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.