#ALB55 – The Black Belt Wedding Singer
#ALB55 – The Black Belt Wedding Singer
This episode is with soon to be black belt wielding, wedding singer Jamie Reeves from The Best Singing Waiters.
So,who is Jamie?
Jamie started out as a DJ when he was just 16 years old and travelled around Europe at the age of 20 as a singer. After establishing himself as a Robbie Williams tribute act, he set up his own entertainment agency and started managing various different tribute acts including Take That, Meatloaf and Amy Winehouse. Jamies’ entertainment agency was primarily aimed at the wedding market, and that is where the idea for “’The Singing Waiters’ come along.
Jamie is also a keen singer songwriter and has even had his own top ten hit on itunes. He has written and worked with people whose credits include Beyonce, Take That and Sir Paul McCartney.
You might also have seen Jamie in several episodes of Eastenders, riding a moped through Albert Square. But not if you blinked…
What is a singing waiter?
Everybody has probably been to a wedding, corporate event, birthday etc and typically you will have an idea of how the day will run.
This is where The Best Singing Waiters come in, they take the ordinary and make it more extraordinary. After dessert has been served, they spring into action, suddenly breaking with their “waiter” character, and bursting out into song, getting everyone singing along and essentially break every type of rule you can think of when it comes to party etiquette. They literally get the party started!
The “reveal” is something that you simply have to see to believe (They have more than 900 videos on their YouTube channel), and it’s this magic moment that wedding guests talk about for years to come.
What does an Ambitious Lifestyle Business look like for Jamie?
Jamie is a married proud dad of three, so for him it’s all about being with the family. Two of the three children are sports minded and love football, karate and dance and the two-and-a-half-year-old is just into everything!!
For Jamie, working from home is a must – he has no desire to have an office (his office at home does look pretty smart though – check it out in the video!), however that doesn’t mean he is a one man band – Jamie has a team of staff, and has built robust systems and processes which enable him to have the freedom to work from home.
He also still does some gigs, performing between six and ten gigs per year. Clearly, Jamie’s company do a LOT more gigs than that – more like 200 a year. But again, Jamie has no desire to be racing up and down the motorways of Britain on a daily basis, doing back-to-back weddings, and spending every weekend away from his family.
How did Jamie design his business to deliver his ambitious lifestyle business?
As with most guests on the ALB podcast, it was a bit of design, and a bit of luck!
As a literal one-man-band, Jamie started to get more and more offers of gigs, that with the best will in the world he simply couldn’t keep up with, so he brought on some singers to lighten the load.
Before he knew it, that turned into a team of six singers.
Similar to how Jon Monks told us back in ALB44 that he was “the conductor of the orchestra”, Jamie directs his team, and designs the systems and processes from his home office, so that multiple weddings can all happen at the same time, at opposite ends of the country, and all whilst Jamie is sat at a football match with his family.
Whilst he did reference Jon Monk’s “conductor of the orchestra” comment though, Jamie explained that his version was a bit more like “waving your arms about and blagging it!”
Jamie firmly believes that the key to running any business is down to the processes and systems that are in place. (If you want to go deep on systems and processes, have another listen to ALB14, where we look at the story of Ray Kroc, and McDonalds, through the lens of the movie The Founder.
For Jamie, admin was the first to go – as a creative person, this was something he just did not enjoy, so he was very quick to get someone else doing the paperwork. Every single thing that he does within the business is fully documented, so that a team member can follow the exact processes to the letter.
Jamie also likes to record videos of himself on zoom performing key tasks and pop it into a shared dropbox folder, so it is accessible to all of his team, and they can all see visually, exactly what Jamie wants to happen – every time.
Is Jamie a Routine Machine?
When Jamie started a family, all of his routines changed. He now feels extremely lucky that he works for himself, being able to pick and choose his own hours.
He doesn’t have to miss a sports day, he can take his son to football and his daughter to dance classes, and he believes that it is all thanks to putting those routines, systems and processes in place.
As an ambitious, lifestyle business owner, Jamie can dictate life on his own terms. Routine plays a really important part of this for Jamie. If you want to become a Routine Machine, then you can now grab a free chapter of John’s latest bestselling book of the same name.
How has the One Percent Club helped Jamie?
Jamie’s main reason for joining the One Percent Club was to align himself with like minded people who all have similar values. He read John’s first book (Big Ideas… for Small Businesses), and he wanted a platform that enabled him to be closer to John and Jason to copy their model.
As John says in Big Ideas… “Who you hang around with REALLY matters. We’ve all heard it said that ‘you are the sum of the five people closest to you’, or ‘your network is your net worth’.
Well, this is one cliché that is true. That immediate environment around you sculpts who you are.
Your best chance of becoming a millionaire is to hang around with five millionaires – their habits, routines, ways of thinking, ability to spot an opportunity, the language they use, the networks they have access to.
This will all rub off on you via osmosis, and before you know it, you’re millionaire number six.”
3 Grades away from a Black Belt
Health and well-being are important to Jamie and he is currently only 3 grades away from obtaining his black belt in Karate.
Jamie believes that the skills learnt from Karate can be transferred into his business life and his own personal development. He feels they are similar in the sense of continual repetition, for example making his kicks sharper and harder, learning how to block faster and be more in touch, becoming more flexible.
He’s also not afraid of groundhog day, he embraces the boring repetition, repetition, repetition that ultimately leads to success, whether in martial arts, or in business.
Top ten hit on iTunes
Jamie wrote a song for his wife when they got married in Jamaica. The song was called ‘Let’s get married’ and it hit the top ten reggae chart on iTunes, up there with alongside legendary Bob Marley, Shaggy and Kevin Little. How long did Jamie hold his spot in the top ten?
You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out!
Some more Big ideas
Hula Hooping for self confidence!
Introducing the O’Shitometer
#ALB37 How Neville Wright turned 37p and his Dad’s ladder into a £100 million empire
#ALB49 ThreeSixty Mortgages podcast
How Jon Monks doubled his sales whilst working half as hard
John Lamerton: -we thought about doing the same thing over and over again, routinely.
Jason Brockman: I was waiting for it. I was going to say, “It’s in my head,” and I was going to say, “Which of you are going to say routinely first?”
John Lamerton: Hey everybody, it’s John Lamerton here alongside my good friend and business partner, Jason Brockman. We are here for another episode of the Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast, whereas always it is our job to help you get more customers, and make more money, without just working harder. So, without further ado, let’s dive straight into this month’s episode.
John Lamerton: Everybody, welcome to episode 55 of the Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast. On today’s show we are joined by a soon to be black belt wielding, wedding singer, [crosstalk 00:00:47]. But before we get to that, I need to let you know that my brand new book Routine Machine, is out now. No, it isn’t actually out now because we are recording this before it goes out. So Jason, how’d you think it went?
Jason Brockman: It went really well.
John Lamerton: Do you think it’s like best seller? Nobel prize winning?
Jason Brockman: It is. Nobel?
John Lamerton: It’s been out for a few weeks now. But yeah, you can get a free sample chapter of my new book Routine Machine at RoutineMachine.co.uk. Just go over there, pop your email address is, and I’ll send you a free chapter of my amazing, really well received, soon to be award winning book, Routine Machine.
John Lamerton: Back to today’s guest. So, today’s guest is Jamie Reeves from the best singing waiters. Now Jamie started out as a DJ at the age of 16, while travelling around Europe as a singer at the age of 20. After establishing himself as a Robin Williams tribute act, he must have met a lot of Pollys at the time I think, he set up his own entertainment industry and started managing different tribute acts including: Take That, Meatloaf, and Amy Winehouse. The agency was focused towards the wedding market and that’s where the idea of singing waiters came along.
John Lamerton: Now the wedding entertainment agency bombed, but The Singing Waiters idea took off and now, nine years later, with over 1,500 events performed, it’s still going strong. Jamie is also a keen song writer and he at the top ten on iTunes, and has written and worked with people whose credits include: Beyonce, Take That, and Paul McCartney. He also learned to ride a moped on Albert Square, and he’s three gradings away from becoming a black belt. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jamie Reeves.
Jamie Reeves: Hi, how are you doing?
John Lamerton: Very well.
Jason Brockman: I sound quite good there don’t I?
John Lamerton: [crosstalk 00:02:37] yourself really isn’t it?
Jamie Reeves: I’m looking around going, “Who’s he talking about?”
John Lamerton: So, first place I have to go with this mate is, how did you learn to ride a moped on Albert Square?
Jamie Reeves: Back in the day when I was working as a singer, I used to do a bit of extra work on lots of different t.v. programmes. The guy that got me to gig he said, “You can ride a moped, can’t you?” And I’m like, “Has it got gears?” He went, “No, it’s not got gears.” So I went, “Yeah, I can ride a moped. No problem then.” And just [inaudible 00:03:12] it and I must have done it about seven, eight times went down one summer and I was kind of a moped rider for the summer. So, every time I came, the mechanics guy, because the moped it always gave him grief. “Oh bloody, not you again. You can shove that element up your ass.” And that was it. He used to drive the bus and I’d be there on my moped and we would have a little races trying to see if we could off first and not knock each other over while they are trying to film something. So, it was kind of fun.
John Lamerton: I would like to go back and find just a video of Phil and Peggy up on a little ding dong there and then the zip load just tiering down on a moped.
Jamie Reeves: But it was the days of Peggy and Mike Reed’s friend Frank Butcher and all them. So, yeah.
John Lamerton: I never thought I would see the day where we would have a Mike Reed impression on the ALB podcast.
Jason Brockman: Is that what you think of my [inaudible 00:04:08] impression?
John Lamerton: Well, I don’t know about that. It was something like that. So, Jamie, what is for those listening [inaudible 00:04:16] about a singing waiter? What is a singing waiter?
Jamie Reeves: Well basically what we do, we pretend to wait on during an event like a wedding, or a corporate event, or a birthday party, or something like that, and then usually around about the dessert time, we will propose a toast or bring out a cake and then just burst into song. Surprise everybody and just get everybody singing and dancing on the chairs, and kind of breaking every kind of rule that you can think of when it comes to dinner party etiquette. We are there and we kind of liven up the atmosphere and get everybody going.
John Lamerton: Fantastic, I’ve seen some of your videos with the guys have got the napkins, and just waving it in the air, and people stood on chairs singing. It’s not what you expect from your traditional wedding meal is it?
Jamie Reeves: Absolutely not, no. It’s very much getting the party started in the afternoon.
John Lamerton: Fantastic. So, this podcast is called the Ambitious Lifestyle Business podcast. What does an ambitious lifestyle business look like for you?
Jamie Reeves: For me it’s being able to do the things around with my family. I’ve got three kids, who two are very active, the other one’s only two and a half yet, so give him time. But, my sons very much into his football and karate. He is very sports driven and my daughter is very much into dance and gymnastics. So, being able to kind of work around their activities is very important to me. I also enjoy working at home as well. So, I don’t want to be in a big office. I want to be able to manage my business from home. Still have people within my team because we do that, one of my [inaudible 00:05:58] works, is part of my sales team. I have my admin based up in… I use a VA4 that are based up in Manchester alone. So, there are all people within my team. I’m not just the one man band. I’ve processed this that I’m not just a business owner. I probably go out and do six to ten gigs a year now. And to give it some sort of context, we probably did about 200 gigs this year.
Jamie Reeves: So, very much I am not the business anymore. I was when it first started, but now it’s me running the business so that I can still deliver that kind of really personal kind of best ever wedding feed into people, but still be able to take my kids to football. Take my kids to dance. And run the kind of life style I want to live.
John Lamerton: This is the harking back to [John Munts 00:07:01] from I think it was actually 44′, where he said, “I’m the conductor of the orchestra. I’ve got an orchestra here, and I’m just the conductor.” And that seems like what you said up there Jamie.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, and anyone that knows conductors, all they do it just wave their arms about and black it. And that’s kind of what I’m talking about is technique.
John Lamerton: That’s all I’ve ever seen them.
Jason Brockman: And that’s all Jamie knows.
John Lamerton: So how did you actually go… because obviously this is where you are now. You’ve got this business, you work from home, you are the conductor of the orchestra, you got 200 gigs a year happening of which you are only doing a handful, up to ten. How do we get here from where you were? How did you start designing that and decide, okay actually I want to have a lifestyle business rather than actually I am the business. Where did that transition happen?
Jamie Reeves: It kind of happened because I was getting more and more offers for gigs, so to do singing weddings you need singers, because you don’t tend to… you do some solo gigs, but it tends to be in twos. Ones, twos, and threes. So I was getting singers on board to kind of help me out with the different gigs I was doing. And we were getting more gigs and I was thinking, “Well, if I send them out to there and we go and do that one, then that’s all good.” So, within the first of like twelve months, we had a team of six singers on board. And bear in mind, going back sort of nine, ten years ago, it wasn’t… singing there was quite few of us, believe it or not. So, at the time, we were the only pop singer, or ones around at that time. There was another pop act that they were very much kind of quicker audience clap kind of thing. They sang songs and surprised people, but they didn’t interact in the way that we did. They weren’t to be beating around and waving napkins. We were very much unique in what we did.
Jamie Reeves: So, it was just building a team of singers to start with and then obviously as the operation gets bigger, then you need to bring on admin, then sales, and take care of things and that. And you just start building processes. It was probably… If I would have tracked it and diaried what I’ve done over the last nine, ten years, it would probably be like a crap version of E-Myth. So, kind of some elements done right and some elements done wrong and it’s kind of suck it and see what happens and see what works. Then we’ve just built a series of processes over the years and I think that is the key to running any business. It’s all about the processes. Whatever you do, document it. Zoom is such a great tool nowadays because you don’t even need to write it down. You can just video yourself, do a screen grab, and show what you are doing. Record it, and then just stick it on Dropbox so that right… that’s what we need to do that process. How do I do that? There you go. It’s in Dropbox. Look into that and you’ll find it.
Jamie Reeves: So, whichever member of your team you bring in, there you go. That’s the process. Done and dusted.
John Lamerton: That seems like a better version of the E-Myth. You improved on Michael Gerber’s work there some, aye?
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, maybe I just brought a bit of tack into it.
John Lamerton: Yeah. E-Myth for the 21st Century.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah.
Jason Brockman: Which processes do you think are the most important to set up first in order to get yourself out of the business? Which ones were important?
Jamie Reeves: For me? Or for somebody that would want to kind of [crosstalk 00:10:50]. For me personally, because I that’s… being a creative admin is kind of like, “Ah, really?” And so that was the first bit I wanted to get rid of. So, it was making sure that the process, is it done? So when we do a gig, two months beforehand, we will have a function sheet that goes out to everybody. So, we will send out the song choices, contact the venue, make sure we know what to wear, if they want any insurance certificates, and PAT test certificates, we get them sent out to them. The customer will choose their songs, tell us what time the guests will arrive. Then we will create this little sheet that goes to the customer, goes to our singers, and that’s that. Everybody knows what’s going on then.
Jamie Reeves: So, that was probably the first thing that we did was kind of make sure that the admin side of things was looked after.
Jason Brockman: Quite a time hungry process as well, I guess, because actually you have to make sure everybody has everything, you’ve got to get it all together, and you’ve got to send it all off, you’ve got to bring it back, you’ve got to create it, you’ve got to send it out again. So, for you, that’s something that would really take some of your time and your energy, especially as a creator would you say?
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, because you are always chasing people. Whenever you ring up a venue, they’ll be on their day off or they will be on the phone so you’ve got them ring back. You’ll send the song list site to the client and they will be like, “I’m busy at the moment.” So you will wait, and they will forget about it so then you have to chase up again. So, all these things take time. It is very much time consuming.
John Lamerton: Let’s say you don’t need to be the person doing that. You can design the process and you need to hand that off and… Did you, I know a lot of business owners when they first start handling things over, actually struggle to let go.
Jamie Reeves: Certain tasks, yeah. And because I dislike the admin tasks, I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. So, it was bringing stuff in, but there are certain things like now when I was kind of learning all this stuff [Paul Marshall 00:12:59] I got very into Google AdWords at the start. That was kind of what helped drive leads into the business. So, Paul Marshall, I don’t know if it still is but it used to be, sort of nine, ten years ago was the god of Google AdWords.
John Lamerton: I think he still quoted it. I don’t know if he still is the Google-
Jason Brockman: He still is.
Jamie Reeves: He’s certainly the granddaddy anyways if nothing else. And he used to talk about doing ten dollar an hour jobs, hundred dollar an hour jobs, and ten-thousand an hour jobs. And I didn’t want to be doing ten dollar an hour jobs. I wanted to be doing the hundred dollar an hour jobs. I wanted to be pushing to do, back in the day when I wanted to build a bigger business than what I’ve got now, I wanted to be doing the ten-thousand dollar an hour jobs. So, I had to let go of those admin jobs. I mean, there is one job that I enjoyed doing now that I think I, like every business owner, think that I’m definitely the one that does this best. Which is putting… but I don’t particularly overly enjoy doing it, the videos that you talk about, I put them onto YouTube and to Facebook.
Jamie Reeves: Now, putting a video up is, anyone could do that. But I like to write the witty comments that go with it so I watch the videos and pick the right ones and what not. So if… I don’t want to admit this… but I like love Island. Okay, it’s out there. I’ve put it there right? Put your hands back out your head. But the thing that makes Love Island is the-
Jason Brockman: (whispers to John)
Jamie Reeves: Shut up… The thing that makes Love Island is the comedian that does all the voice overs. Because he is so witty. And the way that he kind of reacts to it. That is the funny bit. That is the bit that makes you laugh. They do the daft stuff, then he comes up with these little bits that add on to it. You’re laughing. You’re into the story then. And that’s what I think I do when I am doing the videos. I think I am that comedian that’s there kind of going and putting those bits in. And that’s probably a job I could do with going like, “Okay, what do you really want me doing? Do you want me doing these ten dollar an hour jobs? Or do you want me doing these hundred dollar an hour jobs?” So it kind of like [inaudible 00:15:12].
John Lamerton: Well it’s the impact and it’s… you know, on the face of it, it’s a ten dollar an hour job, but if you can have a greater impact, and if you’re going to put, lets say 2,000 views through a YouTube ad or through a Facebook video, and if you can increase the conversion rate as a result of having that comedy, that witty banter in there, then actually the impact you’re having isn’t a ten pound an hour job. If you imagine you are… let’s imagine, Come Dine with Me, without Dave Lamb’s commentary. Let’s imagine, or remember, you’ve been framed before Harry Hill, when Lisa Riley was doing it. It was the same content, wasn’t as impactful.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, definitely. And I guess I’m selling myself short then and kind of I am doing a hundred dollar an hour job. But, I’m keeping [inaudible 00:16:16].
John Lamerton: There you go. To be fair, you know, it’s very easy to say, “I must not do those ten dollar an hour jobs.” But, what if that is what you truly love? And for a lot of creators, when actually the creation, well actually the creation is what I enjoy and yeah, I could outsource that, I could get someone else to do that, but I love that bit of the job.
Jamie Reeves: It’s the writing thing. It’s the song writer in me, because at the end of the day if I could go and do what I do from home, as a songwriter, then I can sack everything else off, because that’s my passion. But, as many song writers would tell you, especially now with Spotify and Apple Music, there’s very little money in writing songs. So, I got to write videos, and sales letters, and Friday Funnies, and stuff like that. So, that to me is sharpening my writing skills, which is what I love to do.
John Lamerton: Yeah. You touched on something just now Jamie, you said about, “Back when I was growing a bigger business, about when I wanted to have a bigger business than I’ve got now, and I was doing these ten thousand dollar an hour tasks.”, what changed between wanting that bigger business and, “I want to work from home, I want to craft it around the kids activities.” That sort of thing?
Jamie Reeves: Kind of my kids growing up. Falling on my backside a little. Taking a little dip with the business. So, there was a time where we had an office, where we had six staff, and it was all in house. And then we stuck on a bit of tuff times so we kind of scaled back and then grew back again. So, having been there and kind of looked at what we were getting from having that bigger business, and then scaling back and seeing where we are now and what we are doing with the business now, and growing a lot more slowly, and a lot more remotely. It’s a lot less stress. I’m not doing twelve, fourteen hour days. Like I say, I… maximum my due is seven, eight hour days unless I’m on a gig. So, that’s much nicer. I don’t think with having three kids and everything else, that I’ve got the energy to do twelve, fourteen hour days anymore. I think I’d be in a really bad mental place if I went and did that. I think I’d be burnt out really, really quickly. I’m not like myself, I’m not a big fan of the hustle and grind and that’s not where I want to be.
Jamie Reeves: I want to be… I want my business to be successful and have an impact on people. But, I want it so that it runs as a vehicle, fit of what I can do with my life.
Jason Brockman: Sounds very much like my story.
John Lamerton: It does.
Jason Brockman: Just runs exactly parallel to me.
John Lamerton: Yeah.
Jason Brockman: Yeah, absolutely.
John Lamerton: The children, the struggles, the-
Jason Brockman: Falling out of it, getting back up. Growing slowly and getting what we want from the business. And kind of actually the lifestyle bit that we want. And [inaudible 00:19:32] hours of working in the hustle and the grind of it in order to spend time with the kids. It’s just happens. An absolute [inaudible 00:19:39].
John Lamerton: Do you think we need to have [inaudible 00:19:42]? That you need to you need to fall down? And to make the mistakes of, “This is how you grow a business. If you are in business, you need to have a big business, and you need to have staff, and you need to have offices.” And then when it all falls down house of cards collapses, you realise that actually having fifteen members of staff, as we did, two offices, and suddenly looking at it and saying, “Actually we need to earn 350,000 pound a year just to open the doors.” And having that realisation that, “Well actually, if its just the three of us and everyone worked from home, we need to earn forty grand to keep the doors open.” We know how to do that. We can do that standing on our head. Do you need to have that?
Jason Brockman: You need to have a purpose I think and those life changing things: the children, the falling down in business, the natural stuff, revisits that purpose. What you’re in it for. Some business owners don’t ever find that. They are doing the due, doing the work, working really hard, working harder, they are getting more hours, they are doing that. They are paying the mortgage, they are doing the keeping themselves and that all kind of works out very well. For some that is right and proper, and that’s how they do it. But for others it’s kind of actually this [inaudible 00:20:51] comes along and then, “Actually I got my purpose.” And it’s actually like, “no I want to spend time with the kids.” Or, “I do want to go and have some holidays or I do want to go and have [inaudible 00:20:55].” It becomes a purpose of mission that actually you need to then re-identify what you are doing and re-identify what your business is doing so that you can move forward in a nice orderly fashion. Much like Jamie just said.
John Lamerton: I mean everyone thinks that the path to success is this nice straight linear line that just goes up constantly and it’s not. It’s a roller coaster. It has massive drops and then there are massive highs when you feel absolutely on top of the world, and then the next day, you come crashing back down to Earth with a real reality check, you know?
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s not easy. It’s not straight forward. You do get sleepless nights, but then being able to kind of… like Amelia has started doing competitions now. And she won her first two metals over the weekend. So, seeing her face when she comes back during that, that makes it all worthwhile.
John Lamerton: Definitely, and it is those moments I think once… certainly for me it was the big change, it was having kids because the minute, I mean the minute that I found out [Sara 00:22:00] was expecting, my path completely changed. Just everything I thought I wanted just vanished. Just like it was a mirage. “You don’t actually want any of this stuff.” You know, the yacht, the helicopter, the skyscraper, the massive country house. I don’t actually want any of that. And it was that realisation of, “What the hell am I doing? Why am I working towards this?”
Jamie Reeves: For me it was when [Jack 00:22:25] went to school, because once he started going to school, you have to kind of conform to the Monday to Friday routine. So, where I was kind of working during all weekends, and taking days off with the family during the week, it meant that, “Oh. Right. Okay. Well, if I work all weekends, I’m not going to see him.” Because I am going to be there working all week. The day I take my day off, he is going to be in school. I’m only doing twelve hour days, for five, six days a week… What you doing it for?
John Lamerton: Yeah, exactly. It is that purpose, that big why, isn’t it? I think kids really do give you that, because it is that complete unconditional love. Complete dependence, and I think that we have an opportunity that perhaps our parents didn’t. Because there is no way that my dad could have worked from home, part-time, you know? Building his own business, you know, leveraging the internet or anything like that. It wasn’t possible. The only thing that he could do to provide for his family was to go and work away. So, you know we live in [inaudible 00:23:38], he worked in Manchester. And he would come home for a weekend every three weeks, but that’s what he needed to do. Times have changed now. I don’t need to do that. And I think, for me, perhaps that’s a driver as well. Because my dad was away for three weeks on end, I’m there every day. I’m doing school runs, I’m there every evening. Maybe that’s a driver. I don’t know.
Jamie Reeves: When I’m at football practise, Jack goes, he’s really keen on his football, and we train most evenings. Because it’s not like a ten year old can go out and play in the street nowadays, is it? Like the three four hours, and we called him when the street lights come on or once he’s ready. So, he’s out most nights doing sort of an hour or twos training, every day pretty much. And when I talk to other parents they’re like, “Well, how do you manage to do that? How’d you manage to fit that?” Well, I’m lucky I work for myself. I can pick and choose my own hours. That’s what having your own business and putting those processes together means that you can do. You can do those kind of things. You can dictate life on your terms.
John Lamerton: That’s very true. I think back to, let’s go back fifteen years, twenty years, lifestyle style businesses used to mean, “Oh, you make jam in your kitchen.” Or, “You’ve got this little embroidery thing that you do.” And it’s a hobby that gives you a few quid and maybe covers your cost. That was the definition of a lifestyle business. What you’ve described there now, is what I would call a lifestyle business now. And it’s just got nothing to do with the money, and you can earn three million pound a year as an ambitious lifestyle business, but you probably don’t need to. You can earn thirty grand a year as an ambitious lifestyle business. It’s the freedom it gives you. And it’s not the money, it’s the time. It’s the freedom to say, “You know what? Yeah, my kids got training, football practise every day between six and eight. I’m going to be there. Oh, it’s my kids sports day, in nine days time. Yup, I’ll be there. I’ll take the day off. Absolutely fine. Oh, you know, Harry has a hospital appointment on Monday. Cool, I’m there.” And it’s that freedom to go, “Yup I can do that.”
Jamie Reeves: Like you say, like you are with your kids, I’m there for every school event. And there is so many dads that aren’t. When you were talking about sports day, I don’t know about your school that your son goes to, but with the weather like it is at the moment-
John Lamerton: Yeah we [crosstalk 00:26:22] back up date as well.
Jamie Reeves: There will be a back up date. And parents will be organising themselves, right, I’ve got these few hours off work so that I can come and see. Knowing full well that the weather outside is absolutely hopeless. It’s not going to happen on that day. Whereas I’m like, “Okay, well that one is not done. Brilliant, I’ll go and do that.” For me that is not a problem.
John Lamerton: I’ll always be praying for rain because I’ve blocked out a day for sports day, and if sports day doesn’t happen, I’ve then got a free day. Ooh what shall I do on my free day? Ooh, I could do some [inaudible 00:26:54]. I could just… I was going to say sit in the garden and read, but if it’s raining I won’t be sitting in the garden at my house.
Jason Brockman: You’re playing golf, and that’s what your [inaudible 00:27:02]. [inaudible 00:27:03] that wasn’t fun.
John Lamerton: It is that freedom. And I think, you know, I always come back to my ultimate job descriptions: doing what I want, where I want, when I want, how I want, if I want. And I think all of those, when you want is most important because we’ve all got to do the work at some point. It’d be very easy to say, “I’m running a lifestyle business, and I just do what I want when I want. And I never want to do anything, and I just literally sit on Facebook all day looking at kitten videos.” Well, that’s not really a lifestyle business. Sooner or later you’ve got to do the work, but being able to choose when to do the work, and in what environment, and how that work is going to be done, that for me is the main freedom.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah. I’ve had some issues with the business where some things have gone wrong, so I’ve had to get back into the business to tidy them up. Which has meant that some of the jobs that I’m supposed to do, haven’t got done. So, now I’ve been making sure that I put into my calendar and give myself little kind of bonuses, if you like, that I can go. If I do five [inaudible 00:28:17] in a row, I can go to Starbucks and get myself a coffee. So, it’s making sure routine is under control, you’re kind of-
John Lamerton: Well, I was going to say there is a book about that I’ve heard.
Jamie Reeves: Is there? I’ve heard of it. I’ve got a review on Amazon. So, there’re things that you have to do still, you still aren’t completely free, but life is a series of choices isn’t it? And if you can build your life where you can choose what you want to do, and when you want to do it, that’s got to be a good thing.
John Lamerton: Yeah, absolutely. So you’ve been one of our one percenters for a while now. How is the percent book helped you with that?
Jamie Reeves: It’s always important to align yourself with people that have got similar values to you. And when I read your first book, I was like, “That’s how I want to run my business.” And it was probably at the time where things were going a little bit wrong as well. I was like, running a business like that makes total sense to me. So, that was the main reason was so that I could be closer to you guys, so that I could copy your model and put that into my own business. That’s pretty much what’s happened. So, over the last… when did I start… I had a guy that was helping me with admin and we worked remotely, because when took our little bit of a dip, we decided to get rid of the office, so he worked from his home and I worked from my home. And we just built it from there and got more people on board. I’ve given away more tasks, which has freed up more time for me to either spend with the kids or do more income generating tasks.
John Lamerton: Good, good. Yeah, it’s one of those things if you can surround yourself with… I keep saying like-minded people… it’s almost a cliché to say like-minded people but actually you are who you surround yourself with. And often if you want to grow your business, you surround yourself with business growth people. But, actually if you want to grow a lifestyle business, perhaps you don’t want to surround yourself with Gary Vaynerchuk and Grant Cardone, and the guys who are building hundreds of million dollar businesses. These are the guys who do want the yachts, and the skyscrapers, and helicopters. And if that’s what you want, that’s who you want to surround yourself with. But actually if you want is the freedom to be able to do school runs, and to go to sports day, and to say, “You know what? I’m not going to work Wednesdays or I’m going to take every Friday afternoon off. Or I’m going to take a lot of time off in the Summer so I can play golf. And then I’m going to do a load of writing in the Winter.” That freedom can come from surrounding yourself with people who either have done it, or are doing it, and are on that common journey isn’t it?
Jamie Reeves: Yeah. I mean for me the next stage that I’m going to get to is that I’m only in the business one or two days a week. Because then I can do a bit more Summer and take the Summer a little bit more seriously. So, that’s kind of where I want to get to. So the next, we’ve got one sales person within the business, so now it’s growing the business to make sure that it could feed two sales people and do that on a regular basis, and make sure that the results are consistent. And the next stage will be to maybe up the leads a little bit more so that you can feed two and a half people maybe. So that we can get that other person in and then keep it ticking over like that. So, there’s always kind of that next stage of where you are wanting to go to, so the ambitious part, the ambition is still there because Disneyland doesn’t come cheap-
John Lamerton: No, it doesn’t.
Jamie Reeves: -and neither do football lessons, and neither do dance lessons, gymnastic lessons, and martial arts lessons, they all come at a cost. So, the ambition is still there to grow the business and take it to the next level, but doing it on my terms rather than doing it on an 80 hour week.
John Lamerton: Well, if you look at what you defined as your goal there, it wasn’t I want to earn 250,000 pounds a year. It was, I want to work one day a week. That’s the goal. And so many people start with a monetary goal and they say, “Oh, I need to earn 50 grand or 100 grand or I want turn over a million pound, I need a million pound business.” Why? Why do you need a million pound business? Other than willy waving and to show off to your mates, why do you need a million pound business? If a million pound business serves you and it meets your goals of what you actually want for your life, happy days. If not, why the hell are you slogging your guts out to get a million pound business just to say, “I’ve got a million pound business.”
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. It’s everything after it aligns with your goals and your purpose. So, if you want a house that’s like a… say the most important thing to you is like a six bedroom house with two acres on, then you’re going to need to push a little bit harder than somebody that wants to work one or two days a week.
John Lamerton: Yeah.
Jason Brockman: So how does getting a black belt fit into your goals and things?
Jamie Reeves: It’s just health and well being. When Jack was born, I was working a stupid amount of hours. I was trying to get the wedding entertainment industry up and running. I was singing and doing gigs. The singing quite a bit was starting to take off. I had a full time job, because life is this thing it can be quite topsy turvy just like a business owner. You have so many peaks and drops, so I ended up working for a debt collection agency. And the reason I was working for a debt collection agency is so I wasn’t chased by the debt collection agency.
Jason Brockman: [inaudible 00:34:40]
John Lamerton: You’d just put your file on the bottom every time.
Jamie Reeves: So, yeah you’ll be all right, just keep paying me. Give me a bonus and all will be good. No, so we weren’t quite at that level, but that regular income I needed because the singing stuff was just so up and down. And the irony was, any time I took a full time job, my singing work would go (hands go up). And I was then trying to juggle, “Oh, well they won’t be down in [inaudible 00:35:10] on a Friday night and I’m placed up in [inaudible 00:35:12].” How the bloody hell am I supposed to work till five o’clock and then get down to do a gig there? So, it was kind of the juggling everything, and holidays, and sick days, and things like that to make sure that things worked. I was working 80, 90 hours a week. And just the burnout of that made me feel really, really low. So, I ended up having some cancelling because I was just working so, so hard, and it made me feel mentally fatigued and I wasn’t looking after myself. I was just kind of work, work, work, work.
Jamie Reeves: I ended up, because there was enough singing work coming through, and The Singing Waiters started to take off, I was able to ditch the debt collection agency and then just kind of work solely on looking after the singing waiter business. But, it’s always meant that I got one eye on my health as well, from that experience, and I was taking Jack to martial arts for about two years, and I’m just like, “You know what? I’m sitting here scrolling through Facebook, looking up. Am I supposed to be doing something?” So, I joined in, that was probably about two and a half, three years ago, and I’ve gone through all my normal gradings now the next grading is end of September where I go from my red belt and then there’s two more after that to get to your black belt first Dan. Which will probably be in about eighteen, twenty-four months time.
John Lamerton: So we did tease you as soon to be black belt wielding.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, that-
John Lamerton: We just need to delay this episode by about eighteen months.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, it depends on your definition of soon.
John Lamerton: Hey, I’m a [inaudible 00:36:59], be as [inaudible 00:37:01] as you want.
Jamie Reeves: For some people twenty-four months is soon. We keep telling people in the wedding industry that. “My wedding is 2021.” Well, that’s soon. My black belt is 2021, so that’s soon.
John Lamerton: And as the soon to be parent of a ten year old, yeah, eighteen months is nothing, you know? So what skills have you picked up from the karate that you could then bring into your business or your own personal development?
Jamie Reeves: Oh wow, that’s a really good question.
John Lamerton: Thank you.
Jason Brockman: He’s been waiting on it for a little while.
Jamie Reeves: Um, yeah… I would probably say just continual repetition I guess. Because when you do the martial arts lessons, sometimes you think, “Oh bloody hell. This is Groundhog Day.” But, it’s just repetition, repetition, repetition. And it’s kind of making sure those kicks are sharp. Making sure those punches are sharper, that those blocks are sharper. It’s by doing them over and over again, you become more flexible so that you can kick high, you can punch harder, you can block faster. So, I’m guessing if you put that into business perspective, by copywriting on a weekly basis and sending out your weekly emails, you will be more in touch with your list so they will have a better relationship with you, because you are doing it on a weekly basis you should get funnier and wittier and more on point. Depends on what industry you are in. You don’t want to be too funny if you are in funeral care or something like that. Do you know what I mean? But for what I do, it is quite an entertaining way of inter-living, so I can be quite witty and cheeky and things.
Jamie Reeves: But it’s that kind of weekly repetition of doing stuff there. Making your calls, making sure that I do my fifty [inaudible 00:39:05] a day. Making sure I put my three videos a day out onto my social media channels. So, I’m guessing from martial arts, it’s not being afraid of Groundhog Day, and repetition, repetition, repetition.
John Lamerton: It builds, whether you’re talking about copywriting for business, [inaudible 00:39:24] a day, or martial arts, you’re talking about muscle memory.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah.
John Lamerton: And you’re talking about doing the same thing over and over again routinely.
Jason Brockman: I was waiting for it. I was going to say, “It’s in my head,” and I was going to say, “Which of you are going to say routinely first?”
Jamie Reeves: Can’t you see how I avoided it for nearly two minutes, like let’s see how that works.
Jason Brockman: I just waited for it to come out.
John Lamerton: Yeah. But it is. It’s that let’s start with the basics and if you become a black belt, and is it karate that it’s been doing?
Jamie Reeves: It’s a mixture. It’s mainly Taekwondo based, but it’s a mixture of karate, taekwondo, and Muay Thai kickboxing.
John Lamerton: Okay, so you becoming a black belt in karate, Muay Thai. If you then suddenly decide you want to do jujitsu, congratulations Jamie, here’s your white belt.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, absolutely, because it’s a completely different skill set. The martial arts that I do is more about striking, whereas jujitsu is more of kind of like holds. So, it would be like, I guess, going from being a copywriter, where you are writing and sending different things out, to then picking up the phone and being a sales person. Because they are two very different disciplines.
John Lamerton: Absolutely. And what is the best way to become a good salesman? Sell every day. What is a good way to be a good copywriter? Do copyrights, one copy every day. It is building that muscle memory and actually… but also, having that coaching, that mentoring that says, “Just adjust your stance a little bit there Jamie. Balance your weight a little bit onto the right foot.” And it’s that little bit of, “Okay, you got the muscle memory, let me just tweak that for you.” We have it with the golf coaching. We are building the muscle memory of our swing, and then the coach will just wonder behind and say, “Put your chin up a little bit. Drop your left shoulder. Adjust your grip slightly.” Not all at the same time, but it was just random things that just need a little bit of tweaking. A little bit of improving, iterating, polishing. And then, the more you do these things the easier it becomes. So, actually you’re copywriting, your Friday Funnies, or your weekly emails, or whatever. It’ll be easier. The more you do them.
John Lamerton: Once you’ve done a weekly email for three months, in the beginning it’s going to take you an hour and a half to do one. In three months, it’s going to take you thirty-three minutes.
Jamie Reeves: Don’t even take me that long, ten minutes.
John Lamerton: Oh yeah, I’ve read yours. Sorry, five minutes maybe?
Jamie Reeves: Well, I probably was building the part there. You’re probably right. Doesn’t take them longer to send them to my segmented list than it does to write them, because as I’m doing the videos over the week, I know which video I want to send out and I’ve already written half of it within that system. Just putting it in an email and then sending it. So, yeah I do it while the kids are having breakfast.
John Lamerton: So, the last thing I want to touch on, just before we are coming up on time here is, when you started out you had this agency that was managing other tribute acts. Then you kind of went into the wedding market, and now, all of a sudden, we’re a singing waiter with a top ten iTunes hit.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah.
John Lamerton: How did you fall into the right business for you?
Jamie Reeves: Trial and error. So, which has always been the way since I started really, because I was a DJ to start with, as a 16-year-old, and I wanted to do either radio, or be a football journalist. I did a journalism and radio course, which kind of worked alongside the DJing a little bit. And from that I’ve got [inaudible 00:43:15] to do the radio and the DJ side of things. So, I headed off down that route. And from being a DJ, I did a bit of singing to get people going, and people said, “Oh, you should be a singer.” So I went and was a singer. Then when we came back from Cypress, getting married, having kids, that was all in the cards. So, I wanted to have something to fall back on than just my singing.
Jamie Reeves: Because I knew how erotic being a singer could be when it comes to income and having loads of gigs one minute, and being quiet as a door mouse the next. So, that’s when I started the agency. People were always getting married, so that seemed a good thing to do. So I had the wedding agency in one hand and then I had good knowledge of the tribute market in the other. So, that’s why I started managing a few people and started helping them out. From building the wedding entertainment agency, I found out about operatic singing waiters. For some reason Google ranked us really highly, so we got lots of inquiries. But, the people that we were dealing with were all operatic, all kind of very, “Well, you’ve got to pay this, and then you’ve got to pay this for travel, this for equipment. We want hotels, this, that, and the other.” The money that they were asking for I thought was kind of, “Wow, that’s just mega money. We are never going to convert those.”
Jamie Reeves: And there was no one doing it in the way that I would do it, which was kind of pop sing along. So, that’s when I thought we will give it a go and see what happens and run it alongside the other things and see if any of those convert. So, we got a few gigs and then things just went, “Oh, this is interesting.” So we spent a bit more time promoting the singing waiter stuff. At the time, I was also a Take That tribute as well. And I was thinking, “Well, we’ll do the Singing Waiters alongside the Take that tribute.” Because the Take That tribute is going to be the one that gets more of the work. But if we do that, then maybe it will give us a few extra gigs.
Jamie Reeves: I think we did about three or four gigs as the Take That tribute, and the rest was pretty much all Singing Waiters. So, one more time spent on the Singing Waiters that the wedding had the same agency, to a few bits and bumps here and there, it was really hard work. And in the end we were like, “Well, I can focus all my time on this, or I can continue doing both.” Bye Bye went the entertainment agency, focused on the Singing Waiters and then just did that. Because did so well, I was coming up to my 40th birthday, and I wanted to record my first album, so went in the studio, did that, and one of the songs it’s a song called Let’s Get Married, which I wrote for my wife about our wedding in Jamaica, so it was a little pop radio chain and that got into the top ten.
John Lamerton: Very well done. How did that feel getting a top ten hit?
Jamie Reeves: It was just mental. It was just really, really surreal. So, in fact it came up, it was about four years ago, it came up on my Facebook memories last week, and I was like constantly screenshotting. [crosstalk 00:46:44]. And-
John Lamerton: Who was around you? [crosstalk 00:46:49]
Jamie Reeves: Who else was in the top ten with you?
John Lamerton: Bob Marley, Shaggy, E-40, Kevin Little. So all these kind of real big run, known reggae tunes. And I’m there and we got retweeted by UB40.
Jamie Reeves: Wow.
John Lamerton: It was just kind of really, really surreal. And don’t get me wrong, it was only for a day, but it’s something that you can say, “Yeah, that happened. There you go, that’s what your dad did.”
Jamie Reeves: Did I tell you, I’ve got a screenshot that says, “Best selling author.” You know, I’m above Richard Branson, Duncan Bannatyne, Alan Sugar, you know. Yes, it was probably for a couple of hours, but I’ve got that screenshot.
John Lamerton: Yeah, absolutely.
Jason Brockman: And no one will take it away from you.
John Lamerton: They’re not. Well I hope not anyway.
Jason Brockman: So Jamie, tell me how if you would like to book the Best Singing Waiters, how is the way that they would find what you are up to and how to get a hold of you?
Jamie Reeves: So we have a website which is www.thebestsingingwaiters.com. If you type Facebook.com/singingwaitersUK, you’ll find our Facebook page there. On YouTube as UK Wedding Music. I’m on Instagram as… The Singing… if you put the Best Singing Waiters you’ll find us on Instagram. I’m not sure off the top of my head what the sideline bit is. Um, Best Singing Waiters-
Jason Brockman: I bet people are going to be really intrigued to visit YouTube. I think these are the people [inaudible 00:48:18] your routine videos. [crosstalk 00:48:19]
Jamie Reeves: If you put The Best Singing Waiters into YouTube, or just go on the website thebestsingingwaiters.com, click the YouTube icon, and there’s over a thousand videos on that YouTube channel. So, you’ll be able to get that lost in that and watch something different to cat videos.
John Lamerton: I must come up with something other than cat videos to use as that type of- [crosstalk 00:48:43].
Jason Brockman: You use that all the time don’t you?
John Lamerton: I do yeah. Kitten videos. There you go.
Jason Brockman: Thank you so much for joining us Jamie.
Jamie Reeves: Yeah, thank you for having me.
John Lamerton: Yeah thank you for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure, been great speaking to you.
Jamie Reeves: Absolutely, thank you very much.
John Lamerton: Just a reminder to everybody that you can grab that free sample chapter of Routine Machine if you want to build that muscle memory in your business on your personal development. Go to routinemachine.co.uk you’ll get that free sample chapter of my hopefully best selling book Routine Machine. We also have all the show notes. You can watch the video of this interview with Jamie. He’s in his home office so literally, we’ve mentioned how important it is to him to work from home. I’m looking behind him now and I’m seeing a keyboard, I’m seeing a guitar. There’s lots of fun happening in that home office I reckon. So, you can watch the video, we have the transcripts of everything talked about in all the show notes. And that is at bigidea.co.uk. All else that we can say is thank you once again for joining us on the Ambitious Lifestyle Business podcast, and we will see you next month for Episode 56. Thank you, bye bye.
John Lamerton: So there we are. Another episode in the count. How was it for you? Please let us know how do you listen to these podcasts? Please leave a review on that platform. Let us know what we can do better, or what you like, or what you don’t like, and how we can improve to make this show even better for you. We’ll see you next time.
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