Monday, May 18, 2015

Mimi Makes a Million (BY Blogging!)

By James Altucher

I think I'm in love with Mimi Ikonn. Oh, and also her husband Alex Ikonn. Don't want to confuse anyone!

When I was a kid I didn't think I would be happy unless I was a "millionaire". Some kids in my school said they were millionaires and they would make fun of anyone who wasn't.

I asked my dad what he was worth. He said $2. Maybe that scarred me so much that I always make sure to have wads of $2 bills on me at all times.

A year or so later his company went bankrupt. So he wasn't worth the same anymore. In his mind, he was worth ZERO.

For the rest of his life he sat in the living room, depressed, and listened to music. When he was a little boy he loved music and won an award.

At some point we all return to what we loved as a child. I suppose that means I will return to comics, Judy Blume, and spying on people.

A few weeks ago I met Mimi Ikonn and Alex Ikonn. I was insanely curious about them.

How come? Because Mimi makes videos of herself, delivers real value to people, and then makes over a million a year because of those videos.

I don't know how old Mimi is. She's much younger than me. She's much younger than my father ever was when I was alive. He would've liked to live her life.

So Claudia and I asked Mimi and Alex if we could interview them.

Because they seemed very happy also. The podcast comes out later today but here's the summary.

This is a simple post. How to make a million.

I am absolutely sure the same techniques that worked for Mimi and Alex can work for them. I had them lay it out step by step.


Mimi became obsessed with beauty and hair. She and Alex watched before and after videos of women who were getting hair extensions.

"They seemed much happier after getting extensions," Alex said. "Whenever there are strong emotions about something you know there is an opportunity."

So Mimi started making videos of herself discussing hair and beauty and hair products.

"I never thought I would get more than 1,000 views," Mimi said. "But I loved doing the videos. And I wanted to share my love for the topics with as many people as possible."

Now she has had a quarter of a BILLION views on her videos with 2.7 million subscribers.


People ask: "How do I get traffic to my blog". Or "how do I get buyers of my book." or "How do I get people to follow me on Twitter."

A lot of it is about loneliness. We sit in our house writing blog posts and then hit Publish. We want family to love them. We want friends to love them. And then we want the world to love them.

I'm really just talking about myself. I know when people enjoy things I do, I feel as if I have a family. I'm happy. At least until the next post.

Mimi loved making the videos but needed traffic.

So they did the only two-step technique that gets traffic online for anything you want to do. Well, make it a three-step technique.

1) Love.

Know more, love more, express more, bleed more, than anyone else. Was Mimi the only one doing videos on beauty and hair? No. But maybe she put more passion into it.

2) Spread the Love

Alex would take images and posts and links to her videos and spread them on Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, other sites and have them all point back to her YouTube channel.

I call this "the Hub and Spoke" approach. Youtube was the hub, with a dozen or so spokes reaching out to popular sites that all would link back to the hub.

3) Make more Love.

No matter what you do - some will be good and some will be bad. Not every video or post is going to have views. So you do more.

When you do more, several things happen:

a. More people find you.
b. You rank higher on search
c. You improve
d. People who find you start clicking on your older videos so now they start to get more views.

The "Make More Love" technique always works.

Michelle Phan did 54 YouTube videos before she made a massive hit.

Hugh Howey had already ten novels before he published "Wool" which became a massive bestseller. Clayton Christiansen applied for NASA for 18 years in a row before they accepted him.

Make more love.

C) 1000 PEOPLE

Note she said she only thought she was going to get 1000 viewers. The number 1000 keeps coming up with people who have HUGE audiences.

Kevin Kelly wrote about this in a great post called "1000 True Fans". He writes about He also talks about it on my podcast.

Tim Ferriss talks about how every one of his posts he makes sure he's going to deliver value to at least 1000 people.

Of course he delivers much more value than that. But 1000 seems to be the right number that people who know seem to focus on.

Keep focusing on delivering value for a 1000 and then they tell 2 friends and so on and next thing you know you have a quarter of a billion views, five bestsellers, movies being made about you, you go into space, your own makeup lines, and on and on and on, depending on what it is you love.


Alex and Mimi noticed that many of the other beauty videos were talking about a specific brand of hair extensions for women. So they went to my favorite place in the world - the mall.

"We saw these products were priced at $500," Alex said. "So then we went on Ali Baba and saw the same products being sold for $100. We then went to the manufacturers and saw we could buy directly for $50. The exact same products that were being sold for $500."

They borrowed from mom. Borrowed their full amount off of their credit cards. And they placed an order. Then, I imagine (they did not tell me this) they prayed.


Mimi talks about many products on her videos. She expressed a radiant, confident personality and talks about everything she is wearing, what her habits are, what products she uses. She NEVER sells anything.

But underneath the video is just a link.

The orders came in one at a time. Then 100 at a time. They sold out of their inventory, paid everyone back, and bought more.

In their very first year (2010) they had over a million in revenues. Ever since then they've had more than a million a year in profits. Never once using the words "buy this" anywhere.


The most successful people have a model for their success. I think that's why I enjoy Peter Thiel's "Zero to One" book so much. Or Peter Diamandis's "Bold". Or Marcus Lemonis's TV show "The Profit".

Each book has a different, but very very simple, model for how to achieve success or how to judge which companies are successful.

Mimi and Alex developed their own model, they stick with it, and have used this simple model to keep jumping from success to success.

Alex explained it to me:

Q - Quality.

Everything they do is quality. The cameras they use for videos ("But not overdoing it, because this is YouTube and not television," said Mimi). The setting they use and how it fits their message.

The products, etc

V - Value

Mimi is not trying to sell anything in her videos. She explains what she does and how she does it. She does the research and believes in the products. Rather than asking, she is giving.

"When you give a billion dollars in value," Alex said, "you get a billion dollars or more back."

C - Consistency

I read a book about television once by TV mega-executive Grant Tinker. He was Mary Tyler Moore's husband, ran NBC for awhile, and then ran MTM productions producing such shows as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", "Bon Newhart", and a dozen other super hit TV shows.

I only remember one thing in the book.

He said, "whenever they changed the time or date of a show, then that show would die. If you moved a show from Tuesday at 8pm to Thursday at 8:30pm then you just lost your whole audience."

Mimi said, "if you are going to put out a video once a week, put it out once a week. Put it out the same day each week if you can. Don't do once a month. Don't do random. Your audience starts to anticipate and look forward to your shows and knows when to expect them."

A- Authenticity

Mimi only talks on the videos about what she believes in. There's no fluff. There's no pitch. She's exuberant and it shows on each video.


Mimi and Alex were working 80-100 hour weeks. They had the money in the bank. They had achieved their goals. They loved what they were doing but when you hit a lifelong goal you start to ask, "is that it?"

They got depressed.

Goals are a myth. Our ancestors for 200,000 years didn't have goals. Every day started from scratch: hunt, forage, eat, sex, sleep, wake up to a new day.

Then we were told to find our "goals". And now everyone asks, "I'm 17 years old and feel like I've accomplished nothing in life. What should I do?"

Learning to find happiness with less is true wealth. Claudia and I recently got rid of most of our belongings, for instance. Then we started cancelling most meetings that I had set up. Sometimes it was hard. I had agreed to an event and then I would cancel.

Ultimately we are the sum of our experiences and not the sum of our belongings. There is nothing wrong with making money but it is only one small part of living a life of comfort, of compassion, of calm.

Mimi and Alex started to focus more on the other things that were important in their lives. "And you know what happened?" Alex said. "The more we did that, the more money we made."


I really enjoyed talking to them. I am always curious how people made money through a channel like YouTube. Now I know and I think it can be replicated by anyone who is willing to do all of the above.

I'm afraid I don't have a face for YouTube. Or Instagram. And I'm not even sure I have a face for podcasting. But I think I love doing what I do.

And I like having the time to explore other interests and ideas.

And then sometimes I like doing nothing at all. There's nothing wrong with that also.

James Altucher is author of Choose Yourself and The Power of No. His podcast is here.

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