Building an Online Brand

Building an Online Brand Episode #37 show notes Private Label, Wholesale, Dropship

Building an online brand comes in dozens of possibilities and flavors from a small niche show on Amazon or other eCommerce platforms. Ultimately building your business so it’s solely dependant on those platforms leaves many business owners exposed. Douglas Levin shared his journey as an entrepreneur selling anything he could to make a profit to building his on online brand with his own customer list and unique products.

Where to find more on Building an Online Brand.

You can listen to the entire episode in our podcast section or anywhere you listen to the podcast episode, watch the interview on YouTube, and if you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to Tim’s “Weekly Sales Leader Newsletter

Episode Transcript

Tim Kubiak 0:02
Thanks for listening. It’s Tim Kubiak and you’re listening to bow ties and business. You can find us on our socials at bow ties in business on Facebook and Instagram and on Twitter at bow ties and bi z. You can find me at Tim Kubiak on Twitter. And on my website Tim Kubiak calm. Today’s guest went from playing in a cover band making $18,000 a year with really long nights. Then he started an online business but due to damaged shipment found himself 20 grand in the hole. Soon after realized he could lose everything he’d been working to build with a click of a button. So begin build his own personal brand, and building his own list. Today we’ll be talking about all things entrepreneur, building an online brand store mindsets and chatbots. Our guest is Douglas Levin. Douglas, welcome to the show.

Douglas Levin 0:51
Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Tim Kubiak 0:53
Yeah, no, it’s great. You’re the first guy in sort of that e-tailing space. It’s so popular in the last 90 days more so than ever, that I’ve had one. So this is great.

Douglas Levin 1:03
Yeah, it’s definitely been crazy over the last three months or so.

Tim Kubiak 1:08
Have you seen your business grow?

Douglas Levin 1:10
Um, it’s Yeah, it’s definitely had an impact on us. Like, I, I assume like a lot of business owners you kind of are in different communities all the time. And it’s been crazy, like a lot of a lot of people in like, masterminds I’ve been in and in different, like groups have just been like, I can’t keep up. Just in terms of it. So yeah, well, obviously, it’s impacted a lot of people it negatively for, for us, it’s been hard to keep up.

Tim Kubiak 1:38
Yeah, and a lot of my clients said is actually in the IT security in cyberspace. And those folks haven’t slept, right. And I also have some, some folks in the e commerce space that I work with and in the UCC space, and again, the developers I know, aren’t getting any rest because everybody who didn’t do a site in the last, you know, 15 years would needed one overnight.

Douglas Levin 2:00
Yeah, it’s definitely we’re doing like, I was a episode of a friend of mine who, she’s got her own warehouse and because of the virus, like all of her employees were stuck, right, like at home. So. So she’s been trying to do everything like on our own with like her husband. So like, it makes it like, like, much more sleepless nights as you’re trying to do what you normally do, and also do shipments and other things like that. So yeah, it’s been crazy for a lot of people.

Tim Kubiak 2:28
Yeah, and I know, supply chain itself has been an issue right, inbound inventory, but as well as the lead times on posts, both in the US and UK, right UPS and FedEx trying to keep up everybody run in their own stuff. So

Douglas Levin 2:45
Oh, yeah, definitely. We sell a lot on Amazon as well as like on site. And like Amazon took a huge hit with a what? Like, I think it was like they were saying a month delay for a while, like once the virus started. And it ended up actually helping us in terms of our website, because we were able to, like have customers that were reaching out to us with when they were normally Amazon sellers, saying, is there any way we can order from you guys? So it helped us out a little bit. But yeah, I mean, Amazon was definitely taking a hit on on a lot of that for a while while they’re trying to catch up.

Tim Kubiak 3:18
Yeah, they went to anything that was considered non essential. So if you weren’t buying medicine, or toilet paper or band aids, right?

Douglas Levin 3:24
Oh, yeah. He had a big effect.

Tim Kubiak 3:29
So let’s talk about your transition and how you became an entrepreneur. So I talked about the opening, you played in the band, if I recall, right, you were a drummer?

Douglas Levin 3:37
Yes, I was. I still play sometimes now. And then, but business has kind of taken me away from that. Yeah.

Tim Kubiak 3:44
How many nights a week were you playing to make a living?

Douglas Levin 3:47
Oh, um, at least four to six nights a week pretty much. So like, my, my, my, my day was completely backwards from what it is now. I would pretty much would sleep until I think 11 o’clock, get up, have breakfast, go back to bed, and then start my day, probably around two or three o’clock in the afternoon. And then it was all about relaxing, doing pretty much nothing all day, until like eight or nine o’clock I would start to get ready to go to the gig and play until like three or four in the morning.

Tim Kubiak 4:19
So and were you playing a different places every night?

Douglas Levin 4:22
Oh, yeah. Like I’m originally I was doing like, like I started off doing original bands where like, everyone’s always got their dream of like, I’m going to be playing I’m going to be showing up across the country signed to a major record label and we’re going to have like Platinum album selling out all these amazing places right? Now with that, of course, thought in your head when you’re like 13 years old, and you’re starting to learn play. And then I was in bands and kind of doing some of that stuff going on tours. And then I came across like it was live band karaoke. We’re like it was basically a cover band, but we would play bars and stuff where Were the backing band playing songs like don’t stop believing. And then people would come up and sign up to like from our list of like two or 300 songs or something and just play. So we toward a lot like that’s where I made the 18 grand every year just like playing colleges, corporate gigs, festivals, all that kind of stuff. So do it all the time.

Tim Kubiak 5:21
That is a really hard way to make a living.

Douglas Levin 5:24
Oh, yeah, well, especially as a drummer too, because

you’re basically having to, like, lug your gear all the way around. Like, there was this hardware case that I had, because I like, I mean, people see the drums and like keyboards and stuff on stage, but really, like the part that you don’t see is like the load in and load out. So like, I’m always feeling okay, like eight or nine o’clock when I’m loading in to like, like a bar or something. Because like, You’re alright, I’ve been resting all day, it’s been fine. At two or three in the morning, when you’re done. And you’ve got like, you got to break down all of your gear, you’ve got a way to get paid. Obviously, when you got to lug all your stuff out. Like I had this like hardware case, I was probably like 50 or hundred pounds. Like I had to lug like every day. And like somehow, like, like push it into my car like in the image of trunk and it was always a pain. So and then your look close waiting for like, hundred bucks. like yeah, if you’re lucky 150 at the end of the night, so it was a not what people think of as glamorous.

Tim Kubiak 6:25
No, no, that’s I’d read a book or an interview years ago, and I believe it was the lead guitarist from the band. Living Color.

Douglas Levin 6:35
Okay, yeah, he’s

Tim Kubiak 6:35
a great guitar player. burnin raid, right. Yeah. And he said that working musicians are the only people in New York City that gangsters didn’t mess with. He said you could walk through the streets at night, and everybody left you alone because they knew how hard your life was.

Douglas Levin 6:55
Yeah, it was, um, like, you think about like, the rock stars, right? We’re like, they’re partying with like, celebrities and models and all that stuff. That’s not what it is at all your, your, your your, like, I know for us, like, if I didn’t have to hear don’t stop believing one more time. Like, after doing those songs like you. You love the songs when you start off. But then after you’re playing the song for the hundredth time, and like a week, it starts to lose its meaning. So yeah, it’s it’s definitely it’s a fun life at times. But it’s, it’s it’s a struggle.

Tim Kubiak 7:34
So I played in house band for a couple of years and paid the bills that way early in my career.

Unknown Speaker 7:38
Okay, why did you play

Tim Kubiak 7:40
guitar? Okay, all right. Yeah. In my case, if I’d never had to play a Leonard Skinner song again, I would be okay.

Douglas Levin 7:48
You always get the place and Skinner? Great, so it’s easier for you guys, right?

Tim Kubiak 7:52
Yeah, for Yeah, Free Bird just play the same seven chords, or three chords over and over a couple of variations. But yeah.

Douglas Levin 8:00
Oh, yeah. And then you’ll get those people that would like, Hey, I’ll give you 100 bucks if you can play this on. And then you’re like, basically trying like, how does this go? And then like one person is like, I think you go like this, this and this. And then you’re trying to learn the song in like 10 seconds. So you can start to play it and get 100 bucks.

Tim Kubiak 8:18
Yep. I actually memorized Stairway to Heaven backwards. So if people would yell play stairway, I could play any segment in reverse. Then it was not it was not a fan pleaser.

Douglas Levin 8:34
Although I was a huge fan of bottom so I mean that like that one signature like it is right when he’s got the body parts. But yeah, that’s something I always remember.

Tim Kubiak 8:43
Yeah, I actually saw so obviously his son, but I saw his son playing with Sammy Hagar to corporate gig right, two and a half years ago. And you know, corporate gigs are strange things because these guys are 10 feet away. And you don’t have any of this stuff. Right? And just to watch even, you know, Jason play was just incredible. Because he hits like his dad.

Douglas Levin 9:07
Well, you can continue to use us like really young, right when his dad died too, right?

Tim Kubiak 9:11
Yeah. So yeah, I would almost argue maybe a little bit of its effect, but some of it might just be genetics.

Douglas Levin 9:19
Sure. Yeah. I, I I have so much respect, like everybody who’s ever played drums is pretty much knows that like, Bonham was the God. So yeah, I like I could never get to that level, anywhere close to that level. But man,

Tim Kubiak 9:34
yeah, he was he was awesome. There’s a lot of great drummers that are nowhere near that level. So that’s a whole different thing. So how do you go from being a gigging working musician to an entrepreneur?

Douglas Levin 9:50
So it was 2014. So, like, obviously it was I’d been spending most of my days doing nothing, right. So I had good credit. Cuz that was something that was always kind of taught to me like my parents and, and things along those lines. So because I had good credit, I came across like the miles and points world. So like, miles and points people don’t know is basically like, you can get credit cards, and you get bonuses from it, whether it’s like cashback or like travel rewards or, or hotels like things like that where you can, like potentially go on, like first class flights for like 100 bucks or something by doing it. So I was doing that. And like, since I only was making 80 grand, I couldn’t afford any of that stuff. But like, like, it was cool in terms of like, okay, like, we got like my, my, at the time girlfriend, now wife and I, we went to like Europe and like business thoughts and things like that. So it was cool. And one of the blogs that I read had talked about, oh, yeah, you can get free points by selling stuff online. So I didn’t know anything about it. But I started reading about it. And at that point, it’s like, oh, well, I got some stuff around the house, I can try and maybe sell something and see if I can get some free points out of it, like, meet like a minimum spend requirement on some credit cards to get some free trips or something. So that’s how I got started with it. Nothing at all about making money or, or wanting to be like an entrepreneur, or entrepreneur or anything. It was just Oh, it’s free free wine. I gotta go on a trip.

Tim Kubiak 11:26
Nice. Yeah. And so you started there, but it obviously grew into something else. So what was the thing that made it start to grow for you and go a different direction?

Douglas Levin 11:37
Yeah. So, um, after I started to do on Amazon, they call it fulfilled by merchant where like, you have to ship the order to the customer whenever someone buys. So I was doing that first with like stuff around the house. And I wasn’t really doing a great job. But I was still like, Alright, I got some money every once in a while. So it was pretty cool. But I had heard about FBA, which is where you ship it into Amazon. And then Amazon handles like everything for you. So like they handle it, the customer service, they ship it out to the customer, you pretty much can ship. Like, if you have a box that’s like under 50 pounds, you can ship in whatever you want, pretty much apple at the time, stuff always changes, but you can ship stuff in, and then Amazon would like sort it and, and ship it out whenever something happens and like you give them a cut. But then you don’t have to do any work. So I started to do that more like once I got the hang of how Amazon worked. And so I started to do some more like I would, I would kind of start to like go into big box stores like Walmart and Target and things like that. And I do what’s called arbitrage where you like buy stuff at those stores, ideally cheaper than you can sell it on Amazon and make the difference. So I started to do some of that. And I started to actually make some money. So like at that point, I was like, Okay, I’m, I’m actually like, like, I’ve got some I can see my bank account isn’t just like, I got $100 or $200. Now I can actually see something coming in. So

Tim Kubiak 13:08
nice. And so you’re building the points, which is where you started when you’re doing that right. Now, are you paying Amazon? Not just a cut? Are you paying them to store and handle? How does that work?

Douglas Levin 13:20
Yeah, so um, with Amazon, you pay, there’s two different plans. And I think it’s always been this way, but it was when I started, I think it still is. But you can have I think it’s called professional plan where like, you’re basically if you’re doing I think it’s over. I can’t remember the amount because it’s been so long since I started doing it. But if you’re going to ship more than this amount of units, it makes sense to get a professional plan, because you’re charged otherwise you’re charged every time someone orders from you.

Tim Kubiak 13:48
So like attach costs. So like $1 an order or whatever.

Douglas Levin 13:51
Yeah, so that’s only like, I think 40 bucks a month. So if you’re doing over a if it was say $1, I don’t remember what it was exactly, but for orders. So if you’re doing like over 40 units a month, then at that point, it makes sense to get the professional plan because you’re gonna save money. So there’s that cost. And then there was also since you’re shipping it into Amazon, and they are shipping it to the customer, there’s called the fulfillment fee when they ship it out to the customer. So what’s great about that, and this is a part that people don’t really think about sometimes when they think oh, I can just ship with myself is Amazon has great rates, like on shipping. So it could be something where like, if I was shipping it myself, it might cost like 10 bucks or, or if like $15 to ship it to a customer. But if they’re shipping it, it could be like 450, something like that. So you’re going to save over time, a lot of money on shipping. So, like at that point, that’s a huge savings. And then there’s another thing as well like Amazon will usually take it depends on the category that you’re selling. So like if you’re selling a grocery product, then it might be like 15% if you’re selling. I don’t remember some of the other ones offhand, but it’s usually like around eight to 15% have whatever your sell price is. So if you’re selling it for like 100 bucks, then they might take 15 bucks out of it. Like that. So there’s those different costs. And they do add up, obviously. But usually, like a rule of thumb that I’ve heard is like, if you’re buying it for eight, or like $8, that you want to make enough money, you want to at least be around three x. So like, if you’re buying it for a try and sell it for 24. It’s not always a hard and fast rule. But that’s one way to get started. There’s also a ton of software tools that will tell you exactly what your breakdown will be. So like, if I was to ship this into Amazon, then off of and I was going to sell it at $24. Okay, I’m gonna make 1783 or something like that.

Tim Kubiak 15:43
Now, are these third party software tools? Are they tools Amazon provides to the sellers? How does that work?

Douglas Levin 15:49
Ah, there’s both. So you can look, I think there’s, I don’t remember the exact site, because it’s been a while since I always use third party software at this point, because it’s easier. But there is some kind of Amazon tool where it should be free, where you can look up exactly like they have what’s called a sins, which is basically like the identifier for for that product. So if you’re going to sell a pair of like, a, like Jordan, on Nike red shoes, and a size 10 or something, then there might be like, a specific Asian that relates to that on Amazon. So if you were to put in that asen, into Amazon, then they’ll tell you, well, if you’re going to sell it at 50 bucks, then here’s all the breakdown of the fees, and what’s going to get taken out. So then you’ll look and see all right, it’s $35 is what I would get. So if I’m going to go buy it from like, from Nike themselves, or whatever, obviously, I don’t, I don’t recommend that. But but just for the example. And you say I can get it for like 30 bucks, then at that point, you can say, Well, alright, it’s going to cost me $30 to buy it. But I’m only gonna get $5 off of that sale. And then I also have to think about like packaging in terms of like, how much our box is going to cost me how much is like all of the packaging materials like tape tape and, and all of the other things that go into it. Is it really worth it in terms of my return on investment, my profit margin to buy something like that, and you look at all these other things as well. But that’s the starting point for it. And there’s like a whole bunch of other software that will look at other things about it, like sales history, like over the last 90 days, because the idea is just because you’re finding something that sells supposedly for like 50 bucks, doesn’t mean like two days ago, it wasn’t selling for 40. And at that point, if you’re doing the arbitrage model, yeah, you bought it for 30 bucks, but tomorrow, it’s gonna be selling for 35. And now you lost money. So

Tim Kubiak 17:57
So are you literally looking at products at the school level when you’re standing at an electronics store or wherever going, Okay, I’ve got this pulled up on my smartphone, the price is x here, I could sell it for y here and it’s not popular or not popular, our stock levels are low there. So I think I have an opportunity or how does that work?

Douglas Levin 18:19
Well, um, it’s been years since I’ve done it, I will say it, but about what I did. There was different software’s like third party software tools that would kind of help you through that. And then a lot of people I knew would actually like build up their own list where they would just kind of go from store to store and buy the same thing, because they knew it was something that consistently sold well and sold it up like a better price point. Okay, we’re like trying to specifically like, when I started doing it, this was like, obviously, six, six years ago for me, I would go in the store, like literally like in a toy aisle at Walmart, just scan each item. And like you’re looking at like clearance items, and then you would look on Amazon on your phone. Like there was a like a seller app, where you would look and see like, what’s the price? Okay, so I can buy it for 10 bucks here, like a pocketable toy or something. And then I can see on Amazon, it’s selling for $25 or something. And then you would try and look at all the information you can like how many sellers there were other stuff like that to see like, Is it something I want to try? When you’re first starting with something like that you don’t really know you’re kind of guessing. So after you do it for a little while longer, and you bring in like software tools where you can look up like the sales history and all the other aspects you can have more of a plan so that you’re building those lists and you’re not just wasting time at a like a target or a Walmart trying to figure it out. But when you’re starting I mean it’s good to basically look and like scan the items spend like an hour going through each like like item kind of thing and looking and seeing like hey is what I make money what I lose money so you can start Get an eye for potentially what can work?

Tim Kubiak 20:03
Okay? And how do you grow or evolve that business? or How did you grow and evolve your business.

Douglas Levin 20:10
So I will tell you I hated going in stores. I, I know there’s a lot of people I know that love it, they love like finding this deal that’s like, going to make them like a 200% ROI or something. I tried doing it, like, I would go on like trips where I would go to like 10 different Walmart’s in a day. And I would spend like three days like in a truck where like, I’ve got a shopping list of, I don’t know, 20 different items that I’m going to go from store to store and keep buying all that I can find. And I just didn’t like it. People though, that tend to scale, they tend to like have those shopping lists, they they always keep sourcing, then end up outsourcing to other people and other states potentially where they have access. And they pay him like a commission where they can buy that same list or try and basically learn your your recipes in terms of how you source so that they can do it themselves, and you get a cut, or like that kind of thing. So that’s how some people do it, I found that I was getting more nervous, because, um, it’s a great model in terms of, you can make a lot of money, and it doesn’t cost you a lot to get started. Like you can start with like 500 bucks or a couple hundred bucks or anything like that, and start to build it. The downside of it is you’re not an authorized seller. So well, you do have the first sale doctrine, which theoretically allows you to sell it. brands don’t like it, and especially on Amazon, like if you talk to most brands, they understand how huge Amazon is and how, how, how you can’t ignore it, but they hate it. And they hate it because of arbitrage sellers, because they’ll buy it at Walmart or Target or something like that, because the brand has a really bad supply chain, where they’re letting stuff fall through the cracks. And arbitrage sellers are just taking advantage of that. And, and the the brands themselves don’t really know what to do. Because Amazon doesn’t care. Amazon is all about the customer first view last. So at that point, the brands are like well, what can I do to protect myself? So they’ll do things that they don’t really understand are not really good, I guess for lack of a better word. So they’ll get what’s called, like IP claims or intellectual property thing. Yeah, like things along those lines. And that Amazon is will at that point, like, Can I guess we’ll be probably like, like flag, the account of the seller and like, suspend them. If things happen. And then at that point, you’re out of luck. I mean, you can fight it and like try and take them to court things along those lines. And legally you have every right in terms of the first sale doctrine and other aspects of it. But a lot of times you just don’t have the money, you’re you’re you’re you’re just a single seller who’s making whatever you’re making a year, you’re a nobody to most people. So are you going to try and spend all of your money trying to fight it versus multi million dollar brand, if you’re like, like, we’re saying like Paw Patrol or something where like, they’ve got billions of dollars, like you’re eight, you can try and fight it. But a lot of times, you’re not going to win. So I was nervous about that. Because like I saw a ton of my friends getting like suspensions or flags on their account where like, they’re at risk of suspension. And I didn’t want that to happen. Because like at that point, I started to make some money. And it was becoming my sole source of income more and more. So I just was like, Well, what happens if they get me and now I’m just like, all of the work I’ve done is gone. So I started to look into other potential models that could work. And that’s when I went to wholesale first. And that’s the idea that you want, you have a relationship with that with that brand directly and they authorize you to sell it on Amazon. And that’s theoretically supposed to give you more protection as you kind of go move forward so that that’s how I progressed.

Tim Kubiak 24:15
And so did you or do people pick a category so do you say you know what, I want to sell jewelry, I want to sell headphones, I want to sell whatever when you go into that wholesale world

Douglas Levin 24:30
some people do. I basically took whatever would give me an account. So it was probably not the best way to go. Like cuz I don’t toys and games like a lot when I was doing arbitrage. And, and that was great, like in terms of like fourth quarter when like, everyone’s buying toys and games. But it didn’t work out so well for me when I was starting to do wholesale. More. I mean, one of the things I had heard about wholesale is like what are you passionate about? What do you know about A lot about, because when you’re having conversations with brand owners, like on the phone, or in person, you want to have some knowledge not just sound like some newbie who doesn’t know anything is like, I just want to make money because I want to buy your stuff and it’s profitable. So like, like, I tried some stuff in music, but musicians are pretty much flaky. And, and honestly, a lot of it’s also hard on the music side, because it’s easier. A lot of times with Amazon stuff, if you can find stuff that’s smaller and lightweight. Because the shipping cost is is not as much and you can just ship it in. And profit margins are usually a little bit better. But you’re also dealing with more competition. And Amazon themselves, a lot of times is selling it, so you’re competing with them. So when I was going, like music didn’t work out as well. And I was just like, Alright, anything that wants to give me an account I’m going to do so probably not the best way to go. But it’s what I did. So

Tim Kubiak 26:00
nice. In what niche Did you settle into? I’m just curious.

Douglas Levin 26:04
Um, I think we did a lot of grocery is what we ended up doing. When it ended up kind of niching down a little bit more, it still was on the wholesale side, like before we got into private label. Uh, it was it still ended up being I would take whatever would give me an account. But um, we ended up doing a lot more grocery, I think, than anything, kind of as we got into it. I mean, obviously, what’s great about grocery is it’s perishable. So they’re, they’re in a better they’re, they’re in a position like the brands themselves, were like, well, this has to get gotten rid of somehow, somehow, sometime soon, or else we’re going to be left with like expired inventory, that’s not going to help us. So you’re in a better position, when you’re getting started with wholesale in that respect. It’s like, Okay, well, you’ve only got six or seven months left, until your stuff sells out, why not just sell it to me, and you’re gonna make some money. And as long as I do my job, then I’ll be able to sell through it. So that kind of thing.

Tim Kubiak 27:06
Right. So you, you mentioned private label, so I’m going to use that as a segue. So you went from anybody who would give you anything, right and let you sell their stuff and not come after you legally. And so make your authorized, so to speak to private label. So talk about that evolution, that transition for you.

Douglas Levin 27:24
Yep. So um, so I was doing the wholesale part. And, and that’s where I, I had started to progress a little bit more. And you had obviously brought up the idea of the $20,000 shipment. So I got my first exclusive, which everybody thinks is amazing, like, all right, so now I’m author, I’m the only authorized seller on this energy drink. And it’s my first exclusive. Like, I built up a relationship with the brand enough for like, they asked me like, hey, do you want to do this? So I’m like, Oh, sure. Yeah, this is awesome. So like, you’re thinking it’s gonna be like rainbows and unicorns, and like, I’m selling this product on Amazon. And it’s going to be awesome, right? So I’m the only seller, I don’t I like coming from the arbitrage model where I was always nervous and worried. And there was the race to the bottom in terms of price by like, 20 different sellers on there, I knit. So like, this is going to be great. And I get the first shipment together. It was like $20,000. And it was winter. And it got shipped. And, and it was energy drinks, Amazon. The way that they work sometimes is is like the pallets that were shipped in, were just left outside. So like it’s winter, it’s snowing, and it’s cold outside, and it cracks. So like $20,000 shipment. We’re like Amazon saying, Yeah, we can’t take it, it’s broken. And the brands also looking at me like so what are you going to do to fix this? And I’m like, I have no idea what I’m going to do. So like, I’m just kind of getting all like, stressed out about it. Like, like, I was making 18 grand a year as a musician out of a $20,000 shipment, like more than I made in a year in a year.

Tim Kubiak 29:07
Yeah.

Douglas Levin 29:08
And now I’m like, how, how am I gonna fix this. So it ends up taking like two or three months of back and forth with the brand with Amazon. Eventually it finally gets squared away. And like the shipment goes in like a replacement ship and things finally work themselves out. But like I’m like, well, wholesale is supposed to be this amazing thing. And this didn’t make my life any easier. I was still stressed out. I was still like, like up every night and worried like what what am I going to do? So I was like, there’s got to be a better way to do this. Of course, as a lot of business owners do, you, you you worry about that. But you just keep doing what you’re going to do. So I kept doing exactly what I was doing on wholesale. And then I wake up again like a few months later, and I wake up to 10 us sold as new complaints in my account. Like all I’m doing is selling new products from wholesale authorized, like authorized seller of brand of their other products. But Amazon is telling me I have 10 different products where I’m selling used products sold as new. So I’m like, okay, and these are like my, some of my best selling products. So like, now I’m getting really nervous, like, Alright, so that that crack shipment happened. And now this happened. So I’m like, I, I can’t really rely on Amazon anymore. I want to use them for what they are. But I need to do something else, I need to figure out a better way to do this. So I’m not up every night, like until three or four in the morning, like stressed out stressed out about what’s going to happen if all of this goes away. And if my sole source of income is gone, and what am I going to do in terms of like providing for my family, and, and I’m, I’m now used to being the business owner, or like, I don’t have to actually work really like in terms of like, getting up and going to a nine to five job or something like, I can imagine myself doing something else. And now I’m like, Well, what am I going to do? So from there, that’s where the idea of private label came in. And I started to get kind of go down that road.

Tim Kubiak 31:12
Okay, so do you transition? Is your evolution transitioning away from using Amazon? Do you sell your private label through Amazon? What happens?

Douglas Levin 31:23
Yeah, so next thing that happened was, um, uh, like, the the specific brand and product that we ended up coming up with on the private label side was actually something my wife came up with in terms of, like, it was something that she was passionate about, but but wasn’t really around, it wasn’t available, like nothing that she was looking for really worked the way that we wanted it to. So, and the one thing I will say about Amazon sellers is they’re very secretive. So no one ever wants to talk about their stuff. So it’s always a careful thing, you got to be very careful. But anyway,

Tim Kubiak 31:57
um, somebody else is gonna knock it off or jump the algorithm, right? Oh, always, that’s

Douglas Levin 32:02
what they always say. Or like Amazon themselves, eventually will like, when you get to the point that it’s it’s sells enough, they’re just going to try and knock it off. But yeah, so we came up with the idea. And I know enough about Amazon that I wanted to use them, but I didn’t want to be reliant on them. Because they’re the 500 pound gorilla in the room, right? You can’t, you can ignore them. Um, but I wanted to make use of them. But I didn’t want to, I didn’t want them to be my sole source of income. So as we’re kind of getting that first product ready, um, the thought was, well, I want to build up a list I want to, like, like, I had started to learn more about chatbots are like, at that point, I kept hearing, oh, the open rates are like, amazing, it’s at 90% open rates, and it’s like, five, like four or five times as good as easy as email. And it’s amazing, right, you kind of hear that stuff going on. And at that point, um, the, in retrospect, the good thing that happened, but at the time, it was terrible was our product took forever to get done. So like, there was one part of the product that we kept going back and forth with the manufacturer, because it wasn’t right. So rather, like we wanted to go, we wanted to get started on launch. But we also wanted to make it as high quality as we could, so that it could do what we wanted it to and help the people out, we wanted to help. So we kept going back and forth. And as a result, we couldn’t do anything. So I started to really immerse myself into like, understanding what chatbots are and what they can do for you. And from there, started to build the list through chat bots ahead of the launch of our product, so that we could build the list make some money, because we ended up like selling other products at the time ahead of it. So some money was coming in. And at that point, once the products ready to go, we already have a list that we can just go, Hey, buy our stuff. So in retrospect, it was great at the time was terrible.

Tim Kubiak 34:03
So if people aren’t from the e commerce world, right, you’re talking about building a list? Is that an email list? And then are you driving people that have subscribed to that list to your website or back to your Amazon store? Or what are you doing there?

Douglas Levin 34:17
Yeah, so list is pretty much the lifeblood of in my opinion anybody’s business. But what we what we did was um, with with like, so chatbots are just like messenger bots. So if you’re going to go on like Facebook and you’ll see him a lot of times where like, a brand will have either a Facebook page or sometimes if they go if you go to their website, it’s like an automated response whenever you type something. So like, if you’re running like a like a Facebook ad, where someone is giving away something like some type of information or or product or whatever it is, in order for you to opt into their list. What they may say Do a start by saying, hey, do you want, do you want to get this thing, and then when you click, then at that point, you’re opted into their messenger list. What we would also do is with, we use many chat specifically, which is one of the category kings for chatbots. But um, what’s great about them is you can also acquire people’s email and SMS information. So we would also do stuff we’re like, Hey, would you also like to give us your email, when would you like to also like, give us your SMS? Obviously, we, there has to be enough value that you’re providing them that right. But we would go that route. And then at that point, when you’re building up people that on your messenger list, email, list, all that kind of stuff, then when we didn’t have the product, we would sell other other people’s products, where like we would get a cut, whether it was wholesale dropship things along those lines that were related to our niche that we think people would help solve people’s problems that we haven’t, that we could get access to those we were selling just our own website, because we could, we could start to make a name for ourselves carrying that niches products. And also, it’s more of a higher margins. versus if you’re selling on Amazon, you’re going to have to give them a product. And also the brands are a lot more likely to let you sell their stuff on your own website versus Amazon, they received before, like how they hate Amazon. So a lot of times, you got to do a lot more convincing. If you’re going to try and sell their stuff on Amazon, versus most most of them don’t care if you’re going to sell on your own website. So we kind of went that route. And then once our product was ready, we would start the process of pushing our list to Amazon to start to sell and, like rank well, and things like that. But first, it was more just trying to get those people to buy from our website.

Tim Kubiak 36:48
So Amazon, everybody, everybody goes there, right? I think it’s a fair statement. Private website. Right? Are you? How do you get people to go there? Right? Because Amazon, hey, I’m gonna go to Amazon and I want to buy a book by Douglas. Right? So I’m gonna go do this. Because I know what I want. And I know who wrote it. Private site, maybe Google loves you and gives you a little juices they say, maybe they don’t. So how do you deal with that in that transition? Yeah.

Douglas Levin 37:21
And that’s, that’s the thing that most people don’t think about too, is like, you always think, Oh, I want my own website, then I don’t have to deal with anybody else. And and yes, like, in my opinion, you do in terms of like controlling the list. But all of that comes down to like, it’s one of the things that I learned from one of my mentors. And like, all of the marketing that I’ve pretty much heard about since is, you want to basically have three things in place. And that’s what we ended up working on to was like, as we’re getting our product ready is you want to know who your ideal customer is. You want to know what your brand values are. And you know who your competitors are, so that you can be different from all of them and give give your ideal customer and experience that nobody else can give them. Like the idea is pretty much like why should I care about your brand versus anybody else’s like because at the end of the day, most products are pretty similar. So if you don’t want to just be a commodity, where it’s just about the lowest price is the only reason why I’m going to buy from you, then that’s where you start to build up, what makes your brand different from everybody else. And that’s what we focused on. And that’s what I always recommend, like if I’m ever working with anybody in any type of situation, is get those three things done. At the beginning, like like, first thing you do, if you’re doing like, say private label brand, or even if you’re doing like wholesale or anything like if you’re talking to a brand is they have to have that stuff in place, it works fine on Amazon, we can just throw a whole lot of marketing dollars at it. And if you find the right product that doesn’t have enough competition, you could potentially sell sell well. But if you’re actually trying to sell on your own website or any anywhere else, you have to actually have a real marketing plan, you have to have some brand identity, where like, you’re going to be different from everybody else. Because otherwise your website is going to be like a wasteland where no one cares. So that’s always what we do. I mean, it is the thing that that will make your brand a real brand, that if you ever want to sell it in the future, or whatever the case is you want to scale up and come up with new products in the future. And you start want to build up those raving fans that will buy from you over and over again, it comes down to those three things. So I always recommend that whatever you’re going to do in terms of if you’re trying to sell on your website.

Tim Kubiak 39:40
So if I go on Facebook, my Facebook feeds a great example. I’ve got 1000 ads for people telling me how to build my list. Right? How how to use social media to become Greek deity or whatever it is right? How? How do you cut through that? If you’re out? You know, trying to build that brand? How do you get this stuff? Right? Everybody loves point? Oh, Tim Ferriss. He’s brilliant, is built an amazing career off of a cleverly titled book, right with some good information and but a cleverly titled book. But how do you get to that next? You know, how do you really get through this? Probably, I don’t know what the status people opening Instagram and Twitter accounts right this second,

Douglas Levin 40:30
right? Well, yeah, and it was like Russell Brunson if you know, like clickfunnels, he always says, like, what the average attention span of seven seconds, like, so no one no one is going to give you at the time of day. So really, like, what I always recommend is like, you have to basically get in the trenches, for lack of a better word in terms of like, do your research, like really understand, like, whenever I’m working with anybody, or like, when we did it ourselves, we would spend weeks, like trying to understand everything we possibly could about your customer. Because like you want to, you want to get into their head. And I think the the thing is, like meet them where they’re at, where like you understand what their hopes are, what their fears are, like everything about what they’re trying to do, and where they’re trying to go. Because everybody wants to get to a different level, right? Like they have where they’re currently at. This is one of the things one of my mentors, like Brian Bowman always says like, give your current situation your desired destination. So like, all you’re trying to do is figure out how am I going to get them from point A to point B. And if you do enough of that research, you’ll you’ll start to see what other people are doing. That seems to work like you. Like, I think they’ll always say, like, you model it to start. But then you also want to figure out what is what is relatable to you as a brand, your personality, your culture, all of those other things. And from there, you just do all the research that’s necessary to really understand them as much as possible, where if you’re doing that research, and you’re like, Okay, I can see, all of these competitors are doing this kind of a thing here. If I don’t know what I’m doing, I may start with that. And then test different things do a lot, like look at data, where you’re going to see what works and what doesn’t. But if you already have a starting point of like, I know, like, my ideal customer is a 30 year old man, who, who wants to get back into shape, because whatever like and you start to understand the underlying reasons behind it, because you’ve done enough of your research, then you can start to cut through the noise a lot easier. Because at the end of the day, they just want to solve whatever that problem is that they’ve got. So if you can give them something that’s going to help that. And obviously, you want to have pattern interrupts in there, so it doesn’t look like everything else that they’re seeing when they’re scrolling through their feed. But, um, if you can, at the end of the day, just do that, you’re going to get more people that are gonna be interested, and obviously got to keep testing and look at the data. But that’s where I would start. And then you, you would just kind of read, iterate after that.

Tim Kubiak 43:05
So kind of building on that, right. So you started on Amazon, you went out, you’ve done private label, you’ve built your own brand. And so what’s the next evolution for you? Um,

Douglas Levin 43:19
well, I think the big thing that I’ve always wanted to do is, like, this is something that that came into focus a lot more in the last like, probably six to 12 months for me is really understanding what my purposes like. Like, when I had those issues in the past, like whether it’s the shipment, or we’ve had a cashflow issues in the past, or like, the use old is new or any of those other things, it would affect me like it, like in terms of negative mindset. And it took a while for me to kind of get around that, like, like to get over it. And, like one of the things that has come about from that is that I I started to learn what more what my purpose is. And I look at it two ways now of obviously, my number one purpose in life is to is to be there for for my family, do everything I can to be there for them and hopefully get them a good life. Right? That that’s like number one for me. But on the business side, what it is, is about helping people that have been in that situation. So in terms of like the stress of Amazon, the stress of an e commerce life, we’re like, yes, it’s great in terms of the sales that happen from it. But, um, you also have everything that that I know I had to deal with and I know countless other business owners I’ve had to deal with where like, it takes its toll. And if I can do whatever I can to make their life so it’s not gonna be like that anymore so that they can learn potentially how to start to build their own list or start to if they’re in the private label space or, or like say exclusive wholesale seller where that they can learn how to do what I did. And I can take time to help them or whether like, I know, we’re coming out with a course soon where it’s going to be built around that we’re like, anything I can do to help them. So they don’t have those issues anymore like that, that’s the other part of my purpose in terms of like, like, I want them to never deal with that, again, like, so that that’s kind of where I’m looking at everything I want to do moving forward. Like, I still want to obviously keep our brand going. I’m doing everything I can to grow our brand, on the physical products part of it, but but I love talking with other business owners, I love being able to help them. So that’s a big focus of what I want to do kind of moving forward.

Tim Kubiak 45:39
That’s a great transition. Right? And it’s nice to see you doing it. You know, it’s funny. So one of my mentors, and one of my business partners is at a point where he’s looking at helping quote the next generation because he’s, he’s on his five year cash out plan. Right. Great place to be. Right, but seeing you looking six years in not 26 years in on how you help other people grow is really a fantastic, you know, attribute.

Douglas Levin 46:09
Yeah, I mean, it’s the thing that I think most people that I’ve seen in the Amazon space, like, if you actually think about it, like, like, you understand that you were at the point that that likes a beginner was when they started, and you didn’t know what you’re gonna do, right? You’re just like, oh, like I was saying before, when I first started, and I was like, Oh, I can make some money, potentially. And I can get some points. That’s cool. But you don’t know the first thing to do when you get started. So like, I remember what that was like. And if I can help somebody, that’s awesome. And I think a lot of Amazon sellers, too. If you were like, they’re very busy, right? They have, they’re running their own business. But if you catch them at the right time, I would like to think that most of them will take 510 minutes to help you. I mean, if they’re not, I mean, there are people that if they want to run their business, that way, that’s completely up to them. But I remember what it was like, and I don’t, I don’t want to be like, I want to be there for other people. If I can just i i think it’s it’s just how I had it be that person, I guess, for lack of a better word saying.

Tim Kubiak 47:16
So ecommerce space, let’s let’s pick on the evolution a little bit, right, Amazon’s been the gold standard, they certainly have one of the most efficient warehouse systems in the world, right. And I’ve got supply chain background from the technology space. So I’m not in their world. I understand it. But so is Walmart entering the space or other people entering the space going to a stress the demand for them? Or is it just the evolution of retail?

Douglas Levin 47:44
Um, well, I know that like as assembler recording this, I know Walmart is trying to push a lot and I know Shopify is trying to push a lot.

Like a lot of people have been trying to come after Amazon.

I think eventually, like any other kind of company, Amazon will have to do something in terms of like, like somebody will eventually figure out a way to do something, right? Because no one ever stays on top forever. But Amazon is doing their best and everything they possibly can to basically make themselves a juggernaut in the online space, like for decades. But I know like, like Walmart’s doing a lot right now to try. And I think they’re we’re partnering with Shopify on on some other things. And Shopify themselves is partnering with Facebook as well. And Google is trying to do stuff with Google Shopping. So everyone’s trying to do what they can to kind of compete. But I know a lot of them. Walmart’s got a ways to go. I will say like, like, they they they have the infrastructure in place. Because I mean, how many Walmart’s are there around the country that they could compete, but they don’t really understand the online side. Like I saw on Walmart, I hate the experience. It’s like, for me personally, it’s like a 10th of the sales of Amazon. And some people do really well with it, but I like they’re coming at it. From what I’ve heard from, like people that know, like the Walmart developers better. They’re coming at it from more of like an IT perspective, I guess we’re like, the developers side of things where they don’t understand, like, like, the intuitive aspects of it, of like to make it more user friendly. When you’re trying to do stuff online. Like, there was something as simple I was, I was trying to change like I there was a couple days ago, I tried to change a price on one of my products, and I couldn’t do it. Because I like how would is Walmart make it that difficult for something so simple. So they have the ability, but they just don’t get it right now. So I’m hoping in turn, like the idea is if there’s more competition, like we get back to the idea of one way or the same for like on the sellers standpoint, like customers if are only going to if you’re only dealing with price then the customer wins. If there’s more competition, from like, like a marketplace standpoint, it’s going to help us as as a brand donors and sellers, like well, like Amazon’s gonna have to get better. Like they’re always trying to. But if they’ve got Walmart or Shopify or something like that nipping at their heels, they’ll have to do something better than just basically what they’ve been doing. But I don’t really see anything right now that seems to be challenging Amazon, I think it’s gonna be a while before unless, like, I know, they’ve been trying to break up amazon for a little while now. If they do, it, obviously could change things. But at the moment, right now, it’s, I think it’s still gonna be Amazon’s game.

Tim Kubiak 50:33
So, you know, I have very formed opinions on what they do with their data as a data privacy guy. Right, um, you know, that was the day job for a long time with cybersecurity and data privacy. So, I will say that they’re brilliant, and probably got a toe over the line. Let’s just leave it at that.

Douglas Levin 50:54
Oh, yeah. Um, without going into too much. I’ve definitely some read some articles. I know some people were, that’s part of the appeal of, like we were saying before about, about those foundational pieces, like your ideal customer, brand, values, competitors. So you can sell away from Amazon and make your product basically Amazon proof. Because there’s been numerous examples where like, you do all the work on like the brand side to bring a product to market. And it does really well. And then all of a sudden, like a few months later, oh, hey, here’s Amazon selling their own version of your product, right? How’d they do that?

Tim Kubiak 51:32
And now Oh, by the way, it’s ranked ahead and sales volume to the product that’s been on there. Yep.

Douglas Levin 51:37
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So that happens a lot. So yeah.

Tim Kubiak 51:42
So here, I’ll share, I’ll share an Amazon perspective he may not have right. So in the cybersecurity world, with everybody moving to AWS and cloud, when Microsoft and Google are certainly plays as well. And there’s third party providers and all the telecoms will just say an executive at a large security company that has thousands of essentially, IP security resellers in the network said, well, we’re gonna have less than 20% in five years, because everybody’s going to consume this through the cloud providers. Now Amazon being the predominant one, right? They have 60, some percent of the traffic, no, but Google, and everybody else will get it together and grow, and IBM will be in the mix and whatnot. So people who need to buy this aren’t going to buy it from the previous resellers. They’re going to just go and pick a box and turn it on.

Douglas Levin 52:31
Yeah, yeah. And isn’t that at this point? I think when I was looking at the numbers, isn’t that where Amazon makes a lot of their money at this point from AWS? Right. AWS? Yeah.

Tim Kubiak 52:40
So so they have not changed their pricing scheme, since they launched it their two largest competitors, I actually have a friend that works at a disruptive company, they’re in that data storage space. So they have an interesting model, right? It they created the model, everybody else’s mirrored it. And just now you have people coming out saying no, wait, hey, this, you don’t have to do it this way. But essentially, you pay to put your data in, you pay a store, and you pay another fee to call the data or retrieve it. So they’re getting you every time you need to touch the data every time you need to touch the record. So if you’re actively using it, it’s a blank checkbook. And the more people that use an access that data for whatever purposes, the more you pay, and more money they make, the more profitable they are. Right? So I think the next challenge is going to be is if some of these disruptors in the space come up, they’re going to actually they’re saying you pay me x a month access at one time access it no times access it a million times, it’s the same price. And they’re selling on sort of that average cost thing. And the cost of computing, the cost of storage has come down dramatically in the last 10 years. So it’s an interesting play. And they have a couple of global telecom companies, my friends does that our funders behind it so you have people with network and infrastructure that can make it dance, if it really hits scale.

Douglas Levin 54:03
I’d be interested to see how that goes. I mean, I know it’s the thing with Amazon is they’re ruthless. Like I’ve only really seen it on obviously like the, the Amazon Prime side of it, where like they’ll do whatever they can like in terms of like needling brands and pushing them out and all that stuff. But I can only imagine on the AWS side or anything with it would be especially if it’s a moneymaker for them like it is like they’re gonna do everything they possibly can to hold on to that. So if they got a good if you’re, if everybody’s got a good model, and they can withstand that, that would that would be very interesting to see how that plays out.

Tim Kubiak 54:40
The other side of it is if Amazon adopts same model and cuts the bottom out of the price hurts or profitability, short term, it takes a competitor out.

Douglas Levin 54:51
Yeah, well, and that’s what they do. I know I’ve seen them do it over and over again, right on the prime side, right where it’s all about the lowest price, right? They don’t care as long as they can get Everybody else out. So, yeah, I mean, that seems to be what they do over and over again, if they can get rid of a competitor, they don’t care. I mean, it wasn’t like on the prime side they’ve been, I want to say they haven’t made any money on the prime side for years. And it. I mean, obviously, they’re making all their money for other stuff. But it’s helped them to become the name that they are now. So, I mean, it works, right.

Tim Kubiak 55:22
So it works. You know, I like to joke two years ago, if they entered healthcare, we would suddenly have affordable insurance.

Douglas Levin 55:31
I think they’ve actually been talking about that.

Tim Kubiak 55:34
There’s been some saber rattling. I don’t know how serious they’ve been. But yeah, it would be interesting, because if you had some people enter that space. Talk about disruptive. Oh, God.

Douglas Levin 55:43
Yeah. Yeah, I know. That’s the thing. Like Mike, Mike, um, let’s be able to talk about that on the business owner side, right. I mean, but a, that’s something you’re always worried about, too. So I mean, if they could do something with that, or disrupt the space, I mean, that would be a game changer for a lot of people.

Tim Kubiak 56:00
Yeah. So I was I was at a security conference in Vegas last year. And one of my friends from St. Louis has relocated there. And he’s been a big, very successful amazon seller for years. So we’re sitting at a steak place on Las Vegas Boulevard, watching everybody go by. And he looks at me says, can you build a business Amazon can’t disrupt. And we spent two and a half hours coming up with it. And couldn’t, couldn’t come up with one, right? Anything we could enter, they could enter and just take you out. So I literally had a couple of guys that were technologists that work for me at the time, and I call them the next day. And I said, I don’t you know, don’t not do real work to do this. But in a week, I want to know two businesses I can start today Amazon couldn’t enter. In the two brightest minds. I know. couldn’t come back with a single thing.

Douglas Levin 56:48
Yeah, I mean, they can do whatever they want. At this point.

Tim Kubiak 56:51
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, so it’s gonna be interesting. So, this has been great. So a couple more questions, just kind of as we wrap up here. So what’s one of your proudest moments you’ve had as an entrepreneur?

Douglas Levin 57:06
Um, so I think it is actually one of the proudest moments is actually something my wife did. So we had our first product that came out, and she’s the face of the company. So face with the brand. So we were we were having a conversation, I think through messenger THROUGH THROUGH THROUGH chat bots. And I don’t remember exactly what the situation was, but somebody may be an order something or they had a question or something along those lines, if one of our products, and it ended up being something where we had to talk to them in real time to answer the question, so then, we’re talking and like, I think I was the one responding and my wife was like, right next to me, because she, she’s not a tech person. I’m the tech person. So so we were talking, and then my wife was telling me what to say, or something in terms of typing it out for them. And then, um, and then this customer says, Oh, wait, you’re, you’re, you’re her. Right. And, like, they were like, starstruck that they were actually talking to my wife. And like, she just some random person, and they all she was like a celebrity. Because like, Dave seen, like, the emails and, and the messenger sequences, and they bought the product, and they love it. They heard they’ve heard her story, like all of this stuff that we’ve done to build up our brand. And they thought she was like, this amazing person that was like, like, I don’t know who a famous celebrity would be. But like something like amazing like that. We’re like, okay, like, that’s awesome. Like, like, I never thought it would be to be like that. But that was just really cool. That

Tim Kubiak 58:39
that is an amazingly cool moment. That’s nice. And also shows the power of the brand new build.

Douglas Levin 58:44
Oh, yeah. Well, yeah, I mean, that’s why it gets back to you, right? When we, we always talk like, like, what can you do to make your, your brand something that like, people will love like that like, cuz ultimately, at the end of the day, like you’re saying, like, there’s not going to be too much that difference your differentiator products. So what are you going to do to give them that great experience? What are you going to do to make them love you so that they’re having a great life just just gonna, I mean, like, we’re saying about, like, solve their problem. And that’s all we’re doing, right? I mean, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. If you can do that, and you can have that relationship with the customer, then that’s all it takes.

Tim Kubiak 59:23
So you’re an entrepreneur and a business owner, anybody you’ve modeled yourself after,

Douglas Levin 59:29
um, lately, one of the people I love and I did not know about him at all until funnel hacking live is time value. If you know him at all, he’s the founder of quest, are one of the founders plus. His big thing was, he was not a born entrepreneur. I was not a born entrepreneur. He took a long time to basically get out of this rut. He was overcoming a negative mindset. I had a terrible mindset for a long time. Just a lot of like the mental aspects of what you want to do in terms of approaching your life and your business, like, like, since I’ve come across him, I’ve tried as much as possible to kind of like, I don’t really know town I’ve never met Tom, I probably will never make time in my entire life, but just some of the way he thinks about things is the way I try and do it as well. Like, I’ve even gone so far as like, he has a reading list of like, 27 books, right? Like that’s going to help you both in business and in terms of mindset, self help, those kinds of things. I’ve been going through that as much as I can, like, I think I’m on book like eight or nine right now. We’re like, uh, like that informs how I look at things like on a daily basis. So and he’s been one of the people that have kind of modeled myself after labor.

Tim Kubiak 1:00:47
Nice in since you brought up books, I have to ask favorite books.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:51
There’s so many now

Douglas Levin 1:00:55
you’re saying I, until this year, or the last like six to 12 months, I can’t, I don’t think I’ve read more than 10 or 20 books in my life. And I’ve read 25 books in the last if this year just because I’ve completely changed my way of thinking. But so there’s so many right now I’m almost say like, if I can say on one on the business side and one on like the self help side. on the business side, I would say ultimate sales machine is one of the ones I love. Chet Holmes did it before he passed away. Um, he’s one of the like, the gods of marketing. Um, he he talks about everything from how to plan your day to like, coming at different systems, where like you different ways to double your your growth of your business over like a short period of time. Like, it’s an amazing book in terms of business. Obviously, everyone talks about thinking Grow Rich, and that’s amazing as well. But ultimate sales machine is the one that I I definitely see myself coming back to every year and reading. And there’s going to be so many things. I’m like, Oh, right, I should be doing this, I’m going to focus on this now. And from the south outside, Miracle Morning has been one that made a huge impact on my life. Just in terms of the IV, like it’s a really simple concept. Most people have probably done heard about it, or they have something similar where like, there’s six things if you can do every morning, then your life will transform basically. And I’ve taken that to heart in terms of like trying to meditate every morning, trying to read trying to journal things along those lines where I try and do that. And it’s helped my mindset, like, like, transform, I think from where I was, to where I am now and where I want to go. So I would definitely recommend like that book in terms of if you want to work on your mindset. That’s a great way to start.

Tim Kubiak 1:02:48
Nice. And since you were a drummer, who’s your five favorite drummers?

Unknown Speaker 1:02:52
Oh, wow. Um

Tim Kubiak 1:02:55
I didn’t see that one coming. Did you know I

Unknown Speaker 1:02:57
did not.

Douglas Levin 1:02:58
The bottom has got to be right up there. Right. He’s we’re talking about him. He’s definitely you cannot have any list without without john bomb. Um, my favorite though. I mean, he was definitely one of the ones I tried to. I tried and I failed to play like him. But uh, um, there’s a band called motion city soundtrack, which they’re not that big, but but they have somewhat of a following their drummer Tony Paxton is I love him. He’s really great. We got to see them, I think in January because they broke up and then they came back together. So we got to see them and in California, which was which was a lot of fun with me and my wife. Um, he’s one. I’m trying to think of others. There’s two that I definitely love that are my favorites. But I’m trying to think of a third a Neil Peart or pairt. However, he was always one that you always talk about, like, I was never into the prog rock stuff, but just his technical, like, expertise is insane. Like, I never was really able to do double bass stuff, but like, just mean, he was insane. And then my two favorite drummers are Matt Cameron from Soundgarden. Um, I know he’s in Pearl Jam. I don’t care about Pearl Jam. But Soundgarden was always my favorite, like in terms of like, Matt Cameron was just amazing. Like, I’m like, I would be like, like, I remember like, being in the basement of like, my parents house when I was a kid trying to learn how to play and I’d be trying like, I’d have my headphones on playing the drums trying to learn like super unknown or, or down on the upside or something like like, like those albums like going through it trying to like black holes and things like that. Like, absolutely love him. And Dave Grohl obviously like, like, I’m a huge fan of like, those are my two favorite Matt Cameron and Dave Grohl. We like him from Nirvana him from Foo Fighters. I know like Taylor Hawkins plays mostly now but like Like, he’s amazing, like I patented a lot of like, what I learned in terms of how to attack the drums in terms of dynamics of like, going soft to loud, alive in the films that I would play. Who came from Dave Grohl in terms of it like a lot of what he does, I would basically rip them off and try and put them into whatever I could. So I Those are probably some of my favorites.

Tim Kubiak 1:05:24
Grohl is one of the last true rock stars period. Yeah.

Douglas Levin 1:05:32
He’s the one that like, nobody hates like everyone just like, Oh, yeah, that’s it. He’s awesome. Like, is it is the last rock and roll star? pretty magical.

Tim Kubiak 1:05:40
Yeah. So that’s funny. I love actually, you remember totally off topic when he did the pro bot thing? Oh, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 1:05:49
Yeah.

Tim Kubiak 1:05:50
Right, because he was back behind the kit. And he just brought in anybody he wanted to play with and have fun. I thought that was great. Oh, yeah.

Douglas Levin 1:05:57
I also remember, I think it was around that time when he was the drummer for Queens of the Stone Age to get to tour with that. Like, I didn’t know anything about things in the stone age at the time. And all of a sudden, I’m like, trying, I got their album they was on and like, listen to every song, all that stuff like, Yeah, he used. He was great.

Tim Kubiak 1:06:14
Yeah. So hey, thank you for the time. This has been great. And before we go, why don’t you tell everybody where they can find you and give him your socials and put them all in the show notes too.

Douglas Levin 1:06:25
Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. So if anyone that’s listening that wants to learn more about chatbots, or marketing, they can contact me like on Facebook at Douglas Levin, if you want like a free cheat sheet, anything like that is the top five tips for taking full control over your ecommerce income. And I’m also working on that course that should be released soon. And I’ve got a couple social media channels on YouTube, Instagram for mourning marketing machine. And if there’s anything I can do to help you guys out, please feel free, feel free to reach out.

Tim Kubiak 1:06:58
Very cool. And so we’ll put links to everything in the show notes when you get the course up and put it in the weekly newsletter and get it out there for you as well. So that’ll be great.

Douglas Levin 1:07:08
Awesome, man. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

Tim Kubiak is a Business Geek, Nomad, Aging Metal Head, Nerd, & Coffee Addict. Plus the only big guy at Hot Yoga. For over 25 years he's been building high-performance sales teams globally. With over 2 billion in lifetime sales in goods and services. Tim works as a coach mentor with Founders, Business Owners, Executives, and High Performing individuals to transform companies, bring new solutions to market and achieve their professional goals.

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