Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Merlin U Ward
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Introducing Merlin U Ward
Todays guest ready for a grilling on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast is Mr Merlin U Ward,
He is a man who certainly comes from an entrepreneurial background.
After successfully launching his first business at eighteen he found he had a skill for building business process alongside the marketing of those businesses.
He adopted the philosophy “marketing is a part of everything,” where marketing is approached as part of every business process from product development to accounts receivable, which certainly from my experience of working in corporate land goes against my knowledge of things.
It is from this philosophy and his years consulting businesses in Arizona, that Merlin fell in love with the many different ways that social media can be used to flood the marketing machine with rocket power.
How The Dots Joined Up For Merlin
As social media evolved, he continued to explore the new networks and tools that came along with the changing landscape. He joined Renegade, an agile social media agency in New York City, in 2012.
In 2013, he published his book, You Get What You Give on social media principles and strategies for companies and brands of all sizes.
But its not all work work work, as in his free time he brews his own craft beer and travels extensively with his wife.
He states that “He is a geek and always enjoys a good strategy board game. You’ll also find me in the mix wearing funky socks!”
So what do I start with first the socks, or his amazing business acumen?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Merlin U Ward
During the show we discussed such weighty topics such as:
How he has only met one other chap with the name Merlin in his life!
How the first business failure that he ever had was in hindsight such a great learning curve!
How the beauty of Google is its simplicity…..and its this simplicity which made them a game changer!
How success can come from any direction and doesn’t have to be simply an online route!
Find your desire and need to pay things forward and you will never look back!
Books By Merlin U Ward
How To Connect With Merlin U Ward
Of course if you want to hear all our amazing shows then jump over to the podcast archives to hear thousands of interviews by simply clicking here.
Audio Transcription Of Merlin U Ward Interview
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.
David Ralph [0:25]
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Episode 29. Really, I say this on almost every episode, but I can’t believe that we’re whizzing through into the 30s already. So this is the last one in the 20s. And we’ve got a good one. Today, we have got a gentleman all the way from New York City. And he’s a guest that certainly comes from an entrepreneurial background. After successfully launching his first business at 18 just 18. He found he had a skill for building business process. Alongside the marketing of those businesses. He adopted a philosophy that marketing is a part of everything where marketing is a process part of every business process, from product development to accounts, which certainly from my experience, working in corporate land goes against my knowledge of things marketing seems to sit somewhere on its own. It’s from this philosophy and his years consulting businesses in Arizona that he fell in love with the many different ways that social media can be used to flood the marketing machine with Rocket Power. As social media evolved, he continued to explore the new networks and tools that came along with the changing landscape. Until joining Renegade and agile social media agency in New York City in 2012. Next year 2013 he published his book, you get what you give on social media principles, and strategies for companies and brands of all size. But it’s not all work work work as any free time he brews his own beer and travels extensively with his wife. He states where he’s a geek and always enjoys a good strategy board game. And you’ll also find me in the mix wearing funky socks. So what do I start with first, the socks always amazing business document. Well, let’s just start by introducing you to the one and only Merlin. You ward. How are you today, sir?
Merlin U Ward [2:13]
Doing well, David, thank you.
David Ralph [2:15]
It’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. And I’ll be honest, you’re the first Merlin I’ve ever met.
Merlin U Ward [2:23]
Back to I hear that quite often. So I hope that I’m a good Merlin that you’ve asked met. And I don’t put a bad a bad flavour in your mouth about the name.
David Ralph [2:32]
No, no, it’s a fascinating name, isn’t it? Obviously your first call is of the wizard and stuff. But is it? Is it a name that comes through your family? Is it was your dad called Merlin and your uncle and whatever?
Merlin U Ward [2:45]
No, actually, it’s it comes exactly from what your first thought was. My mother was reading Camelot when she was pregnant, and thought Merlin was a good name.
David Ralph [2:54]
And when was it? And how have you felt about it? Has it? Has it been difficult going to school in that being a Merlin?
Merlin U Ward [3:02]
Actually not no one really seems to tease the Merlin. No, throughout school, I got the occasional Do you do magic tricks, but never never teasing or extensive teasing, which is surprising because I was somewhat of the outcast and the younger years of schooling, didn’t really grow up until high school. But throughout the whole period, I never really was a victim of any teasing or bullying. You know, internet was just coming out then no cyber bullying on my end either. So it worked out really well. The name? No, I think he’s I think he’s a fantastic name. Have you ever been to
David Ralph [3:34]
I won’t keep going on about a baby. Have you ever been in a room when you’ve met another Merlin?
Merlin U Ward [3:40]
Only once. I was running a conference in Arizona. And one of our speakers was Merlin man of the of the many folder. The thing is 41 folders. Yeah. And he was there. And it was kind of odd to speak to another Merlin. And I think we both kind of felt that way about it. We had some white conversation on our separate ways to go pee or Unix selves again.
David Ralph [4:04]
Yeah, absolutely. I was in a doctor surgery once, probably about 1015 years ago. And I don’t know if I had the same thing in American doctor surgeries, but they will just you all sit in chairs or waiting. And then they will shout out the name for the person. Now they sort of do do it with a electronic scoreboard kind of thing that you just see your name up, come up silently. But in these days, they would shout out the name. And they shouted out is there a James Bond which is you know, quite a strange name to have. And we all turned round. And there was two James Bond’s in the in the place. And they both got up. I was so surprised to see the other James Bond like it never happened in their life. And we was all surprised to see not just one James Bond but to James Bond’s and it stuck with me stuck moved me that a name like that, which is quite a normal name. Obviously, it’s got the movie connotations can cause such a ripple every time it’s mentioned.
Merlin U Ward [5:02]
Yeah, that’s amazing. I would love to meet a James Bond.
David Ralph [5:06]
There’s a lot of fun you could have on that one. But you could Can you Yeah,
yeah. So so getting onto your your life, your you started your first business at the age of 18, I wouldn’t have known how to started a business. I can’t even start a business. Now. I’m 44 years old. How do you go about it at the age of 18? Is it an idea that you come up with and you blindly follow it through? Or was there more of a structure to it?
Merlin U Ward [5:33]
You know, to be honest, at 18, I probably didn’t really know how to start my own business. But I did it and learned quite a bit from it, I would say that if you ever want to learn how to do a business, you should just start trying to do one, because the learning curve you’ll have is extensively steep. But it can come with quite a lot of a lot of benefits. You know, not everyone is so so successful, full as they are written up. So you know, even even Zuckerberg had attempted a few different things before he landed on Facebook. And so you know, it’s I like to kind of revel in my in my failures. And while that wasn’t wasn’t completely a failure, we did a lot of things wrong. Both on financial and business process wise, there’s some key decisions we had made that were that were just horrible, in hindsight, but we had a lot of advisors on. On our on our side, we connected with a lot of really good people that were entrepreneurial, and had some experience and either running businesses as CEOs, or were entrepreneurs themselves. And that helped a lot. I wish sometimes I had heeded their advice a little bit more closely. We you know, we made some expensive decisions, as I mentioned earlier in the early stages of the business, but kind of worked it out, smooth it over. And so by 20 actually got the opportunity to exit that business not making a whole lot of money, but had successfully done it exited and started to move on to the next thing where with the kind of a closer passion.
David Ralph [7:07]
And what was the business the 18 year old business.
Merlin U Ward [7:11]
We wanted to start a
well, I guess I’ll start with the problem. So the problem Arizona was that DUIs were becoming very, very expensive for people. And they were starting to crack down a lot on drinking and driving. And so we wanted to solve that problem kind of in a sustainable way, in a very socially responsible business. And at that time, that was kind of a thing. It was a way to position yourself. So we went that route. And we started a livery service. So essentially picking up people at their homes, taking them out. And we had a unique way of scheduling it where we would have one vehicle scheduled for a couple different parties that kind of overlapped but would hover around the area and pick up and drop off people as they wanted to move around. We struck deals with the different locations and nightclubs the bars, though they would get discounts of the if our members arrived in the cars and and then subsidise the programme with advertising from a number of different organisations that, you know, had similar vision and ending ending the the issue with the wise and then also the bars themselves wanted to you know, entice people to come to the to advertise with us as well.
David Ralph [8:20]
That’s that seems huge. It seems huge. It seems huge for now, but at the age of 18. That there’s too many areas. I think that well, I as I say at the beginning, I couldn’t pull that off. And I don’t know many people that could pull it off. Does it just give you confidence to go on to more and more things?
Merlin U Ward [8:42]
Absolutely. I think you know, the cliche being knowledge is power. We learned a lot in that business. I learned for one that the business model that we had was complex. It wasn’t it wasn’t direct enough. We are subsidising the programme with advertising and running advertising, selling advertising as a whole business on itself, running a livery services, a business on itself. And we tried to smash them together and thinking we could manage the whole thing ourselves. And it really turned out that it wasn’t that easy. And it really started us off. Slowly, especially since neither of us were my partner and I were salesmen. So it made it difficult. on that end, we had the we had the benefit of emerging social media. So we had, you know, like Facebook, and Twitter. And we’re using that to some extent, but it wasn’t with our market. It wasn’t you know, that that solidified yet they weren’t using it in the way that people use Twitter and Facebook now. So it was just kind of have a presence and awareness, the best marketing that we ended up doing was kind of event based. Where we went to different rallies where we’re like mad might be, we weren’t allowed to associate with them, but we could hang out in the same room with them. But yeah, I mean, there was, there was a lot learned with that business. And when it came to moving on to the next one, I knew some key things, you know, I wanted to be simple, have a have a focus, kind of the Jim Collins hedgehog concept. And then also wanted to work on something that was a true passion of mine. So while the business that we started was something that I enjoyed, I think my heart probably wasn’t in it 100%, it was 80% of the way there. And when it comes to running a business, you really have to have 110% of yourself into it. And so I pursued things afterwards that were closer to my passion in the realm of marketing, which actually discovered with this first business, so I don’t think without that I would have. So without that, I don’t think I would have ended up in the in the place that I am today, certainly not in the market that I am now with social media and marketing.
David Ralph [10:50]
Yeah, he’s fascinating, isn’t it? Because the theme of the show is Join Up Dots, where we will be looking at the iconic speech by Steve Jobs back in 2009. But one of the things that has been coming out of so many of the conversations that your failures or your dark points or your weaknesses, actually, when you look back on them are the positives that you can’t see it at a time because you already involved in it. But once you actually look back on it, you think, yes, I couldn’t have gone to where I am now, without going through what I perceived as a bad time. And you feel that way? Exactly.
Merlin U Ward [11:29]
Yeah, I think, you know, they use the analogy quite a bit too. When developing businesses, they say, you know, you need to know what you’re not going to do. And you need to know what you are going to do. And failures. And a lot of ways tell people exactly what they don’t want to do anymore. Not necessarily that they need to avoid those spaces, but be able to fill in those holes in different ways. And so for me, you know, the things that went wrong in the past, gave me a lot more focus on the things that I did want to do, or hone in on the thing that I was good at, and do them better. So it really it really helped me realise myself in a way in my skills to create better businesses for the future.
David Ralph [12:11]
So did you never want to be an employee Did you never sort of come out of college or university or wherever you went and just go into the job?
Merlin U Ward [12:20]
Yeah, my, in my early years as an entrepreneur, I, I kind of shunned the employees and the employee mindset, you know, kind of, I think I pinned them as drones kind of, so to speak. But in hindsight, I might offend a little bit of an extremist. I do see entrepreneurial values in a lot of people, whether they work for companies, or they’re on their own doing their own thing. You know, it’s more, it’s more of a mindset, and a, and a kind of a practice to life than anything else. So there are people that are content with going to work and put papers and minding the minds and, and doing those jobs. But I think there are also a lot of people who are in those areas of work that aspire for a lot more and just don’t know how to get there. don’t realise that the passion they have is one that a lot of other people might have, and they can share and learn about and possibly prosper from. You know, and there is a there is that notion of kind of the entrepreneurial awakening within a person. But I don’t necessarily think that being an employee is a bad thing. You know, I’m currently employed with another company. And it isn’t an entrepreneurial environment, it’s a smaller team. It’s a very agile environment. For us, we’re exploring a lot of new things, trying new ways of doing things. And that’s, that’s, that’s the entrepreneurial environment, whether it’s being an employee or the owner,
David Ralph [13:51]
I only got to the point of becoming an entrepreneur, for the first time, this is the first time ever, but I haven’t been an employee. And I, I think my downfall was reading blogs, and looking at how people were living their life with an element of freedom that I certainly didn’t have. And if I wanted to go and see my, my kid in the school play, I basically had to cough up alone to sort of be able to get out of it. But then I saw other people conducting business in the park and on the beach, on a mobile phone, on a laptop and stuff. And it was that that sort of logic of this is what you can do if you focus in that direction. But I think actually convinced to me, but the entrepreneur route was well, I should be going into but I’d never never considered it, I’d always been an employee, and probably 80% of the time was happy being one.
Merlin U Ward [14:46]
Yeah, and see, that’s kind of the, that’s kind of the awakening that I was talking about is you, you know, you you are content, and you had aspirations for something greater and just needed to realise the potential and kind of a glimmer in light, to give you that pathway to get there.
David Ralph [15:05]
So where is the pathway for people is, is if somebody’s sitting out there listening it listening to this, and they’re on the bus, or they’re on the train and thinking, you know, I’d really like to do something, I don’t really like to be in my job anymore. is the easiest option going online?
Merlin U Ward [15:25]
Not necessarily. You know, my my side passion is brewing beer. And someday I would love to make money brewing beer or experimenting and in that industry, that is not an online industry that is manufacturing for the most part, its production line. It needs warehouse space. So no, I don’t you know, you don’t need to go online, there’s a lot of people making stuff and selling it without an online presence at all. You know, if you wanted to pursue an e commerce solution as as part of what you do, that’s great. But, you know, it’s really only one medium for marketing and sales. It’s not the end all be all. Do I think that a lot of companies might be missing out if they’re not online? Absolutely. But you definitely don’t need to be.
David Ralph [16:17]
He’s funny, we’ve got a family business. And we’ve got a cast bears, car parts accessories shop, and it’s been going for 35 years. And until about a year ago, two years ago, we’ve had no website where it was just word of mouth. And it’s been taking on for 35 years. And you know, going great guns compared to other shops have come and gone. And I convinced my parents that we had to have a website. And so they they wasn’t convinced, anyhow, I bought one. And it is amazing how the business has changed. But people within a mile radius of us have been coming in saying never knew you were here. I have never known you as here, I would have used you all the time, just because you suddenly get online presence, the brick and mortar. It is the key thing, isn’t it?
Merlin U Ward [17:06]
Yeah, I’m like I said, like you said your company was doing well, without the online presence. With a little bit more elbow grease and footwork, you probably could have gotten that one mile radius as well, sending out flyers and such. But you know, I think as more behaviour for consumers is to Google it. An online presence will definitely help help and it could accelerate growth. Absolutely.
David Ralph [17:32]
I actually remember the very first time somebody said to me, Google it. I have a very strong memory about being at a desk, and a chap saying to me, oh, why don’t you use this new search engine, Google? And I said, What was Google? And he said, oh, I’ve just been playing around with it seems pretty good. And that was probably about 2002, something like that. And it’s amazing how you say that now just Google it. And it’s just become, you know, what every single person has done? Well, why do you think just getting onto Google? Why do you think that out of all the search engines took over?
Merlin U Ward [18:10]
They definitely had a revolutionary way of approaching search. I don’t know the exact details. But at the time, it was more based on traffic for the most part. And Google kind of switched up the game and evolved and to be more relevancy based. And so the, the way of thinking about search was different with the Google engine. And that I think, got a lot of people intrigued by it. And as it proved to be, honestly a better resource than it’s when it really started to catch on. You know, it’s it’s Google it. It’s, it’s what Yahoo’s always wanted. Yahoo’s always wanted to be a verb. Hmm. And I don’t think they could they’ve ever achieved that. And, you know, even looking at the sites today, Yahoo. While it’s gotten a little sexier, content wise, on the homepage, it’s been the same for God 10 years. And whereas Google has been able to achieve everything with a simple homepage. And it’s just that it’s that clean thinking that that keeps Google ahead, I think,
David Ralph [19:22]
yeah, it’s, there’s there’s nothing to it is it other than the this sort of little Google bit changing on a daily basis, sometimes, sometimes the things like Pac Man that take my time and drag me away from what I should be doing. But there really is nothing to it is the simplest of the simplest.
Merlin U Ward [19:40]
Yeah, absolutely. And even that the changing logo is a fairly new innovation for mobile.
David Ralph [19:48]
Always not something that’s been going on forever. In my head, it seems like that’s always been part of it.
Merlin U Ward [19:53]
Yeah, no, I think I mean, that was, it didn’t start until a couple years after they had launched that, you know, they were, they were still working through the algorithm and figuring out revenue models and such, before they even got to celebrating great parts of history through Google
David Ralph [20:10]
logo. So if we if we step back, and actually sort of start connecting the dots of your life, and I’m going to play the Steve Jobs speech in a moment, because I think it has huge relevance. What what are the the key dots, if you look back that have really directed you to where you are now, was it simply taking continued action, and you naturally sort of found your path through or where were their actual key moments that directed you to being the social person that you are now?
Merlin U Ward [20:45]
Obviously, the first big dot would be that first business and the many things that we did in that it was through that business that I learned to love the idea of building business processes, which really got me intrigued by entrepreneurship. Even more I was I was already intrigued, I guess, but I fell in love with it at that point. And then I really learned a lot about marketing in that as well, because we were, we were trying to solve two problems at once, as I said, with the kind of complicated business model that we had. And both both parts where they were falling short with marketing was sales of the memberships and sales of the actual marketing marketing. So we had to, had to focus on fixing those parts. And in doing that, I really learned to love marketing and what it can do, and the idea of, you know, mass segmentation and big data and things like that. Social media from then started to grow. And I saw a lot of opportunity in that I was also mentored by a woman who introduced me to Twitter for the very first time, only a few months after I had even launched, she was, she was travelling back and forth from Arizona to the Bay Area, spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley. So she was kind of on the cutting edge of all these new technologies, and software’s and kind of a tech bubble. And she introduced me a lot to those parts. So having her in my life was another big doc. And then moving on from there, I think it was it was just trial and error. And it was lots and lots of little dots, where I was trying certain things that if it worked, I continued with it. If it didn’t, I tried to fix it or abandon it, depending on when my evaluation was. The other bigger dot, I guess would be, you know, just before moving to New York, or to actually three years before moving to New York, I started an agency of my own. So it was part of that consulting from the consulting came this agency, and I focused on only social media. And that was another big dot for me, where I got to hone in on just that one part of marketing. And I got to home the idea of marketing as part of everything and, and putting social media into other areas of business where people weren’t thinking about it. So, you know, in Arizona, I was one of the first people suggesting that they should put their Facebook and Twitter profiles on their invoices, you know, that the URLs and let people know where they are. And now you see them all over the place. They’re on TV ads there, you know, on Billboard’s and so that was, I think that was another part of a big part for me is converging into becoming a better marketer, and especially on social media. And then I decided, for a long time, I wanted to live in New York. So I picked up and left and came to Renegade. And that was another kind of a big dot joining that. And continue to hone from there. You know, I started writing that book that I published last year, while in Arizona, and had the opportunity to finish it here with a lot of the learnings and practices that I tested and moving forward with with Renegade. And I guess that was another medium sized. And moving forward, you know, who knows, like, as you say that there isn’t, there isn’t a way to really see all the dots before you get there, you have a kind of an idea of the minefield that you might you might encounter. But you don’t necessarily know which ones will be the movers and the shakers, and which is the fascinating part,
David Ralph [24:17]
isn’t it, you’ve just got to go there. And trust yourself and, and just keep on taking action and some of those. So, you know, balls, you’re going to hit out of the park and others, you’re just going to swing and miss madly, but you learn from them, don’t you? And that’s what I’m trying to get over with two people. But it’s not the fear of failure is the fear of starting, which is the bad thing. Anyone can have failures. But you learned in five years, and you possibly learn more from the failures. Ben, your successes? Would you agree with that?
Merlin U Ward [24:50]
Yeah, absolutely. You know, kind of alluding back to that before with, with the failures been defining moments, you do you learn a lot from successes, but you don’t learn how to replicate those successes unless you have failures. Because you have to know what not to do.
David Ralph [25:10]
I used to do training courses. And I used to do training courses in the City of London. And on certain courses, I became very good at doing them. So when I had the feedback, and you always used to have to do this sort of happy sheet at the end, when you handed it around, and everyone’s all ticked at stuff. It always used to come back with a glowing report. And I became really dismissive because I just bought out only saying that because I’m in the room, I’m in the room. So I tried to do so loads of different ways of getting honest feedback to myself, because I ultimately wanted the critical one, because I felt that’s the only way that I could develop by actually having somebody say to me, no, you missed a beat, but it wasn’t as good as everybody else was saying. And I never considered it as a failure, I considered it as my opportunity to learn and develop my skills even further.
Merlin U Ward [26:04]
Yeah, that’s really the way you should approach that, you know, unless, unless it’s obviously an aggravated critical feedback. But yeah, you have to see the failures as an opportunity to refine what you’re good at, to make yourself great at it. And if you’re not, if you’re not looking for those opportunities, you might just continue moving forward and kind of a mundane way. And the next thing you know, you’re mediocre and nobody cares.
David Ralph [26:31]
Absolutely. I’m going to play Steve Jobs speech as I do pretty much every show. And Ben, I’m going to ask your opinion on this, and whether it has any relevance to you in your past life, which I think we’ve already proved it has. But um, let’s see what see what he had to say.
Unknown Speaker [26:48]
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 leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [27:23]
What do you think about those words, Merlin?
Merlin U Ward [27:26]
Well, I think he’s absolutely right, you know, to say those words, Steve Jobs would have to would have to come to terms with the moments in his life where he was wrong. And I think that’s that’s part of what you were just saying is you have to know when you’re wrong. And being a be able to accept it, not dismiss it, and and grow from it. And that’s kind of how you get to the next dot, whatever that might be. looking backwards, you learn that and so I’ll give you a great example when it when it comes to the thing that went wrong in my first startup. I didn’t realise those things until years later. Literally, I think it was one day I was sitting about in my house, I was reading something online or, or an article on a new startup and I started thinking about mine. And then it just kind of clicked with my holy crap, I did that wrong, I did this wrong, I did that wrong. And then I kind of heard my mentors voices in my head. And I’m like, wow, they all told me that that was going to go wrong. And I wish I had just listened more and, you know, moving moving forward, I need to keep that in mind that there’s, there’s certain stuff that you just have to, you have to consider. You know, you know, they say, they say when you’re going to do a new business, you’re going to leap out and do something, you gotta figure it’s going to take twice as long and cost three times as much. And while we had that, in our business model, we we accounted for that, there were other things that that come along in that frame of mind that you don’t, that you don’t consider. And that is some of the critical decisions you need to make. And you don’t realise what’s critical and what’s not, until you’ve made that decision. And you kind of have to go with your gut and hope that that’s the right direction. And I think part of what was missing from that little clip of the speech is that it really comes down to values, it comes down to what you believe in what you consider important. And if you’re, you know, if you’re chasing the money, then all your decisions are going to be based on will just give me more profit, which hopefully doesn’t affect your personal relationships. But then there’s the flip side of that you could be all about relationships and not want to make a whole lot of money. And then you know, that defines you. And that defines the businesses you work in, and the defines how you approach the problems that you encounter. And that is really, that’s what really is driving your path. But it’s, it’s, it’s very invisible, you can’t really see it. And that’s when that’s when looking back, you really see
David Ralph [30:04]
it, the dots will connect. it’s mind blowing, isn’t it when you’re sitting there at your desk, or you’re driving your car, and you suddenly realise what you should be doing with your life. And you find what everyone has said is your unique self, your authentic self is one of those moments, but anyone who’s become successful, you know, I’ve done episode after episode after episode now. And literally everyone says this, once I found my path, everything became easy. And up to that point it was Show Me The Money, Show me the money. But after that, they started to focus in on providing value to people becoming passionate about it, creating their own path. Everything just seemed to flow. And a lot of people are saying that life should be easy. But it’s our indecision, and maybe our lack of focus that makes it hard of any should be.
Merlin U Ward [30:58]
Absolutely, I think, as people in general, it’s like human being, you’re susceptible to a lot of distraction. And the more you can focus on the one or two things that you really care about, and that you know you’re good at, and you can get really great at them is when you when you really start to realise your potential and where you can become independent,
David Ralph [31:18]
so to speak. Yeah, because it this, this, this game here that I’m doing now, is the first time ever, I think that I’ve done anything, and I don’t really care about the money, I believe if I do it well enough, then I’m going to be rewarded. And obviously you need to pay the bills, and you know, you got food to eat and all that kind of stuff. But it’s the first time in my life that the process the conversations is the main thing for me, you know, just the fact that I’m having a conversation with you listening to you, is just, it’s just it for me. And I mentioned a couple of episodes again, go to somebody, it’s become like a drug. I just want to do this over and over again. And I’m not thinking about the money at all. And is that is that really a good state of mind? Or is that becoming a bit obsessed? I don’t know. But certainly is a different different way of thinking that I’ve ever had before.
Merlin U Ward [32:14]
No, I think you’re absolutely right. I think we combine that with the need or desire to make the next one better, I hope number 30 is is is at least 30 times better than then this episode. And it continues on that way. As you as you learn and apply what you’ve learned in making a great podcast. And that’s true of any business, you have to continue moving forward, trying to outdo yourself. And while there is a certain level of responsibility, you have to obviously eat and pay your bills. You’d be surprised how far you can get with so little I mean, there was there were times especially, you know, in my experience when when I first started, I think my first year as a business owner, I made personally like $12,000. And I lived on that for a year, which seems insane in in some aspects. But I was you know, I was technically below poverty level for the United States. Well, at least close to it. And you know, you don’t you don’t need to live lavishly. And you really do realise what you need and what you don’t need. As long as you’re pursuing your passions, and you’re filling yourself personally, I think
it makes a much bigger difference.
David Ralph [33:33]
What made you continue, but you want 12,000 for the year? And it that that must have been hard. And it must have been times when I don’t know whether you’re sitting there eating baked beans out of a can. But how did you proceed through on that path when it was obviously tough?
Merlin U Ward [33:50]
Yeah, I mean, dating was hard. That’s for sure.
You know, and that that age that was important to me.
Unknown Speaker [33:57]
Merlin U Ward [34:00]
you I proceeded because I had this, something was driving me. And I think it’s similar to the feeling that you just described, you want to keep doing it, it becomes somewhat addicting, it’s, it’s something that you just continue to do. Because you’re always learning something you’re stimulated by it, you, you wake up in the morning thinking about it, you can’t fall asleep at night, because you’re thinking about it. And during the day, you’re you’re doing it. And that’s I mean, when you find something that does that to you, it is it is kind of magical. And you really do want to hold on to it as long as possible. I think I continued even after leaving the first business, I continued forward, because I still wanted it, I didn’t want to give up that feeling. I knew that there was more to do, I knew there was more to learn, I knew that there’s more that I could achieve. And I kept going for it. And I think that’s that’s the key, you know, you can you can move from industry to industry. And eventually, you know, you find this common thread and mine was marketing. And that’s, and that’s where I just continue moving forward was marketing.
David Ralph [35:10]
How good are you in marketing? our players? Are you a big, big person in marketing world?
Merlin U Ward [35:20]
I am by no means the biggest. There are a lot of people out there who are doing social media marketing well have marketed themselves? Well. You know, even with the book, I think that there’s still a lot evolving in the industry. My book especially will probably be irrelevant in the next five years. For the most part, you know, the there’s just so much going on. And and because it’s changing so rapidly as we continue on. And I think there’s a lot of room for for other people to jump in and become, you know, share expertise or become experts. You know, I would say that I’ve made a pretty good dent. But I’m certainly not the biggest, and
David Ralph [36:08]
I certainly won’t be the last. But you’re the best marketing man called Merlin Oh,
Merlin U Ward [36:14]
yeah, I’ll pick that one. Yeah,
David Ralph [36:16]
you take take that one, because no one is going to beat you in any shape or form. So So where’s where’s your life going to go? Now? Is it going to stay on the parade of marketing? Or can you see a new.in the horizon that might change your path?
Merlin U Ward [36:34]
Well, like I mentioned, you know, I would love to, at some point, make money with my hobby. But that comes with marketing, you know, I don’t think marketing is ever going to leave. I I’m a good. I think at this point, I would be a good business owner, I could run a business well, having learned so much from from my history. But I still love the marketing part. And when I think about, you know how I can do distribute or create new products or brands, it always boils down to what can I do as a marketer. So someone else will still have to be there to do the administrative run the processes. You know, I’m, I’m still not the greatest sales person that I could be. So I will probably always need help with that. But marketing will be there. I just don’t know. You know, again, what industry that might be.
David Ralph [37:24]
But do you need? Do you need help to be a salesman because it this is something that’s been coming across in lots of conversations. Some people call it a superman syndrome, where being an entrepreneur, you try to do everything equally as well? Is it better not to just go, I’m really good at marketing, I’m going to become unbelievable at marketing, and all the other stuff I can outsource or let other people do it for me because I’m not as good as as bad?
Merlin U Ward [37:54]
That’s a good question. I think you need someone or at least a team compliment, compliment you on what your strengths are. So for me, you know, I’m good at the marketing, I’m good at the branding, I’m not a designer, happened, I have little to no creative abilities, I can think and I can recognise creative, but I can’t create it. I’m too boxy in my head, everything is square for some reason. But so if it came to creating a website, or creating posters or imagery, I would need someone who could do that, for me. When it comes to sales, you know, I’ve met some really great people who are great sales people. But then when it comes to having the due diligence to be able to focus on the internal processes of the business, they they slack a little bit, you know, they’re lacking in certain skills that keep them focused on advancing the product or designing a better product or, you know, taking the feedback and turning that into something for the business to work on. Because they’re so good at being social and so good at being out there and marketing the business as a salesperson. So I think naturally, there’s people out there that are good at certain parts of the business. And the key, I think, is recognising what it is that you’re actually good at and finding people for the whole thing.
David Ralph [39:20]
I agree with that. Totally, there’s certain parts of this role that I’m doing now. But I naturally enjoy. And I think I can naturally become very good at it. And there’s other things, certainly the social media side of it, I can’t get my head round it really Merlin I it’s still to me a lot of noise. And I know there’s so many people saying to me know, is something that you can’t sort of turn your back on, you’ve got to go with it. I still see the what I had for dinner tweets, and Facebook posts and things like that. And I struggle with the sort of balance of knowing it’s the way to grow your brand, and to build a community and have a profile and build those incredibly valuable relationships to the other side. To me that goes Oh, just Just let me talk to somebody on the mic and let somebody else do that.
Merlin U Ward [40:10]
Right. Now. Absolutely. I agree with that. And, you know, to run a podcast, there’s some key functions you have to be good at, you know, one is you have to sound great on the mic. And you’re good at that. And you’re good conversationalist, and you’re good with guests, but then there’s the whole scheduling guests. And I think when we when I signed up for yours, you you had that tool that you implemented. And you know, if you if you don’t have that calendaring tool, someone would then have to schedule calendar for you guests. schedule, you know, there’s exactly so there’s, there’s these pieces that help you perform, there’s tools that you can implement. And if there isn’t a tool, and you can’t build that tool for yourself, it has to be a person. And you know, in your case, you can automate some extent your social media parts, you know, like the promotional parts of your past podcast, but when it comes to having the online conversation is with people, I think we might have crossed paths before our introduction on Google Plus, somebody somebody has to man that and you have to be there and and, and be part of those communities while still running your business, and if you can’t do it yourself, or you’re not very good at it, it’s probably best to have someone who is
David Ralph [41:24]
Yeah, that’s that’s what I’m gonna look for a social media person that can can pretend to be me.
Merlin U Ward [41:31]
There you go. You wouldn’t be the first let me tell you what,
David Ralph [41:35]
I’ll do some sort of major players out as or big celebs. But somebody sits in a cupboard somewhere and pretends that they’re having some folders? I mean, he’s
Merlin U Ward [41:44]
absolutely I know, I know of many that have assistants that run their social properties, while they’re, you know, onstage or doing whatever they do. You know, they, they have them well trained, and they sound like that person. And they believe in what those people believe, which is good. But, you know, it’s it’s not very often that those people are pushing the keys themselves.
David Ralph [42:09]
That’s a bit weird, though, isn’t it sitting there training somebody to sort of say the responses that you would say,
Merlin U Ward [42:16]
Oh, no, I mean, you have to consider these people are brands. And, you know, if I can tweet on behalf of brands, as an agency, certainly someone else could tweet on behalf of personal brand. You know, some of it has to be personalised. But, you know, when it comes to compensating, or pushing out ideas, and promoting books and things like that, somebody else can easily take that over.
David Ralph [42:41]
I have got so much to learn, Merlin, I really have, I’m gonna have to start reading your book. I’m going to read it tonight before I go to bed tonight, and is quite late. So I’m not I’m going to read it tomorrow. Just before I let you go, the very last part of the show is the Sermon on the mic. And this is the bit where I send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. So if you did walk into a room and you met young Merlin, what would you say to him? What kind of advice would you give to him about how to lead his life or perhaps, as like some guests, they don’t want to say anything at all. So I’m going to press the music sit back. And listen, as Merlin you world goes on the mic. This is a sermon on the mic. Berlin
Unknown Speaker [43:30]
with the best
Unknown Speaker [43:31]
of the show.
Merlin U Ward [43:47]
So what would I tell myself?
Well, at risk of changing the future, I’m not going to do the cop out, I wouldn’t say anything to myself, I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned.
And I think I’m main thing would be to
to find more people to give you advice and ask more questions would be the first part. The second part would be to take more opportunities to travel and get out of your comfort zone to go see more of what makes the world run in any aspect, whether that’s travelling for leisure, or simply going to the neighbouring city or the next state to see, to see a business and see how it runs. Because in the in the years that I have had since I’ve learned quite a bit about industry and running businesses and different aspects of those. That would have been very important to know, and could have certainly accelerated my growth. Having done having learned that before. And I think the other thing was as a young person, I was hesitant to read books, I didn’t find them enjoyable, I didn’t really understand it. But I would say jump on the audio books sooner than you had. So that you can learn more, and accelerate that learning to to get where you are today faster. So we’re kind of a bump, right? That gives me I might be five years ahead of where I am if I had that advice now. But knowing me, I was pretty stubborn, I probably wouldn’t listen to myself in a way.
David Ralph [45:27]
Well, hopefully, hopefully you would, because there’s good advice there. And I think one of the main ones, and it’s been astonishing for me is to ask to ask for help. And genuinely, if you asking the right way people will help you when they
Merlin U Ward [45:43]
absolutely I you know, I I wish I was more aware of that as a as a young person. I knew it. But I didn’t. I didn’t really know it. You know, I didn’t realise what that meant. So I think I think I just move forward knowing that if I ever had a question, I can ask somebody, but I never knew that I had questions. And obviously I did. I was I was too I was too in my own head to realise what questions I didn’t know. And I should have been asking more questions. that’s a that’s a young person. But I do that now, which is good.
David Ralph [46:18]
Well, I suppose you don’t know what you don’t know until you find out that you don’t know it.
Unknown Speaker [46:22]
David Ralph [46:24]
I don’t really understand why I said that. But it sounded good. Anyway, ammonia, Merlin, you would Well, we’ll see you for being in the name.
Merlin U Ward [46:33]
Oh, that is a horrendous, this middle name that only a few close friends and my wife. Oh, okay.
David Ralph [46:39]
I wondered if it was on Facebook, you can have 2 million boards or something. So you slipped in initial in justice, or?
Merlin U Ward [46:46]
Oh, um, well, kind of it is actually my name. And it is actually the initial. But to that point, when I first started Googling, I googled my own name. And there was one other fairly relevant Marlon award in the world, actually, in the UK. And he’s a screenwriter. And I wanted to beat him on Google. And as I tried hard and hard and hard to SEO, my name into the first rank spot, I was always I was always like, second or third behind this guy because he had movies and he was on IMDB, etc. So I eventually I just threw in the you. And now I am the only one that shows.
David Ralph [47:27]
If you Google my name, I come up as the professor of male impotence. Well, that’s unfortunate. He is unfortunate. Yeah. And I get so many emails asking for help. Or Or maybe that’s just your wife? I don’t know. Who knows. But anyway, Merlin, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. You’ve been so open and generous and of course talking to you. And as I say to all the guests, please come back in the future to share your your history going forward, because I believe it but Join Up Dots and connected our past, we really do have the best opportunities to build our future, murdering you all. Thank you so much.
Merlin U Ward [48:07]
Thanks for having me. It was fun.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up Dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.