On this week’s episode of The Over 50 Entrepreneur, we speak with Amanda Holmes, CEO of Chet Holmes International.
Chet Holmes built a system of 12 core competencies to double your sales, wrote “The Ultimate Sales Machine” and worked with Fortune 500 companies throughout the world. When he passed away in 2012, his daughter Amanda took the reins of the company.
We talk to her about adapting her father’s legacy for today, and what “The Ultimate Sales Machine” looks like in 2021, as well as:
- More businesses were started during the COVID pandemic than ever before—how can your business cut through the clutter (and reach buyers)
- How to overcome the number one issue small businesses are facing today
- The shrinking gap between marketing and sales (where you should focus your efforts NOW)
- And much more
Mentioned in this episode:
Voiceover: You’re listening to the Over 50 Entrepreneur, the podcast that’s dedicated to the business builders who are only getting started, when most are winding down. This is the place to discover how to create more freedom from your business while growing the value of your business. Now, here’s your host, Rick Hadrava.
Rick Hadrava: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of The Over 50 Entrepreneur. You know, it’s been a busy year. And I’ll just admit to you, we haven’t been putting out as many shows as I’d like. And I think as we progress, more information on that will come out. And I’ll share some real valuable information on that. But you know, I continually get responses and emails from listeners, you guys have given me some really humbling ratings on iTunes. And by that I mean five star ratings, which I appreciate, I get emails from Australia, the US, Canada, and it just really lets me know that we’re onto something here, as we try to encourage the entrepreneur, entrepreneurial community, be it, they’re just starting, or it’s a second part of life, or they’ve been in business for a long time.
And, you know, today’s guest really kind of intimidated me, to be honest with you. I’ve known about her dad for a very long time. I consider him one of my silent mentors, when it comes to sales and marketing over the years. And I think he was considered to be one of the greatest salesman ever. Also one of the greatest teachers when it came to the topics of marketing, sales and business success. You know, unfortunately, we lost him back in 2000. And I take that back. We lost him in 2012. But prior to that, he published his one and only book I believe, called the Ultimate Sales Machine.
And if yes, if you haven’t read that book, I highly recommend it. It’s a great one. And I think we’re going to share a little bit on that today. So you know, this is a book, like I said, I’ve had for many, many years, and it proudly sits on my bookshelf. And and I’ve even done some of the audio portions of it and highly recommended. And to show you how long ago that was. It’s on my iPod, which I don’t know where that is today, to be honest. I’ll have to look. So anyway, now we enter Chet’s daughter, Amanda Holmes. And you know, she bravely took the reins of Chet’s company after he passed.
And at the age of 24, just two years out of out of USC, if I remember right, with a degree in music, we’re going to learn about that. How did how did that experience unfold? What can we learn? I’m very excited to talk about the company that Chet founded over 25 years ago. They work with some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies and countless numbers of small businesses all around the world. So without further ado, let’s bring our guest today Amanda Holmes to The Over 50 Entrepreneur podcast. Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to be here.
Amanda Holmes: Thank you so much, Rick, it’s such a pleasure.
Rick: Well, as you know, if I get anything wrong, please correct me. But let’s start by this for those that maybe don’t know about your dad or yourself. Tell us a little bit about who was your dad?
Amanda: Oh, well, he made a professionally, he made his big break working for Charlie Munger, co chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. And he was able to double the sales of nine different divisions for Charlie, all within 12 to 15 months, and several of them multiplied multiple years consecutively. It was quite a quite a feat. So he realized that he had built a system for creating sales success for doubling sales. And that’s when he went in and worked with 60 of the Fortune 500, which was magnificent.
And then he realized that he could make more of an impact working with small to medium sized businesses. So we started a company which is now Chet Holmes International and wrote his book, which has now been voted in the top 10 most recommended marketing and sales books of all time, which I’m so grateful for. Which is ushered in the ability for me to carry on this next generation of what the Ultimate Sales Machine looks like in 2021 and beyond. So, that was a bit of him professionally, he was also a karate master.
Fourth degree black belt. Which is where we came up with the concept that mastery is about isn’t about doing 4000 things. It’s about doing 12 things 4000 times. So we have 12 core competencies and how to double yourselves based around what he had learned from his days of martial arts. And he was also a magnificent father. I have to say, him I were extremely close. Born on his birthday, I was. Just to show a bit more of how Kismet we were. And, yeah, it’s an honor to carry on that legacy and adapt it for the modern day.
Rick: Well, you know, you talk about Charlie Munger. And I think I recently saw an interview with you where you talked about the fact that it was so successful the work that your dad was doing, that Charlie got a little concerned that maybe there was something illegal going on?
Amanda: It’s such a great quote, yes. Are we lying, cheating or stealing? No, you’re not.
Rick: But it shows is much about, you know, what he had figured out in his systems and processes. And I love I love the whole point about, you know, do 12 things 4000 times versus doing 4000 things. And it’s hard as an entrepreneur, because you, you have ideas, and you want to do things and something sounds great. But I’ve always found that when we focus on just a few core things, within our control, especially, they seem to have the biggest impact. So he did a great job of influencing us.
Amanda: Let me take, I just have one piece of market data for that as well. So we recently just did a study amidst my following. And we found that the number one issue facing small businesses today is generating new leads. That is the biggest difficulty. And it would make sense, because 10 years ago, when my father first came out with the Ultimate Sales Machine, the average business, used seven different marketing vehicles to get their message across. Today, the average business uses fifteen different marketing vehicles. We’ve doubled the amount of work we have to do for less of the ability to cut through the clutter, because the amount of clutter out there, getting the attention of our prospects instead of us is so much greater. So just to give you some market data behind what you just said.
Rick: Well, and I think when you couple that with the continuous number of products and services that are entered into the, you know, business world every day into the economy every day. So if I’m understanding you what you’re saying, Amanda, is, we’re competing for more and more, and it’s just not as effective as it used to be.
Amanda: Yes. And I’ll give you another stat on what you just said. So at the beginning of COVID, for the first three months of COVID, that quarter, 500,000 new businesses were started in the United States. More businesses than any other time in the history of the United States. So yes, our compete, our competition is getting even more fierce, especially with the ability to start a business today. It’s so much easier.
Rick: Well, good. And I want to expand on that. But first, I feel like we would do an injustice if we didn’t talk a little bit about maybe something a little more personal with you taking the reins after your dad, you know, after your dad passed. I mean, was that something that was in the cards for you at a young age?
Rick: So tell us a little bit about that. I mean, I’m assuming you studied music with with the idea that I’m going to go into the arts and, and do this. So what what was that transition like in your life?
Amanda: Well, growing up with my father, he always said, I believe in you, whatever you want to do, I will support you. I have sacrificed my life to build this organization. So that whatever your dreams are, you know, I, I’m, I’m proud of what you want to be. So when I said, okay, well, I would love to be in the arts. My father wrote hundreds of songs. And he always wanted to be a part of Hollywood, he sold a screenplay to Warner Brothers. But he was so so great at sales, it was hard for him to ever leave. So we never got to pursue that artistic part of him or he did but just as a side project. So he said, I’ll fully support you in your music, if that’s what you want to do.
And of course, along the way, I got little lessons on how to market and how to sell and, and so as a singer songwriter sitting in a coffee shop, usually they sit in the corner and they’re quiet, and you know, you applaud when they’re done. Whereas me I’m like, okay, I have to close 100% of the room. Okay, how can I upsell? Okay, what can I do? I couldn’t help the sales machine was in the back of the head, just, I guess, just being in the vicinity of my father for so many years. But, and I was the only profitable musician that I knew that could go on tour and make a profit, which we know for business owners, 60% of them don’t make a profit, which is insane, right?
But anyways, taking over was terrifying because I can remember, a couple of days after my father passed, I was given the P&L for the company. And I can just, it’s like one of those moments, you know, that’s just etched in your brain, where you remember what was sitting on the table. I had all of these flowers all around from from his funeral. And I was scrolling across the P&L looking at all of these companies that he had. And I didn’t even know what half of them were, let alone who ran them how they operated. It was I mean, I just started bawling. And majority of the first several months, thank goodness, we’re a virtual company, because I would, I would just sit on calls and just be crying. They’d be like, is Amanda there and I’d sniff, sniff, hi.
Not a lot of not a lot of communication. But I started listening. That was the first step was really just listening to what everyone was saying. And then I got up the nerve to start asking questions. And people started recognizing that I was asking good questions, they said, keep asking them. And I hired multiple different C suites to try and fill the void of my father, because my father hadn’t been in the day to day of the business for several years. You know, he had 12 different presidents that reported to him as CEO, and all of those. You know, so he wasn’t doing sales for the company. But when you lose the CEO or the founder, it’s just it’s like, as if the body’s operating without a heart. So trying to fill that heart was very difficult until about two years, and then I stepped in as CEO, and I’ve been CEO for seven years now.
Rick: So at any point early on in that transition, so I’m guessing, as far as a succession plan, or anything like that, there really wasn’t one in place.
Amanda: Nothing. And you know, I haven’t, I hadn’t really thought about it until recently, that I sat with my father. For a year and a half. He didn’t spend one night in the hospital, he was battling cancer. And it was between my mother, my brother and I, we would pull all nighters with him every so I was with him every third day, all night, he couldn’t sleep through the night he had leukemia, so he’d have these night sweats. So I’d be changing his bed seven to eight times a night. And because he was very fast, he was a New Yorker, he couldn’t have you couldn’t wait for the nurses. It had to be get done now.
So yeah, I spent a lot of time with him just sitting there in the hospital. And never once did he sit me down and say, hey, let me tell you about my business. Let me tell you, who runs it. Let me explain to you, my my goals or my dreams or my desires, or what’s missing or what needs improvement. I really the only way that I really after he passed, got pieces of that was just reading his emails, you know?
Rick: Yeah. Well, well, I appreciate you sharing that with us. And at any point, his last question on top of that, we’ll move on, but I’m curious, as you entered those first couple years and got your feet wet, at any point, did you think, man, this isn’t for me. I want to do something, you know, I want to go a different direction. I want to run whatever, you know, what went through your mind?
Amanda: 100%. Majority of the time. I mean, on a serious note, I laugh because I feel uncomfortable. But on a serious note, my father passed at 55 years old. I so I looked at that and went, I don’t want to just step into the grave after him, you know, so, obviously, he worked himself very hard, and that is not you know, I want a different course in life. So, I spent a lot of time I study under an Indian saint, her formal titles a bit long but it’s Sarva Loka Maa her holiness Sri Sri Sri 1008, Guruji Poonamji, I refer to her as Guru Ji. But she has said, it’s, it’s part of your destiny, you need to step in as CEO and I thought, never in a million years, and she said, you know, you can make the company what you want it to be. And it can be different. And you can have your own experience. And it could be separate from what your father’s experience was.
And and for any second generation CEO or, or I know, you have a lot of small businesses that probably want to hand off their business, 60% of second generation businesses fail. And I can understand why because you think that you have to build this company based on what your parent did, right? And that it should be how they operated. But I’m a very different person from my father, I’m very much more a lover. It was, I am a warrior in some senses, but he was a freakin warrior. And I love to love people. And the people that I picked to be on my bus were different than what my father picked to be on his bus. And it took me quite some time to realize that that was a little. My choices were different.
And I spent a lot of time in a nonprofit because after watching what my father went through with Western medicine, I got very deeply engrossed into Eastern medicine and Eastern philosophy and how to be preventative against disease. And so I did take time away from the business to heal and to learn about where our food comes from, and how to cook a healthy meal in under 20 minutes and how to meditate and you know, alleviate some of these stresses that we have in our lives so that I could be a more balanced version. I like to say, and I’ve put it in the new edition that you can create your own ultimate sales machine without having to become one.
Rick: Well, and I like that in, you know, we talked about before the show here, I lost my dad at 56. And it changed what was important to me, right at that moment, and I had worked in management for one of the bigger Wall Street firms and was on my way on that career path. And, you know, in the management side of things, and you just kind of step back when you see a parent when you lose a parent, you know, young in their life. And so I applaud you for having the courage to understand, appreciate what your dad had the gifts, he had a lot of gifts, but bringing your gifts to the table. So let’s transition then.
Let’s, and again, appreciate you sharing that. I wanted people to understand what it’s like to go through that, right. Because generations will transition their businesses or they’ll fail or they’ll sell them whatever the case may be. But I don’t think we hear enough of the type of stories that you just shared. You said it, you revised The Ultimate Sales Machine. So what I’m curious about is, as you’ve looked at your dad’s book, and you I mean, you know what you can recite it, you practice it, what has changed from 2006. Here we are in 2021. What’s changed? And what do you bring in to the table to kind of help other business owners overcome the same issues?
Amanda: Hmm. Yes. So my father had written a title for a book that never got released. And it was called The Death of the Salesman, The Birth of the Strategist. And I love that title. And I’ve taken it and put it into the new edition, because the difference between marketing and sales, that gap between them has really gotten much smaller. So marketing is much more held responsible for sales today. And then sales, people are starting to have to really market themselves online to get the attention of their prospects. So we’re seeing this merge, and 97% of prospects feel that salespeople are too pushy.
And we’re seeing this in the way that they’re deciding to buy because 80% of prospects, at least in b2c world, we’re seeing it even become more and more in b2b, but in b2c would rather discuss products or services on social media than having to pick up a phone and call a salesperson. So the blend of the two is so crucial and the ability to come to the table as a strategist, somebody that isn’t just, so a tactical thinker thinks just about how do I close a deal? How do I close a deal? How do I get a sale? But the strategist will think, okay, there are nine different objectives that I’d like to accomplish when interacting with a prospect. Number one, can I create the feeling of that they’re in, in a trusted expert’s hands, right?
Like, can I be a trusted adviser? Two, can I create the kind of experience that they’d like to refer me business? You know, there’s several of them. But there’s these strategic objectives that take somebody that instead of saying, okay, let me sell, sell, sell. Stop selling, start serving. Stop selling, start educating, right? What can I do to educate my prospects so that I become the bright spot in their day, and then you’re in their face in their place in their space with all of these wonderful, positive value adding experiences that that makes it so that as soon as they decide, okay, yes, I want to purchase something like that product, you’re the first person that comes to mind.
Rick: And it goes back to you know, the sales world used to be pick up the phone and call people. Tell them what you have and see if they’ll hit and it was a numbers game, and you tracked it, but the reality is, that just doesn’t work anymore. And people are busy. They need somebody they can trust who can take care of their problems and give them confidence. Right? And that’s basically in a nutshell.
Amanda: Yeah, I’ll give you another market stat. I have a market research company, I can’t help it. Everything is market data. But, the average b2b prospect looks at five pieces of content before ever raising their hand and saying I want to talk to a sales person. So this is a lot of what I’ve improved amongst my organization for sales as we’re building out funnels today because you can get 65% of the way to a sale by automating the first two steps of the sales process which are establishing rapport and finding their need.
So if you can give put your best foot forward with an automated video sequence, let’s say that gives them who you are, that gives something of value to them that shows them their pain points, and then say, hey, let’s schedule an appointment. And then you start to find that your whole calendar is filled with people that have already been pre qualified, that are interested in what you have to say, because you’ve already done the heavy lifting of that first interaction. That’s really the future of sales.
Rick: And that is a great, a great topic. And I want to ask you more about that, because I’ve sometimes struggled between you know, it seems like everybody on social media in the internet is trying to use some kind of sales funnel to push you through in, I think some are probably doing it right. But it really is starting to feel a little annoying, right. And I, I am challenged by I know, we all need to have that exposure. That is the Yellow Pages. That is the calling card today. But I’m kind of old school, I’m old enough that I like to pick up the phone and talk to people once in a while as well, right and referrals. So what’s the difference between setting up a good sales funnel to get 60, 65% of the way through on new leads in embracing kind of a referral technique with your clientele?
Amanda: Well, it’s the balance, right? It’s the balance. It’s, there’s one thing to say, okay, this is how I want to sell my clientele. And this is how I experience things. And then there’s another thing to look at what market data is showing us? And how, what are the trends of how people are buying today. So for instance, I’ll give you you automotive, for example, 10 years ago in the automotive industry, people will go to six different dealerships before making a buying decision. Today, they go to 13 different websites on average and only 1.8 dealerships.
So I agree with you. And I think our baby boomer generation wants to have that experience where they pick up the phone and dial and that’s great. And people will respond. I’m just saying that there’s another generation that’s coming that spending on average 10 hours and 30 minutes a day on media consuming media. And then they’re not doing it talking on the phone. They’re texting I, for instance, I just heard from an associate that the number one salesperson at Gucci the way that they sell, and they doubled more than any other sales person was because they never got on the phone.
And they only texted with the prospects. And they’re selling $5,000 jewelry, right just finding them online where they’re talking about jewelry, texting them, oh, here’s what we recommend, and then they just purchase it. So there’s, there’s a new generation that’s coming that is deciding how they want to buy differently. I mean, majority of my clientele is 50 plus. So I’m very aware that picking up the phone and dialing is the way that feels most comfortable. There’s just some shifts happening with with other generations as I think we’re at 40. Last I checked 47% of b2b decision makers are now millennials. And they want to interact via online, text, dm all of this.
Rick: Well, they’re I mean, it’s a good point. They’re not going to the drive through at the bank. They’re not you know, they’re not buying their their stocks on the traditional platforms. They’re use. Everything comes from this little thing right here, right the phone. And so it does change that. And so maybe, maybe it’s a transition, right? We’ve got the boomers and Gen X, which I just want to separate myself and take my proud title. And then the millennials, which is this huge generation. So if I’m a small business owner today, if I’m you can pick anything, right, but but if I’m in business today, and I realized that I need to start doing things to attract that millennial consumer, take us through can take us through like maybe some of the things we ought to be thinking about.
Amanda: Yes, I would. So number one thing where you could start is your website. So we teach about the stadium pitch concept. And I’ll introduce that and then I’ll introduce it to opt in. So let’s say that you’re in a room full of 100 people and you were going to give a presentation about your company. Majority of people will come up on the mic and say hello, I’m Stan I’m I do financial literacy. And you know, we’ve been around for 25 years. We’re really great. We really help you save your money you should contact us to find out more right. I’d love to tell you more about it. Now, research shows that of the 100 that are in that room only 3% will be in that buying now category. Oh yeah, I’m interested.
So three people you’ll see this with cold calling too, right. You make 100 dials and you’ll probably get roughly around 3% interested. Another 7% are open to it, but not in the buying now category. And then, so we represent this normally with a triangle. So if you have 3% of the triangle 7%, then you have 30% that aren’t thinking about you your product or service. The next 30% that aren’t interested in the last 30% that are definitely not interested. So 90% of those 100 people, 90 of them are not interested in you, your product, or service. So what we teach is to educate people, so that you talk about something that’s of interest to the entire buyer’s pyramid and bring them to the buying now category through education. So for instance, on your website, it’s a miracle if people get to your website at this point, because there’s so many web websites, right?
There’s so many more, so much more on the internet today that can deter them. So if 100 people came to your website, what’s your opt in on your website? I will tell you that majority of companies know oh, I should probably have some way to collect people’s email. And if we think of it like a date, if somebody was coming to your website, they wouldn’t just go, okay, I want to marry you. Right, you have to date them first. So finding a way to create something engaging for them that gets the entire buyer’s pyramid, to at least just opt in to get a free education. So for instance, I have right now I have a printing company as a client. They serve several states in the on the west coast.
And it’s I laughed with him and said, you know, I think this is the least sexy thing we could ever talk about his paper and copiers. And he agreed. But we we instead of on his website to say, schedule time to talk to us about printing. We changed his stadium pitch to be the three biggest office expenses that could cost you up to half a million dollars and the one thing you can do to solve this issue. So then we go through an education, about office expenses, right. Because their typical ideal prospect is somebody that has an office has a couple of copiers and printers. And through that education, we bring them to the logical conclusion that they should work with that company and that company alone. So this is just a 10 minute video that someone opts in to get that video.
But what a better experience I’ve had, because have educated them and then it you know, you click this link to schedule a time to talk with us. And either they are in that seven to 10% of the buyer’s pyramid that’s ready to do that now. But even if they’re not, it’s left a much better experience for that prospect to know oh, yeah, I remember that. Wow they had a really great education. Wow they really knew their stuff, I could tell that they were experts. And now I’m on their email database. So then we can follow up with more emails until they get into that buying now category.
Rick: Excellent. It makes all the sense in the world, right. And it just, I was sitting there thinking, what can’t you find on the internet today? Right, we Google it. With YouTube, you know, I had a had a farmer tell me if you can’t figure out how to fix a tractor with YouTube, then it isn’t worth messing with. It’s just all right there, which I think is part of your you know, what you your messaging, in that we’ve got to stand out in this crowded platform. So, you know, you said at the beginning of the podcast that most business owners say that there, they don’t have enough prospects coming in, right? And are these issues do they identify? Are these the reasons that they’re they’re missing this? Or have you gotten more into the data to figure out, like, what’s causing the problem here?
Amanda: That’s interesting that you said that, because I just sent this to my head of research to say find more about the clutter factor. We call it the clutter factor. If you think about it, I mean, the amount that we’ve spent on advertising over the last decade has I mean, it was, I believe it was somewhere around 100 million or 100 billion 10 years ago, and now it’s at like 256 billion. Don’t quote me exactly on that I have to go back to my research. And we’re just pulling up the new numbers recently. But if we think about it, okay, it took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users. Then it took 13 years for television to reach 50 million users. Then it took four years for the internet to reach 50 million users and only two years for Facebook to reach 50 million users.
So if we we look back for 50 years, a half century, the only innovations that happened in marketing were between radio and television. But since my father wrote the ultimate sales machine today, the amount of innovation in the last 15 years is insane. I mean, marketing tactics are changing as fast as women change their shoes. It’s absurd how fast we’re innovating. That’s why you’re seeing digital marketers pop up everywhere. Everyone’s become a digital marketer because the amount of vehicles we have and innovation online is through the roof. So no wonder business owners would have such difficulty because they’re like, I’m still just cold calling trying to dial for dollars. But people aren’t responding very well to that. Well, yes, because those conversations are now happening online.
Rick: Absolutely. I love it. I love it. Well, listen, you know, we’re, we’re coming to the end of our time, and want to make sure that we leave some time for you to share. You know, if you wanted to leave one thing with our audience, which are entrepreneurs, what would you share with them, you know, something they can walk away with? Other than let’s check out your website, let’s get it out. When does the new book come out, by the way? The revised copy.
Amanda: It’s looking like it it will come out in 2022. Unfortunately, I just finished the the new edition and because it goes through Penguin, they have to print several 1000s of copies before we can go live with it. If anybody wants to innovate an industry, publishing books is an industry that needs some serious innovation.
Rick: Well, we know that there’s, there’s your dad’s original which is out there. I highly recommend it for those, and then they can read your book and, and kind of build on it because I’m sure it’s kind of like that thing about continual training, right? It’s read the book now. Let’s see what’s what’s improved, as we go through. But back to my question, like what would be one, one piece of advice for the small business owner or entrepreneur that’s listening, or watching this podcast today?
Amanda: I mean, I always go back to this concept that the most abundance felt is when you’re in your most honest, truthful self. And that has been the single most important ingredient for me taking my father’s business and making something new, is really honoring the best version of me and saying, how can I create this and into a new environment? And I take that with me when I’m looking for a new prospect. When I’m looking for new salespeople to hire you know. It’s when you stay honest and truthful to yourself at the end of the day, when you turn off the lights, nobody can take that away from you. And I think that that that’s where true abundance comes in is is the feeling of being the best version of you.
Rick: Well, I know. And that’s great advice. Like we we all know, life goes quick. We’re only here for a short time. If the audience wants to learn more about the work that you’re doing, what’s the best way to check out, you know, Chet Holmes International?
Amanda: Yeah, and I would recommend, if they want to get the chapter for free, we have how to get nine times more impact from every move you make. From the ultimate sales machine. You can just go to Chet Holmes c h e t homes spelt like Sherlock h o l m e s.com/ch4 like chapter four. So the number four, that’s where you can get the free chapter. We also have a three video series on how to double your income in one hour a week. That is on howtodoublesales.com. So that’s the great three video series to educate you on how to maximize your sales with working smarter, not harder.
Rick: Well, that that sounds fantastic and Amanda, we really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. And guys, you’ve been listening to The Over 50 Entrepreneur podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. I think you you do and I highly recommend the ultimate sales machine. I’ve listened to it like I said on the audio version, I’ve got a copy. I’ve read the book time, time and time again. You can check out in our show notes, all the links that Amanda talked about or that I’ve talked about, be sure to check out the podcast on iTunes or go to our website at epicsbiz.com. That’s epics b i z .com. And as always love to hear from you. So shoot me an email Rick@epicsbiz.com And until next time, remember, we’re only getting started.
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