894
9 min 54 sec

Former White House Aide Teaches People to Make Friends

He’d always been great at building relationships with the right people. But could he really make money from teaching this skill?
Blog Coaching Communication Podcast Relationships

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What It's About

A lawyer starts a profitable side hustle focused on relationship building.

Business Model
Blog
Skills Required
Relationship Building & Communication
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

John credits his ability to be flexible and make changes when something isn’t working for his side hustle success. When his blog started, email marketing was highly effective, and many people would open and view your emails. Today, more than half of marketing emails go straight to the trash. So, he pivoted and discovered webinars. They worked great for a period before their effectiveness eventually faded. John knew that he had to find new strategies, so he dug deeper into LinkedIn and he uses it to build relationships.

Fun Fact

Billionaire entrepreneur and investor, Warren Buffet, credits $100 course by Dale Carnegie, author of HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, as the best investment he’s ever made. In fact, it’s the only diploma found in his office!

Also, in 2005, Garrett M. Graff was granted White House press credentials, the first blogger ever to receive such access.

Notes from Chris

Episode 894
John Corcoran says that at 22 years old he was an English major at a party school and not sure what he was going to do with his life. But just a year later, thanks to strategic networking, he was writing President Clinton’s words at the White House. From there, he landed a job as the main speechwriter for the then-Governor of California, Gray Davis, where he served until Hollywood superstar turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger ousted his boss to became Governor.

Suddenly, John found his job literally “terminated.” But, unlike many of his colleagues, John had a new job the next day all because of the relationships that he had built and nurtured.

So John, who was always good at making friends and building relationships, did what some might jokingly call a curious choice—he went to law school and became a lawyer.

Which is where he found himself in early 2008. Unlike many of his classmates who sought big law firm jobs or government, John decided he wanted to work in a small law practice. Working in a small firm means that you do it all—serving clients, appearing in Court, research and writing, marketing, and anything that comes up, which is exactly the type of experience that John wanted.

Even with lots to do and long hours, John immediately found himself constrained by the stodgy industry. He said his first goal was to find a way to use innovative marketing to help his young practice that served entrepreneurs and small business owners. Even if he didn’t recognize it at the time, John’s desire to be more entrepreneurial was guiding him to something else.

John knew that he had a skill for writing—after all, he’d written for the president—and began to think about writing a book. It could serve as great branding, and it could also allow him to use his existing skills and knowledge. He quickly learned that it was wise to build an audience first and that a blog would be a great way to do that.

John got started right away with a simple and free blogging platform and called it Smart Business Revolution. He wrote about legal topics and answered questions that he often encountered through his practice. Blogs were still in their infancy, and his legal writing began to build a readership from around the world.

As you might imagine, John was excited about his progress. But he quickly discovered two problems: he could only practice law in California, meaning that he couldn’t serve many of the potential clients that came to his website. Another challenge is that most people want to deal with their lawyers as little as possible and reach out only when they need help.

He was disappointed but not deterred. Quickly pivoting, he refocused his blog to write more on entrepreneurship. Still, talking to peers in a mastermind group, John realized that the topic was still very broad. He had recently given a presentation to his mastermind group entitled, “How to Network with A-listers in Any Industry,” and it had been a big hit.

In 2012, John expanded and launched a podcast of the same name that has interviewed many over 400+ top entrepreneurs, business leaders and authors including Adam Grant, Dan Pink, and Marie Forleo, among many others. John’s podcast has allowed him to grow and promote his online courses, and he has expanded into live events which benefits from his podcast.

These days, John’s one-time side hustle now averages revenues of $300,000 per year, and he’s closed his law practice to focus on it full time. He’s been able to relocate his office closer to home and now instead of a long commute in the Bay Area’s notorious rush hour traffic, most mornings you’ll find John on his bicycle leading his son and five or six of his bike riding friends to school. From there, John makes the short ride to his office alongside the beautiful San Francisco Bay.

 
 
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Smart Business Revolution: Learn more about the relationship building tips John used to be successful over on his website!
  • WordPress: John used WordPress to set up his blog, and here you can learn how to install your own WordPress site in 5 minutes

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Use networking to be helpful to others, not to get help from others."
—John Corcoran #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau