Everything happens for a reason. Understand and accept things that are thrown your way.
Chris Smith is the co-founder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing, and modern sales coaching company that helps businesses succeed across the nation. As a USA Today bestselling author, Chris has been able to utilize the marketing and sales strategies from his book, The Conversion Code, to grow his company from the ground up and create a recurring revenue of $12,000,000. From his podcast, Calls with Chris, to speaking at more than 100 conferences, Chris has made a name for himself and his multimillion-dollar company, in real estate, sales, and digital marketing.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
After graduating college in 2002, I immediately headed out to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor. After a few years of mostly non-acting work, mixed with some bit parts on shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Drew Carey Show,” I finally came to the conclusion that talent actually matters and I didn’t have any. At that point, I moved back to my hometown near Orlando and found success at a sales job for a music producer, which then led me to doing sales at Quicken Loans and then for realtor.com. During my Realtor.com gig, I was a blogger and speaker and produced YouTube instructional videos that caught the eye of Boston tech professionals Jimmy Mackin and Andrew Leafe, who were developing an online tool that also caught my eye. I drew on my sales talents to help Mackin and Leafe with developing new software, and the three of us formed a partnership that became Curaytor. In less than five years, I’ve used the blueprint from my book, The Conversion Code, to grow Curaytor and use the lessons that I’ve learned throughout my career to help others through speaking at conferences and giving advice on my podcast, Calls with Chris and vlog, Curayted.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I drop my kids off at 8:15 a.m., sharp. I get to work at 8:30 a.m., sharp. Then, I don’t sit down, stop working for lunch, or socialize until at least 2:30 p.m. In those six hours I am 100 percent dialed in from my standing desk and get more done than most people do in a 16-hour day. I also wear nearly the same thing to work every day to avoid figuring it out (something I learned Presidents and executives like Mark Zuckerberg do as well). I wear a black t-shirt, gray shorts and red running shoes 98 percent of the time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As my co-founder, Jimmy Mackin, and I are located in two separate cities (he’s in Boston at our second location and I’m in Orlando at our headquarters) we first like to discuss ideas over the phone and then move the conversation to Slack and finally, we build the prototypes in InVision. One of our core values at Curaytor is “It starts with us,” which means we use and test all of our own software before our customers do. This ensures that when our customers get a new product or software update, it’s going to be 100 percent reliable and error free. Another motto we like to live by is – debate it, then do it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I would have to say relevancy is the most exciting trend in the history of marketing. I actually WANT ads in my feed. I actually LIKE the ads in my feed. I have even SHARED the ads in my feed. That all starts with relevancy!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being a father. Once you have multiple children, you realize that “work” is easy, and life is hard.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would have to say the age old saying “everything happens for a reason.” If I took this saying to heart when I was younger, it would have helped me learn to process, understand and accept things that were thrown my way. Also, the darkest nights lead to the brightest days. Plus, enjoy the ride, not just the goals.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think a business can do 100 percent of their lead generation using Facebook. I even think Google is dead in the water and SEO/SEM will eventually be a relic in a museum. I also believe that CRM is the most overrated technology in the history of business – many would probably disagree with me on that one.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Curaytor’s innovations have enabled the company to scale and work with any small business, no matter what they sell or where they are located. In the past, Curaytor’s software was industry specific (real estate). Now, the company is helping authors, car dealers, lenders and many more business models grow faster.
Because Curaytor is a uniquely exclusive marketing platform, only a limited number of licenses are available per market with 96 percent of its sold-out markets never becoming available again. Curaytor’s exclusivity creates a collaborative, non-competitive environment for small businesses to learn from each other, rather than try to beat each other.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The day we launched our big idea, so did Facebook. On a Monday back in January 2013, I emailed a couple reporters with a subject line that read, “Yo Zuck, we just nailed Facebook Search” hinting at some search features in the works at Curaytor. The next day, Mark Zuckerberg dropped a massive bomb on me when he introduced Graph Search, its own search mechanism that makes it easier for users to sort through pictures, friends, groups, places and interests. The news was like a kick to the groin. It’s incredibly scary to risk everything, give up the security of the familiar, and pursue the entrepreneurial path. We overcame this huge obstacle by not quitting. And not being married to our original idea. Greatness is marked by how we deal with adversity.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve always been surprised there wasn’t a national franchise called “Fries” where all they sell is French fries and you choose from tons of toppings (salty and sweet). Pay by the weight.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I can’t recommend enough that the fellas step up their sock and underwear game. I love MeUndies and Stance Socks. The best $100 you can spend is to improve your basic, daily items.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Any.do is my go to high priority to-do list. It’s a life management and productivity app and I will ONLY add things to it that make me money, soon. Everything else (non-income producing) goes in my calendar or inbox. I find having a separate to-do list that’s written down somewhere other than my phone, tends to get lost.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact by Phil M. Jones. This book is the most practical and useful sales language advice book I have ever read and would highly recommend for anyone looking to make a real impact.
What is your favorite quote?
“Innovation is rewarded, but execution is worshiped.” – Dan Gilbert
- Everything happens for a reason. Understand and accept things that are thrown your way.
- Breathe, deeply.
- Greatness is marked by how we deal with adversity.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.