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The Big Interview: Digital Entrepreneur John Rampton

John Baker 6 years ago

John Rampton is a serial entrepreneur, connector and online influencer, who writes for news sites such as Huffington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur.com.

He was recently recognised as number three in the Entrepreneur magazine top 50 most influential marketers in the world as a result of his work launching several successful digital start ups.

John, who grew up in Salt Lake City but now lives in California, has spoken all over the world, coaching start-ups to grow from small to billion dollar businesses.
It hasn’t all been easy however, he only learned online marketing while confined to his bed after a construction accident - but his own successes have included Pixloo, Due, Adogy, and Founder Space, a Silicon Valley incubator for startups.

In short he's exactly the sort of person Zazzle loves - smart, agile and full of cutting edge digital ideas and so we couldn't wait to interview him for the latest in our Big Interview series.

Who are your inspirations?

I really like reading books and one of my inspirations is Robert Kiyosaki. His book Rich Dad Poor Dad had a major effect on my life, with the principle of buying a house, paying it off, get into real estate, use money to buy a business so you don’t have to work for anyone else.

On the Monday I read the book, on the Wednesday I found some people who also like it and talked with them about it, and on the Friday I purchased my first ever piece of real estate. It was quite a week. That’s how my life is – I learn about something and then I do it. You’ve got to have the conviction to try things.

Have you ever spoken to someone and known straight away that you wouldn’t invest in them?

Absolutely. I’ve also invested in people where I thought their idea was absolutely ridiculous, and an idea that I would never dream of doing, but I invested in them as people. Sometimes I tell people that I think their project will fail, but I want to participate in their future.

How important are communication skills in marketing?

Communication skills are important, but not necessarily the driving force. You can be poor at speaking as long as you have a massive will and driving force to try.

You don’t have to be a great public speaker to own a Fortune 500 company – probably half the CEOs at these companies are not great at communication or marketing, but they are brilliant at driving things on. Look at Steve Jobs – he was a motivator who made people worship him when he got on the stage. Was he the best at writing? Probably not. Was he good at marketing? Not really. But he was great with people.

You can learn these skills a certain extent. Another example is Mark Zuckerberg. He sucked with people and he probably won’t ever have the communication skills of a Larry Ellison or Richard Branson, but he’s learned and anyone can have a conversation with him. That’s why we all have different members in our teams with different skills.

How did your accident as a young person change you? (On his website John writes: “in 2006 I was working at a construction site trying to pay for college when I was run over by a large skidster. It snapped my left leg in half and pretty much crushed my dreams of walking again. Over the next 12 months I was confined to only my bed being sponge-bathed. I had 3 surgeries and was told that I would never walk again.”)

Experiences in life make us what we are and shape us in different ways. If I hadn’t had that accident then I might not be in exactly the same place, but I’m a strong believer that we are pre-destined to do certain things. Had I not been run over in my younger years I might not be exactly where I am now. I wanted to be a salesperson and I was pretty good at it.

What are your great successes?

I used to have a company called Pixloo, which did very well (a site for helping people sell properties online which acquired 86,000 customers and more than 1,200 leads to agents in 42 days). That was a huge success but I’ve had failures as well. I’ve made money but I’ve lost it as well, and I don’t equate success with money. My blogs have reached 10s of millions of people and those are my biggest wins.

I had someone reach out to me on Twitter five years ago and a little while later I spoke to him on the phone. He didn’t know what to do in life, so I said to him: “Here’s the path I would choose, but you have to go with whatever makes you happy.”

A year later he was on the right path, and a year after that he had moved from a little town to Silicon Valley. He’s now a large person in Twitter and helped them through the IPO (Initial Public Offering). So I look at that progression from conversation to a high level person as a win.

Another person reached out to me on Facebook and said she was having a hard time. She had four kids, and was a divorced single mum. I just walked her through life and she’s now a successful blogger able to support her mum. I’m also about to become a father for the first time.

These are the big wins in life, bigger than running a successful company and the nine figures.

If you could have dinner with three people from any time or place, who would they be?

Martin Luther King is a great inspiration, as is Robert Kiyosaki whose book I mentioned earlier. The other person is (inspirations speaker) Tony Robbins who I have met before. I would love to have a one on one dinner with him to shoot the breeze.

What are your future predictions for marketing?

I believe the marketing world is going to become more and more personalised, and those who aren’t personalising messages to people will be left behind. No longer are you just able to write a blog post. Now it needs to be ten blog posts to ten different demographics.

There will be a lot more work involved and the products will need to be tailored to different segments. For example, a billboard will change as a person walks by, and a different product might appear for different cultures.

Each website you visit will have ten thousand different experiences for the demographics that visit. Those who embrace the change will benefit - those that don’t, won’t.

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