How to Believe in Your Idea Enough to Take the First Step (and Other Business Advice From Ryan Deiss)

ryan deiss

I remember sitting at my cubicle job looking at people wondering, “Why? Why are you here? Why are you doing this?” I asked a friend once, “Don’t you think this job is meaningless?”

He said no.

And then I knew what I had to do. I had to quit. And I did (eventually). First I spent time building up my own business on the side.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really believed in myself. I just knew I didn’t want the life I had. Sometimes believing in yourself just means you don’t believe in what you’re doing right now. And you have to change.

Sara Blakey felt this way, too. She woke up one day, looked at her life and said, “I’m in the wrong movie.” Now she’s a self-made billionaire entrepreneur.

But my friend Ryan Deiss said believing in yourself is possible. And I wanted to know more.

He started his first business in college. And made $100K in revenue the first year. He sold eBooks online. “I had books on pretty much any topic,” he said. One was about baby food. Then he partnered with mommy bloggers and sold it to their readers.

(That’s the formula for a great strategic partnership. Create something useful. Find someone with an untapped audience. Someone who’s talking to the people you want to talk to but who isn’t not offering what you have to offer.)

Now, years later, he’s the founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer. He’s a transformer. He teaches people how to build profitable online businesses.

He walked me through it. He told me about digital marketing. And how people use these skills everyday to start and grow their own businesses…

Here’s what he said:

A) Tell stories

I could tell you to buy something. Or I could tell you a story. I could tell you who threw milk into my best friend’s face while he cried for help. I could tell you how we survived. And the ways we bounced back.

“What wins today are the best storytellers,” Ryan said.

“How do you do that?” I asked. “How do you tell a good story?”

He said you have to start with a good product.

“Like what?”

“Anything,” he said. “Anything that is going to meet a felt need.”

We talked about dieting. Ten years ago, when people wanted to lose weight, they bought a pill. No one trusts that anymore. Now people buy hard exercise.

“You’ve got to evaluate where the market is today,” Ryan said. “What are people disregarding? What are they believing?”

“I’m a big fan of coming up with a statement of value,” he said.

“What do you mean by statement of value?”

He said this is key to becoming a good storyteller. Look at your product. And figure out how it’s going to take someone from their life today to a better life tomorrow. Then describe the product’s value.

“I make what’s called the before-and-after grid,” Ryan said.

Before: this is your customer’s emotional state, what their average day is like, what they’re struggling with, what they want in their life, and so on.

“You’re expressing empathy,” he said.

That’s one of the qualities Ryan hires for.

“Define empathy.”

“It’s being aware of others’ emotional states, having enough understanding of how they feel right now, and caring enough to respond accordingly.”

When you evaluate the market, you’re looking to understand where people are today. You empathize. Then you move into storytelling. You tell the story of how you can make their lives better. That’s the “after” state.

“All marketing ever does is articulate that shift,” he said. “You have to have the best product, and you’ve got to be the best at explaining what you do… at articulating your value, so people say, ‘Holy crap, I get it and I want it.’”

A good product can help people. It can help you. It can help your family and total strangers halfway around the world. If you have an idea, you have to take the first step. That’s what I learned from Ryan.

There are a lot of people with ideas. But a lot of people are also afraid to start.

So I asked Ryan, “What’s the first step?”

“You’ve got to believe in it,” he said. “Sometimes you’re just delusional. On the other end of the spectrum, there are so many people sitting there right now listening to this with some amazingly great ideas, but they don’t believe in themselves.”

I interrupted. “What can they do? What’s the first step in having belief in yourself?”

He laughed. “You’re the expert when it comes to choosing yourself, right? Far be it for me to throw out too much here.”

“It’s hard for everybody,” I said.

We did another podcast on this. (It comes out today.) Because millions of people have ideas that never escape their imagination. They go on unborn. That’s painful. If you’ve ever hidden your dreams, you know how hard it is. It feels like you’re lying all the time.

It’s hard to believe in yourself.

But it’s harder not too…

Choose for yourself. College or not. Employee or employer.

That’s the first step.

But if you want help, I trust Ryan. He’s been building businesses for 20 years. He knows how to execute. He knows how to start and grow online business and earn multiple streams of income.

He knows how to believe…  And he can teach you, too.

“At the end of the day, put something out there,” he said. “Put a product out there. Put an idea out there. Put a book out there. Write a blog post, right? If it get traction, then it’s good… It should be seen.”

Learn more from Ryan here.


  • Hey James! Download link is broken :(

    • Joel Bejar

      You could change in the save dialog the JAS-225-RyanDeiss-Bonus-v02-FREE.mp3 file name with JAS-225-RyanDeiss-Bonus-v01-FREE.mp3

  • RichW

    This podcast does not play

  • Alyse Makarewicz

    Great Podcast. It is just this information I needed to hear today. I’m an architect that owns an architectural firm trying to launch my first product Promotion and marketing is not my strength. I’m now a student again.

  • Florencia Renedo

    Hi James, I am also unable to hear this. Can you help us, please? I am sure this podcast is awesome!

  • Xandria Xanerchek

    Ryan Deiss is part of The Syndicate. Why would you promote his product?….

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  • Phil Morris

    Link still not working but this episode is available on iTunes.

  • Joel Bejar

    This link did work for me:

    Or change in the save dialog the JAS-225-RyanDeiss-Bonus-v02-FREE.mp3 file name with JAS-225-RyanDeiss-Bonus-v01-FREE.mp3

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