Interview: Internet Marketing Legend Mike Filsaime

Interview: Internet Marketing Legend Mike Filsaime


Hello and welcome. This time we're chatting with a true game changer, someone who has become a legend in internet marketing circles. These days. He's known as a digital marketer, an author, a speaker, a software developer, an online marketing educator, and marketing consultant. It's a real honor for me to welcome to the show Mike Filsaime.

Mike Filsaime:

Probably the best intro I've ever gotten, what a true professional. So happy to be here excited to give out some great content.


You're too kind. Well, you've become one of the biggest names in internet marketing, there's no arguing with that. Was that always an ambition for you, Mike?

Mike Filsaime:

Wow, I think I have to be completely transparent here. I've never been asked that question. When you meet me I'm probably the guy that when people finally meet me, especially in person, they'll say, "What a nice guy. What an easygoing guy, very unselfish." Different types of things. I only say that because I've heard that. I'm kind of laid back, but boy, deep inside, there is a driver of me that wants to be number one, at everything I do. I'll just give you a couple examples. I was the type of guy that when we would play foosball in my office, I'm going to try to say this as PG as I can, I would win nine out of 10 games. I used to sing the Cranberries song when I would start doing the comeback on somebody, I'd start singing, "I'm in your head, I'm in your head," and I'd score another goal. I would relish kind of the way Michael Jordan did in winning a game. And when I'd lose, I'd put this big smile and go, "You got me high five," I would go into my office and grab a pillow and scream "Fuck!" The F word right? Make sure nobody heard it. But yeah.

There's a competitive nature to me. I think part of it comes from wanting to fit in and wanting to prove. It's not something I don't talk about much. Maybe I've spoken about it once or twice or to a couple of different people. It's just something that me and my brother have recently come to realize. I don't think I've ever spoken about it publicly. But, my dad and my mom were born in Haiti. You give me a Dominican, and anybody that's Dominican, especially, I'm from New York, and it's hey, Dominican. You talk about an Italian, Italian pride, "kiss me I'm Irish." People have this pride of their culture to be Russian, to be whatever it is, right? Puerto Rican, Jamaican man, all these different things right? And then to be Haitian, I'm sure was the same thing, not when I grew up. I grew up born 1967. I'm in high school in ninth and 10th grade, and this virus comes out called the AIDS virus.

You could imagine, you didn't have the 24 hour news cycle, the internet and everything like that. It came on a little bit slower than the Coronavirus. But this thing if you're old enough to remember it, it scared the hell out of people. When people didn't know, especially when people didn't know if you can get it by touching someone, by looking at someone. We didn't know that it was through, bodily fluids and intercourse and blood and things like that. My dad was a very well respected person in the automotive industry, and he went for an interview one day. It was a Mercedes Benz dealership and they're loving him. They're absolutely loving him. All of a sudden they bring the staff in and all the staff is like, "Lionel your accent, where are you from? Is that French or Canadian?" He's like, "No, actually, I'm from Haiti. It's a French accent that you're hearing." "Oh, wow that's beautiful." All of a sudden, one lady goes, "Haiti. Isn't that where aids comes from?"

Everyone's like, everybody's face just went pale. Then my father, they said, "Lionel, are you from Haiti?" And so my dad lied, and said, "Oh no, my parents were from Haiti. " They were like, "Oh good, we got a little scared there." My dad came home and told me and my brother. "Right now with the AIDS virus..." This was years before Magic Johnson. "Do not tell people that you're from Haiti." Then Believe it or not, my friends had known and I started hearing things from my friends, like their parents weren't allowed to play with me anymore and stuff like that, and I'd be like, "Hey, what's going on?" And, kids will be kids. "It's because your family has AIDS." I'd be like, "What?" I'm talking 10th grade, not seven years old. Right? So I had to hide about from who I was. My brother, we recently had a talk about that. I said, "When did you start telling people you're Haitian?" He says, "Maybe three years ago."

We had this thing that we would say we were French Canadian, or Martinique, or something like that. When you would ask me, it was like this thing that you knew you were a fraud, talk about imposter syndrome. Somebody would ask you ... Because if you look at me, I could pass for a Dominican, a Puerto Rican, a Mexican, an Iranian, a Persian, an Iraqi, Middle Eastern, a Hawaiian, or a Filipino." You put me in that environment, if I walk into a bodega in Hempstead, New York, they're going to start talking to me in Spanish. If I'm in Dubai, I'm going to look ... I have this very, very worldly ethnic Look, it's probably ... People, they look at me and they say, "Mike you have a very interesting look, do you mind if I ask where you're from?" Then I say, "What do you think?" Then they're saying, I don't know, either Filipino, Arab, it's really tough to tell." When I say Haitian, and they're like, "Oh, my god, never would have guessed."

I had that question my whole life. As soon as I started seeing that question, I would start sweating. I'd want to get off of it very, very quick, because I didn't know if they knew something different. Or there would be another friend around that would go, "That's not true, you're Haitian." Right? Oh, my goodness. I can't even tell you how tough this was for me." Yeah, so I think that that created something inside of me that wanted to fit in on a deep level. So I could talk to you about the things that I was competitive at. I've wrestled in high school. I wrestled my brother, my friends all time. It was the most important thing in the world to me. I wasn't the best wrestler in practice, but I worked really hard.

There was always this guy, Mike Dell-Poehler. He was the varsity guy and I was the junior varsity guy. He had more experience than me. He was varsity the previous year, but I knew if I'd practice a certain move, and I knew he was a better wrestler than me, but we used to have these things called wrestle offs, because the best man wrestles on Friday night, that's the way it is, or Saturday whenever we'd wrestle, so they were very fair that way.

There was none of this participation trophy stuff right? Back then you earned your spot on the varsity team. I would go on the wrestle off, I'd walk up there very shy. I would play a play very, very coy. Then as soon as we would go in, I would blast and I beat this kid every single week, every single week, and he'd beat me up in practice. The coach I remember the coach's face would go. "All right, Filsamaith," because I wasn't Filsaime back then, that's an internet marketing thing. That's for another story. They say, "All right, Filsamaith varsity, Dell-Poehler junior varsity." He'd throw his sneakers at the wall and take off his headband. I had the same mentality going into the wrestling match.

I wrestled my high school year I went 18-0-1. When I was 18-0, I had never been pinned. I can tell you that the very last match that I had, I went on to this guy. His name was Craig Redding. He went to the States. My very, very last match this kid taps the handshake thing. We start going, about two and a half seconds in I was blinded by him doing a fireman's carry his arm and bicep when ... He tucked in and his arm and bicep right into my crotch, pretty much nearly knocked me out.

I saw stars and I got up and I said to my coach, it's the most embarrassing thing ever. I said, "What happened?" He goes, "You got fucking pinned, that's what happened." It was my last match of my wrestling career. I never played in college or anything like that.

Telling that story today completely, completely haunts me that I was 18-0 and I ... Being on a wrestling team, I don't know if you did any high school or college sports or something. To me I wasn't in the military, but I can only say it had this camaraderie of there was some brotherhood that was going on there. To walk off in "disgrace" those things lived with me ... I remember bowling a perfect game almost nearly and I missed the strike by one pin in the 10th frame, and like how I ... I cried for days about that, my dad was trying to tell me, he'd call me Kik, "Kik, please get over it. You have to get over it." I couldn't come out of my room.

Yes, there's this competitive thing inside of me and I don't necessarily think consciously I said I want to be on the Mount Rushmore of internet marketers, but I get motivated by seeing other people's marketing. I say, "That's some magic that they're doing right there. How can I apply that to the outcomes that I want to achieve?" I don't want to emulate somebody. I already have a goal in mind. I have an ends, an end game and I see the means given to me by somebody else. "What the heck are they doing with that video? They just made a cinematic movie, that's never been done before. Can that work for this?" Ad then I'll try to apply it. In that sense, I want to be the best that I can be. There's a book by Jim Collins called Good to Great. The first six words of that book, it could be five, we'll count them, but I think it's six is, good is the enemy of great. That's six words. That's how the book starts. Good is the enemy of great.

I remember looking at that, and it took me about two minutes to turn the page. I said, "What the hell does that mean? Good is the enemy of great." Basically what it means is in some sense your higher power, godly universe put us out here with a potential. Isn't it a beautiful thing, to strive towards potential in everything we do, in our faith, our relationships, our health, our fitness, our finances, our relationships with our kids, people, everything?" We have an opportunity, there is something great in us. In hat stone lies the Michelangelo sculpture, right? For us to be good at anything is really a disservice to what our true potential is, and that's what I took from it, and I found that to be profound. You might have a few questions, I can't help myself but go deep into even the simplest of questions, but so that's a long answer to a short question.


Oh, don't worry. I love it. I love the fact as well that you've harnessed your competitive streak and you're using it in a really positive way. I think that's quite refreshing to hear. Because I think a lot of people look at those of us who are competitive, and it's almost seen as a bad thing. Whereas actually, if you are competitive and you want to get out there, and you want to change the world ... Everybody uses Steve Jobs as the example of someone who perhaps he knew what he wanted and was able to push forward. I think that it's great that there's a poster child and that people look up to people like Steve Jobs. But in terms of your own career Mike and the way you've been able to motivate yourself, who's inspired you would you say?

Mike Filsaime:

The one and only, one and only my dad. There is my dad and there's nobody else. I can write a book, and there will be different people in there that I will give credit to. There are people in internet marketing certainly that have paved the way for me that are invaluable, but my character, my dad. He's a legend of a man, he's a hero, to me and everybody in my family. He was just ... He was raised right maybe a little too tough from his military dad, and I will say this, some of the things that ... the way that I was raised and my brother was raised, not my sister, but my brother, the way we were raised, quite frankly, would probably have put my father in jail in today's world, and I have no issue with it. My father came from the spare the rod spoil the child school, he never hit me with his hand, he would use the belt. It was never out of rage, it was never uncontrolled. He would come home in this great mood and my mother would be saying, "Wait till your father comes home, wait it'll your father comes home." I mean, why? Because my mother said nine times don't do something and I went out in the back and painted the house or something ridiculous, right when she told me not to.

"Leave that there, you're going to spill the paint on my brand new deck," and she's not looking and what do I do? I spill the paint. My father would come home, and he wouldn't be more upset that I spilled to paint, it's that, "Did your mother tell you not to do that, and did you disobey her?" It was one of those types of things with my dad. He'd come home in this great mood and I'd go in and hug his leg. He'd be, "Hey, Kik, how are you?" And then, "Do you know what your son did today?" And my dad would be, "Is that true?" He'd say, "Go in your room, I'm going to meet you there in 15 minutes. He'd have his dinner or whatever. He'd come in and he'd say, "Do you know what you did? Blah, blah, blah." He'd say, "Okay." He'd ... I put my hands behind, he'd say move your hands, I'd get the belt. My brother would get it too or whatever, and we'd be crying like anything. Then, but it really was the type of thing that I'd be looking over at my brother and I'd be smiling. Then my brother, my dad would go, "He's laughing." My dad would go, "Is this funny to you?" And I'd get another one.

It was just a discipline thing. Just another example, my dad had this weird thing that he would do, when we'd get in trouble, it was, "On your knees." That was the thing. We'd have to go into the corner of the room on our knees, we weren't allowed to slack we'd have to put our hands ... Like I dream of genie style and you cross fold them over our chest, and we'd have to be on our knees for 30 minutes. What would happen when I'd get off? I would go to my dad and I'd say, "Dad, I'm sorry." He would say, "Come here, sit next to your dad," watch TV together. I love the guy. Everything I did was I had to be disciplined a certain way. Now, I'm not advocating for the belt or anything like that. I don't have kids, I don't know what's the right thing to do. But I don't have any issues with the way that I was raised. My dad taught me a couple of things. I wasn't one of those kids ... I remember when I would say something, my friend would say something like, "I want to get that bike," and I would say something like, "Oh, cool. When are you going to get it? Are you going to talk to your parents?"

It would be like August and they would say something like, "Yeah, my dad's going to give it to me for Christmas." That, to me was the weirdest thing. I was like, "Well, that's weird." And just in my head, it's probably the right way right? In my head. It was like, "Why are you getting something for Christmas? That's a long time from now if your parents can afford it." My dad's attitude was more of a reward system. If I wanted to bike, my dad created a contract, I had to mow the lawn six times never be late. He'd literally had me sign these things, and it was on the refrigerator and I call him from work and, he'd be like, "Kik, did you mow the lawn?" And I'd probably lie and say, "Yes." "I'm going to come home and if it's not cut you're not getting the bike." So I'd go mow the lawn and I had ... So for me everything was a reward based system with grades and allowance. Everything was tied into this performance. He would call me top shelf. Even today, he calls me top shelf when we talk.

His belief was you're not better than anybody and nobody's better than you, but you can do anything you put your mind to, and that came from him coming back from the car dealerships, coming into the house at 11 o'clock at night and I'd be sleeping, I'd be sleeping. He'd come in and he'd go, "Kik." I'm like, "Yeah, what's up?" "Come on, come keep your dad company, come into the kitchen." I went ... "How'd your day go?" I'm like, "Dad, I'm tired." I'd be sitting there like falling asleep, he'd be there with us crackers and his cheese and he would be giving me lessons like, "Kik, let me tell you something about the way the Italians negotiate.

Don't ever ask them to sign anything until you shake their hands. These people are people of pride, and they will tell you things like, 'I've given you my word. My word is more important than anything on a pen.'" He literally gave me life lessons about cultures and different things like that. To me, again, a long answer to a short question my dad is the person that formed me.


In terms of the motivation as you were getting into your marketing career because I mean, you've achieved so much, there's been Butterfly Marketing, which we'll touch on in a few moments, there's WebinarJam, there's the Evergreen Business System, Kartra and of course, now there's your GrooveFunnels and GroovePages and whatever. How proud are your parents of what you've achieved?

Mike Filsaime:

Because that's a bifurcated question, right? Let's start with my dad, so that we can easily segue. My dad is so proud. I'll spare you the reading of the text. But literally, he sent me a text the other day talking about how proud he is of me and how he talks to people about what I do. If you know my dad, I have to warn you and warn him. You come to my house, I say my dad's a talker. He will trap you in a corner and start talking to you about the French Revolution, and health and all these different things. You'll say, "Oh, no, no, Mike, I can't wait to see your dad". Then I'll see you he'll get you and I look over and you're sending me the signal. Then to my dad, I have to tell him, "Don't trap people with your intellectual conversations." You can see where I get it from. I can talk a lot. "He'll say, "Kik, I've been around for a long time. I can read bodily cues. I Know when people don't want to..."

No, he can't. He'll talk to your ear off, so yes, he's very proud of me.