Daniel Marcos is a serial entrepreneur, business coach, and passionate learner. He is the co-founder and CEO of Growth Institute, the leading online executive education company for C-level executives at fast-growing firms. He is a keynote speaker and a CEO Coach with a mission to help 1 million entrepreneurs.
In less than a decade, Growth Institute has been recognized three times among the top 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the USA, with over 40,000 members across 64 countries.
Where to Find Daniel Marcos
Facebook: Scaling Up With Growth Institute
LinkedIn: Growth Institute
Youtube: Growth Institute
This episode is sponsored by Entire Productions- Creating events (both in-person and virtual) that don't suck! and Entire Productions Marketing- carefully curated premium gifting and branded promo items.
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Whenever you get to a stage, you have to own learn a lot of the things you do. And then that takes you in a body of death through the process while you're relearning new things. And then it will take you to the next step.Natasha:
Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.any that has been on the Inc.:
That coupled with studies at Babson college, the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT and Harvard gives me the unique ability to help entrepreneurs see your blind spots and move over the road bumps faster.
I help entrepreneurs like you break through your plateau and reach higher levels of achievement. For more information, go to my website, natashamiller.co.
Daniel Marcos is the CEO of Growth Institute, which he founded with business leader, Verne Harnish. We talk about the big wins and low losses in his companies before focusing his energy on helping entrepreneurs scale and grow their businesses. Now let's get right into it.Daniel:
So I've been a real entrepreneur for 21 years. My first endeavor was when I was like eight or nine years old and did an aquarium and sold fish. And then I sold t-shirts and you can imagine everything I could sell, I sold. But that was trying to play to be entrepreneur.
Until I really worked five years for three years in a brokerage house trading stocks. And two years in government, I worked for the Mexican conflict in Hong Kong for two years. And that's when I really learned discipline, focus, leadership, all that. And then when I build a company after that, it was completely different.almost were a unicorn back in:
And you're the best in Mexico. Why don't you partner with us merge? And then we'll do it together." And I was like, okay. He did the same in Brazil. So if you look into Latin America, Mexico and Brazil are probably half of the GDP of their region. So when someone in Argentina says that they want to be the regional player or the regional leader, you cannot be the leader without Mexican Brazil.
So Goldman JP said, "Hey, get me the best in Mexico, the best in Brazil, and we'll talk." So we did the agreement. Next week, we flew to New York and said, now we have Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. We had Chile and Venezuela. So now we could be the regional player, give us money. We're raised $53 million.Grew it significantly to:
And those were destroyed. Then I became CEO coach. I invested in software companies. So I'd been around for, let's see, in a serious way for 23 years.Natasha:
So you're a CEO of a company that is moving and shaking. Do you have your own venture still somewhere on the side?Daniel:
I have a couple of ventures on the side, but mostly I like to invest in real estate for cashflow and I've used most of my money to invest in real estate.
So that's what I've been doing for the last years.Natasha:
Good. Good to know. So I think it's important. And let me know what you think for coaches. And I know you're a CEO of a coaching company, but for them to be involved in a business, so that they're really in the thick of knowing what their clients are going through.
Do you agree with that?Daniel:
A hundred percent. So at Growth Institute, we probably, 95% of our revenue is online education and probably 5% is coaching. So we do a lot of online education. But the clients that I coach, they said, the one thing that I liked the most is that you're a CEO and you're everyday like all to figure out payroll and how to grow a company and things like that.
Yes, the perspective of being a CEO on the coaching side is very powerful.
Daniel, you're the CEO of Growth Institute. Are you also coaching clients?
I still coach probably 15 hours a week. So I tell people that I have three jobs. I coach like 15, 20 hours a week. I'm the CEO of the Growth Institute. And then I am writing my books.
I have three full-time jobs today.Natasha:
And what is your current book that you're working on?Daniel:
So I'm writing a book of a field system. So then you give you a little bit of background. A lot of entrepreneurs come to me and said, "Hey, what's the most important book I need to read today?" And I was like, that's like going to the doctor and said, doctor I'm sick.
Give me a strong has medicine that you have no, what are you sick of? What's hurting? How old are you? There's a lot of things to really understand what's right. Medicine and doses. So I think it has to be the same way. And then I go to companies and I ask them, Hey, the best companies in the world are amazing with systems and procedures to really build a business, show me your systems and procedures.
And they brag about the accounting system and production system and customer support system. And then say, now show me your CEO system. How do you run as a CEO. And they look at me saying " What do you mean?" I was like, if you have systems for everything, show me what systems and procedures. How do you run? How do you decide the strategy? How do you communicate?
They have no idea. So my book is a recommendation of a CEO system, depending on what stage your company at. And they believe the growth stages are in four stages and what you have to do exactly on each stage. So it's like a formula of the 12 things you have to do in every stage.Natasha:
I will be buying that book. Is that going to be through Growth Institute or on your own?
Daniel: It's my book. I'm self-publishing it. But I'm using Growth Institute as the brand and we're going to use it and this will go to the Growth Institute platform.Natasha:
So talking about business ideas and decisions. So it's going to be your own book. Your name is going to be the author and you will self publish under what imprint? Your own scaling.
Okay. And will you use something like Scribe to do that?Daniel:
So I hired a couple of agencies and people that are experts on polishing books. And they help you get to the number one list, the typical thing, right? They really create a strong campaign when you launch a book and they will help me get all the ISBNs and distribution lists and all that.
But it's under my name and brands.Natasha:
And I know that I'm digging, but which company are you using? I know this, I'm publishing a book soon. I've done two years of research. I've gone from self-publishing, professional publishing, hybrid publishing, vanity press, traditional publishing. I'm on my second agent. So this is important information for entrepreneurs when they're thinking about publishing their book.
Do you remember the name of the company you're considering?Daniel:
Yes. So I'm using two. NGNG, a lady called-Natasha:
Amber Vilhauer. She's doing my book launch. Yes.
She's amazing. She's doing my book launch. I'm in love with what she does on the systems and everything.Natasha:
I'm right there with you.Daniel:
She's brilliant. And then she recommended me with a guy called Carrie that I imagined same of igniting souls, and Carrie's going to do all the ISBNs and structure and the rest of it.Natasha:
I think that information is really impactful to entrepreneurs that are trying to figure out that whole hamster wheel of what choice to make.
Thank you for going there with me.Daniel:
But very important. I did this because of my platform. I already have decent platform online and through Growth Institute and social media. So when you publish a book, you need to have a platform. And depending on the size of the platform is most likely the size of the launch.Natasha:
It will be a percentage of that. Let's not pretend.Daniel:
But what Amber does is precisely that.Natasha:
How can you use your platform the best and get the most conversion that's in your platform? And that's why I was super, super excited to work with her. But it's really important that whenever you decide to publish or self-publish or whatever that you understand what platform do you have to be able to do it correct?Natasha:
Absolutely. So piggy backing on that. So you're the CEO of Growth Institute. You're creating a book with your own name and your own imprint. What is the partnership with Growth Institute and what are they allowing or giving you? And is there any conflict of interest?Daniel:
No, we don't believe because we are perfectly aligned on the "why" on the clients. So at our growth history, you'll see our logo, it says Growth Institute and below has two phases. Scale impact, reduce drama. That's everything we do. Let me go back because it's really important. It took us a lot of years of discussion and think process behind it. All entrepreneurs we become entrepreneurs because we want to be free.
And everyone has a different freedom, right? You want financial freedom and that's the typical that everyone says, but you have freedom to work in whatever you want to work in the world and make your money with that. Work from wherever you want to work in the world. And a lot of people build a company because they want to live somewhere that they will have a platform or a space to work, and they want to create a company built to work from there.
Or you have an issue in your life that oppresses you and you want to be free from that. I'll give you an example. We have a client in Mexico, a very young kid. He's 19 years old and he built a bra for women that will detect cancer in women at 19. And he has won all these awards internationally.Natasha:
I'm assuming he probably had a mother or a sister that had breast cancer.Daniel:
So his mother died when he was like 15 or so . Breast cancer. And that jail that his mom died when he was 15. And he said, what will make me free? Is that I help more kids not to lose their mom at 15 because of breast cancer.
So if I'm able to do that, I'm free. So every entrepreneur builds a company because they want certain freedom. What creates freedom? You want to do what you do bigger. Hey, I want to help one woman not die from breast cancer. I want to be able to help a million women, right? Whatever you want to, do it bigger.
I want to make money. I want to make more money. I want to, whatever freedoms you're looking for, you want to do a bigger scale and then you want to reduce drama. All the entrepreneurs said, Hey, I love what I do. I just wish I could go on vacation. Or I really wish I could separate for my business at 5:00 PM and they want less drama.
If we could help you do those things, that will give you freedom. So that's our company.Natasha:
I wasn't going to ask you this, but I'm going to anyway, I know a little bit about Verne Harnish. I met him because I'm in the EMP at MIT, EO. And I worked with you guys on your second summit this last summer where I brought in the magician Kevin Lake.
Yeah, it was great. So what is it like working with him? I think he's so well-spoken, and he's such a powerful force of nature. I'm sure he's inspiring to you. And, but tell me in your own words.Daniel:
So first Verne was a big mentor of mine at the beginning. When I started growing my company I had no idea what I was doing and a lot of the fundamentals of business that I know, and I operate on came because of Verne where he teach me that.re the giants were EMP today,:
So I'd be going back to the same room that they might be for 18 years. It just changed my life. Today my best friends in the US they're all from that program. That's my family. So he gave me an amazing network of entrepreneurs and friends that has significantly improved my life. And then I'll tell a story, a little bit of how this was built, because after I sold my company, Verne called me and said, Hey, how are you?
I cried and complained on the phone. I was not in a good space in my life. I have lost all my money and debt and it was complicated space. And after complaining probably for a half hour, Verne said, are you done? And I was like, what do you mean? What's next? And I was like, I'm going to go back to Mexico to get a job.
And by the way, my visa in the US, I'm originally from Mexico, my visa was tied to my business where my business went under. I went to my wife and said, we're going back. And we packed our things, sold our house and moved back to Mexico. And I have to get a job to pay for the school of my kids.
And Verne said, no, you have to become a coach. I was like, you're crazy. Like I don't trust myself to be an entrepreneur. How do you want to coach others? I said, that's precisely why.Natasha:
And Daniel, I imagine you pitching to me. Hey, I had an incredible exit. I did an incredible job, but I'm bankrupt now. Can I be your coach? That would be a hard, no, but Verne's awesome.Daniel:
So Verne said, fine. But let me ask you a question. I was like, yeah. "How are you going to pay your debts?" And I was like, "What do you mean?" He said your salary is going to be enough to pay your bill expenses. You don't have enough to pay your debt. So be a coach on the weekends and with that you pay your debt. And I was like, okay.
And that was it. So I became a coach with him on scaling up and it was very important what happened with coaching. He came and every entrepreneur coach, everything, to help me regain my trust and confidence and reaffirming values and all these things. So my comeback was really fast comeback. A lot of that was because of Verne.
And then four years after, I came to Verne and said, "Hey, love what I do. I make a lot of money. I pay all my debt. I feel amazing. I'm going to be an entrepreneur again. I'm going to stop being coach." And he was like, "No, you're one of those successful coaches of the system. Why are you going to leave?"
And now I'm like, "You know what? I need to be an entrepreneur again. I'm 35. I'm willing to go back. It was like 38 or so. And I said, I need to do another company before I become a coach. I don't want to be a coach. I want to be a coach in my sixties, but in my forties to be an entrepreneur again, I have to build another company." And he said, "What are you gonna do?"
And I said, I'm going to build education online for Latin America. And he said, no, no.Natasha:
The plot thickens. I see where you're going with this.Daniel:
And Verne said, no no, you have to do it in English. And I'm like, but you taught me that the BHAG it's about what's your passion, what can you be the best in the world at and where do you make money? And the second one, I'm not the best in the world.
So I'm very strong in Latin America. I'm just going to do it in Latin America. He said no, you're going to do it worldwide. We're going to do it together. And now we're like we're in. And that's when we started Growth Institute, and it's been an amazing experience. And I'll tell you a couple of stories after, and this is where you see the power of someone that has been focusing and giving all these value around the world for 30 or so years before.
So there was, as soon as we start partnering, I went to a conference with Peter Diamandis, singularity, and I went to the restaurant. And when I came, the person was talking on stage. I didn't want to go to my seat because I was going to distract the person on stage. So I stayed on the back, just waiting.
And there was this other guy that was standing next to me and he looked in my badge to see my name. And he was like, oh, you work with Verne. And I'm like, yeah. And he gives me a hug. I was like what? And the guy said, please tell Verne the that I'm very thankful. And I was like, why? He said when I had a company, I was doing like $40 million a year of revenue, but I was losing like five.
I was having a really hard time. It was a disaster. Verne came in, implemented the habits, whatever. I just sold my company six months ago for 640 million bucks. So tell Verne, thank you very much. And I was like, okay. And then six months into it. I was in a conference and they invited like 10 of us to have a dinner with some of the speakers in one of the suites.
So I go up to the suite and the guest that was speaking was one of the shark tanks and Kevin Carrington, the first shark tank. And Kevin, it looked like he was not very happy being there. It was part of the contract. They had to have dinner with some VIP guests. He was there and the host was telling him who was in the room like here's this guy.
Pump the people up. So Kevin will be happy to be around and he was not happy. He was not enjoying the conversation. And they said Daniel is a partner of Verne. And he just immediately changed his posture and said "Who's Daniel?"
Then he went around and gave me a hug. I was like, “What's happening?”Natasha:
I'm not sure I would hug someone that is tied to Verne, but I don't know him as well. And Verne has not single-handedly scaled my company to that number. I bet I would though, if he had.Daniel:
But he said tell Verne that I admire him a lot, whatever. Please, I'll be happy to.Natasha:
You guys as coaches should take equity in these companies.Daniel:
I could probably tell you 20 or 30 stories like that. And they'll say you're apparently with Vern, how can we help? It's incredible.Natasha:
Are you two a partner at Growth Institute or as owner?Daniel:
Okay. Then there's another illumination.
So how big is your company as far as full-time employees?Daniel:
So today we have 30 full-time equivalents, but being a technology company, we leverage that a lot. And two, we work with probably 80 or a hundred thought leaders and coaches. So even though our operating team is probably 30, if you count the amount of people we send checks every month, we're probably around a hundred people.
The reason I asked is to flow into the question about how do your core values really support and develop and translate into how you run the business to those 30 core employees?
So we have some core values, mostly about learning and growing. We're a growing organization. We have to be aligned with the mentality of our clients. But as an example, something that for us is very important. One of our core values is on our intellectual capitalism. Most of our partners, our intellectual capitalists are people that live because of their IP.
And the one thing we don't like outside of the market is everyone hijacking their content and saying they're there. Or are using it. We've had a lot of thought leaders that said, I could not work with any other company on online education but you, because of the way you protect ys. And that's part of your core value.
So I'll give you an example. The other day I was talking with a very high caliber pod leader. I've sold probably two or 3 million copies of his books. And so you can imagine how many times I've been approached by Udemy, Udacity, and Coursera. They want to give my course away or sell it for $10.
Like I have 30 years of building my content and these guys want to destroy it. You guys buy what I do, sell it to the price that I'm not that happy because I think it's cheaper, but it's a good balance of the price that you sell, the value that you give the impact, the coaching, they really make sense. And that's part of who we are in our core values.
So today I was having an issue with a thought leader or something. And my team said, Hey, can we approach your thought leaders? I said, no, we need to call Verne and let Verne know first. Because foremost, we have a relationship with a leader or friendship. So I called Verne and said, "Hey, Verne, this is happening, what do you think?"
"Do this and this. Send him this message. Tell him that I said this, just go and deal with it." Perfect. And that's part of the way you run.Natasha:
If you were to teach our listeners what you consider to be one of the biggest things they need to master in their businesses. And I know this is a little bit like, doctor I'm sick, but still, what is one of the most important things that you would ask an entrepreneur to consider mastering?Daniel:
And they tell you if they're willing to buy or not, price, whatever. So if you don't understand marketing, start reading. And I'll tell you the way I had a discussion with someone, I admire Ryan Deiss, a good mentor of mine. One day, Ryan Deiss and I went to have dinner. At lunch I was having an issue. And he said, "Daniel, you've told me this, and you have a team of whatever. If you don't learn copywriting, you're never going to scale the company. Start reading all the copywriting books that you can yourself."
It's not about all my team read it. No, you read it. You go to a copywriting course, you do it. Right. And I start doing it from a company side. So you have to start with marketing. And then two, after you start growing your team, the single most important thing is your team.
And it's not just a team. It's the right team doing the right things. And this is part of what we teach on Impact X from the book I'm going to publish. People said, I want to scale a company. And I was like, you want to scale a company? The only thing you could do is build and scale a great team. And if you build a great team, they will build a great company.
Like it's impossible to build a great company. Your job is how can I get the best layers and then align them, give them the right culture, whatever, for them to go and build a great company. So if you do that, your company's gonna rock.Natasha:
I agree with that wholeheartedly. And I'd have to say I'm in business now 20 years, and I'm very scrappy.and grew it starting in about:
And I leaned heavily into allowing my team to help rescue the business. And I have two gals that are a couple of years out of college that I just said, you're both amazing. And I'm going to listen to what you have to say about how we go about these steps in building our business back up. I sometimes say they single-handedly saved my company.
That's not really true, but the load was very heavily on them and they did such an amazing job. And you'd think that a business dropping that much revenue would mean that I'm working more. But I'm working less because I let my team now handle their stuff and I'm really a coach and a cheerleader for them.
And sometimes I have to drop in and explain some things and then I just pull right back out and let them shine. So thank you for saying that. Yes.Daniel:
It makes all the sense in the world and very few entrepreneurs get it.Natasha:
It's uncomfortable. It's maybe not terribly intuitive. And I think it has to do with some ego on the entrepreneur's side, but once you get a taste of it, I think it's exhilarating and wonderful. So if anyone's listening to this, take a moment. Absorb.Daniel:
Thank your team.Natasha:
Yes. You know what? I think my team is so much now that I think it's white noise. So now I'm trying to do other things just to surprise and delight them.
Daniel, what is one of the most important strategies that you set out to do this year to scale and grow Growth Institute?Daniel:
We've always been a. But we believe the community is going to become way more important. So when Verne and I started the Growth Institute, we said, there's two things that are going to win.
So there's going to be an explosion online education and we're seeing it. Me and my mom and my grandma are doing online education. But whoever's going to win after are the ones that have brands and experience implementing. Like they could give results, you're able to prove results. You're going to do it.
But today we believe in and it's morphing a little bit our flywheel, is the community. People say, I want to be in the community online that we have the same feeling, interest objectives, all that, to be able to go together through a process. So today we're building our community tools for community much, much stronger than we were doing beforeNatasha:
I would say I agree with that. I am in Ryan Levesque's Ask Coaching Program.
And just like you talked about learning how to do marketing and copywriting, I am learning for the first time mostly for my new endeavor, which doesn't include my core business although it'll seep into that, I'm learning digital marketing funnels, copywriting, hooks, twists. These are all new things.
And I'm learning them not because I'm personally going to be forever doing the work, but this is how I started my current back in the day, I learned almost everything there was to learn so that now I can source and qualify the professionals to take it to the next level. I know the language. And even with my book, Daniel, I'm looking at traditional publishing.
I'm asking my agent and publishers, do you split test your titles? They do not. But guess who is going to. Me. Now a year and a half ago, if somebody used the word split test, my ears would have closed. I would have been like, not for me, moving on, not in my lane. But I can have a pretty good conversation with the digital marketer.
I can have a good conversation with Ryan Deiss or Ryan Levesque. Not that I'm a master and not that I ever will be a master because that's really their lane, but I need to know as much as I can to move to the next step.Daniel:
A hundred percent. If you see an orchestra, the director is not the best piano player or violin player, whatever, but he understands the basics of every instrument.Natasha:
You probably don't know this. That is my past. I was a classical violinist concert master. I had the most incredible directors. I had an African-American director in college, which was not very normal. In high school, I had a female conductor who was so fierce, which was again, also not very known. So I get where you're coming from.
So the last thing I want to talk to you about is to open up a little bit in the vulnerability of being the CEO Entrepreneur of Growth Institute. What is the current biggest challenge that you're faced with in your business today?Daniel:
The marketing that we have today, we're profitable, we're making money, we're growing. But we plateaued in our marketing experience. And we need to go to a different marketing. That's gonna take us to the next step.Natasha:
And how are you doing that?Daniel:
So we're testing several things. As an example, my VP of marketing is going through Ryan's program now, a random check and she applied to the consulting with Ryan. So we're doing that. We're testing a little bit of homebound with LinkedIn selling.people. Hi, Maria. I have: Natasha:
You have to make a new profile or something.Daniel:
Yeah, but I don't make money through LinkedIn. I don't do anything through LinkedIn.Natasha:
You can though.Daniel:
I don't know how to do that. So that's the marketing I have to learn right? Today, everything we've done is Hey, we invite people to a webinar. We do a live webinar and then we'll follow up sales process. We're having evergreen webinars. So this morning I was recording an evergreen webinar. That we posted an evergreen webinar. It did not convert it as we wish. We figure out the drop points and we recorded the drop points to be able to prove it.
So we're doing four or five things to start testing. What's going to work and take it to the next level. And this is something also I teach on the book and we teach a lot at Growth Institute. Whenever you get to a stage, you have to own learn a lot of the things you do. And then that takes you in a body of death through the process while you relearn new things.
And then it will take you to the next level. It's just a typical process, but you have to go through it.Natasha:
It reminds me as a violinist. I was performing professionally very young and I loved marketing and I loved the winds of getting booked, the gigs booked. And if somebody were to call me on a Friday and say, "Hey, can you play this event next Friday?"
But I'm booked. "No I'm busy, but I have another group that's as good as I am probably better that I will send to you and manage." So this is how my company was born, but magazine ads were converting like crazy. That was the only place that brides and social.Daniel:
You were advertising on magazines?Natasha:
Yes in magazines. But wait, there's more, there was a point though, of course, when the internet took over and those magazine ads were obsolete.
So if I didn't relearn, if I didn't pay attention about the new frontier and hop on it immediately, I would have died and never resurrected. But I moved to digital immediately. And then when magazines were calling me trying to pitch media buys, I also was a media buyer, which is very interesting. And I knew I would sit and talk to the rep and I'd be like, okay, how many impressions per dollar and all this stuff.
And they're like, yeah, you don't need to advertise. Plus I would have my rep saying, yeah, you're right.
I think what I'm trying to say is both you guys had a marketing machine that worked until it didn't. Until our world shifted.Daniel:
Still working but at a certain level.Natasha:
Sure. Of course.
Well technically, but also experientially with what we just had with COVID.Daniel:
Yep. A hundred percent.Natasha:
We just heard from Daniel Marcos of Growth Institute where such important lessons and messages for entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses. For more information about Daniel, please visit the show notes where you're listening to this podcast.
For more information about me, go to my website, natashamiller.co. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe. Also, if you haven't done so yet, please leave a review where you're listening to this podcast now. I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.