An Inside Look – Jesse Itzler

Be different.

When you stand out, you make money. In today’s crowded marketplace, you HAVE to be different to survive.

Jesse Itzler is living proof that being different is a big factor in success. He’s sold multiple companies for massive profits, he’s the co-owner of an NBA team, and he’s just a badass in general.

How do you capitalize on your unique idea like Jesse did? Here are a few lessons you can learn from Jesse’s rise to the top.


Storytell to Sell

Marketing a product or service by itself is boring. Think about it. Why would someone buy a broom if it’s just a wooden stick with some straw bristles at the end?

That’s why you have to bring your product/service to life through storytelling.

See, when you connect what you sell with a story, then that’s when people begin to listen. It’s what hits their heartstrings. As Jesse says, “People buy into stories more than products.”

No one wants the broom you’re selling, but everyone wants the spotless house that all those moms who sweep have—or the ability to fly through the air like a witch (ok, maybe that one’s only in movies).

Jesse experienced this with ZICO Coconut Water. When he tasted coconut water for the first time, he was hooked. He wanted to market the hell out of it, but he didn’t know how to describe the taste.

Then it dawned on him: it’s basically a sports drink, but it also comes from nature. That’s the story he told, and lo and behold, he eventually sold the company to Coca-Cola.


Be Different

I talk about it all the time, but you have to stand out if you want people to buy your product.

The marketplace is too crowded. Are you gonna be “just another option”? Or can you become “the option” in a different niche?

In college, Jesse once had to pitch something to his advertising classmates. He decided to sell them on a brownie.

He was stopped 30 seconds into his presentation. Why?

It’s simple: his brownie wasn’t different. It might have been really good, but there are thousands of really good brownies out there.

He learned from that experience and created a private airplane service that charges by the hour, something that hadn’t been done before. Of course, rich people loved it, and the company eventually sold for a high profit.

What can you offer that no one else can? What makes you different?


Never Accept Your Limits

Limits are usually self-imposed. You’ve got so much more in you than you even realize.

And when you push beyond your limits, you get more done and you become a higher-performing entrepreneur.

Jesse decided to live with a Navy SEAL for 31 days. He even wrote a book about it (it’s hilarious). In that book, he talks about one time that SEAL made him do 150 pull-ups on the spot. Like, he wouldn’t let Jesse leave until he did 150.

At first, Jesse doubted himself, but he eventually got them all done. That day, he learned the “40% rule” that the SEALs live by: Once you think you’re at your limit, you’re really at only 40% of what you can actually do.

Push through the pain and make a real impact through your business. It may be rough, but that just means you’re on the right track. That time under tension will build your entrepreneurial muscles and net you some valuable experience.


Cut Your Deadlines in Half

That’s what my man Craig Ballantyne always says. Boy if that ain’t the truth!

You need to operate with urgency. Time is NOT on your side. You have bills to pay and a family to take care of.

That’s why I time collapse. If I can give my family a better life immediately, why would I hold out?

Jesse has that same mentality. He attempted to climb one of the most dangerous mountains in the world, with no guide to help him. He didn’t make it on his first attempt.

So what did he tell his wife (Spanx CEO Sara Blakely) when she suggested he take some time to better prepare himself for the next attempt?

“I’m going back this Saturday.”

To Jesse, and to every great entrepreneur, time is valuable. Time is money. The more of it you have, the more opportunity you buy yourself.

So why waste time when you can make it happen today?


Want to hear more wisdom from Jesse? Click here to listen to the full-length podcast I shot with him—trust me, it’s one of the best we’ve done!