In this episode, Sean discusses the ever-expanding nature of being an entrepreneur. As Sean’s entrepreneurial goals have evolved, so has his definition of making it. From coffee in Tokyo to playing the long game, there’s just no end to making it.
Welcome to Making It! This weekly show explores the lives and stories of entrepreneurs as they share their unique perspectives on their success and the path to making it.
Sean D’Souza,founder of Psycho Tactics, helps businesses develop marketing strategies based on the psychology of buyers. Sean explains his view of how a buyer’s decision boils down to a combination of risk and like. Simply listening, observing and putting yourself in another’s shoes are the keys to finding the sweet spot.
In this episode of Making It, Sean pieces together his own journey from writer to cartoonist to marketing strategist and the influences that shaped his path. Not only have Sean’s entrepreneurial goals evolved, so has his view of what it means to make it. For Sean, making it is a never-ending process that continually evolves. While he still believes that the mark of success is having the resources and time to live on your own terms, he also feels that as a successful entrepreneur, you never really make it - you just keep making it.
“We tend to think that people are unpredictable, but people have very few things that they are looking for.”
– Sean D’Souza
Sean D’Souza is the founder of Psycho Tactics. Sean was taught early in life that education requires deconstruction. When you run into something that’s complex, you have to break it down into tiny components and then reassemble them to gain mastery in any subject. After reading Good to Great by Jim Collins, Sean decided he wanted to master deconstructing complex topics. He had been an entrepreneur since college and knew that building his own business was his chosen path. Sean leveraged his keen interest in and studies of psychology together with his ability to dissect and reassemble and set out to answer the toughest marketing questions: Why people buy and why they don’t.
For nearly two decades, Sean has been answering these questions for clients all over the world through speaking events, workshops, consulting and courses. Sean’s normal work day begins when the clock strikes four. He says it’s the best part of the morning, and it helps him focus on the nitty-gritty of the human brain and why it does what it does. Sean is as much respected by his clients for his integrity as he is for the results he helps clients achieve. Psychotactics Philosophy—Care, Guidance and Protection.
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I'm Sean D'Souza and you're listening to Making It! I run a business called Psycho Tactics. Yes, you heard that right. It's Psycho Tactics. And what we do is we look at why customers buy and why they don't. And that pretty much takes up all of our day.
So I moved to New Zealand and I would meet with these agencies and then I would go on holiday sometimes and and then I would get in touch with them and they would say, "Oh where were you?" We had this really big $3,000 job and, I get really annoyed with myself because I not only lost the $3,000, but I also opened the door to competition, which is why I started reading books at the public library. Which is another really cool thing because I didn't have that in India.
When I went to the public library here in Auckland New Zealand, I could get access to all these books and I just got a 30 books at the time, started reading them and then found, "Oh I'm really interested in marketing..." or copywriting or something to that effect. And I started writing articles online; this is back in 2000. It was in six point and I don't know if you know point size but six point is like... you need a magnifying glass to read it. And there was no subscribe button, there was, like, you read a lot and then it just said, "If you would like to subscribe, click here," and just the click here had a little hyperlink under it. And 1000 people subscribed, not in one day, but we had a list of 1000 people. So I don't know maybe the internet was more, more gullible back then. More trusting back then. But it kind of showed us that it worked and that's kind of where we started.
So I heard this the other day on a podcast and someone said, what do you do for a living? And the answer was "I listen for a living." And that's kind of it kind of takes your breath away when you realize that that's what you do. You listen. You put yourself in the other person's place. So the psychology of how the other person thinks is mostly not about some fancy thing... but about listening or watching what are they doing. And then when they don't do something the way you expect them to do, why didn't they do it? We tend to think that people are very unpredictable, but people have very few things that they're looking for and basically they're looking for things like risk and if there is a certain amount of risk then they don't like that situation and then they get to a point where, "Okay I don't have that much risk, but I don't like it that much." And if I were to boil things down to how I understand the world it is just risk and like.
The reason I got into business was just to make money like everybody else. But the thing is that most of my family, all my uncles were, most of them were, in business. I have a lot of uncles by the way, my father comes from a family of seven brothers, so there were six brothers excluding him. About four or five of them were already in business. And then my grandfather also had a couple of restaurants and I learned recently that my great grandmother also had her restaurant. So I don't see it as genes. That's nonsense. You don't have a restaurant gene or a business gene. But I definitely see it as an environment. And it was not discouraged. I know other families, like for instance, my wife's family, where a job was encouraged and doing anything by yourself was not seen as a good thing and it was not discouraged.
So when I was in university I got a chance to go and meet someone at a magazine and I drew a cartoon for them, which is what I used to do and they paid me for it and I thought, oh, this is cool. Which led to another cartoon and a whole bunch of cartoons and soon I was paying for my motorcycle and for fridges and... just on the basis of cartoons. So that's how I kind of got into business. It wasn't, "Oh, I have to get into business!" It was like, "Okay, let's make some money."
What I did recognize as I was growing up is that, my father, he used to teach shorthand and typing and I did a short course with him and it kind of showed me how every time he did the same course it was different. And that kind of fascinated me that even back then when we didn't know about apps and software that he was always improving it just a little bit, and then the next time just a little bit. And changing it and testing it, doing all the stuff that we do today with technology. But he was doing it with this course and I think that's kind of what sat with me.
You know as a cartoonist I learned this a long time ago which is: I used to draw cartoons once a week and it was a big problem. But when I started drawing a comic strip once a day, because one of the newspapers wanted it, that became easier at that precise point when I started drawing a comic strip once a day which is five days a week. The second newspaper also approved one of my comic strips. So I have to do two comic strips every day. And you would think that's terrible. But something that you do on a consistent basis, every single day, is what makes you faster and more fluent. You get better at it and you work out systems where everything is very quick, it's like the way you walk the way you drive, you don't have to think about it anymore. And that's where I see most businesses struggle, which is they start and they stop and they start and they stop. Whenever anybody asks me, "Should I do this on YouTube?" I go, "Do you have a plan for 2029? Like do you have that plan if you don't, I don't think it's going to work." Making it the way I defined it was to be able to have a coffee at any time, any place with any person. And what this meant was, of course now it's difficult, but the way I explained that concept was that making it meant that I could have a coffee in Tokyo with you at any time and that my work wouldn't be a barrier in it. Whatever I'm doing wouldn't be a barrier. So I would have the resources, I would have the time and I could meet anyone I wanted and that's the way I look at making it. I still think that's the benchmark of what it means.
The biggest lesson that I've learned is quite contradictory to what you call making it and that is that you never made it. It's just this ongoing process which seems, again, more complicated. Nicer, more complicated along the way, in the sense that today I have hobbies that I didn't have 10 years ago, you know? I do a diary every day. I go and take like 1000 - 3000 photographs a month. But also I didn't do any podcasts. I didn't do so many things. And so when I look back at 2000, I was just writing, the only thing I was doing. The whole week was writing a newsletter. Just one newsletter.
I think at that point in time I had this naive concept that if I just had a newsletter and a membership site or if I had a news that a membership site and three products, I'd be okay. And I think that it would have been a pretty good plan, but over the years you just get bored with just doing the minimum amount, like what most people seem to dream of, which is, oh, I can only spend four hours a week and I'd be so great. It's a very boring life. And so eventually you start stacking up more things to do and then the balance is like, wait a second, you still need to work X number of hours in a day and still need to waste the time that you need still need to spend it on your hobbies and stuff like that. And I think that's kind of how I define making it, but it's not, it's I mean, it's just still work in progress. I don't know when it'll stop. I'm pretty sure it will.
I'm Sean D'Souza and you've just been listening to Making It! You can find me at Psycho Tactics, yes, the site hasn't changed since I last announced it, so psychotactics.com and we'll see you there when you get there. Thank you.