TERRY KYLE: Joining me today on inflectionpoint.life is Kurt Phillip from Convertica.org.
Kurt and I have not had the pleasure of meeting and talking before today, but he’s got basically a hell of a story to share with us.
And Kurt, for people who are not familiar with you or what you’re involved in, can you just give us a quick snapshot of who you are and your big projects at the moment?
KURT PHILLIP: Yeah, sure.
My name’s Kurt Phillip, I’m CEO and Founder of Convertica.
We’re a done-for-you conversion rate optimization company.
So we help establish businesses, sort of intermediate to smaller large companies, seven and eight figure companies, to maximize their revenue from the same traffic and paid traffic.
We do that through split testing and yeah, conversion rate optimization by optimizing certain areas of their website to make more sales.
Because 90 percent of sites out there are pretty broken, so.
TERRY: Yep. Horribly optimized or not optimized.
Now the thing about inflectionpoint.life Kurt, I know you know because you’ve viewed other interviews here, it’s a bit different because we dig specifically into a huge moment in your life.
And if you can just set up for us the context about what was happening in your life, how old you were, where exactly you were living at the time, just before this big thing happened that changed a lot of things for you.
KURT: Yeah, so I was out of high school. I was a bit of a, I guess a loser. I had no direction. I never really studied, I never really had a plan for my life.
My dad was pretty carefree, sort of hippie sort of ‘take life as it comes’.
So I didn’t really have any purpose to life.
I didn’t play any sport.
I didn’t really have anything going for me.
So I sort of fell into a job as a butcher’s apprentice.
I fell into a job as a butcher’s apprentice when I was 16, 17.
And I was just doing that because I had nothing else to do and I had to eat. Right.
So, but that gave me sort of discipline, getting up early, having mentorship from older guys with experience and it was alright.
In Australia, you got paid sort of 70 to 80,000 dollars second year out of high school.
KURT: So most of my friends have gone to uni and getting [in] debt.
I was buying assets and everything.
It was actually a hidden silver lining in that I guess.
But in the second year of that, me and some friends were heading out to ‘Sunday sessions’, which it’s called in Australia where you go up to this pub and don’t get smashed but like have a few drinks on a Sunday before the work week starts.
And then before I knew it, a week later I woke up in hospital out of a coma from a car accident that happened and I couldn’t remember anything.
I mean it was a week later.
I wasn’t in a coma as in like a natural coma.
They kept me in a coma because I had such big trauma from the car crash that had happened on the way up to that event, and then that was obviously the point, the big paradigm shift in reality from there on.
And then there was many more obviously, but that was the big one that allowed me to break the, I guess, blindfold, that I was just following as I wouldn’t say a robot, but I had no real perspective on what I was doing.
I was just doing it.
I was following all the rules.
I didn’t really like question anything.
I was paying my taxes. I was just, so everything that you do when you’re at a high school, discovering being an adult I guess.
TERRY: -Yep. A lot of people live like that.
How old you were when that accident happened?
KURT: 2003, I would’ve been 17, 18.
I would have been 18 because we were going out to a pub, yeah.
So I would’ve just been in 18 for about three or four months.
Yeah. It’s still like, people will say there’s these big shifts in time you hear people talking about a lot.
But it didn’t, it wasn’t like a shift and then I viewed everything.
That was the moment that set me on a different trajectory, if you will. It wasn’t like that was the thing that made me different.
It took many years about to happen, but it broke me from that path that I was on.
And then because I didn’t walk for probably a year or a year and a half, because I pretty much clean snapped my leg off and I had to rebuild my ankle and I had an external frame on my leg and everything.
But because I didn’t, yeah, I never read a book before that.
So I started to, I had so much time on my hands.
So then I started to read a little bit, not too much, but it allowed me to break that reality.
And then also one thing that I’ve noticed from that point to where I’m now is I have a really, really high tolerance for risks because I really don’t care.
Like I feel like this is my second chance at life, so why not go all in?
And that’s been my life philosophy.
I don’t get caught up in drama. I don’t whinge and whine anymore.
I just get it done. Everything I do is 100 percent, and looking back now, everything I do is 100 percent.
I either go, I’m going to do something really well or I just don’t do it all type of thing.
And that was what happened because of that, because I’m like, why wouldn’t you want to do everything?
And it made me have an appreciation for life, I guess. Which is what the main takeaway was.
Do you think before the accident you were living how everybody around you was living or expected you to think that way?
KURT: Yeah. Yeah, of course.
Yeah, because my father and his partner moved out to the countryside right at graduation year.
So I sort of lived by myself in their house without trying to sell it.
I didn’t really have any guidance on what to do, like people are signing up for uni. I was just like, sweet, I’m just going to go to the beach every day after high school.
I had no plan.
So it was a sort of self-discovery, which has this been a blessing itself because I was self-taught.
Then I learned how to be reliant on oneself and lots of stuff. So it did have its perks, but it took a long time to get momentum and had a lot of hard knocks along the way.
TERRY: Do you remember, sorry to interrupt Kurt, but I do that a lot.
Do you remember when you came out of the coma and you were starting to wake up to changing things up?
Reading a particular book or coming across a particular course that had an impact?
KURT: Not for many years after.
It wasn’t like when I got out of hospital, which was a month.
So I was in hospital for a month.
That had some weird effects on me too.
And then the doctor gave me, because I was on morphine and then they put me on Oxycontin, which is like the USA’s biggest killer now, this opiate.
I was on opiates for three, four months too because I’m in so much pain.
So it took a while to come out of the haze of being inebriated all the time because of medical, not self chosen, but to have like a clear head took a while to start to.
It was just my shift of reality was different.
I remember just like looking at things going, nah, I don’t know if that’s really the way that should be done.
Lots of stuff.
But the real big thing that happened was I got some compensation because it was my mate, my friend that was driving the car.
KURT: And in Australia you have to have third party insurance on your car, which paid it out if anything happens, grievous bodily harm to anyone.
So I got a payout with that.
And then that allowed me to travel for a bit.
When I had the biggest shifts was when I traveled and started meeting people.
And when you travel and backpack, all you’re doing is socializing.
So you’re being able to get sort of like insight off all these different people because everyone else is just hanging out too.
So you’re just talking all the time and all of a sudden you’re meeting all these people with different realities.
And it’s a type of person that travels.
People who travel have an open mind and they have more of a life. And I’m not talking of Spain or Ibiza, I’m talking about when you were in Cambodia and when you’re in like the far-flung countries, or it was 10 years ago.
It’s not so much now, but back 10 years ago it was, the type people you might have a totally different view on the world.
And that’s what gave me the biggest view of reality.
Because in Australia, Australia is great for the middle class, it’s a really good country.
If you’re middle class you have, you make your 60, 70 grand a year and you just go and get your house, get your, and it’s like in the UK too, but more in Australia and no one really steps outside of it.
So that was really helpful for me to meet all these people that were stepping out of it.
And then it was right at the point where WiFi was becoming mainstream in 2006, 2007 and then I started building websites and that’s when it all began.
I started building websites and I only have to make two or three a month and then I’d make enough to travel.
TERRY: How did you attract your clients or customers while doing that?
KURT: I was really fortunate that when I went to private college for a year, when I got my compensation payout, I forgot to put that part in too.
I went there because I was like, I’m going to need some, I used to be a nerd in high school before I became a butcher, but I didn’t follow it up because I have no way of doing it.
So I went and put myself with the money from the car accident.
I went and put myself through a private college for web design, 3D graphic design and stuff like that.
And then from that certification, I happened to get hired by a guy, and I was doing SEO and building websites for him.
And he actually ended up becoming my mentor.
And now he’s one of my good friends still today.
But that’s how I got an inroad. I was building his websites and managing his portfolio of websites and businesses.
And then from there, yeah, I guess referrals came from that. And that’s how it sort of started.
TERRY: Cool. And when you decided to travel and all of that, Kurt, leaving a few friends and family behind, I guess what was their view of you, the new you changing, becoming more of an Explorer or adventurer going out and seeing the world.
How did they react to that?
KURT: I don’t really remember to be honest.
I’ve never really cared too much about, even though it’s family I’ve always, even when I was a kid, just done what I wanted to do anyway.
So I don’t really remember because it didn’t have much effect on me.
My grandmother was always funny about it all: “You can’t go to Budapest. It’s Eastern Europe. It’s full of Nazis.” Like that old mentality still from the 50’s that she still had.
But I mean my dad was a sort of hippie kind of guy, so he was super open minded to it all.
Go explore the world, go live your life, all that sort of stuff.
So I had a supportive dad in terms of he pushed me into it and he could see how happy it was making me.
And I was in a pretty deep depression after the car accident to be honest, like it really threw me around because I had a lot of trauma from it too.
TERRY: Yep. How long do you think it took you to emotionally get over that accident?
KURT: I think that’s a hard one.
I think because when I was backpacking a lot, and this was in the early days of backpacking, drinking went pretty heavily hand in hand with backpacking.
It was sort of like whenever you get to a new destination you meet up, you go to the hostel and then everyone would go out at nighttime and you socialize and then you next day you travel somewhere else and it would be rinse and repeat.
I think I may have used alcohol quite a lot to numb the anxiety that I had because I definitely had some anxiety from it.
But I was having such a good time that I don’t know.
Anxiety definitely, I had really bad bouts of it, but I’ve learned to learn how to cope with that now.
So not too bad.
But yeah, I didn’t really, because I had such a flip of being super optimistic after it, it sort of outweighed the negative effects more than the effect it had on me.
TERRY: So you shifted into this when you’re building websites and so on Kurt, you have that ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle, I guess for a while.
And maybe that’s still the case today, you’ll fill me in on that.
Was there a point in that when you wanted to build something more substantial, and not just be that freelance web builder guy?
What was the next step in that evolution?
KURT: Yeah, so I moved, I was getting sick of the backpacking thing.
I’d done it for, not nonstop, but I’d done it for five years, let’s say.
And I would spend, I wouldn’t backpack all the time.
I’d go to move to Budapest for two months.
I lived in Canada for two years.
I lived in Sweden for a while, and I was sort of relocating, but I got to Chiang Mai right when Chiang Mai was becoming a digital nomad hotspot.
I’m talking 2011, so there was eight of us I think, but I’m talking like when it was just starting and so then we had like eight of us now and most of these guys are huge now.
The guys from that time, it was cool how that all developed.
But I got there and then met a couple of guys that were doing, I was probably doing two or three $K a month and that was enough to get by then.
But then I met some guys on 20, 30, 50 ($k per month), and this was in 2011 and I was like, “Whoa,” and then I plugged into them and they became my network and then your network becomes your net worth, right?
I started learning what they were doing, I started plugging into their resources and their connections.
And then I’d meet their friends and then all of a sudden their network became my network and then I pivoted into specializing, learning how to scale, learning how to build teams and everything.
TERRY: Can you tell me about the birth of Convertica and why that? Because there are a thousand angles you can pursue in online business.
TERRY: You and I probably tried most of them, but what was the genesis, the birth of Convertica and why that particular model and particular area to get into?
KURT: When I was at LeadSpring with Matt, we were getting a lot of people that wanted to partner with us.
But when you have an SEO, it needed to, the types that we partner with…so, sorry, let me backtrack a little bit.
LeadSpring, what we did was, at the time, was we partnered with people that had profitable websites that weren’t quite at the top and we did SEO for them and we did CRO for them.
So we did conversion optimization and increase their rankings.
Then we would split the profit on top of what they made.
That was the business model.
The issue was if they didn’t have a perfect SEO profile, we would just let them go and I’m talking like 20, 30 a week that we’d let go because they didn’t have a good SEO back link profile so we couldn’t partner with them.
So I noticed this and went, “Holy crap, there’s a lot of opportunity here just in CRO.”
KURT: But Bitcoin was happening at the time and I got a bit sidetracked as a lot of people did and I took a couple of months off.
I left LeadSpring because that just wasn’t working.
I don’t like having partners, so that just wasn’t working.
And then I took a couple of months off and then while I took time off, I was getting a lot of emails about CRO, people wanting to CRO.
So I went, “You know what?” I set up a lander, and then when I set up the landing page, I did a case study on a couple of guy’s blogs about projects I’d worked with them.
And then first month, like 30 clients or 40 clients, it was just like ‘boom’ from the get go.
Like I hear about people building that service businesses over time, straight away was like, it was pretty big.
So I had to build a team pretty quickly and stuff. So it was just the demand was the reason for starting that? Yeah.
TERRY: It was very obvious it was going to work, right from the start?
KURT: Oh, it was insane. The issue was not being able to supply demand and missing an opportunity.
So I had to stay in the position of the business owner and not get too caught up with trying to do it myself because that would limit the long run.
I built a team very quickly and yeah, now today that paid off because now we manage 70 clients a month.
We have over 500 split tests running at one time, and we have a really good scale now.
And that could have had to really push hard again after having an affiliate business and not doing much work for years and like having a lot of passive income and then moving back into a consulting with clients and everything.
It was a tough ask, but now it’s paid off.
TERRY: One of the toughest things I have found in my entrepreneurial journey, and a lot of other guys I talk to, is making that transition from being a ‘doer’ to a manager of ‘doers’.
And that’s not an easy one.
So that’s quite a big shift.
And you go through these different levels.
Maybe that’s your experience when you manage five or 10 or more, different challenges and how, just talk us through a bit about your transition of doing that.
KURT: About five years ago, I had a big breakup from a long-term girlfriend that made me reflect on a lot of stuff and it made me learn a lot about different personality types and why things didn’t work.
And it just allowed me to understand people more, that point allowed me to understand people a lot better.
And then that single point then allowed me to hire teams a lot better because then I can pick the right people for the right positions.
Then I got a business mentor that helped me scale too.
Like he gave me the framework for what I needed, what levels of management I needed, well before we needed it.
So we could grow into that.
And now I consult with him twice a year and we catch up and then he tells me where I need to go for the next six months, and so on.
That helped a lot.
But yeah, it’s staying in that position.
It’s a weird one because we have this thing that’s drilled into us that if we’re not working and we’re not always doing something, that we’re not giving value.
And that’s something that I think a lot of people fight with, where like Richard Branson says, he has, I don’t know what he works, the thing of 99 percent of his time is spent on thinking about the one percent of things that need to be thought about, or something like that.
And that’s the position that I think is so important as a CEO now is like, you need to be always in that position to be able to think about the big ideas and let the small tasks be done by the technicians and so on. Right.
TERRY: Yeah, it’s not easy.
KURT: I sort of got sidetracked from your question, but-
TERRY: Yeah. There’s an ocean of distraction out there.
Why do you think so many websites are terrible at conversion and haven’t even, might not even be aware of the term CRO or optimizing for conversions?
Why do you think that is?
KURT: The type of personality that develops websites is normally an introverted rational that doesn’t have a great social or marketing knowledge because they sit…Yeah, it’s just that’s the sort of general personality type, introverted rationals.
Not everyone, but if we’re talking about the 80, 20, a hundred percent.
At the SEO conference in Chiang Mai, 80, 90 percent of the crowd is introverted rational, all the same personality type that build their own websites and do SEO.
And that’s a big difference.
There’s someone who knows how to sell and market and get inside someone’s emotions and know how to sell a product is vastly different than someone that can sit in code and write scripts and so on.
So that’s the main reason.
And 99 percent, well no, 100 percent of all websites are designed on a desktop.
So no one gives enough focus to mobile now, which in the last couple of years has now become 70, 80 percent of traffic to a website.
So that’s always a big win for us too.
And a bunch of other reasons, but those who would be the main, the two main reasons. Yeah.
TERRY: Let me finish with a few more quick questions here.
So after the car accident, you mentioned you weren’t reading anything for a while, took a while to sort of wake up to reading, getting a bit more into self development and that thing.
Overall in your journey, do you have some highlight books or courses or influences that had a big impact on you, even much later?
KURT: Oh, most definitely. Most definitely.
It was funny, I was already backpacking and traveling and had my online business when I read The Four Hour Work Week in 2012 or 2013.
I’d already been doing it all.
And when I read it I was like, “Holy crap, this would have saved me so much time.”
So that was a big one. The Four Hour Work Week, that’s like the Bible for the digital nomad community I guess, which I’m not really a part of anymore, but it was the foundation of my career I guess.
And Sapiens by Yuval Harari was huge for me.
I had like a huge paradigm shift, put that book on people and how cultures are made up and societies, and 21 lessons for the 21st Century is another one that, his newest one I think is a fantastic read, that everyone should read.
I’ve got like 50 more like a, the E-Myth is a huge one for hiring, understanding about when to hire, and who to hire, and not to do the tasks yourself.
So yeah, those sort of four would be my main.
TERRY: Any people who have been a big influence?
KURT: Yeah. My business mentor, who was that guy who employed me back when I was fresh out of college.
He’s been the single biggest impact for sure.
He’s kept me in line and sort of give me the long-term view, and just general business knowledge and money, and taxes and corporations.
And he’s given me a lot of that knowledge, which isn’t really publicly available.
You have to learn yourself.
There’s no real way to learn it.
So he’s been huge for me.
And then there’s a handful of people in the digital nomad, entrepreneur community too that have been huge.
But yeah, it’s too many to name I guess.
TERRY: Okay, gotcha.
So anybody watching, listening, or reading to this Kurt, what one or two key lessons can they take from your experience that you’d like to share, that you think might help them get unstuck and maybe see things from a different perspective and get things moving in the right direction?
KURT: Just focus is the most underrated thing in the world right now because our focus is always taken 24 hours a day.
It’s the hardest thing to train your mind to stay focused on one thing.
Ever since I switched off everything and just focused on Covertica, it just blew up.
I didn’t do anything else for like three years. I just did Convertica and watched TV.
I’d only read books that would make that better and so on.
I think from guys that are in my network now that are struggling, that’s their main thing.
They’re trying to work on three or four micro-businesses and sort of focusing on the short term, and not setting big enough goals over a long enough timeframe.
People always underestimate what they can do in the longterm, with small improvements over time.
And they tried to use hacks and crazy things that have worked once or twice to get these goals.
And if you just keep at it every day, you can get there over a long time.
I’m talking like I don’t even a long time, like three to five years is a good timeframe.
Three years is a great timeframe where you can go, I want to set these goals now.
And you will get to them if you just stick on it and stay focused.
So that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last few years.
TERRY: And what are your plans for Convertica?
What’s the world domination strategy there?
KURT: Mate, I’m so surprised about the scale of demand needed for conversion rate optimization.
We’re growing and we have been growing nonstop for three years.
Right now I’m going heavily back into SEO for conversion rate optimization.
There’s a lot of people doing good SEO for it, so that’s the next piece, we’ve been using paid ads and so on to grow it.
But SEO is already doing it, been doing it for two months, is already really, really pumping out leads a lot.
So that’s the main focus and we’re not going to grow too much in terms of staff and size, but just focus on quality of clients and revenue per customer and so on.
It’s a really, really great business and yeah.
TERRY: Every online business in the world needs that, but whether they realize it or not, and enough of them do, every business needs it.
Can you just talk us through what is your lifestyle now?
Do you have a permanent base or a couple of permanent bases?
What does a normal day for Kurt look like?
KURT: Well, normally the first thing I do in the morning has change my newborn’s nappy, is generally the first thing.
So that’s been a big change. We just, after Christmas we had our first born, so that’s been a big lifestyle change.
KURT: Thanks. So we’d been living in London for probably four or five months of the year just in preparation of this.
And now we’re moving to Bali on Monday for a little while, and then Australia for a while.
So we still do travel a lot and, but normal day I go to Jiu Jitsu for two or three hours a day and then the rest of the day’s just, yeah, just a bit of work admin.
But at the moment it’s mainly just trying to keep this newborn alive. It’s fantastic.
It makes everything, it adds an extra layer to life that you didn’t know that you were missing, right.
TERRY: My final question Kurt, unless you want to throw in some additional thoughts, none of us are going to be around forever.
What would you like your legacy to be after you’re no longer here?
What is the one thing that you’d like to be remembered for, proud of, happy with that you created while you were here?
KURT: Well seeing how I’ve changed from certain things like having a purpose, having a business, doing Jiu Jitsu for example, that is a 10, 15 year thing to master.
Having a purpose every day and like things you enjoy is the main thing.
So instilling that in my children at a very young age and then as I’m dying on my deathbed to be proud of the children and what they’ve become at that point will be the main thing.
I have no goal to be famous or make a billion dollars or anything like that at all.
I just want to live a great life and very fulfilling, balanced life.
And for my children to also be able to partake in that because of some decisions I made when I was younger, which I can do now.
Like our baby being able to travel to all these countries at a very young age because I was able to set this up is very fulfilling.
TERRY: You may recall this question has been asked of Richard Branson because you mentioned him earlier and his answer is very similar.
So when he’s asked about his legacy, his answer is just to judge it by the quality of his children.
KURT: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that’s it for me and I never would have thought I would’ve said that a year ago, but now, my baby’s only three weeks old, but still, how much your view changes when you do have children.
Right. Because all of a sudden it’s not about you anymore, which is also fantastic, because your ’20s it’s all about you and you can only go so far with that.
TERRY: Absolutely. Kurt, this has been great to catch up.
And I think the things that you talk about are very universal things relevant to all of us.
Where can people find you most easily and catch up with you? Where would you like them to connect with you?
And we release a blog post every, every three to three weeks.
TERRY: I’ll put it up on the screen now and then we’ll obviously be in the post.
Thank you again for your time today.
I don’t take that for granted and digging into your life, getting right in there, some really personal stuff.
So I appreciate your honesty in sharing all of that today.
KURT: Yeah, no worries at all. It’s always good chatting about this stuff because you don’t see a lot of it on the surface of all these marketing and internet agencies, right.
There’s always just like no one talks about the struggle and so on, too much.
It’s becoming more popular now, but it’s only just starting to.
So I think it’s very healthy people to know that they can go through struggles and so on. And it’s just perfectly normal. So.
TERRY: One of the reasons I started this side project is to, as a counterpoint to all of the quote, unquote success stories on the web about the guy who made 50 million in three hours while he was asleep or something like that on a blog.
And I think when you get a bit older and you have children for example, you reflect on a lot of this stuff and the perspective that you and I hopefully can bring offers a bit more maturity, a bit more reality, and kind of honesty to this.
And I think that is very helpful for people on the journey.
Whether they think of themselves as an entrepreneur or not, I think it still could be valuable.
KURT: Most definitely, just as valuable as the other stuff, the education for it, I think.
And I think it’ll become more, I think these lessons will become more prevalent as the internet matures. Right?
TERRY: I hope so. I hope so. Okay, Kurt, thank you once again. And have a great day there.