Lewis Schiff | Internet Pioneer, Birthing of Giants, Moonshots and Moneymakers

Lewis Schiff is the Chairman of Birthing of Giants, a highly regarded fellowship program held a couple of times a year at MIT and Oxford University. It brings together thought leaders and business owners to help them create a powerful and successful year ahead for their businesses. He is also the author of a number of books including Business Brilliant, The Middle Class Millionaire, and The First Habit.

Lewis Schiff was the Executive Producer of Worth Magazine in the early 90’s where he was involved in the early stages of content marketing as the magazine transitioned from a great personal finance magazine into web property. In 2010, he founded Inc. Magazine’s Business Owners Council, a membership organization for top entrepreneurs and owners of closely-held family businesses. Lewis is currently a contributor on Forbes.com.

John Corcoran talks with Lewis Schiff in this week’s episode of Smart Business Revolution where they discuss the Birthing of Giants fellowship program, the importance of technology in business, and what makes their new Moonshots and Moonmakers program interesting for businesses.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Learn:

  • Lewis Schiff shares what the early stages of working on the web for an online magazine was like and how it evolved over the years
  • Why Lewis wrote the book ‘The Armchair Millionaire’ and how it led to another associated web property
  • Lewis’ tips for creating content marketing websites and why the need for editors has diminished
  • Lewis talks about the idea behind his book ‘The First Habit’ and how people who know what they’re best and built a business around it found success
  • What the Birthing of Giants fellowship program does and its target audience
  • Lewis’ thoughts on virtual education and characteristics of the business people in the Birthing of Giants fellowship program
  • Lewis explains what a moneymaker refers to and what his new program, Moonshots and Moneymakers, involves
  • How Clayton Christensen’s death led to the idea of Moonshots and Moneymakers, and why it only consists a of a small group of 25 business owners
  • The people Lewis Schiff acknowledges for his accomplishments
  • Where to learn more about Lewis Schiff

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:14  

Welcome to the Revolution, the Smart Business Revolution podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution. John Corcoran.

 

John Corcoran  0:40  

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, and host of the Smart Business Revolution podcast where I get to talk with really smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs, all kinds of companies like YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, Lending tree, Open Table, x software, and many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help to connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects and referral partners.

And I’m excited today I’ve got a great guest. His name is Lewis Schiff. We recently connected. He’s the chairman of Birthing of Giants, which is a highly regarded Fellowship Program held a couple times a year through MIT and Oxford University. They bring together thought leaders and engage business owners, and they help them to create a really powerful successful year ahead. He’s also the author of a number of different books, including Business Brilliant, The Middle Class Millionaire, and The First Habit. And we’re gonna dive into his background, his history and some of his thoughts on what’s happening in the world. We’re recording this and end of May of 2020 and we’ve got the whole Coronavirus pandemic still unfolding. So that’s still to be figured out. 

 

But first before we get into that interview, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media. At our company Rise25, we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. You’re listening to this podcast so I know you like podcasts, but if you’ve ever thought about doing a podcast, I say yes, you should do it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life over the last 10 years of doing it. That’s why I keep doing it. Even though I have young kids, and they keep me plenty busy, because I get to talk to really smart people like you, Lewis. And so if you want to learn more, you can go to rise25media.com or email [email protected] 

 

All right, Lewis I’m excited to talk to you and dive a little bit into your background. But let’s start here. An interesting thing about your background is as far back as 1994. Now, 26 years ago, you were involved in one of the early content based websites really ultimately, you know, when you talk about content marketing, you were really in the early stages of content marketing with one of the web properties that was essentially a personal finance-based website providing information on a website in 1994, which was really early stages. I think I had my first email address in 1994. I remember I can remember, I was in college at the time I can remember with my buddy west from across the hall and like doing dial up and I’m dating myself, but you No, I remember those early stages going on Yahoo, all that kind of stuff. What was that, like in the early days working on a web property?

 

Lewis Schiff  3:07  

Well, you know, you just mentioned Yahoo. I mean, talk about the monster of all monsters like Yahoo owned the world back then. Sure. Did. You know you get AOL and Yahoo, they own the universe. And so

 

John Corcoran  3:22  

the world was their oyster in 1994. I know.

 

Lewis Schiff  3:25  

Whenever anyone says, you know, no one will ever defeat Amazon or Facebook will be King forever. I say just wait around. It’s, there are four seasons in a year. Right. But yeah, I mean, it was early. I don’t think of it really in those terms. I do it absolutely in the time of dial up. So I do remember that, you know, infamous sound that started every session. The number of times things failed when you were uploading or downloading and, wow, I remember so many of the difficulties we went through. But yeah, we were figuring stuff out and, you know, we were playing to a small audience and making mistakes in real-time. We learned tons and tons.

 

John Corcoran  4:02  

Yeah. What were you doing? You were an executive, we’re an executive executive

 

Lewis Schiff  4:06  

producer, to the title we made up. I’m not sure what it meant, then I’m not sure what it means now. But worth magazine was a personal finance magazine, kind of a high end, personal finance magazine. So that means how do you invest? And how do you, you know, live well. And our website was trying to interpret a monthly magazine. This is where it gets interesting, but only again that you remember that era. magazines have a particular purpose, they kind of review the last several months of whatever, and they kind of put some perspective on it. So we were faced with a challenge that has happened only in an accelerated way, which is you take something monthly and turn it into something that’s 24 hours a day, and that’s only accelerated so now you know, you’ve got constant content. This is the time of Corona. You’ve mentioned that you know, print magazines, literary magazines that still print and paper who all have Have companion websites now just like I started the companion website, you know, it’s questionable about whether print will come back at all because there are some economic realities that’ll make it difficult. So to kind of close the circle, we started the website for a monthly print magazine, I fear 26 years later, it might be the end of print power, like, you know, monthly print, the monthly magazine print category.

 

John Corcoran  5:25  

It’s interesting because here we are in late May, and just now I’m starting to get some of these monthly magazines that were laid out probably in beginning of April and now they’re starting to address Coronavirus are sheltering in place or, you know, two months later, you know, so you’re right there on this really long cycle where they plan their content way in advance. And for two months, it just seemed like completely tone deaf, not their fault. It’s just because they planned out

 

Lewis Schiff  5:51  

the Bs, right? I can tell you about what we took. There’s a great documentary of a product called Magic. It was made with Sony was a little. It was like an early smartphone. And I remember going to a congressional testimony from the Small Business Administration and live blogging, using my Motorola envoy, which was the tool using the magic operating system, live blogging at a small business administration testimony in front of Congress on worth.com. They swear that was the first thing I don’t know what that was. But, you know, it was very tricky.

 

John Corcoran  6:25  

What was it? What did you feel like at that time? Imagine if you told someone in the room there that you were live blogging, they probably didn’t like, what the heck is that?

 

Lewis Schiff  6:33  

Well, I certainly didn’t call it blogging because that word didn’t exist. You know, I think and also now that the little black box with a weird antenna sticking up would have probably got me kicked out of Congress. Okay. So we were making it up as we went along.

 

John Corcoran  6:46  

I mean, now people are tweeting in the back of those, you know, hearing rooms.

 

Lewis Schiff  6:50  

Oh, yeah. The revolution and I don’t want to say it’s complete, but I mean, given what we started with, and worse.com in 1994, and what we are today is, you know, it’s coming It’s the as I said, the print magazine, which we were the offspring of print magazines. And now of course the biggest websites in the world have nothing to do with any traditional media title. You know, Facebook has nothing to do with television or print or anything like that.

 

John Corcoran  7:15  

Tell us about another media property that you developed the armchair millionaire.

 

Lewis Schiff  7:22  

Right. So out of the worthmagazine.com, we ended up meeting some of the most amazing investors in the world. And it was very clear in private conversations that the way that you know, quote unquote, Wall Street invested and the way that they told their customers to invest were entirely different. And so I wrote a book about how the smart guys on Wall Street invest. I mean, to this day, you know, Warren Buffett has very explicit instructions when I am done, follow the arm term millionaire method. I don’t mean he calls it that I just mean it’s the methodology we laid out in this book, but Before I wrote the book, I had a wonderful meeting with a very famous venture capital company called Kleiner Perkins behind Google and Apple and so many other great companies. And they connected me with AI village, which was a nascent community. They connected me with Intuit, which was the maker of Quicken. And we all got together and made something called armchairmillionaire.com where I essentially use the techniques of the smartest investors in the world. This is also 25 years ago, when index fund investing was relatively new and a tiny piece of the market back then. And that’s the basis for the investing method. Today index fund investing is the monster, it’s the biggest thing you know, in terms of the biggest thing out there in terms of assets. So we were early then, but I started this property and I got the backing of Intuit, Kleiner Perkins and I village and I launched a little website called Archer millionaire, but I sold to I village which subsequently got sold to NBC. Yeah,

 

John Corcoran  8:57  

and, and so looking back on it now, what’s that? What? What is content marketing? Like for you today to see some of the, you know, all the proliferation of all the websites out there. If you were starting over and you were creating a content-based website today, what would you advise someone to do?

 

Lewis Schiff  9:18  

Well, you know, I think the the, the time has never been better in terms of the audience, obviously, the audience is totally global, the ability to monetize your pageviews and everything else is instantaneous, whereas for us, it was much harder back then the audience was small, and the ability to monetize was very tricky. So the challenge, of course, is that as all these barriers have come down, you know, it took months to get a credit card account back 10 months, you know, and you have to know somebody, and now, you can get every credit card by the end of this podcast. Yeah, credit card accounts. So the barriers have all come down, the ability to monetize has gone up, the global nature of the audience has gone up, but so Has the amount of noise. And so this is really the trick of it all is we’ve come to this time and I understand it, where you have to have some unique connection with your audience some authentic and unique connection with your audience in order to get their attention and then they kind of vote with their with their, you know, ears and eyes. And obviously, there are some giant podcasts out there some giant content marketing businesses that do a really good job of it. So I don’t think you need venture capital money to do this. I think you need to know, to take a shot at it on your own and see if you can build an audience on your own. And the downside of all that is the idea of being a great idea. Sitting around with people and saying let’s come up with a good idea is not really the point. It’s Can you find people who like your idea, that’s really all that matters? And there was a Kevin

 

John Corcoran  10:46  

Kelley, the Kevin Kelly, thousand true fans principle.

 

Lewis Schiff  10:51  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, even to this day, I’m from New York and I worked in magazines for years. And you know, there’s a person called an editor and this person is almost extinct at this point, but just take like the New York Times, you know, front page, there are really smart people who say these are the six stories we think to belong in the front page today. They’re not asking the audience they’re judging, they’re assessing it for themselves. And that’s kind of a lost art. And now it’s if people don’t click if people don’t listen to people who don’t watch. It doesn’t really mean you don’t have to have good ideas. You just have to get people to watch and click with us.

 

John Corcoran  11:24  

So what’s the role today? If we can, if we have all these metrics to tell us what people want? What role does an editor play in saying that this is what I think people would like? Would we even need that role anymore?

 

Lewis Schiff  11:39  

Pretty Little pretty small. I mean, the Amazon revolution is that, you know, it doesn’t really matter what smart people think. Just throw a gazillion people at a webpage and track what they do, and then do more of it. And so the role of a smart person, whether it’s user interface, people, whether it’s editors, whether it’s graphic designers, saying I think this is The best way to do it, it’s been lost, it’s going to be lost. You can throw enough people at it. And you can do real time split ad testing of everything everywhere. You know, when you don’t really need editors anymore.

 

John Corcoran  12:11  

Right, right. I want to ask you about Birthing of Giants and what you’re doing with that right now, especially in light of Coronavirus. You’ve written a number of different books. One of them stands out to me because I love interviewing smart people. But the first habit I learned while interviewing over 1000 success stories. So what did you learn? I’ll just leave it.

 

Lewis Schiff  12:33  

Yeah, it’s really, really tight and short and simple. It’s that and it’s sort of what I call entrepreneurship today. And so if that means anything to you, the idea is that this most successful and by this, I mean, financially successful people I know, are people who have figured out what they’re best at and built their business around it. That sounds very simple, but what I mean is, you know, there are people who are really good at negotiating So if you look at how they built their business, it’s because they negotiated their way through to success. There are people who are really good at building teams of creative people, or teams of engineers, I use Steve Jobs as an example. I mean, he was really good at understanding the needs of a creative class and explaining that to the engineer class. And that was when he was great at it. And so, you know, he built Apple out of that. So I think you have to figure out, and this is the beauty of our journey, the beauty of our journey as we figure out what we’re good at by figuring out what we’re not good at, you know, I fail, I fail, I fail, I succeed. Okay, let me focus on that success, then what’s the business you build around it and that business could be a business that makes a million dollars, and maybe you have to break it down to its parts and rebuild it now it’s worth and now it makes $10 million. Then you break it down, rebuild it, and maybe it’s worth 100 million dollars, but you’re still building on that thing that you’re best at. You know, to use Apple as an example, I thought the most perfect era of Apple was that they had 30 products, and they did $30 billion in revenue. So that means, you know, if you do the math, it’s not quite today, but it’s predicted a billion. And the point is, each product really was really important. Each one added up to the whole. And that was because Steve Jobs sat in the middle there. He didn’t talk to Wall Street analysts. He didn’t care about that stuff. He didn’t. He didn’t motivate his team. He wasn’t a leader in that sense. He just sat there all the time and said, What’s the best way to solve this problem? How can I get my engineers to do what my artists and creative class customers want? So he ever thought about anything welding that

 

John Corcoran  14:34  

was dope. That must have been some time after he came back. It wasn’t famous for when he came back to Apple in 97. He immediately said we’re doing too many things and he eliminated a lot right product

 

Lewis Schiff  14:44  

is his second run. But so the first habit the book is really is a million stories of it. It’s when people figure out what they’re best at and they build a business around it. That’s, that’s the opportunity of entrepreneurship, you know, figure out what you’re best at That’s hard to figure out what you’re best at, and then figure out how to build how to monetize it.

 

John Corcoran  15:05  

Yeah. And what about that piece for how to figure out what you’re best at?

 

Lewis Schiff  15:10  

Well, I have a little trick in the book that I swear even as recently as a month ago, I spoke to a guy who has what I now called the most perfect business model ever. And he said, I figured out how to do it by doing your little trick. And his little trick was that my little trick is to send an email to 10 people, you’ve worked with all sorts of people, people who you work for, people who work for you, customers, acquaintances, peers, and ask them what they think you’re good at. And let them tell you because you’d be surprised what people will tell you and that you don’t see about yourself. So there are a lot of stories of people who have used that trick who said to me, I never knew I was really good at this. I always thought I was good at sales. But it turns out I was good at you know, building creative teams. They just didn’t understand what they were good at. So it’s what I did when I ran the Birthing of Giants Fellowship Program. I know we’ll talk about this minute one of day one, they all send those 10 emails out. They haven’t even introduced themselves to each other yet. I haven’t even introduced myself to them yet. And the reason I make it the very first thing we do on minute one of day one is because everyone hates doing it. They think that they think that no one’s going to answer or they don’t know what they’re gonna hear back. So suck it up, write 10 emails. I have a text in there, but it basically says, I’m curious about what you think I’m good at. It has to do with how I make money or how my business makes money.

 

John Corcoran  16:32  

And this guy Lewis here is forcing me to send this email.

 

Lewis Schiff  16:35  

Yeah, definitely has a gun to my head. And so you know, then then we check it back. Check back in and on Wednesday, so we do that on Monday then happens on Wednesday. And I by Thursday, and Friday, you’ve got people I’m not kidding in tears, seasoned business owners, you know, who’ve been on lock who say I never thought about that about me.

 

John Corcoran  16:55  

I want to emphasize one thing. You’ve got business owners, CEOs, founders. grizzled entrepreneurs who are in the room with you $200 million businesses. And and you’re standing up there saying you have to send these emails, and they’re doing it. Yeah, I just want to emphasize that point, because I know that there are others who will listen to this. And they’ll say, Ah, I’m not gonna do that.

 

Lewis Schiff  17:19  

But they have to do it. They have to do it. Yeah. And I said, I mean, they don’t even I haven’t even introduced myself yet to them. When I meet men, this happens. Very first thing we do.

 

John Corcoran  17:29  

I love that you just blaze into the room. They’re like, Who is this guy and send this email, dear 10.

 

Lewis Schiff  17:34  

Well, it’s classic sales, your credibility is highest after you’ve closed the deal, but before you’ve delivered the product,

 

they’ve already paid for it. So they might as well do what I tell them to do. Right, right.

 

John Corcoran  17:45  

All right. So Birthing of Giants. Now. It has an interesting varied background. So ink magazine was involved in founding it. eo also had a role in founding it. That’s how I first heard about it. I’ve been involved in Neo and I had heard about it a bunch of years. times, but now its own Earth. It’s its own separate, independent fellowship program. So explain to us what Birthing of Giants is now in 2020.

 

Lewis Schiff  18:12  

Right? So Birthing of Giants, first of all is part of the larger category of you know, what I call co development. I mean, every CEO, whether you’re starting out or you have a monster company has to keep getting better and better and better. And we serve a very specific niche. It’s for owners of companies, they have to own at least 10% of the business owners of companies that have revenues between 5,000,250 million dollars. So somebody with a company with less than 5 million might hear that and say, Oh, that’s not fair. I wish I knew those guys. But we don’t let people in below 5 million and we don’t let people in above 250 million, and we’ve had companies of multi-billion dollars try to get in and the answer is no. And the reason is, companies between 5,000,250 million are very particular. They are companies that almost always have a strong leadership, but sort of a middling management team, and middling access to capital. And their grasp on their marketplace is also middling. And so the only way they go from where they are to 10 times bigger is by solving a few of those problems. So, personal times fellowship takes between 20 to 30 business owners twice a year for a one week program. And we hunkered down and we go through, you know, the sales aspect of their business, the financial model of their business, that capital market aspect of their business, the management team aspect of their business. And for five days, we basically make them work towards something called one year from today, a 12 month strategic plan. And on day five, they present their one year from today plan to an incredible array of experts and entrepreneurship, incredibly accomplished people. And then we have this kind of scrappy, you know, state about you know, what you what you’re thinking right what you’re thinking wrong about your business. And at the end of the week, we pour them into a taxi and they go back home and they implement, and we follow up with them. But Birthing of Giants is a one week boot camp for CEOs, but again for 5 million to $250 million businesses. And the seeds of success are, you know, there I mean, we’ve, we’ve had a quarter of a billion dollar exits in the past year from some of our folks, you know, we’ve had every spectacular outcome people came in with $5 million businesses that are doing $50 million, three years later. We’ve had people who have, you know, gone from 200 million to 400 million in sales. Yeah, because the secrets to doing this are not secrets. They’re there. They’re in the data. And so the whole curriculum is data driven.

 

John Corcoran  20:38  

And how has the transition been going for you switching it over and having to do these things more virtually?

 

Lewis Schiff  20:47  

Well, entrepreneurs do not love Virtual Education. You know, everyone said, Oh, switch pivot to virtual This is the moment they don’t like it because every really good entrepreneur knows that if you have 20 other entrepreneurs In the room, there is gold in them there hills, you know, you have to buttonhole all 19 of the other folks. And you have to ask them what they know that you don’t know. So we have done, we’ve done, I don’t know, 20 webinars in the past couple of months. And we’ve done a lot of great private sessions with really good content, but entrepreneurs need to be around each other. So, you know, we are one of those businesses that looks at everything happening now and says, We need things to get back to normal. I say that with humility, because a lot of businesses are learning how to do things in a new way right now. And they’ll never go back to doing the old way. And that’s right. But this thing called co development has a lot to do with people being in a room with each other and building personal networks. And we can’t do that. Right. So we’re just educating for free, all of our, you know, students and graduates and just keeping the lights going.

 

John Corcoran  21:48  

Yeah, I want to ask you in light of what you said about the number one insight that you got from your book, The first habit, that you should find the thing that you’re the best in the world at. It sounds like Birthing of Giants is a lot of different things. It’s networking, its content, it’s bringing people together. Which element of all those Do you feel like you’re the best in the world at? Or is it all of them? Or is there one in particular?

 

Lewis Schiff  22:13  

Well, no. So the thing I’m the best in the world, that is in asking questions, even though the roles are reversed, I’m being asked questions right now. But you, John, but my thing that I’m really good at is asking questions. And so the curriculum for Birthing of Giants is based on me and some others having asked thousands of questions up to thousands of entrepreneurs over the years. The thing that everybody should know is that Birthing of Giants, everybody in that room already knows a lot about what they’re good at. I mean, we refine it, we refine it. So when they come in the room, they know what they’re good at, that allows them to build a $10 million business, I need to help them figure out if we know what they’re good at, let’s figure out how to turn that into a 100 million dollar business. And so that’s the exercise. So these folks are well on their journeys. their skins are thick, you know, they can take anything. If you gave an entrepreneur at the beginning of his journey or her journey, you find out that they’re much less open to criticism than these guys are. They’re much less aware of where their strengths lie and their weaknesses are not only in the first habit that I learned that you have to know what you’re good at, you also have to be intimate with what you’re bad at, so that you avoid it like the plague. So you always hire other people to do those things. A lot of people start out with many hats, and they try to do all these things and they don’t really know what they’re good at. And that’s normal for an entrepreneur. But over the years, the folks in my program men and women, my program Birthing of Giants, they know a lot about themselves. We just need to amp it all up. And what happens is we need to tie what they’re good at with a better business model. You know, that’s really what it comes down to. So it gets very in the weeds of business models, economic models, capital sources, tied to what you’re good at.

 

John Corcoran  23:58  

Is it hard to sell? All CEOs have a 10 or hundred million dollar business, it’s hard to sell them on coming to an event based on the promise of we’re going to ask you good questions. Is that hard as hell? You know, like, thinking like, Oh, I’m gonna get content, I’m gonna get training you to give me mentorship, that kind of thing. No, no, you guys are gonna come, we’re gonna ask you a good question.

 

Lewis Schiff  24:18  

Right? You know, it’s funny. Sometimes our enrollment team says, Oh, we spoke to this person who was nominated to be in the program, but they actually think they should be a teacher in the program, which I always jokingly say, I bet their businesses like 5 million or less, and it’s always true. So it seems like people who have smaller businesses, they should all be featured and things who have people are bigger businesses think they should be students.

 

John Corcoran  24:43  

Yeah, that’s true. That’s totally true. My business for a while we used to do a lot of events, similar, but different types of events would bring together a group and the ones with the much larger businesses were always the ones that were the best students that were learning the most. The most. Humble in terms of their education, all that kind of stuff. That’s great. And you also have something really interesting you’re working on. Now, you look like you were going to add something right there before I get to Moonshot and moneymaker,

 

Lewis Schiff  25:12  

I was just gonna say that, you know, that really Birthing of Giants for me, because I’ve built two businesses, I sold those businesses to publicly traded companies, I could keep doing that. I’m not the richest guy in the world. But I don’t. I’m not quite that money hungry. What I wanted to do is spend all my time with people I like, and so that person who’s that lifelong learner, and that, you know, sort of curious soul is who I want to spend time with. And so really Birthing of Giants is kind of a fancy way of me saying, Come hang out with me and pay me to hang out with you.

 

John Corcoran  25:44  

Yeah, yeah, I used it when we did these events. I used to joke sometimes with my business partner, Jeremy, he would come up to me and be like, this is so cool. This is so much fun. Are you having a lot of fun? I was like, I’m gonna start charging you to come to this thing. You’re enjoying it too much. I think you’re probably kind of the same thing. Now, you said The current incarnation of Birthing of Giants had an interesting incubation. So I think you said you approached Inc magazine. How did that come about? It seemed like you kind of like put the deal together?

 

Lewis Schiff  26:11  

Well, there are a few things that made Birthing of Giants. So one thing is the faculty, okay, there were these incredible entrepreneurs who were at the beginning of Birthing of Giants. There were a lot of them that came from a magazine. So I’m talking about guys like Norm Brodsky, who is, you know, sort of the best known Inc 5000 entrepreneur out there. Bo Burlingham, who was the founding editor of the creator of the small giants program at birth. Think magazine, George Gendron who created the Inc 5000 list, and these are the original teachers. And they went to teach this thing called the Birthing of Giants because he told them to say, Go help these people out. And he and he, oh, we’re working together to create this program. So eo contributed some teachers and contributors and teachers. What happened over time? It’s not that interesting to anybody really is that in kineo went their separate ways, the original Faculty of Birthing of Giants that include people like Norm Brodsky, George Gendron , Bo Burlingham, you know, went on to do other things. And then when I had a chance to acquire the Birthing of Giants trademark, and apply it to the curriculum I had been building through the research I had done over the years. I had done a lot of projects and big magazines and stuff. I asked that original faculty to come back. So you know, it’s sort of like when it isn’t when it is a horse? I would say, if you’ve got the original faculty, and I guess if you have the original trademark, then that’s 13 channels. Yeah, but there is another really great program, wonderful program that eo has that kind of came out of all that, that is lives to this day and does great work. And, and I think, you know, entrepreneurs are all the better for having all these choices.

 

John Corcoran  27:57  

Yeah, yeah. Moonshots and money makers is a newer program you’ve created, which has an interesting focus to tell us about that one.

 

Lewis Schiff  28:05  

So, you know, one of the great things about spending a lot of time with one small group of people, these are these business owners, you start to see the patterns. And the patterns became clear that the whole world was saying, you know, add tech to your business. I mean, in the 10 years ago, it was, you know, put your business in the cloud and get a CRM system and all this kind of stuff. But over the years, it’s been, you know, turn your testify your business one way or another. And, of course, there’s a whole Silicon Valley world dedicated to that very thing. What I saw was that a lot of smaller businesses, I’ll call them, you know, $25 million businesses that were really doing well, that had a niche, they were doing their thing, usually a b2b business. were figuring out how to bring tech into their business and all of a sudden those $25 million businesses were worth we’re doing a lot more revenue and they were also worth a lot more money to a buyer because they had sort of unlimited potential at that point. And it occurred to me that there’s a whole very well developed world, we’ll call it Silicon Valley for lack of a better way of describing it, that takes really smart money combines it with really smart people and lets them start something from scratch. We’ve got minimally viable products, we’ve got alphas and betas. But a moneymaker is a company that’s been around for a long time and figured out its market. But it hasn’t really injected tech into its business yet. And the real reason to inject tech is not it’s not tech, for tech sake, it’s that almost every technology of a business yields a higher gross margin business, which is like the lifeblood of every business, it’s high gross margins, and increases the size of the audience. And so really what every business owner has to do $10 million to $25 million business is figuring out how to transition their product or service so that they have higher gross margins and a bigger audience, period. But you’re gonna find that it’s almost always tech that helps you do that. So we created this conference called moonshots and moneymakers, with the Oxford arm of the Innovation Group at Oxford, to basically start helping these 1025 $50 million businesses see how they can go from being a moneymaker to a solid business with a great reputation and profit. And they could transform their businesses into moonshots businesses that would be valued at many, many multiples of its current valuation because they had figured out how to either increase their gross margins or increase the size of their audience, or both. So if you put these two things together, done, first habit is to figure out what you’re good at and build a business around it. The second is figuring out how technology can help you increase the gross margins and the size of the audience. And if I were to look at the biggest and worst entrepreneur success stories out there, you know, with you and we took it apart, I would show you how they always figured out what they were good at. They built a business around it. And then they figured out how to use tech to increase gross margins and expand the audience. It’s the exact same pattern every time. It just wasn’t talked about like that. So moonshots, and moneymakers are inviting the business owners of the world to figure out how to take that deconstructed roadmap and apply it to their business. And how do you know if at all, how is the pandemic affecting this program? And how is it affecting the companies that are part of it? So our August 2020 launch of moonshots money makers actually it’s really the second year we did it, but we didn’t call it moonshot moneymakers. The first time. August 2020 has been postponed to August 2021. We only accepted 25 businesses, business owners to attend and really what’s going to happen there is they’re gonna learn how to turn. So imagine you’ve got a $10 million business that has a $1 million profit every year pretty simple, right at 10% EBITDA. And someone comes along and says, Oh, this business is probably worth seven times EBIT. It’s helping you $7 million for your $10 million business. That’s a pretty normal thing. I just, if somebody would really buy it. What we’re going to do To move to money makers that show them how that business that’s really valued at $7 million can be allocated 100 million dollars if they just use this deconstructed roadmap. And so for one week, we’re going to introduce them to the innovators that are going to help them do it. Interesting. And so I did want to ask you before we wrap things up, since your superpower is being able to ask good questions, I’ll turn the tables on me. What one question that I did not ask you that I should have asked you that would have elicited a better or an uncaptured response from you. Well, this is inside you shouldn’t have thought of this question maybe but, but I guess you could say Where did all this come from? I have this. Where did this moonshots and moneymakers thing come from where did this combination of you know entrepreneurial strains plus business model realities come from? And, you know, this is a weird story, but we lost a really great thinker in January this year, Clayton Christensen. And who was sometimes called the father of Silicon Valley in a way not so much that he lived there, but that his ideas led to it. He was a Harvard Business School professor, he wrote the Innovator’s Dilemma. And I feel like I swear to God, when he died, sadly, in January, he had had a very difficult life with his health. I feel like his soul left him and some of his soul’s best ideas came to me. And so that sounds weird

 

Unknown Speaker  33:26  

and ugly knowing

 

Lewis Schiff  33:28  

I did not know him. I just felt like I had read some of it and so much of his stuff and watched him on YouTube a lot. And I realized that the thing that was incredible about his work, which led to the concept that small companies would disrupt large companies was missing some pieces that allowed it to be predictive. by that. I mean, for all of his incredible work. He could only tell you when a company was successfully disrupted after it happened. And I think about what happened in that weird moment, I remember reading About his loss and thinking about him. I said, Wait for a second, there’s a way to do this where you can figure out which companies are going to innovate and disrupt before it happens. And that’s what moonshots moneymakers has become this roadmap for how you do that. And I think that’s just the one thing that’s my genuinely original thought is, you know, now I can tell you which companies will and which companies won’t be able to thrive going transitioning from a really good, profitable company, to a total moonshot. And, and that moment was a really weird moment. I just read about him, I swear, it just felt like it. My soul is just like, you know, invaded by these ideas from his spiritual person.

 

John Corcoran  34:43  

That was a great question. So I wish I’d asked it, but I’m glad you asked. I think I’m not that asked that question every time I have a guest. Like what question Should I have asked you that I should? That’s a great question. It is. I do want to ask so you know, you’ve written books you’ve had web-based property is kind of the theme of a lot of these are bigger impact. But this program is small, are you aiming to have 25 people and not until a year, year and a half from now? Why so small? Or is there? Are there plans to make it larger after the fact?

 

Lewis Schiff  35:15  

Well, basically, you know, a business owner who’s got 100 employees, you know, and maybe

 

John Corcoran  35:22  

I shouldn’t minimize how challenging it is to get the right group of 25 qualified business owners in Oxford, England for a week. Not easy to do. But yeah, I just met the number 25 people.

 

Lewis Schiff  35:35  

Yeah. And so we think of scale, as you know, you certainly say the number of employees that have those employees have families, they’ve got customers, they’ve got vendors and supply chains. So what we’ve always thought is the best way to have an impact on that entire ecosystem that let’s say one company represents is to work with the Birthing of Giants to work with the giant that runs that company. And if we can get that giant to go from a moneymaker, a really incredible accomplishment to build any kind of moneymaker is just a huge accomplishment. And to have turned it into the moonshot that comes with a company that becomes worth 100 times more, we know that they can’t do it alone, they can’t. So we know we’re impacting all the employees, all the vendors and all the supply chain, so all the Capital Partners around them by working with that one person. So for efficiency’s sake, you know, 25 people is the biggest way to affect 50,000 people.

 

John Corcoran  36:28  

Yeah, I see it. That’s great. Well, I want to wrap things up. The last question I always ask is, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars and the Emmys, and you, Lewis, are receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point. And what we want to know is in addition to family and friends, who else do you acknowledge in your remarks?

 

Lewis Schiff  36:46  

So that’s a great question. And I will say that the faculty that joins me Birthing of Giants are I can’t believe they said yes to do this for us. And for me, guys, like norm Brodsky, who have built multiple businesses, all of them moneymakers, all of them, you know, humanistic in their approach to how they treated people. Guys like Bo Burlingham, who can look at an entrepreneur and say, here’s what’s really remarkable about you. He just has this ability to see the best, most amazing stories and entrepreneurs. Guys like George Gendron who, you know, basically created an ink magazine. He was the founding editor of ink magazine. Doug Tatum is an amazing guy, who, if you tell him your business, he’ll tell you statistics and perspective and aspects of your business that you thought this guy must work in my sector. There’s no way you can know this much about my business. But you can do that for anybody’s business because he had 1100 CFOs reporting to him for over a decade. So Jim McCann from one 800 flowers he’s a who’s really the smartest commerce person. He’s an e-commerce guy, but he’s really, you know, he’s a merchant. In his bones, he’s a merchant and, and merchants really do matter. And so the board of experts that have joined me for the ride for Birthing of Giants are like my favorite, incredible entrepreneurs I’ve ever had a chance to hang out with.

 

John Corcoran  38:13  

Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Well, thanks so much for that. So Birthing of Giants is the name of the company moonshots. And moonshot sorry moonshots. Sorry. It’s a mouthful. Moonshots, and moneymakers. Where can people go to learn more about what you Lewis?

 

Lewis Schiff 38:30  

birthingofgiants.com That’s it.

 

John Corcoran  38:33  

Excellent. All right. Thanks so much.

 

Unknown Speaker  38:35  

Thanks, John.

 

Intro  38:36  

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at smartbusinessrevolution.com and while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the Revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution podcast.