Below is the written interview with Frank of the Rebel Entrepreneur, leading the rebellion from France. His gig in advertising was short – frustrated with Facebook and LinkedIn ads. His journey is rough one, having to deal with medical issues, job loss while trying to pay off a house. He’s experienced getting his ads banned without warning and kept on trucking, now focusing on building his community and reaching out through writing great content.
Introduction – Who Is Frank?
In 3 sentences or less, describe yourself and your gig.
I’m a rebel, thrill seeker, a restless soul. I’m always working on something. Hustling is my normal state of mind. Aside from coaching 30 entrepreneurs, I’m running an exporting business, an investment company, and I’m blogging about starting a business.
Describe your entrepreneurial mindset.
For me, there are three things that are incredibly important to me in terms of maintaining my edge as an entrepreneur.
- Grinding. The most difficult and challenging aspect of running a business is the ability just to grind away every day. Every morning I get up at 6 am. and never finish before 7 pm, six days a week. I have a never say die attitude. While my competitors are on holidays or just slacking off. We’re working, stealing their customers. If you don’t keep grinding away, you’ll never succeed.
- Continuous improvement. Never settling for mediocrity, learning from mistakes, and just focusing on just getting better all the time.
- Self-education. Being open minded to new knowledge. Learning from others, learning from customers, learning from competitors, learning from successful entrepreneurs in other industries, learning new skills and learning to be a better entrepreneur.
What motivates you, keeps you going, gets you up in the morning?
What gets me up in the morning is my desire to make a difference. Why, because I’m angry at the level of mediocrity that surrounds me every day? People behave like they are going to live forever. We are walking a tightrope between life and death every day. Twice I stood at death’s door, and I am so lucky to have survived a near fatal accident where I was told I would never fly again. That wasn’t the worse news, I was also told it was unlikely I would ever talk again. Then almost 12 years ago I had an aneurysm in my brain and spent three months in hospital being a lab rat while they tried to figure out what was wrong. I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed without assistance and I spent 20 hours a day sleeping because that’s all I could do. When you have come close to death as I have you realize every day is a blessing.
What is your passion – what makes you want to advertise this thing?
The one thing that has driven me all my life is freedom. Freedom from being manipulated or used by anybody. I’m a terrible employee for that reason. I love to do what I love to do. And as an employee that got me into trouble all the time. The other thing that drives me is excellence. I think we have so many problems in the world because of mediocrity. If people raised their standards, we’d have responsible leadership in government.
The Story – How Did It Happen?
Take us back. What were you doing when you first started to dabble in advertising? Tell the story.
You might be surprised to hear. I lost my job as a professor in entrepreneurship because I wasn’t interested in research. I just wanted to work with students to help them launch their businesses. That’s what I love to do most. The school was only interested in research. At the same time, we purchased an old house in a forest just outside of Paris, which I started renovating. So I spent eight months renovating this house. It gave me time to think about my future.
I sure as hell wasn’t going back to academia. We started exporting product to South East Asia. Then in the mean time I offered to teach local expats how to start a business. To my surprise, we got a lot of interest. At the same time I thought I’ve got five businesses under my belt, so three months ago I started blogging about starting a business. It was slow to get going, but we are getting a lot of interest now.
We stand on the heads of giants. Who are your key influencers to your business model and how so?
I’ve had lots of amazing people who have inspired me. The person who has influenced me the most is my former Ph.D. Supervisor. Murray Gillin. He’s the father of entrepreneurship in Australia. He created one of the first full fledged entrepreneurship programs in partnering with Ernst and Young. It was an amazing experience.
I grew up on a farm in a little country town in Australia. My uncle moved to Australia after the war. He was the war, hero. He’d fought as a partisan during the 2nd world war. He was an incredible individual. Tough as nails, a real man’s man. In my formative years, he was my pseudo dad. I miss him.
I also attribute my success to many of my martial arts instructors. First and foremost George Kolovos, an amazing person who epitomises the true spirit of the samurai – I’m so lucky to have had so many great mentors.
Was your business always set up that way?
Devin, my business is always evolving. As I learn more about the needs of my followers I adapt and change to meet their needs.
The Hustle – What’s It Like to Be Frank?
Tell me what you are doing day-to-day – your routine to get out there.
I usually get up about 5.30 am. I spend a short time planning my tasks for the day. Then I’ll read for an hour learning as much I can about blogging. Or if I’m on a particular topic I might read something from which I can develop an article that’s on my mind. I’ll meditate for about 45mins. Then I usually write for a couple of hours then I’ll make breakfast for my family. After breakfast, I usually work till about 1 pm. I have lunch, and then my partner and I go for a brisk walk to discuss what needs to be done. What we’ve learnt and plan the next 24 hours and talk about our goals progress. When we return, about 2.30pm we get back to work, and usually we finish about 7 pm – sometimes later. We do that five days a week. Then we spend one day focussed on our on our entrepreneurs and export business
I write for four different blogs at the moment, and I love to engage with people on quora.com
What forms of advertising do you do? Of those, where do you focus your time and money?
I took out ads early on with Facebook and Linkedin but don’t plan to do that any longer. Facebook is difficult to deal with, and LinkedIn just didn’t work for us.
What habits do you find contribute most to your progress?
The thing that I spend most of my time on is writing. I’ll come up with a topic of interest to me or part of a series I’m writing then I’ll spend a few days reading about the topic, and then I’ll write. I usually write about two blog articles a day.
The Struggle: What does Frank think sucks?
What advertising tactic or channel seemed cool at the time but has never lived up to your expectations?
I think the one that I was most disappointed with is Linkedin. On the surface, it seems right but you have to find the one that’s right for your audience. The other one that we had an ok response from early on was Facebook.
But they are so difficult because there’s no support and no help. We got banned for an ad that had been approved, and no one is willing to talk with us to address the problem. I think they are very subjective the way they approve and ban ads.
What pain points do you currently have in your current methods?
We help people who wake up one day and find they have wasted their life in a career they hate. My desire is to help them realise that they just have to decide, and they can achieve success. Achieving success is not difficult, so many people have done it before just have to learn what the clues to success are, and follow them.
What was your biggest struggle in Advertising/Marketing to date?
I think the one thing that I find most frustrating is the quality of some of the autoresponders out there. We’ve changed three times and no matter which one you use they all have faults and limitations.
The Advice: What does Frank use for tactics?
What tools or tactics do you recommend to the DIY Advertiser/Marketer to make the most out of the time and budget?
Learn to write quality content. It’s the essence of your success. It’s no different to owning a restaurant. Not matter what the building looks like and how good the service is if the meal is bad the rest doesn’t matter. I read a lot of blogs and find some amazing websites from a design perspective but the quality of the content is very poor. I think an essential tool in this day and age is a grammar, checker. Also, I’d encourage more bloggers to research topics, not just copy other bloggers material.
What makes an effective advertiser/marketer?
The ability to be able to build relationships with top notch bloggers and share material, that means writing good content.
What have you done to set yourself apart?
The advantage I have is 25 years as an entrepreneur. I started my first business at 18 years of age and have owned a business ever since. But also I spent 12 years teaching people how to become an entrepreneur. I have a Ph.D. in how entrepreneurs think but I also have a Masters in Entrepreneurship. Because of that I’ve interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs. Helped 1000’s learn about entrepreneurship and coached 100’s through the start up process. I’m not just talking about it; I’m walking the talk.
The Conclusion: Where do we go from here?
What’s your next big move in your industry?
I’m just grinding away. I’ll continue doing what I’m doing for the time being. I might try a podcast, we’ll see how I sound. Because of the accident I damaged my vocal chords my voice drops in and out, and I’m not sure it’s a great voice to listen to. We’re going to try and see how it works.
What resource, book, or blog do you recommend for newcomers in this advertising space look into?
I’m going to go philosophical here but the one that I get a lot of inspiration from is Stephen Covey’s 8th habit. It wasn’t as popular as the 7th habit. Which I don’t understand. I think from The 8th habit, from Effectiveness to Greatness is a much more inspirational book. I highly recommend it to anybody who wants to make people’s lives better.
What is the conclusion here?
I can only suggest one thing that inspires me every day. “Live, love, learn and leave a legacy”. From the 8th habit. And as a lover of Shakespeare my other moral compass is; unto thyself be true. Be honest with yourself do what makes you happy, and what is right by your subscribers.
If you were to tell me one thing to be remembered to help me run a free social network for buying and selling ads, direct, what would it be?
Devin, keep grinding, keep learning and never give up. It can take 2 or more years. Keep following people you admire, learn from them. See what they are doing. Trying something new every week. And build a network of friends you can call on for support. By all means, you can keep me on your list.
Good luck and thanks for this opportunity.
About Frank, The Rebel Entrepreneur:
A little about me in order of importance (to me). Entrepreneur, Blogger, Musician, Martial artist, PhD in entrepreneurship, Aviator, World Traveller, Idealist. I’ve taught entrepreneurship to 1000’s of students all around the world. I’ve coached and mentored 100’s of aspiring entrepreneurs, of all ages and in diverse industries. A dozen or more of my entrepreneurs are earning in excess of $1m and one even reached $14m this year.
I can be found at…