The Art of Breaking Out with Craig McBreen







December 2015
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Let me ask you something: Do you think you’re doing the work you were born to do? And, is there even such a thing?

Many solopreneurs struggle with this question. Worrying they are working like an over-caffeinated beaver on the “wrong” thing. Spending most of their waking hours working on something that isn’t quite “it.”

I think we all struggle with this question. Wondering if there is such a thing as a “calling.”  Well, this is one subject we get deep into in today’s interview with solopreneur and writer, Jeff Goins. This is why he wrote The Art of Work—because many people were asking this question: How did you find your way?

Once Jeff declared himself a writer—his Obi-Wan Kenobi moment— everything changed. We talk through that moment, where he started, and how he’s built a career and life around it.

His online journey started in non-profit marketing, and he had eight different blogs before starting But after reading books by writers like Seth Godin, he was inspired by the thought of spreading an idea worth spreading. In fact, it helped him understand why marketing matters. And this, combined with his turning pro, is where it all started.

We also talk about his thoughts on living a portfolio life. What it means, why it’s not a new term, and why it defines the future of work. This includes spending some time on Charles Handy’s The Age of Unreason, and why a portfolio life is a smarter way to build a career. Whether you think of yourself as a jack of all trades or master of one, it doesn’t really matter, this is the future of work, and a topic you should be paying attention to.

Most of our conversation centers around this question: How do you find that thing that sparks you, and then build your vocation and lifestyle around it?

Jeff is a speaker, a podcaster, but most of all, he’s a writer. He’s the author of 4 books, including the Art of Work. He was an amazing guest, and I know you’ll love this show.

Questions I ask:

  • When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
  • Can someone really find their calling?
  • What is your process of self-inquiry?
  • Can you plan your purpose? (You’ll love his answer.)
  • Is this the age the the renaissance man woman?
  • Vocation: Is the future of work about learning a variety of skills and combining them in interesting ways?
  • Is The Hunger Games the future of writing?

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why thinking like a pro will change your work and your life.
  • Why you need to listen to your life (See parker palmer below).
  • He wrote The Art of Work not because he had all the answers, but because had so many questions.
  • Jeff was a Spanish Major in College (not an English major).
  • Everyday you have an opportunity to create a legacy.
  • He won a 6th grade spelling bee (and made and 8th grader cry in the process) by spelling, wait for it… acquiescence.
  • To pay attention to the themes that keep popping up in your life. (You’ll love his time line exercise).
  • By 2020 half the american workforce will be freelance workers.
  • The secret to Ernest Hemingway’s success, Yeah, really.
  • Why I think Jeff is Ernest Hemingway and James Altucher is Gertrude Stein
  • 1,000 fans starts with 10 true friends.


Direct download: 30Jeff_GoinsHow_to_Listen_to_Your_Life_and_Find_Your_Calling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am PST

My guest, Gini Dietrich, is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-area integrated marketing communications firm. She also runs the PR and marketing blog, Spin Sucks, one of the most popular PR blogs on the planet.

Gini delivers keynotes, panel discussions, coaching sessions, and workshops on the subject of using online technology in communication, marketing, sales, and HR. In my opinion she is an expert when it comes to modern blogging, brand-building, and community.

We talk about her early career, from working for Fleishman Hillard to her current firm, Arment Dietrich. We get into when she first started her firm, her many life changes along the way, and the lessons she's learned, in business and in life.

We discuss how she helped her firm weather another of our nation's financial crises, particularly how she started to restructure her firm to get new business. Gini worked to change her company from the ground up by focusing less on media relations and more on social media, social advertising, content marketing, etc. An integrated approach to doing things—something practically no one in her industry was doing at the time. The big guys weren't doing it, but she was. And Gini was focused on doing more, much more, to help her clients grow their businesses.

She created a lean team and went virtual. So, we get into a few details regarding building a virtual organization with people scattered around the globe. We also drill-down into the specifics of integrated marketing, how it relates to the PR industry, as well as small businesses and solopreneurs.

We also get into the mechanics of branding, story, and marketing for the small guy, We even discuss the fact that Gini recently became a foster parent. So we get into the foster care world and how she is doing her own thing to change it. We even get into a not-so-timely discussion of the Chicago Cubs. I know you're going to like this.

Questions I ask:

  • How does a solopreneur craft a brand framework for developing their own story?
  • What is your new SpinSucks/blogging project?
  • What don't we know about you?
  • How do we change the perception of foster care?
  • What is "showing up" to you?
  • What is your advice to the lone solo pro working to create an integrated marketing engine of their own?

What You’ll Learn:

  • Gini grew up with no radio or TV.
  • How she brought her company back during a financial crisis.
  • A great technique for reaching out to your LinkedIn contacts (something that may lead to clients).
  • That Gini recently became a foster parent (and she has a future vision around it the world of foster care).

Links Mentioned in the Show:

Direct download: Episode_29Gini_Dietrich_On_Changing_Perceptions_in_Business_and_in_Life.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am PST

Brian Clark describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. He is CEO of Rainmaker Digital, founder of Copyblogger, and host of the Unemployable Podcast.

To say he's a content marketing expert would be a severe understatement. He's a guy with chops and I've been dying to talk with him for a while. If you're a solopreneur trying to make your way in the online realm, you should get out a pen and paper and listen to this interview.

Before starting the extremely popular site Copyblogger around 2006, Brian built three—count 'em, three—successful online service businesses before moving to a completely online business model (Copyblogger). Fast forward to now and the result of all the blood, sweat, and tears Brian put into Copyblogger—Rainmaker Digital.

Brian has always been about providing rock-solid advice and solutions that empower people to successfully grow their businesses through social media and online marketing. And in my humble opinion, he is "The Man" when it comes to this stuff. I know of no one better.

We discuss Boulder, Colorado, the hipster-tech-Mecca of Austin, Texas (he's lived in both hot spots), tech hubs in general, and why our online realm should give us freedom. The topic of freedom leads us to Brian's illustrious online career.

And what about the brand launch for Rainmaker Digital? We discuss why he decided to depart from the Copyblogger name. So there are some great branding lessons in this interview—detailing his methodical, subtle, and extremely effective transition from the Copyblogger brand to the big, bold, new Rainmaker brand.

We get into the rationale behind the controversial decision to kill comments at Copyblogger and why they might go back to accepting comments.

Brian's online story all started with the book Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. After a stint at a law firm, he started his own solo law practice, then moved to real estate—he built a virtual real estate brokerage around 2002. At the time people thought he was insane, well… let's just say Brian is pretty good at predicting what's around the corner. The point is that Brian has been hard at work in the online space since the early 2000's, meaning he as a ton to teach.

We get deep into authenticity and how to frame your online persona… starting with Louis CK, leading to James Altucher, and ending with Erika Napoletano. I'm a fan of each, and Brian articulates with great precision, lessons on how you can learn how to share the right part of yourself to your audience. We really get into a great discussion on entrepreneurship and MINDSET. We also get into his new personal project, Unemployable, and how it originated.

Brian has been featured in a variety of books, including Linchpin by Seth Godin, Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, and Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink.

Questions I ask:

  • What was the one driving force behind your initial online venture?
  • How can you share the right part of yourself to your online audience? Be yourself in a carefully crafted way? The best way to find your voice?
  • What is Louis CK's secret to success?
  • What is the one bit of advice you would give a budding solopreneur?
  • How, exactly, did Rainmaker FM get started?
  • Does a podcaster just starting out have a chance? (You'll love his answer).
  • Facebook—why did you leave Facebook?
  • What do you think of Facebook as a free promotional platform?
  • Why did you start Further?

What You’ll Learn:

  • About Brian's moment of enlightenment: In 2005 Brian had a life threatening snowboarding accident which led to brain surgery.
  • Why you now need a "producer" mindset.
  • About "Authenticity" in the online space—being the part of yourself your audience will love.
  • It's always about the audience.
  • The importance of positioning—finding a part of yourself that'll reach the right people.
  • You don't follow your passion. You FIND your passion.
  • Most entrepreneurs are seasoned 40+ year olds. (I rather like this.)
  • It's is never too late to start an entrepreneurial venture.
  • Why comedians are the best storytellers.
  • Every one of Brian's employees has come from his audience.
  • Email converts 40 times higher than social media.
  • Why you should study copywriting, now!
  • Why entrepreneurs should think of themselves as highly paid servants. (The servant mentality rules in the online kingdom.)
  • Lessons on how to fight your own resistance and the resistance of others.

Links Mentioned in the Show:

Brian's many properties:

Direct download: Brian_ClarkThe_Secrets_of_His_Success.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15am PST

My guest, Ryan Hanley, is the head of marketing for He is also a keynote speaker, author, and founder of Agency Nation, an advanced content marketing agency helping insurance agents grow their audience.

But here is what else Ryan Hanley does: He helps brands and businesses find their audience, tell their story and win the battle for attention online.

We open the podcast by talking about young outliers in the online world (Lewis Howes, John Lee Dumas, Derek Halpern) and quickly transition to Ryan's own platform and methodologies.

We start by discussing his roots, the insurance business, and how he started in the online world. Ryan earned his chops in the online marketing world by doing great things for a small insurance agency in upstate New York. At that time he learned as much as he could about marketing, started to love it, and this is where his "Content Warfare" brand was hatched.

This small agency's site was outdated and stale, so he looked for a way to bring it to life. In fact, you might say asking questions was the secret to his success. He asked insurance clients questions, trying to gather the most common questions people ask about insurance. He collected 147, cut it down to 100, and on January 2, 2012, he held up his cell phone camera and started answering questions and recording to video—for 100 days in a row.

This successful experiment in content marketing brought business to the firm and still does. The firm quickly shot up in local search rankings (even outranking Geico in the local market).

Lesson: Ryan simply crushed it in search by creating and delivering value. Since this little marketing "experiment" the agency has made more than $100K in revenue to date, just from the series.

So Ryan certainly has online marketing chops. But we also talk about the mistakes many solopreneurs make, from spending waaaaay to much time on social media, to moving forward without intent. We really get into a detailed discussion on branding and story. Including details on how someone could begin telling their own story, and how that applies to ongoing branding done right. So, this podcast is infused with advice on how to develop clear branding, find your ideal customer, tell your ongoing story, and win the battle for attention online. You're going to love the show.

What You'll Learn:

  • What trips up most solopreneurs trying to gain traction online.
  • Core principles of SEO (and local SEO).
  • Why the best way to use social media is as a networking platform.
  • And why, unless you are selling engagement on social media, you should not be spending so much time on social media.
  • The trick of making your work and life coexist in harmony.
  • The importance of a highly targeted focus when it comes to finding your ideal customer.
  • The right way to approach podcasting.

Questions I Ask:

  • How should a beginning solopreneur approach social media? What are effective social strategies?
  • What the heck happened to Google Plus? Is it officially dead?
  • How does a solo pro begin to flesh out their own story using your 3 C's approach?
  • How does a solopreneur find his/her best medium?
  • What are you reading today?
  • What will the content marketing world look like in five to 10 years?
  • Can you create an ideal life and business?

Links mentioned in the show:

Direct download: Episode_27How_to_Win_Your_Battle_for_Attention_Online_with_Ryan_Hanley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53am PST

My guest, Robert Rose, is the Chief Strategy Officer for the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). He's been with CMI since the beginning in 2009. Robert's passion is to help marketers become stellar storytellers, and this is one of the main reasons I had him on the show. Not to mention he's a featured writer and speaker at technology and marketing events around the globe.

Robert originally came to his current home (Los Angeles) from Texas. He was going to be a rock star, but as a keyboard player in late 80s (the hight of Grunge phenomenon) Robert had to make other plans. After a brief writing stint in the entertainment business, he decided this wasn't the business for him. This is when he transitioned to marketing, jumped into the TV business at Showtime Networks, and where he really cut his teeth in the world of marketing.

He then spent three years in Washington, D.C. working for a website design company, but ended up back in sunny LA working for a large consulting firm (US Web). After the "dot bomb" era (late 90s—2001), he spent 8 years in marketing working for a company that spun out of the dot bomb mess. He learned a ton during this time and soon realized the amazing power of content marketing. At the time he wanted to do something completely different, a practice few others were doing—continuously pushing out quality content.

In 2008 Robert when out on his own and started speaking about the power of content. He met Joe Pulizzi of CMI and soon after, started working with Joe and the crew at CMI.

Robert has worked with such companies as 3M, Dell, Adobe and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—helping all of them with developing smart and creative content marketing strategies. But his focus is always on the people within a corporation. He believes that if you walk in to an organization with the intent to help individuals, you'll help the business so much more. 

So this naturally translates to our solopreneur world. Robert is, after all, a solopreneur. We discuss solopreneur strategies—figuring out your why, finding the right audience, getting past fear, then making it it all work by integrating work and life. He even runs through a case detailing how a woman made great strides within a company by getting past the fear of "the ask," then making big changes within the company.

We talk about his book, "Experiences: The Seventh Era Of Marketing" which is all about how content-driven experiences can be created, managed, scaled, promoted, and measured in today's business.

The conversation is so relevant because many successful solopreneurs (like many big companies) are becoming more like little media companies. And much of our talk centers on this new era of marketing and storytelling.

What You'll Learn:

  • How you, as a solo pro, can become a better storyteller.
  • He even runs through steps, detailing how to tell your story and effectively get your point of view out into the world.
  • He has great advice on mapping out a plan to bring that business you envision to life.
  • Rock-solid content marketing strategies.
  • Why you should NEVER operate from a position of fear.
  • How to create your own center of gravity (passionate, high quality content vs. going where your audience is).
  • How to master delegation by carving out the job you want.
  • He even has a prediction about Google Plus you will want to hear.

Questions I ask:

  • How does a solopreneur effectively communicate his or her why (why they are in business) in the digital realm.
  • How can a solopreneur get past fear?
  • Is social media advertising an effective strategy for a solo professional?
  • Your book is titled "Experiences: The Seventh Era Of Marketing." Could you explain this era and why it's so important?
  • You've now met one of your heroes, John Cleese. What was that like?

Links mentioned in the show:

Sally Hogshead
Marcus Sheridan
Joe Pulizzi
4 Hour Work Week
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
Red Bull Media House
The Stroh's Beer Dog
Tom Goodwin's post: I Miss the Days of Expensive Advertising
John Cleese on Creativity
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon
The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath
Robert Rose's book: Experiences: The Seventh Era Of Marketing
Robert's site: