How to Build an UNIGNORABLE Personal Brand

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Matthew - 00:00:00:

And nobody knows what to do. And we ask for help, and we ask for expertise because we're all scared as shit and don't know what the hell we're doing. So if somebody thinks they're an expert, they tell you what to do, okay, then I got rid of that. And it is, I think the best stuff comes from your heart, and you have to put that out. To me, this is what the suit is. To me, this is living inside out. And if I have what's inside me outside, sure, I'll piss people off and people think I'm fucking weird, and whatever, but if you like this, I'm going to fucking love you. If you think this is great, we're saving each other lots of time.

Louis - 00:00:42:

Bonjour, bonjour, and welcome to another episode of, the no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast for people sick of marketing bullshit. I'm your host, Louis Grenier. In today's episode, you'll learn how this strange, non-conformist alien creature became a very well-known figure in the American financial advice space. He used to actually scare Americans awake at 3 AM. When they left the TV on with his very, very loud ads. And there's plenty of other quirky stuff, I guess, including the fact that he's always wearing a question mark suit. Anyway, Matt Lesko, welcome aboard, man. Pleasure to have you. You say something that I quite like, which is throw your own party, right? Because no one else is going to do it for you.

Matthew - 00:01:28:

Yeah. Throw your own party, did you say?

Louis - 00:01:31:

Yes. Throw your own party. What's the party that you threw that flopped the most?

Matthew - 00:01:41:

90% of my life. I really believe that. That's a very serious answer for me because that's what life is, is failing 90% of the time at least. I mean, I've written 100 books and only 10 made money. So something that I spend 24 hours a day doing, I'm fucking wrong 90% of the time. So I got data to prove it.

Louis - 00:02:05:

So amongst those 90% of the books that didn't work, for example, like what's the one that you felt? Was very, very promising. Like your gut was telling you, this is going to work for sure. And it failed. What was your biggest disappointment?

Matthew - 00:02:23:

Every one of them. I wouldn't spend a year doing the fucking thing if I didn't think it was going to be on the New York Times bestseller list next year. And that's what we have to get over in life. You almost have to plan for failure. Success is a fucking accident. And we're all experts after we have success. But we're guessing and you stumble into it. So why pretend you're an expert at it? It's just doing a bunch.

Louis - 00:02:53:

That's, I guess, something that you've learned over the years, but you didn't start this way. You started in a very conventional corporate environment, right? So. What was the transition from that very kind of business-like, traditional business thinking to what you just said, which is completely different, I think?

Matthew - 00:03:13:

It was failure. You have to get out of all the shit that's in your head that you think is going to work. The only way to get rid of that nonsense in your head is go out and fail your ass off. Because otherwise, you'll be quoting some marketing guru or something. This fucking works. And that doesn't work. And they don't know either. They found something that worked for them one time or whatever. But works for you is different. Just like making love or whatever. And this is why I wear hearts now. I used to wear question marks. And the failure really, I was starting businesses that are failing. I was doing everything. And it was failing. And I had, oh, I'm an MBA. And I'm a marketing genius. I still fucking fail. And then what occurred to me is that I'm not having fun because I'm failing. And I'm not being successful. So I'm losing every day of my life. And I said, God, why am I doing this? And I'm because I'm doing things like people told me to do. See, I hire marketing experts and everything. And you tell they tell you what to do and everything. And I fail. And I'm not even having a good time doing this. So this is crazy. Yeah. So what I said, well, I'm going to fail anyway. At least I'm going to have fun. And so I get up tomorrow and I start having fun. And who cares if I fail? If I get up and be miserable and maybe win in 5, 10 years or whatever, that just seemed like a stupid fucking life.

Louis - 00:04:43:

So let's dive into that because that's so interesting. It sounds simple, right? But it's so powerful to be able to get over yourself and stop trying to act. Like what others are expecting of you or what you're supposed to do or what best practices are supposed to. So you've nailed that, but clearly there was a transformation there. Would you say that was a sudden thing where you literally woke up the next morning and said, fuck it, I'm going to have fun because I fell anyway? Or was it more progressive?

Matthew - 00:05:14:

I doubt that. And I still have to fight it. I mean, your whole life, you have to fight that, listening to yourself. And that's when I want to start wearing the question mark suits. Maybe about 20 years ago, I forget, I was in my 50s. I was thrown off TV shows and lost millions of dollars, to tell you the truth. That's something I wanted to do. And nobody knows what to do. And we ask for help. And we ask for expertise because we're all scared as shit and don't know what the hell we're doing. So if somebody thinks they're an expert, they tell you what to do. Okay, then I got rid of that. And it is, I think the best stuff comes from your heart. And you have to put that out. To me, this is what the suit is. To me, this is living inside out. And if I have what's inside me outside, sure, I'll piss people off and people think I'm fucking weird and whatever. But if you like this, I'm going to fucking love you. If you think this is great, we're saving each other lots of time.

Louis - 00:06:12:

Just for context, so that to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Before you started to write all of those books about financial advice, like how to save money, you can save a lot of like that kind of concept. What was the business that you had?

Matthew - 00:06:26:

Well, to helping at an MBA back in the 70s, it was in computers. I got an MBA in computers in the 70s. I had a software company that even failed back then. It must have been the only person in the world that had a software. But thank God, because I wasn't good at it. It's not me. And then I was in Washington, DC, and my master's was in what was called computerized management information systems. And at the time when we were in companies in the early 70s, everybody only worried about what was inside their company. So you ran organizations and marketing was the closest thing outside, but that was just called sales. It wasn't really even called marketing then. You know, and you have personnel and accounting and all that kind of stuff about inside. And back in the beginning of the 70s, with the oil embargo in the Middle East, brought this company, brought our country to its knees. And I said, holy shit, some little country nobody even fucking in America knows about just ruined everybody's business overnight. And so being an information person, I said, what organizations have to worry about is what's going on outside their country. That's going to be more devastating outside their company. It's going to be more devastating to them than anything on the assembly line or whatever. And so I was designing what was called external management information systems. Going around fortune 500 companies and i was doing that and nobody even wanted to do that It was too. So I was really about external information. And what people were doing then, at least companies, they were interested in, oh, I was trying to get into corporate planning. And there were the people that should be worried about, but they still weren't. But the people really most worried about what's outside of their company were the mergers and acquisitions people. And so I hooked on to them and I would do market studies and competitive information and stuff like that. And because I was in Washington, I didn't know about Washington, but. And this was before the internet and things like that. So the Library of Congress was the biggest source of information in the world before the internet. I had that. And then I had every government office had a special library for their area of expertise. So it was Department of Energy or Commerce or International, whatever. So I'd have access to all these great libraries. And I do customer hand. Most of it was really getting on the phone, acting like a journalist almost to get competitive information. I pretend I was somebody else calling a company. Get him to tell me stuff.

Louis - 00:09:18:

Is that what you did? So you actually, you impersonated someone else or you kind of...

Matthew - 00:09:23:

Oh yeah, yeah.

Louis - 00:09:25:

How did you, what were you saying? Let's say you were calling a company or whatever to get information. What would you say?

Matthew - 00:09:31:

I was not, it's sort of like stumbling into it. In other words, you get somebody on the phone. I'm not bribing or anything like that. The way I justified it in my head. If you're going to give it to somebody outside the company, so if you think I'm selling toothpaste or something like that, which I'm not, I'm going to even, you don't even have to do that. You just have to be nice. Talk to people. Hey, I'm trying to do this or whatever. And you call 10 people and one of them will be nice.

Louis - 00:10:03:

So you did that, calling people, getting information, selling to those big companies.

Matthew - 00:10:08:


Louis - 00:10:10:

And were you dead inside? Did you enjoy it at the time? Like, what was it like?

Matthew - 00:10:15:

I'm enjoying making a living.

Louis - 00:10:17:


Matthew - 00:10:19:

And what I really saw there was I would get, like, if Procter & Gamble was a client of mine, and they want to start a chain of pasta stores with somebody on their board of directors. That was the kind of thing that they do. So they'd hire me. They want to know the market for pasta. I don't know shit about that. So what I would do in Washington, what I quickly learned, that the government has an expert on everything. And I would find the pasta expert. At the Department of Commerce. And I'd call this guy out of the blue and say, I got a client who wants to know, do you have time? Can I come over and talk to you? And you find that bureaucrat who studied pasta for the last 20 years of his life and no one's ever asked him about it. His wife is sick of hearing him talk about pots.

Louis - 00:11:10:

Sick of eating spaghetti and fucking anonis every night.

Matthew - 00:11:13:

And you come in with a, oh man, I'm hungry for anything you have to say. And he'd get me these reports about the studies they've done and spend thousands and millions of dollars doing it. I'd get it. I'd really just take his name off and put my name on it because nothing in the government is copyrighted. And I thank him for all his help and everything. Actually, my first New York Times bestseller was a book. I plagiarized the whole thing from the government printing office.

Louis - 00:11:45:

So, okay. So was that the time you realized you could write for the wider population on how to save money and use information that was already available.

Matthew - 00:11:55:

Yes. Well, I got sick of helping rich people when it boiled down to it. They're not fun. All they care about is fucking money. And I grew up in a little small coal mining town. I had no idea about the government. And I said, boy, look at this stuff. People at Wolfsburg should know about this stuff. And how do I contact those people? See, I would charge thousands and thousands of dollars to rich people to get this stuff. I can't do that for the average person on the street, so I had to do it by books.

Louis - 00:12:30:

Let's dive into this moment, right? This moment between serving the rich, making good money for yourself, but clearly not being happy, to saying, I want to help the wider population. And you were saying about that question mark suit and everything about you. If people are watching this on YouTube, for example, they can see your hair as well and your entire, you're just fucking wild. And you're projecting that on the outside. You're very confident about it, even though sometimes you might have some doubt and you have to fight it, but you always go back to that, right? How did you have the courage to move away from the rich? Because you said you were enjoying making a living. So what was the trigger, if any?

Matthew - 00:13:05:

Well, listening to my heart. Have you been married a couple of times yet or not?

Louis - 00:13:10:

Not yet, no, not yet. Just once. Just right once so far.

Matthew - 00:13:14:

Well, I'm on my third. But in a bad marriage or whatever, man, you just suppress it. You know something's wrong. You know, in a relationship or whatever. And professionally, I think we do the same thing. You suppress that. Hey, something's wrong, but, you know, oh, he only beats me on the weekends. Find ways around it. What am I going to do? But it pops up again when you wake up in the morning and it keeps coming up that there's something wrong. And you don't know until you have, yeah, you go in for surgery. It's listening to your heart.

Louis - 00:13:53:

It makes sense to me. It completely does because like professionally that happened a few times where I wasn't feeling myself. I felt I was playing a version of someone else's self and I felt horrible about it. I kind of went through that. But I'm sure that some people listening might never have. Acted upon it, or maybe recognized the symptoms, should I say, of this kind of suppression or whatever. So it might be a difficult question to answer, but what do you say to those people? How do you recognize it, apart from the example you gave about marriage and stuff? How do you know?

Matthew - 00:14:27:

Yeah, that's what I think. Well, I've equated recently, about 10, 50 years ago, helping one of my sons with this big decision he had to make. And what came out of my mind was, your heart is smarter than your brain. See, I think we're all conditioned to be logical, to do a spreadsheet, ask for professional advice, all this kind of fucking things, and not listen to your heart. And you can't have a, there's not a logical answer. And you have to trust your heart. And that is the most important part. And actually, you know what, this leads me to heart is that as I get older, I see. That's the one thing I could keep growing. You know, as a guy, I don't know about you, but most young men, oh, I'm going to be bigger, faster, stronger, and all that kind of shit. By the time you're 80, man, you ain't going to hire any of those things. You ain't going to get faster at anything. All you do is get slower and fatter. But you can love harder, see? So you could keep doing that until you die and get better at it.

Louis - 00:15:45:

What does that mean? Like on the day to day, by people, you said that you follow your heart and the one thing you can do throughout your life is to grow it. How do you do that? Like for you, for example, day to day, how do you grow that heart?

Matthew - 00:15:58:

I hate answering a question with the question, but it's opening your heart. How do you keep your heart open? When your child, you have a two-year-old child, right? There's no barriers there. You just see that child and your heart just floods, right?

Louis - 00:16:15:


Matthew - 00:16:16:

I'll go. You say, what?

Louis - 00:16:21:

What does that mean?

Matthew - 00:16:23:

What does that mean? So how do we do that to the other people in the world too, that we all have predisposed conditions for everybody that comes across in our life that we don't even fucking know, but boy, we know them, right?

Louis - 00:16:36:

So it's like removing, trying to removing the cliches and the things that we have prebuilt in our brain. Right. And more just lead with kindness and let people assume good intentions and not necessarily the opposite. And just being like that, a bit more European and less American, right? A bit less individualistic and a bit more thinking that, you know, others also have a heart.

Matthew - 00:17:02:

Yes, I mean, right. Americans are probably worse than I see most other cultures. They're warmer, nicer, more open. And boy, it is hard. And just little, it works a little bit. I lived in the suburbs for 40 years or something like that. And we came downtown in a small apartment. Love it. And I threw a party once in 40 years in the suburbs. I came down here three, four years. I've thrown 10 parties already for the whole building. There's 70 apartments in the building.

Louis - 00:17:32:


Matthew - 00:17:33:

I just had a porch fest. I had a rock and roll band on the front porch for three hours. Just for the building and the neighbors. Yeah.

Louis - 00:17:41:

So that's you in a nutshell. So it makes sense. I understand what you mean exactly now. Going back to your story, right? We go back to that place of you're selling to the riches, to the corporate. Your heart was telling you otherwise. He just wants you to do something a bit bigger, more meaningful. What was your first kind of experiment, should I say, into this new world of like, I'm going to fucking be myself more. I'm going to open up. I'm going to do what my heart wants, not what my brain necessarily tells me. What was your first experiment?

Matthew - 00:18:13:

After two failures, and it's that first business that still wasn't the perfect business for me. But more importantly, you have to do it little ways, little bits and pieces to do it because you don't know a big thing. Like doing this, wearing this suit, man, that was huge.

Louis - 00:18:30:

In what way was this huge?

Matthew - 00:18:32:

Oh, in what way? I'm not going to dress like an MBA anymore. I can dress like Bozo the Clown and tell you how to run your business. There's no professional marketing expert that would tell you to do this. And it's funny because when I started doing that, I was called the Harvard Business School. It's probably the biggest business school we have in America. Okay, they call me up to come and talk about branding. They wanted to know my how I developed this brand and was so successful and things like. I got up to this big, you know, hundreds of people in this auditorium. And I said, I did not have a meeting on this. I didn't ask anybody. I just wanted to have fun.

Louis - 00:19:21:

It sounds like almost a cop-out or a vague advice, what you just said. But I think I want to pause and let people reflect on what you just said, because it sounds simple, but fuck me. It's probably one of the best thing you can do for your own self, for your business.

Matthew - 00:19:36:

Absolutely. Is to have fun, right?

Louis - 00:19:39:

Basically, what we're doing here for me, that's my idea of fun, right? I love to talk to people like you. I love to grill them. I love to just ask questions and be a bit weird about it. And it gives me goosebumps, right? Most times when I like the conversation.

Matthew - 00:19:53:


Louis - 00:19:53:

And it's fun for me, right? So I'm doubling down on it. While before that, I used to suppress it a lot. So I used to be also wearing a three-piece suit. I used to try to be like a marketing consultant. And I fucking hated it inside. So it deeply connects with me when you said that. And it's... It right. Your Harvard lecture was what? Five seconds. Just wanted to have fun. Bye.

Matthew - 00:20:18:

I wasn't paid anyway, so I did it for free. But it is also what I see too is. It's the only way, we don't know what we're good at. If you're not born a musician or an artist or something that is obvious what your talent is, I think 99% of us don't know what the fuck our talent really is. And so that's a clue on how to get there. Because if you get to what your talent really is, you could give that better than anybody else. If you're trying to be like anybody else, they're going to do that better. You want to be a tight ass banker? We got people who are born to do that. And you're not going to come near that.

Louis - 00:21:06:

What's your talent?

Matthew - 00:21:07:

It's told me now from the success. I never thought I'd have this much success. I mean, it's mediocre success. Nobody's that famous. For a kid from Wilkes-Barre, I'm doing great.

Louis - 00:21:18:

You have a Wikipedia page as well. Come on. And you met Obama.

Matthew - 00:21:24:

Oh, I got two New York Times bestsellers, man. I flunked English in college. I didn't know. So I'm way above my pay grade, yeah. But no, I think it's what, making a fool out of myself. I think that is a talent. People are so afraid to do that.

Louis - 00:21:42:

Yeah, I would say from an outside perspective, because this question is difficult to answer for yourself, right? But for me, after reading your story, learning more about you, I think what you said when I was preparing the episode, you answered a quick questionnaire and you said, throw your own party. No one is going to do it for you. And I think that's probably your talent. If I had to summarize, you know how to throw a fucking party, figuratively and for real. And I want to be invited to your next real party in your apartment block, by the way.

Matthew - 00:22:11:

My life is better than the party, just tell you.

Louis - 00:22:15:

So I think that's it. If I had to summarize what you do so well is this, is like your ability to throw your own party because no one else is going to do it for you. That's the perfect summary of what you do so well. So, You started to wear that suit. You started to see the effect it had where even Harvard Business School would call you to talk about branding. Let's say a little challenge for you, right? So you have kids and let's say you want to help one of them to build their own business. I think you've mentioned that somewhere that you've done that maybe in the past. So you want to help them figure out how to do it, but have fun with it, right? Not create a boring fucking business they feel imprisoned by. What would you start telling them? What would be the first thing you tell them while staying a silent partner, right? Like you can't use your name. You can't do the work for them. You have to only guide them. Yeah, what would you tell them? What would you tell them?

Matthew - 00:23:10:

When I told the boy to really change his whole life, your heart is smarter than your brain. And I think I didn't realize that until we start getting notes. My kids are like 40. It's been a while. They send us nice notes a lot. We're still very close to them. I didn't realize we were so good at that, of letting them. To me, it was just exposing them to as many things as I could and making them their own decision. To me, what I figured out after a couple of marriages was about loving somebody. What is love, okay? And I think love, to me, is helping somebody do whatever the fuck they want to do. Not to tell them what to do. I don't know what to do with my life. What gives me the audacity to tell somebody else what to do with their life? So if they ask your opinion, fine, you can have an opinion. But it really, I think, is for the people we love, we should just wholeheartedly try to help them do whatever the fuck they think they have to do.

Louis - 00:24:18:

Whatever your kid will tell you, I want to create that business. I want to build that thing. You would just help them to get there. Even if you could see that perhaps mistakes are being made.

Matthew - 00:24:29:

Oh, yeah. Probably most of the time I could see that's stupid. But we come from such biased viewpoints because what we've tried and failed at is a definition of us, who we are. We're different than that kid. You've known that at two years old. These are different humans. You just have, you're a caretaker for a while. That's it.

Louis - 00:24:55:

So how do you approach it? Let's say I'm telling you, I want to create a... A stupid business. You almost know for sure it's not going to work, but I'm telling you, and you have to be diplomatic about it. Like, how do you approach it? Do you not mention it at all? How do you, yeah, how do you weave that in?

Matthew - 00:25:12:

No, I think your obligation is to help them do it. Now, the other thing is, if they ask you for a hundred fucking thousand dollars or something like that, they want you to mortgage your house, then that's different. You can't do that. But you can say, okay, let's figure out a way we could do this without any money. And I think there's always ways like that. Look at you, from what I see, you started this whole business with not a whole lot of investment in your business, right? And there's so many businesses now to start and so many people get out of grad school or whatever and think they need a million dollars to do anything. And that's stupid. The first two businesses I started that failed, that I got money to do it. The third business didn't get any money. So now there's new businesses I started. I don't want to waste money starting a business because marketing. See, people think, oh, I need a lot of money to market. And that's true. You need a lot of money to market because you don't know what the fuck your marketing should be. You need a lot of money to waste to find out how to market.

Louis - 00:26:13:

So let's figure it out, right? Let's pick a boring business from the outside, like people thinking it's boring. We could definitely invest a million in it, or we could do it the right way, which is starting with nothing, but do it properly, right? Marketing the right way. Pick a top of your head, what type of business are you thinking about when I describe that? Anything.

Matthew - 00:26:33:

Any kind of business?

Louis - 00:26:35:

Yeah, anything came to mind when I just said that.

Matthew - 00:26:37:

I think there's so many opportunities now. Look, when I grew up, being 80 years old, on the 50s and 60s, to have a store. Or sell something, you need to invest $100,000 or more and have a store. Now you have a store on Etsy for 20 bucks.

Louis - 00:26:53:

An Etsy store. Let's see that. What do we sell?

Matthew - 00:26:56:

I think what I want to do is sell. Again, you have to look into your heart. What do you have enough passion for that you could stay there until you really learn how to figure it out. Because I think anything you think first off is probably not going to work. Once in a while it does. People get hit by lightning. But it's most likely you're going to have to stay for the long term to figure it out. I'm going to do a podcast, right? And we had three people listening at the beginning, right? There wasn't much there.

Louis - 00:27:31:


Matthew - 00:27:31:

And if you didn't have your heart, you wouldn't stay there. There's too many reasons to stop.

Louis - 00:27:37:

So let's say I love to carve fake camembert cheese out of wood. So they look like real camembert.

Matthew - 00:27:46:

Yeah, that sounds great.

Louis - 00:27:48:

But they're not, right? Paint them and they all look very realistic. And I sell that on Etsy. Let's start with this, right? As a fictional scenario, because I wish I could do this, but I'm not that good with my hands yet.

Matthew - 00:27:58:

Do you carve? Woodcar?

Louis - 00:28:01:

No, I fucking wish I could. No, I can't do anything with my hands. I can barely fucking... Fixed plumbing under the sink or anything like that. I'm being fictional here for the purpose of the next step, which is, so I'm carving camembert out of wood, sailing that on Etsy. I mean, that's the idea. I've been doing that for years. I know how to do it. Now, I could ask for a hundred grand from my grandparents or someone else.

Matthew - 00:28:25:


Louis - 00:28:26:

Or as you said, I could do it the right way if I know how to market it the right way. So how do I market it the right way? If you were the general manager behind me, telling me what to do or guiding me. Why would you say?

Matthew - 00:28:40:

You don't know the right way. Is because nobody sells the ship. So you don't know. But so to me, it's and that's the thing you now and that's what's so neat about social media. There's so many ways to market now without money. So you have to go through and try to find a test. Just keep testing a thing. Whether you, you know, maybe, you know, an Etsy store, okay? But now people have to get there. So you have to be creative and get people to get there. And that's why you dress up in a cheese suit. Here comes that cheesy guy again.

Louis - 00:29:26:

He smells. We can smell it from a mile away.

Matthew - 00:29:29:

Yeah. And that's why there's so many opportunities in social media. Before when I grew up, there were three broadcast stations for marketing and that was it. Or you put postcards in the Safeway that you're selling something.

Louis - 00:29:46:

But at the time, surely there was only three channels. But nowadays, the barrier to entry is so much lower. Everyone. Can be noisy and visible. So the need to be distinctive, like you've understood years and years ago, right? How to do it properly is even higher. How do we find ideas like this? When you advise others to say, I want to create my own version of the question mark suit guy. Obviously not necessarily wearing a suit or a costume, but I want this distinctive piece, right? From my 80s store. What question do you ask? How do you get there?

Matthew - 00:30:24:

Yeah, I remember walking home, downtown DC office on the walk to where I live, maybe a mile or so away. And I think, oh, I can't think of a good idea. I can't think of a great idea. And then it occurred to me, everything I buy isn't great. Mediocre is fucking good enough. And that's it. Yeah, I don't have to be great. Even now, I even have to get older, I get more mediocre. I don't give a shit about misspellings and stuff like that. People put up with it. But that's it. But now you have so many marketing avenues to test. You don't know what works. I don't know what works. I don't know if a cheese outfit works or anything. You just take the best one you have. You don't have to have a perfect idea. You take the best idea you have now and you think it's maybe, but that doesn't cost money. Everybody has good ideas. Marketing people who are selling advertising will convince you that advertising your cheese boards, oh, that'd be nothing. Cannon bear cheese boards. They look like cannon bear cheese. But it's a cheese board that you cut cheese on. Hey, now there's a... I don't know about you, but I think that's great.

Louis - 00:31:44:

I might as well start this now. I'm excited.

Matthew - 00:31:46:

Right? Now you got to get that wood carving thing out. But it's just trying because that's where an idea comes from is taking a mediocre idea, putting it out there. And that's the only way that you get to something that is better and then that gets to something better. And the key is don't spend money because if somebody convinces you this is the way you're going to do it, 99 times out of 100, that isn't. You're just going to waste money before you find the right fucking thing to do.

Louis - 00:32:14:

The next step for people is... That's all well and good. Find a good idea, test it. But then they have this fear of what if people don't like it? What if people hate me for it? What if I get harassed about it? Like literally, I hear that almost every day of people saying that. And I know you had your fair share of haters, should I say, right? Some people used to call you a symbol of self-centered free riders. Because in America, the culture is more about individualism. And so you were giving people tips on how to save money from the government and all of that. So how do you deal with that?

Matthew - 00:32:47:

Because to stand out is very difficult and it never stops. Even though with success, bad names, bad, I mean, it doesn't bother me. Now, I'm too fucking old to really worry. It is, I think, the way to do that, that's why it's important that the stuff comes from your heart. That what you want to do, that cheese board was something that you think the fucking world needs. Because this is important. If it's not important from you, then somebody else is going to say it's not important. Yeah, you're probably right. I shouldn't do this. So that's why you see all the good decisions come from the heart. They don't come from the brain. Because if they come from only the brain, there's going to be a roadblock. The reason doesn't happen. And you're going to stop. If it comes from the heart, then you're going to stay there like a good relationship. If you don't have something bigger than you to worry about. That's what children. Children do in a way. Give you something bigger as a couple to worry about. So you're there when. They don't put the toothpaste cap back on and stuff like that.

Louis - 00:33:56:

So I love that you don't really deal with haters by there's nothing really you can do about it because you will have some people who might disagree or don't like you. But and I love what you said. It's as long as what you are doing is more important than anything else. Right. And that's others can't knock you down. Then you'll go through it. Right. I'm lucky to say I don't have haters. I did have a few emails of people in the past saying, please subscribe me from this. I don't like you. And she never really went further than that. But I know that others have struggled with that. And that's such an important thing. Right. So if it's important enough for you. You will give a shit and you will do it because it matters, right? You believe that it matters for others. And so you'll keep going regardless.

Matthew - 00:34:42:

To me, it's bigger than me. I feel that what I'm trying to teach people to do is really help their lives. This is stuff that really could help you in life. So that to me is bigger than me or making a buck or whatever. I always keep, I mean, I woke up one day and somebody wrote a press release and said I was, anyway, I woke up and the Google on my name that day had 50 hits for Lesko is a liar.

Louis - 00:35:16:


Matthew - 00:35:19:

And it was a consumer agency, too, that says that my advertising and everything is creating scammers that are scamming people. Maybe you run into that if you do some research on it. And wow, that. But what I was able to fight that and not justify what I'm doing is, but and justify, if you're telling people I'm a scammer, what you're doing is stopping people from getting help. That they really need and that's available. So you're not hurting me. I'm going to fucking live. I don't care. But what you're doing is hurting all these people that could take advantage of this stuff. So then it doesn't become personal. And then I don't have to fight that I'm a good guy because I've got too many people to say otherwise.

Louis - 00:36:10:

So you had this, you received that press release, like you noticed it in your inbox. You saw that's what they were calling you and you said it was hard. Like it was, it kind of knocked you down a bit.

Matthew - 00:36:19:

Oh God, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Louis - 00:36:21:

What happened? What do you mean by this? What happened?

Matthew - 00:36:23:

I remember I was doing, I was on Fox News a lot of that time. And yeah, because it's sensational. So people did interviews, but I would try to use each of those interviews to point what it's really, because nobody could say anything in my book is wrong. I plagiarized a copy from government documents. Already lying. I may be being hyperbolizing. Is that the word? But maybe marketing is another word for hyperbolizing. And maybe that's the biggest thought I have. But it was great because I researched that so hard about that and found out I know more about these programs than anybody else in America, the person who spent. And I helped this person do this. Because he was trying to get rid of scammers, and I helped the Federal Trade Commission and everything. All these people get rid of scammers in my business, but they needed somebody in a headline, using my name in a headline, got the report. And they say, I'm not in trouble. They're not investigating me, but I'm a liar. So who's the real skimmer?

Louis - 00:37:30:

So how long did it take you to recover from it? Was it just a couple of minutes? Are you like, fuck it? A couple of hours, a couple of days, a couple of weeks?

Matthew - 00:37:36:

No. 10, 12 years, maybe.

Louis - 00:37:41:

Seriously though.

Matthew - 00:37:42:

Oh, right. I just, for the first time just a couple of weeks ago, put on artificial intelligence, and you'll see about me. You'll see that shit come up. And that means it's a good article about me if you see the bad stuff, too.

Louis - 00:37:56:

And, you know, when you come across those things, I'm asking you this not because I like seeing you thinking back about those moments, but more like to help people understand how normal it is to get through those bad moments. Right.

Matthew - 00:38:11:

Well, it was. And to me, like every bad thing that happened in my life was the best parts of my life. I grew so much during that period. It made me so much stronger for everything. I learned how much I really know and how much more I know than anybody fucking else in America about this stuff. And just like being, wear the question mark suit and being thrown off. I was doing a home shopping network and I'd go down and sell 30,000 books in a day. And right, it's a home shopping. So I went down, I'm wearing the question mark suit. Oh, you can't go on TV with that. Oh, fuck. This is something that came from my heart. Agonized about it. And you don't get help from your friends and lovers because they want to protect you from being hurt. So you... They're your worst enemies.

Louis - 00:39:07:

It's so good what you just said. That's also an important thing, right? It's so difficult for anyone outside to emphasize with what you're trying to do. I've given up trying to explain what I'm doing or why I'm doing it. I've really given up because it's very rare to find people who understand that deeply. Because exactly as you said, the people who love you are there to protect you and what they see, when they see you taking risk or thinking that you're taking risk or going against the grain, they think you're more likely to get hurt.

Matthew - 00:39:40:

Failure. See, that's another thing about love. See, if you really love me, may you help me do what I want to do. Not what you want to do.

Louis - 00:39:53:

No, but it's so fucking, it's so deep in a sense. It's very deep, but it's really good because it's the way to get over that fear, right? Because I asked you the question a few minutes ago about how do you get over that? And it's that believing and knowing that when you think you're taking risks. By doing things differently. It's actually the least risky thing to do. The more risky thing is to keep doing what everyone else is fucking doing and expecting to stand out because of it.

Matthew - 00:40:21:

To me, that's right. Doing what everybody else did. That to me is sort of like leaving a job. No, it was harder to stay in that job. That's the hard thing to do. Not go out and try to do something else.

Louis - 00:40:38:

So you mentioned the failure that helped you to grow, like the worst moment of your life. I don't want to finish on that negative note. I have just one more question after this. But business-wise, what's the number one failure you feel you've learned the most from?

Matthew - 00:40:52:

The first two businesses that failed, I did them in an MBA and computers back in the 70s. Man, yeah, I'd be... Yeah, Facebook, or then it was Microsoft, whatever, and just failed. And that's why I say trying to do things that other people say I should be doing. And we're all just so different human beings. And we all have something so special, we don't even know what it is. And it's our job to try to, through trial and error, to try to figure out what that is so that we could give more. I think that's the only way you could love. And now that I'm into love more than anything else, I want to grow that. You could love harder if you're doing something you love doing. And that's not going to the dentist every day.

Louis - 00:41:41:

Yeah. Amen to that. I think it's a good place to end that conversation. I had a question actually, but you answered it by just saying what you just said. So there's so much there to unpack. I just want to read a quick summary of what you said or what I can remember as well. I love that anecdote about going to Harvard and basically saying you have to have more fun. That's basically my branding. You said that you believe the best stuff come from your heart. And we talked about what does that mean? And it really means to be, to kind of remove the prejudice and the things in your head and just welcome others with kindness, right? Like not judging before you know them and stuff like that. Figuring out your talent, your unique talents. What do you do best? You are the best in the world at knowing how to throw your own party and have fun with it and bring people along. But it takes trial and error and you have to experiment and try. Your people, the people who love you the most will try to promote you and protect you from what they think is risky. But actually taking those risks is the least risky thing to do.

Matthew - 00:42:46:


Louis - 00:42:47:

Right? And so that's why you need to go about it. And then we talked about how do you deal with haters? And you said it's still very difficult. But if you've picked something that is important to you and therefore it's important for others. You will have the strength and stamina to go through those moments. Is that a good summary of our conversation?

Matthew - 00:43:08:

Yes. Oh, great. You're going to write a good book someday.

Louis - 00:43:12:

When I grew up. Matthew, you've been an absolute pleasure, man. I've learned a lot from you. Like, you have a lot of different perspectives or ways to explain things that I never heard before. So thank you so much for your time. Where can people connect with you, learn more from you?

Matthew - 00:43:28: is where my stuff is. Or if an email would be

Louis - 00:43:36:

So Lesko, L-E-S-K-O is your last name. So Matthew Lesko, just so people, they can search for you. Right.

Matthew - 00:43:43:

Lesko Free, F-R-E-E,

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