Today’s jobtalk is with Internet Marketer and Success Coach Justin Popovic. After 7 years in the corporate world, Popovic took a leap of faith and quit his job to start a business. Popovic will be the first to tell you that the entrepreneurial route isn’t easy, but that if it’s what you want to do, you should go for it.
Title: Internet Marketing Entrepreneur & Success Coach
Education: B.S. Computer Science, University of Waterloo, 2000
What did you do before becoming an Internet marketer and success coach?
I got hired as an intern at Rational Software, which was later acquired by IBM. I helped them establish an office in Toronto by setting up classrooms with computers to train corporate students on different software technologies.
While I was interning, I started to pay attention to the course and really wanted to teach it. Luckily, I had some good peers and colleagues that pushed me to do it and within 6 months I was teaching them. I still remember sweating profusely when I taught my first class!
I ended up mastering that course and became a national trainer for that technology. Eventually, I was traveling all over North America teaching courses to clients and implementing our technology with customers. So that was my foot in the door to expand my career.
Then I moved into sales. So I really shot up the corporate ladder quickly, and I had all the trappings of success… I was making a lot of money, but I hated it.
You hated it?
If I had to pinpoint it to one thing, it’s because I wasn’t free. Somebody else had control over how I spent my days, what I would sell, what I would do, and what time I had to get up. I grew up believing that you just get a job and that’s what you do and sometimes your jobs sucks and it is what it is. Like, you’re making a lot of money, don’t whine. For the longest time I went along that path.
During that time, I decided that I didn’t want to wait till I reached 65 to retire, so I thought I should try to make a lot of money on the side and that would give me what I would need to retire early. And I got pretty burned. I lost tens of thousands of dollars investing in scams. Many years later, I realized that losing all of that money was a sign that I wasn’t on the right track.
Around 2006, I watched the movie, The Secret, and got involved with personal development. I realized that I actually had more control over my life than I thought. It was enlightening, but not in a cheesy way. I didn’t think that if I just closed my eyes and meditated I’d be able to create the life of my dreams. It was more about empowerment. You know, if you have something you want to do, you can do it, there’s no one really that can stop you. I really grasped onto that concept. There’s a lot more living to be done when you’re doing what you want rather than just working because you’re getting paid a really high salary that supports your lifestyle.
Over the next few months, I read a lot of personal development and business books and went to a seminar where I got to see a bunch of the authors who I had read. I also went to another seminar where I got to see a lot of the people who were in The Secret. That seminar was a pivotal moment for me because from that day forward, I committed myself to doing things that I wanted to do.
But I was still really fearful. One morning I woke up and said to myself, “It’s time to stop reading books. If I’m going to do a seminar, I need to do it.” I drove right down the road, paid for a hall, and I didn’t even know what I was going to do.
Long story short, I think I got 15 people out to it, most of them were my friends. But I did it. I spoke, created exercises, and had a guest speaker.
What was your first event?
It was a goal-setting seminar. It was very basic stuff, but you don’t see these things happening that often in a small town like where I live.
That was in June 2007, and then I quit my job in December 2007.
What happened between June and December?
Hardly anything. I ran a couple more events. And then I just took a leap of faith. I had some savings because I was in a sales job and made a couple of really big deals. I put my letter of resignation in in December, helped my replacement get set up because I wanted to leave on good terms, and started my business.
When you first quit your job, how did people respond to you?
My wife and I talked about it a lot, and she was really supportive. For the most part, other people were also supportive. But, because I didn’t really know what I was doing, some people were kind of weirded out, they probably thought that it was a mistake. Luckily, nobody said to me, “Your being an idiot.” But there were people that didn’t say anything, and I think that’s cause they couldn’t think of anything positive to say.
What were those first years like of running your business?
The first year was really tough. I didn’t really make a lot of money. I tried marketing myself as a college speaker and landed a few gigs by knocking on doors and cold calling people. But I didn’t really have the experience that I needed to get hired as a motivational speaker.
An old friend from high school also started working with me. Together, we worked on marketing my coaching services. We learned everything about Internet marketing – we even taught ourselves HTML. After about a year and a half, we learned so much about Internet marketing that my sight was number 1 on Google for success coach. People noticed that we were really good at Internet marketing and asked us to help them.
So we ended up creating an Internet marketing business and spent the next year and a half consulting – helping people build their websites and blogs, doing search engine optimization. Sometimes we even partnered with people and taught Internet marketing seminars.
And that’s when things turned around, and I started making some real money.
Where does success coaching fit into your business now?
I plan on success coaching for the rest of my life. It’s my calling. Now that I’m more established, I’m a more credible coach than when I first started out because I have experience.
I spend the majority of my time training myself on personal development because the level of intensity in which I operate my business and my life has to be an example for people. The main message that I want to spread is that anything is possible, but it’s never as easy as a lot of the experts and their marketing may tell you.
A lot of people spend two years starting a business and can’t figure out why their business isn’t working, but that’s actually normal. I want people to know that they are actually facing a test that they have to pass.
Who are the people you coach?
Most of my coaching clients come from previous buyers of products that I’ve created or through affiliates and their audiences. My main focus is working with online entrepreneurs.
Down the road, my goal is to write a book – hopefully a number of books – and establish more of a presence as a speaker. I’d love to speak to large audiences and to motivate and inspire people by telling my story.
You’ve created a lot of products. It looks like you definitely put in a lot of hours.
Yeah. I love creating products. I do spend a lot of time working. I spend a lot of my days conditioning my mind and feeding it with knowledge that I apply to my Internet marketing ventures and to selling my coaching services.
I probably could have spent less time working over the past year had I been more open to treating my business like I was the CEO rather than a project manager and gotten better at delegating and understanding the financial model. I was so laser focused on taking action that I didn’t pause to take a breath and see how I could improve.
Sounds like you have learned from that mistake.
Yes. Now I don’t work as much on things I can hire someone else to do. But I still work my ass off. I’ve gotten up at 4:30 every morning this week. I take my Smartphone, put on a motivational program I made for myself, and go for a powerwalk to a coffee shop nearby. Then I spend a couple of hours doing my personal development study and power walk back home.
By the time it’s 7, I’ve gotten a lot done, and it’s time to take my kids to school and daycare. I’m a really active stay-at-home dad. I spend a ton of time with my kids. If I was still at IBM, I wouldn’t be able to spend this much time with my kids.
As an employer, what makes someone an attractive hire?
In general, I look for people that take a little more initiative. If a person has a blog and is updating it everyday in a way that shows they’re thinking about interesting things and are energetic, I’d hire that person – it shows that person’s a go-getter.
What’s your opinion on how people you hire use social media? Do you mind if they share personal information on Twitter or curse?
I’m a small business owner and my personal brand is easygoing. I have plenty of products that aren’t scripted that have some swearing on it, so it doesn’t bother me. My audience is like me, and those are the only people I focus on.
Do you get to have any alone time with your wife?
Very little. Luckily, her parents and my parents live very close to us. Ideally, we’d like to go out once every week, but it’s more like every three weeks.
Who is one speaker that you tell people they have got to read or see?
So many to choose from… Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz is a great book. It was written in the 50s, but there’s a revised version written by Dan Kennedy, a very popular business consultant. It’s a must read for all people.
There’s a guy named Eric Thomas who goes by the title ET The Hip Hop Preacher. He dropped out of school when he was 16 and lived on the streets of Detroit for a while before changing his life. He is the best motivational speaker I’ve ever seen.