Oct 21, 2020
Recently I was asked by Rachel Pedersen what my favorite books are and why. So I wanted to share three that I’m loving right now.
On this episode, Russell gives you his top 3 book recommendations and explains why they are so important to him during the phase of life that he’s in right now.
What's up everybody. This is Russell Brunson, welcome back to The Marketing Secrets podcast. Today I'm going to drop on you some of my favorite books that I'm reading right now.
Hey, everybody hope you guys are doing awesome. So we're getting closer and closer to Halloween, depending when you're listening to this. Halloween was my favorite holiday for basically my entire life. I went trick-or-treating until I was 21 years old. And those who are like, "Wait Russell, weren't you on a mission when you were at 19 and 20? And the answer is yes, and yes, I dressed up as a Mormon missionary going door-to-door, because I already had the costume on. I got free candy. It was awesome. Oh, it was the good old days.
Anyway, I love trick-or-treating. I love Halloween, love everything. In fact, when my kids were born, I was like, "This is the greatest thing in the world. Halloween was amazing before, it's even more amazing now." And went trick-or-treating every single year until about three years ago. Three years ago was when I bought my Batman suit. We launched Expert Secrets, our affiliate prize was to give away these Batman and Iron Man suits. I got my own custom-fitted, it was so cool. And I was so excited because that Halloween I was going to be Batman, legit Batman. And I was going to put on the suit and I was just so excited for it. And I remember it was a long day at the office, I got home as quick as I could, and I was trying to… oh, and the kids had wrestling practice. We got wrestling practice and come back. And kids gets home and I'm getting them all ready, giving them dinner, because I have to race back to the office to get the Batman suit on, which is an hour long project to get that suit on.
I'm so excited. Feeding the kids, about to race back to the office and all of a sudden doorbell rings. And I go to the door and it's one of Ellie's friends. And friend's like, "Hey, is Ellie here?" I'm like, "Yeah, but what are you doing here?" She's like, "I'm coming to go trick-or-treating with Ellie." I was like, "What?" I'm like "I trick-or-treat with my kids." Ellie runs over, "Oh, bye Dad, I’m heading out.” I'm like, "No, you can't." And Collette is like, "Why not?" Because this is my holiday, you can't take my daughter trick-or-treating. And Ellie took off with her friends, she was gone. And a few minutes later the boys got calls from their friends and they're like, "We're going, we're going trick-or-treating." And they took off.
And I remember, I wasn't ready for it. I don't know, it's like the kids leaving home, only worse. I wasn't ready for it. And I remember they were all gone and it was Aiden and Norah. Norah was tiny at the time, she was maybe two at the time. And so I didn't get my Batman suit on. We go out to the car and got Norah's suit and everything and put her in the car seat. By the time we got in the car she passed out and she was out cold. And so it was Aiden, me and Collette. So we drove to this neighborhood. Aiden got out with Collette, started trick-or-treating, and I passed out in the car. And that was the saddest day of my life. I miss Halloween.
Anyway, I come to grips with it now. My kids are awesome. They can have friends. It was just, I wasn't ready for it. You know what I mean? You're planning your kids are going to leave the house someday, and then all of a sudden they just leave, without any preparation. Anyway, so Halloween was my favorite holiday until that year. And now my favorite holiday is 4th of July, because I spend more money on 4th of July than any sane human. And so because of that, everybody comes to me. And I'm doing that to compensate for Halloween being stolen from me by kids. Anyway, that's how I really feel. I'm just joking. Anyway, that's a true story. So 4th of July is my new favorite holiday, but it always was Halloween. And so as Halloween gets closer, I still get excited. I'm not going to lie, I love the leaves falling and the seasons changing and pumpkins and candy and just all the things.
So anyway, one of our family traditions is every year for Halloween we go to Albion, Idaho, where there's this old college campus. It's in early 1900s, there was a thriving college here. In 19, I don't know, 1920 or something, it went out of business. So it's been vacant for 100 years. And a couple of years back, this family bought it and they renovate the whole thing and turn it into, one of the dorms they turned into a bed and breakfast. And then the rest of it, they turned to haunted houses. There's a zombie house, a clown house, and it's these old creepy buildings from the early 1900s. And anyway, it's insane. So we go every year. This year we took two of our friends, Rachel Peterson and her husband, Paul, and they came with us, which was really, really fun.
So anyway, on the trip down, Rachel asked me, says, "What are your favorite books you're reading right now?" Everyone time someone asks me that question about books, I always freeze, because there's so many. I'm obsessed with books. I have more books than anybody I know. And I buy them every day and tons more. And I don't read most of the books, I listen to most with audio. But I buy the physical book too, because I like having physical books. Anyway, all sorts of turmoil. I sat there like a deer in headlights thinking. I kept thinking and thinking and I realized right now ... And it's tough, because you know how it is, different seasons of your life there's different books and all those kinds of things.
So anyway, I'm in a season of my life I'm actually really excited for. I'm preparing, not really, I'm mentally thinking about my next book. I think I told you guys before, my next book. I bought the domain bootstrap.com. So the book's going to be called Bootstrapped, and it's going to be the ClickFunnels story, how we did it. It's going to be different, because all my other books have been how-to books, right? How to get traffic, how to build a funnel, how to write copy, things like that. But this book's not going to be how-to, this is the story of it. And so I've been obsessed, listening to books about companies and people telling their story about how they built the company. And so I've been listening to a lot of those lately just to understand how to write that way and how to tell stories that way that's different, right? It's different than how I've typically done things. So for me to be able to write this book, I'd have to change my skillset.
And this hopefully is a side lesson for everyone. A lot of times when we have to do the thing we want to do, we have to learn something completely different, right? A lot of you guys, if you were a business before and you come into our world, you're like, "Oh my gosh, business is different online." We have to change how we think. And so for me it's the same way. For me to write this next book, I have to learn how to write differently. And I understand that and respect that. I'm paying attention to it, I'm trying to learn it.
So anyway, so I've been listening to a lot of books about companies, about their stories, because I want to hear how people tell their stories. And so my three books I want to recommend to you today are all books about people with companies. And they're good for a couple reasons. Number one, they're fascinating books. Number two, they're really good storytellers. The way they tell their story was fascinating, where I was sucked into the book and I couldn't stop. In fact, two of these books I've listened to twice, and one I will probably listen to again. I just finished it yesterday, so that's why I haven't listened to it twice yet. That's rare for me. I don't normally read things twice, because I have so many books coming in. But two of the three books I have already listened to twice, which is a testament of how good of a story that they actually are. So with that said, in no particular order, I'll give you my three books.
Number one book. And this one I'm nervous to tell you guys about, because it's the dark side of entrepreneurship, okay? A lot of times you hear stories about, "Oh, here's how so-and-so built their company." And it's this positive thing and there's ups and downs and trials and tribulations. But for the most part it's a positive experience, right? This is actually a book about a website called The Silk Road, which is a website that's on the dark web that sold illegal drugs. And so it's the negative side of entrepreneurship, but it's one of the best stories ever.
So the book is called American Kingpin, okay? American Kingpin. And the premise of it is there was this kid, think he's 22, 23 year-old kid, he's libertarian and he felt that people should, if they want to do drugs, they should be able to do drugs. If they want to do it themselves they should be able to do it, right? And so he talks about that a little bit, and then he had this idea for a website where it's the type of site where people can come and buy and sell drugs on the dark web and he'd take a commission of every single sale that happened, right? And so that was this idea. Now the problem is that he didn't know how to code and it was illegal to make what he's trying to make, so he couldn't go hire coders on Script-Lance or oDesk like we would, it's illegal.
So he had to teach himself coding. Then he started building the site. And it's crazy. I don't want to ruin the story, but it is amazing. He basically ends up building this empire. And he had every government agency coming trying to take him down, from DEA, FDA, FTC, all of them were trying to come and get him and none of them could figure out who he was. And so the story is just so fascinating. The way it's told, oh, it's so good. And one of my favorite parts is there's a scene where he's in downtown San Francisco, he's walking around, he's looking at all of the tech buildings, right? These huge companies worth billions and billions of dollars. And he's walking around by himself with a backpack on looking at these buildings and realizing that his company was worth more than any of these buildings, but if he told anybody about it, he'd have to go to jail. How cool is that?
Even though everything he was doing was illegal, he was still an entrepreneur, went through the same trials and problems and ups and downs that we have to go through. And so I love this book. It was amazing. It's called American Kingpin. And it is the first one that I wanted to recommend. Also, the writer who wrote it is ... I literally, I tried to message him like, "Hey, would you want to write my book for me? Because you are such a good writer." At the end of the book, he tells about how he did it and talks about the tens of thousands of hours of research and all the papers and documents and court cases he had to go through to write this book. And he went on to say that on top of him just going and actually writing the book, he didn't just be like, oh… he looked at, what was the weather in San Francisco on that day? What was happening here? Happening here? When he's telling the scenes of the story, it was actually like what was really happening at the time.
Oh, anyway, it's so good. I listened to it twice. I'll probably listen to it again, it's that good. I think they're going to make a movie out of it. Apparently there's a documentary made about it, but the documentary is horrible. Don't even watch the documentary about Silk Road. Just read the book, because it is insane and it's worth your time. So there's book number one.
All right. Before I open up to book number two, I've got a secret message here about a cell phone number. And I want you guys all to text here in a few seconds. So I'm going to take a pause and do a really quick promo for the community, my texting community, and how you can get on it right now. All right. By the way, I'm having fun with the texting community. I've been sending out cool stuff every day, at least I think it's cool. Audio messages every morning, giving motivation ideas, inspiration. So if you're not on it yet, go and get in there.
All right. Book number two. You guys ready for number two? Number two is a book called Lost and Founder. And this is a book by a guy named Rand Fishkin. And I love this book for a couple reasons. Rand started a company called SEOmoz, and he started about the same time I was getting started. So I had a chance to watch what he was doing. And Rand, I have so much respect for him. I think we both look at the world differently. I think he would disagree a lot of things I believe, I disagree with things he believe, from how to run businesses. But man, I have so much respect for him. And I remember watching, because I went the whole, bootstrapped, build a company through ads and funnels and things like that, and he went the other way of building a really good product and raise money and things like that. And it was interesting because looking at the outside, I never knew if I was right or if I was wrong, "Should we be taking out money? What should we be doing?"
And in fact, in my book, Bootstrapped, there was this chance meeting where Rand actually came to Boise and spoke at an event. I showed up to the event. He told the story about Moz, how he took on money, his whole thing. And I remember listening to the story. In my head I'm like, "Okay, the next step for ClickFunnels is for us to take on money." And when he got done, normally I would leave something like that, I'm too introverted and shy, but one of my friends, BJ Wright, was there with me. He was like, "Let's go talk to Rand, let's go talk to him." I'm like, "Oh, okay."
So BJ pulled us up there and BJ asked him, basically said, "Hey, you took on money, was it worth it? Tell us the real story." And Rand was very raw and honest and like, "No, it ruined everything." He went on, he's like, "I suffered depression." He's like, "I had to quit from CEO." He's like, "I don't even have my own car. I don't make that much money." And just going into the whole things. I remember when he got done telling me this whole thing, I remember getting in my car and voxing Todd and everybody on my team, "We are not taking on money no matter what it takes." He literally diverted me from taking on money. If it wasn't for him saying that, the next phase for ClickFunnels was to take on money. And so, because of that we didn't. And it was interesting, because publicly in his presentation, where he's telling the story about taking on money, but then privately, he literally told us don't do it.
And I remember always thinking about that and wondering how he felt. And after he left Moz, a couple of years later he wrote a book called Lost and Founder. And Lost and Found founders is him telling a story. And in his book he explains the dangers of VC money at a level that I have never understood before. It was so clear and concise and oh, I'm so grateful for that book. Grateful for Rand, first off, for steering us in a different direction. But second off, the book is such a good illustration of why. And I hope you guys, especially my world, where we're talking about how do you go funnels, bootstrap things, man, that book was one of the best to show the opposite side of that, what happens when you do take on money and the scary side of business that a lot of us aren't aware of until it's too late. So Lost and Founders is book number two, super well written. Rand's an amazing writer, and just someone I have a ton of respect for. So that's book number two.
All right. You guys ready for book number three? My third and final choice today is the book I finished last night, which is called Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. And a Shoe Dog is the story about Nike. And I've had so many people who told me to read this book over and over and over, and I kept fighting it, fighting it. And finally, it was actually interesting, Dean Graziosi told me I had to read it. And I was like, "Oh yeah, I've heard that by a lot of people." He said, "No, you need to read it for a different reason than everybody else." And I was like, "Why?" Dean and I talk about our kids a lot, and Dean and I both have children that we had butt heads with and struggled with sometimes.
And he said that there's this part in Phil Knight's story where he had two children and he said that one of the kids he never could figure him out. It's like this puzzle, could never figure it out. And he always just struggled. Said his son would not wear Nike's. His son, whatever his dad wanted, he wanted to do the opposite and just, it was really hard. He said eventually, I think his son was 28 years old, he ended up passing away in a tragic accident. And one of the things he said in the book, he said, "Man, if I can do my life over again, I would've focused more energy on trying to understand the puzzle of my son".
Oh, I'm getting emotional. Anyway, so that was the reason why ... After Dean told me that, he's like, You should read it, because I think for both of us ... " He's like, "We need to spend more time trying to understand our kids that we struggle with." And so I said, "Okay." And so I started to read the book and oh, so glad I did, for so many reasons. Number one, just helped me to understand that and put more focus on my kids, which I think is so important. And number two, it's just a fascinating story of the story of Nike. I didn't know all the story, how it happened and all the things he went through to make it possible. And anyway, it was such a good book, and I hope you guys have a chance to read that one as well.
So there are my three books. Number one, American kingpin, number two, Lost and Founder, number three, Shoe Dog. All amazing books. Again, it's so hard to have a comprehensive list of all the amazing books in the world. But I thought three that are telling stories of companies, they will inspire you, they will motivate you to get you ready to build your company or give you ideas for the next steps in your company. And then also, how it relates to your life and your family and things like that. I think those books are amazing. Hope you enjoy them.
With that said, I appreciate you guys all. Please, take a picture. If you enjoy this, take a picture of it, post it on Instagram or Facebook, wherever you post it, and then tell me your favorite books in the comments and tag me. And I'd love to hear what books you're reading so I can decide what to read next. Thanks everybody. And I'll talk to you soon.