Born in rural New Hampshire with twisted legs, Tellman Knudson has become known as The Barefoot Philanthropist for achieving the impossible and helping others to do the same. At the age of 16, he defied his doctors predictions, setting the record for speed on his cross-country course and going on to run ultra-marathons.

A self-made multi-millionaire before the age of 30, Tellman took his company Overcome Everything, Inc. from zero to $2.8 million in under three years. Now recognized worldwide as the authority on Internet list-building, Tellman is currently running barefoot 3,200 miles across America, coast-to-coast, to raise $100 million for homeless kids through his non-profit,

RIC THOMPSON: Let’s give everybody a quick rundown of your background, where you came from, how you got the success online, and then we’ll jump into what you are doing right now that’s really turning some heads.

TELLMAN KNUDSON: The real key to my business success is that, so far, we have 20 people with us who are fulltime right now, between Overcome Everything and our nonprofit. That is a really cool thing to be directly affecting that many people’s lives. Extending out from that, we had over 50,000 customers, which is really cool. Over 50,000! That’s a lot of people whose lives we have a chance to touch.

It’s people who we’ve had a chance to help. That’s just our list-building training alone. It’s very cool. The point of all of this is that slowly over the last four-and-a-half years, we built up and built up this big successful company that’s doing millions of dollars a year online. It’s just mind-blowing. Then what happened is I decided to do something on a higher level.

I decided to run across America barefoot and raise $100 million for youth homelessness in America. At the moment that we’re doing this recording, I am in my home office in Vermont. I made it 654 miles into a 3,200-mile run, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause and got severely injured. I’m on pause right now for the moment while I’m letting my deep heel contusions recover, preparing to go back out on the road, hopefully in early to mid-spring.

We’re raising money for all of that right now. What is comes down to is that we’re running and we’re doing well. We’re doing our level best to help the over two million homeless youth in America and the youth who will experience homelessness in America in 2010. We’re doing whatever we can to end it and to end it permanently. It’s a big problem. It’s a big issue.

While I was out running between four and six hours a day, you can imagine that I had some time on my hands to get some thinking done and to listen to audio on my iPhone. I listened to a lot of audio books. While I was listening to those audio books, I discovered some very interesting things. I discovered some new things that I’d never heard about in Internet marketing before. I’m all about new things.

New things are what drive my creativity and drive my excitement. I love checking out new stuff, and I’m constantly innovating. I discovered something that I hadn’t seen in the Internet marketing sphere before that hopefully we’ll be able to talk about a little bit here today before the call is over. It’s very powerful. To date, it’s the only way that I’ve discovered to actually get paid to come up with ideas.

That’s no BS and no hype-to get paid to be an idea person. I don’t know if you resonate with that or not. However, if you do, if you’re the type of person who’s ever had a good idea that you really think could make a lot of money, can you imagine if you were able to get paid to come up with the idea? That’s an astonishing thing.

RIC THOMPSON: Yes, absolutely

TELLMAN KNUDSON: I’d never seen it before, and it’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about here in a little bit.

RIC THOMPSON: Before we get into that, Tellman, I want to acknowledge and bring out the point that a lot of people give this lip service. On the other side of the spectrum, to a lot of people, this is their dream: I want to become a super successful entrepreneur. I want a company bringing in millions of dollars. Then I want to be able to apply myself to the issues that really matter. You have this bigger goal and bigger dream that really impacts you. That’s what everybody wants to be able to do.

It’s really cool that here you are, someone who is living that. Of course, more importantly, you are really living it. You’re out there putting your life at stake, at times, doing the run. Of course, you have dedicated so much time and resources from not only your life, but your business, to support this run. I’m not sure what the number is up to now, but at one point you had put in a half million dollars from your business just to fund the run across America, right?

TELLMAN KNUDSON: Yes, we spent over half a million dollars so far on the run. Yes, it was a pretty expensive project.

RIC THOMPSON: You have to have a successful company in order to make big things like that happen; that’s just a fact of life. It’s really cool that you’ve been able to do it, and it’s really cool the fact that you are doing it. Kudos to you.

TELLMAN KNUDSON: Yes, it’s a lot of work. For anybody who’s going for anything greater-again, when I say greater, that could mean something as simple as not wanting your parents to be in a nursing home, or whatever it is. It could be that you want to give a lot more money to your church. It could be that you want to give money to a political campaign that you truly believe in.

It could be that you want to make sure that your nephew can afford to go through college because his parents aren’t doing so hot right now. Whatever. It’s okay. Whatever it is that means something to you is a possibility. It’s not so far off. It really isn’t. There are a lot of ways to get there, but I’ve found there are some really interesting ways to get there. Using this principle, we did two experiments, actually.

For the first one, we raised $36,000 from stage, and then over $100,000 from teleseminars and sales videos using this one principle just recently. We then proceeded to do something on a much more realistic level and raised $6,000 online for a short film that we’re producing called Run Tellman Run, which is also the name of the initiative in which I’m running across the country barefoot raising all this money for youth homelessness.

We raised $6,000 in two weeks. It was tremendously successful. It was the coolest thing. It had nothing to do with business. It had nothing to do with marketing. We raised over $6,000 in two weeks to fund the editing of our Run Tellman Run short film. It was just the coolest thing ever. I thought it was great.

RIC THOMPSON: I think this is magic. Here you are talking about being able to, in a way, test something without risking anything from yourself. You put this concept out there. You hadn’t actually done the movie. You just put the concept out there. You made your $6,000, and that’s paying for the movie to be done.

TELLMAN KNUDSON: Yes. Let me stop being so cryptic. Here’s what happened…

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