What happens when you meet someone who teaches you in 10 minutes what may have taken 10 years?
That's exactly what happened for me when Richie Norton, best-selling author of The Power of Starting Something Stupid, gave me a free consult. Something he apparently does from time-to-time.
So what did he teach me? What he calls, "the tesla model strategy," which basically means as a business-owner, you should start by charging high-ticket selling to create desire and demand before widely selling lower-ticket offers. In his own words to me, "You're better-off with one client at $1,000 than 10 clients at $100. Same amount of money, but more time spent by you and less value received by them."
Norton himself had a similar interaction which changed the trajectory of his career. He was extensively mentored by Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and by Covey's son Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust. One private conversation between Norton and M. R. Covey sparked a fire within Norton, wherein Covey explained, "Some people say they have twenty years experience when really they have one year's experience repeated twenty times." Covey explained that experience indeed is important, however, he further stated that anyone at any age with the desire can learn and thrive.
Since that interaction, Norton has consulted corporations like Boeing and Marriott, venture-backed startups in Silicon Valley, Internet companies like Infusionsoft and MentorCloud, top online entrepreneurs and podcasters like John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, Russell Brunson, YouTube creators like Devinsupertramp and Shareability and has spoken to tens of thousands of people in live audience settings worldwide. He has shared the stage with people like Laura Brown, Editor-in-Chief of InStyle, Time Inc.
Uniquely, Norton does all of his work from his cell phone, having spent the past 6 months on a cross-country vagabonding road-trip with wife, Natalie, and four sons.
Despite Norton's work being being publicly lauded by academics and business icons of the likes of Brené Brown, Steve Forbes, Seth Godin, Stephen M. R. Covey, Whitney Johnson, Joseph Grenny, Jack Canfield, Michael Gerber, Brian Tracy and even Gina Bianchini, Silicon Valley's "Most Daring CEO," Norton's story is not all roses.
Norton's brother-in-law, Gavin, who lived with him and Natalie for a number of years tragically died in his sleep. Shortly thereafter, the Norton's had a son and named him after the deceased brother. Yet, two months after birth, this new boy Gavin died of Whooping Cough.
Hence, Norton and his wife now live by the mantra, "Gavin's Law: Live to Start. Start to Live," which to them means: Anything could happen tomorrow so we better love and serve others today.
Most recently, the Norton's had been fostering three children for two years. Miraculously, these children were returned to their home. Yet, as any foster parent will readily admit (I am one myself), you can get extremely attached. It was the unexpected news that their three children would be returned to their bio-mom that led the Norton's to a 6-month vagabonding hiatus. They needed to decompress and re-invent their family after such a loss.
To Norton, these hard and painful events in life are what ignite the flame of his entrepreneurial passion. For instance, Norton has a private acronym for "T.I.M.E." which to him, stands for:
I recently asked him where he developed the core philosophies which have led to his resilience in life and success in business. His immediate response was, "Heavenly Father, family, mentors, and BYU-Hawaii." While I understood God, family and mentors, I had no idea what he meant by BYU-Hawaii.
He explained that he served a mission in Brazil for two years for the LDS Church and upon returning to the states he moved to Hawaii to attend BYU-Hawaii, an extension of Brigham Young University in Utah. During his time at BYU-Hawaii, he became student body president and learned from people from over 70 different countries. He explained that many students desired to return to their home countries and not just be employees, but become employers.
As a student at BYU-Hawaii in 2004, Norton worked on a plan to create a center for entrepreneurship with the help of his professors. To put his money where his mouth was, he and his wife later donated $5,000 to the school to create a Mentor Venture Capital Fund to help students return to their home countries and start businesses, which at the time was all the money they had.
After being part of the foundation-laying, a few years after Norton left BYU-Hawaii and thanks to the work of many others with the authority and ability to officially establish an entrepreneurship center, The Mark and Laura Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship was created at BYU-Hawaii.
Although you've likely never heard of The Mark and Laura Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship until now, or of BYU-Hawaii for that matter, it is run by Dr. Jason Earl who is a successful serial entrepreneur who has conducted strategy and finance training for MBA students at Harvard Business School (HBS) as well as senior executives at General Electric (GE), Marvell, and Cooper Industries. Earl's most recent research was nominated for the William H. Newman award at Academy of Management (AoM) based on the disruptive nature of online business simulations in management education today.
As of a few weeks ago, Norton was asked to become the Managing Coordinator of the Willes Center to help teach entrepreneurship and grow the number of students in the program. Norton plans to use his expertise to quickly equip students from over 70 different countries with the skills to become employers rather than employees. No doubt Norton will succeed in this new position, as he has openly shared on several occasions his love for Millennials.
Norton's story can be helpful for any entrepreneur, or better yet, any person who wants to do good in the world.
Everyone faces hardships. These tragedies can be severe blows, but they don't have to be. They can create a sense of urgency to live more powerfully in the present. To live without regret.
Moreover, Norton's story shows that one's career need not be linear. You never know which opportunities will arise. One day, you could be an internet-marketer doing consults from your car and the next day you could become the Managing Coordinator of an entrepreneurial program at a major university.
Don't limit yourself to what is possible. Life has a way of presenting the best opportunities to those who are thriving in their current environment, despite the difficulties of life.