Episode 158 - Brad Wiskirchen of Clickbank on Affiliate Marketing for Info Products and Contributing to Philanthropic Boards
Brad runs an affiliate clearing house service called Clickbank which matches affiliates with product creators. They've paid out over $1.5 billion in commissions so far! Hugely successful, I catch up with Brad to find out what's happening in the affiliate marketing and information product industry.
Some of the questions we cover include Cickbank's competitive differentiation, their latest innovations, how social media impacts this market, the consequences of the new FTC disclosure guidelines, fraud protection solutions, best practices for new and existing affiliate marketers and what works best in information product marketing.
Brad also shares a bit about his own personal life and what makes him tick.
Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. And on today’s show we’re going to get to meet Brad Wiskirchen. Brad is the CEO of two related companies – ClickBank and Kount with a K. I am very interested in this whole world of affiliate marketing and the merger of information products and affiliate marketing, and ClickBank is the biggest company in that business. And it’s an entire world that you might not know about that is going to blow your socks off, number one, and also may open up some new ways of thinking about how you’re generating revenue in your business today. And I’ll tell you a funny story when I get Brad on the show about how we met so randomly, but I think it was just meant to happen. So lets get Brad on the show and welcome him. Hey Brad.
Brad Wiskirchen: Hey, how’s it going?
Susan Bratton: I am great. How are you doing today?
Brad Wiskirchen: I am doing fantastic. Thank you very much…
Susan Bratton: Good.
Brad Wiskirchen: for having me.
Susan Bratton: Oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s my pleasure. So you and I met at Affiliate Summit West.
Brad Wiskirchen: Right.
Susan Bratton: And that was my first Affiliate Summit. Sean brought me in and I got to – Sean Collins brought me over – and I got to check it out. It was awesome. And I was sitting at one of those big lunch tables, and either you were there and I sat down or I was there and you sat down and I just feel like it was such a fortunate opportunity to connect with you. I probably would’ve never met you if it wasn’t this random thing, but your company is such an amazing company that I had the opportunity to kind of hit you up to come on DishyMix, so I think it was our destiny Brad.
Brad Wiskirchen: Exactly. Over bad pasta.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, exactly. So I want to talk to you about ClickBank. Explain it to people and, you know, a lot of people are familiar with the tangible goods affiliate network so maybe put it in the framework of that and then talk about what Kount is and how they kind of, you know, are two ends of the same spectrum if you will.
Brad Wiskirchen: Sure. So ClickBank’s actually one of the world’s largest affiliate networks. We have to 2.8 million total affiliates, 110 thousand of which affiliate a transaction at any given month. But unlike a lot of other affiliate networks, we are essentially exclusively digital goods. We have a very large digital market place, about 35,000 titles, and by titles I mean e-books, software solutions and membership sites. Basically then there’s create and sell products, mostly digital through ClickBank and affiliates promote those products in exchange for a commission on a sale. The nice part about our commissions are that they are generally higher due to the fact that there’s really no costs of goods sold than they are on the physical goods space, usually in the 50 to 75 percent range, so… That’s ClickBank, and then ClickBank’s sister company’s Kount. Kount is a state of the art fraud detection service. We provide fraud detection for some of the internet’s largest retailers like Staples. Most people don’t realized that behind Amazon Staples is the world’s number two online retailer. And retailers send their transaction volumes through us and we tell them, we give them a score between 1 and 99, 99 meaning this is almost certainly a bad transaction and 1 meaning it’s (unintelligible). So basically we help them avoid chargebacks and just we also have tools for after the transaction where the merchant can have their employees log in and we help them post the transaction, evaluate whether the riskiness of a transaction, the risk profile of a transaction has changed throughout the course of the day, etcetera. So we give them great management tools on the Kount front. And they’re interrelated because frankly ClickBank is a customer of Kount.
Susan Bratton: And credit card fraud is a bigger problem than ever. I think, you know, just this morning we got a customer service call from a woman who said “Wow, I didn’t have any idea I would’ve bought this product. How did I buy this product and why is this on my credit card?”, and someone had gotten a hold of her card and purchased our product and downloaded it and now they have the product and, you know, she’s out the charges. Of course we refunded it immediately, but that happens every second of the day all over the world all the time, right?
Brad Wiskirchen: That’s right, absolutely. And it’s not just with credit cards. I mean with identity theft there’s all different kinds of ways for people to fleece you, so the nice part about Kount is it’s not card specific. Effectively we can handle any of the various payment types for card not present transactions or internet transactions, so it’s kind of nice to be in the white knight role where we’re doing good and it’s easy to get a management team to rally behind a morally compelling product like Kount. So it’s exciting stuff and we’ve got cutting edge technology and it’s just a lot of fun.
Susan Bratton: So lets go back to ClickBank a little bit more. You talked about 28 million affiliates, about 110….
Brad Wiskirchen: 2.8 million.
Susan Bratton: How much?
Brad Wiskirchen: 2.8.
Susan Bratton: Oh, yeah. Sorry, sorry…
Brad Wiskirchen: I wish it was 28.
Susan Bratton: Oh yeah, there’s a little dot between the 2 and the 8.
Brad Wiskirchen: I like your number better frankly.
Susan Bratton: You like my number. 2.8 million affiliates are coming into ClickBank, and they are promoting intangible goods. Really the commission junctions, the link shares, the share sales – therefore printer cartridges and diamond jewelry and God knows…
Brad Wiskirchen: Toasters…
Susan Bratton: Toasters…
Brad Wiskirchen: And vacuums…
Susan Bratton: whatever, everything, the hard goods world, and you’re in the virtual goods world primarily in the information products world selling, people selling information products. So anyone can become an affiliate in ClickBank. They can sign up, they can decide what product, you have a really good market place. They can give 35,000 products in there. They can decide which ones they want to market and then they can promote them. So a blogger could go in there and promote products they see. It’s like a mass – to me, although you have so much success, it’s still this kind of sleeper massive potential to get to a whole ‘nother level of magnitude.
Brad Wiskirchen: Oh absolutely. I mean the social networking site, what I’m seeing more and more of is people yell on their Facebook page saying “Hey, here’s a great e-book that helped me improve my golf swing.” And, you know, there’s a link there to the vendor’s pitch page and that’s an opportunity for that affiliate to make a commission. There’s all kinds of uses. As you said, bloggers; that’s a great way to monetize their efforts. And there’s almost certainly something in our marketplace of 35,000 products that is going to appeal to anybody – dog training, how to attract hummingbirds to your garden, etcetera. Anything that you like to do, I’m sure we have a product, an e-book that addresses your hobby or your passion, so… And that’s just on the affiliate side. I mean on the vendor side basically the way I look at it is everybody thinks they’re the best at something or at least well versed in something, and to the degree you can put pen to paper and put together an e-book on it, you can monetize your passion. So it’s a great opportunity.
Susan Bratton: So in the world of the Eben Pagan’s and the Frank Kearn’s teaching everyone how to write their own information product, with so many of us getting into the information product marketing industry, do you think there’s a point where there just will be too many e-books and too many landing pages and too many people pitching products for there to be enough money in the world for everyone, or do you think it’s a nearly unlimited opportunity? Where do you rest on that whole spectrum?
Brad Wiskirchen: I’m closer to the nearly unlimited than I am we’re at the capacity. I mean as long as there’s two or three people on the planet that have, that want to learn what you know how to do there’s an opportunity for you to make some money at it. And the one challenge is and the one benefit that we offer is that if you just throw it out there on the internet there’s so much noise because of all the content out there that you may, no one may ever see your page or your product, but when you tie it with our affiliate network there’s an opportunity for you to be heard.
Susan Bratton: You have on the ClickBank site as having had – probably more than this now – a billion and a half, a billion with a B and a half, payouts.
Brad Wiskirchen: Uh huh.
Susan Bratton: Explain how you get to that number. What does that really mean?
Brad Wiskirchen: That means that we have actually paid out to our affiliates and our vendors $1.5 billion, so that’s the commissions paid out to date since the company was founded in ’98. We take great pride in the fact that we’ve never missed a payment and we’ve never been late on a payment. I constantly hear from our vendors and affiliates that they can basically set their watch by our payment, so… We do currently over 26,000 transactions a day, so we do, we’re bigger than most people realize.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, that’s what I think too. So your paying this out; what are the typical commissions that – you call them a vendor, I call them a publisher – a vendor pays an affiliate? What’s the range and what’s kind of the average that you see?
Brad Wiskirchen: It depends on the type of product, but they’re going to be between 50 and 75 percent, and most people who are used to commissions in the physical goods space at this point gasp. But, you know, it’s logical. There’s really no cost of goods sold. If I’ve got an e-book that I’ve generated, once I’ve devote the time and energy to it and whatever marginal cost is involved with turning it into a PDF or for whatever format I’m going to transmit it in, there’s really, everything that I make off of it is butter so why do I care if it’s a 50 percent commission or a 75 percent commission. Unlike if I’m manufacturing toasters, then I’m, there’s actually a cost involved with manufacturing that each time I have to make one before I distribute it, so I can’t get as high a commission.
Susan Bratton: And what are some of the most profitable categories in ClickBanks. I know you have in your marketplace you have a lot of different categorization. I think you’ve just upgraded that recently so the nav is much better too. So…
Brad Wiskirchen: Well thank you.
Susan Bratton: what are the big categories that work?
Brad Wiskirchen: Right now, so obviously it depends on the year. It’s very interesting to see what is popular at any given point in time, but right now seeing a lot of success in the health and fitness categories, computer security and optimization software, there’s always stuff in the, the self-help categories are always very successful because people are always looking to improve themselves.
Susan Bratton: Health, wealth and relationships. And then also…
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah, health, wealth and relationships; that’s well put.
Susan Bratton: I think business opportunities…
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah.
Susan Bratton: are big, right, as well as the technology computer stuff, right?
Brad Wiskirchen: Mm hmm, yup.
Susan Bratton: Is there maybe a sleeper category or a couple of categories where maybe you see opportunity rising? You know, you talked about depends on the year; what’s hot this year and what do you think we should be writing for next year?
Brad Wiskirchen: Huh, good question. Right now what’s hot is the green products categories, anything that helps people save money. For example, there’s a lot of e-books out right now that seem to be hot sellers on how to build solar panels in your garage. There’s e-books on how to raise chickens and how to build chicken coops, everything related there too. That seems to be popular I guess in some of the more densely populated areas of the world. And next year I suspect the economy is probably not going to turn around drastically in the next 12 months, so I suspect the trends will continue on that anything that helps people save money or invest better will, those will continue to be good categories.
Susan Bratton: Makes sense to me. I know the Forex, Foreign Exchange is a big one. Real estates a big category, isn’t it?
Brad Wiskirchen: Sure, yeah.
Susan Bratton: What are some of your all time top-selling products?
Brad Wiskirchen: All time top-selling products? Well, we’ve got several products in the weight loss category that have been…
Susan Bratton: The Truth About Abs and Fat Loss For Idiots?
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah. There’s, yes, exactly. And The Abs Solution seem to be hot sellers in Europe right now, which is amazing to me. I guess there’s a lot of German and Spanish and French speaking people who want to have six pack abs, so…
Susan Bratton: Too much beer and bratwurst over there and Munchen.
Brad Wiskirchen: Exactly.
Susan Bratton: You just got back from Germany, right?
Brad Wiskirchen: Yes, I just got back last weekend.
Susan Bratton: Where were you?
Brad Wiskirchen: I was in Munich at the A4U Expo, which is a great affiliate summit.
Susan Bratton: What’s it called?
Brad Wiskirchen: A4U Expo.
Susan Bratton: Okay.
Brad Wiskirchen: A, the number 4 and U.
Susan Bratton: Have to check that out.
Brad Wiskirchen: It’s actually a great show, and it’s, this year this they’re hosting it twice, once in Munich and once in London. And it’s kind of the equivalent of Affiliate Summit here in the United States but for the European affiliate networks.
Susan Bratton: Nice. Well what’s interesting about it too is that I know for me a big part of our revenue comes internationally, comes from Europe and Australia, New Zealand are really good markets for information products, of course English speaking countries, and it’s tough for them to get books there.
Brad Wiskirchen: That’s right.
Susan Bratton: You know, books are so expensive in Australia and New Zealand. They don’t have Amazon like we have Amazon, you know.
Brad Wiskirchen: Right.
Susan Bratton: And so a lot of times I’ll send a big box, I’ll send a suitcase of all my business books home with my friend, Simon Vanvake. I’ll say, “Just come to my house when you’re here, come over and take whatever you want and take it home and pay it forward”, ‘cause it’s crazy expensive for them. So information products internationally are just brilliant. So you’ve just launched multi language ClickBank – so French, Spanish and German so far?
Brad Wiskirchen: That’s correct. Yeah, we do and we have historically done transaction in over 200 countries on any given day, but we’ve historically been English and U.S. dollar only. In the last 12 to 18 months we’ve started accepting multiple currencies, and the site is translated on the front and back end now into Spanish, French and German and more languages to come.
Susan Bratton: Nice. Well congratulations on that. It’s only going to grow everyone’s business collectively. I can’t believe how fast this has gone by. I already have to go to a break. It feels like I’ve been talking to you for about 2 seconds. I have so many more questions for you. So lets go to a break and when we come back I want to talk to you about the funnel scenarios; like if you’re really going to do this, if you want to create your own information product what are some of the models that you see working really well and what’s the unique attribute of a successful vendor in ClickBank and, you know, just some of those kind of five tips of getting the most out of ClickBank. Those things, you know, those real hands-on things, those nuggety things will be great ‘cause I’ve got you here finally. Sound good?
Brad Wiskirchen: Sounds great.
Susan Bratton: Awesome! Well I am your host, Susan Bratton of DishyMix, and we’re with Brad Wiskirchen. He’s the CEO of ClickBank and Kount. And we’ll be right back to teach you how you’re going to make some money in the global market of the information products. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.
Susan Bratton: We’re back with Brad Wiskirchen. So Brad, when we were finishing up just before we went to the break we were talking about kind of thinking about this as a global business providing information to people all over the world. One of the things that I want to do is kind of set this idea of how the sale works. So it’s not just an e-book. You mentioned that you sell e-books, you sell membership sites and, what was it, there was another kind of model that you talked about, right?
Brad Wiskirchen: Software, e-book software and membership sites.
Susan Bratton: Downloadable software sites.
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah.
Susan Bratton: So anything you can either download or go to a site to access, right?
Brad Wiskirchen: Exactly.
Susan Bratton: Okay. So I know that the kind of classic e-book thing is you write an e-book, you charge $17 to $27 to $47 dollars depending on whether it’s like consumer or business, make money kind of a thing. You know, if it’s trying to lose your man boobs it’s probably $17 to $27 dollars; if it’s trying to, you know… I love that title. That’s my friend (unintelligible) title and it just cracks me up, losemanboobs.com.
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah, the nice part about that one is you don’t have to get it delivered in a brown paper bag. It’s digitally delivered, so…
Susan Bratton: Download that, password protect that bad boy on your hard drive.
Brad Wiskirchen: That’s right, password protect it.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. So you have the kind of direct to consumer problem solver quickie hit, and then you have the funnel, right. So okay, you gave your affiliate 50 to 75 percent of the commission on that $17 or $25 dollars, but you’ve got the consumers name and you know that maybe the next thing they might want is a weight loss product or a nutrition product or a, you know, product about walking or whatever it might be. So describe some of those scenarios about how the model works the best right now in the market and where you see the models evolving.
Brad Wiskirchen: You know, right now I see a lot of people leveraging membership sites. It takes a lot of effort to maintain a membership site because if you’re going to keep – as you know – if you’re going to keep subscribers you’ve got to continually refresh your content. But the nice part about membership sites is as you drill down into individual topics you can actually use the site to promote e-books within the site, so you can not only derive benefit from the recurring nature of membership sites but also use them to sell your e-books or your software, depending on the nature of the membership site. So we see a lot of those right now. Affiliates seem to like it because they’re an annuity. You continue to get commissions on the membership site after the initial sale. And those combined with a one-click upsell are often very, very effective tools to drive traffic, and the affiliates like them both because in either event they get more bang for their buck.
Susan Bratton: Describe the one-click upsell for everybody; how it works from a consumers perspective, that would be helpful.
Brad Wiskirchen: Well from the consumers perspective when you get to the order form or the confirmation page then at that point you’re offered up an opportunity if you like this book then this e-book or this piece of software, you might like this one as well. And it gives an opportunity for the affiliate to get a second commission there off the same transaction. Usually vendors like to promote books that they’ve written or other software products that they’ve written so they can perhaps convert two sales out of one, out of one user experience.
Susan Bratton: Mobile, mobile payments. This is something people want now. They’re buying their products on their iPhones and their iPads, and of course there’s the whole video issue ‘cause the flash video doesn’t work on those devices and we’re going to have to all move to, you know, whatever, h.264, some crazy other tech thing I’m not going to get into here, but what do you seeing, if I’m seeing people who want to do this, you’re seeing a lot of people who want to do this. I know you have a technology, you know, product roadmap, but I’m not asking you to tell me when you’re going to have mobile ‘cause I know you’re going to have it sometime, you’re going to have to, but…
Brad Wiskirchen: Right.
Susan Bratton: But what do you seeing about it, especially as you expand internationally? So what do we need to know and how do we manage through this?
Brad Wiskirchen: Well the statistics that I’m seeing are showing that you’ll be seeing more people using mobile devices to engage in e-commerce by 2015 than people using desktops to do it. So if you have a mobile solution at that point you’re probably generating the buggy within the, in the era of the Model T. So the fact of the matter is you got to go there and you’ve got to go there in the relatively near term. If you’ve got to have the solution it’s got to be just as easy as it is. With us we find that a one-page order form is, optimizes conversions and so you’ve got to, I’m sure the same holds true for mobile, you’re going to have to have an easy solution where people aren’t going to get bogged down. They are in my experience even more frustrated with mobile devices than they are with the desktop. Got to be quicker, got to be faster, got to be more user friendly, so I think you’re going to see a lot more of that in the next 12 to 24 months, with anybody who’s playing in the internet space. So we’ll be there as well.
Susan Bratton: I have another question about just kind of next to that one and that is when you create your product and you put it in ClickBank…
Brad Wiskirchen: Mm hmm.
Susan Bratton: do you have to hope… You start out at nothing because you have this grade that you have, this algorithm called Gravity, which is – could you explain what gravity is?
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah, Gravity just, basically Gravity’s an amalgam of just a lot of different factors, but it helps affiliates find products which are successfully pitched through our marketplace. So it’s effectively just a tool for affiliates to find products to promote.
Susan Bratton: But what do you do?
Brad Wiskirchen: The higher your Gravity the better off you are.
Susan Bratton: Exactly, you want more Gravity. And so The Truth About Abs or the Fat Loss For Idiots, those have a super high Gravity like 600 or something, and you know, other products language at 1 point of Gravity.
Brad Wiskirchen: Right.
Susan Bratton: If you have a brand new product and you put it in ClickBank how do affiliates find you or how do you find affiliates so you can get your pump primed and your Gravity going?
Brad Wiskirchen: You know, that’s a frequently asked question, and the fact of the matter is that I think that having a low Gravity actually helps folks in some situations because I know a lot of our super affiliates look for things with lower Gravities because they see something with a high Gravity and think “Well everybody and their dog is pitching that, so I’m going to have a harder time getting anybody to look at the products that I’m pitching or promoting.” So they look for things with lower Gravities because it’s, there’s less competition out there on the internet to promote those products. When I talk to affiliates they seem to go less on Gravity – or the super affiliates – less on Gravity and more towards particular verticals. So you look for a vertical that’s highly successful or a microniche, and you put your in that microniche or vertical that’s perhaps you’re seeing some success in it or you’re seeing trends that show that’s a product that’s going to sell well. And the affiliates that are selling other things in that microniche or vertical well are going to pick up your product as well. So I think what some affiliates, they absolutely look at the Gravity and it’s always a challenge to get that Gravity up high fast. There’s tricks to the trade, most of whom if I, our biggest vendors and affiliates would probably shoot them if I disclosed their super secrets, but there’s ways to do it, but I don’t think it’s just positive.
Susan Bratton: You can borrow my bulletproof vest and just throw us a bone. What’s one?
Brad Wiskirchen: Well it… First of all, contacting people who already have products in that microniche and saying do you have affiliates, and what I’ve found is that the vendors work remarkably well with each other. They’re not necessarily proprietary about the affiliates that they use and their super affiliates. In fact I talked to one of our big vendors this week and he said “I’m getting into a new space and I’ve called one of the biggest players in your marketplace in that space and said ‘Hey, I got to get my Gravity up above, lets say 1, fast. Do you have any of the contact information for any of your affiliates that might be able to help me’”, and they’ve been very cooperative and teed that up, so doesn’t hurt to look at what the people in that space are doing and to see if you can learn from their experience or derive some best practices for them, so doesn’t help to contact other people in your space. They may be competitors but a rising tide lifts all boats right?
Susan Bratton: Well especially in this particular industry, it’s one of mutually supportive growth.
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah, absolutely.
Susan Bratton: Now it’ll be interesting to see if that ever flips and becomes so competitive that people can’t afford to share their affiliate contacts and make introductions, but I’ve definitely found that’s an entirely different mentality than you typical hard goods manufacturing, you know, everybody out, always competitive, don’t want to work with your competitors. So it suits my personality definitely to be in this particular…
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah, you know, I find they have a lot of what they call mastermind groups that get together regularly with…
Susan Bratton: Exactly.
Brad Wiskirchen: And in the brick and mortar world you probably don’t see Staples and Office Depot getting together to talk about best practices that often. Sometimes you do, there’s industry groups. But the fact of the matter is here in particular vendors I think share best practices more than in any other space that I’ve ever seen before, and I see a lot of them getting together with JV’s, saying “Hey, we’re both in the same space but you do this particular subsection of the space better than I do and I do this particular subsection better than you do. Why don’t we join forces and work together?” So I see that really regularly.
Susan Bratton: Where do you think, what’s the history of the connection between mastermind groups and information product marketers and this whole idea of the collaborative coopetition consortium thing? Where’d that come from?
Brad Wiskirchen: I have no idea.
Susan Bratton: I wonder if it’s Eben Pagan. ‘Cause he undermines all those masterminds kinds of things. Was it somebody before him? Did he learn that from someone else?
Brad Wiskirchen: I don’t know. I honestly have no idea. It’s a good, it’s a very good question. And as a history buff maybe I’ll have to look into that.
Susan Bratton: And let me know when you find out.
Brad Wiskirchen: I will. You’ll be the first.
Susan Bratton: So five tips, give me five tips for getting the best out of ClickBank.
Brad Wiskirchen: Five tips… Well…
Susan Bratton: Good ones too. No lame kind of generic stuff. I want some really, like I’m going to write an e-book, I’m going to put it in ClickBank, and I need you right here right now to tell me some stuff that’s going to help make me successful. But no pressure Brad.
Brad Wiskirchen: Yeah. First I think you need to treat your efforts like you would if you were doing it in any other business. A lot of people think “Well I can throw an e-book together real quick and it’ll pick up.” There’s a qualitative analysis before people make a purchase in the e-book space as well, and if you want to be – or the downloadable software to membership site space, anything that we do. Consumers are making a qualitative decision and if you are, if you’ve got a good product they’re going to recommend it to their friends. And so you’ve got to put forth time and energy into it, put in plenty of hours to make sure that you’ve got a good quality product, learn as much as you can and you’re going to be successful. Second I think you got to put in a lot of research. Figure out who your competitors are, figure out whose tried this, done that, and figure out if they’ve been successful or not and figure out why. Do your homework. Research is always king. People just don’t do that. The successful people put in innumerable hours into making sure that their product actually serves a problem, that people are willing to pay in order to resolve. And you’re going to have to spend some money. You know, you’re going to have buy, on the affiliate side I found that the people who become very effective very quickly spend a lot of money buying e-books, buying solutions to help them become very effective in what they do. This isn’t something – a lot of times affiliate marketing’s portrayed as something as an opportunity that people just fall into and they don’t spend any money and suddenly two or three days letter they’re multi millionaires. And that’s just, I’m sure that happens, but that’s absolutely the exception, not the rule, and you’re going to have to patient then too, just like with any other endeavor, you’re going to make some mistakes. I think you’ve got to get connected. You’ve got to start networking with people, you’ve got to go to the affiliate conventions, you’ve got to go to Affiliate Summit or A4U Expo if you’re in Europe, you’ve got to go somewhere and network. Come out of your shell. I know that’s a very difficult thing for you Susan because you’re a shy reclusive type, but you have to get out there and meet people, and you never know who you’re sitting next to at lunch.
Susan Bratton: Exactly…
Brad Wiskirchen: You know, had you not said hi or I said hi or whomever said hi we would never have met and we would’ve just been eating our tradeshow food and gone back out onto the tradeshow floor, but it’s very important that you go to those events. And again, that goes back to my previous point, point number three, you’re going to have to spend some money ‘cause they’re not free. But just like you would if you were going to getting into any other industry, you got to go to school and you got to spend some money, you got to get connected. And finally you just have to take action. You got to do something. I always say the only verb that matters in the English languages is ‘to do’. And I firmly believe that. If you don’t take action in anything in your life you’re not going to succeed. So sometimes people agonize over the minutiae. Sometimes you just have to do. You may not have the perfect solution at first, but you will find it in time and once you get it from others. So those are probably the five things that I would do.
Susan Bratton: It’s good. And, you know, it’s really easy to just discount what you just said because it seems at the surface pretty simple. But to do it, just to do it is truly just everyday moving it forward and pretty soon you’ll figure it out. It might take you a year, it might take you two years, it might take you three years, but you’ll figure it out. So I was really impressed with you have an amazing number of boards you’ve been on and charitable organizations that you’ve sponsored. You’ve been on the, you’re on the Board of Directors of the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, the Board of Advisors of Boise State University’s Division of Research for the Office of Technology Transfer, the Strategic Initiatives Committee of St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center. You’ve served on non-profit boards from the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce to the Discover Center of Idaho; obviously you’re an Idaho booster. Idaho’s Software Employers Alliance, Opera Idaho, Notre Dame Club of Idaho, Caring Foundation for Children, Ohio Attorneys Against Hunger – I mean the list goes on and on. This is really important to you Brad. You like to give back. And you’ve done it a lot and it’s interesting to me that I think a lot of people would like to give back and they never quite figure out what’s the thing they’re going to do, and you’ve just done it. You’ve just gone out and done it and done it and done it and done it. How do you make decisions about what you choose, ‘cause if you’ve done this many things there are another 3 or 4 times that many that you’ve been asked to do?
Brad Wiskirchen: Right. Well there’s a multi prong analysis I guess. One is I don’t go for the things that, there’s a lot of non profits that have high profile board members and they probably don’t need me. I look for things where I can add a lot of value because they’re causes that really need a lot of help. For example in Idaho the Philharmonica has a tremendous supporter. Our Shakespeare company has tremendous support and as a direct result of that the financial wherewithal to do whatever they like. I guess I’m kind of a fan of the long tail, the people who are dangling out there on the end and need some help, so I look for those things and then I look for things that I’m passionate about because I don’t like to be a passive board member. If I’m not going to be fully engaged, then I’m not going to participate at all, so it has to be something I’m passionate about ‘cause if I’m not passionate about it I’m just not going to be fully engaged. So depending on the things that have happened in my life and with the Suicide Prevention Action Network I had a couple of close, a couple of instances over the course of a year where people that I knew and cared about had attempted suicide, and so I started looking into it and recognized, boy, this is an underrepresented cause in Idaho so this is something I want to get involved with it. Obviously the tech sector in Idaho’s important to me, so I work very closely with our local university trying to improve the availability of technology jobs and the availability of technology resources to existing Idaho companies, etcetera, and it’s just what I’m passionate about.
Susan Bratton: You are both an extremely intelligent and a very understated person. What, when you do work on boards, charitable and otherwise, corporate, what do you think it is that you’ve done, that you’ve learned is very helpful to boards?
Brad Wiskirchen: What’s very helpful to boards…
Susan Bratton: ‘Cause you’ve done a lot of boards and you’ve done a lot of things. What do you think has had the most significant impact? What action? When you do what do you think works really well for them?
Brad Wiskirchen: Well I’ve got a large network of friends and acquaintances who are very accomplished and I’m not afraid to ask them for help. And fortunately when I ask them for help they usually help for whatever reason. So I think that’s my value proposition there is that usually I can rally the right people to get things done and be it raising money, be it getting resources allocated to the cause by governmental or quasi-governmental entities, I’m just able to rally troops pretty quickly and get things done.
Susan Bratton: Nice, I like. This weekend I am helping my daughter with bake sale. You know, we’re going to go to Kenya, and my girlfriends the patron of a small, 85 children, about 85 children small orphanage. And she’s going to take my daughter there when she comes over while we’re there, and she was teaching her about how… ‘Cause my daughter said “Well I want to take soccer balls and crayons and things like that.” And my friend said – Denusha is her name – she said “Oh Tay, those get stolen and other kids sell them for food. So it would be better if you gave them food, and food is perishable, so what I found works best is if you give them a sustainable food resource, like a cow”, and Taylor said, “How much does a cow cost?” Denusha said, “$250 dollars.” And Taylor said, “I’m giving them a cow.” She went to her homeroom and she talked to her homeroom teacher and she’s gotten her teacher to help get some of the kids involved and I went to Safeway, they’re letting us set up our table on Saturday morning and we’re going to try to sell $250 dollars worth of cupcakes, cookies, brownies and pies, and…
Brad Wiskirchen: That is just awesome. That’s fantastic.
Susan Bratton: she’ll be able to go there with that money and buy them a cow. She’s hoping they name it after her. And I think this is just so great when you get kids involved in this, you know, this early stage, you know. She can almost do the whole thing herself, you know.
Brad Wiskirchen: Right.
Susan Bratton: It’s just so awesome.
Brad Wiskirchen: That is just awesome.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, so rallying the troops is a big thing. You said that was one of the things you did well. So if you’re a good rallier that’s an important thing to think about when you’re looking for how you can contribute. And I know that my DishyMix listeners, so many of them are in sales and marketing, they’re the external facing people in their organizations. They’re used to rallying resources. So that was a good point that you made, the rallying. Last question: you told me that there are a couple of books that you love and you love to share. One of them was Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford Dictionary. Now is that two books or one book?
Brad Wiskirchen: That is one book with an extremely long title and an author I guess who’s not pissy when it comes to titling his work.
Susan Bratton: What is that book about?
Brad Wiskirchen: It’s about the origins of the OED. It’s a great fascinating book that talks about how there was an American who was imprisoned and who was well to-do and had access to a lot of books and so as the OED was being compiled he would anonymously send in definitions because as they compiled the OED they were attempting to find the first use of any given term and he had this enormous library in the prison in which he was serving time, and he would find the original use or the first use of many terms and send them in to the compilers of the OED and they didn’t know that it was a prisoner sending them in. So it’s just a fascinating, fascinating book. It’s one of those ones when you pick it up you can’t put it down until you’re done, so it actually made me quite passionate about the OED, so now that’s, I’ve got certain goals in life and one of them the reward to myself is the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary, so…
Susan Bratton: Oh wow. That’s got to be a big, you need a big place to keep that, huh? How many feet long is it?
Brad Wiskirchen: You need a big bookshelf for that. 20 volumes? Yup.
Susan Bratton: It was funny, I interviewed Scott Berkun, he just wrote a book called Confessions of a Public Speaker, and one of his life goals is to fill up a bookshelf in his house with books he’s written.
Brad Wiskirchen: Wow!
Susan Bratton: I thought that was a good goal.
Brad Wiskirchen: I guess if you were a ClickBank user, I’d hope that his goal would be to fill up his hard drive with books he’d written, but…
Susan Bratton: Me too. I’m with you. I’ve got a few for him. That’s awesome. Brad, I’m so glad that we ran into each other. And by the way, there’s no way I wasn’t saying hi to you at that table no matter who you were. I just got lucky that you were such a great guy and I got to meet you. So lets give a shout out to Sean Collins and Missy Ward for the Affiliate Summit West. They do an awesome job creating such a good culture of connection at that event. And say hi to everybody that I’ve met at your place, Tara and Bo and, oh gosh you’ve got such a great team of people. It’s just awesome. So thanks for coming on the show today.
Brad Wiskirchen: Well thank you very much for having me. Its been a true pleasure and it was an absolute pleasure getting to know you at that show, I look forward to getting to know you better at future Affiliate Summits.
Susan Bratton: Sounds great Brad. All right, you got to meet Brad Wiskirchen. He’s the CEO of ClickBank and Kount. And I hope you go check it out; it’s a fascinating site. You can access all the content for free, so go see what you can find in there. Become an affiliate. Write an e-book. Have some fun. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. I hope you enjoyed today’s show and I look forward to connecting with you next week. Have a great day. Bye-bye.