In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Keith O’Brien, opens up about the hustle of an Amazon entrepreneur. Keith is the founder, and CEO of Page One, a full-service Amazon agency.
Entrepreneurship is all about the ups and downs of the journey. The important thing is business, though, is to learn from the downs, learn from your mistakes, and use them as pivot points to get you to your next goal. Yoni Mazor of Prime Talk looks at how you can use your negative experiences and turn them into positives.
In today’s episode, Prime Talk has teamed up with Keith O’Brien, the founder, and CEO of Page One, a full-service agency serving Amazon sellers. Page One is a team of Amazon experts who can help sellers to increase sales, reduce costs, and lead the competition. They offer a variety of services designed to optimize your brand or line including photography, listing optimization, A+ content design, and PPC management.
Keith O’Brien shares his journey from door-to-door salesman to non-profit organization creator, to the founder of Page One. So if you’re an Amazon seller who needs a little bit of help optimizing your brand or understanding your PPC, then this episode is for you.
Learn more about Page One!
Learn more about GETIDA’s Amazon reimbursement solution software
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today I have a special guest. I’m having Keith O’Brien. Keith is the founder and CEO of Page One, which is a full service Amazon agency. Keith, welcome to the show.
Keith O’Brien 0:20
Hey, thanks so much for having me, Yoni.
Yoni Mazor 0:22
Our pleasure, really. Um, where are you located? Where are you based out of?
Keith O’Brien 0:26
I am as we are speaking now, I’ll date this one July 1 right, we are three and a bit months into quarantine here, so I’m coming from my house which is in Fort Lauderdale. We have had most of the staff outside of the studio and offices since like middle March.
Yoni Mazor 0:48
So Fort Lauderdale, Florida and most of the team is in Florida or they’re scattered all over the world?
Keith O’Brien 0:53
We have…our core team is here in South Florida spread out between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and everywhere in between. We have a few remote workers. Our business development specialists just relocated to Vegas from LA. So and, you know, that core team manages a pretty decent sized group of outsourced workers as well.
Yoni Mazor 1:15
Got it. Alright, so I hope really everybody’s gonna keep safe and healthy. Today, the episode is gonna be basically about you: the story of Keith O’Brien, so you’re going to share with us, you know, who are you? Where are you from? Where did you go to school? How did you begin your professional career? So without further ado, let’s just jump right into it.
Keith O’Brien 1:33
Oh, you’re trying to repel listeners, I guess, right? With that sort of content?
Yoni Mazor 1:38
Yeah, China knows a lot of bugs out there so we gotta find the best repellent right?
Keith O’Brien 1:42
We got our time. Alright. Let’s jump in. So where should I start, background?
Yoni Mazor 1:51
Where’d you grow up? Where are you from?
Keith O’Brien 1:53
Sure. So I grew up, I was born outside of Pittsburgh, north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I lived there until I was about five, moved to a suburb outside of Chicago. And then my father got relocated in the middle of high school, my high school, not his high school, my high school. So I moved down to Texas, literally right on the border of Mexico for my last two years of high school.
Yoni Mazor 2:23
Tiquana is it?
Keith O’Brien 2:24
Ah no, Tijuana is south of San Diego.
Yoni Mazor 2:27
Oh sorry, yeah yeah. So what’s the border in the..?
Keith O’Brien 2:31
US and Mexico share a long border right?
Yoni Mazor 2:34
Yeah, I just saw something about Mexico. What was it? Yeah, that anyways. Well, when What’s the name of the town over there in Texas, the border town?
Keith O’Brien 2:43
It’s a little known border town called Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila. But this is kind of one of the main areas for what’s called twin plants. So they’re in Spanish, it’s maquiladora. So you have…generally have a US distribution center. But and then right across the border is their manufacturing facility.
Yoni Mazor 3:06
Yeah, today it’s actually, for sellers out there, it’s a good way to save a lot of costs. You can manufacture there or import there and bring it through customs. I know there’s a whole gig right now with reducing costs for Amazon sellers to do private label who they imported through Mexico. I know there’s a whole trail like that.
Keith O’Brien 3:21
Companies have been doing it for decades, right? So my father would go over the border every day, manage the manufacturing facility, come back at night, but literally, from my front door to the border was 10 minutes.
Yoni Mazor 3:37
Wow. Listen, I used to live in Detroit. And it was, you know, right on the border with Canada. And it’s always nice to have another country right next door.
Keith O’Brien 3:44
Yeah, yeah. I mean, for a teenager to be able to…10 minutes and being in a legal drinking age of 15 it’s probably not the best thing…But it was fun anyway.
Yoni Mazor 4:00
Yeah. All right. Good. So that’s where you graduate high school by the way?
Keith O’Brien 4:06
That is. That is and it wasn’t my favorite place in the world to live, especially coming out of Chicago. So I applied for university, like I was always…How do I put that? So as always good in school. I wouldn’t say I was a good student. I always maintained pretty decent grades. But it wasn’t…I didn’t love it right? So I was always the kid in class who asked, excuse me, what are we going to use this information for after so I applied to universities, literally 100% by location, you know, I applied to San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara, Colorado State, Florida State…pretty well spread out by places and things that I’d like to do. So I ended up going to school in San Diego. For a couple of years. I left midway my sophomore year and started my first business.
Yoni Mazor 5:04
So you were what year, what age were you when you actually did that pivot? Alright, so did a few years in college, aged 20. Boom, let’s let’s take us there. What was that moment? Well, what was happening?
Keith O’Brien 5:17
Oh, look, I mean, my first business track was in network marketing. I, you know, I drank the Kool Aid big time at a meeting and you know, I wouldn’t say financially it was I mean, it was backwards. I mean, I was 22. I was $35,000 in the hole.
Yoni Mazor 5:37
Oh, that you already took us two years afterwards and the outcome, the outcome was it put you in the hole. After two years, you had a hole in your pocket?
Keith O’Brien 5:44
Look, I think like a lot of people, you know, network marketing is one of those things where it’s really tough…
Yoni Mazor 5:51
What is that by the way? Yeah, touch that for a moment. What is that network marketing?
Keith O’Brien 5:54
Network marketing, multi level marketing…
Yoni Mazor 5:56
Oh multi level marketing…got it.
Keith O’Brien 5:57
You know pyramid schemes? Right?
Yoni Mazor 5:59
Yeah. So Herbalife, what was the…what was like the brand that year?
Keith O’Brien 6:03
This was a company called Equinox, which, you know, was back, you know, just before it started, it was for a couple years, it was the fastest growing privately held company in America. I think the founder actually ended up going to jail. Yeah, so it was one of those stories, but I, you know, look, I mean, network marketing this industry has a draw, you can, you can start a business for not a lot of money. And, you know, a lot..like Amazon, a lot of the hard parts of running a business are kind of done for you, you know, you’ve got a manufacturer, you just have to sell and build a team. So it’s a lot of similarities to product sales, in that, you know, Amazon takes a lot of the heavy lifting off of the business owner, right. Running a traditional real business, even in commerce is way more complex. I don’t really network marketing to me is not a real business.
Yoni Mazor 6:59
Yeah, it’s a first into business. It’s for many, many entrepreneurs, especially the serial entrepreneurs. It wasn’t a successful attempt, but nevertheless, the lessons learned are golden, and they usually bring the fruits later on. But let’s..take us to the year also your 20-22 but what year is that? What era? Like?
Keith O’Brien 7:17
Oh, God, I’ve got you probably by double. I graduated high school in 1990. So that would have been 91-92-93-94 era then.
Yoni Mazor 7:27
Oh I didn’t realize that MLMs were that, uh, you know, there..was there so early on. It’s interesting.
Keith O’Brien 7:32
I think Amway started in the 60s.
Yoni Mazor 7:35
Oh yeah, that I know, also, there’s a beautiful one, I forgot the name there.
Keith O’Brien 7:39
Mary Kay, Avon? They’re all…
Yoni Mazor 7:41
Avon. I think that Avon also has a good legacy. Okay, so you’re in early 90s, 22 years old? What was the next station?
Keith O’Brien 7:48
So I moved out to…sometimes you just need to change the scenery. Right? I moved from San Diego to Atlanta. And, you know, honestly went back in and got a job, right? And I was in sales. I was a young kid. I was like, 22. And I will tell you, with my unsuccessful career in network marketing, I did learn how to sell, right? And I learned how to…
Yoni Mazor 8:16
Extremely valuable. Yeah, build relationships. For sure. It’s, it’s…
Keith O’Brien 8:19
Yeah, I learned how to build relationships. I learned how to do this. I also, you know, one of the things I did in college was during the summer before I left, is I worked with this door to door environmental campaign. So it was like, everyone’s heard of Greenpeace, this was like the other side. This was called Perg. And they lobbied to get laws changed and things like that. Whereas Greenpeace would like chains, chained themselves to ships and stuff, you know, that from happening these guys.
Yoni Mazor 8:48
That’s more guerrilla marketing, I would say.
Keith O’Brien 8:51
Yeah well these were political right? But I raised money door to door for an entire summer.
Yoni Mazor 8:55
Wow, that’s great. That’s really good.
Keith O’Brien 8:56
I was standing at the door front, right in front of your potential customer and having to tell a story to engage somebody enough to do something that they literally were not thinking of doing five minutes before. And it’s not coercion, it’s just connection, right? And anyway, so…
Yoni Mazor 9:15
So you took that to Atlanta to your job. Well, what was your job? What were you selling?
Keith O’Brien 9:20
Ironically, I ended up selling off site timeshare, right? So now I felt like a total loser right. I went from network marketing to timeshare sales, which is another one of these industries, but I was 22 years old. I didn’t know anything about it right?
Yoni Mazor 9:36
First of all, you got to make a living. Second of all salespeople, usually for the most part, they’re agnostic you give them let them sell a good one at least you can sell anything you can sell an ice to an Eskimo and every every sales pitch respected salesperson, so yeah, I just showed that.
Keith O’Brien 9:51
The thing about it though, was I was never that guy. Like I couldn’t do ice to an Eskimo. I couldn’t. I never was good at representing something that I didn’t believe in. I couldn’t just fake it. It just wasn’t in my DNA.
Yoni Mazor 10:03
So how many years were you doing that position?
Keith O’Brien 10:05
I only did it for like eight months. But that’s really where I learned, you know, some really technical sales ability. But what happened was like, I didn’t know anything about it, I got the pitch, I learned about it. And the pitch of timeshare sounds amazing, you know? You buy this unit somewhere and then you can basically travel almost unlimited for the rest of your life and you own this little deeded property. And then, you know, as I did it for a while, I learned that people really didn’t figure out how to use it well, and it wasn’t necessarily the industry’s fault. Well, it was right. So people got sold this thing, then they didn’t figure out how to people I really understood like that.
Yoni Mazor 10:48
So the idea was good, but the actual execution had some bumps. So which created this chord with usability.
Keith O’Brien 10:55
I literally remember this like as a 20 year old kid, I sit down with my boss, and I said, you know, look, I’m really questioning the value of what we’re doing. Right? Like, I’m having fun. I’m making some money, but I’m really questioning the value. And he didn’t miss a beat. He’s like, well, it was a nice run. Thanks so much for being here. Like literally no questions.
Yoni Mazor 11:16
Wow. That is very dramatic.
Yoni Mazor 11:19
Yeah, no questions, but he’s like, Look, wherever your heads at, your ass is gonna fall. You know? So, you know, he went through the like, these are things that I’ll remember to this day. And it was for me, you know, he didn’t want to have to talk me in or convince me of anything. He knew that it was there’s time better spent for him. finding someone that was aligned with what they were doing.
Yoni Mazor 11:45
Right, their soul was into it. Yeah. So the moment he saw your soul was not into the game? Yeah, thank you for your time, you know, you can move on. So what was the next station?
Keith O’Brien 11:52
So I did a couple of years in a health club, right? So I worked at a very large center, fitness center. This was a health and racquet Club in Atlanta. And, you know, what was interesting is like, if you had a 10% closing rate in timeshare, you made a fortune, it was a great, you know, a great job. In the health club business people are coming in looking to get fit. You know, I think I average like a 45%, you know?
Yoni Mazor 12:25
Keith O’Brien 12:26
Yeah. So it was very, very different, very different. And, like, I just utilized, you know, some strategies. And and, you know, most of what I learned in sales is really asking good questions, right? And, you know, when you ask really good questions, people generally tell you what it is, and, you know, relating back into the Amazon business, these are things that, like, if you ask the right questions about who your customers are, it literally will give you 100, couldn’t give you 100% different way of actually getting in touch, you know, in front of them. And this is something that I find, you know, running agency, as most businesses don’t do well, really understanding who their customer is, so that they can tailor their marketing.
Yoni Mazor 13:10
Yeah, I think they call it the avatar, you build an avatar, which is your you know, profile of a client or clients because sometimes there’s a spectrum. And the more you know this avatar, the more you get closer to that avatar, you’re able to perform on the best and highest level. We’ll get to that e-commerce space, we’re not there yet. I want to get there. This is true. We gotta we gotta walk the trail of Keith until we get there.
Keith O’Brien 13:31
I did that for over a year. I think, you know, the city, we had six locations, there was about 100 sales people, I was still a kid, I was like, 23 and I think I was number two salesperson in the city out of the 100 or so. Look, what it did is it got me kind of back on track, I was able to pay off a bunch of debt back then you could go negotiate with creditors, like it was great, you know? So settled all that stuff, you know, and then you know, really got to kind of start clean. And at that point, I’d paid off all my bank debt and was making money, right? So had a little confidence. I, you know, kind of got my life back so to speak, and, you know, still relatively young.
Yoni Mazor 14:20
Yeah, you did in a few short years, you know, you’re you know, but this is a you know, 1,2,3 years you were able to regain your financial stability and I guess go a little bit of confidence. It’s a very important trait to know that I can take a hit go under, but come back early on in your 20s. So I think it’s very valuable
Yoni Mazor 14:39
And contrary to popular belief, you know, your credit does not take seven years to rebuild, right? Like, you know, that’s what everyone says but you know, I started off with a local bank, Wachovia, which was local to Atlanta.
Yoni Mazor 14:53
Now it’s Wells Fargo it got bought out…
Keith O’Brien 14:54
I think I started originally with First Union which then became Wachovia, but then became Wells Fargo. But you know, after, you know, a couple years of banking in the same place and, and, and building up your account, you know, you go and you talk to someone and someone can make something happen for you, you know. And so literally I think it took me two years once I’d paid off all the old stuff, two years of banking at the same place.
Yoni Mazor 15:19
So this is important, actually, this is a big thing to pull on, if you’re an entrepreneur listening out there, and maybe you’re in a bind right now financially, or whatever, from Keith’s experience, the journey is not that long, it’s not seven years, and he was able to do it, and I guess up to 24 months, which is great. I mean, if you’re down under, you know, fix yourself, create a trail to get out of it. And hopefully, we’ll be out of there soon and move on to the bigger targets that you have. So this is a great partner. Appreciate that. Okay, let’s, let’s move on with the next station.
Keith O’Brien 15:55
So I found, like there was…so there was things around like that network marketing industry that I thought were smart. And then there’s things that I really didn’t like. And so after I found another business where I was in the personal development space, right? So, you know, I think as an entrepreneur, and just as a thinker, like I’ve always gravitated towards, you know, success-minded content and information. And, you know, so I started that, you know, when I was a kid, the one great, one of the great things about network marketing is it, there’s a lot of that around the space. So it really got me in the habit of seeking books, materials, talks, seminars that I could go to, to better myself. And so I found a business actually, as an agent selling a line of courses and seminars. And so I started it part time when I was working at the Racquet Club, a couple months in, I turned a small investment into a profit and and then left, I went full time in that business and did it for about two and a half to three years.
Yoni Mazor 17:07
What’s the business model in a nutshell?
Keith O’Brien 17:09
Yeah, I was basically an independent distributor for…it was like, I was selling Tony Robbins stuff, right? So it wasn’t his stuff. But it was a different, you know, parent company. And we had a line of self-study courses that people did in the home, and then a series of live seminars.
Yoni Mazor 17:27
Yeah, to make it short, you were selling content that was focused on self-improvement for people. And you had some sort of distribution mechanism and rights, and you did fairly well with it for a few years. And which years is that? This is late 90s or already in the 2000s?
Keith O’Brien 17:41
Now, this would have been like mid 90s.
Yoni Mazor 17:44
Man, we’re gonna take a while till we get to 2020
Keith O’Brien 17:48
Yeah. So that look, I mean, I did a lot of things quickly, I didn’t know I had a lot of, you know, my early 20s, I was trying to find myself I was an entrepreneur, you know, back then, there was, you know, Amazon, you know, there were books, right, you know, back then and interesting in that business, that’s where I really where I really learned marketing. So I got into like, old school copying, you know, direct response copywriting. We learned how to generate leads through direct mail. As a matter of fact, back in the day. Direct mail, ironically, back then, was our number one highest return on investment for advertising. That was like the beginning of Internet Marketing. So I remember, like, literally buying, we didn’t do internet marketing, we did, spamming, you know? I mean, buying, like 10 million AOL email addresses back then. So it was a very, very different environment. But you know, I learned so much about direct response marketing at that time, you know, a message of how to get to a consumer directly and take that and turn it into action quickly. And that was, you know, fortunately, those lessons, I did well in the business, so I was getting paid to learn that stuff, as opposed to the old stuff where I just paid to learn.
Yoni Mazor 19:06
Right, this is great. This is this fundamental experience, early days of internet also, and it’s a good you’re that intersection point between, you know, the traditional mail marketing, traditional marketing and the early birth and beginning of online marketing. And now I’m curious to see what would be the next next station that allows you all the way to e commerce.
Keith O’Brien 19:27
We’re gonna get faster because the next project was a decade, but you wouldn’t get so like, I think what happened was you know, I had made some money in that business. And that was, that was a lot for being young, like I was, you know, you know, multiple six figures. I was still in my mid 20s. And, honestly, like, I just like, I hit…Like, I hit a point I think that most people don’t get till later, and I hit it kind of in my late 20s where I said, Okay, Not that I had mastered money by any stretch. But I had, you know, when I first started that business, the financial return was 100% the motivation, right? And I got to where that started a couple of years of good, you know, good revenue. And then like, I started asking myself, well, what’s next, right? What’s beyond this that is gonna help me get up in the morning?
Yoni Mazor 20:26
And that’s what I call the entrepreneurial bug. There’s a bug in the entrepreneurs that even if you conquer a peak on the mountain, you’re like, Whoa, I got to keep moving. I’m not staying even though it’s beautiful here, there’s a good landscape. What’s the next step? So yeah, you got that bug in you? And what happened?
Keith O’Brien 20:42
Well, yeah, and it’s so it wasn’t it was more of like, kind of like answering some internal questions like, what do I really…want impact do I really want to make? And, you know, beyond a business that makes money, what else do I want to do with that? So I didn’t see the path in the current business. So I started, I started writing. Actually, I started writing, you know, who do I want to work with? How do I want to impact them with? And it was really kind of a point where I wanted just to pump more meaning into the world, right? So. So I started an organization, I actually set it up as a charity called Future Point. And that…
Yoni Mazor 21:21
Yoni Mazor 21:22
Future Point. So I worked with middle school, high school and college students…really helping them figure out who they wanted to be in the world while they were figuring o