#ALB56 – The Japanese Trainspotter

play audio

Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast #56

Watch and Subscribe on:

#ALB56 – The Japanese Trainspotter

Who is Chris King?

Chris has built a business around his greatest passions – travel, riding trains and Japanese food. Originally from the UK, Chris King now lives in Osaka, Japan, and spends a lot of his time travelling by train in Japan, Britain, Asia and Europe. 

Chris started the Train Hacker website when he was living in Britain to help people save money on rail travel. The project then branched out to Europe and Japan, helping train travellers find cheaper train tickets, rail passes, tours and holidays. 

While travelling by Shinkansen bullet train in Japan, Chris was astonished at the amazing tastes and rich diversity of Japanese food – he had to discover more, and a new project “Food Tours Japan” was born. Now, Chris is exploring the wonderful world of washoku and keen to show that there’s so much more to Japan than sushi. 

Chris is a longstanding one percenter and has built a business around some of his greatest passions, which include travel, trains, and a love for Japanese food. Originally from the UK, Chris now lives in Osaka, Japan as a digital nomad and spends a lot of his time travelling by train in Japan, Britain, Asia, and Europe.

To connect with Chris and find about his latest projects, go to chrispking.net.

Let’s go back to how John and Chris met
Chris and John met over a decade ago and when they met, Chris was not a digital nomad, as he is today and was not living in Japan, writing about food and bullet trains.
Chris spent eight and a half years working for BT he worked with some really bright people and managed to get involved in a lot of digital stuff. Everything from kind of online customer experience to e-commerce but the most enjoyable bit for Chris and the bit he had most involvement was affiliate marketing.  

Affiliate marketing in the “Wild West” days
Chris started off working in the affiliate team at BT. 

Chris had a really good boss and worked with really good people and feels they embraced it really early. Chris was in a sales team, which meant he was on quarterly sales bonuses whereas as you know today, most affiliate marketing is in the marketing department.  

But the sales team were heavily incentivized, and he had some really golden years with bonuses. So that was their one thing that made them really unique and Chris also feels because they were in sales, it also helped them build on the relationship side. Essentially, they were very soft in their approach really to affiliate marketing. 

Affiliate marketing and it’s reputation

Chris tells us he felt affiliate marketing had a kind of a bit of a bad reputation and he thinks it probably still does within agencies. That said, the model has stood the test of time.  

Chris recommends anyone that has a small company to embrace affiliate marketing. There’s a few networks out there and there’s technologies out there that if you are a small company, Chris says it’s like a virtual sales force.  

How did Chris become a digital nomad?

The reason Chris wanted to get out of the corporate world is because he wasn’t prepared to sit around and wait for my pension, Chris wanted to see the world. He didn’t want to see the world when he was 60, he wanted to see the world whilst he was young. And then that kind of led from one thing to another.  

Chris went travelling for six months. Come back and started a business. He now feels that after travelling in India for six months, it was maybe not the best state of mind to come back and start a business. His first publishing business didn’t really work that well. Then he did consultancy, but he had that itch to travel again.  

The birth of the ‘Digital Nomad’

Chris needed to go to India to just cleanse his soul really, just to restart his life. It was here he realised he could travel and run his business at the same time. Whilst out there, he was doing research for his travel clients and also starting some travel projects. So, the digital nomad thing kind of came out of a whole load of things coming together. 

Chris aka the train hacker
Chris started the Train Hacker website when he was living in Britain to help people save money on their rail travel. The project then branched out to Europe and Japan, his aim was to help train travellers find cheaper train tickets, rail passes, tours, and holidays.  

Why Japan? A love story…

One, the train travel projects was leading him down that route because Chris started the Train Hacker when he was living in Britain to help people save money on their rail travel. The project then branched out to Europe and Japan, his aim was to help train travellers find cheaper train tickets, rail passes, tours, and holidays. He was in and out of Asia and realised, he found Asia a lot more of a mellow place to be. Also, these days it’s where the growth is, Chris just loves the kind of free entrepreneurial style that things were done in those countries. 


Chris met his wife who’s Japanese at a train station actually in Vietnam. This was a moment to Chris who thought to himself, he was working in train travel, why was he not writing about more inspiring stuff like train travel in Japan?

From that point onwards Chris focused more on Japan travel projects. He could see there was an opportunity there. There was a lack of content being published and what was being published about travel in Japan was what he found seemed to be quite inaccurate. So, he decided to go out to Japan and do some research for my business over there.

 

The BIG house and the BIG car…

Not for Chris, he has old friends who he’s met up with, they are loaded. They’ve got three cars. They’ve got massive houses. They’ve got big gardens. One thing they say to him all the time is they don’t have any time.  

Chris say’s you kind of make the choice. There are other ways you can live your life. And too many people have kind of fallen for the got to have a big house, got to have a car, got to have this, got to have that. And you don’t really need that. 

You can work where you want. There are so many more opportunities now to set up a business. There’s so much more help now like the One Percent Club and so many books. You know, there’s so many people, so much stuff out there which can help you now start a business. So yeah, you don’t need to do that guys and ladies. Give it up now.

 

Freedom…
Chris just wanted freedom more than anything else and of course it goes without saying he’s ambitious. He wants to make money, but he values his  freedom more than just purely money and material things. 

 

How has the One Percent Club helped Chris? 

It helps him focus and with his time management. Working with John and Jason in a similar business which has been helpful but also the other people in the group, it is a diverse group of people and it’s good to listen to them. Ultimately, focus, time management and accountability.

 

How Chris’s love for Japanese food led to another business opportunity

While travelling Shinkansen (the bullet train) in Japan, Chris was astonished at the amazing tastes and rich diversity of Japanese food. He had to discover more and a new project, Food Tours Japan was born, click play to find out more.

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

Transcript

John Lamerton: Hey everybody. It’s John Lamerton here alongside my good friend and business partner Mister Jason Brockman. We are here for another episode of the Ambitious Lifestyle Business podcast where as always it is our job to help you get more customers and make more money without just working harder. So without further adieu, let’s dive straight into this month’s episode.

John Lamerton: Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 56 of the ALB podcast. It’s September already. The leaves are falling all around us and what else happens in September is of course that the 1% Club doors are open. We only open the door to 1% club in September and March every year. And good news, if you are listening to this of course in September or indeed March, doors are now open. So head over to bigidea.co.uk. Click on the 1% Club link and you can see what it’s all about, how we work with our one percenters, and how you can get involved before the end of the month.

John Lamerton: Today’s guest is a one percenter and he has built a business around some of his greatest passions. Those include travel, riding trains, and Japanese food. Originally from the UK, Chris King now lives in Osaka, Japan as a digital nomad and spends a lot of his time travelling by train in Japan, Britain, Asia, and Europe.

John Lamerton: Chris started the Train Hacker when he was living in Britain to help people save money on their rail travel. The project then branched out, no pun intended there, to Europe and Japan, helping train travellers find cheaper train tickets, rail passes, tours, and holidays. While travelling Shinkansen, hope I’ve pronounced that correctly, bullet train in Japan, Chris was astonished at the amazing tastes and rich diversity of Japanese food. He had to discover more and a new project, Food Tours Japan was born.

John Lamerton: Now, Chris is exploring the wonderful world of Washoku and keen to show that there’s so much more to Japan than just Sushi. Chris, welcome to the podcast mate.

Chris King: Hi guys. Thanks very much for inviting me.

Jason Brockman: Welcome indeed.

John Lamerton: How was my pronunciation on those Japanese words?

Chris King: It was all pretty good. Yeah, Shinkansen bullet train. Most people just refer to it as bullet train and it’s Washoku.

John Lamerton: Washoku, yeah?

Chris King: Washoku, which is really just means Japanese cuisine and all the stuff around it, really.

John Lamerton: So we are going to learn, I think, a lot of Japanese cultures, traditions, and new words in today’s podcast. It’s not often we … Actually, it is quite often we come up with new words on the podcast. We just make it up as we go along.

Jason Brockman: Absolutely.

John Lamerton: So Chris, we first met probably over a decade ago and when we met, you were not a digital nomad. You were not living in Japan, writing about food and bullet trains, were you?

Chris King: No. No. I mean at the time I spent nearly, I think about, eight and a half years working for [BT 00:03:20] and that was a really great experience. Worked with some really bright people and managed to get involved in a lot of digital stuff. Everything from kind of online customer experience to e-commerce but yeah, the most enjoyable bit and the bit I worked in most of the time there was affiliate marketing. So yeah, I was on the other side, advertiser side.

John Lamerton: So what was your role within BT?

Chris King: I started of working in the affiliate team. There was four of us, a bigger operation at somewhere like BT. By the time I’d left BT, I headed up affiliates across BT group. So whilst the BT group stuff was more strategic and negotiations and stuff, the more operational side was the BT consumer programme. So broadband and some of the early TV stuff they were doing. So yeah, good times.

John Lamerton: As you said, we were almost on opposite sides of the fence back in the day, weren’t we. It was almost a them and us culture, I remember in affiliate marketing whereby you had these massive, massive brands. So BT is probably one of the biggest there were. And then you had guys like us sat in bedrooms, as somebody famously said, “Grubby little affiliates.” Sat in their bedrooms knocking websites up. And it was always this very strange partnership.

John Lamerton: If you were to imagine British telecoms ideal source of sales and partners, you probably wouldn’t have thought that that … or certainly 15 years ago, 10 years ago you wouldn’t have thought that was a 20 something year old kid sat in his bedroom in his boxer shorts, playing around with a website and just knocking up and almost hacking Google. It wouldn’t have made sense, would it. You wouldn’t have thought that this very, very small guy would work with this massive [inaudible 00:05:27] 100 company, would you?

Chris King: No. I mean that’s funny because at BT I had a really, really good boss and really good people I worked with and I think they embraced it really early. We used to show a lot of humility towards publishers, right from the early days. There’s a few things like one we were in a sales team. Which meant that we were on quarterly sales bonuses whereas as you know today, most affiliate marketing is in the marketing department. But we were heavily incentivized and we had some really golden years with bonuses. So that was our one thing that made us really unique and I think also because we were in sales, it also helped us more build on the relationship side. So we were very soft in our approach really to affiliate marketing.

Chris King: You know, we had to have some very awkward conversations and stuff along the way but I think generally speaking, we had the kind of right approach. I think at the time we were kind of out there. With all the big brands I think we were kind of leading the pack as to how to approach this new channel.

John Lamerton: It amazed me just thinking, going back in the day now. There I am sat in my bedroom, coding a website. I knew nothing about internet marketing. Internet. Me coding. I was hacking websites together and just throwing really, really shoddy design up on a page and creating this brand out of nothing. Yeah, I was a 20 something year old kid who knew very little and I was sat in my bedroom, my spare bedroom putting these websites up and then all of a sudden, I could go and speak to somebody at Procter and Gamble and say, “We’ve got this website offering free samples of stuff. You’ve got samples of Persil or Ariel that you want to give away. Can we work together?” And they would go, “Yeah, of course we can. That’s brilliant. Here’s some budget. Everybody you send this when you can persuade to take a free tablet, a brand new-“

Jason Brockman: [crosstalk 00:07:39].

John Lamerton: Yeah. Head and Shoulders sachets of shampoo. “If you can get 5,000 people to take a sashe of shampoo, we’ll give you 5,000 pounds.” “Brilliant. Okay.” You know, very, very unlikely bedfellows but that was what affiliate marketing all about because it was the guys in the bedrooms that were actually attracting the traffic. And I think this … Oh, god. I almost quoted Gary Vanerchuk [inaudible 00:08:11]. I must stop doing this but he talks about attention as currency, doesn’t he. And if you go back to the early 2000s, it was the affiliates, it was the bedroom affiliates who had the attention.

John Lamerton: They were the people who had the traffic and if you were Procter and Gamble or … Who else did we work with at the time? It was Britannia Music Club or BT and you wanted the attention, well it was the guys in the bedroom who had that and it was almost a win win for both parties because it was a commission only deal. You know, Procter and Gamble didn’t come to me and say, “Here’s 5,000 pounds. What can you do with it?” They came to me and said, “We’ll give you a pound for every sample you give away.” Worked for them. Worked for me and it was the best of both worlds.

Chris King: Yeah I mean and ironically, as you know. Affiliate marketing had a kind of a bit of a bad reputation. I think it probably still does in agencies. But then agencies have a bad reputation with a lot of other people on the other side.

John Lamerton: I think everyone’s got a bad reputation.

Chris King: Yeah. I mean just the whole performance model though has kind of moved. As you know, it started off with affiliate marketing but that then moved into PPC and SEO. I mean when I started BT, 2002, 2003 on the affiliates there was certainly a lot of more diversity of publishers by the time I’d left BT, 2008, 9 I think. There was increasingly less publishers, different publishers driving sales. Those publishers did have, by that time, big established bank comparison websites so they were big. Paid search, PPC, publishers very strong at SEO.

Chris King: So yeah, I mean the thing is the model has stood the test of time. You know, I’d recommend anyone who’s got a small company to embrace affiliate marketing. I mean there’s a few networks out there and there’s technologies out there that if you are a small company, as I always said, it’s like your virtual sales force. So pay them results springs to mind as one. Affiliate network in the UK that work with SMEs and I think even some of the huge [inaudible 00:10:34], probably the biggest network in the world. I was in one of their events recently and they said that one of the big initiatives in the UK this year is to grow their … they just started working with smaller brands. So whether you want to work of any network, you want to grow your business, no matter what you’re selling I think getting an affiliate programme, you just need to look at what the setup costs are.

John Lamerton: Yeah.

Chris King: And obviously work out the costs and the revenue. It’s just like any other kind of partner marketing really.

Jason Brockman: Yeah. It’s all complimentary, isn’t it. So in terms of how you’re aiming affiliate marketing programme with one of the networks you kind of mentioned, that’s about growing your list of people. It’s getting other people to do the sale bits for you and that comes in or converses. If you were going to look at working with the affiliate networks to see what partners they have, it’s about growing your product portfolio necessarily or adding additional services to what you can kind of offer as well. So there’s actually a two way synergy there that you can kind of work with these networks affiliate marketing, isn’t there.

Chris King: Yeah. I mean like publisher’s side, I guess you need to think of whatever you’re selling. Do you think that selling other people’s products is going to detract away from your brand? I guess it’s kind of more of a branding decision [inaudible 00:11:49] other things. But increasingly now, we’re seeing big established companies certainly in the travel space that have got, they’re selling their own product but then there’s a sideline. They’re also selling affiliate stuff.

Chris King: I think like say a company like the train line announced Japan Rail passes but they’re only selling those for a partnership with somebody else. So I mean if you’ve got a product and then you’ve got content and there’s other similar products or related products and I think it’s an extra revenue stream that I think any advertiser to look at as well as a publisher. Like I say both sides of a coin.

Jason Brockman: Yeah. I think one of the key ways that you said is partnership, isn’t it. Actually it is about having partners to try to work with and grow your business and to grow their business and actually working together to do that.

Chris King: Yeah, I mean absolutely. I mean I think now there’s a bit of a who haw in the UK space about whether it’s partner marketing or affiliate marketing or performance marketing.

Chris King: While we were at BT, funny enough, we were actually in the partnerships team. So whilst we were running the affiliate programme, there was also the PPC programme was run as a partner because you were working with an agency but your partners were Google and Yahoo and Bing or whatever at the time. And then also even the SEO team become a partnership because you were working with an SEO agency.

Chris King: But then the other more traditional partnerships, they would work with banks when Broadband was first started. So you’d have people work with banks that said, “Well, if you take BT Broadband, you’ll get 40 pound off.” And so that was the kind of partnership. So it’s all kind of old school stuff. It looks all really fancy because it’s online but really it’s just an extension of working with partners really.

Jason Brockman: Yeah. From this kind of high level job within one of the corporates, you went to digital nomad. How do you explain digital nomad?

Chris King: Well, I don’t know digital nomad was … How do we explain it? I don’t know. Yeah, I think when I started, I mean I left the corporate thing. I said like three strikes and I’m out and whilst I had an amazing time in the corporate, I learned loads of stuff, done some amazing training, got involved in so many different parts of business, bought an apartment in London. Lots of so many good things come out of that. Met some great people.

Chris King: But I kind of said to myself, “Three strikes and you’re out of working with somebody else.” And twice at BT, I had a couple of situations whereby I was promised something and it wasn’t delivered. And then I briefly worked at AOL and it happened a third time. So I sort of said, “Okay, that’s it.” So I just went out into the brave world of starting a business and from day one I didn’t really have a clue. But after a couple of years I realised that there was a way that I could run this business and be a digital nomad.

Chris King: You know, I quit BT and went travelling. Sorry, I quit AOL. Went travelling for six months. Come back, started a business. Maybe after travelling in India for six months, maybe not the best state of mind to come back and start a business. And my first publishing business didn’t really work that well. Then I did consultancy and then I kind of thought, “I want to go travelling again.” And I had a couple of clients and at the time, there was a lot of stuff I was reading. Chris Guillebeau, I’d highly recommend that book. The Hundred Dollar Startup. Obviously I’ve read Tim Ferriss, Four Hour Work Week.

Chris King: So it was kind of the digital nomad thing was starting my business, which come out of the decade in corporation. I needed to go to India to just cleanse my soul really, just to restart my life. And then I realised that I could travel and run my business at the same time. So the arbitrage, if I had consultancy clients in London, I was obviously earning quite good money and then I could go and live in Vietnam or Cambodia on a very low cost and run my business. But also while out there, doing research and also starting some travel projects doing research for my travel clients as well. So yeah, a bit of a long winded way but the digital nomad thing kind of come out of a whole load of things come together.

Chris King: And really I guess the reason I wanted to get out of the corporate world is because whilst I wasn’t prepared to sit around and wait for my pension, I wanted to see the world. And I thought, I don’t want to see the world when I’m 60. I want to see the world now while I’m young. And then that kind of led from one thing to another. Sorry, that’s a bit of a long winded answer for you.

Jason Brockman: That’s a fantastic answer because it leads us into, well you travelled lots of places in the world and you’ve kind of had that refreshing in India and off to Cambodia and Vietnam and various other places. And you’ve finally settled in Japan. What made you choose Japan?

Chris King: Well-

Jason Brockman: [crosstalk 00:16:52].

Chris King: … there’s a few things. One, the train travel projects was leading me down that route because A, I love train travel in Britain and then Europe and that’s when I sort of started the Train Hacker. I was in and out of Asia then at some point I realised, well actually, I find Asia a lot more of a mellow place to be. Also, these days it’s where the growth is. I mean southeast Asia is so exciting and India. I love the fact that … I’m sure it’s not quite the same for people that have to live there. Unfortunately a lot of them are very poor but I just love the kind of free entrepreneurial style that things were done in those countries.

Chris King: And then so the Japan thing, I actually met my wife who’s Japanese. I met her at a train station actually in Vietnam. The most northerly train station in Vietnam in this lovely, beautiful Japanese woman come to sit next to me while we were getting our sort of transfer from the train station up to this kind of old Colonial Hill station where the biggest mountain in Indochina is. And yeah, she was Japanese and then that opened my eyes to thinking, well if I’m working in train travel, why am I not writing about more inspiring stuff like train travel in Japan? Whilst I love train travel in Britain, when it works it’s great and if you’re a leisure traveller. But as we know, there are some amazing things going on in rail travel in Britain. But really, it’s not so inspiring as somewhere like Japan, which is a few generations above Britain when it comes to rail travel.

Chris King: Yeah. So that sort of led me down that path and then I just kind of thought that I want to actually focus more on Japan travel projects. I could see there was an opportunity there. Wasn’t a lot of stuff being published and what stuff was being published about travel in Japan was what I found seemed to be quite inaccurate. So I kind of, yeah, decided to go out to Japan and do some research for my business over there.

John Lamerton: I love the fact that you said just now … And I’m conscious there’s going to be people listening to this podcast now sat on a train somewhere on their daily commute into the city and it may be a like 90 minute commute and the train’s been delayed for so many times and you’re sat in maybe an overcrowded hot carriage and you’ve just heard Chris say, “I love the train travel in the UK.”

Chris King: I mean yeah, as a leisure traveller I think it’s good. I mean to commute, I’ve been there, seen it, bought the t-shirt. I’ve commuted in London. I commuted short-term commute on over ground and I commuted on the tube. Yeah, I was up in London. Went to watch a couple of cricket matches and I caught the late rush hour and it’s like I could never do this again. I knew that in business doing London say six years ago. I could never go back to that and I mean, it’s the choice you make.

Chris King: I’ve got old friends who I met, they are loaded. They’ve got three cars. They’ve got massive houses. They’ve got big gardens. One thing they say to me all the time is they don’t have any time. So you kind of make the choice. So if you want the big house, if you want to leverage yourself up and you do that, that’s fine but there’s other ways you can live your life. And too many people, I think, in the past have kind of fallen for the got to have a big house, got to have a car, got to have this, got to have that. And you don’t really need that.

Chris King: You never needed it in the first place and you certainly don’t need it today where you’ve got a lot more freedom. You can work where you want. So many more opportunities now to set up a business. There’s so much more help now like the 1% Club and so many books. You know, there’s so many people, so much stuff out there which can help you now start a business. So yeah, you don’t need to do that guys and ladies. Give it up now.

John Lamerton: You don’t need to wait for your third strike then.

Chris King: Well, yeah. I guess that was a bit … Because I travelled after school. I travelled after university and I think I just had an itch and I think maybe I didn’t have the confidence to make that leap. I mean at the time I was working with all these affiliate entrepreneurs. I remember one of them used to say to me all the time, “You’re crazy. Why would you want to leave BT? You can work from home. You get good quarterly sales bonuses. You’ve got a pension.” Which on a salary pension scheme, all this sort of stuff. “You have all this freedom. You’re able to go out and stuff.” But that’s just sort of superficial stuff really. If you think about it and a lot of it’s materials.

Chris King: So I just wanted freedom more than anything else and of course I’m ambitious. I want to make money. I want to make more money than I’ve made today but when it’s that, I value freedom more than just purely money and material things. So does my wife, so that’s a marriage made in heaven.

John Lamerton: Yes, it’s an easy trap to fall down, isn’t it. I remember a few years ago we were looking to have an extension built on the house. So we went to remortgage. Went down and sat with the bank manager and he put all the numbers into his computer and he come up with this lovely really big figure on his screen. He said, “That’s how much you could borrow.” We then went home, went on [Zupler 00:22:41] and started Googling houses for that sort of money and was like, “Oh my god. I can have the house in the country. I can have a seven bedroom place with a half a mile long driveway.”

John Lamerton: And then I looked at the monthly repayments and figured out how hard I’d have to work in order to actually pay for it and then I thought, “Well actually, then I’d have to employ a team of gardeners to look after those acres of land and I don’t need seven bedrooms. And do I really need a driveway that’s half a mile long? And oh my god, I’d be a target for burglars. And oh no, I’d have to move house. Oh my god, that’s the most stressful thing ever.”

John Lamerton: So we borrowed a lot less than we could have done. We remoulded this house, which we’ve lived in now for 16 years. And this is now our perfect house because we’ve designed it for us. And this is exactly what you’ve done Chris, with your business and with your lifestyle now. We’re always saying, “What does the ambitious lifestyle business look like for you?” And as you’ve said, freedom. It’s time. It’s very little to do with money. I’m sure you’re ambitious. You want to make money. You want to make good money but actually what you want to do more than anything is travel the world, is go and see these sights, go and enjoy the amazing food.

John Lamerton: You know, you mentioned just now you’ve been to a cricket match. Now, for a lot of people listening, going to a cricket match isn’t a bit thing. But let’s imagine you live on the other side of the planet and the cricket match we’re talking about is the Cricket World Cup. Chris has taken, what? Two months. Two and a half months out of your life.

Chris King: Well, three months actually.

John Lamerton: Three months. So three months to travel back to the UK, stay here, and take in the Cricket World Cup.

Chris King: Yeah.

John Lamerton: And it’s your business that’s allowed you to do that. Because if you were still in the corporate world saying, “Can I take three months off paid to go to another country and watch a passion of mine at the very highest level?” They’d probably say, “Chris, you’ve got six days leave left.”

Chris King: Yeah, I mean that’s what it’s all about for me. I mean the last … I don’t know. I think the last four or five years I’ve been living … I’ve lived in London for a year. I’ve travelled Japan for about six months. Now I’ve spent about five months in England outside of London. I mean now I’ve got a family, so it’s important that my son, well both my sons embrace English culture and for my wife to spend time with my family here.

Chris King: But the thing is, we can do that. I mean I’m here on business primarily but then also we can choose when I can come because I need to keep in touch with my partners, which [inaudible 00:25:43]. You know I’ve got the freedom to choose when I come here. I can arrange those meetings, those face to face meetings any time of year but why not come in the summer? Why not come for the Cricket World Cup? I’ve not spent the last two summers in England. So yeah, that’s what it enables you to do really. I mean what do you want?

Chris King: And I’ve come back and most the people I’ve asked to go to the cricket, they can’t go because they can’t get the time off work. So you know, again, what do you want out of life? Do you want five weeks holiday or do you want to be able to kind of move around and do stuff whenever you want, how you want?

Chris King: I guess one thing for me, I need to be more focused and this 1% Club has helped me be more focused and it’s helped me with accountability. I know that I can have quite a slow three months now and then I can go back to Japan and I’ve got a new project I’m starting and I can just work 60 hours a week for a few months and make up that time. I have the choice and I think as entrepreneurs, that is I guess all of us. We’re all a bit crazy in some way, right. You got to be a bit crazy to be an entrepreneur. But that’s the way I kind of look at it. I have some campaigns and stuff that I’ve got to do every year but apart from that, I’m just gradually building up my projects and I can do that whenever I want.

John Lamerton: How has the 1% Club helped you with your focus?

Chris King: Well I think it’s helped because I also … You guys helped me because I think actually paying for the service has made me take it a lot more seriously. So it’s helped me with the accountability. It’s helped me to show up on time regularly. Unfortunately, as you know, I can make one of the monthly calls when I’m in Japan but I might try and start making that. So to get up, to show up, to actually talk about what I’m doing and be honest whereas when I do these services on a non-paid thing I can tell a few white lies. “Yeah, yeah. I’ve written that almost. 80% I’ve written that.” When really I haven’t really started it.

Chris King: But yeah, it’s helping me focus and time management. And also working with you guys, a similar business to me which has been helpful but also the kind of diverse … The other people in the groups is diverse group of people and so it’s good to listen to them. So yeah, focus, time management, accountability.

Jason Brockman: I was going to say, you hit most of our coaching calls and you’re on most of those. It’s really good because actually one, we can follow your journey. Two, you can kind of be held accountable because yeah, we can talk about what you’re up to and we can say actually how did that go and we can ask, “Did you do that thing that you were going to do?” And yeah, you’re there every week, ready to take whatever is coming at you. If you haven’t done it, then that may kind of focus you to make sure that things are done, doesn’t it.

Chris King: Yeah. No, I am honest on our calls and so I’m probably in line for a bit of a thrashing from you guys if I don’t-

John Lamerton: Well, I think we did threaten to withhold your cricket World Cup tickets at one point. Didn’t we?

Chris King: Yeah. But I’ve never been that good with authority since I left [crosstalk 00:29:09] afraid that wasn’t going to work. But yeah, I mean yeah, I need to kind of pull my finger out a bit this summer. But then like I say, I can catch up.

Jason Brockman: You’ve crafted this lifestyle business, this ambitious lifestyle business. You’ve crafted it. You’ve got your passions that you wanted to have a business about. You’ve got your travel. You’ve got your food. You’ve got lovely family now that you can move wherever you want to in the world at any time kind of thing to go and enjoy the things that you want today. It’s kind of the envy of most entrepreneurs, I would say really. Because that’s what they’re all kind of striving for and that’s kind of what they feel they’re going to get when they get into business but very often, they don’t make those time for their lifestyle bits. They’re all really, really busy doing the kind of duty, getting the work done, and perhaps going through the 60 hours a week but every week and not having the three months off in the summer to come back to the UK and stuff like that. So you have designed this business around what you like.

Chris King: Yeah. I mean and I’ve got a one year old and a four year old. You know, I can be really terrible but now I’m getting better having been in the 1% Club and getting a lot more professional. I read The War of Art, Steven Pressfield. I read his books, so they’re really good. Take it seriously. But while I’m doing stuff like this, like you say, I can … It depends on what you want. Some people want to be an entrepreneur because they want they money. They want the big car. They want to have the big business. Mark Zuckerberg.

Chris King: Mark Zuckerberg’s and entrepreneur. Whoever from Google, they’re entrepreneurs. Well an entrepreneur is just somebody who makes a living themselves, right. So too many people still think, “Oh, entrepreneur. We’ve got to look at being Bill Gates or whoever, Warren Buffet, all whoever these big guys are.” Yeah, great. I’m sure they got some inspiration along the way and loads of good pointers but you know, it’s not really that realistic. I mean just want to be able to support yourself.

Chris King: And one thing you find when you work in a corporate, you might have one important thing to do. You might be sat there for like 10 hours, sat in the cubical or sat behind the computer. But as you guys know as being and entrepreneur, you can maybe do that one bit of work. You can do it in two hours and then when your son says he wants to go down the beach and throw some stones in the water, you can just go, “Yeah, all right.” Because I’ve done my one thing this morning. I’ve done the important thing. I know I can go off for an hour or two and I can come back.

Chris King: I mean for me, being and entrepreneur is about making my own lifestyle choices. It’s not to be running around managing a team of 80 people. That works for some people. Other people it doesn’t.

John Lamerton: Absolutely. And for some people they want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page or Bill Gates or Elon Musk. Those guys are probably not listening to the Ambitious Lifestyle Business podcast. But I’m not saying that they’re wrong and I’m right. They’re right for them. That’s what they want but don’t force feed it down my throat that’s what every entrepreneur should want.

Jason Brockman: What was your definition of your lazy entrepreneur? What the-

John Lamerton: Oh, my ultimate job description?

Jason Brockman: Yeah, your ultimate job description.

John Lamerton: To do what I want when I want, where I want, when I want, how I want, if I want.

Jason Brockman: If you want. Absolutely. But Mark Zuckerberg has that same definition, I would say. It’s exactly the same.

John Lamerton: Yeah.

Jason Brockman: But with a different-

John Lamerton: Yeah. He just wants something different.

Jason Brockman: And Chris, you know he’s got that same definition too.

Chris King: yeah.

John Lamerton: It’s interesting. Obviously Chris, where you started, when we started this conversation was, “Oh, well I get a good quarterly bonus. Got a fine salary pension. Maybe got some health perks. You know five weeks salary a year. I’m set. I’m happy.” But then you didn’t necessarily know at the time what you really wanted and I think perhaps as you said when you were sat at that most northerly railway station in Vietnam, your eyes were opened.

John Lamerton: Now, you left us hanging a little bit there because you ended the story with and then this beautiful lady sat there next to me. So what happened next?

Chris King: Well, what happened next … I don’t know. We spent about a day and a half together. Well actually, if we can put a quick sideline. So we met and we went up to this final part of this hill station town in this four by four and when we got out, there was all these north hill tribe women there kind of, “Can we take you on a walk tomorrow? Do you want to buy some stuff?” Kind of thing as soon as we got out of the four by four.

Chris King: And so wife to be, she went off walking one way. I went off the other way. We said, “Bye, bye.” And that was it and all these hill tribe women were up trying to sell us stuff as we get out of this four by four. And I’ve gone in and I’ve spoken to my mate who I’ve met travelling and he was still in Hanoi and he’s kind of Australian British guy. I said to him, “I met this beautiful woman.” And he’s like, “Fucking hell mate. What is it with you English? Did you get her phone number? Did you get her email address?” I said, “No.” “Well, what is it with you English? Go and find her. Go and find her.” And I was like, “Oh, well whatever.”

Chris King: Anyway, so I had breakfast and I was thinking like, “Well, why didn’t I get that girl’s email address? She was lovely. She was really sweet.” And so I went out of my kind of whatever, small hotel, whatever I was in about an hour later having spoke to him, had some breakfast, had a wash. And who stood outside is one of the hill tribe women and she said, “Oh, your girlfriend. Your girlfriend. She went the wrong way. We had to show her the way.” I was like, “Well where is she.” And she, “Oh, she’s at this hotel down here because she was walking in the …” I said, “Please? Can you tell me where the hotel is?”

Chris King: So anyway, I went down and found the hotel and I went in. And there was another Australian guy there, on the door actually and I said to this guy, “Have you had a Japanese lady arrive today?” And he’s like, “Might have done.” I said, “Well, I met her travelling. If she’s here can you just go and ask her to come down?” He’s like, “Well, you know should really of our client’s …” and I was like, “Look mate, is she here or not? There’s not many Japanese people in this.” So anyway, under duress he goes, “Okay.” So anyway, he went upstairs, got [inaudible 00:36:01] my wife. And I said, “Would you like to meet after dinner tonight?” And she said yes.

Chris King: And then when she went off, this Australian guy turned round to me and went, “Hey mate, you got no chance.” “What are you talking about?” “You got no chance, mate. I could tell by her body language.” Anyway, I kind of just brushed this guy off, just thinking, “What are you on about? What are you talking about?” “No, you got no chance mate.” Anyway, it turns out as I find out a few weeks later that he had actually asked her out for dinner as well as soon as she arrived. So he was just peeved that she had said no to him. So that was why this guy, who worked in this hotel, he was like the manager, that’s why he was so upset.

Chris King: But anyway, so I went out for dinner with my wife that day. For the following day she was going to do a walk in this place and she was going to head off on her travels. So of course when she’s saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to do a walk tomorrow around all these patty fields.” I turned round and invited myself. I was like, “Oh yeah, yeah. I was going to do that.” And then we met and we spend half a day together. Then I chased her down for the rest of the time she was in Vietnam and we met up for five days later. Then we went back our separate ways. Then she came to England.

Chris King: I mean she came to England for a few weeks. Six months later we went to Thailand and met there. And yeah, that’s kind of how it happened. We were living on the other side of the world for about a year and a half before we fully got together. And that involved being in Vietnam, being in London, and being in Thailand. You know, it’s great. Yeah.

John Lamerton: That is an amazing story, mate.

Jason Brockman: That is.

John Lamerton: Just let’s go forward to where we are now and you said you’re happily married. You’ve got, is it one year old and a four year old, did you say?

Chris King: Yeah. Got two boys.

John Lamerton: You’ve got this amazing family. None of which would have happened without you making the decision to do something that was a little bit tough and go and hunt down this beautiful lady that you were sat next to on the train. And without that Australian guy giving you a bit of a kick up the ass and saying, “Come on mate. What are you doing? You’ve got an opportunity here.” You know, for the guys listening at home, you may not be looking for the love of your life but you may be looking for that business partner or that deal or that opportunity or that pay raise. Or you may want to leave a relationship. You may want to do something that is difficult.

John Lamerton: So Chris, can you just give us your Australian accent again and just tell these people to just flaming do it?

Chris King: Just do it you flaming galah.

John Lamerton: Apologies to any Australians this that Home and Away is our only reference for the Australian accent. That and the [inaudible 00:38:57] G’day Mate.

Chris King: Yeah, I mean most the things you got to make your luck. I remember somebody in my … said to me, “You’re so lucky.” Some of the things that happen. But you make your own luck and it seems to me that every time something not good happens, I always see … The day to day I can get caught up and not obviously see the positive things. But when the important things happen in my life, I’m always like well this is an opportunity.

Chris King: So when I first started my business I was doing publishing. I didn’t really make any money because the different between working for a corporation and managing affiliates and actually then running a website yourself, learning how to use WordPress, okay yeah you kind of knew how to talk about SEO but now you’ve actually got to do it. You talked about it, right and now you’ve got to do it. So that’s such a difficult thing. But then I did the consultancy which was great because I worked with some travel clients and I’d had a bit of a run of trying to get some new business, really messed around.

Chris King: I remember one guy in London. He was over in the city and I was in Notting Hill. He was like, “Oh, just wait an hour for a meeting.” And trying to chase new business and wasting your time. But I had a couple of really good clients but when the final client of those two more stable ones said to me, “We don’t need anymore at the moment.” And that was a great opportunity. All of a sudden I saw this massive hole in my revenue but I just thought, “Well, this is publishing 2.0 now. So now you’ve got to go fully into the publishing.” Because whilst I was doing the consultancy, I was incubating another publishing project.

Chris King: And it’s kind of like, those moments in life where it’s all a bit [inaudible 00:40:46]. That’s when the most opportunities come up. And that’s when you kind of grit your teeth and you really knuckle down. So I think that’s one of the great things about being and entrepreneur, right. You have your ups and downs, revenue, and stuff like that. But you just got to keep going on it.

Jason Brockman: Yeah and seeking those opportunities or finding or actually just seeing them because they’re there. They’re all ready to be taken all over the place but actually just being able to be focused, go, “Actually, I need to fill that hole now. There’s the opportunity I was looking for but I just didn’t know it was there,” because you were too busy focused sometimes, isn’t.

Chris King: Well you also have the freedom. I mean with the lifestyle business, the great thing is you have freedom of mind. So suddenly when I think back to my corporate days, making my hours, maybe being unhappy a lot of the time, probably drinking too much. You know, you don’t really have any time. It becomes, “Wow, it’s the weekend. Wow, it’s our free time. Or let’s go to a festival.” It’s all kind of false. “Oh, let’s go to the music festival and we’ll be free for four days.”

Chris King: Well actually, you just need to look at your life in a completely different way and actually being a lifestyle entrepreneur gives you so much intellectual freedom or thinking time, which obviously you need to harness that. But thinking of new opportunities. Like Food towards Japan, it was travelling in Japan. “Wow, this is amazing. Everyone just thinks Japanese food is sushi and Ramen. Actually, there’s so much to it.” You know, the UN, UNESCO or something have made it … [inaudible 00:42:18] French food and Italian food. It’s now like a whatever [inaudible 00:42:21]. Same over there with the UN and that was just so open your eyes so much.

Chris King: And you got the freedom like let’s look for some domain names. How could we do a business? That’s the great thing about being a lifestyle entrepreneur. You can think about new ideas. You can incubate businesses. You can start things. You can try things. You know, you might try some things, put a few web pages up, it doesn’t work. Okay, let’s try another project. Let’s try another one. Okay, this one gets a bit of traction. Let’s do that. So yeah.

John Lamerton: You mentioned it earlier Chris and I think as entrepreneurs we are a bit weird, a bit strange, and a bit not normal and we are the guys that go, “Yes. It’s Monday. Brilliant. I get to go back to creating all these ideas that I’ve had.” It’s the chance to be a little bit creative, I think as well. You know, you may not even imagine yourself to be creative but you are designing a business here and as you said, you can just try some stuff, have some ideas, think, “Wonder if that would work.” And yeah, it’s the old entrepreneur saying that when life gives you lemons, sell lemonade.

Chris King: That’s so true.

Jason Brockman: [crosstalk 00:43:33] interested to hear a little bit more about what things you’re doing. You’re travelling. Your Japan food.

John Lamerton: Japan food.

Jason Brockman: Japan food, that’s it.

John Lamerton: Of all the conversation we had, I didn’t think Japan was going to be the trouble we were going to have.

Jason Brockman: Oh dear, that’s fantastic. We want to find out a little bit more about your travelling and your Japanese food and the culture and stuff like that.

Chris King: I’m out in Japan now on research primarily for the business you know, so I’ve spent a few months travelling on the train doing a rail pass stuff. So I’ve got a lot of material for that. But then also the food. Everyone has to go to Japan once and I’m living in Osaka which they say is the kind of kitchen of the nation. So Osaka people, they have a saying [foreign 00:44:19]. That’s probably bad pronunciation. My wife would laugh and even my four year old son.

John Lamerton: Sounded all right to me.

Chris King: [Foreign 00:44:29]. Anyway and basically what it means is that Osakans eat themselves through bankruptcy. And they used to say that people in Kyoto or Tokyo, one of them might spend all their money on lavish clothes. One of the other ones will spend all their money on lavish shoes but Osakans spend all their money on food. So in Osaka, everyone who goes to Japan must go to Osaka, even if they’re based in Kyoto. Osaka’s only an hour away. Go down there at least for an evening because a lot of people do miss it off.

Chris King: But the food there is incredible. The whole culture and everything I’ve ever done in Osaka with Osakan people there’s food. There’s a food element and it has the most wonderful places. Yeah, of course Tokyo’s much bigger. It’s the capital and it’s got a massive … There’s more Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo than any other city in the world. Number two is Paris. Number three is Kyoto. And number four is Osaka. So three Japanese cities out the top four Michelin-starred restaurants.

Chris King: But Tokyo’s got a lot, it’s a much bigger place but Osaka’s a lot smaller. So if you really want to kind of understand Japanese food, you really should go check out Osaka. They’ve got some wonderful soul foods. But also it’s a lot more compact for you to kind of explore Japanese food.

Jason Brockman: And a good way of finding out a little bit more about that is on one of your websites, no doubt.

Chris King: Yeah. I mean Food Tours Japan. I started that because I’m a marketer at heart so I’m always looking at the trends and I’ve been involved in travel now for nearly a decade, you know actually on a business item. Food tourism was getting bigger. Travel to Japan’s getting bigger. So it’s about marrying up opportunities that you wee with the things that are important to you. I spent some time at my local place in Osaka before the second child come along, I had a lot more time but I’d go to what they call [foreign 00:46:39] which is a kind of like … Well my one, it’s kind of like an English pub with four star food. Proper four start food, you know.

Chris King: They’re so seasonal and local and it’s amazing food that comes out. And I think too many travellers go to Japan and they don’t explore the food. And here’s one for you, so when I travelled Indochina, I heard all this great stuff about Vietnamese food. So before I’d even arrived in Vietnam, within the first week I’d booked three food tours because I wanted to go there straight away. I did one that was around Pho noodles. Pho which is popular. Seafood. And I did another tour because as soon as I arrived there I thought, “I’m going to be here for maybe up to six months or something. I want to find out about the food. I want a shortcut. I want to go straight and find out about the food so that when I’m here I can do that.” I would recommend to anyone when they go to Japan, go on a food tour. Go to foodtoursjapan.com and check it out.

Chris King: So basically I’m curating so for me it’s like a next generation of being a content publisher/affiliate. You know, I’m actually now curating what I think are the best tours. So if you want to have Ramen in Tokyo, here’s the best tours. If you want to explore some Osaka soul food, here’s the best tours. If you want to eat Kyoto-style [inaudible 00:48:14] cuisine, 25 course kaiseki, everyone should do it if they go to Japan. Here’s the best places you can get that.

Chris King: But so many people go to Japan and they’re in fear. And to be honest with you, it’s easy to travel in Japan. The train travel, everything’s in English. All the announcements are in English. All the signs are in English. It’s a really amazing system. Everything’s sign posted. It’s easy to get around. Actually trying to get authentic food experiences is really very difficult because a lot of the menus are not in English. [inaudible 00:48:47] it’s not the easiest language. [inaudible 00:48:59] your holiday, you’re then set up for the next two, three weeks. You might have some food, it’s like wow. There’s so much amazing food in Japan. Do you want [inaudible 00:49:07] barbecue beef? To you want [inaudible 00:49:10], which is breaded pork fillet? Do you want kaiseki, like I said which is like luxurious, the most amazing food. There’s so many stuff out there so get on it.

John Lamerton: Excellent. Thanks there mate. The dog barking just now must signal the end of the podcast, I assume. We got this new little timing system going on.

Jason Brockman: [crosstalk 00:49:32].

John Lamerton: Any parting words or any words of wisdom you want to leave people with, Chris? Or anything or any other way that people might want to get in touch with you?

Chris King: Yeah. I mean if you want to get in touch with me I’m at chrispking.net if you want to contact me via there. Any other words of wisdom? I mean if you are thinking of starting a business, if you are one of those people, I think I’d highly recommend the Hundred Dollar Startup book by Chris Guillebeau. Fire your boss. Do what you love and lead the life you want to lead, basically. I think that’s probably one of the best books if you’re in the cubical at the moment and you want to escape the cubical. It offers real practical advice with lots of really good examples. It’s nearly a decade old now.

Chris King: But I mean, do what you love, I guess. Do what you love and just be happy and make happiness the number one thing in your life and do what you want to do. That’s all I’ll say.

John Lamerton: I mean that’s brilliant.

Jason Brockman: Total freedom.

Chris King: I talk a lot, as you can tell guys. So hopefully you managed to get your questions in.

John Lamerton: We did, yeah. Absolutely. Thank you for that. Absolutely brilliant. Thank you for joining us Chris.

Chris King: Okay. All right, thanks a lot guys.

Jason Brockman: Thank you.

John Lamerton: Thank you. Don’t forget guys, you can get all the show notes. You can watch the video of our interview with Chris and the transcription on the website at bigidea.co.uk. Where you’ll also find information about the 1% Club. As I say, it is open if you are listening to this when this episode comes out in September. It is open until the end of September. If it’s not the right time for you right now or it’s not September, you can join the waiting list and just find out a little bit more. Again, at bigidea.co.uk.

John Lamerton: Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you again next month. Bye, bye.

John Lamerton: So there we are. Another episode in the can. How was it for you? Please let us know. However you listen to these podcasts, please leave a review on that platform. Let us know what we can do better, what you like what you don’t like, and how we can improve to make this show even better for you. We’ll see you next time.

“John and Jason have been there and done it and don’t have an ego about it like many others.

I know I am better organised, better planned and prepared and more likely to succeed sooner, thanks to their wisdom and experience.”

Matt Tricot - 1upsearch

"Two normal blokes from Plymouth" John and Jason have been working together, building businesses for over two decades!

They're the anti-gurus with a strong dislike of psuedo business psycho-babble. Their no-nonsense, straightforward approach with relateable and valuable advice has won them followers from all over the world. They've helped hundreds of business owners improve their businesses and lives.

The King of Can-do and the 'Lazy' Entrepreneur have a mountain of knowledge they're happy to share.

Could you DOUBLE your business 1% at a time?

Could you grow your business by just 1% this week? That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Well, if you could grow your business by just 1% every week, after 69 weeks, you’d have DOUBLED your business!

These 1% gains are the same techniques used by the British Cycling Team that helped them turn a bunch of “also-rans” into world beaters, notching up forty-two medals in the last four Olympics, as well as winning six of the last seven Tour De France races.

The One Percent Club will show you EXACTLY how to implement these 1% gains into your business, and how they can stack up to REALLY grow your business.

John released his first book “Big Ideas… for Small Businesses” in 2017, and it shot straight to the #1 bestseller list for Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Amazon, outselling books by Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne combined.

Since then, it’s sold thousands and thousands of copies all over the world, and attracted more than 100 five-star reviews. But more importantly, it’s changed the lives of small business owners all over the world, who now understand that running a lifestyle business isn’t a bad thing.

I think you’ll like it…

PO Box 74,
Plymouth, PL7 1ZN

#ALB56 – The Japanese Trainspotter

#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

Transcript

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.

“John and Jason have been there and done it and don’t have an ego about it like many others.

I know I am better organised, better planned and prepared and more likely to succeed sooner, thanks to their wisdom and experience.”

Matt Tricot - 1upsearch

"Two normal blokes from Plymouth" John and Jason have been working together, building businesses for over two decades!

They're the anti-gurus with a strong dislike of psuedo business psycho-babble. Their no-nonsense, straightforward approach with relateable and valuable advice has won them followers from all over the world. They've helped hundreds of business owners improve their businesses and lives.

The King of Can-do and the 'Lazy' Entrepreneur have a mountain of knowledge they're happy to share.

Could you DOUBLE your business 1% at a time?

Could you grow your business by just 1% this week? That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Well, if you could grow your business by just 1% every week, after 69 weeks, you’d have DOUBLED your business!

These 1% gains are the same techniques used by the British Cycling Team that helped them turn a bunch of “also-rans” into world beaters, notching up forty-two medals in the last four Olympics, as well as winning six of the last seven Tour De France races.

The One Percent Club will show you EXACTLY how to implement these 1% gains into your business, and how they can stack up to REALLY grow your business.

John released his first book “Big Ideas… for Small Businesses” in 2017, and it shot straight to the #1 bestseller list for Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Amazon, outselling books by Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne combined.

Since then, it’s sold thousands and thousands of copies all over the world, and attracted more than 100 five-star reviews. But more importantly, it’s changed the lives of small business owners all over the world, who now understand that running a lifestyle business isn’t a bad thing.

I think you’ll like it…

PO Box 74,
Plymouth, PL7 1ZN

Get Your FREE Chapter!

Time to see what all the 5 star reviews are about. Just fill in your details and we'll send you your free chapter

Please check your email inbox

Join the One Percent Club waiting list

Reserve your place by filling out your details and we'll let you know when the doors open

Success! We'll be in touch soon