My Lunch With Michael Berkens

Feb 08 2011

One of the best ideas that Domainfest came up with this year was the idea of “Dining with an Expert”.  An opportunity for attendees to have lunch or dinner with one of the panelist at the event.  To me it was a simple choice.  Michael Berkens.

I don’t need to go into details about the history and background of Micheal to anyone that’s been in domaining more than 5 minutes.  To the people that know Michael well ,none of this article will surprise you at all.  I, like many other domainers, read his blog daily, but have always been curious about the man behind all the domains and the blog. It’s an event I looked forward as much as any during the conference.

Our lunch day arrives and of course I get an important business call right before the lunch that makes me “fashionably” late to the meal and the last to sit down. At our table was a mix of fans and people that just enjoy hearing more information.  Now, I’ve stood at at a nightclub for 4 hours right next to Michael but it wasn’t exactly the time or the place to talk an meet.  Now is the perfect time to ask questions.  But I don’t.  I just listen.  The gentleman beside me asked a ton of questions and I’m glad he did.  He probably asked the questions all of us were afraid to ask.  My favorite answers that Michael responded with were “I probably should”

The question was about optimizing some of his domains to lead towards his main developed sites.  His answer was “I probably should” .  That answer alone told me that Michael is my kind of guy.  It told me that he was no different than many of us.  Sure, there are a hell of a lot of things we could be doing better but when it comes down to it, we just don’t.  For whatever reason it doesn’t get done.  That answer popped up several times and it wasn’t a crass answer it was an honest answer.  When asked if he prices all of his domains he said no.  When asked how many he prices. None.  Again an honest answer. I took it as this.  The man has tens of thousands of domains.  It is impossible to spend the time to fully optimize each and every domain.  When it comes to pricing why would anyone bother pricing each domain?  If someone wants to make an offer then you can price it but until that time comes there are better things to spend your time on.

I came away from the lunch with several thoughts. Michael Berkens is the opposite of Frank Schilling. He is much more quiet.  He is more than willing to share but not as “out there”. He doesn’t work the crowd like Frank but seems more of a one on one guy.  Two, the guy loves domains.  You can see it in the way he talks about them, the way he bids at auctions.  This guy loves what he does and he has the money to do it the way he wants to do it.  If he wants a domain, he’ll buy the domain, it’s that simple. The same goes for selling.  The ball is ALWAYS in his court.  The “unmotivated seller” approach is not an act for the buyer, it is truly where he’s at.  His demeanor is that of someone that is more than happy keeping his domains for anything short of a fantastic offer.  Michael doesn’t come across as emotional.  He never seems to get very excited but the one emotion that does come across is the love of his wife. They are still like two newlyweds, a truly nice thing to see.  In short, Michael is more than willing to share with you almost anything but you will probably be surprised that his method to making money is simple.  Buy a good domain and sell it for more than you paid for it.  Repeat as necessary

Finally, I think I did give back a little to Mr. Berkens.   He told me that every time he sees me I’m smiling.  A truer statement has never been said.  I smile all the time because life is too short not to enjoy it and I smile when I’m happy.  I’m pretty sure I saw a little grin from Michael in return.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Kevin M

    It was a good luncheon, and I also enjoyed hearing Mike’s views and opinions on selling names. I thought he was very informative and sharing, and like you noted, he’s just like a lot of us on what we ‘should’ do. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps his purchase of, for him and Judi.

    Oh, and for the now 4th straight day, my wife and I are still sick with the flu or whatever! (Can’t imagine how many models got sick too.)

    1. Post author

      Didn’t say anything about the consulting but he did say he’s a dot com guy but owns domains in many tlds. I can’t remember the exact words but he certainly a fan of .tv and .me which was further backed by his auction purchases

  2. Clay

    Nice article – I’ve been reluctant to follow some of the old guard domain name blogs because the first one I went to was Frank’s and I like blunt, but only when it comes with some really good information and the comment threads get too idolish for my taste. Anyway, guess I’ll have to take a look and I appreciate the insight!

    1. Post author

      Frank seems like a nice guy but he’s so nice you’re never sure if he’s acting nice or is nice. (I’ve heard from others though it’s not an act, he’s just an outwardly nice guy) No bullshit from Michael in his blog or in person. Tells it like it is

  3. Terrell

    Shane and Kevin, I enjoyed the lunch too. I was the guy asking all of the questions because as soon as I signed up for the date, I started making my list! Applying just a few of the tips Michael share over lunch could easily pay for the trip.

    It was interesting comparing this 1-hour 8-on-1 conversation with TRAFFIC’s 1-on-1 speed networking sessions… while I like both formats, the hour with an expert edges out.

  4. Dan

    Hi Shane,

    Nice post, As we all know “MHB” runs a great blog…along with his great understanding of domain names & the domain industry in specific.

    You where lucky if the guy next to you was asking Michael…from what it sounds like, some very good question, ones you might have asked yourself…

    “In short, Michael is more than willing to share with you almost anything but you will probably be surprised that his method to making money is simple. Buy a good domain and sell it for more than you paid for it. Repeat as necessary.”

    Simple, yet great advice… not always easy to do, if you have ‘pressures’ from outside forces etc… Michael is the fortunate position….created by him…that this ‘method’ has no time constants working against for him, as for others, due to many factors…the might have a smaller ‘time frame’ to always work this simple method…effectively.

    Good post, I am glad you enjoyed this ‘new idea’ they came up with…and it seem to work well.

    Like you said… standing next to him for 4 hours in a ‘night club is most likely not the best time be talking about domains and the domain industry, in any meaningful way.


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