Today is a very special episode dedicated to a very special personal, my father, who recently passed away at the age of 93. By sharing his life story, not only will you better understand my DNA as an educator and entrepreneur, but you will learn how to take the same holistic approach like I do to influencer marketing so that you can find influential collaborators and distributors that can help you scale your business to the next level.
[01:30] The Concept of Influencer Marketing Before The Internet
[02:52] My Father's Life
[03:52] My Father's Teaching Career
[05:05] How Frank Schaffer Was Launched
[07:33] We All Develop Differently
[08:32] Creating Products That Serves Needs
So I know that a lot of you have gone through hard times as well. My message for you is really before I move on to my educational piece for this podcast, is to hug your loved ones, FaceTime your parents think positive thoughts, and take advantage of every day we have on this earth.
Reminds me of whether it's social media marketing or digital marketing or influencer marketing. You know, we as professionals, as businesses, as entrepreneurs, as small business owners, we all develop differently based on our experience, those that are, have been doing this for a while, develop quicker, those that are new readers, or that are new, are going to develop slower. But the fact of the matter is that you're all going to develop.
This is the maximize your social influence podcast with Neal Schaffer, where I help sales and marketing professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners, build, leverage and monetize their influence in digital and social media. Hello, friends, welcome to episode number 157 of the maximize your social influence podcast. It has been two weeks since my last podcast, my sincere apologies. But this episode is going to be a very special episode for a few reasons. But sometimes, and I have a podcast that in blogged about this in the past, sometimes the script just goes out the window. I think for those of you that listen to my interview with Mark Schaefer, you know, we intended to talk about influencer marketing. And we ended up talking about COVID-19. I intended to podcast last week, but a very, very special person in my life, my father, passed away at the age of 93, have already received a lot of well wishes from people on social media. And I thank you all for that it has obviously not been easy. And it made sense as we do in many religions to just take time off. And really spend time with my family, which is my 92 year old mother, who married my father when she was 19. And they ended up being wed for 73 years. So I'm going to talk a little bit about my father. But I'm also going to talk about the concepts behind influencer marketing that existed before the internet, the very first chapter of my book, The Age of influence talks about this history. But I think when you hear the story of my father who was a successful entrepreneur, it will give you some further ideas as to who are the influencers in whatever ecosystem you're trying to influence. And therefore what sorts of relationships you can have with them, which really is the heart and soul of influencer marketing. So first of all, I know I'm going to get a little personal here, I am not, I mean, I am a company, but the company is me. I am a brand. And therefore, you know, I want to share this with you, I want you to understand, you know who I am and where I came from, and what drives me to do what I do. So, you know, I want to thank those again for their support. I'm actually going to read off the posts that I made on my personal Facebook profile, which I did the day after my father passed away. And I think it really encompasses a lot of the grief I had at the immediate time but also a lot of the story about my father. So by the way, for those of you wondering my father passed away from natural causes, it was not related to Coronavirus whatsoever. He was 93 lived an amazing life. But you know, my father was not just a father but also a friend and a true inspiration that will continue to be my compass, and a guiding light for all of his children and grandchildren. He lived an amazing life that included growing up in depression air in New York City being sent to world war two missing action at the Battle of the Bulge, which he probably wouldn't have survived by a mere month, winning a lot of straws in his platoon to go to Paris one weekend. And witnessing V Day or when Europe was liberated day there when he was hoisted on the shoulders of prisons and marched down the chumps dilla ze returning back to the United States after VE Day and preparing to be sent to a place called Okinawa. When the war abruptly ended, he took advantage of the amazing GI bill that the United States had at the time, which allowed anybody that served in the armed forces to get free university education ended up getting a masters of education at New York University. And then he moved out to California which was growing in the 1950s specializing in helping elementary school age students who were struggling with reading. Then, after working in a few different locations in California, there was a new school district opening up in the suburbs of Los Angeles place called Palace verdades is specifically the palace for this peninsula Unified School District where he ended up teaching from 1959 became a long standing teacher at one particular elementary school called Lunada Bay and back in 1972. And I was born at the time I still remember. He created his first educational resource. So he was a teacher. And he never liked the textbooks that the administration gave him. So he would create his own resources to better help his students learn and other teachers would often borrow those resources. So he ended up creating his first book, I guess you could say self published author called Fun and games with reading. He brought him up to the California Teachers conference one weekend he created 200 copies, and he sold out. And that is really how Frank Schaefer publications, which is the name of my dad's company was launched and succeeded in the 1970s and 80s. It ended up rivaling scholastic and all the major publishers that maybe your kids have textbooks from, for market place in the elementary school aged educational resource market, I would have other teachers like teachers that I met on on airplane trips or wherever. When I mentioned that I was Frank Schaffer son, they would tell me how much of a fan they were on my dad's work. And I know that he helped inspire teachers and made learning fun for millions of students. Even now, sometimes my kids would take home worksheets that still had the Frank Shaffer publications logo on them. So when I tell people I meet that I have the DNA of both an educator and an entrepreneur, you can see how much my father has influenced my life. I try not to be sad today, because I know of how many lives my father positively touched, and how I am thankful for the many years of memories he created, that will be imprinted forever in my heart. That being said, what made me most cry today. And this is social media. Were the posts on Instagram from his grandchildren, telling him how much he meant to them. I know he loved his children and grandchildren very much. This is the era of Coronavirus. So it was a very, very strange funeral and that it was actually broadcast over zoom, because we couldn't physically be there at the funeral. So I know that a lot of you have gone through hard times as well. My message for you is really before I move on to my educational piece for this podcast, is to hug your loved ones, FaceTime your parents think positive thoughts, and take advantage of every day we have on this earth. So you know, getting back to my father, it's really funny. Two things I wanted to talk about in this podcast before I talk about the influencer marketing piece. My dad always said that he worked with children that had learning disabilities, and specifically reading disabilities. And he said, you know, Neil, I'd have, you know, mothers reach out to me, and the principal reached out to me, and he ended up having classes. And these were kids that were maybe four or five, six years old, he ended up having classes that were like 90% Boys, and he goes, Neil boys, just mature later than girls. So a lot of parents just freak out. And they think their kid has a reading disability, when in fact, they just need more time to develop more time to mature. And he was able to successfully teach the children that people thought they had problems, when in many cases, they didn't really have a problem other than they develop a little bit slower than other children. And it just, you know, reminds me of whether it's social media marketing or digital marketing or influencer marketing. You know, we as professionals, as businesses, as entrepreneurs, as small business owners, we all develop differently based on our experience, those that are, have been doing this for a while, develop quicker, those that are new readers, or that are new, are going to develop slower. But the fact of the matter is that you're all going to develop. And if you were to spend a little bit more time in my dad's class, two hours per day and sort of one hour per day, you're obviously going to develop quicker. So you're never too old to learn any of this. And you're never too late to learn any of this. And this is my message, you can go back, if you have the time, go back, listen to my other podcasts, you know, read the age of influence, there is nothing holding you back from taking advantage regardless of age or experience of anything I talked about. But I want to get to that influencer marketing piece because as a small business owner, as an entrepreneur, like my dad was, he had an idea. He created these resources that other teachers liked. So he knew he knew he was serving a need, he was serving a pain point. And that's there must be a way to create this content and sell it. Now, like I said, this is before the internet. But he mapped out the industry, right? He knew that as a small guy, he would never be able to sell into the big Unified School Districts that are served by the big publishers who have dedicated sales reps. He was an army of one. But when he created that first book, and part of what he did was he used illustrations in the book, he made it fun for kids. He included cute animals that help kids with math, or with writing over the reading. These have become very common today. But as he grew his company and wrote a second book, and decided at some point to actually quit his nine to five job like many of you probably have done and to go full time into this, he realized a few things. Number one, he could write the content on himself, or he could tap in to other influencers in the industry. And my dad was very successful at doing this tapping into other content creators, whether it was for their artwork, which allowed them to scale. You might consider that sort of UGC or user generated content, but he also tapped in other teachers. He He brought on to help write textbooks for him. The company had his name on it. Every textbook didn't have to have their name on it. So he created great relationships with content creators that had the same mission as him that also aligned with his values and his his way of teaching. And he found many teachers wanted to join forces. So this is how part of the story of how his, you know, textbook Empire grew this notion about collaboration with influencers. He really took it to another step when he ended up launching seminars, these are seminars for teachers workshops, and she ended up becoming a friend and family. But one woman in particular, and she told me the story after my dad passed, reached out to him and said, You know what, I am a writer of textbooks. This is an influencer pitch. Basically, I'm a writer of textbooks. And I also do seminars and workshops, and I'm very successful, I can fill the room. And if I can work with the right publisher, we can make a great win win relationship. My dad ended up collaborating with her in launching a new line of friendship publication, seminars and workshops, that ended up delivering even more value to his customers, the teachers, and obviously, generating a lot more revenue, creating multiple revenue streams, my father ended up creating his own magazine for elementary school teachers called classmates kept creating flashcards and all sorts of different content mediums that allowed him to further monetize ended up creating a very, very large company. Now, the other aspect, this is sort of the influencer collaboration piece. But the other piece is, well, you know, how do I get the word out to my market, if I have this great content, he went to, you know, a conference is very old school, but he could still work today. I know of many, you know, tool vendors that I see at a Social Media Marketing World or at a content marketing conference, that are selling their wares. And that's great. But he realized that he needed to get his books into the hands of the people that would most appreciate them. Those were the teachers. Right? So he not only had to do that, but he realized that how do teachers buy content now today, you have Teachers Helping Teachers, this is before Teachers Helping Teachers. So my father, you know, might have been a pioneer in that movement. That book has yet to be written yet. But what he did was he realized that there were school supplies, stores, stores, like Lake Shore, back then they were a lot more popular. And because teachers couldn't just download stuff off the internet like they do today. And he realized that by making friends with what you might call affiliate marketers, you know, this is all part of the ecosystem by making relationships not with Unified School Districts, but with those school supply stores, where teachers tended to buy from, and by tapping into teachers brand affinity for my dad's company, and going bottom up to convince school districts to purchase his textbooks, that would be a more logical way. So treating teachers because of word of mouth is micro influencers, and treating school supply stores as macro influencers. And I know that some of my brothers helped do this, they would do a cross country trip when they graduated from high school, and just spend the entire summer visiting school supply stores. My father, whenever he went to a convention every throughout the year, he would be visiting school supply stores, and developing relationships with the owners, and listening to the needs of the teachers and providing products providing advice. Sure, providing discounts were necessary, but really leveraging them as the influencers they were and helping these school supply stores be successful, through all the different products that my father could provide them. And that is the story of friendship for publications. I think most importantly, and my father's accountants, who has helped me with my business as well, has always told me, Neil, the way that your father grew his business. So I talked about collaborating with content creators and influencers. I talked about his own influencer marketing strategy. But how he did this, if we get down to basics, right. And for those entrepreneurs and small business owners, I think you'll be able to nod. He hired other people so that he could scale. You can't grow a business if you're not scaling. And that's one of the key takeaways. Out of everything here. He ended up collaborating with influencers which helped him scale. He ended up trying to engage with influencers who could help scale his distribution. Obviously, he had to hire people over time, but you need to utilize resources around if you don't want to hire people. It's all about collaboration, and it's all about collaborating with influencers of different types, whether it's a The content creation type, or whether it is of the distribution type that can really help scale your business and become a leader from nothing in a short amount of time. Now, when my father's businesses before the internet took a little bit more time for word of mouth to spread, so it took several years that can be accelerated today, I believe, with the internet, I think we've seen that happen with so many startups out there. So I didn't want my this podcast episode is very, very personal. But I wanted to share the story and the message. And I do believe that serving your community, and collaborating with influencers, and scaling your business, and being successful is a natural combination that has been around before the internet, sometimes with digital media, with social media, we get lost in the technology and the tools. But if we take a step back and really look at this holistically, as I always like to do with business, it opens up other thoughts, other ideas, other avenues that we can go down to find marketing, and therefore, business success. Wow, this was a hard episode to record not as, not as hard as I thought it was going to be. And maybe that's just because I really wanted to share this story and, and really get this out into the world so that you better understand me. But you also understand the message. And it's funny because, you know, I always refer back to that Steve Jobs, connect the dots, video that he spoke to the graduating class at Stanford University, connect the dots of your past. And you'll find out who you are, and it maps out your future. And that little piece about influencer marketing, my father is something that I was not able to connect the dots, unfortunately, until after he passed away. I wish I could have had this conversation with him before then. But hopefully some of my brothers and maybe some of you are teachers or have relatives that are teachers, you can ask them if they knew Frank Schaffer. Yeah, hey, that's all for today. I like I said this was a very special episode, programming as normal will be resumed. And I sort of move on always with my father in my heart and as my guiding light in helping businesses and in helping you all, I also for those of you that have purchased the age of influence and posted a review on Amazon, I want to thank you. A lot of people have asked Neil, how can I help you that is the number one way in which you can help me if you find value at all from this podcast. I really hope you'll pick up a copy. And you'll go out of your way to write a review, assuming that you find the book to be recommendable. And as another reminder, I hope if you haven't already, you'll subscribe to the podcast. And feel free to write a review if you'd like to share it with your friends. All right, everybody. Well, the story has been told. Life goes on, we move on. And we grow and we help those around us grow. And once again, Please hug your loved ones. If you haven't talked to your parents in a while, set up FaceTime God and see them or meet them outside if they live in a senior living facility where they may be off limits. But I hope that you'll take my advice to heart and love you all. We'll talk again next week. Bye bye ready?