Business goes Virtual with Scott Carson
Business is changing. Because of the Coronavirus or COVID-19, everyone is thinking virtual. We're teaching, shopping, working and connecting online. On this episode, I interview Investment Entrepreneur Scott Carson about ways to take traditional business meetings and conferences and turn them into virtual money making events.
Scott Carson is known as the Note Guy. He's founder and CEO of We Close Notes, a Texas-based real estate investment company that buys distressed assets on residential and commercial properties from banks and hedge funds. Over the last few years, Carson has become an expert in online meetings. Scott canceled a conference with low attendance and turned it into a successful virtual summit. He's a savvy entrepreneur, business coach and podcaster.
"And so if there's a way for you to serve a need, or be able to solve a problem then you've got something there, and I think that's the beautiful thing about online, summits, live streams. If you're answering an issue, solving a problem even if it's for one person."
- Scott Carson
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Judy Oskam: 0:03
Welcome to Stories of Change and Creativity. I'm Judy Oskam. I'm a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. Throughout my career as a television journalist, video producer, PR professional and educator. I've always been drawn to stories, stories about people and how they deal with change and embrace creativity. Hope you enjoy listening.
Judy Oskam: 0:29
On this episode, I talk with Scott Carson. Scott is president and CEO of We Close Notes, a Texas based real estate investment company. He's a marketing thought leader, entrepreneur, business coach and podcaster
Scott Carson: 0:45
For the last, I guess it's almost 15 years I've kind of been the the go-to guy in the distressed debt space. When it comes to, for real estate investors, buying and selling and about seem distressed. Debt could be called we close notes dot com that we've We've bought over half a billion dollars in distressed mortgages after the last recession. I guess we're gonna be busy again here before too long. But done that the last three and 1/2 year started podcast in that field and done a little of that, done virtual events the last five years of teaching thousands of real estate investors across the country to dive into our little niche that we've actually transferred that to our podcast in space and podcasters with marketing and in monetization skills and helping them expand, stretch their audience out across the country and doing some simple things that most people I think think is more difficult than it actually is. And we try to simplify that, make it easy for everybody. So that's that's me. And that show called the Note Guy is kind of my nickname across the country.
Judy Oskam: 1:43
Scott Carson understands why and how business needs to change and evolve. We're teaching, shopping, working and meeting online. And with the current global health crisis business and life - as we know it - is going virtual... in a big way.
Scott Carson: 2:04
I have seen a big change in people avoided doing online events because, like, oh, that it doesn't work that way. They have different You know, also that they think we like statements about virtual events, and it is a totally different system of having business, an online business versus a brick and mortar business. I mean, of course, now some businesses aren't gonna be able to like a restaurant. Can't virtually serve you drinks or virtually serve you the Chinese food that you want to get what you mean, but there are things that you can do to still get the word out, and it's easier than ever to do that. I mean, this technology that we're using and all the different social media tools are basically free, for the most part. You just gotta spend little time. There's plenty of online tutorials or videos or experts that you can spend 30 minutes to an hour where they really kind of go through and say...Oh, how can I apply this and it's making some adjustments. I think everybody's making adjustments. You know who doesn't like the face to face? Hey, let's have a handshake or a beer like that to network. But, uh, you know, we've been busy doing more events we've worked reached after couple events that we're gonna be cancelled and were able to get them to understand that they will come in and help you out with that. And here's how simple it is. And I just got an email from a lady who had an event scheduled in Irvine California 400 registrants...and was gonna cancel the event on a Saturday. And now she has had double the speakers reaching back out for because, she said, to reach to her and said are you comfortable doing a virtual event and she's like 'oh my God, she just emailed me. and says Scott, can we take this from a one day to a two day event? I'm like. Yeah, easy..done. we hit a couple buttons? Okay, now we have a two day event. Let's still that you know, let's get people networking and get people in and get the information. That's really what it comes out to. The online event space or the online virtual meeting space is still all about getting that message out to people. And when you have people hold up or quarantined in their house or on locked down yeah, we can either sit in binge Netflix or we could still be productive and do something informational or educational.
Judy Oskam: 3:54
Why is the concept of change so difficult, do you think?
Scott Carson: 3:57
Nobody likes it? It's like the same thing. I mean, we get stuck in honestly what it comes down to is people will not change or business won't change as long as they're in a comfort zone. And we see that all cross the country. People aren't gonna change until something really affects their comfort zone , that comes from either time or money. Um, yeah, they make talk about it. But until something happens that moves them off the rock or moves him on that uncomfortable edge like hey I gotta do something different or I'm gonna be broke cause I'm not making any money or I'm being downsized or what I used to do doesn't work anymore, is it is, uh, non existent. That's where the change come from. People don't want to change unless they absolutely have to. For the most part, I used to be the same way when I got and it took a $25,000 deficit on an event that I was running for me to decide Okay, let's give this a try. You know, my, uh my significant other Stephanie has been with me for years. She's like, "well, why don't you do an online event? and I'm like no one is gonna show up. Nobody's gonna sign up for anything, and then we're gonna do this on, we were going to do this in person do this in person event in Houston, we dropped $25,000 marketing we had like $25,000 in food and beverage, And then AV costs and nobody signed up for the events that we had an amazing line up. Amazing concept, Amazing theme. Nobody signed up. And I cancel ed it. So I was like, 25-30 grand and I'm like, Okay, that hurt. I mean, I was a literally talking about this morning. I was really thinking I'm gonna have a stroke or heart attack like the week going up to it was all this money was on the line. I wouldn't change unless that that happened. And so we said, OK, let's give it a try with a virtual event and the first time we tried it, we didn't have 300 people show up. We have 75 people and it was so much easier because it was just a lot less moving parts. People that showed up were there. They interacted, and it still did well in sales wise and our monetization side of things. So you got to tweak some things, but it's the change. And getting outside that comfort zone is really why people and businesses don't change. They get used to like we've done it like this for years. Or that's not the way we've done it before. Well, you know what, before is behind us. This is the new reality that we're in so you can either evolve or you can go extinct. And, you know, a lot of times, businesses are like the dinosaurs, they're used to doing the same thing for the millions of years. They don't want to change. But it we're ever evolving. And I think if anything, that's the thing you've got to evolve in today's markets with everything is going on or you are gonna be extinct in out of business and working for somebody else.
Judy Oskam: 6:18
Can you, can you give people a couple of simple strategies for - there they are sitting, you know, maybe there's a major meeting coming up. What should they be doing now to think ahead? Because this is not going away for a while.
Scott Carson: 6:29
Yeah, that's a great question, Judy. I'm glad you asked that. The best thing you can do is just to start doing stuff online, but letting your clients, your customers know we're still here, we're still gonna have an event. You know, um, I saw another event like it got canceled for six months. I'm like, Why? Just do it online. For those speakers, that would be a part of it. Hey, we're you're still going to speak, you know, just get in the habit, reach out to somebody, reach out to someone who's doing this. And it's a lot easier than most people think, ah. That's the biggest thing I think is the ignorance. People like to think, Oh, I can't do that. My event will work that way. Well, yes, 90% of what you do in person can be done online through an online summit or online event. And so just start doing things. Start putting things together. Start communicating, sharing the audience. Getting online. Tell them, Hey, we're transitioning this. Cuz everybody knows what's going on, there's no hiding it. You still have them rather learning from you versus canceling and then probably not showing up in six months because they got that information from somebody else who was a line who did evolve, And it's all I'm a big believer that you have to stay in front of your clients. Whoever has the loudest voice, is really gonna get the business most the time. You don't have to be perfect. Perfection equals broke in my business in online events. People were still able to tie in. They were happy not having to buy hotels, or take time away from their family and kids. Now everybody stuck home. So now they can save that money that they would've spent travel and put it towards your products, your service or future business with you.
Judy Oskam: 7:57
Yeah. The issue of money and cost..the cost that they would have put into the in person event can go right into technology. Correct?
Scott Carson: 8:06
Yea, exactly. And we're still familiar with a lot of especially have a hotel event. You're gonna be paying, like, $96 to $100 for a gallon of coffee. Okay, One gallon of coffee from a hotel for food and bev is basically about would cost you for a month of Zoom to set it all up ....I think I have $150 a month that gives the ability the liveestream with Zoom with the software used to record this . $150 and you could have up to 500 people joining in listening. You could have up to 100 people. You bring on the talk at the same time. I mean, we've done events throughout a two day where we had 30 speakers on over two days and for the less. I mean, you gotta have good Internet. You gotta have a good mic webcam. It's helpful as well. So, you know, if you pay 100 bucks for, ah logictech Webcam, you could use headphones like you're using or even like a Yeti Blue, which might be 100 bucks or an, ATR mic's like $60. For really less than 200 bucks you can have it all that you need for an online event. You don't need a fancy video equipment you don't need fancy if you got a laptop with good Internet and the Zoom you could put an online virtual event basically together. If you don't have to spend eight grand on a food and beverage minimum or room reserves, I mean, it's a huge overhead that you've got a sign on your doing events, so that's a huge difference. Not having a 10 to $15,000 being in the hole in the red before you started events, and you still sell tickets to it and say we're doing an online. We're gonna cut the cost of half since we don't have as much over it. Still make it more
Judy Oskam: 9:33
As far as you know, change. You know, we always look it on this podcast. We talk about change and creativity, and there's no better time to have both right now, with all of this climate. But looking ahead, do you think this is gonna change how business is done moving forward?
Scott Carson: 9:47
I think it definitely is gonna change. I think you're gonna see. I think we've been in that space anyway over the last year. Two years more people going as they get more comfortable with online events or online networking, I think it's really a big thing. Um, especially especially for the next few months, because I'm not gonna lie and say, a virtual events going to save your budget or neatly replace everything. It's It's a starting point and say as you and you see people coming back to work or companies rebounding as we kind of get out of this quarantine kind of get back home. There's gonna be a period of probably 6 to 6 months to a year before you get close to where we need to be again. And that means he's still going to tighten up on your butt. That means no travel, you know, no hotel expenses, travel and stuff like that. Because you can do this stuff online and, you know, people are gonna take advantage of that. I think it's gonna go. We're gonna realize how easy that is. They're still gonna have some travel in person stuff. It's still a great great thing to do. But I think you're gonna see a lot less. I I actually believe that probably 50% of the event space of event companies or the people putting on big conferences or events are gonna be out of business because they don't know how to evolve. And that's a sad thing. But with companies and work, And if you evolve it making 50 cents on the dollar right now, still better than making a whole lot of nothing. If you've got to work from home, I mean, I think there's been a big push in in bigger companies to have people working remotely. Anyway, I like I've got friends that work atBuffer. You know, one of the big social media platforms, 100% of their staff works remotely. They don't have an office space. Everybody works remotely, and you see that you've seen the kind of that push for people that you only worked 2 to 3 or four days and off, especially if they're in high tech. You could do that for most part. Just gonna look, you just gotta learn how to evolve and give you some. Give you some time for the learning curve. It may not be perfect, but if you can get 60-70% of your productivity initially back by at least having people working to making them away Hey, that's a great start. That's a totally a great start, and you can evolve and get better as you evolve.
Judy Oskam: 11:47
Uh, Scott, I think you do such a great job at building community online. And you know, I joined your ST Patrick's Day celebration with my beer. That's important for businesses to do as well. Correct?
Scott Carson: 12:03
I think so. I think I probably get 5 to 10 e mails a day from companies like, you know, the whole the Corona Virus Email. Hey, we're reducing our hours. Everything wants to be safe or hey we're going to closing our doors for a while and I get that. But sometimes people are all the same thing. And that's if you listen to the news or in spend your time beating your news from 'fake book'. As I like to say, it's negative. It's a lot of negative. Nancy's out there. waaa waaa waaa. So the more you can communicate and try to have some sort of fun or just touch base with everybody, let people vent....communicate. Yeah, hey, it's ST Patrick's Day. We can't get in person to have a green beer, but we could get it online and just talk about what's going on and crack jokes. Everybody's going through the same thing. So you can all your sit around and whine and moan, or we're can be something positive and and be fun and goofy and just be yourselves and have comics. I mean, we're working with a couple comics up in New York right now trying to put on, um, Online April Fool's comic festival Comics over Corona. (laughs) You know I had is that I'm not joking. I had this idea about two hours ago and already got five comics involved, and we're like, Okay, how we're gonna just get those every together. I'll handle the technology and we'll get it shared and live stream it. And you know, if we have one person show up, it's better than none. You know Gary Vaynerchuk is famous for saying that ....the big social media guru - one person is greater than zero. You know, my trainer. I've been I've been working with four years in person, you know, 2,3, 5 times a week. We started doing online the workouts. When I would travel, he would jump online. We do Zoom call you know, he tell me he watched me go through and give me the workout and guide me through it. Today, we did that. You know he's impact because he can't meet people in person. And he's got an older family member that lives with them. So he's really being cautious about that aspect of things. So we jumped online. We live streamed it, Um, So hey, if you want to go through a workout, hey, you could watch may be apply it or he does online trainings. You do 1 on 1 just got to get creative with this. It's not gonna be perfect it at first, but like I said. Just everybody's going through the same thing. And so if there's a way for you to serve a need. Or be able to solve a problem. Then you've got something there, and I think that's the beautiful thing about online, summit, live streams. If you're answering an issue. Solving a problem even if it's for one person. You're doing some good and you never know who needs to hear you laugh. Or you need to have a drink, a stiff drink at the end of the day as well.
Judy Oskam: 14:37
Well, I think that's great. And and and I love how you always kind of share such personality, Scott and tell us something. And I always ask my guest this. What's a little known fact that we don't know about Scott Carson, that you wouldn't mind sharing with the listeners?
Scott Carson: 14:51
Ah, a little known fact is that I actually have. I got ordained as a minister about a decade ago. My father went to seminary school never was. The ministry is always a beacon in the church, and when he passed, I went online on the Church with Rose or something like that, and got ordained, and I just did is a way to kind of is a respect to my father. Well, then I went posted some ad on Craigslist, and I probably got 20 people responded and asked me to come out and officiate their wedding. So over the last 10 years, I have officiated roughly about 20 - 2- dozen weddings. Um, a lot of people on their third wedding or second wedding or something like that. Or I had a buddy who is getting married to the Dominican Republic, and I, you know, I got invited, was wedding, so I officiated it for him. We have service members, and we're going to go off to Iraq or Afghanistan or things like that. They want to have a ceremony really quick. So I did that for, um, you know, um, it's a fun thing to help serve an issue for people if they can't if they don't have a church, they go to on a regular basis. So that's the thing... ordained. And as I look around, I've performed two dozen funerals. I mean, ah I mean weddings, not funerals. (laughs)
Judy Oskam: 15:56
(laughs) I love it, I love it
Scott Carson: 15:58
No funerals. Yet (laughs)
Judy Oskam: 16:02
Good, we'll try and avoid that. That's good. Well, Scott - thanks for talking with me today. And again, I'm gonna put some of your links in the show notes so people can find you and you just do a great job with connecting people. And I think that's a real that that's a real talent and very innovative during this time.
Scott Carson: 16:21
Well, I appreciate it. I've had the good fortune over the years at some really great people have helped me connect. Um, who have been just amazing people that have helped me and mentored me along the way. So like I said, if I could help anybody in the future with anything I've been very blessed. My friends and mentors, that are now really good friends now help me on there on my journey. And so if I help anybody on their journey, I'm glad... good thanks for having me... And by the way, everybody do Judy a favor go on over...She a great job with this podcast... . You know she does...So go on over your listen, just hit the subscribe button and leave a five star review for Judy. She does an amazing job. So do that for I know she loves it that we all as podcasters love hearing that stuff. It's not solicited. Just do it for me, all right. (laughs)
Judy Oskam: 17:05
A lot of fun. Thank you, Scott. Appreciate it.
Scott Carson: 17:07
Judy Oskam: 17:08
Thank you for listening to Stories of Change and Creativity. Check out the show notes for more information about this episode and please subscribe and share this podcast with a friend. If you have a story to tell or know someone who does, please let me know. I'm Judy Oskam ...Thanks for listening.