Most businesses find it hard to keep up with the changing world. Super DJ and traditional business guy, DJ Lou K joins John Solleder to talk about the current status of traditional businesses of today. Lou has been in the entertainment field in the Baltimore DC marketplace for many years. Driven by the present-day situations, he finally ventured into network marketing. Listen in as Lou and John share their perspective on the things you have to keep in mind to play in the traditional business world.
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Finding Success In The Entertainment Industry Through Network Marketing With Lou K, Super DJ
It is my great pleasure to interview a good friend of mine for many years. He is a traditional business guy and he has been in the entertainment field in the Baltimore, DC marketplace for years. That is my good friend, Mr. Lou Kokkinakos. Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me, John. How are you?
I’m great. Lou, why don’t we start off by having you share a little bit about your career?
I have been in the entertainment industry for decades. It became a passion in college. I started off college to have a Corporate Communications degree. I joined the college radio station and, pretty much, the rest is history. I went to regular radio and have had a 30-plus year career. The nature of my business is entertainment for life’s most important celebrations, whether it has been corporate events, weddings, celebrity events, or sports events. I have done it all. As I say, my office has the best view. Happy clients and happy couples. It is a passion of mine to entertain.
I know you are producing a show for one of the Baltimore Ravens players right now, you have done some work for the Orioles, Washington Post, and many of the large corporate teams there in the DC Baltimore area. Am I missing any specific ones?
There are a lot of different ones. A lot of those clients, I’m going to let go under the radar because that’s the way they like to roll. You have to sign a lot of non-disclosures in this business and I totally respect that. That is one of the reasons why they use this a lot because a lot of people like to flaunt working with these companies, and I love doing my job.
I know one that we can mention is the show that you produce for Mr. Bowser, the linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. I call him mister because I’m too old to get hit by him. He hits like a freight train when I’m watching that guy play. What do you do for his show, exactly? You produce it, don’t you?You need to diversify your streams of income. Click To Tweet
He does a player show during the season and my company, my brother and I, produce that show. As hard as he hits, he is the nicest and sweetest guy you will ever meet.
Lou, you and I have been in a couple of little business ventures together over the years. One of the reasons I wanted to interview you was to get a perspective not only on network marketing but on traditional business. When you and I had that business together, every time I had to write checks for inventory, it was $12,500. It was always the magic number that we had to write for inventory for our vending business. We won’t tell what brand it was because we eventually sold the company. Because we did that together, I remember that.
You and I were talking the other day and you were coming back from a big transaction for your entertainment business. I forget the figure, but do you want to share it to give people a perspective on what traditional business is like in terms of the expenditures you have to make to play in the traditional business world?
I was talking to you and I got done writing a $70,000 check. That is not uncommon in my business. The inventory that you have to keep on hand is never-ending and it is always changing. What was popular last year does not mean it is popular this year. You constantly have to keep up with that inventory. You have to keep changing the gear from year to year, so it is very expensive. As you said in the business that we did, you have to have inventory on hand. That is an expense that in a traditional business, you certainly have to take into account when you take on a traditional business.
What happened in your case is not unlike others. I think of that expenditure and let’s say that had been in December 2019, for example. All of a sudden, a couple of months later, you had an incredible amount of cancellations in your business. Let’s set the table for a minute. Traditional business is all the time, whether it is a restaurant or food store. It makes these expenditures based on the predictability that the customers are going to continue to flow at a certain rate. In your business, tell what happened in the early parts of the pandemic.
Companies do a forecast of what equipment and what capital they need to get through that year for your upcoming business. As you alluded to at the beginning of 2020, when this pandemic hit, we had 42 cancellations in that first month. Brides and corporate events had to be postponed and canceled because you were not allowed to do events. It opened up a little and then you were able to do smaller events.
I’m very blessed that we do higher-end stuff and larger events but unfortunately, since we do events, we were not able to do any events at all because most of these venues were capped off at 150 per person. We were still able to do some events and it took my business to a screeching halt to have 42 cancellations in one month, and that kept on happening throughout the upcoming months. It makes you look at business a little differently.
We walked through it together and I know what you were going through. While that was happening to your business, my business was growing because everybody was at home and looking for a side hustle. We talked about this, “Maybe you ought to jump into this.” You thought this was temporary. Not knowing this was going to be a couple of years. Hopefully, as we speak, it is coming to an end, but who the heck knows. Along those lines, because you had been in traditional business, you have had friends like myself and other people that you know who have been in network marketing, so you have had a bird’s-eye view of some of our careers.
You looked at them and said, “I’m having a lot of success in what I’m doing so I don’t want to engage in network marketing.” Let’s face it. Every distraction is equal. You never did but now, because of everything that has happened, you have changed your worldview of our industry. A lot of other business people like yourself are having that same metamorphosis of saying, “My buddy down the street worked from home before this. Now, he continues to work from home. His business has grown and my business is not because of circumstances I have zero control over, unfortunately.” Talk about that a little bit.
You heard me on one end of the phone saying how everything is canceled and comes to a screeching halt. I’m listening to you saying the opposite and it gets you thinking that this could happen to me again. I’m very blessed that I have had a great business but our time is really changing to where this continued to happen to me. You have to look at those multiple streams of income. If you are being fair to yourself moving forward and realize that, “You can’t depend on the previous business you have because the world showed you that it could shut down at a given notice.”
For me to look at your business, you can do it from anywhere. My venues were closed but you don’t have to go to a venue. You can sit in your home. You can continue to conduct business and I could not go anywhere. You could go on vacation and still conduct your business. My business is very demanding and the hours that it is. My brother and I have a joke.
We work the “be” shift. We would be there to open. We would be there close. We would be there for everything in between. I have watched you for the many years that we have been friends. I have watched you do your business from the hockey rink, from Grace’s competitions, and you are able to do it from anywhere. That has always been envious to me that you have that time freedom. You can go on vacation and still do your business to where I’m very passionate about what I do and I love entertaining.What you put into something is what you're going to get out of it. Click To Tweet
My office has the best view and I enjoy doing that but I certainly understand that you must diversify your streams of income. To me, I think network marketing has evolved from the network marketing that people know of and from my first experience in network marketing years ago. I have been a systems guy. In my business, it is my brother and I. We have to share responsibilities and everything in our business. You have to find systems and automation in order to have your time efficiently. I have always been a systems guy and a process guy. I found certain systems that help with my marketing, my sales, and stuff of that nature. That has worked well for us.
I see that it has changed in the network marketing industry. It used to be the hotel room meetings and stuff of that nature. Now, we are on Zoom. You are in Dallas and I’m in Maryland. We can conduct business how many miles apart from one another. The industry has changed and there are a lot of great systems now with social media that you don’t have to bother many of your friends and relatives anymore. You certainly can find those like-minded people who are willing to get involved simply by using automated systems and social media.
It is funny that you say that because one of my guests, Randy Gage, talks about that all the time. Systematize everything you can and automate everything that you can. What is great about traditional business people like yourself is because you have been a sole proprietor and a partner with your brother and one business. There are still so many hours in a day. You still got to eat, sleep, exercise, have downtime, self-development time, and everything else. Everything that you can systematize and automate makes sense to do so. One of the great things when people like yourself get into network marketing is you understand that better than we do.
A lot of times in network marketing, especially if you are full-time, you think, “I have got all these hours up. I will do the call at 3:00 instead of 2:00. It is no big deal.” You can’t do that in traditional business. It is a different world and framework. It is great what we are talking about here. Let’s go one step further. We talked about overhead a little bit and the $70,000 check you had to write. Most of my people are network marketers. They have not written a $70,000 check probably for anything in their business ever, and they don’t need to. That is the great part.
To your further point, while we were talking over the last couple of years and I was pointing out to you that our business was growing well, or yours was not and so many others, unfortunately, were not. Our business has evolved to the point where now it is like, “We always said we worked from home and then we would invite you to the Holiday Inn on Tuesday night for a meeting or Saturday morning training class at the Holiday Inn.”
All of a sudden, we were forced in network marketing to really work from home 100% and thank God, Zoom came along and some of these other technologies. Their technology fit the time and our business model so well, which is why the boom was happening in network marketing like it currently is. Let’s talk about a couple of other things.
We sometimes think in network marketing that we have got the patent on self-development and we forget that people read some of the same authors and things that are not in network marketing. Let me set this up for you. If they knocked on your door and said, “Lou, pack a bag. We are putting you on a deserted island with plenty of food and water, but you are limited in what you can bring. You can bring your Holy Bible, which I know is important to you, but you can only bring three additional self-development books with you. What would they be?”
The first book that I read in self-development would have to be The Power of Positive Thinking and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Another book that I like is by Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen. That has been very instrumental in my business because what you will find out and what Donald says is if you use the wrong words to talk about your product, no one will buy. You have to make them the hero and not yourself. I know a lot of my competition, you look at their websites and I deal with the Millennial bride. It is a different way of marketing to them.In these uncertain times, diversification is important. Take the opportunity to look at diversification and do a side hustle. Click To Tweet
You see that most of these sites are like, “I’m this grade. I do this and that.” They are not making the bride the hero. They are making themselves the hero. That is really what Donald Miller points out in this book. It is a great book. To say self-development, we go to all the industry trade shows and always try to keep up on the newest trends to stay on top of our industry.
Let’s talk about going forward. You have also had another career because you have always believed in passive income. I know you understand it very well. One of the things that you did years ago was you diversify from some of the business profits from your entertainment business. You have also dabbled in real estate. You have had one venture in particular that has been very successful there in the area. Talk about that. You don’t have to be as specific with dollar figures but you were part of something very big there in the Baltimore area.
It is interesting how I got involved with them. The owners of the company hired my company to do video production and we were out to lunch several times. Previous brides run up to me, and if you have not seen that bride in five years, you must be doing something right for customer service. She ran up to you, hugged you, kissed you, and be like, “You need to come and work for us.” With that company, we did 100 flips in one year. We purchase, renovate, and sell them. I also have rental properties as well. You talk about diversifying income and real estate has always been a great way to invest your money.
I know you have had great success in that as well and have been very successful. You have rubbed elbows with celebrities, CEOs, and even politicians. You were part of an inauguration even way back. I don’t know if you want to say which president, but you were even part of that along the way. What was that like? People already know that one, but what was that like to be part of that event?
It is amazing. Being a part of an inaugural celebration is very humbling to have been chosen to do that. I have been very blessed that that is what my career has entailed throughout the many years of being chosen by great brands, some Fortune 500 companies, some celebrities, athletes, and sports teams because they like what you do. That is quite an honor.
You have done a great job because they keep hiring you. Even during the last few years, I know you have had things that have gotten canceled with some very prominent folks there in Baltimore. Lou, as we go forward to 2022 and you find yourself in your mid-50s, we are starting to think about winding down prior to the pandemic and entertainment things because of the hours, the nights, and the late nights. A lot of times, I could not find you many times because you were sleeping and you got in at 4:00 in the morning. As we get older, it is a little hard to do that, and this happened. This horrible thing that we have all lived through.
If you are reading this, you survived. That is the good news, so slap yourself on the back that you made it through. You are a survivor but most importantly, going forward, you are looking at network marketing. I know you have decided on a particular company and we never talk about companies or brands on the show here, but you have found something that you like, which is the most important thing. It is something that you believe in and you are passionate about.
I know you are not going to leave what you are doing. You are going to continue working at your entertainment business and your real estate development business, but you have looked at network marketing enough now through not only my lens but other people’s lenses that you know in the industry. Why should somebody in our age group take a look at network marketing?
It is not your father’s network marketing anymore. It has changed a lot. As you heard me say, I’m a systems person. The systems that are in play now can give you great progress and have a very successful side hustle. I’m not spending the time that you had years ago in order to do so because of automation. What you put into is what you are going to get out of it, but I certainly see with social media and the systems that are out there now, you can compress time. As you mentioned before, I have tried it in my earlier days.
People always told you that you could do this part-time. You could but to make a lot of money at it, you had to put in full-time hours. Now with systems in place, tools, and getting back to how I have to make all these capital expenditures, you find a good company that does a lot of that for you. You do not have to worry about shipping, taking orders, returns, and inventory. That is all there for you already. If you find a great company that has all of those tools in place, you can spend your time on what you are doing currently and dedicate your side hustle to the company that you choose to find, and you can have great success.
I have been in network marketing now for many years. Years ago, one of my wrestling buddies walked into my office. I was selling health club memberships while finishing college and he shared with me about network marketing. I had never heard of it or any of these great companies that even existed. Some of them had been around for many years already.
In those years, I have written a number of different books. The two main titles that you may want to pick up on Amazon come in Spanish as well for our folks who speak both. You can get it digital if you want or hard copy. The book is called Leave Nothing To Chance. I wrote it with my good friend, Foster Owusu, up in Toronto, Canada. There are a lot of perspectives and stories in there, frankly, about people who, like Lou, have chosen network marketing out of full-time or part-time as a career choice.
In addition to that, Moving Up: 2020 and Beyond which I wrote back in 2019 with the idea that 2020 was going to be this magical year. It sums up either way, but there is a lot of content in there from my years of experience. Not just mine, but all the mentors that I have worked with over those years. Now with that, Lou, I’m going to give you the last word here. What is your advice for people to balance 2022, 2023, and beyond?
In these uncertain times, I definitely feel that diversification is important. As you have learned from me and successful business to being shut down in a matter of days, take the opportunity to look at diversification, do a side hustle, and network marketing is a good option.
Lou, thanks for being on the show.