Welcome to the Join Up Dots Podcast with John Bertino
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Introducing John Bertino
Today’s guest joining us on the Join Up Dots podcast is the owner of TAG, a new an innovative agency based in Philadelphia USA.
As he says “Let’s be honest, anyone can call themselves a marketing “expert” and anyone can open a “marketing agency”.
The result: Unqualified marketing providers are everywhere causing many brands to get burned and precious company resources to get squandered.
This is not the case with today’s guest, as John’s professional background stems from over a decade in the agency space where he consulted with clients on SEO and inbound marketing campaigns.
During that time, John watched sales people and marketing agencies fight tirelessly to one-up each other and impress prospective clients with industry jargon, flashy proposals, and agency
How The Dots Joined Up For John
Perhaps most concerning – a remarkable amount of the strategic recommendations agencies give their clients is predicated on what’s convenient for them – not the client’s situation.
Enter TAG; arguably the world’s first true marketing consultancy, 100% focused on providing brands unbiased direction, education and vetted agency recommendations.
These days, John and his team at TAG consult with brands of all sizes on just about every area of marketing.
He personally teaches several courses on the subject at the University of San Diego, Drexel University, SCORE and other accredited educational institutions.
John also organizes large events for marketers and entrepreneurs through his group the SoCal Marketing Club, one of the west coast’s largest digital marketing clubs.
So why do people still focus on a splash everywhere method of marketing, instead of knowing where the vein of gold is?
And is marketing still a winner, or has it fallen down the ranks of everything else that is needed nowadays?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr John Bertino
During the show we discussed such deep weighty subjects with John Bertino such as:
Why there is such a problem in the industry involving quick start marketing experts claiming to be something that they aren’t.
John reveals how Tim Ferris’s The Four Hour Work Week was the catalyst for going out on his own.
Why the keys to entrepreneurship are playing into your strengths and delegating everything else that keeps you from doing your best work.
Why John believes in the anti-scale method that we believe 100% about in Join Up Dots, and the steps that he took to make that happen.
How To Connect With John Bertino
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of John Bertino
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
John Bertino [0:25]
Yes, hello, a good morning, everybody. Good morning and welcome to Join Up Dots. Thank you so much for being here. As always, Well, today’s guest who’s joining us on the show is the owner of take a new and innovative agency based in Philadelphia, US Ray as he says, let’s be honest, he says he’s he doesn’t say in an English accent, but it’s the best I can do. Let’s be honest, anyone can call themselves a marketing expert and anyone can open a marketing agency The result? unqualified marketing providers are everywhere, causing many brands to get burned and precious company resources to get Wonder now, this is not the case with today’s guest as his professional background stems from over a decade in the agency space where he consulted with clients on SEO and inbound marketing campaigns and during that time, he watched salespeople and marketing agencies fight tirelessly to one up each other and impress prospective clients with industry jargon, flashy proposals and agency bluster. Now, perhaps the most concerning and it’s concerning to me, a remarkable amount of the strategic recommendations agencies give their clients is predicted on what’s convenient for them, not the client situation boo boo you marketing companies. Enter take arguably the world’s first true marketing consultancy 100% focused on providing brands and buyers direction education and vetted agency recommendations these days. him and his team at tag consult with brands of all sizes on just about every area of marketing and he personally teaches several courses On the subject at the University of San Diego Drexel University score and our accredited educational institutions. He also if a citizen enough organises large events for marketers and entrepreneurs through his group, the so cow marketing club, one on the West Coast largest digital marketing clubs. So why do people still focus on a kind of splash everywhere method of marketing, instead of really knowing where the vein of gold is and targeting that? And is marketing still a winner? Or is it folding down the ranks of everything else that is needed nowadays when I start finding out when we bring it to the show to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Mr. John Bertino. Good morning, john. How are you? I’m Fantastic.
Thank you, David. Fantastic intro. Thank you.
David Ralph [2:50]
It’s lovely to have you here. And you know, do you know how stupid I am john. All week. I knew you were coming on the show. And I’ve been thinking, why is it called tag Why is it called tag It’s just don’t do me, the agency guy as simple as that. How stupid am I?
John Bertino [3:06]
not stupid at all that we like going by tag, we lead out with that a lot. But that’s right. It’s an acronym for the agency guy. And quick clarification, and you’ll find it central to our business model. We are anything but an agency, really, we’re, we’re a consultancy that represents a multitude of agencies. And I’m sure we’ll dive into that in more detail.
David Ralph [3:28]
I’m sure we probably will, unless I get bored with the conversation and go in a totally different direction. That’s what we do. So what is an agency then for people out there that hear the word but now they’re not in that sort of environment? Actually, what would your definition of an agency be?
John Bertino [3:45]
Sure. Well, I think to some extent, that’s part of the problem, right? agency has become this loosely defined term that we associate with anybody, at least in the marketing space that is providing marketing services. So Sometimes people will call themselves an agency when they’re one one person. But I would argue that as soon as you’re more than one, you’re two or more than you could technically call yourself an agency. And you know, you can call yourself an agency with little to no credentials, experience, accolades, case studies. There’s there’s no formal agency certification team. And those are a few of the reasons why there’s a bit of a problem in the marketplace.
David Ralph [4:25]
Yeah, but there’s a problem everywhere. And if you’ve listened to multiple episodes of Join Up Dots, I do repeat myself because there’s certain things that get out my nose, but I get pitched by a lot of people that are experts, but they’ve only been doing it since last Tuesday. And you know, it drives me mental and the first thing I do I go over to their LinkedIn profile, and when I see that there’s hardly anything on there, or that they was working for a bank in Philadelphia and now they’re an expert in marketing, whatever. How do we overcome this, john? How do we overcome this, this dive in And I’m brand brand ourselves because I accept people have to get going. And I accept that you become an expert by doing more of and learning. I accept all that. But how can we sort of overcome this and actually protect the people out there that are buying into these marketing people?
John Bertino [5:18]
Sure, well, I don’t think the problem is going where anywhere anytime soon, right, the barriers to entry to become or call yourself an agency or marketing consultant, or next to nothing. And not only that, but the lifestyle that can potentially come with being a small nimble agency is quite appealing. And there’s information all over the web that can help people get started. So the low barriers to entry the lack of necessary credentials or qualifications, and again, the lifestyle benefits are resulting in a multitude of people flooding in and saying, I’m a marketer, I’m a marketing expert and wanting to charge you for it. And that’s great for them. That’s great for entrepreneurship. And I support those who give a real effort into becoming a refined expert in the field, but many don’t. And that’s created a real problem for brands that want to go out and find reliable marketing talent marketing support, and that’s why we created tag
David Ralph [6:19]
now talking about it around but problem one of the things is so many of these companies charge but actually don’t guarantee the results and people like Facebook adverts and and Google ads and they they charge for their services, but the results don’t come back in. Once again. How do you deal with battery issue so that you can say to people that if you’re going to pay for us to do work, you’re actually going to get it or is that not possible?
John Bertino [6:51]
Sure. So let me mention our model and and backdoor into your question. So what we do at tag is essentially empower brands to hire the perfect marketing partners, and also to invest in the ideal or proper marketing strategies. Right. So we’re a consultancy, but we represent about 200 different agencies and consultants. And when we meet with brands, we do so in an objective, unbiased way, and say, Look, if we were in your shoes, essentially, if we were cmo for a day, if you will, or cmo for the week or the month, if we were in your shoes, how would we approach these problems? What marketing channels will we invest in? Why would we invest in them? We set expectations to your question about results, we set expectations around what proper results actually look and feel like and then when we’re all aligned on what we want to do and why we want to do it. That’s when we essentially matchmake them with one of our vetted marketing agency partners or service providers. So we represent about as a A 200 or so different teams, which is quite a few, but at the same time, a manageable number. And that depth of a roster allows us to essentially married the perfect marketing partner solution to the ideal brand need. And in doing so we take out all the time, headaches, and uncertainty that go with trying to find a good marketing partner. Well, I might go well,
David Ralph [8:23]
I’m gonna jump in with another question just so how do we know that? You know, john, how do we know about tag Mo’s, we’ve always different industries, they’ve obviously got all different marketing needs. How is your experience so of all covering? Sure,
John Bertino [8:41]
well, the short answer would be if you give us a call, I think that experience will immediately come through each one of the consultants on my team has at least a decade or more of experience. And generally speaking, you can tell pretty quickly when you’re talking with someone that’s really specialised in these various channels for a while, but Beyond that, I think if if you dive into tag and look at the different different members on our team, you’ll see ridiculous amounts of credentials, accolades, social proof. We’re all essentially teachers, speakers contributors, teaching it, major universities are contributing to major publications. We even have a team member that speaks literally for Google. She’s on Google’s payroll as a as a speaker and a mentor. So all the credentials are there. But again, I think honestly, just with the conversation, usually that comes through pretty immediately. And I should mention, we actually don’t charge for any of the consulting we do not typically anyway, the idea is that provide free, unbiased, objective seasoned expertise at no cost to earn that trust. And then we make a recommendation on who we think you should work with.
David Ralph [9:47]
Right? Okay. So I want to spin away from what you do to where you started, because you’re on Join Up Dots is very much about how people actually overcome the struggles of growing a business and teething troubles all the way through. He’s just different troubles you have to deal with. Now you’re sitting there, Mr. JOHN bertino. And you’re in your bedroom, in your lucky underpants, I always think this and you come up with this idea of you’re going to go your, your own way and do your own thing. It’s all white to think that and as I say, everything is built twice, once in your brain. And once actually, in real life, and in real life one is a lot harder than building in your brain. What was the first steps that you took to actually create something that was your own income producing? Empire suppose?
John Bertino [10:38]
Sure, I love this topic. And by the way, how did you know about my lucky underpants? We both got lucky on my parents, john,
David Ralph [10:44]
we’ve all got lucky underpants until we get married, and then those lucky underpants disappear.
John Bertino [10:50]
Fantastic. Well, so let’s see. I love this topic. By the way, it’s really what I’m passionate about you and I have that in common is I don’t know if it was a linear thing for most people, it’s probably not. But I know I realised fairly early in my professional career probably 5678 years in that. I guess I was a leader not necessarily a leader of of men per se, although I’d like to think I’ve grown into that. But just I needed to kind of do my own thing. It’s really who I was. I didn’t know at the time that I necessarily needed to be self employed, but I knew I kind of had to do it my own way. And then I came across Tim Ferriss, his book, I’m sure it’s been mentioned on the show, if not thousands of times, but you know, I came across it more or less when it right came out. I believe the books a good 20 years older, so at this point, and he had talked about, and I’m paraphrasing here, because it’s been, as I said, probably 1015 years since I read it, but if he had said something to the effect of, would you rather make money million dollars a year and work for someone else and have no time to yourself and not be able to make your own decisions? Or would you rather make a quarter a half or a quarter of that and be completely empowered to do what you want with your time. And for me the choice was clear, it was it was definitely the latter, right. And so between just recognising the way I was functioning in the corporate environment, and coming across material and content like that, that which was starting to become the norm, I just knew that I had to slowly but surely work my way into working for myself.
David Ralph [12:32]
I’ve actually got that book in my hand at the moment, the four hour workweek, and I haven’t read it for years, to be honest. But I pick it up and I wonder every now and again, whether I should go back and actually read it, whether it’s covenant whether the logic behind it is still relevant now, I don’t know. What do you think is was it obvious time or, or should we still promote it as the go to book?
John Bertino [12:59]
Yeah, it’s A little bit of both. I don’t know if I would promote it as the go to book per se, but it’s certainly kind of the one of the foundational books of entrepreneurship in its modern form. It’s a great read. For anyone that’s aspiring to go out on their own, just go into it, knowing that some of it will definitely be dated. I
David Ralph [13:21]
was the poster boy for that book. And I actually did literally everything he said in there. And it worked. It worked like a dream. The only problem that I had was, once I freed myself up from work by, as he says, asking for a Friday off and been asking for Thursday off and then building up a portfolio of work because I had this extra free time. It all worked until somebody didn’t want it to work. And when a new manager came in and didn’t like the fact it all failed like a pack of cards and that literally was the catalyst for me saying, sod this I’m going to go out and start my own thing. Little did I know where I was going to head but the passion was very Because you can’t go back, can you once you’ve had control of your time and your income, and as I always say to people, the fact that you pay your own taxes so you think about it in a way because when you in corporate land I used to just get my paid. I never, it never concerned me that they were actually paying the right tax It Was this something that was taken out of my bank account. Once you actually had that control, you’re never coming back on a job.
John Bertino [14:26]
Now, it’s, it’s really true, or at least you’ll find out very early on in the journey, whether or not this is for you. And if you stick with it for a while, I don’t know even a year or two there’s I’d say there’s no going back from that point. And you know, it’s interesting, I had the exact same experience that you reference where there was a point where I had some flexibility I was making. I had some good clout within the company I was working for the ownership really respected me at the time and gave me a lot of leeway and flexibility with my schedule and Through that I started to put some pieces in place to, to, I guess move out on my own eventually I wasn’t in a rush at the time. And then he brought in a new manager and all that came crashing down. But in some ways that was kind of the catalyst I needed to, to take it to the next step.
David Ralph [15:15]
Now, when you take that step, because one of the things that people struggle with, and I struggled with it myself, so a lot of the questions are very much leading. I wasn’t earning enough. So people were saying delegate delegate out, but I couldn’t earn enough to delegate out because I didn’t have enough to pay the bills. Anyway. Do you remember that time when you literally were trying to grow and you were doing everything yourself John Bertino?
John Bertino [15:42]
I sure do.
Yeah, I mean, I mean, absolutely. But you have to find some tasks that you can delegate and they don’t even necessarily need to be core to your offering. So a good example on us would be would be something like bookkeeping or in invoicing and stuff like that. Maybe there’s some simple administrative tasks that you can take off your plate to let you focus on the actual service. you’re offering little changes, little micro delegations can really start to add up and give you the momentum you need.
David Ralph [16:17]
Yeah, but only if you’ve got a certain amount of income to pay for people, because otherwise you’re you’re taking it from where you haven’t got it anyway. And if there’s somebody out there, who is wanting to take the corporate leap, and they’ve got a mortgage to pay, and they’ve got all the kind of bills that I need to pay, the fault of hiring someone when they haven’t got enough to cover what they need to cover anyway is difficult.
John Bertino [16:41]
Yes, but I would, I would counter that. You can outsource but honestly, it can be little things even around the house, right? And we’re talking to that aspiring entrepreneur that’s really feeling locked in their job. They’re starting a side hustle, but they’re kept on their time. And they’re saying, well, gee, I would love to outsource things, but I don’t have I don’t have the money for it right and i would counter Well, you can outsource mowing the lawn, so you don’t have to do it. And you can have an extra hour for your side hustle. You can outsource ideated ideas for a blog post by writing out a blueprint, finding someone on Upwork or an intern at a local college and giving them $20 to go out and help you ideate what your next 10 blog posts will be. You can outsource cleaning the house so that you don’t have to do it and like the lawn you can focus on your business. Even little things like that can really add up and every hour counts.
David Ralph [17:38]
So when did you get to the point? Actually, I’m going to ask that question. I’m going to come back to it. Let’s listen to Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [17:44]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love. So when
David Ralph [18:11]
did you get jumping back to my my brilliantly posed question interrupted by Jim. But you actually loved doing what you’re doing because we see it time and I remember speaking to so many guests on the show. But say, they went from a corporate gig to creating an income, some of them creating millions and absolutely hated every second of it. It just wasn’t the right business for them. This seems to be the right business for us. So when did you actually tap into the love and think yeah, this this is my thing. And it’s not just a stepping stone to someone new.
John Bertino [18:46]
Yeah, I love that question. And it was, it was never a conscious effort to Well, let me back up. I had come across multiple books or teachers or mentors, you know, just through the internet podcasts, book recommendations, things like this, that it said one of the keys to entrepreneurship was to play into your strengths. And kind of to our prior discussion or prior question, try to outsource or delegate the rest. The more you can focus on your strengths and delegate the things that aren’t your strengths, the more likely you are to succeed. So from day one, before I even had the business idea, I was coming at it from that mentality. And so I was always focused on Well, what are my strengths? And this is such a great question for me because I literally built tag around what I knew I was good at. So what what does tag essentially do not to not to get on tag again, but this plays right into your question. we consult, which means I needed to know marketing, and we do business development. I mean, really, we are a marketing team that does business development for agencies, right. So I knew That I was good with people. And you know, I’ve never fancied myself to be honest, as much of a salesperson I really really never have. Although I was told by so many people you’re great at sales or I was always in sales roles didn’t really see myself as sales. I saw myself as a consultative I guess a consultative business development person, but it really was about developing relationships. It was always about business development and the relationships for me and I knew I liked doing that. So I, I leaned into that over and over and over again, and to this day, that’s I try to focus on just those two things. That is being really good at my marketing Aquaman. So I can provide great advice to brands and then the selling just happens naturally, the business development becomes easy. And to your prior question again, I looked at Delhi, everything else.
David Ralph [20:53]
Now, that is just super talent. Obviously. We have every super talent there is the kryptonite. will bring you down. And as we see in business time and time again, most people are brilliant at seeing what’s wrong with other people’s businesses but actually can’t see what’s wrong with their own. It’s like blinkered, for some reason, what would be your your kryptonite around your neck that you knew in early days that you actually had to get help with?
Unknown Speaker [21:24]
Well, I think to some extent, we I still work on that kryptonite every day. And that would be that our model is structured and your questions are so nicely laid out, because one really is leading leading right into the other. Our model as I just described, it is not especially scalable, but I’m of the belief that one of the best ways to kind of carve out a unique value proposition and provide unique value is to, in a sense, do something that’s that’s hard to scale, right? Because once you’re really good at something that can’t be replaced by machines, you Then kind of own that, and then you can kind of figure out the micro improvements you can make to scale it. So the kryptonite to your question is that our model is not especially scalable. Now I have surrounded myself by other people just like me. But even still, it’s hard to scale human capital. And so, whereas there are store sites online that attempt to match people with the right agency, but they’re algorithmic, they’re not consultative, they don’t really get to know you your time, your company, your brand. And so they will always struggle to provide that bespoke hand holding approach that we provide. We’ve come at it from the opposite side, we’ve got that part dialled in, and we’re kind of to some extent slowly working our way into how do we make this more scalable and so and so that’s the kryptonite but I’m aware of it. Right. I think that’s the key being self aware, being honest with yourself about where the weak points are not getting intimidated and running from them, owning them and slowly chiselling away at them.
David Ralph [23:00]
Okay, so that’s the business kryptonite. What about yourself personally, john, what was the things that you look at and you go, really is not mapping at all.
Unknown Speaker [23:11]
Outside of business? Well, that’s, that’s interesting. I think, if I’m honest about it right, again, in the spirit of honesty, when you are entrepreneurial, many of us, if not all of us, have a real tendency to be a bit scattered. Because once you get a taste of the good life air quotes, as we talked about it earlier, because there’s plenty of struggles with the good life, right? Once you get a taste of it, you start to some extent being led into well, oh, here’s an interesting idea. And maybe I’m quite smart. And I can turn this into a business too. And there’s definitely a tendency for us to get scattered and overconfident. And so just constantly raining myself in staying focused and only diving into other product projects that are jacent to what I’m currently working on and succeeding with is key. And so I certainly have to challenge myself there.
David Ralph [24:07]
It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because I always people say to me, you know, what’s the success? How do you create a successful podcast? And I say to him, do it for seven years, you know, and it’s a kind of flippant response, but it’s true. There’s the persistence, there’s the consistency, there’s the repetition, all those things that sort of build into it. Now, when I look at what I do on Join Up Dots, I think I’ve got more success from this show than anything else I’ve done. Just because I’ve kept at it. Were a lot of things I look back a while I used to do, could have gone somewhere, but I kind of didn’t think about the financial shoots were coming up quick enough, where I could have wanted those financial shoes because as soon as you get some money, it proves that there’s money there. When you look at yourself, is that something that you’re aware of, in not just your own business, but other people’s businesses, but they pivot too quickly instead of just getting their head down and doing the work.
Unknown Speaker [25:05]
Yes, there’s there’s some of that, I think, right to our prior discussion about being a bit too scattered and not focusing. But, you know, another I’m going to actually look at that from the opposite end of the spectrum. I think a more common problem I see is people doubling tripling quadrupling down on on an idea that that might not be good. And that’s a conversation no one’s no one wants to have and, and it’s, you know, people being polite often don’t want to tell you, but I think I would challenge every entrepreneur to be really honest about whether or not they’re solving a problem that people have or whether or not they’re trying to create something. That’s just what what they want to do whether or not it’s actually helping people in the process.
David Ralph [25:47]
Is it Oh, as simple as that, because we talk about this all the time solving problems, is that really what business is all about? Or is that just a strap willing but kind of works?
Unknown Speaker [26:00]
No, I really think that’s what business is all about. I think the data has proved that out. And if you look at some of the most successful startups over the last decade, you’ll see what they’re focused on is making pivots and iterations that lean into where the problems actually are and taking focus away from things they were doing, because it was convenient for them. So I absolutely think that’s one of the fundamental keys to success.
David Ralph [26:25]
Because somebody like the iPod, for example, you can have 1000 songs, you can have your entire record collection in your back pocket. That really wasn’t a pain point. I think, up to that point. Nobody was walking around going, I really need to drag my entire record collection with me. But then he comes along, and it’s a global success. So is it as sort of a pivot between pain and pleasure, and although we say problems, there’s also solutions. Is that what takes somebody like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs or Richard Branson into into the stratosphere? In, but they can pivot between the two between pain and pleasure.
Unknown Speaker [27:06]
Yes, I mean, in some cases, your example with the iPod might have been just recognising. On Apple’s part them recognising how much how pleasurable to use your word would be to have access to that catalogue at once and once people got a taste of it, they’d never want to turn back. So I think you make a good point there. But you know, it’s funny because one of my passions in life has always been music. In fact, my first my first job was with with EMI the record company. So I actually was the guy walking around going I wish I could take my entire music catalogue with me so I was totally target market for that product
David Ralph [27:45]
pays amazing how he’s changed. As I say, I’ve got an Alexa in every single room and you just say Alexa play bass and playback and the songs from the past and stuff is almost taken away that that fascination that I had as a kid of hunting records down Because it’s just too easy that there used to be a thrill of going to record shops and farming through just in the hope that you would find what you were looking for.
Unknown Speaker [28:09]
Yeah, absolutely. But you know, I think back to the core thesis, right that maybe people didn’t realise they had that problem or that need or that they even had that desire, but once is put in front of them, they’re interested in it. But the way to make the iPod better and eventually evolved into a phone the way to make Alexis something that’s not just a one, but a need is to again, take that data on how customers are reacting to it, using it, what they do and don’t like and always making the improvements, the micro improvements around what the feedback is, what the customer feedback is on what how it could be better and how to again lean into lean into their needs.
David Ralph [28:50]
We’re commonly talking to john bertino and we will be back with john after these words. Are you
Unknown Speaker [28:58]
ready to make a full time living online Check out the amazing Join Up Dots business coaching.
Unknown Speaker [29:02]
Hello, my name is Alan. And I’ve just completed the excellent eight week course with David. Before I started working with David Actually, I had no idea at all where to start.
Unknown Speaker [29:13]
I had a lot of ideas about what I probably thought was going to be good business time, he was able to help me through that desire to find that passion. Within literally minutes. We had a we had a business idea.
Unknown Speaker [29:26]
And for the last seven weeks, we’ve been building on it and building on it and the position I’m in now, I don’t think I ever got here on my own because of the amount of information that David gives the structure. He’s got the full package here and he explains it in a way that I can understand. His support is is phenomenal. I feel like this is the way business is supposed to work. David
Unknown Speaker [29:48]
helped me understand, okay, what were the next logical steps that I should do? How How can I get this up and running? So I would really recommend this as an excellent course helping you if you haven’t idea if you have no idea, really teasing that out and at some of the practicalities and steps to take to really launch your business, whether as a full time job was a side hustle. So it was really excellent. I recommend it for anybody thinking about setting up their own business. I don’t think some exaggeration to say David will totally save you, us. Thank you, David, for all your amazing help and support which keeps on going. And we certainly couldn’t be where we are today without you. So you’re awesome.
David Ralph [30:28]
So if you would love to become my next success story and have your own life changing online business, following my step by step system, fine tuned over many years to take away the effort and expense that others struggle with and come across to Join Up dots.com and book a free call with myself. Let’s get you living the easy life as it’s there waiting for you to get it that is Join Up dots.com business coaching. So over the last few years, john, we’ve seen a move and it’s a move by I’m very interested Studying and I kind of call it empty scale, where businesses maybe five or 10 years ago was all about getting more more and more of a ineffectively, they would kind of implode on themselves because the expense, the employer salary was too big for the amount of business that they’re getting in. And so the lean this has come in, how do you keep your business ticking along where you it’s not scalable, as you say, but you’ve got to have the staff in place. How do you keep that going on an even keel?
Unknown Speaker [31:34]
Yeah, you’re really preaching to the choir on that one. I’m a big believer in keeping things manageable and not needing to make it as big as it could possibly be as fast as possible, right? One step at a time, attention to detail, live in the moment. All of these things are our philosophies and ideas that I live by. Honestly, I’ve never been in a rush. Because that’s been my mindset all along, do going honestly right back to that, that Tim Ferriss quote or, or something along the lines of a quote, where it’s never been from. It’s always been about lifestyle and choice first. And the affluence will come with that into a degree that I need it to come. So I very much just focused on making the product good making the service that we provide as high quality as possible. And knowing that if I’m solving the right problems, delivering as expected, as required as as desired, that again, the money will come with it. And as long as I focus on making those micro improvements to make the business more scalable, will eventually grow in time slow and steady wins the race is my philosophy and I’m going to do that with by keeping my stress levels as low as possible and and living in the moment throughout the journey.
David Ralph [32:58]
Yeah, I agree with it. Totally. I had acute burnout and it almost killed me. I can sound quite flippant about it now, due to overwork and stress and everything. And I referenced Tim Ferriss again, we’ve mentioned him many times. But I remember, there was a chapter in there when he talked about making the decisions that leave you closest to the door. And that really is my benchmark of what I do. People can throw a lot of money at me. And if it means that I’m trapped, I’m not going to do it. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to do it. I’d much rather live a lovely lifestyle, which spins me on to where I want to go with the next question, because I always talked about getting the dream job if you listen to the Jim Carrey speech, yeah, go for what you love. But I’m wondering now whether people actually want a job at all. Is it just a means to an end? Would they prefer to have the dream life and just do what they have to do to get back? Would they rather have two days of all not very nice stuff if it meant I could have five days. Oh, great. Do what you want, whenever you want. What do you think, john?
Unknown Speaker [34:06]
Interesting. Well, how’s the famous expression go when you love what you do you never work another day in your life? Yeah. Notice that the expression wasn’t when you work for yourself, you never work another day in your life, right? It’s when you love what you do. So I think that should be the focal point coupled with and boy, there’s a lot of recurring themes because keep revisiting here. It’s it’s loving what you do, coupled with finding a way to provide true value to others. When you focus there, I think it doesn’t matter whether you’re a W two or or a W nine or a company owner. You know, that’s really what it’s about. It’s about reducing this distress, enjoying your day to day. And you know that living in the moment thing I’ve already mentioned twice, it’s become a bit cliche, hasn’t it, but we’re not the future as Alan Watts says, and I’m going to paraphrase him as well. The past is but a memory and the future doesn’t exist. All we have is what we have right here right in the moment. And so I don’t think a label as far as self employed or or employed by someone else matters as much as we’re finding happiness and success through or fulfilment through what we’re doing while helping others along the way.
David Ralph [35:24]
Because I love doing Join Up Dots, I really do. But there’s certain parts of Join Up Dots I don’t love, and I’m willing to do it. And I’m willing, even though I could delegate it out to somebody, I’m willing to do it because it’s important to me. It’s like the introductions, the research, the due diligence, people say to me, why don’t you just get somebody to write the intros for you? And I say no, because I learned so much about the person I’m speaking to. I’ve got to do that. So once again, is a means to an end to give me a more enjoyable product and more enjoyable podcast, or actually doing the work but yeah, I know I’ve got to do my introductions, but it’s something I have to do.
John Bertino [36:06]
Yeah, we’ll look the work will always be work. So perhaps that expression about working another day in your life is a bit stretched. But certainly, it’ll be a lot easier and a lot less stress if we’re pursuing a passion while helping others in the process. But yes, the work is always there. You know, we tell I made a reference earlier to it’s a little bit of a myth that you know, you’re living the dream when you’re self employed. It’s funny i’ve i’ve remote works because I have a job this largely digital can be done online or over the phone that’s allowed me to remote work from all kinds of really fun places. But I’ll tell you, regardless of whether I’m in paradise on the beach with a laptop, and I’ve been there, or in some gorgeous vineyard somewhere at the end of the day, I am actually still staring at my MacBook Air and writing email. Males like the rest of us, and frustrated by what sometimes on occasion when I’m reading, right, so the work never really goes away. And so you just need to be at peace with that. And hopefully you’re loving what you do and providing value in the process.
David Ralph [37:14]
Because I’m interested in this concept because of the way they operate. I do all my work. And then when I’m not doing my work, I don’t do anything at all. I don’t carry around with me. And there was a time in the early days, when I’d go on vacation and half the time I was trying to find dodgy Wi Fi somewhere because the kids were in the pool. And it was important for me to do this. But now, you know, people say to me, Oh, yes. Is your podcast setup portable, and I go, yeah, it probably is, but I never move it from where it is. It stays there and I walk away from it. Do you think once again that that flexibility of taking your work with you means that you actually never really savour where you are because you’ve always got that ability to just log on. Can if you let it absolutely.
John Bertino [38:04]
We need to I would recommend to any entrepreneur that’s in the throes of it to find a way to turn it off. So sure, I mean, we can attempt to enhance that work experience by putting ourselves in beautiful surroundings. But I would discourage those already in beautiful surroundings from and from injecting the work experience into it unless they absolutely need to. Right. There’s a difference there. So yeah, I mean, any entrepreneur needs to find a way to get away, whether it’s through meditation or the gym, which in my opinion, are one in the same or time with their family. work life balances is critical. It’s another one of those things that’s become cliche to say, and but we must absolutely must challenge ourselves to do it without those little respites and the things I was just mentioning. I don’t think myself or my company would be nearly where it is today.
David Ralph [39:00]
Let’s hear from somebody who’s no longer with us. But his words are whether we add work life balance, right? I don’t know, his Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [39:08]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny life karma, whatever, because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [39:43]
So does do those words make all the difference?
John Bertino [39:46]
Oh man can I resonate with with that passage? I completely agree. I you know if through my professional journey or career path, looking back at the beginning of it I was I was doing or tasked with a lot of things that, you know, were fine. There was a way to make ends meet. But I didn’t really realise that I was taking away certain skill sets and learning certain things that would help me so much in the future. It’s really almost bizarre, amazing. Destiny, call it what you will. But so many of those things that I was I was doing in the moment early in my career are exactly the things that have helped me thrive today. A quick example would be I already mentioned my first job out of college I was with the fun and exciting EMI Records, but actually it was a terrible time in the music business. Napster had just hit about 234 years prior and everything was in shambles. Nobody was making any money. There was downsizing left and right. It was unfortunate for me because it was always a dream to make it there. But what I ended up really finding myself doing what I spent a good chunk of my time or one of my requirements was to organise events. And then they events, my ability to quickly and easily coordinate events have turned out to be instrumental in my success with the agency guy. And that’s just one example. I could throw several at you. But if you take that first 510 years of work experience and all the key things I was doing and add them up, it’s essentially brought me to literally what I do day in and day out today.
David Ralph [41:27]
Do you think that the bad times really are the ones that we’ve got to go? Yeah, it doesn’t feel like it went through it. It’s terrible. But do you think that we actually have to say, yeah, there’s a lesson here, I’m going to gain more from this vein, the easy stuff
John Bertino [41:43]
100% and chances are that whatever you’re doing through the bad times, as you put it, you’re doing something that’s a valuable skill. That’s going to be instrumental in your success. I mean, if you look at every every situation, is the learning experience, one could argue that there are no true bad times. I mean, it’s an easy thing to say. But there’s almost always a lesson or a lesson that you can pick up through every experience you go through or a skill or both.
David Ralph [42:16]
And would that be a big dots? But you look back on that really kind of, as I talked about all the time, my burnout was the big dot i that’s now the thing that I look back on it. And I think everything improved after that, because it was the biggest life lesson that I had. Is there something that you look back on? And you think, yeah, fundamentally, that now shows me the path because of what I went through?
John Bertino [42:39]
a constantly every day. In fact, bring the conversation full circle. I know exactly what those key dots were David. So I was going through a period early in my marketing agency career, where I was an employee, and I was really frustrated by the different agencies. I was employed by the first one was kind of your classic, grow and scale fast sell, sell, sell, sell, sell marketing chop shop that tried to productize and package everything. And boy was that an awful experience to need to be a part of to need to be on the front lines of the sales operation being that guy. And so what I did is I swung in the exact opposite direction with my next company. I found an agency that was boutique bespoke and really serious about every client they brought on and every detail that they did, but you know what happened? They were so particular about every project they brought on this as someone that was compensated by new business, we I was constantly losing deals because the owner or management would talk the client out of it all the time. Now, in retrospect, that’s the much better way to run a marketing agency the way that guy was doing it, but I got to see opposite ends of the spectrum right? The marketing agency universe, I got to see the different ways it felt to work within those environments, the different ways clients were handled. And I started to get a feel through my my employment after that of everything in between the point being that all during that way, I was fairly frustrated. I was a W two employee that couldn’t quite find the right scenario for the right agency to work in all of them felt flawed in their own way. And yes, I was kind of angry and frustrated and didn’t know where I was heading. And guess what? That was their epiphany when I said, you know, what, if only one I could represent multiple agencies, not just one or two, if only the brands and clients that were flowing through these agencies were had some assistance and essentially getting matched to the one that was the perfect fit because that’s another detail and touched on clients a lot of times will get really frustrated. did with the agency they’re working with. And when the relationship blows up, they’ll say that agency was terrible. And that agency will say that client was terrible. And oftentimes, neither is true. Oftentimes, they were just a bad fit for one reason or another. So I saw that and said, If only I could match make those people together. So 100% my career and company story is one of connecting the dots.
David Ralph [45:22]
Yeah, it always is, is a leading question. But there’s always a story behind the success. And there’s always a part of the show called the Sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to speak to your younger version, and this is it. So if you could go back in time, and you could speak to the young john, what age and what advice would you like to give him? Well, we’re gonna find out because I’m gonna play the music. And when it fades your up, this is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [46:00]
John Bertino [46:12]
Absolutely Do I have a great tidbit here for you something that’s been fundamental in instrumental in in helping me grow my company. And not only is it something we haven’t discussed, but it’s something I hear almost nobody talking about. And so I’m pretty sure this will be the theme for my future book. And that is build assets and leverage those assets to network and grow your business. So let me explain what I mean by assets in this context. As a service provider, it was often recommended to me to go out and network networking events go out and join groups, so on and so forth. And so I took that advice and still to this day do it, but boy did I find it frustrating and Didn’t understand all the hype at first I’d go to these networking events i’d and I would I would meet, say for example a financial advisor. And I would say I do marketing and essentially say, Do you want marketing? And he would say I advise on finances. Do you want me to advise you on finances and neither of us wanted either and that was basically the story of every networking event. And then something happened. I joined a meetup group meetup.com, I joined an SEO Meetup group to rub elbows with other marketers in search engine optimization. That group leader gave the group up and I took it over and right there, I had my first asset, didn’t realise it, but I did. And then all of a sudden, when I would go to networking events, I’d meet people I’d meet that same financial advisor and he’d want to sell me finance and I’d want to sell him marketing and the conversation would go nowhere. And when the conversation went nowhere, I’d say, Hey, you know what? You might be interested, since you’re not ready to buy marketing or hire for marketing, whatever it is, you might be interested in, come out to my Meetup group. And come meet other professionals and learn a little bit for yourself and it’s either free or five bucks or whatever. And immediately the conversation started to change. And it’s it’s, it’s it’s par for the course with content marketing to talk about adding value and moving people through the buyers journey and multiple stages of the funnel and all that’s true, but this is a little bit different than that. Because this was me finding a different way outside of my core profession to add value to people. And what ended up happening is I ended up again, not even really realising what I was doing acquiring multiple meetup groups with different themes, somewhere marketing focused different areas of marketing, others were entrepreneurial focus. And that gave me more and more assets that allowed me to add more and more value to different types of people. And then I started teaching, started teaching marketing at University of San Diego. And then when I would be at a meet networking group or or even just at say a co working space talking to people and I met that young aspiring marketer or that young aspiring business owner, who again, had no interest in what I had to sell, didn’t want to buy anything from me didn’t want to meet an agency. But I could say, oh, you’re aspiring to be a better marketer, you’re aspiring to launch your business, you should come to my meetups, you should check out the course I teach at University of San Diego Did you know they have a great continuing education programme, and the more kind of assets as I’m calling them that I acquired, the more I was able to add value to almost everyone I met at these events. And I can tell you, it’s snowballed. And I’ve never looked back. Other examples of this I’ve seen put into practice, or I’ve seen my business partners do or I’ve kicked tires or flirted with myself would be things like for example, exactly what you’re doing podcasting. Right. So you could meet for example, that aspiring realtor and they would say, look, I really want to market my business. I really want to network better. I go to these networking events. I’m getting nothing out of it. I would wager that them launching a meetup group their own meetup. Starting to teach a class, podcasting, mentoring, developing these different assets that they can leverage provide value to people in all different situations, has ended up being critical to my success with the agency guy. So if I could go back in time and speak to John Bertino, 10 years ago, I would say, build assets, acquire assets and leverage them to provide values to others. Even if there’s no one like direct one to one ROI or benefit, the ROI will come through the relationships you will build.
David Ralph [50:36]
I think there’s a book there, John Bertino, I really do listening to that. I think that is advice for everybody, isn’t it? So um, so what what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you?
John Bertino [50:47]
Sure, so they can go to the agency guide calm, and we’ve set up a page specific for our conversation today, David, and that is the agency guide. com back forward slash dots, the See guy.com forward slash dots. And it’s easy for them to book a consultation with us download our latest ebook on search engine optimization and connect with us on social and things like that.
David Ralph [51:11]
We’ll have over links on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. John Bertino, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And as always, please come back again when you’ve got more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is always the best way to build our futures. John Bertino. Thank you so much.
John Bertino [51:31]
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
David Ralph [51:36]
Mr. John Bertino, from Philadelphia, USA. So what did we learn there? You’ve got to have the idea. You’ve got to have the passion. You’ve got to delegate as soon as you possibly can. It is about solving problems is not all about scale scale scale is about trying to provide the best service you possibly can. And even though it is market I still feel that word of mouth marketing is potentially the best. You know, it’s not all about Facebook ads. It’s not all about Google ads. It’s not all about all the things that we talk about. If you’re doing something really good, and people share, then your business will grow. So you don’t think about the thousands you think about the one that you’re dealing with, and see where it takes you. Thank you, as always, Bye, everybody out there. And thank you for everyone who’s leaving ratings and reviews on iTunes and they’re starting to sort of creep up again now, which is really, really good. And anybody’s got any guest ideas or any concept ideas, just drop us a line, Join Up email@example.com I will personally respond to you and, and we’re, we’re help drive the show in the direction you want. Until next time, thank you so much. And we’ll see again, bye bye.
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