Interview with Amber Vilhauer
Scale Your Business Without Sacrificing Freedom with Amber Vilhauer
How do you build and scale a business without sacrificing your freedom?
Most entrepreneurs struggle to separate themselves from the constant grind, resulting in burnout, or even worse, failure.
But if you want to build a life on your terms, you need to free yourself from the daily grind. You need to put systems in place that will allow your business to thrive, even when you’re not around.
That’s why I’m so excited to be speaking with my long-time friend, Amber Vilhauer.
Amber’s company, NGNG Enterprises (standing for No Guts, No Glory), has become the go-to option for entrepreneurs and influencers who need help with high-performing book launches, web design, marketing, and scaling their business.
Her team has developed over 1,000 websites from the ground up and has helped hundreds of clients create #1 bestselling books (including me).
Not only has Amber built an incredibly successful business, but she’s living a lifestyle that she absolutely loves. So, I wanted to talk to her about how she did it.
In this episode, you’ll learn exactly how she overcame the idea of having to manage everything in her business by herself and built a powerhouse team with a shared vision.
We also talk about protecting your time by creating clear boundaries, developing an abundant mindset, the most important factors to a successful book launch, and so much more!
Featured on This Episode: Amber Vilhauer
✅ What he does: Entrepreneur, Website Builder, Marketing Expert, Event Planner Speaker, Best-Selling Book Launcher.
💬 Words of wisdom: “When you are quiet, and you observe and pay attention, there are opportunities galore. From there, you can pick the one you want to run with.” – Amber Vilhauer
🔎 Where to find Amber Vilhauer: Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube
Key Takeaways with Amber Vilhauer
- Growing into entrepreneurship by accident.
- Do you own your business or does your business own you?
- The secret to a successful book launch.
- How to protect your time by setting clear boundaries with your clients.
- Why you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself.
- Getting clear on creating the life that you want to live.
- Building a business on your terms and never losing sight of what matters most.
- Creating an abundant mindset and appreciating what you have.
Amber Vilhauer | The Secret to a Successful Book Launch
Amber Vilhauer Tweetable“Once you value yourself more, other people value you more innately.” - Amber Vilhauer Click To Tweet “When you are quiet and when you observe and listen, and pay attention, there are opportunities galore.” – Amber Vilhauer Click To Tweet
- NGNG Enterprises
- Amber Vilhauer Website
- Amber Vilhauer on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube
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Read the Full Transcript with Amber Vilhauer
Justin Donald: Well, Amber, I’m so excited to have you on the show. This has been a long time in the making, and I just can’t wait to hang out. So, how are you? Welcome.
Amber Vilhauer: This is so special for me because what the viewers may or may not know is that Justin and I have known each other for a very long time, getting our start in Cutco, and now, look at us, Justin, we’re so mature.
Justin Donald: I know. So crazy. Well, and it’s so fun, kind of having the opportunity to be in business, in our own business, but we’re partnered in so many ways. And so, I’m excited to share that story, I’m excited for people to learn more about you and all the cool things you do in the world and that you do for other people. But this story isn’t as good unless people know kind of where you came from, and I think yours is a great story because, I mean, anyone could talk about how the odds are stacked against them or they came from a family that there weren’t any entrepreneurs or many entrepreneurs or whatever the case is. But I think with you and I would say me and a lot of our friends, there’s almost like a will into existence type of a thing. And so, I’d love to just kind of hear why you wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Amber Vilhauer: Yeah, it’s interesting because I did not grow up thinking, I want to own my own business someday. And so, people look at me on social media, and you just make certain assumptions about who people are and how they were growing up like this, of which you see today is not at all what I was like growing up. I was so quiet and shy and introverted and unsure of myself, and I didn’t know how to use my voice and I didn’t do well in school and I didn’t have a lot of friends. And so, just saying that alone, people, I can hear the record scratching a little bit like what? Because you look so happy and cheerful and successful and all of these things. And yeah, that’s true. And I’m human. So, I also have challenges as well.
But I created myself day by day, decision by decision. There was a moment when I was 16 where I wasn’t really proud of who I was and the choices that I was making. And when it came kind of like crashing into this realization, this was not the path that I wanted to go down. It was hard to course correct and make different choices. You make choices to get up earlier to take care of your body in a different way, or back then, it was to go into office hours with my teacher and try to fix my grades on things. So, like, it took work to then get to a point where I was just more proud of who I was, but that didn’t mean that I was ready for entrepreneurship and using my voice and speaking on stages. I do have to give a little bit of credit or a lot of credit to Cutco, Justin, because that job really changed my life in so many significant ways.
I remember that first day of training and my trainer, Kerry, said there are three types of people in the world. I don’t know if you remember this, but there’s like the fence-sitter, the person who sits on the fence and watches what everybody else is doing, the person that dips their pinky toe into the pool, and the person that jumps in with both feet. And I was like, “Wow, I want to be that person.” No clue what I’m doing, but I want to be that person.
And it’s just interesting how much of what’s happened to me since then comes back to that moment. And in Cutco, I just did what they told me to do, and I liked the product. And when I did what they told me to do in training, it worked. And then people recognized me, and that felt really good to be seen and valued. So, I just kept doing more of what they told me to do. And then that worked and I kept skyrocketing into the company, but I still didn’t even know at that point, I didn’t identify myself as an entrepreneur.
Fast forward, after five glorious years of Cutco, I knew that there was something more for me as sort of an odd, divine stepping stone. I found myself doing event planning for this couple in Denver, and they had this event that was teaching entrepreneurs how to get capital into their business and how to market online. This was like 2005. I had no idea what a blog was or what any of this world was, but I knew I wouldn’t get bored in this industry, I knew I would always be challenged. So, I taught myself code, taught myself search engine optimization, persuasive copywriting, webinars, conversion funnels, you name it. I was just a nerd for this stuff. I didn’t even know I was such a nerd for this stuff.
But then something crazy happened. This woman reached out to me from Canada, and she said, I love your blog and I love your website. Could you manage our website? We’re starting a guest blogging platform called Conscious Divas. And I said, “I guess, I could do that.” I had no business plan, no clue what I was doing. In fact, Justin, it’s kind of an embarrassing thing to admit, but it was like a month or two or three later that a friend came to me and said, “You should probably file an LLC.” And I said, “What’s that? Where do I do that? Why is that important?” This is how much I knew about business back in 2007.
But when I was staring out, what is your business name on the filing? Oh my gosh, I’m facing the kitchen, I’m trying to figure out, this feels important. What should my business name be? And I remembered my mom, who was my hero growing up, and she said to me all the time, “No guts, no glory.” And that’s how NGNG was born. That’s when I realized that I am a die-hard entrepreneur and didn’t even know it. And the company has been growing ever since, very successfully. I’m deeply fulfilled by it.
Justin Donald: Oh, that’s an incredible start to your story. I love it, so cool, Amber. So, going back to Cutco, and by the way, I couldn’t agree more, Cutco is such a great training ground, such a great foundation, so many great leaders. There’s just so many awesome stuff to learn, especially as a young person there. And you find the right mentors, and they can do a lot with you because you’re so moldable, you’re so impressionable. At least I was, I would assume you were, too.
Amber Vilhauer: Oh yeah.
Justin Donald: And so, it’s cool hearing that, but it’s interesting just because you did well with Cutco actually doesn’t mean that you’d be a strong entrepreneur. There are a lot of people that leave that business that really don’t do well in the entrepreneurial space because they’re strong salespeople, right? You are strong as a salesperson, you are strong as a manager, but those are different skills. You had sales skills, you had leadership skills. And so, it’s great to have some confidence and it’s great to be able to step into this next unknown world, feeling like you’ve got a little swagger, that you’re good at something, that you’ve gotten good results, but the world of entrepreneurship is a whole nother game.
And when you’re in charge of everything and everyone from start to finish, there’s no back office to help, there’s no safety net underneath you as there is in other places. And by the way, I appreciate that about Cutco because they created a nice safety net for me to be able to learn on and you to be able to learn on. And I think that’s amazing. But there’s a whole nother level when it’s all yours, and you’ve got to do everything. And so, I think it’s neat that you’ve been able to figure that out. And because I know you and because I know the inner workings of your business, I want to point out that there’s also a big difference between a sole proprietor like a one-woman business and a true business owner, someone that has teams, departments, divisions.
And so, I’ve seen the inner workings of your business. I know that you are no longer the sole proprietor. You started as a sole proprietor and you were able to wear a lot of hats. And a lot of people can’t get past that, they can’t get past a lot of hats. And it’s hard, it’s risky, you’re going to fall flat on your face at times. But the only way you can really scale a business is by creating some sort of systems or protocol, it can be done via code. You learned how to do that, but it likely is going to be more than a one-person building code and building protocols business. Some people can run with those. Your business, for sure, is a lot more hands-on. And so, you’ve got a team and you’ve got departments and you’ve got different people that report up to you, and it’s very impressive what you’ve built.
Amber Vilhauer: Thank you. And I tend to agree. And I don’t see that coming from ego, but almost just proud for what it is, right? I mean, we have almost 35 people in the team and growing, Justin, just onboarded three more new people in the past week. And the culture is just magnificent. I don’t know another word to describe it. Everybody is just so bought into the vision, protecting each other, contributing, elevating the customer experience. They are die-hard fans and they are so protective of the company and they have each other’s backs, they don’t let things fall through the cracks. And yeah, there comes a time where you realize you’ve been passing that baton, you’ve been developing their thought leadership. So, that means that you had a vision. Then you knew how to communicate that vision, then you knew what your values were so that you had rules within the organization and more accountability coming in. And then it just starts to unfold after you learn all of these pieces to the puzzle and watching it work so beautifully.
And our word of mouth has always been our most powerful driver. I mean, for nearly 15 years, people are always referring us, even publishing houses and other web agencies referring us. So, it’s not just the individual customers, but people see we’re different, we’re genuine. We don’t let things slip through the cracks. We’re highly organized and detailed. We take ownership, we take accountability, and we take it personally, it’s not just business to us. And there’s just you start to carve out your own space in the online world and stay in your lane and not get distracted and not get an ego. And then over the years, it just gets more profitable and reinvest back into the company, and you innovate and watch new people coming in, taking their own ownership of the vision and making it more theirs in a place they can grow and thrive in.
And meanwhile, as the CEO, you just sort of keep learning how to detach a little bit more each time. Like now, I’m detaching from the sales seat, the thing that I love so much. Oh, it was so hard. A year and a half ago when I hired a creative director, Laden, who everybody loves. She’s everybody’s favorite, right? Like, everybody loves Laden. That was a hard hire for me because I loved doing her job, but I knew that we couldn’t grow unless I added somebody else into the seat to do that piece. And so, slowly, one by one of like, detach from all of these things that I loved so much. And now, the sales seat, I saved for last, not for reasons why people would think, like, I just loved the numbers and getting money from people. Fine. It’s more about the connection for me.
I love, Justin, when people come into a conversation and they’ve been burned by other people before and they’ve invested in all the programs and they don’t know who to trust anymore. And they’ve had bad experiences and they are just losing faith in their own message. And I come in, I’m like, oh, you’re not going have that experience anymore. I’m going to fix it for you, and you’re going to have everything that you need to then do what you’re supposed to do because I already know it’s going to work for them, and it’s just such a joy to show people another way. But we’re growing, so now, I go into the next evolution and watch the business take the next course it’s going to take.
Justin Donald: Yeah, and I’ve had a front-row seat on a lot of this too because we’ve been friends for either 16 or 17 years. And it’s fun watching kind of the different evolution that you’ve had. And I think what a lot of people may not recognize is that the book launch, the book marketing industry has totally transformed. It’s not what it used to be in the programs that used to work don’t work anymore. And I was able to see this firsthand working with your company and seeing how cutting edge and innovative you and your team really are. And you’re operating at a whole nother level, just doing things that most of these other companies out there aren’t doing. But you’ve been able to figure out a way to not only handle all the book stuff. I mean, you have a full-blown marketing agency. You can handle book launches, you build websites, you help with event planning and coordinating, you brainstorm different things, you coach people, I mean, the list goes on and on. And so, it’s very impressive all the things that you’re juggling, but you do them all at a high level.
Amber Vilhauer: Thank you. And I have to point back to those lonely teenage years, to be honest, got to do it because when you are lonely and an observer, you’re not center stage getting all of the attention, you develop these really interesting skills. And for me, I developed a superpower for listening and awareness and just observing. And now, fast forward all of these years, it’s helped me to innovate. So, from day one, back in 2005, when I was at that conference learning about the online world for the first time, I started looking around and made some really interesting observations. I could see patterns that I don’t know that other people could see.
And then, in 2008, I’ll fast forward. I came across kind of my first big business challenge where I was constrained by time and I was thinking, gosh, there’s got to be a better way to do these hour-long sales calls. And I was innovating like, maybe I could use video to explain our process in advance so that I didn’t have to keep repeating that same thing over and over and over again on these hour-long sales calls. Then I could do half the time and sell more. And that was back before video is what it is on the online world today.
So, what I’m trying to articulate is that when you are quiet and when you observe and listen and pay attention, there are opportunities galore. I mean, pick the one you want to run with. And so, for me, NGNG has been a place of innovation. I have other web agencies that they literally hire me for coaching, saying, “I love your model. We want to do a pricing guide like you do. That would save us so much time.” And I say, “Here are all my secrets. Take them, go, go, run with it. It was amazing for me. You should do that too.”
And then now, book launch marketing companies and business growth companies, they’re all seeing like, we’re innovating. And I think it’s because of the way that I grew up, to be honest. But you’re right, especially in the book launch industry, it’s been a pretty messed-up industry. And what I’ve especially observed in the past two or three years, Justin, is if you want to have a successful launch, it’s not a secret that you need more people to help you promote that launch, right? You can’t just do it by yourself. So, what we do is go to our friends, “Hey, friend, I need a favor. I’m launching a book. Can you email your list, this template copy?” “Hey, thanks, but appreciate that.”
The problem is, is that everybody is launching books. So, now, everybody’s getting requests. How many a week, Justin, do you probably get? Hey, can you promote my thing? Can you promote my thing? You’re over here saying, “Well, I’ve got my own message to promote. Your stuff doesn’t exactly align with my stuff, but I feel obligated because you’re a friend.” It’s ruining relationships, Justin. So, I’ve been observing this thing isn’t sustainable.
So, what we did is we innovated how that relationship management piece could go to facilitate when wins. So, it’s not just about the author, it’s about the cause and it’s about the community. And how can we all grow together and be better together? And it’s time-consuming, which is why most people aren’t going to follow my process because they’re looking to automate. But when you automate, you strip out human connection. So, you have to find that balance between protecting the relationship because relationships are the bridge to our dreams. Truly, I will always stand by that. But we have to protect the connection and our relationships, and the more you focus on the cause instead of the personal favor, it shifts the energy behind your launch.
And now, it’s a community movement instead of like, oh, I hope this is my goal and I hit this one thing because my ego would appreciate it. Or maybe they do want to get their message out, but it’s still pointed at them. So, there’s just a difference in mindset and approach toward collaboration that is really shifting the game. So, it’s really special to be a part of changing that conversation entirely.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s exciting. And I’ve seen it firsthand and I’ve seen it work, which is cool. Part of the reason I want to have you on the show today is because you’re not only someone that lives incredible lifestyle. I mean, we’ve had the privilege of having some really fun events and dinners and some awesome wine and just all kinds of cool stuff. I mean, we have had some really cool experiences with many mutual friends, and there’s just a lot of people that don’t have these type of experiences or don’t make time or don’t make space, but you also travel the globe. I mean, you just got back from a really amazing Bahamas trip where you had this private estate that you are staying on. And obviously, that stems from another great connection that you have.
But I wanted you on because not only do you live the lifestyle, but you’re a lifestyle enhancer for other people. You help them package what they have to be able to scale their business or grow their results or whatever they need to do so that they too can have lifestyle. So, you’re a lifestyle enhancer, a lifestyle enabler. So, these are good things, but I think you have to have the lifestyle first, which you do. So, it’s easy to be the pioneer for that when you live it firsthand and it matters so much to you because people matter so much to you.
Amber Vilhauer: Yeah, that’s a fact. Well, it’s interesting because, gosh, in my 20s, Justin, I made some really bad decisions and I racked up a lot of debt, and it felt like I was never going to get out of that hole. So, I remember not having the money to take luxurious trips and buy all the things I wanted to buy and go to the fancy dinners. So, I want to at least address that because you can still have lifestyle and you can still have experiences even if you have no money. Because back then, what I did is I decided that I needed to have rules in my calendar. Like early on in the business, people would say, “Oh, can I give you a call at 7 p.m. tonight?” I’d say, “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry, I don’t work in the evenings or weekends.”
Now, as a young entrepreneur, that’s crazy, right? You could have lost a customer over that or this could have happened or that could have happened. But at the end of the day, like, this is my life, and if I let somebody cross into that boundary, then I let everybody cross into that boundary, then I have no boundaries, then I have no self-care, and then I can’t be the high performer that I want to be so I can help the world. I think that entrepreneurs don’t understand the domino effect to their own decisions. And what’s interesting, Justin, I’m thinking of a gentleman in particular where this really happened. And when I said no to him, he came back. And instead of being upset about it, he said, “Wow, I wish I had boundaries like that. You know what? I am going to have boundaries like that.” And I said, “Well, you’re welcome, brother, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
So, we all secretly want boundaries, but we’re afraid to use our voice and ask for it because we think we have to be of service or do this or do that. It’s all just our own belief systems from culture and what we’ve seen in our past or wherever it came from, but you actually do have a say. So, in those evenings, instead of having those calls, I would go out on my back balcony and I would enjoy a sunset or I would watch TV or read a book, whatever I wanted to do, but that self-care time was really important.
Now, fast forward, life is very different. I have a five year old, I have a thriving business, I have a lot of people wanting to get into my calendar all the time. And so, those boundaries are only more important. And I’m also such a sensitive soul as you know, Justin, so I have a really hard time saying no to people. And I also want to help everybody that I possibly can. So, I’ve had to get really strategic about how I can set those boundaries while still helping people so that I don’t have to feel guilty and then can still take the time that I want to have to take my son on a mother-son trip or take a personal trip like I did to the Bahamas or to New Orleans or to Austin or wherever I’m going. But it’s all designed to ultimately protect me, give myself as much balance as possible.
And by balance, I don’t mean, I am right. Even then I’m off from here to here, my schedule. If you look at it, it’s different every single day, but there are pockets where I have balance between the different categories in my life that are important to me, so I’m a whole person. And if I’m a whole person, then I’m better for my team and better for my clients. So people ask, “How do you do it all?” You have to protect yourself first. You have to, you’re going to have to find a way to reconcile that and learn that. Otherwise, you’re always going to be in conflict and you’re always going to be on that treadmill, and that’s not a way to live. So, you learn it first, then you share that with the people around you to improve their quality of life at the same time.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And I also think there’s an immaturity around not being able to create boundaries. I mean, there’s certainly a fear around it that if I don’t pick up right now, I’m going to lose this deal. But the reality is, if you’re really that great at what you do, people are going to find a way to get inside the time frames that you have available. So, if you lose people due to that, you may want to figure out a way to elevate the game or differentiate so that doesn’t happen or bring on a team that can support handling that outside of the time that you’re available. But I think that once you get more into an abundant mindset and not being worried about losing someone and be more worried about, like, what you need to fill you, you’re just going to show up better for everyone. And it creates scarcity for other people. It’s like your time is scarce, your time is valuable. You’re not willing to break out of this. There must be something unique or different or amazing about what you’re doing.
Amber Vilhauer: It is amazing that once you value yourself more, other people value you more innately. That was a tough one for me to learn. I got to tell you, this was not like an overnight learning, and it took me a long time to believe in myself and my own value, and then to speak and to use my voice, like these are things that took me years to learn. So, it doesn’t matter how fast it takes you to learn it, but just have awareness and practice that it’s just like going to the gym, you just have to exercise that muscle, one decision at a time, and then all of a sudden you’re in a different place in life and you don’t feel the same kind of stress and conflict and you are happier and your kids feel like you’re more present and your wife or husband feels like you’re more present or you just feel more present to what’s happening. Like, you’re thinking more clearly and quickly. And it just the world responds to that when you take good care of yourself.
Justin Donald: Yeah, without a doubt. And I just think that the more you get clear on what it is that you ultimately want and the values that you have, the values you want for your family, I think naturally, you’re going to start living in a different way. And a lot of people that go through life just reacting, no plan, just autopilot. And so, if you can take the time to really get clear on what it is you want, what you want for you, what you want for your family, your kids, your spouse, whoever it is. And you can move in that direction, you’re going to make different decisions. You’re going to make different decisions for yourself, for your business, for your time, your availability. And I just think it’s so important to get clear on what it is that you ultimately really want. My wife and I just sat down yesterday, and we do this annual planning every year. We wrap all this stuff out. You’ve seen it. You’ve seen my huge document on this.
Amber Vilhauer: So good.
Justin Donald: And so, we did kind of like a follow-up and we kind of went through last year and what happened, what didn’t happen, moves you want to make this year. And it was just an awesome celebration. But we’re so intentional with what it’s going to look like to the point of like, hey, what does education for our daughter look like? And how are we going to learn and grow together? What are the things that we’re going to do where we’re not just hanging together, but we’re learning and growing together? What are ways that we can strengthen our marriage? What are ways that we can do, whatever it is?
And so, we went to one of our favorite restaurants here in Austin, we actually stayed in town for this one. Often, we’ll do a little weekend getaway, but I just think it’s so important to have that intentionality because number one, often, we may be on different pages than other people. So, it’s important to make sure that our strategies and vision are aligning. But number two, it just feels so good to have clarity in what you’re moving towards so you can make decisions easier.
Amber Vilhauer: Well, so many people have the wait-and-see methodology. They’re like, well, I don’t know what I want exactly, and it’s too tough to figure it out. And I kind of feel stressed, I’m tired. I just want to veg out. I just want to open up my Netflix. I’ll deal with it tomorrow, right? They’re just not taking the time. And if you don’t take the time, you’re going to wake up another year later, two years later, five years later, and just you get deeper into the hole and then all of a sudden you look around and you’re just not happy.
And I think the pandemic really was shining a light on that for a lot of people because before 2020, the world was accelerating so quickly and people were almost on an autopilot. We were just almost not even fully present, what was going on, like a lot of people voiced that, there was a lot of fear coming in around the election. When the pandemic happened, it was like everything just stopped for a minute, and people finally had time to just think. And when they started thinking, it was like, oh, wow, gosh, look at all these years went by, and now, we thought we were going to go here, but we’re over here. A lot of separation happened. Like, it doesn’t have to be that way.
And Justin, when I learned about your family planning session a couple of years ago, it blew my mind. I mean, guys, multiple pages of questions. It was the most impressive collection of questions I’ve ever seen. No BS on that. And it just really struck me like, no wonder, Justin has the life he has. No wonder. No wonder he has the marriage he has, the relationship with his daughter that he has, the business that he has, the respect with his friends that he has because he is so hyper-intentional. He has thinking time. He’s very focused. He’s so thoughtful and aware. Like he didn’t get here because he was lucky, he got here because he worked his ass off to get here.
And I had so much respect for you when I saw that document, Justin. And I’m so happy that your voice is getting out in the magnificent way that it’s getting out because now, you have all of these people that are looking to you and you’re setting this beautiful example for how other people can interact with their relationship partner and with their kid and with their businesses. It’s awesome. So, I just want to thank you personally for leading and the example in the way that you do, it’s awesome.
Justin Donald: Well, thank you. Thanks for the kind words and for being with me since really day one of all this, of the lifestyle ambassador brand, which is cool. It’s funny because a lot of this kind of was created during the pandemic, like I had this time in the space to think and be creative. And we ended up taking an epic road trip as a family. And we came out and stayed in Denver for a month that summer and got a chance to hang with you guys and enjoy some really nice wine at that. But it was cool because we got to kind of work through and talk through all this and it’s neat to see where we’ve come. So, it was an idea that we thought had legs, and sure enough, it did. And it’s cool to see the full circle. What’s also really cool, for those that they don’t know, I have a mastermind, The Lifestyle Investor Mastermind, it’s an incredible mastermind. In fact, it was just rated. I don’t really brag a whole lot about what we have going on. But there was an article.
Amber Vilhauer: Tell me what happened.
Justin Donald: There’s an article that just came out that rated it. It was either of all these masterminds that are out there, I’m actually trying to pull it up right now. But of all these masterminds that are in existence, so it’s The Top 22 Masterminds to Join in 2022. And so, YPO is number one. Genius Creators Collective is number two. Selfless Givers, our group, is number three.
Amber Vilhauer: Are you serious? How cool is that?
Justin Donald: Connected Genius, number four, and then Lifestyle Investor, number five. And this is ahead of like tons of other groups, Tony Robbins’ group, Mastermind Talks, Genius Network.
Amber Vilhauer: Oh my gosh, Justin.
Justin Donald: EO.
Amber Vilhauer: Congratulations.
Justin Donald: Yeah, pretty cool thing. And the reason I bring it up is because we just recently held a retreat here in Austin, and for the members of the mastermind, we had kept it at 100 for a while, and I’ve recently opened it up. We got a bit of a waitlist, but you were very integral in that event happening, the location that we picked, all the things that kind of went into it. And so, I want our mastermind members that listen to this to know that you had a hand, a very important role in that event, and your team did just a great job. And so, it’s funny to see like start to finish all the different places that NGNG and you, Amber, have been involved.
Amber Vilhauer: I know, it’s one of my favorite stories. I’ve got a lot of great clients’ stories, I really do, but this is absolutely one of my favorites, probably because I knew you personally before all of this. I knew, like in the very beginning when it was like, yeah, I’m writing this book for my daughter, Savannah. And you weren’t sure at that time what you wanted this to be. You were happy in life. You didn’t need much. It wasn’t like a lot of other people coming in and saying, “I want to build this roaring brand and I want to do all of these things,” like that was not you.
And so, it was just really special because you really were careful and you were slow. I mean, I’ve got people coming in there like, if I don’t launch this thing, and I mean yesterday. And I’m like, gosh, what is the urgency? Like you’ll be fine. But Justin really did it right, and he had a council of friends that he really trusted. And so, when he got an idea, he would listen to what they had to say and make decisions that were right for his life. And so, that’s why you’re seeing the success of this brand because of the decisions that you made at the helm and protecting your lifestyle and not jumping the gun and just being reactive, which is easy to do in this space, very easy to do. And then people get wrapped up in it and they start making decisions they wish they hadn’t. And it takes time to unwind that. But you were just very methodical, built it the way you wanted it to be, which is so great, even the retreat is an example of that. So, I just can’t wait to see where we’re going this year because like, what are we going to do this year? I don’t even know, but.
Justin Donald: I know. We’ve got to start planning this thing for sure. It’s been fun and it’s neat, I mean, I’ve been the budding entrepreneur, starting a business from scratch, wanting to make money. This business was different, though, this brand, because it didn’t have to be about money. Interestingly enough, it has done well, but the whole idea was I was going to do it my way. And my way, by the way, is just whatever way my friends and other experts think is best because I don’t have a clue. This is new, I don’t know a lot of this stuff. So, someone has insight or expertise, I’m going to lean on them.
But the moment that it would compromise lifestyle or involve too much, I’m very comfortable saying no. And I feel good about being in a place where I can say no, even though maybe I lose revenue because of that decision, or maybe it scales differently or slower. I don’t actually care about that. I care about assembling some of the brightest minds in the world in one place and just having an incredible conversation and education and fun, and really living life, doing life together, I say, so.
Amber Vilhauer: Well, I’ve certainly watched a lot of people that have some measure of success in their business, and they lose sight of what was important to them in the beginning. And they grow a little bit of an ego and then they want more. And it’s this kind of a little bit of a monster that always wants more and more and more. But I can attest just being kind of behind the scenes and along your side and this journey, you regularly checked in with Jennifer and making sure that she was okay and making those decisions together. And frankly, Justin, like anybody else in your shoes that I’ve seen, like they would have just been like more, this is my time, but you had success and you didn’t lose sight of what mattered to you in the beginning and why you started all of this to begin with.
So, I’m not trying to overly shower you, but like, there just are such few models for my definition of success, and you are definitely that model, so anybody who’s considering being any part of your brand in any way because sometimes we don’t know and we’re like, oh, just another money guy, maybe. But it’s like, no, no, no, you’re missing the entire point if that’s what you think this brand is about, you’re missing the entire point. So, you just have to like, subscribe to the podcast, be in the world, and you’ll see this is a very, very special brand and community.
Justin Donald: Well, I appreciate that. And the reality is, if we’re all not careful, any of us can fall victim to just wanting more. And so, it’s not like that feeling just disappears. It’s that it really has to be put at bay because it’s the same thing like you buy a new whatever, well, in time, you want another new whatever. It could be a car, it could be a house, it could be whatever. It could be your dream house. Well, in a few years, it’s no longer your dream house because it doesn’t have this, or this is falling apart or this didn’t work out the way you thought. Or even worse, it has everything you want, except that you went to your friend’s house and it has all these things, and your house doesn’t have that.
And so, it’s just so easy to want more. And so, I mean, I do think we’re built in many ways to have these desires, but that doesn’t mean that we need to feed that desire. I think learning how to be content and learning how to, instead of focusing on what you don’t have but what you do have and all the great things in your life, I think, that shifts that gratitude, shifts the mindset into more of having abundance with thinking of what you do have versus like all that you don’t. I just think that’s so important. But just like anyone else, I mean, if I’m not careful, I can fall in that trap. And that’s why I think having a good spouse, a good teammate to shed some light and have some good discernment in a way that’s different than your own is very valuable. And same thing with a team of advisors, you, for example, and many of the others in my corner that I lean on in so many categories before I ever make a decision.
Amber Vilhauer: Yeah. People have been really surprised over the years, like I’ll be introduced to somebody, and they’ll say, “How have I never heard about you? You’ve worked with all of these people and done all of these things.” I’m like, “Well, yeah, I don’t have a million followers on Instagram. I don’t need them.” And they’re like, “Oh my gosh, you should grow this company. You should have a thousand employees.” And I’m like, “I don’t know. I’m not so sure.”
And it’s interesting because I’ve always just been somebody, Justin, like, I love what I have and I want to pour into what I have and I want to make my team better and I want to help them build the career path of their dreams. And if they want to innovate something, I want to pour into that versus like, where is the next people coming in? I really have just such appreciation for what’s here. And ironically, that’s a magnet for more anyway. But what it does is it reduces that feeling of anxiety of like, oh my god, I got to hurry up and do all these other things. There’s no scarcity to it. It’s just appreciating what you have and letting it build in the way that it wants to be built. Like your book, let it have the life that it wants to have. And clearly, your book wants to have quite a life because you’ve sold tens and tens of thousands of copies of your book organically. So, it’s cool. You just kind of put things out into the world and appreciate them and just see how they’re going to grow and what impact they’re going to have.
Justin Donald: Yeah, and it can be nerve-wracking because you can totally flop. I mean, the reality is, I mean, when we put the book out, I was like, I think people will be interested, but I really have no clue. I mean, at least I hope at some point in my lifetime that my daughter has interest in it since she is really the foundation and genesis of me even doing this. And my good friend John came that really gave me the tough question.
Amber Vilhauer: Love you, John.
Justin Donald: Yeah, John, I mean, goodness sakes, without him, the book wouldn’t be done because he had the hardcore question that was, you said you’re going to write this book for years that you want to write a book. People have been asking you for a long time, and I’ve asked you over and over, nothing’s happening here. So, I’m just going to ask you the question, what happens if you die and your daughter never learns all this? And so, that was enough to really, I appreciate that, and it’s neat to see, though, because I mean, the book has a life of its own. But who would have known? I mean, who would have known the demand or the people’s desire for this type of information? It could have been a flop, but I was willing to just go out there and see. And so, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Amber Vilhauer: Well, and I have to add that the publishing industry is very confusing right now because it’s so divided, and there are so many people pitching different ways that you should be doing things. But I wholeheartedly believe, Justin, that the reason your book is so successful is because it was well-written, and you wrote it for the reader. There are a lot of books right now that are not written well, they’re being slapped out quickly in a weekend, and they are not written with the reader in mind. They’re written like, oh, I should have a book because I’m trying to do these things, and it’s important for my career in these ways.
That’s very different than being very thoughtful and pouring into content because you want it to be the best that it can be for the reader. And that’s what you did. I watched you go over the book and over the book and rewrite it, and it’s done. No, it’s not done. I need another weekend. And the publisher is like, oh my gosh. Nope, it’s not done yet. And I was just so proud of you for that because look at what’s happened now. Anybody can launch a book, really, not many people can have it continue to sell.
Justin Donald: Well, I appreciate that. It was a little nerve-wracking at the time, as you know, because there were some demands. People really wanted this thing done, and I wasn’t honoring timelines. But I just had the hardest time feeling like it was complete, I mean, I feel like I actually had to at some point, pull the plug because I could have just kept doing that over and over and over, but at a certain point, I just felt so good about it. But there was a point where it wasn’t there, and I just could not let it go, it wasn’t ready. And the publisher was like, we need to get this out. And you’re along the ride with me on this one, and we just said, no, it’s about a quality book. It’s about it being done right, not about honoring a timeline.
Amber Vilhauer: Right. You did it. I’m so proud of you. It’s awesome.
Justin Donald: That worked out great. Thank goodness for people like you that gave me such great advice along the way. And you believed in me and in this brand and my story since day one, so, and wanted the world to know it and did such a great job marketing it and helping build the social presence. I mean, you are really just a whiz in that world. You built my website. You’ve just done so much cool stuff. So, I want to give lots of props to you and NGNG and Caitlin and just everyone that I’ve worked with, Brian. You have such a great team.
Amber Vilhauer: I do. Yeah, they’re really special. And it’s cool because in the book launch world, there’s just so much opportunity, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. Like a lot of book launch managers know how to launch a book, but not as many people know how to build an online brand around it. So, it was just fun being a part of it. I’m always showering Justin with praise because I’m just so grateful that he did have the trust in me to take me along on this journey and look at what we built. And I can’t wait to see what we’re going to build next, so stay tuned. There’s going to be like a Part 2 to this episode, maybe a year from now, and you’re going to see what happened with the rest of the story here.
Justin Donald: That’s right. There’s no doubt. And technically, we kind of have some legs on a new Part 2 with TRIBE of investors. So, that’s pretty neat, too. So, anyway, where can my audience learn more about you, Amber?
Amber Vilhauer: Well, go to the search bar of wherever you like to hang out and type in my name, and you’re going to probably find me there. So, AmberV.com is an easy place to go because nobody knows how to say it, worse spell Vilhauer. But ambervilhauer, I’m all over Instagram. That’s actually the channel that I’m going to be personally pouring into a little bit more this year. I have a lot of thought leadership that I’m excited to get out, that I’m personally focused on. The business is doing well. We’re growing, a lot of cool things in the works at NGNG, but then I’m also working on a manifesto called Elevate Every Experience. So, it’s really about human connection and it’s going to be pretty special.
So, if you like, what I have to say is so far, you should definitely follow me, join me for the ride. Let me know what you found helpful in this interview because Justin and I are here today for you. It’s not for me, it’s not for him, we’re here for you. So, anything that we can do to make your experience of this podcast better, definitely let us know because you guys matter very, very much.
Justin Donald: I love it. And you’re doing great things. Your network, by the way, I just got to give you another shout-out, your network is absolutely incredible. I mean, everyone I meet that knows you, is connected to you in some way, or that you refer over to me, I’m just always blown away with the caliber of person, the intentionality, the heart for relationships. You could really see that they model a lot of what you model in relationships and friendships, so very cool.
Amber Vilhauer: Thank you. Very fortunate.
Justin Donald: Yeah. Thanks for joining. This was awesome. And I just want to leave my viewers, my listeners with just what I think is the most important thing, and that is this, what is one step that you can take today to move towards financial freedom and living a life that you truly desire on your terms, a life that is not on default, but a life by design? Thanks. And we’ll catch you next week.