Thoughts about this conversation..
Sam Parr is an intriguing conversationalist with a broad range of curiosities and a great repertoire of stories to pull from. Using examples from his own life, he demonstrates how he muddled through to where he is now. Embracing his wisdom and experience, he gives solid advice on shortcuts to along that journey he would take now if he had a second chance.
Attributing his success to his tenacity, research, problem-solving attitude, and community support, Parr is humble and action-focused in his approach to breaking down business and marketing mechanism and communicating their effectiveness.
Sam Parr and Shaan Puri chat about how Parr came to found his email newsletter, The Hustle, and how it became a success so quickly. Walking through his entrepreneurial past – from his hotdog stand to his YouTube unsigned artist exposure – Parr gives first-hand wisdom on getting rich, enjoying what you do, getting hired, and being grateful for your privilege.
“I have always wanted to be independent. And I felt that building an audience on the back of Facebook, was like building a business in a rented apartment where the landlord raises the price every quarter.”
A Little Bit of Background…
Sam Parr is the founder of The Hustle. It’s an email newsletter that catches readers up with the news in a simple format, as though being relayed between friends. It generates over $1 million per month! Parr also has Hustle Con under his belt, a world-renowned tech startup event, as well as having created his own room-mate matching software.
Key Lessons from Sam Parr:
Sam’s First Million
Sam Parr is quick to answer what made his first million – buying and selling companies. But not because of the money, but because he enjoyed it. Having done it as a hobby as a teenager and young adult, Parr understood young the process in which he could make money.
He stresses that he was also quick to acknowledge that, while it’s nice to have an inventory of nice things, the money itself isn’t what makes you happy. Parr believes the happiness is rooted in the feeling of achievement and pride at your success.
Parr used scheming and hustling, especially in his early days, in ways he found to be creative and fun. This has always been his path. He seeks pleasure in the solutions he’s finding and that motivates him – resulting in money as the by-product. This is a dynamic shift in view from the accepted paradigm of focusing on making money first and at all costs.
Know Your Privilege
Parr and Puri highlight some of the important legs up they both got in life. They agree that having a supportive family certainly works to give you a headstart. While both of them were fortunate to take this opportunity, they recognize that others don’t have this.
That said, they both believe that those given privileges from their life ‘chance’ rather than choice, should be grateful for this and not squander it. Instead, use your advantages to create something useful and meaningful.
Hone Your Copywriting Skills
While people tend to consider copywriting to be a cheap, quick online gig, Parr considers it to be an art form that must be cultivated to be successful in business. He describes copywriting as more than just the text on paper, it’s understanding how people think and feel.
Good copywriters don’t write words, they craft narratives. Using all their listening skills, they build a storyline to paint a vision. They then use words, pictures, audio, or whatever platform is necessary to convey that narrative in an empathic and memorable way.
According to Parr, once you understand that and have it as a feather in your bow, you can use words to get people to do what you want them to do. This is marketing on a deep, grassroots level.
A Brief Lesson in Networking
Parr and Puri talk about some of the relationships Parr has built, including their own. It seems that Parr likes the shock factor of approaching strangers, but as he unpacks it, you begin to understand the coordination and effort involved.
Parr walks the listeners through his knack for being organized. He not only knows how to spot an opportunity but also knows how to follow it up. He recommends bringing yourself close to people you want to network with – proximity is power.
Using his a story from his life, he explains waiting persistently at a coffee shop for a guy he wanted to follow up with because he knew he frequented that establishment. He compares this to being in social scenarios to find more generic players in your niche.
In short, Parr emphasizes the importance of research to lure people into being interested. Look for the cross-overs of what you have to offer, and bring them something you know could be valuable to them from your research.
On Being Frugal…
Parr can’t press enough that being rich is new to him. Until a few years ago, he was living on low wages, having been hustling from the age of 16-17. In that time, he learned about where and how to take risks, as opposed to knuckling down and grinding.
He recommends looking at your basic needs and working out how to meet those with the assets you have. He tells the story of renting a large apartment in San Francisco, despite having little cashflow. He did the place up quickly, rented the rooms and therefore knew he could make rent each month.
In having his basic needs met, he could live on expenses of less than $1000 a month.
Definitive Decisions Grounded in Research
When asked why he chose to do The Hustle exclusively as an email list, Parr’s answer revolves around his research. While the crowd were pushing for social media platforms as a way to communicate with audiences, Parr always felt like this type of business model is like building a house on rented land.
Grounded in a feeling that there was better quality ownership with email contacts, Parr set out to do some research. Looking at successful email-based companies like Group-On, Parr found models that helped to shape the vision he had in mind.
With the clarification of vision, comes the ability to make more definitive decisions.
But I Don’t Know Anything!
Many people reading this may worry that their entrepreneurial spirit is quashed by their lack of skills or knowledge. Parr dismisses this concern, imploring that he set out knowing nothing. Instead, he set out to enjoy finding the simplest solution to problems. When someone comes to him with a challenge, he’s looking to solve the many facets of that multi-sided puzzle.
For entrepreneurs who are struggling with this issue, Parr explains that he’s self-taught in most areas. When approached with an issue, it doesn’t matter the vertical, he researches the problem. He then poses solutions to people who know how to do it better than him – asking if it’s conceptually possible. Following this, he asks for help to physically create the solution, testing it.
Parr uses personal study and research, coupled with willingness, courage, and shrewdness in asking help from the right people. Leveraging these things, he builds solutions that work, demonstrating his value, leading to repeat and new customers for his services as a problem-solver.
Advice to Young Entrepreneurs
Parr advises those starting to look for a quick win. Find an easy solution to a problem. While intelligent people often overcomplicate things, according to Parr, there are a ton of niche solutions to simple problems that need solving. He gives the example of his friend’s ‘Dachshund Ramp’!
He says to create a company that makes a couple of hundred thousand dollars a month, and then sell it. Make sure you own of all it and sell the company to give you a nest egg. Now you don’t worry about money – you can solve the problems you were born to be passionate about.
If there’s one thing you should start right now, Parr says it’s blogging. Start blogging about something you find or learn that’s interesting each week. Get up to 5000 readers a month and then make a course. You can sell this course easily.
If you’re worried that you’re not an expert on anything, be the curious novice. Both angles work when writing a blog.
Understand Leverage and Price Effectively
Parr explains that many people don’t price effectively because they don’t price using value as a measure. You need to understand what leverage you have as a person.
Unfortunately, we tend to think that we need to work the equivalent hours to $1 million to make $1 million. Alternatively, we think we need to have $1 million ideas. Parr explains that it’s not in the hard work, hours, or Eureka moments – it’s in making money from using what you have. He uses the example of making money from selling businesses that he already has.