In this episode, Jim Doyon, sits down with Dr. Wolf Von Laer, the CEO of Students for Liberty, to discuss how he grew a global network for his organization. As we delve into the topic, we'll explore the relationship between community building and effective remote management techniques, grassroots marketing, and fundraising... See show notes at: https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/e57-unlocking-the-secrets-of-growing-a-global-network-insights-from-dr-wolf-von-laer-ceo-of-students-for-liberty/#show-notes
In this episode, Jim Doyon, sits down with Dr. Wolf Von Laer, the CEO of Students for Liberty, to discuss how he grew a global network for his organization.
As we delve into the topic, we'll explore the relationship between community building and effective remote management techniques, grassroots marketing, and fundraising. Dr. Von Laer's extensive experience in political economy and work in multiple countries provides a unique perspective on this topic.
With close to 100 staff members, Students for Liberty is a non-profit organization that trains and supports pro-liberty students worldwide. Dr. Von Laer's work has been published in several books and featured in renowned publications such as Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Policy.
Join us as we explore the power of community and its role in building successful remote organizations. Tune in to Remote Start Nation and discover how you can implement these strategies in your own business.
Learn more about Dr. Wolf Von Laer at:
Personal Website: https://wolfvonlaer.com/
Learn more about Remote Start Podcast at:https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/episodes/
Jim: Remote Start Nation, on today's episode, we are going to be discussing community. We're gonna deep dive and talk with one CEO on how he's grown a worldwide network for his organization. We're gonna dig into how community relates to managing remotely traction management methods, grassroots marketing, and even fundraising. I'm Jim Doyon, your host, and today I'm honored to introduce Dr. Wolf Von Laer, CEO of Students For Liberty through Remote Start Nation. Students For Liberty is a nonprofit organization with close to a hundred staff members that trains and supports Proliberty students worldwide. Wolf received his PhD in Political Economy at King's College London in March, 2017. He's lived and studied in the US, Turkey, Spain, Germany, the Uk, Sweden, and Argentina. He's been published in multiple books and appeared in the Wall Street Journal, foreign Policy, Forbes, Huffington post, Coin Magazine, CoinDesk and Cspan. Woo, that was a long intro.
Dr. Wolf: Thanks for having me, Jim.
Jim: Wolf, I'm excited to have you welcome the Remote Start Nation. You've done a lot in your young years and I'm so thankful to have you.
Dr. Wolf: It's really cool what you're doing and I'm glad to be part of the show.
Jim: Absolutely. Let's get started. Tell us something about you that we wouldn't know if we just met you.
Dr. Wolf: If you were able to see me as one of the viewers, you would probably not think that you could potentially also find me from time to time in a mosh pit.
Jim: Nice. I relate to that, very much nice.
Dr. Wolf: It's all business, but then, party in the back a little bit.
Jim: I like that. You take care of what you have to take care of, but enjoy yourself at the same time, that's important.
Dr. Wolf: Indeed.
Jim: Tell us about your personal journey. What led you to CEO of SFL?
Dr. Wolf: So that was actually a very random journey. I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere. I think the audience has figured that I'm not from Alabama with my accent, right? But a town, a thousand people, middle of nowhere. From my perspective, nobody does anything remotely interesting. Nothing wrong with their life, like I'm not judging it, it's just not something for me. But then later in life, I got to learn English. I came to the United States first time 2009, took intensive language classes, traveled along the East coast and became like more fluent because my high school education, In addition to me being a sucky student really didn't translate into me being really good in English. But once, once I learned the language, like a whole different world opened up to me, and then you mentioned all the countries where I lived in, I got a little bit nuts and lift around the world. And part of that was that I discovered the ideas of liberty, the thinkers behind that explaining like, why free society, why free markets, why property rights are a good thing, why that actually helps the DPA poverty. And that was really exciting to me, and then shortly after I learned about Students for Liberty, I became a volunteer for the organization. And I can tell you, Jim, that no internship program, no university program could have given me the skills that I've received from student celebrity. I got to raise 50,000 euros as a young 20 year old, build a whole training program. Interviewed probably the hundreds of young students before I was in my mid trainings, just because the organization trusted me with that, and now I'm privileged to be the CEO and doing this with thousands of students all around the world. So yeah, it was a matter of risk-taking, doing things other people would probably need to not do and pursue my passion. And that's how I ended up here. And grateful now to live in the United States, married here, and continue to build this organization.
Jim: That's awesome. Tell us more about Students for Liberty and what your mission is and what you've accomplished so far in the CEO role.
Dr. Wolf: Thank you, we are 15 years old now at Students for Liberty and what our mission is to take students interested in these ideas that I've already mentioned. Take them, give them skills like leadership skills, organizational skills and communication skills. But then not only train them, but then also give them the practical application, the empowerment aspect. So what does that mean? To give you an idea, last year our students have organized in over 113 countries, 1,915 events with over 215,000 people attending those events. And so they're learning. How to do stuff like you inviting speakers, right? And then doing the logistics for that, or giving a presentation for the first time. And that gives them more confidence, more skills, and they have ownership over something whereby when they're just in university, they just have to run, jump through hoops and have to write their papers. So they're becoming more entrepreneurial, like your audience as a part of that, and so that's what the organization's doing in a nutshell. So that we're changing campuses today, but then also society in the future because if you imagine somebody having, these skill sets, having a larger vision, becoming more confident, then go out and become maybe like you an entrepreneur or think tank leaders or politicians or journalists or musicians that then continue to spread the ideas of liberty in a different way. And that's really our long-term goal.
Jim: And you've done a great job at that. I've even seen from your website some of your students have been noted by Forbes and, Forbes was it 30, under 30?
Dr. Wolf: Yeah. We are like six people for almost 30 under 30 list, yeah.
Jim: That's excellent. And politicians, and you are definitely making a difference. I actually also had seen that recently, you had a couple big raises where people had donated some money, and one of them I thought was to such a cool cause, but you've raised 1.5 million, sorry, to establish Green Liberty, which is a global program where you're promoting free market environmentalism and exploring ideas that are likely to foster greater and more rapid improvements in the environment than top-down mandate. To me, that's huge. That is I think such an important thing that I'd love to hear you talk a little bit more about that and how that came about and your mission with that.
Dr. Wolf: Thanks for asking. If people think normally about Liberty or Libertarian or classical liberals, they think oh, there's just these individuals that just wanna protect the Oriana plants with guns and so forth. And there might be some truth to that. However, we also care about the poor and the environment, and we right now know that the most important policy area for gen. Is climate change in the environment? Actually over, we are close to one third of every Gen Z person already said that they have done like some sort of activism towards helping the environment. Now, right now, unfortunately the discourse is very much limited to what can, like supernational organizations can do. What can government can do when they're coming up with all of these different ideas? Ignoring that the biggest pollutant of the planet is, for instance, the US military, right? They're producing the most atrocious environmental damage around the world. Not only when they're fighting wars, just getting ready for that. But also government is anyone who has ever been to, we knows that government services and processes, they're not necessarily the best. And the climate and environment very complicated. So we need entrepreneurial solutions, we need try on error, we need different people coming into that and allow for more investments, and we want to create a discourse about this. How can we encourage more of this instead of just looking for answers to the government? I'm not saying that there might be no solution that the government could implement, I'm just saying we should not ignore. Individuals coming together on a civil society level or entrepreneurial level to find solutions and that needs to be more encouraged instead of just like with the stick, trying to regulate everything. Allowing also more investments and more positive incentives for people to become part of the market and solve issues.
Jim: I think when you offer that freeform and a platform for people to do that and get behind, I think it, it's has the opportunity to be a lot bigger than if government did step in.
Dr. Wolf: Absolutely and entrepreneurs know what are the conditions of time and place if bureaucrat sitting here in DC does not necessarily know, like what needs to happen in Flint, Michigan, as we know, right? We need people on the ground that know what the issues are and then address those things. Of course, they're global issues if you wanna discuss those, and there there's a complicated discussion to be had there. However, often it has something to do with people who are on the ground, who are facing rising sea levels or whatever it might be. And coming up as ingenious ways to helping the local population or the animals, or whoever else is suffering from those consequences.
Jim: That's a good point. Thank you for sharing that with us. I'd like to get into the topic of community. And as you've just mentioned, you have built an incredible community that's spann all over this world. And, I'd like to start with, let's just talk about some of the principles that you've learned about building community and what that's led to.
Dr. Wolf: Yeah. Some of the principles, that's a great question. I would say, Let me share two or three of them, one would be that one has to be very selective who you are letting in, right? It's appealing to grow community as quickly as possible, but you have to be selective. Who are the people who are driving it and what kind of people you want to let in. So we are getting every year, seven to 10,000 applications to our program, but we are only letting one third of them because quality over quantity is the most important thing. Because if the community will be undermined by people like putting your banner as your as their banner and just marching forward, but they are like really off putting online or in person, then will alienate like a huge group of people. You need people who not only educated about whatever you want to talk about, but also what kind human beings that you wanna have a beer with, that you wanna have a coffee. So let's be very selective about that. That would be one principle. Another principle would be give them ownership, you can only grow a community if you are giving other people areas of ownership. If you are trying to do everything that's not scalable and that will not give people a buy-in. People have buy-in if they see that they have an ownership of that. Maybe they are organizing like the local events or the local conversations. Whatever is that you wanna talk about, let's say, I donât know phase of remote work. Give them ownership about that, give them, for instance, the power to do the marketing, to create the lists of people that they wanna reach out to or like the partnership aspect so that they can collaborate with you, Jim, for instance and work something out there and then attach, and that's another principle attached to the ownership, some specific KPIs so that you know how they succeed or how they fail, I think some of these principles will really help. You grow a community.
Jim: I love that, those are great points. Let's go back to the principle of ownership from, as a leader and building your team and you have people all over the world, how do you at what point do you set up certain, is it marketing collateral, is it, does it have to, does it start with the KPIs and so they know, they know from the start you have freedom to do what you're doing, but this is what has to be included. How does that work?
Dr. Wolf: It's a constant challenge, and I'm not saying that we are doing it perfectly, but we have learned a bunch of different things and a lot of these things come about organically. When I started as a volunteer, we had all of the ownership, right? There was no staff really helping us. There was like somebody else was training us at the beginning and then off we went and we created everything ourselves. So there's always a very difficult tight walk to walk between structure and things that you need to give those folks. So for instance, like certain guidelines for us it's for instance, we are nonprofit. So you cannot take like our pin and our material and then run for office because we are an educational organization. We are not a political organization, even though our DSR political, it's a little bit confusing. Yeah. But they need to adhere to that. And this tight between the structure and the empowerment is something that you always have to think about. So for instance, we have our own online platform where everybody has to go through and receive 10 hours of trainings. Then it's a multiple choice, they have to sign like a handbook so that they understand what they cannot do how reimbursement works if they do something for us. So those are the things that we've built, but we try to give them as much empowerment. So for instance, the higher level volunteers, they are interviewing the lower. Volunteers and we train them how to do that, but then that's how we are handling like 10,000 applications, like my 86 or whatever step members I have right now would not be able to handle that. But by empowering them, we are not only giving them important skill, they have an ownership in the process and they are know, knowing whom they're interviewing and who they're gonna work with later on, as you would do in the business. And that translates into sometimes very sophisticated structures. So for instance, some of our high level coordinators have like between 20 to 150 like reports, and they have to figure out like how they get that information, how they steal them. But yeah, and be giving a lot of training and the higher they go, there's like more opportunities for that. But there's certain handbooks certain like legal things that they have to sign. Not too complicated but there's also like one place where they can go, where they can find everything and you wanna make it.
Jim: So you're giving them the freedom to do things the way that they see best, but you're sitting there and saying you need to understand our mission, our values, our, you know what we stand for before we just give you free reign. I think that's smart, associated.
Dr. Wolf: And then we put back, because if they were just doing stuff and we don't know about it, like I cannot talk to my donors, my investors about those things. So we have a sophisticated gamification system that we have bootstrapped. Where we give like different points and then also like prize to individuals and there's like leader boards so that we can have some friendly competition going on and like the best person, let's say in Latin America then is allowed to travel to one event in Europe or the United States and so that they build like the platform in that way. And not everybody's using it, but the majority is using it and we continue to fine tune it and give like more incentive so that people actually be report back and give us the contacts, the pictures, and everything that we need in order to then take this and sell it to the donors.
Jim: That's huge. Plus you're anything that you get from them and that this platform that you have, it's again, strengthening that community.
Dr. Wolf: Absolutely, yes. And we can talk back to them and say Hey look, this is what you have accomplished. And then other people say Hey, these are cool people that talk about interesting things and they're relatively normal, so let me, I wanna hang out with them and have some fun, and the community attracts them more and more people.
Jim: I like that. How does community and your mission is huge and community has to grow in order for you to continue with the donors and it has to keep spreading your message. What are some of the other things that you're doing? You talked to, you hit on a couple, but what are you, some of the other things that you're doing to really grow your community?
Dr. Wolf: So there's different lead generating processes. One is of course, like typical marketing, and we have a marketing team and that users Facebook and Twitter and TikTok and wherever you would expect Gen Z to hang out, not Facebook so much anymore. They just see it as like where all people hang out, where they interact with their grandparents. That's really how they see it, right? They see it basically as a, some sort of LinkedIn. So we are putting a lot of stuff online, blog posts, and that's how we are capturing then contact details and we are capturing contact details at our events and then we market to them and say Hey, do you know about this opportunity or that opportunity?
That's one thing, another huge funnel for us is our YouTube channel. It's called Learned Liberty. It has 285,000 subscribers. And so we are tailoring mostly these ideas, two Gen Zs for folks, and then try to nudge them to take like more in-depth courses or get like a book, like a free book, but they have to give us their email address and then they continue to market to them. That's all like the more centralized marketing efforts. And then you're of course the on the ground marketing efforts where we train students in elevator pitches, how to present the organization and send them to different events. And they're doing something called tabling where there's like a pretty table with our banner and like different books. And then they can ask for like contact details and we train them how to do tabling. Because there's a huge difference when you have somebody like sitting behind a table like this, and not engaging with your audience, right? And we are giving them the right tools, how to do this and smile and go to people. It's Hey, what do you think about this topic? What's I don't know, like pepper spray ban on campus and engage with them on a conversation and then have a good chat and then hopefully get them involved. And so they're getting early exposure to really the principles that will help them because sales will be at most people work at some point, like part of their work.
Jim: So you have a large team, and that's not even talking about all the, students that are out there that are promoting and spreading the message. How do you keep a large team like that organized and how do you work with that to, to help scale and really grow the business?
Dr. Wolf: Yeah it's not always easy because since 2016 we are fully remote. Like once I became the CEO, I killed the office was one of the first things that I did. It was like, I don't know, 17k in downtown DC and we just didn't need it. We probably needed at some point to signal to the world like, Hey, we mean business. We are big because students for Liberty sound small, but if you don't need that anymore, and I was able to hire like probably four or five people from around the world. And one thing that is good for us is that we have an organic pipeline because we are basically like, a talent development organization that just focus on the ideas of liberty. And so there's already talent coming our way and people have a passion for it. So we are screening very diligently for passion, but then we also create like systems and one of the, we are very data focused. Yes, I'm German, so I love systems, I love structure and so why not, of course, trying to squash the creativity of the individual because we are trying to empower students who I wanna empower stamp as well. And so there's a bunch of different mechanisms we do. We're trying to get together at least once a year in person. Wish you could do it more often, but it's too expensive for flying everyone But then we have scorecards for every single team that we can look at weekly and make sure that's aligned with our seven year goal. It's aligned with our three year goal, it's aligned with our mission and vision, and all of that is on the one pager, and it comes from one specific book, which you have alluded to, like the traction book, which I would deem to be the most important business book that I've read and have a read a bunch.
Jim: What are some of the things from traction that you would say to, a business owner right now and say, Hey, these are the keys of why you need to read that.
Dr. Wolf: Yeah, so for your audience, anyone that wants to create like a team of at least five people or at some point 50 or a hundred or up to five minutes, should read Gina Wickman's Traction because most business books, maybe your experience is different, Jim, but like I'm reading it and some ideas are nice, but it doesn't really give me a whole lot to go off of, maybe I have one idea that I can implement, but this book gives you like a whole blueprint, how you do everything from hiring, how to create KPIs, how to create alignment with all of these different things, and that's what the book does, and it's not easy to implement, it took us several years, but it was a fantastic process. And now I have on a one page where I can show you mission, vision, then where we wanna be like a say seven year statement and then all of the, then we have I think six or seven KPI. And how they're all aligned with that, and I can present it to the board, to the donors, to staff, and everybody understands how they are part of this and on what specific metrics they are working on. It might be contact generation, it might be just having a lot of events. It might be gamification points which for us is a proxy for the amount of stuff that students are doing, which is then the proxy for the learning, the growing, the experiences that students are accumulating, and that took us quite some time to build. But now there's no uncertainty, right? There's a lot of alignment across the organization, and there's weekly touch bases on this. And our strategic planning is all aligned with that. People say okay, I'm working on this because it'll help this KPI and there's no uncertain language. Is it perfect alignment? No, but it's like much, much better than it was before. And this sort of structure has been foundational for our growth and heading in the right direct.
Jim: Now, did you, when you first started this and wanted to implement this, did you start with a very small team and then branch it out, or did you bring everybody in?
Dr. Wolf: So what we did is I had my senior leadership team read the book, and then there's like another book, let me see, looking across here. It's called Get A Grip, which is basically the practical application of the book. They're just telling stories how they, like how a business implemented that. âCause it's not always easy to figure all of these different components out. But we had my team read that and organically they said this is amazing, we want to do this. So I didn't even have to force to say Hey, this is what we're gonna do, you got the book. Beautiful.
Jim: Yes, yeah. So I'm with you, they're fantastic.
Dr. Wolf: So they're with it, they all liked it. And then we said let's implement it, and then we came up with the process, okay. What are some of the things that we need? Which for instance was the seven year statement, and then we had like hours of conversations about that. What are the most important KPIs there we can have? And so some businesses easier, it's the bottom. However, that's a lagging indicator, what are some of your leading indicators, right? So distinction being lagging indicators, money in the door that comes at the end, but like you have to do like a lot of grinding before you can actually make asks, right? And sell the product. So we have to think about all of this through, and then oh, this is another very important component, which I would attribute like a lot of our growth to. It's good to have like annual plants, right? And you have the KPIs and then you can check weekly on that. But what about working on the business and not only in the business, they have the rock process and it goes back to the picture, like for instance, if you have some pebbles, you have sand, you have water, and you have walks, if you put like the sand in there, the water, and then the pedals in there and try to fit in the box, it won't fit, but if you put a box in first, the other stuff will fit around it. So going with that image, rocks are things that you think will be important to reach our KPIs, but they are mostly like structural, more procedural, and it takes like longer than just one action step. It's a project. So now we are brainstorming on an organization, right? Every individual, and like every year we have 300, 400 rock that we are going through and they are really pushing the business forward and it's on a three month horizon, which is much easier to control for and people have to report back to their supervisors about that. And that's like another very important tool, how you can create like more bigger projects because otherwise you will be just called in a day-to-day of like calling customers and so forth and forgetting maybe to build like a better system to onboard.
Jim: And are you as CEO are, do you have your own rocks that then flow down or is it like, Hey, these are my biggest projects I'm trying to do.
Dr. Wolf: Everybody has walks and there's only one owner for it. Yes, they might need help from the IT team or for the marketing team, but you are responsible for that walk. And the goal is that 95% on every quarter will be done on time. So I have a walk right now to update the supervisor, and then I have another walk to create like more prospects for our board and have six action steps. And all of them is in the smart format. So it's not only about think about a better customer system because I can just say okay, I thought about it and now I've done it. Now you have to make it like smart, basically what I'm saying is I want to have more people on my board. So what I'm saying is I'm reaching out to six to try to identify six prospects and have at least six action steps within the. Quarter, and then I'm reporting back to my team about this as anybody else in my team.
Jim: Yeah wow. That's fantastic. Let's talk about, so we've hit on community a little bit. We've hit on, obviously traction and how that's helped to grow your business. For in entrepreneur listening right now, when it comes to, let's just say they know that they want to grow their business, they know that getting in front of their community is essential, but they don't know how to do it. What are a couple steps that you would say, like start with a, and then work your way to, in a way that they can really build their community?
Dr. Wolf: The first thing they would say is they would challenge and say what do you need the community for? Because I've seen a lot of businesses have the ideas to create community, and maybe they just had a series B and they have a lot of money and they'll try to do like campus activism. I've seen this like with businesses that I don't think had a business in doing this. So if you have a good answer to that question, that's great, but you should first ask of, is this really the most important thing that you can do with your time right now or is it you engaging in the grind and like trying to cold call a bunch of people and trying to sell your product? And I would say for the majority of businesses, you don't necessarily need a community or just organically emerge as a site project. But yeah, the first step I would go back to the principles come up with some sort of profile of like the people that you want to be associated with or that could help you. What are the, some of the criteria should they be like, very nerdy and just talk 24/7 about like your product or should it be like a little bit more open and should be about the ecosystem in general. Define that and then figure out how you'll be able to find those people and come up with a good interview process and then give them ownership.
So I think those would be like the next steps. And you don't need like a whole lot of people to start with, I've told you about my story with European students, celebrity when I was part of the volunteer force, we were six, seven students at the. And we had no idea what we were doing, we were looking at the, at a map of Europe and saying okay, you're gonna do German, the German speaking countries. You're doing the Spanish speaking countries and maybe like Portugal, France, not gonna happen. But actually with Frances, like one of the strongest regions now as a funny side note. And then we just went out there and did like trial and error, but we had the ownership of that, we discussed okay, I will be responsible for recruitment, and we were all responsible for, and we did a conference after only like eight months, we got like 220 people there, and we didn't even know, there's other people that love our ideas because the ideas that we have not, it's not very well known in the United States or in Europe. If you wanna be blunt about it, and we didn't sleep really, but I had more energy than ever in my life because we were building it, we had like hands painted science to point people to like the different lecture halls, we invited all the speakers, we got some sponsors in, and the success of the failure was with us, and if you give something like this to somebody else, they will be completely different when you're motivated as compared to like you telling them like all the things that they gotta do, of course there's a component of that. But you also have to create like a joint vision and invite them into to bring like their own spin to it. And if they have an idea that you don't necessarily agree with but you like, give them the chance to prove themselves, but of course employ lean startup thinking and not have them start a project and they want $20,000 right now, if that makes no sense.
Jim: And it all ties back to the KPIs in that return as well.
Dr. Wolf: Absolutely, and that's how I treated with my staff as well. Ideas are abundant. The ability to execute is not and so as a good steward of the resource utilization as the CEO, you always need to focus on that, encourage ideas, create like brainstorming environments for it, but now when you're doing it and why you're doing it, and make sure that people employ like lean startup thinking, like just this morning we had a conversation about donors and somebody came up with a great idea like how we can create like this wonderful interactions with that donor. And I said yeah, I really appreciate your creativity. However, like this will take like a long time for us to get to that point. I'm looking for like more of an immediate point that I have a conversation with this don't about, so that he can feel like more valued and is excited about what we're doing.
Jim: And with that, what are the things like when it comes to community and you've got your community that's out there spreading your mesh message, but what are you doing with your community for the fundraising and the donors? Like how is that different and how is it the same?
Dr. Wolf: We are using our students quite a bit for that because our students are our product, if you will. So it is of pivotal importance to try to facilitate and we are not as good at that yet, but facilitate interactions between like the, some of the major donors and the students. Ideally, if you can imagine if maybe your product also changes people's lives, right? Maybe you have a component of some sort of social entrepreneurship in there as well. If you could bring somebody that has benefited from your product, maybe even started like a business with that because you've given it to them and they were like at a low income area or whatever, and then you set them next to one of your potential investors numbers and stories, you have to pull on the heartstrings and on the mind, but the heartstrings are typically more and I think that's the same for non-profit and for-profit investments. And if you can do that's very successful. So what we are doing is we have a fellowship program and we invited the donor to that fellowship program, we had him sit at different dinners so they could just interact with the students. He got like the best essays of some of those students about topics that he really cared about, he was excited about that. Sometimes our donors get like a picture with a lot of signatures of the students and just like a thank you note, there's all kinds of different things so that they. Feel that they're part of it and that they're changing people's lives. Because entrepreneurs in the for-profit sector have it relatively easy because either your product works or it doesn't. You have an immediate feedback loop. Now I can ask for big gifts. However, the donor, besides like feeling good about giving doesn't get like as much tangible stuff out of it. So it's my job to make it more tangible and if I can move like a don, because they see that now a Venezuelan kid got a job with an American company and she earns more than her father who's like a staunch Marxist, which we actually have examples of that is moving and that really shows impact. So yeah, you definitely want to co facilitate more of those interactions.
Jim: I love it, you hit it on you summarized community in one sentence there with you need to whoever's in your community to feel like they belong, they have to be a part of it, and if they're a part of it, they're going to spread the message for you. They're gonna interact with the community they're gonna be part of it. And that's, if you don't have that, you don't have a community.
Dr. Wolf: Well said, yeah.
Jim: Let's talk about for, my first company we grew from, we bootstrapped from my basement into a multi seven figure clothing brand. And we did that through grassroots marketing, we did that through getting out and doing things different and not doing your, traditional marketing and advertising, and, it was getting in front of our customers at events and bringing in our community. Professional artists that were coming in and doing at music events and painting walls and graffiti and decorating, like really cool stuff that people could take a picture in front of, right? Yes, it was thinking outside the box and it didn't cost a lot of money. We didn't have a lot of money, like we're a startup. So what are some of the things that you've seen like on that grass grassroots level that you can help the Remote Start Nation to think about and maybe start to do for their business that really takes it from something small and can catch into something big.
Dr. Wolf: If I had the video foolproof algorithm, I would love to share that, but I don't think I do, but I was just, and maybe you have seen this, Jim there's some really off the wall stuff that's really random, especially if your customers are younger, if you've seen this, but this I'm not on TikTok, but I've seen it, it was like this one TikTok about a body. And like the person pretended like, Hey I just got this job, but I have no idea what I'm doing, so please blow this up. And it was like this random, very quirky music. And then it was like a cat that was like dancing and it was completely freaking stupid, but it got millions of retweets, like this body shop in the middle of nowhere somewhere, like a state that you would probably like never spend time in. Like they have like millions of followers. There's like a group now through it and nobody could see this coming, but like this is really quirky. So taking risk, I think could be a little bit of an approach. I know it's like somewhat of a cop, I'm only talking to you right now because I took risks and I've studied things that other people would not study and I made a career of something that was risky for me, whereby I could have been like in academia, which would've been more comfortable, but less impactful. So taking risks and trying different things and doing what you have done, like trying different things. And I'm sure that you had like plenty of stuff that didn't work. Oh yeah, and it was, and it's fine, be okay with that failure. But Js think about again, the lean startup method. How can you do something quick, maybe only with 1500 bucks and see what comes about. And for our student, for instance they sometimes they did a zombie crawl dressed up as like the founding fathers, but then they did like a pub zombie crawl because government has become so big that they had and that was like their message and it was like very creative. They wanted to do, it was quirky and they got even not only on the campus newspaper, but also even like on the state level, some newspaper articles written about that some people were interested in free speech and art. So they had like rappers doing some bits about free speech and some artists came up and spoke to an entirely different, and all of that can happen within the same organization because we allow them to take charge of it, and I hope I would never be able to come up with these things. So you have to power the people that are on the ground and that actually want to do the work.
Jim: I love that, I absolutely love that. Everybody's level of creativity is different. And I think, it comes back to even like where I was, it's like you have to understand your message, your mission, and you have to understand who your customer is. And for you, your customer could be a lot of different people, different walks of life, and that's where the two examples you just gave completely different, both got the same message across.
Dr. Wolf: And I love that as well, and you if you ever try to raise money, you will have the same idea, like sometimes I have donors who are in the, let me put it mildly, the adult film industry, right? And I have a very different conversation, then I meet like a very evangelical Christian the next day. However, they will find both some really interesting aspects of our work and they share like a lot of ideas, even though they would not personally probably not hang out with one another, right? But this makes it exciting, but sometimes I'm joking. Even though I'm running students for liberty, I'm only hang out with old people, my main customers personally is because fundraising and our budget is 5.9 million, like I have to focus on the older individuals that are more in the stage of life where they can give money. And that's a very different pitch than talking to the students. If I had to do like on-campus recruitment, they would like laugh at me because I'm like way too old. It wouldn't know why I'm here and I would fail at that. So I'm empowering staff that is like much closer to it and actually wants to hang out on TikTok, which I would dread probably.
Jim: Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. Unfortunately Wolf, we're coming to an end here, but I have one more question for you, but the, before we get to that, where can the Remote Start Nation find you?
Dr. Wolf: Thanks again so much for having me, Jim. It has been a pleasure. Yeah, find me on Twitter, I'm on LinkedIn, so both are just with my name and that's not easy. So it's Wolf like the animal and then Von Laer (Wolf Von Laer), so if you typed it in on Twitter, you can find me there and I'm active, and also on LinkedIn and otherwise studentsforlibertyr.org.
Jim: Excellent. What's the one biggest takeaway you can leave with the Remote Start Nation today? Either that we talked about that you want to hit home, or something that we didn't talk about that you want to make sure that we know.
Dr. Wolf: Be very deliberate about governance. Especially when you're growing and you create like a board of advisors or like a board of directors, be very deliberate about that and learn from more experienced entrepreneurs and people that have been in those stages. I think that's very crucial and especially if you can take risks, fail quickly and do more of that, and besides that, of course, listen to this podcast.
Jim: Hey, it's been fun. I appreciate your time.
Dr. Wolf: Thanks so much.
Jim: I learned a lot from you and Remote Start Nation, I hope you did as well. Hope you learned as much as I did and can put some of what Dr. Wolf shared with us to work for you. So thank you all for joining me on this journey.
And remember, leave a comment, subscribe, share this episode with your community who you think could learn from what you heard here today. And until next time, go start something, start it today and go build a lifestyle you desire by taking action.
Dr. Wolf von Laer is the Chief Executive Officer of Students For Liberty (SFL). For the last six years, he has directed all aspects of non-profit management, overseeing 82 full-time staffers, 2,700 donors, and over 3,000 volunteers. Currently, he is accountable for all aspects of the organization, including vision setting, international programs, marketing, creative initiatives, annual strategic planning, hiring and firing, finances, and fundraising. Furthermore, he serves as the spokesperson of the organization and frequently speaks to audiences ranging from dozens to over 5,000 people in the US and worldwide.
My name is Jim Doyon. I'm a father to three awesome kids, husband to an incredible wife and the oldest sibling to a large split family.I'm currently on a mission and I can't wait to share with you. We sold our house back in 2020, and we've been traveling this beautiful country in a 42-foot Travel trailer ever since. We visited 34 states, and are about to embark on our second loop around the country, stopping at some of our favorite spots again, but also getting to see new areas that the US has to offer.We are trying to experience this life to its fullest spending quality time together. I'm running a business and building brands along the road. We've been fortunate enough on this journey to meet new friends, catch up with old friends and family on many of our stops. We love exploring each City from downtown's to the natural resources it has to offer. I'm passionate about mountain biking and it's not only in my way to get out and explore but to exercise, clear my head, think, and strategize.
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