We do it by publishing our fresh, no-fluff messages and ideas in different ways - in books, booklets, and videos as well as on pocket cards, posters, and many other products. It's all about raising awareness and helping people care more about their work (what they do every day) and the people they work with and for (colleagues, customers, patients, students, family, friends).
Our material is helping leaders at thousands of companies, organizations, and school systems inspire people to be more enthusiastic, committed, and focused on what needs to be done.
It's also helping hundreds of thousands of people as individuals (even families) to live engaged lives of contribution and care.
We're real people here and we'd love to help you.
Our office is located in Richmond, Virginia. (That's us up there on the top floor. If you're driving south on I-95, honk as you go by and we might hear you.) Our names ... Jim, Johnny, Joe, Jessie, James, Lauren, Kelsi, Carlyn, and Sam. We're here all week.
Thank you very much (say that like Elvis ... it's more fun).
Several years ago, we created a charitable program for our team called Smile & Give. It gives everyone at InspireYourPeople.com four days each year to volunteer with the non-profit organizations of their choice. (It's a play on our Smile & Move message.)
At different times each year, we also donate money to support causes that focus on helping people (one of the ways we Love Our People).
Some of the groups we've worked with and supported (time and/ or money)...
As told by Sam Parker (co-founder)
Jim & I meet at James Madison University as pledges of Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. Despite its central focus on business (which might appear a little less than cool to the outsider), there were parties ... it was coed ... it was fun. Everyone was a brother regardless of gender (Jim married one, in fact ... she's a lady).
Eventually, Jim led the fraternity while I sold people on joining it.
I graduate a year and a half early.
Wait. It was actually a semester late. I didn't know it at the time but my future wife was graduating in the row in front of me (we didn't connect until 3 years later). She wasn't a brother but she was (and is) a lady.
Jim graduates. On time. Of course.
Jim changes employers once in 9 years. I change employers 7 times.
Both of us were in Northern Virginia and we stayed in touch.
Jim and I meet every couple of weeks for early morning bagels before heading off to our respective jobs (very early).
During one of our discussions, I bring up an idea I'd had for many years called National Sales Radio ... a radio program for salespeople on the road (a group of which I'd been a part of for so many years). We both liked the idea but realized how difficult it might be to do something with it when neither of us had any radio experience.
Then Jim asks, "What if we did it on the web?" and the excitement began.
As we start thinking things through more formally in the following weeks, I whine about my current work situation to Jim. I tell him about a little interaction with the president of my company where I expressed an interest in taking over a vacant sales management role and my frustration with the response...
"Would you just sell, Sam? Would you please ... just sell?"
Jim smiles, "That's the name."
We purchase the JustSell.com domain for $90.
We break the budget on a copy of FrontPage 98 ($99) so I can start learning how to make a real website (please ... I was a sales guy ... the noblest of professions).
I start full-time (in my basement) while Jim works before work and when he gets home from work.
On Friday the 13th, to mock superstition (so young, so clever), we incorporate the company as MaxPitch Media Inc. We think the name has a sales ring to it but also implies we'll be working at a "maximum pitch."
Very quickly, we realize the name is difficult for people to say and remember so we focus more on the JustSell® brand when we talk about the company.
We think we'll make money selling things sales managers and salespeople need (travel, books, training and development material, etc.).
Family and friends make investments.
I start a journey of gaining 30 pounds and becoming incredibly unhealthy.
We publish JustSell® for the first time ... the web's resource for sales leaders.
Jim buys a copy of QuickBooks. I cringe at the thought of spending money on accounting details.
Jim starts full-time in his garage (a few days before his second child was born ... his wife had the baby and Jim visited a couple days later ... we were in the middle of a project).
I'm kidding about Jim visiting a couple days later. (Did I get you?) We worked hard but we weren't ... after all ... monsters. (Read that with a little drama ... maybe the way Zoolander describes The Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good.)
It becomes clear pretty quickly ... We weren't going to eat very well by selling things to the JustSell® community.
After a few sales training organizations ask to be listed on the site, we launch The Sales Bureau ... a site where businesses can find trainers and keynote speakers. We get paid for placements and real money (not real real money, you understand) sparks a path to viability.
We go after more investments and eventually find several angels (personal investors) who get involved. Venture capital money never felt the potential for the business was big enough ... a little demoralizing at the time, but in hindsight one of those good things (for everyone).
In September, we lease our first office space in Fairfax, VA (1700 square feet of industrial flex space on a dead end road ... not sexy, but it was real ... that's the building above ... we had two of those windows in the upper right corner and a few around the other sides).
In October and November, we hire the first two members of our team ... a technology person and a salesperson (both have since gone on to do many other good things ... one's a 212er ... that's his current license plate).
We grow to a team of 8 people and try many different routes to making money ... continuing to broker training and speaking, selling website and email newsletter advertising, building a sales recruitment website, and selling leads created from news profiles (eventually called Prospects Daily ... it was very cool). We even do a couple live and recorded SalesRadio.com shows (this is pre-iPhone, pre-tablet, pre-wifi, pre-everything).
I start my journey of losing 30 pounds.
One morning, after a bad Northern Virginia commute (and our office lease coming up for renewal), I blow into Jim's office...
"What the hell are we doing here? We could do this business from anywhere in the country."
We relocate the business (and ourselves) to Richmond, Virginia. (Wow. That was quick!)
We start downtown because we wanted to be cool.
Things get rough. We get down to a team of 4 people. Cash is frightening (the lack of it).
"We need to bet on something and focus on it exclusively," Jim said.
The decision is made ... Sell web and email advertising around the content we publish on JustSell.com.
Things get better.
As a personal project, I write and self-publish 212° the extra degree® as an ebook (and create the logo). A year later, I add more material and publish it as a paperback. My wife and I sell it online and ship the books from our house.
The team grows to 24 people ... sales joy is everywhere.
We build and publish several websites to support our sponsors/ advertisers (we call them
micro-sites ... here's one we've kept ... we're big fans of Lt. Rowan!).
To broaden our audience to all types of organizational leaders (rather than just those in sales), we create Bguides.com. In many ways, the content is similar to JustSell but without the sales flavor. (Did you know business came in flavors?) The B stood for business ... as in Business Guides.
All along, we get our lessons (in business, leadership, and life) ... some pleasant, some not so pleasant.
In January of 2004, we leave the city for suburbia (the West Endies ... not that there's anything wrong with it) and by July of 2007 we get some bigger space about a mile away. The road we're on gets backed up every morning with traffic so we put Smile & Move on the building instead of the company name (a little advertising). Unfortunately, people think we're a dance studio or a dentist office.
Probably a little earlier than May, we realize the advertising market that supported us so well since 2002 (with very nice growth) would soon be a fraction of what it was.
At the same time, after too many years of the company name (MaxPitch Media) being difficult to remember and say (and meaning absolutely nothing to our customers), the team develops our new name of Give More Media. The thinking ... "We create material that helps people and organizations be more effective. It's all about giving more and enjoying more."
In June, we launch InspireYourPeople.com to serve the customers of our 212 products. We knew other messages were on the way.
We publish Smile & Move ... my follow-up message to 212. The title had been with me since the summer of 2006 after I told Jim a story about my then pre-teen daughter and niece being a little apathetic at a lemonade stand. At the end of a parental rant I kindly suggested the girls, "Smile & Move."
I waited much too long to get it into a book.
We create an online service that provides sales and business development leads based on events. It's called Prospects Daily. Imagine a timely news feed that provides sales and business development opportunities, where they are, who to contact, and how to reach them ... a news organization focused only on news that leads to sales. Like I said earlier, it was very cool.
We shut down Prospects Daily. People loved the service but not enough of them were willing to pay enough to make it viable (or maybe we didn't market or build it well enough).
We publish a video version of Smile & Move (a Smovie).
We publish SalesTough in it's current form ... the framework of which was first written for one of our JustSell email newsletters in February of 2006. In July of 2007, we published it as a book but with very little design ... very little.
I write Cross The Line and Love Your People as articles.
The Cross The Line concept comes to me at the end of one of my son's soccer practices. I was coaching and the boys just weren't into it that day (they wouldn't commit to go beyond mediocrity).
The Love Your People title was with us since 2007. It was originally something we came up with to pitch as an ad slogan (but never did). We made a logo for it and put it on some products (buttons, greeting cards, etc.). Then one day in April, it finally showed itself to me and I put it down in pixels (that's writer talk for "I'm trying to communicate like a deep artsy rockstar").
At this point, I tell Jim, "I think that's all I've got."
We publish Cross The Line as a booklet and create a fairly ugly first-version of the Cross The Line video.
We publish Love Your People as a booklet.
We start talking up the 'No Gomos. No D-grunts.' idea at the office. (gomo: a person who goes through the motions, d-grunt: one who's disgruntled)
We run several free online talks (webinars) about 'How leaders can help a team of people keep from going through the motions at work'. The 'Model. Connect. Involve.' framework is mentioned at the end of the talk. (Hmmmm.) I didn't know it at the time but that content would lead to our next book.
We polish and publish a new Cross The Line video.
After several requests for a video based on Love Your People, we make a run at it with Nic Askew. I bumped into his work a few months earlier and really liked it. So, we do an interview project where all of us here at InspireYourPeople.com talk about what Love Your People means to each of us individually.
None of it was scripted. Nic shot it and then figured out which clips made it work best for the audience (you).
At the same time, I start feeling Lead Simply (deep artsy rockstar talk again) and get to writing.
After years of saying it around the office, we publish the ultimate mission statement ... "We're here to make good things happen for other people."
We publish the Love Your People video.
We publish Lead Simply and pretty quickly it looks like it might be as popular as 212. Both big and small companies are loving it ... school and healthcare systems too.
We start thinking, "Is there a Lead Simply video?" and hire Geoff Schultz to work with us. One of our team members here (Joe ... not your average Joe but rather your exceptional ... that's him above) saw his work several months earlier and recommended him. We liked what we saw and once we stumbled on his family video with the Dave Matthews track in the background, we knew he was our guy.
We publish the Lead Simply video.
Doing our best to make good things happen for other people.
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