Last week, on Thursday, 8th June, nStarter team had the honor to host one of the world’s well-known growth hacker – Vin Clancy. Vin got into the rooms of Business Incubator Novi Sad around noon, to have the one-on-one session with the companies and entrepreneurs. I mean, this guy that is a founder, a writer, a growth hacker, a consultant – basically all-in-one. And I was about to meet him. Let’s just say a was a bit nervous. Actually, a lot.
My first impressions were: a Mick Jagger-ish vibe, eccentric, different, with a teeny-tiny, devious smile and sneakers that instantly made me think of Flash. When we met, I finally realized he was human, just like the rest of us. That’s when I knew I wanted to know more about him.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to interview him in person, but with the help of our friends from Swiss Contact, Vin was kind enough to answer some of my questions and here they are.
Hi, Vin! Have you had a chance to see and explore Novi Sad? How do you like Serbia?
Vin: I went partying, drank Rakia, and had an amazing, strange, night, where I fell in love with a French girl. You can read about it here.
Is Vin Clancy a growth hacking superstar? By superstar I mean the one person that has all the knowledge in the world, but is kinda difficult to work with?
Vin: LOL. Sometimes I think of myself as a diva.
Dan Kennedy said something along the lines of “True stars are hard to work with. They burn through vendors, staff, etc as they demand so much and want a high level of everyone around them”. I think that says it best. Death to mediocrity.
Every successful entrepreneur has a good story behind that success. What is yours?
Vin: Desperation of being broke and going back to being on welfare. Growing up without a lot of money. Ability to control my compulsions. An obsession and vision with creating a certain future.
What are you most proud of? If I say you are a founder, a writer, a public speaker, and a consultant, which word catches your eye the best?
Vin: It’s really been writing this whole time, I guess sometimes words out of my mouth too. With a big ol’ slice of psychology in there. I see people the way they really are, not how I’d like them to be. It’s a critical distinction.
What was your biggest career challenge so far?
Vin: I’m still having them now, man. The path from “freelancer” to “CEO” is long and bloody. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- A lot of my growth hacks in this group are about getting from zero to somewhere.
- As you start making 10k a month and above, you HAVE TO HIRE (I just finished my first webinar on this in my private coaching class).
Here are some things you’ll need to keep an eye on as you make those crucial first hires:
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY try and hire people in real life, not remote workers if humanly possible.
You are asking for a million problems straight out of the gate if you don’t do this (and yes, you’re gonna find 1 or 2 random companies like Buffer who have succeeded remotely from day one, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule- you’re gonna have timezone problems, communication errors, basically totally preventable things if they’d been sitting next to you).
You’re going to need to manage people extremely closely.
This is almost as uncomfortable as doing sales if you’re new to it.
Somehow, dealing with humans is always the hardest part.
Check in with every member of your staff at the start and end of the day or I guarantee things are going to get really fucked up. They don’t “know what they’re doing”. Sometimes they don’t even know what they’re supposed to be working on. And it’s YOUR fault.
Tied to the above: If you don’t hire someone full-time, always remember they have other clients to serve. If you aren’t on their case, they will quietly work on other people’s stuff or get more clients.
Employee control is key here.
Communication, project management, and organization are also gonna fuck you up, especially if you’re a visionary or creative person.
Maths, data, numbers, spreadsheets- that shit is coming and you either fuck wit it or you gon get fucked BY not doing it.
For *most* companies, the single most important thing is to execute fast and do what Dan Meredith calls “imperfect action”. COMMUNICATE THIS TO YOUR STAFF.
It is alien to anyone who hasn’t worked at a startup.
Most people take too long to finish anything as they want it to be perfect. My mentor Dexter taught me “good is 80% of perfect, so if you keep pushing out good works, you end up way ahead of everyone pushing out much less work that is perfect.”
Moving slowly will kill your company, and takes getting used to by new hires.
Fire anyone who can’t work this way.
Your monthly burn rate will get comical, like “Could’ve bought a sports car with the money we spent this year” comical – make sure you have multiple streams of revenue to cover this.
Everyone reading this be like “But where’s the secret sauce?”
Use the above. But honestly, you can’t learn it by reading it.
You can only get better at this by doing it, and should seek it out, which is why I’m telling my private coaching clients to hire ASAP, even if just an intern, to start getting used to telling people what to do.
Not hiring is the easiest way to stay below 10k a month, and hiring is the quickest way to earning much more by being able to take more on.
This is a warning – these words will bite you if you don’t heed them!
Have you ever had a low point and a high point in the same time?
Vin: Most days, man. I need to be more grateful for what I have. Even today had a crazy day tryna get a project out, feeling all sorry for myself, went for a walk to buy ketchup (am staying in a rough part of London) and a (homeless?) person when to attack me. I was like “Damn, and here I was worrying about this work project. I could’ve been attacked! I should count my blessings!”
Which three words would describe you the best?
Vin: Outrageous, amoral, optimistic.
How are you trying to make a change?
Vin: Saving the creative people of the world from what the internet has done to them.
Growth hacking is your main job. What happens when a client doesn’t see your vision and purpose in what you are doing?
Vin: They are not allowed to work with me.
How did you get into writing?
Vin: I wanted to go and watch bands for free so I became a music journalist.
Is public speaking something that comes naturally for you?
Vin: It took a while, I accidentally realized most other speakers suck so just by showing up and giving the most value I’m one of the best of the world. But it’s actually a low bar, as 99% of people are so boring and can’t dress well.
What is your future ambition? Five years from now, where is Vin Clancy going to be?
Vin: Los Angeles.
And then, we got to some random questions…
Let’s say I want to buy you a gift for your birthday. What should I get you?
Vin: Take me back to Serbia!
Imagine you have 3 days on deserted island. If you can bring three persons, for each day, who would they be?
Vin: A special girl, my philosopher, my Mum.
Helping startups and entrepreneurs (for the rest of your life) or writing best sellers for the rest of your life?
Vin: Great question. I don’t know yet.
Would you rather become a Youtuber or a rockstar?
Vin: Haha – the YouTubers don’t last. If “It’s everyday Bro” is the best they can do? LOL
Wearing boring clothes for the rest of your life or pulling out of the growth hacking business?
Vin: I am the growth hacking business. I can’t stop.
Day or night? (Why?)
Vin: Night – people act the way they really are.
Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler?
Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak?
Vin: LOL! Who would choose Wozniak! Jobs!
Vin Clancy is not your regular entrepreneur. He wears colorful clothes and crazy sneakers. He has the energy when he walks into the room. He brings some focused madness and is not apologetic about it. There is nothing hypocritical about him. He is just being him.
I hope this text inspired you to do and achieve more. There are no limits – even if you are not Vin Clancy.