It’s not all that often that you find a CEO whose story you can chronicle all the way from the gritty reality of a rehabilitation center to multimillion-dollar riches. But then again, Mitch Russo isn’t just any CEO. Born and raised in a small community called Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, Russo likens his childhood to being born into a family of entrepreneurs.
“I started out selling candy on the streets of New York with my dad. After that, I went on to wash cars and later created a rock band, which became the highest grossing rock band in all of New York at the high school level.”
What Mitch couldn’t know at that time was just what sort of impact that level of early success would have on his life. Russo’s band, Absolutely Free, became such a hit that within a year of their first live performance, they had increased their revenue-per-show tenfold! Unfortunately, not everything was as glamorous as it seemed. At the height of their popularity, Mitch began experimenting with, and would later become addicted to, heroin.
Mitch recalls the unexpected consequences of those early band years, “It fueled my entire career as a drug lord, as a drug dealer, and eventually as a heroin addict.”
At the very edge of rock-bottom, Russo confronted the reality before him; he needed to get help or he was going to die. So he checked himself into a rehab center. Mitch describes the positive experience of leaving some months later, “I ended up coming out a very healthy, strong adult.”
From then on, he started to get serious about his life and his desire for success.
Fresh out of the hospital, Russo decided to build a software company – because, you know, that’s what most people do after rehab. That company, TimeSlip Corporation, grew from a single employee to well over one hundred, in just nine years. Riding the momentum of this first triumph, Russo sold Timeslip to pursue a joint venture with legendary motivational speakers Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes in what would later become Business Breakthroughs International. As if that hot streak wasn’t enough, in 2015 Mitch went on to write the Amazon bestseller, The Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs Are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies.
Today, Russo divides his time between his writing, consulting and, of course, his intrinsically unique podcast, Your First Thousand Clients. Using his highly developed network and years of experience working in industries across the world, Mitch gathers thought-leaders, elite entrepreneurs, and key speakers to share just what it takes to gather your – you guessed it – first thousand clients. When asked where the inspiration for the podcast came from, Mitch told us, “The bottom line is, when people grow, they learn. It’s this learning I am trying to extract and share with others.”
More than just the content of the podcast itself, we wanted to explore how Russo’s unique approach to podcasting has differentiated him from others in the field. And he told us. Without a bashful bone in his body, Mitch explained:
“I am the unique element about my show.”
Certainly hard to deny that, with such an incredible success story. But what is really intriguing about Russo’s approach to podcasting is not just his amazing content, but the way he constructed the show itself.
“I never intended to build an audience. I actually don’t need a single listener to make my podcast “profitable” because my guests are my clients. I designed a show that would line up my ideal clients as guests. I attract them as a showcase, to share what they have learned along their road to success with my audience, and in so doing build lasting relationships with these people.”
Russo admits, “Most of the time the show is only the jumping-off point for my relationships with [my guests].” In that way, Mitch is able to continually attract new clients without relying on an audience to keep his podcast “profitable”. At the same time, however, the continued variety of his content offers new and existing clients more and more value while growing his own network.
Talk about ingenuitive!
Of course, this business model isn’t applicable for everyone, but what Russo does stress is that creativity and out-of-the-box thinking is where the magic happens. “You don’t have to be a Tony Robbins, or a Mitch Russo, or a Chet Holmes to be a great podcaster.”
In fact, according to Mitch, the only two prerequisites you need to become a successful podcast host are, “an intense curiosity about the people you are interviewing” and “a strong desire to serve the people that are listening”.
Oh and of course, a good production company never hurts either (wink, wink).
“I am super pleased with the company [Podetize] and its service, I have probably referred over a dozen people.”
A win-win situation for everyone!