Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live with the rich and famous? Are you curious about what goes on in the most elusive parties out there? Steve Sims is someone who can give you answers. He is the founder of Bluefish, one of the top personal concierge services, an expert marketer within the luxury industry, and a sought-after consultant and speaker. Beyond rubbing shoulders with influential people, what Steve values is relationships and he has turned that passion of connecting and building relationships into a business. He lets us in on the importance of having your front stage façade and the backstage match as he brings up his book, Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen. Learn the art of making things happen by valuing a work full of people you truly like.
I have a question for you. Have you ever wanted to sing with your favorite rock star, be serenaded by Bocelli, walked the red carpet with A-list Oscar parties, attend the ESPN ESPYS, get married at the Vatican or dive down to the Titanic? Our guest expert is uniquely qualified and has done all of those things and helped people like you and me do those too. He is one of the most fascinating people in the world. You’ve probably seen the commercials on TV. The most interesting man in the world, they have got nothing on this guy. He’s the author of this bestselling book called Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen. If you want to make things happen, he’s someone who can show you. He is a well-known bestselling author. He’s a sought-after consultant and a speaker. We’ve gotten a chance to know each other over the years in a group that we’ve been a part of together called Genius Network, doing what we call genius networking, which we’re doing right now. His name is Steve Sims. He’s got a wealth of wisdom to talk about this concept of bluefishing. Steve Sims, welcome to the show. How are you?
I’m floored by the intro. Thank you so much. I’m pleased to be here.
Steve came on the show before. You can go to GrowthToFreedom.com/40 if you want to check out that. That will be a good foundation. The theme of that show was How Thoughtful Trumps Expensive. If you never want to miss an episode, you can go to GrowthToFreedom.com/subscribe. Steve, I want to dive right into it. I love how you laid out your book here. What I love about you is your frontstage life and your backstage life, as I’ve gotten a chance to know you, are the same. I’ve met some of the so-called gurus out there who some of them drive me nuts. Their frontstage and backstage aren’t congruent. Why did you write this book, Bluefishing for the world?
Selfishly is the first thing. I was a big deal to about 2% of the planet. I worked for a lot of not so much rich and famous, but the richer and unknown. I was always asked, “Do you want to do a book on exposing the secrets?” If I did that with the kind of people I deal with, I’ll be dead by cocktail hour. There was no way I was going to do that. Also, I looked at the life of authors and let’s be blunt, some of it is like smoke and mirrors at best in a lot of stages. I don’t want to live that life. Fortunately, with the amount of people that I was meeting and the amount of people that were asking me to speak on stage about the things I got up to, I didn’t need it to earn money. I was approached with the idea about the book on doing instead of what you do, how do you do it? How does a brick layer with maybe two brain cells and too much whiskey addiction get to do this with the Pope, Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson and Elton John? The names go on. That became interesting to me because as a father of three kids and a guy that spends most of his life pissed off with the inability of people to communicate and build relationships now, I spend a lot of time getting agitated. Being able to write a book and help people to communicate, it was purely selfish. I wanted to help people get back to understanding the ROI on relationships and communication. It was a very selfish reason I did this.
You brought up your background. I find your background fascinating. How you had a job for it seemed like twenty minutes. Then you took this passion. There are a lot of people who talk about the idea of finding your passion and build around that. Personally, I feel like that’s a little bit of nonsense. Here you are, you found something that you’re good at, connecting, building relationships, creating these amazing experiences for people and you turn that into a business. You’re known as a concierge to some of the highest-level people in the world and creating those magical experiences. Can you remember back when you were like, “I’m going to turn this passion of mine into a business?” How did that unfold for you?
Me and you share the same opinion. These people that go, “Find your passion,” that’s not trying to find the unicorn or the gnome at the end of your garden. It’s very hard, if not impossible. I’m a very primitive person. It’s not disrespectful to call me that, but I’d go for least area of friction. Friction makes things stop. The only thing that’s good about friction are breaks and that’s the only thing. Other than that, you want to get as much friction out of your life. There was a moment that I was working on the door of a nightclub in Hong Kong. These guys that used to come in on a very regular basis came to me at the door. I used to tell them if tonight was a good night or not or where the best clubs they would go and they would tip me. This was easy money for me. This time they came in and they said to me, “Are you going to the yacht party?” In Hong Kong, it’s a very small island surrounded by a bunch of harbors. I didn’t even know what yacht party the guy was talking about. I said to him, “I don’t think I am. Which one are you talking about?” I had no bloody idea.
I thought to myself, “Here are four guys. They have their own table on a regular basis in this club. They probably go out of this club each night spending $2,000 to $4,000 easy. They are good clients for this club. They are good-looking. They make the pages look good on the social pages, but they’re not going to the yacht party?” There was that rub in me that I could look at a brick layer or doormen and go, “I can understand why they don’t want this ugly British guy go in, but why not them?” I said to my fellow, “Hold the door. I’m going down to this party.” I went down to the party before it started. I walked out to this girl at the front of the deck. I said to her, “I’ve got four guys coming tonight to your party. I know it starts at 9:00. Do you want them here at 8:30 or would you prefer them to get here at 10:00? What would be better for you because of the bottleneck?” She straight away starts flicking through the names. I hadn’t even given her the names but people react to things and they do knee-jerk reactions. When people are thinking about things, they rub their eye.Reactions are what make or break other people’s decisions about your favors. – Steve Sims Click To Tweet
Everyone has that de facto or that default mechanism when they don’t know what’s going on. She was flicking through these pages. I was like, “Let it get out of her system.” I went, “I know you’re going to be busy. I’m just asking you, is 8:30 or 10:00 be better?” I’m showing her that I’m caring for her. I can’t remember which one she said, 8:30 or 9:30, but she gave me the time and I went, “Thank you so much. I’m going to be honest with you. These guys, once they get in a queue and everyone’s running through and getting into the party, let’s be blunt, they forget the likes of me and you, but I want to say thank you.” I gave her $500. She’s like, “Thank you so much. What were the names again?” I gave her the names. She writes them down. I go back to the club and I walked up to them and I went, “Boys, I made a call. You’re going to the party tonight.” They were like, “Thanks a lot.” I said, “You’re welcome. It’s $500 each.” They were like, “Yeah,” and they did and they went.
I’ve got the guys using me as a resource and I’ve got the girl who was looking after the event constantly contact me because I’m no friction. I am a very easy person to deal with. She gets a bit of extra cash in her pocket and people don’t like friction. I learned that very early. It was that one night that I went and I realized a couple of things. She got treated well and these guys were not in a position where they could get embarrassed with a no. Both of those lessons came in my head and ongoing from there, that’s when I focused on being able to get people into certain areas and charge them. As Joe always used to say, “They don’t pay attention.” That was my thing.
If you’re reading this and you’re like, “Who’s Joe?” Joe Polish runs the Genius Network. He is an amazing human being that both Steve and I’ve gotten a chance to work, meet and connect with. He is a super connector. If people don’t pay, they don’t pay attention. The other side of this coin, there’s a story you share in the book too that’s an opposite, but it’s also as I view it, a sign of your character. There was a time at the club that I recall reading in the book where the club was slow. There was not a lot of action going on and you had some high-profile people come to you at the club and you said, “You’re probably not going to want to come in now.” Then the owner, I believe it was, or the GM or whatever came to you and said, “What are you doing? Why are you turning people away?” What I also love about you is you’re straight up about it, the thing of why you’ve been able to develop. You’re becoming a celebrity here and all this stuff unfolding in its own way. It’s attributed to that thing that I started with, the frontstage and the backstage match. If it’s not a fit, you’ll tell somebody. If it is a fit, you’ll tell them. Talk about that story because I do think there are a lot of lessons for all of us to pick up from that.
The curtain and carpet matched the same color with me. I very much believe that it takes an incredible amount of effort to try to be somebody you’re not, to try to make out you’re more intelligent than you are. I had some clients in Miami and they were very wealthy. Wealthy is different to many different people. They never had kids. They were single lads and they shared an apartment. It wasn’t the greatest apartment on the planet but they all have brand new Ferraris. These guys would just turn up all the time in their Ferraris and then go back and share a bloody apartment. I believe that it’s very easy for me to not put that effort on. I believe that we’ve got a battery in us and when we get involved in a project, I want to do that project as best as I can. I’ve never given anyone anything they’ve asked for. I’ve given them what they wanted, desired and needed. I found that there is a disconnect between those things. If I’m using any of my battery power to spend a lot of money on a car to impress you, a fancy watch to impress you and to put a suit on again to impress you, there’s no need for that energy. Anytime I’m using any of that, I’m now down to only giving you 80% of me. I’m a great believer it takes zero effort to be me and funny enough I can therefore maintain that. That’s the way that I try to work. I find that similar to that. You are who you are regardless of where you are. Joe’s exactly the same. We all share the same haircut. I’m a great believer in, “Be you and the rest of it can come or go.”
As you’re reading this, what would happen to you if you were to truly learn the art of making things happen? Your frontstage or backstage, your carpet and your curtains were the same color. You were able to connect with high-profile people in an easy going way. More importantly, help people get what they want, they desire and need by just simply listening. Would it open some doors for you? Steve, I can’t help but dive into a couple of your concepts related to the Bluefishing Playbook that you have. One of the ones that I love is this idea of a password, creating exclusive experiences. It’s not a tactic to be misused, but done right and elegantly the way you packaged it. You talked about passwords; one fish, blue fish, red fish. Speak about that idea, that culture of creating world-class experiences with exclusivity and how that can help open some doors.
Like most of my life, I’ve learned the lessons through failure or success. I’m a great believer that failures have been my greatest education. I am not a very tolerant person. we had never met and you saw me walking down the road and you’ve got your kids or your wife or your family with you, I guarantee you, you probably would have put them on the opposite side of view just to protect them a little bit. I have that kind of look and it’s done well for me because of that. I don’t suffer fools gladly. Working on that friction element, I didn’t want anyone in my life that was problematic to me. If you take an a-hole on as a client, they don’t get better with age. It was a complete fluke that we used to put these events on. This was back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. We used to fax people where the event was. You have a dial-up queen and we used to fax where it was going to be and we’d give them a password. It was meant as a way of an extra filter so that people didn’t turn up that hadn’t paid in advance because we always collected money up in advance. People would come up to us and one of the passwords was, “Finish this sentence, one fish, two fish, red fish.” People would walk up to a couple of maître ds on the door and go, “Blue fish.” “In you go. Enjoy yourself.”If people don't pay, they don't pay attention. – Steve Sims Click To Tweet
We noticed that the funnier and stupider the password could be, the more cheerful the crowd we got walking into the event. This was pre-smartphone. One of the ones that really used to make us giggle was we had on there the password is the name of the lion from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you’ve got a smartphone, you’re now Googling that and you’ve come up with Aslan. You imagine that you’ve got no internet and if you’ve got no kids, you’ve got no hope. I would have people that owned a private jet airlines and heads of companies, heads of banks coming up to me going, “Steve, I don’t know. Is it Roger?” “Why would it be called Roger?” They’re like, “I don’t know.” I wouldn’t let him in.
It was a phenomenal icebreaker and we would get people come up to us and we would see them in the line going, “What’s the bloody lion’s name? I don’t know. I couldn’t find it.” With that kind of mentality, it meant that we got rid of those a-holes. We would have people come up to the door and they’ll be like, “I’m here for the party.” They would be me and my friend, and bearing in mind the party is kicking off behind this. We’re either on a yacht, we’re in an aircraft hangar, we’re at the feet of a pent house, the elevator of a penthouse. Everyone’s going in and we’re like, “There’s no party here, mate.” They’d be like, “There is. It is over there.” I then look at him and I’m like, “Collin, is there a party here?” We would blank the guy. Then the guy behind him would come up and would go, “Aslan” and we’ll be like, “Have a good night.”
We did that and this password, we weren’t aware it became this phenomenal filter. In fact, it takes us a step forward. We didn’t know we were building a company. We knew we were building a community. When we went to name that community, we didn’t know what to call it. We came up with this name called Trianon. People started contacting us going, “Are you that bluefish company?” If we hadn’t been careful with our passwords, we could have been called Aslan. One of the things that we used to tell people, name two of the Teletubbies. People would come up going, “Tinky-Winky Po.” We could have been called Tinky-Winky Po if we hadn’t come up with the bluefish one.
We’ve found that that filter of not being flexible to who we let in meant that we could be far more committed to those that we did. By accident, it became a great resource. I used that now. I do private consulting events with my clients called Speakeasy. I’ve got one in New York. It’s sold out. I’m not pitching it. My clients have paid $5,000 to go to this event in New York. They have no idea of the location. They know the date and that’s it. I held a pre-polity for Elton John’s Oscar Party and I had them meet at an elevator shaft at 8:00 PM sharp. I had all these people stood outside a lift in the street going down to the carpark at 8:00 PM because they were told to be there. They have no idea. I’ve noticed that people don’t want what they can purchase, they want what eludes a desire and an excitement. If you can evoke an emotion in someone’s transaction, you could do way more with it. Look to find, if you can evoke desire and what it is you do with your people.
In fact, you talk about it in the book. One of the ways is experience beats cash.
If you say to someone, “Where did you get your watch?” they go, “eBay.” If you turn around to someone else and you go, “Where did you get your watch?” they go, “I was in Barcelona and I was on a holiday.” That watch signifies a trigger. It’s like when you’re driving down the road and a tune comes on the radio, all of a sudden you’re nineteen years old again, skipping through the hillside with your buddies or whatever. It takes you back to a moment. You want to find a way of creating an emotion and an experience that will transcend how much they paid for it. I’m a great believer that if you walk through your house and you can tell me how much money you paid for that item, you are more than likely didn’t see the value in it. When you look at something and you go, “How much was that?” and you go, “I don’t know. It’s beautiful. It’s great.” The emotion has taken over the price tag.It takes an incredible amount of effort to try to be somebody you're not. – Steve Sims Click To Tweet
I love this framework and you’ve done a lot of interviews now and you’ve got some amazing insights in the book. I don’t know that anybody’s taken this direction with you, but you have an amazing discernment of people, experiences, opportunities and partnerships. You talk about it in the book about auditing your inner circle, but even this idea of the things in your home. Speak of not just auditing your inner circle, but auditing everything. How do you decide what gets in and what doesn’t?
I’ve got an open table and I’ve gotten no chest of drawers and I haven’t got a whiteboard. Quite simply whiteboards are where great ideas go to die. I have a pad on the right-hand side. I have no chest of drawers because they will just become cluttered. I look at everything I do and I go, “Is there a value to that? Is there a purpose to that?” We’re entrepreneurs and we know the problem with entrepreneurs is they see shiny and bright and new, “We want it now.” We learn our greatest lessons by the experiences we had, and some of the greatest lessons and the greatest growth come from some of the worst experiences. I’ve bought stuff in my past that I’ve gone, “Why did I buy that?” Nine times out of ten, I found it was to impress you. Now, I found that I don’t want to do that.
I quiz myself, “What’s that going to do to my life? Is that going to add a smile? Is that going to add stories? Is that going to add an emotion?” If not, “Why do I want it?” I’ve become used to the fact that I’m incredibly selfish. I don’t have anyone in my Rolodex that doesn’t add smiles to my life. They haven’t all got a lot of money. When you reached out and said, “Can we have you on the show?” “I love you. I absolutely love chatting with you. You’re an incredibly smart articulate man. I knew that we were just going to have chills and smiles.” There’s a great value in it. If I knew you, but I wasn’t close to you, I didn’t gel with you, then we wouldn’t be having this. I am selfish about my moments and I want to be able to know that I leave a conversation smiling and growing and having fun with it. Get used to being selfish. It is not a bad word.
One of the other things is you have a way of leaving people better and things better than before you connected with them. It’s your whole value proposition. Steve, one of the strategies in the Bluefishing Playbook, you talked about this thing called a Chug Test. Speak to the Chug Test and how people can put it in place for them to make better decisions of who they work with too.
I’m not quite sure because it’s incredibly deep, but I will try to explain it. I went through a period of my life where I suddenly found that I was making a lot of money from people that I didn’t like and it irritated me. You should know that it was so serious that I got incredibly drunk. I didn’t understand why so many people in my life I didn’t like. You know that horrible kind of life where I don’t like dealing with him but, “I made $10,000,” and it was that thing. It was making me very uncomfortable and making me ill. I got very badly drunk. It was about two or three days I went through this and then I came out of it. You would have thought I would have been put off a drink forever in my life. There was an empty bottle of Chivas on my desk. I thought to myself, “Maybe that’s the answer. If I’m not willing to spend my time to chug a whiskey with someone, should they really be in my life?”
We came up with this little idea, you’re walking down the high street and you’re on one side of the road. On the opposite side of the road, going the opposite direction is somebody in your life. It could be a relationship. It could be someone that works new sales, your account, a girlfriend, brother, brother-in-law, your mother, whoever. Someone’s walking the opposite way on the opposite side of the street. Instantaneously, do you, A, look to the left in the shop and pretend you’re looking at new mattresses? Wait for the reflection for them to walk by, turn your head around and carry on. Or do you, B, sprint across the street, jump in front of them and go, “Dan, how are you doing? Let’s go chug a whiskey, drink a coffee, sip a wine or whatever.” If it’s A, put a cross next to those persons and get them out of your life.
I said to you before about friction. I ask you to phone ten of your friends, you aren’t going to be able to do it. You’re going to get to the third one and you either spent all day chatting on the phone. You wouldn’t have had any more time left because we can easily have a long conversation with someone we love. I ask you to phone ten people in your circle you don’t like, you won’t do it because you’ll make excuses for it not to happen. You don’t want to do it. You get on the phone, you get cramped up. You’re own the phone, you’re talking to him. You’re trying to change your posture, you’re trying to keep the conversation going even though you don’t really like the person. You’re doing all of that stuff and what happens is when you get off that call, you then carry that negativity onto the next person. You carried on a cancerous relationship onto someone that maybe you like a lot.People don't want what they can purchase. They want what eludes a desire and excitement. – Steve Sims Click To Tweet
I believed heavily in that and I started to make a list of everyone in my life. Printers, sales folk, my direct family, my mom, my dad, my brother-in-law, my wife, my kids, my gardener and I went through it. If I saw them on the other side of the street, would I run across? Yes, No. If it’s a no, is this something that I can do about it? I got rid of printers. I got rid of my attorney. I got rid of my accountant. I fired half the team in my office because I thought that pain in the ass, I don’t want to put out with that drama. Why should I have to? The Chug Test is on a video on YouTube. I know we were speaking about the PDF playbook. When we go into that and we give them the offer that we were talking about, you’re going to see me put this in a video format for you to understand better
If you’re intrigued to learn how to put some simple practical strategies you can use that you, your team, your family can put in place to take action. The Bluefishing Playbook, I want to encourage you to go deeper with what Steve’s got going on. Steve, how can people connect with you? You’ve put something together for us that’s awesome. Tell people how they can reach you or where they go to learn more about what you’re up to.
I’m a great believer in what they call impactful marketing. I like to call it ugly market. The uglier it is, the more you pay attention. If you text the word UGLYWORKS to 345345, you’ll get a copy of the Bluefish Playbook in PDF format. You’ll also get that Chug Test video. If you’re not in the US, just go to SteveDSims.com and subscribe to the newsletter.
I want to encourage you, go check out what Steve’s up to. Anything from marketing to creating world-class experiences to being a better human being, being a better you. You can learn a lot. Steve, we’re going to wind down here. You’ve been married to Clare for how long?
Since birth. We went to a little kiddie school together. We didn’t know each other but I reckon I probably admired her then. About 30 something years.
If you were going to turn to Clare privately and say, “Clare, I’m so thankful for your support in.” How she shows up for you to allow you to be this visionary creator, this person that’s impacting so many people with your message, with the way you just operate. What would you thank her for, Steve?
I am 20% of Steve Sims, the other 80% is what she’s given me the ability to be. I make sure we have regular date nights. We go for long walks. I invest in my time with her because I became a better person because of it. I hate to say it, but we’re not an equal partnership. She is by far my blood, my air, my eyes, my ears and my everything. I thank her for being her.If you can actually evoke an emotion in someone's transaction, you could do way more with it. – Steve Sims Click To Tweet
That’s the spirit of Steve Sims right there. If you want to get a piece of that, get a taste of it and see how he can help you. You have three amazing kids: Henry, Lily and George. As you think about what you’ve created in the Bluefish Playbook, there’s a lot. You’ve got all kinds of incredible strategies. If you had to pick the one or two most important values of the Bluefishing Playbook you hope that Henry, Lily and George live to as you see it, what would those be?
The first one that we’ve already touched was don’t try to be anyone that you’re not and that it takes zero effort to be you. I want them to grow up to be them. The other one is, and it’s in the book and it came from my dad, big old thick Irish lad. He turned around to me once when I was talking about fifteen years old for no reason whatsoever. He came out of the blue and he just said to me, “Son, no one ever drowned by falling in the water. They drowned by staying in there.” Then he just walked off. As a fifteen-year-old kid, I remember going, “What was that?” It took ten years for that to come back. There are not two days in a row that doesn’t go by that it doesn’t come forward. I’ve noticed that I go down, I fall over, I make mistakes and I fail often and regular, but the only way that it’s going to hurt is if I allow it to keep me down. I decide every day to get out of that water and get back on again.
What’s something I should have asked you that I haven’t?
You’re good. I want people to value relationships and I’m not going to get on a soapbox because I know we’re winding down. I want everyone to realize that the social platforms out there, are anything but social. They’re teaching us how to communicate badly. Pick the phone up, video text yourself, even voicemail someone. Get in front of someone and have a beer, have a coffee, talk to people because the longer it goes on and the more we see the youth being raised on an eyeless society. Somebody who can’t make eye contact, how is that going to be in five or ten years’ time? At the moment, it’s offending us because we never had that when we were young but when they start having kids, it’s going to be the norm. We’re going to start seeing the tops of heads of people because we’re all going to be afraid to make eye contact. We need to change things.
Change that can transform and transcend to elicit desire, to elicit excitement and create an amazing experience. That’s who you are. What would be one to three action steps that you would hope our audience take from our time now?
The first one is very important. Pick a date during the week and make it a no email day. We do no email Tuesday. What we do is for the first hour of the day, we check all our emails and then for the rest of the day, we will use any other way and means to communicate with the person that’s not email. Quite often we’ll get the email and the first thing you do is you phoned them up and you go, “Dan, I’ve got your email, but I wanted to give you a call to see if there was something that potentially I was missing in this communication.” You’d be amazed what you get out of that. Pick a day each week and don’t email. Secondly, send someone a postcard or send someone a letter that you got from a hotel. It’s got hotel stationary on it. No one’s getting any mail anymore. You send out hundreds if not thousands of emails and let’s be honest, some of them pop into junk. Someone didn’t read it. Everyone reads a letter or a postcard because no one’s getting them anymore.
Thirdly, magazine subscriptions. This sounds really stupid, but if you love someone and you’re trying to build up a relationship with them, find out what they like. Go onto this website for magazines that carry that theme. Subscribe to a magazine for them. Here’s the beauty of that, magazines aren’t going bankrupt on a daily basis. You’ll get yearly subscriptions for $20 and every quarter that person’s getting a magazine thanks to you. The amount of times every quarter someone contacts me because of their new magazine. I can literally go, “The magazine’s just landed,” but it’s a flawless, frictionless way of keeping in repeat communication with the people you like.
Thank you for making the time for us.
Take action with what Steve has shared with you. I encourage you to go check out what he’s doing. Text UGLYWORKS to 345345 or go to SteveDSims.com. I want to throw in a plug for this incredible book. I’ve read it, I’ve listened to it, which is how I start all my book. It was so good when I listened to it. I had to get the book and I’ve earmarked it and made a bunch of notes. I encourage you to go find where you can get it at your local bookstore or on Amazon or wherever you can get books. You won’t be disappointed. Take action with what you’ve been given and run with it. Apply the bluefishing concept, the Bluefishing Playbook. Seize the day, make it a great week. We’ll see you next time.
As the founder of Bluefish, one of the top personal concierge services, and an expert marketer within the luxury industry, Steve has been quoted in various publications & TV including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, London’s Sunday Times, South China Morning Post and many more.
A best-selling author of “BLUEFISHING – The Art of Making Things Happen”, sought-after consultant, and a speaker at a variety of networks, groups and associations as well as the Pentagon and Harvard – twice!
Want to sing with your favorite rock star, be serenaded by Andre Bocelli, walk the red carpet at A List Oscar parties, get married in the Vatican, Dive to the wreck of the Titanic – these are just a few highlights of what Steve has been asked to provide for his clients.
He makes the impossible, possible… after all, he is quoted as “The Real Life Wizard of Oz” by Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine.