Chatting Up Cliff Ravenscraft
Mark: Hi, Cliff.
Cliff: What’s up, Mark?
Mark: Not much. Thanks for joining me for breakfast.
Cliff: Thank you for breakfast.
Mark: This is the second time I’ve seen you in two days, this is crazy.
Cliff: This is awesome. I don’t know if you know this, but I came to Dallas, Texas three or four days before the event just so I would have the opportunity to hang out with you.
Mark: We’re going to get to hang out all day on Friday, too. Tell me what we’re doing Friday.
Cliff: It’s my first ever live event, as far as business related live events. I’ve had plenty of meet ups, as you know, but this is the first paid live event that I’m doing. It’s a one day mastermind called The Next Level Mastermind Event, and it’s for business people who already have a business.
It’s primarily focused on people who have already found quite a bit of success in their business pursuits but are now ready to take what they’re doing to the next level, at least one area of their business and taking that to the next level. That may mean creating a whole new line of products, or it may mean a whole new stream of income completely different than what they’ve done before, and it presents new challenges to them of the unknown.
The idea is to bring multiple people together from different areas of business, different backgrounds, but all people who are success minded, who believe that if we come together anything is possible.
Mark: I want to be clear on something. You’re the Podcast Answer Man, but it doesn’t sound like this is a podcast focused thing. Am I understanding that correctly?
Cliff: It’s not a podcast focused thing at all. I think, oddly enough, everybody there does have a podcast.
Mark: Well, we are at a podcasting conference, so that was purposeful.
Cliff: Yes, that was intentional. The reality is that this is not focused on podcasting, this is focused on business. The reason for that is because I have a passion for starting businesses and learning how to take your business pursuits to the next level.
Interestingly enough, when I started podcasting I started podcasting full time not to make money and because I love coaching people on how to podcast so much, I left my career in insurance to pursue podcasting full time because I knew that I could make a positive difference in people’s lives and that’s where I felt called to.
When I left my career in insurance, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to generate income. I had some ideas. I did know that coaching and consulting was something that would work for me in the area of podcasting, but in reality I thought that was just going to be one-third of my income. I thought another third of my income was going to be from advertising and sponsorships of all the shows that I was creating. I didn’t know where the other third of my income was going to come from, but I realized there were multiple opportunities for me to pursue.
What happened was I kind of went into business in a way that I don’t know that I would actually suggest most people do. So much of it just came into being as I stepped out in faith and started to pursue things. I said, “One thing is for certain, I do not accept failure as an option. I will not go back to selling insurance and I will not going back into debt. Our family will thrive through this experience, even though it’s going to be difficult.”
Out of all of that, the desire and the need to succeed, came a whole business. I didn’t have any business experience going into this, outside of I’m a good salesperson.
Mark: I would agree with that.
Cliff: I’ve had a lot of sales training over the years as an insurance agent. I’m good with people, I love people.
Mark: We love you, too.
Cliff: And I have a desire to serve people. I have a mission in life and that is to make people’s lives better. There is no reason to have a business other than to add value to people’s lives.
Mark: I say this all the time. I want you to say that again. What did you just say?
Cliff: There’s no reason to have a business other than to add value to people’s lives.
Mark: See, I don’t just make this stuff up. I’m not the only one that thinks this. Businesses need to add value.
So you have this principle about adding value, you took a lot of action, leveraged some risk, had focus and took some action. Then fast forward – how many years now have you been doing this?
Cliff: I’m horrible at math and I don’t do it live on my podcast unless I have my calculator in front of me and I can pause the recorder to do my calculations, but I can tell you I started as a hobby in December 2005 and I started doing this full time as my career in January 2008. So it was two years as a hobby and then since 2008 I’ve been doing it full time.
My passion is that I am more passionate about what has happened in my mind as it relates to the shift of the mindset of an employee to actually now considering myself a business owner. It’s weird, because I can tell you right when I left my career in insurance I knew I was self employed, but I heard the term “entrepreneur” and in my mind that did not define who I was. When I heard people talking about business owners, that didn’t click that I was a business owner. I was self employed, I worked for myself. I knew some of the things that I did, I applied for a business license, I have a employer identification number, I have all of that stuff. The government sees me as a business, but my mind did not see as a business.
So much has happened in my mind. I remember the first time I started coaching for a fee and I was charging $50 an hour and in my mind that was a lot of money, because as an employee I didn’t realize how much money the business had to make to be able to pay me the money that they did. So many things had to change in my mind.
What’s really interesting, and this is what I’ve always wanted to do with my podcasting, is I have a mission in life to take all of the experiences that I have, anything that’s positive, anything that’s good, anything that I’m learning in life, and I instantly want to share it with anybody that it could benefit.
The thing is that for awhile the greatest thing that I think I had to offer was my experience that I was having with how I got started with a podcast and how I learned what I was learning about the equipment, what cables to use, what microphone to use, and stuff like that. Finally, I got to the place where I found what worked for me. I do have somewhat of this philosophy, some people disagree; if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I’ve already found out what works for me after I have over 2,300 episodes of podcasts and I’ve done over 30 different shows, I’m not exploring new avenues. People always ask me, “What’s the next thing in podcasting?” The next thing is to create another episode.
Mark: That’s right.
Cliff: I’m not looking for the latest breakthrough advancement in podcasting, that’s not my main passion. My thing is look at what’s going on in my business, in my mind. I want to actually help people in that area.
Today I’m known as the Podcast Answer Man and I’m certainly not giving that up anytime soon, but 10 years from now will I consider myself the Podcast Answer Man or will I be the Business Mindset Answer Man?
Mark: What I hear you saying is your core value is to bring value to people and you’ve grown personally where you can bring more than podcasting to people.
Cliff: Exactly. In 2009 after one year of business, I really didn’t have very much to offer in the realm of how to create and maintain a successful business, but I was very successful in adding value to people’s lives and how to create and maintain a successful podcast. So basically in 2008 – 2009 podcasting was the logical thing for me to pursue in coaching and consulting and training, because that was the greatest asset that I had to provide value to people. Today I still have that asset and I think that it’s more valuable today than it was then. Obviously, people pay a whole lot more money for my training, consulting, and coaching in the area of podcasting than they ever did before, because I have a lot more to offer in that area.
Now what I’ve experienced is that I have a whole lot more that I want to share than just podcasting. That’s why The Next Level Mastermind and several other things that I’m pursuing are broader and definitely are not necessarily related to or connected to podcasting.
Mark: I’m excited to spend the day with you on Friday. I’m excited about the people that I know are going to be there, very impressive collection of attendees. I will be giving you some full unfiltered feedback about what I think on Friday, but I’m very excited.
I do want to shift gears on you a little bit here. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I also have a podcast.
Cliff: Late Night Internet Marketing.
Mark: You can sing the jingle, that’s impressive. Thank you very much. I may change the intro and just dub you in. What do you think Geoff Smith would think if I took out his music and put in your version?
Cliff: He’d probably shoot you.
Mark: He probably would. Okay.
I have at least four listeners, I know because they emailed me and wanted to hear questions from the Podcast Answer Man.
Cliff: Did you get the call from the guy whose name you butchered, did he call in yet?
Mark: No, I haven’t heard from him yet. I need to reach out to him again.
Shane and Jocelyn reached out on Twitter and the thing they want to know from you is, “If you could interview any Disney character for a podcast, which Disney character would it be? And why?”
Cliff: Any Disney character. I should have thought about this one ahead of time. That is a wide range of different people. Not just Mickey Mouse and Pluto, but all the Disney movies.
Mark: And why?
Cliff: For me, I’d say Mary Poppins because of her cheerful disposition. She was somebody who always had a positive attitude and took action. She turned mundane things into a game, so I kind of like that kind of personality and that attitude. I remember as a kid watching Mary Poppins and as an adult going back and watching it again, and just having fun even in time that was so simple and less technically advanced than we are today and thinking if I lived in the period of time that if I hung out with Mary Poppins for a day that I would have a really great day.
Mark: We’ve only been talking for 12 minutes and 50 seconds and that’s the second time you’ve made some reference to mindset. The first thing you said was (I’m paraphrasing) the real key to the growth of your business and getting everything to the next level was a shift in mindset. Then the thing you just said was you would want to interview Mary Poppins because of her mindset and how that would affect you if you were with her for a day.
How important is this mindset thing for entrepreneurs? We hear about it, people pay lip service to it. Can you give me some feeling about where you are on this whole topic of how you think about yourself in your own business and why that is important?
Cliff: I believe that life itself – not just business, but life itself – all comes down to our mindset, what we think of ourselves, what our identity is, what our mission and purpose in life is, what is possible and what’s not possible, what we think is possible and not possible. Mindset is everything to me, that’s the one thing I realized.
By the way, I struggle with a negative mindset just as much as any other person. What has been broadened is my capacity for having a positive mindset. If you think of mindset as a muscle, it’s the one thing that I want to exercise and stretch the most. The more I stretch and exercise the muscle of my mindset, my life expands in great ways.
Mindset is everything for me. I’ll give you a perfect example of this. No matter who is listening to this podcast, I can tell you right now if you are pursuing a business and you’re pursuing an income from your business, the amount of money you are making today is directly related to the confidence that you have in generating income.
Mark: Awesome. I think, knowing you as I do, I’ll ask you is it true that your main tool for modifying your mindset is your Kindle reader?
Cliff: That’s a big tool.
Mark: Because we’re not born with this mindset.
Cliff: No, not at all.
Mark: You said yourself that you started out with one mindset and now you have a completely different, much more conducive mindset. Your Kindle reader is a big part of that, I know you have this book list and you’ve read all these great books, most of which I’ve read as well. That’s not the biggest tool, though.
Cliff: It’s not the biggest one. It’s certainly one of the biggest tools. What you and I have done before hitting the record button, and even with the record button going, having conversations with other people who have a different mindset than I have.
You have experienced success in areas that I haven’t. I’ve experienced success in areas that you haven’t. When we come together and have conversations you might say, “Cliff, I’m really struggling with this,” and I say, “That’s no big deal, this is how you do that.” And I say, “I’m really struggling with this, I don’t think it’s possible,” and you say, “Cliff, that’s totally possible, here’s how you do it.”
As a result of a conversation with just one other person my mindset is expanded, the realm of possibility has increased, and now as a result of that I am now moving towards things and actually setting goals that I once never thought possible, now I think it is possible and I’m setting new goals and I’m moving towards having success in those areas of life.
It’s one-on-one conversations, it’s mastermind groups, it’s the reason why we’re doing The Next Level one day mastermind event, it’s through business mentors that I have, it’s through listening to podcasts.
Where do I get all of this? I am not just a student of books, I’m not just a student of podcasts, I’m not just a student of conversations with mentors and peers, I am a student of life. Believe it or not, you know what I’ve been doing for the last couple of days?
Mark: Besides hanging out with me, which is the highlight of your summer, right?
Cliff: It is, absolutely.
Mark: Very good, just glad we’re clear on that.
Cliff: For the last three weeks almost all of my free time has spent watching the first 30 episodes of the original Star Trek series season, I just finished episode 30 last night.
Mark: Your goal being to live long and prosper?
Cliff: Can I tell you, I am learning success principles and I’m expanding my mindset by watching a 1960s sci-fi television show.
Mark: How is that?
Cliff: Through the storytelling. They throw out all kinds of wonderful mental mindsets of people. There was an episode – episode 27, and this is on Netflix if anybody wants to go watch it, season one episode 27.
Captain Kirk and Spock go to this planet and there’s this group of people and they’re thinking these people are luddites, totally incapable of making decisions, making technical advances, they just seem complacent and it’s annoying to Captain Kirk. The Klingons are about ready to occupy this planet and they’re coming and the people are like, “We’re not going to do anything, we’re fine, we’re okay.” Of course, Kirk and Spock think they’re superior to this race of people.
I’m not going to blow the whole thing, because I encourage people to go watch it.
Mark: I won’t blow it either, but I’m familiar with this episode.
Cliff: What I love is the storytelling shows you the mindset difference. By the way, the very last scene of that episode, Kirk is back on the bridge of the Enterprise and he has a very real revelation about what his mindset is and his purpose in the world. Just little things like that.
I look for everything to expand my mindset.
Mark: Excellent. I wasn’t expecting to go to Star Trek, but I love that because that segues into another question that we have from listener Mitch. I think you actually know Mitch. I don’t know if you’ve actually met, but he is involved with creating the Podcast Movement Conference that we’re at. Mitch Todd is a buddy of mine who lives here in Dallas and he’s done a lot of podcasting. His question for you, “USS Enterprise versus Millennium Falcon; who wins?”
Cliff: Wow. I’d say the Enterprise.
Mark: And why?
Cliff: I grew up watching Star Wars and I was probably more a fan of Star Wars than I was Star Trek growing up, but the more that I watch Star Trek the more advanced I think things are. You have the Rebels trying to fight against the evil Empire, but with Star Trek you have this Federation that is actually exploring and they have the Prime Directive and they have this desire to go out and learn new things to help benefit not just their own civilization but they’re looking to always protect and serve other people.
I think anybody who has the mindset and desire to go out and serve other people and put their lives on the line to further expand their mindset, I think that they’ll win in the long run.
Mark: That’s interesting. The way I would summarize that is you pick the USS Enterprise not just because they have photon torpedoes, which are totally cool, but because they have a well defined mission and value statement, they know where they’re headed.
Mark: That’s not too different from Cliff Ravenscraft, really.
Cliff: They’re disciplined people and they have a chain of command. As you know, Han Solo and Chewie sometimes don’t agree, but if all of a sudden the Captain has to beam down I’m sure Mr. Scott could man things at the helm for awhile.
Mark: So you’ve got this new house, you’ve got The Next Level Studios, does this mean that you’re going to be installing some photon torpedoes that you can launch from there?
Cliff: Anything is possible, I guess.
Mark: Okay. Last question from a listener says they really like your show and this question comes from long time listener Kent. Kent lives here in Texas, although he never makes it to my meet-ups he is about an hour away. Kent wants to know if your episodes, which he really likes, are available on 8-track.
Cliff: That is a great question. I should probably do that just so that I have distribution everywhere.
Mark: Like Pat says, be everywhere. That means you need 8-track and you also need 33 RPM vinyl.
Cliff: That would be amazing.
Mark: Vinyl is coming back. I was in Urban Outfitters the other day and they’re selling record players and records. Vinyl is coming back.
Cliff: The funny thing is most of those record players I see in some of the stores are the same quality as the Fisher-Price record player.
Mark: That’s exactly right. Hopefully the electronics are better. I’m in the electronics business, so hopefully those are better.
Cliff: Hold on a second. I know it was a silly question, but I’m trying to imagine what my archive of content would look like if somebody had an 8-track of all the content I produced.
Mark: All 3,000 episodes? I don’t know what the run time is on an 8-track, but it’s not much more than a full album, as I recall. You can get a full album on there, which is maybe 10 songs. So that’s a podcast episode. It would be 3,000 cartridges, because it’s 30 or 40 minutes of music. It would be a room full of 8-tracks.
Cliff: It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea just to take all my digital stuff and back them up to 8-track.
Mark: And I bet you could hire Kent to do that for you.
Mark: Kent, expect a call from the Podcast Answer Man.
My last question for you… Because we meet once a week you’re familiar with my audience and you have this passion around business coaching and life coaching, helping people grow their businesses or change their mindset in the way that you’ve been able to do that for Podcast Answer Man, to help them. If you had one thing you could say to my audience, which is comprised of people who are either starting an internet business or trying to create a side business or trying to get going, what would you say to those people? If you had one thing to say and somebody hit you cold with a question like I just did, what would you say?
Cliff: I’ve heard this advice given a number of times, but listen to my words. Decide right now what you want your life to look like five years from now. Maybe you take a day off of work or take one of the days on the weekend and you get away and you dream about what your perfect life would be. An entire day of your life, what does it look like? Where do you live? How much money are you making? How are you making your money?
Dream about where you are in five years. Once you have that picture, go find five, 10, or 15 people who live that lifestyle today and develop relationships with those people.
Mark: Awesome. I love it.
Cliff, I am a better person and my life is better because you and I are friends. Thank you very much. Thanks for taking what was supposed to be three minutes of your time to sit down and talk with me, my listeners will appreciate that. Thank you very much.
Cliff: I can say exactly the same thing, Mark, my life is definitely better and it was the best decision I made to come here on Tuesday instead of Friday.
Mark: In case I have two or three listeners that don’t know where to find you, where is the best place to hook up with you online and where can people learn more about Cliff Ravenscraft, The Podcast Answer Man and proud owner of The Next Level Studios?
Cliff: I would encourage people to start out at PodcastAnswerMan.com/about. There is a video with my story. If you are really interested, I would go there first.
Mark: Very good. Thanks, Cliff. I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to spending the rest of the weekend with you. We’ll talk to you again soon.
Wrapping Things Up….
I hope you really enjoyed that. If you’re interested in Cliff’s Next Level Conference, either this one or future ones, you can find out more about that at http://lnim.co/nextlevel. That’s not an affiliate link or anything, that’s just a link to the event. I believe in it, I’m attending it, spending an entire day there with him tomorrow. I hope you are as excited by that idea as I am. I hope you got a lot of this casual conversation with Cliff.
I can’t wait to talk to you again in a few days where we’re going to start talking about website traffic and more developments at the Rankings Institute. Until then, get something done, go take some action, go do something crazy, be bold, do stuff. I’ll talk to you soon.