Do you want to create the life you’ve always dreamed of? Join Steve Sims (Founder & CEO of Bluefish, and author of Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen) and Eric Partaker as they discuss what it takes to network with some of the world’s most successful people. Take away tips and insights into how you yourself can join the path to achieving your goals.
Action = Reward – You don’t get slim by buying a diet book, you get slim by actioning that book. If you want a big bank account, you’ve got to have a successful mindset. Professionals know that action creates feeling. Amateurs believe feeling creates action. Be the professional of your life and take action today.
Your Net Worth Is Your Network – Grow your network. Talk to as many people as possible in the position that you want to be in. Find out how they reached the position they are in today.
Begin With Research – Connections aren’t made by chance. If you want to get a conversation going with someone, research them, find out about them, their interests, their work and discover how you could benefit them.
You Don’t Know Me – Limit the confusion at the beginning of networking conversations. Begin the conversation with anybody you don’t know by putting them at ease and letting them know that they don’t know you. Instantly they will feel more at ease rather than desperately trying to remember where they might know you from.
What Value Are You Offering? – When going into a conversation with someone, there needs to be a beneficial point to them. Approach every networking conversation with a solution, give them something of value that will benefit them, before you discuss your needs.
Focus On The Client – Stop looking at how good your website is, or how eloquent you are. Focus on the client. Discover the problems that they need solving and solve it for them.
Steve Sims: I literally would say to people, “Hey, so how come you’re rich and I’m not?” If you want a big bank account, you’ve got to have a successful mindset. But I am not going to dilute myself for you. And if I did, the conversation wouldn’t be worth having.
Eric Partaker: I’m super excited to have on the show today, Steve Sims. Welcome to the show, Steve.
Steve Sims: It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Eric Partaker: And you’re calling in … Well this is kind of funny because just now we were talking about where are you. And I was like, “Well, where are you?” So you’re in L.A. So it’s 9:00 for you, right?
Steve Sims: Yep. Yeah, I’m here in Los Angeles, just next to the beach, for everyone that wants to hate me.
Eric Partaker: And I’m five minutes from the beach, but in-
Steve Sims: There you go.
Eric Partaker: Yeah. So the rest of this show, the goal should be let’s get people to hate us.
Steve Sims: We started well. We did start well.
Eric Partaker: So I’m in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s 5:08 here. Neither of us are from the place that we’re in. So maybe that’s an interesting place to start. How did you end up in L.A.? Where are you originally from?
Steve Sims: Well the story may sound glamorous, but it’s the exact same for every entrepreneur. I left school at the age of 15 and moved into my dad’s construction firm. And at the age of 15 I’m sitting on a building site on east London going, “Is this it? Is this my entire life?” There were people in there in their 80s. And I’m thinking, this is it, this is where I’m going to end up. So I left the building site very abruptly to just try and find a way to make money. You’d see on the movies, Wall Street was the big movie of the 80s and 90s. So I’m driving around in a van. I wanted to be driving around in a red Porsche and having a suit on and stuff and not getting dirty and cut up on a daily basis.
So in order to be able to make money, I had to surround myself with money. So I tried getting jobs for exotic car sales and yacht charters, all this kind of stuff. But for any of you not fortunate enough to see me, I don’t fit the bill of someone that you really want on your doorstep trying to ask for a lot of money. I look more like a debt collector and a bouncer. 245 pounds of ugly biker. It’s as simple as that.
I talked my way into a … This is brilliant in itself. I talked my way into a stock broker’s apprenticeship in Hong Kong.
Eric Partaker: Boiler room.
Steve Sims: Well, sadly it wasn’t. Maybe if it had been at boiler room I’d have been all right. But this was B’s and W’s, so this was a proper banking empire.
Eric Partaker: Right. Okay.
Steve Sims: But my resume, it was the greatest work of fiction. This thing was better than Harry Potter. I actually in my resume suggested I was related to royalty. I thought to myself, they’re going to look at this resume and go, “Oh, he’s got a good laugh. He’s got a good sense of humor.”
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: It wasn’t even just a stretch on the truth, it was all out bullshit that was just funny. My dad actually started JP Morgan but I don’t want to work in the … It was all that kind of crap.
Eric Partaker: And they went for it?
Steve Sims: No. Apparently they were recruiting so many apprentices to the new Tiger market, which was the … They didn’t even care. They just recruited, in one swoop, about 60 people. So I just somehow got in the net. I flew from England to Hong Kong. I did orientation on day one. One day two, 9:00 in the morning, was fired. I’m now in Hong Kong, no job. They said, “Oh, you can stay in your apartment for three months. And because we let you go, here’s two months salary.” Which was the biggest amount of money I’d ever seen in my life. That didn’t last long in Hong Kong.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: And the only thing I ended up doing was working on the door of a nightclub. And I went from working on the door of a nightclub to throwing my own parties and trying to throw parties just for rich people. Because no point in me surrounding myself with poor people. I knew what that was like and it sucked.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: So I would throw these parties. I would take over nightclubs. I would take over mansions. I would take over yachts. And I went from throwing nightclub parties to working with the biggest events in the world, from the New York Fashion Week, the Grammys, Sir Elton John’s Oscar Party, Formula One in Monaco.
Eric Partaker: When are you throwing your next party? I want to go. It sounds great.
Steve Sims: It was all a façade. It was a Trojan horse. I wanted to throw opulent parties for major luxury brands and billionaires, quite simply, so I could surround myself with uber successful people to interview them. In other words, I was doing … What you’re now doing on a podcast, I was doing at parties in Gstaad and Palm Beach. So I went from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Geneva, Palm Beach, and I arrived in L.A. 14 years ago. So I’ve literally just traveled around the world throwing these major events.
And without realizing it, invented the personal concierge industry, which I had for about 25 years. I only had 93 clients, but pretty much all of them were billionaires. And they were from all over the world. Then, of course, I wrote a book, Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen, about three and a half years ago, and it sent me off speaking, coaching, and doing all of this palaba.
Eric Partaker: And of course, Bluefish, which we’re going to talk about, that’s your luxury concierge.
Steve Sims: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Eric Partaker: You said, “I only had 93 clients.” And then modestly, “They were almost all billionaires.”
Steve Sims: Yeah. Yeah. It was very weird. There’s so many people out there trying to get thousands upon thousands upon thousands of subscribers. Focus on the end goal, which is the client. And look at how much that value to you is. So yeah, I just literally went for billionaires. And it’s easy. And this is what annoys me. You can Google millionaires in your city and it will tell you how many millionaires are in your city. And probably, even through media, show you who the top 20 of them are. So why throw a party and invite a guy that’s having trouble paying for the $1,000 gala price ticket? Just invite the millionaires and billionaires.
And you know what millionaires and billionaires, who their friends are? Most of the time, millionaires and billionaires. So it ain’t that hard.
Eric Partaker: Yeah. So what was the motivation for you? What was driving this? Was it that you thought okay these guys will be easy money, these guys have a lot of money to spend so then I get to create and almost live vicariously through that? What was the driver for it?
Steve Sims: Actually all of that, no. Which sounds very arrogant to say, to set up a business and not be in it for the money. I was hanging around poor people that never had cars, that worked. And so I was very disgruntled. I was very aggravated. And most entrepreneurs, we do things based on aggravation. We solve a problem we have, and then we sell that solution to other people that have the same problem.
For me, I had no money. So what was the point of me going down to the pub and talking to all of my buddies that also never had any money, about how do you make money. It just didn’t make sense to me. We also were in a time of no social platforms. So in the 80s and 90s, I didn’t have Instagram to point out how inadequate my life was. So I didn’t have any of those things. I didn’t have podcasts. I didn’t have audiobooks. We didn’t have all those things. So I literally just wanted to do something for you that got your attention that I could then speak to you and go, “Hey Jimmy, I hope you enjoyed the party. I hope you enjoyed meeting Elton John. I hope you enjoyed hanging out in Formula One with Ferrari. Well by the way, I always wanted to ask you, how come you made your money in …”
And I started asking three questions. And the first question is so rude and obnoxious, but so blunt. I literally would say to people, “Hey, so how come you’re rich and I’m not?” And that would be it. And of course, coming from a big thug like me, and asking such a direct question, and then be so keen and leaning in, almost with a pad and paper, waiting to get this answer.
Eric Partaker: Give me the answer. Give me the answer.
Steve Sims: Yeah. Yeah. But it was the wrong question. And I realized very early on, if you’re getting the wrong answer, you’re asking the wrong question. So first of all, I was saying how rich he is. And when I speak to you about rich, you straightaway start thinking about financials, how much money is in my bank account and how much is in my portfolio. It’s not the right question. How come you’re so tall? It’s just a silly question.
Eric Partaker: How did you know I was tall?
Steve Sims: Well you look tall, on that chair. It just happens. So I knew it was the wrong question. So I tweaked it to wealth. Okay, wealth people. “How come you’re wealthy?” And then I’ve got people saying, “Because I found God. Oh, I married my wife and my wife is … And I found meditation.” And I’m like, hang on, I’m not going to marry your wife or join your church. This doesn’t help me. So again, wrong question.
So the third tweak of this question was, “Hey, how come you’re successful and I’m not?” That was it.
Eric Partaker: Nice.
Steve Sims: You see, you don’t get slim by buying a diet book. You get slim by actioning that book. And the byproduct of those actions is you become slim. If you want a big bank account, you’ve got to have a successful mindset. It doesn’t work the opposite way. You can’t buy one. You can’t order it on Amazon. If you can, send me the receipt, I’ll pay for it. You can’t do that.
So once I was able to ask these questions, people were like, “Well I look at opportunities like this, Steve.” Or, “This is how I work on my culture in my business. This is how I hire people. This is how I fire clients.” I learned. And I’m taking all of these notes. And the more I was getting, I was changing my attitude as I walked out the door from that conversation.
So I was now able to kind of change … I was now making money, byproduct of the successful mind shift. But of course, like all entrepreneurs, we want more. So I’m talking with millionaires and now I want to know do billionaires do it differently. So I started working with Richard Branson, Eve Branson, his mom. Started working with Peter Diamandis, Elon Musk, John Paul DeJoria. I started working with all of these famous billionaires, and then the billionaires you’ve never heard of that live in Krakow or Korea or Russia or England or Monaco. And I started working with these people and just going … Of course, I didn’t have to say, “How come you’re successful and I’m not,” now. I would say, “What do you think it is that makes you more successful than others?”
And it was my constant thirst for the way you looked at things, the way you actioned things. And I got great answers, and that’s what it was. So it wasn’t about the money. The money was a byproduct. The penthouses, the beautiful houses, living by the beach, that’s all been a byproduct of me changing my mindset, based on the conversations that I’ve had.
Hey, if I’ve got to get you to have a drum lesson with Guns and Roses or a walk on role in a Hollywood movie just to get your attention, then I’ll do that. But that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
Eric Partaker: Amazing. But what about the person who’s like, “Oh come on,” with these billionaires and the multimillionaires. They grew up in a life of privilege. They have access to resources that the other person doesn’t. They had a great education.
Steve Sims: What?
Eric Partaker: That I didn’t have. What do you say to that?
Steve Sims: Well I’m not quite sure I can say bullshit on this show, because I don’t want to swear. But Elon Musk lived in a one bedroom apartment-
Eric Partaker: Say bullshit. You can say it three times in a row.
Steve Sims: Perfect. Perfect. It’s utter shit. Look at Jeff Bezos, how he started. Now, Richard Branson, he did have a bit of capital behind him, yes. I’m not going to shy away that all billionaires are self-made. But the bottom line of it is, the Jeff Bezos, the Elon Musk’s, the John Paul … John Paul DeJoria used to sleep on the floor of a dry cleaners because he never had a home. This guy’s now got Patron, Paul Mitchell. The biggest, most powerful people on the planet did not come from money. They did not. And my clients didn’t.
You see, what I could never deal with was a trust fund baby. Now I would have a real problem … Because I’m getting introduced to Frederick Marcus III and they would be like, “Oh, I want to do this.” And I’d be like, “Oh great. So why do you want to …” And they just had money that they wanted to spend to give them a more interesting cocktail story. And there was nothing behind it. So I was like, “Sorry, I don’t think I can help you.”
So very early on, I would make sure that I only took on the clients that, quite simply, I wanted to connect with, that had some depth, some skill, some knowledge that I could benefit from. So all of my clients, bar a couple, never had money to start with. And those couple that did have money have gone on to surge over what their family had. So I’m there to find the hustlers, the entrepreneurs, and those aggravated to do more.
Eric Partaker: Give us a quick personal concierge 101, for the person who’s like, “I don’t fully understand exactly what a personal concierge does,” let alone a luxury personal concierge.
Steve Sims: Sure.
Eric Partaker: Give us the 101.
Steve Sims: Sure. So what happens is, lesson number one, never give a client what they ask for, because that’s called a transaction. Amazon does that all day long. So you’d have people go, “Oh, I want to have a really good … ” And this is a true story and it’s in the book. Shallow plug for the book. “I want to have a luxury dining experience in Florence. Make me look powerful.” That was the parameter that I was giving by a client. So what I did was I took over the Academia de Galleria museum, which is a museum in Florence that houses Michelangelo’s David.
I could’ve set him up in table of a top restaurant, paid the chef to come out and go, “Oh, good evening sir. It’s an honor.” But that wouldn’t have been good enough for me. May have been good enough for the client, but it wasn’t good enough for me, because I always like to push myself to the amazing and the stupid. I want to go for a goal so ridiculous you’re going to laugh at me, just before you applaud for me making it happen.
So I actually went for this museum, managed to get it, through some connections I had. Again, everything’s based on connections and your network. So I got them to agree to the museum. I set up a string quartet, got a really good chef to come in. At 9:00 in the evening they walked into their own museum, a table of six set up at the base of Michelangelo’s David, string quartet, pianist, top chef. And then as they’re eating their main course, their pasta, I asked permission to bring in a local entertainer to serenade them while they ate their main course. He agreed. I brought in Andre Bocelli to serenade them while they were eating.
That’s what I do. If you want a drum lesson, let’s get it with the drummer from Guns and Roses. If you want a guitar lesson, let’s get ZZ Top to teach you how to play guitar. So that’s what I do. I take what you want, and I put my spin, my effort, my dreams on it so that you go home going, “You are not going to believe what I did. And I want to introduce you to the guy.” And then I get to interview them again.
Eric Partaker: But how is it for you though? It sounds like it might be exhausting, right? You’re jet setting around to all these different places, doing all these different demands. It’s constant dream life. Where, for you, is the you know what I’m just going to watch Squid Game on Netflix?
Steve Sims: Actually I haven’t started that yet, but it is on my to-do list. The funny thing is, the concierge firm I left about four years ago still do a little bit for some of my closest clients. But I left that industry. And as I say now, I just speak and coach on helping other entrepreneurs. It wasn’t what I enjoyed doing. Like red carpets, the ego of a red carpet. You may not know this. But they stagger people on a red carpet. So if you’ve got two singers that are going on the red carpet, one singer doesn’t want to be outdone by the other singer. So whose got lead here, so they’ll throw an actor in the middle. Or they’ll now throw a top entrepreneur or a TV star. So the ego about, “Oh, I can’t follow them. I need to lead in front of them.” All of that kind of bullshit, it can make you sick, violently sick.
So I never wanted to be part of that. But my client from St. Petersburg or Moscow or Monaco wants to walk the red carpet and doesn’t care who he’s behind or who he’s in front of. So I did it for them. So you very, very quickly had to go, Hey I’m not here at the front row of the Paris Fashion Week because I really give a shit what the new black is next year. I’m here because it’s what my client wants. I’m doing it for my client so tomorrow I’ve got an hour long conversation over breakfast on how come you’re successful.
There were many times, many times … I had a client that wanted to get married in the Vatican, by the pope. And I was there for just over six months. You think you’re local vehicle registration office in America, you call it the DMV, if you think your local government has red tape, you try and deal with the Vatican. That’s got red tape on red tape on red tape.
Eric Partaker: Is that possible? Is it possible to get the pope to marry you?
Steve Sims: Anything’s possible. Anything’s possible. But I was over there for just over six months, shuffling papers, talking to the right people, making sure we had … Over six months. I lost an entire summer in L.A., away from my family. I remember leaving Rome, coming back … And it sounds all great. Great hotel in the Hotel de Russie. Great room up there. Traveling around, having special access into the papal gardens. Oh my god, it sounds brilliant, for two minutes.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: And then all of a sudden you’re away from your family, you’re away from your friends. It was like a mini COVID. I was blocked off from all of my relationships. I didn’t really care about sitting at the hotel bar and listening to how you’re traveling over here from so and so and-
Eric Partaker: Was it worth it?
Steve Sims: Financially, yes. Mentally, no. I would never do it again. And it was one of the staples in the coffin that said I don’t want to be doing this anymore. I’m not enjoying this. And now, with the people that I have on speed dial, with the conversations I’ve had, I don’t need as many of those conversations now. So that was actually … Even before the book came out, that was actually kind of like, “I’m moving out of this.” I’ve got what I needed, I’m kind of done.
So it got to the point where it doesn’t matter about the money. You’re away from your family. You’re away from your friends. And for me, I don’t have a car. I haven’t had a car for decades. I ride two wheels. I ride motorcycles. I’ve got a lovely collection of bikes. You can’t find me on a bike. I can’t pick up what you want from the grocery store. I can’t run through a Starbucks and get a mochalochafrap or whatever. I am completely disconnected from the planet when I’m on two wheels.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: So for me, I want to barbecue, ride motorcycles, and drink old-fashioneds in my garden. That’s as exciting as I am.
Eric Partaker: When are you going to next do the old fashioned? That sounds pretty good.
Steve Sims: Do you know, I started to throw these entrepreneur events called speakeasys.
Eric Partaker: Right.
Steve Sims: And it costs … It’s already sold out, so there’s no pitch. But I charge people $2,000 to turn up, in a city, they don’t know the location until they arrive. And then for two days we go through different trainings. And each night we hit a bar or we have a bar set up where we basically have way too many old-fashioneds. And then the following day we do it again. And no one knows where they’re going. They just know that they’re going to go along, they’re going to get challenged, they’re going to get uncomfortable, and they’re probably going to drink too much drink.
And they’ve been selling out for about three years. It’s been a great deal of fun. And it’s amazing how many people would travel around the planet just to come to one of my events, where they don’t know who’s going to be there, who they’re going to meet. They just know that they’re going to meet 40 other creative disruptors in that room.
Eric Partaker: Awesome. I’m up for the next one, please. All right. So how long were you in the concierge-
Steve Sims: So the concierge space really kept me about 25 years.
Eric Partaker: Okay. Listening to you, it sounds like there was some hard work and there’s some choices you had to make. But it sounds pretty glorious and lavish and luxurious.
Steve Sims: Oh yeah.
Eric Partaker: But we’re both entrepreneurs. We know that that’s not how it is. Can you share some of the low moments? What were the lowest moments in building that business? And what did you go through?
Steve Sims: Probably one of the darkest chapters I ever had was not so much losing money. I learned how to read a contract by not reading contracts. And by not reading those contracts-
Eric Partaker: That’s painful.
Steve Sims: Yeah. You suddenly start losing money or realizing there’s extra fees involved. And you walk away thinking, I’ve got $150,000 on this. And then you suddenly realize that it costs you $200,000 for licensing rights or something and you actually just paid for the privilege to work for someone else. So those were pretty interesting moments. But I always look at those as education, okay.
But probably the darkest one was when I lost something worse than money, which was me. Now for about eight years I was now dealing with the most affluent people on the planet. And I got a deal with Ferrari, great deal. Loved working there. And I was involved in some of the parties for their 50th anniversary for the Ferrari team, the Formula One team, in Monaco.
Eric Partaker: Right.
Steve Sims: And I had this massive, great yacht. And the Cannes Film Festival, for anyone that doesn’t know, is the week before the Monaco Formula One. So anyone that’s been over there for the movies, you’re Brad Pitts, you’re Sylvester Stallone, anyone that’s big in the movies would then pop over to continue their high life at the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix.
And so we had all these superstars. And this was 1997. We had all these celebrities coming over. I was living in Switzerland at the time, riding around on a Ducati. Still got my earrings, still got my black T-shirt, shaved head, goatee. Still looking like a doorman. And I woke up, probably about three months away from this Monaco party.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: And I thought to myself, hang on a minute, I’m going to turn up in Monaco either by taxi or on a motorbike. I would literally turn up in a country and either buy the bike or rent the bike. But I would always be on the bike. It gave me my meditation space. And because I was known to always be riding bikes, a lot of the brands would lend me a bike. So I was very fortunate there.
I thought, I’m going to turn up at the Monaco Grand Prix on a bike, in a black T-shirt and jeans, which is what I always wear now. Oh my god, what will people think? Now, I had forgotten the fact that it was my party. It was my yacht. It was my invitation list. You know?
Eric Partaker: Yeah. Yeah.
Steve Sims: I had that little doubt that all entrepreneurs get of that imposter syndrome. I was controlling everything, but even I still had imposter syndrome. So what did I do? I did everything bad. I went out and I bought a watch. And I’m all about this watch was expensive. It was an Audemars Piguet, and it was the same price as a Range Rover. Because I wanted to impress you at that party. I went and had tailor made suits. I took my earrings out. And this is where it gets really bad, I bought a car.
Eric Partaker: Wow. So you basically undid you.
Steve Sims: Well done. And I went to this party, my party, and there’s a picture of me that we still have in my office. At the time, in the 90s, the biggest movies were the Rambos and Terminator movies. There’s a picture of me up against a bar, having a conversation with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. And on the side of it … And I don’t know if you remember it, the it couple at the time, which as Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley in the dress. And I was in the picture and I left the party, went back to Switzerland, got a load of photographs sent to me, flicking through the photographs and came upon this photograph and realized I wasn’t in it. This guy with a suit, this guy trying to look intelligent, this guy with an overpriced watch, this guy was … I never went to my own party. This façade did. And it literally busted me. It broke me.
I literally saw that picture and I went into a drunken binge for three days. I locked myself in the office. My friends actually turned up and kicked the door down to get me out.
Eric Partaker: Wow.
Steve Sims: They took me to the hospital. It was that bad. I don’t want to say drinking myself to death-
Eric Partaker: But close.
Steve Sims: I never had that on my mind, that I was committing suicide. But I was so gutted that I will fight anyone, but I gave up on me. And I let myself go. I sold myself out. So I came back, once I was all cleaned up and that. We put the suits in the back of the car, but never did wear those ever again. They ended up going to a Goodwill store. The car and watch went that day. I hocked the watch and I put the car up for sale. And I thought to myself, if you don’t like this, if you don’t want to talk to this, if you don’t want to hang around and communicate with this, that’s fine. But I am not going to dilute myself for you. And if I did, the conversation wouldn’t be worth having.
Eric Partaker: Fuck yeah. Love it. Love it. Yeah. How many times do people go around trying to fit some kind of profile and be something for someone else. But I think everyone … It’s easy to say this. I’m 46. Was I doing that when I was 26? Yeah. Was I doing that when I was 36? Probably yeah, still. It’s only in my 40s where I’m a little bit … Now I’m just like, “You know what, fuck it.” This is who I am. If you like it, great. If you don’t, that’s fine. Because don’t need the whole world to like you, right?
Steve Sims: But the downside is, with social peer pressure that we have now, a lot of people try. And they actually put … We own a company called Sims Media, sims.media, there you go. And the one thing we do is get rid of the confusion, to breed clarity. Because today, in the world of your social … And I’ll give you this little test. On a desktop. Not on a phone, not on a table. On a desktop, open up all of your social feeds. Open up your Twitter, your LinkedIn, your Pinterest, your Facebook, your TikTok, whatever. And then look at the bios. Is the bio the exact same on every social platform? Is the picture the exact same? And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for 90% of the people listening, it’s not. Because on LinkedIn they stood there on a suit trying to look all suave, leaning up against a load of books. And then they’ll go over to Facebook and it’d be Girls Gone Wild. They think Facebook’s like a frat party, I can have a drink. I can play on Facebook, but I have to look serious on LinkedIn.
And ask yourself the question, is Apple different on any other platform? Or is it the same? Is Ford the exact same on every platform? Is Tesla the exact same on every platform? That’s what you got to start doing. You’ve got to make sure to stop confusing your clients by trying to be someone who you think they want to connect with. Be you and they will resonate. Me and you both know, because we’re smart and we’re older in our life. There are people listening to this podcast … there are people that probably already turned off, going, “I can’t understand what he’s saying and I don’t like his attitude.” And that’s not going to upset either of our sleep tonight, is it?
Eric Partaker: Nope. And then you have people like me, with a different profile where like, “Oh crap, I meant to change that picture three years ago and I still haven’t.” I’ve looked at actually the exact thing that you said. I’ve looked at the different profiles and I’m like, “Oh man.” To be completely honest, it’s just so … which isn’t good from a branding point of view. But it’s just I haven’t prioritized it. So I have these different photos from … I have one photo from me 10 years ago. I got to get that sorted out.
Earlier you were talking about connections and network. You said something along the lines of your net worth is your network, that whole thing. Having come from East London, from the life that you talked about, to interacting with all the people, all the connections that you have. You could probably do a masterclass on networking and building connections. Can you give us some tips there? How did you go about connecting so well to people who were so different from you?
Steve Sims: So a couple of things. I think growing up in the streets of East London your word was your bond. If you said you’re going to do it, you do it or you get smacked on the nose. So it was that kind of life. There were those guys that you messed around with. And there were those guys that you didn’t. So you learn this decorum of honor, respect, tolerance. You understood those kind of things. A lot of those things, sadly we don’t know today because we don’t have repercussions. People look at a picture of someone on FaceBook and they go, “Well you look fat,” and then they go about their day and forget how devastating that one comment can be to the person that maybe is trying to lose weight to look good for a wedding or something. What right do you have to do that? So repercussions, we don’t have that. I did back then.
But I learned very early on that if I was going to enter into a conversation with someone, there needed to be a beneficial point to them. Like if I walk up to you and I knock on your door and it’s 2:00 in the morning and you’ve got kids and you’ve got a dog and I woke up your wife, and you open up the door. You’re furious that I’ve just woke you up at 2:00 in the morning.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: But if I say to you, “Hey, Eric, I needed to knock on your door because just around the corner I’m having a conversation with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and I just wondered would you like to be part of this conversation.”
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: I’ve now gone from an aggravation to an asset.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: So whenever I enter into a conversation, no matter what the conversation is … I would walk up to someone and go, “Hey, I wanted to have a conversation with you, but I noticed your beer’s nearly gone, so can I get you a fresh beer?” And it would be as minuscule as that. I’m not providing a benefit. Now, of course, the more affluent people that I’ve dealt with, I can go up to them and I can go, “Hey, I know you’ve got a book coming out. I know you’re working on a project. I know you’re raising capital for this. I know you’ve got a charity. I know your daughter sponsors this. I’ve got a way that I could help with that. I want to have a conversation with you. But would you be open to us discussing that first?”
If I came up to you and you don’t know who I am. So I’m going to give you exactly how I would get in your circle. I don’t make connections by chance. Don’t do that. I can’t be the guy that goes, “Hey, how are you? What are you doing here? What did you watch on TV?” I don’t give a shit about that. I don’t care what you ate last night. Couldn’t give a fuck. But if I want to get a conversation going with you, I’m going to research you. I’m going to find out that you’ve got a top podcast. I’m going to find out that you’re in Portugal. So all of a sudden I see you in a London event, in a bar, in a gala. And if you want to meet someone famous, stalk the galas that they go through. And then buy a bloody ticket, and then start.
So I would find out where you’re going to be, and I would walk up to you and I would say, “Hey, Eric. How are you doing?” And this is it, word for word. “Hey, Eric. How are you doing? You don’t know me.” That’s the first thing I say. Because how many times have you been in an event, I know I get it, and the famous people get it even more than us. People walk up to them. They go, “Eric.” And you’re stood there going, “Who the hell are you? I don’t know you.” Are you a friend of a friend? Have we met before? Oh my god, I’m feeling bad here because I can’t remember your name. And that person’s causing you distress. Have you ever had that?
Eric Partaker: Oh, many times.
Steve Sims: Yeah. But wouldn’t it be nice if I said, “Hey, Eric. How are you doing? You don’t know me.” How relaxed are you now? So you could go, okay I don’t know him but what does this bloody ugly guy want. And I can go, “I’ve listened to your podcast, it’s fantastic. I’ve got a way that I could get you distributed to another couple of different markets. Would that be of interest to you?”
Eric Partaker: Yes.
Steve Sims: Great. “I wanted to have a conversation with you about getting my client on your podcast. But before we get into that, let’s discuss what I mentioned to you about getting you into other areas.” So the things that have happened is, one, I’ve calmed you down by telling you you don’t know me.
Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Steve Sims: I’ve then given you a reason to have a conversation with me, because I’ve given something of value to you. And I’ve also dropped the seed in there that I’m going to be asking you for something. And then the next 20 minutes of the conversation is going to be about giving you all of this information about how I can get you onto those other things. Oh, and I’d mentioned I wanted to get a client onto your podcast. This is the client. Would he be of interest to you?
Now, you’re no longer just looking at the client. You’re thinking, I want to get that client on my podcast because then Steve’s going to get me into two other marketplaces.
Eric Partaker: Bingo. Love it.
Steve Sims: And I’ve done that with awards shows. I’ve done it with Formula One teams. I’ve done it with celebrities. You just go up to them and you go, “My name’s Steve. You don’t know me.” In fact, I’ll give you one quick story about a good friend, a client that I won’t mention his name. Big, big, big Silicon Valley seed investor. Pretty much owns all of the big names you can think of, good positions in each. I wanted to work with this guy. Didn’t know what he wanted, but I, selfishly, wanted to work with this guy because I wanted to interview him in the way that I told you I grow.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: So what did I go? I found out about him. I started Googling him. I looked up images. I looked up biographies. I did my research on this billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: And as I’m doing stuff, I found that there was a new project he was working on. And I looked at this project and I found … there was something about it that I thought oh. And I can’t even remember what it was. But I wonder if they thought about this. Now you don’t need to be an engineer. You just go, marketing, branding, distribution, client journey, website. If you can go up to somebody and go, “Hey, I read your website and I know that there’s a misspelling on paragraph three.” So it could be really primitive stuff that helps the person. So I did all of this and I came up with one thing that I had noticed could potentially be a hurdle in his branding efforts on this new project he was going to do.
So then I came up with a second one. Now here’s the things. People don’t like twos, they like threes and fives. The three ways you can be rich, for some reason sounds better than the two ways you can be rich.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: So people like three and they like fives. So I came up with the third reason. It was weak as hell. But I had to come up with three. So I went to this party that I knew he was going to be at. I bided my time. I saw him talking to about three cronies. He just came off a phone call and was facing away from these three guys that were obviously his entourage. And I took that time to walk up in front of him. And I went, “Hey, how you doing? You’re so and so. My name is Steve Sims. You don’t know me.” Okay. So he’s now looking at me. He’s now relaxed, because he doesn’t know me. But what’s going through his head? He’s thinking, so what do you want?
Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Steve Sims: So I answer that question quickly, before it gets any momentum in his head. So I went, “Hey, sorry for disturbing you. But I’m very intrigued with this project that you’re working on. However, I did notice three ways that there could be an issue with actually getting out there in the market. But rather than giving you three problems, I actually came up with three solutions. Would you like me to go through what they are?”
Eric Partaker: Nice.
Steve Sims: So I’m giving him … He doesn’t know me. Even more, he’s not paying me. I’m not giving him three problems. I’m now giving him three solutions.
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: So he looked at me. His three cronies are now side by side next to him, looking at me. And he looks at me. And he’s quite a tall fella, but thin. And these other cronies have all got a suit on and stuff like that. He’s a little bit more relaxed dressed. I’m there in a black T-shirt with a jacket on and jeans and a pair of Vans, because that’s how I dress everywhere. Gone to Elton John’s Oscar party looking like that.
And I said to him. I said, “Here’s the three things.” And I said, “The project you’re working on, the number one hurdle I came up with … And I’m not privy to any of your stuff, so I haven’t hacked anything. But from an outside observation, I noticed this could be a problem. Here’s the solution I would look at.” Number two, I saw this. Solution. Number three, it was weak, but I gave him a problem and I gave him a solution. “I hope that helps you.” And he looked at me and he laughed at me. Started laughing. Now his cronies next to me also started laughing, because the big man was laughing.
Eric Partaker: Right. Okay. Yeah.
Steve Sims: Now I’m 240 pounds, I don’t want people laughing at me. This wasn’t sitting too well. So I went, oh well, you can’t win them all. Obviously I did something wrong there. Let me go to the other end of the bar and try and work out how I screwed that up.
So I turned away to go to walk away, and the guy grabbed my shoulder. So now get this. Four people are laughing at me and this guy’s just put his hand on me. This needs to get smart real quick before someone’s going down. The East London in me is coming out quick. You better say something quick, mate, before this turns nasty. And he said to me, “I’m so sorry for laughing at you. But you need to understand why I’m laughing.” And I went, “All right. I’ll listen.” And he said, “We shut that project down four months ago because we couldn’t come up with a solution for your point number two.”
Eric Partaker: Nice.
Steve Sims: “We put money into that for three years.” And then he turns around. He said, “And these pricks couldn’t come up with the answer that you did, approaching me in a bar.”
Eric Partaker: Genius.
Steve Sims: And I was like, “Well, I hope it helps.” And he went, “No, it doesn’t really.” He said, “Because I never go back to a project. So that’s dead. That’s dusted. We’re never reviving that.”
Eric Partaker: Yeah.
Steve Sims: “But you’re a solution provider. Would you be willing to be on a retainer to look at my other projects?”
Eric Partaker: Wow. How cool is that.
Steve Sims: That was in 2008 or 2009. And I’m still on his payroll. And every now and then I’ll just get a proposal come through. He goes, “What’s wrong with this?” And I’ll look at it and sometimes go, “Nothing.” But I will look at it with a kid eyes. How many times do you get someone and they just go, “Why are you doing it like this?” And you go, “Oh, because I’ve always done it.” They go, “Well why don’t you just do that and that?” And you go, “Oh shit.”
Eric Partaker: And that’s the beauty of not being so close to the problem or the industry.
Steve Sims: And that’s why he has me. I’ve been to his events. I’ve been to … I can’t say what I’ve been to. If I mentioned some of the things, you’d know exactly who it is. But the bottom line of it is, that’s how I approached and that’s how I approach every single person, with a solution.
When I approached the Accademia de Galleria, the museum, because I wanted to have a fricking dinner party for six people. I approached them because I’d realized they were having a gala later on that year to repair the roof. So I got a very connected person in Italy to make the introduction. And then when I went in there, they knew I wanted something. When you meet someone, you know that the person you’re meeting wants something. That’s why there’s a meeting. So the people at the Academia knew I was going to ask for something.
So I surprised them by going, “Hey, thanks a lot for taking the time to speak with me. I noticed you’ve got a gala going on in October. Why is the gala raising money? What is this for? What is the problem you’re trying to solve?” Before we even spoke about me. And they went, “Oh, our roof.” And I said, “Is a roof that expensive for a museum?” And they went, “Well it’s got to control the humidity. It’s got to control the fire. It’s about four times more expensive than any other kind of roof.” I said, “How much is that going to cost? Wondering what it’s going to cost you.” I said, “Okay. How would it be if before I left the room today, I committed to meeting a quarter of the budget you need, before you’ve even printed a single flyer to that gala. Would that be of interest to you?” They’re not no longer looking at me as a guy that wants to throw a party in their museum. Now they’re looking at me as a guy that’s going to cover a quarter of that bill before they’ve even started the gala.
Eric Partaker: Beautiful. Beautiful. So being curious enough, asking the right questions to figure out also what are the problems that you might solve. Steve, absolutely amazing. What’s the number one thing, from your entrepreneurial journey, that you’d recommend others out there who are trying to level up, close that gap between their current and best self, what’s the number one thing people should be focused on, that the should do?
Steve Sims: The client. Very, very easy answer. Stop looking at your website. Stop looking at how pretty you are. Stop looking at how eloquent you are. Fuck all of that. Focus on the client. When you can solve a client’s problem, all of this is no longer relevant. So one focus, the client.
Eric Partaker: Amazing. Amazing. If people want to get a hold of you, how do people find you?
Steve Sims: Well, like everyone should be, I am very easy to find. Stevedsims.com is the website. SteveDSims is my Instagram, it’s my Twitter, it’s my LinkedIn. Everywhere you can find me under Steve D. Sims. D for dashing. And there’s only one M in Sims.
Eric Partaker: Awesome. And I’m just terrified that there might be a typo in the third paragraph of my website.
Steve Sims: I’ll point it out, you know I will.
Eric Partaker: All right. Steve, thanks so much for today. Really appreciate it. Awesome conversation. Thank you.
Steve Sims: Cheers, pal. Look out for yourself. Be safe.