Joe DeMaria

Is It Possible to Grow Your Business to Death? With Joe DeMaria

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Joe DeMaria is the Founder of Teach To Scale and Chief Learning Officer at Academy Builders. He helps coaches, consultants, and peak performers create online courses and group coaching programs to increase their impact, expand their product offerings, and create new pillars of revenue in their businesses.

Joe began his internet marketing career in 2011, and after several unsuccessful attempts at developing his own online course, he developed “Dynamic Ascension Training,” an 80/20 teaching system that focuses on breaking down even the most complicated skill sets into simple, digestible training programs. Since then, Joe has become one of the most sought-after course creation consultants on the planet.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • The universal problem every business owner faces… It’s true whether you’re starting out if you have or have a 7-, 8-, or 9-figure business. (I’ve never heard it put this way before, and it’s not what you think.)
  • The counter-intuitive reason Starbucks almost went out of business and faced public embarrassment in 1997… and what they did to salvage it, and ultimately scale to over $100 Billion current valuation.
  • A different way to tease out the knowledge in your brain and how to use it to supplement your product to increase use, retention, repeat business, and referrals from your customers.
  • A secret almost nobody considers when creating and “growing” a business.
  • Why chasing “growth at all costs” can be a death sentence for your business… And what to do instead.
  • How to avoid the BIG mistake Kodak made in 1981 that led to their bankruptcy in 2012… 30 years later!
  • And much, much more.

In this episode…

Every entrepreneur wants to take their new idea from a useful concept to a thriving business. But, scaling a business is intentional in nature and requires a good foundation as well as a structured strategy. So before you try to move any further, you have to know where you’re going.

However, there is a lot of information shared on different channels that can confuse and intimidate new innovators and entrepreneurs. These can range from an overload of marketing and branding advice that has nothing to do with your business, to bad takes on finances and operations. So what can entrepreneurs do to get started and scale their companies without killing them?

In this episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein is joined by Joe DeMaria, the Founder of Teach To Scale, to talk about business growth strategies. They discuss what new innovators need to keep in mind with their business ideas, explain the difference between teaching in-person versus online, and talk about the latest content learning innovations. Stay tuned.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process. 

You can email their team at to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’

Intro (00:09):
Welcome to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, Rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration and those aha moments that change everything. And now here’s your host, Rich Goldstein.

Rich (00:33):
Rich Goldstein, the host of the innovations and breakthroughs podcast, where I feature top leaders and the path they took to create change past guests and include Joe Joe Polish, Ryan dice, and Roland Fraser. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein patent law, where, where we help you to protect your ideas and products we’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 27 years. So if you’re a company that has software or product or a design, you want protected go to Goldstein patent, where there are amazing free resource for learning about the patent process. And you could email my team at welcome Goldstein, to explore if it’s a match to work together. You could also check out the book I wrote for the American bar association that explains in plain English, how patents work it’s called the ABA consumer guide to obtaining a patent. I have with me here today, Joe D Maria, Joe it out in internet marketing in 2011 and after several unsuccessful attempts at developing his own online course, Joe developed dynamic extension training. And since then, Joe has become one of the most sought after course creation consultants on the planet. Um, very pleased to welcome here today. My good friend, Joe D Maria. Welcome Joe.

Joe (01:43):
Thanks Rich. I’ve been excited about this conversation all week, so thanks for having me.

Rich (01:48):
Awesome. Yeah, my pleasure. Uh, and so Joe, how did you get started as an entrepreneur?

Joe (01:55):
Uh, completely by accident? I think actually, I, I didn’t even know people could be entrepreneurs until I was starting a business, but I’d flirted with it many times as a kid. Um, you know, I, I started a yeah, like a, a, a little cartel of, of kids selling sodas and, and candy when there was a sugar band that hit our, our local school district as a child, I think it was around nine. Um, and you know, we got it didn’t last very long, but we made almost a thousand dollars. My, a mother still keeps the ledger. Um, she’s very proud of the ledger that I I had at nine. So she’s, that’s one of her prized possessions to this day, but

Rich (02:33):
You mean the public ledger, right? You had two set of books didn’t

Joe (02:36):
You? Of course. Yeah. I, well, you know, I was paying, um, in my, my infinite wisdom at nine, I was paying, uh, some, some nine year old lieutenants friends of mine to steal sodas from their family homes. And I was paying them like a quarter, uh, uh, a unit basically, and selling everything for a dollar or $2. So it was a, it was a racket, but yeah, we, we wanted to make sure we had to keep everything neat in case we got audited.

Rich (03:01):
Right. And it’s funny. Um, and I think you were caught selling a and w Rooter, right?

Joe (03:07):
Well, so I wasn’t, but the whole house of cards came tumbling down when, uh, oh, there you go. You have one with you today.

Rich (03:13):
See, I, I, I was drinking one already, as I, as I read that,

Joe (03:16):
See, you’re the, yeah, you’re the guy, if you would just play aid it a little bit cooler and made sure we did do that,

Rich (03:21):
You would’ve stolen mine and sold it.

Joe (03:23):
That’s right. If you didn’t get caught doing the hand to hand on CCTV, we would’ve all gotten away with it, but, um, you’d be like,

Rich (03:31):
Guys, I know where I can find an a and w Rich’s office.

Joe (03:36):
Oh yeah. There were, there were custom orders. There was all types of stuff that we were doing. It was, uh, I didn’t even realize that, that this was a business. It was just a, a little hustle that I’d made up on the spot.

Rich (03:48):
Nice. And so, you know, after that, and, uh, so after that fun experience, what, um, kind of, what other businesses did you find yourself in

Joe (03:58):
Legal, uh, or illegal? I, you know, I, I, I talk about it now because Hey, state of New York, the statute of limitations is up, but I, I got involved in, uh, you know, the fake ID thing when I was in college. And then, you know, I got roped into all different kinds of, uh, these little hustles on the side as a, as a kid, just because I didn’t, I didn’t even know what I was doing was legal or illegal. There were just opportunities and holes that I saw in the market. You know, there was a for example, like this is just a silly thing that still makes me me laugh today. But when I moved to New York, I noticed all of these kids were getting fake IDs and they were all getting ’em from the same place this Chinese come. And the way that it always worked was it was like $450 to get your, your fake ID through these people.

Joe (04:50):
But if you went in bulk and you got a few of your buddies together, you got a better deal. So I reached out to this Chinese company and basically asked them if they’d ever had a reseller, right. I didn’t even know what a reseller was, but a actually it’s what I was asking them. You know, a representative in the field in, in New York that could go around and sell on their behalf. And they said, sure. So I started going in and putting together groups of 10, 20, you know, 30 people that would all be paying my white labeled company $200 instead of 450, they would submit on their own. And I would just batch them and I would pay $50 ahead. And I was making thousands of dollars a month going around Queens. And, uh, just, just, I painted my, the wall of my, uh, apartment DMV, like white gray in, uh, in New York and was just, I had the, the Nikon camera taking the pictures, taking the money, sending it to China, the whole shebang. Um, and it just kind of, again, it was just something that sort of happened overnight. The bright idea that was less than legal, but I just found myself in the middle of the Mastro very quickly.

Rich (06:03):
Right. And then eventually you found yourself in incident marketing

Joe (06:06):
And absolutely like most internet marketers, you start as a criminal now. Um, <laugh> uh, yeah. Uh, I, I ended up meeting a whole bunch of, of marketers when I was probably eight and I was doing a lot of, I, I dropped outta college to go start a marketing agency in the Silicon valley where I grew up and I was heavily studying anybody in the world of online marketing at the time, because well, in 20 10, 20 11, that was still a pretty wide open frontier. Of course, I got, you know, I met people like Perry, Belcher and Ryan DYS and all these different people that were, you know, became fixtures of, of my career and my life over the next decade or so. And what I realized very quickly was, um, for me, the, the big innovation wasn’t actually in applying all the brand new, crazy stuff people were coming out with, it was finding ways to take that stuff, but strategically aligned everything to a company that would’ve functioned very well in like 1965.

Joe (07:11):
Um, so many companies were blowing up over and over again at the time because they married the newest idea, the new trend, the newest piece of tech for their marketing or for their launches or their sales, but they were all kind of built on houses of cards. They, you know, as soon as the, the next innovation came, they were orphaned, right. They were stuck out in the wind. And I watched so many agencies, so many entrepreneurs fail in those first few years that were like the cutting edge, coolest guys. And they were gone within 18 months, 24 months. Um, and that was a, a really, really big lesson. It was part of what really shaped my, uh, my agency and what I ended up doing.

Rich (07:54):
Cool. And, and so then eventually you got into creating online courses, um, and in particular, really helping people to, to, um, um, tease out the content that’s, uh, existing in their brain that they, um, kind of have struggled to structure into a course. Is that kind of it?

Joe (08:15):
Yeah. And, and, you know, wanna talk about an, the general theme of my career so far is you wake up in an entirely different situation than you, you were in before, and you just kind of didn’t realize it. So as part of internet marketing, anybody can tell you in the early, you know, 2000 10, 11, 12, there was this whole thing about online courses, and they were starting to become, they were like this whisper in the wind that this was gonna be a big opportunity. And so I had a ton of clients that would come to us and say, Hey, can you help us make this thing? And the, the answer of course is yes, I, I agree to stuff, cuz I think it’s fun and entertaining and I don’t necessarily need to know, but we’ll figure it out, especially in my, my early twenties. Um, and we started playing around with all these online learning formats and we realized that nobody really had a good method for this thing.

Joe (09:06):
Everybody was just really bad at it. Rich. I, I don’t know if you remember taking any courses in like 2010, but they were horrific. I mean, I there’s just no method to the madness. So it took a, a few years of us experimenting with it and I ended up creating a different way of teaching online, just a, a curriculum structure that we could give to literally anybody so far. Right. I’m sure someone will define me one day, but so far we’ve been able to give it to literally anybody and have them take these really complex things that, you know, hard, one knowledge over decades that they’ve earned and accrued pull it out of their brain and put it into an easy format. That’s actually teachable. And the results kind of spoke for themselves like industry average when we, we started was anywhere between six and 15% completion rate on those programs, ours were routinely in 60 to 70% range. Um, and when you’re looking at things like, uh, graduation rates, implementation, things like that, ours are typically two to three times higher than, than university level, which is hilarious. Cause I’m a college dropout. So now I’m working with universities and corporations and entrepreneurs to improve their online learning because the system that we made is just it’s different.

Rich (10:30):
Hmm. Wow. And, and so, and what you did then successfully was you innovated how courses were, were put together, which resulted in people consuming that much more of them than they normally would. Like normally very few people would complete the course and, and um, you found the way to make it, I guess, a better fit so that people tended to complete the course where they didn’t previously.

Joe (10:55):
Totally. I mean, and so you’ve, you’ve made online pro Rams before. Like I know, I know that and you’re a hell of a teacher and you’re a good speaker. You’ve got all this experience that it feels different when you’re on stage and you’re speaking and you’re teaching in that format than when you’re doing it on camera, right? Like the, the stickiness and like the social pressure of actually paying attention to somebody in the room, very different than when you’re just like on your computer at home and the dog’s barking and

Rich (11:25):
Phones and no other reason, it’s because it’s live and it’s, it’s here now and gone in a moment where as if, um, it’s recorded, then there’s a, a million excuses of why not now <laugh> why could be absolutely soon lay later. And then later becomes never.

Joe (11:42):
So blow that up into COVID and every university in the world suddenly goes digital. And all that social pressure we have is as students, right. Sitting in a classroom in a lecture hall having to pay attention because if we don’t get it right now in this very moment, then this class is over this lecture’s done, I’ve got a test coming up and I’m, I’m Sol right? I’m done well, you move all those into online. These kids now have like, you know, 48 windows open you YouTubes on, they’re listening to music, they’re playing video games, they’re watching TV, you know, they’re hanging out with people like they’re not present. There’s not that social pressure in order to make that content work, we had to innovate, not just the structure of curriculum, but really how we teach online. Um, just as a, has to be totally different. And that’s really the thing that we hit on over the past, you know, six or seven years. And it just so happened to, you know, if you wanna like catch the wave the best way to do that is to just be sitting out in the ocean wave before the waves come. You know, just trying to show up right on time is very difficult. So we were just lucky to out there really early, um, and have a good reputation for this, you know?

Rich (12:59):
Yeah, that’s great. And, and so I, I think that’s a good segue into kind of what you’re doing now with online learning and like there’s this new innovation, um, new innovations that you are a part of and uh, to a new movement in terms of, of content creation. So, so tell me about that.

Joe (13:17):
Yeah. Um, you know, online learning became a really big passion of mine, largely as a dropout. Um, I think every, every college dropout has a bone to pick with academia in some way, shape or form, whether it’s the, the prize or the structure or the, you know, the, the curriculum itself. Like we all, we’ve all got kind of grudge that we, we hold or enacts to grind. And, um, for me, you know, I’ve looked at the rising rates of tuitions and I’ve looked at the, uh, the amount of, of kids that I see that come out of university now with like hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. That average, I don’t know if you know this, but within 24 months, they on average make $21 an hour with an average, uh, an average debt of 150,000. So you can imagine just these kids are set up for failure from the off.

Joe (14:10):
And so one of the things that I was looking at, and it, it kind of was a perfect confluence, is I’ve always wanted to change the way online education works. And a good mutual friend of ours is actively working with corporations now to make them the next generation of educators rather than academics. So it, it totally fit my ethos of trying to put the burden, the price burden, or the cost burden of take it off the shoulders of the students and to start placing it onto, you know, uh, corporations or placing it onto these third parties to sort of alleviate some of that, that tug that’s happening right now. Um, and it just so happened that, you know, a good friend of ours was doing it, and I’ve been trying to do it on my own for years, but he is, you know, an amazing entrepreneur with an incredible amount of experience he sold, you know, he sold a company to Richard Branson and ran it for him. You wrote Yahoo’s first business plan, like he’s a storied entrepreneur. Um, and it’s, it’s really been very cool to kind of sit there and be kind of a co-pilot and work as a, in a partnership to go start moving the needle there, cuz I don’t think I’d be able to do it on my own.

Rich (15:30):
Wow. That sounds amazing. And uh, excited to see that unfold. Um, and uh, I I’d see if we shift a little bit towards kind of, uh, where many other entrepreneurs might be like where many other innovators might be having their first idea, their first, um, innovation that they’re looking to turn of their first business, perhaps. Um, it’s like, what do you think that, that these entrepreneurs need to have in mind, um, before they jump toward just kind of, you know, pushing it out into the world?

Joe (16:08):
Yeah, I, that’s a really good question. Um, I would tell you that pretty much universally, whether you’re a, a day one entrepreneur or you’re 20 years into being an entrepreneur, if you’re at a hundred thousand a year or 5,000 a year or a million a year, you pretty much have the same problem, right? Cuz all of us wanna go to the next level next level’s always relative. Doesn’t matter for a Rich Goldstein. The next level looks very different than somebody that’s two years into their career, but all of us are always looking for that. Next thing. The biggest issue is that there are a ton of information out there and we can get really stuck thinking that there’s all these things we have to do before we can progress all these things that must be done, right? Because there’s so many cool, fun things that you’re learning on the internet about marketing your stuff, selling your stuff, branding all of these different things that can kind of make your head spin.

Joe (17:09):
The biggest thing that I think all entrepreneurs need at every level is a better filter, right? The reality is scaling a business is really, really intentional work. There needs to be a strategy. There needs to be a, an overall vision that we’re building to. And I think when we first start, I know personally for myself and I don’t know if you would agree with this Rich from your experience when I started my companies, um, as a, as a, like my first couple, I had no idea what I wanted my long term to look like. So I was just doing things and while it would grow and it would make money because I didn’t have an overarching goal or a strategy or an idea of where I was piloting it almost always it would fail, right. It could have, I could make hundreds of thousands of dollars in a really short period of time, but in the long run, everything died.

Joe (18:07):
And part of it was, I was serving growth, growth, growth, but there’s a huge difference between growth and scale scale is architectural, right? It’s, it’s building a great foundation. It’s knowing where you’re going. And the reality is I think most of, uh, most entrepreneurs, even ones that you and I are friends with today that are store like very, very success. They all are asking the same question, which is how do I scale to the next level? And it’s almost always an architecture issue, not get more sales, not spend more money on marketing, not hire a PR agent.

Rich (18:44):
Yeah. And, um, and so it’s, it’s a matter of, I guess, um, having the, the right strategy and you, you mentioned the difference between scale and growth. It almost seems like the difference between tactics and, and uh, strategy, right? It’s like, sure,

Joe (19:02):
Sure. I mean you, so like give you an example there’s and this will, you know, probably hit home for a lot of folks. Most of you don’t know that that Starbucks almost went out of, in like 1997, right? Why? Because they grew too fast. Um, their CEO at the time he had a memo leaked and his memo was basically lamenting all of the mistakes they’d made in going from 3000 stores to 13,000 and how all of the things that they’d done in service of growth had prevented them from being a scalable company. They had to go from 13,000 stores back down to six, right? They, they had to fire thousands of employees publicly embarrassed themselves and walk back several years of quote unquote innovation because they’d served growth, growth, growth, but they paid no attention to the actual strategic foundation that they’d built. Um, and you know, there’s, there’s tons of case studies on that.

Joe (20:01):
Kodak did the same thing. They served growth, growth growth, but they weren’t scalable Kodak decided that they were in the, um, they were told to invest in digital in 19 81, 19 81, they were told they had a 10 year window by a market analyst. They hired and their board ignored them. Fuji films came out and became a Titan in that 10 year window Kodak still ignored them. And instead of admitting their mistake, they turned around and said, oh, you know what? We’re not a photography company. We’re a paper and chemicals company. And they bought Sterling for like 1.2 billion and they sold it like 10 years later for 200 million or something crazy. They, they doubled down on this completely unintelligent strategy because it was growing, growing, growing, but it didn’t serve their long term goal of being a healthy stable company. Um, and you just see companies grow to death every day. The startup world is rife with them.

Rich (21:01):
And so I guess part of that is, is a difference between growth and longevity. So right. It’s like what’s going to help you grow isn’t necessarily going to be sustainable or have you around, um,

Joe (21:15):
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I, when I talk about this, I always say it’s like, okay, Rich, let’s say you built yourself a, a, a beautiful new house and it’s one story and it’s a sprawling amazing estate. Right? That’s awesome. If next year comes and you wanna add a story to it, great. That’s growth. Now we have a second floor and so far so good if another year passes and you wanna add a third story to the sprawling miraculous estate, uh, okay. We can do it, but maybe in the middle of the night, you start hearing some noises, some creaking, some, some things you don’t love. If your four comes around and you add another story to it. And all of a sudden the whole thing collapses one night, um, that’s because there’s a big difference between growth and scale, right? Scaling is an architectural thing. If you wanted to build something that tall, it would’ve needed to be designed that way from the beginning or retrofitted completely to be able to sustain that level of growth. And a lot of us don’t think that way we just pour gasoline on the fire.

Rich (22:21):
It was that sunroom. We put it on the first floor just that wasn’t built to put on a third and a fourth story.

Joe (22:28):
It just couldn’t do it. Yeah. And that’s the, that’s the reality is like when I work with most entrepreneurs now, or I, you know, I meet friends and we, we talk over coffee about what’s happening in their businesses. Almost always. I can point to an architectural issue, not a growth issue. Um, growth is growth is an equation most of us can solve, but is a strategy.

Rich (22:53):
I love it. Um, that really, really awesome, um, concept and, um, um, notion for anyone to think about really anyone who is jumping into, into, um, starting their business with an eye on growth should be thinking about this and should be thinking about their, um, their strategy for scaling. Uh, now, um, if people want to learn more about you get in touch with you, Joe, how do they go about doing so

Joe (23:22):
There’s a couple places you can head, um, on Instagram, which I I’ll admit. I spend almost no time on social media. So shoot your shot, but chances are pretty low. Uh, but you can go to, to at get more Joe on Instagram and, uh, you know, message me there. Or you can jump onto our website.

Rich (23:40):
The question is, are they really gonna get more Joe?

Joe (23:42):
Well, it, it used to be true. If, if you go to social media, you might get less Joe. Um, I think Rich knows that I’m, I’m a, a very anti-social media person. Um, but you can go our

Rich (23:53):
Media. That’s, that’s a funny before and after that’s worthy of, uh, wheel of fortune.

Joe (23:59):
Oh, I

Rich (24:00):
Know entire social media.

Joe (24:02):
I, yeah, I I’m, I actually, we should build an antisocial media. It’s like, you, you make your own profile. Maybe that’s our innovation together. Rich. We make anti-social media for introverts where nobody else can see your profile. It’s completely anonymous. Um, that sounds, that sounds great, actually.

Rich (24:20):
Yeah. Okay. So then I, and I totally interrupted you, um, in terms of, uh, like the, the answering the question. So it was, uh, people wanna learn more about you get in touch with you then first of all, there’s get more Joe on Instagram and,

Joe (24:35):
And there’s, uh, you can go to Um, and that’s T not the number two Rich, don’t worry about interrupting me. We’ve been friends long enough. I know it comes with the territory with both of us. So it’s, it’s just part of how it works.

Rich (24:52):
Put a couple of add D D guys together, and that’s what you get

Joe (24:55):
Exactly. Put a take ’em off their meds and the Bedlam breaks loose.

Rich (24:58):
Yeah. Forget it. Uh, well, cool. Well, Joe, I appreciate you taking the time to, um, have this conversation, uh, and kind of share some of your, um, your past story and your experience and really some of what, um, what will help entrepreneurs to, uh, to not get stuck. So thank you so much.

Joe (25:20):
Absolutely. It’s my pleasure, man.

Rich (25:23):
Okay. Have a great day.

Outro (25:29):
Thanks for listening to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, Rich Goldstein. Be sure to click, subscribe, check us out on the web at and we’ll see you next time.


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