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How to Grow and Sell a Business for $125 Million in 9 Years (Episode 2)

Jon Ferrara is a serial entrepreneur and is best known as the co-founder of GoldMine Software Corp that was launched in May 1990. This business sold just 9 years later in 1999 for $125 million after reaching annual revenues of $100 million.

They never chased Venture capital funds or borrowed money but bootstrapped the startup with only $5,000 in the bank.

Jon and his partner founded the CRM revolution and it was one of the early pioneers in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for small to medium-sized businesses. Goldmine was one of the earliest products in the space between collaboration, contact management, and sales force automation, way before Outlook and Salesforce even existed.  

He sold his business just 4 months before the dotcom bubble burst.

For the next 10 years, Jon decided to focus on his family and his health after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2000 just after the sale of the business. 

In 2010 he re-entered the business world and kicked off his new social CRM venture project, Nimble after seeing and sensing the power of social media to transform global relationships and business.

What you will learn

  • The power of a passionate purpose
  • Why you need to find a way to distribute your products
  • Discover the power of relationships to supercharge business success
  • Learn the importance of storytelling as an entrepreneur
  • How to scale your business 
  • The importance of balancing family, personal, health, and business priorities
  • The books and resources that have inspired and sustained Jon on his journey

Transcript

Jeff Bullas: Hi everyone and welcome to the Jeff Bullas Show. Now today we're going to be meeting with and having a chat with Jon Ferrara from Nimble. Now, Jon and I have known each other for quite a few years now. And we've

been for walks down to Santa Monica. First, a little bit about Jon. Jon's a fascinating character. He's a serial entrepreneur.

People that run multiple businesses seem to have something special and that's what Jon does have in spades.

He's also a noted speaker about sales, social and marketing.

He has re-imagined CRM building, Nimble. The simple CRM for Office 365 and also for the G Suite.

Jeff Bullas: Jon is best known as the co-founder of GoldMine software, one of the early pioneers in the customer relationship management for small to medium size businesses.

And GoldMine was the earliest products in the space between collaboration, contact management and sales force automation way before Outlook and Salesforce existed.

So…Welcome to the show Jon. It's so good to have you here and look forward to diving a little bit into your story and sharing that with our listeners.

Jon Ferrara: I really appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with you about how we together might inspire and educate others about achieving their dreams in life.

Because I think that that's why we're on this planet.

After selling GoldMine, I went on my own spiritual journey and I came to the conclusion that we're on this planet to grow our souls and we do that best by helping other people grow theirs.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah. And that's one thing I really admired as we've had conversations and chats over the years as we've walked and talked, whether it's at a conference or whether it's been in your home in Santa Monica in LA.

One thing that's really impressed me about you is the fact that you value relationships so much and I think I was reading a little bit about you saying you put the R into CRM.

I thought that was actually pretty fabulous. And watching you over the years as you connect people and double down on being human is what I've really admired about you.

So what inspired you to start a CRM company back in the early 1990s when CRM actually wasn't even an industry?

So you're actually one of the founders of the CRM industry?

Jon Ferrara: Well, Jeff, I think that we all stand on the shoulders of giants. And I think that growing up as a young boy watching NASA put things into space, really inspired me to reach for the moon, so to speak. And then my uncle was actually part of the space program. He helped invent radar and microwave at MIT. Had his own aerospace company and I kind of wanted to be like him. I didn't want to be like my dad who was the number one car sales guy in the country first with Lincoln-Mercury, and then he had his own Subaru dealership and I just put my father just like he's a car salesman. And so I wanted to be an astronaut, so I studied computer science, but getting through my degree I had to pay for my college. So I got a job at a computer store because I knew about computers.

Jon Ferrara: I bought the first computer in my whole city back in 1978 and so I found that I was actually good at sales, so it came naturally to me, but I didn't want to be in sales when I graduated with my degree.

I then went and worked in aerospace for a couple of years and worked at a startup for a couple of years. And it was at that startup that they put me in sales after a while. And in trying to build relationships with leads and prospects that scale,

I found it difficult to manage the contacts, to manage the follow up and follow through. And I looked for a tool that would help me to manage contacts and I couldn't find a relationship manager.

Then I found a WordPerfect Office, which was network scheduling and email, and I found a sales pipeline program. But what I really wanted was something in the integrated email, contact and calendar and sales market automation. I couldn't find it.

So at 29 years old, I was too young and dumb to know any better. I quit my job and started GoldMine.

Jeff Bullas: Okay. So Jon, you did this with a partner and tell a little bit about how that relationship happened?

Jon Ferrara: You know how hard it is to start a business.

Jeff Bullas: Yes.

Jon Ferrara: Right? Nobody hands you anything. If you pick somebody who is strong, where you're not and you're strong where they're not. And so when I first went to college in my Calc 1 class, there was this Israeli kid fresh off the boat from Israel, cocky as all get out and smart as a whip. And so we started to study together, work in the industry, he asked me about what he should do and I basically helped him get his first computer and get dBase and he became really good at the programming. And so when I went to go start this company, we did it together.

Jeff Bullas: Right. Okay. So he had the technical skills and you had the sales skills.

Jon Ferrara: You know what's funny is I have a computer science degree and I do have technical skills, but I think that my product knowledge and my sales and marketing skills, were definitely what was key to build in the company and his procurement skills because he was able to whip our first rendition of GoldMine out in literally months and was our primary programmer for the first five years. So we didn't even have a development team. He was it. We'd go walk on the beach, I'd share ideas with him and he'd new code and new features for me the next day and I went and sold the crap out of it.

Jeff Bullas: Right. Okay. So what was some of the biggest challenges that you had? You had the inspiration, you saw a problem that needed to be solved, you've teamed up with your partner and what happened was starting out, right? So what would some of the challenges you struck along the way, Jon, that you had to overcome?

Jon Ferrara: I think the biggest challenge for anybody who has an idea and builds a product is bringing it to market and getting it sold. And I tried to go sell it direct and there's only eight hours in the day that... maybe 10, maybe 15 if you're crazy and you can only sell your hours, 24 hours in a day.

And so what I did is identified the influencer of my prospect, the person that sold the end user, the network, and GoldMine was essentially a networkable business application that ran on top of the network. So I called all the Novell resellers in the country and I got them to use it because people sell what they know and they know what they use. They started to use it, they started recommending and resell it, and every Novell reseller had 100, 1,000, 10,000 customers, and so that's how we got to our first 100,000 or so a month in revenue is by identifying the influence of our prospect, building a relationship with them, and then leveraging their relationship with their customers to scale.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah, and that's what I found really great about your story in terms of how you did it tactically and strategically is that you were working originally for a couple of years for Banyan, which basically was doing a lot of direct sales and then you had a competitor that ran you over.

And that was Novell?

Jon Ferrara: Yes.

Jeff Bullas: Okay, and Novell had the distribution?

Jon Ferrara: Yes. And the resellers, they're local resellers.

Jeff Bullas: So that's what's really great to hear is that you said, "Okay, how can I get a one to many relationship happening as quickly as possible? Who were the influencers in other words, distributors?"

At that time we didn't call them influences back then we called them distributors. And so you actually went and worked with them. So how quickly did it scale then?

Once you identified that, how long did it take to get things really moving?

Jon Ferrara: I'd say that that whole cycle was two years or so. Let's say 1990 to 1992 and I don't know exactly what your Windows came out. Was it 93 ish? So essentially what happened was Windows came out and Microsoft hired my former at Banyan, James Allchin and he built NT Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server and Microsoft kind of ate Novell.

And the thing is about Microsoft is they don't innovate, they iterate.

They wait for somebody else to build the market and then they come in when it's big enough with their muscle, which is billions of users and hundreds of thousands of ours and they build a good enough product and they eat the market.

And so they started to eat Novell at the same time that our customers grew from individuals and teams of two to five to individuals and teams of five to 500. And so our customers wanted a more scalable backend database. Ours was dBase and Microsoft wanted to sell SQL Server.

Jon Ferrara: So it was a perfect relationship. So we built GoldMine Enterprise, which required a seat of NT Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server for obviously the GoldMine and enabled our customers to scale to larger databases and enabled our partners to make more money on products and services. And we help Microsoft sell its crown jewels.

They pushed the crap out of us to all their distributors. And that's how we got to $100 million in revenue by becoming strategic to Microsoft's product line.

Jeff Bullas: So was that because the relationship you had with the guy from Banyan?

Jon Ferrara: No, actually that relationship I didn't really call on. It was really a biz dev relationship that happened. We were a market leader and Microsoft reached out to us and asked us to help them sell small business server. And we were just intelligent enough to take that call and to do that integration. But I don't think that I would have really been able to make these kinds of decisions without really the sum of my experiences through all the different roles that I was in.

So I think it's important to point out that each of the different jobs, each of the different roles that you have add up to the sum of your experience which you bring to bear on situations as you grow?

Jeff Bullas: Yes. So you're starting to scale on how you've got distributions through Microsoft. Novell's been run over as you said by Microsoft. From then on I suppose the challenge for you in that space would be managing, I suppose, a fast growing company. So how did you manage the people and the teams within that?

Jon Ferrara: Well, before we get to the operational thing, which is a really great question because I think as an entrepreneur you have to make a decision where to focus your time and when you bring on new people.

But really what helped us to become a market leader was taking that whole idea of the influence of our prospect.

We started with the Novell reseller and then going to the next level, which was editors and analysts and magazines and publications. So we needed to... Once the Novell resellers had already sold GoldMine to their base of customers, they asked us for leads. How do you get your channel leads if you don't know anything about advertising?

And so what I did is I contacted the trusted advisor of my prospect, where do they get their technical and business knowledge?

It was from places like PC Magazine and from Inc.com, etc.

Jon Ferrara: I picked up the phone and I contacted the writers and I said, "How can I help you write more stories?" They said, "Tell us stories about how people are using business technology to grow." So I started telling them stories and they started telling those stories and that's how we got more print and more awards than all the other products combined is it's more powerful when other people talk about you then when you talk about you and when you identify that trusted influencer of your prospect such as the writers and analysts.

That's what really put us on the map and winning six PC Magazines in a row over seven years.

I think it was critical to us building that brand. So as we scaled, in answer to your previous question, operational things began to be more difficult. And back in the old days, I can even share a picture with you, I did shrink wrapped boxes, right? And manually put together this stuff.

Jon Ferrara: And at a certain point you need to start building that stuff at scale because we're selling millions of boxes. And so how do you do that at scale? So I went and found a CFO, COO who'd been running one of the larger technology companies in Los Angeles, it was called Clipper it's a dBase compiler. I saw that they're running really efficiently, they were selling millions of boxes through distribution. So I brought him on board and I turned over to him all the accounting, all the operation and even the success team.

And so Rob Clark was able to take that on and really scale us because as we brought on 10 global distributors, we had to mass manufacture products, drop ship it to the distributors, and then as we scaled from 30 people to 300 people, things become more difficult to manage.

And I was able to focus on what I do really good.

I'm a storyteller.

So being able to spend my time building relationships, telling stories and focusing on the product really helped us to scale and win.

Jeff Bullas: So what you did is you concentrated on what you are good at, what your superpower was, which was relationship building and storytelling. And making clear that you said, "I'm not going to be an operations manager, I'm not going to be the CEO or COO. I'm basically going to keep doing what I'm..." And what was the secret to success.

So everything's about scaling.

So I remember actually using GoldMine back in the 1990s along with some other products. I think one was Act as well, which was in Australia. I remember doing broadcasting via fax when fax was actually what a thing.

So what were some of your major competitors?

Jon Ferrara: Like you said, there was Act, there was Maximizer, there was TeleMagic, there are a few other programs. I think there might've been 50 different programs out in the marketplace, but we're number one.

And then the market started to shift to a more of a mid market CRM.

People took the idea that we did with GoldMine and they started to build the next generation of product. But the thing that people loved about Goldmine and Act is they were relationship managers. They were contact manager at their heart and what the next generation of CRMs weren't really about relationships and empowering the customer facing business team member. They're more about reporting and management.

And so I like to say that the CRM, the R stands for relationships these days, it stands more for reporting. So this next generation of tools like Sales Logics and Pivotal and OnyX were more mid-market, more expensive, management facing, reporting platforms for lead flow, which is required as you get to be a big company.

Jon Ferrara: But we really focused on the still really our core relationship management features still serve in that work group market. And so I think that there is a space in the individuals on teams of five to 25 that's like a sweet spot in the marketplace that wasn't being served. We were getting up into the five to 500 with a lot of the large banks and stuff. But definitely the amount of competitors started to grow, but we grew with it. We got to about $100 million in revenue the year we sold it. And we made that decision because when you run a company for 10 years and it's extremely successful, you have to say to yourself how much is enough and what is important in life. Most people work their butts off until they're 65 and then they choose to spend some time living life. And I think that we have that all wrong, Jeff.

Jon Ferrara: I think that we really need to live life now because we don't know if there is a tomorrow. And so after having my second baby, I made that decision that enough was enough and we didn't have any investors.

We never took any bank loans.

So the majority of the shares were closely controlled by the founders and so we sold it in 1999 for cash. I didn't really like the stock market valuations that I was seeing and insisted on cash and I sold it to a South African gentleman and I stayed on for the obligatory year.

And I went off and I spent 10 years raising three babies. And I'll tell you what, Jeff, I learned more about relationships, about myself, about my soul in that period of time of being a present father and husband and member of my community than I did in the previous 10 or 20 years of doing business.

Jeff Bullas: And that's one thing I've really admired about you too, is that you value the human aspect of the business. You realized what was important and said, "This is enough. How much more do I need?" And I think the reality is this research shows that after earning $75,000 a year that your happiness doesn't increase by making more money, it is more about relationships.

Jon Ferrara: I want to put an image in your head. Do you remember the movie Christmas Carol?

Jeff Bullas: Yes.

Jon Ferrara: Do you know Marley's Ghost, the one that shows up in the night?

Jeff Bullas: Vaguely.

Jon Ferrara: Marley's Ghost is the guy with all the chains on him and he's just hovering over scrooge and he's saying, "Look at me. Look at me." And I think that all the stuff that we surround ourselves, all this crap that we buy and stuff in our garages and our closets, and the houses and the cars that we buy are like the chains around you and they could suffocate you. And I think that less is the new more.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah, and I totally agree with you. The thing about stuff is that it ends up owning you. You don't own it. And a little around that anxiety. I remember a story, a friend of mine when I was starting out in teaching, which is my first career. It was interesting. So he was my room buddy at the time in our first year of teaching and we were sharing a house, he bought a really expensive camera and traveled through Southeast Asia. And so the first time in his life he had something that was a value on him and he sort of just created a lot of anxiety because he was worried about losing it or damaging it. So yeah, it's really important, I think to get our priorities right when that's around family relationships and being able to make that call and ask that question when is enough. And I think you seem to have balanced that really well Jon. So something else showed up too that was a challenge.

That was a health challenge, wasn't it?

Jon Ferrara: It was, and I think that there's a lot of stories about people that work really hard to build a company and then they retire or sell it and then a short time later they get sick. And so I ended up getting a brain tumor and it was pretty serious. I lost like 50 pounds. I was down to like 130, 135 pounds. And I think at my peak I was 185, 190 and so I was on the edge. I was frail. I went through seven weeks of radiation and I survived, knock on word. And I think I survived because I became my own advocate for my house. And I think if you ever get ill, it's really important that you become your own advocate. Get educated, doctors aren't perfect there. They practice medicine, they don't necessarily... they're not perfect with it. And so you need to figure out your best course.

Jon Ferrara: And I mixed Western medicine with some Eastern medicine, and did some spiritual work. And after getting through that whole process, I think I had a different perspective or at least a honed perspective of life and how precious it is. Jeff, you've been through things yourself, you know this story. And so I just said to myself... and I thought I was just going to sell GoldMine and then go back and do something else a short time later. But I decided to really dedicate myself to being a parent and being a husband and a present member of my community and I really focused on one thing. And that was growing my soul and ultimately helping other people grow theirs.

I think that's my recipe for life.

I think that we're on this planet for a very small period of time and I do believe that the essence of yourself continues in the universe because we're all built of star stuff and that stuff just goes back into the universe and that you might come back. And so each time you're here, work to grow and I think you do that best by helping other people grow.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah. And that's what I certainly learned when I started jeffbullas.com 11 years ago actually this month. And I just gave away content for free.

It was all about what are people's biggest problems as entrepreneurs, as marketers, how can they grow their business?

What are the things that keep them up at night?

So this podcast and the show is being created because I wanted to talk to people like yourself and others that can share stories about life. Because business and life aren't separate.

Money, it's just part of the equation.

It helps you get other stuff and add more value to the world. That's why I wanted to do this show. I just wanted to say, "Okay, it's time in the middle of all this AI and machines, automation, the algorithms, I'd want it to share stories of humans and entrepreneurs that have got so much to give."

Jeff Bullas: It's great to hear your perspective regarding what's important to you, how you've navigated that. So thanks for sharing that story about the health scare and the cancer.

Something happened to me two years ago. I lost my partner and I’m still navigating that but I really brought home to me what's important, and it comes down to relationships. So the reality is that we've got to really double down on what's important, and also for me, the show is all about relationships and what's not to love about having a far side chat with you Jon. And one of the best books I've ever read was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and I love the sentence that is the essence of his book.

It said, "The past has gone, the future doesn't exist. The only thing you've got is now." And that's a challenge for us as humans to actually just double down on “now”.

Jon Ferrara: Yeah, I agree.

So Buddha said, "The cause of most pain is from hanging onto the past and averting the future."

So hanging onto what you want and averting what you don't want is another way to look at it. But ultimately I think that when you're ruminating on the past or you're fearing what may come, you're not really being here. So you're not actually living the life you have but when you are here, you see so much richness, it becomes more brighter. Right? And so I think that being mindful and present, I know it's such an overused word, but really, that's what life's about because if you're not here with yourself or the person you're with or the surroundings that are surrounding you, then you're missing it. And so 100% Eckhart Tolle, Power of Now, I think that's the name of the book. It's one of the great books and so enlightening.

Jeff Bullas: Yes. It's something that I practice every day. It's being in the present.

Jon Ferrara: It absolutely is. Because I work on meditating each day, but I find sometimes I slip and I work on being mindful and present, I find that I slip. And so even though we were aware of what we should do, we're humans if we don't do it. And so it's important to constantly come back to it and not to judge yourself in the process.

Jeff Bullas: Yes. Love yourself and be kind to yourself.

And it's certainly something that by being present by listening rather than actually thinking of what your next piece of the conversation is going to be.

Being very present with someone as you ask them questions and ask them questions that I think, reveal their humanity to you. It's a challenge every day, I think for all of us as humans to actually be present and being in the now.

I’m not perfect at all and just do my best to be present and listen as best I can.

So let's move on to the next topic.

You've had a health scare, you spent 10 years being a great dad and husband. So how did Nimble start?

What was the inspiration for that?

Jon Ferrara: I started to remodel our old Spanish home here in Santa Monica. It was like a three or four year project. It's a home that was built in 1928 and in the process of doing all that work, it's like exercise. It's like my product mind started to get in tune again. And so you can imagine the detail and you can look back here, the bookshelves and if I turned the camera around, I'd show you all these important things, all this detail in the process of managing that, I basically got my product mind back and honed. And at the same time, social media hit in 2006, seven, eight and nine and I started to use it. I remember This Week in Tech, had the Twitter founder on there and they were talking about Twitter and I said, "Twitter." And I went and signed up for the account and I said, "Hello. World... Right?

Jon Ferrara: So I was just trying to think these things out. And as I started to surf in the social river, I saw the immense power of social media to connect and communicate, and to build community and each imagine I've been out of tech for 10 years. So my brand was like nothing. And so I had to reestablish my brand and relationships. And as I started to use social media and I saw I was going to change the way that we work, play, buy and sell, I started to build relationships and connections and I wanted to take those relationships and connections I was building and to manage them, to nurture them because it's hard to manage like names in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Jon Ferrara: And so I found Hootsuite that enabled me to manage these columns or conversations, did it tie back to contacts, to connections. And what I wanted to do before I met with somebody is I Google them so I know who they are and what their bow and what their business is, et cetera. And I think it's your job. In the old days, they used to teach people, when you go into somebody's office, look at the walls, you get the books, they read the degree of the school, they would do the knickknacks to find what you have in common because we connect on the areas of commonality. I call it the five F's of life, family, friend, food, fun and fellowship. And so I looked for a tool to manage relationships. I couldn't find it as far as social, and then I started looking at contact management and I saw it was broken because Gmail and G Suite was the cloud contact manager and email contact and calendar three separate programs and you want to have your email and your calendar connected to the contacts and ideally the social as well.

Jon Ferrara: And then I started looking at CRM and saw it wasn't about relationships. It's really about reporting and the reason they call it Salesforce!

You have to force salespeople to use it and no one likes to use it.

And I saw the opportunity to reimagine contact management and CRM with a platform that automatically built itself from the data you already have, which is your contacts and Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail and G Suite, and so I put together a team and we built Nimble.

Jeff Bullas: So... basically taking what you learned in the previous 10 years before you took your sabbatical and you just reimagined it in the social media world and just like you back in 2008/2009, I just saw what was unfolding in front of me, Twitter conversations, and for me it was late at night watching America wake up on Twitter. That's really what it was and I remember just some of the contacts and connections I made back then still with me today. I remember being interviewed or not interviewed, but being introduced when I was speaking in Knoxville, Tennessee about seven years ago.

Jon Ferrara: Mark Schaefer?

Jeff Bullas: Yeah, Mark Schaefer's Social Media Summit, whatever he called it back then. I was introduced by a lady I'd met two, three years earlier in a late night conversation on Twitter and she talked about she had lost her hamsters and couldn't find them. It was just a funny conversation where you had.. she actually ended up introducing me at Mark's conference. So the connections to me over the years have just been amazing.

And I think what you did is you actually identified a problem with social media in that it's like hurting cats and disorganized and you said, "Okay, how can I get it to organize?" I remember when I started using automation for Twitter and so on, it was wild West. So you identified a problem again and then re-imagined, "Okay social CRM." So now you've had a few challenges with Nimble since the idea was inspired by your observation with social media. So tell me a little bit about what happened after you said, "I need to do a social CRM." So how did you get going?

Jon Ferrara: I put together a team, I funded it myself and we began to build the core platform. So if you think about the way that you used to manage social, you used to go to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or maybe something like Hootsuite to manage conversations and then you'd go into email and Gmail and you go into your Gmail calendar and there's all these different programs. I imagine bringing it all together into one dashboard, if you will. But to do that, I needed access to the API. So Facebook had an open API, Twitter had an open API, LinkedIn did not have an open API to the level that I needed it. And what I wanted was full access to contact synchronization, signals on posts and responses, the ability to do private messages in all the platforms and the ability to sync contacts and enrich those contacts.

Jon Ferrara: And so I went up to LinkedIn and built relationships with their management team and they gave me access to their public and their private API. So I had the ability to look for an email and enrich the contact to be able to sync the private messages, the notifications, everything.

And I effectively pioneered social CRM and social selling before anybody existed, and we just took off like a rocket ship until the API Wars and the API Wars were, Facebook cutoff the API originally because they wanted you to go live on Facebook. It was all about the advertising. It wasn't about security, it was about advertising.

Linkedin cut off the API because they wanted to sell you LinkedIn navigator.

Jon Ferrara: And so I had to walk through the desert for a while like Jesus and reimagine what Nimble was going to be. But I think there's an important part of the whole story that I forgot to mention that I think has parallels to how I built GoldMine and that is I'm sitting there in the beginning of GoldMine, I'm Nimble actually from this desk here because we worked out of my garage, which is down below us and I had to build the Nimble brand and bring it to market. So how did I do that? Identified the influence of our prospect in around the areas of promise of its products and services, social sales and marketing influencers and thought leaders. And I began to share their content on my brand and the Nimble brand and then hashtag it appropriately and attribute their name and then engage with the people that responded, especially the influencer in their community.

Jon Ferrara: And then invited those people for the conversations and built relationships where those influencers became Nimble users and our storytellers. And if you think about it, that's the exact same way we built GoldMine is by identifying the influencer of our prospect. Back in the old days was the Novell reseller. So I think that's a critical aspect of how we built the Nimble brand, and then we did the same thing with press and analysts where we tell them stories and they started to write stories about it. We won awards and all that. And so that gets us to when we got our first 100,000 subscribers and we lost the API.

So what do we do?

Jon Ferrara: Right about that time, Microsoft came up with Office 365 and as we started to integrate into the Office 365 APIs because if you're a business and you want to run productivity, you need to pick Office or G Suite now for email, contact and calendar and productivity apps. And so I said to myself, "The most important signals you'll ever have is the contacts you're connecting to, the conversations you're having in an email and the activities that you drive in your calendar." So email, contact and calendar are the base business signals and they'll never take those APIs away. And so we doubled down on the basics and we bet on Microsoft because I saw that Microsoft ate Novell by coming out with NT Server three years after Novell came out with Novell and Office came out three years after G Suite came out and I knew that Office would eat G Suite.

Jon Ferrara: So we began to build integrations with the Microsoft products, relationships with the people which gave us access to the programs. And six months ago, Microsoft signed a global reseller agreement with Nimble. They're our global reseller. We don't have to sign a contract where their distributors are walking us into the top 50 distributors. They're paying their distributors to push us through their resellers. We've signed up over 1,000 resellers and recently Microsoft sunsetted their simple CRM and transitioned 200,000 of their customers to us, which essentially anoints Nimble as the simple CRM for Office 365 which if think about it, we just repeated history.

Jeff Bullas: You have and that's why reading your story about GoldMine and having conversations years ago.

Jon's basically taken a template and just reinvented it for a social media world.

It's a fantastic story, Jon. And now there's one little question I have. So LinkedIn got bought by Microsoft.

Jon Ferrara: Yes.

Jeff Bullas: So how do that API, LinkedIn, Microsoft play out?

Jon Ferrara: I haven't gone back to LinkedIn to start that conversation only because LinkedIn still is very focused on LinkedIn sales navigator. But I do have good relationships with the LinkedIn people and because they are a part of Microsoft, I anticipate that we'll reestablish that and get access to the APIs, but it's not like LinkedIn's going to let us get access to the deep level that we used to. Well, it will probably be if you're a Nimble subscriber and a LinkedIn sales navigator subscriber that there'll be certain information that will surface within Nimble that you may be can't get to day which says, "Okay, so you subscribed to them both." Which many of our customers do that. They use Nimble and they use LinkedIn sales navigator. I was happy to see Microsoft buy LinkedIn, LinkedIn still run as an independent company. Jeff Weiner, the CEO just left and maybe there might be a deeper integration, which I do see with some of their products, a deeper LinkedIn integration, but I anticipate that Nimble and LinkedIn will get cozy again in the not too near future.

Jeff Bullas: Okay, cool. Some of the questions I do like to ask is what are some of your favorite resources, such as books that you found inspiring over the years?

Jon Ferrara: You know, my Bible in building GoldMine was Think and Grow Rich. I think it's a book that most of the entrepreneurs that I know who retired at 40 say that that was their book. Of course, Winning Friends and Influencing People, Classic book. But there's other books that I really, in fact, I have a series of them here. So here's my Think and Grow Rich book. But I actually have an older one. This one here Paramahansa Yogananda was a philosopher that I started to read early on is a book called Autobiography of a Yogi, but self-realization center is a place here in Los Angeles.

Jeff Bullas: So that book's called Man's eternal quest. Is that what the title was?

Jon Ferrara: Yes, but there's a book called Autobiography of a Yogi and I would recommend it. And then I'm looking for some of the other books, but I'll... Oh, there they are. So there's a book that I really love called Guerrilla Marketing and according to you Immutable Laws of Marketing that were really great for me back in the day. These are sort of older titles because I'm an older dude and a book called Strategic Selling. That was really great back in the day. So these are some books that I recommend and foundational from a business perspective. Also, a book called Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse I think is a really good book about the journey of life and making decisions as certain aspects of that life. Have you read Siddhartha?

Jeff Bullas: I haven't read that, but I have heard of it. But I haven't read it. Well, typically what I do is when I have these conversations, I normally jot down four or five books and actually got, usually I'll go straight on Amazon, Kindle and actually just download them pretty well within hours.

Jon Ferrara: There's another one that I actually like too. I'm looking to see if I have it on my desk. Is The New Rules of PR and Marketing by David Meerman Scott. He also did The New Rules of Sales and Service. But I really like the books that David puts out.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah. David's book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR that I read in 2008 was an inspiration for me to start the blog.

Jon Ferrara: It was actually an inspiration for me to start Nimble.

Jeff Bullas: Wow, okay. That's cool. What was interesting is about three or four years ago, Dave was over here at a Tony Robbins event, speaking up, running a workshop. A friend of mine introduced me to him at a lunch and in fact David and I had been chatting over the years via email and Twitter. It was so good to get to see him because we actually had been in touch. But now we have become good friends, and I said to him, he was my inspiration. One of my inspirations to actually start publishing online and inbound marketing as we called it back then, that's called content marketing. So that's fascinating actually to hear that he was inspirational for you as well.

Jon Ferrara: Yeah, and you know the thing is, is that some of my walks that I've done with you and people like David are some of my favorite moments, because the thing is, is that I think that there's a lot of these relationships that start softly on Twitter and then maybe they shift over to email and LinkedIn connection. But if you really want to build a relationship and that's like R-E-A-L, REAL relationship, you need to take it to face to face. And that's why I dug that walk in the beats that we did and the walks that I've done with David and I make it a point when we're at the same conference. He does the Microsoft conference sometimes that you know, get together because I think it's important to keep that continuation. There's a formula for how much gas it takes for a rocket to get to orbit or for car to get to 60 miles an hour. And the bulk of the fuel is getting up to speed, but maintaining the speed is far less fuel and the same philosophy with relationships.

Jeff Bullas: Exactly. And I do remember that's special time I dropped into Santa Monica and we went for a long walk down to the Santa Monica Beach and we chatted, and we dropped in for a beer at the one of the beach side cafes and I will remember that for a long time. It was just a beautiful afternoon. I was on my way back from Social Media Marketing World. I said, "Want to drop in and say hi to Jon." You gave me some insights into what we're talking about today and we've a little fun fact here for Jon. People know about Jon is that he bought an actor's house in Los Angeles. Jack Nicholson apparently had the house. you bought off Jack, is that correct Jon?

Jon Ferrara: Well, I bought it from Jack's people. I actually never got to meet Jack.

Jeff Bullas: Right, okay. Your people spoke to his people. Okay, right. So fantastic. Yeah, but you totally remodeled it so it's a beautiful home there in Santa Monica, but these are the fun things you don't discover until you actually drop in and say, "Hi, I'm here." And it was a great walk. I suppose just to wrap things up, Jon, it looks like you've got Nimble, really pumping. 200,000 new customers just handed over to you from Microsoft retiring there, simple CRM. So what are two or three things that you'd like to share with other entrepreneurs that are maybe wanting to start or are already on the journey? What's two or three lessons you'd like to share that you've learned over the last two or three decades?

Jon Ferrara: I think number one is if you get into entrepreneurship to make money, I think you're really going about it the wrong way. I think that if you're going to get into entrepreneurship that you have to have a passion. And for me it's always been a problem that I have and I think that the best entrepreneurs are fixing problems that they have because they're passionate about and they understand the problem. And so I got my three P's of life. Figure out what your passion is, build a plan to achieve it, make it your purpose on a daily basis. And that's been a recipe for success for me, and the funny thing is, Jeff, I didn't become an entrepreneur because I wanted to make $1 million. I did it because I dug it.

Jon Ferrara: I dug what I was doing. I freaking love technology, and I love to synthesize new solutions and my biggest solution that I've done all of my life is managing relationships because they're messy and they're sticky and it's hard to do it on paper. One thing I want you to remember is don't start a business because you want to make $1 million, start a business because you want to change the world. And then the other thing is that life really isn't about money. I've made money many times. And I think it's really about making memories out of moment and that's why it's so important to be truly present with others and with yourself and with the universe around you.

Jon Ferrara: For me, I think it's important to continue to grow and that's why I love to learn and that's why I work on growing my soul. It's something I try to do regularly is being present with myself, doing some meditation and being present with others. You know, Jeff, if you are truly present with people who love you, they'll reflect your shit back at you and if you're willing to look at your shit in life and work on it, that's how you grow as a human being. I don't know if you've ever experienced that, where you see your kid or somebody you love and they're doing something and it's just like, "Oh my God, that bugs me. Oh my God, that's me."

Jeff Bullas: Yeah, start looking in the mirror. I suppose one of the challenges I had as I looked at one of my biggest pivots was my dad was a very good talker, but his super power wasn't listening. I had a relationship breakup in my 20s and I went, "You know what? I actually need to work on this listening stuff." In other words, I really want to be present with someone to find out what is their secret source, what gets them motivated? For me, I did a six month course on communication skills, still work in progress, but the reality was that being present by just listening and just being there and hearing their soul, hearing their fears, hearing their joys, I think that's where we really get down to building those deep connections. That's what I love as well. So thank you John for sharing your life, your journey, and your stories. I'm honored that you were able to do that this afternoon of today, and thank you very much for sharing. I look forward to our next walk, down Santa Monica Beach and sharing a beer again.

Jon Ferrara: Let's do that soon Jeff.

Jeff Bullas: We will. Okay.

Jon Ferrara: Thank you.

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