This Daily Habit (with a Twist) Is the Cheat Code to Success, According to Russ Ruffino
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Russ Ruffino, founder and CEO of Clients on Demand, which helps small businesses attract clients using online advertising. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
Russ Ruffino: Every business needs great clients. If you can't attract clients consistently, your business is on life support. But most business owners are so focused on what they do that they don't have time to learn about things like online marketing.
I created Clients on Demand to solve that problem. When your marketing is dialed in, you can attract the right clients, at the right price, whenever you want. Then you have total freedom in your business to focus on doing what you love — without worrying where the next client will come from.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Russ Ruffino: Empathy. I’m not sure I would call it a skill, but it's the key to great marketing. We live in a world where we're bombarded by information. With all the ranting on social media, many people don’t feel understood.
When everything is said and done, that’s what your clients want — to be understood. They want to know you understand their problems and concerns on a deep, personal level, and that you have the answers they need. The key to creating trust is to show clients that you know exactly how they feel, and how to fix what's wrong. When you can do that, everything else is simple.
What are the core values that guide your business, and why did you pick them?
Russ Ruffino: Our number one priority is tangible, measurable results. We're a coaching company, so if we're not getting our clients results, then why bother?
Some coaching and consulting firms focus on motivation, helping clients feel good, or pumping them up at a seminar for three days. Then they ditch them as soon as it's all over. Our relentless focus on results produces some amazing outcomes for our clients — and transformations that go beyond just business growth.
What book changed your life?
Russ Ruffino: “The 4-Hour Work Week” changed my life. Its radical ideas caused me to question everything I thought I knew about running a company. It caused me to question what’s possible.
Is it possible to run a company that's completely virtual, with no office? (We do.) Is it possible to grow a company to $20 million in revenue without any outside funding? (We have.) Is it possible to have income, freedom, and impact? (We help our clients achieve this success all the time.)
This book showed me that conventional wisdom is a recipe for conventional results. When 91 percent of small businesses never top $1 million in annual revenue, conventional results aren't great. You have to question the assumptions everyone else makes. You have to think differently.
What was your biggest challenge starting in business? How did you overcome it?
Russ Ruffino: Lack of capital was the biggest challenge in the beginning. I refused to take outside funding because I believed that a great company — especially a services company — should be able to be self-funded. When you refuse to take anyone’s money and commit to maintaining 100 percent ownership, it forces you to be resourceful. But the benefits are life-changing.
We help clients overcome this challenge in the same way we did. In the beginning, your priority should be making sales while staying as lean as possible. We encourage our service-based clients to have one signature big-ticket offer that’s priced between $3,000 and $10,000. If they don’t have one, we help them develop it. Then we run ads on social media and funnel prospects through a simple process designed to turn clicks into clients. This allows them to be cash-flow positive from the get-go.
What is great leadership?
Russ Ruffino: Great leadership is defining a vision where everyone wins and empowering your team to live that vision.
When you're a good leader, you realize it's not about you. Your clients are coming to you for an outcome — and that's priority number one. Your team wants to make a difference and serve the world in a big, wonderful way while hitting their income goals at the same time. How can you facilitate that? You also have your own goals for your lifestyle, income, and the impact you want to make. A great leader never leaves anyone behind. They serve everyone and help them be their best.
How do you hire top talent?
Russ Ruffino: Intelligence, energy, and integrity are the most important characteristics to look for when assessing talent. You need A-players who are smarter than you. You need people with loads of energy who strongly believe in doing the right thing no matter the cost.
To find those people, we use personality testing and a rigorous interview process. I’m a huge believer in tests like Kolbe, the Big Five personality test, and the DISC profile. The results tell us about everything from how the applicant likes to work to where they’ll fit best in the company and how well they’ll get along with the team.
We like to hire specialists who are brilliant at one thing more than we hire generalists. Because we’re a coaching company, we also offer our team high-performance coaching so we get the very best from everyone. Our people believe that we're making the world a better place. They can see our clients’ results with their own eyes, so they're willing to walk through fire to help them win.
Which single habit gives you 80 percent of your results?
Russ Ruffino: The most important daily habit is gratitude — with a twist. You want to be grateful for what you have of course, but you should also spend time in gratitude for what you don't have yet.
This is the "cheat code" to life: you think of what you want as if you’ve already accomplished it. Feel the joy and gratitude. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes in the morning and at night, and you will have the power to achieve goals that seem impossible to others.
What are you working on right now?
Russ Ruffino: We're working on scaling the company to $100 million in annual revenue while keeping the business 100 percent virtual and continuing to get great results for our clients.
Everyone on our team works from home today, and we have team members all over the world. Most companies see their client outcomes get worse as they grow. We want to see ours get better as we get bigger.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
Russ Ruffino: Our clients win every day. Their businesses and incomes grow. But more importantly, they're able to serve the world in a bigger, more wonderful way.
We have clients who are relationship coaches, and they're saving marriages every day. We have clients who are doctors, and they use our marketing to attract patients they can help with problems like IBS, hormone imbalances, or worse. Every client we help succeed changes hundreds of lives. Our marketing has something to do with that — and I think that's a pretty awesome legacy.