Carlos Alvarez on Overcoming Obstacles in Your E-Commerce Business

Episode 19

The Firing The Man duo interview e-commerce Legend Carlos Alvarez.  Carlos is the founder of the largest Amazon Sellers Meetup group in the world.  During this episode, we discuss the struggles of doing business in the COVID-19 era, overcoming obstacles, learning lessons from failure, and how Carlos has persevered in his own e-commerce businesses for the last 14 years to achieve 9-figure results.  This is an episode you will not want to miss!

Books mentioned: 

“The Founder’s Dilemma” by Noam Wasserman – ORDER HERE 

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Carlos 0:00
Knowing your Y gives you a, a focus point that you can keep walking towards everybody says like when you fail, just keep getting up and keep moving forward. But whereas forward in this analogy What if you’re just punched drunk, and you’re on the ground and you’re willing to get up you don’t know where do north is like you know, you don’t know where your North Stars out, you don’t know where you’re going. And knowing your why and be your North Star can be your focal point when you get up no matter how strong you can find it, and move in that direction.

Intro 0:30
Welcome, everyone, to the firing the men podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you were capable of more than join us, this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income stream in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David shoma and Ken Wilson.

David 0:54
All right. Welcome, everyone to the firing demand podcast today. We have a very special Guest Carlos Alvarez Carlos is the founder of the largest Amazon sellers Meetup group in the world, which is located in Miami, Florida. Carlos has had huge success in the e commerce space over the last decade and has recently started sharing his knowledge on his podcast the Wizards of Amazon. Welcome to the show. Carlos. What’s up, man? Thank you guys for having me. What’s up, David? What’s up, Ken? Hey. So I think starting out Carlos, tell us a little little bit about yourself. Where did this ecommerce journey start and tell us about your path to success?

Carlos 1:35
Yeah, before before saying I have a confession that I’ve been binge listening to your guys podcast ever since Ken pointed out that the name of it I recently listened to one about how you guys are using like the calculator to determine profits and stuff like that. It was various the most in depth discussion on that topic I’ve heard in 15 years. So I loved it. I I got it. And I shared it with some of my VA s and I’m like, hey, that thing we were talking about this. Look at This is so great job guys. Thank you. My backstory, I just did everything wrong as a kid. I’m assuming this podcast is under an hour. So I got to do this fast but like it’s everything wrong as a kid, I literally walked out of fourth grade elementary school and just walked into a store and I guess five finger discount some fishing supplies I went fishing, and I never went back. Very bad household that I grew up in. So nobody was really checking. And I kept doing that wrong thing for a long time. I my friends later or my peers or people that became friends later on, they didn’t they did the whole they went to school, the normal thing, they got a high school diploma, they went to college, and they were getting these jobs that paid money that allowed you to get a home, you know, like get a home and like do adult things. And I was you know, a dairy clerk in Publix delivering subs in a sub shop selling cigars and I had an expensive ex girlfriend I should thank her because it’s what got me into selling on eBay. I got hooked on the process of selling on ebay friends and family saw that I mind you at this point. This is I’d say 16 and a half years ago and friends and family saw that I was doing something that wasn’t going to land me at either like life in prison or od. And they were like let’s support this and they were throwing that term around like entrepreneur I had to look it up. And I’m like yeah, that’s me. Finally something I can identify with and I they pulled together at $1,000 and I went to my supplier my most profitable product at the time was this adult novelty item this silicone ring with a motor I’m gonna leave it for that and it was for guys but the I’d get it for 16 cents we’d sell it for 20 something dollars and I went to my supplier Elvis from pleasure chest still exists to this day on Alibaba, by the way if you want to reach out and he he told me we don’t have any bow obvious to us now you know as successful You know, entrepreneurs are accustomed to working with suppliers. No one holds like $80,000 of inventory there with your perfect packaging, right, so I got offended that he didn’t have the inventory. I thought you know, wrongly that all factories held that kind of inventory. And I found someone else that had it on Alibaba. Keep in mind this is just six or approximately 16 years ago on Alibaba like this is wild wild west. It looks nothing like what it looks like right now. And I found someone guy named moose mon CSA, and had a factory in Hong Kong and I sent him the money and he stole everything from me. That was truly my low point. Not I knew how to be broke, like there was not going to be a major lifestyle change because that money was gone. It was more. I liked being called an entrepreneur. I liked people looking at me like people asking me about their ideas and whether they’d be profitable. So I tried to hide successfully, I guess hide the fact that I got ripped off. And one of the things I went to go sell to get some seed money to keep going is two of my reptiles and Burmese python Columbia red tail Boa and person in front of me in the reptile store when the pet store was paying $25 for 50 live worms. I something just clicked. I mean I i have to say it’s almost insanity, especially knowing everything that truly goes into running a successful business selling live insects online. It was insanity what I did, but I did it. I did. I couldn’t even afford the bins that I would eventually breed these things in. I find an article at a library about zoos potentially saving money by breeding these things, insects like super worms, feeder worms, Jamaican crickets, stuff like that. And instead of buying them top dollar on the private market, I started breeding them I couldn’t afford the bins. I started going to garage sales paying pennies on the dollar. You know this hodgepodge thing of bins creating these environments that they could breed in, eat in, live in but not escape. From which I wasn’t always successful, and this is a residence. So at one point when I exceeded was five different types of insects and each one had over 3 million of each. And I’m selling them, code enforcement comes to my house one night. I mean, imagine three and a half million crickets going off at night. If you

forget it, you can imagine like, I had earplugs in the house. So I i bluffed them and said if I threw it out to be an agricultural disaster, they went for it. Friend lets me get a warehouse, rent free half of it. They want to be my whole thing who wants to work in an insect warehouse? And long story short, I guess is you know, 9-10 months later, I wind up my knee. I’m working 80 to 100 hours of sleeping on the floor making every mistake known to man and I I wound up getting approached and sold the company for $2.6 million. And then I’ve just never looked back.

David 6:53
Awesome. I love that story. I love that story from so many different angles. What was the name of the country If you don’t mind me asking

Carlos 7:01
Miami insects,

nothing otherworldly. It was I said, we’re in Miami and insects. And that business sold. I had a non compete for several years. And now I have I restarted the business and it’s actually one of my highest grossing and most lucrative brands right now on Amazon.

David 7:22
That’s awesome. So you sell your company, where do you go from there? You got a non compete, you can’t get back that market. What do you do now?

Carlos 7:30
$2.6 million. At that time to me meant I could buy anything. However I wanted for as long as I wanted. And this is where not having a formal education or maybe a few business one on one classes would have served me justice. Because I was single, I had felt totally betrayed that you know, everyone was my girl left me. Keep in mind 15-16 years ago, if you said as an adult that you said that you sold on Amazon or eBay I was seen as extremely juvenile. And it was not something that you know, your, your potential wife, and I’m assuming husband as well, but that your potential wife would look at you and say, Yeah, I see financial security here. I see, we can have kids, everything’s gonna be fine. That’s not what that’s not what that communicated, not to anybody. And it didn’t even communicate that to me. It was like, Oh my god, I’m a total failure. Let me just somehow keep connecting the dots, connect the next Connect, just keep moving forward, learn from everything I do wrong, do it better and just keep moving forward. And I know it doesn’t work out like that for everyone. Let me not say that. I think a lot of people quit. But I kept going and it worked for me. So I’m sitting here at $2.6 million. It is not $2.6 million, which every broker, lawyer, IRS and everything gets ahold of it, right. So we’re sitting we’re still sitting at a really nice number. We’re sitting at a little over a million and I think what I did could only be described as I decided to horror around Miami. I really just did that. And I was like, All these things I couldn’t have, I’m now having that expensive bottle, give it to me. And I started living a life around Miami. That’s really so unlike me. But I thought this is what you do. And truth be told, there’s some good memories in there. And I did that. And then one day, I just realized, at this point next year, at this rate, I will be broke. And I will not only be broke, but before when I was broke, I didn’t really know anything better. But now I’m going to be broke. And I’m going to have had a taste of what not being broke is like, and I didn’t want to do that again. So the only thing I knew that had been validated in my life that I could do good was sell on eBay and Amazon and I decided at that point that I was going to I created a company called I think it was called hyperborean. And we started a brand selling beverage chilling devices and we were one of the the second or third person On Amazon to start selling whiskey stones, and like these accessories to beer and wine and bar tools, and it just went gangbusters and I started opening more brands and more brands and, you know, doing the wholesale model and making every mistake along the way, I don’t want to paint this into this. I’m the the genius who had it all solved. Like, I think I’ve touched the stove more than a lot of people and been burned, but um, I just have this thing where it’s like, what’s, there’s a song out there now, and it really resonates with me. And I see a lot of people saying, I’m rambling here, so cut me off whenever but I see a lot of people and they’re like, Man, it’s just everything is so bad. And I and I feel like I’m just looking down at everybody and everybody’s doing and I’m thinking, the song says, if you’re on the bottom, there’s nobody beneath you. There’s no looking down. When you’re on the bottom, you’re not really on the bottom. You just think you’re on the bottom. If you’re looking down around you you’re not on the bottom, there’s still a ways down to go. So the having the advantage of truly being on the bottom allowed me when you’re on the bottom, almost every option is a good one. So I wasn’t concerned about what someone thought. And I just said, Okay, I made a mistake. Well, I’m, I’m still kind of down here. There’s only up from here and I just kept going.

David 11:14
It’s awesome. You know, one perseverance seems to be a huge theme for you in that story. And, you know, one thing that Ken and I talk a lot about is when people are down on their luck. There are two types of people, some people will take action and do something to get themselves out of that situation. And some people will sit around for 30 years and complain about that. And, you know, when I think of the man that I want to be, it’s the person that that perseveres when times get tough. Right now, we’re recording this on April 7, and we are right in, you know, what I would call the middle who knows of this COVID-19 outbreak, and I think that, you know, for some new sellers, they may see this as something that is crushing, maybe the brand that they just launched. And, you know, you have 16 years of context, right. So for some of those people that are getting discouraged at this time, what would you tell them?

Carlos 12:14
I think it’s important to not ignore the situation we’re in. Like, there, there are definitely, things are not going to be the same as they were before. And when you hear that, I think like you said, there’s two types of people that when they hear that assume one side was possibility, and the other side was this graveyard. And that’s not the case. I think the other side, while being different, is is going to be better. And it’s not just being an optimist. It’s a bazillion reasons. I mean, one of them the biggest complaint a lot of people I feel like are struggling with is if you have a non essential product and you can’t send it in right now. It’s like okay, you know, that even then there’s workarounds without getting into all the workarounds there are but imagine Amazon does not do this essential, non essential thing. And after this, how many fewer people now have a prime account? Because they couldn’t get their freaking toilet paper from the place they’re paying $112 a year from right? How many people are no longer just default I buy on Amazon, which is our products, right? versus this very temporary. I mean, I know a lot of people whose non essentials are already getting accepted to go back in and we’re looking at what two weeks, three weeks, how many more people have a prime account now. And that are going to be buyers on the end of this that weren’t before that are buying our stuff. So I there’s so many situations like that, that I see that. Not that I needed it but reconfirmed to me that we are so on the right side of this as ecommerce sellers as Amazon sellers as businessmen in this day and age. So having said that, I think it’s important to acknowledge that and something that that I’ve done and it’s there’s no if you duplicate What I’m doing it may not work for you, you got to find your thing. And that is, whenever I’m dealing with things like, Oh my god, what am I doing? Is this advice that I gave good? Did I make the right decision here long term for my family? I have imposter syndrome. I’m down like, anytime I’m feeling like that, I acknowledge it. I acknowledge where it’s coming from. And I’m like, Okay, and then I have my you guys are gonna laugh here, but I have this playlist of a few videos and they’ve changed over the years, but a few videos and a few songs that I popped my beats on. And I immerse myself into it and I let that feed my brain and I’ll let that feed me what’s going on and it snaps me out of it. And as soon as I feel like it didn’t snap me out of it, I tweaked my playlist right now. It’s that, um, this one’s been there forever. And it’s that et Eric, the hip hop preacher wanted as bad as you want to breathe on YouTube. And the other one is one by Arnold Schwarzenegger about. He doesn’t believe in Plan B. no plan B. That’s my thing right now. And that’s what I do. And it allows me to take that next step forward, retool what’s going on reevaluate my priorities and recenter and keep going forward. And I think everyone needs to either do that or do something like that for them. Because ignoring the fact that we’re in the situation we’re in is insanity.

Ken 15:22
Yeah, for sure. A couple of things that you said that you talked about Carlos I’d like to unpack those a little bit now the the songs and the videos that I follow you on your your your telegram, your Facebook, and you know, your whole group, and you you sent those out a few weeks ago, you know, when this stuff was was hitting really hard, and I think that was huge to have, you know, something for motivation and something to grab on to and kind of ignite you know, kind of Spark. Yeah, if you can share those. We’ll put them in the show notes for anybody listening. If you need something, you know, to get you over that hump to get you that motivation. That’s awesome. In your story. You tried a bunch of You know, tried a bunch of different things and it sounds like you’ve reflected back and thought, you know what, hey, I’m really good at this one thing. And then you just went deep in on that. And, you know, I think sometimes that’s a, if you try a whole bunch of different things, you know, and something doesn’t work out something does. And then finally, it’s like you you have a good fit, then you double down on it. I think that’s a that’s huge.

Carlos 16:23
Thank you. Thank you for that and thank you for being connected over there and thank you for all your help at the beginning of this too, so that I could share with my group you know, the whole merchant fulfilled angle on stuff but the the video I’ll share the links with you guys afterwards, so definitely can go on the show notes. None of it was created by me, obviously, but that video that plan B not believing in Plan B that Schwarzenegger puts out. That is something I’ve kind of lived by from the beginning. I saw that thing that I was good at and I double down on it. I didn’t say even though this video didn’t exist, then I didn’t say let me focus my energies on Plan B and Plan C and plan D in case that doesn’t work. My Plan A doesn’t work and do divert resources from my plan A, it’s kind of what it’s what I’ve lived by. And I think it’s an advantage of having having experienced a lot of failures, you can find great advantage in having failed and and I’ve had to share failures. So I just I just learned from them. And I’m at a point now where when I fail, you know, that human side of me is like, oh, but there’s a much greater part of me that says, You know, I just leveled up like, and it’s important, I think to do that.

David 17:30
Absolutely. You mentioned this reset button of listening to music, watching videos, taking some time for yourself, and then making a path forward. And I really like that and I think everybody has something that’s a little different. You know, it might be a long walk in the woods. You know, one in particular and I think, judging by what’s on your playlist, there’s a YouTube video out there by Jocko willing. He’s a retired Navy SEAL, always called good and I am I love that video. And it gets me pumped up. It’s good at at re centering me and helping me regain my focus when I have failed or things haven’t gone my way. I can tell you I’ve watched that video two to three times in the last couple weeks, just because I am experiencing some struggles right now my business and trying to see the good in that is really helpful. And so I really like that.

Carlos 18:25
I know that video well.

David 18:26
Oh, good, good, nice. I want to dive into some of your biggest failures, if that’s if that’s alright with you. You know, that’s one thing. You know, on a lot of these podcasts, you hear people talk about, you know, these huge successes and huge exits. But there’s a ton of learning that goes on in the failures. And Ken and I have been pretty transparent in the failures we’ve had in our business. And I’d be curious, what have been some of your biggest failures as you look back in the rearview mirror at 16 years in e commerce?

Carlos 18:57
My god we would need 100 podcasts. To cover all of them, I’ll share some of the some of the ones that that come to mind. I’ll try to pick a few from the beginning and a few recent, but a lot of the really big ones were in the beginning just because I wasn’t I wasn’t thinking things through enough and I wasn’t I wasn’t treating it like a business and I didn’t know what treating something like a business even met. So one of the things is, I didn’t learn what cash flow was for that it was even a term for about four and a half years into my business and things just always went up. And one of the a few of the businesses that I started in the beginning if you have the brand like a hair brand, you know the bar and wine tool brand, cigar accessory brand. We sold because the person that I brokered the deal with they were constantly coming back, say hey, what else you got going on what else you got going on, and we’d sell them the wholesale business those stayed or the reselling business on Amazon. It’s called the wholesale business. It kept growing and and we quickly got that to see 16 million in gross sales and my knew I was a real totally different person again than what I am now but back then you couldn’t have a conversation with me without walking away and me not having let you know that I was some kind of millionaire right? Like it was just like every other word was odd. You don’t know what I make and a real jerk I couldn’t have I couldn’t be around me. I wouldn’t have bought me a drink back then. And the truth though, was that when I would go to gas stations, I’ve shared this openly with my group, like when I would go to gas stations, I would have to cycle through the last four digits of my credit card, have my ex girlfriend in the car, and or one of my exes and I’d say, I’m trying to figure out which card is not going to decline. Ah, okay, I wasn’t looking for points. I was trying to figure out which one of my cards would not decline for gasoline in my car. Right, like an old Durango like it wasn’t even like a sports car. You know, he was like an old Durango. I think it would have took 90 bucks to fill the tank. I was concerned I couldn’t fill the car. was about 16 million grows, and, and that just kept getting bigger, that gross number kept getting bigger and kept getting bigger and my problems and my concern for gasoline and other like groceries kept kept becoming an issue. And at the same time banks kept seeing these huge numbers come in and they kept offering greater and bigger and bigger amounts of loans and monies and, and the cabbages and the cash advance people, they’d loan money. And then friends and family are like, man, I’d love to just make an extra $2,000 a month, can I invest some money with you? Absolutely. And we would just get all this money. And so eventually, one of the partners rip the other partner off and I sat down with a friend and I’m just like, I gotta figure this out. I can’t lose my millions. And there was no books. And he sat down over an entire weekend of pizza and beer. And at the end of it, he says The good news is you don’t need a lawyer. Because you’re broke. You’re broke. Not only are you not a millionaire, you’re broke. He goes what you are Really good at is moving money and not making money. And I couldn’t understand the difference. I didn’t even know which one was good and which ones was bad when he said it. So a huge one of my huge mistakes then and I guess can be summed up and know your numbers is is that is understand what cash flow is. If you didn’t go to college you can still be successful it does not mean that there is not some really solid information that you could have learned. had you gone to college and learn some like you know, cash flow one on one. So cash flow is important know your numbers huge. Another crazy thing that I did was one of the first cigar accessory businesses that I started, I I had the validation from having sold the insect business. But when you saw when I sold that first business and realized I need to really tweak my lifestyle or I’m gonna be broke next year. I didn’t know if it was a fluke. I didn’t know if I could do it again. I didn’t know would Could I replicate this in another brand that’s not in sex. There was different competitors in different you know that We’re not selling insects. People that sold insect seem to be some store where this is a side thing and I was making a full time go at it so I crushed them. Maybe that’s not the case when you’re going against the metro canes and the inventories of the world and you know, these big brands, and I didn’t know and I was in a really weird place there, but I was still moving forward and then I had a girl I was seeing at the time, had a sister and she had a boyfriend and that guy and I would sit in my backyard smoking cigars, drinking rum and just talking about taking over the e commerce world all the time Mind you, he was a few weeks away from a full ride scholarship to be a doctor and he one day saw you know, some some cigar cutters I got imported in and he said Man, I want to partner with you. And I’m thinking he really like this is this is a doctor let’s guy’s a genius he like aced everything in school like for somebody that’s smart to see something so amazing in me. I just jumped on it and I Yeah 5050 bro 5050 and we did we I amended it immediately right there I didn’t even know how to set up the printer and go online and do son busy did all that I’m like, oh my god this is what I need somebody that knows how to install a printer and can copy and paste and and is a 5050 partner and and something that I’m blessed with is tons of ideas. I know some people that’s like not the case I’m blessed with tons of ideas. So every time I had an idea, and I had the connection to do it, I went I went to him and I said, Hey, I got another business you interested? Yeah, yeah, bro. Yeah 5050 and I did this non existent, you know, org chart, no structure as to respect you know, who’s responsible for what in their business. And to this day, I have over 16 business partners. And the majority of the time that we that we speak to each other, it’s through lawsuits. And we might picture of all my groomsmen, including my brother, that we’ve got into business together based on the lack of organization that we had in our structure and not being alone. I lost I lost all my close friends I lost my brother I lost. So that was another huge mistake I’d have I think there’s a power in partnerships. You need to set it up right? And I try to like emphasize that with everyone there’s a book called The founders dilemma by Noah Wasserman. And I just big anybody I see that’s close friends or family that are getting into business together. I’m like, bro, please read the book. Like, it’s even the audio book by Noah Wasserman. Please read it. I pulled over in tears several times listening to the audiobook in my car. Like I thought someone was in the backseat talking about me. And it’s, you’re not doing that out of a lack of trust for your partner. You’re doing it because you respect and love your partner and you want this to go. It’s by the founders dilemma by Noah Wasserman. So that that’s number two. I don’t know you guys want me to keep going because I could do this for hours about mistakes.

David 25:53
Couple things I want to unpack here is so you’ve talked about those failures and and I was honored to Hear that you’ve been binge listening our podcasts. I have binge listened to your podcast, as has my only subscriber knowledge. Yeah, Wizards of Amazon for anyone listening to this, stop now hit pause, go hit subscribe, you won’t regret it. But But one thing that I’ve noticed is team building. That’s something in networking, that’s something that you really seem to excel at. And so I’d like to kind of go back and revisit some of these failures and talk about how you may have addressed those. So for instance, on cash flow, what are some things that you did to respond to this, right, you knew is an issue. And same thing with setting up partnerships, what have been some things that you’ve done differently?

Carlos 26:43
Definitely. Cash Flow is one that I needed to address quicker. It took, unfortunately, many years before, I realized that the problem with the partnerships was not it’s very easy to say, I’m bad at picking business partners. I pick bad apples, but you go in 20 business partners There’s a common denominator there. And it’s you. It’s the guy in the mirror, right? So it took it took many years to realize that it was me and not me personally, but me and my lack of if I had the idea I presented it, I needed to also present the expectations that were there to do the idea justice, I needed to understand who would be the best fit to partner with if anyone to allow this business degree this opportunity to succeed. But so but but that took years later cashflow Honestly, I think this is the first time I’m ever going to say this, like openly or on a live or anything. I don’t believe I’m good at it to this day. And I I understood that then. And what I did is say and this is something that’s allowed me to really build some brilliant people and some teams around me is clearly understanding what I’m good at. And what if I need if I was responsible for doing this, and I woke up with dread in the morning, knowing Oh, I got to do this today, getting it off my plate. And those numbers and that cash flow and where are we at with this? Is it a good time to buy this, I’m not that good at it. And I’ve hired someone from that day forward to this day, who full time, just you know, as bookkeeper and accountant stays on top of that for my companies. So that’s how I solve that. And there are some certain things in my business that I’ve encountered along the years that I’m just like, you know, I could learn this, but I absolutely hate it. Anytime Excel opens on my what, you know, I just, I just gives me heartburn. Like, let me hire someone. Let me hire someone a lot smarter than me to do this. And that’s what I’ve done. That’s how I address cash flow.

Ken 28:46
Nice. Ah, I’m putting founders dilemma in my AUDIO BOOK library as soon as this podcast is over, and it makes me happy to hear from you that you struggle with cash flow because cash flow is one of the largest problems that you know, it’s constant problem as as I’m growing and scaling my own business. So, so to hear that, you know, it doesn’t go away. But you know, outsourcing and getting help is Yeah, I’m like, yeah, doesn’t work for me. I’d like to kind of pivot a little bit as we wrap up the show and talk about networking. And so so David and I met David created the St. Louis e commerce meetup. And that’s where we met and kind of started networking and, you know, building relationship and that this podcast was kind of born out of that. So for the listeners that don’t know you, you have the Carlos, you have the largest meetup for Amazon sellers in the world. So can you kind of go into that and explain how that grew and what benefits you have of surrounding yourself with, you know, like minded people and spreading your knowledge.

Carlos 29:48
Sure, I used to meet every weekend with a small group of friends that we started selling around the same time, and we’ve we’ve grown at about the same pace, but over the years. We just got tired of the same war stories over and over. And we didn’t meet every week religiously. But we met at least two or three times a month for years. And I’ve used meetup.com and community building just in general, to launch brands in the past that I’d use that community building and those meetup groups to launch brands on Amazon and launch products on Amazon, harness that, that local IRL in real life and focus it towards Amazon. So there was one other person in my group to Fabian, a friend of mine that he did the same thing. And for us, it was a very logical next step was like, well, we want to get some fresh blood in here. We go to meetup calm, and we know how to properly announce and advertise our group and, and attract followers if they exist. Right. So the first Meetup group that we set up, meetup event was at a Starbucks in your mind. In case nobody shows up, and pet four people show up. And over the next few months, one person, three people, but I still took pictures. And I still posted and I still went through all of my processes that I would normally do. And that meetup has grown over three and a half years to most 4000 members on and off of meetup locally, I think on meetup itself, it’s like 3000 something. And of that there’s about 1600 very active members. We meet 16 or 17 times a month now. six of those are in Spanish, the rest of them are in English. The benefits Well, apart from the benefits when I started, my main reason for starting was to to get fresh blood and to throw some ideas around. And I had always wanted to have and I still to this day want to create an annual event that is not just Amazon related, but that’s more of e commerce. I think the world’s a lot bigger than Amazon, and its e commerce focus And I felt that having this base of people in South Florida would allow me to make sure that event you know got full. And then if I offered a lot of free value that when I went to them it was like hey I got this ticket to sell you know you’re not getting a discount like remember all this value I’ve given you like this is my ask that they do it. I also wanted to be still do would like to be an author. I want to be able to put that book out and have a huge base of people that would buy what I didn’t get when I started the meetup was the the high that came from being the guy presenting and then seeing people like it, use it and it worked. That that was addictive to this day. I don’t know if that makes me sound like a jerk you got you on a high but it’s a high there’s no way around that it’s a high and it allowed me to not let it feel so much like work. And I also have a you know, marketing consulting company that focuses a lot on Amazon stuff. So So what happens, you know, I knew this, you know, I put out a lot of free value. Somebody really likes what I’m telling them and they’re probably gonna reach out to me and say, Hey, you know, I know you offer services you want to work together. And if we’re a good fit, we work together. So there’s an ROI on it to the benefit is I get to see every single type of Amazon selling model. You know, I don’t this is not just a private label, Amazon sellers Meetup group. We talk wholesale we talk private label, I don’t do arbitrage much anymore. But yes, I’ll have events even for arbitrage for people that are doing arbitrage. We talked about making money on merch by Amazon, Amazon self publishing. I got in the Amazon transportation program when it came out to get some vehicles like everything you can possibly make money on on Amazon. We talked about and we also bring in some like multi channel selling, because again, the the group is an Amazon group because you need to focus. But again, it’s it’s so much bigger. I don’t know if that answers your question.

David 33:53
Yeah, absolutely. I have to tell you two years ago, I was looking for a meetup in the in the St. Louis area. Yeah, for e commerce sellers, and I didn’t see one. And I waited around for somebody to start one. And, and I ended up just starting a meetup account and starting my own. And you know what, if you’re familiar with the movie, The Field of Dreams, there’s a really famous quote in there, if you build it, they will come. Like tell you, if you build a Shopify store, people won’t necessarily come. However, I have found that with meetup, if you build it, they will come. And as an e commerce seller, you can spend a lot of time by yourself in your office, and it can be a kind of lonely existence, right? You know, our, the title of our show is firing the man. But oftentimes you see people that will quit their full time job, they’ll fire the man, and they’re lonely. And I think as humans, we need a tribe. And that’s been something that I’ve really, you know, Ken and I, we hit it off right away. And you know, it’s funny. My wife was sick of listening to me talking About PPC and conversion rates, it can hit the same story. And so him and I just started getting together for beers and chatting, you know about our Amazon stores. And so I have since looked at the Miami meetup that you’ve started in. And I’ve kind of started to model that. It’s been awesome. It has been awesome. And so I would say to any of our listeners, if you’re looking for something like this, and it doesn’t exist, start one. It really is not a lot of work. It is incredibly fulfilling. And it has been a positive ROI activity on my business for sure.

Carlos 35:36
Yeah, I wouldn’t even say any Amazon organizers. They are, we recently created just a WhatsApp chat, nothing to sell but just for organizers to there’s a lot of there’s a lot that goes on to put on a good event. That’s quality. And I mean, three and a half years now at 16 times a month without repeat topics. That’s I don’t even know how that happened. So like and each of them Is hour and a half, three hours. So I’d love to, you know, create a group if you have one in your area doesn’t you know, if you don’t have one in your area like and you want to create one, don’t worry about the topics and the content and the structure. I’m an open book and we’ll have that WhatsApp chat and we can share and yeah, it’s it’s all about building the community.

Ken 36:18
Yeah, that’s awesome. I definitely want to be respectful of your time, Carlos. So we’ll go into a lightning round we have four questions that we ask all of our guests. David, go for it. All right,

David 36:30
what is your favorite book?

Carlos 36:34
The I’m gonna say this was my coach Chris Ducker at one point that that did this and it’s gonna be virtual freedom by Chris Ducker. It’s how I began my virtual teams that I built. Awesome. I’ll have to check that out. What are your hobbies? Scrabble. I’m a competitive almost gambler when it comes to Scrabble. And I play chess and I’m just a voracious reader. Those would be my three hobbies. That’s awesome

David 37:00
like it I’ve never met a competitive Scrabble player so it’s really neat yeah it gets real all right number three What do you think sets apart successful ecommerce entrepreneurs from those who give up fail or never get started?

Carlos 37:17
This is gonna sound cheesy but it’s no your why can’t go

David 37:20
into that a little more. Maybe talk about your why.

Carlos 37:23
Knowing your why gives you a a focus point that you can keep walking towards. Everybody says like when you fail, just keep getting up and keep moving forward. But where is forward in this analogy? What if you’re just punch drunk and you’re on the ground and you’re willing to get up you don’t know where do north is like you don’t you don’t know where your North Star is out. You don’t know where you’re going. And knowing your y can be your North Star. It can be your focal point when you get up no matter how Punchdrunk you can find it and move in that direction. My y has changed a lot over time and at some times it wasn’t a good why it is possible to pick it unhealthy. Why? I think in the very beginning it was a mass a lot of money. And I think a lot of people start there later on it and for the most part it’s been too I again I came from just every manner of abuse possible I came from a home like that and I wanted to be able to provide a healthy financially stable home for my wife and I imagine kids so I now have two kids so that’s my biggest why right now but yeah I have under I still have smaller wise that want that money. So that’s not totally unhealthy but my major why if everything went down and I just was punch drunk and didn’t know any, you know, where my North Star was, I could say, this decision I’m going to make I’m going to head towards it because it’s, it’s going to get me closer to that situation. I want where my family is going to be at.

David 38:50
Absolutely. I love that and as a Ken and I are both fathers and and I can definitely relate to that. It’s definitely made me a better person more centered and And recommend it to anybody. So all there. Yeah, absolutely. Lastly, we’ve already mentioned the Wizards of Amazon podcast. Everybody should check this out. But how can people find you?

Carlos 39:14
I’m very active on Instagram. Now, I would not have thought I’d be active on Instagram two years ago, but I’m very active on Instagram at Wizards of Amazon, Facebook group, Wizards of Amazon, I’m on there a lot that you can connect to like our telegram chats through there. And then I suggest you take me up on this next one, but I leave my phone number in these podcasts. And you could actually just text me or call me my numbers. 3059021283 Awesome.

David 39:38
All right, Carlos, we really appreciate you coming on the firing the man podcast. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

Carlos 39:45
Thanks, guys.

David 39:47
Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s www.firingtheman.com podcast. If you like this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com/resources and check out our resource library for exclusive firing demand discounts on popular e commerce subscription services. That is www.firingtheman.com/resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at firing the man in on YouTube at firing demand for exclusive content. This is David shomer and Ken Wilson. We’re out