Episode 002 – Ash Ambirge
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to episode #002 with Ash Ambirge – How to Build a Million Dollar Business by Embracing Your Moxie While Sipping Wine & Getting Massages in Costa Rica.
Ash is a creative writer and marketing differentiation mastermind. She is the founder of TheMiddleFingerProject.org one of the best blogs on the internet about writing for people who have things to sell and need people to care about it.
She is also a globe-trotter, public speaker, & writing educator… not to mention an incredibly fun person to talk to.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
- The HEROpreneur concept
- Globe-trotting and running her business from her Macbook. Getting the right words for small business owners. A life she designed
- Infusing personality into businesses writing
- The power of the internet to build a brand – she became an expert at cutting through the sea of sameness over at The Middle Finger Project
- How she started her writing career as a 5-year-old little girl who didn’t even know her alphabet yet
- How storytelling is an essential part of building influence
- Here are some of Ash’s tools to stand out among competitors:
- Irreverence, humor, unexpected language, surprise, freshness
- Ash was able to grow a million dollar brand on the internet using her laptop
Want to stay connected with Ash? Please check out their social profiles below.
- Website: themiddlefingerproject.org
- Facebook Page: facebook.com/TMFproject
- Youtube Channel: youtube.com/TMFproject
- Twitter Handle: @TMFproject
- Instagram Handle: @TMFproject
Don’t forget you can stay connected to me and the show by subscribing now. Just text ALCHEMY to 444999. Or you put your email address in the box at the bottom of this page. You’ll get all sorts of cool gifts, be updated about our contests and polls, and get notified when we publish new episodes. With that… let’s get to listening to the episode…
The Webinar Alchemy Workshop: http://richardmatthews.me/fs/waw-slf/
Hello and welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I’m your host Richard Matthews, AKA The Alchemist and you’re listening to Episode 2 with Ashley Ambirge – How to Build a Million Dollar Business by Embracing Your Moxie While Sipping Wine and Getting Massages in Costa Rica.
Now I’m ridiculously excited about this interview because Ash is one of my favorite people on the planet. She’s so much fun, and I love reading everything she writes. But before we get to the interview, I have a few things to cover. First, for those of you who are new, thanks so much for listening! The hero show is all about unlocking the power of influence and success and empowering you, our listeners, to discover your own superpowers so you can take your business to a whole new level. We have a three-step process by which we do that: identify, interview and integrate. First, we identify modern-day heroes, like Ash, by their influence, their success or their epic works. Then we interview them by getting them to pull back their masks and take off their capes so you can discover the secrets behind their success. And last we work tirelessly to help you integrate the common principles.
Each of our heroes shares into your own lives so you can build your own success and become HEROES in your own right. Now if you missed our last episode you want to make sure you check that out. It was the Intro episode of this whole show. And in it, I covered the story behind the show, where I got my hero name, AKA The Alchemist, the format of the show, and a few other fun details. It’s short and sweet less than 20 minutes long so make sure you check it out on iTunes. Also, don’t forget you can stay connected to me and the show by subscribing now just text “HEROES” that’s H-E-R-O-E-S to 38470, or you can visit our website at richardmatthews.me/podcast and look for the box that says “Ready to Become A Hero?” and put in your email address. You’ll get all sorts of cool gifts, be updated about our contents and polls and get notified when we publish new episodes. And with that, let’s get to our interview with today’s hero: Ash Ambirge. So you can learn how to embrace your own Moxie and start tapping into a whole new world of success and influence.
Okay, we are live. I am Richard Matthews, AKA The Alchemists. I’m here with Ash Ambirge. Are you there Ash?
Ash Ambirge 2:57
I am here. Hello, Richard.
Richard Matthews 3:01
Hello. How are you? I hear you are in Costa Rica.
Ash Ambirge 3:05
I am. It’s been a rainy one. But it’s okay. I love the rainy season in Central America because it gives me an excuse to stay in and read. How nerdy is that?
Richard Matthews 3:14
I think that is wonderful. I wish it would rain here. I’m in Southern California. And we need the rain. I don’t know if you pay attention to any American news down in Costa Rica. But everyone’s talking about the drought in California up here.
Ash Ambirge 3:26
Yeah, it’s been it’s been ongoing for quite some time.
Richard Matthews 3:30
Yeah, like 10 years. Anyways, this is The HERO Show. This is the first episode. And I wanted to just start off with a little story that involves you, actually. Some four or five years ago, you had written an article about, going out and starting something. Project something or mission “insert whatever your mission is here.” And I wrote down that day, I was like, “You know what, I’m going to start Project Hero.” And I didn’t actually stick with that name, calling it The HERO Show. But it was a podcast about heroes.
The concept for me was just that there are heroes who fight crime, there are superheroes who fight super villains, and some heroes who fight and wars. My, my grandfather did that. The heroes who protect and serve: police officers. Some of them are real. Some of them are make-believe. But this show isn’t really about any of those heroes. It’s about a different kind of hero, the producer, the creator, the entrepreneur. People like you who look out at the world full of their problems and think to yourself, “You know what, I can do something to solve that problem, I can help people.”
Basically, this show is about you. The Heropreneurs, as I’m calling it, and I’m totally making up that word. That’s my made-up word/quote for the day. So basically, the kind of person who’s built influence and success by creating something of value and sharing with the world. And that’s really what the show is about. I just wanted to see what your thoughts were on that concept for a show. We’ll get into your hero story in a little while, but I sort of wanted to get your thoughts on that.
Ash Ambirge 5:11
Yeah, you know, Richard, I think that was very eloquently stated. I think that the Heropreneur will absolutely be a coined term.
Richard Matthews 5:22
Well, you heard it first!
Ash Ambirge 5:25
“You heard it first! Here! Live! Broadcasting from Costa Rica!” Yeah, you know, I think that right now is an unusual time for all of us. I am obsessed with the online world. I’m obsessed with the tools that we have at our disposal. And I am obsessed with constantly understanding how we can use those to do these things that you just said, “Be creators, be producers. And yes, become this new breed of online entrepreneur.” I talk a lot to small business owners, or aspiring small business owners who tend to feel very nervous about their idea. They have an idea for something, they want to do good, they want to bring their projects to life, but they’re still really weighed down by a lot of the real world…”okay, I need to go out and get an investor, I need to go out and get a physical office space, how can I start this business plan.” And what I have continually seen over and over again, is that it doesn’t have to be that complicated anymore. And I think that so many doors are opening for us to be these Heropreneurs. As you’ve so eloquently put it. I think that, more and more, it’s going to keep happening. I love it.
Richard Matthews 6:55
Yeah, absolutely. Because, you know, I have done the whole office space and investors and I’ve had investor things go terribly wrong. I can tell, if we’re just talking about, I have plans, eventually, to work on monetizing the show and turn it into a business at some point. But to run a podcast like this, which is just one of the thousand things people are doing today to create value. I’m on a computer in my room, and you’re on a computer in Costa Rica, and there’s nothing else you need. Using free Skype accounts.
Ash Ambirge 7:28
Yeah, yeah! It’s, it’s one of these things that has created an incredible shift! I think not a lot of people know about it yet. I think we’re still in, general…the general population is still using tools like the internet for communication, and for keeping up with friends. Maybe doing research on Google, for example. That’s awesome, but it’s really just scratching the surface for our potential now as heroes. I think, perhaps, the more salient point is not even just heroes to the world, but also as heroes to ourselves in our own lives. I think that’s really crucial.
Richard Matthews 8:09
Absolutely. So I’ll behind the whole intro to the hero concept here. And I’m gonna talk a little bit about you before we get into your origin story. Every hero has one I want to talk about where you are now, and what you do in your business day to day. So we can have a contrast from where you started when we when we get to that.
Ash Ambirge 8:30
Sure! Yeah! Today, I am in a beautiful hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. I work and live in various different countries around the globe. Wherever the season has taken me, I do it all from my Macbook, which I’m very fortunate to be able to do. I run a branding agency for words. So I specialize in helping startups, in particular, get the right messaging and the right words around their ideas. So they can take those ideas and spread them have the world you know, sink their teeth into them, and really have a much greater impact. So usually, in my day to day, you’ll find me hanging out writing a Google Doc having company meetings with other writers having client meetings. Right now, I’m doing a big PR campaign for another client who’s launching a really cool new feature. And I do it in between beautiful, long walks and filled lunches and massages. I have a massage scheduled for 5:30 today. And it’s cool. It’s the life that I wanted. It’s the life I’ve designed.
Richard Matthews 9:50
That’s incredible. I had a quick question on that because I know you do writing professionally. One of the favorite things that you do, that I read all the time is your Middle Finger Project blog. And at the very top, one of the things I know you did change in your recent design update when you click the little button at the top to censor your, your snarkiness, and it pops up it says, “We’re not going to be friends anymore.” or something like that. It cracks me up.
My question is, do you bring that same…(I don’t know what the word would be). There’s so much personality in what you write, how do you bring that to your clients? Do you have to take on their personalities? Do you help infuse personality into their business with your writing? Is that what you do there?
Ash Ambirge 10:38
That’s such a good question. Yeah, you know, it’s fascinating because I haven’t actually had to go hunting for clients for… I don’t know, years, I’m guessing since about 2010. I have built a name for myself doing this, and largely through the middle finger project blog, which is awesome. Another testimony to the power of the internet. But yeah, usually when I work with a client, they’re coming to me for that specific reason. They’re coming to me because they know that I am an expert at cutting through the sea of sameness. What that looks like when it shows up in their business after we’re working together varies depending on how much personality, how much edge, really what they’re trying to accomplish: their goals, their message overall. So it does vary. But I would say that the one thing in common is this sense of clever, a sense of fun, of happy, of light-hearted, and also of making a major statement. So yeah, yeah!
Richard Matthews 11:43
Yeah, I love it. I love the way you write. I attempt to copy you whenever I can. Not like stealing your stuff, but use you as inspiration. Because you’re writing is wonderful.
Ash Ambirge 11:55
Richard Matthews 11:56
So with that, we sort of know where you are now. And you’ve got this lifestyle that is really cool. And it’s funny because I look at that sometimes. There’s you and there are a few other people that I follow that live this like globe-trotting lifestyle. I think I want that and I think to myself, “No, I really don’t. I got a wife. I’ve got two kids. I know what I want my lifestyle to look like.” And it’s not actually globe trotting. I would like to go visit the world and go see some of these places, but probably not the same way that you do. And it’s taken me a while to like wrap my mind around. Just because someone who I respect has something doesn’t mean that I have to want the same thing. Does that make sense?
But anyways, hearing where you are now is very cool. What I want to hear about is your origin story. Every hero has one. When you started to realize that you were different, that maybe you had superpowers. The superpower of snarkiness, perhaps. That maybe you could use them to help other people. And you started to develop and discover this value that you can bring to the world. I want to hear that story. Go all the way back to the beginning for me, how you started and how that brought you to where you are now.
Ash Ambirge 13:02
Oh, man. Well, Richard, if we’re talking about the very beginning I’m going to have to be honest. I think it was when I started writing the alphabet before I even knew what the alphabet was. I have these crazy pieces of paper where I’m…I mean, my mom even wrote notes like, “here’s you, trying to write a story but you didn’t even know the alphabet yet. I mean, you hadn’t even studied it. You were just trying to imitate the words in stories that I would read to you.” And I really think that since day one, I was meant to be a fighter. But where does the twist come in, right? Because for many years, I followed a traditional path as everyone does. I went to college, I studied PR and communications. I did a second degree in Spanish. I have a master’s degree in linguistics. I worked in marketing. I was a copywriter in marketing. I did advertising sales for a very long time and a number of different ways that my education manifested itself in different career paths. Typical career path, right?
Richard Matthews 14:11
Ash Ambirge 14:14
But there is one defining moment for me. It, really, was when I first got hooked up with a guy named Kerry. He was a consultant for a company that I worked for when I was joining their marketing department and their team. He was a consultant that was hired to come in and take our company in an entirely new direction. We really hit it off. He became my mentor. He was somebody that I just thought was the bee’s knees. This guy lived in the Florida Keys. He did whatever the hell he wanted to do. He was whip-smart, got paid a lot of money to be whip-smart and help people do what he was doing. And I knew that there was something different about his lifestyle versus the other lifestyle that you know what most of us do, and I became curious, I got really curious about it. I started my first copywriting company in 2006 totally tanked it, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Yeah, really tanked it. I was approaching things in the same traditional manner that my career had been. I was approaching the traditional type of clients, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and essentially I was getting clients. But what that was doing was putting me in a position to write really dry, formulaic…
Richard Matthews 15:50
Ash Ambirge 15:50
Boring! Horrible copy! And that wasn’t my talent. So I knew something had to change. And it took me many years figure it out. But I started writing The Middle finger project blog a long time ago before House of Moxie existed. In fact, I started writing it because I wanted to share thoughts on the internet about this, about finding ways to use your creativity and get paid for it. I thought that this was fascinating to me. And I know that people have been successful. Look at any recording artist, they’re sitting there singing their lungs out and making so much money to do that. And how cool is that? They can sing and get paid. Basketball players that’s an art! And writing certainly was an art. So why not me? Right?
Richard Matthews 16:41
Yeah, why not get paid for it?
Ash Ambirge 16:43
Yeah, and that’s why I started The Middle Finger Project. And it wasn’t until I started to grow The Middle Finger Project after several years, and hearing stories from other people as well. Did I really start to realize that my special talent for, let’s say snarkiness, as you put it? Of irreverence, adding humor to an otherwise very average piece. That was something that people wanted. And it was only then that I realized this was my business. That thing that usually when you were trying to start a business before you would have poo-poo, because it didn’t feel serious enough. Yeah. Or, you know, like the world would take you seriously if that was actually your competitive advantage. That’s actually what your business is based around. But this is the way that I found all of my success. Through snarkiness!
Richard Matthews 17:42
Of all things. So my, next question is about that specifically. What are your superpowers as modern-day Heropreneur? What is it that you do now, or build, or offer this world that helps people solve their problems? And we talked a little bit about it being writing. But can you define that a little bit and expand on what your superpowers look like to a client? And why they would choose to hire you and that kind of stuff?
Ash Ambirge 18:10
Absolutely. You know, I think that it’s not snarkiness. It’s not personality, it’s not irreverence. Those are the labels. But that’s not what it comes down to. I think really, what it comes down to is the fact that everybody is online these days. We all have something we’re bringing to the table. My clients all have something they’re bringing to the table. But so do a lot of other people that are bringing similar things. And it becomes problematic when we’re all still used to describing those similar things in a similar fashion. It’s a problem because when you’re on the internet, and you see 10, 15, you have maybe 20 tabs open. you’re trying to get an idea for which company you’re going to go with, which is the best option. You know, even if it’s something as simple as, “Hey, I want to blow up this picture into a giant canvas and give it to my boyfriend for Christmas.” Even something simple like that. You’ve got a lot of competitors and everyone on their homepage, for example, they’re saying the same thing about it because they all offer the same product. They’re all saying, “Hey, quality!” They’re all saying, “Hey, we’ll get this to you. Fast.” “Hey, low prices.”
Richard Matthews 19:31
Insert trivial market statement here. Right?
Ash Ambirge 19:35
Yeah, and you know, those things are the expectation for these days. So they’re no longer a point of differentiation for anyone.
Richard Matthews 19:47
Yeah. So one of the one of the things someone said to me, I’m gonna I forget who said it. Maybe you probably would remember if you’ve ever heard this before. “If your offer isn’t the best, your offer is simply contrast.”
Ash Ambirge 20:01
I’ve never heard that. But I enjoy that. Yeah,
Richard Matthews 20:05
It’s contrast for whoever’s talking about it the best way, even if you’re offering something similar in the marketplace, if you don’t stand out and talk about it differently. It’s just contrast for the one that does.
Ash Ambirge 20:17
Exactly! Once you find that company who describes a service or product or an idea in a way that gets you hot, because this is a very real thing, right? People get hot on the other side of the computer screen when you do it the right way. Once they experience that, everybody else falls away. Just like you described. And that is my job. That, right there is exactly the way that I use tools like irreverence, humor, unexpected language, surprise, freshness. It’s a tool that we use now to help someone on the other side of the screen say, “Yes.” It’s as simple as that, because we have to get people to say yes. Otherwise, it’s too easy for someone to look at 20 different tabs and not know who to give the yes to, because everyone looks the same. And that “Yes,” then becomes a “No.”
Richard Matthews 21:22
They say, “too many options create indecision.” So if everyone looks the same, might as well do nothing.
Ash Ambirge 21:31
It is incredibly true. I founded my own business, even when I give clients more than three options, even that creates that same kind of paralysis. And it’s true, I mean, think about it in your own buying experience. You go in, and even if you’re picking out a perfume, and the lady behind the counter starts, spraying you with 15 different ones. And you’re going, “Okay, wait.”
Richard Matthews 21:54
Yeah, it’s really interesting. One of the things that I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a couple of kids. One of the things that I’ve noticed is we’re trying to teach them decision making skills. And my two year old is…the hardest decisions you have to make all day is the pink shirt or the purple shirt, right? So, we’ve noticed in the morning, if I give her three options, we can’t have a discussion. It’s over her head. It is too hard and she doesn’t want to do it. But if we go, “Do you want the pink shirt or the purple shirt?” Now we can have a discussion.
Ash Ambirge 22:31
Oh, man, you know, I hate to compare grown adults to that example. But I have to say it’s very true.
Richard Matthews 22:38
I do the same thing.
Ash Ambirge 22:44
We are. Sometimes we think, “Oh, well, whatever. I just don’t feel like dealing with this now. I’ll come back to it tomorrow.” And that’s when you just lost the sale.
Richard Matthews 22:55
Yeah, absolutely. So my next question has to do with what you mentioned in the last one. Some of your tools were irreverence and humor, things like that. I’m gonna talk about your heroes tool belt. Maybe you have a big magical hammer, like Thor or a bulletproof vest, like your neighborhood police officer, or maybe you just really love how Evernote helps you organize your thoughts. What are the tools that you use to build your business? And whether that is conceptual tools or, hardcore, you use Google Drive every day to write. What are some of the tools that you use?
Ash Ambirge 23:33
Yeah, let’s talk first…Philosophically, I think that I have a great philosophical tool that has helped me a lot in my business. And it tends to help my clients a lot too. That’s a simple question that I’m constantly asking myself. And then I asked a lot of people when I get on the phone, if I’m doing a consult, if it’s with a client, I asked over and over again, what’s pissing you off today? Yeah!
Richard Matthews 23:59
I love it.
Ash Ambirge 24:01
What’s pissing you off today? And it is incredible. For example, I earlier was having a discussion with a young lady who’s beginning a business around body image therapy. We had this discussion and I said to her, before I even look at any of this copy that you’ve written, I want to know what’s pissing you off about your industry. What’s pissing you off about everything that you’ve seen? And I listened to her answer. And then I went through and read her copy. And I said, “Okay, so I’m curious why you haven’t included this? You just got done giving me this really great soundbite.” Something that was pissing her off so much. And that really forms the cornerstone of her brand message. But yeah, I didn’t see that reflected anywhere in her copy. And I asked this question, because this is a great thing starting point when you are sitting down to say, “Okay, well, how do I differentiate myself from the sea of sameness? Where do I get started?” And I think this is a great place because we all have an opinion.
Richard Matthews 25:12
And it starts with emotion to which is more powerful than starting with your logical side of your brain.
Ash Ambirge 25:18
Right! Yeah, the logical side of the brain tells you to go forward and think about what everybody else is doing, what the industry does, what’s the standard. This asks you to do something more personal and that’s kind of the key behind having a personal brand, isn’t it? It’s personal. And it’s based on your opinions. And I always say, “People want to know your opinion.” It’s why they’re reading what you’ve written. So I think asking that question is a useful tool in itself to get you thinking about, well, what’s something that pisses me off that I really do stand for? And how can that become a statement; a cornerstone of my own business? How can that be something that I weave into things that I do, so it becomes memorable for people? So I become memorable for people!
Richard Matthews 26:03
Ash Ambirge 26:03
Richard Matthews 26:04
You said something just a few seconds ago, I want to dive a little deeper into, you said that “People want to hear your opinions.” I think that might be a golden nugget, especially for people who are looking at this whole Heropreneur idea and starting their own hero’s journey, realizing that they have something of value in their life experience, in their story, basically in the life that they’ve lived and the person that they’ve become that is valuable to other people; and their opinions and their thoughts and their skills that are worth sharing with the world. Anything you wanna say on that?
Ash Ambirge 26:43
Yeah, I’m surprised that we have the tendency to poo poo, our own opinions so readily. It’s something I see all the time. I don’t think we trust ourselves, especially if we’re just getting started. Because we don’t view ourselves selves as experts. I think that it’s a disservice to us because we write our own opinions off as just a silly thought instead of something worth exploring. And I think it’s your own opinion that’s the reason why you’ve gotten into, let’s say, a career in the first place is because it all started with your opinion about something. You had an opinion at some point as to why you were excited about this, what was it? What were you not excited about? And those are the things that people want to know, because we’re all human. And when you get on the internet, I don’t care if you are looking for bodybuilding advice or accounting advice. We really want to find other humans who: number one, we think understands us; number two, feel relateable; and number three, who are going to stand up and lead us. We love to be led, believe it or not. And that’s why your opinion is so important because opinions show confidence and confidence is this biological sign when someone’s a confident person, we tend to want to follow them. And I think this goes back to your original question, your concept of influence. And how do people create influence? A lot of it is really just simple things that a lot of us take for granted, like having an opinion about something.
Richard Matthews 28:43
Yeah, so the thing that popped in my head when you were talking there was, we like other humans, and we like to hear their opinions. And something that one of my college professors told me all the time was, “We’re a story-born people.” Meaning that we thrive on the stories of other people. We’ve talked about building relationships. If I learn a little bit of your story, and you learn a little bit of my story, we go from being strangers, to being acquaintances. If we start sharing, and building stories together, then we start to become friends, right? And the same thing happens in business and everything where you are. Your story, your opinions, your life, helps build that personal connection that can help lead to a sale; and then to help changing someone’s life with whatever your value is. So I think you’re spot on.
Ash Ambirge 29:40
Wow, I really liked that. That was great. I love that idea about sharing stories. You become acquaintances when you start building stories together, become friends. And I think that speaks so much to the current online landscape. I think it’s fascinating. For example, The Middle Finger project blog I write quite regularly. I’ve been doing this for years. And it always gives me such a kick when I get emails from people who feel like they know me, because they’ve been reading my writing for so long.
Richard Matthews 30:14
Because they know your stories.
Ash Ambirge 30:15
Yes! They know my stories, and so they open up with their own really easily. And it’s amazing because you could never just do that on the street. You would never just walk up to somebody else that you’ve never actually met before. And just start telling them about when you lost your virginity or whatever, crazy thing. You would be amazed by the kinds of stories that I get in my inbox, because people trust me with theirs.
Richard Matthews 30:41
Yeah, because they know your stories. And I feel like they have that kind of a connection,
Ash Ambirge 30:46
Right! And so when you translate that into business, that’s very valuable. You’ve now got an asset when people trust you, that’s an asset to your business. And it’s one of the most important pieces of the selling process for sure.
Richard Matthews 31:03
Absolutely. So that actually transitions nicely into the next thing I wanted to talk about, which is…what is your mission at The House of Moxie, which by the way, I want to take a brief moment and you have to tell the story behind what House of Moxie means at some point. But what’s your mission? Every hero has one. Spiderman fights to save New York, Batman fights to save Gotham, Google fights to categorize all the world’s information. What’s your mission?
Ash Ambirge 31:34
My mission is totally to fight against cliche language, I think that that’s really what is it. Cliches that I don’t get along. I give so many workshops and no matter what workshop it is, it always ends up coming back to, “Whatever you do, do not write in cliches.” That’s the rule number one, I think I’m single-handedly on a mission to prevent us all from falling into the trap of the cliche, which speaks so much about your business and your own mission. Whether or not you are somebody worth following, worth paying attention to, worth listening to, worth giving money to. Sometimes something as simple as using language that signals that you are somebody worth listening to is just as important as your product itself. And I stand by that with all of my heart that is what House of Moxie represents.
Richard Matthews 32:32
Yeah, that’s really powerful, too, because I’ve noticed over the course of working with lots of businesses myself, and buying from lots of people that it’s the people who speak powerfully about their products or services who end up getting my money. If that makes sense. It’s one of the reasons why I buy Apple computers. It’s because of how they talk about their products. And they’re not boring. Every PC manufacturer on the planet, outside of Apple has boring products. And it’s not that their products are boring, but they talked about them boringly, if that’s a word.
Ash Ambirge 33:15
That goes back to this concept that I preach, which is, the language is the product. There’s really no divide, like most people think of it. They build the products and then they consider how to market it. They consider how to talk about it. But really, before I build anything or work on any projects, I first consider what we want to say about something. What kind of language is going to shape the direction of the product? Which is different from most approaches. Yeah, I recently worked with a client in fact, on a new feature launch, which is cool because the very first thing we did was I said, “Okay, don’t tell me anything about it. I’m going to write the sales page the way I would envision this as the ideal version.” And then the client actually, I mean it’s a very cool client, but he reverse engineered the actual product specifications or the feature specifications based on some of the discussions that came from that sales page. So that’s cool!
Richard Matthews 34:27
That’s awesome. Reminds me of -I think it’s Ben Franklin -if everyone else is doing it it’s probably wrong. So starting backwards. A way that most people don’t start is probably far more effective.
Ash Ambirge 34:43
It certainly gives you a new perspective and that new perspective is everything that comes back to the heart of my work. Taking this new perspective and translating that into fresh language that gets people’s attention and not just their attention but their hearts involved. I’m all about it! The heart.
Richard Matthews 35:03
Yeah, I agree. I want to go to The House of Moxie. Where did that name come from?
Ash Ambirge 35:10
So…House of Moxie. You want to know the real story?
Richard Matthews 35:14
I do I want to know the real story. Since we’ve been talking about stories.
Ash Ambirge 35:19
Are sure? This is not profound at all. You’re going to be entirely disappointed by the story. Are you ready?
Richard Matthews 35:24
Ash Ambirge 35:26
House of Moxie came as the result of the fact that I once lost a sponsorship from Dunkin’ Donuts because they could not align their brand with something called The Middle Finger Project. So I realized that The Middle Finger Project is great. It’s a great blog name it’s awesome and I can do business as The Middle Finger Project if I damn well please. But the real deal is that I needed a name that would be a little bit more flexible for some of my bigger goals and House of Moxie was something that I brainstormed with a writer of mine at the time. Moxie was was the word. I think Moxie very well, sums up all the things you’ve talked about here, the irreverence, and the snarky, and all of those things that that my company represents. So there we are, where The House of Moxie.
Richard Matthews 36:21
That’s wonderful! It reminds me of how I came to one of my names. I run a supplement nutrition company part time and the brand name is Ohpana. And everyone always asked me, “How did you come up with that name?” And the story is very similar. It just is not a very exciting story. My wife and I had been doing some dream boarding exercises at one point several years ago and I wanted to have a private island. You know, stuck up on there because I looked them up. And, you know, private islands are actually not that expensive.
You can go out and buy a private island, and I found one. It’s like, 700 acres, and it’s got a mountain on it. And it’s only 8 million bucks. I was like, “that’s doable.” I could buy an island And my wife was like, “Well, if you’re going to buy an island, you’re gonna have to name it.” And so I was like, you know, just right off the bat. I was like, “One Hundred Percent All Natural Awesome.” That’s what I’ll call it. One Hundred Percent All Natural Awesome. That’ll be the name of the island. So when you take the first letter of all those, it’s OHPANA. And when I started the supplement brand, we’re like, “Let’s just use that. Call it Ohpana.” And so it’s the name of my island.
Ash Ambirge 37:38
Richard Matthews 37:39
Ash Ambirge 37:40
Oh, goodness. Okay. Wait, say the full name again.
Richard Matthews 37:43
Ash Ambirge 37:44
No. The full name.
Richard Matthews 37:46
One Hundred Percent All Natural Awesome
Ash Ambirge 37:49
One Hundred Percent All Natural Awesome. I actually wrote down the entire acronym. And I tried to work through it. Wow. Oh, my gosh, that’s a great story! I love it!
Richard Matthews 37:57
Ash Ambirge 38:00
I hope someday to be invited to your private island. Because I feel like this is going to be a thing that happens for you. And I’m going to be rooting you on in the background here. So don’t forget about us, little people.
Richard Matthews 38:10
The little people when we buy private islands, yeah. Oh, I have since gotten to a point where I probably don’t really want a private island. But if I get this point where I just have money that I can’t figure out what to do with, I’m gonna buy a private island.
Ash Ambirge 38:26
Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a private island. And you get there. And instead of grains of sand, like the whole island was just made of like, books, and you just like, it’s just all books, and you just step on the books. And you get to pick and this read all the books. But the books are just really…maybe that’s just me.
Richard Matthews 38:42
That actually sounds wonderful. But if you got my wife and myself there together? We would probably complain about the different sections because my wife won’t read anything that isn’t fiction. And I pretty much don’t read anything that’s not nonfiction. So we’d have to separate the island into halves.
Ash Ambirge 39:03
Well, you know, I think that’s probably how the world got started. That’s why we have all the different country divisions.
Richard Matthews 39:09
We have to divide the island from the beginning.
Ash Ambirge 39:13
And kind of in every way, it all started from ideas.
Richard Matthews 39:17
Ash Ambirge 39:20
I love it. Yeah.
Richard Matthews 39:22
Okay. So I have two more questions. The first one, you actually talked about this in your origin story a little bit. Your own personal heroes. And I’ve noticed myself, I have my heroes around mentors. I want to know who your heroes were? Whether they were real life mentors, were they speakers or authors. Maybe they were just peers that were a few years ahead of you. And how important were they to what you’ve accomplished so far?
Ash Ambirge 39:48
You know what? This is a question I get asked a good amount. And I always have the same answer for this question. I think that as a person, as a professional, I’ve taken inspiration from so many places, I wouldn’t say that I have just one or two or five mentors. I tend to view anyone I interact with as a mentor. I’m constantly listening to people and I’m constantly hyper aware of what I admire about that person. And constantly using that to reflect on my own abilities. I think this has been something that’s very useful. I love, for example, watching TED Talks because I love just studying the incredible public speaking that comes from TED Talks. I use tech speakers as mentors. And I use people like that, that I think, have an edge in a certain area and I will study them. And there’s some gift I have of being able to study someone and replicate. So that is my weird, twisted answer to that question.
Richard Matthews 41:21
That’s actually probably the perfect answer. Because I thought I was probably the only one who did that. And I’ve just discovered that you do that, too. So it’s interesting to me because people would ask me that question. And I’m like, “Well, probably, I could list every author I’ve ever read a book from and the things that I’ve learned from them and business partners that I’ve had, and peers that I’ve had.” And, you know, you mentioned TED Talks, I actually do something similar, except I do it on Netflix, and the comedy channel, one of the things that I do is public speaking regularly. I want to be better at speaking in front of people. I guess one of the keys for that is learning how to tell stories. If you can, the people who are best at telling stories or stand up comedians, they’ve got the art and science behind that. So I’ll watch stand up comedians all day. And I actually sit there with a notepad and my wife looks at me, and she’s like, “What are you doing?” And I’m like, “I’m taking notes on the comedian.” And she’s like, “You are crazy.” And I’m like, “I’m not crazy. It makes sense. I promise. It makes sense.”
Ash Ambirge 42:28
You know, comedians are awesome, aren’t they?
Richard Matthews 42:36
Yes, because they know how to tell a story and how to transition from one story to the next story and I hope one day I get to be as good as some of those guys are, or gals at telling stories. Because I think it’s one of the key skills as someone who wants to be a leader or a hero, or to have success or influence is to know how to tell a good story and how to pull inspiration from anything.
Ash Ambirge 43:02
Yeah, you just gave me a really good idea. I think in my next writing workshop, I might have to show some stand up comedy, because they are great, not only at telling stories, but linking back coming full circle when they’re done. They’re great at coming full circle and referencing things that they mentioned in the beginning to really wrap up an entire set.
Richard Matthews 43:24
To close open loops.
Ash Ambirge 43:26
Yes. And they’re wonderful at that. And I think that’s something that a lot of aspiring writers are struggling with, closing. And that’s a great technique. So that’s, I’m on to that. That’s a great and fun idea.
Richard Matthews 43:38
I actually did that. I wasn’t doing a whole workshop. I just did like an hour thing on copywriting. With a group of people who are doing real estate investing. And you know, I got up, chitchat a little about copywriting. And I told them all I said, “One of the things I want you to do when you go home is pick your favorite next Netflix comedian and watch how they tell stories and just make it habit of watching comedians. Because if you pay attention to what they’re doing, it’ll start to sink in, and your subconscious pay more attention to what’s going on, then you will if you start thinking about it. And you start using some of those skills.”
Ash Ambirge 44:15
Absolutely. I consider that cross training. I’ve encouraged students to do that with many other things, but not not stand up comedy. And I love that. It’s such a wonderful resource.
Richard Matthews 44:31
Yeah, I do the same thing with Ted Talks. But I always thought that comedy was a good side thing, I guess, because a lot of people don’t look at comedians as a business skill. And I do the same thing with fiction books. You know, you pick up a good Harry Potter book, and you read through how they’re telling stories. One of the things I tell people is, “Experience is the best teacher, and the best experience is someone else’s.” But your mind doesn’t make a differentiation between what you’ve visualized and what has actually happened. So reading through the experiences of nonfiction books can really help you with your decision making abilities and put you in places where you can have just more experience. And a lot of people, I guess, they don’t look at nonfiction books, or sorry, it’s fiction books as something where they can learn something from. They just look at them as entertainment. And I think you can learn from pretty much everything, including fiction stories, and things like that.
Ash Ambirge 45:31
Oh, I love that. As someone who is writing a book right now, I’ve studied a lot about the art and craft of storytelling like you’re talking about. I think it’s fascinating, especially from the fiction perspective, because people really are. It’s amazing when you look at the brain and what’s happening when people are digesting other people’s stories. It’s fascinating that we’re constantly trying to relate everything back to our own experience, and build on our own experience. And that must happen of course, with fiction as well. So yeah.
Richard Matthews 46:06
It was a concept that was introduced to me by Orson Scott Card. If you’ve ever read any of his his books, like Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game is really big. They did the movie on it a little while ago. But if you read through his series, I fair warning: if you pick up Ender’s Game, you may not sleep. Someone handed me that book one night, and I started reading it. And the next morning, I went back and I was like, do you have the next one. He’s like, “What happened?” I was like, “I read it all night, I didn’t sleep, I need the next book.” But at the end, he does like a mini Writers’ Workshop at the end of every story. Where he tells his thought process and one of the things he said was when as a writer you’re only writing half the story. The other half of the story is what happens in the readers head. And when those two things come together, that the actual story. It’s what you’ve written plus what happens on the reader’s head when they read it. And that’s the whole visualization thing that they’re going to actually live through that story in their head and their subconscious doesn’t know the difference. So from a storytelling perspective, it’s very powerful but from a learning perspective, if you want to learn how to make fast decisions, you can read stories about people who were in you know battles or in other things and just see how they make decision making processes and all that stuff. You can learn from fiction just as much as you can learn from nonfiction if you think about it that way before you read.
Ash Ambirge 47:40
I love it. I always said the bookstore is the key. It’s incredible to me, if we just read enough books, what we could become.
Richard Matthews 47:49
Ash Ambirge 47:51
Richard Matthews 47:52
Hey, thanks so much for listening thus far I really hope you’re enjoying this interview with Ash she’s great isn’t she? Anyways, before we get to the last question and interview I want to take a brief break to hear about one of this show sponsors will be right back to the interview in just a moment.
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So I have I have one more question before we wrap this up. I just want to bring it home for our listeners. What are the top one or two, principles or actions that you use regularly today that contribute to the success or influence that you enjoy? The ones that you wish you knew when you first started out on your hero’s journey back when you were a five year old playing with the letters.
Ash Ambirge 49:20
Yeah. More and more, I have found a couple of things to be true. Well, two things in particular that I have taken more seriously than ever. Number one, I’ve gotten really good at learning how to simply be okay with the workload. And I say that because when you’re starting a business, or you’re starting a project and you’re very excited, you have this, of course, this tendency to look at other people or you start writing these endless to do lists and you have all of these things and these goals. Even if it’s just for the full day, maybe you have 10 things you need to do that day, I have gotten really exceptionally good at just being patient enough to understand that I am working on this now. The rest I will work on later. Which sounds simple. But in the beginning, I stress myself out a lot, because there were always these things that I was constantly juggling. And it always felt so overwhelming. And I always felt like a constant failure. Because I could, of course, never complete everything all the once and you really start to spiral out. It becomes incredibly counterproductive. So I’ve gotten good with saying, “Okay, I’m waking up today. And yes, I have three big giant ugly deadlines today for a client for a launch for something else. But you know what, today, like every day, from five to eight in the morning, I’m writing my book, and it doesn’t matter. I have to be patient with my workload, the rest will happen when I get to it.” So that’s something that takes practice. But I think it’s useful to keep reminding yourself that, “It will happen when I get to it, it will happen and I will get to it. Just not right now.”
Richard Matthews 51:43
Yeah. It’s something that I’ve struggled with a lot, too. Everytime I accomplish something, I’ve got to do something else that replaces it. So I feel like I’ve never finished and yes, and I’m not sure if that’s the concept you’re getting at, but that’s the idea, right? If you’re constantly creating value, you’re never going to be finished. That’s part of the success. It’s part of what you’re doing. You have things to do.
Ash Ambirge 52:12
Yeah, I think it’s a little different. But I think it’s really related and I think it’s maybe even more challenging. This never being done feeling can be haunting and it can be stressful. But I’ve also learned that it is useful to discipline yourself in a whole new way. Like most people look at me, and they’re like, “I could never own my own business. I don’t know how you ever get any work done. I would just watch TV all day.” And I’m like, “Yeah, okay. NO! First of all, when you own a business, that’s just not how it goes.”
Richard Matthews 52:45
Yeah, definitely don’t have time to watch TV. Unless I have to schedule that.
Ash Ambirge 52:53
Right. Yeah, but it’s the opposite. It’s the opposite of never really feeling like you ever have an end time. And so I’ve had to implement some fictional end times for myself that I’m just going to hold myself to at the end of the day. And it’s hard as hell. But it helps.
Richard Matthews 53:11
Do you know what helps with that? Children.
Ash Ambirge 53:13
Tell me Oh, yeah!
Richard Matthews 53:15
Children, big time. Because I have to, at some point, I have to put everything down and be there for them. I can’t physically, unless I wanted to, give up being a dad. I couldn’t. I can’t work myself to death because I have to take time out to play with my kids. If I didn’t…they would…I don’t know…I sort of have this feeling that they would…explode or disappear or something. And it would be terrible. So you know, children are a great way to give yourself a…at five o’clock every day, I’m done with work. I’m going to play with my kids.
Ash Ambirge 53:52
I like that. Yeah, I’ve recently started using exercise as my thing. Because it’s kind of like, it gets to a point where, if don’t make the time you’re actively killing yourself by working. So it’s like, you really have to put it in perspective. Easier said than done and on that same note, I would say that the second part to this that I think is very important for anyone who is starting their own thing is something I think we all struggle with. The endless onslaughts of requests and demands on your time by anybody. It could be a friend, it could be clients, maybe going a little AWOL with the scope creep. It could be anyone really, I have had to put some really strict rules for myself in a place where I know that I’m going to work on myself first, and then I’m going to work on my client stuff. Then I’m going to eat lunch. Then I’m going to work some more on something else. And then at the end of the day, that’s when it get to my emails. And that’s when I get to the rest of the world requests for me, which is hard because we’re all so used to starting the day with the inbox. Starting the day with everybody else and trying to get that cleared off before we feel like we have enough time to work on our own stuff.
Richard Matthews 55:26
Being reactionary I guess.
Ash Ambirge 55:28
Yeah, this is something that’s discussed quite a bit. But I would actually really advise to take this seriously. Because what’s interesting is most people don’t feel like they have enough time to take on a new project, or to build this business, because why? They’re losing a lot of time, like you said, “reacting to the rest of the world.” Now, the situation for me is I’ve got plenty of time to do all the things that I’m trying to do. I’m handling many different things right now, at once. It’s fantastic. And at the end of the day, if anything gets left behind, it’s going to be Facebook messages from people that I maybe went to college with. And you know what? No harm, no foul. I’ll get to it eventually. But at least I know that I am focusing on and putting my best creative energy where it really needs to be.
Richard Matthews 56:16
Which is providing your value to the world.
Ash Ambirge 56:20
Yeah! and starting off fresh in the beginning of the day. I take it really seriously. And I don’t let anyone fuck with my time until I’m ready.
Richard Matthews 56:27
Yeah. Which is really great. It’s something I needed to start working on. I haven’t quite figured this one out yet. Going back to the whole being a dad thing, because I get woken up in the morning, not by an alarm clock or something, but by a child pulling up my eyelids and looking to see if I’m awake. So I start off my day in reaction to my children.
Ash Ambirge 56:49
Richard Matthews 56:50
It’s the whole concept of “Where did my best energies go? And then realizing you have to know your priorities and where you want your best energies to go first.” Then you can start implementing that. So for me, I know I want my kids and my family to have that first energy. So I spend that time in the morning with them. And then I go to my value stuff, and then I go to reactionary stuff later. So I get that and it’s, it’s definitely very powerful. And it’s something that I struggled with. I struggle with it every day, because I we’re trained to be reactionary first.
Ash Ambirge 57:32
Yeah. It always feels like it’s something I battle with all the time. It feels like I can’t really relax into my own work until I know everyone else is taken care of. Which is why it’s been such an active thing for me to constantly get up. The first thing I do is my own writing and make sure it’s a promise to myself. Because if I don’t, I get mad, because I know I’ve broken that promise to myself. And, you know, the only person I’m doing a disservice to is going to be myself. Because guess what? I’m not going to have a published book. And I’m not going to have my dreams because I just helped everybody else get to theirs.
Richard Matthews 58:16
So I have a technique question for you on that specific thing. Because I noticed like when I try to tell myself, I want to get up in the morning and write the first thing -because I do that occasionally as well. It’s not something that’s big on my list right now but I find that pull up my computer -because that’s where I do my best writing. There’s so much stuff going on in my computer. I can’t write. So what what do you do to deal with things like that, like notifications? And there’s so much other things? Do you have a separate computer? Or do you have a specific like, I don’t know, an application that you hide your sphere writing and that there’s nothing else going on? How do you isolate that time?
Ash Ambirge 58:51
Yeah. You know what? I don’t. I just actually don’t get in to anything. I don’t. I won’t let myself. I don’t even have the urge anymore. Because I’m so to the habit of -it’s a great habit. It’s kind of like the only time that I really look forward to. It’s like indulgence time for me from five to eight in the morning. I’m so excited to be working on my book. That’s the only thing I want to do. And so it’s the first thing. I open my computer, I open up my writing program, and I don’t even think to open up the browser. I don’t get that far. And that’s just it. I just do it. And then afterwards, I start my day.
Richard Matthews 59:30
So yeah, you just turn all the automatic opening up of programs off on your computer. So there’s nothing to be there.
Ash Ambirge 59:39
Yeah, yeah! I don’t even get in to them. I just don’t. I just don’t do it. I feel like there’s really no Facebook posts, no email, no anything that could be more important than me getting my book published. So I’m in it. I’m in it to win it, baby.
Richard Matthews 59:53
Okay! I want to thank you for being on the show. First off, and then before we finish everything up here. Where can people find out more about you? I don’t know if you’re taking on any clients right now. But if they wanted to find out about, getting their writing done, or getting their products. Where can they find you? And then the last one is when’s your book going to be done? And where can we find out about that?
Ash Ambirge 1:00:24
Well, you know what, I think The Middle Finger Project blog is really the place to go. I am not currently accepting new clients. But I do frequently give really fun workshops. That’s kind of my heart project. I love giving workshops and getting to connect with people and seeing what they’re working on and helping them out in that capacity. But The Middle Finger Project blog…Yeah, it’s that. As for the book, I do not know. I don’t know! We’re still in the early phases of getting all of that worked out.
Richard Matthews 1:01:00
Do you mind if I ask what the book is about?
Ash Ambirge 1:01:03
Oh, it’s it’s a memoir. It’s all about the beginning of my story. Some hardship I suffered and how I was able to pull out of it and grow a million dollar brand on the internet with my laptop, while I sit in robes, in fancy hotels in Costa Rica.
Richard Matthews 1:01:22
With with massages scheduled for the next hour.
Ash Ambirge 1:01:26
That’s true! In 20 minutes in fact.
Richard Matthews 1:01:29
Well, I think with that, people can find you on themiddlefingerproject.com and hop onto your email list which I highly recommend. I’ve been on your list for years. It is one of the few emails I enjoy reading all the time. I still allow it to go into my inbox if that makes sense.
Ash Ambirge 1:01:49
It does. Thank you. I always take that as the highest of compliments. I appreciate that.
Richard Matthews 1:01:54
Yeah. So thank you for being on the show.
Ash Ambirge 1:01:57
Absolutely. It was a pleasure, Richard! I look forward to hearing many more episodes and seeing what everybody else has to say about this concept of what it is to be an influencer and how we can continually up the level. Thank you so much for having me.
Richard Matthews 1:02:13
You’re welcome. And that’s a wrap. Thanks again for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show by texting “HEROES” that’s H-E-R-O-E-S to 38470. What I want to do now is invite you back to listen to episode number three where I interview internet juggernaut Ben Adkins. Where we hear his incredible hero’s journey from chiropractor to building one of the most successful seven-figure brands on the internet marketing space. Make sure you don’t miss this episode. And as you go about your day to day, think about this: if you choose to do the hard things first knowing the rest will be easy, you might be a hero. And that my friends was the first of what I’m going to call a Heroism. I’ll be finishing each show with one and I want you to be a part of it. That’s it. See you on the next episode.
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A peak behind the masks of modern day super heroes. What makes them tick? What are their super powers? Their worst enemies? What's their kryptonite? And who are their personal heroes? Find out by listening now