Even the most challenging people have things that put a smile on their face. When you take the time to truly know someone – beyond the role they play in a transaction or in society – it's easier to uncover what makes them happy. And then use your new knowledge to your advantage... no to manipulate them, but rather to help them get what they want.
Dr Sundardas: Hi welcome David. Welcome to another episode of Life by Design. Gives me great pleasure to introduce David Baer, who is a veteran direct response marketer who first started his career selling classical music subscriptions online at the dawn of email marketing through his consulting firm Baer on Marketing of thing.
David has served clients in industries ranging from ads to wine, to professional services and wellness. David is also a creative partner with the Prepared Group. The amazing thing about David and his connectedness and his awareness of how to sell people and their needs. And the very first time I met him, he was connecting people to me. I'd never met before to his portfolio of clients. And I was agreeing, man, is he connected? So David, tell us more about your superpower.
Since then, his copy and strategic guidance have earned his employers and clients millions in sales. Through his consulting firm, Baer On Marketing, David has served clients in industries ranging from the Arts to Wine to Professional Services and Wellness. David is also a Creative Partner with The Prepared Group.
David: You know, Sundardas, it's, it's funny, you, you mentioned this some shortly after we met, you said, you know, that was what attracted you to to, you know, follow up with me. And it's something that frankly I wasn't aware of and I take for granted. So I, I appreciate you taking time to point that out. Observing people and their their needs and obviously, you know, when appropriate I will try to help them. That's just, you know, it's what I do. I take that for granted.
Dr Sundardas: Yep. Let's try. It happens through all our superpowers. We take it for granted and we breathe in and out and we think that is what we do, what your partner told you about your superpower?
David: Oh, sure. So, so he, he he put somebody on my schedule for actually later today and and he, and he said, I want you to help him meet a whole bunch of coaches. And I said, Oh, I, you know, I, I used to work with a bunch of coaches. I don't work with coaches anymore. I don't know any coaches. And he said, sure, you do. And he started rattling off all the people who I know. And again, I sort of just took that for granted that I, you know, I, I didn't realize how many people are in my, you know, internal Rolodex that I can call up at any moment. And yeah, sure. As soon as the guy and I started talking this afternoon, I say, Oh, I know the perfect person for, for your situation. So yeah, it's, it's it's not something I'm aware of, but something that I guess I ought to be leveraging a great deal more.
Dr Sundardas: Yep. In fact the role of that says something that there are many organizations and people, and the only thing they offer you, the Rolodex and people pay good money for that, because, you know I just connected a partner I've known for years, it's been a partner, just met for the partner. I know for 20 years brings in special technology and deal from all over the world. He needs people that you can an organization, that you can enter into contractual agreements with. Now. I just knew one guy, and this guy knows about 25% of the world, the movers and shakers and 25% of the world. So yeah, but delighted with me connecting them and I'm going, Oh my God, I'm so lucky.
David: Excellent. It's, it's some something I remember learning from, from Jay Abraham years ago, where he talks about the, the ability to play arbitrage, to be in the middle of something and have this uncommon ability to observe what one party is in need of. And they have no idea that the solution exists over, over, you know, here on the other side where another party has access to it. And if you have the ability to recognize those needs and those have built and the the assets, and you can make that connection you can make, you know,
Dr Sundardas: Absolutely. And as a student of human nature and life and psychology, and the qualities that you have described for arbitrage, actually, not that common, they are a very special set of skill sets and first you have to keep track of people. Then you need to understand your preferences, likes and dislikes. And you also have to be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses, and you have to do all of this without being in their face about it.
David: Self-Awareness I imagine is not a very common trait. And, and so that, that alone, that alone disqualifies a large majority.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. And then you have the heat in your observations of people private, because some things they like to be told and others they don't, and you have to be able to tell the difference.
David: Wow. It sounds like a tall order. And so I can, I can imagine how a very uncommon that combination of traits would be.
Dr Sundardas: I mean, I model, I looked at internal skill sets. I recognize people were exceptional at what they do, because that's what I look for. I'm excited by that. I see that I go, Oh, wow. That's so cool. What can I learn from them? Right. So when I see it, I recognize it. And so my other partner that is connected to about 25% of the world, he's traveled to places that most Asians fear, gone there done businesses, we made a joke about it. We are starting a new company. And he said, you know, we need another director because I may be in the forest of Congo.
And I went “Indiana Andre”, and he said, we are truly brothers because I just thought of the same line. And he wasn't kidding. He actually does that is involved in multiple businesses and mining and gold and things like that, and petrol and power. And so you worked with multiple projects to really inhospitable terrains and build relationships, and then invite him.
David: I can imagine when you're in a, in a, a, an unfamiliar foreign environment, the importance of first having an open mind, second you know, treading lightly. But knowing that when you have a particular outcome that you're trying to achieve, that you have a probably very common process for entering into each of those situations. So it's a, probably a very skillful, skillful set of of activities that he has to pursue, but that's, I, I love the Indiana entre, Andre. That's great.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. And I figured that in some ways you're doing something similar yourself, I figured that in some ways, well,
David: I could say...
I'm, I'm certainly not a, an archeologist or a big project developer. But I do have process in everything that I do. And I think that that's the key to you know, in my business, my ability to keep on track and keep moving things forward is that I follow a path. I follow one step after another. And if and it helps me make sure that I don't miss things and it helps me make sure that when I'm serving clients that I'm covering all the things that my clients need from me as well.
Dr Sundardas: Absolutely. You know, I was fascinated by your early history in music and the things that you use to do that. Tell us a bit about that, because that was really, really, really fascinating.
David: Sure. So one of my very first jobs out of college was working at Lincoln center in Manhattan. I grew up in New York and I worked for the New York city opera doing national tours. And then I moved on to the theater industry and worked on and off Broadway. And I, some stage management, and then I ran up a performing arts center. And when it was running a performing arts center this was in the 1990s. We started to market to our our list of subscribers by email for the very first time. It was when everybody was starting to get email addresses. And it was back in the days of email marketing when everybody opened every single email that they got, which never, no, it doesn't happen these days. You know, if you get 20% these days you're lucky.
And so that's, that's my, my early background in marketing was really about communicating via email to share what, what you know, new, exciting program we were going to be offering and to get people motivated from reading email on, and nobody had these mobile phones that we all read email on now, but you know, logging on to their computer, dialing up with a modem and a hearing that the scratchy sound and, and the AOL voice saying you've got mail that's, that's my early marketing days.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. And how did that lead to what you're doing right now?
David: Indirectly, I will say that I had the benefit of attending a liberal arts college, which gave me the ability to move from one career path to another career path with great flexibility because I didn't study a particular you know, industry or discipline. So after after working in the arts, I went into the wine industry as an event producer. I, I produced large scale trade shows. And that brought me out here to where I live now just outside of Oregon's wine country in Portland, Oregon. The company I worked for fell apart imploded, and, and I had to figure out what to do next. And I started up a couple of little ventures. Couple of them failed and the one that stuck was my marketing work doing consulting. And it's taken different paths. I've worked as a mentioned a couple of minutes ago with coaches in the past. I've worked with wineries, I've worked with a lot of small mom and pop businesses. And in the last few years I've been working a great deal with the financial advisors and other professional services businesses following a very specific marketing strategy program.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. I was just talking to the someone else that interviewed before you about education and educational backgrounds. And I was talking about how many advent of AI is going to make all the standard models of education, like being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, somewhat redundant. But the kind of background that you've had, no AI could ever match it.
David: (laughs) I think that's, you know, that, that there's, there's an upside and a downside to that. And I, for, for a while before I went off to college, knew that I wanted to work in the theater and I wanted to be a stage manager, and I almost went off to a trade school to kind of learn that craft. You know, I would have to take a couple of obligatory classes in, in areas outside of theater, but I was just going to do that. And I'm so very happy that I chose the path that I chose, because it gave me exposure to so many things that I never…
Dr Sundardas: Yep. Yep. Got it. So if you had to do it all over again, what changes would you make? So if you had to do it all over again, what changes would you make?
David: You know, that that's a tricky one because I think I've had a great deal of fun and a great deal of success in, in my life business and, and personal. I made a few mistakes along the way when my job went away I was, you know, a marketing director for a wine importer. I had to scurry around and try to find a solution to that. And that's where a a series of mistakes ensued because I was in very unfamiliar territory.
Dr Sundardas: David, David It’s the true entrepreneur who makes mistakes.
David: I knew that, but this was the beginning. This was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. Because up until that point, I was just, somebody's one job after another. And and so I, I made a bunch of mistakes there. And yes, I fully recognize you know, that making mistakes is, is what the brand of an entrepreneur. But I, I started a few businesses. One of them failed. So disastrously that I lost all my money, all my savings, my retirement account was used to buy that business. And I actually ended up declaring bankruptcy, which as, as you point out, you know, that's another entrepreneurial trait. We take gambles, we take risks and sometimes the risk doesn't pay off. So, so I think that's w yeah in, in, in you know, in, in the Jewish world, we call that chutzpah.
David: But I, I gotta say we my family, my wife and I were really frightened at that moment because we'd never been in a position where we were dealing with not knowing what was going to happen next, the, the lack of what we thought was security, and we got through it. And what, what happened. And I think Sundardas, this is what you you know, are pointing out by saying entrepreneurs make mistakes as we learn from our mistakes. And there were so many lessons embedded in that series of foibles that I went through that I, you know, now, now that I get to the end of the answer, I realize maybe I should do that all over again, because I learned so much from the experience.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. And that's exactly the point. And yet people asking me about the same question and I asked them to tell me, you know, I really rough time, I almost died of a heart failure and all of that. And I would say, I wouldn't change anything because I wouldn't have the insights, the wherewithal the passion, the fire without that. Yeah.
David: I think also to a certain degree, given the type of business that I run, which is helping other businesses, I don't have the authority. If I hadn't gone through some of the things I went through, I don't have the authority to speak knowledgeably about some of the things that my clients are dealing with. And so, gosh now that I think about it, I think that everything that has happened along, my personal and professional career ought to remain, so not very much that I would do differently, I guess.
Dr Sundardas: Absolutely. Yeah. And I've survived all the sessions, right? So if somebody talks to me about entrepreneurship, I may not be a world-class business might have survived for entrepreneurs for recessions. And there are very few businesses in Singapore that, that, and so that might have ran through the wars, you know, coming out of it.
David: And, and, and, you know, you all ultimately having been through different recessions as you've been, you have a sense of how we're not necessarily in the worst position now, you know, the way that some people might see our current situation, that there are there ways to dig out of it. And, and it's a lot of what I'm doing these days is working with business owners who are really frightened about the situation. And, you know, I'm saying, let's, let's not get too caught up in, you know, the headlines of the day. Let's make sure that you have a solid foundation. And if you don't have a solid foundation, let's build that together right now. And that's going to get you through this bumpy period and help you, you know continue on down the path of, of, you know, greater success
Dr Sundardas: And a period last year. I mean, you might reflect back every time during a period of recession named anxiety, the fear, the panic drives me new heights of creativity.
Dr Sundardas: And and after that,
David: And I think that's, that's the, I was going to say, that's, that's something that most people don't really use to react or counteract a a bad situation is getting creative. How, you know, it's not the what am I going to do this, this this situation is beating me down. It's, you're, you're taking a very different approach, which is what can I do to get through this with as little damage as possible.
Dr Sundardas: Yep. And end result of all of that was I, I keep track of my business programs. And I think that this early this year was when I truly read through my black book and reflected all the way back for about after 2010 and 2005. And then I saw that he learned from every experience and change the pathway in the trajectory and it all added up. But while I'm busy in the trenches, I was not aware that I had was learning and doing stuff, but now I would review it and see the numbers that figures all that data points. And last year was truly when we laid the groundwork for the next 10 years. And you're already seeing the results,
David: Oh, this, this quickly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's, that's fantastic.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. And it was really dug deep now I spare time and capacity. So while things were still going, we use the spare time to build other stuff. And the short result was that never projects that I planned to do in three, five, 10 years time. And you're all being pushed back to six months, one year, two years, three years. So everything is, you know, matured faster. And that way, because of that one year hiatus so as to speak. We couldn't travel the state food, me and some of my future business partners, all the stayed put. So they actually got time to work on the infrastructure that they never got to do it.
David: I will say that in a, in our situation unexpectedly counter-intuitively just as you've described 2020 was my business's biggest year. And it was because we had the opportunity to work on and help so many businesses plan or finally realize the things that they had always been wanting to do, but never had the time.
Dr Sundardas: Absolutely. And in the history of Singapore's financial framework last year was the worst in 50 years, it's the worst. None of the other recession's ever reached this magnitude. The government never gave out this kind of a handout like this time. They've never done it before. Yeah. Although they they do some grant work, but normally a very passive manner, but the handouts were in the trillions networks, how bad it was. And even with that, we've had major companies crashing, but so in framework my friends, some of my friends and my partners and all of that, and we actually found a whole host of opportunities and possibilities. I'm just glad we did. Yeah. We feel lucky, although the world, and I wish the best for everybody else out there and helped me find your way to something better.
David: And the, and there's folks like you, you, you and me who are not just, you know out there to grab those opportunities for ourselves, but lift others up as well as we're, you know, working on the things that we're working on, which is I think, a critical criteria for the work that I do at least. And I certainly know if for the work that you do.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. So what puts a smile on your face at the end of the day?
David: My wife and my daughter and the ability to be together that that's that's number one. Number two, I I'm, I'm fanatical about the two early parts of my career. I'm a big, big theater fan and, and live live performance, which I miss terribly these days. But going to the symphony or going to hear some chamber music or going to see a Broadway musical, those are all things that I just love doing. So I've been watching a lot of that stuff on, on video. These, you know, this past year and I'm, I'm a passionate cook. And the cook is really the, the food is all about the vehicle to get a delicious bottle of wine to sit on the, on the dinner table next to the food. And so those are the things that that I chose.
Dr Sundardas: Yeah. I, on the other hand, I did do a lot of cooking last year, more than I've done in a while. So yeah. I love cooking and more exercise at a time and a lot of togetherness, so, yeah. Anyways interesting interlude. Well, how do people get in touch with you? We will put things in the show, but maybe tell people how they can get in touch with you and what would you and your companies.
David: Sure. So I'll, I'll very quickly explain what the prepared group is and what we do. We help businesses mostly professional services businesses. I give you an example of one before financial advisors uncover all of the missing revenue that they they aren't taking advantage of in their business. And we guide them through a process to be able to, to identify all of those those leaks in their, in their revenue opportunities.
And that's, that's really what I do. Full-Time I, but, you know, there's a lot of, lot more detail to what I do there. I do a lot of copywriting. I do a lot of you know, guiding, I share a lot of the philosophy or excuse me, not philosophy, the psychology that you talked about earlier, how do you know, interact with people in a way that they're going to look favorable upon you and you can then help them, right? Those are the types of things that we do and people can find us at thepreparedgroup.com
to learn more about that business.
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Great. Thank you very much, David. It's been a pleasure having you, and remember if you want to get in touch with David, thepreparedgroup.com
David: Excellent Sundardas. Thanks so much for inviting me on this is this has been a fun conversation, and I look forward to more conversations with you.
Dr Sundardas: Me too, take care.
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