Episode Twenty features Ramon Ray talking about The Celebrity CEO and how entrepreneurs can thrive by building a community and a strong personal brand.
My Key Takeaways:
My interview with Ramon Ray was short, but I believe that it was packed with great ...
Episode Twenty features Ramon Ray talking about The Celebrity CEO and how entrepreneurs can thrive by building a community and a strong personal brand.
My Key Takeaways:
My interview with Ramon Ray was short, but I believe that it was packed with great business advice.
To learn more about Ramon Ray, you can check him out at smarthustle.com or RamonRay.com.
Now next week, we'll have on Rob Cosman talking about online arbitrage and how he's leveraged that to make a lot of money on Amazon. Be sure to hit subscribe in your podcast app so that you don't miss it or any other episodes.
[00:00:00] Greg Mills: Our guest today is an in demand expert on small business success. He's a global keynote speaker event, host and MC entrepreneur and best-selling author. He's the founder of smarthustle.com and entrepreneur in residence at Oracle NetSuite. He started four companies and sold two of them. His fourth book, The Celebrity CEO is about building a community and personal brand.
[00:00:24] He has worked at the UN, been invited to testify at the U S Congress and speak at the White House. He's shared the stage with celebrity business thought leaders, such as Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, and Gary Vaynerchuk. He's interviewed all five Shark Tank sharks. Without further ado, Ramon Ray.
[00:00:43] Ramon Ray: Hey, Greg. Thanks for having me. It's good to be here brother.
[00:00:46] Greg Mills: It's great to have you. Can you take a few moments, fill in the gaps from that intro? Bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world.
[00:00:53] Ramon Ray: Sure. I run Smart Hustle Media. That is a marketing agency on one hand where we provide a lot of, value information and content to articles, podcasts, to small business owners. We have a community of thousands and thousands. On the other hand, we work with large tech brands primarily, and help them reach small business owners.
[00:01:12] So that's one part of what I do. I also am a speaker, so I'm paid to entertain audiences around the world online and offline. And that's the two things primarily that Ramon Ray does.
[00:01:22] Greg Mills: Okay. Now, as we kind of alluded to in the intro, you had originally worked at the UN
[00:01:28] Ramon Ray: Yeah, that was one of my first jobs while I was starting college, I was relatively young about 20 something years old, at the time. I took a year off or so from college, I started a bit late meaning a gap year. But yeah, I was very young at the time. One of the youngest hires and I was there for many, many years and at the UN they have pretty strict rules against having side hustles. And at the time my boss had given me permission to have a side hustle. In fact, I had several, but then someone got quite a bit of jealous at me, Greg. I don't know if you've gone through that. We have someone who's like, why can't he do it? And they made a big stink about it.
[00:02:00] The permission received was revoked. But by then, Greg, I was a thriving side hustle entrepreneur. So I didn't stop my side hustles. And lo and behold, my contract was not renewed, which is another word for saying fired. And that that ended my career at the UN, but I learned a lot. I think I matured there to some degree, learned a lot about people and it was a good run.
[00:02:19] I'm glad I was there except for the part when I wasn't.
[00:02:22] Greg Mills: Yeah, I can understand that. It really surprises me that you were at the UN . I say this just because everything I've heard about diplomats are supposed to say a lot of things, but without saying anything and you obviously do not fit that mold.
[00:02:39] Ramon Ray: And to be fair there when I was there and I wasn't a diplomat, I was an administrative officer, so I was managing an office. But to your point, you're around diplomats and people that have some more of a, uh, a suave about them. So I get the thrust of what you're saying.
[00:02:51] Greg Mills: So what type of business were you running at that time?
[00:02:54] Ramon Ray: The first business I started was a family computer consulting services. And that was a small technology consulting company, just me, small company, you know, below a million in sales, but it was a company. I dissolved that. Then a second business, I started with Small Biz Technology.com a blog that really helped to take the Ramon Ray brand to a certain level. I ran that for 20 years and I sold it in fact, two years ago, 2019. So that would have been 20 years ago, 20 years to the date when I first started it, I also started a event business called the Small Business Summit and that I sold while at the UN as well, ironically and today I've been running for about five years now, Smart Hustle Media, which is the company I talked about earlier.
[00:03:34] The media company, inspiring small business owners.
[00:03:38] Greg Mills: Okay. Now, did your having an IT background when you were unceremoniously or ceremoniously, let go from the UN, did that help you, continue on and, starting your, your blog?
[00:03:50] Ramon Ray: Yeah.
[00:03:51] I'd like to think Greg, that that was a knack for the technology. Wasn't so much the technology company, but I built my own computer to give you a sense of where I came from. I'm sure you may remember Radio Shack kits. You have the little spring and you tilt the spring, strip the wire with your teeth and put the thing in the little spring. So that was my world, my generation: Prodigy AOL.
[00:04:09] So I think more so that hobbyist interest of tech is what enabled me to start the technology company, which all that combined made me very fluid with some of your listeners will know: FTP, Microsoft Front Page. That's not too geeky compared to what we're doing today, but right. Some people, the guy who could fix the fax machine, if it wasn't working, fix the copy machine in an office.
[00:04:33] So that kind of handy type of a slant of the brain.
[00:04:37] Greg Mills: Yeah, it seems like if you're an IT and it's got a power cord, it could be a toaster. You're responsible for it.
[00:04:42] Ramon Ray: That's right.
[00:04:43] Greg Mills: Now we hear the word brand get thrown around a lot. How do you define the term brand?
[00:04:48] Ramon Ray: Yeah.
[00:04:48] It is thrown around quite a bit. And I think that some people may say a brand is what people say when they don't talk about you, what your customers memorize you by and things like that. And I think all of those are correct. I know for me, Greg really what's important for me is I think, yeah.
[00:05:01] What do people know you best at? I know for me, a lady came up to me after an event. Ramon I know you like burnt pancakes. I was so honored because she thought it was like a negative. She's like, I hope you don't mind. But I said, no, I talk about my love of burnt pancakes and bacon, every two weeks. I cut it down from every week.
[00:05:16] So I'm glad that that's clearly you've been in the Ramon funnel enough to know that's what I like. So yeah, for sure, Greg, I think that a brand is important. What do people know of you as, and I think if you don't have a brand that people are like, huh, Ramon don't really know what he does. How do they know where to place you and peg you, to know what they want to hire you for or what to call you for, even if they need advice?
[00:05:38] So I think brand is in one point It's your website and things like that is an important part of the brand, but I think it's really, why do people rally around it? What are you offering to people of value that makes them want to take notice to what you're doing that I think is brand, all of us were arguably say Michael Jackson, moonwalk, Mike Tyson boxing, Katy Perry singing.
[00:05:58] What's Greg known for? What's Ramon known for? So I think that's important.
[00:06:02] Greg Mills: Yeah. I think we're all known for something. It's just whether or not we want to actually hear what it is.
[00:06:08] So, what is the Celebrity CEO concept?
[00:06:12] Ramon Ray: Yeah, it's a made up of two or three key pillars and it's really about personal branding. But the Celebrity CEO concept is that you can be well-known in your market or industry. You don't have to be globally known. You don't have to be worldwide famous. But you can be well-known in your slice of the world.
[00:06:28] So if you're a plumber in a small town in Dallas, Texas, you may be well-known in that area because you give cookies to all the kids after a plumbing job in the home, whatever it may be. That's your brand you're well-known in that area. So the Celebrity CEO is encouraging small businesses that listen, you may not be well-known as Donald Trump or Barack Obama or whoever it is.
[00:06:49] But you can be well-known to that specific sector of people and they can call upon you when they have a need. It's also about building a community of fans. So many times, Greg, I'm sure you talk to people and we push so much to want to get a sale, but I'm like slow down a bit. And instead of going so fast to get to go for the sale, try to build trust and relationship as my friend, John Jans talks about. And you can do that by educating people, providing them content of value that over time they're like, oh, Ramon for the 77th time taught me how to tie my shoes on his video.
[00:07:21] Maybe I'll buy shoelaces from him. That's a silly example, but that's what the celebrity CEO that you can build a community of fans, nurture people to buy from you. And you build that relationship of trust and relationship with them.
[00:07:34] Greg Mills: Yeah, I was just thinking back to my childhood. I went to church and there was a guy named Mr. Winters that I would see him and he'd always have a spearmint or peppermint and he'd give them out to the kids. I don't live anywhere near there today, but I've told that story to so many people now and Mr. Winters has gone on and passed and gone to his reward, but it's just incredible what you're known for.
[00:08:03] Now, a large portion of my audience, myself included are introverts or people that are not celebrities by any stretch of the word. Can they become a Celebrity CEO?
[00:08:15] Ramon Ray: Of course, and to be clear, I think that having some cachet in and wow factor helps, but just to be clear, you can be an introvert and be a Celebrity CEO. You can be somebody who's not loud mouth and have a podcast that reaches millions and millions, and you're known as the best person to shine cars. So they're not the same. So just to be clear, but yes, you can be an introvert, but the key is, are you providing intense value to your audience? Are you providing something to your audience on a regular per periodic recurring basis? That over time. The drum roll keeps making, oh, Greg's talking about this.
[00:08:49] Greg's talking about 40, over 40. Greg's talking about this over and over again. That then that locks into, with what your brand is.
[00:08:57] Greg Mills: Now, how do you advise somebody starting out and, starting a community or even, you know, going back a few steps from that?
[00:09:04] Ramon Ray: Sure. Yeah. I think Greg there's four or five things that. I think are very important for anybody who wants to dominate their industry. And for me, as an example, I'm not well-known in the small business space. There's people who maybe have more, a cachet Marie Forleo comes to mind. Um, and I'm sure many other Instagrammers are talk.
[00:09:20] I can look at my bookshelf Guy, Roz, Seth Goden, Gino, Wickman of Traction. John Lee Dumas all have more fame than I have, but I must say in the world of small business, For large brands reaching small businesses. I'm pretty well known to the five things that I think that people can do. Greg really are one, I'm a firm believer in the power of social media.
[00:09:38] I think you must be sending out a lot of content to the right audience in a very narrow scope in serving them with that. That's one. Just by sending out several Tweets, several LinkedIns, several Facebook's, several videos. You, we get to be known in that community. So that's one, two, I'm a firm believer that everybody should be having some sort of event they're doing.
[00:10:01] It could be an in-person event, could be online. If you want, and you could even stretch and say a show could be an event Facebook Live regularly, but something to bring your tribe together. That's two, I think very important three. I think is a book, I do think it's helpful to have one or more books. I have four I'm working on my fifth to have a book out because it adds credibility and that's a hook to give people a reason why they should interview you, why they should talk to you.
[00:10:26] It gives you, an asset to have, even though everybodyand their mother has a book, a book is a third thing. That's very good. I think, Four, getting publicity is important, things like this. So as you produce more content, people are going to want to reach out to you over and over and over again. So getting publicity in some way, podcast, whatever it may be.
[00:10:44] There's a fifth thing: build your email list. Have a good website. And the email list is important, Greg, because as you know, if you're just having your world on social media alone, you don't own that real estate.
[00:10:57] So it's good to have something that you own that you can reach out to people whenever you want.
[00:11:01] Greg Mills: Now, how would you classify the difference between a customer and a fan?
[00:11:06] Ramon Ray: Yeah, customers, one who is a transactional purchase. They buy from you and that's pretty much it. They may come back and buy again and again, but I see a fan or a community of fans, and also a fan may not buy from you, but a fan is one who may tell others about you. A fan is on there everyday. Greg. When Greg hits published on his podcast.
[00:11:26] Greg. Your podcast is supposed to come out every Thursday at 2:00 PM. Where is it? That's a fan. So I think that you want a customer for sure to make that sale, but if you can serve your customers so well where you're the first thing on their mind, now you've engaged with them in a whole different level and they'll buy from you again and again, they'll tell others about you and even if you're not a Right. fit for them at the time to buy from you, they'll still tell others.
[00:11:50] You should check out Ramon as Greg, me and you are connected through our mutual friend, Zev.
[00:11:54] Greg Mills: I know that you're a Christian and a fellow believer. Could you talk a little bit about Christianity and abundance mentality or, and I don't know if you include the law of attraction in that.
[00:12:06] Ramon Ray: Yeah, I know what they mean. And he may want to unpack some of those, but I'll, I'll stop. I'll focus on the Christianity part. And then you can, we can dive into abundance or law of attraction like that. But I think that, yeah, I'm a dedicated, committed Christian Love Jesus Christ
[00:12:17] Greg Mills: amen brother.
[00:12:18] Ramon Ray: yes, yes, yes. He's changed my life. And that's that. I believe that he's the, source of my strength. I credit him with who I am. Yes. We, we learn we read books. We learned from others, but I'm a person who has daily devotions, Bible reading and prayer, unabashedly, unashamedly.
[00:12:33] And, when the shelter in place happened last year, I say with no shame that I was wondering, what do I do? And I was, I believe divinely inspired. I had an idea for a big event called the Survive And Thrive conference. And I was at a Wednesday night Bible study and I got that idea. So my point is, yes, I'm a dedicated, committed Christian.
[00:12:52] And that doesn't mean life is going to be easy, but for me I've decided to walk in, in the footsteps of Christ and he's, the foundation for how I try to live my life.
[00:13:01] Greg Mills: Okay. Now with the abundance mentality and law of attraction. Do you see any kind of incongruity or in congruence with it?
[00:13:12] Ramon Ray: I know what law of attraction means, and I know what abundance mentality means, but how do you or your listeners define let's focus on law of attraction? Give me the context of how you would define it?
[00:13:20] Greg Mills: Okay. Unfair trick question. if you focus on something long enough that eventually, it will come into your life. Kind of a little bit vague on that.
[00:13:33] Ramon Ray: Yeah, I can answer it. I mean, it's a nuanced question. I think that.
[00:13:36] the person who focuses on being in the NBA, if they have this skillset, And if they work hard towards it, never lose sight of that vision. Surely they have a bigger chance of being in the NBA. Then let's say me, or maybe you Greg.
[00:13:53] Who's like, I'd love to be the next LeBron. I don't want to do any layups. You have a lot less chance to be in the NBA. So if that's helpful in defining it, so I, can you speak and manifest things alone? I don't think so, but I think many people say that they often mean probably do you have the passion?
[00:14:10] Do you have the aptitude? Do the aptitude, you have the drive. And in that case, it's a lot less about luck. It's more about things coming into a being because you've made that happen at that. if thats helpful.
[00:14:23] Greg Mills: Okay, that is, and that I, I apologize. It almost
[00:14:26] Ramon Ray: Nope.
[00:14:26] Greg Mills: a gotcha question
[00:14:27] Ramon Ray: No, I don't mind. You can ask me any, you can ask me how I make my pancakes. You can ask me any questions.
[00:14:32] Greg Mills: Going back to your pancakes. Now, I assume you like them burnt because that implies that maybe somebody else is making them.
[00:14:38] Ramon Ray: No, no, no. I like them. I just liked the crunch and I liked the crunch as the syrup goes over it. I know it's not too healthy. People say, but Hey, like kind of burn marshmallows, you know, I liked the crunchiness of it.
[00:14:48] Greg Mills: I understand completely. I've had to make a few life changes on that
[00:14:51] So I've read where you said that everyone has the ability to be magnetic in their personality. Can you go over that and how someone that is not naturally magnetic or might have what they call a Sterling silver personality.
[00:15:04] We only bring it out like once a year
[00:15:06] Ramon Ray: If I said that, let me restate that. I think what I mean to say is that you don't have to have a outgoing magnimonious personality to be the Celebrity CEO, but it does help. There are some people who may be very quiet, very introverted and talk softly, but their message could be very powerful.
[00:15:24] And How they're leveraging the marketing tools, we have to still reach millions. You have Joel Olsteen as an example, he's a well-spoken guy, but he's not a TD Jakes, right? He's not the biggest, Hey, everybody in zingers, but he's built a followingdue to whatever reason. Let's not get into politics or people listening don't like him or not.
[00:15:41] But the point is he has a softer approach, but he's still built something. So my point being, I think you can be a softer, more mild manner spoken type person and still have an impact. If you're able to Telegraph that to your audience.
[00:15:55] Greg Mills: Okay. It gives me a little bit of hope. I'm largely more bombastic on here than I am anywhere else.
[00:16:02] Ramon Ray: Sure. And that's okay. Everybody has their version of how they share things with the world.
[00:16:07] Greg Mills: Okay. Now, what are some of the typical mistakes that you find people making when they're trying to start out either in a traditional business or in an online business?
[00:16:16] Ramon Ray: Yeah, I think some of the keys to business success, I found, I think A, who are you serving? What problem are they having? Where are they located at? These are three things that are very important. Then you have the aspect of what are you charging them? Are you charging the right price to make a profit for your business, dealing with overhead and things like this.
[00:16:35] Then as you come to that, what's the team that you're putting together to help you build that. To help you serve that customer. Other thing it's important to ask yourself are what's the purpose? Why are you doing what you're doing? Which in fact should be the first question, because that drives you.
[00:16:49] What's driving you and forcing you to do it. What's the vision you have for your company. Our vision at Smart Hustle is have fun. And do the right thing. So I think that once you have these things in alignment and a Jim Collins says his book Flywheel, it's something I hold near. And dear Flywheel, once you get this in your business, then you're able to have a system that generates and goes on and on and combined with your systems and processes.
[00:17:13] And you have a successful business. There's some things that, that a business does that fails. Their pricing is wrong. They're losing money on every item they're making, or they're not charging enough, or they don't have the right team and, or hiring the right team members. To help execute on their vision or they're working with the wrong type of customer.
[00:17:31] That's a drain on them. So there's several things you can get wrong in a business, but I find that once you get it right, you can build a big, a nice business, big or small that supports your family and enables you to serve your community.
[00:17:43] Greg Mills: Okay. Do you find that people are over complicating the idea of what it takes to run a successful business?
[00:17:50] Ramon Ray: It's like the space shuttle. The space shuttle is not that complicated in one way, you have some proposal that makes it go up with the right angle. But the other hand there is some complication to it. So I think, Yeah.
[00:18:02] sometimes people do over it, but I think even in the simplicity, oftentimes they don't focus on the core, simple parts.
[00:18:10] Greg Mills: Yeah.
[00:18:11] Ramon Ray: And then of course you have people who don't start the business because they're waiting for perfection as Seth Godin says, of course, I quote him often that you know what to do when it's your turn. It's always your turn. Right. So I think that there's an art of not letting fear hold you back. Sometimes you just have to launch and take off.
[00:18:27] Greg Mills: Okay, well, that makes sense. So what does an Entrepreneur In Residence do in Oracle Net Suite?
[00:18:34] Ramon Ray: Sure.
[00:18:34] Greg Mills: How did you come by that?
[00:18:36] Ramon Ray: Yeah.
[00:18:36] Oracle NetSuite was looking for someone to represent them to the startup community, to be the spear, the force behind them. I would not behind them and part of their effort to what they're doing. So we came together and said, Ramon, can you put, can you host some events for us?
[00:18:50] Can you produce some contents for us? Can you be out there and host some events for us online? Can you interview some of our executives? And we put that together and said, Ramon, you're an entrepreneur. Let's give you this kind of entrepreneur and residents. I believe it's a French word. Artists and residents who had a more of a long-term tenure somewhere. We put that together and bundled it into an engagement.
[00:19:07] That would be a little more encompassing the saying, Hey Ramon, can you do a tweet a little bit more than just that
[00:19:13] Greg Mills: I was laughing a little bit cause half the time. I'm not sure I'm pronouncing it right. Should have gone with
[00:19:19] Ramon Ray: Entrepreneur In Residence, indeed.
[00:19:21] Greg Mills: Yeah. It should have gone with an easier, podcast name entreprenuers over 40.
[00:19:26] Ramon Ray: I like it.
[00:19:27] Greg Mills: So,
[00:19:28] Ramon Ray: you for giving us a home, by the way. Maybe there's so.
[00:19:30] many 40 under 40 lists. I'm glad you have the 40 over 40.
[00:19:34] Greg Mills: Yeah. It often seems, the news media in particular picks up the stories about the, 20 year old, or if they're feeling generous the 30 year old entrepreneurs, but not the, 40, 50, 60, and 70 crowd. So,
[00:19:49] Ramon Ray: true.
[00:19:51] Greg Mills: What do you consider the best business book that you've read outside of yours?
[00:19:54] Ramon Ray: Sure. I wasn't gonna include that, but I've read so many and I have them on my shelf. I think I'm looking at the side here. I think of, Marcus Sheridan's "They Ask You Answer".. one that I liked quite a bit. I definitely like Gino Wickman's "Traction" about building business processes and core systems.
[00:20:09] I could pull out so many, I don't want my books to fall, but so many great books have Gino Wickman's Traction"," They Ask You Answer", "Profit First "by Mike Michalowicz. And by the way, people are listening to this. If they just, direct message me on Instagram, best books, I can send them a list of some of my top books.
[00:20:24] If they direct message me that on Instagram.
[00:20:26] Greg Mills: Okay. So you released your last book, "The Celebrity CEO" in 2019. And I know you just mentioned that you're working on a fifth one. Can you talk a little bit about that?
[00:20:37] Ramon Ray: Sure. And I'm not sure when it's going to come out or how it will come out. It maybe just releases a pamphlet, but it's, it's about scaling your solo business or growing your solo business. That's the top questions I'm asked Ramon, how do you get so much done? And how do I grow a very small business I don't want to get big.
[00:20:52] I don't want to have 20 employees, 30 employees. I want to have only five or three. Can I still grow and build a successful business that's highly profitable and still stay small? And my answer to them is yes, you can.
[00:21:03] Greg Mills: Okay. I think that it needs to be more than a pamphlet. We need actionable steps.
[00:21:08] Ramon Ray: That's true.
[00:21:09] Greg Mills: Okay. Are there any guests that you suggest that I have all because I made the mistake of going with entrepreneurs over 40, and sometimes you just cannot tell who is over 40. I wouldn't have invited you because
[00:21:23] Ramon Ray: That's all right. I appreciate that. Yeah. How old these people are? I don't know, but Ivy Slaters one Ivy, S L a T E R. If anybody's listening, Ivy Slater, she's on LinkedIn, Ivy Slater. Another one is, uh, Adrian Miller. She's a sales trainer, a D R I a N. Adrian Miller sales trainer. Those are the two that come to mind for sure.
[00:21:41] Greg Mills: Okay. I'll look them up. I'm hoping that I can figure it out via their LinkedIn background.
[00:21:46] Ramon Ray: email me and remind me, I'll I'll connect you to them. No
[00:21:49] Greg Mills: Okay. Yeah. There's nothing worse than asking a woman to say you're over 40. Right?
[00:21:54] Ramon Ray: Or just simply have a 40 over 40 podcast. Most people will alert you if they're not.
[00:21:58] Greg Mills: Very true. Alright, let's get ready to wrap this up. What's the number one piece of advice that you can give for our listeners,
[00:22:05] Ramon Ray: Probably don't give up, keep pushing ahead. Don't give up. It's easy to give up, but if you think you're doing the right? thing and you've studied it and looked it away. Most of the time the success will come right when you feel like giving up,
[00:22:17] Greg Mills: What's the best way for people to check you out and get in touch with you.
[00:22:20] Ramon Ray: SmartHustle.com with a flagship website, where we give our information and inspiration to small business owners to help them start and grow their businesses or RamonRay.com
[00:22:31] Greg Mills: I should have asked this before, but I'll ask it now. Is there anything that we haven't covered that you'd like to talk about?
[00:22:36] Ramon Ray: Oh, we'd have to be on, we'd have to have another four hour interview, but this has been a great discussion short, quick to the point. I think we've given people some good concepts with how they can build their personal brands and giving them a hope. I think that everybody's not going to be the president of the United States or some celebrity athlete, but we can all be known and be celebrities in our own key markets.
[00:22:57] Greg Mills: Yeah, I think you've definitely knocked the ball out of the park on providing value. And thank you again.
[00:23:03] Ramon Ray: Oh, Greg. Thank you. And I'm going to send our mutual friend, Zev a little WhatsApp right now and say I wish him all the best.
[00:23:07] Greg Mills: All right. That's a wrap. Thank you Ramon, for being a guest on Entrepreneurs Over 40.
[00:23:13] Ramon Ray: Thank you, Greg.