Episode 32 Transcript

Welcome to episode 32 of the Business in
Morocco podcast this week we are going
to be talking about Ryan and Ryan's
professional failures both here in
Morocco and abroad so it's gonna be a
fun episode maybe slightly embarrassing
for us but we want to share ways we have
tried stuff and it hasn't worked out and
lessons we've learned from it both to
encourage you to try stuff, and to be
willing to fail and also that you
hopefully can learn from some of our
mistakes before we get into the topic
let's start with an update Ryan what's
been going on hey Ryan things are going
well we're here in the third week of
September my daughter's been going to
school for a few weeks and things are
going well the summer heat is
dissipating and I'm looking forward to a
little bit cooler weather since I like
to walk around the city it's nicer when
I can walk all over without getting
incredibly sweaty but things are
moving along I'm happy to report that I
have a fairly solid agreement for an
office I've been in negotiations
regarding the terms of the lease of the
office the rent and some of the repairs
and construction that I would like to do
in the office and we have an agreement
so now it's just a matter of him coming
to Morocco he's a moroccan who lives
abroad so he needs to come back to
legalise the contract and to work with
me and a couple construction people to
get the repairs necessary and also to
hand over the money the check which I'm
sure is very important to him yeah it's
worth the flight I can see light at the
end of the tunnel and it has been a difficult process
but I'm I'm happy with the current
situation and once I have the keys in
hand I will be very happy with the
situation and looking forward to
opening up an office and exploring all
that that will entail
heading into the future yeah it's been
so cool to follow along with your
journey and inspiring because there's
been some weeks where it's been really
discouraging news or setbacks and you've
really had to persevere I feel like at
the end of this you could make a little
compilation of all our opening updates
and just see the progress that you made
and there's a lot of lessons we can
learn from that yeah it ties into the
essence of this episode professional
failures the fact that you fail is not
incredibly important that happens to
everyone it's how you react to the
failures and there have been a lot of
setbacks in looking for an office there
have been a lot of setbacks in
helping this painter client of mine
trying to sell his paintings but my
mindset is to not give up and to act
like a river when a river comes to a
rock in its way it just goes around
it and it will eventually find the sea
no matter what and if you can act like a
river and have the motivation of a river
and keep just running downhill then
eventually you'll find
your ocean of success now it'll be
at the beach right it may not be the
place that you thought you were headed
you may end up at a different location
meaning a different type of business or
a different product or a different
service one of the most important things
about business is not giving up and
having endurance right and perseverance
in your life and really when you think
about it there is no other option
you either persevere or you lay down and
die yeah mediocrity you know it's
never reaching your full potential
unless you're willing to overcome some
obstacles right what about you what's
going on I just got back from a trip up
to Germany it wasn't business it was
just family so my sister and her husband
were over there for *her* husband's MBA
they live in Calgary Canada so it was a
good opportunity you know it's still far
three-hour flight but compared to where
they live
it was a good chance to hang out so a
lot of travel I just went solo without
the family so I used the time really
well to prepare the habits for success
course coming up just in two and a half
weeks now so that was great I'm getting
really excited as I've been putting
together the slides and the
exercises and kind of the schedule for
the day it just gets me more and more
pumped and more students are signing up
got a couple more places remaining so
there's still an opportunity there for
the listeners that haven't pulled the
trigger yet but I'm looking forward to
it and they can send an email to Ryan@
Moroccopodcast.com to sign up for that
class yeah no worries we can direct them
from there yeah all right well let's get
into our our topic for the day we've got
a few years under our belts here in
Morocco so we've had the opportunity to
try some things to to make some mistakes
we both have our own businesses we've
worked with other companies I've had a
variety of different positions and jobs
and organizations I've worked with
in my years here and so it hasn't
always gone well it hasn't always gone
according to plan and there's been
things that I was doing that I'm no
longer doing and so we're gonna share
some of those stories and lessons we can
learn and how it's shaped us to
who we are today so Ryan why don't
you kick things off has there been a
failure that our listeners could benefit
from sure I've had had many I don't
think there's enough time during the
podcast to talk about them all when I
originally arrived in Morocco I met the
brother of this artist that I'm
representing now trying to do the deal
at duty free and I was fairly confident
that we could sell his paintings
online and I built the entire website
the whole ecommerce platform accepting
international payments or doing cash on
delivery or cheque on delivery here in
Morocco setting up the whole logistics
system and it didn't work we did a lot
of advertising we got a lot of likes on
Facebook we got impressions we got hundreds thousands of
people going to the website but they
just weren't willing to buy art online
hmm I mean I guess in retrospect you can
say oh yeah well people want to see the
art up close they want to look at it see
the quality of it maybe people are
willing to buy things online here in
Morocco but artwork is not one of them
but at the time I thought it would be
reasonable to put it online and promote
it and considering how low the the cost
of an impression is on Facebook that we
would get some traction and we just
didn't yeah and it just didn't work we
tried on Jumia.ma as well and it
didn't really work there either yeah we
changed the pricing we changed the
descriptions and nothing really worked
and so we're pivoting we're going back
to the retail sales model where things are
displayed people get their hands on them
they can look at it close-up and then
they can buy it right there in the store
yeah in the end I had months of work and
money that went into building the
website and getting the domain and
paying for the ads and doing
professional photos of all the
paintings so there would be good images
of the paintings online and very few
sales so sometimes in order to be
successful in business you have to be
countercultural you have to do something
new you have to use something that is
uncommon and sometimes you just need to
go with the flow you need to go with the
way that things are another tried and
true method exactly another example I
have is I taught an English class a
business English class but I did it on
Saturday morning from 9:00 to noon well
anyone who's been here in Morocco for
a few months knows that not a lot
happens in the morning on Saturday or on
Sunday yeah it's not a very popular time
in fact most English courses and most
classes they happen at night after
work
7:00 to 10:00 p.m. this is when all that
happens now I didn't want to be teaching
a class from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on a
weeknight so I thought oh great I'll
offer something different something
unusual something that's new yeah but it
didn't work out I had one class I had
one semester and then I had of the five
students I had one of them wanted to
continue so that's another lesson
maybe the norms in certain industries
and certain products and services are there
for a reason
I think that I could try doing it again
and if I did it from you know 6:00 to
9:00 p.m. or 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. I would
have more traction and it's actually one
of the things I'm thinking about
offering out of my office
is language training and tutoring so
maybe I'll give it another go right at a
different hour a different day of the
week and see if that works so I
think that's one of my lessons is
sometimes you have to break the trends
of the culture and sometimes you just
need to go with them yeah what about you
Ryan
tell us about your epic fail I mean my biggest failure in Morocco is that
I'm now doing something completely
different than what brought me here
originally so I moved to Morocco, was
working with an American company that
sold security barriers primarily for
highways when I first arrived here that
was the one product that that we were
offering and then our range expanded
into offering gates and barriers
that you see in front of embassies and
factories a lot of anti-terrorism
barriers that are sold around the world
but primarily I was dealing with the
highways in Morocco and the national
roads and it was a type of guardrail
that we were selling but it was one that
didn't exist in this region it's very
common in the United States and in
Canada some spots in Europe but here it
was unknown and so I had a small
salary but then it was mostly
commissions-based now that is really
where things break down because like in
most countries convincing the government
to change or to adopt a new form of
technology even though it's
approved and it's proven to be safer
than guardrail and far cheaper you know
I had a great pitch however things are
moving really really slow and I just
couldn't keep working there with the
small salary and also language and
cultural barriers I quickly realized
that my French wasn't sufficient and
that that was a real hindrance to doing
business and then even more were the
cultural barriers so at one point I was
meeting with someone who was kind of
acting as a middleman representing me
with all his old contacts within these
government institutions and he asked if
it was possible to raise our prices so
there would be enough gravy enough
leeway enough extra money that could
touch the right people's hands on the
way down so that the purchase order
would be signed that was a light bulb
moment for me I realized wow there's
relational transactions taking place
here that I really they're going right
over my head there's things that I'm
missing subtle cues expectations money
sliding under the table that's how the
business that's how this industry goes
and I really am in over my head I'm not
going to be able to navigate these
waters well and so that was when I
really had to decide do I continue
working for this company or do I start
to shift into other things and that's
what brought me into to teaching and
team building and doing trainings in
Morocco hmm yeah it's a good example I
think the reasons for why we fail are
various and they're vast and different.
living here in Morocco not having a good
cultural understanding or having
language barriers can just exacerbate
the situation it's already difficult to
succeed but when you add these other
additional difficulties it makes it
nearly impossible I mean and on top of
it you were you were trying to sell into
a semi governmental agency mm-hmm as a
foreigner.honestly it's not that
surprising that that you didn't succeed
true I mean it would've been a miracle if you had managed I agree.yeah but what would you
say that you learned or what would
be your biggest takeaway for the
audience based on this experience well I
realized what my disadvantages were and
I looked for a way to pivot or to try
something different where my
foreignness so my...what would
be a language barrier in having to
operate in French and even you know I
went to some of these more rural if you
want to call it government offices like
in Ben Slimane where we were going to
do a project where it was actually a lot
of Darija, so it wasn't even a lot of
French so I was hindered by my language
so I was pivoting into where's a place
in Morocco that my ability to speak
English would be an advantage or where
my foreignness actually helps me so
that's how I first started teaching at
the British University in Casablanca
started working with Franklin Covey to
teach the seven Habits which you know is
a book written by an American so these
places were opportunities for me to turn
what was a disadvantage my language my
foreignness into an advantage the same
thing can happen to Moroccans when they
study abroad they might find that they
have language barriers they have
cultural barriers if you want to try to
work in countries outside of Morocco
look for places where your
characteristics will be an advantage
where you can be a big frog in a small
pond find a niche where you will stand
out because of your different-ness
that's good advice for me the
biggest failure here in Morocco has been
in handling certain types of clients
from the beginning I thought that I
could take sort of a wide variety of
client and no matter what their
business situation was no matter how
they ran their business I would be able
to be a good consultant for them and
help them with marketing and customer
acquisition
and with two clients in particular one
was a cafe owner the other was in the
medical services industry I completely
failed in the sense that they both
didn't think that I was offering the
value that I was charging them
for and they both fired me and I've
reflected quite a bit on on these two
accounts and realized that there were
indications from the very beginning that
it was not going to end up being a good
relationship and one was neither of them
really kept good metrics for their
business so if I were to ask them
exactly how many customers or clients
they had any given month they would not
be able to tell me if I were to say how
much revenue did you generate they would
not be able to tell me how what were
your expenses give me a line item of
your expenses they would not be able to
tell me.Wow if I were to ask them what type
of marketing efforts have you done in
the past and how effective
were they they could give me
generalities but they wouldn't have any
specifics they wouldn't know
specifically whether or not a marketing
campaign worked because it wasn't set up
to to show them that it had worked yeah
it was just sort of in this pool of
activities that they had and then they
just sort of hoped that all of their you
know the Flyers and the radio ads
and the billboards and the online
marketing they just hope that all of it
has some kind of impact that they can't
measure yeah and what I've come to
realize is that those types of clients
are not appropriate for me my client
needs to understand their business
very well how many clients or customers
do they have per month what is their
revenue what are their expenses and it
needs to have they need to have this
data over a series of months right so
that when we start doing the things that
I'm advising we can see whether or not
it's having an impact right, measurable results.right and the second
lesson is specifically for the medical
industry client early on I realized that
he was not able to describe the
work that he did when I asked him to
describe the services that he did in
English or in French he had great
difficulty hmm and as a result I had to
be the expert in the field developing
the language to communicate to the
customer you know what is it that
they're buying right what is it that
he's selling yeah I had to be the one
communicating that yeah well first of
all French is not my first language and
second of all I'm not an expert in that
field yeah so what I've realized now is
that I'm not going to take any new
clients that can't articulate what they
do right they may be able to do what
they do yeah but if they can't explain
it in written form here in Morocco in
English in French and in Arabic then I'm
not going to take them on as a client
because it'll just be a matter of time
before they don't get the results
that I'm promising and it has nothing to
do with what I'm doing it has everything
to do with what they're producing yeah
I've already pretty much honed my
business model and shown that if you do
what I say if you set it up the way that
I say it needs to be set up and you do
what I recommend that it'll produce
results right so the system is in place
it's just a matter of whether the client
is going to follow the system yeah and I
have another client right now that I'm
sort of wrestling with over this because
they want to do things the way that
they've always done them or they have
certain beliefs about marketing and
customer acquisition that I don't agree
with so I'm sort of in that situation in
which they're not following the process
or they have expectations that I have
not promised mmm but I am sort of their
advisor so I'm going to be linked to the
outcomes no matter what yeah so I'm
still wrestling with that and
I hope that I have a a good
understanding the last thing I'll say is
relationship is very important when you
talk about customers or clients and
referrals are very important and you
shouldn't take them lightly you shouldn't
take them for granted and you should
really only take a referral if you
really believe you can do a good job
because it's not just one client that's
at risk it's the new one and the
one that referred you right so this
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the show yeah I think over time your
that's the lesson we can take from these
failures is that you're learning you're
refining what is my target customer
what's my ideal customer and so then you
as you're looking for business as you're
thinking not only who to solicit or who
to target but also who to say no to that
might come knocking on your door each
failure refines that ideal customer
that you're searching for you learn from
those you learn not to make that mistake
again
one other example for me is I love to
teach and I've approached multiple
universities and offered my services to
teach the Seven Habits of Highly
Effective People and often what I offer
is let me come and teach a seminar you
can see how the students respond you can
see Who I am as a teacher how I perform
you can get a better feel for the
content that I'm offering and I don't
always charge for that seminar it's just
something I come and do almost like a
trial or like a sample or a test run and
other times I've been hired by the
school just to do a workshop with
multiple classes and for me it's a
long-term play I'm hoping that it leads
to a permanent position teaching that
course but there's been a couple
different schools that I've done this
with in Casa that has, in Casa, that has
not panned out it hasn't led anywhere so
one was I've taught a seminar there I
connected with one of the teachers came
and taught twice I went and offered a
seminar two different years and I was
dealing with a Dean and hoping it led
somewhere and it just never has
it's just never resulted in me being
hired there another one I made progress
I had took a long time knocking on doors
lots of meetings to make it happen
finally got offered to do a workshop
with the fourth-year students did it it
went really well but the school received
this new accreditation which meant they
could only have staff who had a PhD and
so it eliminated my possibility of
working there because I just have a
master's so there's these long-term
plays where you try something you
make a go of it and it doesn't always
pan out
with my YouTube channel I've had videos
that I've tried I've thought oh this
will be good people will respond really
well to this and then it's fallen
completely flat and trying to monetize
it one thing I've used on my website and
on YouTube videos is Amazon affiliate
links and that has never resulted in a sale.
people have clicked, you know, I've
recommended a book or downloading
audible for a free trial to listen to
audiobooks they've clicked gone visited
the site no one's ever made a purchase
and over time I realized you know what
it's hard to trust Amazon to deliver
products in Morocco
I've personally ordered books and had
them never show up so there's an issue
there which is why the business Click
Apporter exists and also it requires an
international credit card which a lot of
Moroccans don't have or they don't want
to use up their dirhams they have a
limit on how much international currency
they can spend and so they're selective
with what they purchase again another
reason why Click Apporter exists and so
learning from that experience I've tried
to adapt where now I'm really trying to
partner with local businesses things
like Englishbooks.ma and I wanted to
recommend the book who moved my cheese.it's a classic even if you're not a big
reader you can watch a 15 minute cartoon
on YouTube called who moved my cheese
you watch that video it's gonna really
shift your thinking about adapting when
things change when you experience
failure how do you handle that how do
you deal with change and there's another
book I want to read but haven't yet and
it's available on Englishbooks.ma called Pivot have you ever heard of
that book or read that book no it's just
about things changing so
quickly in our world with
technology and the world of work
that you can't expect to just kind of do
the same repetitive job for the entirety
of your career nor would you want to and
so how do you deal with layoffs how do
you deal with industry changes with new
innovations you have to pivot and it
goes back to your analogy of the river
you know you come up to a rock and you
go around it and you may end up actually
coming out on the coastline in a
different spot than you originally
intended what I'm doing in Morocco isn't
what I moved here to do it's actually
morphed and changed over time but it's
because I'm learning
from my mistakes I'm learning from my
failures and then I'm adapting I'm
pivoting into new opportunities to
summarize there's that famous quote
sometimes you win sometimes you learn
and so mistakes are part of the pathway
to success it's rare that you hit a home
run or you have a real success your
first opportunity it's usually you try
something it doesn't work out but you
learn and you adapt and you know us with
this podcast myself with YouTube videos
it's very much just ship it philosophy
so we're trying stuff we're putting
content out there and then we're
learning from the response of the
marketplace we're looking at our
downloads we're looking at the views how
many people are listening to episodes
and learning ok these are popular ones
these are subjects that Moroccans are
interested in these are the types of
episodes that people are really going to
tune in for so let's make more of that
and here's some things that really
didn't attract attention obviously it's
not a pain point it's not a felt need
here so let's avoid those topics in the
future we're shipping stuff we're
putting it out there and we're learning
and then adapting to become more
successful yeah as I'm sitting right now
looking at the metrics we literally
right now have 999 listens downloads to
the podcast and if you talk about epic
failure the least popular episodes have
been brain food how to test an idea and
income producing assets now I
particularly think that we had some good
things to say in those episodes maybe
the titles aren't right right maybe
brain food I can see how that would be
very confusing to someone who speaks
English as a second language what are
you actually talking about I'm not
interested in neuroscience right so I'm
not going to tune in but here's the
interesting thing
book recommendations is one of our more
popular episodes it's similar content to
brain food because we talk in brain
food about feeding your mind and
about what you consume and how to grow
in wisdom and knowledge and book
recommendations is a similar idea but I
think book recommendations is one of our
most popular episodes on YouTube so
there you go we're learning from these
titles and the results that they deliver
here's the bottom line to our audience
we don't spend a whole lot of time
worrying about the title so don't take
too much in the title just listen to the
episode and there's bound to be good
things in there that are appropriate for
you
yeah I agree we're always coming up with
business ideas or dropping little quotes
or nuggets of wisdom so you don't want
to skip out at the intro and miss what might be coming at minute 25 you
could miss some gold you've been
listening to the Business inMorocco
podcast my name is Ryan Kirk here with
my co-host Ryan Maimone, if you enjoyed
this episode be sure to subscribe and
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theme music is lovely day by Bill
Withers
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you'll have a lovely day doing business
in morocco we'll see you next time

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