensure it meets their expectations. Your business should always strive to be attributed to characteristics like trust and reliability.

For example:

If customers or people expect you to show up on time or within 2 hours because that is what you or your website says, then you need to meet that expectation because otherwise they may never call you back.

But sometimes it is easy to forget to emphasize relationships because it is a long term goal that needs to be constantly maintained.

Putting it on the back burner because you have “more important” short term errands that need to be tended to first. “More important” than taking care of the very people who support you and your business to put food on your table.

Thus you have to always keep in mind and think thoroughly about others and the steps to their experience with you. As it is crucial to building a successful business and scaling as an entrepreneur.

A great book to read on the subject of expectations and interacting with people is How to Win Friends and Influence People.

What does this mean for you while you’re in college?

Start now. Make a commitment to have integrity now if you haven’t already made that commitment. Make a commitment to not be afraid to network or ask a “bigshot” out to lunch for advice. Make a commitment to set an expectations, then exceed them!

I’ll give you a personal example that changed my life. When I was a freshman, my WPC 101 teacher brought in a successful entrepreneur named Michael O’Brien to speak to the class about entrepreneurship. Afterwards, I asked him out to lunch. He accepted. We hit it off so well and had such common interests that we met every single week for almost a year. Then we decided to become business partners and have started many companies together like Invisume (which was recently featured in the news), Usurp, and the Dental Internet Marketing Team to name a few. If I wouldn’t have had the guts to reach out to him because I was scared to “network” or didn’t have any soft skills, we wouldn’t have become business partners.

What does this mean for you?

The habits you create in college will most likely stick with you for the rest of your life. Start forming habits today for the person you want to become in 5 years. You’ll thank yourself in 5 years. Take action, even in the midst of fear. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Importance of Community Service & Giving Back for Sun Devils

My parents always reminded me of the importance of community service. I remember serving in soup kitchens, doing lots of church events, and remembering that the feeling of helping out other people is simply one of the best feelings you can have.

The freshmen moved in over the weekend, and there were a lot of student clubs / organizations that were donating their time to help out, and many of these organizations will continue to do community service events throughout the year. Here are a few that I’m personally involved with. I’d also highly recommend these groups to anyone who wants to have some fun while helping others at the same time…not to mention you’ll get to meet a lot of new friends.

Sun Devil Survivor – SDS hosts the ultimate camp weekend in Prescott where the main 4 residential regions at ASU have competitions all day…and night.

Outlaw Comedy – Outlaw Comedy hosts the best comedy show on a college campus in America. Period.

Man Up – Man Up is standing up for respect.

Over the next couple of weeks, you will see a lot of students sporting the shirts of these organizations on campus.

So where am I going with this?

Giving to charity and doing community service events are great ways to give back to the community. But non-profit work goes even further than giving a helping hand. It’s also beneficial for whoever is giving. You meet a lot of people during events, and it always comes back to reward you in some way.

Over the past few months, I’ve been able to have more conversations with some clients (dentists) to see what kind of community service and non-profit events they participate in, and it was very encouraging to hear some of their stories. The way dentists get rewarded for doing free dentistry during community service events or by making donations is simply because more people will hear about their brand and will naturally refer them new patients. I’ll go into a few individual stories below.

Azalea Dental & Oral Health America

Azalea Dental works with a non-profit called Oral Health America. The goal of Oral Health of America is to promote public awareness of oral disease and the need to eliminate it through oral health education and service programs.

Azalea Dental finds that this is an important message to more than just their clients. By joining in with OHA, Azalea Dental is able to donate to an important cause – America’s oral health – while also promoting their practice.

CDIC Dental & Operation Smile

CDIC Dental has partnered with Operation Smile, a children’s charity, in providing free reconstructive surgeries for children born with cleft deformities. By donating to these charities, CDIC Dental’s name can be found as one of the donors, and their practice’s personality can shine through their good deeds.

The importance of a properly functioning mouth is something that can’t be taken lightly, and CDIC Dental is doing something about it. By helping raise money for children to have these surgeries, CDIC Dental is giving children with cleft abnormalities a second chance at a life without eating, speaking and socializing struggles.

Smile Design Studio& National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped

Dr. Mark A Falco has increased his brand awareness by working with the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (NFDH). Dr. Falco provides services like sedation dentistry in his office – a practice that makes it easier on those with special needs to receive the oral care they need. He is able to market his work with those that are disabled, elderly, or medically at-risk by increasing awareness and raising money for the NFDH.

The NFDH raises money for over 100,000 disabled, elderly, or medically at-risk patients who might otherwise not receive proper care. Dr. Falco participates by donating money to the NFDH. It allows him to open the discussion for a better future when it comes to helping patients that go through the NFDH as well as personify his practice’s brand.

Mint Dental & Give Back a Smile

Mint Dental is working with Give Back a Smile, a program that provides free dental care for survivors of domestic abuse who have broken or damaged teeth. Give Back a Smile is part of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Charitable Foundation.

The team members of Mint Dental are dedicated to providing an outstanding experience to all their patients and providing the highest level of care for their patient’s oral health. But by participating with this charity event, Mint Dental is doing more than just giving back to America. They are marketing their business’s image as well as getting their practice’s name to reach further.

Dr. Michael Nugent & Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children

Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children is an organization that works to revolutionize the oral health of all children through adolescence specifically for those who come from a low-income family and those with special health care needs by utilizing education, research and services.

Dr. Michael Nugent is involved with this charity, and it is a perfect fit. Dr. Michael Nugent actively seeks the latest technology in his office in order to provide revolutionary dental care. Not only is he donating to a charity that is working on advancing dental care, but he is then implementing the advancements made in dental care in his own office as soon as they are available. It’s a great representation of his practice.

The End Result

Helping the community is definitely something to be proud of. Sharing your favorite charity that encompasses something you are passionate about with others around you is huge. It’s bigger than you, it’s bigger than the charity, and it is certainly bigger than the dollar sign.

Participating in charity events creates a circle of benefits for everybody involved. Those who are in need are getting help – which is truly important. Those who love to help people are getting the opportunity to with every donation and event that occurs within the charity. And you are getting to develop your business’s own, unique personality publicly while making a difference within your own community.

In business classes, we can easily forget that there are more than numbers to crunch. So my recommendation is that you take some time to think about the students wearing Sun Devil Survivor shirts and Man Up shirts. Think about what they stand for, and if you align with their vision, join them. Donating some time and giving back to the community is often one of the greatest decisions people make. Start thinking about helping others now while you’re in college. As you get older, there’s more distractions. The time is now.

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All-you-can-eat buffets are not only delicious, but make some of the best extended metaphors you’d ever imagine

Have you ever been to a Las Vegas buffet? One that includes omelets, prime rib, fruit cocktail, pizza, pasta, and all sorts of desserts you want to eat, but know you really shouldn’t? Or even a buffet like Sweet Tomatoes or Golden Corral?

A delicious, Las Vegas buffet

You’re over-whelmed, unsure of what you want to try, since you know your stomach can only take in so many calories in that sixty minute time block. By the end of brunch, you’re busting at the seams but proud of your great accomplishments. You’ve learned a lot about what foods you wouldn’t try again and taken mental notes about what are some go-to dishes you should have if you return. At the end of the day, you’ve gained a lot from your time there, although it was way too short, but know there is more to try.

This all-you-can-eat buffet is the best metaphor for a summer internship that I could’ve imagined (and trust me, I thought of many other very mediocre metaphors). In a corporate internship, like mine at PetSmart this summer, there is so much to learn, so many people to meet, so much to do, but in so little time. Just like a buffet, you realize you must allocate your time and energy wisely before the 2-3 months pass and you must return to school for your classroom learning.

Cliché Internship Photo

Although you may not like working in every aspect of the business you are exposed to, you take note of the jobs you may like one day and the jobs you’d like to stay as far away from as possible (whether at that company or elsewhere). By the end of the summer, you’ll feel like you just started and have way more to learn, but realize that it was a very impactful experience that’ll guide your future employment decisions.

My experience this summer at PetSmart HQ (or Store Support Group (SSG) as they call it) has been remarkable. I’ve learned a ton within my role as an intern in the Customer Engagement and Adoptions team within the Store Operations department, helping to better understand customer satisfaction within our in-store adoptions. Before leaving in August, I will have the opportunity to develop a strategy to improve adoption experiences in the future, presenting it to my team, other PetSmart SSG associates, and executives.

Yet, that is just the “day job” portion of my internship. Our HR liaisons have connected us to mentors who help guide our thinking on our project as well as have encouraged us to reach out to other associates to set up meet-and-greets with to learn more about what they do and see if it interests us as well. Meet-and-greets, coffee-chats, sitting in on other team meetings, and trying to learn as much as possible from associates and other interns (who, by the way, are super knowledgable, fantastic people, who I’ve really enjoyed getting to know personally and professionally) makes up the rest of the internship experience.

Just like the buffet, I haven’t been able to try every dish (aka see all of the different departments) but I’ve learned some of what I would like to do in the future as well as what I wouldn’t enjoy as much. At the end of these ten weeks, I’ll have gained so much and hope to have given PetSmart some great value too (just like a happy buffet guest gives the restaurant some great value as well). Well, here are some other photos to enjoy from my time at PetSmart as well:

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My Nametag

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The CEO tweeted about us

My attire for when I visited multiple stores

My attire for when I visited multiple stores

Puppies

Puppies

Follow Bennett on Twitter: @BennettDwosh

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Top 4 Benefits of My Dell Internship

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Every internship is different – some internships take place with large corporations while others may be with smaller, local companies. I am happy to say that my very first internship, of which I am just a little bit over halfway through, has been an exceptional experience. And now….

The Top 4 Benefits of My Dell Internship

 

1. The company culture is amazing.

I don’t know what I really expected when coming to Dell, but it was definitely not what I’ve discovered. I have always been under the impression that the corporate life is a simple formula: Cubicles + Suits + 40 Hours = Corporate Life. Actually, that may very well be the formula for some companies, but Dell is an exception to that rule.  Everybody  dresses business casual or less – meaning jeans and a polo for the most part. I definitely overpacked in the clothing department, but you can see what I generally wear from the intro pictures. Another awesome thing is the fact that Dell will generally allow people to work from home, to work hours that suit them, etc. The atmosphere is very relaxing and yet it manages to instigate in people the drive to succeed and achieve new heights every day.

2. Austin is a fantastic city to live in. 

Having grown up in Phoenix my entire life, I never really had the opportunity to explore other parts of the U.S. Living and experiencing different places is how you truly learn where you want to go with your life – and living in Austin for the past couple months has been great. The city is renowned for its music scene – which has exceeded expectations – and outdoor activities. I am glad to say that I’ve been able to experience both – through Blues on the Green, Austin’s largest free concert series, as well as through outdoor-sy things like kayaking, swimming at the lake, hiking, playing paintball, etc. I even got the chance to attend the “Keep Austin Weird” Festival (pictured below), which is a huge event celebrating the weirdness that Austin is known for.

 3. Dell is in a period of transformation. 

One of the neatest things about my internship is that Dell is currently going through the tranformation from being a public company to a private company. In doing so, the company is now able to better make decisions for itself in order to continue growing and being innovative. It’s actually the largest company to go from public to private! Coming in at this time is great because everybody is invigorated and excited to see what happens moving forward. This is definitely one of the biggest reasons I’m enjoying my internship so much.

4. There are over 200 interns and every single one is great.

One of the best parts about interning at a large company such as Dell is the fact that you get the chance to intern with a large group. Personally, I feel like this is a great opportunity to make a lot of connections, network, and to just meet new and interesting people who can become lifelong friends. I’m the type of person who doesn’t just have 1 friend group – I like to hang out with different groups of people and do different things. For instance, I’ve gotten the chance to see every single World Cup  game with a group of intense fans – other interns – either at an apartment or, in most cases, at a sports bar or restaurant. These people have definitely made this summer a more than worthwhile experience and one for the books.

I went 7-1 in paintball and only got shot once!

I had my very first Indian food at G’Raj Mahal Cafe – and it was the bomb.

Got to watch the U.S. vs Ghana game at the world famous Haymaker - courtesy of Dell!!!

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It’s been such an amazing experience this far and it’s only halfway through – I am so excited for the next 5 weeks. Thank you W. P. Carey for helping me get this opportunity and I look forward to my future in the business school.

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Student Spotlight – Trevor Jones

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Trevor Jones

Since this summer’s theme is internships, I thought it would be best to highlight one of the most successful young W. P. Carey students! Trevor Jones is currently going into his junior year at ASU and is studying Finance and Accounting, with a minor in Mathematics. Through his first 2 years of college, Trevor has continuously dedicated himself to succeeding both academically and professionally, while also staying involved in extracurriculars.

I’ll start off with how we met. Trevor is basically my best friend and one of the people that I look up to the most – plus, we have the same name. Pretty cool right? We call ourselves T Squared or .

I’m on the left and he’s on the right in all 3 pictures – Freshman and Sophomore year.

I met Trevor the first week of freshman year at Camp Carey, which is a camp for W. P. Carey freshman that takes place over a weekend and is a great opportunity to network and, most importantly, make friends. We sat on the bus together on the way to the camp and instantly clicked – that’s when we found out our names were the same. Here are some stats to show you how weird our meeting was:

  • We are both named Trevor.
  • We both played tennis in high school.
  • Our birthdays are exactly 4 days apart.
  • We are both studying business at ASU.
  • We lived on the exact same hall in Barrett, the Honors College.
  • We are both experts at table tennis.
  • And the list goes on!

Here is his story…

Trevor is a native of Arizona, and he attended high school at Notre Dame Prep, in Scottsdale, AZ.

As a freshman at ASU, Trevor got involved early on. In his first semester, Trevor served as the Coalition Coordinator for the Arizona Students’ Association, where he worked with and developed relationships with Arizona government officials to coordinate student events. During this time, he was also the Membership Coordinator for Best Buddies, where he helped promote inclusion and friendship between pairs.

In his second semester, Trevor became a member of the professional business Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. He also became an Advertising Executive for The State Press, ASU’s official newspaper. In this position, he worked with over 200 local and national businesses for advertising opportunities. He then managed to get his dream internship for the summer: as a Finance Intern for GE Capital. Since it was his first internship, Trevor had a lot to learn. In the 10 weeks he was there, Trevor studied and developed an understanding of the operations and practices of a multi-billion dollar franchise finance company.

As a sophomore, Trevor got accepted to the pretigious Investment Banking Industry Scholars Program, or IBIS. IBIS is a competitive program that only accepts individuals with a passion for investment banking and a knowledge of finance and accounting – when he applied, Trevor had taken only 1 accounting class and 0 finance classes. It was his experience with both The State Press as well as GE that helped him get accepted. This program has helped develop his professional skills as well as enhanced hi knowledge about financial accounting. In the second semester, he became a Finance Intern for Stonegate Financial Group, where he utilized his knowledge to help build a financial database.

To put our friendship in perspective, Trevor and I have both done/been the following:

  • Worked for The State Press
  • Mentors for the Barrett Mentoring Program
  • Alpha Kappa Psi
  • The Amazing Race – W. P. Carey Edition
  • Camp Carey Facilitators
  • Student Survey Workers for W. P. Carey

Currently, Trevor is interning with Store Capital as an Underwriting Intern – his third internship in only two years. With his constant desire to exceed expectations, Trevor serves as both a leader in the business school as well as a constant reminder that results can be achieved with hard work.

“As long as you’re willing to put in the effort, there is nothing you cannot achieve…no dream that you cannot see fulfilled.” – Trevor Jones

 

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Starting Your Internship Right

As I began my first internship a month ago, I really didn’t know what to expect. You hear stories from other people, you see movies like The Internship and wonder “Is that really what it’s like?” Well, I’m here to dispell all rumors for you.

In case you didn’t see my last post, I am currently interning with  in Austin, TX, this summer as an Undergraduate Intern Sr. Analyst. It sounds fancy, I know. As a Supply Chain Management major, my internship is in Operations, and I work at the Dell headquarters in the Americas Operations Cell. Specifically, I’m working on ways to track large orders in North and South America.

As far as starting your internship right, here’s 3 quick tips that will get you on the right track:
Introduce yourself to as many people in your office as you can 

One of the most important first steps at an internship is to let everybody know who you are. Whether there are only a couple people in the office, or there are 20 people in the office, just go around and introduce yourself (name, university, intern project). It makes a huge difference! The point of an internship is to get a job offer, and the more people that know and like you, the better chance you have to get your foot in the door.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

In fact, you want to be asking questions all the time. In an average internship, you will be given a project to work on throughout the course of the summer and you will then be asked to present the project to some executives at the end. You definitely want your project to be good, and of course, to make sense. The best way to do this is by asking questions whenever you’re confused about something. I’ve been keeping an Acronyms Glossary for all of the terms I hear, and I’m already well over 100! It also lets your manager and team know that you’re working hard and getting clarification on your project.

Get out and Have Fun! 

An internship isn’t just about working 40 hours a week for the summer – it’s about the internship experience. For 10-12 weeks, you get the opportunity to experience the life of a professional, a life that you aspire towards. You also get the chance to share this experience with other interns who are in the exact same situation as you are – I recommend applying for internships in other states. You get to live somewhere new for an entire summer, which means exploring a new city, meeting new people, and having the chance to live independently before heading back to school.

In my first month, I’ve already done a ton of fun things in Austin:

Visiting the Capitol

Swimming at Lake Travis with other interns – I’m on the far right! 

X Games in Austin – Free! 

Concerts in the Park

Kayaking at Zilker Park – It’s harder than it looks, I promise. 

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Millionaire Interview with Brian Greenberg – Successful Internet Entrepreneur

Brian Greenberg Millionaire Interview

Brian Greenberg

On Thursday, I had the amazing opportunity to interview a great friend and mentor of mine named Brian Greenberg. Let’s just say that he’s been in the internet marketing industry since it’s birth around 14 years ago, and he’s a very successful man with many incites to share with college students here at W.P. Carey.

Here’s the interview!

What’s your background – what you studied in college and what you do now?

I studied at University of Arizona, but both of my parents went to ASU. I studied business marketing and entrepreneurship. I really liked both schools, so there’s definitely no rivalry.

What did you learn from your marketing major?

I learned how to measure and track marketing efforts. The whole goal of marketing is to increase sales, but if you don’t know what’s increasing or decreasing sales, then your marketing efforts are pointless. My marketing major taught me the importance of tracking results and making decisions with the data you get from marketing campaigns.

What did you learn from your entrepreneurship major?

How to build business plans. And the major enabled me to investigate and experience each part of a business from finance to the marketing to the operations – which was very valuable.

I started my first company in 2003 called Wholesale Janitorial Supply, which was just 3 years out of college. Before that, I built sites for my father’s businesses, touchfreeconcepts.com and touchfreesolutions.com. Right out of college I took a lot of jobs working for an internet marketing company, and then used those skills to work with my dad’s companies where I did all the project management such as managing design, software development, marketing, and customer service. Those businesses used to be 7 figures. Now they do about 750k in revenue. The main reason for the drop was because we got less traffic from Google when they updated their algorithm in 2012. Many companies lost rankings and traffic from Google when this update hit. Google’s penguin algorithm update was launched in the spring of 2012.

Why did you chose to get involved with the internet?

I saw great future in the internet. It also happened organically. A manufacturer lived down the street and got my dad a distributorship so he could get wholesale prices. My dad handled the operations and negotiating with suppliers. Then Touch Free Concepts got set-up as a drop-ship company. A drop-ship company is a company that basically just fulfills orders and ships products for you so that you don’t have to fulfill your own orders in house. So in this example, another company would ship our products without us having to be involved in the process. We literally just send them the order forms and they ship the products to the customers which automates everything. Another company handles inventory and shipping. The people who they partnered with are drop-shippers. UPS shipped the products, but it was stocked by another company that had 30 warehouses.

How were your companies different than competitors?

We competed on price and set-up businesses so they had a low amount of fixed cost so we could compete with anyone on price. Plus, the usability of the website was better than competitors. And they focused on building up the customer and gaining trust by using testimonials and reviews for products. Visitbilty on the internet, such as being on the first page of Google for all the products they sold, was also important because we had better marketing – so we were #1 for all the top keywords you could imagine. That helped us dominate competitors with a weak online presence.

I also started SEO-Services.com in 2007 and sold that in 2012. We ranked #1 for “seo services” for 3 years which is one of the best, most competitive keywords on the internet. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s the process of ranking websites higher in search engines like Google. The goal is that if your site ranks higher in search engines, you and your clients get more traffic and more sales. We topped out at 1M in revenue and had over 50 clients. We wanted more big clients instead of having hundreds of smaller clients. We spent over 50% of the budget on actually ranking clients rather than just taking someone’s money, which is what a lot of SEO companies do. We just did SEO marketing for our other businesses that we owned as well – like Touch Free Solutions, which is one reason they did so well online.

Did you have any big failures that we can learn from?

I started an e-commerce platform to compete with Shoppify and other big players, but lost 250k to a programmer that didn’t do his job as well as he should have. He basically didn’t program features as efficiently as possible, so a lot of time and money was wasted. And since I paid him hourly, I had to pay him to fix his own mistakes.

How did that happen?

There was no accountability. 3.5 years, that lasted. I had that guy, and he brought in other programmers but it got expensive and outdated because it took so long.

What are some of the biggest lessons you learned in business?

#1 thing about business is the scalability and automation and passive income. Rich Dad Poor Dad. To get on the right side of the chart, you need a business that other people can run for you.

Do something you enjoy doing. It might take a while to figure out what you really enjoy and what you don’t enjoy. If you’re going to put 10,000 hours into your career to become a master, make sure it’s something with a lot of growth potential.

What are the top 3 skills you’d recommend that W.P. Carey students acquire?

3 skills, hmm. 1 project management skills. 2 negotiating / persuasion (Getting to Yes – great book recommendation). 3 resourcefulness – the ability to get things done. You’re a good business owner if you can make great decisions quickly and get things done. People that can’t pull the trigger have the most difficult time getting started in their own company. This is simply risk taking. The ability to take risks is paramount to being successful in business, and it’s like a muscle. The more risk you take, the easier it is to take more risk.

How did you scale your companies so fast? Technology and automating everything as much as possible. If there’s something I can get done automatically with a computer, I’ll do it. Partnerships also help scale things. Strategic partnerships – so like having a contract with a company to do the shipping or get people to do customer service for me or sales like insurance. They are all contractors, so you can easily replace them and work with another contractor and maintain great accountability.

What’s more applicable advice you’d give to college students while they are in college?

Build your own website. Take a simple course on html code. Everything is going towards the internet and technology, so you need a basic understanding of technology and how things work. Otherwise, you will be left behind and less useful.

What you would major in at W.P. Carey if you had to graduate with any business degree?

Computer. (So CIS would be the best major?) YES! If you just major in marketing, you will just end up doing sales out of college, but most of marketing is internet based so you need to understand internet marketing since that’s the most powerful.

If you could only pick 2, what are the most important lessons you’ve learned in business?

Passive income. Don’t focus on the dollar, focus on serving people and provide value the money will come.

What are you doing today?

I run an online insurance brokerage called True Blue Life Insurance that I started in 2012. When I was just out of college, I worked for Metlife as a financial advisor. I earned my series 7 (securities brokerage license) as well. I got good at internet marketing, so couldn’t wait for the chance to start an online insurance agency. The pay-per-click ads for insurance are some of the highest in the internet. My mouth was watering at the money potential in the insurance market. The life insurance market is one of the most profitable. It took over 2 years to start ranking…but I was patient. My first website was called Compass Quote and after 3 years it was ranking on first page for keywords like “term life insurance” traffic worth 500k/mo. I started this site in 2005. Compass Quotes traffic got cut in ½ by Penguin, which is Google’s 2012 algorithm update. Lesson learned – when you become a master – you can get knocked down, but you have the skill and knowledge to get back up. Leaders are readers. I had the knowledge, so I got back up.

What are some books you’ve read recently?

I’m reading a lot of biographies and other great books. Here are the titles.

Steve Jobs Getting to Yes

In the Plex

Built to Sell

The E-Myth

The Power of Habit

Good to Great

Positioning

What industries would you dominate if you had to start over right now?

I would definitely get into online commerce. I’m an entrepreneur, so there’s nothing really specific. But I have that creative spark, so it would change from time to time. Steve Jobs said, “You come to the point when you realize that the people who build everything around you are no smarter than you”. So you can build whatever you want. I would go into e-commerce first. But don’t just do one thing. Have multiple streams of income. Start in multiple businesses…just do no more than two or three otherwise, you can’t focus, and you will probably burn out or fail. So test in multiple industries, and whatever interests you most, execute. Opens up the ability to be a consultant.

What is the future of technology?

The people who know the most are people like Larry Page and Ray Kurzweil. The point of singularity – computers will continue to assist our world. We will have a paperless world. Medical records. Photos. Contracts – everything will be online. Cloud-based technology. Television, cable, phone systems. Everything will be in the cloud.

 

Wow. That was a lot of high level knowledge. Take some notes on this and leave a comment if you thought this interview was helpful…and I’ll do more interviews. Connect with me on Google+.

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My Internship Pathway

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It’s always been an aspiration of mine to get a paid internship in college, in the career field of my choice: supply chain management. As a rising junior, however, the road to an internship in the business field can be long, weary, and full of obstacles. Since I’ve had an internship in my sights for a while, I prepared myself as best I could throughout my first two years of college…

 

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Building Professional Experience

The first thing that I did as a freshman at ASU is apply for on-campus jobs. Low and behold, I actually managed to land one! And thus began my career at The State Press, the student newspaper. I was not a writer however – I was actually in sales! I started out as a Student Advertising Executive for The State Press, where I worked for a year to sell advertising spots in the paper to over 300 local and national businesses. It turns out that I had a knack for sales, and after a year, I was promoted to Student Advertising Manager and got the chance to oversee the sales staff. This was not my only venture into the working world. At the same time, I became a Student Orientation Leader with ASU New Student Orientation, where I worked throughout the Spring and Summer of 2013. My job was to basically assist in running freshman orientations, which could anywhere from around 100 students to a few thousand. These two positions gave me the professional experience that I needed to at least land the interview. I also acted as a Student Survey Worker for W. P. Carey in Prescott for a weekend, as well as a Brand Ambassador for Amazon for a week. (These small positions add up!)

Involvement

I then made it a goal to get as involved as possible – my freshman year I joined the Barrett Honors College Council, Devils’ Advocates (school tour guides), the Barrett Mentoring Program, Network Scholars, the Billiards Club, and the Honors Marketing Advisory Board. The point of joining clubs and organizations isn’t just to put them on your resume – it’s to actually be involved, to network, and to make friends. This makes it all the more worth it when you’re asked about your involvement and you can confidently say that you were a heavily involved student in both academics as well as extracurricular activities. I continued this trend last year as a sophomore, staying involved in everything I was as a freshman and joining Alpha Kappa Psi, the professional business fraternity, and the Supply Chain Management Association. To top it all off, I got the chance to study abroad during Summer 2013 in London, Dublin, & Edinburgh on scholarship.

The Internship Challenge

The great challenge came when actually looking and applying for my first internship. Despite being very involved, having a decent GPA, and having work experience…companies are looking for juniors entering their last summer of college. The reason for is is that internships are meant to entice people to go work for that company. It’s much easier to get somebody to work for your company if they are graduating only a year after and have to secure a job fast. For freshman and sophomores, it can be a challenge getting that internship. The point is to persevere. I applied to numerous internships and underwent several interviews until I finally got an offer. Who did I get it with? Dell - A Fortune 500 company ranked just outside the Fortune 50 (51) and on just outside the Gartner Top 10 (11) for Supply Chain Excellence. For a supply chain sophomore, it feels like a dream come true.

Now look at me! What a professional…


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Business Lessons I Learned from 4 Dentists

My dad is a dentist, so I’m always around dentists. It’s an interesting model. The average dentist makes 150k per year and is in school for 8+ years. But that never made sense to me. I’d rather own a practice and hire dentists to work for me. He always would ask me if I wanted to be a dentist, and I said no because I knew there was something else in me. After turning 17, I realized it was entrepreneurship. In running a digital marketing agency, I am constantly talking with dentists. Back in 2010, I went to a seminar on E-commerce, and my mind was blown at the opportunity and scalability of the internet. After that day, I knew that I wanted to be in the internet marketing industry for the rest of my life. Then, in 2012, I started Crawford and O’Brien with my partner who went to ASU back in 2011. We specialize in helping dentists get new patients through marketing channels that actually work and deliver serious results. Many of the dentists I talk with have valuable business lessons that I pick up on.

Here are a few lesson I’ve learned from 4 dentists I’ve recently talked with.

1. Expectations Are Everything Dr. John Han is a dentist in Reston, VA, which is a town right by D.C. I’ve learned that everything is about expectations. Think about it. If you expect your roommate to close the door behind them, and they don’t…then your expectations were shattered, which can lead to anger or some other type of emotion. So in business, set proper expectations so that everything goes smoothy. If you don’t get the relationship off to a great start, everything goes down hill from there.

2. Perception is Reality In business, if you’re customers think you’re awesome, and you’re really not (which should be rare) then you’re awesome. If they think you suck, but you’re really awesome, then you suck. Justin Bieber’s dentist in Woodland Hills is Dr. Bobby Irani. I laughed when I learned that Dr. Irani was Justin Beiber’s dentist because that just confirmed how wealthy of an area Dr. Irani was in. A lot of pop stars live in the Woodland Hills area. Anyway, it’s always paramount to create a brand that people perceive as being amazing. When it comes to a rich part of California, this is vital for Dr. Irani. He has to be perceived as a high end dentist with amazing quality products and personalized care. Otherwise, there’s no reason for rich people to go to him vs some other dentist.

3. Scalability is Everything Would you rather sell one amazing product every month at high profit per unit or 10,000 products per month at low profit per unit? I’d take higher volume and lower profit per unit every day of the week. Why? It’s more scalable because in order to achieve 10,000 sales per month, you have to have systems and processes that allow you to do that…and those systems don’t need to have your involvement. I recently was in talks with a dentist in Colorado Springs, and he just bought a new dental office. He definitely understands supply and demand. The demand for dentistry in Colorado Springs is higher than the average city by about 20% because the city is more affluent and wealthy than the average city.

4. Make People Feel Great When it comes to environment, I learned a lot from talking with Dr. Drakeford. She’s a female dentist, which is becoming more and more common as more women graduate dental school every year. But one thing that I liked about her office is that she has a very happy, comfortable environment in her office. Patients definitely like a great environment. Think about your favorite restaurants. What’s the environment like. Is it cozy and romantic? Or fast and loud?

Most of the business lessons I ever learn are from experience, which is why I try to get as much experience as possible. I recommend you do the same. That’s why internships are amazing. ASU definitely has a lot of opportunity when it comes to internships. I did an internship with a Silicon Valley tech startup company called ONcam. They created a video broadcasting system that a lot of the pop stars use to communicate with their fans. But I found that internship opportunity through the ASU career link. As you walk through the Dean’s patio, think about these ideas. Learn as much as you can during your time at the W.P. Carey School of Business. You want to be ahead of the game when you graduate.

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