July 9, 2020

How Dan Miller Gets Quality Engagement From His Community

How Dan Miller Gets Quality Engagement From His Community

Delivering Quality Engagement

Dan Miller is a legend in my eyes. At his core he is about serving his audience and I am thrilled to feature him on this first episode of Grow Your Community.

Dan is the author of the books 48 Days to the Work (and life) You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays, Wisdom Meets Passion, and more (check out his author page at Amazon).

His podcast is always bursting with common sense and insights that are often missing in today's business leaders. Dan speaks the truth based on his decades of helping entrepreneurs meet their goals.

Today I tap into Dan's knowledge of building community, masterminds, and how his best marketing is through satisfied customers who come into this Eagles group nervous and afraid and come out focused and determined to reach their goals and visions.

He also one of the nicest guys on the planet, and I'm so glad he agreed to come on the show.

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Note: This transcription is from otter.ai and not done by a human.

David Jackson: I consider this guy a legend. He's New York Times bestselling author. You've seen him on CBS. You've seen him on many different shows. You've seen him on Dave Ramsey. He's an author. He's a coach. If you sit next to this guy, you're going to walk away smarter. Dan Miller, thanks for coming on the show. 

Dan Miller: Aw man, what an introduction. Now I need to go reduce my head size for a minute.

David Jackson :48 days to the work you love. It's been around a while, but it's ageless

Dan Miller: I just released the 20th-anniversary edition. It's amazing. To see it just continued to have legs. I've updated it every five years. So it's a brand new 20th-anniversary edition.

David Jackson: Well, I saw you added two new words to the title. It's now to the work and life you love. What inspired that?

Dan Miller: Golly, as I work with people in business ideas, I'm an entrepreneur from the top of my head to my toes. I love that space. But as I look at that, I see how easily how quickly it bleeds over into other areas of life. It's not just about business, especially when you're an entrepreneur. You know, there's no stopping. It is 24 seven; you're an entrepreneur. So it immediately affects other areas of your life, physically, spiritually, socially, family, all those things. And the questions we get, at  48 days are so much in the life space. Gee, my spouse doesn't support me with this crazy idea I have. I thought I was going to be the next Bill Gates, and she's putting the brakes on. It was just a natural addition 48 days to the work and life because there are so many components that overlap.

David Jackson: When did the first Eagles the first version of the Eagles club start?

Dan Miller: It goes way back. I've always been enamored with just a symbolism of Eagles focused; they're loyal. They're determined persistent that we can go through character mistakes that I admire significantly of the Eagles. So I've used that term a lot. So way back at the beginning of all this 48 days, I started a little group Dave Ramsey and I started a group together. And I called it the Eagles. There were 12 of us. We met for 14 years, every Wednesday morning. It was that little tight mastermind group where our kids grew up, grew our businesses together and all that. But I've leveraged I've repurposed that again and again and again. So my current mastermind is called Eaglepreneurs. Our online community is called the 48 days, eagles. So I consistently go back to that just because I like the term I like what it brings to mind immediately to people. So it goes back a lot of years.

David Jackson: I know you're used multiple platforms over those many years. For a while, you were on Facebook. On one hand, I can see where people will think Facebook could be a great place because everybody's already there. Did you get a lot of pushback when you move from Facebook to mighty networks?

Dan Miller: We lost about a third of our membership. So that tells you right there. People are used to Facebook. It's so ubiquitous. It's just there. Every time you pick up your phone hundreds of times a day, it's there. But there are some things implicit in that very characteristic that I thought were negatives. 

There's so much volume. How do you get your unique group community content to stand out when they may have scrolled to 98 other things to get to it? And then also, as you know, well, from Facebook, the distractions are intentional. They're not just random, they're intentional, where they try to pull you away and go to other things. The intrusions, the way they mine data and use data then to market to you directly. I mean, I just don't want to be part of that mess. I think it has some really unique, clean, pure, clear, positive characteristics to have have a site. I'm not dissing Facebook, it is what it is. But it just doesn't appeal to me in terms of having a business location destination for people,

David Jackson: Has the activity stayed about the same or a little less? I would think the people that are there are there for a reason. I mean, they're there to, to be part of the group.

Dan Miller:  I have never seen such loyalty, since intimacy, such a feeling of this as a safe place. People don't get that on Facebook, here they do. And the way that people share, encourage each other, they go there intentionally. It's not going to be something just automatic. Now, you know, might networks has an app. So you can get notifications if you want to, you can control that, but they go there intentionally. So they're there with a purpose, not just kind of randomly scrolling through and something pops up. And because of that, it is accelerated the very things that you just mentioned. The very things that I want to see in an intentional business community.  It's not just showing up and Gee, I had hamburger and fries for lunch. No, this has a purpose. And when people there, they display that purpose.

David Jackson: Do you have moderators? At one point did you have to start bringing on other people maybe to help manage it?

Dan Miller: You know, this is really interesting, because I have two part time people who helped me manage that. Now, that being said, we have a whole lot of leaders in this community, that they emerged as leaders because of their involvement and their contributions. So we identify those leaders. We've given some titles, Dean of coaching, Dean of speaking, where these people have proven their leadership abilities. And we acknowledge them as such and make them leaders in the community. We right now are running what we call Eagle's Nest. So There are 11 groups, small groups of people who are interested in particular areas of business, one of those being podcasting. Then speaking, coaching, golly, we've got, you know how to understand your personality, music, art, those kinds of things. Those are all led by volunteer members, their members who have proven their expertise in those areas. And you and I, you know, have a mutual friend Eric Johnson. I was leading that group because I'm a fan of podcasting. And here I have Eric show up in my last group, and I said, Good grief. I don't need to be leading this thing, you do. 

So we've identified two leaders in the group who have emerged by the natural showing of their ability. It really requires very little of me. I'm amazed at how little I need to do in that community itself totally seen itself growing, thriving. The biggest thing that drives new members are happy members who are in there. So even the marketing is minimal, because of how that group is functioning on its own. People make an investment. So it's self purging. If somebody isn't getting value, if they're not involved in the community participating and contributing, they're going to be removed, which is exactly what I want. I've had other communities online where we've gotten really big numbers because it was free. Well, there's no self-cleansing process in a free group. I'm a big believer and having a paid group. The numbers you know, we all want to brag about numbers. You know podcasters...


David Jackson: We love our stats.

Dan Miller: I recently had an advertiser contact me and I sent him a screenshot of my Libsyn numbers. They're like, Oh my gosh, nobody ever does that. I said, Yeah, I know what they do. They fudge the numbers. They take their Facebook fans and LinkedIn connections and everything, combined them all for this grandiose number, which is unreal. I said, Here are the actual numbers, my podcast downloads, and they were blown away that I did that. But yeah, you know, I'm not enamored with the big numbers, I'm enamored with really quality, engagement and growth for participants.

David Jackson: If somebody said, Well, why should I start a community? What do you think is the biggest thing that you get out of it?

Dan Miller: I have a core message with my 48 days book, you know, that is how to identify how God has uniquely gifted you and then to translate that into meaningful, purposeful, profitable work. That's it. So if I think that can benefit people, then I want them to actually experience that. So a community is one more way for people to experience that. We have courses, we have a pretty robust product suite, courses, seminars, online training, coaching,  my podcast, the blogs, so the community is one more way to do that. And it's quite effective, and that people are sharing testimonials. "I did this now, you know, here's where I was two years ago. Here's where I am today." Boy that does things to drive the sharing of your message, like few other things can do. People can read a book in isolation. You know, they read it, and they like it. But Wow, that may be the end of it. But if they're in community and they say, well, gee, how did you get there? How did you use this principle to move yourself forward? Then there's a viral effect to that that we don't get through other mediums.

David Jackson: You have a course on masterminds? I go back to the days I read your book on a PDF You had on masterminds. On the one hand, there's a community and then there's a mastermind. Are they the same thing? I think sometimes people use those words interchangeably.


Dan Miller: I love your question, Dave. And No, they're not. I don't know of any word that has been more bastardized in the last few years than mastermind. I mean, people use that, hey, let's get together for dinner. You know, we're gonna have a mastermind, you know, why don't you come over my house on Saturday morning, we're gonna have a mastermind. Well, that's not really the description, but mastermind, man, I go all the way back to Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. We talked about every person who had had the extraordinary success that he studied over 20 years without exception as part of a mastermind. So if it was Henry Ford, or Andrew Carnegie or JD Rockefeller, all those guys who were world changers, were part of a mastermind, but that wasn't just some big group, or you just got together for dinner. Those were people who were getting together regularly and sharing ideas - sharing life deeply. 

You can't scale a mastermind. You can't just have it open-ended, and all of a sudden you've got 1000 people in there, that's not a mastermind. Now I've done some experimenting with the group that Dave and I, Dave Ramsey and I had for 14 years 12 guys, that was it. I mean, somebody had to die or leave before there was an opening. That was it the only way in, and it rarely happened.  Right now, I've got a mastermind, and I have 30 people in it. I'm experimenting. It's working really, really well. Because what I'm finding is that we have little pockets of unique expertise. So if someone needs medical help, we've got two doctors in there. If somebody needs legal help, we got three attorneys in there. So I'm finding that we have kind of a economy of scale in talent and having a few more people. I'm still testing that to see if I really like that. I have no expectation, no desire, you know, to increase that number to 50 or 100. No, but I'm experimenting with a little bigger group. And because we connect virtually it's working extremely well. An online community on the other hand, we still screen people, we, they still have to apply and be approved, they still have to meet certain criteria to be in there. But we don't have the depth of level of connection in there. There are people who are being helped by other people who I don't even know. I mean, I can't really be deeply connected with a whole lot of people like that. So no, it's very different. It's not a mastermind at all, I would never call it such. 

David Jackson: What's the application process?


Dan Miller: Well, the application we want people, this is really an entrepreneurial community. I mean, we want people who are clear on what they're moving toward. Now, we still have a lot of people who are working in traditional jobs, that's fine. We have a program where we teach them how to use 15 hours a week to grow a very significant business. You can do that 15 hours a week, in six months you can have $100,000 a year business, we have lots of examples of people doing that. But these are all people who have some kind of an idea of what they're moving toward. So we don't want somebody who's just disgruntled with their work. I mean, that would include everybody. So we want people who have a clear idea, here's something I'm testing. But now I want to grow this a little bit more. And so if we see those characteristics in there, and we have other ways that we vet people to look at, what else are they doing on social media, we don't want somebody to just come in and think this is the place to recruit or spam people. Naw, not going to happen. So we have some simple questions about 20 questions somebody has to answer, and then we approve them or not.


David Jackson:  And so you mentioned that like, obviously, if somebody is just a, you know, Oscar the Grouch for lack of a better phrase, what other things are immediate red flags?  Not that these are bad people. They're just not a good fit for your community. Is there anything else you can think of?


Dan Miller: Oh, yeah, there are some real red flags that people don't anticipate. It's people who blame and point fingers and complain. Gee, you know, every job I've had a boss has been an idiot. Oh, really? Let's look for the common denominator in this scenario. So yeah, I have very little patience with people who, who have lots of reasons for why they failed. I mean, right now look at what's happened. It's the government, you know, it's the church, it's the economy. You know, it's COVID - whatever. I mean, I'm talking to people who are absolutely thriving right now, with all these things that seem like obstacles, and a lot of people talking about nothing but loss and lack. There are people who are absolutely knocking it out of the park. Those are the people that I look for people who accept responsibility for where they are. 

So we have some subtle questions that help us identify that. Is this person accepting responsibility? Is this person decisive? Is this person at a different place? I mean, sometimes in a personal conversation, I'll ask somebody how is your life different today than it was three years ago? Just that open-ended? If they describe it, and it's exactly the same? Well, guess what, I got a pretty good predictor of what your life is going to be like three years from now. But if that person has changed that period of time, oh, that opens the door, we can identify some new goals, new vision, and move forward with this person.


David Jackson: For somebody who's thinking of starting a community, what would be your advice as someone who's not only started one, but boy has it flourished not only for a short time, we're talking over a decade of having this community go on and on and on.  So for somebody just starting out, what would be your advice?


Dan Miller: Boy, this is really tough for people because I know that memberships are so popular right now people look at it and they do the math on it, and immediately think oh my gosh, this is a cash cow. But the key is, you have to have a center of influence before a membership community will work. So I talked to people who want to jump into this space, they have some area of expertise, and maybe rightly so. I mean, it could be an attorney who has been working as a corporate attorney and now that person wants to start a community.  I might ask,  "how many connections do you have on LinkedIn?" and they say, "Well, no, I've never done that."  


Dan Miller: How many blogs? Have you written in the last three years? "Well, no, I haven't done that." What are you doing on Facebook? "Well, nothing I haven't done." Here's how a membership site works. It works best as a subset of a larger community that you already have. If I have a lot of people on my email list, and we have, you know, we've got about 120,000 people, they get my weekly newsletter. That gives me a basis of people who are already listening to me. Then if I announce a new product that we have available, sure, we're going to have a percentage of those people who say I'm in but if you have no audience, don't start a membership site. Work to build an audience. I mean blog for a while, get involved in other communities, do something to start building, put together a little course and promote it and sell it. And all of a sudden you got 5000 people where you have permission, where you have their email contact, then you've got the basis to begin exploring a membership site. Now when you don't have any audience, it just flat doesn't work.


David Jackson: Typically, when you first start out, you're just going to get probably smaller portion than you think of your audience is going to join. And so when you're starting off from zero, a small percentage of zero is zero. So that's exactly right.

You mentioned your email list and I know you have your podcast because I'm a big fan of that. You've been on TV, you've been on the radio. When you look at,  your Eagles club. Do you know where most people are coming from? Or is it just referrals from other members?


Dan Miller: it's primarily referrals from other members.

We continue to plant the seed of what we're doing in Eagles community, my podcasts,  I use a lot of examples. EXAMPLE: "Hey, in the Eagles community, here's somebody you know, here's Dave, let me tell you what he just did." So those things without selling plant the seed, oh, that's where the action is. That's where people are really getting results. That's where people have a lot of other people helping them. I mean, I'm starting a group just immediately here, that's called will it fly? I had people put in applications. And I said, if you're, you know, seven $800 a month on a little side idea and you want to get that to 1000 put in an application, and I'll screen up to 20 people. So I did. We had tons of applications. And we had a lot of them from people who were like I talked about, unfortunately, gee, you know, I really want to do this, but I don't know what my ideal would be. Those are not in this group. I select the people who have a business bones structure put together, and they need to scale it. Then next month, I'm going to be working with those who are already at three or $4000 and want to go to $5,000 a month. The next month, I'm going to go with groups who are already at seven or $8,000 a month and want to go to $10,000. And I'd like to continue that, frankly. But those are the kind of things we do inside there just to serve those people well. We just give and give and give and those people become rabid fans. There is nothing you can do to grow a membership site you can manipulate and con and do launches and open and closed doors, all the things that people do and that's fine. What we do is create raving fans because of the success stories they experience in the community.


David Jackson: That's awesome. It's authentic. I'm sitting here smiling. I can't think I'm so happy to hear that because like I tell people all the time that like how do I grow my audience I go, "Make your content so Good that the people listening, have no choice but to tell a friend"  and that's how you grow your podcast. It sounds like you have the same kind of theory. And what's great about that is also you have social proof when you take somebody from, $600 a month to $1000 ,  the numbers, they don't lie. I used to do this, and now I'm doing this and people can show the transformation. You know, you can't argue with that. That's awesome.


Dan Miller: In my podcast that I just recorded for this week, I told a story about a young guy who was making $40,000 a year, he's now making more than 10 times that. He called into Dave Ramsey to announce he's debt-free. Dave says, how long ago did you do this? He said, you recommend it in Miller's 48 days to the work you love. I read the book, and got involved with him. Here I am today. I mean, think about that video, incidentally, has had over a million views. Think about what that done for my business. I mean, I could buy all the Facebook ads in the world, I could take out a full-page ad in USA Today. And it would not have the impact of that kid with over a million views, telling people, hey, this is what happened for me. 


David Jackson: Now when you hear that, you know that somebody went from where they were to where they are now. How does that make you feel?


Dan Miller:  Oh my gosh. I mean, people sometimes apologize for sending me success stories. Dan, I know you probably get tired of hearing this. Are you kidding me? I never get tired of hearing those stories. If it's a housewife, I've got one lady who makes dolls, a creative way to make dolls showing mothers how to do that, you know, and she's making six $700 a month. I love that kind of story. I never get tired of hearing those. Yeah, it's extremely gratifying. Dave. I mean, I just it's very humbling for a little farm kid from Ohio to be able to create some kind of little Impact where people are experiencing those kind of new results in their lives. It's really, really gratifying.


David Jackson: Well, and you talk about God putting people where they're supposed to be. And in my opinion, you're right where you need to be. And it's like I said, I've spent 30 minutes with you here. I'm already smarter and check out Dan's website 48days.com. First of all, buy the book. It really is. It's one of those books that I've probably read probably two or three times. We're about every now and then I'm just like, I just need something to kind of get me back on track and like, Okay, you know what time to go back that I'll read Michael Hyatt's Platform, Pat Flynn's Will it fly, those all kind of every now and then I go back to the well because I don't know how I got off track. But definitely check out that if you want to check out his his community. That's it. 48daysEagles.com and, Dan, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate you taking time to talk to us today.


Dan Miller: Man, my pleasure. As you can tell my enthusiasm soars at any opportunity to talk about this. So, my pleasure and hopefully we stimulated some ideas for your audience as well.

Dan MillerProfile Photo

Dan Miller

Dan is the author of the books 48 Days to the Work (and life) You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays, Wisdom Meets Passion, and more (check out his author page at Amazon)

His podcast is always bursting with common sense and insights that are often missing in today's business leaders. Dan speaks the truth based on his decades of helping entrepreneurs meet their goals.