- Name: Eric Aumen
- Creative: Commercial Filmmaker
- Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Eric Aumen discusses starting his video making career as part of a stunt bike team. Now as a husband and father, Eric explains how the Next Level Creators program has given him the tools he needs to scale his business while maximizing his time as a family man.
Alright, hello everyone, Paul Xavier here from next level creators and today I have Eric Aumen from Eric Aumen films. He's one of our clients and we're really going to dive deep in today's interview on work life balance because Eric has the situation of course in the scenario is many of you may where he has a wife, he has kids and a passion for creating videos, a passion for creativity and wanting to make a living from that. So Eric is going to share some really important things as far as how to systemize your time and structure it so you can get the best of both worlds, the best of being a husband, being a family man and a creator and a finding success in business in life and the ups and downs of course have it through his, through his career. So Eric, thanks for being here. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. So I love starting interviews off this way. What drew you to want to be a filmmaker and a video creator in the first place? What was that passion or sort of curiosity that peaked your interest in the beginning? Yeah, it's actually, um, it's probably, maybe it's unique. Um, I, I was, I was kind of artistic growing up and what I was more of a thrill seeker and an adrenaline junkie and you know, as I was, I was 18, um, actually before that I bought him a motorcycle and, you know, did not respect the rules of the road and you know, being an adrenaline junkie, got into, um, like stunt bike riding and uh, you know, often we were in a parking lot doing it and we, some guys and me kind of started a team and we, uh, to get sponsors, we had to make videos and take photos and stuff like that. And like nobody was. I was the tech savvy one who basically learn how to use google before everybody else. All my friends. I would just figure things out, you know, and still that skill serves me to this day, but also so I learned, you know, by this camera and do this and this and the videos are horrendous, you know, the, featuring the worst rap music and the worst graphics. But, um, served the purpose, you know, we got attention from sponsors, so it was getting attention, you know, that was what got me into it, you know, how do I get more attention? This is how making these terrible video, you know, um, and putting them on Youtube. So I think I have all those videos hidden now. Big Deal. But, uh, but yeah, that's what got me into it pretty much getting that attention. And then that transition into business years later when a friend of mine was getting married and they knew that I was decent at a creating videos and taking photos. So they asked me, hey, do you want to shoot photos or video at my wedding? And I said, yeah, and this was 2008 when the five g came out. Um, so, and I had bought the five d and um, I started looking up a wedding videos and realize that they were all really terrible and I think there was a couple of companies creating good ones. So I just copied what they were doing. And uh, people really liked it and started paying me to do it. And that was kind of, I think in 2009 I quit my full time job and went full time in a video. So my 10 year decade in the business. Wow. Full years. And so that's an entrepreneurial elite. What was your nine to five job that you. Oh man, it was, this is a, you know, it was a good story for me. Um, and it was a movie like moment. Um, I worked in a brick factory. I'm making good money, you know, almost 100 grand a year, but it was swing shift and I was working anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week. And you know, I think your life expectancy is about 10 to 20 years lower. If you work swing shift your whole life just, it's so bad for your body to never have a sleep schedule. And you know, I started doing the video on the side and getting enough traction and I told we had a profit sharing check coming out like six months in advance. We knew and I told my manager, I'm giving my six months notice. I'm staying until that check comes out. And then I'm out and nobody believed me, but you know, I told him, you know, a month before I left, I was like, still live in, you know, at the end of the month. And it was a 12 hour night shift because my last day and at the end, at the morning they end to paint a better picture. They, uh, it's resin bricks and so it's like sparkly cancer causing material that floats in the air and in the morning they open these big garage doors and it was like I walked out into the sunrise, you know, like some kind of cowboy and my last day on the job. But yeah, it was a great moment that I'll always, you know, that was my leap into being an entrepreneur with, you know, 500 bucks in my bank account. But it was good. Here I am, your life is a movie, my friend. That is very true. You got that one up here. And so with that, of course you're making that big leap and it's all wedding films at the time. It's 2010, 2011, a 2008. Uh, you know, family, you talked to me before we had started this interview. Did you have your family yet? Were you married at that time? No. So you were, and again, this is, this is important because for those of you who are at that stage, it's okay to take those big risks when you don't have a family. Um, you know, of course. So you didn't have a family at that time. And so how did things progress for your career as a filmmaker? Between 2010 and of course, uh, where we are now in 2018. Um, so the next few years were a lot of wedding films, some random commercial jobs, some random big opportunities, you know, but I had no clue how to market myself and really never did, you know. Um, so a lot of wedding films and then as we got a couple of commercial opportunities and uh, I started thinking, oh, this is where I'm going and I can just drop the weddings, you know, just. So I started to do that and that was a big mistake because I wasn't marketing myself properly and everything was just luck. You know, coming to many and then, uh, I think around 2013, towards the end of that I did a short film, a featuring like a ballerina and a crump dancer, a break dancer and my wife was the makeup artist and that's how, so that's how we met and uh, you know, we met on that job, but at the time I was so hyper focused on what I was doing that day, you know, I saw her and I was like, Oh, you must be a ballerina. And she's like, no, it's like gray line. I love it. Yeah. You know, I, I like to think I was planting the seed but maybe not. Um, but uh, so maybe a month later, right before we released the film, like she, you know, she really kind of came back into my awareness and I, uh, reached out and uh, reached out to her and was like, Hey, do you want to sneak preview of the film? Like she really cared, you know, she's a makeup artist. Maybe she did. And she's like, yeah. And then I just started talking to her and didn't tell her anything about the film. I think after that I asked her out, you know, like, uh, like back in high school and you know, it was, it was quite a good love story in the beginning. And so we fell deeply in love right away and I left like the next month to shoot a documentary in Arizona, in Thailand for like five months. Um, so our relationship, you know, it was all through skype and things like that for, for quite a while while I was doing this documentary. And I thought that things were just going to blow up because we're doing a feature documentary again, terrible decision because a lot of it was around the premise of k, all of our expenses are covered, we're making a little bit of money on it and we have a back end deal. But mainly it's going to be for exposure and you know, which is terrible. So that was, that was where it was a terrible deal. And this isn't a very important lesson for anyone who's listening, you know, tell him what was he, what was your mindset going into that deal? You know, why did you say, Ooh, this is exciting, this is going to be a good opportunity for my film career. So we were thinking, you know, Netflix, Amazon, there was a lot of talk about distribution and we had a back end deal on it where we could really make money if it was going to happen. Um, and our mindset was like, this is how we're going to get attention, you know, it's doing this. So, you know, we, we shot the documentary and long story short, the owner of this golf performance center, which is the company who hired us to do the documentary. They are still sitting on the documentary and you know, because one of their for people is like ranked top 100 in the world at one point was ranked higher than a tiger woods. So He's thinking he's gambling with this footage is going to be worth something if he ends up being something, but that doesn't help us. And he never, never did so, uh, so yeah, that, that didn't work out too well for us. But long story short, come back finally, um, shortly, maybe next, the next winter a propose, um, have a baby, have another baby. So now I have three girls and my wife. And so yeah, that, that was jumping around a little bit, I think maybe off of your question, but that's how I got to say here. And that was just swift action, you know, we talked about it, uh, in, in business, but, you know, I knew that I wanted to be with this woman. I knew I wanted to have babies with her and we just did all that, you know, we, uh, and it was great. And then his grades, that's beautiful. And that's great. Honestly, it's one of the. I've found that having a spouse who actually supports you and your dream and understands the aspects of creativity and the need for it in a sense, in your life, um, is one of the most influential and powerful things for you to be successful doing what you love. Having that cheerleader, that person who's there, even when things aren't going well and you're both kind of at, at NEC and Neca about things sometimes, which happens, it's still great to have someone in your corner at the end of the day who knows that together you can get through it. So I'm really happy that you have that. Of course. And then you have even more joy than that, but your children. So that's, that's great. Um, and so at this point, what, what year is this? Two Thousand and 16. 2,000. Well, we got married in 2014. Okay. I think, uh, yeah, yes and no. Two Thousand 15. Yeah. And your career is, you're getting back from the documentary and how are you making a living as a creative at this point through to 2018 a filmmaking. So we started coming back, you know, we rallied a, it took a lot of, uh, effort and time away to shoot the documentary from all of our connections. So we had to just start over. And the, uh, the way we kinda got back going was I started reaching out to ad agencies and started doing the littlest tiny videos for them and then gaining traction there. So like a lot of videographers and filmmakers, you know, we would do stuff directly with brands and then do stuff directly with ad agencies. So for awhile it was a 50 slash 50 mix and that really led to doing bigger and bigger jobs up until, I guess a year ago or so, about a year ago. And so you're working with these ad agencies, you said we a few times we, you and your partner? Yeah. Yeah. So I did. My brother, uh, was my partner, started the company, you know, we started it and you know, there's challenges there and the biggest challenge and the thing that ended up being the reason I decided to leave the production company was just two different lives, you know, and having a partner in a business. I mean, you're really married to them, you know, it's a, it's another marriage almost. And yet I was trying to build my own marriage and family and I needed my business to support that. Now that's a big, big piece for me is, you know, my family comes first and my business has to support that. And I know that's different for some people. Um, but for me, that's the case. And when my business stopped serving me and my family, I realized that the only way I could make a do that wasn't to force my, in my partnership with my brother, it was to start over, you know, and to, uh, to let him do what was going to work for him and for me to rebuild basically again, another leap of faith. And this time you are taking a leap of faith on yourself as a creative to find that entrepreneurial spirit and make it. And you have two beautiful girls a life at this point. So there's definitely, you know, and you're leaving, even if it wasn't enough to support your family or maybe it was ours, I'm not sure. What was the issue there? Um, whether it was finances and we're time, um, probably both, you know, then it's like, well, even leaving something is giving, you're making an empowered decision that you're going to do something different. And so at this point, what, what, where did you go next? Where did you go to start making money as a crew, you know, shooting videos, did you, what was that next step? Well, the next step wasn't pretty. It wasn't pretty. I'm, in fact it was probably, I would say the low my lowest point in my life up until then and it was why I put off the decision to leave for so long and I've got lots of insights into hey, this is probably what I should do. This is probably what I should do. But I knew I was complicated because I had not only a partner but an investor. So that came with operating agreements, non competes to get out of my partnership and out of the organization I had to leave with nothing and all. Not only that, but I couldn't, you know, I couldn't touch any of the leads or clients we had. So no network, no network, nothing. Do you have the equipment? No, no equipment, no. A family and a dream. So, so what I did was went back to work in construction and I also picked up a job as a server, like any skills that I had that I could hustle, um, that weren't entry level, you know, I did and I was working seven days a week, you know, some days, you know, we're going from construction into being a server at a French restaurant, like doing just such a gamut of things to make ends meet and still not quite making it. And then I'm coming into last December, so about a year ago, you know, I was trying to, I did get a couple little gigs here and there where I would, but I would then have to rent all the gear. So it's like I would get a, you know, $3,000 job, but I would have to spend 500 bucks of that money to rent the gear to shoot it, you know? Yeah. So it wasn't very sustainable. So I was like, I got to find something here. And I started looking for wedding, uh, opportunities and there was a, you know, it was kind of fate, you know, or the universe helping me out a little bit. But um, there was a company, a nationwide company who was opening a branch in Philadelphia and they, and their model, their business model was they would train one lead shooter in each of these major cities around the country to shoot and edit wedding films in the style that they did. And it just so happens it was very similar to the style that I used to shoot him. So I got the spot and they offered this program and part of our negotiation and the beginning was, hey, I don't have any gear. And they gave me an interest free loan for like, you know, a large chunk of money and terms that were, hey, you payback, you know, every wedding you get through us when we pay you, you pay back 25 percent of that to pay off the gear. So in the winter when there's no weddings, I don't have to pay any, you know, anything bad it was. And it was, it was the only way I could have done it, you know, so now I'm back in the game and start getting little one off jobs again because I can afford to like work my way in and a lower level with a brand new clientele. So that's what I did. And I guess going into the summer, you know, okay, now I'm doing good financially. Again, I'm stable. But knowing I need something because winter is coming again. It's like game of thrones, winter is coming and it's, you know, every filmmaker probably knows winter is coming and not every filmmaker but some. And uh, you know, I also just kind of was scratching my head on like, how do I get recurring revenue, you know? Um, I knew that was something that was important and so I, I kinda was on the verge and looking out for what's a way that I can serve in. And at first I was thinking of just retainer clients. Like how do I get a client on retainer, you know, what's, how do I structure that and everything like that. And then then I saw some ads on facebook and it was actually for somebody for somebody else and I even had a call with them and it was just, there was no transparency, there was a, they just, I had my gut told me it wasn't like this is it, like this is the model, this is a similar model, like I'm onto something here. So I kind of started setting out to create it myself. And then I started seeing a avi or ads and something about that told me to, you know, again, it was my gut said click on this and you know, scheduled this call and I know and I talked to my wife, I was like, we're going to do this call. And if it's bs, like, okay, we're done with the, we're done with this and I'm just going to figure it out. But this is the model, you know? I knew at that point I had been like somewhere, I don't know if I still have it on there, but I had bought a white board in between that first call and the call with you guys and like started mapping out how it was going to work and it wasn't actually anything like the way it does work. It was very, it was in the Ballpark, but it was way out in the cheap seats, you know, so, you know, it absolutely, uh, was a fast track, you know, finding the next level creators program was, was a fast track on something I knew I had to do. I knew it was like the next evolution of what I'm doing and it was probably even the reason I left the partnership and you know, it was because this is the model that is going to serve and does serve me and my family, uh, works for me, you know, and, and not the other way around it. And I'm a big believer in the e myth and the four hour work week and all those types of things. And you know, it, my wife and I have those aspirations to travel and to do those type of things. And, and I can make this, this is the first time, you know, I've done a lot of like self work over the years and I always had a problem and a challenge in visualizing. Like I couldn't, I couldn't envision the house, I can envision the things but I couldn't envision like how do I do the amount of work that I know needs done, right. Quote unquote no needs done. And also enjoy that life. You know, I couldn't, I couldn't envision it in. Once I got into the program I could now I can, like, I can see like how that would happen, you know? And there are specific trainings within the course, but just the model itself, it's like I, my wife and I have a not argued but she, you know, she's very like there's a way to do it and that's up to you. And I'm like, yeah, I know there's a way I think. But like I can't look and see. Like I had to be able to see somebody, you know. And I wish I did it, but like I couldn't figure it out until I could see somebody else, a model for it because entrepreneurs in my life, um, and even like the long line of men that I come from in my family are hard working people, you know. So that's what I knew and that was, uh, that was my paradigm, you know, that was, that was what I thought, like to get to here, you have to work hard, you know, and, and so that's what I saw growing up and that's what I saw even as an adult, you know, other people who are doing really well. Um, they were working 100 hours a week and they didn't have families, you know, and, and if they did, their spouse was just, you know, they didn't even hardly see each other, you know, not the life I want it. So. And so this getting into next level creators, of course, I mean, you saw the ad, you watch the video, you booked a call, you'd had a call with someone else. They were not the right fit for just alarm went off. And then you got on with us, what was it about sort of us that made that light bulb go off and made you say, you know what, this not only resonates with what I, you know, it's given me maybe a visualization of what I want, but what made you think and have the trust in yourself to make that leap of faith in yourself once again of course, here to, to implement a new model and to go out on a limb and, and really put the effort in here to make this work. I believe, you know, what it was, is my wife and I had talked before the call and we just really needed to check the trust box. Like it was a, we knew this is the model. Like I can see this model as the legs to go where I want to go. Do I trust these people to invest, you know, money at a time when we were pinching pennies, you know? Um, it was a big investment for me. Um, and you know, that's relative to everybody, but I can already say, I mean, I knew that like one client would, would pay for it, you know, it would more than pay for it, you know, um, and, and after being in the course, even if I didn't get any clients directly from the course, the value of just even like some of the processes, um, in life and in business, you know, it's some, some of it's business, 100, one is just supercharged, you know, like some of the sales stuff that I, man, I bought sales courses in the past. It was just something in me was I hate this. I was in a way they're teaching me this and I can't do it and I'm a block. There's a block that I don't know why it's there, but it was not like that in the course though. And you know, and it's still not. I referred back to it all the time. So that's great. Well I appreciate that of course. And so, um, you know, you got into the program, you saw this new model and like you said, now you have a actual visualization of what you need to do. And so at that point you're in there, you've been working project to project for some nine and a half years. You see this way of starting to get retainer clients. What were the biggest learnings for you or Aha moments in the program and what was, what was that thing that allowed you to go in? Because of course you've gotten your first client now and, uh, allowed you to make that happen. Um, so some of it is picking a niche market, which for me it was scary, like, like a lot of people I think, um, because over the years it was like, uh, this feeling of scarcity and like, just give me anything. I'll do anything within reason. Um, but, you know, coming up with you, you kind of, the way you present the selecting a niche market and narrowing your, uh, your target made sense to me. And in a way of like, okay, I need to start creating a lot of value. And it's a lot easier to create a lot of value if I pick a target, you know, because then it's only providing it for them and yeah, I'm gonna there's a period of like putting the head down and going, just going and going and going without, for me without seeing any return right away. Um, and at the same time letting anybody who isn't my network, which is tiny, um, as we talked about, know that, hey, we're doing this stuff, you know, just keep an ear out, you know, let me know. And uh, you know, here's who I'm, who I'm hoping to help, um, who I'm going to be helping. But, you know, if you know somebody else, I'd love to talk to them and uh, you know, be able to help them as well. But I've really found that by focusing on that niche market, it allows me to provide more value because it's not spreading that value out across a huge football field. It's directly to a specific type of person. And it allows me to be more of an expert too because I have to know less, you know, know, amazing thing to be more focused and you have to know less to actually make a difference in people's lives. And you know, it sounds like really the biggest, one of the biggest things was the creator's operating system for you in regards to what, uh, where do we start in business? And so many people start their business with this idea of what they want the business to do for them, right? Whereas the creators operating system, what we do is we take the approach of, well, how do we make it as simple as possible for you to create value for others. And by doing that, the funny thing is you're going to get what you want anyway because business is about creating value for others. And once we start doing that, the more value that's there, the more you will make in return. And niching down, finding that focus, um, it gave you that freedom to create more value, it sounds like. And uh, of course with you, um, we went really specific. We went a hot market, warm market, cold market, you know your market, you chose a market that's really cold. I mean people who don't know who you are and you've been going through the process. You've been in the program for four months. Is that about five? And they're five now. Yeah. And so we've been working together. I mean, you come on a, we have q and a calls every week for everyone who doesn't know and you've been coming on the call and we've been interacting and creating messages together and doing outreach and all of it. And it's been a lot of fun of course, but of course there's emotions that come up along the way when it's not exactly working than what we want it to either. And uh, for you, we went back and he said, all right, well again, let's go back to that hot market, that warm market. And that's what opened up that first opportunity for it and seize the day in terms of boom, now we're starting to got your, your return on investment. We got your focus for now it's time to actually deliver value. And so walk us through or walk me through that, that first meeting with this person and as you're meeting with them, how has sales changed for you now that you've been through next level creators to where it's perhaps not on some of those other sales programs that you were, that you were in and what's different about that conversation now that you feel you get to have with people and you get to offer them value and to work with you? Yeah, it's great. Like it's a, you know, tobacco, uh, a little bit because it leads into this. The offering value is the, a big paradigm shift too because before it was just like, there was this idea of like I'm hired to create a video and here's the video and thinking things like, well, how good is this going to look at my reel and how can I, you know, move things around in the budget. You know, it was a lot of without realizing it, you know, it was a lot of being out of integrity, you know, really with serving the client. And, and that wasn't my intention or, or an. And I didn't realize I was even doing that, but now looking back, if I, knowing what I know now, making some of those same decisions I would not feel good about, you know, so now on this system, it's a framework for offering a value that I can, I don't have to sell somebody on it because I believe it, you know, I know that it's true. And, and now I'm responsible for the voucher for the results, you know? And so it's no longer that that thought that comes up, you know, that used to come up of, all right, well if this is what you really want, here you go, you know, like, I'm sure everybody can relate to that. And now it's no, like, let me explain to you why this isn't the right thing because I need to give you good results. That's, I'm a competitive person. So I want to give you good results and let's talk about this and let's, let me understand better where you're coming from. So there's a dialogue that it's no longer just shutting down, you know, um, and be like here. Yeah. You asked for it. There you go. It's now owning the results, even going into a sales meeting, understanding that that's what we're doing is a mindset shift, you know, so with this client in particular, they, um, they were just getting into ecommerce and, and I knew that and the way the leak came to us was my wife was doing some graphic design work and a website for someone opening like a, like a healing center or of some sort and um, it was a new modality that was new to the area, so it required a lot of education and things like that. Um, and so we were talking on and off and she knew a little bit about what I did because she knew kind of the barrier of entry as far as costs because she was, she inquired about it, she had an investor and that was something we talked briefly about. Um, but she wasn't ready to do yet. And so her husband just happens to be the operations manager at a large international ballet company. And they were just getting into ecommerce space and they actually had, through ups, they had subsidized. I'm a marketing company out New Jersey and when I first heard about the opportunity, basically he said, hey, I'm currently have, I'm using somebody for ad words and I'm unhappy with what I'm getting from them and is this something that you do or see or can you point me in the right direction? And that lead kind of came through my wife doing something with his wife and then, you know, coming through that way. So I look up the company who they're currently working with and it's a 50 person team and like they just started this monster sized company and I was like, oh my God, you know, like they got this, this, this and this. And I was like, well, you know, I can't change that. So let's make that like a strength in my corner because they're not happy. Um, and he's not going to go out and find a bigger company probably. Um, so I did a little research with some of the tools I learned in the program and found out what they were doing and found things like misspellings on their google ads and just like, it was obvious to me that they weren't getting the attention that they needed. Um, so in the first sales call with them, you know, we start talking about the frustrations and basically start building, understanding what the gap was like we're understanding where they were and understanding where they wanted to go and really making sure that they understood that. And, and you know, it's interesting, I have a background in doing group work, um, and doing inner work and group work, you know, especially in a group, you know, it's all about really helping those other people see through the bullshit, see like, okay, here's this, here's the story you're saying like, let me ask another question and let me ask it again and again and again until we get as low of a level as, as we can to the truth. So, so it serves me like when I learned your system, I was like, oh, that is like a sales version of what I do, you know, when somebody's going through a terrible situation in their life and they need somebody to reflect back to them, the reality that people from the outside can see in a sales call. That was a really comfortable place for me to be, you know. Um, and I found, I found a little opportunity, you know, when we're talking about the frustration cs with this big company, I said at one point he's going on about these different things. And I was like, you know, like spelling errors on your ads on Google. And he's like, oh my God, you know, this right away, you know, really, I could tell I struck a, struck a nerve. He's like, yeah, don't even get me started about that. You know, we. So, so the call went well and even though I thought that he had decision making power, what we discussed, and I think you did up until a certain point, but it was a great conversation because he's a very, he's operations. So He's a very logical guy and we start talking numbers and I'm asking him about his goals and things and he says, here's what I want to get. And I said, okay, here's what it's gonna cost. And he's like, who, you know? And I was like, well, you said this is how many people you wanted to get to. You said this is where you would be willing to, to how much you'd be willing to spend on each a new client. I was like, we're just, we're doing them Europe, the value, if it's too much, you know, we can maybe aim a little lower to get started. Um, and you know, we can take a look at what that looks like. So we've kind of played around with the numbers and we found an area that was more than they wanted to spend. But because it's such a logical, like you're not promising, but you can explain like, here's where these numbers are coming from and that's all I did. You know, he's a logical guy and he needed to understand that. He's like, okay, you know, so he talks to the ownership. Then I go in for followup meeting and basically just kind of walk through it again a little bit, but they didn't really even need to hear it again. Like they just needed to hear a couple of good ideas, you know, like they just, it was kind of like me going into that next level creator call. It was like I just need to trust you and then I'm good, you know? So when I came in and like one said, hey, let's stop selling on a different url and sell as your international brand. And just made them realize like why that was so important. They were like so pumped, you know, like right away I just give them a scenario. What are they doing? Yeah, you know, and so it's funny, [inaudible] like what happened here is like you, you basically, you just needed a little bit of a. I'll reworking on how to deliver value in that conversation to where the Po, what are the person just sees. It's an absolute no brainer to pay you on an ongoing basis because you're going to be creating content and running distribution in delivering tangible value to them and they can just, without a shadow of a doubt, they can visualize it the same way. You could visualize that happening when you had your strategy session with us. You know, we were like, well, listen, this is what it actually takes and this is no bullshit. It's hard. It takes work. But if you do it, it's approved. It's proven. You will find success. That's so funny that, that that's the same thing for your client. Yeah, that's A. Yeah. And then it's been, you know, we've been, we're actually getting ready to launch their website which we built, which was, you know, a learning experience. Uh, and uh, we're getting ready to launch that Monday and then the end of the week, next week we'll be turning their ads on. So I'm really excited because I'm very confident in this campaign and you know, all the layers that we can add on after we get it going to just take it through the roof and there's more opportunities through them and you know, for tons more work, they have multiple brands, they're, they're a big corporation that this is just one leg of it. So in addition to the market I've been working on, which is also gaining a lot of traction and it's like a domino, if it's feeling like I'm feeling the momentum starting to build because I've been putting out value, putting out value, working on, um, a flow that will bring somebody into my, bring me into their awareness, build the trust, and then show them the gap and then close the deal. You know, it really, uh, feeling good where things are going right now. And this is important because this is one of the things we talked about right at the beginning of this interview is you know, your father, you have two girls, you have a life, you want to spend time with them. And so tell us, uh, what was your time like when you were working project to project, what was that lifestyle like from a time perspective versus what life is like now and what life will be like in the next year as you continue down this path as you are envisioning it now? Um, I would say that it's much more unstructured. It's really hard to structure. For me, it was really hard to structure the project to project because I would get a job that I was directing and producing and, you know, required just tons of preproduction work and uh, and I was trying to squeeze so much out of the budget by putting more time into it, thinking that that's how I was going to get to the next level, you know, by, um, putting more value into this project and they're actually paying for so that I can sell it as a more expensive project to the next person. And so I remember, you know, working on my laptop in bed next to my wife next to, you know, art or two youngest ones because we have a side card bed for our. To have a one and a three year old. So, um, you know, you can imagine dad on his laptop, mom sleeping next to babies and just didn't feel good, you know, I'm not how I wanted to show up as a dad and, and a model to my kids how to learn how to live and how to balance life. So in the next level, creators, you know, operating system and kind of in my two point zero, you know, business, uh, it, uh, their structure now, you know, because now I know, okay, one, I just comes with like it was a lifestyle shift, you know, I'm understanding, okay, now I can get my head around like just your outreach methods. Um, they were very tangible and now I have a system on how to do outreach. So it's not just like sitting in front of the computer and like looking some things up and researching companies all day and you know, now it's okay, here's what I have to do and here's the numbers, you know, here's the numbers. So now that's just part of my routine. And I don't think right now I'm working less, but the work I do counts a lot more and because I'm working in a structured way, it's, there's, um, I can't think of the word I'm looking for happens over. Rob happens over and over again. Yeah, there's a routine. So for my kids, they know that a dad or pop is going to be downstairs to eat dinner at 5:30 with them and they're excited to see me come down, you know, and um, and that's like an indescribable feeling, you know? And then my middle one knows that I'm going to read with her for 15 minutes or so, uh, after dinner and you know, so there's a routine that we stick to and you know, sometimes we talk about violent action, you know, when it comes to outreach and like not letting things get in the way. And for me as a dad and a business owner, it's about, you know, I hate to use the word violent action with my, with my family, but it's dedicated action. It's nobody is getting in the way. I would say empowered action. Howard actions a good word. Yeah, it's, it's, um, being present, doing the work and then being present, being a dad and a husband and not easy of course. Um, but it's the logistics are there, you know, and I understand now what I have to do and even though I'm super pumped about automations and delivering value in marketing and because now I like have this tangible path that feels good to me. Um, you know, I turn it off and then uh, enjoy being a father and a husband, you know, to which is, which is the most important, you know? Yeah. And it's, it's difficult to do that when you don't know if you're going to get another project and you don't have a system to rely on that you can trust, you know, I will be able to get another client if I keep doing this. Most of us are just, you know, when we don't have, you have the language of here's I'm good at the camera, I'm good at the creative, I'm good at this. I don't understand this language of business. I don't understand this. How do I get clients predictably and the moment you combined those two skill sets we have, the way we always say it is you have one, a tool belt for all of your creative skills. As soon as we add that second pouch on the tool belt for business skills, you become massively, massively more effective and you gain a whole new level of freedom, which is one of the greatest things about it. And so with that, where do you see yourself taking this? Do you want to. Of course, one of the beautiful things about commercial campaigns is the fact that you get leverage. I'm getting a client doesn't mean working 40 hours a week for that client. It means leveraging automation and leveraging technology, video distribution to achieve a result for your client. Right? That is hugely, hugely valuable. So where do you see yourself going with that and how is that going to impact the time that you're investing in your business over the next year? Well, I'm already thinking about the systems and you know, being a big believer in really resonating with the emf type of philosophies which this program also, you know, uh, you know, that problem, it must have been a seed somewhere for you never read it. Oh Man. So good. And it's a lot of what you would out there is, you know, the whole thing is like based on the success of a franchise prototype, you know, that the emf philosophy and so it's all about systems, not the people, you know, um, in creating value based on systems. So for anybody who even wants to build a business worth selling, I'm doing something on the systems is what you have to do. But um, for me the systems mean more freedom in my life, you know, and, and just everything that I've read and with has been about that and this system resonated with me because I could picture, you know, how to systemize what I'm doing. Um, and only only being the human touch point being where it's most valuable, you know. So where I show up in the process is only at the most valuable parts. It's not in the data entry, it's not in, you know, the, uh, outreach in the planning of it. It is, but not in the execution because there's automation and there's outsourcing and things like that. So over the next year, that's what I see happening is bringing on more clients and getting it to maybe three or four clients that I'm personally responsible for and building now my systems based on those three or four clients and then turning things on and uh, and starting to really hone in and refine and optimize and iterate and optimize, you know, um, and yeah, and just building the life that I want to have. That's good to know that you have the not just the vision for it, not trust that this is where I want to be, but you have that visualization of what those key components are through the process to get there. Right? When you can start to see, all right, well now this is how we do marketing predictably and here's the automation I can put behind that. And here's how I can create videos for myself yet, or not just a highlight reel I put on my website, no one watches or a thousand people watch and then no one buys or inversely buys, but a way for me to actually create videos for myself and do this type of distribution, this type of outreach on an ongoing basis and get more clients consistently like that feeling. I remember when I first figured it out, it changed everything for me. Um, it's, it's a really amazing moment in a pivot point for you. Um, and of course there's a lot of work that goes into making that system work. The, uh, the whole, uh, there are a few things that, um, you know, the four hour work week, I love the book, but there are things where it's like, well, you have to remember anytime you put a system into place, systems by nature are somewhat complex. And for a system to work, it's going to require an operator in many cases, especially in business. Um, it can be a very simple system that's very effective. And, you know, as you said, business won 11 in a sense, but I'm smart when we start adding a little bit of automation, a little bit of complexity, it does take an operator to work that, um, it's just making sure that we have the right inputs and outputs happening within that system to where, Hey, I only input 20 minutes a day or two, you know, an hour a week. And the output from that system is, I mean, amplified and magnified and multiplied by a lot. And that's what we're always looking for. Those leverage points for your creative business. And so that's awesome. And Eric, I appreciate you sharing your story so much with this. Here I am as far as time. I don't have kids, so it's good to see where you're visualizing yourself taking it. Um, and the beauty is for other people who are just like you, they can do the same thing, right? They can focus on systemizing things, they can focus on finding those, those levers in business and uh, through their skillset. And um, I encourage everyone to do that. Who is listening to this? And um, as far as next level creators goes, uh, if you find, or if you were to talk to yourself or someone who may be in the same situation you were just a few months ago before you joined, would you recommend next level creators and why? Yeah, I would say I would recommend it to somebody who's ready to trust themselves and jump in. I'm somebody who is ready to work on implementing the systems. Um, and I would do that because it's a holistic system. It's not a little piece where you're going to need three other courses and memberships to build your own system. It is something that requires you to trust, fall into it, you know, uh, to really jump in with both feet because if you jump in with one foot, you know, it's not gonna work for you, you know, um, and it might work for you, but most things are required to feed, you know, you got to get into the pool with both feet. Um, and uh, but if you're, you know, if you're somebody who's like a habitual like chorus buyer and you're going to buy this and you already have the next one that's totally different, picked out, I would say not for those people, you know, because it's, um, my experience has been, it's very much like an onion, you know, there's, there's the whole like, okay, I'm absorbing all of this, I'm absorbing it. I could go back through this course like two more times and refine and refine and, and you and your team continued to make improvements, you know, that we get updates on, you know, that we get to be a part of. So, um, it's a very, how could you have time to work on your own business? I'm learning about, you know, continuing to learn from the next level creators, business and the community, which is huge, uh, and really valuable. Um, and do something else. It sounds to me like a recipe for failure. You know, I'm trying to do too many and I have talked to some people who were like, I just bought this course and this course is it as good as that one and you know, like, well, I don't know, I bought this course and I'm doing this course, you know, like I'm not already thinking about, you know, dot com or, or this or that, you know, or something else. I'm so long winded answer, but that's, and I, I appreciate it. It's a good answer because you, you kind of alluded to exactly who I, you know, we only want, I always say this, we're so fortunate because we get so many people reach out to us every week, which is a blessing for um, for us here at next level creators and our process is more selection process. You know, are you really someone who's going to do the work? And as long as we stay true to that, we are in a beautiful place because if we get other students just like you who aren't looking for the next fat, they're not looking for the next, you know, random. This is how to get rich quick kind of thing, but actually real valuable business knowledge that you can iterate over and over and over again. And um, my whole philosophy is, you know, I, I love to practice what I preach and I want longterm relationships were my clients become my friends and I grow by growing them. That's our whole philosophy and that's, uh, that's exactly what we're doing with everyone in next level. Creators constantly updating the program and I'm working with people through whatever challenge they're facing. So, um, there's no doubt in my mind he will face more challenges, Eric, and there's no doubt in my mind that every single week I'll be in that q and a call and you'll be there too. So I can't wait for the next one until.