Original Interview: Absolute Business Mindset: A Feature Length Interview with Maceo Jourdan
Introduction to Podcast
Mark Hayward: This is the “Absolute Business Mindset Podcast” created and hosted by Mark Hayward. This podcast will interview entrepreneurs, business owners and careerists. We’ll delve into their journey to success, key life milestones and go deep into their area of expertise.
Get ready to learn from other successes and failures. Today, we have Maceo Jourdan. He’s described himself as the greatest marketing mind in the 20th century. Hello Maceo, how are you?
Maceo Jourdan: I’m doing well, Mark. I’m glad to be here.
Physics degree to hedge fund marketing, social media and healthcare
Mark: Excellent. Thank you so much for joining me. Let’s go in, start off with your degree. We’re going to talk through your varied career in different industries, hedge fund marketing, trade in social media, healthcare. It all started with a physics degree, I suppose. Why did you choose physics? Why did you decide not to continue a career in physics?
Maceo: I love physics, fell in love with it. I was in the States, it’s called AP. Advanced placement. It is basically like college, college light when you’re in high school.
Those experiments in finding out, you know how to describe the world and some of it actually goes back into some, I don’t know how else to say some childhood trauma. But also, how I grew up, I come from mixed parents. My dad’s black. My mom was a little Jewish lady, she just recently passed.
I had a rough time in school just by the way I looked. In fact, one of my distinct memories in grade school as a teacher, looking at me and literally saying, I can’t help you. I went under the table, was crying my eyes out, looked over and at a little girl, kind of the quintessential blond‑haired, blue‑eyed, walked up, asked virtually the same question.
She’s oh, she’s smiling and getting helped out. I remember that experience. The way I describe it is I could have gone into the realm of being put upon, right, like, something happened to me. For whatever reason, I decided, let me decode this is the way I would say it now.
I figured out, obviously, little girls get help. I just tested things. I finally figured out how I can get my own help. The older kids actually wouldn’t help me because the teacher…
The teacher actually went so far as to tell the other kids not to help me so this was not an isolated thing. The older kids, of course I learned, followed instructions and they wouldn’t help me, but the younger kids and particularly the younger girls would.
That’s how I got through a lot of the situations. It was just figuring out how to hack it or figure out how I can still succeed. Fast forward all the way to physics, it was a world where that mattered less. Really it was more, could you figure out the equations? Could you get the concepts right?
I think I have naturally gravitated to places where it is more possible to succeed on your own merits. That is some may not like you because, whatever, you’re black or Hispanic or a Jew or whatever, but at least the environment keeps that at bay. As I got older, I just realized where I could succeed.
Mark: There was discrimination because of your background, because of your parents?
Maceo: Yeah. That’s maybe another show, but it’s well‑established in education that educators are very much biased and it’s based on whether they think the child will succeed. Yes, some of that is based on just the way the kid looks.
If you’re black like me, you couldn’t quite tell when I was younger, I was a lot darker. Not like Michael Jackson or anything. My skin has definitely lightened as I’ve gotten older, but it’s well‑known. It’s not talked about a lot.
Teachers don’t like to discuss it because they think…I don’t know what they think frankly. To me is, let’s learn the rules of the game and figure out what the game is.
Mark: Do you really think that you wouldn’t be successful? Was that where it all stems from, because of your background, because of what you looked like, you weren’t worth investing in, you weren’t worth investing their time in?
Maceo: Right. The way the studies have…I’ll summarize them. I won’t go into any depth and I certainly don’t want to pretend to be an expert. Basically, the teachers have a limited amount of time, limited amount of resources and so I totally get it.
They’ve got to decide. They have to have some kind of heuristic, who gets help who doesn’t. Unfortunately, because we’re human, that typically resides in looks, so even the geometry of your face, the color of your skin, the length of your hair, whether you’re clean or not, those are going to come into play.
It’s unfortunate for sure. Like, I said, for whatever reason, I decided something different, meaning I decided I’m going to figure this out. I wouldn’t let other people decide for me. As a kid, I don’t think it went as deep as that. It was probably a much more visceral thing.
This could get into “Nature versus nurture” thing, but as an adult looking back, that’s why I look back and think, “Oh, OK. Yeah, it makes sense that I did gravitate toward physics and direct response marketing and hedge fund trading and the special forces. It’s like, “Yeah, OK.”
It makes sense. I want to succeed, and so I want to put myself somewhere where it doesn’t matter what you think, someone is free to not like me because of my skin or my accent or whatever, but my performance is going to force them to give me my just due.
Mark: Did you say that you found that pretty girls helped you?
Maceo: We don’t really need to get too deep into that, but yes, I did, which, of course, fostered all kinds of other experiments as my testosterone level increased.
Maceo: I’ll put it that way. Yeah, that was absolutely one of the things I remember from my childhood.
Mark: Why did you stop pursuing a career in physics?
Maceo: I was in the PhD program, and they passed out this list of potential job opportunities, and I saw $60,000 as my salary, and I thought, “No.” I remember I told my advisor, I said, “Look, I’m not going to be a lab rat and work 12 years to make 60 grand a year and not be able to do what I want.” I was already running into…
In fact, I was putting forth my thesis, and my advisor, the dean of the physics department at ASU, both said if it’s not in the book, then you can’t do it, meaning your study. My only answer was, “Guys, how the hell do you think this stuff got in the book? Somebody’s got to do some original stuff around here.”
It turned out ASU had just gotten an electron microscope, and they needed to pay for it. I very much just focused on what are the rules of the game. Let’s not debate about what the rules are, let’s just figure out what the rules are, and we’ll play. In the academic world, it really isn’t about me, as the researcher, doing what I want.
It’s what has the college gotten themselves into, probably stupidly, and how are they going to pay for it. They pay for it by convincing companies that their research is, at some future date, going to pay off. Or, in the case of government contracting, you can get CIA, NSA contracts to do really esoteric stuff because they by necessity are thinking 30 or 40 years out.
How are we going to combat the terrorists of the future that have access to crypto gear and whatnot? I guess we better finance the quantum computer because we’re going to need to keep up with them speed wise. That’s the rules of those games.
If you really want to get the cutting‑edge money, much like Ironman said, it’s weapons because that’s where people are going to spend for really crazy stuff. Let’s go make a whale gun or something like that. I wanted to get into energy. I was working on some stuff that later on became string theory.
I don’t want to try and overblow my intellect, but I was definitely attracted to the esoteric world and really figuring out the way things work. We still don’t even know what electricity is. All we know is when we set up a device that we call an ammeter or a voltage meter, that the needle goes brr when you plug it into something, but you haven’t described to me the nature of it.
You haven’t told me why, if I have a magnet swirling around a copper wire, that I can “generate electricity.”
I really do have this insatiable curiosity and really a desire to cut through assumptions, which, of course, goes back to my childhood, cut through assumptions and biases or even just overall mistakes and say, “Hey, look. Let’s just figure out what things really do and work with that, not the way things maybe are the way we want to be.”
Mark: You mentioned that you were in the Special Forces. You joined the military after your degree or before?
Maceo: No, I never made it to the Special Forces. I had the honor of completing the Special Forces assessment program.
Mark: That’s impressive in itself.
Maceo: Thank you. Yeah, it is. A lot of people don’t make it, I’ll put it that way. I wasn’t their ideal candidate. I’ve done the big five personality, and I’m on two separate extremes. I’m on the extreme for what’s called politeness, which is not the please and thank you kind. It’s more automatic respect for rank or accomplishment or position.
I’ve got literally zero of that. If you put 100 people in the room, I am the least likely to think your accolades are worth anything. As you can, look at my demeanor right now. Give me a break.
I do have to say, when it comes to royalty, it’s at an extreme, so don’t get me started on that because we just need to skip it. Let me bash on presidents and whatnot. Give me a chance to dig on our side. Then I’m also at the 98th percentile for compassion.
I made it through selection, did not get selected and move on through the training, but was very much attracted to that world because of the fact that you got by on your accomplishments. If you couldn’t perform, you just don’t get in.
Mark: Absolutely. We’re going to move onto your financial career, but I think it’s really interesting that when doing the research and looking through the different areas that you’ve been into, a lot of them are quite meritocratic. It’s all on you on how you perform. I think that will be a trend. My listeners, listen out for that throughout the conversation.
You went into investments, trading stocks, options, and futures, and one of the questions I think I’m going to get the answer to is, was this a financial choice after your physics degree and not earning enough? Was going into trading a financial choice initially?
Maceo: Fortunately, not. I was working in a totally unrelated business that was a cell phone business. You made the remark I’ve been involved in trends before they were big. This was back when phones came in bags, and you had to install them in cars. It was, true to form, totally early.
We were doing a tradeshow, and if you do a lot of tradeshows, you don’t habitually pick stuff up because you have a garage full of it in a short amount of time. For whatever reason, I was walking by this pile of videotapes they were handing out, and it was a videotape on options trading. Picked it up like, “Oh, that looks interesting.”
Still have no idea why. Of course, went home and actually watched it, took notes, dug in, and I was hooked right from the beginning. Options, contracts, you’ve got multiple variables that go into the price. There are some numbers-related stuff there, but then very quickly I got the sense that you had moves in price that were outsized to the equations.
There was that like, “Hey, if I could be the guy to figure out the markets, wouldn’t that be cool?”
In my hubris of youth, that was the progression. I was like, “Wow, this looks cool, and whoa, wait a minute. There’s stuff that I can dig my teeth into.” Then I was like, “Holy moly. If I can predict the future, I’m going to be a gazillionaire,” which that gets into the money.
Also, I thought then I could have my own lab and do my own research and give whatever contribution I could with energy and making people’s lives better.
Mark: We talked about this just before we started the recording, and I’m going to keep on referring back to this. You were early doors on implementing computerized trading. We’re going to talk about your social media very early on and now moving to healthcare, where we’re in a pandemic, where vaccines and healthcare and even elderly people, it’s a massive industry as well.
I’m going to come back to it, but let’s start with computerized trading. You said you did the analysis, and you understood the market or tried to understand the markets, and then there was a human element, which was outside of the algorithm or your idea. How did you get into the computerized side of trading?
I assume when it was, it was still quite basic in the…Not in the sophistication of the trading but in the computerized side of it.
Maceo: It was the Stone Age as far as the computers were concerned. I got started trading when it was all over the phone. My options trade, I had to pick up the phone. There was a little bit done online, but it was bad, really bad.
You’re going to hear me refer back to my childhood, mostly because the way I like to say it is we wouldn’t know who Bill Gates was if he was born five miles to the south. He would have been in a different school district, wouldn’t have had access to the computers and then eventually the digital and all of that. Same thing with Steve Jobs.
If he would have been born in LA, he’d just be some schmuck named Steve. You could argue he still is a shmuck named Steve, but that’s my personality talking. I got exposed to computers very early, TRS80, in fact, when I was a kid. I was used to it.
I could see the power of it, not in an abstract sense but that I’d worked with it. I could see a result on a screen at least, and I think that’s a big part of it, where you have to be comfortable with something before it even enters the realm of possibility. Then, also, computers were being used.
For me, it was about using the computer as a tool to aggregate information, do stuff with that information, and then produce a result in the world, which would be a trade or some sort of opinion about the way the market was going to go. Then even in ’98, ’99 when I was really starting to get my sea legs in trading, computers, they definitely had a stronghold.
If you were on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, or of course, the NASDAQ, although it was still fairly new, was totally computerized, and I’d been involved in some of what’s called the SOE trading or the small order execution system back then. It was the earliest version of computerized trading, where you could literally click on a screen and execute orders.
Of course, it’s ubiquitous today, but back then, that was revolutionary. I was involved in those early trading shops. Unfortunately, a few of those trading scams that came out of…The SOEs bandits is what they were called. It wasn’t all internal. I don’t want to say, “Oh, I was just some magician and came up with it.”
It was around, but because I was already comfortable with it, and I could use it, I took off with it.
Starting out in trading
Mark: Were you a good trader? Did you make a lot of money?
Maceo: Oh, so at one point I was training other people and in the States, they just changed the laws. If you’re dealing with a short‑term trade, then you couldn’t trade the thing personally. I had to make a choice. Am I going to make more money trading, or am I going to make more money teaching people how to trade?
Which of course, we could get into that argument all day long like, “Oh, if you know what you’re doing, why not go trade?” We’ll, I’ll tell you because you’re going to have to move to Dallas, Chicago, or New York. You’re going to have to start off by getting people coffee, and then maybe 10 years later, you’re going to have enough allocation to make money.
That’s one career track. I didn’t want to spend 10 years, or you’re going to have to go raise money, or get what was called an aggregator back then to give you money in order to trade and even then it was still 2 and 20, meaning the…You would get a two percent override on all the money for a management fee.
Then 20 percent of whatever profits you had, well, you can do some simple math and figure out, if you’ve got 10 million bucks, yes, you’re making a lot of money. But you’re still putting in the same 80 hour weeks, it’s nonstop. There are always trade offs. There’s no free lunch. When I did the math that I saw, OK, for what I want to do, training people is going to be more lucrative.
All that back‑story to say, as I was doing that, one of my guarantees was, I would refund your money if in any 30 day period, the trades I gave didn’t turn enough profit. Now I have to go into a little bit of detail here, most of the companies out there, it’s an utter scam, what they’ll do is they’ll pick two dates.
In‑between those two dates, they’ll say, “Well, you could have bought at x, and sold at y.” That’s utter bullshit. All they’re doing is picking the low and the high and saying you could have done you could have bought that. I gave entries, exits and stop losses. It was a trading entry.
For the time that I did that I had one person who asked for a refund, I went in and looked at the numbers and said sorry, you just don’t qualify. I’ll refund. I paused, it was a double money back guarantee. I said, “Look, I’ll refund your money, but I’m not going to give you double because it wasn’t a losing trade. If you’re not happy, I don’t want to keep your cash.”
By way of describing was I good, doing that for two years and never having anybody like legitimately able to say that in any rolling 30‑day period that they would have lost money on the fee that I was charging, I think that’s a testament to whether or not I was skillful.
Emotional intelligence and money
Mark: It’s interesting that you said this right about your emotional intelligence and compassion, was that why training was more interesting to you? Were you aware of that thing or is it later on that you’ve had self‑reflection and taught yourself?
Maceo: Personality traits, there’s a little bit of drama. Yeah, it was absolutely. Compassion is what drives me to want to understand my impact on other people.
Without question, but that understanding of where that came from actually came from listening to Jordan Peterson and even understanding what the big five personality test was and having it accessible.
Really, his version of that is what made my prior results more accessible to me like how I can explain it to you. Like, I’ve taken the MMPI, which is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory which is a massive test.
In fact, they gave it to us as part of the Special Forces selection process. I’ve done that as part of my desire to be a better coach, but it’s also because I realized as a trader, people say in that industry 90 percent of trading is mental.
I’ll say 100 percent of trading is mental because our mental and emotional state impacts how we act. If for whatever reason, I was enraged in this moment, I’ll be acting very differently than I was just 10 seconds ago.
Be euphoric. You’d better have a handle on where your impulses are coming from. It’s always good.
Mark: 100 percent that. I think emotional intelligence is something that sadly, a lot of people lack and don’t have. They don’t understand themselves. Usually, the knock‑on effect is, they don’t understand other people and are really insensitive or really lack empathy or when people are going through difficult times.
I would say emotional intelligence is one of those things. It’s kind of a superpower because if there were so many people that just don’t have that, don’t have that ability.
Maceo: Yeah, and when you’re talking about entrepreneurship…This is not isolated to trading. When you’re talking about anything related to money, our brains are designed to just go haywire basically.
If you’re involved in anything that deals with money, and you lack emotional intelligence, you have very little personal self‑awareness, you’re in trouble, not just for the regular things that you think of, like hindsight bias and confirmation bias and things like that, but even understanding your clients.
You will wind up forcing something or projecting something onto your clients, and if you’re trying to sell somebody in that environment where you’re pushing something on them…I don’t mean being a pushy salesman, I mean you’re saying, “Oh, I know what they want,” or something of that ilk, you’re going to go broke.
Mark: We talked about you predicting trends. Do you think you’ve seen trends early stage because of your financial background, or is it an analysis that you’ve had from physics from the financial sector?
Maceo: I think the only real answer is all of it but not that all of it was necessary. I think I’m arrogant enough to say I’ve distilled the process down to a few key elements, and some of them will be physics‑ish, where you can assign numbers to them. Others are going to be more perceptual self‑awareness, understanding the way things are.
The first thing I’ll say, it stems out of letting things just be the way they are, Mark. The way people miss trends is by wishing or putting something into the situation and not seeing it…Like we say, you don’t see the writing on the wall. You’ve got to start with that. If you can’t see things for what they are, you will never see a trend, and that was cemented in trading.
The genesis of it was physics, and it comes from a very simple experiment. The professors put a little car on a track. The car had a pole and a ball that ran along the pole, and they said, “How does the ball move?” The answer is in a curve and in a straight line. It’s both, but what are our assumptions? Our brain wants to put one motion on it. It’s not.
When you’re going down the track, the car’s moving across the track, if you graphed it, it would look like that. It would start at the top of the pole and curve down in, we’ll call it that relative view. From the outside looking in, it’s curved, but if you’re the ball, you fell straight down.
That’s what they were trying to illustrate is, look, there is a relativistic way of looking at this where your description of an event is going to be relative to your observation point. That applies to anything. Your observation point determines what you think about something.
Now, this, of course, we could be on a call for another four hours unpacking that, but that is truly the essence of understanding where trends come from, being able to see trends, and more importantly, being able to jump off trends that abort early. I’m going to cap it off with this.
In the markets, the answer is yes, you really can predict the future, you can predict the way price is going to move. The problem is you never know when it’s going to happen. If somebody asks me, “Hey, Maceo, can you predict the future?” Yeah, I just don’t know when. That seems dumb.
Mark: That’s a prime example of are we going to go into a recession. We are, but is it going to be in the first quarter or quarter four? We just don’t know, do we?
Maceo: We’re still in the realm of math, fortunately. Now, it just comes down to risk, my friend. If you can design your trading system, your business, your purchasing policy…I don’t care if you’re arbitraging Amazon, you’re buying junk over in China because Americans suck that stuff up, and you’re selling it on Amazon and making a mint, you’re arbitraging at that low price. You’re buying it for 4, you’re selling it for 40. As more people get into that business, the price is going to come down due to increased supply.
As long as you risk a dollar, and you have a reasonable expectation of making three, statistically, it’s pretty tough to go broke. Full stop. If you look at Nicholas Taleb and some of these guys that are out there, I’ll say more of the highbrow trading, not the realm that I was in, the Internet traders, that’s basically what they do.
They allocate a certain amount of money, and they push that across a bunch of different symbols, and they don’t need to pick. They’re just in so many things, and those trades are designed to have a small risk but a high potential reward. Of course, that applies to business.
My transition was realizing, holy crap, if I’m going to make money, I got to keep selling stuff, which I didn’t like because 98 percent of people don’t do anything with it. That’s a shock. That’s the way the stats are. I’ve seen some people that are 95. The best I’ve ever seen was 90 percent, but even if you have a failure rate of 90 percent, that’s not a good number.
That’s actually why I got out of the information business. Anyway, no matter what business you’re in, if you can design it so that you can diversify your opportunities and you’ve got that dollar of risk but $3.00 potential reward, and of course, it’s the gross reward.
You’ve got taxes and overhead, but as long as that gross amount is three to one, statistically, it’s going to be really tough for you to go broke. Of course, the magic is in figuring that out, and that’s where the story eventually leads into the digital realm because that was…When I saw Facebook’s first platform, it was much different than it is today.
They actually exposed to me your Facebook timeline and three levels deep, your friend, their friend and their friend. I could actually get the words you are putting onto Facebook, which, of course, we add semantic indexers and whatnot that we applied to that, and we could fair it out your language.
Really simply, the way that I figured it out was thinking about trends. Let’s talk about a microtrend. Somebody’s going to get married. You know what the trend of their life is going to be from engagement to wedding day. Your perspective is relative to your observation point. If I was observing their life, that marriage would be the small slice, but if I zoom in, it’s this major event.
Obviously, anybody who’s been married knows that’s a big deal to a woman especially. The dudes are like, “OK, whatever.”
“When’s the bachelor party, and when’s this over, and when do we get to get into bed?” That’s how it goes. When I look at it, again, taking the perspective of “let me change my observation point,” we designed a system where we could get a referral passed along about 80 percent of the time. I was back into how do I maximize my effectiveness.
I’ve got to have the right observation point, and I’ve got to have the right trend. Full stop. If I know somebody’s going to get married at some point, and I know they’re going to need a photographer and a place and a dress and all that, how do I influence their purchase decision? The brute force way is to advertise to them. The more nuanced way to do it…
This is way back in the beginning…is I go to their three layers and tell them, “Hey, if you know somebody that’s going to get married, I know a photographer that will give them a free photoshoot to decide if they want to use them.” That’s what everybody wants. The woman who is getting married has friends. Those friends want to help her.
When that friend sees a coupon like that, they’re going to tell her about it. It’s not even a question. You’ve got to change the way you think, mostly, but when you make those small shifts of thinking about, let me shift my observation point, “how are things really,” not “how do I want them to be.”
That’s when these opportunities open up, but it feeds all the way back into my childhood and physics and trading the markets. Trust me, when you’re in the market you have real dollars on the line, there’s no room for opinion. In fact, that’s where I got my hard shell when it comes to opinions. I could care less what somebody’s opinions are. I generally don’t listen to them.
What I start listening for is where do they spend money. If somebody tells me, “Hey if you change the color on your Web page, you’re going to get a conversion improvement,” how much money did you spend on that task over how many iterations? “Oh, well I saw it on a blog somewhere or the digital marketer guys told me.” OK. Get out of here with that.
When you start combining a lot of these concepts is where you can get into the practical application, how do I actually pick a trend, which I’m revealing a lot here by the way. Really, the magic is in understanding that there are trends that evolve over a five‑minute timeframe in trading. To me, that’s a trend.
There’s a trend that goes over an hour, four hours. In life, it’s a wedding. It’s my kid is just about to go from kindergarten into grade school and then grade school into middle school, then middle school into high school. There are transition points. What you begin to understand from a trading standpoint, there are all of these inflection points.
Stocks, options, futures, prices never move without an inflection point. The same thing applies in business. In America, we’ve got inflection points left and right. We just had our capital stormed since the last time you guys did it, and in fact, you guys burned it to the ground the last time it happened. That’s an inflection point. If you go into the markets, you can see the price moving.
If you go into the business world, you can see people making decisions on where to spend their money based on that inflection point. I don’t care necessarily where the politics lie. I say, “OK, there’s an inflection point. How then can I go in and capitalize on that?” Here’s the rub in seeing things the way they really are, it doesn’t last.
The long‑term thing and the adjustment we have to make in business is you may have a product that’s riding on a trend that’s got a three‑year lifespan, but if your belief is, “Oh, my gosh, I’m going to be the next Apple, I’m going to be the next Amazon,” without realizing Apple and Amazon have reinvented themselves like 57 times over those years, but you’re not thinking that way.
Your perspective is, “Oh, it’s just Apple, this monolithic thing over time,” you’re missing part of what makes those organizations so huge and monolithic is that they were able to bottle up what I’m describing.
Mark: Amazon started with Amazon Books or amazon.com. Apple started with desktops. They all start in a niche or in a smaller…It’s only when they get bigger do they then branch, Apple into software, into hardware, iPhones and whatever, and Amazon going into everything.
Maceo: Mark, they have to do it. That’s the thing you…
Mark: They’ve got profits, they’ve got projections and forecasts that they need to read, so they have to move out to the next thing.
Maceo: Hold on, I want to make things eminently practical for people. It’s not just projections. Let’s look at Steve Jobs getting fired, he needed to get fired. He was trying to shove down America’s throat, a computer they didn’t want.
It was only when America got the Internet, and they had a reason to own that computer that you could sell a million units in the timeframe he wanted. If you look at the iPod, if you look at the iPhone, the technology for the iPhone was already there.
Japan had had it forever, but you had increased cellular reach, you had AT&T and Verizon selling through, you had more people with more devices. It had become more of a tool not a convenience. People forget, you used to have to pay for literally every minute of cell phone time.
My friends hated me because the incoming minute was free and so I would literally sit there like this talking on the phone. I will tell people to 50 seconds, “Hey, we got 10 seconds.” “Why?” “Because my first minute is free.”
At 59 seconds, end. Now then I learned, so Verizon actually, back then there was AirTouch, they figured out that people were doing that so there was very nearly a lawsuit about this.
They didn’t disconnect the call when you pressed the “end,” they disconnected the call when their computers registered which was about two seconds later which PS, you went over the minute and they bill in full minute increments.
Again, I like to figure out how stuff works out. Anyway, they not only do it because they have projections, but it’s because the businesses start to fail. That’s the key thing. Why do they come up with projections?
They come up with the projections because when they work on the old projections, they get in the boardroom and they’re like, “Hey guys if we don’t figure this out, we’re going to be out of business.” It’s important that we don’t…again, change our perspective.
Yes, the projections are important but, the flashpoint or the impetus is they will die as a business. IBM learned this the hard way that when they…IBM was like the computer company. Anything is diversified and they got lazy or whatever you want to call it. They lost a billion dollars, because back then was an unheard amount of money, but they did that because they didn’t believe their projections.
They thought they were going to be the king of the hall forever. They didn’t prove it. They didn’t acquire things. They weren’t utilizing the patent portfolio. Again, however, you want to describe it, they weren’t able to see things for the way that they were.
Some of these, I didn’t get from the markets, but when you’re listening to…when you listen to people talk about this and you see price, my brain, at least, was starting to put a lot of this together. This developed over the years, and then I would test it. The stock market or anything with the markets will give you a way to test it.
Just want to know in a truly scientific fashion, come up with a theory. OK, if I need a flashpoint, how do I get one of those sooner or an earnings announcement and things like that. What I’m describing to you is all stuff that I tested with real money in live markets.
I had to have something that was definable, repeatable, like a real scientific experiment. Something that I could then go give to somebody else and see their result, which gives us a back product of teaching my methodology to other people, which I can say that everybody that used it was very successful with and I mean it. 100 percent of the people with it were profitable.
Right place, right time…
Mark: Let’s move on to social media. You, again, an early stage in 2005, tell me about social media, marketing. What was it like pre-Facebook, I suppose. I call that as a mouse thing because everything did change. Everything massively changed when Facebook started to go out to the rest of the world.
We were saying that 2005, there was Twitter, but you were saying that Twitter wasn’t really a notification. People didn’t tweet so much. What sort of environment and why did you think that you should go into social media at such an early stage?
Maceo: Unfortunately, there is a little bit of right place, right time. Just like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, pick your poison, Larry Ellison. Most of what we miss about these “big names” is a part of what we’re looking at is right place, right time.
Fortunately, I had already been exposed to direct response marketing when I got out of the military. I love how we’re doing lots of flashbacks and flashforwards. This would make a horrible play, but hopefully it’s a good conversation.
I got out of the military, of course, as a college student, I was doing a lot of things that didn’t quite match up. I was bodybuilding, working at Circuit City because I wanted…Which, of course, is now defunct, but I wanted to start a business for customer support because I was into computers, but most people weren’t, and they didn’t know how to use them, and all of the support really sucked.
I’ll put it that way.
As I’m licking my wounds, my dad walks in because, like all the good college students, I’m living at home, and he has this huge three‑ring binder, throws it at me and says, “Hey, maybe you can make some money with this.” My dad had had a huge real estate empire that was crushed by the Internal Revenue Service.
They changed the rules, expose facto I might add, and in retrospect literally ruined him overnight. He turned into the perennial business opportunity buyer. Part of the binder was a book called “Scientific Advertising.” That’s the back‑story. Fast forward all the way to the Internet and trackability.
The problem with direct response marketing if you’re doing it in envelope, is it’s hard to track unless somebody self‑reports, a coupon code or something like that. I knew with a computer that I could force it because I could put something in the URL, and I also understood very viscerally that nobody stumbles on anything online.
It’s not like you’re seeing a billboard. You have to click. You have to direct. For me, it was a way to test a lot of my theories that I had refined over the years, developed in the markets, and I could test it with real money.
I didn’t have to argue with somebody whether or not I needed a big picture of my face in an ad. I could tell you whether or not that big picture of my face in an ad worked. It was like that part of my personality could rule the day, and I could literally rub people’s faces in it. I don’t want to underemphasize that. That was a big part of my motivation was being able to tell people exactly why they were wrong and really rub their face in it. Because I could show them my bank account. It’s like, “Hey, you can not like me all you want, but ha, ha.”
Self‑awareness is part of it, so I explain that and give it as a disclaimer now. When Facebook launched their ad platform, when Goggle launched its ad platform, I had already been Overture and whatnot, some of the early pay click engines, I’d been involved with. I’ll say this always. I hate Google. I’m always Black Hat.
They are just a company like Joe’s Pizza of Paul’s Plumbing. They’re not the government. You know what I’m saying? I don’t care what their policies are. They don’t care if I succeed or not, which is the important distinction for me. By the way, I’ve seen the Google guys ruin people’s businesses. I definitely had a chip on my shoulder when it came to that.
Mark: Had you tried Google Ads and…
Maceo: Oh, my gosh, yeah.
Mark: They hadn’t worked or…
Maceo: It’s not that they didn’t work. My experience from the stock market, and I was actually what’s called a market maker. That’s overstating it a little bit. What I saw from the inside of the stock market was they can put the price wherever they want. They have a little button which says, I want to spread so you can buy at a dollar, and you can sell at $1.50.
If things get crazy, you can sell at a dollar, but you have to buy it at $5.00. If I don’t know where price is going to go, they widen the spread, is what it’s called. My natural assumption is Google’s going to do that. Let’s see I’m in an industry where they know I’m going to pay 50 bucks per click, do you really think they’re going to charge me a dollar? Come on. We’re not that naive.
Mark: and for me, it’s a great platform because everyone goes to Google, and people, if they’re looking to do a podcast course, they are looking for it. That’s why I decided not to use Facebook Ads because Facebook Ads is just…
You just get it thrown up in front of you, and if you’re clicking, you’re maybe not paying too much attention to it. where, if you’re looking for a course, you’re going onto Google, and you’re looking for a course.
Google Ads, now they are relatively expensive, but in the early stages, they were relatively cheap. They had the same sort of price that Facebook Ads are now.
Understanding the customer
Maceo: It was a possibility in my mind. That drove me to understand more about the customer. I think that’s a better point to make.
Maceo: My only testing was Google was a really bad place to get people for trading courses. The best that I could tell is because they expected it to be free. If I sold to them in the mail at some point, if I got them off of Google, it was good for me. That’s my main point. If I could get them off of the Internet, it was good for me.
A lot of the stuff that I would do, events and physical mail. That’s a good place to go to as a quick culmination of everything. At the end of the day, we’re talking about people. The problem marketers have is they start to reference people like they are numbers.
You have to understand what somebody’s doing, what their user experience is, absolutely, but you also have to understand what their mentality is. This goes back to whether it’s trading or not. It all comes back to their mentality. If somebody is looking to do something brand new, they’re probably going go to Google or YouTube, something like that.
If somebody is looking to spend some time, they’re going to go onto Facebook. In direct response terms, it’s a different conversation in their mind. The core tenant of direct response marketing copywriting is enter the conversation in somebody’s mind.
The way to test if you’ve done that is to go on a platform like Google or Facebook but do it with the intention that I’ve just described. If we know somebody’s got their phone, and they’re just flicking through Facebook in their newsfeed, then your choices are going to reflect that.
That means you’ve got to have eye-catching movement, diagonal lines or just do a rapid-fire list so somebody can pause and write these down. Movement is how brains are trained, something moving left to right especially, diagonal lines. If somebody’s moving something up a diagonal line will their eyes to move along them.
High contrast colors are really the top three. You can test other stuff, but they’re all junk. That would video with a really fast move or a flash of light or something that’s radically different from what’s in their timeline. With Google, it’s definitely benefit‑oriented, but oriented to their keyword. You’ve got to look at what does their keyword say about what they’re looking for.
Is it a how-to? Is it a what, or is it just a podcast? Podcast would be a useless term, I would think. I wouldn’t bid on it, although, if I had a lot of money, I would.
Mark: The interesting thing is podcast, the Google effect on podcasts is now a growing thing. I was on a Podcast Movement, which is one of the American companies that do events, and they were doing a virtual one last year. Searching on Google for podcast is now a major factor.
It was never really that major factor, but now that’s why they’re talking about having pages for every podcast because people are now searching for things like podcasts, which three or four years ago wasn’t a thing. Word of mouth and find it on iTunes was the way the people found it, but now Google is impacting into the podcast world.
My point is these things are all fluid, and, yes, there’s trends we can catch, but there’s also movement and pivots and changes, which sometimes are customer driven, sometimes corporate driven on those sorts of decisions for ads.
Maceo: I was being far too literal. I wouldn’t bid on just the word “podcast.” I would bid on something that was descriptive, and this is the beauty of podcasts. There’s a title like this is going to come naturally from you, it’s going to be a beautiful description of what somebody’s going to get by listening to this.
That probably reflects what they’re going to search in Google, but they’re going to add the word podcast to their search term. If I were going to advertise this episode, then I would want to know what’s your title going to be, I’d probably relisten to it and pick out a few key elements. I would think about who do I want to reach and what are they searching for, what’s meaningful for them.
If it’s a preshow, it’s probably not trends even though we’ve really covered how you’re going to grow 100 million or 200…If you want to grow a big business, this is it. Unfortunately, most people don’t think it’s it. Again, my perspective, I can’t assume that people are going to want to learn about trends.
Hopefully, how can I make money so that I can sit at my computer, press a button, and then you hand deliver checks and bonbons, and I can just sit…
Mark: Yeah, some people think that still exists. Or ever existed.
Maceo: The beauty of Google is it is very good for that kind of discovery. I’m saying in the way I use it, it’s very much oriented from my customer’s perspective and what they want to accomplish because that’s usually the way they word things when they type something in, unless they’re just looking for porn, which back when Overture used to publish the actual search terms, I literally saw the books.
There were three volumes that were four inches thick of all the pornography and sexually related terms and literally one other binder of everything else. It was shocking to see.
This is the benefit of learning where things come from. When I saw that I thought, wow, the beauty of that is I don’t need to test a lot of stuff. I looked through the book, wrote down some things, and it distilled down into this. If you talk to somebody, and you listen for how they describe a search, person to person, not clicky‑clicky, you have all of the research you need.
Write those phrases down, put it into Google, and see what you get. That’s your competition. Now you need to think, how do I differentiate against them, not necessarily like in a search term because you can always buy that. You could buy an ad that gets to the top. Yes, you could SEO it to death, that’s another show.
When they’re looking at that search result, that’s your competition. What are they going to think, and are you regurgitating the words that they use because their brain is designed to seek that stuff out? We literally have machinery in our brain that takes our beliefs…This is why self‑awareness is so important. It takes our beliefs and cuts out everything else.
You will literally manufacture memories around this phenomenon. People won’t remember things properly, is why courtrooms and whatnot, testimony is so difficult. This is why people aren’t going to remember necessarily what we’re saying. They’re going to remember that we were animated and we were laughing.
They’re going to remember the emotional aspect, but they’re not going to be able to regurgitate what I told them. That’s why you need to identify where they’re coming from. This is why reading the old books about copywriting are so important. Because more so then than now they were educated. What I call on the street, they had to make money with what they were doing.
Where today with the rise of venture capital and whatnot, we have a lot of stuff coming out of. I mean, nothing against the Y Combinator guys. I’m looking at the clock too. There are a lot of assumptions being made based on venture capital money, based on huge trends around the Internet, around cell phones, and people saying why things work that just aren’t true.
Yes, people benefited, but when you’re getting down to the cause…The benchmark I use…My mom worked three jobs to keep us out of the ghetto. My benchmark for teaching something is, is it something that my mom could have taken in her part‑time ‑‑ I’m not saying instantly ‑‑ working hard, taking on a fourth job? Could she have used that to make even more money and get us moving on up like the old Jeffersons?
If you follow the advice of the venture capitalist, absolutely not. You are going to go broke. What they miss is that their macro‑trends are so powerful. The money is such an igniter and such an artificial increase to their success, but they’ve lost all perspective.
For us, as regular entrepreneurs, we have to realize we don’t have those luxuries. We had damn well better focus on the way things really are. You’ve got to look at the people from Rockefeller, Carnegie. Those are the guys that I listen to because they had to build it from scratch. There wasn’t anybody to explain it to them.
This is where I get a lot of it from. I’ll go back to those eras to figure things out. Again, you’re looking at it from your customer’s perspective. You want that search engine result to say what they’re saying because their brain, really out of their own volition…They’re going to pay attention to it without even thinking about it.
I’m giving literally the Holy Grail to marketing. If you can put something in front of somebody that their brain is predisposed to pay attention to, it doesn’t take a lot of money, and then, because the algorithm is going to award you for giving that attention, you’re going to have a lower price.
It’s like, I got a YouTube campaign, I’m getting two pennies a view. I’ve got a two, 300 percent increase in viewership, right? Why? Well, because it speaks my customers’ language. Not necessarily, because I’m some genius. I’m just following basic principles. I iterate and I let things grow over time.
The healthcare trend and creating a system that actually cares for people
Mark: All right, let’s move on to your latest venture, which is in healthcare. Again, as I’ve discussed it, it’s a trend, which is with a pandemic, and with healthcare, with care homes, and all of these laws surrounding healthcare. What initiated you to go into healthcare, and maybe tell me a little bit about your business as well?
Maceo: Yeah. There’s maybe a tearjerker warning coming up. My dad first got sick. Cancer. We got healthcare in the home. It was a train wreck. They hooked him up to machines, but they never told us how to use them. That was a big mistake. He wound up getting into a trial that literally killed him.
Fast forward a lot of years, my mom started having some strokes and needing some home care. In fact, we moved to the home we’re in now specifically to care for her. We got people into the home. She wound up going into the healthcare system and again, they did a procedure that led to her getting sick, and she died.
What we don’t know in America is the third leading cause of death is healthcare and not just healthcare like I’m inditing the whole industry, its mistakes, doctors that are on drugs, they’re drunk, it’s crazy. Again, it’s not everybody. I know this is a touchy subject because we’ve got our healthcare workers out there as heroes. I’m by no means taking away from them what they’re doing.
Again, I’m looking at the way things are. In America, at least, there’s a big problem in healthcare. I believe it’s the result of what’s called fee‑for‑service.
Medicare and most third-party insurance companies in America will take a bucket of money, and drop it on a hospital’s desk when somebody comes in, and they get a code for healthcare. When you fall down, you break your hip, you need a hip replacement.
There’s a bunch of codes that are associated with that. There’s money that’s associated with that. We’re humans. Any time you dump money on us, we want to keep as much of it as possible, but as you can imagine it, causes some corners to be cut. You know what I mean? You make decisions now based on money.
Out of all that experience, I saw, “Look, we have a problem. Let’s stop hoping the government is going to take care of it.”
No matter what country you’re in, Gandhi proved to us we don’t need to rely on a government or some monolithic entity to do our work for us. Gandhi turned the tide in an entire nation by being the pivot point. Let’s just say that no matter where you are, it’s possible.
We’ve got a huge problem by 2030 in America, 61 million baby boomers will need part‑time or full‑time care. If we think that this pandemic is going to overwhelm the hospitals, we have no clue what’s coming down the pipe. It’s a result of looking at the way things are and seeing that there’s a problem. Personally, they caused me to even ask a question, “Hey, is there a problem?”
You realize you’re going to think, “Oh, somebody else will take care of it,” or even, “Hey, they’ve got it handled.” I got to tell you, they don’t have it handled.
Now, they’re on a good start. They changed in America. It was called value‑based care. It’s an improvement because now, they’re focused on the outcome. That’s such a huge shift. It’s totally massive.
Seriously, kudos to Center for Medicare. The government finally got something right. That’s why we at least have the thinking that’s going to get us to where we need to go.
Now, I’m saying as an entrepreneur, I can come into that environment. I’ve got the trend. We’ve got 61 million people that are going to need some kind of care.
Home healthcare has been around since the early ’90s. It’s not like I’m inventing anything. We just don’t have a lot of time. My strategy isn’t to start up a healthcare company. We take on investor money. We buy home healthcare companies. We make them more efficient. We give them better processes.
We do have some super‑secret proprietary stuff that we do. We increase their average case from 3,500 to over 15,000. We can do it with very little capital expenditure. It’s virtually overnight. That’s all within Medicare guidelines, within third-party guidelines.
Mark: Am I right, you’re buying care homes and making them more efficient?
Maceo: That’s the first step. That’s step one. Step two is then making one entity out of that. Just like with Tesla, you need to start out for the quarter-million car that seven people in town are going to buy so that you can afford other stuff. Yeah, that’s where we start.
We increase efficiencies, increase profitability, increase cash flow, because we want to pay our investors a huge return for the luxury of using their money, and then we want to create larger value by creating a system that’s going to actually care for people.
That’s why I do want to say our second iteration is going to be where we’re cannibalizing that constant push to make more and more money in education, in sending people out to somebody’s house even if we’re not coded for it.
Somebody comes into our system, my vision is down the road, yes, we are going to get reimbursed for some of the medical care, but I like telling the story. It’s actually a woman in Ohio, newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic. She went in, got her medication. Nobody told her what to do for a diet. She injected her insulin without eating first. She went into a coma.
911, another emergency home visit. Guys, all you had to do was give her a pamphlet at the very least. What I’m saying is there’s so much money involved. Let’s stop trying to be bazillionaires for once and be a bazillionaire minus two. I mean, not a lot.
OK, forego the 184‑foot yacht and just buy the 90‑foot yacht. That’s what we’re talking about here. Don’t buy two G5s. Let’s just get one G5, and then borrow the other one.
Instead of just giving her a pamphlet, let’s send somebody out to her house. Not just somebody out to her house. Let’s send somebody out with food. Let’s say, “Hey, Susie, I bet you think it’s really tough to make good tasting stuff for your new health concerns. Let me show you.”
Cook the woman a meal. Have her help cook a meal and then follow up in a couple of weeks in person, and then in the meantime, get on the phone, telemedicine, which by the way, you can get reimbursed for it.
Again, it’s supplying all of these entrepreneurial mindset things that we would do normally in a business, and think about cross‑selling, and everything’s been applying it to an industry that it’s like this closet bomb that’s waiting to go off.
Mark: Yes, it’s interesting because one of the things for older people who are in care homes or living on the road is loneliness.
Maceo: Oh, my goodness, yeah.
Mark: If you sent some around even once every week or once every month, that would probably be a complete highlight for them because one of the saddest things is that loneliness is one of the biggest killers of elderly people.
Maceo: I use a lot of one‑liners from movies. “Jerry McGuire” at the very end of the movie, Cuba Gooding, his character says, “You’re not going to make me cry, Roy.” I apologize if I do tear up a little bit, but my mom, even when she was here, would get lonely. The guilt that I feel like I didn’t always go over there. It’s like, I got something to do.
Now that she’s gone, it’s like I think back, those are the kind of things that I want to impact because we’re talking about real people here. Yes, having somebody visit is going to help alleviate the loneliness. Doing a FaceTime, it is having somebody who…I’m saying don’t even do it on a schedule. I’m saying as a company, we will do it on a random basis.
Somebody will just pop over. Somebody’s just going to say, “Hey, you know, I wanted to FaceTime you,” or get on a Zoom call. Connecting with people is so healthful. Can I invent a new term? Johns Hopkins found that they could basically improve outcomes by 40 percent just by making somebody’s environment better.
I’m talking plants, better colors, let alone when you move into a house. When you put somebody out of the hospital and put them in a house, the outcomes go off the charts as far as effectiveness, which translates into real dollars. I’m not a granola crunching hippie to give the far-right their chew. I’m not saying that at all.
I’m saying if you want to, as an insurance company or a captive healthcare program, we’re able to return $9 to $12 in the first year, Mark. That’s, I can’t even describe how earth-shattering that is. That’s like 57 acquisitions and a stock place tripling overnight. In the second year, it goes to 12, and we’re thinking it’s probably going to be stable around 12 to 15 for quite a while.
Why? Because fewer people back in the hospital, fewer infections, better mental state, which we know improves leukocyte response, T cells, B cells. Your internals improves when your mental state improves, you’re smiling, you’re laughing, you’ve got hope for the future. All of that is such a massive impact. I’m more than a little bit passionate about it because, yeah…
Maceo: We’re going to make a ton of money, but my goodness man, these are people who are literally going to die alone. I couldn’t imagine what my mom went through alone. “Not going to make me cry, Roy.”
Wrapping it up…
Mark: I’m going to have to stop there. I asked the same six questions of everyone that I ask on my podcast, and it’s no different for you, Maceo. First question is, what’s the best decision that you’ve made?
Maceo: Oh, my goodness. I told you…
Mark: A bit provoking.
Maceo: the best decision I made was going for Special Forces. It proved to me literally whatever I put my mind to I can do it. The stuff I went through, most people won’t have the good fortune of learning from.
Mark: What’s the best piece of advice you can give them?
Mark: Interesting. Who’s the person that’s helped you most in your career?
Mark: Any regrets?
Maceo: How much time do we have?
Maceo: People talk about Jeff Bazos’ regret minimization strategy. I’d like to know exactly how well he’s doing with that. Yeah, most of my regrets come from the personal stuff. It’s like, is what I’m doing really worth the tradeoffs? All the games I missed. Part of that does fuel me, for sure. It’s the mistakes that I made, seeing the results of some of my decisions and rash behavior in the past.
Mark: Fair enough. Thank you for your honesty. What’s what you’re most proud of?
Maceo: I am most proud of my kids. Man, to see those two young men out there in the world, it makes all of my regrettable decisions somewhat livable.
Mark: How old are they now?
Maceo: I’ve got 19 and 14, and then my daughter’s 4.
Mark: Fantastic. What does legacy mean to you?
Maceo: At this stage in my life, everything. I think about it constantly. Not just what are people going to think of me. Unfortunately, I’ve got a large ego, so that’s part of it, but it’s also what’s going to be left. Then, how far is that going to go? People are forgotten so quickly. It’s tragic.
Mark: Interesting. Thank you for that. Where can people find you if they want to reach out to you?
Maceo: Best place is maceojourdan.com, which is spelled crazy weird. You can also search for canexxia.com and then get to maceojourdan.com, but my personal site is where people can actually get a form that will get to me. Only because I like to do stuff. I work with a lot of people for free, entrepreneurs that are starting up.
My only caveat is the second somebody stops actually doing stuff is when I cut them off, but if somebody wants to get in touch with me, not to have a great conversation or be mental masturbation, one hundred percent, I will help you grow, build a business, no problem.
If that turns into money, that’s secondary, partially because of those regrettable decisions I was just talking about. It’s an open invitation to exploit my guilt and regret.
If you really get into it, that’s a lot of what a lot of the bigger…If you went to Warren Buffet or something like that, I’ve used that particular pressure point to my own advantage.
Mark: Thank you so much for your time.