Ali Scarlett is an entrepreneur, #1 national bestselling author, and avid researcher of the art of networking based in Maryland, USA.
His site, aliscarlett-author.com, helps young individuals who struggle with the achievement of their goals.
He’s an enthusiastic (but terrible) pool player and is the co-owner of a professional cleaning company that has received numerous awards from digital marketplaces. His company, Spotless Glo Cleaning Services, connects home and business owners to cleaning professionals.
He will also occasionally make a mean Jamaican-style dish.
His book, The Clever Connector: The Easiest Way to Become Powerful, Regardless of Your Situation. The Underdog’s Guide to Networking with Billionaires, Celebrities, and Executives, became a #1 national bestseller only six days after launch, establishing Ali as a networking expert and bestselling author.
Ali studied the work and strategies of multiple networking experts including (but not limited to) Bob Littell, Michael Goldberg, and Dorie Clark. He spent three years in recovery from complications regarding his health before regaining enough strength to dive deeper into the networking world in 2018.
After studying the work of Chris Voss—one of the world’s top FBI hostage negotiators—Ali adopted the belief that “everything in life is a negotiation” including the negotiation for one’s friendship or even a relationship.
With that in mind, Ali proved the validity of his own strategies by getting into Yale. He then enrolled in a Yale business class in negotiation and persuasion where he learned more about influence and psychology under his Yale professor and negotiation expert, Barry Nalebuff.
He was later mentored by Bob Littell more formally, who is a networking expert himself and head ambassador for NetWeaving—a variation of networking. It was in this mentorship that Ali received his NetWeaver Diplomat Certification in addition to becoming a certified networking expert.
Ali is also the owner and founder of Authentic Entrepreneurship, a business that teaches online business owners how to connect with partners that can boost their sales in a way that’s authentic, powerful, and non-sleazy.
He has also made appearances on Entrepreneur, Addicted 2 Success, Billion Success, SmallBizDaily, The Good Men Project, TrainingZone, Business2Stack, StartupNation, and other business publications.
Where did the idea for your book come from?
The idea came from an acquaintance of mine who offers 1-on-1 career coaching to his clients.
When I came across his business for the first time, the way that he offered value to his clients appealed to me. His target audience is geared more towards employees, but his offer made me begin to wonder how I could add value to people who are also business owners like me. And, that’s where the inspiration came from.
I want to empower others to be able to stand up for themselves by showing them how they can acquire more resources—more status and connections—for their own business. Resources being something that’s important if one wants to gain independence from others so they can better stand up for themselves in life and in business.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day looks like a combination of networking, habit development, strategic breaks, growing my businesses, and then more networking.
My day might start with habit development—such as my morning routine along with breakfast—and then transition straight into work. I check my email more often than most due to networking being such an important part of what I do and who I am.
I spend a large portion of my time studying under mentors of mine in order to make more progress on not only my personal development but my personal projects.
I usually take a one-hour walk at around 4 PM as a way of clearing my mind and avoiding burnout when the weather’s nice. (This is what really helps me stay productive.)
And, when I get back from my walk, it’s back to work, dinner, and my bedtime routine.
I also have a daily mindset routine I’ve labeled my “DMR”. I do it once or twice a day and it consists of:
– 20 minutes of meditation (I use a meditation app)
– 10 minutes of journaling (I do a “mind dump”, emptying out all of my thoughts onto paper)
– (optional) 5 minutes of visualization
– (optional) Prayer
How do you bring ideas to life?
That depends on the idea.
For my entrepreneurial ideas, I’ll first clarify how I’ll provide the value that’s inside of the idea to others. In other words, I’ll turn my idea into an offer. Then, I’ll clarify who my target market is.
After that, I can get started on my customer research process in order to figure out exactly how valuable the market finds my idea. That’s where I’ll ask questions such as, “What’s your biggest challenge right now?” to get an idea of whether or not my offer can solve their problem. And, I might also ask, “What have you tried in the past?” to see if there are others who have already tried solving their problem with offers of their own (these would be my possible competitors).
If the customer feedback looks good, instead of starting the business, I’ll actually only start the sales process. That way, I can see just how willing people are to part with their money for my idea. That’s the true test of whether or not your idea is actually worth turning into a full business (if it’s profitable) or if it’s only hobby material.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The transition to streaming platforms.
These days, instead of production companies pitching networks or other streaming platforms like Netflix to show their movies, they seem to be creating a streaming platform of their own.
A lot of people said that YouTube would replace cable TV. And, they might have been on the right track. It seems that streaming platforms are really taking over.
Even in the case of the radio, lots of platforms like Spotify could eventually make the radio obsolete. We’re moving into a new age and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Especially since this might be a marker that we’re not too far away from flying cars…
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I would like to say that it’s my daily mindset routine, but that helps me manage stress and emotions more than anything else. So, outside of emotional control and more toward productivity, nothing makes me feel more ready to tackle the day than feeling, looking, and knowing I’m clean.
As the old saying goes, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Please, please, please be a learning machine.
As a young kid, I was watching YouTube video after YouTube video learning about entrepreneurship and real estate investing. This was around the time that Tai Lopez had really gotten famous with his advertisement promoting his courses. And, a bunch of other ghurus came out of nowhere with advertisements of their own saying things like, “You don’t need college. If you do what the masses are doing, you’ll get what the masses are getting. And, the masses are broke. You don’t need college, you need a business. Buy my course.”
Most of those guys pitching their courses were actually broke themselves. And, I realized that after making the mistake of buying a few of their courses: all of which were pricey with no value on the inside.
So, I began watching the interviews and YouTube channels of celebrity entrepreneurs. The ones who were already vetted with a lot of social proof. And, the line I kept hearing over and over again was, “Invest in yourself.”
I understood the process of investing in yourself by learning, but I didn’t understand the process of getting a return on that investment since that can be so different for so many people depending on their goals. So, I didn’t really see learning as an investment. I figured, “It couldn’t be an investment if the details of the return are so fuzzy.”
Now, I get it. When it came time for me to start my business, the dynamics of the marketplace that I needed to understand were simple. The marketplace gives you money in exchange for the value you provide. So, how can I provide more value?
With the knowledge I gained on my learning journey.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Information is a form of power.
Similar to my situation of not understanding how learning was “investing in myself”, many don’t fully understand that information is also a form of power. Not until they need it and they aren’t able to get access right away.
The right information can provide you with a roadmap to overcome any obstacle you face. And, people know that. That’s why millions of copies of self-help and business books are sold per year, possibly billions collectively.
Yet, so many are still unhappy and far away from their vision of their dream life. And, I believe that that is due in part to not applying the knowledge they gain.
A variation of an old saying that I like to use is, “Knowledge makes you book smart. Applied knowledge makes you powerful.”
So, in theory, they might agree that information is a form of power. But, when it comes down to action, not many follow through with that belief.
And, in a sense, that might mean that, deep down, you don’t believe it enough or at all.\
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I study power dynamics.
What is power dynamics? Well, as described by power dynamics expert Lucio Buffalmano, it’s: “The science of power negotiation among people and groups, as well as the ability to acquire social status and influence, recruit, or bend others to one’s will on the way to reaching certain goals.”
In other words, you can influence the balance of power in any social situation you’re in to get the most out of that situation (and, by extension, out of life).
An easy way of explaining how this works is with the “I own you” handshake power move. Let’s say you’re at a networking event and approach a businessman in order to introduce yourself. And, when you’re both shaking hands, that businessman aggressively pulls you off balance toward him and where he’s standing.
That action can sub communicate to everyone around that he “owns you”. And, as a result, people who noticed that power move are more likely to believe that he’s the more powerful person in the interaction. Unluckily, with you looking like the “weaker” party now, people might also gravitate toward him instead of toward you which means missed opportunities.
So, if you want to make sure people aren’t pulling power moves on you and that you can get more out of life, I 100% recommend studying power dynamics.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that has helped me grow my business is in a customer research method I implement as often as possible.
I ask specific questions that uncover my target customer’s “burning pains”. The type of pains that might be influenced by Robert Cialdini’s principle of urgency.
For example, if I ran a dating site and a woman who is in her 40s, who just got divorced, wants to get back into the dating world with my help, she might be afraid of rejection. She might be afraid of loneliness. These are both burning pains.
Then, when I’ve gathered data on my target customers, I put solutions to their burning pains inside of my offer. That way, the value in my offer is always growing, allowing me to also charge more for that offer.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I failed in starting my LLC too soon for a real estate company of mine. I started the LLC in December of 2019. Then, 2020 happened and we couldn’t launch.
All throughout 2020 we paid fees to the government to keep the LLC up for when we’re ready to launch even though no revenue was coming in.
I overcame it by pushing forward with my other projects that do bring in revenue.
Moral of the story: we almost never need as much preparation to start a business as we think we do. The most important thing is having the information we need to give value to our customers. All the other stuff (including a website and especially business cards) can come later.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Well, once again, to start a business that’s a business and not just a hobby, it has to be able to provide value to the marketplace that the marketplace will be willing to exchange for money. So, to create a real business, all you need is to know a little bit more than the people you’re looking to serve.
That said, a real business idea that you can start tomorrow is a career development business.
Regardless of your age, everyone can study how to build a successful career. And, if you’re on the older side with some experience under your belt—good or bad experience—you have wisdom to share that’s valuable. You can help others learn from your mistakes and your career wins.
And, if you’re on the younger side, you can help others learn how to thrive in any role they choose by teaching them one thing: how to be more valuable to the company they want to work for.
After all, you’re paid in exchange for the value that you bring to the table.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a premium personality profile after taking a personality test. I actually bought this yesterday.
When I took the free test and got my results back, it felt like they were reading my mind. So, I went and upgraded to the full package and the strategies contained inside on how to maximize my effectiveness by leveraging my unique personality type has made the entire investment worth it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Actually, for me, it’s Gmail.
Since I do so much networking, it can consume a large part of my day if I’m not careful. So, I use Gmail’s “snooze” feature to put away emails that are a low priority until a time when it makes more sense to take care of them.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Well, there are a lot of business books out there, many having singular focuses such as marketing or leadership. But, there’s a common phrase that goes, “Your business is a reflection of you.” And, I find that to be true quite often.
It’s not uncommon to see businesses suffering because the leaders in charge of spearheading the success of the business are also suffering.
And, that’s why I always recommend the book Ultimate Power. In my opinion, it truly is the last self-help book you’ll ever need. It changed my life and I’m confident it will change the lives of others too. So confident, in fact, that I mentioned it in my own book so my readers could benefit from the value the author provides as well.
With that, you can use this self-help book as your personal foundation while using the many valuable business books out there to refine any areas of your business that need work. A true win-win.
What is your favorite quote?
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”
It’s catchy and, in my experience, it couldn’t be more true.
- Your customer is your business’s bread and butter, so your customer research is key to your business’s success
- Always strive to be a learning machine. Information is power and, therefore, a form of value. So, the more information you acquire for yourself, the more value you can give to others in exchange for the money that will grow your business.
- Don’t get hung up on starting your business to the point where you “over-prepare” (such as by buying hundreds of business cards before you’ve had your first sale)
- You can leverage your own unique personality type to learn the areas of personal development that would be most effective in making you your best self
- “Your business is a reflection of you” and “proper preparation prevents poor performance”
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.