My favorite part of the book is your story about driving that beat-up old car and having to park 10 blocks away before going into your clients.
To kind of give off this perception of being an expert and you didn’t want your old car to interfere with that.
Can you kind of give us a little bit of a background into how you became an expert at being an expert and kind of what that journey was?
David C. Baker
Sure, I grew up overseas., my parents were medical missionaries, so my upbringing was very odd in that I didn’t come to the US to live until I was 18.
We lived way up in the mountains with no electricity or running water roads or stores. So I was really green came to the U S. I was headed to a teaching field.
Into the teaching field, I spent five full years in grad school, and to help put myself through grad school, I decided to start a firm, a marketing firm thinking how hard could this possibly be?
It turned out to be quite a bit harder than I thought, but they’re just weren’t many good examples that I’d never worked at one.
So I just started one, made a lot of mistakes, and did some things well.
About five years into that,
I began to advise other principals simply because somebody who had a publication in the field asked me to contribute some articles and I decided to write them.
It was fun and then he asked me to help them do some seminars and I did that.
Then all of a sudden I realized I’m having so much more fun doing this than I am doing what I was doing, running a firm.
It was a small 16% firm. And I realized at the time.
The world didn’t necessarily need another one of those firms, but it probably did need somebody who could advise principals about how they were running their businesses.
So it was a very quick transition.
That was 20 sets. That was 94. So however long ago, that was almost 28 years ago. Wow. And it from the very beginning, well, within a year this is how accidental it was just honestly, I needed to buy credibility.
So I was doing some direct mail, which is what you did back then and then I was also buying a full-page ad in communication arts, which was still around. The publication is still around and phone conversations.
I would be talking with a prospect and say, well, I’m sure you saw my full page ad and communication arts and of course, they hadn’t, but all I wanted to do is tell them that it was there.
And, but it just was so expensive. It was $5,000 a month. And I just simply couldn’t afford that.
So I thought, well, what if I started an email list? And people gave me their email addresses in exchange for sending them stuff that was useful to them. And that was the beginning of this way before Google or Amazon or any of those companies, even before ISP or ESPs.
And I had a server in my living room and it just started to take off. People were really interested in the stuff. And so that started a little basically a writing career.
I think of myself more as a writer who also advises and spreads the word and then of course, when Google came along, I had already given Google something to work with.
And that’s, that’s the short story, basically that is, I just stumbled on a lot of the right things accidentally. And, it’s been an interesting journey.
How Expert Positioning Opens Doors
So would you say that a lot of, your pathway to getting to being an expert was through writing and formulating your thoughts?
David C. Baker
Right, but not because the writing attracted clients, but because the writing forced me to articulate what I believed and in the process, it attracted others.
So I was essentially just thinking out loud in public. I don’t think of myself as a thought leader or a public intellectual.
I was just simply thinking out loud.
So as other people listened in on the conversations I was having with myself, they just. Oh, maybe there’s something here.
Maybe we should work together and, it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t give this stuff away.
I just thought, well, this helps me to figure out what I believe, what I think and I’m so embarrassed that I’m so afraid.
So terrified of being embarrassed in public, that it puts a lot of pressure to think through this stuff pretty carefully and to make as few mistakes as possible.