Mike Filsaime Interview

Mike Filsaime Interview

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Hello and welcome. This time we’re chatting with a true game changer, someone who has become a legend in internet marketing circles. These days. He’s known as a digital marketer, an author, a speaker, a software developer, an online marketing educator, and marketing consultant. It’s a real honour for me to welcome to the show Mike Filsaime.

Mike Filsaime:
Probably the best intro I’ve ever gotten, what a true professional. So happy to be here excited to give out some great content.

You’re too kind. Well, you’ve become one of the biggest names in internet marketing, there’s no arguing with that. Was that always an ambition for you, Mike?

Mike Filsaime:
Wow, I think I have to be completely transparent here. I’ve never been asked that question. When you meet me I’m probably the guy that when people finally meet me, especially in person, they’ll say, “What a nice guy. What an easygoing guy, very unselfish.” Different types of things. I only say that because I’ve heard that. I’m kind of laid back, but boy, deep inside, there is a driver of me that wants to be number one, at everything I do. I’ll just give you a couple examples.

I was the type of guy that when we would play foosball in my office, I’m going to try to say this as PG as I can, I would win nine out of 10 games. I used to sing the Cranberries song when I would start doing the comeback on somebody, I’d start singing, “I’m in your head, I’m in your head,” and I’d score another goal. I would relish kind of the way Michael Jordan did in winning a game. And when I’d lose, I’d put this big smile and go, “You got me high five,” [inaudible 00:01:49] I would go into my office and grab a pillow and scream “Fu*k!” The F word right? Make sure nobody heard it. But yeah.

There’s a competitive nature to me. I think part of it comes from wanting to fit in and wanting to prove. It’s not something I don’t talk about much. Maybe I’ve spoken about it once or twice or to a couple of different people. It’s just something that me and my brother have recently come to realise. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about it publicly.

But, my dad and my mom were born in Haiti. You give me a Dominican, and anybody that’s Dominican, especially, I’m from New York, and it’s hey, Dominican. You talk about an Italian, Italian pride, “kiss me I’m Irish.” People have this pride of their culture to be Russian, to be whatever it is, right? Puerto Rican, Jamaican man, all these different things right? And then to be Haitian, I’m sure was the same thing, not when I grew up. I grew up born 1967. I’m in high school in ninth and 10th grade, and this virus comes out called the AIDS virus. You could imagine, you didn’t have the 24 hour news cycle, the internet and everything like that.

It came on a little bit slower than the Coronavirus. But this thing if you’re old enough to remember it, it scared the hell out of people. When people didn’t know, especially when people didn’t know if you can get it by touching someone, by looking at someone. We didn’t know that it was through, bodily fluids and intercourse and blood and things like that. My dad was a very well respected person in the automotive industry, and he went for an interview one day. It was a Mercedes Benz dealership and they’re loving him.

Mike Filsaime

All of a sudden they bring the staff in and all the staff is like, “Lionel your accent, where are you from? Is that French or Canadian?” He’s like, “No, actually, I’m from Haiti. It’s a French accent that you’re hearing,” [inaudible 00:04:13]. “Oh, wow that’s beautiful.” All of a sudden, one lady goes, “Haiti. Isn’t that where aids comes from?”

Everyone’s like, everybody’s face just went pale. Then my father, they said, “Lionel, are you from Haiti?” And so my dad lied, and said, “Oh no, my parents were from Haiti. I’m …” They were like, “Oh good, we got a little scared there.” My dad came home and told me my brother, “Right now with the AIDS virus…” This was years before Magic Johnson. “Do not tell people that you’re from Haiti.”

Then Believe it or not, my friends had known and I started hearing things from my friends, like their parents weren’t allowed to play with me anymore and stuff like that, and I’d be like, “Hey, what’s going on?” And, kids will be kids. “It’s because your family has AIDS.” I’d be like, “What?” I’m talking 10th grade, not seven years old. Right? So I had to hide about from who I was. My brother, we recently had a talk about that.

I said, “When did you start telling people you’re Haitian?” He says, “Maybe three years ago.”
We had this thing that we would say we were French Canadian, or Martinique, or something like that. When you would ask me, it was like this thing that you knew you were a fraud, talk about imposter syndrome. Somebody would ask you …

Because if you look at me, I could pass for a Dominican, a Puerto Rican, a Mexican, an Iranian, a Persian, an Iraqi, Middle Eastern, a Hawaiian, or a Filipino.” You put me in that environment, if I walk into a bodega and Hempstead New York, they’re going to start talking to me in Spanish.

If I’m in Dubai, I’m going to look … I have this very, very worldly ethnic Look, it’s probably … People, they look at me and they say, “Mike you have a very interesting look, do you mind if I ask where you’re from?” And then I say, “What do you think?” Then they’re saying, I don’t know, either Filipino, Arab, it’s really tough to tell.” When I say Haitian, and they’re like, “Oh, my god, never would have guessed.”

I had that question my whole life. As soon as I started seeing that question, I would start sweating. I’d want to get off of it very, very quick, because I didn’t know if they knew something different. Or there’d be another friend around that would go, “That’s not true, you’re Haitian.” Right? Oh, my goodness. I can’t even tell you how tough this was for me.” Yeah, so I think that that created something inside of me that wanted to fit in on a deep level.

So I could talk to you about the things that I was competitive at. I’ve wrestled in high school. I wrestled my brother, my friends all time. It was the most important thing in the world to me. I wasn’t the best wrestler in practise, but I worked really hard. There was always this guy, Mike [Dell-Poehler 00:07:25]. He was the varsity guy and I was the junior varsity guy. He had more experience in me. He was varsity the previous year, but I knew I’d practise a certain move, and I knew he was a better wrestler than me, but we used to have these things called wrestle offs, because the best man wrestles on Friday night, that’s the way it is, or Saturday whenever we’d wrestle, so they were very fair that way.

Mike Filsaime

There was none of this participation trophy stuff right? Back then you earned your spot on the varsity team. I would go on the wrestle off, I’d walk up there very shy. I would play a play very, very coy. Then as soon as we would go in, I would blast and I beat this kid every single week, every single week, and he’d beat me up in practise. The coach I remember the coach’s face would go. “All right, [Filsamaith 00:08:17],” because I wasn’t Filsaime back then, that’s an internet marketing thing. That’s for another story. They say, “All right, Filsamaith varsity, Del Polar junior varsity.” He’d throw his sneakers at the wall and take off his headband. I had the same mentality going into the wrestling match. I wrestled my high school year I went 18-0-1. When I was 18-0, I had never been pinned.

I can tell you that the very last match that I had, I went on to this guy. His name was Craig Redding. He went to the States. My very, very last match this kid taps the handshake thing. We start going, about two and a half seconds in I was blinded by him doing a fireman’s carry his arm and bicep when … He tucked in and his arm and bicep right into my crotch, pretty much nearly knocked me out.

I saw stars and I heard, and I got up and I said to my coach, it’s the most embarrassing thing ever. I said, “What happened?” He goes, “You got fucking pinned, that’s what happened.” It was my last match of my wrestling career. I never played in college or anything like that. Telling that story today completely, completely haunts me that I was 18-0 and I … Being on a wrestling team, I don’t know if you did any high school or college sports or something.

To me I wasn’t in the military, but I can only say it had this camaraderie of there was some brotherhood that was going on there. To walk off in “disgrace” those things lived with me … I remember bowling a perfect game almost nearly and I missed the strike by one pin in the 10th frame, and like how I … I cried for days about that, my dad was trying to tell me, he’d call me Kik, “Kik, please get over it. You have to get over it.” I couldn’t come out of my room.

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