EP 38 - Liran Hirschkorn - Why Personal Development is Intellectual Equity
| Awesomers Origin - We'll talk to an Awesomer about where they came from, the triumphs and tribulations they have faced and how they are doing today. An Awesomer Origin story is the chance to hear the backstory about the journey our guest took on their road to become awesomer. These stories are incredibly varied and the takeaway is that awesomers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, creeds, colors and every other variation possible. On your awesomer road you will face adversity. That’s just part of life. The question as always is how YOU choose to deal with it.|
|Liran Hirschkorn has been marketing online for the last 10 years. Before building brands on Amazon, Liran was a pioneer in selling life insurance online. Over the last 4 years he has successfully built 2, 7 figure brands on Amazon by creating products that add more value to the customer, and understanding keywords, search optimization, and sponsored ads. Liran is also a partner with Amazing Freedom and the Amazon Seller Podcast which provides training and services for Amazon brand owners. You can learn more about Amazing Freedom at Amazingfreedom.com/resources.|
Selling on Amazon has become a popular hustle but building a seven-figure brand is no easy feat.
On this episode, Steve’s special guest is Liran Hirschkorn. Liran has been in the online marketing space for the last 10 years and has built not one but two seven-figure brands on Amazon. He also helped built Amazing Freedom together with Andy and Nathan Slamans. Here are more valuable takeaways on today’s episode:
Personal development as an intellectual equity.
The key to success from Liran’s perspective.
Liran’s prediction on the future of E-commerce and Amazon as a selling channel.
So listen to today’s episode and learn more about E-commerce and building a successful Amazon brand.
Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.
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1:15 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Liran Hirschkorn.)
Steve: This is episode number 38 of the Awesomers.com Podcast and as the tradition has become clear for those avid listeners, all you have to do is go to Awesomers.com/38, that's Awesomers.com/38 to find relevant show notes and details. Now today my special guest is Liran Hirschkorn and he's been in the online marketing space for the last 10 years, that's a long time in the internet space. Before building brands on Amazon, Liran was a pioneer in selling life insurance online. We're going to talk a little bit about that in today's episode. Over the last four years, he successfully built not one but two seven-figure brands on Amazon by creating products that add more value to the customer and understanding keywords, search optimization, sponsored ads and all the little things that go into making an online business work on Amazon. Liran is also a partner with Amazing Freedom and The Amazing Seller Podcast, which provides training and services for Amazon brand owners. You can learn more about all of these great resources and ideas that Liran is involved in today's episode.
Steve: Welcome back awesomers. Here we are again, Steve Simonson bringing you another podcast and I'm pleased to report today Liran Hirschkorn is joining me today. How did I do on the pronunciation?
Liran: Did great, thank you. Thanks for having me on.
Steve: Yes, I'm betting about 50% and in baseball, I'd be a genius, but when it comes to pronouncing names it's really, it’s not that good, so thank you for that. And thank you for joining us. I definitely - I have already kind of read the intro and kind of the bio to the folks so they know a little bit about you, but I always like to have the guest put in their own words kind of what they do today on a day-to-day basis and help everybody kind of hear from them directly. What can you tell us?
Liran: Sure. So, I would say that my day is sort of - it’s sort of split up between a couple of different things. One, running my own brands that I sell on Amazon, so right now we have two brands of products that I sell on Amazon so sort of the day-to-day management or marketing management of the brand. I have an E-commerce manager, so she does a lot of the sort of operations of you know telling a warehouse when to ship an inventory and setting up promotions and coupons and things like that and I do sort of more bigger strategy of you know sourcing new products, things like that. And for those two brands, I'm also in the process of starting at least one new brand, possibly a second each with a partner and then other time for me during the day gets dedicated towards our E-commerce community of people that are in our private label course and some of the services that we run also.
Steve: Well that's a - it's a busy agenda for sure and I definitely respect the amount of work that you put into it and we're going to dive into some of those details a little bit more because I'm curious to know - I know that you guys have an upcoming China trip and you got a course out there and the community you just mentioned. So, we're going to dive into all of that, but we're going to do it right after this quick break.
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Steve: Hey, how about that Awesomers? We're back already. Can you believe it? The magic of editing once again and Liran is going to talk to us about - now, Liron or Liran? Let's get it right.
Steve: Ooh, I had it right. Hey, I should have never second-guess myself. So, Liran is going to talk to us a little bit about his origin because this is to me always interesting where people come from. You know, everybody comes from different backgrounds and all kinds of different - I don't know, positions in life and I just find it fascinating to find how everybody kind of vectors towards the entrepreneurial world. So, can you tell us where were you born to start out with?
05:35 (Liran shares his origin story.)
Liran: I was born in Israel actually and my family, when I was six years old my dad had an opportunity to be sent from his company to the U.S. It was supposed to be a two-year trip. It turned out a lot longer. My dad actually ended up having an opportunity to buy a business and stay here. I guess my dad saw the opportunity of what you know America can be and took the opportunity, bought a business and you know been here ever since.
Steve: Fascinating, I like that. And so what did your dad do when you guys moved
Liran: So, my dad was an expert at fixing CAT scan and MRI machines all over the world. I remember as a kid being you know 4 or 5 years old he would always come back with something from a country, come back with a toy or something that he would bring me and I would talk to him on the phone tell him what I wanted. And he had an opportunity to come work for the company in the U.S. in New Jersey and took that opportunity and did that for a couple years and then somebody in my parents’ temple, my dad was always very handy and somebody in my parents’ temple was selling their appliance repair business and so my dad didn't really have sort of training in that, but he could pretty much fix anything and bought that business and you know that's what he's done for - now he’s sort of semi-retired, but that's what he's done for the last you know 30 years or so.
Steve: Wow, something tells me if you can fix a CAT scan you’d probably have a good shot at fixing a washer and dryer huh?
Liran: Yes, exactly.
Steve: That's fascinating. How about your mom, too? What was she doing during this time?
Liran: Yes, so my mom was a teacher in Israel and when she came here she taught you know Hebrew at a Jewish school and actually it was because of my mom that we were able to get sponsored for our green card and ultimately our citizenship because that was kind of like a skill set that you can justify needing somebody from overseas because it's a language thing and so thanks to her teaching we were able to get a green card you know and ultimately get U.S. citizenship, so that was you know obviously a really good thing.
Steve: I love it. Yes, that's a classic coming to America story right there. How about any siblings? Do you have any brothers or sisters out there?
Liran: So, I'm the youngest of three. So, I have an older brother and two older sisters.
Steve: And do they - now two older sisters and a brother, that makes you four.
Steve: You're the youngest of four.
Liran: Yes, correct.
Steve: All right, for those keeping score at home, I just want to be clear that there's four of them and now are they entrepreneurial? What kind of things do they do?
Liran: So, one of my siblings is. So, my sister has an insurance billing business that is
specifically focused in the acupuncture niche. So, she actually still has - she still works from home for a company as a project manager so I don't know how she manages it, but she works from home as a project manager and then her boyfriend does acupuncture and one of the things that they saw early on is that they you know needed to learn the skill set. If you're not going to outsource it, a billing for acupuncture billing insurance companies and they started to offer it as a service to other acupuncturists and now she has - I don't know, 10, 15 employees and has built up a pretty nice business of just kind of like billing, but a kind of niche focus, which was smart because you know not that many providers that know that space.
Steve: What a great lesson in being able to find a niche that you know nobody would think of right. How many people are sitting at home going I wish I could get in that acupuncture billing business.
Steve: I can't imagine anybody has ever uttered those words except somebody deep in that business and yet she's got this really nice business going, very cool.
Liran: Yes, yes. And my other two siblings are both professionals. My brother is a lawyer in commercial real estate like general counsel for a company in New York and my sister is a dentist.
Steve: I love it. All right. Well, that's a very well rounded family there. How about university? Did you go to university?
Liran: Yes. So, I went to Queens College. I ended up dropping out of college. When I went to Queens College, I was taking - I was an in Business Honors Program and I had a professor that really like me who got me an internship with Citibank. And I was 19, got an internship with Citibank and that's kind of how I started my career in the financial services field, but you know when I was - probably since the time I was like 10 I kind of wanted to be in stocks and stockbroker, so that was like a really good fit for what I wanted to do and then got there and was able to move up, eventually became a financial advisor with Citibank, started taking some classes at night that didn't go that well for me. It was just too much and so I ended up dropping out, but I've never looked back.
Steve: I loved it. Well for the Awesomers out there listening, you're listening to a couple college dropouts right now, but you can believe what we say because we've learned it the hard way. So, I definitely like that. Now, so the Citibank gig was an internship initially. It sounds like it parlayed into something else. Was that your first “proper job” would you say?
Liran: Yes, yes. That was my first proper job and yes, the internship I knew that the - I worked for two financial advisors in a bank branch in a very wealthy neighborhood in New York and I knew that they were looking for a sales assistant and basically I approached them and I said, “Look, I can fill that role.” And they hired me and gave me the job.
Steve: Nice. Well, that was your first sales gig right there. You closed the deal. Nice.
Liran: Yes, exactly. And I learned a lot you know - I learned a lot in terms of sales you know. You know, I remember and I look back and I laugh now because of the lines they taught me knowing I was probably you know 21 you know recommending mutual funds to people with you know a million dollars sitting in the bank and you know I would tell - I don't know how I did it then, but sometimes when you don't know what you don't know, you know I’d look again and you know I would tell a person I'm not telling you what you want to hear. I'm telling you what you need to hear, you know and they taught me like those kinds of lines, but they taught me the art of sales and I really learned so much, probably more than I ever learned in college at least in terms of sales and communication from those two brokers.
Steve: How do you think that sales experience has impacted your entrepreneurial and E-commerce stuff that you do today?
Liran: I mean I think communication-wise definitely helped me as far as being able to communicate, as far as to get a point across you know not a you know somewhat with you know copy and things like that. You know, I think it can help. You know, I'm not really so much selling to people directly now, but I definitely impacted the way I communicate and how I think about sort of customer behavior, customer psychology and how to and how I think about conversion. So, it’s definitely sort of an early lesson into sales and how people think and how people make decisions emotionally, but justify them logically and that's really the same kind of stuff that you're trying to do with your Amazon listings.
Steve: Yes, really. Any E-commerce business whether it's Amazon-based, your own site, you go through the same thing. First, you market, that drives the lead generation right and you get leads, now you got to convert the leads, that's the sales process and it doesn't matter if you're talking to them in person, you know via call center or face-to-face, whatever the case is or you're letting your funnels or your copy on the
screens do it, you still want to bring them to the close. You're there to solve a problem right.
Liran: Yes, absolutely, yes and even getting reviews right and the kind of text and language that you use in your communication with customers, the inserts that you use in your packaging, like all that is sales communication.
Steve: Quite right, yes. I definitely think that's a very good skill. How about as you reflect back on your time from then to now, was there any defining moment that maybe stood out in your mind where you said oh man, this is where you know I pivoted this way or that way. Anything that you care to share?
13:58 (Liran talks about a defining moment in his life.)
Liran: Yes, definitely. So in 2008, I got into - I met a guy sort of randomly at Whole Foods it turns out and he introduced me to a network marketing company. And I would say that probably while I wouldn't go through that again of going into a network marketing company that was definitely my opening into personal development and my opening to learning marketing on the internet, getting people into my sort of funnel for getting them into network marketing and so that's when I got you know, went to the first Tony Robbins seminar that I went to and started really listening to you know at the time CDs and tapes and personal development because you know when you do network marketing you learn that the only difference between someone is successful and someone who is not successful is you right. Everybody has access to the same amount of tools and people and whatever you have that's available to you and it's really you. You need to look in the mirror and if you're not successful, it's you. And so that really was a turning point for me and I learned - you know, this was a company that didn't really give you a website or anything or like that to market and so I went on one of the freelancer websites and had somebody build a website for me and I marketed it, learned how to market it online and through that I became the number one enroller in the company. In fact, I quit my job at the bank to go travel around the country and go to meetings at the time and I personally enrolled like over a hundred people doing it full-time and eventually, the company went bust. The owners weren't well capitalized. It went bust, but that for me was a defining moment in terms of learning like the power of internet marketing and that definitely was planting seeds for future endeavors that I would participate in.
Steve: Yes, I love it. Well I do think that you know having that takeaway and this is one of those you know unexpected takeaways right because you went into it thinking this is the way it's going to be and you're successful at it you know despite the company's lack of capitalization, but really you've got the skill and this you know personal development lesson and you know obviously the folks listening already they're in the personal development on some level, otherwise they wouldn't be listening to this. They'd be watching whatever The Bachelor and so well you know that this is something that Awesomers generally will find is that they want to learn. They want to be better and if we can make ourselves better every day that's equity in ourselves. Is that how you kind of look at it today?
Liran: Yes, yes absolutely. I mean personal development is something I try to you know read or listen to something like every single day. You know, if I don't I feel like I sort of missed out. Like I try to put 20 minutes into listening to something or reading every single day and yes, definitely the roots for that were planted in you know in personal
development and knowing that you know starting listening to Jim Rohn right who said work harder on yourself and you’re doing your job and all those things I would listen to over and over again and reading Think and Grow Rich. And this is the time that I really got into all that and it was introduced to me by some of the, you know, the people who are a couple levels sort of above me in the, you know, in the company and sort of in the downline as a way to improve myself and if I improve myself and if I had the right sort of mindset and confidence and you know I would be able to attract that and be able to bring other people into it and then if I could teach them those skills and show them these trainings, etc and get them to focus on personal development then they would be empowered to be able to introduce this like business opportunity to other people. And it was because of my you know, because of my sort of fascination with the ability to market online and get people to - and I get money by like just sitting online and you know by building a site and getting people and then eventually I spoke to them on the phone, but that you know eventually when eventually I started an insurance agency, an online insurance agency after I was working for MassMutual and I asked them, this was
like about 2010, and I said to them can I do a blog? Can I do something like I don't want to - I was going to, I was an insurance agent going to networking meetings, Rotary Club, all these things trying to chase clients instead of getting clients to come to me and they
said, “Well, if you write a blog post it takes two weeks for compliance to approve it and by that time it's not even material anymore. And so that's the point where I decided okay I'm going to go do this online myself and set up as an independent agent, set up a website and started marketing myself and if it wasn't for that previous network marketing and building a website and that experience of driving traffic, there's no way that I would have ever even been on my you know radar at all. And so yes, I think it's probably one of the best things that ever happened to me getting into that and getting into that personal development.
Steve: Sure. It's a great example of what I like to think of as intellectual equity right. All of that experience is continue to compound and it gets bigger and bigger and more useful as time goes on. That's one of the great lessons Awesomers think about. Speaking of lessons, has there been any great kind of particular lesson that stood out in your mind along your journey whether it's in the sales or in the you know insurance business or your current business, anything that stands out that you want to share with others?
19:31 (Liran imparts important lessons to Awesomers.)
Liran: Yes, I mean what I would share with others is that you know over during that course of time from the network marketing time until I started like Amazon and started to have success with it, I also had a lot of failures. You know, I tried a lot of things that didn't work and I guess one of the good things is that I didn't give up. You know, at one point I took a course on flipping domain names you know and I bought a bunch of domains. I sold some, but a lot of them just expired because nobody bought them. You know, I bought another E-commerce site that I owned at one point that somebody wwas supposed
to build that and get all this traffic and sales for me, blah, blah, blah. That didn't happen. So along the way along this journey, there were a lot of failures along the way, but I kept you know trying different things because you know I was sort of fascinated you know with these things. I remember like you know being on the Warrior Forum you know like talking about like you know 2010, 2011, 2012 with all these like different, all these different offers that you got on the Warrior Forum to learn how to you know make money in social media, how to do this and how to do that, how to - you know at one point I did websites for local businesses right. So, I lived in a building. There was a dentist on the first floor. I actually did, I outsourced, I had somebody built a website, whatever, but that business really - it didn't take off as like a big business for me or anything. I had like one client in my building, but a lot of this stuff was - were you know the precursor to eventually something succeeding for me, which first was the online insurance business and then Amazon, but you know sometimes you know I'm sure on this podcast and other places you hear from people that are having success, but you don't necessarily know all the past failures that had been there and you know I think the key is kind of continuing to get up and continuing and not quitting.
Steve: That is a very important lesson. You know, one of the key defining parts of an
entrepreneur but particularly an awesomer is the idea of persistence right, just you just keep going, you just keep going. And by the way, whether it comes up in these types of episodes or not every person's journey has those milestones of you know call them failure, call them you know learning, call them whatever you want, but it's like tried it, it didn't work, try that, it didn't work you know, but as long as you keep moving then you
still have opportunity and that's one of those things is the people who give up before they’ve found kind of what works, that have you know in my mind they've missed that opportunity. They kind of retreat back to the you know mothership of you know cubicle
hell or whatever the case might be. Do you find that you know - actually I'll just ask you. Was there ever time during this journey where you wanted to give up, where persistence didn't seem like the best option?
Steve: I mean there were definitely sort of things that I tried that I gave up on after a certain time that they didn't work, but you know things did continue sort of to come up and I was willing to try different things especially if it wasn't a big you know money sort of investment you know I was willing to try. I mean when it comes to Amazon you know I started with Amazon by doing arbitrage and I started - one of the things I was doing was at the time I lived in Queens and there was a Nike clearance store like less than you know 5 miles from my house and I would go there and I would like literally like clean up. I would bring somebody with me, but you know then I started getting these inauthentic complaints. One of the reasons maybe why is because at the time Amazon didn't have a rule against it, now they do, that you - that the shoes I bought there they didn't have the tops, the Nike boxes, so we bought other you know other shoe boxes and we put them in you know and but the shoes were authentic. I even had the label sort of removed with a heat gun and I put the label on the new box and it was all authentic and new merchandise, but I got a couple of inauthentic claims. At that point, I was sort of at this not knowing what to do because this was my business model. I was making money using this business model, but now I'm afraid that I'm going to get suspended because you know customers are saying that they don't know if these shoes are real, which again I don't necessarily blame somebody who's ordering a Nike and they're not getting
that orange box that they're used to especially you know ordering it on Amazon from just like a third party seller, you’re not you know Amazon or a major major brand, so for me that was a you know that was definitely hard to deal with because it wasn't just one, it was the second one. I wasn't really sure what to do and that's really also when I decided to pivot into the private label model, which turned out to you know to be much better I think in terms of long-term growth and in terms of scaling, but that was a point where it was very tough for me. Luckily, while I wasn't doing the insurance business anymore I still had insurance commissions coming in from past sales and so that was able to sort of sustain me while I you know sort of transition my business into selling the rest of my merchandise that I bought through arbitrage and getting into private label, but you know for me you know the things that I've learned through personal development are that fear and greed are generally sort of the driving motivations for behavior and for me that was definitely a point of fear of saying if I don't do something my account is going to get suspended. I don't really want that and I need to change models. And so that was kind of a turning point also in terms of my Amazon business.
Steve: Yes. I can definitely see that and I'm sure that during that time it was quite tumultuous right. You have the stock. You already have this model work done in your head and you also know probably you know that it is in fact genuine. It's probably very
frustrating to get those inauthentic claims even though you can't blame the customer it was real and you probably were at wit's end at times.
Liran: Yes, yes and it was very frustrating and you know I kept all the receipts and I submitted to Amazon. The receipts from Nike had the EPC codes and things that you can sort of match up and so I knew that I had some backup, but you know with Amazon they can choose to accept something, they could choose not to accept something and yes, it was very stressful to get those claims and I you know I just didn't want to deal with that anymore even though I know people that are still you know doing that model. Just for me it was too much stress to have to deal with you know getting claims and getting my Amazon business shut down possibly because of it and yes, all the goods were you know authentic, but you know it was and very profitable too. You know, you could buy a pair of Nikes at 50 bucks then sell them for 150 you know and just do really
really well and you know it was time to sort of end that model and move on to something else, but you know thankfully through the Facebook groups and through kind of just learning I knew that there was other models out there and I knew people that were doing well you know creating their own brand. It was just - it was also a fear factor of just like how do I import from China, like how do I do all this stuff that other people
are doing and that was also part of the reason why I probably hadn't done that earlier.
Steve: Yes, so that brings up a very interesting question, which is you know that transition going from retail arbitrage and for those out there who aren't familiar with this vernacular, retail arbitrage just means you did exactly what was just described which is you go to a retail store typically a Costco or some other clearance type store, you look
for the clearance shelf and you go - you can even scan now, they have an app so you can scan and go hey, this thing is you know 60 bucks at Costco and now on Amazon selling for 160 bucks, so that's your opportunity to make the arbitrage play. To me, it's a model that is under significant stress and is unlikely to be a big model going forward in my humble opinion. So, how did you make that transition from retail arbitrage into private label?
Liran: Yes, so I had a good amount of inventory already at Amazon. So, I still had products that were sort of bringing in money. I was able to get, you know, I was able to get Amazon to accept the receipts from Nike and so you know I knew that - well, I knew that I had worse, but I knew I could still kind of keep moving forward and then I actually joined Andy Slamans’ course. Andy had a course at the time on private label and I actually joined his course and started to sort of learn how to import from China and how to search for products and so I started sort of like one product you know at a time type of thing while I still had money coming in from my arbitrage items, while I still have money coming in from my insurance business and my goal was to really only bring in - the only new products I would bring in my goal was to be in private label and just continue to sell the items that I you know had it at Amazon from my you know current inventory, continue to sell those and let those continue to bring funds in and so that's
how I kind of transitioned. I started with one product and you know a month later I had another product and I kind of built it up where eventually by the end of 2015 I had sold through all my arbitrage items and I was - and I already had some private label products and then 2016 was kind of the first full year that I was you know sort of all-in 100%
Steve: I love it. Well, this is the same journey other people go through right. Until you understand how to build a brand, it's kind of a mystery. You don't even know what a UPC code is or how to get one. You know, the idea of putting your own brand on something and importing it from China and who do you talk to, how do you find the products, all of it could be extraordinarily overwhelming, but you know here you are you know a couple, three years into it now and you're you know not just doing well, but
you're considered an expert in the space, how do you think that transition went, you know, how did you go from the newbie learner to the teacher?
Liran: Well you know I went all in. And so you know going all in for me was you know I did one product, I didn't stop there. I did another product and I listened to all the podcasts and I took the course and I went to the conferences and I started networking. You know, I went to a conference from Rapid Crush in 2016. It was very expensive. It was $10,000 to attend that conference, but I went on a leap of faith and there - you know now a new brand that I'm starting is going to be with a person that I met there at that conference. And so definitely networking with other sellers was a huge difference for me for my business and really like learning and listening you know and taking courses and just like consuming as much information, but then also actually like
putting it into play right. I mean not every piece of content that I listen to I was able to implement, but being very very focused on learning and implementing, learning and implementing you know very very consistently and you know even though yes I'll say I'm
considered an expert with quotes, I'm still learning you know every day. I still want to listen to podcasts like yours that are put out there with you know with information or attend conferences. And you know now a lot of the time it's not the speaker on stage,
but it's the higher level sellers that are there that I can share best practices with and talk to, but you know I feel like probably a description of an awesomer is someone who doesn't feel like you can ever stop learning right. So, one of the things I learned in network marketing was this three hours lifelong learning and that's kind of - that again
was kind of a mindset thing to me like you're - yes, you could be an expert, but there's still a whole lot you don't know and a whole lot you could be doing better and improve. And so that's how I kind of I've always seen my business and you know and then obviously I think there's some - you know being able to retain information and learn and apply and then also you know I think a skill set that I have is being able to relay back information and maybe teach somebody else something. And so I think there's I'm sure tons of people that are way more knowledgeable than I am. One, not every person wants to step up and have a community or teach and two, thankfully I'm gifted with the ability to sort of relay information well.
Steve: Yes, I like that. Well and it is a very impressive journey and the reality is you know what you've been able to do has been very well earned and it's something that you've been able to put significant focus on and effort into and I definitely agree that you know awsomers in general love to learn. That's a premise that we all kind of approach business with in life really with and I do find it to - noteworthy to point out that you and I being college dropouts it wasn't a question of learning, we love to learn right. I mean
I've given a recent podcast episode about strengths-based leadership, which is a - it’s a book that you can buy and then you can take an assessment and people getting - have their strengths noted and I definitely think you would have a high potential to have your top five strengths include learner because you love to learn as do I, I love to learn and that's something that you know not everybody takes the time. They just want it. They want it fast. They want the hack you know just give me the easy button.
Steve: What would you say to those people who are like hey just give me the hack, give me the easy way. I don't want to really actually work that hard, what would you tell them?
Liran: Yes, and you know what I would say is that you know it's not necessarily working really hard, but you - you know I would say it's being - you need to learn information in
order to be able - you know somebody once told me you know knowledge is power
right. I consider it potential power right if you put it into play, but you know especially in this game of Amazon there's definitely like information arbitrage right. So when you have the skill set and when you have the information that another seller might not have that's how you can beat them on Amazon. You can have two listings side-by-side same product and why is one product selling 50,000 a month and the other one is struggling and some of it is information arbitrage right. That seller knows how to get their product rank. They know how to do the advertising right. They know how to do better images and better listings and it could be the same exact product, but if you don't have that information then you can't really take advantage of that you know information arbitrage. And so to me that's one of the most powerful things I have in my business is not the fact that I can go on the computer and actually like open the Seller Central. I kind of give that to anybody to do, but it's sort of the strategies that you know allow you to be successful on the platform and that's where I focused, like how to maximize the Amazon platform opportunity.
Steve: I love it, well and this is a really big important point, this idea that skills actually are valuable right. You build skills you know and having that knowledge equity or intellectual equity however you want to think of it, all of that builds towards something that then you can connect the dots when you hear - you’re doing the networking that you described earlier, when you're in the groups or you listen to the podcasts or you doing whatever learning that needs to be done now you can start to see connections that maybe other people who aren't as exposed to this learning materials. They just don't see those connections and that is where you find advantage and that's where you
Liran: Yes absolutely and that's why I would encourage anybody listening to this if you're not like attending one, two, three conferences a year you want to do that. I mean you want to pick the right ones and you know, but networking with other sellers has been, has probably been the biggest impact for me to my business and it doesn't happen just
online in Facebook groups. When you go and meet that person from Facebook personally and then you start talking them, they're going to share things that they're just not sharing publicly or you know through private message because they don't really know you, so definitely make it a point to face-to-face conversations with other
Steve: Such good advice. On that note, we're going to take a quick break and when we come back we're going to talk a little bit more about what some of the things you have going on right now, maybe some predictions about the future and a couple other little nuggets. We'll be right back after this
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Steve: Hey, how about that? We're back again. And we're going to talk a little bit now about you know some of the things that I think are important for people to consider for the future. Now, one of the things I like to ask everybody is just if they have a particular tool or a resource that they use in their business day-to-day. Is there anything that stands out in your mind that you care to share with the audience out there listening?
Liran: I mean one of the - two tools that I use a pretty good amount of in my business every day, I use Slack. So, we use Slack as a way to communicate. I use it as a way to
communicate with my assistant, so I do have an office and we're both there, but I'm not always at the office and it's a great way to communicate and keep track of everything. We have different channels for different projects that we're working on and we also have our VAs on there and our VAs communicating through there also, so it's a really good tool just for team collaboration. I was going to mention another tool, Evernote I use a lot just in terms of like notes and organizing things. One other tool that I use that probably lot of people don't know about is a tool called bonus.ly and it's so bonus dot L-Y and what it allows you to do is it allows you to reward team members and also allows team members to reward each other with points. So you know my assistant does something great or she does a great job managing things when I'm traveling or whatever. I'll come back and I'll give her 50 points and that might be 5 bucks or 10 bucks or something. And basically every team member gets a set amount of points every month that they
can use and they can give each other for collaborating for different things and I find that even at $10 or $15 or whatever it is that they get is a big motivator and you can also set some goals around it, so you know if we hit this X target you know at the end of the month, each of these targets is worth points and just great for collaboration and you
know keeping people engaged and also you know if you have employees or VAs that you value, it's an extra thing that you could do for them that probably nobody else has
done before. So, it doesn't cost a lot of money. The points they get they can - my VAs in the Philippines they can use this for just PayPal for money. My assistant here likes to use it - you can use it for gift cards, Starbucks, whatever and turn those points into some things you like, so that's a really good tool, again not expensive to use it and a good way to motivate you know if you have even a small team.
Steve: I love it. I think that is a really smart idea and especially I enjoy the fact that they can reward each other right and this is one of the things, so in my view and again this is just my own opinion, but it's not the actual money that is motivating the folks, it's the
recognition and it’s them supporting each other right. The more you have that, you're creating a culture within your company where people want to be recognized for doing good stuff right, which then they want to repeat the good stuff. You know, it's a really really smart cultural choice. How did you come to that? Was this just something that you were turned on to or how did you come to her that idea?
Liran: So actually so my assistant came over from - she was working for another Amazon brand when I hired her and one of the things I did with her initially is like tell me about the different tools that you used in - that they used in their business. They were bigger brand. They handle like over 20 employees and so they were using you know a lot of software in their business, a lot of automation on a lot of things. This was one of those tools that they were using and I love the idea of it just like you said because you know it helps you retain people, motivate people, get recognition, so I immediately implemented you know that tool and again she really loves that motivation and that recognition. So it's kind of cool. It's like a social media sort of feed there. You could tag people. You can use hashtags there and everybody kind of sees it, so it's definitely motivating and you know for my VAs in the Philippines who you know they get what, 500, 600 bucks a month, you know getting another 20, 30 bucks in like bonuses is meaningful and it's not a lot of money.
Steve: Yes. No. That's really really smart. I love that. That's a great tip and also just for
the Awesomers out there listening, if you don't have a method of recognition and that could be as simple as an email from time to time once a week, once a month, some minimal effort where you say hey, I noticed this thing you did. It was great. Thanks for doing that. That is extraordinarily motivating far more than the average entrepreneur will believe right because if somebody sends us an email and goes hey, cool gig over there
you did or not nice effort over there we're like hey, cool, thanks and then we move on with our lives right. But I think regular you know team members will love the recognition especially if it's coming from the boss. That means something. They take it home. They talk about it.
Steve: Sometimes we’ll make certificates where they frame them and put them up in their house, their whole family is seeing this and we undervalue some of those things I think.
Liran: Yes and I'll share a quick story with you. I'm in the Amazon Exclusives Program which basically you get some perks. You pay an additional 5% and you're selling your
products online on your website and on Amazon. So I'm in that program and I have a rep and I love my rep. I mean she's really really excellent. You know, if I need something on a Sunday she would do it you know, an amazing rep. And so one of the things that I did recently was I took all the Amazon leadership principles and I know that that's how the Amazon employees also get rated in their performance review and I took all the leadership principles and I wrote each one on how you know she exemplifies
that leadership principle. Well you know a couple weeks after I did that, she sends me a picture and she's holding a certificate right and you know because I sent that to her boss and they recognized her and they gave her this certificate and she was thrilled
right and it cost me 15 minutes of my time to take to do that, but you know if I need a little extra support from Amazon I'm going to get it because you know it's not - I'm not just like receiving receiving receiving. I'm also kind of giving back and it's exactly like those small kind of things that can make a big difference. So if you you know if you care about keeping the people that you have and not you know and you don't think you could just replace them in a day with exactly what they've been doing then I think it's worthwhile to implement some things in your business to retain them.
Steve: Definitely right. I love those. Again this - a lot of what you've talked about today really there's a needle kind of threading it all together, which is you know networking, recognition, you know doing the right thing, all of these are wonderful awesomer values and I love every little bit of it. Before we jump into the future and kind of what you're doing in the present as well, do you have a best day in your professional life? If you have one day that stands out, not that you can't have more than one great day, but anything that stands out in your mind you care to share with the listeners out there?
Liran: Best day in my professional life, it's a tough question, but you know I've had some days in my Amazon business where I've had a deal of the day from Amazon and those have been pretty amazing days in terms of sales. Those definitely stand out. I was lucky enough to have one this year and one last year, hoping to have another one this year, so those are definitely like standout days in terms of sales., you know otherwise you know I feel like everyday is kind of trying to move forward and trying to do something to move my business forward.
Steve: Yes, definitely. Especially when we're kind of in the day-to-day doing it, doing
doing it, doing it, it's hard to recognize those things, but I really encourage everybody,
yourself included to kind of take a step back from time to time and look for the opportunity for a victory lap. Again, too often entrepreneurs we're so into kind of on to the next thing that we stop. We don't stop and we don't give ourselves at least that little short victory lap and then so I hurry back to work and it's definitely something that I have found to be quite valuable. I think any of those sales records or any days like that are well worth remembering and taking note of and sharing with the team. It sounds like you're already doing some of that by the way, when you're putting team bonuses if we hit this goal or objective. That's an exciting time.
Steve: That's great. So, let's let's talk about a little bit you know about the crystal ball, pull out your crystal ball and tell me what the future looks like whether it's E-commerce in general, Amazon as a selling channel specifically or anything else you care to pontificate about.
Liran: Yes. It's a good question because you know five years ago I probably would
have never predicted what I'd be doing today. You know, I wasn't even in this space. I was in the insurance space. I’ll be online, but not in this space at all. So, I imagine any prediction I make it's probably not going to be an exact target, but you know I would like
to possibly exit, you know have an exit on at least maybe one or two of the brands that I have now, so hopefully I’ll be able to take some money off the table, something to put towards my future. You know, that's one of the things that - one of my goals. I'm also in the process of starting a couple of brands, so hopefully you know they see some success and possibly an exit on those before five years is up. I see myself continuing to do sort of the you know consulting or training or you know in whatever capacity that may be. I still think Amazon is going to be you know a great opportunity to leverage you know that channel. So, I don't have a vision of life being like massively different like being in another industry or you know being outside of the E-commerce space. I think we have many years to go for - to take advantage of the opportunity, but you know hopefully playing ball at a higher level right. I might go from college to the MBA you know try to improve my game.
Steve: Well I personally will be running a hoverboard ranch where people will go on to the Old West and they'll ride around on hoverboards and pretend they're old cowboys, so you can look forward to that revelation coming true as well. I do have a question about some of the mentor and coaching and and some of the things you do. Tell us a little bit more about how that works.
Liran: Sure. So, we have a private label course teaching you basically how to find potential products and build a brand on Amazon. You know and it's more I would say for people that either have kind of just started with private label or maybe have one product or maybe it’s a wholesale or arbitrage and you do want to get into that model. It's probably not for somebody that's already doing you know high six figures, high
seven figures with private label. So it's more of like sort of initial sort of training. We do ongoing webinars, etc. with more advanced content, but it's more of a course with people who are looking to start or haven't had the success they want. Besides that we have some services that we offer so we have an image service that's very popular where we take your existing images or existing image and enhance them just with
Photoshop and graphic design work, so text call-outs, lifestyle images, things like that. We copyright listings. This year we've started to manage sponsored ads for sellers on Amazon, so we do that. We have another service called AMZ Professional where we submit reimbursements and we do feedback removal. We submit reimbursements.We don't charge a commission like some of the other services, so it's a flat fee and then you
know we're doing - we've done a couple of private label retreats this past year. We're doing a trip to China that's coming up in October, a small group and you know aside from that you know from time to time I'll get a you know a brand or get someone who’ll
come to me just for consulting or things like that. So, you know recently I spoke to a brand that’s selling 4 million a year on Amazon and they wanted some consulting around how to you know optimize, improve their listings, things like that. So that kind of just comes to me sort of on as it comes kind of basis and yes. So that’s kind of what we do you know with Amazing Freedom. I'm partners with Andy Slamans and Nathan Slamans. We also have a free Facebook group, Amazing Freedom where you know it's just a community of salaries that are just asking questions and posting, etc.
Steve: Love it. So we will try to get that stuff in the show notes everybody and you'll be able to pick up those online at the bottom of the show. On the top of the show, we'll
announce the episode number. I don't know what as we’re recording it, but eventually it's named and assigned. So, I love all of that and tell us about the China trip. How does your China trip work? There's a you know all kinds of different ways of going to China. It sounds like you're going to the Canton Fair, am I right?
Liran: Yes. Yes. We're going to the Canton Fair you know and we haven't done this
until this year and really the reason why we did a trip is because there was four or five people in our group that has gone through our course, etc. that I've said hey, you guys doing a China trip right. And so we've never done it before because my philosophy has always been that really you don't need me for the Canton Fair. You can go there. There's English speaking - the vendors have a translator or English-speaking reps and you can go look at products, you don't really need me. So you know when when some of our course members asked us if we're doing the China trip, I thought about how can we add value. One, I know that people generally are more inclined to go as part of a group if we’re going to China especially if it's their first time. So, there's one benefit to a group in general. The first time I went I went with a few friend sellers because I also didn't want to go myself, but two, I thought about you know how can we provide value? So what we're doing is we're going to be doing some coaching, group coaching calls before going to the Canton Fair because I know when I went the first time it was overwhelming, so kind of helping you focus on you know what category, what products are you going to be looking at, doing some research beforehand. Going there and then every night masterminding, sitting one-on-one because we're taking a small group. We have some experts. Paul Miller is going to join us on that trip. Andy is going to be there and you know we’re having like 10 people or less, so we'll be able to do sort of like one-on-one. Show me some of the products you found today. Let me help you with those ideas. Let me help you kind of figure out how to maybe make some changes to those products to differentiate yourself. So those are types of things that we're going to be doing every single day, so it’s not like somebody needs me to hold their hand and walk around the Canton Fair, but it's the sort of the stuff at the end of the day that you're going to want to do everyday as far as the work evaluating different suppliers that you saw, etc. And then so we're going to go to phase 2 of the Canton Fair. One night while we're there we all saw Chris Davey. If you're going to be there around that time I know he does a big networking event that's like 300 sellers. So we're going to be bringing the group over to that just for networking, meeting other sellers. Again, you know I think if you're serious enough to go to China you're going to meet other people who are serious enough to go to China and it should be good networking. We're then going to head over to Hong Kong and go to the Global Sources Summit. So, it also gives the group an opportunity to learn just from the summit itself and also attend the show there and we'll be doing the same thing. We'll be doing - we’ll be helping people with the products that
they're looking at and then also you know Paul Miller will be talking about licensing. I have a woman, her name is Michelle who has helped me with messenger bot. She's speaking there, too. So, she's going to be doing like a session for our group about like using mini chat and messenger bots. So, it's really sort of like it's really all the help somebody maybe might want around all the things that they're doing in China because
again if somebody just wants to go to the Canton Fair and you're experienced I don't think you need me or anybody else to really take you there. So, you know we're going to try to add value there and then also when we come back keep a Facebook group and do you know a few more calls for people like post the event especially if they have never imported before, whatever will kind of help them throughout that process.
Steve: Yes. It's a daunting concept to go to China for your first time, so I definitely love the idea of groups and community and this you know idea that was planted early on in today's episode of networking and having value and going to shows and things like that, there really is such an unimaginable yet intangible value to that stuff right. You don't come back and go oh look at my bank account, it just doubled.
Steve: But you come back and you have ideas, you have connections and some of these things as you talked about one of your future new brands, they take time to gestate, they take time to form, but you don't know where they're going to go and partnerships and ideas and all kinds of wonderful things can happen. So, I love it. I think that's a really great idea. You know, I've been to Canton Fair for 15 plus years. I don't like going to them at this stage very often and so sometimes I go and sometimes I don't, but I definitely encourage people especially if you've never been to take the plunge, get over there and just understand how it works. If you get nothing else, you will understand more about how to deal with China than you did before. It's a massive crash course in learning you just can't get around.
Liran: Yes, absolutely and yes, you know I think you know while you have Facebook groups etc. like on this trip we're going to have like 10 people or less and people - actually were having - we’re taking Airbnb so everyone will be staying together in Guangzhou and there's going to be things shared there between people that they just don't share with each other online right. You'll be comfortable telling the other person what your product is right. Everyone is afraid to tell their products because you don't know if that person might just copy right. You're not going to share that in a Facebook group, but in an environment like that you share things like that with each other. You know, I have products that have a patent. I don't even think of having a patent on there. When I mentioned this mastermind I went to in Cabo and then I did a follow up call a couple weeks later with one of the guys I met there and we’re doing the Zoom and I showed him some of my products and he's like you should patent that product. It was a new product I saw at that time. He's like you should patent that product. He gave me
his lawyer and now he’s the lawyer for the last couple of years and have gotten patents because of that and there's - it was just not even on my radar and recently took down a competitor who outright copy the product. I was waiting for the patent to get issued and took down a competitor. So, I've seen the direct result of what you know networking has done for me and so it just it's why I'm kind of passionate about doing it and also continue to do it like don't think that you're an expert and that you should stop, you don't need to go to events or you don't need to talk because it's not the case.
Steve: Boy, oh boy, I think that is really really sage wisdom and I say with great respect, but I have sellers all the time they're like hey, I've been doing this two years, three
years, four years or somebody will say hey, I've imported 100 containers and you know I have to take a step back and say hey, little buddy that's great, you know I did more than 100 containers last month. I've been doing this nearly 30 years. At one time, I had 70 containers sitting in my yard and I had to buy a semi-truck just to move them around for an older business that I sold, but all of these things, and even despite all of that experience you know despite my first million dollar day happening many many years ago I still learn and I still go to conferences and I still am engaged in those conversations and you know my axiom zero is I don't know nothing about nothing and I go into every you know engagement with that whether it's a conference or a conversation because I want to learn and I want to get better and I hope other people take that approach as well.
Liran: Yes, great advice.
Steve: Do you have any final words of wisdom for the Awesomers out there listening today?
Liran: Make sure you have a lot of stock for Q4. Take advantage of Q4. It's coming up. If you haven't put in your orders, you better run and take advantage of it. It only comes once a year. Don't go out of stock you know and use that as a cashflow catapult for 2019.
Steve: I love it. That's a great advice. Q4 is a big deal everybody. If you are not prepared, you better get prepared and it really can be that catapult as it was described to level you up right and this may take you from the little leagues into the pony leagues
and someday you can play college ball and then go on to the big leagues like Liran. So, thank you again for your taking the time to join us. We really do appreciate it and we'll put in some of the links to all of the many things you do in the show notes as well. Thank you again Liran.
Liran: Thank you Steve for having me. I just want to say you know Steve has been one of the not only the most knowledgeable, but just one of the really good guys that I've met throughout my journey you know selling on Amazon, so really appreciate to know you and make sure you follow Steve because you know obviously if you're listening to this you are but one of the smartest, most entrepreneurial guys that I've met you know in this journey.
Steve: Well I appreciate that. I do love entrepreneurs and you know this is my passion, this is what I get the most satisfaction of hanging out these days. So thanks again and Awesomers listening, we'll be right back after this.
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Steve: Well as always awesomer stories do not disappoint. It is such a fun thing for me
and I hope it is something that you find inspiration in to be able to kind of just see where are all these different Awesomers from around the world from all over the world come from and Liran was no exception. You know, he was able to share kind of his origin story and how he kind of you know went through each process and you know enjoyed the
triumphs and overcame the adversities and you know one of the things I want to just comment on is the basic idea that these origin stories really are something that anybody should be able to identify with and see that you know we're all the same. It doesn't matter where we came from. It just matters where we're going and Liran’s story I find to be absolutely heartwarming and wonderful and something that all of us can learn from. So, I'm glad you joined us here. Now, as a reminder this was Episode number 38 of the Awesomers.com Podcast and to go check out the show notes and links and relevant details, just go to Awesomers.com/38.
Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers Podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.