PPM 21 | You First Thousand Clients


They say that we are defined by the company that we keep. For Mitch Russo, host of the podcast Your First Thousand Clients, his success has been defined by the things he learned during the time that he was in the company with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes as their mentor. Mitch shares how he has been empowered by his mentors and how his exposure to other great people has prepared him for this breakthrough in his career.

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Your First Thousand Clients: Birthing A Podcast with Mitch Russo

I am pleased to bring on Mitch Russo, who has a podcast called Your First Thousand Clients. Mitch, thank you so much for making time. Welcome to our big International Podcast Day event.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you, Tom, for having me.

Mitch, we’ve talked a lot. We’ve been working with you and your show for a long time. One of the things that I did in preparation was to go look at your bio. I don’t think I’d done that in as much detail as I had in the past. I had no idea and maybe I should have and shame on me, but I had no idea you worked with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes as CEO of Business Breakthroughs International. You have quite a resume in business and are very well connected. I knew you were a great connector of people to us, but I did not understand that. That’s fascinating. You must have some amazing stories from that experience.

I do. It was one of the most beautiful times of my life to be able to be mentored and work side-by-side with both Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes for five years. I would say that other than being mentored, we developed what I think of is a wonderful friendship that will transcend time for sure in Chet’s case because Chet and I had been friends for almost 30 years. When he passed away, I was by his side in the hospital with him. He said his last words to me before he passed. I was at his memorial and I read both Tony Robbins memorial to him as well as my own. It was a very tough period of my life when all that was happening. I chose at that point to step away from Business Breakthroughs. I thought that in some ways it was Chet’s way of telling me it was time for me to step out on my own. That’s what I did.

Being involved in that business must have connected you to a great many high-level people.

Yes and you can see that reflected in my guest list to some degree.

PPM 21 | Your First Thousand Clients

Your First Thousand Clients: We’ve all had our ups and downs in life. Frankly, the downs can be a lot more instructive than the ups.


Mitch’s podcast is Your First Thousand Clients, which is a great name. It grabs everybody’s attention when they see it. Your guest list is all very high-level business people. It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to get those guests. It does you a lot of credit for your show, your web traffic and in your business in general.

It does and you’ve been a big part of that, Tom. Thank you for helping me optimize those fantastic interviews and get that traffic that you’re so good at doing in terms of the show notes and the website and everything else.

Thank you. That’s our pleasure. We try to help you and all of our people get the most out of their show. That’s what it’s all about. You’re going to put in all this time and effort recording the content and you need to get as much out of it as you can. Your First Thousand Clients, is there anything in there that says you want to get to a thousand interviews or episodes at some point or is it more metaphorical?

I’ll tell you the story of the name itself because it might be interesting to some. When I first had the idea of a podcast, I decided that I was going to call it Ultimate Wisdom or Unlimited Wisdom. Being the list of people that I have access to and the people I could talk to, I figured that would be a way of bringing some pretty smart people into the spotlight. Then I realized that it wouldn’t help my business at all except it would be fun to do. My business at the time and still is, is building certification programs for my clients. One of the requirements of a prospect to become a client is that they need a thousand clients. My thinking was that if I had a podcast called Your First Thousand Clients, I would attract my ideal prospect as my guests. You might say I don’t even need to air any of the shows. I need to interview and spend an hour to an hour-and-a-half with some of these amazing people and build that relationship. Hopefully, not many but some have turned into clients and turned out to make the podcast quite worthwhile in terms of both effort and money.

I’m so glad you shared that with us because that is really key. There are many different reasons people start a podcast. There are many different ways that podcasters measure success. We had one other guest on by the name of Bob Roark. He does not care how many downloads his episode gets. His podcast is all about a VIP guest strategy developing and building a relationship with those guests for future business they would do together. That’s a very valid reason for having a show. Because I know you a bit better, you watch the downloads. You care, “Are people watching and benefiting from it?” as I think you should. It’s great that you’re providing those nuggets of wisdom, those interviews with your guests to a wider public audience. You’re sharing that with them for their own benefit to learn from them. That’s fantastic.

I enjoy the interaction. I’ll be honest, I’m not getting a ton of fan mail or anything like that. I get occasional messages from people. I got an appointment with somebody, who at the end of setting up the appointment said, “Thank you for keeping me company on my runs this last year.” Apparently, this person listens to my show every time they go out for a run. Since I have over 115 episodes or so, they must have been starting in episode one and moving forward because they knew exactly who my last guest was. I do know that there are listeners. I know that some people like it. The reaction I’ve gotten from guests as well. One of the things I do, I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this with you, but before a guest comes on, I ask them for their bio as everybody does. I never ever read their bio.

To be mentored by Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes is one of the most beautiful times a person can ever have in his life. Click To Tweet

I write a story about the information in their bio about them. Every time I bring a person on, I turned it into a little bit of a two-paragraph mystery story. I tell a story about their background, their past, their experience. I brought Marshall Sylver on. I don’t know if you know who Marshall is. Marshall is an international magician and hypnotist, and one of the most amazing business minds I’ve met in a long time. He said that in all the years of interviews he’s done all over the world, the intro I read for him was the best he’s ever heard. I take pride in that because I spend time crafting the intro for every single show. I don’t like to read them because they’re self-aggrandizing, “I was a Phi Beta Kappa. I built this company. I sold this company.” Instead, I’d rather tell a story and it usually follows The Hero’s Journey pattern. We try to use that as a model for introducing them because we’ve all had our ups and downs in life. Frankly, the downs can be a lot more instructive than the ups, if you know what I mean.

I’ve experienced it. I know exactly what you mean. The Hero’s Journey always does involve a crash at some point. It’s pivotal to good storytelling quite honestly. I respect that. I studied under somebody to learn to be a better salesperson for my own business and even I use The Hero’s Journey as a path in my conversation with a potential customer. It works very well. You write that story, that’s unique. I’ve never heard anybody else tell me that they write a little story about their guests’ bio before they interview them, but I admire that. You’re definitely putting the time in to get to know who they are ahead of time and having a more meaningful interview with them as a result.

The other thing I do is if they have a book, I generally download the book. I read some, most or all of their book before the interview. The reason I do that is because honestly it makes for a whole lot more interesting conversation. Probably my favorite one and example is Dr. Steven Gundry, the author of The Plant Paradox. When I heard about this book, I bought it, I read it, it changed the way I thought about food and he made some statements in the book that I found to be amazing, almost unbelievable.

I sought him out to be on my show, not because he fits the mold of First Thousand Clients but because I knew that because he talks about food and talks about our lifestyle and potentially our longevity and our happiness in this human vehicle that we occupy for about a hundred years or so. I figured it would be interesting for everybody to hear, including the controversial questions that I asked him about some of the things he states. One of the things he stated in the book is that he’s never met a healthy vegetarian. I had to call him to the mat on that and find out what he meant. I had that opportunity because I have a podcast.

I think that’s sometimes a daunting thought to podcast hosts because often a guest has a book that they’re promoting, whether it’s current or fairly recent. The daunting aspect being to try to find the time to read that book in its entirety before an interview is a reasonable concern for people. If you have the time, that’s wonderful. I’m not a very fast reader. I love to read but I’m not a fast one so that might be tough for me. I got a great tip from another podcaster here on the International Podcast Day. He got a great tip, I’m going to forget who he got it from, but he shared it with us. Because he was at FinCon in Florida and talking with a lot of other podcasters and interviewers, he said he was told, “Get their book and at least read one chapter, pick one entire chapter that you find of interest, read that and then that can inform you more and give some good insight into some intelligent questions to ask them.” I’m actually going to use that advice myself going forward.

PPM 21 | Your First Thousand Clients

Power Tribes: How Certification Can Explode Your Business

We’ll have to get a book cover for you so you can put it up with the rest of them behind you. My first book was The Invisible Organization. My second book is called Power Tribes.

I wanted to ask you because you have done so many interviews and had so many high-powered people, do you have a favorite that stands out that you’ve interviewed?

I know it’s going to sound a little weird, but I fall in love with all of my guests. What I mean by that is that I enjoy and I won’t say everyone because there are some people that are not a personality fit for me, so I do my best. There are some that I bond with on these shows. Michael Gerber, the author of E-Myth. I spent a lot of time together preparing for his show. It was like a tour de force. It was almost like a stage performance. The man is so incredible at 80-plus years old that stands out. Dr. Gundry was another one. There are so many amazing people. Perry Marshall who is brilliant in every way. We had a fantastic time. Brian Kurtz, another amazing individual. There are so many people. It’s hard to name them all. I could look behind you and see a lot of my friends behind you, the Courtright’s behind you and Steve Gordon and all the people that I love and know and have been on my show as well. Steve has been on my show and he was a great guest too. Dan Kuschell is on my show. We had a lot of fun and became much tighter as friends because of that show as well.

That’s part of what I love about the world of podcasting myself, both as a podcast host and as a provider of services to podcasters is I get to talk to podcasters every day, find out about what they’re passionate about and help them find a path to achieve success. Bringing their unique message to the world. It’s always fun and different every day. I truly love it, which I did not expect going into it. I don’t know if that’s because I hadn’t given it that much thought about the process and enjoying the journey of this business or I was focused on other aspects of business and then as it happens, I started drawing it. You can tell I’m not the best itself analysis, but I truly enjoy it. I can understand why you had so much fun with those.

The Courtright’s came on. I got Ken and Kerri both to do this. We both know them well. In fact, that’s how you and I met at their event in Los Angeles, The Digital Footprint. When I put out the call for everyone to sign up to participate in this event, everybody signed up within 24 hours. I messaged out to Ken’s people to see if he would be on. I reserved a slot for him hoping he could do it. I didn’t get an answer. I eventually filled up the slot. I get a text message as I’m already in this live event saying, “Ken and Kerri can come on at 2:00 PM Central, can you do it?” It was funny. I had to call Audible. I had somebody who didn’t show up. I shifted the schedule a little bit. I ended up making it work, but it was unplanned. Ken is never on Facebook because he doesn’t participate in Facebook. It was great to get him in and Kerri on. It was wonderful. I am appreciative of you as someone who helps sing our praises as a business. It’s been a pleasure to work with you, to support you but also you introduced us to a lot of people. That’s tremendously valuable to us. Mitch, any final thoughts you’d like to share with either existing or potential podcasters out there before we end this little session?

When you take the time to craft even little parts of every single show, it is something you can take pride on. Click To Tweet

I say that if anybody has a question or would like to connect with me, I’m very open with my time when it comes to other podcasters. If I could help you in any way through advice or connections, go look at my list of guests. If there’s anybody that I could introduce you to, just let me know.

Mitch, thank you so much. I do appreciate it. Thanks for joining us on International Podcast Day.

My pleasure, Tom. Talk to you soon.

Take care.


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About Mitch Russo

PPM 21 | Your First Thousand Clients

My experience dates back to 1978 when I started working as an Electrical Engineer at Digital Equipment Corp in Maynard, MA. I migrated to application engineering for Mostek (a semiconductor company) and then to selling chips to large and small companies alike.

In 1985, I entered the software business as the founder of Timeslips Corp (sold to Sage Plc) after creating the largest network of Certified Consultants in the software industry, helping Intuit Corp create their own Certified Quickbooks Accountant Network as well. After selling my company, I then ran Sage Plc in the US as the COO, with over 300 staff. Moving back to Boston, I then found myself involved in the VC community, first as an advisor to startups and then as the CEO of the largest furniture shopping site early in 2000; FurnitureFan.com.

As a CEO Advisor, sometimes to several companies at the same time, I participated in many different business types, solving many diverse types of problems in sales organizations, marketing, technology, systems and H/R related issues. I later became interested in options trading and mentored with a floor trader at The Chicago Board of Options Exchange. Then, in 2007, responding to my friend Chet Holmes request to help solve a problem, I became involved with his business.

I wasn’t always the CEO/President of Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes Business Breakthroughs joint venture, I started at the bottom, part-time helping recruit salespeople for Chet. As part of that assignment, I built the recruitment division for Chet and tripled his sales force. I used his basic tools and systematized them, using policies & procedures along with my innovative software processes to improve results. I built that into a $1M division for the company in the first year.

Later, as I discovered how to leverage our client relationships by getting deeper into their businesses. I created another division, this time, focused on assisting our existing clients; I built the concierge organization I called Client Services. The whole business had nearly 300 people and everything was virtual; we had no physical infrastructure, we all worked from home. I ran a $25M+ business from my spare bedroom converted to a home office. I learned so much from Chet, more than anyone, he prepared me for what I do today.

Chet died in August of 2012, and the company was not the same for me so I resigned at the end of 2012. Later, as 2013 came to a close, I went on to write my Amazon #1 Best Seller: The Invisible Organization, which is a detailed blueprint explaining step-by-step how to transform a traditional physical infrastructure into a virtual powerhouse of a company. And then turn that organization into a marketing superpower.

Since then, I have been involved in several exciting projects, including a partnership with Kevin Harrington, launching a new brand on the radio. I help companies leverage their radio presence and the leads that flow from massive campaigns, so this was a natural fit. You can read more about that here.

I’ve helped hundreds of coaches build a profitable practice through my Master Class and through private client relationships.

Now, my greatest passion is helping CEOs get extreme leverage by building independent “tribes” of Certified Consultants. This builds loyalty with your best clients and deeply engaging them through a powerful, integrated community which happens to drive massive profits year after year. Having done it for my own company and for clients, I’ve built powerful tools for my clients to license their IP and deploy their own Certified Consultant program quickly and successfully.


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