Behind the Scenes

Jonny How You Doin’: It’s The Right Time!

by Ezra Firestone



Video Highlights
0:10 When Ezra first moved to NY he played a lot of poker and was very good at it
0:45 But there was a game that he would go to where he just couldn’t win
1:40 The problem was that the players in the game were better than him
2:20 The right message at the right time
4:00 It’s all about timing!
4:40 It’s the right time to have an eCommerce business
5:50 Global eCommerce will double in the next three years!
6:30 We now have multi-data point contextual targeting
7:15 Our channels for visibility are only expanding, so there is more opportunity than ever

Click Here For Video Transcript

This is me when I was 19 years old, and I first moved to New York City. I used to play poker as a way to make money, and I was very, very, good at it. I was incredible. I had this innate ability to read people and just willingness to play. I was not afraid. I was not afraid to play. And so I got really good at poker. And for the first little while, I did really, really well. I started to do pretty bad at the end there. But I did really, really well, and there was a good period of time there where I just couldn’t lose. I could not lose a game. I would show up every night, and I would win, a couple hundred bucks in a poker game every night. So I felt invincible. You never feel like you really have something down. You have mastered this thing, and you are good at it. And that confidence actually carries you through, makes you better perform in whatever that thing is, because you believe in yourself. And I really believed in myself.

There was this game that I got invited to. And it was like this mafia-run poker game. I got invited by this gal who was a dealer, and you had to have like high stakes to play. And I would go there. And these guys have big wads of money and slicked back hair and gold chains. Big Italian guys, you had Vinnie the Limo, Sonny Franzese, Frankie Bananas, Paulie Tutone, Jimmy Cupcake, and all these guys. They actually had these names. I was Johny Howya Doin’, because I was really nervous. I was really young, and I’d just say, “How ya doin’? How ya doin’?” I’d just say it every time. Anytime I won a pot, “How ya doin’?” I just kept saying it, because that’s what they said. So they called me Johny Howya Doin’. But I couldn’t win at this game for the life of me, could not win at this poker game. And I couldn’t really figure out why. And so what I did was I decided that I would start . . . I read in a book by a guy called Barry Greenstein. He’s like a poker player. He wrote this book, and he said, “What you ought to do is show up late.”

After everyone’s been playing a while, after they’ve had a chance to lose some money, after they’re loose, and you’ll be fresh. So I’d go to sleep at 6 p.m. on Saturday night. I’d show up at 2 a.m., after these guys had all been drinking. And I would just clean up, because that was the right time for me to play at that game. It was the right time for me to be there. Timing is very important. And I’m going talk about timing in a second just now. And the truth of the matter was that they were better than me. That was the problem. I was not good enough to be playing in that game. But once they were drunk, I could play. So that was the right time for me to play in that game.

I have a skincare company. We have a skincare company. And it’s called Boom by Cindy Joseph. And I tell this story a lot when I’m on stage in relationship to eCommerce because it’s very,very relevant. So in America, in western society in general, the way that society views men and women is a little bit different. This is not my viewpoint. I don’t subscribe to these viewpoints. But this is the commonly held viewpoint in society, that men are valued for production. So as we make money, as we get older, as we produce more, we get more social power. We get more social value. We’re considered better, suave, debonair as we age.

Women are valued in society for youth and beauty. And as they get older, what society tells them is that this power that we have given you is diminishing. It’s going away. This experience that’s happening to you is bad. It’s fucked up. It’s wrong. Anti-age, anti-wrinkle. And so we have 80 million baby boomers in our society. Half of them are women. It’s the largest portion of our population. Half of them are women, and they’re all having the experience of their hair graying, their skin wrinkling, and their bodies aging on the outside faster than they are in the inside and society treating them differently as a result of it and telling them that this experience is bad and wrong.

And we don’t subscribe to that viewpoint. We think that’s not the way it is. We don’t think it works that way. We think that you get better as you age. And you are beautiful just as you are. And wrinkles are a sign of a good high-quality lived life and not something that you should necessarily try to avoid unless you want to.

And so my business partner and I created a skin care company, called Boom by Cindy Joseph. And the core value proposition is not the skincare. Yes, our skincare is high-quality. It’s all sheer. You can see right through it. It’s about celebrating you as you are. It’s not about covering yourself up. But the core value proposition of this business is the messaging. It’s you can be a part of a community of people who are having a conversation with you that no one else is really having with you. So anyways, the point is that this business took off really, really quickly. And it went really, really well. And it’s like soaring. And the reason is because it was the right time for that message. It was the right time for that message to that group of people. It was the right time for me to be playing poker. It’s the right time for you to be in an eCommerce business right now.

So where we are in the life cycle of eCommerce. When I got started online, 4% of transactions were done online in the United States. Of all transactions, 4% of them were done online. In the last six years, it’s doubled. eCommerce has doubled in the last six years in America, 8% of online transactions. There’s a book called “Crossing the Chasm.” And they talk about the technology adoption curve, more people adopting technology. They’re more willing to buy things on the Internet. They’re more willing to enter their credit card details in online. They’re not afraid of that.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to talk to you about the future of eCommerce and where things are going. And it might freak you out a little bit. It’s actually a good thing, and it’s cool. And it is wild where I see things going. And I’m really excited to share that with you. And it also has to do with why I think you should get off of Amazon when you can. I think you should maximize Amazon as much as you can to start and then move your business off of Amazon, which I’ll show you how to do. But I went to Amazon, the number one retailer in the world.

What they told us was that it’s going to double again. So by 2017, in the next three years, global eCommerce, global eCommerce, not just American eCommerce, will go from 1.25 trillion to 2.35 trillion, from 2014 to 2017. You are not too late. The piece of the pie is only getting bigger. There’s only more opportunity now. It’s actually easier to get started now than it was when I got started. I had to build a website on RTML, which was some language that only one guy in Russia knew. Seriously, I had to call this guy Esteban [SP] and get him to send me a book. It was crazy. But it’s a lot easier now. You’ve got technology. And it used to be that as an eCommerce retailer . . . Esteban was a cool dude by the way. As an eCommerce retailer, we only had query-based traffic. The difference is query-based traffic is what traditional eCommerce businesses are built on. It’s what Amazon businesses are built on. Someone goes to Amazon. They type in something. You show them something. They type in dog bowl, and you show them a dog bowl. That’s visibility for your offer based on a query. That used to be all we had.

Now, we have multi-data point contextual targeting. We have the ability to target people based on context super-effectively, which we’ll talk about in the next session. So our opportunity for getting in front of people, our channels of visibility, like my channel of visibility was the flea market, our channels for visibility are only expanding. And we’re of the very few people in this world who know how to take advantage of this. What’s going on over there, you guys taking notes?

Female: We’re just enjoying ourselves.

Johny: Okay, cool. That’s good. That’s what I want. That’s what I’ve asked of you is to have a good time. You’re doing great. That’s 3, 2, 1, give them some love. Nice.

So there’s more opportunity now than there has ever been before. Facebook, we went to Facebook. And Facebook, they’re actually really, really cool. Facebook is getting bad raps online, because they shut down all the drag queen profiles. My wife is in the circus, and there’s a whole thing. Anyways, there’s a lot of . . . It’s true. I won’t even get into the story. But what I will tell you is that you could not find a nicer company. You could not find more willing to help, wanting to serve, like cooler people than Facebook. And they get what’s going on. And they would like to support us eCommerce retailers. And one of the things that Jess and I will talk to you about later is something that we’re doing with their blessing that will help us all out. And it’s really cool.

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