Mike Michalowicz Visits the Qualified Tutor Podcast #3: How to Differentiate Yourself in Marketing and Why Financial Education for Children Matters: Podcast Transcript

Ludo Millar
Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast, the podcast that brings you the latest in the world of tutoring EdTech and education and hopefully inspires in us a big change that each and every one of us is capable of.

Qualified Tutor is an industry-leading tutor training organisation and an online tutoring community for 1000s of tutors around the world. This podcast is the voice of this community, where we aim to hear from tutors, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, business experts, students, tutor printers, and more from the world of tutoring about what inspires them every day, how they can help tutors like you and what they’ve learned about tutoring along the way.

The question is, what will you learn today?

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Ludo Millar 1:14
Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast. My name is Ludo Millar. I am the host of this podcast and a huge welcome today to Mike Michalowicz, three-time guest on this podcast, which is a new record. Congratulations, Mike. But the big news really is that this is our 99th podcast episode. So we are getting pretty, pretty close to the big number. And in order to get you there, we can’t think of a better guest today. As I said Mike’s been on three times before, lending his wisdom on areas of small business of leadership of entrepreneurship of of how to stand out from the crowd in order to grow your business. Mike is the author of a hugely valuable series of books on leadership, small business and marketing.

As I’ve just said, you can find the links to those books in the show notes below. And to be honest, it’s scarily impressive Mike’s appetite for serving entrepreneurial leaders all over the world. And this does not appear to be slowing down his latest book, Get Different, stands out from the rest literally. And you’ll find out a little bit more about that in over the course of the next 25 minutes or so. ‘Better is not better different is better’ is a phrase we’ve heard a good deal of of late, not least because Mike’s business partner, Justin Wise, spoke about this exact topic at the Love Tutoring Festival just two weeks ago. So we’re gonna dive right into this conversation because Mike needs really no further introduction. His expertise and insight really speak for themselves. So I wish you a very pleasant next 25 minutes of listening to Mike Michalowicz.

So, Mike, yes, we’re gonna dive right in. I’m not sure I know anyone in the business better than you at just getting straight in and providing real advice and insight from the first minute. And so you’ve appeared on this podcast a couple of times before. I’ve asked you once, perhaps twice. What is your why? But I want to change that question. I want to switch it up to keep things new to keep things fresh. How has your why changed since you last joined us on this? What’s changed for you?

Mike Michalowicz 4:28
Great question. So while my tagline or phrase is eradicate entrepreneur poverty, I think what’s changed since we last spoke is how I’m serving that I thought or believed it had to be something I had to do by myself. I have to write more and more books. What’s changed in recent months is my publisher, which is Penguin Books came to me and said, ‘Hey, would you be willing to help other authors on this?’. And so we are in the process of partnering with my first fellow author, colleague and brings this together, she’s on a slightly different mission, but it’s going to help eradicate extreme poverty. And what clicked in my head was, ‘Oh, instead of trying to write 25 or 30 books in my lifetime. Now, it could be 30,000 books, if there’s a great consortium’, so I’m matching up with what I believe to be extraordinary authors on an extraordinary mission. And, and we’re doing this as a team or locked arm in arm.

Ludo Millar 5:25
Yeah. Aside from the authorship stuff, what else is what else is going on? What else is new? What are you seeing in January, February 2022?

Mike Michalowicz 5:35
Yeah. Okay. So, in business, I’m saying we’re off to a pretty good start, there’s still this tentative feeling like is another shoe gonna drop. And now what’s after Omicron? Is it upsilon, like, what’s the next version of this virus? But that being said, it’s been around so long, now there’s this normal, there’s this expectation that this may be around forever, or at least there’s expectation that we’re going to do business in a new way. So customers, I see are behaving differently. And so that’s gonna is causing businesses to respond in kind. There’s one restaurant right down the street from us, that was always a great sit down restaurant, they haven’t reopened. They’ve keep doing takeout. But they haven’t reopened the restaurant, you can’t sit down, and they’re doing more business than ever before. And they said customers love it, just pick the food up. There’s another restaurant that that put in a true drive thru. So the fast food chains where you can drive your car up and put in the window, there’s one restaurant, they did the exact same thing, they built out a drive thru, and just like you’re going to the bank, you just put in your credit card you pay and that comes as tray of your food. So people are adjusting to this new model and making their businesses more accessible for a transient customers when it doesn’t want to stay static in one place.

Ludo Millar 6:51
Yeah. Well, that’s the perfect thread to start with, then, Mike, because your most recent book, Get Different, written by you a kind of life’s work of what it means to differentiate yourself as a marketer, as an online marketer. The pandemic, I’m sure you’ve talked about this before, but the pandemic has forced us, as you’ve just said, to change it; sit in restaurants has to do take out, face to face tutors have to move online, everyone’s had to change. So how have the parameters of Get Different changed? How has being different got harder? Got easier?

Mike Michalowicz 7:27
Yeah, I don’t know if it’s changed and how hard or easy is to do. But it’s more necessary than ever before. So what I realized is, there’s so many small businesses that are struggling to get noticed, they’ve changed but the world doesn’t see the change. They’re offering new services. But no one knows. And so many more startups. We’re at the fastest startup rate ever. I think it’s people that either need to make money, and this is the only option I have. I think in more cases, it’s people that have left a job. They said, ‘Why am I going to serve another business? Why not own my own?’. The thing is, we’re saturated with business. There’s a few big names that dominate any space. So classic example, it may be abused too much. But Amazon, everyone knows what Amazon is. It’s the Walmart online, and they’ve crushed Walmart. But there’s all these hundreds, or 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of small businesses that offer component by Amazon, but they offer it better, they get better quality of service, they respond faster, they care more, is better. Well, if you are better, if you’re a small business, that’s better, it’s your responsibly to get noticed.

And I would argue that marketing is an act of kindness, because if the customer can’t discover you, they’re going to go with their default awareness, Amazon, and again, yet be compromised. So this is a rallying cry for small businesses to step up and be seen. To do it. It’s simple, but doesn’t mean it’s easy, is you have to break the pattern of the common noise. I’ll give an example in marketing. I got an email that led led off with ‘Hey, friend’, and this was like, five, six years ago or something I can’t remember. But I remember the very first time we got a ‘Hey, friend’ email. And it struck me like who writes to me this way, which friend is this? And they’ll even call me by my first name. It’s so flattering. And I started to read through it. And it’s like, oh, this is like the smarmy, cheesy marketing goes into spam box. And then the next ‘Hey, friend’ I got … spam box. I’ve never read the hundreds or 1000s of ‘Hey, friend’ emails I’ve gotten because my mind has become habituated, it’s called ‘habituated’, to it, something is deemed as irrelevant. We never pay attention to it again. When everyone is marketing a certain way to your prospect and the prospect the second they say, ‘Oh, this marketing is not for me’. It doesn’t meet your marketing, any of your contemporaries marketing any of your competitors. If they say this isn’t relevant for me their mind becomes instantly, instantly habituated.

It says if you see this, ignore this, our minds are actually extraordinarily efficient at ignoring things, that’s probably the biggest strength we have is retaining focus by ignoring 99.9% of the stimuli out there. But the problem to us as we try to expose our business, which is better than the competition, is if we market the same way, we’re invisible, and even though everyone’s doing Facebook ads, I need to do Facebook ads, I’ll put 1000s and 1000s of dollars into it. It’s not working, because it has been habituated, we need to do when teaching the book is to break the pattern.

The real simple solution is this, whatever the best practice is in marketing, don’t do the best practice.

In fact, try to do the opposite. Try spinning up. I’ll give you one example. I noticed that my contemporaries in authorship all market, basically same way. They write a book, great books, they then do an email blast to their list and say, ‘Here’s my book’, it’s a black text, email and some white background. Sometimes they throw a video in for flare. It’s like, okay, that is the standard, that is the lesson in what not to do in marketing. So I looked at that and said, ‘What’s the reverse of it?’. So one technique is you take what exists and you flip it, a black text, the opposite of black is white. So I said, Okay, I’ll put white text against a white background. Oh, you can’t read that. That’s invisible. I’m like, oh, it’s invisible. I’ll send that, the first ever invisible ink email. So I sent out an email the subject line in black did say, this is the first ever invisible ink email, click and highlight to see the message. And what you do is with the mouse, if you highlight, it turns blue, you can read the text, and then read about my new book introduction to Get Different, how different is so important. And that email had over double the click through rate, it was my best performing email of all time, because it was different. We all have that responsibility. Don’t do what your contemporaries and competition’s doing, do different.

Ludo Millar 12:00
Mike, you have to keep going on this. My next question was going to be how do you personally stay different because you talk about getting different, so much to so many people. And you speak to so many industries. And I want to get you onto the podcast so that we can learn something that others couldn’t learn because they don’t get you on the podcast, and they don’t listen to this podcast. So you’ve just said one story …

Mike Michalowicz 12:26
We can go on and on. So I’ll give you a couple of rapid examples. over my right shoulder here is a tree for watching the video of a bookcase. What I did, and this is just for my own business, I look at all my contemporaries and say, Oh, authors, when they do video, they display their books on a bookshelf. I said the common standard is a standard bookshelf with a common book display. I said that’s the one thing I can’t do. So I started testing. That’s another lesson you learn in getting different. It’s not like you’re going to hit the ballpark every single time. In fact, usually your first few iterations are going to have struggles and things that don’t work or not doing marketing plans, commitments. We’re doing marketing experiments learning. So I started experiments. And what if I change the bookshelf around? And that’s when I started noticing when I was doing webinars in the chat, someone would say, ‘Oh, that’s a really wild looking background you have’. ‘Oh, that’s really interesting thing’. I came then I started doing searches in the week, what’s the most interesting bookshelf, and I found this tree and mango tree, tree of knowledge. I can put my books in it. And sure enough, I bought a small scale. This one now is the full wood tree. It’s been installed, it’s about three meters tall. When I did it, I noticed with the tree that people put in the chat, ‘Oh my gosh, what is that? Oh, well, this guy writes other books’. And there’s conversation. I’m like, Okay, we’ve hit it. And that’s why the tree.

I’ll give you another example. Not in my industry, but gyms. I’m walking down the street here. I’m in a small town in New Jersey, it’s called Boonton. It’s a little colonial type of town. So it was built in the early, late 1700s, early 1800s. And so there’s a lot of history here. All the buildings have retail stores on the first floor. So small retail stores, but retail business has been squashed, unfortunately. And hopefully we’ll come back by getting different. But what’s replaced some of these stores are fitness studios. So you walk by the stores, and they have these glass fronts. And in the windows, they have the before and after pictures. There’s in fact three fitness studios all adjacent to each other on one block over here. And it’s all before and after. That’s the common noise. Schlubby person turns into this ripped person. But no one looks at it because we’ve all seen the before and afters. I went to all these gyms, all three of them. I said, ‘Hey, I can help you stand out. Are you willing? I’m writing a book about this. I’ll tell you the technique if you want to do it’, all of them rejected me. And there’s a lesson in that. We have this fear, it goes back to our reptilian mind, this fear of rejection, that if we do something different, we’ll be laughed at or ridiculed. And it almost gives us emotional death. Like if I do this, I will die. And therefore almost everyone rejects different, which is a great opportunity that if you do do it, your competition is unlikely to replicate it.

But I did find one gym in Salt Lake City. And I said, here’s my idea. Instead of the before and after pictures, let’s get mirrors from a funhouse. One technique is you can take ideas from other industries, I call it R&D, rip off and duplicate. So, from this industry, we took these funhouse mirrors that make you look like an alien or E.T. or something. And we got one mirror that made you look really kind of squat and flattened you out made you look real chubby, and on that mirror, we put the word before on it, the other mirror made you look tall, lean, ripped, we put the words after on it, and we put it in their window. Now, when you’re walking down the street, you pass by this gym, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, look at me’, you’re seeing pictures of yourselves. We saw people jumping back and forth and showing their own before and afters. And next to it was a sign. It said, ‘We just transformed you in mirrors, let’s transform you in real life. Walk inside’ and for them, foot traffic more than quadrupled. From doing this, it broke the common noise. That’s the common lesson I hear over and over and over again.

Ludo Millar 16:06
I can’t believe the similarities that this has to education and this fear of doing things in education differently. And perhaps, Mike, I’m contractually obliged to bring it back to education. But, you know, we’re stuck in our same processes. And it’s takes too long to change because school years have to be planned years ahead. So you know, social changes don’t come into the education system for five or 10 years after. And there has to be a mindset shift in education. And I’m really just saying that out loud. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot and you’re making me think that you’re making me see that. And, and if possible, Mike, we’ve got about 10 minutes to go. I don’t want to leave this conversation without talking about this. You’ve been doing some work recently, I’m sure for a very, very long time. But recently, it’s come to myself and my colleague Julia Silver’s attention. You recently, you might have seen, Mike, on Google reviews, Julia’s either her seven or 12 year old daughter left a review of your book.

Mike Michalowicz
Yeah, I love it. I love it

Ludo Millar 16:06
It’s probably shot right to the top of the rankings. It’s clearly one of your of your passion projects longtime. Mike, can you tell us a bit more about how financial education for kids is so important?

Mike Michalowicz 17:31
Yeah. So I wrote a book called My Money Bunnies. And I was looking to serve kids between five, maybe 10 years old. And what I noticed is, what I hear people say is there’s no financial education out there for children. And I actually disagree with that, I think there’s too much too confusing. There’s no basic principles that we can really anchor into. There’s very few. So a child is often introduced to finances at some point or life. And it’s this kind of watershed effect, or they’re just learned, they learned through the burn like you, “You spent all your money, sorry, kiddo. Learn from that’. So I think it’s an ineffective way, or not the most effective way, of educating children, I wrote My Money Bunnies, specifically to give kids a way to show how they can earn money on their own not be granted and titled money, but earn it because that’s a key lesson. But then how to manage it. And what we wanted to do was get to the core essence of good financial management, I find that there’s basically three driving core elements in financial management and just how humanity is wired: We want things now. We want big things and and in the future, and we want to be able to be recognized for our contribution to society.

That’s generally three critical components of financial management. So My Money Bunnies is a three-jar system. They’re each made up as bunnies and as a child, incur, has income, divide the money up, a small portion goes to what we call the anytime bunny. And the anytime bunny is anytime you have some desire, you want a lollipop or something. If you have the money in that jar, this jar is there to serve it, and it quells, it quenches that thirst for I want something now, which isn’t just for children, like everyone has that like I have that all the time, like, Oh, I’d love to have that. Now, if the jar supports it, you can support it.

The second jar which is slightly bigger is the one time bunny. One time I want to have so and so and this is usually the big wish. It may not be stuff all the time, but I oriented toward things is in the book. I read about this girl who wants an art supply kitten, it’s expensive, and she’s saving for that and then once that jar is full enough, she can go and acquire that dream of hers that teaches a discipline of of saving now for the future, a critical discipline. And the biggest jar is actually about contribution. And the stories are coming back. It seems that the children love this the most because honestly, the biggest reward in life I found is when we can give without sacrificing ourselves, without us feeling pain, but we can just give because we’ve prepared for it such reward is so much joy. So this jar is forgiving to others. And however they define and maybe maybe their family is in need, and they can be contributors to a family, or maybe it’s a friend they run into, or maybe it’s a mission that they’re looking to satisfy. And that’s called the sometimes funny sometimes in life, you run into circumstances where people are in need, and you can be contributor to that.

Ludo Millar 20:35
So what are you hoping for this book to achieve? The ideas in this book and the book itself to achieve? What are your plans for it?

Mike Michalowicz 20:44
Yeah, well, my intentions for it is that children, as many children as possible, will discover a system that they link into for life, that this isn’t just something that you’re gonna do as a kid, that that for the rest of your life, you’re going to have a basic principle, and maybe you won’t use money bindings at certain point,

Ludo Millar 21:05
Maybe they’ll come a little bit tucked under the arm when they’re four years old.

Mike Michalowicz 21:10
Yeh like, dude, here’s My Money Bunny.

Ludo Millar 21:12
Mom shouting behind them as they run off to college. [LAUGHS]

Mike Michalowicz 21:16
Yeah, exactly. But they’ll have a basic principle that they can deploy in different ways. Maybe it’s through bank accounts, and hopefully it is or some other savings mechanism. But I want them to become aware of a system. And I want them to feel the joy of that experience. That is not a discipline that’s painful. It’s an easy discipline. That’s joyful. That my hope for this book. Yeah.

Ludo Millar 21:42
I wonder how that ties into how can educators make use of not necessarily just money bunnies, but how can educators tie financial education, which is something that they need to practise and learn and experience in their own lives, how can they tie that into educating kids? How does that transfer? 

Mike Michalowicz 22:06
Yeah well, I think you just defined it is that we who teach need to live by, I remember, I was walking through a university with a friend of mine going to do a presentation, and we’re walking by different classrooms. And he pointed in to the first classroom said, Oh, there’s the best student, and I didn’t pay much mind to it. The second room, we walked by said, Oh, there’s the best student. By the third time he’s like, What do you mean? Who’s the best student? Who you pointing at? And I assumed it was the student up front? Is the one taking the most notes? He said, No, no, it’s the teacher. Here’s the teacher’s always the best student, because they have to apply the discipline, like oh, my gosh, to teach we must do. So I invite people to do your own version of My Money Bunnies, and maybe make them into the Money Monsters, or something else. But get those jars and just start dividing it up and see how you transform. Education for me isn’t just the procedure, the rote process, it’s the emotion around it. And when you can relate to the emotion, when you can connect and say, you know, how I felt, I understand how you feel. That is when you become I think an elite educator, is when you can connect with the experience emotionally, and understand it viscerally because you’ve lived it.

So I definitely invite you to do it, other people do it, I do it. Now, I deal with bank accounts. But my home has many Money Bunnies bank accounts, and the money gets divided up, every single week, we go and we look at the income we have, and we divide it up. And I’ve been doing this religiously now for 15 years. And when I meet someone, they’re telling me they’re doing the system, and I’m terrified, and, and I’m a little nervous, if it’s gonna work, I don’t know how to do it. I’m a bit embarrassed. I get it, because I went through all of those emotional transitions. And that way I can connect them be a bit better educator to that.

Ludo Millar 23:56
And on that note of making yourself a better person, objectives, goals, visions. Mike, we’re going to end this conversation here, because I know that you need to have a second, we’re going to end this conversation by asking you, we spoke to you in I think November 20/21. And then you joined us in March 2021. Now February 2022. We may not be able to speak to you again until 2023.

Mike Michalowicz 24:20
I guess that’s the rule, right? 

Ludo Millar 24:23
That’s the way it is. What does 2022 hold for you like?

Mike Michalowicz 24:32
Well, for me, I’m staying the course. So there’s no major transformations in what I’m doing. But there is a lot of consistency of application by 2022. I’ve a new book releasing this year, this summer. It’s a revised and expanded version of Clockwork. 2022 I’m investigating what inspires teams to work collectively, work teams, any kind of team what inspires them to drive to their highest personal levels? And I’ve been doing research around this for quite a few years, and we’ve been testing, guinea pigs, if you will, of businesses out there deploying stuff. We think we, I have discovered something that’s really different and interesting and compelling, but also something that’s a truism from aeons before, that’s going to come out in 2022. And I’m just gonna say it of course, every year, I hope to be putting out at least one more book that will serve entrepreneurs and freelancers and educators, and everyone that needs a book on those types of subjects.

Ludo Millar 25:35
So, so damn exciting. My mind immediately went to the team of a tutor and a student, I’m sure that will be part of it.

Mike Michalowicz 25:42
Yeah, it’s a massive team, right? Yeah, yeah, it’s such an important team.

Ludo Millar 25:48
So you’ve got two places to go dear listeners, you’ve got gogetdifferent.com to pick up a copy of Mike’s book, Get Different. And then you’ve also got mymoneybunnies.com, which is the website you can head to pick up Mike’s book on financial education for kids. Whisper it quietly, it’s for adults, too. I think that’s what we’ve heard. Mike, it’s so so captivating listening to you. You guys, yourself and Justin Wise, your business partner, are really the best in the business at what you’re doing and unpacking the meaning of the word marketing and, and showing small business owners how to do it, how to take away that fear, how to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty, so we are truly lucky to have you. I’ve been looking forward to this all day, all week.

Mike Michalowicz 26:39
Thank you for those kind words. I appreciate you, Ludo. Thank you so much.

Ludo Millar 26:44
Have a great day. See you in 2023 … cheerio Mike.

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Ludo Millar

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. Whether you’re a regular listener of this podcast, or you’ve just stumbled across it, join the Qualified Tutor Podcast Group within the Qualified Tutor Community. To stay up to date with our latest news offers workshops and of course, simply to meet other tutors like you, whatever your level is as a tutor, our training courses will be the next step in your professional development. Visit qualified tutor.org/training to find out more about our CPD-Accredited and Ofqual-recognised courses: the first of their kind in the tutoring industry.

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