Can you believe that something as silly as a car made me a million bucks? What’s even funnier is that I don’t even own a car or drive…
So, how the heck did I make a million bucks from a Ferrari that I don’t even own? Well, I’ll get into that a bit later.
But first, let me go over an up-and-coming trend—lifestyle marketing—in which people are telling the world about their fancy lives. People are posting images of their multimillion-dollar homes, exotic cars, and extravagant watch collections all over the web.
When you see these images, what are some of the thoughts that come to your mind? Maybe you think the person posting them is a successful entrepreneur, a trust fund baby, or has the smarts, or maybe you think nothing of it.
I’ve never really tested lifestyle marketing in a public form because I don’t think money determines how successful a person is. For example, my mom is a teacher who never made much, but in my eyes, she is successful because she affected thousands of lives in a positive way.
But that still leaves the question: does lifestyle marketing help you make more money?
Although I hate spending money, other than to help others out, I’ve been testing and analyzing lifestyle marketing over the years. And the results are astonishing.
Here is what I learned:
As an entrepreneur, I worked so much that I was rarely home. And for that reason, I lived with my parents in Orange County till the age of 23.
When I moved, I rented an apartment in Seattle, across a drug park. The place was only 275 square feet, and the elevators smelled of urine. I actually didn’t mind living there because the location was convenient and the place was affordable.
Six months after I moved into the apartment, my buddy brought a real estate opportunity to me, which sounded like a good investment. It was for a condo in the Hyatt Hotel, in which the first 17 floors were occupied by hotel rooms and the floors above the 17th floor were occupied by condominiums.
I spent $420,000 on a one-bedroom condo, and the only reason I bought it was because my friend negotiated a great deal for me. I could sell my unit back to the developer within a 3-year period without losing any real estate fees.
This was a hedge because when I bought the condo in 2009, the economy was really bad, and I was worried the condo was going to be a losing proposition.
Luckily, its price went up, and I eventually sold it for a profit of $60,000 after real estate fees.
When I first moved into the hotel, word quickly spread, and I started to generate buzz. None of the buzz made me any money until CNN hit me up, asking if they could write a story about me.
I didn’t know what CNN was going to write or how the story would turn out, but I was told they would feature it on the homepage and link to my companies. For this reason, I was willing to roll the dice because in the worst case scenario, I would generate more awareness for my businesses.
CNN ended up releasing an articled called Dotcom millionaire who lives in a hotel. And boy did I receive a lot of hate for the article. The article generated 200 comments—most of them expressing hate towards my lifestyle and me.
But I was able to generate over 20,000 visitors to each of my corporate websites within a 24-hour period. From a revenue perspective, very few of those visitors converted into customers… The article itself drove only $26,513 in income.
I also claimed the address for the Hyatt Hotel in Seattle on Google Maps, which allowed me to get more traffic to my website. Within two years, however, Google removed me. The map listing didn’t drive any sales anyway.
Over the years, the home didn’t make me much money. I couldn’t pinpoint the reason. Maybe because it was in Seattle, or maybe because my place was small… or maybe having a decent home doesn’t help generate income.
About a year and half ago, I was flying to Las Vegas from Seattle, and my buddy asked me if I wanted to buy a condo in Las Vegas. I told him he was crazy because the Las Vegas real estate market isn’t doing very well.
He had a real estate opportunity with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. They had to sell some units in order to renegotiate their bank loan. He explained that he could get me a good deal that would make me money on the buy. So, I spent $1,760,000 on a condo at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
The situation was similar to the one in Seattle: I only bought the condo because I thought I could make money. Within months of purchasing it, I had the option of selling it for $2,200,000, but I didn’t take it because with the current development plans in Las Vegas, the home should go up to $2,600,000-$3,000,000 within the next three years.
I’ve never showcased my home online because I don’t care to show it off, but a lot of entrepreneurs know I live in the Mandarin Oriental.
And although the Mandarin Oriental is not a well-known brand in the US, entrepreneurs who tend to do a lot of business overseas are familiar with the brand as it is one of the top hotels in the US.
Within months after I moved there, a few well-known entrepreneurs were asking me about my business. They started to make remarks that I must be doing well as it isn’t cheap to live in the Mandarin Oriental… especially considering the homeowner dues are $3,000 a month.
As a frugal person, I never cared to live in a nice place. That’s why I didn’t mind living in a place that smelled like urine for six months. But I thought it would be a fun experiment to see if living in a luxurious building would help me make more money.
So, I decided to dump $230,000 into furniture and decor to portray the image of “being successful.”
Luckily, the place has been financially beneficial, not just from a real estate perspective, but also from a business standpoint.
A lot of the people who live in Mandarin Oriental are entrepreneurs. Just through a few elevator conversations, I’ve been able to meet a lot of successful people. From a hedge fund manager who is worth a few hundred million dollars to an Internet entrepreneur who owns a site like eBay for outdoor sports, this home has led to some nice networking.
Because of this building, I have gained a couple of marketing contracts:
Not only did I gain $900,000 a year in income by living in a fancy building, but I also got introduced to a tax accountant by the owner of the outdoor sports site. The tax accountant knew unique legal ways to save money on taxes. That has resulted in a yearly tax savings of just over $296,000.
From a business standpoint, living in a building full of entrepreneurs has been rewarding. Assuming you enjoy networking and you know how to leverage connections, it can help you make more money.
I also learned that it doesn’t matter what your home looks like because no one really sees it. For that reason, I donated all my furniture and made my life quite minimalistic. For example, I have no furniture in my home other than the bedrooms. I now sit on the floor when I’m working or watching TV (yes, I know, I am a bit crazy).
The lesson I learned here is that if you live in an expensive enough building, it can present you with new opportunities. But you have to make sure it is a condominium complex and not an actual house.
If you live in a rich neighborhood, you don’t get to interact with your neighbors as often as you do if you live in a condo complex. Why? Because when you live in a home, the most interaction you get with your neighbors is typically waving to them while driving past them.
On the other hand, when you live in a condo complex, you see your neighbors while walking down the halls or in an elevator.
If you can’t afford to buy a home in a nice condo complex, you can always rent one and maybe even get a roommate or two. What I’ve found is that rent in these nice buildings is not much more than in a standard apartment, assuming you are willing to live with roommates.
As for lifestyle marketing, a few of my friends would post pictures of the view from their condos, but it didn’t help them from a business standpoint.
If you are planning on buying an upscale condo, it doesn’t hurt if other successful people live in your building as it can bring new opportunities for you.
Now that you know that fancy condos can help you make more money, let’s see if fancy watches help.
The first fancy watch I ever got was a gift. It was a Panerai watch, and a gentleman by the name of Lee Dodd gave it to me.
The watch cost around $6,000, and it was the best gift I ever got. And it’s not because I love watches but because it’s helped me close more business deals than any other gift someone has ever given me.
One of the first times I wore the watch I was walking through the old TechCrunch office in Atherton. As I was leaving, one of their writers asked me if I was wearing a Panerai watch. I acknowledged that I was, and that reporter became friends with me.
This helped me get stories out on TechCrunch, assuming the writer liked what I had to pitch, all because… he liked the watch I was wearing and his personal goal was to own the same watch.
Not only did that watch help generate press, but it also helped at meetings. Sitting across someone who is wearing the same watch brand as you are doesn’t hurt.
Now, I can’t say that the watch was the main reason I closed my business deals, but it did help with a few. So, as an experiment I decided to spend $28,000 on a watch that stood out a bit more.
I never really cared for the watch, but I was curious to see if it helped bring in business deals. As you can see from the image below, the watch stood out because it is shiny.
What I quickly learned is that the watch didn’t help me one bit in business. Why? Because it was too flashy. I was actually looked down upon by a few entrepreneurs, who made remarks that I should stick with classier watches.
The one thing I did learn is that wearing gold watches does attract people, but the wrong type of people. I noticed that it brought the attention of people who wanted me to teach them how to become rich without having to work hard.
Instead of throwing in the towel, I did some research and found that in the business community, the watch brand Patek Philippe was regarded favorably.
These are not flashy watches, but entrepreneurs who can spot them tend to be well off. I have no clue why, but that led me to spend $50,000 on a Patek even though I use my iPhone to see what time it is:
Within the first 30 days of wearing the watch to meetings, I generated no income from it. It seemed as if no one even noticed I had the watch. The trend continued onto the 90th day. The watch didn’t help me win one business deal.
Luckily, I kept wearing it, and on the 4th month, I met a 70-year-old Jewish man while having breakfast at a New York restaurant. We were both eating breakfast by ourselves, and he made a comment about me wearing a nice watch.
I asked if he would like to join me, and he accepted the offer. Within minutes, I learned that he was a Patek Philippe collector and owned over 20 of them. When I asked him what he did, he mentioned he owned a lot of the commercial real estate within New York City and Brooklyn.
After chatting for an hour, we traded contact information, and within a month I signed a contract with his company for $500,000 a year…all because he spotted my watch across the room and saw it as a sign of me being a successful entrepreneur.
Once I landed that contract, I thought: why not take things to the next level and spend $100,000 on a watch? So I bought:
It doesn’t look one bit fancy, and some of you may think it is ugly, but it’s rare for an entrepreneur to be wearing a $100,000 jewelry piece. Again, I don’t care for watches, and I wish people didn’t judge you based on what you wore, but I was curious to see if material objects can really help make you more money.
I haven’t closed any business deals because of the watch, but I have worn it to a few non-profit events. During one of the events, a private equity manager, who oversees $10 plus billion dollars, spotted my watch and struck up a conversation with me.
Within minutes, we traded contact information, and in the next two weeks, I am scheduled to pitch a $1,200,000 marketing contract to his firm. I will show him how I can help drive more sales to his large retail chain through conversion optimization.
The sad reality of the world we are living in is that people judge you based on what they can see.
If you are strapped for cash and you feel you can get yourself in the right business meetings, you can start off by buying a watch like a Panerai on eBay. Sometimes you can pick up one of these watches for $1,000 if you buy them used. Just make sure you don’t pick anything too flashy or filled with diamonds as some people may look down on it.
If you know me well, you know I’m a terrible driver. I’m not afraid of many things in life… but I am afraid of driving.
I’m such a bad driver that I drove one of my cars into another by reversing it out of the driveway. Since then, I’ve cut back on driving, and now I don’t own any cars.
Luckily for me, I have a few friends who enjoy collecting cars. Two of my friends have Lamborghinis. One of them is Tim Sykes, who recently gave up his car as he never really cared for it, but he milked it for years by posting pictures of it on Instagram and Facebook.
Can you guess how much revenue his Lamborghini has brought in? Over $1,000,000. He teaches people how to make money in the stock market, and he has generated over $91,000 in DVD sales and over $909,000 in training revenue due to the car.
That’s not too shabby. That’s why he continually flaunts his lifestyle even though he doesn’t care for it. It helps him generate more income. Heck, he does a lot of notable stuff each year like donating hundreds of thousands of dollars, but every time he showcases that, it doesn’t generate him even an extra $100 in revenue.
My buddy Mike Kamo experienced something similar as well. By showing pictures of his new Lamborghini, he received 107 Facebook friend requests from business owners. Out of those 107 requests, most people wanted him to give them money, but five were business inquires. Out of those five inquires, one is giving Mike equity in their business and a $50,000 fee for his advice.
The funny thing is Mike bought the car only because he knew he could resell it for a profit. He stumbled on the fact that he could generate income from the car once people started finding out that he owned a Lamborghini.
I myself also have generated income by posting an image of me in a Ferrari. A few years ago, my buddy took me to drive Ferraris around a race track. I didn’t care for it one bit… hence, I was only driving at 40 to 50 MPH, while everyone else was driving the cars in the 100+ MPH range.
I posted a picture of me sitting in the car years ago on Facebook. The image generated 193 likes, and over the years, exotic car dealerships have hit me up because they saw the image and assumed I liked fancy cars. Once these dealerships learned I did marketing, they asked me for help.
During the last quarter of 2012, all of 2013, and the first half of 2014, I had an arrangement with an exotic car company that owns 12 dealerships across the US to help them drive leads from the Internet in exchange for a percentage of each sale.
So far, I’ve collected $1,041,493 in commissions for sales I’ve helped generate. Not too bad for just posting a picture of me sitting in a Ferrari, especially considering I don’t own it.
Out of everything I’ve seen in the lifestyle marketing world, cars provide the best ROI. You can lease them or buy them used and quickly generate income from them.
The commitment isn’t too bad considering the dollar amount you can earn from the press. And if you are afraid of the commitment, you can always post pictures of a rental or a friend’s exotic car.
For example, one of Mike’s friends, Dhaval, posted a picture of himself in Mike’s car. Can you guess what happened next? A few people started to hit him up for some cash, but one professional athlete hired him to help with SEO. He is paying Dhaval $1,000 a month to help market his new athletic clothing line.
That’s not too bad considering the car isn’t even Dhaval’s.
If you are going to leverage lifestyle marketing, have fun with it. It does work, and you can generate income from it.
Just be careful, and don’t get caught up in the glitz and glamour. Material objects won’t make you happy in the long run, and you don’t want them to change who you are.
I still remember the day when my parents struggled to provide for my sister and me, which is why I have the fear of wasting money. And it is also the reason why I enjoy helping others versus spending money on material goods.
I don’t enjoy showing off or wasting money on things like watches. But the sad reality is people judge you based on what they see instead of your intellect and abilities.
So, what do you think about lifestyle marketing?