Josh Hinds: Rick, I appreciate your taking the time to be with us.
Rick Beneteau: It's my great pleasure Josh!
Josh Hinds: If you would, please offer us up a bit of background on yourself, what you do and what led you to the path you're on now.
Rick Beneteau: Actually, I tell the entire story in my eBook, Branding YOU and Breaking the Bank -- But in a nutshell, I came from a background of owning a multi-store dry-cleaning operation, getting into that business right after high school.
Throughout this time, I was writing and promoting songs on a part-time basis and enjoyed quite a bit of success. Enough actually, to make the decision to sell my business and use those finances to start a music production company.
Immediately after I "cashed out", I was in divorce court, and those assets were soon sucked up, leaving me to try to get the new company going with no financing. After all those years of building and selling a successful main street business, I was living the "starving artist" lifestyle :-)
So, with my back up against a huge financial wall, I took a first-time look at the Internet as a "possibility". And what a possibility I saw (with 40 million people at the time connected)!
I felt, however, cyber-space was one cold place, where websites looked like either brochures or big ugly billboards. Like, where's the bloody human being in all of this??
What I also noticed though were the ezines at the time, and decided to express my not-so-great-Internet-review in articles I wrote and submitted to e-business and marketing publications. They instantly featured them, and I guess you could say everything started happening from there.
Josh Hinds: Can you talk about some setbacks you've experienced in your life? As well as how you overcame them.
Rick Beneteau: Without a doubt, the largest setback I've ever had was my divorce. It took years to settle because of the assets involved, and I ended up surrendering my home and studio (this took 2 years to build) as well as the financial base I needed to pursue music on the level I had intended for so long.
I overcame this setback by making decisions, pure and simple. The first was to decide to change direction (albeit after I dug a very deep financial hole), even though I had no idea of what I would do, and then, deciding that I would do this "whatever" on the Internet.
Josh Hinds: In particular, can you share how you story behind your successful affiliate program, The I.D. IT! Plates Partner Program. Can you give us an overview what led to the idea, as well as how you launched it. What are some of the steps that someone wanting to model the success you had with this offering should pay particular attention to?
Rick Beneteau: Actually, I.D. IT! Plates is not my product. I didn't have the original idea, nor did I pay for or perform the market research or develop the prototypes. I certainly didn't invest tens of thousands of dollars in molds and patents, test the product or any of those things. I saw them online, loved them and here's what I did.
I contacted the webmaster. He replied almost instantly. The company was owned by two brothers (co-incidentally, they were raised 30 miles from where I live). They had a product name (which I didn't care for) and a small single-tier, non-automated reseller program. I requested samples and was more than impressed with this unique product to pursue "some kind" of business partnership.
I arranged to meet with them a few weeks later and we worked out a Joint Venture agreement whereby I would promote their product under a new name I would private-label (I.D. IT! Plates) and Affiliate Program I would create. In actuality, I had a wonderful JV partner involved at the time and we did this together setting up one of the very first 2-Tier Affiliate Programs on the Internet.
Simply stated, our agreement was that this company would accept orders, manufacture the customized plates, and ship the finished product (with my co-branded name and location included in all packaging) as if it were my product. All I was required to do was use my brand and affiliate program to attract orders/resellers and pay them a wholesale amount.
Sweet deal or what? Now, basically I sit back, watch the orders roll in and deal with the occasional support or customer issue. Almost hands-off and virtually hassle-free for me!
To address the part of your question about steps that need to be taken, well, there are lots of products out there that can help someone attract people to whatever it is you are selling so no point discussing this aspect.
I'd rather tell your readers that what is most important is to bring to the market a product that is perceived as unique, a product people both want and need, and then set up an affiliate program that benefits the people who resell your product ie: generous commissions, top-notch promotional resources, fast and friendly affiliate (and customer) support etc.
Josh Hinds: I'd like to talk publicity building a bit with you... Rick, you're extremely well known in various circles online, yet just like everyone you started out fresh as well. Can you give us some insight into how you put yourself on hyper drive and reached the level of popularity that you're at now. In your opinion, what are the top three things a person or company can do to get increased exposure to their efforts.
Rick Beneteau: I'm glad you said "exposure to their efforts" as opposed to "traffic to their websites". The reason I say this is because of something I believe when it comes to marketing online - I'd rather have one targeted visitor come to my website because of an article of mine that they read, or a friend recommending my site, than a hundred untargeted visitors who arrived there without a clue as to how because of some late great sneaky viral program!
Accordingly, here are the top 3 things I would advise a serious entrepreneur to do:
1. Write articles. Yes, exactly what my first eBook, The Ezine Marketing Machine is all about. This is without a doubt, is the numero uno method of attracting qualified buyers directly to you. However, this process does much more than just that. It creates the kind of publicity that money can't buy, and doesn't have to.
Writing articles builds your credibility and begins to set you apart from the pack as a true expert. No classified ad in the world can do that! As you know, trust, or the lack of trust, is the determining factor in the success, or not, of any e-business. What better way can there be to begin this process, than to help someone with advice you've provided free of charge in an Internet publication they (trust and) have subscribed to??
2. Put YOU into your website(s). Yes, the real you! Heart, mind, soul and body. The latter means your picture. This is exactly what my second ebook, Branding YOU and Breaking the Bank, is all about and why NOT doing the common sense things I teach is the #1 reason most websites fail. Bottom line: if you do NOT make a first-time feel right at home like you would in your store on Main Street, then why even bother?
It's a hundred times tougher to build trust on the faceless Internet than it is in the real world! Start the process with a warm and friendly website!
3. Build strong relationships with web entities in your target market. Yes, your competitors included! I'm great friends with most of my marketing competitors, and you know what? We help each other - with product creation, marketing plans and we even help each other sell our products! A great example of this is Audri and Jim Lanford of WZ.com Inc.
When I decided on creating my newest eBook, Success: A Spiritual Matter, I decided on having WZ market my book, even though I knew I could do a great job myself! Strange idea? Perhaps to some. But in my heart-of-hearts I knew from my past experience with these wonderful people that the important message I wanted (needed, really) to convey would be better served by having a company of this size and reputation take the marketing reins.
See, we had helped each other in the past - they decided to help me with my special charity project, The Internet Toy Drive without any hesitation or consideration and I, knowing of their great reputation accepted their offer to do a live interview a few months prior to that. Another example is Marlon Sanders. He just featured SASM in his newsletter. He could have used that spot for one of his many great products.
Three years ago, Marlon gave me the opportunity to single-handedly launch his Amazing Formula That Sells Products Like and you know what? To this day, he is grateful for the kickstart I was able to give what is now a mainstay marketing product! I could go on and on about my positive experiences networking with e-entrepreneurs, but you get my point.
Josh Hinds: Rick, for you September 11, 2001, like so many people brought about a point where you stepped back and reevaluated where you were in your life -- and as a result prompted you to launch PeopleBuildingPeople.com -- can you share more about this resource as well as what everyone can expect to find there.
Rick Beneteau: Yes, I went through a very difficult time with what happened on September 11, 2001 (which I'll address later) but actually, I've always considered myself in the "People Building" business, whether it was when I owned a drycleaning business and had 40 employees and thousands of customers, or in the music business when I was working one-on-one with an artist, and now, on the Internet with tens of thousands of customers, affiliates, subscribers and website visitors.
I had wanted to create a resource dedicated to empowering people for a couple of years and although it may have been a bit different IF 9/11 hadn't happened, I had no choice but to put that project on the front burner once I immersed from 'the fog' of that period of time.
Better I let the words of others describe how PBP has impacted them: I have been reading and reading and reading PBP's Premier Issue. And I have wept great tears of joy and thanksgiving that I am privileged to join together with Leaders of Tomorrow to spread Hope and Love to those who can hear. Thank you from my heart!
-- Joan Bramsch
After just one issue, I can already see that People Building People will do more to benefit my business and character than any marketing or traffic generating course ever could. Thank you Rick for making me realize that success in business (and LIFE) has more to do with the relationships we cultivate than the sales we generate.
-- Ryan Deiss
Josh Hinds: You've got a number of products and offerings going on - each successful in its own right -- I've simply got to know what strategy or method you use to manage your time and ensure you can successfully run your business and personal life?
Rick Beneteau: I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants entrepreneur as I've always had an ability to create and maintain a strong mental image of the project at hand and all the tasks that are required. So, I normally don't create a formal and detailed written plan. A 'brain blackboard' is not something I recommend for most people, just the severally right-brained folks like me:-)
However, if I find myself at an apex when things are not going as smoothly as they should because of say, extraneous things that are going on, I will then make a list with the remaining tasks and follow that until the project is completed.
Keypoint here is that a plan IS mandatory, no matter your method to follow it. But where a lot of people miss the pontoon is the critical step before the plan, and that is a solid decision to in fact, *do* the project. I can't begin to tell you (and I know you've seen this as well) the number of people who flounder, bouncing from one thing to the next, simply because they have NOT made a solid decision to do a single thing. A real shame!
Josh Hinds: What is your best piece of advice to people who want to work on transforming their dreams into reality?
Rick Beneteau: In context with my previous answer, Nike and I both say "Just Do It"!! I know many brilliantly creative and talented people who remain stuck in the rut of going nowhere only because they simply never decided to do a single thing (keyword:decide) with their gifts!
Conversely, I also know a lot of pretty average people when it comes to creativity and talent who have made great successes of themselves only because they believed in what they had to offer the world and decided to take action. I am among them.
Bottom line - - a deep-seated level of belief in oneself is the critical ingredient no matter what abilities you possess!
Josh Hinds: Did you have a mentor? And if so can you tell us how important the mentor relationship(s) have been in your life.
Rick Beneteau: I guess you could say I've been influenced by many people in my life. My late father for one - brilliant business person and a real 'giver' to people.
Someone I've admired greatly for years from afar is Lee Iacocca.
In my music days, I worked with Michael Sembello (writer/singer of "She's a Maniac" from the movie Flashdance) and always admired his pure genius and innate ability to write and produce for countless major recording stars on his own terms as opposed to the music industry dictates of the major record labels.
Someone very close to me today is John Harricharan - an amazing teacher and human being. We speak several times a week, and his wisdom and insight never cease to amaze, and influence me.
Josh Hinds: Rick, what is the best advice you have ever received?
Rick Beneteau: From John Harricharan, while I was going through that rough period right after September 11, 2001. Although I had enjoyed great success with my marketing products, I knew I had to change direction on the Internet, from that of helping people to build businesses to just helping build people. But how, and when, and with what, and what would I have to give up in order to do so?
In one of our conversations, John was reiterating the simple universal law that had worked for me so many other times in my life, that I simply wasn't applying in this dilemma -- that was to simply give up the answer to the universe and let the universe provide the solution. Well, thick-headed Virgo me was too stubborn at the time to back off my worry platform, that was until John said, "Rick, don't block the universe"!
Like the jackhammer that statement was to me, everything started coming together right after that conversation because I "let it all go" and soon, PeopleBuildingPeople.com, my first such project, was online! Then, I was on to contacting all the great contributors to Success: A Spiritual Matter. Thank you John!
Josh Hinds: Where did you acquire your can do attitude? How do you keep it at its peak?
Rick Beneteau: My can-do attitude is part and parcel of being a little crazy. And I mean that. I believe you gotta have a lotta guts, but also be a little nuts, in order to put yourself in a position to achieve great things in this life.
With that said, I've always been blessed to have a 'do-or-die' attitude. From early on in my days owning a drycleaning business (surviving 2 Canadian 'depressions') while working part-time in the music business and now into my new e-career, I've never stopped believing in myself. In fact, a lyric to a song I wrote goes like this:
"I Will because I can
I'll Do cause I believe
The strength I need to make the change
Is deep inside of me
I'll Walk where I have crawled
I will Run til I can fly
My wings will fill my dreams will soar
The moment that I say I Will"
Josh Hinds: What personal characteristics do you think are important to success, and have been most important to you?
Rick Beneteau: Again, belief in oneself, pure and simple, because all the other characteristics required to achieve success - desire, persistence, humility, decisiveness, integrity etc. - flow from that.
Josh Hinds: There have been many peaks in your life; what stands out for you as one of your most exciting moments? and why?
Rick Beneteau: So many mountaintops, so little memory! I've been blessed to live a most interesting and rich life so far Josh, with many peaks as well as many valleys. Guess you could say that you wouldn't know which you were in without having been in the other.
The instant acceptance of both PeopleBuildingPeople.com and Success: A Spiritual Matter are among my recent high points, especially after the tremendous soul searching I did right after 9/11. See, my intuition proved to be correct and it's a great feeling to know that SO many people have been positively impacted by both of these new projects.
I also enjoyed many successes during my music career (many, many more failures tho) including recordings by popular artists, producing records that are still being played in large cities such as Toronto and winning the Billboard Magazine International Songwriting Competition in its first 2 years, however, all these are career-based peaks.
The feeling I had right after my firstborn came into this world is something I still have no words for. Then, 22 years later, to have her present my first grandson to me, well, I'll probably be forever speechless about that Himalayan experience! Geesh, and to have this brilliant 2 ½ year old now ask me a question and preface it with a very clear and loving "Papa..." is a 'peak' something I experience several times a week.
Josh Hinds: When you were growing up, did you have any idea that you'd be an entrepreneur?
Rick Beneteau: Absolutely Josh. I 'went to work' at the tender age of 8 (for the family business) and was always employed throughout high school. Bought my first car at 14 (what a heapo junk), and always drove to school, albeit in nicer buggies.
My car was always a gathering place for my friends where we'd listen to 8 track tapes of Led Zeppelin, Yes, Blood Sweat & Tears and even Tchaikovsky (eclectic tastes back then) in between (or sometimes instead of) classes. I was one of the few who always had "coin".
After high school, I worked for a few weeks in a unionized auto parts factory and knew after that dreadful experience that I would never punch a clock for anyone else! No sir, not me, never!!
The entrepreneurial spirit, if you may, is probably genetic as well as learned, as I seem to be cut from the same cloth as my late father and brother (Bob was killed in the Hyatt Regency disaster in Kansas City in the 80's and was a Vice President of Fuller Brush at the time) and although my path is very different from theirs now, the same spirit prevails.
Josh Hinds: What type of training did you have, if any that you think was most helpful in starting your business.
Rick Beneteau: I'm a graduate of SHK (School of Hard Knocks) having earned my CPA (Cleaning, Pressing and Alterations).
Seriously, I went into business shortly after graduating grade 13, and learned everything I know in the real world. Best thing is, I continue to learn new things every day!
Josh Hinds: How important is persistence in your opinion?
Rick Beneteau: As I mentioned previously, I believe persistence, and the other virtues successful people possess, is born of belief in self. It all starts there, when you like and love yourself. Yes, I really said that!
One can persist in good things, as well as not-so-good things, so recognizing the difference between each is key. For example, I chose to 'stick' with music even after losing my asset base in the forementioned divorce. Although my intention was good, I failed to listen to my intuition, choosing to pursue it as a "starving artist" until I had the emotional and financial wind knocked out of me.
I guess you could say I had a 'blind belief' that clouded my judgement. So combining practicality with persistence is important.
Conversely, it was very practical for me to begin developing a business plan when I first logged on to the Internet. I mean, it was virtually a zero cost opportunity (as opposed to running a music production company) and I had a strong belief that I could offer people connected something of value. And I persisted, and still persist today.
Josh Hinds: What top 3 books, tapes, etc. have had the biggest impact on you, and which would you recommend to others. And can you touch a bit on what stands out about them.
Rick Beneteau: 1. You Were Born Rich by Bob Proctor. This was the first book on success and self-development that I read, over 20 years ago. In fact I carried 2 quotes from this book in my wallet until it was stolen a few years ago: "Quality is not expensive. It's priceless", and as a creator I especially relate to this one: "I am grateful for the idea that has used me". I know Bob now, and he's one of the most powerful speakers you'll ever hear!
2. The Science of Becoming Excellent by Wallace D. Wattles and Judith Powell. A powerful read that will have your head spinning with many universal truths. I can see Mr. Wattles work from almost a century ago reflected in the teachings of almost every modern day motivator. A must-need read for everyone who is truly desirous of achieving success in their lives!
3. The Power Pause from the pen of my great friend John Harricharan. This eBook will, in my opinion, become a time-honored work like Think and Grow Rich! You will find yourself glued to its 100 pages and amazed at the simplicity of how to solve any problem in your life!
Josh Hinds: How important has networking with others been in your life? Can you share some specific examples of where cultivating a strong network has paid off for you.
Rick Beneteau: Networking with the right people at the right time has been of extreme importance to me. The Internet has provided the perfect global forum for building strong alliances, and one of the reasons I feel it's a modern day miracle.
Take for example for my brand new eBook, Success: A Spiritual Matter. I already mentioned the great working relationship I have with Audri and Jim Lanford of WZ.com. I know that if I had not asked them to join me in bringing this critical information to the masses, the book would not be enjoying the kind of success it is experiencing. It all started with us building a relationship, working together (networking), with a clear eye to helping our customers and one another.
I enjoy many such relationships on the Internet (including the previously mentioned joint venture for I.D. IT! Plates - and it has been a great factor in what I've been able to accomplish thus far. As important, it's also very enjoyable for me to work with such amazing and giving entrepreneurs.
Josh Hinds: In your opinion how important is having a positive mental attitude? And how should someone best go about cultivating one if they're lacking in this area?
Rick Beneteau: A positive mental attitude is everything to your success. It is learned behavior for most people and reading books like I've recommended is a great place to start.
Bottom line is that you and you only choose your thoughts. They can be positive thoughts, or negative thoughts. Spend your time thinking positively, and you'll receive positive results. Think negatively, and guess what you get? This is one of those universal laws, like gravity!
No one, and nothing dictates what we feel and how we think. Choosing to think and act in a positive manner is mandatory in attracting success into your life!
In Success: A Spiritual Matter, the interviewees, almost to a person, tell the true stories of how their positive attitudes, especially in the face of setbacks or even failures, moved them forward towards ultimate success. All a matter of thought!
Josh Hinds: How successful do you feel at this point in your life? What other goals do you have in mind?
Rick Beneteau: Being the quintessential Virgo, I'm seldom satisfied with 'where I am' in my life. I see this same trait in many of my friends, and I guess it's one of the reasons we strive to always do more, and better.
I've often defined success like this: "One is successful just in the sincere attempt to become successful."
To continue, success to me, is not based on how much money you have made and how famous you have become. Rather, it's how much you have been able to make a difference, a positive difference, in people's lives. Shakespeare and countless other "successful" people died broke, and alone. It wasn't until the world was ready to take notice of their sheer gifts of genius that their powerful contributions to mankind were felt.
I know many rich people who in my opinion, are not successful. Most of them are very unhappy. Slaves to making money. Success is in my totally biased opinion, focusing on others, which in turns brings YOU success, and that usually means acquiring some level of wealth. But acquiring wealth, for the sake of wealth, is a lonely and unsuccessful existence. At least that's how I see it.
I find myself very much less goal oriented these days. Moving along more minute-by-minute than by some monstrous plan I've created. Another by-product of emergence from my post 9/11 'fog'. To me, this is a good thing as this lifelong workaholic begins to enjoy his life a little more and not worrying as much about the measured productivity of each day.
Josh Hinds: Rick, I appreciate you're taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything else you'd like to share that would be of value to our readers?
Rick Beneteau: Josh, I'd like to answer by sharing an article of mine, really a "chart" as John Harricharan calls it, called The Seller's Creed.
The Seller's Creed
I will not make sales. I will make Customers.
I will target the heart of my Customer. Never their wallet.
My Customer is the lifeblood of my business.
Though I may sell my Customers what they want, I will deliver what they need and make their lives better.
Courtesy and Service are cornerstones of my relationship with my Customer.
I will view complaints as opportunities... opportunities to create lifelong Customers.
The quality of my products and how I treat my Customers will determine the level of My Success.
My prosperity will come from 'growing' people.
My best advertisement is my product, and, the Customer service behind it.
Making money without making friends is not good business.
I will guide my business with the perfect blend of heart and mind.
I will make Integrity my trademark. After all, isn't integrity all I have and all I will be remembered for?
I will compete only against myself as the only true measurement is against myself.
It is fine to fail. In fact, it is most often a requirement of success.
My reputation is everything - my ego, nothing.
Every pittance I earn unjustly is a debt of fortune I must repay.
No matter the fame or fortune that may follow me, My values,
My family and My friends must remain at the very core of my being.
Better I be trusted and respected, than be materially rich.
Better I be a dolphin swimming with sharks, than a shark.
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