Dustin Riechmann is in his own words, an engineer who helps people with their marriages, sells meat sticks and does business coaching.
I first met Dustin in a group of business owners that we’re both in. He stood out to me both as a successful businessman and someone who is committed to being mission driven. His Engaged Marriage business, struck a chord with me. As someone who has multiple businesses, and a strong passion behind them, I’m always on the look out for people who approach their work in a similar way.
Dustin does exactly that.
We had a lot of fun in this interview. We talk about how he got to where he is now and how he found his passions along the way.
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In this episode you’ll learn:
- The Work that Dustin is doing
- Dustin’s first online project
- How he started in digital marketing
- Dustin’s experience being self-employeed
- Dustin’s E-Commerce company: FireCreek snacks
- What is “partnership marketing”
- How Dustin started in Business and Coaching
- Dustin’s Early life and scarcity mindset
- Why Dustin chose civil engineering
- Dustin’s transition from employee to being self-employed
- Dustin’s advice on finding your vocation
- Fears Dustin had when quitting his job
- How Dustin’s former boss became his first client
- Partnership marketing online
- Partnership marketing locally or offline
- Dustin’s win, win, win concept
- Identifying marketing partners opportunities and your target audience
- How Dustin became a marketing consultant
- How Dustin built a partnership marketing system
- How Dustin started podcast guesting
- How Dustin keeps tracks of conversations
Software Generated Transcription:
Dan: Dustin, I’m so excited to have you on the show.
Welcome to the Meaning Movement podcast. So great to have you here.
Dustin: I’m very excited to be here, Dan, thanks for having me.
Dan: The question I like to begin with is how do you begin to talk about the work that you do?
Dustin: So my tongue and cheek answer is I’m an engineer who helps people with their marriages, sells meat sticks and does business coaching. Cause that kind of encompasses my entrepreneurial and professional journey.
Dan: I love that. Let’s unpack those. Can you go through those one at a time and tell, tell listeners, you know, what, what each of those actual, like what that means
Dustin: Yeah, for sure. And I hope people can relate because I know a lot of your listeners are either in transition. They’re coming out of a transition. They’re thinking about a transition I’ve had, I’ve had multiple in my adult life,
Dan: doing multiple. Yeah. Or doing multiple
Dustin: doing many of them at the same time as well? Uh, yeah, so my, my, uh, professional life started as, as an engineer.
So I had a, a master’s degree in engineering and, uh, had a specialty in traffic engineering. So I got pretty niche and, um, did that for 18 years, but. Through a lot of that time, I also had side hustles and other projects cause I had an entrepreneurial bug that I had that I, that or scratch that I wanted to itch.
Um, itch that I wanted to scratch, I guess, is the right way to say that. But, uh, my very first online project was called engaged marriage and it still exists today. Uh, it’s engagedmarriage.com and that really grew out of my wife and I’s marriage ministry work that we were doing through our church. So early in our marriage, uh, we were invited to.
Help post workshops and retreats and come up with, um, instructional materials and things like that. We were doing it in like dark church, basements . So this was in 2009, kind of the heyday of, of blogging and, and online journaling and things like that. So I really just wanted to create a project. So I.
Googled and figured out how to create a website, made a website and was basically chronicling our life and the, and the things that we were seeing with other couples. And so that E evolved over time into like an information product business. So we have a bunch of digital courses. We have a membership site there.
We have some flagship, um, training. We wrote a book we’ve done speaking. So we’ve kind of did all of those things while being an engineer, um, from 2009 to present. That also brought me over into the world of digital marketing. So that’s where, you know, I’d say the mid, like 2014, 15, I was taking time off of work to go to like learn digital marketing and go to conferences and, and things like that.
But I was still doing both. And that though was my bridge out of the nine to five sort of corporate engineering role. So in 2017, Is when I decided to leave that as the sole breadwinner of a family with three children, uh, my wife was staying at home at the time. And so I’m sure we can unpack that cause there’s probably people in similar situations, but I did ultimately through a lot of consternation and and, and a lot of hard work, uh, made that leap.
So I started in 2018 completely. Self-employed. And I was doing marketing consulting, basically online and local businesses, basically just doing digital marketing for people with the skills I had learned, um, throughout running my own business. And, uh, and some other side hustles. So the meat sticks come in.
in 2018, cuz one of my, one of my clients was a local butcher shop and they had multiple locations and I was helping them, you know, drive traffic and, and. And do strategy around their offers and things like that to bring more people in the door. And it went really well. And the third generation owner of that company was about my age and similar family and similar values and we just kind of hit it.
And he said, Hey, you know, I’m, I’m coming out of this partnership. I’ve got this other brand it’s called fire Creek snacks. And I’d really like to bring it online. We he’d really just been trying to do retail and so locally. And I said, I can, I can try that. You know, I had never done e-commerce per se, but I could, I could do that.
So I built a Shopify store and we started marketing that ultimately that led into a business partner. And so I’m still the, a partner in that business. I’m basically the head of sales and marketing for fire Creek snacks. And, um, learned a ton, a ton ton, ton over the years about all that’s entailed in a physical product business.
Um, and in part of the way I grew that. It’s kind of become my, my go-to and what I’m known for really in, in digital marketing is what I call partnership marketing. So basically leveraging other people’s audiences, adding value to them and in, in turn, you know, improving our own business. So that’s fire Creek snacks kind of took me out in, in the public, a lot of podcast, guesting subscription box partnerships, joint, you know, ventures and bank collaborations, all that kind of stuff.
But think about other people’s platforms that we were able to get fire Creek onto. At no cost. So, you know, we were able to get to seven figures in revenue without any paid ads, which is pretty unusual for any commerce company, especially. And in doing that in public, I started having a lot of people reaching out to me and asking me about strategy and, and coaching consulting.
So I basically grew what I, what it is now, my primary business, simple success. coaching Out of growing fire Creek in public is, is the way I would describe that. Never done any marketing for that business. It’s just all relational and it’s all through partnerships and collaborations. And. Doing good work in public and, uh, attracting people that have similar values.
So that was a, that was a very long answer to what I do,
Dan: That’s fantastic.
Dustin: people can kinda see the dots in reverse. That’s the only way I could describe it. I could never have foreseen where I am today based on my education and where I started, but there’s a lot of commonalities and, and reasons these transitions worked that I’m happy to unpack with you.
Dan: Yeah, that’s such a fantastic overview. Thank you for that. And so much, so much of it. And I think this is why I, you know, I, you and I initially connected just, it just feels like we we’re on parallel journeys in a lot of ways. Um, maybe, you know, timelines are pretty similar in a lot of ways, too, that, you know, started just figuring out as you went and then that broad opportunity and, and you know, that open doors and you gathered skills and then applied those skills and to, to make new things happen, which is just.
Yeah, really exciting. Did you ever, I know you, you, you, I guess, just to rewind to when you were a traffic engineer, did you always did going into that? Like, did you ever dream about, I know you said you had an entrepreneurial itch, but like, were you imagine, did you imagine yourself just being a traffic engineer, your entire career and then just retiring or something like, like what did the, what did the plan look like for whatever.
Plan quote, unquote plan. We don’t, we we’re all figuring it out as we go, but I’m just curious, like, just to get in your brain, you know, 18 plus years ago, like what, what that was like.
Dustin: Yeah. So for me it was, I didn’t know that I didn’t even know what the entrepreneur meant growing up. I had no examples of that. And so I was very poor. My dad was you an alcoholic and a lot of abuse issues. And so, I mean, I had no concept of, of having money. I like, I was very, very, very heavily in a scarcity mindset.
Cause it’s all I knew. However, I was very blessed and, and, you know, was gifted academically. And so I was given the op opportunity to have a full scholarship to college, to go to engineering school. So that to me was. The only path, right? Like my, my dad was a laborer, so he basically did construction work and I admired those projects and I was like, this is really cool building bridges.
And, but I didn’t wanna be the guy out there, you know, pouring the asphalt. Like he was in, in a very inconsistent way. I wanted to be the, the guy wearing khakis on the side who was directing things. So that was kind of my foray. And why, why civil engineering? I think it was just, you know, I, I was exposed to cool projects and I, I really got into those kind of massive.
Of, you know, civil engineering projects. So that brought me to that path. And then again, I had the opportunity to go to school. and so my plan was basically to be an engineer forever because that’s all I really knew. And my wife was a, a teacher special ed teacher and, and, and her family structure was very much like nine to five.
You know, let’s have a normal job, a normal life. We’ll do a retirement thing. So that’s what I expected to do. And in my, in engineering career, in the early years, you know, I went back and at night and did my master’s and, you know, got licensed in various ways and all that stuff. So everything was geared up towards that.
so I only learned as I was progressing through my career that, Hey, people have like, Other businesses, they have businesses online, this idea of like scaling or like having my business be around my lifestyle instead of having to work, you know, I was working 50, 60 hour weeks often and I got into management roles and realized I really hated that.
um, and so it kind of like everything came to ahead when I. Had a mix of like exposure to other ideas, this whole online opportunity that was emerging in the, in the two thousands and my own kind of personal pain of like, I really don’t like what I’m doing day to day anymore. There’s gotta be something else for me.
So, yeah, I, I, so I didn’t really have a plan, but, um, the plan has continued to emerge like one step as I take a step. There’s like another step that appears, and I’m still on that, that emerging path, I’d say.
Dan: I love that. I love that. I’m curious just with that in mind. Um, and usually, usually is the question I, I ask later on. Um, but just since we’re kind of focused on that, that piece, the, the lack of a plan, just, you know, what, what recommendations do you, would you give to people who are especially early in their career?
And they’re trying to think. Where their career might go and what they want based on your personal experience. Of course, like we know that like, just the way it works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everybody. But I’m just curious if you have any, like, just wanna speak to the audience directly around, you know, how do you plan a career?
Dustin: Yeah, I, I would say, be curious, number one, get, if you, if you think you might like something, get around it, like get exposed to it, whether it be an internship or, Hey, can I shadow you for free? Can I work for you for free? I have, I’ve had quite a few people like hear me, the fire Creek story and they reach out and they’re either senior or they’re getting ready to graduate and they’ll, they’ll do like a three month internship with me online, you know, virtual and I really encourage that.
They get to see what e-commerce is really like, they get to, you know, maybe shadow me on a zoom call with if we’re, you know, having a sales call or something like that. And I, I very much encourage that from people. So trying to get around it. I would say the number one piece of advice that I, I give all entrepreneurs are all people, uh, but especially, uh, younger people is the idea that.
Many of these choices that we make are not permanent decisions. So I would say I stuck around engineering probably five years longer than I should have, because it was a mix of, it was my identity. I was the sole breadwinner. There’s a lot of like practical reasons not to do it. But the biggest thing was this fear that like, once I do this, I’m screwed.
Like if this doesn’t work, like it’s over and that’s, that’s really what I felt. And so in the middle of 2017, I kind of had this epiphany moment where I was like, you know, I could leave and I could like come back. Like if I, if I could do what I wanna do for six months and it doesn’t work very well, I can probably come back to the exact same job, but I’m not leaving cuz I’m bad at it.
I’m I’m choosing. Um, so I think that’s it, there’s a few like permanent decisions in life, you know, having children, hopefully, hopefully marriage, you know, maybe a religious vocation. Almost nothing though is, is a permanent decision. So I think if people are thinking about that career path, and they’re really curious to try something new, like just go try it, like give yourself a plan.
So say three months, six months, whatever you’re gonna commit to doing this, it may or may not work, but then you don’t have the regret of like, ah, man, I really wish I would’ve tried that. I, I, I let myself be too fearful and, and didn’t go out and try something new.
Dan: I love that that’s so, so applicable and just rings true, you know, my experience. Um, and, and I think, you know, sounds like a big part of yours is like just the, the willingness to just get in, just get your hands dirty and. Uh, jump in like jumping into creating an online course with no idea how to, how to do that.
I mean, that’s literally, that’s literally how we got here, right. That we’re having this conversation is cuz I started this podcast with no idea of how to start a podcast six years ago. And then you started your thing and then somehow, somehow we connected years and years later, um,
which I think, you know, for, for folks, folks listening, hopefully that’s another lesson along the way is like just jump and um, you know, don’t quit the job, you know, too early, but.
But try stuff. Just, just try stuff and see, you see what happens. You never know what, what will will come of that.
Dustin: can try it with the plans, you know, so like I said, it was the middle of 2017. I’m like, ah, man, I gotta give this a shot. So what I did was communicated really openly with my wife and with my kids. It was like, the next six months are gonna be tough. Like you think I work a lot, I’m gonna be working a lot more like basically I’m gonna do this six month, like double full-time thing where I’m doing, taking on marketing consulting gigs while I’m still working my engineering job.
So that, you know, January 1st we can make this dramatic change, you know, and allowed us time to figure out insurance and all, all the practical concerns of, of doing that. So I, so I guess I’m saying to advocate, I’m not advocating, like just screw it, jump ship, and, and do something new tomorrow, but like, Make a plan and, and have a plan that you can follow and have goals that are very concrete, you know, and timelines that are very concrete, cuz otherwise we all will inevitably be like, man, someday, someday, I’m gonna do that someday.
I’m gonna do that. And unless you put a timeframe on it and commit to it, it won’t happen. Right. So, and I think we can all think of personal examples that we maybe wish we would’ve tried something and we just didn’t assign definition to it.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah. When you actually quit, you know, I know you said you, that it, uh, you may have stayed, you may have stayed a few years too long, like, like, I don’t know, scale of, of zero to 10. How scary was that moment for you?
Dustin: The quitting moment. I would say it was like, I think it was in my mind, it was gonna be a 10. It turned out to be like a four.
I, I was scared to actually tell my supervisor, like the actual meeting was super awkward. Um, but actually what ended up happening is they’re like, Hey, could you stick around? On a part-time basis and basically helped find and train your replacement.
And they paid me like a really good rate to do that. And so it actually, it became very soft landing, but I, I, I thought they were gonna say, get outta here. We hit you, you know, wasn’t like that at all. So it actually ended up not being that bad at all, but it was very scary in my mind leading up to that moment.
Dan: I love it. I love it. It’s and it’s, I, I always think it’s fascinating. How much fear is a mind game like that? It’s the it’s we fear like the, the, the, our fear of the thing is so much more painful than the actual event. Um, like,
Dustin: and over in
Dan: yeah. Yeah.
Dustin: and actually what happened? My, my boss was, so I was doing, I was building one of the things. I was one of the many things I was doing at that time was building websites for people. Cause the skill I had acquired and he’s like, well, I’m part of this engineers club.
Like. We’d like, we need a new website, you want to do it for us. And so like, he became one of my first marketing clients that, and it was from my, from my actual engineering boss. So they were very supportive. And, but yeah, in my mind, I thought, man, I’m gonna ask, I’m just gonna ostracize everyone. I’m gonna, I’m gonna lose my identity.
People are gonna think of a complete idiot throwing away a great career. And it wasn’t like that. So.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so great. That’s so great. So I wanna talk about marketing consulting and like just kinda unpack that, you know, what, what, what all does that include? Cause like marketing con marketing consulting, those two words together could like, they have like, , it’s almost like they don’t have any meaning to people who aren’t in, you know, aren’t in that world.
Like what does that look like day to day?
Dustin: Well back when I was doing it in, you know, kind of part-time and then that first I’d say full. First full year of self-employment it was basically taking anything anyone wanted . So
Dustin: D my dentist, my like, literally my dentist became a client. My real estate broker became a client. My sister-in-law had a restaurant, so I built websites for all those guys.
I was doing Facebook ads. I was, I would come in and consult with them and come up with offers. Like that kind of became one of my, my go-to things is like compelling offers both from a dentist and like an online course creator, you know? And so.
Dustin: Now I’m very happy. I did all that stuff. It was very scattered as far as not being very good use of my time or very scalable, but I’ve touched literally, probably every industry, whether it’s my own business or clients and.
That’s really helpful. Like be able to think about how this dentist did something and think about how that applies to someone’s like online coaching business. They don’t, they’re not really like the same vertical at all, but there’s, there’s some really cool lessons learned from different industries. Um, what it looks like today is.
Much more focused on what I, what I referred to earlier, which is partnership marketing. So I still don’t really operate in a particular vertical, but it’s almost all online businesses and it’s almost all like what I would call experts or, or B2B service providers online. So people who, who, you know, have an area of expertise and they want to leverage that, uh, again, by serving other people’s audiences and growing their own business with it.
So I really help people with that, whether it. Uh, one OnOne coaching, which I do much less of nowadays, or I mostly do small group kind of mastermind settings, where what I’ve found over the years is my brain is valuable in some ways, but like the groupthink of being with really smart people in a group and led by me in, in a way that facilitates really good collaboration is kind of the magic.
It’s like, we’re the secret sauce to really unlocking quick, you know, powerful growth for people in their marketing. So, yeah, I, I agree marketing consultant. That’s why I would’ve called myself in the past because. I couldn’t narrow it down now. I, I, I basically say I do strategic marketing for people with partnerships.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah. I love it. Well, I wanted to unpack partnerships. I know you’ve described it a little bit, but for folks who are less, you know, less in the world of like, you know, what an audience is, what does it look like to, you know, leverage, leverage someone’s audience? Like, can you, can you walk us through, like what.
What a promotion like that, what the kind of partnerships that you’ve set up, you could use, you know, whether it be for fire Creek or, um, or other things that you’ve done with, with members of the mastermind, that kind of thing would love to kinda just give some examples to fill it out a little bit for
Dustin: Yeah. A hundred percent. I, I think at the, at a high level, anyone listening, cuz this applies to local businesses, this applies to service businesses. It applies to online businesses, you know, but the, the general idea here is a mindset around. A win, win, win. Meaning you as a business owner need to win.
And in marketing, that means you’re getting exposure to your ideal clients, your ideal customers, et cetera. So that’s the win for you. And then there’s this audience out there that you want to be in touch with. And so the win to them is education, inspiration stories. Et cetera. So you’re serving them though.
You’re, you’re giving them some great value without needing anything in exchange. And then this middle person, this connector is basically the, the quote on quote owner of the aggregator of the audience, right? So someone who has influence over that audience, how do you give them a win? So a very simple example is exactly what we’re doing right now, Dan.
So a podcast is a great example of partnerships, uh, in the sense that I, as a guest, hopefully provide value people. Like that’s a good idea that, that, that whole. Um, you know, mindset shift. He gave me that was a win for the audience. The win for you is you get fresh content. You get you another episode in your, in your current season and you’re getting more downloads as a result.
I’m, I’m gonna promote this episode. I’m gonna give you a rating review. So all the things I can do to help you that that’s a win for you. And then the win for me is maybe there’s someone listening and. I’m in this time of transition. I really like this partnership idea. And I wanna talk to Dustin about his groups or about his one on one.
And so maybe I get a client or maybe I just get some great relationships that turn into referral partners in the future. That’s so that’s like a very. Simple idea. Think of the podcast model. There’s a guest, there’s a host and there’s an audience. And the, if I can, as a guest, provide a win for all three of us, then everyone’s happy at the end of the day, I’m not taking, it’s all giving and it’s all in service.
So it’s it’s of service. It’s, win-win win. And it’s, it’s basically a relationship based, I think is a really simple way also to think about like, where can I create a relationship that serves all three parties in that way?
Dan: Yeah, I love that. And I see, you know, how it, how it’s worked, works well with podcasts. I know you’ve done a lot with podcasts. I’m curious about like more like, you know, offline or, or local businesses. Like what are, what are some examples of how, how partnerships have, have worked out, you know, whether, again, for fi for fire Creek or for, for clients, uh, just to give listeners another, another, just way to be thinking about growing, whatever it is they’re doing.
Dustin: Yeah. So I I’ll talk about local before I do that. Another just quick one for fire Creek. That’s been huge for us is like subscription box placements. So you can think about that as a brand. We’re looking for exposure to our ideal customers. For the subscription box, they need good products to put in there often at a discount so that their business model works and then their audience loves discovering new in our case, you know, healthy, keto, friendly type of snacks.
So that’s another really simple partnership on the local level. Um, actually just did some consulting with, uh, I guess I won’t say their name, but like one of the nation’s largest, uh, painting franchise. And so they brought me in at a corporate level to work with their top five franchisees and say, how can we come up with a partnership marketing model that works on a local level for a service business?
And so we’ve got multiple strategies that they’re, they’re running through now and, and basically doing experiments with in their local communities. But. At a local level, think of something as simple as a lunch and learn. Right? So if I’m a painting contractor and I’ve got like this really cool system, and, and I know what the new trends are for interior design and decor or whatever, like if I have that area of expertise, so what would, how can I use that to serve someone’s audience?
So maybe I line up a V I P. Um, social hour with handpicked the best real estate agents, real estate brokerages, um, commercial property managers, the people who are my potential clients, they, they get invited to this great dinner, this great happy hour on my bill. And I get the opportunity then to meet them, to teach them to ex maybe talk about how, you know, a, a great commercial, um, painting increases, property value and, and the amount of rent that you.
That you can charge. So that’s again, so think about this, win, win, win. For me as the painting contractor, the win is exposure to like the VIP people in my community. Cause I’m a, I’m a local business. I need that influence. And I would offer them also like some special referral bonus. So say not for them, but for their, so say, say they’re a real estate agent.
I say, Hey, for if everyone that you that’s moving into a new house. Cause those are my ideal clients. Cause the house is empty. It’s super easy. I will give them a free pressure wash of their driveway, whatever, you know, some something that makes them look good. So for me, the wind is new clients and great referral partners for the real estate agent.
The wind is not only the free dinner and happy hour in education, but they get to raise their status because they have this special package that only invitation only people get. And of course their clients are super happy cuz they get the special bonus. They’re getting hooked up with the premier painter in town.
They don’t have to think about. Uh, hiring this service out. So that’s top of mind, cause we just went through this. Um, but yeah, there’s that there’s things. um, referral groups where you basically, if you’re the captain in your community and you say, Hey, I’m a painting guy, but I need relationships with the, uh, pest control, the lawn maintenance, whatever.
Think of all these services around the home,
Dustin: form a collaboration and maybe do quarterly events where we bring our customers in and we educate them, entertain them, whatever, but it’s basically a referral group that’s done very purposefully. And in a win, win, win situation. So it’s never about taking, it’s always about giving and I that’s really the mindset.
So we teach people and we’ll take ’em to and make this like a system in their business. And that part’s important. But the real key is like the mindset shift that happens where you literally start seeing opportunities for partnerships everywhere.
Dustin: and it, it almost becomes overwhelming in a good way.
Like it’s a very, it becomes very abundant once you kind of unlock that mindset.
Dan: I love that. And I love that you, you call it abundant. And cuz I know earlier you, you talked about, um, just growing up with like a scarcity mindset and um, I wanna circle, I’m gonna put a pin in that. We’ll circle back to it. Um, but just while we’re on this win, win, win concept, like what are the questions that someone should be asking to help identify, help, find, find, you know, make that mind mindset shift.
I could, I have, I have some examples of my ideas, but want to, I just wanna throw that over the fence to you and like what, what are the things, the questions they should be asking about what they’re doing and who, who these people might be for them.
Dustin: I think the first and foremost is who is your ideal customer, right? So you need to understand why you would want to do a partnership and, and a big piece of that is who you want to talk to. Right? So if you’re wanting to sell, uh, fire creeks, snack sticks, you probably don’t wanna get on a, a vegan podcast, right?
Dustin: a keto podcast or we, we have, we’re a gluten free product. One of our key avatars is like, we call ’em gluten free moms, but like the people in the household who are buying for multiple people who get frustrated by the fact that there aren’t good gluten free options. So we have a great story to tell that audience.
So it’s like, who do you want to, who is your ideal audience? And then how can you serve them? And so it may be through education. Again, it may be through storytelling. It may be through, um, You know, kind of motivation your personal story, something that they can kind of see out in front as an example of something they might wanna follow.
So once you know who you wanna talk to and what you wanna talk to ’em about, then you identify those partners. So like who has that audience? Who, so in the podcast example, what are the podcasts that have people listening a significant amount that are gluten free moms in our case or keto athletes? then, you know, then that that’s like, step one is trying figure out who you wanna talk to figuring out who, who has that audience.
And then from there, you know, there’s of course how to approach them, how to develop a relationship, how to get them to say yes, then how to actually do the thing of service to them. Um, so you know, that that’s, that’s why we go through this in, in a system and in a group. So it’s not just a one off thing, but that’s the, that’s the key thing.
If anyone’s thinking, like, I don’t know if this would really work for. I almost guarantee it can work for you, but think about who you want to talk to and how can you be of service to them. And it could be, you know, as simple as giving them a coupon code to someone, I mean, that’s using my call to action for fire Creek on a podcast.
Um, but it turns into so much more because the whole podcast is about the story behind the brand and like why I’m involved and why Ryan started it. And it’s very emotional and compelling when I’m on shows, talking about that fire Creek experience.
Dan: Which is so great because then it’s so much more than a meat stick, right? Like it’s a story that they’re, that. Contributing to, and, and consuming doesn’t mean it’s a double, double meaning there, but like that, like that they’re getting to be a part of and, and getting to yeah. To support, which that makes, makes a to of sense.
Uh, and I know the answer to this question, but I just wanna like, just kind of play it out even more. Like, how did you get so good at this? Like how did partner, like, where did this come from? Like when, when did partnerships, like, when did this idea first like emerge for you?
Dustin: so it turns out I was using it. Like from the very first days of engaged marriage. Um, so one of the very first things I did in 2019, I started October, 2009. And by like January of 2010, I had. I don’t know, several thousand people on my email list and, um, was already working on our first product. So it’s a very quick start.
And what I did though, is I, when I entered the space, I went and saw like who had complimentary kind of marriage and family topics. And I said, Hey, let’s do a col you know, back in the day, this like eBooks were like the cool thing to do. So I said, let’s do this collaborative ebook. I contributed to some of the very little of the content, but I basically collaborated and found partners that would want to collaborate and be in this ebook.
And we gave it away for free as a lead magnet, but we all had rights to give it away for free as a lead magnet. And it was actually turned out to be a really cool, um, product it’s called. It was called love every day. I think it’s probably still available somewhere as a PDF foot around the internet, but like, I dunno if you’re familiar with pat Flynn, um, the smart, passive income, huge podcast now.
So he was in there like, this is like the early days, you know, so I, I developed relationship with him. Um, Dan Miller, who’s a New York times bestselling author. And so like people, I would never, now I’d be like, oh man, that was kind of crazy reaching out to these people. But at the time I was like, what do I have to lose?
So I’d reached out and almost everyone said, yes, they all contributed to something. Cool. So anyway, I, so in hindsight, I’ve been doing this a lot, but for a long time, but where it became what I would call like a partnership marketing system is really about two years. So I was, I was like many of our, the things that we innovate on, it was kind of a COVID driven thing.
Um, fire Creek was, we were heavily focused on retail and doing a lot of wholesale and doing trade shows. Um, we were Walmart, like we, we had made a pretty big splash on the wholesale side and then COVID happened and everything kind of stopped and dried up. And I was like, oh no, what, what are we gonna do?
And so we’d been doing e-commerce and we’d and growing, but not hadn’t been our focus. So I basically. Got on my first podcast in the, in the summer of 2020 realized how much I enjoyed it, how the story really worked. Got on another. And then like this kind of network effect takes off. When you start doing this consistently where it’s not just the people listening, it’s not just the relationship with the host, but like all these people kind of people come outta the ether and they wanna do brain collaborations.
Influencers. I talked about like marketing internships, all this stuff just started coming in to the point where like my whole network was people that heard me on podcast, um, talking about meat sticks. And so I realized that this, this really worked. And so I did. I think I did about 12 podcasts in that first, that first half of, you know, second half of 2020.
And then that’s all the, all this inbound stuff started coming in from people. How, how do you do this? And I realized. I, I accidentally kind of became really good at like pitching E you know, pitching other podcasts and other partnerships coming up with the right value proposition and stories, the right offers.
And so I started working a lot of one on one I had about 21 on one clients. And that as I was like doing the thing and teaching the thing to them, I realized that I was being, it, it became repetitious. Cause then my engineering kind of came up. I’m like, this
Dan: yes. There you go. Build
Dustin: I developed it into a system.
And so then.
I, I just, you know, then it allowed me to do small groups and then I realized how good the small groups were. And so, yeah, so it’s kind of, we talked, we started with like doing stuff and then kinda looking at it and realizing what worked and maybe what didn’t work as well, and then doubling down on the stuff that worked.
So I basically grew my primary business completely out of experimenting, um, through fire Creek and putting a system around what I was doing and getting success at.
Dan: I love it, that, that, and I just love how you, like, you know, just try stuff, found, found success, and then built, built a system. And then now that system is, has become a whole business in and of itself, which is just, it’s just incredible. You know how that, the progress, how you could never imagine that.
Right? You could never imagine what, what you’re doing right now. Um,
Dustin: Yeah. Three years ago. I would’ve never, never guessed. Um, yeah. So, and what’s cool about it is. And if you do, if you do this right, what ends up happening in any business when you set this up? Right. And you do it consistently, is it kind of gets that flywheel effect, right? Like as you’re doing the thing.
It feeds itself. Right? So like, as I’m doing more partnership marketing, whether it be for fire Creek or directly around partnership marketing for, for this coaching business, I’m doing it like in the public and then that, so the, the interest continues to grow because I’m doing the thing and people can see how it works.
So, um, so that’s another thing we advocate is like how to make this a flywheel, not just like something you constantly have to work on. And then, you know, for, for people that get some success with it, we’re, we’re all about like training, a virtual assistant to do 80, 90% of the work where you basically show up, do the thing that you like to do.
Be a podcast guest, as an example. And all the kind of backend stuff just happens once you, once you do the upfront work, you know, to make that feasible.
Dan: I love that. That’s something I, I feel like I, I need to learn from you cuz my experience with, with, you know, partnership stuff, affiliate stuff is like, it can be really good, but then like, it feels like I’m, I feel like I’m always starting over. Like I’m always starting from zero to get it going again.
And, and so it’s just ends up being a lot of work, even though it’s not that much work, but like just like making, like reaching out to people, making the conversations happen, all of that, like it just takes time and takes effort and an organization that I’m not always, you know, that on top of I’m
curious, you know, just. Yes. Yes. I know. I know. Well, we’ll, we’re gonna talk more about that. Um, I, I’m curious and just, cause I know you even with, with your current business that you, um, it’s kind of word of mouth and, and growing, and this is just a, kind of a selfish question, but I I’m curious how you, how do you, what’s your CRM?
Like how do you. Keep track of conversations. How do you, like, how intentional are you with, you know, with those kinds of conversations? Like I know you and I are talking about, you know, implementing something like this for me. Um, and then, you know, like I know, I know you’re thinking about the conversation, the open conversations that you’re having.
And I’m curious, how do you, how do you keep track of all of that?
Dustin: So it’s a great, it’s a great question. It’s one I’m actually working through right now. Um, up to this point, honestly, a lot of what I’ve done is like yellow post-it notes is like how
Dustin: conversations. And then I translate those into like a journal or a Google doc now. So it kind, the evolution was like, Piles of yellow, yellow stickyness sticky notes.
And then try to like download all that stuff at the end of the day or on a Friday, um, that has evolved into just simple Google docs because they’re searchable and it’s a lot easier. And now I’m, I’m just like literally starting to use a tool called Pipedrive, which is basically a lead flow, you know, lead pipeline.
I’m sure you’re familiar with it. Um, and I, if I have my normal email. Just active campaign. And so these, these things talk to each other, so I’m able to broadcast emails and communicate that way. But a lot of this I use is kind of hand to hand to relationships. Um, I wouldn’t say combat, but it’s it’s hand to hand it’s it’s it’s individual one-on-one relationships in large part.
And so, um, yeah, so like Pipedrive to me has been a really simple tool. I’ve tried like my engage marriage brand. I use something called Entreport, which is a great tool. It’s super robust, but like
Dan: super robust.
Dustin: too, it’s too robust for what, what I really need in this, in this partnership marketing world.
It’s way lower volume. Um, and it’s way more, you know, high touch. And so I just, I just need a simple way to be able to see where make sure I’m following up with people appropriately, making sure, you know, like you said, you get these open loops of conversations and that can kind of get overwhelming. And so my VA basically takes care of this stuff now that I’ve got it digitized but I, I just, I like to process things by writing hand notes.
The key is to get that into a, uh, into a version that someone can help me with. So.
Dan: Yeah. I love that. That’s super helpful. I’m I’m working with Pipedrive right now, but I’m always like, ah, like just, someone’s just like learning, learning how to, how to adapt the tool, your process to the tool and the tool to your process. And, and so I’m. So, thank you. Thank you for indulging my, my selfish question there.
I wanna circle back to, uh, just the idea of mindset because I, I know in my own life just how important that has, has been. And, and always, I think always will be that you’re always having to adjust and change the way you think about. Everything in order to level up your life level up your business? Um, I don’t know.
You’ve talked a little bit about, you know, scarcity and abundance. Um, but I wanna, I don’t, I don’t even know what the question is here, except I just wanna hear you talk a little bit more about how you think about your own mindset and, and the people that you work with and, you know, um, installing a new mindset, right?
What is, what is that process like?
Dustin: How do you install a new mindset? It’s very, uh, it’s a very good question. for me, it’s, it’s, it’s be, it’s gotta be in habit It’s gotta be part of a routine. Um, so, and I can, I’ve fallen out of this, you know, maybe once a quarter I’ll, I’ll realize, I’ll realize like five days I went by and I’m like, my mindset is not right.
I need to recommit to a routine. So for me, That’s a morning thing. And that’s, you know, for me, it’s scripture, it’s, um, journaling, just very short, short amount of, of this sort of thing. And just really reflecting on gratitude. I think that’s super helpful cuz where I, where I fall into a trap of scarcity and abundance is like, if one little thing goes wrong, it’s like, it’s easy for my mindset to go.
negative, right. Or, but if I stop for five seconds and think about three things, I’m really grateful for that will over overcompensate for the one negative thing. Like that gets me back to abundance also for me, I mean, selfishly, one of the reasons I love leading these, these mastermind groups. Is I can feed off other people’s wins.
Right? So I think being in a group of life-minded ambitious people, and for me, that’s like mission driven entrepreneurs is who I really like to work with people who have a story to tell people who have passion behind what they’re doing. They also have some level of success. So then being in that group and whether I’m leading it, or I’m a peer, you know, in these types of groups, like that’s really, really powerful.
Um, and so I think if anyone listening is like, it doesn’t have to be like a paid, you know, strategic kind of mastermind find, find a small group of peers that will commit to meeting on a regular basis, sharing your wins, asking for help when you need it. Like, I think that’s a huge thing. So I’d say morning routine.
Exercise, um, are really important. Obviously the things you’re consuming from media, like, you know, Dan’s podcast is, is always gonna be a positive thing. Right. Um, so, so feed yourself with that. Not with negative media stuff. And then I think getting plugged into a mastermind group or something similar where you have a regular cadence of celebrating your own wins and recognizing and helping other people.
Cause I think when you serve other people, like that’s really what feeds the, the positive mindset for me.
Dan: I love that. Such a great answer. Thank you for that. And I think it’s just so, so true that like, whatever you’re consuming, whether it’s the stories, the stories of the people that you’re, you’re hearing, um, or like the news, like, is it creating negative feelings of scarcity and, and, you know, fear, or is it creating the opposite?
You know, good, good feelings, positive gratitude and abundance. Um, I, I think that’s such a good way to think about it, putting yourself in, in those places where you’re with those people, making sure you’re consuming the right kind of, um, media. Um, so yeah, that’s so good. I know in my own life, it’s a, it’s an ongoing, I don’t wanna say struggle cause that feels like too negative right here.
We’re already, we’re already doing it right now, right? It’s about mindset. It’s not a struggle. It’s a, it’s an ongoing process. Um, so again, right there, I just reframed it. Um, I’m doing it right now in real time.
Dustin: words, your words matter and all that self talk. I mean, it does matter. Um, and we all, and I think one of the things, especially like as entrepreneurs, cuz everything we do is kind of. Variable , you know, like no day is really the same. I, I think it’s really easy to look at other people’s highlights, you know, on their social media and stuff, and think that they’re not having these negative moments and these negative thoughts, and everyone does, like for sure everyone does.
And again, you can, when you get a group that you get enough intimacy, like in these mastermind groups after I’d say like three or four weeks, there’s enough trust and intimacy built up. Cause people have shared enough and they’ve, they’ve been vulnerable enough that like it’s magic. It really is. It’s like, wow.
I, I had you on this pedestal and you’re like a person like , you’re human. Like you actually deal with insecurities and fears and you wake up at 2:00 AM thinking, negative thoughts and like we all do. And, and so how do you, how do you combat that? How do you deal with that is going to result in an abundance mindset versus a scarcity mindset and.
Yeah for me, I have a lot of like deep stuff. You know, I grew up with all of that scarcity. My, my mom, my dad passed away. My mom is still very scarcity minded. So even like, I love my mom and I’ll talk to her, but like, I have to be pretty firm. And like, I’m not absorbing that energy, you know? Like, I, I want to tell her how great of vacation we had and she’ll be like, did anyone get COVID like, did name of, you know, did, did you have any near misses of car wrecks?
I’m like, what do you think was scarce? You know, like, no, we had an awesome time. So, yeah, it’s funny though, that how, how. You know, your family of origin. We talk about a lot of that stuff in the marriage world. Like it really matters and, and it’s gonna be a lifelong thing that you have to commit to, uh, to reprogramming and, and, and looking at things in a different way.
Dan: I love that. So good. And, and we could go on about that
for so long. Cause there’s so many, so many layers to it, but we’ll have to save that for, for another time. Cause they’re coming up on our, um, our time here. This has just been so fun, Dustin. Um, for folks that wanna follow along with the work that you’re doing, do you have anything that you’d like to invite folks to.
Dustin: Yeah. I mean, just come over to simple success, coaching, uh, dot com. And so I’m, I’m really big again, leading with value. So I do strategy sessions with people. We’ll come up with a 90 day marketing plan for their business. That’s all free of charge. And then if they’re like, Hey, I want help with that. Then I’ll talk, tell ’em about the groups and the other programs and things that we have.
But. Very much all about hearing from really cool ambitious people, developing relationships. So if anyone’s listening, go to simple success, coaching.com, sign up there. I’d love to have a great conversation with your listeners.
Dan: I love it. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Dustin. Really appreciate it. And, um, looking forward to chatting more soon.
Dustin: Absolutely. Dan, thanks for having me.