Peter Shankman On Startups, ADD, Mindset, PR And More!

In this episode, we bring in Peter Shankman. Peter is an incredibly successful entrepreneur as well as an angel investor, speaker, author and so much more. In this quick, straight to thepoint episode we cover a wide variety of topics such as using PR to grow your business, coping with and using ADD to your advantage, having an entrepreneurial mindset, living life on your own terms and so much more. Enjoy!

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Resources Mentioned

* Geek Factory

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Hey guys and girls welcome back to another episode of the sales funnel mastery podcast. Today we have on line Peter Shankman and I have been following Peter for it is probably good 6 or 7 years something like that back when he sold the company called Help A Reporter Out about 5 or 6 years ago.

So I have been following him since back then. He has a really, really cool story. A really quick intro, he can get into more detail on all this but basically he is best known for founding Help A Reporter Out and as the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory which is a boutique social media and marketing and customer service strategy firm in New York City.

A couple kind of cool things about him that you might want to talk about or you might want to learn, we will actually go into it.

So he spends a lot of time on the road. He is doing all kinds of keynoting corporate events, big clients, American Express, Sheraton, Cisco, Sprint, U.S. Department of Defense, Walt Disney World, and a whole bunch else like that.

And in his spare time, these are — I like this. He is a NASA adviser board member which I think is awesome because I am into space and NASA and all that kind of stuff. He is an angel investor in multiple start ups, a sub for marathon runner which is kind of cool that something that I cannot really do that, Ironman, and a B licensed skydiver which is awesome.

He also has a couple of books, best-selling book, Zombie Loyalists, using great service to create rabid fans which we will get into too.

So Peter, How are you? Welcome to the show.

Peter Shankman: I am doing well, thanks for having me, good to be here.

Jeremy Reeves: Sure, sure, yeah. I was excited when you came on you know, like I said, you have a very kind of interesting story. So you know, do you mind dive in a little bit deeper into you know, into your story kind of where you came from, what are you doing now that kind of thing.

Peter Shankman: Yeah, I — I do not even know what the hell I was doing. My basic logic was I started my career in America Online, I work for AOL back in the 90s when AOL was the internet, it was pretty awesome. My goal was to stay there forever 2-1/2 years into my career they laid off 300 of us in an hour, moved back to New York, I was kind of like — you know, remember that great scene in Family Guy were Quagmire winds up getting into a fight and he does not know what the hell is going on, he gets out of the fight and he was like (inaudible 4:14) what is happening there you know.

It kind of how I felt you know, in the 9 a.m. we had jobs, 10:30 a.m. we are all in the parking lot like what the hell, so you know.

But it was great because I moved back to New York sort of consulting (inaudible 4:28) you know, I could do better and start a PR firm and do better than the big agencies because it was a dot com boom and I built a PR firm and the way I started that was, I had no money but it was a summer of 98, there was an independent film coming out on video that did not (inaudible 4:46) you might have not heard off called Titanic and I had 500 T-shirts printed out, the T-shirt read “It sank. Get over it” and I went to Time Square figured that we could sell 180 shirts that break even. I wind up selling 500 in 6 hours. Made $5k (inaudible 5:06) the story to USA Today. It ran on the front page. Sold 10,000 shirts on the web, cleared a $100k, the rest is history.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice. I like it.

Peter Shankman: Pretty insane. Anyway, that started my PR firm and after a few years, sold the PR firm and then eventually started consulting until such time when I launched HARO. HARO was sort of the game changer for me and now here we are. I give speeches, I go on TV, I ran an awesome mastermind group of about 130 entrepreneurs, (inaudible 5:38) Shankman is totally virtual and we are having fun. I am very lucky.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice, yeah, that is awesome. Congrats on all that too.

Peter Shankman: I am having a good time.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, yeah. So what is your — you know what, one of the things I am interested in is — since you kind of you know, you used to like you know as you just mentioned, you kind of started a couple of businesses, sold a couple of businesses. Now you do things like angel investing, you are an adviser board and all that. So what is the typical day look like for you, you know, you see, you wake up at whatever time you know, it is kind of scattered, do you have a certain routine that you go through. What is that look like?

Peter Shankman: Well, my day starts ridiculously early. I am usually up by 4 a.m. because I — because the only time I can really go to the gym is early because my, you know, I have a kid and I have wife and I have a career. So if I want to go to the gym it has to be or if I want to work out it has to be sometime between 4 a.m. and around 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning.

So I am at the gym, the gym opens at 5:30, I am usually there by 5:30 there is a bunch of us called the door club we are all standing by the door at 5:30 waiting to be let in or I am in Central Park running that early. I actually got arrested for exercising in such a park before it opened.

Jeremy Reeves: I did not even know that they had an opening —

Peter Shankman: Right, and then apparently — I did get arrested for running into the park before it open. I apparently got arrested for telling the cop how do you close nature and when he said, what are you doing here. I said, you know, I am wearing running pants and running shirt and sneakers, I am like what am I doing, seriously, look at me you know, I am giving hand jobs for crack. What do you think I do.

It is probably not the best answer but, yes. I am out super early and I am working out super early because if I do not work out I do not have a good day. My brain functions very different with normal people brain. I have ADD. I have ADHD and how I managed it is to exercise and doing things that naturally increased my dopamine and serotonin. One of those things is of course exercise. So I am up super early, and then I am in the office usually by 7:45 — well, when I am in New York, I am in the office by 7:30 or 7:45. When I am not in New York, I am on the road, it varies like I could be speaking in the conference, I could be flying overnight to Singapore you know, next week I am in Dallas and Austin the following week I am in Cebu, Philippines, so it really, it varies.

So for me it is really about using the time I have the best way I have to use it.

Jeremy Reeves: Got you. That make sense, nice. So how about some of the things you know, doing like being an angel investor and that kind of thing. How does that — are you allowed, I do not know if you are allowed to say the (inaudible 8:14) for or not.

Peter Shankman: I can say some of them. I am an angel investor in company called Namely they are doing incredibly well. They are online HR, an HR management in the cloud. They are doing unbelievably well. I am so fortunate to invest in them. I am an angel investor in a company called DailyWorth. DailyWorthis (inaudible 8:32) they are an online portal for financial information for women and I am on the board of several companies including SCOTTeVEST technology-enabled clothing and (inaudible 8:45) 9 or 10 different ones and of course, they are all (inaudible 8:51).

They teach, they work with companies who improved Youtube. So a lot of companies.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay, nice. So what are your thoughts on you know, when you are — when you are kind of looking at companies and you have a lot of experience with all kinds of different companies you know, what are some of the big things that people kind of do wrong, you know, and I kind of have a feeling of you know, what you are going to say, but you know, just kind of in general, you know, do people you know, are they too boring you know, is there something — you have a lot of experience in different kinds of areas you know. What are some of the things that you see that when you are looking at the company and they are doing that you think like it is kind of like a, Yes, I want to be involved with that, and on the other side, you know, if they are not doing certain things you are like, no I am going to skip that.

Peter Shankman: Well, the first thing I can say is that if company is very — they need to be very aware of who I am in sort of what my story is, like, you know, my favorite example I had a company who was a — they made stuff for the GoPro. They made like a really cool attachment for the GoPro camera and the guy comes in and he was like, Yeah, I want to talk to you about GoPro. I am like, great, (inaudible 10:01) and I met with him for a coffee and he brings the GoPro and he was like, you know, I brought this GoPro just in case you do not know what it was, in case you did not know what it was, and okay, so one of the first thing you see about me when you Google me is that I am a skydiver, alright. I am actually the first skydiver who jump with a GoPro.

Jeremy Reeves: Oh really.

Peter Shankman: Yeah, because I met Nicholas Woodman, the founder at CES in 2005 and he gave me one to play with and I jumped. So I am the first person to jump with a GoPro and it is like, really you could not Google for 5 God damn seconds, how could I possibly trust whatever it is you are trying to pitch me on. So that just kills me. Do your homework for God’s sake.

Then also be smart, you know, be intelligent (inaudible 10:40) on time. I spent my life working on being 15 minutes early, everywhere. How hard is that. Oh, the train, bullshit trains were late all the time. Prepare for that. That tells me so much about you even before I meet you.

Having a cellphone does not give you the right to be late. So that is just a huge thing for me.

Jeremy Reeves: Me too, I got that one (inaudible 11:04) he was the same way and now I am. I literally cannot, I mean countless times I have gotten on the phone with potential clients and you know, it hits 1:00, I call 1:00 you know, and then they are like, Oh, wow you know, you are punctual, you called right on 1, I am like, really, do other people not you know what I mean.

Peter Shankman: That something tells me also is you know like people email me, Hey, (inaudible 11:27) talk to you about (inaudible 11:29) and if I happened to be in my office that will be great, I will call them right back and then they are like, Oh, we did not — Oh, you have just emailed me, you did not expect to call back, and then they are like, No, not really. We thought may be in the few days. Well, Hi, how can I help you, you know.

Jeremy Reeves: So tell me little about the book you know, great service to create rabid fans. And also, how did you come up with Zombie Loyalists.

Peter Shankman: Basic (inaudible 11:57) Zombie Loyalists is simple. If you are a you know, everyone has that 1 friend who is like in love with the other friend or whatever right. Where do we go for lunch, Oh my God, (inaudible 12:07) you know, he has had a great experience in some point of his life (inaudible 12:10) he wants to drag you there because he loves it so much. That is a zombie look, he wanted to be someone who has had that great experience, right, but here is the thing, we expect to be treated like crap. In the customer experience we expect to be treated like (inaudible 12:23) think about your last flight.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, I am going on 1 tomorrow.

Peter Shankman: All they have to do to be perfect, to make you thrilled is simply to take you there, get there on time on the seat you requested at the time you requested, if they do that you are going to be over the moon but that is what they promised you, they do. You are thrilled about that, it tells you how bad service is if you are thrilled about the fact that your flight was normal, right.

So what is that say, you know, I do not need you to be (inaudible 12:56) couple levels above crap and you win the game. That is the zombie loyalist, you know, treat the zombie loyal as well, they will become your biggest fans.

Jeremy Reeves: And do you have any — is there anything specific to kind of look out for with that like you know, do you tell people to like kind of go out and research your competitors you know, go and buy their stuff, go work with them and see what their service is and then figure out ways to kind of beat that or you know.

Peter Shankman: I think that for me it is just how would you like to be treated. How would you like your mom to be treated, right. Ritz-Carlton does not hire people who can fold bed sheets, they hire people who like people. So that is why I tell people can you treat your employees or your customers the way you wanted to be treated, the way you want your mom to be treated. If you can do that then you are going to win.

Again, it is not rocket science and it kills me (inaudible 13:51) all these people, Oh, we are doing this for training. Just treat them nice, just be a good person. This is not, you know, look I love it because at the end of the day, the worse you are, the easier my job is. My longest relationship before my wife was a woman who told she was not going to out on a second date with me until I stood up when she went to the bathroom and then I press her so much that we did it for 4 years.

Jeremy Reeves: Really?

Peter Shankman: Yeah. So, how hard is that for God’s sake, you know.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice, I like it. When you are on the adviser board of different companies and you start your own whatever, is that some of the stuff that you look at you know. Do you go out and research competitors and then figure out, like is that one of your main strategies for going to business or is it kind of you know.

Peter Shankman: It is, I mean they charge you for (inaudible 14:41) the main strategy for figuring out what you know, what they are doing or what they could be doing better you know. I subscribe to all my competitors new letters. I subscribe to all my investments competitor’s newsletters, I want to see what they are doing. And I want to know how I can do it and make it even better.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah and that is one of the things that people do not understand this. People oh you know, there is competition and everybody wants to go into this like you know, the new niche with no competition.

Peter Shankman: I love competition. Competition gets me up on my toes. If you go into (inaudible 15:12) you become complacent. Complacent will kill you.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, exactly. That is exactly how I feel about it and so many people are just afraid of competition and I always think well how mediocre are you, you know, that you are worried about you know, a new competitor on the block. I mean you should look at that and say okay here is the new guy that looks like he is you know or girl whatever you know, that looks like they are beating what we are doing. How do we then up our game you know to blow them out of the water.

Peter Shankman: And again, people do not bother to think that way, Oh my God, it is not that major thing, just be a little bit better than what people expect.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, same thing with flying you know. I just got back from San Diego and then I am going on National tomorrow and actually this time, tomorrow we are taking — it is me and my wife and both of our you know, our 2 little boys and it is their first time flying so that — we will see how that goes (inaudible 16:05)

But yeah, I mean I am going there expecting that something is going to — something bad is going to happen, you know what I mean.

Peter Shankman: No questions about it and that is what so crazy. That is what so crazy.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay. So I was just going to question completely — speaking of action, you know what, let us actually use that to talk about ADD.

So I mean a lot of entrepreneurs suffer from that you know. It is the whole not only just like you know, a shiny object syndrome which might be a part of the whole ADD thing, but you know, I think a lot of entrepreneurs are very you know, they either have diagnosed ADD or they you know, could be diagnosed with ADD.

So talk a little about that you know, what is your experienced with it you know, how long have you been you know, how long is it affected you, how bad is it affected you and kind of like you know, tell us a story about that you know, how you kind of figure out that you needed, you needed to get (inaudible 17:06) and then what you did and kind of some of the ways that you cope with it and —

Peter Shankman: Well actually for me, my — what I realized is actually the benefit. Having ADD is actually a benefit for me. It allows me to get my work done at a much faster pace. It allows me to be much more creative as long as I have the tools needed to manage it because if I do things that negatively affect me then I am in trouble.

So you know, for instance, I have 2 types of clothing when I am on TV or giving a speech, I have button down shirt, jeans, and shoes. When I am not giving a speech and on TV, I have a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers and that is all that is in my closet. I have 2 suits that sit in the corner for when I need them but other than that nothing because if I have to sit every morning and thinking about what to wear that is going to be 45 minutes, right.

So for me I would rather not have to think about that. I would rather be able to spend time focusing on things that are important to me.

So I called it removal of choice. So I removed certain choices from my life to make it easier for me to get things done.

Another example, I — whenever I give speeches, my contract basically says, I will speak for you, you will pay me except in Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, it says, that I am writer (inaudible 18:15) on the ground from wheels down to wheels that is from 1 to 8 hours because Vegas is not a good place for me.

Jeremy Reeves: I can imagine why.

Peter Shankman: And as long as I know that I am able to work my life in such a way that it works for me and again that is what has to happen because I you know, doing that, it allows me to be beneficial to myself and elimination of choice allows me to avoid doing stupid shit. That is it, that is the best (inaudible 18:45). So you know these things that work for you and things that do not and you focus on them and that is how you live your life.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah. I think a lot of people are really you know, a little I do not know afraid maybe, like to really understand themselves. It is very, it is very rare that I meet someone who really understands how they work and then actually build their life around that you know.

Peter Shankman: I do not think I have a choice. I really do not believe I have a choice because I think if I do try to do something without fully understanding the consequences, bad shit will happen.

I joke all the time that on any given day I am 3, I am only 3 bad decisions in a row away from being a junk in the streets. So I have to make sure that I do not make those 3 bad decisions and the best way for me to do this is to understand myself you know, end of story.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay, nice, I like it. So when you are talking about Las Vegas, I come across a lot of people who have very limited mindsets and they think that — so for example, they deal with you know, whatever certain ways of working or on a certain industries or whatever it is and they are afraid to tell their clients that, Hey, look this is how it work, if we work together, this is how it is going to be you know, that kind of thing rather than the client kind of demanding it from them you know.

So talk to us a little bit about you know, were you always like that, were you always just to say like look, this is who I am, if you do not like it you know, screw you.

Peter Shankman: I understand why people are afraid of that sometimes, but you should know you do not want to lose the business or not gain the business whatever, but you know, on the flip side, not doing that usually winds up being worse because then what winds up happening is that you do not have the ability to do what you want or the way you want it and you are not working at your best.

The best example I can give you is you know, if you are married or you are with someone, you are in a relationship you know, wouldn’t you at some point say, Hey, here is what I like bed. If you do not do that, how miserable are you today. So why wouldn’t you tell that. It makes everything better. You have to be able to do that. No question about it.

Jeremy Reeves: And you know what most people, most people appreciate that I think you know, I do that like when I am working a new client they get a PDF document of basically how I work because I have some weird, I have some weird quirks and stuff like that too. Mostly everybody does and I mean pretty much everybody is. It is just being able to just say, Hey, look that is who I am you know, if you do not like it that sucks, do not work with me, work with somebody else.

Peter Shankman: We are on the exact same page. I agree.

Jason Swenk: And even marriage too. Me and my wife actually just had — actually a very similar conversation the other day because we do that really regularly you know. We always look at each other and say okay you know. What is good with the marriage, what is you know, what do we need to work on let’s you know, all that kind of thing and — and it is — I am one of those guys that I like to bring up things the second there is even like 1 little down tip in it you know, versus if it is you know, if you are starting in 10 and let us just say 3 is like kind of disaster zone, most people wait until it hits 3. I figured if it hits 9.5 you start talking about it.

Peter Shankman: Well, (inaudible 22:00) because then you can get out of your system and you are fine.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, exactly.

Peter Shankman: And that is you know, (inaudible 22:04) they also does it all the time. I want to get it out and done and finish. Okay, let us fix this answer and then you know, you want to be able to — so that is my problem. I (inaudible 22:21) sometimes I scream, right. I yell because that is how I get my — if you listen to me I can yell and get out of my system, I am done, but you know, if you have someone in your life who shuts down, who does not like when people yell and she winds up not listening to you. You wind up being feeling like no one is listening to you. P.S. nothing gets accomplished.

So I have learned to change how I do that from time to time because it makes it, it makes it you know, the other thing that is massive for me that I learned is I cannot change anyone else.

All I can do is improve myself and if the other person wants to change me (inaudible 22:55) half way awesome, but I cannot ask them to do that you know and you are not going to be able to change anyone else.

So the best thing you can do is focus on changing yourself.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, yeah. Just for 1 example of that I mean you might have just for your wife for example, you know, you might have 1 trait about her that you do not like but she loves you know, so instead of asking her to change that and having her get rid of something that she loves about herself is better for you to just come to understanding and like try to also love it you know or if you cannot love it then just be able to let it go.

Peter Shankman: Exactly.

Jeremy Reeves: Alright, I know you have to get off here quick. So I only have 1 more question, this is more of something, I do not know if you do this or not but so you are, you know, you are big with the whole PR thing and you do a lot of stuff like the t-shirts you know, you are a very good at basic commanding attention you know, have you ever, have you ever taken that because I am more of a direct response kind of guy.

So I kind of do that same thing but do it with like direct mail. So for example, you know, send like a coconut with a little, with a little like chisel on the hammer and they like have to hammer to open the coconut to get the message out from the inside stuff. Have you ever, have you ever kind of play in it, it is called wamp email or 3d mail, there is a couple different names for it. Have you ever played around stuff like that.

Peter Shankman: I love the concept.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, it is kind of you know, it is kind of the same thing as doing you know, there is big like media grabbing like PR stunts but you are doing it instead of on a mass scale, you are basically doing it to, you know, individual businesses you know, and I usually used it, it is more for like you know, high-profile clients that kind of stuff because you are trying to you know, get their attention because those guys are getting you know, thousands of emails everyday and all that kind of stuff, so it is hard getting to them, but I am actually, I am actually going to start doing — doing it in a kind of secret project we are about to start, but yeah, that is — I just want to see because I figured that, that would be kind of something your zone, you know, because you are good with kind of commanding attention you know (inaudible 24:59) to look into.

Peter Shankman: Definitely. I love it. I mean for me, you know, I, (inaudible 25:04) called the PT agency because we showed up every month randomly but one of our clients should bring pizza and sit down, talk to them. We get some great ideas from them because they did not feel that they are being build, they did not feel like they were doing anything like that and they love (inaudible 25:16) that became sort of famous words.

Jeremy Reeves: I like that.

Peter Shankman: And it helped a lot.

Jeremy Reeves: I think I might steal that concept. I might. I like that a lot. Alright, well hey, I know you have to jump off here soon. I just want to thank you for coming on. Before we get off, you know, do you want to tell our audience where to go to you know, find out more about you, get on your list, you know —

Peter Shankman: Yeah, my entire life is at and on the mastermind they were on the it is a virtual mastermind with a 130 brilliant entrepreneurs from around the world. It is about the cost of 8 lattes a month and we do some really incredible things.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice, I like it. It is cheap too. I was expecting it would be a lot more than that. Actually, I am going to look into it.

Peter Shankman: Please do, yeah, (inaudible 25:57) we love to have you.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, nice, sounds good. Everybody check out The website will be in the show notes and all that kind of stuff so just click on the link in there, yeah.

Peter, I appreciate you coming on and we will talk to you soon.

Peter Shankman: Glad to do it Take care.

Jeremy Reeves: Thanks.

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