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Lewis Howes: broke to multi-million dollar business owner in less than 3 years

In 2008, Lewis Howes was an unemployed 25 year old, sleeping on his sister’s couch and eating her macaroni and cheese.

Fast forward to today: million dollar man Howes is running three companies, publishing books, bouncing between New York and LA, playing on the U.S. Men’s National Handball team and turning down roles as hunky love-starved bachelors on network reality shows.

The timeframe from couch surfing to internet millionaire?

Less than three years.

[Click the cover image to the read the article in ASPIRE magazine.]

Here’s a quick survey of the main properties in the Howes empire:

  • Inspired Marketing, LLC where he and partner Sean Malarkey create and market online educational programs for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • SportsNetworker, a social media marketing resource that helps people break into the business of sports.
  • Sports Executives Association, a membership site that offers training and exclusive networking opportunities to professionals in the sports industry.
  • Books – LinkedWorking and the Ultimate Webinar Marketing Guide, with more on the horizon.
  • Speaking – Howes commands five figure speaking fees and turns down more gigs than he accepts.

Lewis Howes’ hockey-stick trajectory from broke to multimillion-dollar business owner started in an unlikely place: LinkedIn, the social networking site for business professionals. During his six-month stint on his sister’s sofa, recovering from a career ending football injury, Lewis became one of the world’s foremost authorities on LinkedIn.

So, how did Howes, who calls himself a “lifestyle entrepreneur,” create a multimillion dollar work-from-anywhere empire in three years, while so many “lifestyle entrepreneurs” struggle to pay rent? He credits his dramatic rise to three specific ideas:

1. No fear of huge success or huge failure.

“I’m not worried about whether something might not work. I’ll try anything.”

Howes parlayed his sports training discipline to the business world, where he focused single-mindedly on achieving his goals, not whether his ideas might fail. This “all out” effort trumps half-hearted over-thinking any day.

“My biggest fear is being average. I want to go full speed ahead with everything I take on.”

Hustle played a big role in the speed and scale of Howes’ success. While other online marketers were producing a webinar a month, Howes gave four to seven free training webinars every week. At the end of each webinar, he’d offer his LinkedIn training course to the 500 to 1000 participants.

“I’ve applied everything I know about performance, discipline, and excellence in sports to building my businesses today.”

2.  Building quality relationships.

With early experiences like an introduction to internet marketing guru Joel Comm turning into a $6K+ webinar , Howes knows the right person can shorten your learning curve or create life-changing opportunities for you.

His approach: become friends with people before they make it big. Research them; find out their interests and connections. Offer them something for free. “The more you give to people, the more they’re willing to reciprocate.”

“I’d rather build friendships than business relationships because business relationships will do some things for you, but friends will do anything for you.”

3. Inspiring and influencing people to take action toward their goals.

Videos of Howes as a football player show him challenging and cajoling team members, making them laugh and celebrating every success, no matter how minor.  

He’s taking that energy, drive and joie de vive and building a massive following beyond the world of online marketing. He’s speaking at conferences and hosting meet ups across the country. A few months ago, Howes spoke at the White House, as one of the 2012 Empact100, spotlighting the top companies in the U.S. run by entrepreneurs age 30 and under.

Howes army wants you

What’s next for Lewis Howes? Don’t look for him to rest anytime soon. This just-turned 30 year old wants to be a household name.

“I’m trying to build a bigger platform for myself. More leverage, more influence so that I can serve more people.”

The platform is growing: Lewis is writing for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, has almost 100,000 followers on Twitter and is working on a TV show (just not one focused on his love life.)

It keeps going. In 2013, he kicked off a podcast called The School of Greatness to share “inspiring stories from the most brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities on the planet.”

“I want to succeed until my eyes bleed.”

Your fame boosting assignment:

This week, take a page from Lewis’ success manual. Find one activity in your business and turn up the volume. Scale it 10x and see what kind of results you get. Your cover story is just around the corner!


  1. Julie Musial on April 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Big takeaway here is “while everyone else was doing one webinar per month, I was doing four to seven per week”. To be successful you must be different.

  2. Nancy Tierney on April 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Wow, incredible. I’ve known about Lewis (wish I actually knew him personally) for many years now but I never knew how many ventures he’s created. The quotes you shared from him are just great, and I love the sports analogies. Truly inspiring.

    As for your assignment, I think I’ll focus on Number One, since I’m about to try something new and different, and I have to admit, it’s a bit scary! Can I be as fearless has Lewis? I’ll give it a go!

  3. Janine on April 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

    The intro makes me think of David Neagle’s “change your sense of urgency”
    Very inspiring, thanks!

  4. BizSugar.com on April 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Lessons from Lewis Howes, footballer turned million dollar entrepreneur…

    In 2008, Lewis Howes was an unemployed 25 year old, sleeping on his sister’s couch and eating her macaroni and cheese. Fast forward to today: million dollar man Howes is running three companies, publishing books, bouncing between New York and LA, playi…

  5. Teepu on April 17, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    WOW! WoW! and WOW! Didn’t expect this kind of thing from this guy. I guess, there really is more to people than what meets the eye. Definitely an eye opener!

    “My biggest fear is being average. I want to go full speed ahead with everything I take on.”

    Thanks for sharing in Bizsugar!

  6. Lorraine on April 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I love Lewis, I actually have some of his stuff. Also he has taught me not to be just average. Thanks for posting this!

  7. Linda on April 20, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Wow, what a franchise he is! So inspiring. The no fear attitude when it comes to success or failure is really where people make it. Thanks for another great article Lori!

  8. Heather Stone on April 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Lori,
    Great insights on a unique success story. I like the emphasis on relationship building and influencing others. These are both harder than they sound, but young entrepreneurs must understand them. Thanks also for being our Contributor of the Week on the BizSugar blog. Hope you’ve had time to take a look.

  9. Laura on April 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I’ve never heard of Lewis but his story is filled with lessons. There is so much we can learn from career ending injuries…it ends one career but opens the ability to so very much more! Kudos to him!

    • Lori on May 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      You’re right, Laura. And Lewis’ story shows that you use everything you’ve learned in your next thing…for him, it’s the intense discipline and hustle from sports that’s making him such a success in business.

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