Every business is negatively impacted by high attrition. Is there anything a business can do to stop the revolving door? Meet entrepreneur Craig Handley, a call center co-founder who is defying the grim statistics of a 29% attrition rate for his industry (most industries have an average of ten percent attrition). With persistence and a lot of dedication, this modern, proud and very humble entrepreneur has not only grown his call center business from 20 agents to over 1,000 (in both the US and Mexico), but also, he’s managed to significantly reduce turnover rates by implementing a very unconventional approach.
This week on Trusted Counsel’s podcast show “In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century,” we interview Craig Handley, co-founder of ListenTrust, an industry leader for English and Spanish Language call center services in the United States and Mexico.
According to Craig, “Culture is paramount at ListenTrust. So much that we have a dedicated Culture Department. On a bi-weekly basis, we select one of our company values and focus on reinforcing it through employee engagement initiatives.”
In one of our more unique show episodes, (we haven’t had someone like Craig on our show before – highly entertaining), we found him to be extremely positive, engaging and loads of fun! He’s not your typical button-up suit type of guy. He lives “life as a full-contact sport,” grabbing it by the collar to inspire, motivate, and excel himself and others around him. We encourage you to check out the latest podcast episode featuring entrepreneur extraordinaire Craig Handley of ListenTrust.
During the course of the podcast, entrepreneurs, business owners and C-level executives will learn:
- Culture building strategies that work
- Why Craig trains his employees to quit!
- How Craig saved his company from bankruptcy
- Advice for businesses on the brink of failure
Want to learn more about ListenTrust and their approach to outsourced call center services? Visit their website at http://www.listentrust.com/
Don’t miss a single episode of our podcast show. Subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes and now on Google Play to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.
Building Unbeatable Organizational Culture
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Evelyn: And I’m Evelyn Ashley.
John: We are partners in Trusted Counsel.
Evelyn: So, John I think we’re going to be talking to a pretty high energy fellow today. So we’re going to have to take our lawyer hats off and kind of drop into the abyss for us, perhaps.
John: Yes! This is a really cool episode. Craig Handley, he’s the co-founder and CEO of ListenTrust, which is a call center. He’s a pretty unique guest for us. We haven’t had someone like him on here. But we did some research. He’s just really positive. I think he has a lot of great things to say and his story is super interesting.
Evelyn: Yes. Absolutely. So we want to get right into it. Craig, welcome to the show.
Craig Handley: Hey guys, how you doing?
Evelyn: We’re good.
John: Doing good, thanks.
Evelyn: So how’s life in Maine?
Craig Handley: Maine is beautiful. I actually am in Mexico today. I’m actually at the call center. So we have a couple of clients in and doing a few things down here. So I get to spend the day in lovely Mexico.
John: See, you already proved your point. We didn’t even know you were in Mexico.
Evelyn: Yeah, see. John just back from Mexico.
Craig Handley: You never know.
Evelyn: John just got back from Mexico. I love going on a regular basis myself, so it’s all cool.
John: It’s great.
Evelyn: So Craig, tell us a little bit about your story. We want to hear about ListenTrust, but we also want to hear a little bit about your backstory because we know that there’s a lot of depth and substance there. And, from listening to a lot of your video recordings, I feel like you’ve reached this point because of the experiences that you’ve had. So, tell us a little bit about that.
Craig Handley: Sure. The 500 foot view. So I was absolutely poor, living in my ex-wife’s mother-in-law’s basement, and my car got towed out of my driveway. So I think for any listener who is absolutely broke, there’s absolutely a way to get away from that and to step away from it. And for me, I was doing a lot of sales and I was really good at sales, and while I was trying to figure out how I was going to make some money for my family, I ended up working in a call center. And I remember during the training, looking out the window watching at the Expo Center, where they do all the big events in Portland, Maine, I remember looking out my window watching Sesame Street Live and people walking in with their families.
And my first dream that I wrote down, was to take my two boys to Sesame Street Live. And I started to kind of correlate writing dreams down with actually having dreams come true. So I ended up on the telephone as an agent and I was really good at communication, so I ended up as a manager and a trainer and I was writing different types of content copy that the other agents would use on the phones. And from there other people had left that had an entrepreneurial spirit, and were building call centers and wanted me to help. And I ended up being a national trainer across the country and at one point, I thought, “Gee, maybe I should build my own call center.” Because a lot of the tools that I have, and have built for other people, probably would apply to myself as well.
And when we first started, we were looking to build a center that serviced just English speakers, and then I kind of got this idea that everybody’s got a center that services English speaking people. Why don’t we do something different and approach the growing population of Hispanics in the U.S. So we decided that 70% of Hispanics speak Mexican Spanish, so let’s look in Mexico to put a call center. And we traveled from Tijuana, to Mexico City, to Monterey, to Juarez, and to this little town called Hermosillo Sonora, Mexico in a desert, with a 1.2 million people. Not too big, but not too small. No other call centers.
And we kind of started with 20 seats within another call center and within three years we were doing 15 million in revenue. We had over a thousand employees. We made Inc. 500’s Fastest Growing Private Companies. We were number 27, overall, on the big list and number one in business products and services, and we were off and running servicing the U.S. Hispanic market. And today, we’ve grown into the English market as well. We kind of backed into it because, for the Spanish customers that we had, they were also servicing the U.S. market, and they said, “You guys are better than our other call centers. Would you guys consider doing English?” So we kind of backed into the English growth as well.
Evelyn: That’s really interesting, to come at it from that approach. So Craig, I have heard you say, “We train our team to quit.”
Craig Handley: Well, it’s because when I was younger I always wanted to be a musician, and even today I say that I’m a musician who moonlights as a CEO of a company. And I actually have written two albums. I actually opened for Coolio, if you guys remember Coolio. I opened for him at The Cow Palace in San Francisco, in front of 14, 16 thousand people.
Craig Handley: It was kind of a big deal, and I’ve had over three million plays on some of my songs online. Nothing’s ever gone crazy. I haven’t won my Grammy yet, which is on my bucket list, but some day. But my parents we’re like, “It’s probably a pipe dream. You’re not going to be a musician, so get a career.” And I just think about our employees here and how many kids grew up wearing a headset, running around the house pretending to service customers. I don’t think any of them did. And I’m like, “This is my dream to build a world class call center, but my other dream is to teach people to dream.”
When my car was being towed out of my driveway, and I was pulling my bills out of a fish tank, trying to figure out which one I could pay this month, I had dreams. And there’s nobody that really gave me a path to execute on those dreams. So. with our employees the first thing we do is we go through what we call our “Dream Trust Program”. And we actually go through the 12 areas where people dream and we get them to make a list of dreams and we basically whittle the list down to about five things, that if they could accomplish these five things to start, they’d feel really good about their life.
And then Jon Butcher, who runs a program out of Chicago called Lifebook, it’s basically building a vivid vision for each area of your life. There’s 12 areas that they focus on. Relationships, health, money, all these different areas. So we’ve actually created six pillars of happiness. So we work with our employees to train them on what the 6 pillars of happiness are, and what their dreams are, and we actually talk about how they can use their job here at ListenTrust in order to fulfill their own dreams and make their own dreams come true. And part of our training includes … We have training on how to do search marketing. Training on how to do Facebook advertising. Training on how to use YouTube.
So, they get all these other tools so if they want to own a restaurant, they can figure out how to create a following through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, all these different areas. And they can learn how to build a restaurant. And really, the restaurant isn’t the success. The success is having people come into the restaurant. So you’ve got to have a social media component to your life in order to make that happen. We actually had a law student here who went through law school at the University, and he was taking phone calls for us and he learned how to, instead of working for another firm, he learned how to drive his own clientele using Facebook advertising here in Hermosillo.
And he came in, shook my hand, and said, “Hey, I’m leaving. This is the best job I’ve ever had, but I’m trained to be a lawyer and now I’ve got a list of clients because of you guys. So we’ve had a lot of people quit and go live their own dreams. You don’t want to drive turnover, but you want to drive knowledge, growth, and you want people to believe in themselves. And that creates a great culture.
Evelyn: That’s awesome. I hear it almost as a reverse psychology of an employer, because, as an employer you hire someone and you’re hoping that you have someone who’s going to be there for the long term because you make that investment of you’re getting to know my business, you’ve become very good at it, but to me it’s almost like, and I’m not going to paraphrase this right, I know there’s a quote about love where it’s like, “You don’t grab it because it will run away quickly.” So I almost hear you’re working this in a sense of if I can stay open, and help you self-actualize, it probably will connect you to me and my business even more.
Craig Handley: Yeah, it’s funny because we pay not only a salary, but a commission. And the managers here will regularly tell someone, “You’re not going to live your dreams with those numbers.” So the idea is the better you are at your job, and the better you are at servicing your customers, the more money you’re going to make as an employee here.
Craig Handley: So they really want to learn how to be experts at communication. They really want to provide a level of service for their customers that drives their own phone calls, and their own results, and their own revenue. So an employee here can make anywhere from 2,300 Pesos on a week to week basis, up to seven or eight thousand Pesos on a week to week basis. And we’ve got 20% of our employees who are making that top kind of money because they’re really good at their jobs, and those are the ones that will probably quit someday. But good for them. My COO, who was with us for, I don’t know, six, seven years just quit and bought a golf course because that was his dream.
Craig Handley: Which, I’m like, “You’ve been with me such a long time I’m kind of sad. But I’m so proud of you. I’m so proud of you for going after, living your dream, and buying a gulf course. Congratulations. That’s awesome.”
Evelyn: That is awesome. So Craig, I know from our reading on ListenTrust, that you have had highs with the business, and you’ve also had lows. And I think very much that your attitude … And I think you focus on positivism as part of your outlook on life overall. We’re really interested to hear, we know that you had a key client basically default on paying your company a few years ago and it put the company in a terrible position. Tell us a little bit about that and how did you manage to get things turned around?
Craig Handley: Yeah. If you’re an entrepreneur, you want to be an expert at what I call, they’re called turn arounds, because it’s going to happen. We had a big flower client and they came in and in October, November, December of 2015 they were excellent. They paid their bills ahead of time. They were really excellent and it was only a small commitment. They had other call centers in Honduras and the Philippines. And all of a sudden, come December, they’re like, “We love working with you guys. Let’s get our contract solid and we want to move all of our business to you. So it was exciting, but it was also a very difficult negotiation on the contract. They wanted to basically pay our break even numbers and put all of the profitability into performance metrics, and the reporting that they were using, we didn’t necessarily have access to.
And, there were a lot of things that made me feel a little uncomfortable, but I’ve got a business partner, and a COO, and a Sales guy, and they all said, “You know, I think we’re going to be okay. Let’s run with this.” So, my job was to focus on performing, and so, at the end of January, we sent them a bill. They’re growing because there’s the big holiday in February, Valentine’s Day, and so we’re hiring, and I think we hired about 180 people for them, growing into this Valentine’s Day call spike. Well, then, we sent them a bill for agent hours, which was just our break-even numbers, because there wasn’t any performance on training hours. Nobody selling and doing a lot of phone calls, but they said, “Oh, no, no, no, we meant we only wanted to pay for logon time when they’re actually on the phones.”
We’re like, “Well, my employee payroll was $232,000.00, which you guys want to pay only like $170,000.00, because that’s the only logon time. That doesn’t even include the system performance bonuses, my managers, it doesn’t include really anything. And they said, “Oh, well, we’ll send this to you,” and then, “You’re right. We should discuss this, but we’re right at Valentine’s Day now. Can we do it after?”
We all kind of were starting to smell a bad deal, and as soon as Valentine’s Day was over, they said, “Well, you don’t agree with how we’re paying you, so we’re going to leave March first.” Of course, left us holding the bag for close to $1,000,000.00 and, as we dug into it from a legal standpoint, one of our bonuses was on compliance and we interviewed their head of compliance, and their head of compliance said, “They’re supposed to listen to phone calls.”
You guys are in the legal profession. They’re supposed to listen to calls for compliance. Well, the head of compliance said, “No, we don’t listen to calls. We just have a quota. Every agent has to have three things wrong, so we just write up three things. We can’t listen to all these phone calls. We only have five people in compliance.” And, they don’t record the calls, so they couldn’t give us a recording that showed where they heard the things that were wrong.
Evelyn: The issues? Oh, my gosh.
Craig Handley: Oh, man, it was just a whole plethora of, “Oh, my God’s.” But, at the end of the day, when you’re in business, you need cash. We had just paid our employees close to $600,000.00 of money that we had received $175,000.00 against, so we were deep into our credit line and deep in debt, and we’re trying to figure out what the heck to do. When you’re a business, I like to think of it as being in a swimming pool, when you first start out. You can go to the bottom, hold your breath, but if you run out of air you swim to the top. Well, then, when you get your open water certification and you’re at 50-70 feet and you run out of air, you can shoot to the top. You might not feel so great. You might have to go to a decompression chamber, but you’re probably going to live and survive. But, when you’re doing $50,000,000.00 in revenue and you need $250,000.00 a week to break even, when you have a client not pay you like that, you are at 150 feet. You’re out of oxygen, and you’re not going to make it to the top if you’re not careful.
Craig Handley: So, the bigger you are, the easier it is to fall, and so, for us, it was definitely a huge challenge and there’s a lot of lessons that came from that.
Evelyn: So, how did you turn that around? That sounds extremely dire. I think there’s a lot of people that would be like, “I don’t even know what to do. How do I even start?”
Craig Handley: The first thing you have to do, because you’re going to be angry when something like that happens, you have to let go of the anger and focus on what you can control. We let the lawyers handle that, and we just started focusing on the things we could control. Mexico is pretty unique in the fact that if you fire people you have to pay them three months severance. So, we had all these employees here and no business as of March first, and we couldn’t fire them because that would have cost us, for every 100 employees, it would have cost about $170,000.00 or something crazy. Not only did we have the other thing we were dealing with, so we ended up finding out that this other company, the flower company, was trying to open in Hermosillo directly in another building. So, the first thing that we did is recommended that they had already trained all these employees, we’d be more than happy to allow them take the employees they’d trained with them.
Evelyn: To hire them. Oh, wow.
Craig Handley: And, of course, one on hand you hate to say that because you’re like, “Grrr,” but, on the other hand, the employees were willing to sign on their own to switch from our payroll to theirs, so there was no severance being paid. We were able to take the majority of those employees and we tried to treat it as a positive. We told the employees, “Hey, this is great for you guys. You’re not going to lose your jobs. They may just want to go it on their own. We’re going to support them in this transition, so good luck to you guys,” and we tried to make it look like we weren’t really angry and we weren’t really upset.
Evelyn: We planned this. Yeah.
Craig Handley: That was part of it, and that was good fortune, because they weren’t trying to open here. We would have had another whole issue we had to deal with. But, then, I looked at the good English speakers and the good employees, who really … Our culture was different from this other company’s culture. We had some of our best employees for them, and they would make one phone call … So, when you’re delivering flowers, everybody wants them delivered today, so our afternoon shift numbers were always different from our morning shift numbers. We had some of our best employees who were trying to help out as it got busy and work the second shift, and they were the top employee for two months and they’d have a bad shift in the afternoon because a lot of people wanted that “now” delivery and they’d fire those employees. Their culture really wasn’t a fit for our culture.
Evelyn: Oh, wow.
Craig Handley: It was really off the hook crazy type of things. They’d do some things that I didn’t support, so it was good to get rid of them on one hand, because there were all those different things, but there were a lot of employees that wanted to stay because they saw the culture of the company and didn’t want to go. I’m like, “What can we do with good English-speaking people, and this was the first foray into English that we really had, with this big event, so we went to one of our other clients and we said, “Look, you’re sending phone calls into a computer. It’s an interactive voice response system, and it’s not a great experience for your customers. One hundred calls go in and, typically, 40 people hang up when they hear that it’s an interactive voice response and they’re talking to a computer. Because we’re in Mexico, we can take your calls for a lower rate if you give us …”It’s all about consistency. You’ve got an hour of labor and you’ve got to make a certain amount of revenue every hour, and we put together kind of a complex formula, but it was ultimately if you could deliver six calls an hour, we’ll take your calls at the same rate as the interactive voice response system does.
They were paying, at that time, probably $2.00 a call, which is really hard to do with live agents, but I basically said, “If you only send five calls, we’re going to charge you $2.50, and if you send four, we’re going to charge you $3.00.” I worked out a model that would work for them and work for us, and all of the sudden, we were answering 100 calls. Not 60 calls, so we took their revenue per call from around $12.00 to $23.00 revenue per call by using live agents.
So, for them, I guess it took them about three months to start sending us around 20,000 calls a week because the performance was exceeding their expectations. They were able to buy more media, which drove more phone calls, and it was a good, consistent hourly rate. So, we were able to dig out of the hole by using the English agents that we had, by starting a whole new division that we didn’t even think we were going to start, and by focusing on the things we could control.
We looked at our customer service and we realized we’ve always been a sales company and customer service was kind of new for us. When we looked at how we were billing for customer service, we realized that we were basically billing for logon time with clients and we were quoting an hourly rate, and we were basically 40% under that hourly rate when you looked at actual billing hours. So, our customer service, we were billing maybe $5,000,000.00 in revenue annually, but our cost in customer service was $5,000,000.00 annually. When I looked at how we were doing that, we adjusted some of our numbers there, worked with our clients to increase our margins and bill it correctly. We didn’t try to go backwards. We apologized to our clients for. We should have gone backwards, but it was our fault. I said, “Hey, this is how we’re supposed to be billing you in your contract. We’re not going to go backwards, but we need to go forward the right way because we’re not making any money.” We had those tough discussions and went through that, so it ended up turning into a positive for us, it grew.
What’s kind of ironic is in 2017, after having a great first quarter in 2017, doing almost a half million in profit, the client that had given us the 20,000 phone calls had another call center approach them and offer them equity in their business for calls and they took the 20,000 calls away from us overnight, and I ended up having to go through a turnaround all over again.
As a matter of fact, 2017, in May, I came to my office everyday losing $15,000.00 a day, and I had to go through turnaround all over again. It happens over and over, so we paid off all of our debt in 2016. We put $600,000.00 in the bank through the first quarter of 2017, and all the sudden … It was funny because my business partner said to me, “Hey, this is going to be a great year. We’re on a high trend. What I would like to do is I’d like to sell the business in December.” And, he said, “I’m going to take the rest of the year off.” For May, he booked a month in Ireland and then in June, he booked a month with this monk’s retreat, and he was checking out. He was gone. My COO, who was still with me, hadn’t bought the golf course yet, was doing a chorus concert in Canada with his church for the whole month of May, and things were really going well. I think everybody was kind of like, “We’re crushing it. Everything is great.”
Well, here I am by myself, nobody to support me, and all of the sudden the bottom falls out, and I’m trying to get ahold of my business partner. I can’t even reach him because he’s in these far-off worlds and, in the monk retreat, it was all silent. There was no-
Evelyn: Yeah. Silent retreat.
Craig Handley: Yeah. I’m like, “Holy cow. What do I do?” So, we lost 470 in May and then I was able to backfill some business with some other clients. Some employees left, so we lost $200,000.00 in June and $100,000.00 in July and then we made $300 in August and there we were with a turnaround execution all over again.
We’re doing good again now, so there are so many ups and downs in business and I look at it like waves. As the tide’s coming in and the tide’s coming out, I’m always better off than I was before. It doesn’t always feel that way, but when I started this business, I basically had just gotten a divorce, four kids, I was living in a rental, and then I bought my house and I paid off my house. I had equity in the house. So, I’ve always found that even though things can get bad, it’s like a wave. There’s the highs and then the lows, but my lows, so far, knock on wood, they’ve never been as low as they were when I first started out.
Evelyn: First started.
Craig Handley: That’s the thing you’ve got to focus on. It’s real easy to get negative because when you get to a higher spot and you fall even a little bit, it feels horrible. But, if you can just remember where you came from, it’s really not all that bad, so that’s what I really try to focus on. I try to focus on the positives, and then, in every catastrophe, I’m going to ask myself, “Okay, what are the significant opportunities in this catastrophe?” When the client pulled the 20,000 calls what we really should have been doing was being more diverse, but that client was taking all of our bandwidth and we couldn’t even grow as fast as they wanted us to grow.
Craig Handley: So, we didn’t diversify. Well, guess what? Today, we’re diversified. Today, we’ve got about 10 clients supporting our English sales and our customer service is more diversified and our Spanish is more diversified. If somebody wants to use up all of our bandwidth, we typically will say, “No. We’d rather take half the calls and you overflow someplace else.”
Evelyn: So you limit that.
Craig Handley: Yeah, be reliant on one client, so-
Evelyn: I think that’s so interesting because I think a lot of business owners that go through really rough periods will often turn into deer in the headlights and they actually do lose their perspective. To me, it sounds much more like, and this is actually the way I believe it works, you can fail, you can almost fail, but if you continue to work through exactly what you want on the other side, you can use that toolkit going forward because it’s only going to get better. It might still be hard, but it can be better. You can actually rise out of it.
Craig Handley: Yeah, there’s a lot of common mistakes. One of our turnarounds is just as simple as this. We had a CFO and he wasn’t the strategist CFO. He was the bean-counter CFO, and he’s awesome, he’s really smart, but he’s not a strategic thinker, so we were doing our annual planning and we had just come off a year we did $15,000,000.00, and all of our numbers were based on percentages of the $15,000,000.00. So, we’d look at what our marketing was, and our marketing was 10% of the $15,000,000.00, so we spent 1.5 million on marketing. So, we did a forecast for the next year, and our forecast was that we were going to do $20,000,000.00, so our bean counter basically used the same percentages as we had the year before on the $20,000,000.00 and so, all of the sudden, we had a budget of $2,000,000.00 for marketing. We had a budget of X for employee payroll, and we had a budget … It was all based on doing $20,000,000.00. Well, as the year started, we weren’t doing $20,000,000.00. We were only doing $15,000,000.00, so we were way under budget on all of our numbers, but we were losing money with consultants. And, we were losing money because we were overspending on marketing. I’m like, “What’s going on? Where did all of our marketing go?” I had to dig into the numbers and I’m like, “Oh, man.” Actually, if you’re going to do $20,000,000.00 your rent should go down. It shouldn’t go up because your rent is a fixed cost.
Craig Handley: Our rent was six percent, so he left it at six percent, so our rent, all of a sudden, was more, so everything that we had in our books was just screwed up. I’m like, “Okay, hang on. Wait a minute. What are we doing? Are we losing money? Are we making money? The rent’s supposed to be less, but the marketing is supposed to be less, and we’re spending more. We’re spending less than we forecasted for rent, so that’s a good thing,” but most of it was bad. Most of it was bad because we could hire all these extra bodies and we were paying more in payroll because we had a bigger margin for payroll.
Evelyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Craig Handley: Payroll was supposed to go down, and instead it went up, so our commission plan had gone up. The employees were all very happy, and I had to fix it. I had to cut commissions by almost 30%, so to do that, I had to reroute all the calls to our best performers so they wouldn’t leave, and all the employees that were just coasting, I wanted them to leave, but I couldn’t fire them because it cost too much money. I had to do a routing strategy along with a commission plan change and all my best performers ended up making more money on the new plan and all my low performers ended up leaving. That was another turnaround. There’s all these silly things that happen, but the keys to a turnaround for any entrepreneur are focus on what you can control. Don’t dwell on all the negatives. Make a list of all the things that you can do to influence your business in a positive way, and then go back to where you were when you were profitable. Inevitably, when I look at my numbers, we’ve added five consultants, we’ve increased our marketing budget, all the numbers below the gross profit line that you can adjust and bring back down, you’ve got to adjust. I look at my key KPIs. Every business runs on key numbers. For us, one of our key KPIs is our gross profit has to be at $3,000,000.00 plus. Another key KPI for us is our payroll shouldn’t exceed 45%, and when you look at your payroll and it’s running at 70%, you’ve got way too many bodies to handle the calls and/or your paying too much in commissions and you need to adjust your plan. It’s probably a combination of both. I’ve got to get those numbers in line. It’s not that it’s difficult to fix, it’s that there’s so many negatives that go on around you when you’re losing money that if you focus on that-
Evelyn: You’ll just keep going there.
Craig Handley: They call it Hari-Kari. They dive on the sword, but if you don’t dive on the sword and you just kind of go back to the reality of each department and break things down differently, then you’re good to go.
Evelyn: So, Craig, are you working on anything fun inside or outside of work now? What’s going on?
Craig Handley: I always work on fun stuff. I’m a musician by trade, and I’m a big believer that sharing fun social media videos, fun content, is … We come from the direct response TV market, where not as many people are watching TV nowadays, so where are people getting their content? They’re getting it on Facebook and they’re getting it on YouTube, and they’re getting it all over the place. My kids don’t even watch TV anymore. They watch Hulu and Netflix, so how are advertisers going to reach people? A lot of it comes through social sharing, social media, and so I have fun writing stupid little videos. I just did one for my buddy, Dave Asprey, who owns Bulletproof Coffee, if you’ve heard of Bulletproof, it’s a big brand where you put the MCT and the coconut oil in your coffee with some butter, and it’s based on more of a keto lifestyle where your body needs more fats, and he’s in the Whole Foods now. He’s got stores going up across from Starbucks all over the country. But, he was trying to reach a younger demographic because his message is, “I want to live to be 150 years old and you do it through your body and through your brain.” So, the body side is his Bulletproof side, but he also has brain clinics and things like that to work on your brain, and so he was trying to reach a younger demographic, that Starbucks audience, that millennial kid who’s 18-30, so I said, “Let’s do a fun video.”
So, we did a music video called Bulletproof and Headstrong and he has a car that he built called the Fat mobile, and it’s a butter car. It’s a car that they put panels of butter on the side and it’s got a Magic Kingdom teacup in the back, so we were actually driving that car around L.A. and we were doing some fun stuff, and we created a funny video.
When you put in on Facebook, you say, “Hey, comment or share,” and there’s marketing tools today where when someone comments, you can send a one-on-one message to that person to say, “Hey, thanks for commenting. Use this code to get 30% off anything you buy in the Bulletproof store one time.”
Craig Handley: So, there’s ways to drive revenue through viral video and through viral content. So, I think music is kind of a unique way to reach an audience and to create an aspect and I enjoy being a musician. I enjoy writing music, so I do a lot of fun stuff there, and I’ve got my own bucket list. Wanting to win a Grammy and I jumped out of an airplane from 32,000 feet. I was the 85th civilian to jump from that high.
I went diving with Great White sharks off the coast of Africa. I’ve been to Necker Island and hung out with Richard Branson about six times. The Baja run through Mexico. There isn’t a lot that I haven’t done. I’ve been to Elton John’s Oscar party a few times.
Evelyn: Oh, wow.
Craig Handley: Through my music career, I’ve got to hang out with Snoop and Akon and Paula Abdul and all kinds of … I’ve met my heroes. Paul McCartney. I went to Ringo Starr’s birthday party one year, and got to meet Ringo Starr and George Harrison’s wife. It was funny because it was kind of a private party. I got in because I did some charity work with the David Lynch foundation, I did it for free, so David’s been a friend of mine, so he invites me to all these cool events.
This was Ringo’s birthday party, Ringo and the All Stars. Everybody who ever played with Ringo was there, so I met all my heroes from the ’80s when I played basketball in my driveway. Steve Lukather from Toto was playing back up guitar, and Pete Townsend was there, and the Edgar Winter Brothers was there, and I’m like, “Holy cow.”
Evelyn: How fun.
Craig Handley: Yeah. I sat next to Jim Carrey. My chair was so good I had to look back to see Ringo. That’s how close to the stage I was, and I met Paul when I invited Richard to be my guest to an event that Paul was actually winning an award at, and Richard said, “Well, I’m actually being honored as well, but I’m at a table in the front. Come say hi,” and so I was up talking to Richard and Paul put his arm around me and said, “Hey, can I say hello to my good friend Richard?” I almost peed my pants, I think.
Evelyn: Why no, Paul, you can’t.
Craig Handley: Oh, my God. I was like, “Holy cow. This is Paul McCartney,” and Richard was sitting next to Yoko Ono. I’m like, “What planet am I living on?” I met the Dali Lama in Calgary and he blessed a scarf for me. I don’t know what planet I’m from. Elon Musk once said that he thinks we’re in a video game being run by aliens and all we’ve got to do is dream it and write it down and it can happen. Sometimes I wonder if that’s not true, because I have done things that no person from my background should ever do.
Evelyn: That’s awesome. Put it out in the universe and it’ll be delivered.
Craig Handley: Yeah, and I don’t know why I’ve been fortunate and blessed enough to have those cool things happen, and I work hard. I believe in playing hard, too.
Evelyn: That’s awesome. Craig, thank you so much for your time today. This has been fantastic.
Craig Handley: Did we use up 30 minutes already?
John: Yeah, can you believe it?
Evelyn: We did. We did.
Craig Handley: Holy cow.
John: This is one of those times that we wish we had the longer format back, because this was great. Fantastic. Thank you so much, Craig, and if you’d like to learn more about Craig and ListenTrust, please visit www.ListenTrust.com. We hope you enjoyed In Process today. If you’d like to download this episode, you can find our show on iTunes as In Process Podcast. If you’d like to be featured as a guest on our show, please email us at InProcess@Trusted-Counsel.com. Thanks for joining us.
Evelyn: See you next time.
Speaker 1: This has been In Process. Conversations about business in the 21st century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon, presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual property law firm. For more information, visit www.Trusted-Counsel.com.