Interview with a Passion Prophet
Interview with a Passion Prophet
The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
Today's column finds me on the receiving end of the questions for the Saipanpreneur profile. JetSetLiving's Anne C. provided the questions. Here are the highlights.
Anne: I absolutely LOVE the idea behind PassionProfit. I, too am a firm believer in taking control of your own destiny. I'm sure your philosophy on life had a lot to do with your initial idea for PassionProfit. but, then how did you go about turning the idea into a reality?
Walt: In truth, when I wrote my first book in 1992, the "Turn Your Passion Into Profit" concept didn’t even exist in my mind or anyplace else. The concept-around which I've now built the company, coaching practice, website and my Passion Prophet identity-didn’t really come into being until my 9th book in 2000. However, once the concept was born (as a result of a conversation with a business associate named Sidney Witten, in Washington DC), then everything else I had been doing, and everything since, took form around it. So, in essence, it's been a 10-year journey of change and metamorphosis that has brought me to where I am today.
Anne: Have you always been self-employed or did you ever work for someone else? Do you have any kind of degree? If so, how useful, do you find your college education to be in your work? Do you think university prepared you to be an entrepreneur? If you could go back and change your education, what would you add or subtract?
Walt: No, I haven't always been self-employed. I went to school for engineering, (Columbia University in New York), graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering, worked in the corporate world for seven years, in fact, until I jumped out on my own.
Has my education helped me? I've thought about that quite a lot. My overall philosophy in life is that once you discover your passion, then you'll realize that everything you've ever done in life happened in order to prepare you for the optimal expression of that passion. So, while I didn't recognize it at the time, the discipline, attention to detail, independence and everything else associated with my engineering background and the college experience has definitely prepared me for being an entrepreneur. Everything is a stepping stone in a continuing journey, or a brick you lay toward the ultimate structure. So based on that philosophy, the concept of changing something in the past isn't what it's all about. Life is about forward motion. Everything that happens to you, whether you realize it in the now or not, works for your ultimate good. The trick is to constantly seek the interpretation of current circumstances that supports that belief. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak. When you believe that everything that happens is moving you closer to your goals, then you always look for the interpretation that supports the belief. The interpretation then becomes the reality. You've got to believe it to see it.
Anne: Sort of like visualization in reverse, which actually makes a lot more sense. How long have you been in business and when did you decide to go dot.com? Once you decided to put your business up on the web, what steps did you take to accomplish this? How long did it take to get your website “live?”
Walt: I guess you could say I’ve been in business since 1989 when I started my first record label. One thing I’d like to emphasize to anyone reading this is the need to be flexible in your self-concept. My "company" started out as a management company, then a record label, then a publishing company, and then ultimately what it is today (some unique combination of e-publisher, info-preneur, public speaking, coaching and consulting company!) Had I not been open to going with the flow, I might not have transformed myself and my company into what it is today. Having said that, I decided to go "web" in 1997. That was just at the beginning of the web frenzy, and Pascal Antoine, a good friend (and incidentally, one of the artists on my label), gave me my introduction to the web and gave me a book called Teach Yourself HTML in a Week. Once I fully grasped what the web was all about, and went through the trial-and-error learning curve, I would say it took about a week or two before I was able to go "live". It’s been a process with constant revision ever since. These days, I can conceive, design and launch a site as quickly as it takes for the URL to resolve throughout the net. My record so far, from conception to making a sale is 72 hours.
Anne: Which website is your best earner?
Walt: The best earner is HipHopBiz.com. That's the site on which I offer “how to” information for aspiring music industry professionals, Hip Hop artists, producers. There's a lot of interest among the younger generation to duplicate the success they see in the music videos. The music industry has always had a mystique and appeal about it. With zero advertising, people find us and purchase the products. It's now the site with the most active community.
Anne: How has having a website impacted your business? Has it made your life easier or more complicated? In what ways?
Walt: Life is DEFINITELY easier! I don't have to tell your readers all the benefits, reach and efficiency that the Internet provides. I'll give just one recent example. After years of programming my sites myself, I was introduced to a web programmer based in India. Unless either one of us travels to the other's country, we may never actually see each other, but we can communicate, exchange files, transfer funds, and do business through the web. I have customers in countries I've never advertised in, business partners in industries I know nothing about, and employees whom I may never meet.
It's freeing. If you're not comfortable with the technology, then it may seem complicated or may be intimidating, but, for me, it allows me to live the exact lifestyle I've always envisioned: to be able to spend my days doing just about anything I desire (like going to see movies in the middle of the day), while knowing that my business is running efficiently and generating profit without my direct involvement.
Anne: How do you handle things like health insurance and retirement benefits?
Walt: I don't. I know this may sound odd to some of your readers, but I'm too much in the “now” to focus on retirement, and as a practicing health-empowered vegan, I'm not trapped or held for ransom by the belief that my health comes from little colored pills, radiation treatment, antibiotics or steroids. Maintaining health is much, much easier than we've been led to believe. I know what causes dis-ease. I know that there's only one disease known to mankind. And, more importantly, I know how to cure it.
Anne: Wow, of course with a lead in like that, I have to ask. what exactly is “dis-ease?” And what is the one disease known to man and how do you cure it?
Walt: Funny you should ask, hehe! That's topic could fill an entire book-several actually-by itself. I'll make it short. The only illness known to man is some form of constipation-some form of blockage. In other words, there's something INSIDE that shouldn't be there, and the BODY does things to bring it OUTSIDE. Now, the body has the ability to heal itself. With the right nourishment, and left to its own methods, the body has its own internal intelligence and methods of healing. Most of the symptoms we associate and call “illness” are actually the body's attempts to purge, cleanse, and otherwise rid itself of whatever is upsetting the natural balance. It's the DISturbance of our body's EASE. Most Western medicine is focused simply on relieving symptoms rather than treating the root cause of the disturbance. So we get aspirins for headaches (a sure sign of internal toxicity), antihistamines for runny nose (body's flushing out mucous), pills to reduce fever (the body's attempts to burn out invaders), salves for skin eruptions (purging of internal toxicity through sweating) and so on. The solution: good nutrition (eating REAL food-no processed, denatured, genetically modified, boxed, canned, pasteurized stuff) and the occasional fast to give the body a chance to rest and shift into “cleanse” mode. Check out www.agelessadept.com for more.
Anne: What's a typical day for you look like? How many hours would you say you put in?
Walt: You said be honest, right? Well, practically every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of the next big thing! My business is my passion, my passion is my life, so I'm always engaged. Now don't get me wrong. I take time to go see movies in the middle of the day. I hang out with friends. But I'm so excited by what's happening in my life, that I'm always thinking, daydreaming, planning, projecting, envisioning, creating and on a quest!
Anne: I know what you mean, I live, sleep, eat and breath my projects as well. always thinking of ways to improve things for my subscribers as well as for myself.
What was your most successful promotion to date? (Please make sure to include the hows & whys in addition to percentages such as; “we had an increase in sales of 38%...)
Walt: I think that when an interview and review of my book appeared in The Dallas Morning News newspaper. We sold $4,000 in books within a few days of that single review in that daily newspaper. Check it out at www.passionprofit.com/dallasnews.html
Anne: What has been most influential to your success? Did (do) you have a mentor or guide or did (do) you use the trial and error approach?
Walt: Trial and error up until just recently. These last few months have been a significant departure from previous years. The most influential contributor to my success thus far, however, has been the training I received as a representative of a network marketing company.
Anne: I've heard that so often, and have had the same experience myself. what was the most important lesson you learned from that phase in your life?
Walt: I have this conversation ALL the time with my friends who were part of it. The ability to commit to a course of action and do what it takes to “make it happen!” It was a result of the training that I had the courage to walk away from my job at the time to pursue my passion full-time.
Anne: What do you feel was the best business decision you ever made? (Feel free to include more than one).
Walt: I may sound like a broken record, but the best business decision was to become a member of a network marketing company. Though not directly related to the current venture, what I learned has proven invaluable.
Anne: Of course there are several things that make up a “successful entrepreneur” but one of those things is pretty black and white and that's the profit margin. What is your annual (or monthly) income? (If you feel uncomfortable answering this question exactly, please use approximations such as; above $50,000 a year or between $1,500 and $2,000 a month.) How have you seen this change since you went into business and what do you feel had the most impact on your income?
Walt: I like to stay away from specifics for several reasons. One has to do with privacy. The other is because of something I learned while a sales rep. My mission is to encourage people to take the leap into pursuing their passion, and create the reality they desire. If I say I make $50,000 a year, one person may say, “only $50,000? That's not enough for me to support my family!” And they may end up being discouraged. Another person may say, “$50,000?!! Wow! I only make $15,000 and I work very hard now. To make $50,000 I'd probably have to work three times as hard! No way can I do that!” and they'll end up being discouraged. So, what I'll say is this:
1. Within 18 months of self-publishing my first book, back in '92, I was able to match my civil engineering income.
2. 80 percent of my income now comes from 20 percent of my websites, and
3. When I DO hit a million in gross annual sales, I promise to give you the exclusive interview!
Anne: What kind of advice can you pass on to our readers?
Walt: if I had to sum it all up concisely, I'd quote the Passion Profit Philosophy.
“Your Passion is part of your life's purpose.
You won't be completely happy until you pursue it.
Everyone has a passion.
Every passion has value.
You CAN turn your passion into profit!”
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Until next time, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!-Walt