Longtime listeners know that this is typically the time of year that we host DC BKK, our annual Dynamite Circle event in Bangkok.
Each year, hundreds of entrepreneurs flock to the capital city of Thailand to meet and share ideas with like-minded people from across the globe.
This has always been sort of a magical time for so many of us in the community, and to say that we are disappointed that we can’t take part in it this year would be a huge understatement.
It has become something of a tradition that our good friend Jeff Pecaro sits down with us after the event to crack open a beer and talk shop.
Jeff is an incredibly talented copywriter and the founder of MostlyStories.com. He is also the man behind the content at most of our in-person events.
This year, Jeff is joining us virtually on the podcast to commiserate and share some of our favorite memories, thoughts, and insights into the history of DCBKK.
See the full transcript below
Listen to this week’s show and learn:
- Some of the biggest mindset takeaways we’ve had from hosting 8 years of events. (8:28)
- The true relationship between self-development and entrepreneurship. (15:17)
- Why the fastest way to understand how to make money online is seeing it happen in person. (24:16)
- How to avoid “Shiny Object Syndrome” (30:31)
- Why there are no finish lines. (36:56)
Mentioned in the episode:
Before the Exit – Our New Book
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Tropical MBA on YouTube
Whole Life Entrepreneurship
Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse
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Dan & Ian
Dan: Happy Thursday morning, let me try to explain the story behind this ep. I got a text the other day from today’s guest, Jeff, who you’re going to meet shortly. And he said that upon being shown by his Photos app a photo of us having a multi-hour entrepreneurial lunch in Thailand he said, ‘The Photos app is basically emotional abuse at this point’.
It gave me a laugh and we got on the phone to reminisce about what we’d normally be doing in October. And Jeff just started, like, unloading all these emotional insights that have truly profoundly affected his life. And I resonated with them because I shared them with him. And I thought, ‘Man, maybe we should try to do this for the pod and see if this is something that pod listeners would appreciate’.
So it’s a bit of a curveball episode. I hope you enjoy it. So the basic backstory is this: it is October and too many of us and members of our private community, The Dynamite Circle, it means only one thing, which is ‘get on a plane, and head to Bangkok’. You know, we talk about on the show our biggest event, DCBKK as being ‘an event’, but in reality, it’s often just the start, or the middle of a much longer kind of entrepreneurial pilgrimage, or sabbatical that myself and so many others take each year.
What I mean by that is after the event, you really see these waves of migration to Chiang Mai up in the north, or the southern islands of Thailand, or to China for conferences, or to visit manufacturers, or to Vietnam, and many other places in the region. And it’s common for first-time attendees to join up with one or more of these small little subgroups and start forging their own networks or even business relationships.
And while the event attendees take off our team sticks around at the Conrad hotel for a few days. And there’s typically around eight of us that are part of the core team. And then we have an event team around it as well. Typically, the event team will take off, the core team sticks around to do some to do a post-event decompression, reassess how the event went, and really think about ways we can improve. Now, of course, this isn’t happening for the first time since 2012. Wha wha wha so hence this episode, so as a tiny, self-indulgent compensation and there will be some self-indulgence and behind the scenes talk in this episode, fair warning, the Bossman and I thought we’d invite you to a virtual version of of the meeting I look forward to the most, which is a ‘Witches catch up’ or happy hour with Jeff. And no, this doesn’t have anything to do with Halloween.
Witches is kind of a funky, weird sports bar with actually a really great menu. And we can find some privacy just a few blocks from this enormous event that’s happening at the Conrad in this small little quirky sports bar that has pretty decent food and discuss some of the most memorable happenings of the event. So I invite you to join us on this virtual Witches happy hour. We’re going to share some of the biggest tech takeaways from a decade of putting on DCBKK and other events targeted to listeners of this podcast. We’ll discuss everything from just the vibe we found to what works best in terms of the event. And importantly, some of the top entrepreneurial mindset lessons we’ve drawn from meeting hundreds of amazing attendees and speakers. We had a lot of fun recording this one. So pull up a barstool and open up your beverage of choice.
Dan: So cheers to you guys. Cheers to nearly 10 years of amazing events with fellow entrepreneurs. I got a big one because it’s my birthday.
Ian: Holy Cow, I don’t ever think I’ve seen you drink Fosters before.
Dan: You know, I went to the store and I said, ‘I really would like to get a Singha or a Leo because it’s a Thailand based episode’. And the guy at the beer store is like, ‘You got to go to Philadelphia, like we got nothing, nothing’. And so it is possible to get Foster’s on draft at many Bangkok pubs. So that’s the closest I’m gonna get today. Jeff, I saw you have an ice cube in your beer, hat tip to you for the authenticity?
Jeff: Well, I’m five miles from Thai town. So it wasn’t so hard to swing an authentic Singha.
Dan: And by Thai town, you mean you’re based in LA right now? Bossman, you’re based in Austin, Texas. I’m based in Amish country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but we all want to be in one place and that’s Bangkok, Thailand this week, where we’ve been every year since 2012. And the purpose of today’s episode is to look back on the lessons that we’ve learned over the years. Now, before we move on Jeff, I want to at least get on tape, who you are, and what you do.
Jeff: My name is Jeff Pecaro. And I’ve been bouncing back and forth between SEO and the copywriting world for many years. But I’ve spent the last year and a half running a small content marketing agency called ‘Mostly Stories’, that’s Mostly Stories dot com. We take an SEO approach to making content that people actually want to read so that you don’t always have to choose between putting your best foot forward and ranking in the search engines.
Dan: You write long-form SEO friendly content for basically listeners of this podcast.
Jeff: Exactly. But most relevant to this conversation, I’ve been working with Dan and Ian since 2013, or so on various marketing tasks. But most importantly, I’ve been helping them coach the speakers for their events since 2015. And had the chance to work with hundreds of entrepreneurs and members of the Dynamite Circle on how to present their stories about the interesting businesses they run in a clear and interesting way.
Ian: One of the things that makes Jeff’s job particularly hard is, that at our events, all of our speakers are practitioners. And what that basically means is that most of these people are in the trenches, running their business all day. And then we approach them and say, ‘Hey, we’ve been hearing or we’ve been seeing that you have an extraordinary story, we’d love you to tell that story’. And most of the time, the answer is ‘No, thank you’. And so from there, the journey kind of begins. And that’s really where Jeff steps in and says, ‘Hey, I think you’ve got something extremely interesting here to share, I’d love to help you get this story out’. And the problem is that most of the people that are on stage at our events, 99% of the people that are on stage, are not professional speakers. They’ve never done it before. And it’s hard for them to tell these stories. So that is where Jeff’s genius comes. He comes in and extracts these stories from them, builds these stories from practitioners, and really takes the time to coach people in terms of how to get that story across to the audience.
Dan: What’s your take on the sort of after-event drinks Bossman.
Ian: My take is that it’s only been for the last couple of years that you guys started inviting me to Witches. So I just want to say that this didn’t always happen to be the three of us talking about this, it was you and Jeff for a while. And then somehow, I like walked by. And I was like, ‘Hey, what are you guys up to?’ ‘Oh, we’re just doing our yearly debrief’. And I was like, ‘Oh, interesting. Cool. Can I come?’ So thanks for having me, guys. I really appreciate that.
Dan: So join us for what has traditionally been an ultra-exclusive conversation, even so much that one of the co-founders of the business wasn’t invited for most of the time. We look forward to this all year long. We’re so happy to invite you the listening audience into this most insider of insider podcasts. Hopefully, we can get away with it for just one week. Now I want to challenge you guys to share some of the biggest emotional takeaways, maybe mindset takeaways.
Jeff: I think one of the things that’s unique about DCBKK is the feeling that I know I’m going to get something big out of it every year but I have learned with repetition, that it’s never going to be the things that I expect. When you go to a traditional business conference, you’re gonna go see a former President speak or the head of General Electric or whatever, you kind of know what you’re in for, and you’re usually pretty right. And something about the DC conferences has created this over and over again, the most interesting thing that comes out of it is not something I knew was going to be there when I got on the plane.
Dan: The way it was described very early on was called engineering serendipity’. And it depends on things like environment, vibe, right people, right ground rules, things like that. And there are some design elements to that. So for example, a lot of business conferences, even in our niche,s have a hierarchical informational approach where for example, if you have a podcasting conference, you’ll take the podcaster with the most listeners, they’ll put them on stage to share their technique about how they made X number of dollars doing podcasting. And there’s this implication and there’s even this imagery of, ‘Well, you’re in the audience, the further back away you are in the hierarchy from that many listens, or that many dollars is exactly how far you want to traverse’. Compare that with a conference like DCBKK, where it’s not really about attending a conference with a bunch of people who want the same status or information as you, it’s about attending a gathering with like minds. We are all there because we sort of have the same values, we have the same beliefs about business, about lifestyle, about hyper globalization. And it’s sort of a different approach.
Jeff: We’ve joked about this before, but it feels sometimes like a few hundred friends slowly figuring out how to take over the world. There’s very much a camaraderie of being in it together, growing together, and a rising tide lifts all ships.
Dan: And to that end, our most successful speakers over the years have been homegrown talent. This is not a conference where we bring in the ringer speaker, pay him a big cheque, and expect everybody to be happy with that. The reality is our members just aren’t happy with that, they’d rather see someone that they’ve known for years, make good, and then lay it all out there for the rest of us.
Jeff: There’s always a moment in the last four to eight weeks before the event where Dan and I panic about not having a big name, or someone famous to sell tickets, and without fail our highest-rated talks ended up being someone from the community who’s done something huge over the last year that they can bring back and share with their peers.
Ian: The other thing that I’ll just mention is I think part of the reason interesting things happen is because it’s relatively still hard to get there. I mean, yeah, there’s a direct flight to Bangkok from most cities. But like, that barrier to entry does mean something in terms of serendipity and the type of people that are going to be there. It’s very difficult still to get away from your business and your family. And I think that’s part of the reason why magical things happen is because people are so dedicated by the time they get there, dedicated to improving themselves and their businesses.
Dan: Well, now I got to tack on to that because there’s one key element of this conference that I think you touched on right there, which is friends. This is a conference where friendships are forged and fostered. Why? Because people have time. Now, if you ever been to some of these American hierarchical information conferences, there are all kinds of people that like, flew in a day late, and kind of leave right after the final talk. They bounced in for a meeting, they bounce out. DCBKK is like the extreme opposite of that. You got people who showed up a couple of weeks early, people who stay months after in many migrations to different cities, for example, we hosted a cocktail party in Chiang Mai last year, a month after DCBKK, nearly 100 members came to that cocktail party. The folks who fly to this conference, in other words, Ian, have time, and it takes time to create friendships and partnerships.
Ian: The other thing as it relates to friends, Dan, is you have no idea how many of the people that are coming to these conferences are working together and are friends. And I think from the outside that can almost seem intimidating. Because one of the things that you said earlier was, you know, Does everybody know each other? And the answer is kind of, but the reason everybody kind of knows each other is because they’re one step removed, or you’ve been coming to this conference for 10 years. And I’ll give you an example of that. Simon Payne, one of the original members of the DC He showed up to the first meetup in Puerto Galera. This is pre-DCBKK. And fast forward to now, today over basically 10 years later, and we are working together in a professional capacity. He’s part of the Dynamite Jobs team. And the reason that this is important is because these relationships take forever to forge if you’re doing something really significant.
You have to trust each other. And you have to also know what each other have done professionally. But these are the types of relationships that are getting forged. And I hesitate to say, like, you know, just keep showing up every year, but like this is the byproduct of showing up every year, something profound is bound to happen, you’re going to bring in a co-founder, you’re going to work with each other, you’re going to invest with each other. And that literally takes years to happen.
Dan: Everybody owns their own life in a way that in normal society, people don’t. And now you’re unattached from those people who might attach you to any kind of normalcy. And you’re one of the least normal places in the whole wide world with the least normal people. And all of a sudden, kind of all the rules and all the mores are out the window. All of a sudden everything feels kind of possible, and you’ve just met people that you feel really close to. And there’s just a kind of a way you can relate to people that’s outside of these normal structures of society that I think’s really memorable, and leads to a lot of unpredictable outcomes.
So with that in mind, guys, I’d like to get moving on to the heart of today’s episode, many things change. But one thing doesn’t. This podcast revolves around five points. And today, we’ve got five key takeaways from nearly 10 years of running DCBKK.
Dan: So the first takeaway, Jeff, I’m going to ask you to reflect on this. ‘The only force that can sustainably and overtime stand in your way is yourself’.
Jeff: One of the great privileges of getting to work with so many entrepreneurs as speakers over the years has been both getting to really intimately know their stories, particularly how they came to be in the position that they’re in and why they’re the kind of person that they are. But also seeing trends. And one of the trends that’s been most profound over the years has been the degree to which the kind of person that you become, and how effective you are as a person, matters at least as much as the things that you know, I was reflecting, when we talked about what some of these like most surprising or most profound lessons are over the years, to a speaker we worked with, on the last year or two. He’s successful. He’s on our mainstage, for a host of reasons about the things that he’s accomplished. But he came to the conference and worked harder than I think any speaker I’ve ever worked with in six years in the 10 events that I’ve done with you guys. I was getting emails from him at three o’clock in the morning, he’s sitting in his hotel room instead of going out. And when we were finished, and I thought he’d put together just a talk that knocked my socks off, I asked him why are you working so hard at this? You know, the first draft was good, why put in all these extra hours and all this extra effort? And he turned to me very quietly and said I spent most of my life dealing with very low self-worth and dealing with an awful lot of shame. And when I first came to this conference as an attendee, and as a podcast listener, I had managed to brute force my way into a successful business to a degree, but it had cost me my health, it had cost me marriages, it had cost me other businesses. And it wasn’t until I started seeing the people at this conference, and the way that they lived their lives, that I felt like what I was doing might not be normal but it was okay. And, and I was okay. And, and it was really powerful for him to want to give back that feeling. And to give that permission back to the people who were attending the conference he was speaking at. But it really struck me that you hear all of this self-help knowledge, these Tony Robbins kinds of ideas about all you need to do …
Dan: You just barely cranked out the word knowledge there.
Jeff: You get these Tony Robbins kind of speakers that say, ‘You just need to believe that you deserve it. And you can achieve it, you can manifest it in your life’. And obviously, I think all of us have found that that’s not nearly enough. But what I’ve noticed from working with all these speakers over the years, and what that particular speaker’s experience really crystallized for me was that if you don’t believe that you deserve it, if you don’t believe it’s a good thing for you to be doing or worthwhile, or that you deserve to have people who believe in your mission and believe in your business. If you don’t believe that, that you’re worth it, it’s just an absolute deal-breaker, and you can beat your head against that wall for years before you finally give yourself the permission to just do something cool because it makes you happy.
Ian: Self sabotage is a real thing. It’s interesting, Jeff, to hear from you that even the speakers on our stage, are feeling like they don’t deserve it, you know.
Jeff: I think there are a lot of points in building a business and in particular a location independent business, that feel a little like cheating at life. You’re kind of getting away with something, and people are working hard for you, because they believe in an idea that you came up with over a couple of beers. And I don’t think that that goes away without attention to it and without a supportive peer group that says, ‘You are good enough for this’.
Dan: Let’s not underestimate how difficult it can be to believe in something that can be so singular. And that people around you don’t even understand, let alone believe it or not, or have a relevant opinion about. It can be hard to sustain that belief. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to just chuck it all aside and pick up a paycheck, you know, and do something that people understand and nod their heads along to. But there’s also this idea in this, you know, getting back to the headline of coming back over the years and seeing the same folks return, there’s only so many years you can come in and blame the government or say that a storm came through or that your laptop battery died. At a certain point, the only problem that’s going to sustainably return is yourself. And so I do think that there is a tight bond between self-development and entrepreneurship for that reason. I think what’s annoying about self-help gurus might be that it’s not sufficient to believe in yourself. You can’t go around believing in yourself and all of a sudden be a successful entrepreneur. But it’s pretty necessary because you’re gonna have to sometimes be the only one believing in it except for maybe a week or two in Bangkok every year.
Ian: I’ll add this – one of my favorite things about this group. And it’s a trend for me in my life in terms of the people that I associate with but there is almost zero ‘ho-hum’ talk like, ‘Oh, my laptop battery died’ or ‘Oh, I got sued or oh this happened or that happened’. When someone brings up a topic like I got sued, or something awful happens is generally with a glimmer in their eye. They’re actually excited about it and the outcome, although it might have been dramatic or devastating brought them to some type of new level. They did not let that event bring them down. I think that’s another thing that’s really special about this group, is that the people in this group truly believe that success or failure depends on you.
Dan: But there’s also a correlation that has to happen there and I think it happens in the room, which is, you can’t then suggest that your success says something important about who you are. There’s such an empowering feeling about going to DCBKK and telling five other entrepreneurs about the absolute shittiest thing that happened in your business or personal life that year. Because, you know you’re going to feel better for saying it, for taking responsibility for it in a way that maybe you haven’t yet. And also by being around folks who are 100% going to understand and not say something deep, deep, deep about who you are, about what your future potential is. And I find that really empowering, that I know, this is the place to process this and to move forward and to make something positive out of it. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you’re going to take some serious blows, whether it’s financially or personally, or whatever, in this journey. And so it’s a pretty forgiving and understanding room in that sense.
Jeff: And it’s so funny looking at young entrepreneurs and looking back at, I know all three of us and how much we worried about Google updates, or Amazon changing their terms of service, or the factory copying your products. And, a few years in, that’s just like, ‘You got to take your lumps. That’s the rite of passage’.
Dan: All right, point number two, the fastest way you can understand how others and yourself can make money through online businesses is seeing it happen in person. We had a correlate to this idea, of this metaphor of ancient rivers of cash flow. The idea that sometimes money behaves magically that like river water, some customers are calm, there’ll be a variety of marketing channels that aren’t like the funnel conversion rate optimizer people will tell you like ‘I read this interesting blog article than I signed up for the email newsletter that I bought the thing that was pitched to me, and then I sent the tripwire and now I’m a happy customer that’s going to be part of expansion revenue’. I mean, the reality is, most businesses aren’t like that, most people making a great deal of wealth online, don’t do it that way. And if you limit yourself to dissecting successful websites, you’re not going to really know the full story. Here’s a crazy bombshell. Over half the people that come to DCBKK. I would say they don’t make the majority of their revenue from click sales on a sales page. And so to truly understand how deals get done, how clients get earned, how customers get served, and how what happened in the last 12 months is affecting all of those things, the fastest and easiest way to do that, I think, is just to see a roomful of people that are actually doing it and that are just actually jacked to share it with somebody that cares about that information.
Jeff: I had this funny experience last year where the Conrad set up a talk show couch at the front of the main ballroom during our mainstage speakers. I stole it immediately. And what was so interesting sitting up there was watching our members kind of swirl around during the breaks. And they’re cutting deals, they’re sharing tips, there’s business getting done. It’s very real watching this micro-economy kind of swirl around the room. But it struck me that there are always these kinds of same groups of people. They’re the manufacturers, they’re the product people, they’re the advertisers. I realized we’ve watched AdWords, we’ve watched Facebook ads, I’m sure that there’s going to be a kid in the room making half a million a year off TikTok ads in two years, probably with a team of two or three people. And so you start to see these reliable patterns and these reliable roles that people take to make money through an online business. But it’s still very personal, and it still very much involves other people.
Dan: You know, it’s like that, when you’re in Vietnam, and you see the loaf of bread getting baked, and then put on the back of the motorbike driver. And then he goes down the street and delivers it to the bakeries and the soup shops. And then for lunch, you’re in there eating one of those pieces of bread, you can literally see the bread flow through the economy. And with online business, it’s really simple. You need an acquisition channel for customers, often that’s an event like this. Often, that is word of mouth or your reputation. Often, that’s just somebody who’s got too many clients who sends them your way or a decent website, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, whatever that channel is. You need an offer and you need a product, a deliverable that’s at the opposite end of that offer. And when you see the bread move so many times, year after year, you realize that the basics are pretty basic, you know that the complexities of how cash flow comes about are indeed complex, but how you participate in them need not be. And in that way, it can feel very safe being in that room, because you understand that not only is there competence in your peers, but there’s a lot of abundance out there in the world. And there’s a lot of ways to earn a living for yourself and your family.
Ian: It can be it can feel very safe, Dan, but also it can just be eye-opening. Because again, like when you look at the Internet, and you’re sitting behind it as a customer, for most people, it’s extremely opaque how this happens, how the bread gets baked, right? It’s only until you get in a room with other people that you truly understand, like, ‘Oh, I can do this. And I understand how this works’. And a lot of times in DCBKK, all you have to do is show up. Most people in this community have an abundance mindset, meaning there is enough for everyone to go around. This is not a zero-sum game, ‘I am willing to show you exactly what I’m doing. Even sometimes if you’re in the same exact industry as I am, because who knows, again, maybe five or 10 years from now we’re going to partner up, we’re gonna have some super company’. And then it’s just also these people, myself included, I love to show people new doors to the universe, I love it, when I can open something for someone and say like, ‘This is what’s possible for you. Here’s my business, take everything I know, pivot, rip, jam, whatever you want to do into your own business. We’re going to show you something cool, and it’s going to change your life’.
Jeff: And I think it would be easy to think that we’re just kind of, you know, tooting our own horn here about the power of these conferences. But we started bringing on volunteers a few years ago, who are young people living abroad for one reason or another, that want a chance to come, be at the event in exchange for working very hard to make all of the details happen. And what’s been remarkable to me is watching how many of those people have ended up either with their own businesses or as highly paid employees for other DC-ers companies.
Dan: It’s a great membership acquisition channel, in retrospect, I say it in jest. But it’s been cool to see whether it’s a younger brother or someone who was a friend or like co-living with someone, and they heard about the group and they come and they volunteer. And they sit in our room, Jeff, they sit in our sort of the conference room that we run the conference from, and they see the inside of it, and they say, hey, this could be a life that I didn’t even know existed that I could have, and they end up going out and getting it.
To recap, the fastest way you can get an understanding of how others and yourself can make money through online businesses is by seeing it happen in person. On to our third point, the importance of having a clarifying and external goal, especially in regards to battling ‘shiny object syndrome’.
Jeff: Apologies in advance that a lot of my takeaways here are very mindset focused, but I think that’s been a big impediment for me over the years trying to move from being a glorified freelancer into starting something a little bit more significant. But I had this experience, I’m cheating a little because this was at DC Austin a couple of years ago, where one of our former speakers, Adam Anderson, from ‘Whole Life Entrepreneurship’, and a variety of cybersecurity companies. I overheard him talking at the bar. And I just remember tapping him on the shoulder and saying, ‘I need to talk to you about what you just said’. And he goes, ‘Oh, what, what part of it was interesting?’ And I said, ‘I don’t understand how you look at the people in this room. And a lot of them are smart enough and talented enough to do just about anything. So how in the world do you choose? And how do you stick with something after you’ve chosen and how do you get other people to believe in it and work for you, and work with you’. And he sat down and shared a video with me of the former president of Colombia and the president of Colombia who ended their five-decade Civil War, despite having come from a military background and being inclined to solve problems with, you know, missiles and guns. And what he talked about was the idea of having a port of destination, which we can reframe as a North Star or a clarifying goal in this case. He knew that what was important was to make peace. And he knew that war, which was his background, wasn’t going to get him there. And so I think, for me, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to over the years, whose answer was, you know, for why they work so hard, ‘You know, my parents are getting old, or I didn’t come from money but I’ve got these kids now’.
In my case, you know, I’ve got a partner who I very much want to support so we can travel more often. And I think that having that kind of North Star makes it much easier to avoid the shiny object syndrome where the next new idea looks cool, the next app looks interesting, maybe I’ll switch my project management software today, instead of making sales. I think when you have that thing that’s outside yourself, you both get to shortcut that distraction. But you also get to have something that makes those decisions crystal clear. Does it help me get closer to that goal? And at the same time, you’re short-circuiting all the self-doubt, all the self-worth, all of the other baggage I talked about before because you’re working for something that’s bigger than yourself and outside yourself. And frankly, even if that isn’t necessarily real in your life, I think manufacturing something like that, that helps you clarify all of the noise that comes with working online is really transformative and something I’ve seen a lot of our different speakers use to their advantage over the years.
Dan: This is one of the elements of entrepreneurship that has some of the most transformative potential. Because, if it is true that entrepreneurship and self-development are this incestuous mishmash of, ‘We’re not even clear which camp we’re in all the time’, this is where entrepreneurship often asserts itself is very much different. In that, all of a sudden you are defining, and laying yourself responsible to external structures of value that are much, much bigger than yourself. And that, ultimately, your role is not to be that or represent that, but actually, to help create it in the world. And to gather a group of people, whether it’s community, customers, team, partners, that can support, nurture, and grow it. And that’s a lot different than waking up in the morning and asking yourself, ‘How do I feel today? What do I want to do? How’s my self-worth level today?’ Whatever it is. That’s what I love about entrepreneurship is that it is a way to short circuit some of those pesky questions about, you know, ‘Am I good enough? Do I feel good today?’ The organizing principle is the goal in mind for the organization. And I think that’s empowering.
Ian: This is also why it’s, I’d say it’s difficult to start as an entrepreneur, if you already have enough if you’ve already achieved a bunch of these goals in your life, it’s hard to kind of start from first principles, a lot of times. Especially if you’re making a good salary, you have a good job, or your life is relatively good in a lot of ways. It’s hard to step back and say, ‘No, I have a bigger organizing principle in my mind’, or ‘I want to achieve even bigger goals in this’. It’s hard when your life is comfortable. You know, with that being said, though, one of the ideas that we touched about sometimes on the show is ego, though. T there can be a lot of ego in entrepreneurship because in a lot of ways, it is a contact sport. And you’re trying to win sometimes, and so the people that are attracted to these types of games can, and I speak for myself, sometimes have egos. And it’s really hard when you’re starting a business to separate and I’d say during the whole game to separate your ego from the game, to separate your self-worth from what you’re working on. And I think especially in the beginning when we’re talking about designing a life that you want, something that you deserve, something that you’re going for, you say, ‘You know what I really want to be able to travel, I really want this car, I really want to have five kids’, whatever it might be, and then to turn around and say, ‘Okay, I’ve identified that, now how am I going to identify what’s important in the world for other people to help me achieve those dreams’. So you figure out what you want and then you figure out what the world wants. And then you spend the next decade working on what the world needs or wants so you can fulfill yourself, and then trying to not have your ego get in the way during the journey is extremely hard.
Dan: So again, our third point is having a clarifying and external goal is the antidote to shiny object syndrome and maybe over obsessing about your ego and how you’re feeling on any particular day. Our fourth point, speaking of decades, Bossman, is that there are no finish lines. And this is something that you brought up to us. Why is it that the experience of going to DCBKK brings this idea to mind for you?
Ian: Well, I think after having this event for nearly a decade, there’s something very interesting about the people that continuously show up to the event and have been a part of that community for that long. And I think actually one of the most interesting things is not how much money you’ve made, not how much success you’ve had, not how many houses you’ve bought, any of the things that can kind of be these byproducts of business and money. But it’s just how long that you’ve been in the game for, how long you’ve been able to sustain this kind of different alternative, non-mainstream lifestyle. And I think in order to be able to do that, you just have to sustain. So some years you don’t make a bunch of money, but some years you do make a bunch of money. Some years you have a bunch of success, sometimes you have a bunch of failures. But have you figured out a way to stay in the game? Have you figured out a way to keep your runway open? And I think one of the ways for me that I’ve done that is to not necessarily identify a finish line. Because the finish line also kind of implies like this, ‘I’m done’ type of thing, like, ‘I’ve learned everything I can learn. I’ve made all the money, I’ve done all the things’, for this to be kind of like a lifelong quest. And certainly for me, for it to be able to keep my attention for a lifetime, there always has to be something more. And to do that, I think, for me, personally, there can’t necessarily be a finish line.
Dan: Let me say this in different terms, then. Y’all hate hate hate on cash piles, and you’re in love with cash flows. So you’ve been focusing on it for most of your career, you come to these events because you want to find the new ones, you want to see the bread float around the room, you want a system that you can make money at night, and you can pay your rent, and that extra thousand dollar profit you make every month, even if you’re a millionaire is the sexiest thousand bucks you’ve ever seen because you tweaked the system that made a successful cash flow. And so I don’t care, you find me an entrepreneur, you plop a bunch of money in their bank account, they are still going to seek out successful cash flows. And sometimes I think that this is a nice side of the dark side of this idea that, ‘There’s never going to be enough, there’s never going to be enough’, you know, like, you make 10 million bucks, you just want 25 and you have a 25-foot yacht and you want a 35-foot yacht. Well, maybe it’s just that we like this stuff, we like cash flows, and that nothing drives an entrepreneur crazier, nothing drives a DC-er crazier than burning cash without replacing it passively through well-designed cash flows.
Ian: Another thing I’ll just tack on to that, and I want to get Jeff’s ideas on this, too, is I think what DC-ers and what a lot of entrepreneurs like even more than money is creating value. Knowing that they created something, they had an idea about something, they had a vision about something that other people shared, and then the value is created. Meaning the money is just the exchange of value. It’s just the byproduct of the value. But I think where most entrepreneurs get excited is figuring out what that value nexus is.
Jeff: The best place in the Conrad to run into people is the elevators because there are 350 of us and there are five elevators if memory serves. And I ran into one of my favorite DC-ers, one year, after I’d seen him in 12 months and I asked him how he was doing he kind of looked both ways and said to me, I’m like a kind of secret voice, you know, ‘I’m done. There’s an offer on the table for our company’. And what he was getting at was like, ‘I’m set for life’. And 12 months later, he’s back with another business because it’s fun, you know, he’s having fun, he likes building things. And I think it’s a great lesson about … there’s this great book about finite games versus infinite games. And I think that a project or an individual business might be a finite game to build to a certain cash flow or to even build towards an exit but the process of building things and of creating things, and in some ways like finding and discovering these cash flows in the world is a rush.
Dan: There’s something about it, you know, if you’re tweaking on the right cash flow, that it’s like being Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom, you got to, you got to know the code, you got to know where to wipe off the spider webs to find the lever. And it’s not immediately apparent but the payoff is enormous. You can figure out the world in a way that most people aren’t so concerned about. You know, I don’t feel like I have to play video games because we’re in business if that makes sense. So to recap, there are no finish lines. And our final point – co-location with like minds. is critical. We’re keeping it simple. The best in the world practice the basics, mastering them, repeating them, and having an understanding of when and how to apply them. That’s how you become a master. It’s not about having a bunch of complexity happening in your mind. And one of the basics to entrepreneurship is that it doesn’t happen alone. And if it doesn’t happen alone then it follows that you need to be around other people, if you need to be around other people, it follows that the quality of those people might matter to the outcomes you would achieve. If that follows, then it follows that the quality of your time with them and your relationship with them, then will ultimately lead to the types of outcomes they will contribute to. You need quality, and you need time. And the really the time comes from colocation, and that’s part of what you know, DCBKK is about, it’s part of what the pilgrimages is about as part of what the pilgrimage is, before and after the conference are about as a part of what sitting around for seven days long, lazy days in long conversations. It’s about getting that time together with like minds.
Jeff: There’s a reason that some people come to Bangkok two weeks early for a three-day conference. And it’s that they don’t have access to those kinds of high bandwidth interactions with those kinds of very similar minded people in their daily life. Ian turned to me at last year’s debrief and said, ‘How many days a year do you think you’ve been around people that are trying to do the same things you want to do? Like, become your clients or mentors?’ And the answer was 15. He was like, ‘Yeah, you should think about that’. And he’s right, the conferences are great if for some reason you are, you know, locked into being in a location where there aren’t many people doing things like you’re doing. But if you have the chance to move to another city, or even if you have the chance to spend a month or two, they’ve been some of the most transformative months of my career, for sure.
Dan: And after Ian turned the screws on you during that debrief, he walked out of the room to go to bed early. And we both turned to each other and said, ‘That’s why we didn’t invite this guy for all those years’. And this all comes back to you know why this is such a very, very special week for so many of us because so many of us, even if we live in entrepreneurial hubs feel isolated, for one reason or another, whether it’s the nature of our relationships, our family, it could be anything. But there’s one week out of the year that we all feel very very much together and that’s DCBKK and it’s super sad that we can’t be together with you guys, with the listenership this year. So pretty cool to do a little Ode to the event, to the week. And with a little bit of luck, we’ll be back stronger and better than ever next year. Very sad, we won’t do it this year, boys, but pretty entertaining nonetheless to sit here and hash it out.
Ian: I just want to say, you know, Jeff, you’ve been a tremendous asset to this community and to the event. So I just want to thank you for that personally, the event wouldn’t happen without you surely wouldn’t in the same way that it does today. Guys, you know, it’s not just the three of us working on this conference too. So I want to do a big shout out to all the volunteers and team members that have made this possible over the last almost 10 years. I mean, there’s just been an amazing crew of people that come to Bangkok, that volunteer their time, in a lot of cases, and help us to put this production on. And so thank you to all you guys that have helped us make this conference such a success over the years. We couldn’t do it without you.
Dan: All right, I’ll miss you in Bangkok at Witches this year. Let’s do it next. Thanks for joining me on the pod today.
Jeff: Talk to you guys soon.
Dan: What an absolutely strange year, it was some consolation to be able to speak with Jeff. In fact, since the pandemic started, Jeff and I’ve been spending a lot more time on the phone. And I hope this episode gives you a sense for why he’s such an all-time great hang and someone that you can really be honest with about your business challenges and have a real conversation about how to move forward. Speaking of Jeff’s business, you can find him on Twitter, JeffPecaro. If you want some more of his content brilliance in your life and in your business, check out ‘Mostly Stories dot com slash audit’. And speaking of reaching out if you have any questions or observations for the Bossman and myself, we’re looking to pull together a Q&aW episode. So ping me a voice message or send me an email Dan at Tropical MBA dot com. We’d love your prompts and questions to help inspire episodes like this. And finally, thanks to our new sponsor, Service Provider Pro, if you’re interested in integrated agency management and client portal software, basically if you run an agency and you want white label software that pulls it all together, head over to Service Provider Pro dot co and see what they got going on. Big thanks to them. That’s it for this week. We’ll be back as always, next Thursday morning. 8 am Eastern time.