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Author of Smarter. Faster. Cheaper, the host of The Rise to the Top

David Siteman Garland

David Siteman Garland is the author of Smarter. Faster. Cheaper, the host of The Rise to the Top, and a consultant and speaker. David’s show is termed as “The #1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business” and can be seen on his website ( and on ABC.

1. In your book, you talk about out-smarting your competition as opposed to out-spending them. You say there’s a big shift in how marketing is done effectively now as opposed to years before. Can you tell us more about that and why it’s such a powerful concept?

So there is this Internet thing…perhaps you have heard of it (*wink*). Seriously, though out-spending is a losing game especially if you are a small company. That is how so many traditional media sources were built. If the car dealer down the road advertised, then you felt you needed to advertise or be left behind. But now, the barriers to successful marketing have crumbled and the Internet has evolved to be one of the greatest places where you can DIYDS (Do It Your Damn Self). You don’t need to be a tech genius or have an advertising degree to hop on the opportunity.

2. How big has writing a book been for you in terms of generating income and creating new business opportunities for you?

Great question. A secret (that isn’t so secret) is that writing a book “for the money” is a quick route to failure. Books are about spreading ideas. I was fortunate to get a decent advance on my book and it is sort of “me in book form” which means I’ve been introduced to more people, more people have watched the show and it has led to all kinds of interesting opportunities including one with a search engine that rhymes with Moogle.

3. You are a consultant, speaker, writer, and you run The Rise to the Top show. How do you manage to stay on top of all of these and currently which is your biggest focus?

Honestly, I really don’t stay on top of all of them. My focus and passion is on interviews and the show. That is where I like to be and that is what I enjoy doing the most overall. It doesn’t mean I DON’T enjoy the other activities, but I feel like I’m best as an interviewer and storyteller with an ability to connect with guests and bring out the best in them. And that is what I spend most of my time doing and I’m happy as a clam.

4. You’ve been featured in a lot of press and media. Can you offer a few tips to other consultants and business owners that want to get themselves or their clients more media coverage?

Sure, the key is to think bigger than your product or service. Normally the big mistake with media is two-fold:

  1. You brag about your product/service and nobody cares.
  2. You send out (or hire someone to send out) a bunch of random press releases.

As opposed to products, think instead about the topics you are super comfortable speaking on and bring a unique perspective. The media wants sources and not product pushers.
Second, media are people too. And if you have a relationship with them, good things happen. Treat everyone as an individual, actually read/watch their stuff, comment, send them nice emails, refer OTHER people to them. This will position you as a trusted resource and solidify relationships.

5. If we can dig a bit deeper into press and media, what’s the process that you use to pitch your story or idea to TV stations and journalists? Do you do this all yourself or do you use a PR firm or publicist?

Myself with a twist. I don’t have a PR firm. But I have friends in PR who have helped out before and I’m grateful for that. When doing it myself, I try to form a relationship with reporters before I ask for anything. Perhaps I forward them a story they might like. Or comment on their blog. Or retweet something they did on Twitter. I get on the radar screen by being helpful. And then, when the time is right, I might approach with an idea. It could be a few months or heck even a year later. It takes time.

6. You’ve spoken with many successful business owners and entrepreneurs from around the world. Are there any attributes or characteristics that you see in common with successful people?

Definitely. I’ve been fortunate to interview some of the most unique and successful people in the world and have learned a lot. The funny thing is, a lot of the cliché characteristics we often hear about are true. One of the big ones is resilience and willingness to adapt. Sort of like a linebacker in football, the most successful people read and react without dwelling on failures but learning from them. I’ve yet to talk to ANYONE who said they had a plan, executed it, it was easy and everything went just as they expected. It doesn’t work like that. And the other big one is passion. And passion comes in many forms. It might be a passion about a product. Or a lifestyle. Or a specific activity like “writing” but it is always there. Some are more overt, other passions are sneakier, but trust me every time they are lurking around successful people.

7. What do you believe is the biggest mistake or danger that most people going into business face?

A key mistake is focusing on just a “good idea” as opposed to something you really WANT to do. Meaning, it might be a “good idea” to open a marketing firm in your area focusing on apps and I’m sure it can make a lot of money. But, if you really want to teach guitar lessons, damn it, focus on that unapologetically.

8. David, what’s your take on work-life balance? Does such a thing exist…and do you have one in your own eyes?

It is always a bit tricky for an entrepreneur, but I don’t see it as a balance. I see it as crafting my business and life as I want it. I’m a HUGE family first person. I live in St. Louis to be close to family and spend lots of time with them and my fiancée of course. I also love sports, theatre, great meals and conversation, and fitness. I make my business fit me as opposed to the other way around.

9. What are your favourite gadgets or apps that help you stay productive and organized?

I actually don’t use a ton. I’m a mac person. I have multiple computers (one just for video rendering), Ipad, Iphone, all that jazz. I don’t use a ton of productivity software. .I do, however, have amazing virtual assistants who keep my butt in line. They master the software so I don’t have to.


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6 thoughts on “Author of Smarter. Faster. Cheaper, the host of The Rise to the Top

  1. Really great interview! Point on making the schedule around you is great.

  2. Shana says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve had scucess with the publicity approach David has outlined. Building the relationship is very much key.

    • David – right on! Thanks so much for doing the interview a real pleasure and much appreciated.

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