The Virtual CEO Shares His Success Story
In this interview, I speak with Chris Ducker (CEO – Live2SellGroup / Founder – VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com) about his Philippines outsourcing business and his aspiration to become a full time “Virtual CEO” by the end of 2010. We also discussed how social media has played a key role in helping him achieve his goals. Chris is a passionate guy that is a businessman first and a blogger second. But, that being said, he does a hell of a job pushing out quality content on his blog and has built a massive following in only 6 months of dedicated blogging on VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com.
Anyone that is looking to outsource their business, or is interested in learning what this actually means, should watch this interview and check out Chris’s blog. He offers a free ebook (which I’ve personally read and found a tremendous amount of value in) on his website titled “Saving The Day – The Virtual Way“, so make sure to sign up, download the book and let me know what you think in the comments section below!
Meet Chris Ducker
Chris Ducker is a 19-year Sales and Marketing Veteran and Entrepreneur originally from the U.K., but now residing in the Philippines. He currently spends most of his time overseeing the daily operations of his Outsourcing company, The Live2Sell Group.
Chris has been involved at every corporate level throughout his career in Sales, Marketing and PR and has appreciated every boss, gate-keeper, prospect, customer, co-worker and supplier he’s ever worked with. To date, Chris has trained approximately 8,000 professionals on the subject of telemarketing and telesales techniques.
As Chris has ‘grown’ as a professional he’s realized that spending 14 hours a day ‘at work’ is now something of the past. He now concentrates on quality, rather than quantity by utilizing different systems and processes that he have tested and put in place to make his lifestyle less hectic, and more fun to focus on.
Social Media Interview
1. Can you tell everyone how you ended up in the Philippines from the UK and what you now do on a daily basis?
I was originally born and raised in London, England (if you can’t tell from the accent). This is actually my best Californian accent right here. How am I doin? Am I doin ok?
I came over to the Philippines about ten and a half years ago where I was originally contracted to work with one of the large international banks over here, helping them train their telemarketing teams and generally help them from a local sales standpoint.
Eventually, it’s tough to be here and not know about the outsourcing world and not ultimately get involved with it. I started doing consulting work within the industry about 8 years ago. Within 2 or 3 years of doing that I was done helping other people make money with their business and decided to set my own company up and the rest as they say is history.
Here we are 5 years young as a company. We started out with 7 employees and we’re now up to about 220. So, building things up slowly but surely.
2. When did you get involved in the social media world, both with your business and personally?
You know, I gotta be honest, I’m a late bloomer man. I guess my first real flirtation session with social media was with Twitter and it would have been around August 2008. And, I remember the date because I was in the UK at the time and I remember I had been out with some friends one night and someone was talking about this thing called Twitter, or as we were calling it, Twatter. So, I get home and I’m checking my email and I thought I should check this thing out. I signed up but I did nothing with the account for months and months.
Trevor: Which I think most people do when they first get on Twitter. They get on and don’t know what to say.
I didn’t know what the hell, I didn’t know what it was all about. I was like, 140 characters? How the hell are you going to say anything in 140 characters? So, I was very perplexed with the whole thing to be very frank and honest with ya. But, I think it was around the beginning of last year when I started using it properly in 2009. But, it didn’t really grow to anything astronomical until probably the beginning of this year when I launched the blog, VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com.
I launched the blog and I think if you just give people great content and something to think about and try to inspire them a bit, which I try to do all those three things. People are going to be happy to hit that “follow” button. And, 9 times out of 10, I guess that’s how people have been following me. But, you know, I’m not one of these guys, you see big guys online that have got 10’s of thousands of people following them and follow like 50 people back or something like that. I generally try to share the love a little bit on that stuff and try to follow everybody back as well.
Ya, so Twitter, as a company, we have a Twitter account called @Live2SellGroup and then my own personal account @ChrisCDucker. We use them in very different ways. When it comes to the business one, I personally very rarely tweet on that account myself. And the same can be said for our Facebook Fan Page as well. I’ve got people that handle that sort of stuff for me on a day to day basis.
But, on Twitter, my personal account, I generally tweet about 85% of what you’ll see. The other 15% is my assistant tweeting out links to the new blog posts and that type of stuff. She is grossly overpaid for doing just that one thing, I must get her doing other things, don’t you think.
Trevor: I wasn’t aware of this Chris, but did you say that you just started your VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com blog at the start of this year?
Middle of January, ya. I used to blog at my own domain name, ChrisDucker.com, which is now just sitting there doing nothing. But, I found that whenever I did anything in regards to outsourcing or virtual living and lifestyle design and all these other sort of buzz words that are out there. Whenever I did anything on those types of topics, I used to get the most amount of feedback. Not just comment wise, but also retweets and general buzz about it. And, I stated doing some stuff on YouTube as well which really helped to promote, I’m not going to say me as a brand because it sounds so egotistical, but it kind of helped get my advocacy of that virtual business lifestyle out there before it was even called VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com.
So, it was actually just over Christmas last year when my wife actually said to me, you should just do a blog and focus purely on that. Because, there are so many things you could write about but just get a little bit more concise and focused on it rather than just rambling all the time. And that’s exactly what I did. I setup VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com and my first post there was a video post where I launched my goal for this year which is to become that full time Virtual CEO. I’m relatively virtual at the moment, but I’m still in the office about 100% more time than I want to be. And, the goal by the end of the year is to completely rid myself of this big chair and this nice office I’ve got here.
Trevor: Find the nice hammock on a beach, right.
There you go, that’s what I’m talking about. But, ya, it’s just literally the beginning of the year. That’s when I kicked it all off, that’s when it all started. And, I went from like 800 followers on Twitter and I’ve now got, I don’t know, 11000 or something. So, it seems to be building with popularity. So, that’s obviously a good thing.
Trevor: I think you bring up a great point there which is, a lot of people get fearful in blogging by thinking “What am I going to talk about?”. I think the first step is the way you did it. You established your own personal site and you just started writing about anything that comes to mind and eventually you kind of find that niche. And, that area of interest that you can get up and talk about every single day and eventually you can brand yourself in that way. Cause, essentially you have done that, you have branded yourself as the Virtual CEO regardless of whether or not you are at the moment right now. If it’s a 6 month or 1 year plan, people see you as that person because you’ve established that online identity and have been consistent.
You know, I want to clarify, I didn’t actually go out to do that. But, I’m getting a lot more people relating to me in that way, in some way shape or form. And, it wasn’t really actually the plan to become the “Virtual CEO”. You know what I mean.
What I wanted to do more than anything else, I just wanted to document the journey. I just wanted to document that 1 year long goal. Month by month broken up into little mini goals on a monthly basis. Of which I am bang on target. Literally bang on target coming to the end of this month. I wanted to be able to look back on that year at the beginning of next year, when I was a full time “Virtual CEO” and say, wow, look at all the crap I went through to get to where I am. I was really worth all the nightmares and it’s not plain sailing, any goal that is a mid-term goal like that, nothing is going to happen just like that (snaps fingers).
So, that was the main reason why I set it up, but I don’t know, things have just started to spiral a little bit. And, I get the opportunity to meet cool guys like you and interview published authors like Dave Crenshaw and other guys like that who I admire as well from a readership standpoint.
And, hey, let me give Dave a plug. Here we go, Invaluable. Let me tell you something, this is how cool this published author really is. I interviewed him a couple weeks ago and this book came out about a month ago, I think. And, I read his first book, The Myth of Multitasking, and that was great and that’s how we connected. And, we actually ended up doing a bit of business together as well. But, this is not released in the Philippines yet. You can’t get this book anywhere. So, he actually had Wiley, based out of Singapore, send me a complimentary copy. How cool is that, he’s a pretty cool guy.
Trevor: Ya, and it just goes to show you that engaging with these tools can connect you with anybody really in the world.
And, I connected with Dave for the first time ever on Twitter.
3. So, Twitter is obviously a heavily used tool for you, but is there any other tools like YouTube that you are using to distribute your content?
Ya, I mean, I’ve tried a bit of everything. I know a lot of people want to stick with written content with blogging, but, to be frank with ya, I’m just lazy man. The idea of sitting there and fine tuning a 700-800 word blog post for hours and hours on end just bores the hell out of me. But, I do have the content to share and for me it’s just easier to hit the record button on a video recorder or just a webcam and just pump it out there like that. Very raw, pretty much as unedited as possible, I mean there might be a few things added. You know, sometimes I’m in the office and every now and then the phone will ring when I’m in the middle of recording a video. I’ve left it in a few time, but I’ve also edited it out as well.
For me, I think video is the really the way that things are going. It’s the medium that I prefer to share what I learn and what I practice in. Because it gives you the ability, instead of reading an article about working from a beach for a week, I can blog daily in 4 or 5 minutes with a video camera and people can actually see me on the beach. There is realism right there. And that’s something that can’t be communicated through photographs or words. So, I think video is what I really enjoy.
And the other thing is, and we were talking about this just before you hit the record button on the video here, the other thing with video is that you can turn it into an MP3 and bang, you’ve got a podcast ready to go. I think podcasts are nothing new, but they are highly disregarded in the lifestyle design / entrepreneurial model. And, I think, more and more are coming up now, they are becoming much more popular.
But, I think for me, video is what it’s all about going forward. And, I think it’s going to be the medium that sees the most action now. Because people like to watch other people doing stuff. It’s those natural voyeuristic tendencies we all have as human beings I guess.
Trevor: I don’t know for certain, I just kind of skimmed over the home page of your website today, but you just did a recent series of posts, a 3 part series talking about why you want to be a “Virtual CEO”. And, just in quickly looking at it, it looked like you got a ton of responses in the comment section, perhaps even the most you’ve ever had?
Well, I’ve had two or three really good quality posts that have done really well, they gone crazy viral and been tweeted out 80 or 90 times. Which, might not sound like a lot compared to guys like Tim Ferris who has like 600 retweets when he blogs once a month or something like that. But, that’s a best selling author right. But, I mean, for me to get 40 or 50 comments on a blog post is awesome.
And, I had a feeling the “Why I Want To Be A Virtual CEO” posts would be quite popular, but I didn’t know they were going to be that popular. And the last one, which went live last Friday, that was for me the most important one. There were three main reason as to why I want to become a Virtual CEO. The first one is to be location independent, work wherever I want to work and go wherever I want to go and do it whenever I want to do it. The second one was to be able to take myself out of my day to day brick and mortar business and being able to focus on a lot more projects, predominantly online based going forward. And, it’s hard to do that when you are in the mix all the time, 9 hours a day running a 200+ employee company, it’s very very tough. And, the third one was to spend more time with my family. And, that for me was the sweet spot. And, I thought that that might get the most comments, but it didn’t, it was the actually the first one about being location independent. But, there was still quite a few, it was up in the late 20’s. But, seeing some of the comments on that last one with me and my son playing around in front of the camera, people really got it and that was the big thing for me.
Trevor: Ya, and the one thing that stood out for me on those two was that, you could tell they were not scripted videos. They were just 2 or 3 minutes of just telling it exactly how it is or what you are aspiring to live to on a daily basis. And, I think people can really relate to that, it’s a real person behind the camera.
Right, exactly. And, you mentioned the word script there, and I think a lot of video bloggers do tend to script their videos quite heavily. I know for a fact a couple of them that really script their videos quite heavily. I generally, if I’m going to shoot a video blog post, I generally try to keep it under 5 minutes, around the 3 to 4 minute mark, because it’s easy to digest it like that. And, I tend to have 2 or 3 points in my head, I have no notes in front of me, very rarely anything like that at all. 2 or 3 major bullet points that I can go to at any point if I find myself kind of rambling. You know, come on Chris, sort yourself out, get to the point now.
Trevor: Ya, and one of the other tools you use, and this is one of the ways that I really got to know you and your business is when you hopped on Ustream one day and did a live Q & A with some followers. And, I think there was what, 15 or 16 people on that first one?
It went a little higher actually, come on, give me a little bit more credit here. I think it went up to like 24 I think was the max, or something along those lines. But that was me with like an hour and a half break in my schedule, which is rare. I literally just tweeted it out, put it on Facebook and 20 odd people showed up. And, I actually have another one coming up this Thursday (**This ended up being rescheduled for a later date due to a scheduling conflict. We will update the scheduled date when Chris announces it) and I don’t know when you are going to be putting this video out but if it’s any point in the next day or so, it might be relevant. But, if not, you can go to the Ustream channel and get the recording there. But, I’m doing it because the majority of that first Q & A session of that very impromptu webinar was questions on “How do I do this with my VA?”, “How do I train them?”, “How do I pay them?”, “How do I hire them?”, “How do I look after them?”, you know, that sort of stuff. So, I’m going to do a 1 hour long webinar titled “How To Work With A Virtual Assistant”.
Trevor: Ya, and this interview definitely won’t be live by then, but I’ll definitely link it up because, as you say, they always get recorded so it will be on your Ustream channel. I’ll make sure people can find that. Cause, that’s a great way to share content. I know I do all of my live webinars via Livestream, which is very similar to Ustream. It’s just a great, interactive way to deliver content in real time. So, I think you are going to enjoy it, well, you’ve already done the first one so you know the type of feedback you get.
You know, that was really impromptu, I had nothing. I had no notes, I had no idea what to expect. I was a complete webinar virgin. I think I’ve only attended like 2 in my life. So, I figured, what the hell. I’m just going to do it and see what happens. But, the feedback was awesome, I mean, people really enjoy them and I didn’t expect that. I really didn’t expect it. So, I want to try to do it monthly if I can.
4. What resources do you use to keep up with trends in social media?
You know, I get asked that question quite a bit. There isn’t actually any one sites or services that I actively follow. There are literally only a handful of blogs that I subscribe to in my RSS reader. I don’t know, maybe I’m not as focused on that stuff as maybe I should be as someone that wants to go into the online space more and more. Not just from a branding standpoint, but also from a business standpoint.
But, Mashable is great. I also love LifeHacker.com as well. I think that a very cool site. The have some pretty cool content on their as well. Other than that, I tend to not really get too heavily involved in following any one person or business.
However, there are several blogs that I enjoy. I really enjoy reading ZenHabits by Leo Babauta. I think that’s a really good blog. And, I think in today’s lifestyle where everything is going 180km/hr (or miles/hr depending on where you are in the world), but those kind of sites are really important. I read Tim Ferris’s blog pretty much religiously. He’s kind of swayed away from the stuff that I really enjoyed, you know, that The 4 Hour Workweek, personal outsourcing, location independence sort of stuff. He’s kind of swaying away from that a little bit. And, I hope he does get back on track because that was what I really enjoyed when I used to read a lot of his stuff. But, other than that, there’s really not a lot of stuff that I follow regularly, to be honest with you.
5. I find a lot of people have a story around social media, that WOW moment where they’ve either connected with somebody they didn’t think was possible, or something else that makes them realize that it’s a game changer. It changes the way they do business or live their lives. Do you happen to have any stories like this?
In relation to social media, not really, but in relation to the internet and the online world, yes. It was the middle of 2008 and I was contacted by Entrepreneur Magazine that wanted to do an article on me and the company. Which, as an entrepreneur, I think every entrepreneur on the planet has read that magazine at some point and thought to themselves, wow, I’d love to be in that magazine. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a cover story or anything like that, it was a 1 page feature. And, it was a nice big photo of me on there with a rundown of what I was doing in regards to setting up the company and building the company and things like that. So, for me, that was an accomplishment. That for me was a nice piece, they wrote it real well and that kind of recognition is awesome. Do I want to be on the cover? Absolutely! Do I want to be on the cover of Inc. and FastCompany and those kind of magazines as well, you bet your ass I do. And, it will happen, but it won’t happen for a little while I don’t think.
Trevor: Well, I don’t think your too far off from it Chris.
That’s good to hear. And, you know, it’s all about you. If Trevor thinks I’m almost there thats good!
Trevor: We”ll, I don’t know if it’s all about me, but it potentially has an impact when there is 10,000 or 50,000 people out there that are like me and are following the stuff that you have to put out and liking what you have to say. I think that’s where the impact of a lot of this stuff comes in is that what you are putting out there is impacting people one person at a time. And, what it is to them is different for every single person
That’s it, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a good online presence, that’s what I always say.
6. Which is a great lead in to the last question. Do you have any advice for those just getting started in finding their way online and using social tools to help connect them with other people or promote their business?
It really depends in what way they are trying to do it. If they are trying to do more of a personal branding thing, that’s one thing. If you are looking to try and promote and brand your company, that’s a whole different ball game. Because I think there is a very fine line between the two nowadays, however, particularly with a company such as mine which is based towards corporations and medium to large size companies, rather than the entrepreneurial, bootstrapped startup. You have to be seen as a company. You have got to be seen as a company that is trustworthy, has a good reputation and that sort of thing. And, you’ve got to be very careful what you Tweet and post on Facebook. That stuff doesn’t go away. I read stuff about people being fired for stuff they sent out 4 months ago and that sort of stuff.
But, really, tips from me. The one thing for me, when I really saw a boost in my personal Facebook and Twitter was when I branded them. I used the same image, the same terminology, the same logos, the same colors and that sort of thing. And, I noticed a big boost in the numbers right away. I mean, it wasn’t heartstopping or anything, but there was a definite increase in the number of followers and fans that I was getting in those two main social media networks. I guess I try now, even more so than ever before, I try to make sure that when I use either Twitter or Facebook, that everything has some sort of value, rather than just idle chit chat. And, I think that’s important. If you want to be seen as a thought leader and someone who really knows what they are talking about, you need to have value in pretty much everything that you say. And, people are pretty tough to please nowadays because there is so much out there.
I think generally, if you want to try to use social media to try to get yourself up to the next level, it’s about the content. It’s about what you give people. And, stop trying to charge for it. I see people trying to sell 15 page ebooks, why are you trying to sell a 15 page ebook? That’s insane, give it away! Give the damn thing away. I mean, I give away a 31 page ebook on my blog. Sign up now kids ;) I literally give away a 31 page ebook because its content that I want to get out there and I think that people can genuinely learn from it. So, I think that’s it really. Make sure your content is good and that people can get something from it.
Trevor: So, ya, I think consistency and authenticity are really two words that define what you are doing with your online presence. You know what to expect every time you come to your blog and every once in a while you throw in things that just keep it entertaining too, which is always great. It doesn’t have to be boring, you should be able to have fun with this stuff as well.
Well, I literally just over the weekend, I had a lifestyle change and it hit me. I was at a friends party on Friday night, and I don’t work Friday’s. I don’t go into the office anymore. I still email a little bit, but I don’t generally work. But, it was Friday night at my buddy’s house, beautiful house, beautiful pool, the whole shebang. And, we are sitting there drinking wine and everyone is having fun and my Blackberry would not stop going all night long. One email after another. So, after about 2 1/ 2 bottles of wine I threw it in the pool. And then I dove in and got it and Saturday, in my kitchen, I blended it. You know, like the “Will It Blend” thing, I blended it and I’m going to slam it on the blog at some point.
Trevor: Oh, I was gonna say, Chris, tell me you recorded that cause I wanna see this!
Ya, I did, I video’d it. So, we’ll put it on the blog at some point.
Trevor: Nice, i think a lot of people will be able to relate to that one for sure.
Connect With Chris
Current Occupation: CEO – The Live2Sell Group / Founder – VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com
Personal Website/Blog: http://www.virtualbusinesslifestyle.com
Business Website/Blog: http://www.welive2care.com/
Facebook Fan Page (Personal): http://www.facebook.com/virtualbusinesslifestyle
Facebook Fan Page (Business): http://www.facebook.com/live2sellgroup
Twitter (Personal): http://twitter.com/chriscducker
Twitter (Business): http://twitter.com/live2sellgroup
YouTube (Personal): http://www.youtube.com/chrisducker
iTunes Podcast: http://itunes.apple.com/ph/podcast/virtual-business-lifestyle/id377846535