Subject Matter Expertise with Thomas K.R. Stovall

Thomas K.R. Stovall is a subject matter expert on turning subject matter expertise into passive and automated income online. He is an author, a sought after speaker and facilitator, a Google Entrepreneur in Residence, the founder of a patented enterprise microfeedback platform, and the creator of an organization that catalyzes growth for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs (ImBlackInTech.com), with almost 6000 people in the membership network across 16 countries. For seasoned entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, and business leaders respectively, his approaches teach practical ways to quickly close gaps between intentions and measurable outcomes. He is a gifted story-teller and a wicked-smart man. He first started participating in our programs almost a decade ago (FOT6), and the lessons he’s learned along the way are both humbling and extremely valuable. Listen as he shares the story of his journey.

Thomas K.R. Stovall is a subject matter expert on turning subject matter expertise into passive and automated income online. He is an author, a sought after speaker and facilitator, a Google Entrepreneur in Residence, the founder of a patented enterprise microfeedback platform, and the creator of an organization that catalyzes growth for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs (ImBlackInTech.com), with almost 6000 people in the membership network across 16 countries.

For seasoned entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, and business leaders respectively, his approaches teach practical ways to quickly close gaps between intentions and measurable outcomes. He is a gifted story-teller and a wicked-smart man. He first started participating in our programs almost a decade ago (FOT6), and the lessons he’s learned along the way are both humbling and extremely valuable. Listen as he shares the story of his journey.

Below you’ll find a transcript of this podcast episode that has been edited for your reading pleasure. You’ll also see links at the bottom of this post where you can find more information on the people and ideas mentioned in the episode.
Produced by: John Patterson & Tyson Crandall

“If you can’t see it, you can’t say it. If you can’t say it, you can’t do it.”

John Patterson: Welcome to the Influence Ecology podcast.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Well, thank you, John Patterson, pleased to be here.

John Patterson: I’m pleased that you’re here too. God, we’ve been on a long journey, haven’t we? How many years has it been now?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: A decade.

John Patterson: Good god. All right, well, why don’t you first introduce yourself and in doing so, tell us a little bit of what you want us to know about your identity.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Well, my name is Thomas KR Stovall. I am located here in sunny Chicago, in February in the middle of winter. What I do for a living, I help subject matter experts to turn their specialized knowledge into passive and automated income online. That is a newer version of my identity. I’m better known for business optimization and alignment for small businesses, usually high six to the mid-seven figure companies helping them add another zero pretty quick and redesign their company so that they can wake up every day and enjoy what they do, but also not working quite so hard.

Two wonderful children, two and a half and 10 months old, Trip and Canon, and a lot of things changed in my life into my focus in having kids. I’m 39. Oh my goodness, I’m 40 now John.

John Patterson: Oh no.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Wow. Yeah, so 40 years old, and just that the focus shifted on a lot of what I was doing prior. So, I’ve got some fun businesses under my belt. I have a patented software company. I speak at enterprise and university. I’m sure we’ll get into some of that. But that’s a little bit of background about me.

John Patterson: Okay, very good. You have an amazing story about when you first got a call from Kirkland Tibbels. And I wanted to give you the opportunity to share that story. And for time, I’m sorry, if we had the time I would say, “Look, we should just …” You know what we had to do is we had to take the story you told at the conference and put it into this podcast. It might be a great way to tell the full rich story, but what’s the shortened version of that story?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: So, the shortened version is, I got a phone call from Kirkland after having been introduced to you by someone else, and then you introduced me to Kirkland. And Kirkland had something that he was doing. I didn’t know quite what it was, but I had a lot of respect for him because of who I’ve been introduced by and we had a phone call.

And that phone call was full of laughter and joy, and I was right in the middle of losing a few million dollars of real estate, including my primary residence, and was probably about three weeks from getting foreclosed on and having to move back in with mom and dad at 30. When all of my colleagues and friends were kind of on the corporate ladder becoming young executives, I was in the middle of losing everything.

So, Kirkland and I had an unexpectedly delightful conversation. And we didn’t talk any business at all. And at least I didn’t think we did. And at the end of that conversation, he says, “Well, Thomas, we didn’t really do anything but kind of laugh on the phone. Let’s set up another call so we can actually talk about this thing that I’m doing.” I was like, “Kirkland, that sounds great.”

And a few days later, the phone rang. I saw the Texas area code, and I thought, “Okay, well, let’s have another great conversation. I could use some more of that energy.” And I picked up and I said, “Hey, Kirkland, how’s it going?” And Kirkland says, “Good. Are you ready to get started?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I’ve had a great week. How about you?”

And he says he’s been good. Are you read to get started?

There was a cold chill coming across the phone. I did not know what was going on but I knew this was a very different energy than what I felt on that first call. And basically Kirkland unleashed weapons of influence on me. Like nothing I’ve ever felt. He didn’t hold any punches. He just told me, “young man, you’re smart, you’re hardworking and I like you a lot. And honestly, I don’ t know if I have the time, the mental energy, the bandwidth to spend with you to get your form where you’re at to where you need to go. You’re incredibly naive.

…to words that they say, the environments they put in and you’ll think you’re saying yes and no to things of your own volition, you’re not. You did because they told you to and you just didn’t know it. He said, “I’m going to say some things now. And you’re going to have a biological reaction. You’re not going to be able to defend yourself against it.”

And Kirkland said some things and my stomach dropped out of my body and I thought, holy cow, I don’t know what this is, but I am a ravenous student of business. I’ve been an entrepreneur at that time for 11 years. I started my first business out of my dorm room in college. And I’d never heard of whatever he was doing to me. I didn’t know what name it was. It wasn’t in any book I knew to study. And in that moment, I knew I was wholly unequipped to get where I was trying to go. And I had to get this thing called influence ecology. So, that’s the short version, John.

John Patterson: Wow. All right. So, when you began to study with us, what did you first come up against? Where did you discover your own naivete or conceit against the background of what we study?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: I think the first place that I started to notice my own naivete was just in the fact that this entire body of work was out here and I had no clue, pages and pages of documents and books, and I just didn’t even know it existed. And so, as I began to look at this stuff and immediately not follow the guidelines, and what you guys told us was first three months are for learning something, the second three months are for doing something. So, don’t go and experiment.

And of course, from day one, I went out and I was trying out accepting people’s declines and all types of other stuff. And I found out very quickly that there’s a reason why you all say that influence ecology is a practice ground to actually try this stuff. Because you don’t want to just go out into the environment and have your identity at risk, saying things that you don’t really know the impact they’re going to have on other people. And I agitated a lot of people.

John Patterson: I bet you did.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: And some of them were inside of the Influence Ecology offices.

John Patterson: Yes.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: I’ll say that my naivete was confronted immediately inside of just practicing some of this stuff and seeing how poorly it was going for me and also starting to understand what my identity actually was, the places I was making assertions, assumptions, assessments, that were not being accepted at all by the people who I respected most, by people who I needed to be transacting with, and I had no clue how to get from event to invite to present to contract. I could not get to contract, lots of great relationships and I couldn’t move the needle. And I that’s where I really realized I had no clue what I was doing.

John Patterson: You have a really brilliant arc of a story around identity. As I was reading through your notes, what you discovered about your own naivete about identity, all the way to building an identity within the tech community. And I’ll let you tell a little bit of the story. Can you take us through that arc from realizing that you were naive to identity in the way you just pointed to all the way through to now where you are and the identity that you have produced because it’s a brilliant move all the way through that arc. Can you take us through that?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Yeah. So, I struggled immediately when I was starting my study with influence ecology because I was ending a real estate investment career. And up until that point, though I’ve been in business for a decade on my own, that was the first business I’d really built of substance. So, I built it from a $3000 investment through my savings to a seven-figure investment firm in about 18 months, and that’s real cash through my account.

So, I was really proud I had amassed something. And then four years later, it was gone. And I was starting over when I started this study, and without a clue really what identity meant, but it took about two years of consistent work to start to carve out a new identity in technology, where people knew what I did because the first year and a half, I was testing things and trying to build a different kind of software application. And it went okay, but it wasn’t going to be anything I could kind of grow into a real business.

And so, it was a couple years before I started to see this first business called Candid. It’s a microfeedback company that I still have. And it was in the feedback and assessment arena for enterprises. What I saw in my map study was that this area called feedback was really a massive breakdown in organizations of all sizes and nobody noticed how bad everybody is a feedback because everybody’s so bad at feedback.

And I reached out to an old friend who came out of Tennessee State University Electrical Engineering Department with me and his company had grown. He also started his first business in college, and his company had grown to be a global software development consulting firm, mostly doing a lot of project-based work for big companies like Microsoft, but he was itching for his team to do something more entrepreneurial, not just trade hours for dollars.

So, I had this idea for this enterprise feedback company that would focus exclusively on what I call microsurveys, these are one-question surveys that crowdsource feedback in really dynamic ways. And it was a novel concept. And he said, “You know what, I really like this, let’s give it a go. You go out and get the contracts. You give us the architecture for what the thing needs to do and my team will build it.”

So, that’s exactly what we did. We started off 50-50 and his company got to work building out this half million dollar software product, because it wasn’t going to be something out of somebody’s basement and I went to work, leaning on my relationships and getting some preorder not contracts, but letters of intent from some billion dollar companies. And I thought everything was great.

And I had an opportunity to sit down with Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google. We have a relationship in between us with somebody who we both hold very dear. And I have a really trusted relationship with this person. And they set me up with a three-hour sit-down dinner with Eric Schmidt, a meeting I couldn’t pay for in 10 lifetimes.

In the Chicago Cut Steakhouse and the entire purpose of it, just three of us was for Eric to hear about this business that I call Candid and let me know if it actually had legs. And so, he sat and he listened to everything that I told him and the guy who I was working with 50-50 sat patiently. When I was done, he said, “This is never going to work.” And I said, “What do you mean?” He says, well, the business is great. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. I think the business actually has legs. The problem is your structure. You don’t have any skin in the game. And it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen this a million times. No matter what you say, no matter how many presale letters of intent that you bring to the table.

This guy has actual people who he pays actual money that are working day in and day out. And he’s seeing these dollars go out with none coming in. And you can’t really sell this product to enterprises because you don’t have the identity for it yet without it being built. So, you’re going to start to see a problem in the next month or two as these dollars start to rack up, and he’s going to say, you know what, I’m going to need to own this thing, and then your business is going to be dead.

So, I didn’t argue with him. But I politely said, “Well, Eric, you don’t know him like I know him and all of that.” And about a week and a half later, I started to hear the rumblings on the other end when I was checking in with my business partner about the amount of time and money that his team was spending on this. And I realized that Eric was right. And it was going to go exactly I said, and I transacted out of that relationship really quickly.

It took about a month, but I started the process. I went and raised a little bit of money so that I could pay a portion of the software development, take the majority of ownership of the company, and I could run it and move that company into a minority relationship. And they still built off the software. We’re still in good graces today. But the business would have been dead had it not been for that.

So, that was one of those moments where I created that situation, I’m able to now leverage that story as a way to wield identity. So, I told that because the next jump point of my identity was, now I’m in tech, I’ve got this software thing, that’s pretty much built. But I’m a real estate guy. I’ve been in business for a long time. I don’t know anything about tech. I’m an engineer, but I can’t code a line, John. So, I had to figure out what was going to be the fastest way for me to become somebody who was at the front of the room and people wanted to come get to know me versus me trying to take meetings all over the city and get to know people one at a time.

I thought about the fact that I’ve been hosting events since I was 24 is kind of a natural talent. I love convening people. And I can put together a narrative and get butts in seats. So, I thought, all right, if I look out in Chicago, what’s going to be the way for me to do this? I observed the marketplace. And there were organizations that were kind of generally focused on tech. But I didn’t see a lot of organizations focus specifically on tech entrepreneurship. Everybody wants to teach somebody how to code or hackathons. I didn’t want to do that. So, that’s one area I saw where I could kind of carve a place in the sand.

And I also saw that for people of color, specifically in technology, black and Latino, there were no organizations that were standing up above the frame. And I thought, all right, well, if I can create a room that’s fun to be in specifically for entrepreneurs and also focuses on people of color and tech, I can own this narrative in Chicago. And so, I started with an event called The Founder series, where we will bring out once a quarter people that were black and Latino that were already kicking butt and taking names in their company.

They were from around the country on the cover of Black Enterprise magazine and on Shark Tank. And surprisingly, these folks were willing to come to Chicago, pay their own way for free, because they wanted to give back. They were so forced in the space, they want it to be in a room where they could invest in others. And also, there was no spotlight that was being shined on this group. So, I use the Instagram channel for it or maybe the organization is I’m black in tech.

So, it’s very clear, very specific. Literally, I’m black in tech. Let’s say we were. In the Instagram channel would grow. We just feature founders on the Instagram channel from around the country. And we made it a membership as opposed to other organizations where it was just a general community. I set up a membership application and made people apply. There was no application fee, but the narrative was membership.

And we went from getting people apply here in Chicago to getting people applying regionally to nationally, never ran an ad. And ultimately, we ended up with people attending these quarterly events from as far as London. So, they became really popular. We got sponsored by the largest technology incubator in the country, which is right here in Chicago. It’s called 1871. And that little organization grew to be in 16 countries. We’ve got close to 6000 people in the network. And they’ve raised and generated close to half a billion dollars in their startups.

And now, I’m a nationally recognized player in the technology space, not just in black tech space. Also in the technology space. Here in Chicago. I speak on civic tech panels. I lead events and I’ve used events as a way any type of organization or industry I want to tap into as it relates to tec, I just create a flagship event series, whether it’s smart cities or whatever, and I go and own that narrative in the city. And it takes maybe 60 days. It’s unbelievable. So, I’ve used those things to build identity really specifically.

John Patterson: You’re such a great storyteller that there’s points to make, but I bet I think they’ve been made. But just in case, I think, want to just backtrack a little bit so we can give some good takeaways. First of all, the last thing you said about the duration of time and building an identity. You got your call from Kirkland, I had my call from Kirkland.

My call from Kirkland was around my identity as well. And I was attempting to move into a new space. And what I was attempting to do is after 21 years, I think in training development and having produced a really solid identity there, I was moving into television production, television shows, television editing and things like that. I got a job with an editing company that did some work with NBC Universal. I was working in Chicago at the time, called Kirkland, and then he challenged me on my identity to begin to move into the television space, having no identity there.

And said this thing to me, I’ll never forget, which was, it’s going to take you 10 years to produce the kind of identity that you’ll require to move powerfully in the television space in Hollywood, 10 years. Now, you could produce an identity in a year or two years, but I don’t know if it’ll be the kind of identity required to meet your financial aid.

Then he began to move me into a conversation about my financial aims and so now I don’t work in television. I work here. But I tell the story just briefly because the duration of time to produce the kind of identity that you do acknowledges the importance of identity in moving powerfully in certain environments or certain markets and things like that. What did you learn about producing an identity here and why it matters?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Yeah. I can speak really specifically to this. So, there’s a track that I’ve worked out in my mind for what it sounds like to go from one identity to a new identity, and it is years for it to happen. So, it starts out with when you leave one identity, people they don’t know yet. And so, when you see him out, “Hey, how’s the real estate business going? And oh, I’m not in real estate anymore. Oh, the market, huh? Okay, well, what are you up to now?” So, they ask what are you up to. And then you see him out again, and they say, “Hey, how’s the real estate thing? Oh, wait, you’re not in real estate anymore. What are you doing?” They still don’t remember quite what you’re doing.

And you see them out some other time in the future and then it’s, “Hey,” and they remember you’re not in real estate this time, but they have no clue what you’re doing. They still don’t know. So, how is everything going? It’s just kind of this ambiguous, vague question about your life and they hope that you’re going to say something that gives them any clue about what you might be working on, because they don’t know.

And the next time that they see out, then for me, it sounded like, “Hey, so you’re doing like some feedback thing, right? What exactly is it?” And so, now they’re trying to figure out what it is. Then the next time, it’s, “hey, so how’s that feedback thing going?” So now, they know that you’re doing the feedback thing, but they don’t really know exactly what it is, how’s it going?

And then at some point down the line, it becomes, “Hey, how’s Candid?” And that’s when there’s a new identity. And after that shortly for me, I started getting emails and texts and phone calls that sounded like, “Hey, Thomas, I’m out here at this event. I just met a guy who’s trying to do feedback inside of his company. And I thought about you.”

And that journey to go from top of mind for real estate investing to top of mind for this specific feedback thing that I’m doing in software, it took me about four to five years before I started to get those inbound messages of people, not only knowing what I do, but also seeing that I’ve been doing it long enough where I’m not jumping around. They know this is a real thing. It’s going to be around next year. Their identity isn’t at risk by referring me to somebody four to five years.

And I’d wager to say if you’re transitioning from one identity to another where you have no authority at all, I think probably for the best of us, it still is a couple years because even if you’ve latched on to someone else’s identity, they may trust the offer that you’re a part of, but they don’t trust you yet. So, that part has been fascinating for me. And I’m really careful about introducing new identities now.

Even on LinkedIn, the work that I do with subject matter experts, that is yet to become something that I put officially on my LinkedIn until I’ve got enough evidence of the outcomes I’m producing, where when I actually update my title on LinkedIn, I’m not updating it to say, what I’m getting ready to do or what I’m thinking about doing, there’s going to be a mile of evidence in social proof that’s already there, where people will say, “Why didn’t you tell us that you were doing this, Thomas? This is great. I would have sent a million people your way.” That’s the way I think about identity now.

John Patterson: Back to where we were, you were talking a little bit about the introductions to some naivete. We’ve talked a little bit about career. I think you saw some other places where you might be naive and I think you said some things about work and money and things like that. Anything else you want to cover there?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: I was 100% naïve about big ideas and what it would take to take something from idea to contract to recurrence to the money, just no clue, no clue at all. In looking back on who I was a decade ago and now thinking back on Kirkland’s words, I totally understand what he meant when he said, “You just don’t have a clue how high cost it is going to be to get you to where you’re at now. I couldn’t imagine taking on somebody where I was at that point. I can’t imagine.” And he knew, Kirkland knew.

John Patterson: What was he smelling?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: What he was smelling was I had the propensity to step out and I speak with a certain type of authority. Regardless of whether or not the words that I’m saying are factual, in my mind, if I can see it in and I feel like there’s a pathway to it, I speak about it as truth. It’s not something I’ve worked on doing. It’s just kind of how I’m wired. I’ve actually worked on beginning to speak from a place of here’s what I think about that not here’s what it is.

And I think what Kirkland saw was that I was willing to basically stand out on the edge of the world and scream from the rooftops about big ideas that I had no grounding in reality to produce the outcomes that I was promising. And while I could get people to sign up and follow me and be excited about that, what he told me on that first call was that someone like him would see someone like me and basically say, “Attaboy, go get them.” Pat me on the shoulder and cross the street and not touch me in a transaction with a 10-foot pole. Those were his words.

That’s what I think that he smelled on me when we had that first conversation. And it took some time for me to understand fully the cost of standing up, standing out, making claims that I did not know to be true and could not prove to be true prior to having the evidence there. I was taking on lots and lots of big ideas, big projects. And people would follow me on these things just based off of charisma and excitement.

And I had no clue how to actually bring them to fruition and I thought that was the way you did it. I thought you come up with this big thing and you go and you just figure it out along the way. And on some level, that’s what business looks like. But what I saw on influence ecology was that there was a level of basic due diligence that I could do. If you can’t see it, you can’t say it. If you can’t say it, you can’t do it.

And what that meant to me, when I heard it was if I can’t write down on paper a clear way from some point A to some measurable point B inside of some clearly defined timeframe, it’s irresponsible. Go out and scream from the rooftops about this thing. It’s lazy to go out and do that and it’s harmful to my identity. It’s harmful to my relationships. It’s harmful to my family, It’s harmful to my money. And I stopped doing that. I stopped doing that.

And now, the identity I’ve produced as a result is I’m known as a process architect. People reach out to me when they want to be able to quantify something. When they’ve got a big idea and they know they need to do better than that and they say, “Thomas, I can’t quite articulate what it is that I’m trying to produce.” And it doesn’t matter whether it’s I want to produce this identity. I want to produce more money. I want to produce this outcome in my business.

People know me as someone who can help them clearly and quickly articulate how to get from a specific point A, even if they don’t know how to say what point A is. We’re going to define where you’re starting, where you’re going, and how to get there and a plan for the stuff you can’t measure along the way. We’re going to we’re going to think through as much of it as we can, then you’re going to go quickly.

John Patterson: It’s really great. I recognize myself in it so much because I was of the mind, if you build it, they will come I guess is one of the ways to say. There was a little bit of a shadow from the rooftops. Believe in it. Believe it. Get people involved. I was a little bit of a Pied Piper throughout my life. And my sister, one of my sisters will say things like, “We all followed you all the time, whatever you did, we would just follow you. We would just kind of come along.”

And I found that people did that for quite some time. And then people started to not trust my big dreams because I didn’t have anything to back them up. That’s what it looked like in the early days. And of course now, it looks vastly different than quite trusted and respected. And you just described a bit of my own journey. It’s wonderfully said.

All right. So, I think what I’d love to focus on is you’ve done a little bit of work now to produce some environments, some groups of people, some organizations, tell us about where you are now and what you’re at work on. Feel free to climb up on soapboxes, talk about what matters to you. But what are you working on now?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Well, the place I found myself, this work I’m doing around optimization and alignment, I’ve focused for a long time on small business owners. And I don’t quite know how or where, but the identity that I started producing just seemed to continue to transfer outward. And I started being brought in by larger companies, Clorox, CDW and enterprises, universities, to speak to students and to speak to faculty about my original ideas.

I’ve got a framework with a name called business amplification, that is a really specific way I go about building stuff quickly. And I didn’t know I was building the framework many years ago, but that’s what it became. And I’ve now found myself getting paid five figures for 90 minutes of my time to stand on stages and talk about my stuff. And it took a while before I was really willing to accept that this is a real identity. It’s not something I’m kind of faking that. I know what I know.

And I spent last year in like a year of no. So, starting to recognize every invitation isn’t something I ought to pursue and just really figuring out what I wanted to focus my time on. And I spent the first half of 2019 really focusing on beginning to take my group training programs, my masterminds, my challenges, course curriculum that I designed for many years, and deliver to small business owners to put those things online so that they could scale because I’ve always kept it my little secret, didn’t want a bunch of people to know. I didn’t want a bunch of inbound requests for that kind of work.

And I had a client in 2018, who was in a mastermind of mine and Q1, all of 2017 she did 170 grand in revenue and in 2018, she finished the year 3 million. And I’m not going to accept all the responsibility for that. But we track revenue down to the day inside my masterminds. And I know what her upward chart looked like during the time that we were in our mastermind.

And the best part of that was getting to see under the hood. And she has an online course that trains people how to launch online courses. It’s an online business, great business, very focused, very specific. And I’ve got many courses that map on every aspect of a small business owner’s journey. And I thought, this is really robbing my family and robbing the world to not take the time to understand how to take what I’ve built and put it online so we can scale.

So, I spent the first half of 2019 really focused on that. And what I discovered was all the pitfalls that face a subject matter expert with time and bandwidth for why you wouldn’t go about doing that for you got to figure out your learning management system. Is it Kajabi or Teachable or Thinkific or Learndash or Podia or all this stuff.

And once you pick one, if you do figure out the consideration set, now you’re confronted with the fact that you just have a product page. You don’t actually have a sales funnel. And I recognize this immediately. Obviously with the work that we do in influence psychology, there was no choreographed experience. There’s just a product page.

And so, then if you’re not a marketer or a salesperson, then you’re confronted with the fact that you don’t really write great copy. You don’t know necessarily what this should look like, should there be a video here? Is there some sort of graphic? What should the word say? Is this good?

So, all of that stuff, I was seeing the breakdowns as I was going through them. I happened to be pretty good at attraction-based marketing and sales. So, the copy wasn’t the issue. But I did see not having a system as a prop. And you get the copy up, you get the page up, no one’s buying and you go out to the marketplace and try to figure out why. Oh, somebody says you need a sales funnel, that’s what’s missing. So, you go to ClickFunnel, you go to LeadPages, all these software, get response that gets you a sales funnel.

So now, you buy this thing off the off the rack, and now you’re going to spend another $75 a month. Now, you’re three figures a month in subscriptions with your learning management system and your sales funnel. And so, you get a funnel in place now. You’re excited. Never mind the fact that you’ve got this software over here that doesn’t integrate with the software over there. The pages look different. Is this branding supposed to be the same?

But maybe you’re not a marketing and salesperson so you don’t know that the branding actually matters and this thing is totally off. And should the emails come from ClickFunnels or should they come from your learning management system? You don’t know. But you got the thing done now. You’re expecting it to rain money. And it does not rain.

And you try to figure out why no one’s buying and you go out to the marketplace and, oh, you’re missing traffic. You don’t have any traffic and your copy is bad on your funnel. Well, how do I get my copy right first? How do I get the funnel look to be appropriate? I need to hire somebody. How much is that going to cost me? A couple grand? It’s not much.

Now, I’m into it for four figures. So, I’ve hired somebody now they’re going to do my page and make it look good, make everything the right way. And it still doesn’t convert. How come? Well, remember the traffic, if no one’s on the site, doesn’t matter how good it is, no one’s there to buy. Okay, great. How do I get traffic to the site now? Well, you need Facebook and Instagram ads. Okay, I’m going to go and do Facebook and Instagram ads. How’s that work? Well, you need to have some expertise around getting into the ad manager and all that. Why don’t you hit some YouTube videos, they’ll show you how to do it.

And you get in there and now you’re going to spend a couple grand and send thousands of people to the site. You got this funnel that’s going to convert, except you spend a couple grand, it does not convert. What is going on? Well, you’ve got traffic but John, you don’t have qualified traffic. Your audiences are wrong with your Facebook ads.

So, now, what do I do to adjust that? Well, you got to hire Facebook ads man. How much is this going to cost? Just 1500 to five grand a month. That doesn’t include your ads. And on top of that, they’re going to take 15% commission on whatever your ad spend is. But you know what, John, I was into it. And I said, “Well, if I’m going to hire somebody, I’m getting the five grand a month guy because I want the best.”

And let’s just eliminate all the issues. And a couple months later, you realize that the five grand a month guy is really just throwing spaghetti at the wall, seeing what sticks, and hopefully you get some traffic and it’s a big waste of time and money. And ultimately, heaven forbid, that the traffic actually works out and thousands of people start coming to your website and they actually want what you have, but you don’t have a system in place that actually accounts for the questions they’re going to have and the sales calls that they want.

So, now you’ve got a hundred emails a day that you need to figure out how to answer. You got sales calls people want to have to buy your product. And a couple people buy maybe 20, maybe 50. But you find out your product is priced wrong. A couple hundred dollars on a product that should be two or three grand. And you’ve done all of this work. You’re into at five figures a year later. And you finally find out that this is only going to make you three or four grand a month. And you can make that in a few hours because you’re an expert. Why would you do this? So, you shut the whole thing down. And that’s how it goes.

And what I realized going through the process, as I shared how I was moving through it and blueprinting things as I kind of came across these different hurdles, I just share what I was going through on social media and I started having people contacting me inbound, and saying, “Hey, I see you’re figuring this thing out. Can you actually help me do this or can you just do it for me?” And I would predictably say no. This is my year of no. I don’t want to trade more hours for dollars.

And they would say, “Well, are you sure? You’re just not even willing to consider?” I would have to charge you so much I don’t think it would be worth it. Because remember, I’m talking to consultants, I’m talking to people who are employed somewhere, not business owners. So, no way they’re going to be willing to pay me what I need to make. And ultimately, somebody just kept pressing. And I said, “Look, I’d have to charge you 20 grand for 30 days. I don’t think you want to do that.” He said, “That’s where you’re wrong. I do. I’m ready to go right now.” And I was shot.

And about a month later, it happened again. And I realized I didn’t want to do more one-on-one consulting, but there was some sort of offer, some huge breakdown for this ecology of people called subject matter expert that I was not seeing. And when I delved a little bit deeper, what I realized was that if you are already recognized in the space, you’re already making six figures or multiple six figures, you’re doing well financially, what becomes your biggest resource is your time.

You want your time to spend with your family, with your friends, impacting your community, you’re 40 plus maybe and if you’re like me, you realize that you’re now middle aged, and the clock is beginning to get shorter, and you want to have impact and you want to have those memories. And the money isn’t the only thing that matters anymore.

So, people start to invest in real estate or Forex. They’re trying to find ways to make their money work for them and to reclaim their time. But real estate and trading on the stock market and everything, there’s still a measure of risk. And what I didn’t know was what I was sharing about my process was this specialized knowledge that we have as experts is actually worth money. It is actually an asset, just like a piece of real estate.

And that asset if repurposed online in the form of a course or a training focus membership offer, or a strategic podcast can actually produce passive and automated income if you have a system around it. And that’s the offer. That’s the breakdown that I was solving. And I stopped working on selling my courses online and I started to zone in specifically on putting together changing my blueprints for getting the course online into something that’s other subject matter experts could actually purchase.

And it became this thing called income on autopilot. It’s a framework and we have five areas for a recognized expert. It’s not for people just kind of passionate about something. If you’re a recognized expert, then we focus on strategic podcasting, building an online offer so that when you build that, that radio station basically for your specialized knowledge, you have some place to send people to. We focus on paid speaking from stage, so that when you stand up on stage, you don’t just do it to market, you do it to make four and five figures and take that halo effect and send people to your online offer to buy.

We focus on live events and showing people how to produce profitable live events that continue to build that community build trust, and ultimately, the sales automation tools that wrap around all of these things that make it really easy to step away and let the thing run and produce income on autopilot for you. And for each one of those offers, we have a custom-built website that maps along with it.

So, all of it is just kind of copy-paste stuff, copy-paste, speak, copy-paste sale, copy-paste, promote, copy-paste build and copy-paste cash for podcaster. So, that is the only thing I’m working on. And it’s really exciting because I can help way more people who are subject matter experts but don’t necessarily have a business and don’t even realize how valuable their intellectual asset is. And they could potentially retire much faster and impact more people, have more fun. And I’m having a blast.

John Patterson: That’s fantastic. I think we could leave it right there.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Okay.

John Patterson: Is there anything else you want to say? First of all, you just did a beautiful job of describing so many people’s experience. The whole thing is beautiful. Is that a speech that you do?

Thomas K.R. Stovall: No. That honestly is, it’s just been my personal experience. And when I share it, I cannot talk to anyone in my network without them feeling like I’ve crafted that talk exactly for them. It’s just so many of our experience.

John Patterson: Yeah, it is. It’s a wonderful description of my experience. And it’s an early experience. It’s an experience of probably six or seven years ago, just sort of the world of an experience that I’m so grateful is [crosstalk 00:46:57].

But I think I would say that one of the things that that whole journey demonstrates beautifully also is the current and the way that we hear the current, buy from the current, get lulled by the current, get swept away in the current to this approach and that approach in this thing and that thing. And ultimately, I mean, all of us are just finding our ways, but there certainly is some beauty in thinking accurately about our conditions of life, about our work, about our money, about our time about our identity, and moving accordingly. Beautiful.

Well, Thomas, is there anything else that you want to do today? We’re about out of time, but I thought I’d ask anything else you want to say.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: If anyone wants to connect with me, you can do so at thomaskrstovall.com or incomeonautopilot.com. Thank you for having me, John.

John Patterson: Great. You’re welcome. You’re absolutely welcome. It’s been a blast as well and we’ll include links to all the ways to find Thomas, we’ll include in the page on this podcast. Thomas KR Stovall, thank you for being here.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Thank you, John.

John Patterson: Pleasure.

Thomas K.R. Stovall: Pleasure has been mine.

John Patterson: My special thanks to our guest, Thomas KR Stovall. In our show notes, you’ll find links to connect with him and the links to websites, books or downloads mentioned in this podcast. The Influence Ecology Podcast is produced by Influence Ecology, LLC in Ventura, California. This episode was recorded Feburary 27th, 2020 and was produced by Tyson Crandall and John Patterson. You can find a transcript for this and other episodes at InfluenceEcology.com. This episode is made possible through the assistance of the Influence Ecology faculty, staff, mentors, and students around the world. Co-founder Kirkland Tibbels and our colleagues comprise an international collective of professionals who are active in the development of the philosophy of Transactionalism and the discipline of Transactional Competence™. Kirkland is considered a leading philosopher and authority in the field and he has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline.

The podcast theme is by Chris Standring and titled “Fast Train to Everywhere.” You can subscribe to the Influence Ecology Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via email at podcast@influenceecology.com.

If you haven’t yet offered a rating or review, I ask that you take a moment to go to iTunes or your podcast app and let us know what you think. This helps us more than you know.

Podcast Bonuses:

Influence Ecology is the leading business education specializing in Transactional Competence™, having published and contributed to the only comprehensive text on the subject, Transactionalism: An Historical and Interpretive Study by Trevor J. Phillips. Co-Founder Kirkland Tibbels has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline of transactional competence and is a sought-after lecturer at universities, major corporations, and civic organizations around the world. 

Influence Ecology’s curriculum includes conferences, webinars, online tools, podcasts, and mentorship utilized by men and women in over seventy countries around the world. Our membership includes an international assembly of accomplished professionals, faculty, and peers from a variety of countries, industries, and cultures.

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