In the Trenches with Michael King

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Andrea Sager is a small business attorney shaking up the legal industry with her Legalpreneur plan that provides all-access to her firm for small businesses. After working for a large law firm working with large businesses, Andrea realized her true passion was helping small businesses embrace and protect their business and intellectual property. In just under 2 years, Andrea has become the go-to attorney for entrepreneurs, protecting everything from their brand names to their courses and blog posts. Andrea is also host of the hit podcast, The Legalpreneur.Connect with Andrea:The Contract VaultInstagramLinkedInFacebookConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
Does the idea of marketing and branding feel overwhelming? As a fellow business owner, I get it. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to make the process simple and easy. I've always resonated with a less is more approach in life. This principle infuses itself into the core of my work. The brands and websites I build are rooted in behavioral psychology based design principles. That’s why they work so well and last so long.I started out as a freelance graphic designer nearly 20 years ago. After several years getting my feet wet in the agency world, an opportunity opened up and I found myself working beside some of the best designers in the world at Nike, in Portland, OR. It was there I absorbed the fundamentals of high level design and eventually strategy.I am now the founder of Red Door Designs. I love helping business owners connect with their clients, increase profits and grow their businesses through clean brand design and powerful web strategy.Connect with Kris:InstagramLinkedInFacebookRed Door DesignsConnect with Mike:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
Internationally acclaimed and award-winning online marketer, best-selling author, top podcaster and speaker, Scott Aaron, is the go-to specialist when it comes to converting traffic, establishing connections, creating residual using LinkedIn and building personal brands.  Fully immersing himself in learning LinkedIn and social media strategies, Scott quickly gained traction as a leader in generating big results for other entrepreneurs, online business owners and business coaches. Scott is passionate about helping fellow entrepreneurs achieve success while building their own network organically and without complicated and costly marketing tactics.  His program has helped thousands experience explosive growth following his program. People-focused and result-driven, Scotts strategic approach to teaching others how to create wealth online and organic traffic is the game changer when it comes to competing in a saturated digital world. Connect with Scott Aaron:Scott AaronInstagramLinkedInFacebookTwitterFree profile infographicBooks - The Network Marketing Academy & LinkedIn Book for Network MarketingConnect with Michael King:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
Michael is a life-long learner, a military veteran (Go Navy!), and a servant leader dedicated to helping you achieve success in business.In 2010, after serving 11 years in the US Navy, Michael ventured into the business world.  He was quickly overwhelmed by all the fancy finance and accounting jargon - and it seemed like no one could explain it to him in "regular people" words. Michael made it his mission to crack the code of finance and accounting.After 10 years, an MBA, and the experience of working with over 200 businesses, Michael has dedicated himself to helping other business owners, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT AREN'T NUMBERS PEOPLE, understand their numbers so they can make better decisions in business. Connect with Mike:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
Michael is a life-long learner, a military veteran (Go Navy!), and a servant leader dedicated to helping you achieve success in business.In 2010, after serving 11 years in the US Navy, Michael ventured into the business world.  He was quickly overwhelmed by all the fancy finance and accounting jargon - and it seemed like no one could explain it to him in "regular people" words. Michael made it his mission to crack the code of finance and accounting.After 10 years, an MBA, and the experience of working with over 200 businesses, Michael has dedicated himself to helping other business owners, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT AREN'T NUMBERS PEOPLE, understand their numbers so they can make better decisions in business. Connect with Mike:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
Mike is an investor, speaker, podcaster and founder of Investing for Freedom. Mike helps busy professionals and business owners find true freedom to live their best life. He’s also co-founder of Four Peaks Capital Partners, LLC. His scope includes operations, management teams, development, and chief people officer. He also co-directs the overall investment strategy along with Andrew Lanoie. Mike has over 22 years of experience in finding freedom by building teams and streamlining operations. By age 24, Mike founded his first construction company and has been involved with over 2,000 projects totaling over $1 billion, including hospitals, courthouses, federal buildings, casinos, mills, gold-processing facilities, civil projects, multi-family homes, and shopping centers. Of the companies he started, most notable is the construction company that scaled quickly to more than 100 employees and sold at a $12 million valuation, making it onto the Inc. 2009 “2500 Fastest Growing Companies in America” list.Connect with Mike Ayala:InstagramFacebookLinkedInInvesting for Freedom PodcastConnect with Michael King:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
After spending a decade advising Fortune 100 clients on how to conduct and facilitate responsible investment in Africa, Jillian wanted to do more to support entrepreneurs in these emerging markets. Blending Jillian's business expertise with her penchant for fine paper products, Marie Mae became her vehicle for making a difference in the world.While launching Marie Mae, Jillian realized starting a business involves far more than the theories she learned in business school. This is why the Marie Mae Business School focuses on providing practical business training taught by people who have started businesses themselves.Marie Mae is more than a simple “give back” company. From our vendors, to our customers and clients, to the people in our business school, Marie Mae equips each of our stakeholders to make a sustainable impact through business.Connect with Jillian:Instagram - Company PersonalFacebookLinkedIn - Company PersonalConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebookOur corporate gifting service, helping companies get strategic with their gifting - and we will have a special discount code for In the Trenches listeners to be found at King: [00:00:00] Jillian Ryan, thank you so much for joining me today. Jillian Ryan: [00:00:04] Thank you for having me. Michael King: [00:00:07] We just, right before we started recording, had a little bit of an awkward thing with the door man, and we were talking about the weather, so it's a little bit awkward right now, but we're going to get into Jillian. I met you last year at a coworking space and you were telling me aboutI think you had just been on a featured, on a nationally syndicated program and externally, everything looked like it was great. You were getting all this publicity, but, you told me pretty quick after we met that the reality was that the business wasn't profitable, that cash flows were a nightmare.You were worried about everything falling apart, and then to make things worse, the coronavirus hits and it's the best your business has ever been because you made a pretty massive Jillian Ryan: [00:00:55] supply chain is shut down.Michael King: [00:00:57] So your supply chain is shut down. I can't wait to hear the details about how you go from really bad to really good as it was, as a result of the Corona virus in your supply chain shutting down.But before we get into the, you know what's going on right now. Take us back, tell us a little bit about you and your background and how you got to where you are today.Jillian Ryan: [00:01:15] So I actually didn't remotely do this. I was a geopolitical risk consultant in DC for 10 years. So not remotely notebooks. So we basically helped fortune 100 companies when they were going into emerging markets. So I worked a lot in Africa, helping like Exxon and Google and stuff when they were going into Africa, and how do they mitigate risk. And so that got me really interested in the social impact side. Once I saw these, I mean, typically you don't think of Exxon Mobile as a company that's wanting to do good, but we kept seeing they were trying and couldn't figure out exactly at the community level how to make an impact, and they couldn't find good partners.They couldn't find good businesses on the ground. So it really got me into wanting to do basically some business skills boot camps. Um, and some of the places I had been in Rwanda, so I had started doing consulting on my own, moved back to Texas. I was like, I want to do one of these business boot camps.Was too stubborn to go after a government grant and decided, Oh, I'm just gonna launch a product company as a side hustle to fund doing just one of these business boot camps. Um, so that was back in 2015. Okay. Um, launched it, had enough to go to Rwanda to work with the sewing cooperative there. Um, after two months, it was amazing.And once I started digging into the curriculum of the business skills that were being taught at a lot of these types of things, I realized how fluffy it was. And mostly it was taught by people that had only been in the nonprofit world and they weren't being taught by people that had actually been in business and had built a business and talked about the perseverance side of entrepreneurship, um, and to thinking outside the box and all of that kind of stuff.So once I saw how useful that piece of it was, I came back and was like, okay, I better make sure that this is an actual real business. So I came back, It’s still kind of as a side hustle for a few years. We ended up landing a huge fish two years in. I'm talking about a big subscript, the biggest subscription box out of California.And they're like, we'd like to buy 300,000 boxes of stationary. And again, I was an ecom international business major, zero clue how you mass produce something or finance it. I hadn't even bono that one. I signed that deal.  So anyways, but again, I had learned enough. You ask those questions later and you sign it and you get it done and I did that. It was amazing. Realized that scale, this business really does work. And so that was when we kind of started staffing up.I hired an operations manager, started hiring more consistent freelancers. We ended up getting into Ellen's box, um, her be kind quarterly box last December, which was great. We had a PR. Jillian Ryan: [00:04:14] they were amazing. Michael King: [00:04:15] You got into, what was it now? Jillian Ryan: [00:04:18] Her be kind quarterly box. She does a quarterly subscription box.So we did a kindness planner for them. Um, but again, they approached us, which was crazy. Um, we've been very blessed in how much has come to us versus us having to go out for it. So that was how I also knew the concept was there. Um. The concept's there are people like the give back make sense to them.Because we now teach business classes to trafficking survivors here in Dallas. Last year we made a pivot towards corporate into where now I would say 95% of what we do is corporate gifting. And that's also I think where all of this is coming. Because we were starting to experience hyper-growth probably Q four of last year when we met.And that's when I realized. Um, our margins were not working. I was like, we're going to go out of business from quarters and say, wait a second. I kept thinking the more orders we got and the more revenues that we got, the better off we would be.  Michael King: [00:05:21] Why wasn't it working? Jillian Ryan: [00:05:23] Shipping was killing us, killing us.We weren't ordering in large enough amounts. So all of our production that we do, it was really important to me that everything was done ethically. Like it was made. All the paper products are made here in the US all of the artists and products are made with artists and groups around the world. So we can't particularly compete on the Chinese manufacturing prices.We can definitely compete on quality, so it was all of those. But with the notebook, you're still limited based on what a consumer is willing to pay. So it's not like I could just keep raising these prices. And so hands down our bestsellers are spiral notebooks, which is what we have hands down the worst margins on always, like drives me insane.But again, when you're ordering 200 of something versus those big subscription boxes, we're ordering six 30,000 of something. Like especially with paper, there's such a difference in the margin. Anyways, so shipping was killing us. Margins were killing us. Michael King: [00:06:27] Free shipping? Jillian Ryan: [00:06:28] We were doing free shipping.  Was that you that told me? I did get rid of that. That's something that's helping now. Michael King: [00:06:36] You're welcome listeners. I took away free shipping from you. We did. We went to a dry erase board at work and went through the math and I was like, you got to knock off the free shipping. Jillian Ryan: [00:06:45] Because it makes sense. Like you said, if they're paying $28 for a spiral notebook, these are not the type of people that care about if they're having a patient, they're not.So we had backed into it. We also then changed from selling all individual products to putting them together and gift sets. And that way we could again, put high margin items with lower margin items to make those more profitable. And then we broke this shipping out of that, which we were including.So that's helped as well. But yeah, no. So we had some really good press with the LN stuff. We were also in Real Simple in November and December, and we're doing amazing, which was great, but like I said, we had to fix the profitability issues and then coronavirus hits and we immediately started freaking out because globally, our supply chain was then shut down.And since March had been our best month yet. Right before it hits, we were then sold out of almost everything, almost everything, which normally is a good problem, but not when you then can no longer get your new products. Michael King: [00:07:55] So let me just make sure I'm understanding here. You start the business, you're having success in the form of sales and revenue and stuff.You realize that it's not going to work though, because the margins aren't there. Jillian Ryan: [00:08:10] Yep. Michael King: [00:08:12] And with the shipping and with volumes and those kinds of things. And then you meet me. Jillian Ryan: [00:08:19] Yeah, that's exactly the story I'm telling you. Michael King: [00:08:22] We had a dry erase board brainstorming session and then all of your problems went away.Am I tracking correctly? Jillian Ryan: [00:08:29] That's exactly Michael King: [00:08:30] okay. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't  exaggerating. Jillian Ryan: [00:08:35] Okay. So taking the shipping out of there. We then negotiated rates also on, we're currently doing this. With this huge order that just came in. I used the opportunity to then go to UPS to negotiate with them on our rates.So that's also helping, so all of those kinds of things, I had been so focused for the first four or five years on this is how do we get an attraction to get enough orders to make this thing work? And then we finally realized, wait, that's not the problem. Like the problem is we need to make it more profitable.Which that's when the economy came out and it was like, wait, no, I know how to do this. Sit there and do it anyways. Michael King: [00:09:19] Why is that? So you knew in your mind, but you didn't take the time to do that. Let's dive into that a little bit because I think for a lot of early stage entrepreneurs, it can be really easy.Well. Yeah, I think so. It's, kinda like, cut out cardio going on a bad diet, right? You can't do that. This is the pot calling the kettle here. Um, you get a lot of times from my experience with really early stage entrepreneurs, if you fall in love with this idea of how you're going to contribute to the world, and you get very passionate about it and you're so eager to bring it, but sometimes we don't.Take just a moment to sit back and make sure it will actually work. And one of the things I've been talking a lot about lately is the importance of not over-planning don't model everything out to that degree. But there is a balance that has to exist between like, let's make sure this thing is financially viable and let'sYou know, I talk a lot about the four critical numbers in business revenue, gross profit, net profit, and cash. And so just sit down and take the time to say, look, yes, this is my passion. This is my creative thing. This is how I'm going to do amazing things. Let me just make sure those four numbers work.Jillian Ryan: [00:10:39] Sure. Well, and I think a lot of what was mine was that I still wasn't confident enough as an entrepreneur and a business leader to really lean into what was working. So I still felt the need to keep throwing a ton of stuff out, seeing what was working, instead of realizing in my gut that I knew corporate was hands down where our focus should be.So say no to the popups, say no to the individual orders that were killing us over Christmas. When I had first met you, I was like, that's what it was, those orders when they come in onesy twosy was, that’s what was killing us cause then we're also being killed on the shipping and all that kind of stuff and inventory.Then issues keeping in stock what you need to keep in stock versus what we're doing now with working with bigger corporations on, okay, here we need 2000 of this. We need 500 of this. Like, again, it makes it so much easier on our manpower side too, to where then that right there also makes us more profitable to where we can crank out a whole lot more than we could crank out on the other ones.Michael King: [00:11:42] So tell me when you were in the middle, in the thick of this. You know, and I know, cause you've told me this before, but share with our listeners when you were in the thick of this, when we first met. What did that feel like? What impact did that scenario have on you as Jillian, the person? What was that like?Jillian Ryan: [00:12:03] You just feel like a failure. Even though we looked like a success, that was the problem. I was like, we looked like we should have been at the pinnacle. We had just gotten in Ellen's box. We were just in Real Simple, which is a fantastic magazine that apparently a lot of our customers read, cause it did send a ton of traffic our way.But no, I was worried about how in the world are we going to pay our bills in January and figuring out cash flow has been. So I then kind of always hid from that stuff. So therefore, I didn't feel empowered to actually make decisions and do all of that kind of stuff. Cause it again, I think I took it too personally on if I looked at my cash flow numbers and then started, I was like, I took it as a personal shame versus, Oh, this is a business problem to fix Michael King: [00:12:51] What do you mean you hid from it? Jillian Ryan: [00:12:54] I then went, look, I was like, so I would go in, at the beginning of the month, I'd be like, okay, here in a random Excel spreadsheet.Here's what I know we have coming in. Here's what I think we have going out, and just like back of the envelope, figure stuff out. But I was never remotely sophisticated about it. And again, keep in mind, I was, uh, I was consulting to executives at Google and Exxon. I was like, I could do it for other people.But as an entrepreneur yourself, like you just get so close to it and you do take it so personally, being able to separate out my self worth with how well the business was doing has been a big growth thing. Reasons why Melissa has been amazing. I didn't realize with us it really was a mindset thing.Michael King: [00:13:40] So Melissa, because no one other than you, and I noticed this, Melissa is your business coach, and so it sounds like you and Melissa have been working on the mindset of the business owner, the entrepreneurial mindset and how to separate success in the business. How to differentiate, you know, things not going well in the business from Jillian being a failure. Jillian Ryan: [00:14:07] How to get off that emotional roller coaster that at least in the beginning years of entrepreneurship or insane and sad to say that was what surprised me the most about, I think running your own company, especially as a first time entrepreneur, and I'm not a natural entrepreneur, like I am not a risk taker.I was like, none of this was natural. So I think the fact that, yeah, let's just say that I was kind of going against that. So secure I am an Enneagram six. I don't know if it means anything to you. But security is literally what I value most. And I dove off into building my own company. Michael King: [00:14:41] Um, quick tangent for me.Enneagram is becoming a little bit like CrossFit. It's like one of those like Dino has, you know how you can tell when somebody does CrossFit, they tell you. It's the same thing with Enneagram. Now it's like, do you know how I knew you took the Enneagram test. Because you tell me about it.Jillian Ryan: [00:15:00] I know it's true, but it's so explained. I was like, that's it. That's exactly it. But anyways, I digress. Michael King: [00:15:08] What do you think the number one key has been for your mind? Shift your mindset from associating the business's performance with your self worth. What if there's somebody listening that's really struggling with that? And I'll be honest, I've been doing this for years now. I still hit that from time to time.It's really hard and honestly, it's kind of something that I think that non entrepreneurs don't fully get. Jillian Ryan: [00:15:35] I didn't until I was to say until I was in it all.Michael King: [00:15:38] What would you tell people that are listening? Like, Hey, do this. Jillian Ryan: [00:15:45] My thing was like, I finally had to figure out if I continue tying the two together.I am never going to feel stable ever. I say the fact that it can change from one minute to the next, and I do like how Melissa always says it happens for you and not to you. It was like, I do feel like that happens a lot. And my thing was we were figuring out I was scared of success was what my thing was.So I would not push all of these amazing leads that we had come our way to a sale because I was always afraid of looking green, which again, ridiculous. So anyways, so figuring out, I think what helps you differentiate the two is figuring out why you're feeling that way about some things. As I say, I think getting it is really kind of a therapist.I was like, you need somebody that they business therapists about this kind of stuff to figure out the feelings behind it. And if you don't get to that place, like I feel it is hard to differentiate it so. Michael King: [00:16:47] It's not uncommon. No, no, that's great. It's really challenging.You know, because when things are going well, we're more than happy to indulge in that mindset. But you can't have it both ways. You know, you've gotta get in. Boy, it's really hard to do that. So, you started working with Melissa. Well, first you met me and then the reason you found Melissa was because of Mr. Wonderful on shark tank. All things go through Michael King. So, just a quick humblebrag there. You meet me, then I introduce you to Melissa, and then great things are happening, right? You're changing your paradigms.Jillian Ryan: [00:17:31] March was hands down the best month before now that we had had.And we had just come off again, a great two, four that wasn't that profitable, that sales themselves were amazing, but it was all individual sales. So profitability was not that great. But then in March, like we ended up getting a big deal with Real Simple. The magazine itself, like their whole marketing team bought a bunch of stuff.And so we had all of these things in the works, a bunch of other big deals in the works we had this conference in Dallas that we had gone to, that we did 10 times what we typically do at a pop up. It was, I mean, the point where I had to run back to the office and grab all the rest of our inventory to go run over there.And so where we had made amazing connections, like the CSR at Toyota, like literally amazing connections and then coronaviruses like literally the next week. So it did send me into a tailspin cause I was like, wait a second. We have been working at this for five years. We finally are figuring this out.Everything's working. We're having hypergrowth, made all the right connections with people I had been looking to get into around here for forever. And then it just is all shut down. So that was one. Melissa was great. She was like, you're hiding. Because I then was like, so. Just for listeners. So ours, the whole supply chain, um, all paper stuff's made in upstate New York, shut down.All of our other products, which we sold out of Haiti, nothing can get out. Same thing in Rwanda where we have all of our up-cycling horn stuff. Nothing can get out. And like I said, I had just wiped out the entire office of inventory at that pop up. So I'm like, what are we going to do?Like, we can't get any of our products. We definitely can't do any of these big corporate deals cause one, nobody's doing the deals. They're all trying to see how this plays out. Um, and I was just paralyzed cause I was like, I don't know what to sell them if I can't get any of our stuff. And so thankfully I did get on a phone call with you and Melissa.And she was like, okay, let's think outside the box here. Like, let's think about what you can get. So I ended up then that kind of roused me into getting busy again. And so then I just start thinking. I was like, wait, this is a fantastic way to help my other small business owner friends.Because my problem wasn't demand. By this point, a few weeks in companies had kind of adjusted and were no longer paralyzed and they were realizing quickly that they needed to do something to stay in front of their clients. So we had so many companies reaching out about wanting to send client gifts, wanting to send employee gifts, their employees that are now working from home.A lot of our stuff is coming now from events that have been canceled, and so therefore they want to send out gifts to people at home. So demand wasn't our problem or the supply. So she was like, let's see what we can get. And I was like, wait, this is actually a fantastic way to help several other small business owners that I knew that their demand had dried up.So we reached out to a candle company that we know here in the Dallas area to source candles from them. We sourced essential oils from this great company that I love and Ft Worth. They work with trafficking survivors in India, but they'd had plenty of stock and stock. And so we put together these two gift kits.One was an at home productivity kit and one was at home wellness kit. And then I did one round of emails out and then it just kind of, it was insane how much demand that we had for those. So we ended up landing, like Politico came like it, it was crazy. Um, I would say ordering, ordering out.So like I said, we also ended up getting through all of that, a huge order from Teach for America came to us, which they're advertising it, so I can not talk about it. Um, so they came to us and were like, we would like, we had to cancel our big teacher appreciation events. We would love to send gift boxes to all of our teachers.And so basically we put together four different options. It freed us up. Instead of just having to look at what we had in inventory, we could basically, sky's the limit because we're like, what other small businesses can we work with that we can help?  So gave them the four options. They then gave the teachers the four options, and then, yeah, my operations managers shipped 700 boxes out of her house this week.So it's been, it's been great.Michael King: [00:22:07] So let me make sure I understand. So your supply chain evaporated. Like almost overnight. Yeah. And so what you could have done is right with no inventory, because you're coming off of the highest high you've ever had. Right. And so, you know, you wake up one day, the rug is just ripped out from underneath you.And the first response is, I can't believe this happened to me. I can't believe I just solved it. And like, you know, I mean, for me, I would have been like forget this, the gods are aligning to tell me, you Michael, go home. Go find a job. Jillian Ryan: [00:22:48] That can not enter your brain. Yeah. Michael King: [00:22:50] And so, I think what the takeaway here is, is you didn't know the answer.So you called on your network, the people around you, and you said, Hey, let's collaborate. What can I do? And what you ended up doing was saying, Hey, there's other people that their supply has, or their demand has evaporated because of this. And so you said, well, let me find some of those people that have the kinds of goods that my clients want.Michael King: [00:23:17] Let me pull them all together like a backup of a basket, so to speak, and then resell them. And the result of that is more business, more. Jillian Ryan: [00:23:27] We've always sourced some other products, but not a ton, just because again, you always think the margins are better when you can produce it yourself.But that's not always the case. So, we probably did, I would say before it was about 80% our products, 20% others. I'm actually kind of liking this split now a lot better. I was like, it's nice to be able to, because then I'm not stuck with the inventory. So basically I can pitch out to my corporate clients what really does work well for them.And then they love the service that we do. They also love to give back cause we do our own give back on, like I said, the teaching. Um, business classes to trafficking survivors here in Dallas. They love that. Being able to support other small businesses as well. Like it just makes for a really good feel, good story.And especially now, I think as companies where budgets are getting slashed, especially in, they're worried about keeping their clients like they need this money to be doing both. So it's been a fantastic way for companies to give back with money they're already spending. And it just says really good things about their company to the people they're sending them to.So I actually think now that we are better positioned in a virus world than we were previously, just because, like I said, I think big events are probably done for a little while. Speaking engagements, pop ups, all the stuff that we had been doing.  But yeah, now, like I said, demand has been insane. So, but yes, I could have also sat here thinking, nobody wants this stuff. No companies are spending any money. And again, that was not remotely the case.Michael King: [00:25:12] That's awesome. What advice would you have for an early stage entrepreneur that's stuck right now in similar ways as you, the the ways that you were Jillian Ryan: [00:25:25]  My favorite piece of advice that I typically love to give that I always fall back on is that you don't have to be the smartest. You just have to persevere the longest. So that's always been my thing. I was like, no, giving up is not an option. Like. I'm always willing to pivot, but you cannot sit around with that idea giving up.And it's always a good gut check for me too, when I do start thinking of doing just, I mean, I took a big pay cut to do this and you might just want to go back and try to find a corporate social responsibility job, and I'll start looking at job descriptions that way. That is not at all what I want to do.I do love this, even though it's turning me gray. So yeah, so you don't have to be the smartest personJillian Ryan: [00:26:07] It's true. I could just shave it. Michael King: [00:26:09] You can just shave your head like me. I don't have to have anybody ever telling me anything about gray hair. No gray hair. Youthfulness will never leave me because I have a shaved head.Jillian Ryan: [00:26:23] I think, I'm not gonna not gonna follow that advice. Michael King: [00:26:26] Why do you love entrepreneurship so much? Why is there no other option for you? Jillian Ryan: [00:26:31] It's something, I did love in consulting is the fact that it is different every day.  That is something I definitely thrive on. And now that I don't take it quite as personally, like the challenges themselves, it is kind of fun being able to be steering the ship on figuring out the issues to these problems and like, I just don't think I could now go back to having, especially the bureaucracy of a bigger job.I was like, I like when customers call and they say, well, can I do this part from this box and part from this box? And you know, they're always expecting you to say no and you're like, yes.  I like being nimble as a startup. I was like, that part I don't want to change. So now I do love it would say, you're still master of your own destiny this way, which is nice. Sink or swim. Michael King: [00:27:23] I feel like it's a lot like having kids. I don't have kids, but I imagine it would be a lot like having kids, you know, it can be the most rewarding thing. It can be the most stressful thing. It can be the most exhilarating and amazing thing. It can be the shittiest thing, and it can be all those things in one day. Jillian Ryan: [00:27:48] within like 10 minutes.It makes you feel like a crazy person. Michael King: [00:27:53] I can't argue with that. There are times when it makes you feel like a crazy person because you're just all over the map, but learning how to kind of be the master of those emotions and you know, recognizing them, identifying them, okay, this is how I'm feeling. And then, you know, kind of sitting with that for a second and then kind of forcing yourself to not respond to it, you know, like acknowledge it and move on.Jillian Ryan: [00:28:18] Because that has been what we were talking about earlier. I think why now I feel like I handle things a little better than I used to, um, was because then I sat there and figured out why am I taking this so personally? Like what is it about this? What is this making me feel that I don't like? And then normally, yeah, if you acknowledge it and you can figure out what it is, it's much easier to then put aside and say, I'm justMichael King: [00:28:46] your words, not mine. So the company is Marie So explain to us one more time. Who is who, who needs to be looking at you and what problems do you solve for them?Jillian Ryan: [00:29:02] In a nutshell, we do corporate gifting that gives back, and so I was tired of getting ridiculous swag that nobody likes and companies spend millions and millions of dollars on this stuff that people were living in hotel rooms.And so I was like, what if we won. Give people products they actually liked. That is a quality that they like and it doesn't look like marketing swag. It looks like a gift. But then also gave companies a way to give back with money they were already spending. So, we do corporate gifting and we handle it from beginning to end.So you don't have to also staff up, keep inventory and all that kind of stuff. Like Teach for America one, she was like, I don't know what I would have done if I had to order all these different products and send out 700 boxes from my house. Basically we handle it for them. We also do a corporate gifting monthly service, and so it's helped some of our smaller clients be really intentional with their gifting to do it all year long versus just at Christmas time, which anyways, but I've got lots of theories on that, but it does really, I always thought before I got into this niche, I always thought you had to be a big company before you decided to start doing this kind of stuff. But I actually would argue that it's the smaller companies that definitely need to be gifting, and it needs to be a gift, not marketing swine material. Exactly. But it cannot be crappy things with you, it can't look like they worked for them. Michael King: [00:30:29] So Jillian, you were also telling me about the Marie Mae business school that you're involved with. What is that all about? Jillian Ryan: [00:30:35] Yes. So for every gift that is purchased from Marie Mae, we provide an hour of business classes for trafficking survivors and domestic abuse victims here in Dallas.So we work with them on all practical stuff such as job interviews, skills. How do you, business finances, putting their resume together. How, if they want to put together a side hustle, what that looks like physically career coaching. This is what we've been doing. Michael King: [00:31:03] That's awesome. So, as you know, I recently launched Business Money Made Simple monthly, and it's a three prong program where a prong one is every month we have a kind of business school type of topics that are mostly focused on the financial side of business.So it's an hour of me teaching deep on something  with handouts and all that kind of stuff. And then every two weeks we go live on Facebook and we teach on something that is business, personal development or leadership. And then we also do a weekly Q and A. Carlos is a CPA on my team and we go live and answer any kind of business money questions that you have. So it's the training, it's the live events every two weeks. And it's the weekly Q and A. I would love to give five annual subscriptions to Business Money Made Simple monthly. To your students. But I'd love for you to do is I'll give you a link after go have them sign up and, love to have five students in Business Money Made Simple monthly out of the Marina business school.How does that sound? Jillian Ryan: [00:32:08] Oh, they'd love it. I was like, there's especially one that she's working on. She wants to be an executive assistant, like a virtual assistant, but started a company on that. This would be perfect.Michael King: [00:32:17] it will be a perfect score. Yup. Awesome. So and I know you're also an Instagram under at MarieMae.Jillian Ryan: [00:32:26] It's MarieMae company Michael King: [00:32:27] where you mae company, and then you were telling me you've got a special deal for our listeners. Jillian Ryan: [00:32:32] I do. We have a special discount code for your listeners. If they'll go to Michael King: [00:32:40] and what's the special deal? Jillian Ryan: [00:32:46] It's 15% off everything, and then we also do.Free strategy sessions on there that are an hour long zoom call that kind of help you walk through how your specific business could use Herbert gifting as a strategy. That's, our big thing is you shouldn't be strategic with your corporate gifting versus just running out at the last minute, buying fruit baskets from Costco.Michael King: [00:33:08] Awesome. So we didn't talk about this, but what I would like to do is the first person that goes to Marie Mae dot com slash in the trenches, and they get their order. It's 15% off. I will give an additional one hundred dollars. Off of their order. So you go ahead and give them a hundred dollars off of that order, let me know.And, I will Venmo that hundred dollars over to you because I love what you guys do. I've received some of their swag and it's really good quality. Like there's a reason that your company is blowing up the way that it has. The quality is phenomenal. And I also love the give back component as well.So, get your 15% off. And then,  Jillian's going to give you an additional refund of 100 dollars, and then,I would love it whoever gets that, if you take a picture of it and then tag,  I am Michael King in there, I dot am dot Michael dot King on Instagram.That would be great.  Jillian, thank you so much for coming today. This was good. I'm so glad to hear you're crushing it now. Jillian Ryan: [00:34:15] Thank you.
For the past 18 years, Skot Waldron’s work for clients such as J.P. Morgan Chase, CDC, Georgia Tech, Royal Caribbean, Sesame Workshop, Chiquita, and The Coca-Cola Company has included national and international branding campaigns.His focus is on helping businesses and entrepreneurs learn how to communicate more effectively as individuals, teams, and companies. Skot believes you have to be healthy on the inside (culture) in order to truly be healthy on the outside (brand and marketing). He helps with both.Connect with Skot:TwitterInstagramLinkedInFacebookWebsiteConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
About Gaurav Valani: Over the past 12 years, I’ve learned the exact strategies successful people use to not only land high paying jobs at some of the top companies in the world, but how they also move up in their careers after they've landed those jobs. After applying what I learned to my own career, I went from 10 dead-end jobs during the first 6 years after college, with no direction, no passion and minor depression to becoming a co-founder of a $72M staffing agency (prior to acquisition), and landing a high-level executive position at one of the most reputable publicly traded companies in the world. I’ve compiled all of the knowledge that I gained throughout my career to help thousands of people land six (and even seven) figure jobs at companies such as: Google, Disney, Warner Bros., Coca-Cola, Kaiser, AT&T, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb, SpaceX, and more. Connect with Gaurav:InstagramLinkedInTwitterConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook
Samantha Kozuch is an ex-fitness influencer who pivoted her brand after many started asking her for help on how they too could grow and monetize their following. In 2019, she took a huge financial risk by shutting down her 6-figure video production company while also breaking thousands of dollars worth of influencer contracts with infamous brands to go all-in on launching her business courses teaching both influencers and entrepreneurs the importance of building a list outside social media and how to build a personal brand, grow an engaged following, pitch to land paid partnerships and methods to monetize social media platforms by selling products and services; and by taking the risk of going "all-in" allowed her to 10x her income!She’s passionate about helping influencers and entrepreneurs 'think beyond their follower numbers' and monetize their social media accounts using her Social Media Funnel Blueprint. She teaches using "soul and goal" strategies which incorporate daily rituals like her Maniscripting Method paired with business strategies to help her students build their brand, create content and increase their bank account all while in alignment!She’s also the co-founder of the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP), a unique personal and business development program for entrepreneurs consisting of a 6 month mastermind, the 3 Day "Launch Your Business In A Weekend" Workshops & Live Events with her business partner Lauren Schwab.Connect with Samatha:InstagramLinkedInWebsiteFree Instagram ChecklistConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting in the trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.[00:00:21] This week's episode is an absolute must listen to for really any early stage entrepreneur or anybody that's thinking about starting a business or building a personal brand. You've got to hear this. Today I'm talking with my friend Samantha Kozuch. Samantha spent eight years building a following on her YouTube channel where she put out original[00:00:42] fitness videos and workout videos and things like that. This was just free videos that she was putting out to serve her audience. And after building a tremendous following over the course of seven or eight years, she decided to monetize that effort and she hired a developer and invested thousands of dollars and hundreds and hundreds of hours in building an app.[00:01:04] And within 36 hours of the apps lunch, she received a cease and desist letter. Basically, there was somebody out there that had a very similar name, trademarked, similar kind of product, service industry. And, the lawyers sent her a cease and desist letter. So today, Samantha is going to talk to us about the importance of trademarking and how this.[00:01:28] paralyzing experience led to an important pivot, in some important lessons learned. And, she's going to tell us how she's thriving today despite what was a horrible experience a few years ago. So, without further ado, here is my interview with Samantha kozuch. Samantha, how's it going?[00:01:50] Samantha Kozuch:  I'm doing so great. How are you? [00:01:51] Michael King:  I'm awesome. You were telling me that not that long ago, you weren't doing so great. You had built your own little empire and that empire was crushing it until you got a cease and desist letter one day. So pause there. Let's go back in time a little bit before that. How did you get to the point that there was something that needed to be ceased and desisted?[00:02:16] Samantha Kozuch: So, I started my entire personal brand, I would say on Instagram, and when I got started. It was just a new platform, like nobody really used it and no professional way. There were no influencers or anything like that. I literally was just using it to share my modeling and fitness experiences and posting, you know, fitness pictures and workouts and all the things, and slowly I grew traction with that, of people coming to me and asking me, Sam, how do you stay fit?[00:02:42] How do you book these modeling jobs? How do you do this? How do you do that? And I started to just post content related to that, and then as I was growing this community, I saw what else was happening in the news story with YouTube and everything, and Instagram still hadn't blown up in the influencer space yet.[00:03:00] So I decided, okay, I'm going to start a YouTube channel and start posting my workouts there so I can share it with other women to teach them how to work out. I started creating workout guides and all of that, and when I got on YouTube. It was a time when everyone still had usernames. So this is coming back, you know, from like my space and AOL and all that.[00:03:18] So, you hide your usernames. So instead of using my real name, I want it to brand myself as the daily fit girl because I love to work out every single day. I was a fit girl and you know, all of that. So that's the username that I created. How long ago was that? Gosh, this was probably like eight, nine years ago.[00:03:36] Michael King: Yeah. A lot of times when I talk to people like, Oh, it was so long ago, and I said, how long ago was it? 2017 I was like, okay. It wasn't that long ago, but eight or nine years ago. Pushing a decade. [00:03:45] Samantha Kozuch:  Yeah, that's it. Yeah. So I was, you know, in college and kind of doing it that route, and things started growing like my YouTube channel started growing, known as the Daily Fit Girl.[00:03:56] Everything was branded, all my training guides, everything was branded that way. Everything was great. The blog was great. [00:04:01] Michael King: Were you making money off of that? [00:04:02] Samantha Kozuch: I was making a little bit of money. I didn't at that point know yet really how to monetize it, but I was, you know, if a girl wanted to buy a training guide and sell it to her for like 50 bucks or something like that, it wasn't my priority because I was still just focusing on, you know, my modeling and fitness stuff like shoots and all that and like the real life world.[00:04:22] Michael King: This wasn't even really a side hustle. This was just like something fun to do. [00:04:25] Samantha Kozuch: Yeah. Yeah. I loved filming workouts, doing the workouts and being in that creative space of editing videos and all of that. And from that, I grew a video production company later on. But as I grew this brand, I started when I moved to LA about five years ago, I started taking it a little bit more seriously cause now I'm in LA.[00:04:43] Okay. I can actually turn this into a hustle, fitness influencers where now the thing, I learned kind of the pathway to be able to monetize my programs and training guides. So I was approached by a company to create an app, a fitness app, and I was like, oh, this is perfect. Like, yeah, I totally want to go into that space.[00:05:03] This is a better way for people to get, you know, workouts and videos and all of that. So I ended up building this awesome fitness app with all my training guides and videos all in there. And then I ramped up to launch the app, which is super, super exciting. When was this now? So this was four years ago.[00:05:22] Michael King: Okay. So, you really treated this as a hobby for multiple, multiple years and just built an organic following dumpster. You weren't doing paid ads or anything like that. These are people that are finding you through Google searches, and so four years in, you say, okay, I'm going to turn this. You're approached about the app and you say, okay, I can make this an actual thing.[00:05:42] Right. So you're in Los Angeles, the epicenter of pretty people. [00:05:45] Samantha Kozuch: Yes. [00:05:45] Michael King: You're like, this is the perfect time. Yeah. I have a following, the perfect place. I have the perfect experience and branding. So you decided to do it. [00:05:54] Samantha Kozuch: So we built out the app, which takes a little over six months, maybe eight months total, where I've shot all the content, edited it all.[00:06:03]Given it to my developers. We've built out the app, all the tech like back and forth. This is like thousands and thousands of hours of work putting into this app to launch it [00:06:12] Michael King: Thousands of hours. What about from a financial perspective? [00:06:18] Samantha Kozuch: It was, well, because I did a lot of it myself cause I knew how to film the videos. I created a studio in my home and it all by myself. That took a lot of financial pressure off, but to invest in the app itself was about $5,000 and then probably a little bit more after that, probably a couple thousand here, a couple thousand there just for like minor additions and things like that.[00:06:39] Michael King: So for the six month period, were you also doing other work or were you solely focused on this? [00:06:44] Samantha Kozuch: Oh, I was definitely doing other work because this wasn't making me money. I was spending lots of money, so I was definitely, you know, still focusing on, you know, modeling and stuff, doing other, outside things, growing my brand.[00:06:55] So we finally get to the day where we launch. We did a huge campaign for it. Almost a thousand downloads within the first couple hours of launching this app. And it was just so exciting cause I had a free trial with it. And the feedback I was getting was incredible. And then about 36 hours after the launch and the iTunes store, I get an email.[00:07:21] And it was the cease and desist letter. And the only reason I got the email is because they found my email on my website, and my actual LLC is actually located in Arizona. So I didn't get the letter at the time, but this. The branding is infringing on a trademark with the Daily Fit Girl, and it was the most devastating moment of my life.[00:07:45] Just opening up that letter. No one wants to get a letter from another law firm or attorney and I just fell apart at that moment, reading that letter. [00:07:55] Michael King:Tell me about that. [00:07:57] Samantha Kozuch: Well, they had obviously been watching what I was doing for, I don't know how many years or months, but the timing of it, like they knew that I was going to launch this app and they were just waiting and sitting and waiting until I had done something that I could prove made me money, to come after me.[00:08:12] So it was like a, you know, it's like a backhand slap in the face, but also like confirmation that I was onto something because if they didn't think I was a threat, I don't think they would have come after me like they did, but it was just awful because I was so excited about launching this.[00:08:27] And now literally within, you know, two days, I now had to think about, okay, now I have to find a lawyer, an attorney, figure this out. What do I do? I've never received one of these letters before. I had no idea as an entrepreneur what I had to do and what my next steps were. So it was a really emotional, scary time.[00:08:46] A lot of tears, stress when one of the times in my life where I should be the most excited about launching this amazing product that I put my heart and soul into that was possibly about to be taken away from me. [00:08:58] Michael King: What did you do next? Once you wiped the tears off, right. And probably had some ice cream.[00:09:04] Feels like a thing that I would do if I got that upset. you called an attorney? [00:09:08] Samantha Kozuch: Yeah. So I did, I reached out to a few people and I reached out first to my app development company because I was honestly kind of. Not, it wasn't their fault, but I was kind of annoyed that going into this project, you know, that they kind of didn't do the research either of other, you know, brands or companies or apps out in the fields as well, with similar names or anything like that.[00:09:30] So I reached out to them asking them what we should do. And they said, you know, get a lawyer. So I then reached out to a few people they knew were not helpful. I'm sorry, reached out to a few people, got some recommendations. I finally got one from a friend of mine, and I immediately called them, told them my situation, and we immediately set up a meeting to figure out what my position was in this.[00:09:52] So moved forward with that. And lawyers then drafted up. They said, you know, you are infringing. So Fit Girl was the trademark part of the name that I was infringing on. However, it was one of those things where, yes, I could go take them to court and go after them and, or not after them, but like fight it.[00:10:11] Right. but they, you know, they're a bigger Vic. I think it was like Fit Girl. Anyway, it was a company with, for, I'm not going to say the actual full company name. You guys could probably figure it out, but, they're a bigger company. And for me to go try and fight. This was going to cost a lot of money.[00:10:26] So I think I spent overall probably almost like $10,000 in lawyer and attorney fees in order to try and go after my name to keep it. But at the end of the day, they were just like, Sam, you can take this to court and try and fight it. But. You're going to spend 50 to $100,000 just to try and keep the Daily Fit Girl name, and is that worth it?[00:10:45] And it was at that point where I decided to, after this was months, I decided to just let go of the app because at this point it was just such a negative feeling and association with the app, that I decided to just let it go. I let it run for a few months and I think you can still download it actually now, but I had to do a complete rebrand and rebrand everything to my personal name.[00:11:08] Michael King: So eight years building this thing from a hobby to your full time thing. Well, to hoping to make it your full time. Fiveish thousand for the app. Yeah. 10 plus thousand dollars for attorneys. So your thousands of hours, eight years into it, 15 grand. Only to come to a crossroad.[00:11:32] You say you either have to abandon all of that or spend another maybe upwards of a hundred thousands of dollars. To fight a battle, which we don't even think you can win. [00:11:43] Samantha Kozuch: Right? Yeah. [00:11:45] Michael King: And you chose to walk away. [00:11:47] Samantha Kozuch: I chose to walk away. [00:11:49] Michael King: Talk to me about how, what did that feel like? How did you make that decision and what did that feel like?[00:11:54] Samantha Kozuch: Oh, it was so I was, I was paralyzed honestly. And that decision, just to put it into perspective. My friends and people that I knew would literally just call me the Daily Fit Girl. I wasn't even Sam, like I was the Daily Fit Girl. Like that was my personality on social. That was me. Like that was my identity.[00:12:12] It was literally like if someone had come and said, Hey, you can't use your real name anymore. Like that's what it felt like. And it was such a big part of me. Like I had started this from like, you know, college and grew in and everything. So at the time in that moment. It was awful. It was, I just felt like something was taken away from me and I was mad.[00:12:34] I was angry. I was frustrated. I felt just kind of a little bit stupid too, for like, gosh, why didn't I even trademark this? Like I didn't even think that far ahead. I was so new to entrepreneurship and the fact that when I did look up the trademark. For like the Fit Girl name. It was literally like eight months prior that they found that trademark.[00:12:55] So I'm like, wow, if I had just done that when I started or when I was even thinking about releasing an app, I would have had the name and it would have been fine. So it's just that kind of pissed me off to where I'm like, damn it. Like it was just the little things that you just learn as an entrepreneur.[00:13:10] So it probably took me a good three, four or five months to get over it. Like I really was in that space of just like, Oh, this sucks. Like what am I going to do? And everyone's just like, Sam, just go to your name. Like, just put everything in your name. And I'm like, but people don't know me by my name.[00:13:25] You know? It was that starting over phase. But hindsight. Well, looking back, it was definitely probably one of the best things that had ever happened to me. That's the learning experiences as an entrepreneur and just moving everything to my name and growing my brand from my personal, my name is. The best thing that's happened.[00:13:47] So why? Because no one can take away your name. I mean, it is your name. I have learned recently that you still do have to trademark your name just in case. Like if there's another Samantha Kozuch and I know that there is, cause I've seen them on Instagram. But hold on. Yes. [00:14:06] Michael King: In case there's another Samantha.[00:14:13] Samantha Kozuch: There is actually, which I just learned recently and the mastermind that we're in from Andrea Seeger, she's like, yeah, you have to trademark my name because if anyone does have your name and does the same thing as you, like business coaching or fitness or whatever, like if they trademark, their’s, you can't use yours for that business.[00:14:30] And I just was mind blown because I was told by even lawyers years ago where it's like if you use your own brand, your name, like no one can take that away from you, that's your legal name. You're allowed to use it. So now it's even coming down to like trademarking your name, especially if you have a very popular name.[00:14:45] I'm in the space. So it's just been such a whirlwind of learning and, I think now just building my personal brand off, my name. It just provides a better platform. Like that's what I want to be known for. [00:14:57] Michael King: I was imagining you and he said that everybody, like people even called you that in person. I'm imagining that you're at a restaurant, you know, waiting to be seated in there, like the daily fit girl table for the daily fit girl.[00:15:09] And you're like, Oh, that's us scurrying to your seat and now you're stuck with Samantha. [00:15:15] Samantha Kozuch: So, yeah, it's just been, it was a roller coaster back then, but now it's one of the best learning lessons that happened to me because now as a business coach, I can use that experience to teach my students and show them exactly like, Hey, like trademark, figure it out.[00:15:32] Like don't create programs, guides, brands, anything that if you go into that, trademark search and if it's taken, don't even touch it with a 10 foot pole unless you're going to try and fight it or trademark it yourself. [00:15:43] Michael King: Yeah. I just went because of your story and because of Andrea's advice, for my new company, which is under my own name for my personal brand, I was like, are you shitting me?[00:15:55] I've got to go trademark Michael King. And there are, I promise you way more Michael King’s. I won't brag that there's a lot of us. We're kind of a big deal in the world. but yeah, so I went through and paid to have my name trademark for those same reasons. I heard your story. And then the course that I'm getting ready to release.[00:16:15] It's the same thing. And you know, to your pockets, it's kind of expensive, but it's way less expensive than that. You know, time, capital of years and years and years, almost a decade. And then the, you know, 10 to $15,000 that it costs you just to talk to lawyers about the decision if you wanted to. So it's way less than that.[00:16:38]an order of magnitude less so. Yeah. Business is expensive. [00:16:42] Samantha Kozuch: It is expensive. Yeah. When done right. It's not as expensive [00:16:47] Michael King: as the alternative. Yeah. So you abandoned the daily Fit Girl and then you moved into your own brand. Did the product change at all? Or just the branding? [00:16:58] Samantha Kozuch: The product didn't change. I just, yeah, I kept doing what I was doing and my following state like, and I think at that time of even that happening, it started even getting popular to start even using your name.[00:17:12] So people were getting away from the usernames, like on, even on YouTube and Instagram, like now is coming into that new wave of people really building their personal brand on their names. So, in my case. It was totally fine. It worked out. And you know, Instagram makes it really easy to even just change your handle.[00:17:30] YouTube not so much. Like I still have, and I can't change it until I get to a certain amount of subscribers. So that's still there. But with the negotiations back and forth with my attorneys and the other side, that was the one thing that we had left it at. Like, look, the branding's completely changed.[00:17:48] There is no infringement happening. We just cannot change that URL and we are not shutting down that channel. So, eventually that will change to Samantha Kozuch. [00:17:57] Michael King: What are the details on how long, how long do you have to wait or what? How many subscribers do you have to have to change it? [00:18:02] Samantha Kozuch: I believe it's 10,000 subscribers, so I'm just shy of that right now. [00:18:07] Michael King: Once you have 10,000 then you're allowed to change the URL. Yes. Okay, so what do you do now. Is it you don't do fitness videos now? [00:18:15] Samantha Kozuch: No, I don't actually. So I grew my entire, you know, fitness, personal brands, got into the info I was an influencer before the word influencer was ever even coined.[00:18:25] So as I grew my personal brand, I was landing collaborations, doing fitness commercials, all everything related to fitness. And when I started getting a lot bigger in that space, I started having a lot of my audience come to me asking me, Sam, how did you land a sponsorship with so-and-so? How do I get paid to post?[00:18:45] How do I grow my engagement? How do I become a fitness influencer or just an influencer in general?[00:18:51] Michael King: I want to commend you for how quickly your audience learned your name Samantha. They didn't come in and say, The Daily Fit Girl, how do you do this? They got your name is Sam Kozuch.[00:18:58] Samantha Kozuch: I shouldn't do a poll and see if anyone from my Daily Fit Girl days still follows me or still engages or if they remember that time.[00:19:07] Michael King: if it wasn't that long ago, [00:19:08] Samantha Kozuch: it wasn't that long ago, but it still feels like another lifetime.[00:19:10] Michael King: Okay, so please, everybody's asking you like, how did you do this? [00:19:14] Samantha Kozuch: So I'm getting all these questions. And for me, I have always created products, services, anything that helps my audience from what they ask me. So when they're asking me, you know, Sam, how do you get fit in summer? I would create a training guide for that and give it to them.[00:19:29] Or, you know, if I was getting certain questions a lot, I would create programs around answering those questions in order to serve my audience. So in this aisle, I started getting these questions and I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm getting more questions now about social media and being an influencer and building a brand and getting paid.[00:19:45] More than people asking you about fitness and health. So I'm like, okay. My entrepreneurial mindset is I feel like I'm answering the same questions over and over and over again to these people cause I do. I communicate a lot with my audience back and forth, especially in the DMS to grow the relationships.[00:20:01] I was like, you know what? I need to start taking note of the questions I'm getting asked. And I started making a whole list. I just used the notes section on my phone and I'm like, you know what? I keep answering these questions. I need to create some sort of program or course around this, and I'm, you know, not a business coach.[00:20:18] I've just, you know, built my own business and gone through a lot of trials and errors through it. So I started pulling my audience, especially on Instagram, asking them. Hey, would you guys like help and figuring out or learning how to become an influencer or how to grow your Instagram or how to get paid to post and all the things, and the numbers were staggering on those polls.[00:20:38] Like I was getting like 90% yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. We want this information so I decided to take all those questions, to print them all out into different modules of it, like a course, answer them, create videos, and I created paste to influence, which is a social media course for influencers or people who want to become an influencer.[00:20:57] Teaching on the step by step process on how to. Grow their social media, how to position themselves as an influencer, how to pitch themselves to brands, to land collaborations, sponsorships get paid to post, how to create media kits and just really literally teaching them exactly what I do on my day to day basis behind the scenes, in order to land different contracts and everything.[00:21:16] And I put that course out and it went off like with a huge hit. And so I kind of released that course. And then from there what had happened was other people that were watching what I was doing that weren't influencers or had no really interested in being an influencer, so to speak, but they wanted to grow their personal brand or sell their products or services.[00:21:36] They started coming to me, be like, Sam, well, I'm not an influencer, but how can you do, like, how can you help me like sell this or whatever. So I basically kind of almost took that same course but tailored it a little bit differently to help entrepreneurs or business owners how to use social media to sell their products and services.[00:21:53] So I created a second course, which is called pace to engage because basically with that one, it's just teaching you how to grow and scale your social media, how to be authentic with the audience, how to cultivate those relationships so then you can sell to them. And then there's also strategies and stuff on teaching people how to sell, how to[00:22:08] grow their communities and just how to grow their income doing that. So over the past, so this was pretty much two years ago, so over a year I released two courses and I was loving it, and at the same time I was kind of losing my passion for being a fitness coach and trainer online and creating these guides and these videos and all that, it's very, very time consuming.[00:22:31] Like just imagine having to go to the gym, film these different workouts, then edit them, then come home, then post these pictures, post the videos, all the things. It was very time consuming and I was also traveling a lot as well, so it was a whole situation where I was just feeling very burnt out in that space of the creation process, burnt out with fitness.[00:22:51] I'm almost to a point where I'm not even taking care of myself anymore cause I'm helping so many people that I just, you know, I let go of it for myself. So when I got into the space of teaching and coaching. It lit me on fire. I was like, oh my gosh. And hearing my students come back and be like, Sam, you helped me.[00:23:06] Made like 500 bucks this past month. Like I landed the collaboration. I followed your steps. This is amazing. Thank you so much. When I was hearing that I was making an impact, still helping people, but in a way to help them financially. That was life changing for me. So. I started to pivot my brand from fitness into business coaching, which was a very tough pivot.[00:23:27] It was harder to do that, but why? Because I grew my entire following in the fitness space of me posting pictures and sports bras and leggings and working out and doing all that stuff. So when I started posting more business related content, social media strategies, all that for like the first six or eight months.[00:23:46] Man, my engagement just plummeted like the likes nine down. The comments went down, everything went down, and I'm just sitting here like, Oh my God, am I doing the right thing? Like should I just turn back around like what's happening? But behind the scenes, my bank account was going up. Because people were buying my courses more so than ever with the training guides.[00:24:07] So I was like, you know what? Screw it. Like, I know everyone can see me, like they probably people that are watching, you know, thinking I'm like failing because I'm not getting likes or engagement anymore, but I'm just gonna stick it through. and I'm so grateful and glad that I did because just pushing through the pivot of going from fitness to business for a good, like eight months.[00:24:26] Now at this point, like this is like now, six months after that, the engagement that I'm getting on my posts are incredible. It's like way back up again. So I just had to take that time to cultivate my new audience and just push through that time of just feeling like I was making the wrong decision with pivoting.[00:24:46] Michael King: So when you transition from the old brand. To the new brand and then from the new brand with the fitness influenced to the focus on business. What were the key mistakes that you made in those, let's just say in the pivot from the fitness personal brand to the business personal brand. What did you assume about that market or the teaching you had to do there that turned out to be wrong?[00:25:16] Samantha Kozuch: You know, I can't even, I don't, I'm not even sure any mistakes that I made. I think if anything, I was, at this point, I had learned a lot just about social media in general and just learning from others in this space. And. I don't, I don't know if I made any mistakes, but I was very honest about the direction that I was heading.[00:25:36] And I think that's the biggest thing that if you are going through a pivot in business, especially publicly through social media, don't tiptoe around it with your audience. Be straight up. Like I went on with my life. I put up posts like, Hey guys, I know you guys love my fitness content and everything. But yeah.[00:25:52] I am helping, you know, I'm transitioning into this and if you want to keep on following me, awesome. If you don't, I totally get it. I understand if this content no longer interests you. So I was just more so very clear on doing this pivot and just kind of not turning back, even though behind the scenes I was kind of freaking out.[00:26:10] And of course I even told my students, don't worry about the engagement. Like, stop looking at the likes topically. Can't the comments when I'm over here like, Oh my God, no one's like you. No one's commenting. but I think. By doing that transition. It just made it seamless. And I think I just learned from just like everything in my past history of being an entrepreneur about certain mistakes, though I don't even know if I have any mistakes to share on that.[00:26:34]it was just sticking to the plan and not, I think if I, my mistake would have been if I decided that engagement would have. You know, if I listened to my engagement and I turned back to fitness, that would have been my mistake, but I just kept going with it. [00:26:51] Michael King: What's the biggest problem you have to solve in 2020 [00:26:55] Samantha Kozuch: So my goal for this year, I am going through a complete rebrand with my name.[00:27:03] So none like changing my name or anything like that, but just, I'm doing a complete refresh from my website, my courses, updating a lot of things. So my biggest goal now is just to do that. And then also get my name more out there. I think I've been hiding, not hiding, but I've just been sticking to Instagram and showing up on likes and all the things, but I'm really excited.[00:27:25] One of my goals this year is just to speak on more stages and have more impact in the community. As much as I love being on social media, as connected as that makes all of us, I think there so disconnected. In this day and age. So I want to cultivate more in person experiences, whether it's at workshops or speaking at live events and meeting people in real life and just like creating those in-person communities.[00:27:50]So with that, that is why I have created with one of my business partners, Lauren, we've created a mastermind for women. That's a 12 month membership program. So that's one of my goals is just to continue that, fill that. And my biggest problem to solve this year is just to be able to grow my personal brand and business and outsourcing more, or just hiring more team members.[00:28:16] Right now I have one VA that helps me a lot with, you know, my course management, my community management, all of that. But just so I can outsource more so I can just focus more so on creating the content and creating. The courses and the programs that my students need. [00:28:33] Whether it's a subcontractor or an employee, hiring is one of the scariest obstacles early stage entrepreneurs face.[00:28:44] Michael King: Why is that scary? You're shaking your head over here. Why is that a scary thing for you? [00:28:50] Samantha Kozuch: It's scary when you don't really know how to go about it, because there are so many options in this day and age to hire people, whether it's hiring, you know, a person that comes to your home or you know, works with you, hiring a VA, because a lot of the stuff that you do in business is very personal.[00:29:08]so bringing somebody in to you know, manage your emails or you know, any sort of communication or just managing any of your products and services when you're an entrepreneur, like you've had your hands in everything and you've been doing everything alone. So just releasing that, not power, but just releasing that for someone else to help you with that is, is scary because[00:29:30] You don't know what they're going to be writing in an email or a message or just creating stuff for you. So that's the scary part about hiring, but the way that I've gone about it is I've always gone off of recommendations. Now, because I've used places even like Upwork or Fiverr or other job posting sites to hire VAs that haven't, or just anyone, just even just to outsource video editing or anything like that.[00:29:55] And yes, some of them do work out, but some of them don't. But whenever I've gone off of  personal recommendations, or I even have some friends that actually coach and train people to be virtual assistants, so if I know that they've gone through. My friends program, I know they're probably a top notch VA and they'll even go for them as well.[00:30:12] So I always go off of recommendations. But the second that you do hire an outsource, especially like just like the minimal tasks that aren't needle moving in your business and that you know your time is worth, you know, X amount of dollars, and if you can hire someone for a fraction of that time to do it for you, I always recommend to start outsourcing ASAP.[00:30:33] Michael King: But you also have to balance that with the cash in the business, right? A lot of times, you know, when you like, I know, like Chris Harder has his formula for figuring out what your hourly worth is and you should outsource anything you're doing that is, you know, less than that. That's all great. But you also have to be able to actually pay them.[00:30:53] And so a lot of times we feel like our worth is here based on the goals we want to hit and say, I'll make up a number, let's call it $100 an hour. And you say, okay, well, I could hire somebody for $20 an hour to answer some of these emails and manage my social media, but you actually have to be able to pay them that $20 an hour.[00:31:11] And so there can be a disconnect between what you want to be worth in what you're actually worth right now. What are you actually generating per hour right now? How do you bridge that gap? [00:31:21] Samantha Kozuch: So my recommendation is to everybody, especially as an entrepreneur, I always preach like you want to learn every single aspect of your business.[00:31:29] So even with newbies that are just getting started, it's like, no, I don't think you should hire a VA right out the gate. Like you should be learning how to manage and do all of the things. And then when you get to a point where you have that. Generated revenue coming in every month, whether you're selling programs or you're coaching, or you have courses or anything like that.[00:31:46] Like once you have a good amount of money coming in where you can allocate a certain percentage to a VA and that's your budget for the month, and so you have to find a VA or any help to fit that budget of yours, that's when you should do it. So I just recently, like this year, hired my first VA, but before then I was literally doing everything myself.[00:32:06] Like I had a few VA's here and there beforehand, but this is right now. I just now started to finally hire because a lot of the, I did want to learn myself and just see like even with my whole entire pivot, like I had to figure out, okay, where am I focusing? What is working? What is not working?[00:32:24] Because if you don't know what's working like you could be. Creating a big Facebook group to nurture, or you could be on YouTube or whatever, and if you outsource all of that right away to a VA, they're not going to give you the report and the results of what's happening. So you really have to know your business and where you need to focus and then whatever is not as needle moving as you'd like.[00:32:43] That's when you get to the point of hiring someone. [00:32:46] Michael King: Why did you go the VA route instead of somebody in person? [00:32:49]Samantha Kozuch: With the VA. We do zoom calls all the time. We voice note back and forth all the time. So to me it didn't matter to have someone in person because I am constantly on the go and I don't want that pressure of, okay, well so-and-so's coming to my house from one to two to work on this project.[00:33:09] I didn't want that pressure. So virtually my girl is in the U S. She's actually in Texas. So for me it just worked out that way. But I feel like right now it works right now. But you know, I start growing and growing even more, which obviously is the plan. Sure, I'd love to have, you know, a whole team that works with me side by side, you know, and my home office.[00:33:29] But right now it just works. [00:33:31] Michael King: I never could figure out how to make the VA thing work. I tried for, I think shit shows. And a lot of it was, some of them, I was too early. To your point, I didn't really know what I needed from them yet specifically. But for me, I also have realized I like to have somebody that's right there because I'm a very stream of conscience person.[00:33:58] And so something hits my brain and I'm like, Hey, could you write this down? Or Hey, can you go add this to our, you know, project management platform. And I know you can still like, you know, chat somebody on Slack or whatever. But I've got clients that are doing millions and millions and millions of dollars a year, and I see the executives hitting brick walls, and it's like the stuff that you're spending your time worrying about.[00:34:24] Is holding you back and I'm going to soapbox a little bit more here. What I think a lot of people don't realize and see if you can, what your thoughts are on this is you spend a lot of your mental bandwidth thinking about things that are in these details. And they're important. They need to be solved, but it doesn't need to be you that solves them.[00:34:44] And when your brain like that takes energy, like there's an assets, you know, that is being depleted daily thinking about, or even if it's just a little bit of concern or a little bit of anxiety that that's pulling you away from solving bigger problems or having those creative ideas that are going to move the business forward.[00:35:03] Right. And so, yeah. You can do that right there. Maybe you have the hours in the day to do that, but it's depleting your brain power and your brain energy and you don't realize how much it can be holding you back because you're worried about why you're locked out of this account right now or why, you know?[00:35:23] So you know, this vendor is wondering where their payment is, or a customer is wanting a refund or whatever the case may be. It's like that's pulling you away from doing your best work and your team, your customers, your vendors. They need you doing that. And so it's like, that is for me a month end. But hands down my philosophy on that until somebody convinces me otherwise.[00:35:47] What's your experience? [00:35:48] Samantha Kozuch: Right. I couldn't agree with you more. That is definitely the reason why I even hired a VA cause I, I took an inventory of my daily tasks and I read a book called The One Thing by Gary Keller and I read that over Christmas time, and that book literally changed my life because we've all heard about multitasking.[00:36:08] And I, we glamorize it too with doing all these different things. And I know as entrepreneurs, we're literally multitasking our days away with all the different things that we have to get into. And that is one of the worst ways to run your day because just what you said about brain power, like whenever you're focused on, say, writing an email, but then you'll get say another message or[00:36:27] Someone calls you or something like that. Every time your brain has to shift gears, you're losing that zone. It takes time to do that. And then even when you come back to it, or sometimes you'll now forget about that email and you know, it goes into oblivion or whatever. You figure it out a couple of days later, they forgot to even send it.[00:36:44] Michael King: Hey, when are you going to respond? I responded to you the other day and you're like, shit, it's in draft right there in draft.[00:36:49] Samantha Kozuch: Yup. Yup, yup. so with me, just hiring my VA, like I knew the things that I could offset to her, which were so important in my business. But I didn't need to do them. I didn't need to take that energy because I now know like I probably have a good four solid hours.[00:37:08] If I zone in on my project or whatever I'm working on, I have four good hours of solid brain power that I can really commit to something. After that. It's like, it's not that I'm like just done for the day, but I know that, you know. I'm, I'm tired. I need a break. I need to go do something else. and I need to focus on that.[00:37:26] So if I can lock in on four hours of content creation or creating courses or responding to students, or working with them one on one, whatever that looks like for that four hour period, that's going to move my needle. So much further along in business, so much faster, especially when I don't have to like to do the little bitty tasks of, Oh, I need to add somebody.[00:37:44] Like I have a big Facebook group that I'm nurturing. I'm like adding someone to my Facebook group and then, you know, writing them a message saying hi or whatever. Like those a little things that I know might be a can do that takes that kind of effort off my plate. [00:37:58] Michael King: How many hours a week does she work [00:38:00] Samantha Kozuch: right now?[00:38:01] She's actually between five and 10 okay. [00:38:04] Michael King: Yeah, so not breaking the bank, but adding a lot of value. [00:38:06] Samantha Kozuch: Yeah. [00:38:07] Michael King: All right. Well, how can people find you if they want to learn more about business coaching? If somebody is interested in a business coach and you're like. Hey, this is the girl I need. How do they find you?[00:38:19] Samantha Kozuch: Yes. So if you need help with social media strategy, attracting ideal clients, launching any products, services, or offers, you can find me on Instagram, which is my, at Samantha . So you can click, I'm sure in the notes on my page, you don't know how to spell my last name, but you can find me there and connect with me there.[00:38:38] I'm on social media all the time and I love connecting with everyone that I follow. So send me a DM. Don't be shy, and also click the link in my bio and then you can get my free like a boss checklist. [00:38:50] Michael King: Awesome. And I will post a link to that as well in the show notes. Thanks so much for coming out today.[00:38:54] This was fun doing all the things live over here and over there. So cool. Thanks so much.  [00:39:01] Samantha Kozuch: Thank you.[00:39:09] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
James Patrick is an award winning photographer, best selling author, entrepreneur coach, podcast host and public speaker based in Phoenix, AZ.  He is the founder of FITposium, an annual conference guiding fitness entrepreneurs to grow their careers.  James has received a bevy of awards for his work as a photographer, marketer and entrepreneur.  Leveraging his diverse experience, James has presented on stages coast-to-coast in the United Sates and has been interviewed for numerous TV, radio, magazine, newspaper and podcast features.  James Patrick's mission is to create art and opportunities for others.Connect with James:Instagram: photography fitposiumFacebook: photography fitposiumLinkedIn: photography fitposiumConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.[00:00:22] Well, I think we are all pretty much In the Trenches right now. I know a lot of small business owners from coast to coast, operate the type of business where they get up every day, they leave the house, they go out and they provide a service. And in exchange for that service, they get paid. And with the quarantines, we're not, I mean, pretty much across the board.[00:00:41] Now for many of us, that's impossible to do. We can't leave our house. And so we're kind of stuck here and that's put us in a big bind. And thankfully the government has recently signed into law the cares act, which is going to extend the runway. For some of us, and it's going to free up some, you know, much needed capital to keep our doors open and keep our employees paid.[00:01:03] But, you know, the best case scenario is that it just extends our runway. It doesn't solve the revenue problem. So today I'm talking with my friend James Patrick, and we kind of bounce some ideas back and forth around how business owners who provide a service typically leave the house and they go and provide a service for people.[00:01:23]We're going to talk about some ideas on how they can provide value for people from home. And so we're going to walk through a six step process to, kind of figure out how you can work from home and still provide value for your client base and maybe even expand your client base to some people you hadn't been able to serve before.[00:01:42]  Additionally, if you're a business owner and you want to share your story about how you're handling the crisis that we're in right now and how you've pivoted your business, things that you've tried, things that are working, things that aren't working, or if you just want to brainstorm, kind of live on an episode, please feel free to reach out to me at[00:02:04] I would love to hear your story and share that story to hopefully help inspire others, or at least give them some ideas on what they can do differently. but for now it's a time to talk with my friend James Patrick. So without further ado, here is my interview. James. Thanks for joining me today. [00:02:25] James Patrick: Mike, so excited to chat. [00:02:27] Michael King: I think, when we had initially lined this interview up, we were on a little bit better terms. as it goes with society. We find ourselves in the middle of quarantines and a global pandemic. How have you been faring so far? [00:02:41] James Patrick:  You know, fortunately really well, and I stress the word fortunate.[00:02:46] The world shifted on us and it shifted really fast. And we've seen the fabric of the landscape that so many of us have put ourselves on not just our businesses, but our lives have become. Really shaky and it's honestly, it's hard not to have that energy touch you in some way, shape, or form. It's, it's everything we see in the news.[00:03:07] It's everything we see on social media now. It's gotten to the point where you see people, you know, starting to, to test positive for it. And there's no way to avoid it. But it's in how you choose to manage your day to day. Cause you can control your thoughts and you can control the actions that you take.[00:03:24] Michael King:  What have you found personally to be a working best for you? [00:03:29] James Patrick:  So, from a personal standpoint, my background, I've been a photographer for over 20 years. And in that season of my life, it was honestly, it was the season of the hostel because my modality to get work was to just go out and just pound pavement and just get as many clients as I could.[00:03:50] And it got to a point where I was just. Yeah. I had one year, I worked 500 individual jobs in 365 days, and that stat just blows my mind, but I mean, it was there, but I was physically just exhausted. If that were how I was running my business right now, I'd be in a lot of trouble. Because there'd be no way I cannot go out and make money right now going out and taking pictures.[00:04:13] So the only way I made money was to go take pictures. The second shift I had was to start charging more to take pictures. So a lot of entrepreneurs will have that where it's just, okay, I'm going to get better clients and better clients just means clients who are going to invest more in me. That was the second modality, but even still, I ran into a capacity of how much time I had to serve, but I still wasn't building the business I wanted.[00:04:38] So the third really shift that I had was to create income streams that did not exclusively tie my money. To them because, you know, as a freelancer, which I was as a photographer, if I get sick, I don't get paid. If I can't go into work, I don't get paid or where we're at right now. If I'm quarantined right now, I can't get paid.[00:04:58] So over the last six, seven years, I've been able to build income streams, be it my coaching platform, all my events, events are on hold right now, understandably. But the event, my mastermind, my online digital downloads, like I'm able to have these things to sustain my income so that even though I can't take a photo now for, I don't know, four, six, seven weeks, you know, whatever, however long this spans out, I'm not going to struggle during this time.[00:05:29] Michael King: That's awesome. I know that there's so many of us that are struggling right now because, you know, essentially we trade our time for money. You know, one for one or is there some version they're having? A couple episodes ago on my podcast, I talked to a buddy of mine about how as entrepreneurs, typically the way the business models work is we go from hourly work to project work to recurring revenue, right?[00:05:54] That's kind of the normal progression. But what I'd love to talk to you about James, and we didn't really dive into this ahead of time, so this'll be a pretty impromptu discussion. If somebody finds themselves at home right now where a week ago they were doing work like let's say they were a photographer, right?[00:06:13] They're out there taking pictures, or maybe they're a florist or a, you know, maybe they were a carpenter. I don't know. Something where they're out there and they're doing work where their compensation as a result of their time, how would they even. Think about transitioning to doing something online, or you mentioned you've got classes and courses and all kinds of digital work, but it feels like that might be overwhelming to somebody that hasn't done it.[00:06:41] And quite frankly, I'm in the middle of that transition right now. I mean, I'm only a few months into it, so I can't speak as much of an expert. But you've got a couple of years under your belt. So lay out a three or four step process on how, the guy or gal at home right now that's freaking out because they can't take pictures.[00:06:59] How do they get started? [00:07:01] James Patrick:  So first off, it's whatever they're feeling right now. That fear, that uncertainty, that stress, that anxiety validated, it's all real and it's fine to feel that way because like we kind of let off with everything changed, right? So it's okay to feel stressed. It is okay to feel nervous right now and it is completely normal.[00:07:25] To be in a place where you don't feel very creative right now. I mean, think about like the hierarchy of needs, the baseline hierarchy of needs right now, our physiological needs. So like air, food, water, shelter, right? Well, you go to the grocery store and you just see it ransacked. So that's all I need. It cracked the second need off from their safety, personal safety, employment, resources, health.[00:07:50] Hey, that one's been pretty obliterated. One up from there. Love and belonging. The ability to connect with others, a sense of connection. We're isolated in our houses.  So up from there is where we have our creative spaces, where we have those areas that we can. And we can put forth creative thought and what we can create and how we can show up.[00:08:10] But all of these are on a foundation that has been cracked severely. So, you know, I, I start with this and realize that, you know, it's okay to not feel very creative right now. It's okay to be in a place where you just, sometimes you just need to give yourself that pause to allow yourself to heal a little bit.[00:08:28] So, and I'll give a personal example. Yesterday morning I woke up and one of the, one of the times during this I woke up and I woke up with anxiety. I literally could feel it in my chest. I could feel it in my throat. And understandably why. Like I had just had lunch the day before where I was told that my mother-in-law has to cancel her wedding.[00:08:48] So I'm hearing all that, and I spent so much time connecting with entrepreneurs who are unsure of what to do right now. So like, you're just really absorbing a lot of this energy. So I woke up feeling very stressed and I was like, I can't show up right now in this place. I can't even create in this place.[00:09:04] There's no way, anything I think of will not work. So I had to spend my time getting myself right in order to show for that day. So that involved how I meditated that morning, the exercises that I went through going through a second meditation after that so that I could show up better. Okay. So I think part one is just acknowledging, you know, it's okay if you don't feel like your most creative self.[00:09:26] If you need to give yourself that pause or that space, take it. Cause this is, there's two seasons as an entrepreneur, like we talked about the season, the hustle, the other season of an entrepreneur as a season of just space and pause. Just giving yourself that space where you can rest that space where you can heal.[00:09:42] But then that space that after you've rested and after you've healed that, you can start to think. Creatively. And what's really cool in regards to what you can pivot to. My wife and I did a webinar about a week ago about this, and we had a bunch of people tune into the webinar who said, okay, this is great talking about online income, but I am blank.[00:10:02] For my business and I don't know how I can make money online. And every person that came, we came up with an idea of what they can do. I like when someone says, well, I'm a makeup artist. What could I possibly do as a makeup artist right now? And the immediate answers, why aren't you teaching people to do makeup online right now?[00:10:19] Why don't you create courses on how people, because guess what? Who? You have all these people trapped at home right now and a lot of people still probably want to feel really good and still want to feel like they look really good. Teach them how to do it themselves. Show up. Be a value right now as a photographer.[00:10:34] Hey, okay, so you can't be a photographer right now. You have a couple of different options. Once again, look for what people need right now. I had a call from one of my magazine clients and they said, we're nervous about sending anyone out. What do you have that you've already created that you can just license and sell us?[00:10:50] And that was a big light. Well, for me, it's like. I could just license and so I have 20 years of photos. I could just go out and find clients to sell to them because they're too afraid to send someone out to make something new right now. Or I could just teach photography online. I could teach Photoshop tutorials online, or there's a lot of people who are taking their own photos right now because, hey, quarantine.[00:11:11] All these influencers have taken their own photos right now. What if I just offered services to edit their photos for them? Okay. I think ideas are just there, but what you have to do is look to see what people need right now. What do they need right now? Once you see what they need right now, then you could start to align your services and see where that overlap is.[00:11:31] and you just have to have your eyes opened up opportunity and give yourself that space to be creative because the ideas exist if you are willing to look for them. [00:11:42] Michael King: Okay, so just so far, you said right out of the gate, acknowledge the fear. The fear is very real. Be okay with that. Right. And what I called step one is if you're not in a creative place, if you're not in a creative mindset.[00:11:57] Pause right there. Just kind of take a breather. Now I want to put my thoughts on that pause doesn't mean taking three months, right? Pause means take a couple of days, right? Like two or three and get your, get your head together. Get your head in the game, and then go. And then the next step is to look to see what people need right now.[00:12:19] Think about your gifts and talents, and look for that overlap, but just keep your eyes open and see what's out there and be creative. To see how you might solve those problems, but I get that right. [00:12:29] James Patrick:  Oh, 100% and I liked that you brought up the pause thing. No, pause does not mean three months. Pause, pause.[00:12:35] It's going to be subjective based on where you're at right now. For me, my pause was about two hours, but that's because I have a very aggressive habits schedule that I keep and I can implement my meditations, my journaling, my exercise. That can shift. My mindset so that I can move forward with my actions fast, but you know what?[00:12:55] Every now and then I need a day where I do nothing but relax and nourish, nourish my mind with a good book. Good meditation's good. Podcast, maybe a good movie, whatever is. Yeah, I have those days too and you honor that because there's no point showing up. Any less than amazing. Right? But then the other part of it opens your eyes up to opportunities.[00:13:19] And there, there are so many new opportunities that did not exist before. You just have to be willing to pay attention. Like, I mean, the ones that came up, like I am not going to be spending a lot of time licensing out photos. I don't really have time for that. But what a tremendous opportunity for every photographer who could ever tune into this episode to take years of collateral and churn it.[00:13:42] Turn it into money. It's just sitting on your hard drive turning into money right now. Or, Hey, you spent 30 or 20 years learning this craft drum up a course right now. Teach others how to do exactly what you're doing because guess what? A lot of people have time and in a couple of weeks they're going to be itching to start to explore creatively themselves and you can teach them a new skill set or something they've never done before.[00:14:03] That's obviously, you know, I wish I had time to learn XYZ. Well, you got nothing but time now.  [00:14:08] Michael King:  I'm pulling up a post that I saw on social media this morning that really, really resonated with me. It kind of inspired me a little bit to be honest, and I want to get it right and it says, if you need motivation this week, think about this.[00:14:23] What if this whole thing magically ended on Friday and you had to go back to work starting Monday? What would you wish you had done during this time? While you had the time. And I think it's just like with everything in life,  we don't know how long this is gonna last. So we've gotta be really, really deliberate about leveraging it to the best we can instead of playing the victim.[00:14:47] You know, this happened to me. And so, you know, now I'm going to have a staycation. I'm going to binge Netflix, I'm going to feel really sorry for myself. I'm going to wait for that thousand dollar check to come from the government next week or next month. Right. Turning like you said, turning [00:15:02] This time into an opportunity to learn something new or to find new opportunities. I think you know what you said about the photographers as an example. You know, they've got, you know, potentially tens of thousands of dollars of product on their computer from photos they've taken over the years. You can get out and, and license those out and, so others can use them or are coming up with a course.[00:15:24] You've done courses before, right? James, you've, you've created your own. [00:15:27] James Patrick:  Yeah, absolutely. I've created a number of courses I want to, I want to. Touch on something you said, cause I think it's so important. You said that the victim mentality of this happened to me. When you're in that modality, if you're saying this is happening to me, I can't believe this is happening.[00:15:39] Oh, this is happening. What you've done is you've removed all your control of the situation. You remove all your control of the situation. There's nothing you can do. You've basically washed your hands of ever turning this around because you've said this had nothing to do with me. This happened to me. And that's a very dangerous place to be.[00:15:57] If you can look at this instead of, well, this is what is, it did not happen to me. Maybe it happened for me, but I control my actions. I control my actors. I control what I do every day. That remains in your circle of control. And I get so frustrated when I hear individuals using that language of, Oh, I can't believe this happened, or Oh gosh, what am I going to do?[00:16:22] I can't let this happen to me. It's like, no, you're removing your control of the situation. Never give up. That control is too important because you can control, and as I was saying, like we can control our mindset and we can control our actions. We get our mindset right first, then we can follow that with the right actions, the actions that we need to move in that direction.[00:16:41] what a poignant thing of, if this went away Monday, what do you wish you would have done? And my immediate thought is, I'm doing it now, but am I doing it fast enough? All those things right. I'm like, Oh gosh, am I doing it enough? So it puts that positive pressure on, okay, double down your efforts even more.[00:16:58] Which for me, that excites me. but yeah, we've created, we've gone through a number of different course creations. We've done everything from digital download courses to, we launched a membership platform, soft launch, a membership platform, late or last year. and we also do a lot of one-on-one and group coaching as well.[00:17:18] Just all done virtually. [00:17:19] Michael King: So I think a lot of people may get hung up on this. It can be overwhelming figuring out, okay. So it's like, okay, I'm in the right mindset. The creative juices are flowing. I recognize that I'm going to teach people, I'll use me as an example, right? I'm going to teach people how to read financial statements.[00:17:36] Okay? that's something that people put off. Like I don't ever have the time to sit down and figure it out. So I'm going to create a course on how to read financial statements. But where I think people might get hung up is what next. Right? Like there's a lot of technical platforms out there to do these.[00:17:53] Some of them are free, some of them are really, really expensive. Where would you recommend somebody go to get started with this from a hosting, like a hosting and a technical perspective? I've got my opinions, but I'd love to hear what you think. [00:18:06] James Patrick:  So I'm going to give two parts to this answer. I'll actually answer the technical part, but I'll preface it by saying it doesn't matter.[00:18:14] And the reason it doesn't matter is nothing is set in stone. Everything's cast in jello, which means anything can be changed at any point. There's nothing stopping you from updating, changing, revising, or completely shifting or even blowing something up. Should you choose, and I was, I was on a podcast earlier.[00:18:31] We were joking about first launches, and I was telling a story like the first time I launched something online, it was an ebook and I didn't know how to launch an ebook. So what I did was I set up a PayPal button, but I never knew how to automate sending out the ebook. So every time I got an alert from PayPal, I would then write an email and manually attach the ebook every single time, and that I did that for a couple of hundred eBooks until I figured out, Oh, there's a system that does this automatically.[00:18:59] Okay, I guess I'll use that. Then you can figure it out. Everything can be figured out. It's all really a matter of cost versus benefit and how much control you want and how much scalability wants. I'll give a couple of different examples. Let's just say we'll use the example of course creation online.[00:19:16] Okay? You could use a third party hosting. Third party hosting would be, let's just say a Thinkific or teachable. Okay. Their price points are super low. They're very easy to use. You upload everything to those platforms and you just build your course there and you're charged that you want to charge, and then you're off to market.[00:19:38] Right? Downsides. One downside is your customization of the user experience is severely limited. And I'll use Thinkific as an example. I believe on their sales page, you can have up to 140 characters to sell your program. That's it. You can have a Twitter link to post to try to sell your entire program.[00:19:58] That doesn't work for me. I need a full page. I want a video sales letter. I want lots of information, lots of testimonials, like I want something to really Edify why people are going to make this investment. Okay, so you lose a little bit of design, aesthetics and user experience, but Hey, everything's plug and play and you just.[00:20:15] You just white label your URL over it and you're off to go and it's done. You don't need to know any coding or design. You can just launch and create. Another downside would be everything is hosted within their container, which means should any of those websites be a Thinkific or teachable? Have any, let's just say server downtimes.[00:20:35] Well, your membership sites are down, your courses are down. Okay. So realize that. So that's option A. Like if you wanted to do on demand, a parallel to that would be if you wanted to do like a massive digital download upside to that is probably, I think it's a little less expensive. You were to use a website, like let's say Shopify, you, you set up a Shopify account, you connect an app which allows for digital downloads and you allow people to.[00:21:01] Download things. The downside is, is now people have to download, let's say, like I had a photo course on there. It was like it was almost a gig in size. While a lot of people don't want to download a full gig, some might, so, all right. Little bit of upside downside there, but much more customization of your sales page.[00:21:22]much more benefit in sales tools. So it's really how do you want to deliver to your clients? So we've tested both and after testing both, subscription model or you know, on demand content where they just create a login versus digital downloads where they actually download a massive file. Like if it's a video course, it's 800, 900 megs, one, 1.5 gigs.[00:21:46] We prefer the login just because also a lot of people on their phones, they don't want to be downloading a gig to their phone and pull up their phone. So out of those two I go course route versus download route. From there, another option or layer of courses that you could do is you could use something like[00:22:05] gateway tool would be, probably a good industry standard would be access ally access. Ally plugs into your WordPress. So you have a website on WordPress, you connect access ally to it. This is the coding, which allows members to create their usernames and passwords, connects with Stripe to process the credit card payments and manages your client profiles.[00:22:29] Okay, so it's basically your membership hub. You'd use access ally and you would host your videos on a third party hosting platform, be it Vimeo or YouTube benefit. There is much less risk of downtime using Vimeo or YouTube just because they will have the server bandwidth. That would, I would trust their server bandwidth a lot more than I would trust.[00:22:49] Like, let's say Thinkific or, teachable. [00:22:52] Michael King:  I think what you said earlier is the key. Just get started. Don't spend a lot of time going through and you know, gosh, do I want this one and or do I want that one? And well, this one's one 49. This one's one 99. Just get started, right? Just find something in and get started with it.[00:23:10]so often we get. Paralyzed by decision making. but you're absolutely right. Just get started with, with something. [00:23:16] James Patrick:  So here's the thing. A lot of people will delay a launch because they want it to be perfect. I'm just gonna tool this a little more. It's almost perfect. I'm just gonna I'm just gonna tweak it a little more.[00:23:25] It's, it's almost there and we've all been guilty of it. I've been guilty of it. I delayed that, that ebook launch that came out a year later than it needed to. There are so many things that I've sat on and there are things that I sat on so long. Someone else launched it first. And they're the ones that took on the paycheck.[00:23:42] Right. Done is better than perfect and honors the reality that it's going to be messy at first. My first ebook was a train wreck. My first podcast, not good. My first time speaking on stage, probably not that great either. My first photo shoot, probably not a home run. The idea is that everything can be adjusted over time.[00:24:04] You don't like how it's serving you fine. You adjusted over time and what's great if you launch it before you think it's perfect. Let's say you launch that, you know what's the ideology launch at 80% what this does is it gives you the opportunity for feedback. Feedback will guide you how to ascend and mature your coast, your course, your platform, whatever it is over time, because your audience will tell you what they like, what they don't like, and what they want to see next.[00:24:33] So you could spend hours. Hours like  forever on something and then realize that, Oh, they didn't even want that. That's not even what they wanted. I was talking to a friend of mine, he launched a hat company a couple of years ago, and the hack company quickly scaled to seven figures, and I asked him what would, what advice would you give you yourself if you had to go back to when you started, what advice would you give yourself?[00:24:56] You said we would have launched a year sooner. I said, well, what do you mean by that? He said, we sat on our website redesign yet. For 12 months we sat redesigning our website, trying to make it perfect, and assuming that once it got to a certain level of perfect, all right, the launch would just be unbelievable.[00:25:14] I said, okay, so what happened when you launch? You said we had to redesign the website anyway. [00:25:17] Michael King:  It's amazing. You assume you know what your potential clients need and what they want. You assume you know where they're at but nothing validates that. Like taking something to market and just seeing if people buy it or not.[00:25:33] James Patrick:  People will tell you where they want to go with it. And if you allow people to be a part of the experience in where this goes, they're going to feel more attached to it. They're going to feel a little bit more ownership with whatever the brand or the creation is, and they're going to be along for the ride.[00:25:49] And that could be a really cool way to also increase the engagement you have with your audience by making them feel like they're a part of whatever it is that you choose to spend your time on.  [00:26:00] Michael King:  So, all right. Just to recap so far, we've got, you know, step one a is be okay with the fear. It's real.[00:26:05] Acknowledge it. B is a pause if you need to, just to kind of get back into a creative space, but kind of keep that to a few days, not a few weeks or a few months. Look around and see what people need right now. there's a lot of new opportunities out there because people are in unique situations.[00:26:21] So look to see what people are asking for right now or what they need, and then look for overlaps with your skillset. Third step is to set up a technical platform. number four is be mindful that, perfect, shouldn't be the enemy of good enough. Get something kind of 80% of the way there. and then what would you say is next in this journey to take something, new to market?[00:26:42] James Patrick:  The next step is relentless engagement. Showing up constantly. The number of times I see people launch something and they're disappointed that in the first 48 hours that they announced it, no one took action. It's like, well. Okay. If this is new, if you're doing something new right now that no one has ever expected you to do, and you came out of left field as launch, you didn't build it up at all.[00:27:04] You didn't create any conversations about it beforehand. Yeah. People are going to be a little hesitant because when we're, I'll use social media as an example. We're on Instagram. We are not on Instagram holding our credit cards. We're not on Facebook ready to make a purchase. We're on there to be entertained.[00:27:19] Formed or inspired one of those three things or a combination of those three things, right. So when I say show up, I say show up in one of those three areas. When I worked in my marketing job, I had a VP at that company and he poked his head in my wall or in my office cause he knew I was building something on the side.[00:27:37] He knew I was getting ready to leave the company and start my own thing. And he says, Hey, got a little bit of vice-versa. What I said, be seen, be heard, be read. And that was that. Be seen, be heard, be read. That's showing up. Be seen.  Be ubiquitous beyond the Knippa tent. Get your face, your brand, your message in front of everyone who matters, not just everyone, everyone who matters, your client avatar.[00:28:01] They need to know you. They need to know you exist. They need to know why you're doing what you're doing. And they need to know why it matters in the context of their lives. Not just look at me. This is why it matters in the context of your lives. So that's to be seen. So you're. Networking. You're involved, you're engaging your DM and you're commenting, you're starting conversations, be heard.[00:28:23] You're not just in the back of the room cause you bought a ticket to a networking event. You're on the stage, you're presenting, you're on the podcast, Mike, you're the one putting the message out there to serve others and then be read. It's still that value driven. Our job right now is to create such an overwhelming.[00:28:43] Supply a value that our audience, the people that tune into us, the people that we've earned their attention feel in depth to us. They feel so in debt to us that they're willing to take that next step. And that's why one of the things that we're talking about is, you know, if, if this all ended on Monday.[00:29:02] What do you wish you would have done more of? And one, one great answer that is, I wish I would have given more value away. I wish I would've just shown up more. Be seen, be heard, be read. Because when you do that enough, and we do that with enough persistence, that's what starts to entrench. Into the mind of your ideal prospect.[00:29:22] That's what starts this conversation's happening is by being present for those conversations to happen, and it will start to turn, but I don't, I don't believe, nor do I really adopt that ideology of the perfect launch and you know, Oh, you earn seven figures in over a weekend. Okay. If, if. If you did, great, but my guess is you spend a lot of time building engagement and relationship equity.[00:29:45] This is not overnight success. This is 279 days to overnight success. [00:29:50] Michael King: I think most of the people listening to this right now, the, the people that this resonates with, they're there. I mean, the seven figure launch sounds great, but they'd probably just like to earn an extra 500 bucks to make sure they can.[00:30:03] Pay their rent this month or put food on the table. And so, you know, it's like you don't have to be perfect. Just get something out there and, and, and do something that generates, you know, just a little bit of extra income. And, you know, hopefully it takes off for you. But I think right now we'd all just be, or most of us would be just, just happy to sell something, to, to help ends.[00:30:23] James Patrick:  So what I would do in this, in this instance right now is I would focus on two paths. One would be free value. Build trust and engagement. Okay. So I would map out my calendar for the next four weeks and how I'm going to show up on social platforms, how I'm going to show up on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, whatever, the on my podcast, while my blog, whatever the platform is.[00:30:48] Then I'm going to write out all the . Points that I need to hit upon. What are the solutions that I'm offering to my audience? What are their concerns right now and how can I show up to be a value to them? Well, I just now put together my entire editorial calendar for the next four weeks. Okay. Then I'm going to just batch create that content so that way it's done.[00:31:08] Alright. That's a good use of a day or two. Then from there. I'm going to create whatever my offer is, realizing that there are going to be people nervous to invest in a full offer. So what I might do is I might create a reduced version of this offer. So for example, you can't do a, and I'll just give a personal saying, okay, you can't do my six month coaching.[00:31:32] Tell you what, I'm going to do one off coaching sessions. At. 40% off. Okay. Because you can't, like, it's too scary to invest in one off coaching. Oh, let's do 40% off a one off coaching session. It's not offered any time during this year. I have another one of my clients who, she did a reduced price seven day.[00:31:52]incubation period for her clients are for new clients. So it's a way to get people in for seven days, just provide massive value at a low ticket investment. And then the value is so great that she can upsell them after seven days. We have people, I've seen some of my clients. Do 30 day or 14 day.[00:32:10]I have clients who like it just serendipitously, we're working on online launches for online courses over the past year, and it just happened to hit right now. And they are, they're just in quote unquote perfect timing to absolutely be so well positioned for what people need right now. So I would focus on those two things.[00:32:28] One is how can I show up and give immense value. To build trust and engagement. And then two is what offer can I have that is. Low ticket. That is a no brainer in how much it solves people's problems that gets them into my ecosystem that I can then ascend them up after once this all ends, they're going to want to set up and who are they going to want to set up with the people who are serving them the most throughout this entire time.[00:32:59] Michael King:  I love that. So free value to build trust and engagement, four week calendar and write out all the points that you want to hit on over the next four weeks. [00:33:10] Michael King: Batch process, all that  am I catching it? Am I grabbing all this? And then spend the next couple of days putting together your, the actual content that you want to sell.[00:33:21] James Patrick: Exactly. And, and start, and you can even nurture, tease that out too. Like let's say you release something absolutely free. Let's say it's a free guide and you can put together your email nurture sequence. It starts teasing out what you are going to offer. And then, Hey, right now I know times are tight right now, but I know this is the solution you need.[00:33:40] You know, this is the solution you need for this seven day. Trial period. You can get in for this. Whatever it is that makes it that no-brainer. Okay, you know what? I'm going to do this because I believe this investment is in my best interest. [00:33:55] Michael King: What's the thing that's keeping you up at night? Right now in the middle of the coronavirus in the self quarantine from a business perspective, what's the thing that scared the shit out of you [00:34:06] James Patrick: Right now? I'm not nervous about anything right now. I would say the thing that is giving me anxiety is. That I have not found enough time to give as much as I want to give, and that's not to sound totally altruistic or anything like that.[00:34:28] There's, there's a benefit to me to give. There's a benefit for me to create my educational videos. There is a benefit to me to create free resources for entrepreneurs. There was a benefit for me because I will sell. Once this starts to turn and I will be front of mind. So there's a benefit, but the anxiety is I wish I had more time to create more stuff.[00:34:52] I wish I had more time to connect with more people to build more relationships in a bill mortgage payment, because right now, such a tremendous opportunity to be doing this. There's never been a better opportunity to be doing this. And when I see that, Oh my God, I can't believe it's already three o'clock today or four o'clock today, where did the day go?[00:35:10] I wish I would've talked to 20 more people. Okay. I guess I gotta start over tomorrow. And that, that right there is, was what's been kind of churning my anxiety is that, I don't know. I feel like I've done enough during this time. [00:35:23] Michael King:  I can definitely relate to that. I had a team meeting on Friday and I said, I need you guys focused on the client stuff because I'm going to be dedicating most of my time to doing exactly what you just talked about.[00:35:36] I've started doing daily IG videos. To kind of help people, you know, working from home and thinking through business, financial decisions and I'm still slow if that, it's embarrassingly slow. I've gotten better.  You know, pro tip for all of you out there that want to get into this stuff.[00:35:54] Reps matter.  I think I'm slower than the average bear. Like it's taken me a lot more reps than I ever imagined. It was the same thing with the podcast though. When I first started with the podcast, I was so nervous. And, just tons of anxiety and my heart rate went up and I'd sweat a little bit.[00:36:10] I mean, it felt a little bit like your first date, you know, back in high school for me every single time I turn the mic on and, you know, it's a little bit like that with the camera. Now, as soon as the camera comes on, I freeze up and I tense up and, but it's getting a little bit better. So, there's, my pro tip for the group is, do reps, reps, reps, you will get better and it may take longer than you think.[00:36:31] James Patrick:  My videographer encourages me to do this, and I've gotten better at it. There was a time where I wouldn't say I struggled on camera, but the time that I wasn't polished on camera, and his encouragement to me and his encouragement to all of our clients is it's really more of a challenge. Hey, actually, just post your first take.[00:36:51] Just allow your first take to be messy because guess what? It makes it real. It makes it authentic. It allows people to kind of see through the polishing and just connect with who you are and how you show up, and it just reduces that stress. That we have when we see that red light go on and we immediately forget every single thing that we are planning to say.[00:37:15] Michael King:  That's funny. I wish you had told me that like a month ago, James, because, I just started that three videos again, I think it was, yeah, it was Friday and I said, F it, I'm just going to do whatever it comes out. And I said, so. However, the post goes and however the content is in, if I stutter or whatever, that's just going to be what it is.[00:37:35] And you know, sure enough, it actually didn't go that bad. I've struggled with, for some reason, my videos upload to Instagram upside down. It's so, I struggled with that. And, here's another approach that for everybody listening, if you use a really large file. For your IG. If you upload a large file, Instagram gets screwed up.[00:37:55] So keep your files to like 500 megs or less. I don't know if that's the magic number, but I found success with them not going upside down when they're 500 megs or less. [00:38:04] James Patrick:  Well, I had no idea it would do that. I made the mistake, as I was batch recording content of, Oh, I'll just start recording IGT V content on my pro level gear.[00:38:16] And yeah, once again, the file sizes were so big that I was just like, Oh, this is gonna crash my editing app right now. Cause I was trying to edit it on my phone with files I had recorded on my camera. I'm like, you know what? This iPhone 11 pro has some hesitant chairman. I think I'm just, the camera's amazing.[00:38:31] But yeah, but it's things that we've learned in the process and the only way to figure it out is by figuring it out. And that's what it's like, we talked to people who struggle with sales and they're like, Oh, I'm not good at selling. I'm like, the only way you're going to figure out how to sell is to pick up the phone and try to make a sale.[00:38:49] It's the only way. [00:38:51] Michael King: And you can go into my IGTV now and you can see the upside down videos and the photos and you get, and I've just started kind of making fun of myself through the process. So, but because what you said is absolutely right, I get more engagement with those dorked up ones than I do with the ones that I feel like are more on the[00:39:08] perfect end of the spectrum. You know, people like seeing that other people have problems and they have technical issues and they're not the only one. So yeah, just do, I love the first take. It takes so much less time to, you know, just knock the first take out, put it up there and be done. So I'm actually thinking the, the podcasts, I may start just using first take, you know, without any edits, without taking out the uhs and ums.[00:39:32] I might just start cranking them out a little bit more organically in seeing how people respond to them. [00:39:37] James Patrick: This parallels what I do as a photographer and how everyone has treated social media. When I show a portfolio and people see my images, you know, maybe they go to my website, or if they look at one of my photo books and like, you know what?[00:39:53] This is a really great collection of work. I said, thank you. And they'll say, you know, God, this is, I can't take clothes like this. I'm like, yeah, but what you're not seeing are the hundred thousand bad photos I had to take to get these 20 good photos. You're not seeing that cause I'm not showing it to you.[00:40:08] Those are in negatives or they're saved on a hard drive somewhere. I'm not publishing those. I'm publishing the best. You only see the greatest hits, like being a photographer. It's like being the rolling stones and just coming out the new greatest hits album every, every year. Okay. I don't show you the rejects, but we've treated social media like this.[00:40:27] We've treated social media as a way to only show the greatest hits of our lives and our businesses. And this has given a misperception of what success is and a misperception really of what life is or fulfillment is. Because we think, well, I don't have this, or I don't look like this, or whatever it is.[00:40:44] So that's why, like we've almost in the 300 or so podcasts that I've recorded, I think we've edited. Two or three. And that was because the guest's phone rang in the middle of it, and I just didn't want to upset my listeners. I think that's a mod as much as we've done in editing, because I'd rather just be messy, but at least be transparent in that.[00:41:07] Michael King: Well, James, I know you've got a lot going on later this year. what, where can people find you and what exciting things do you have going up once the pandemic has subsided? [00:41:17] James Patrick:  So, the best way to connect with me is Instagram at J Patrick photo. My website is And my podcast is Beyond the Image.[00:41:27]the big thing that we have coming up is we have our annual symposium conference. First weekend of October. we are not sure when we're going to open up the cart for the passes. with everything that has been happening. We have shelved the cart for about 30 days, and we'll re-examine probably beginning of may to see if, if the climate is right to open up cars for an in person event.[00:41:52] But it is our event that we bring together health, fitness and wellness entrepreneurs to connect, to learn, and to leverage opportunities to grow their career.[00:42:02] Michael King: Awesome, hopefully I can attend this year. [00:42:03] James Patrick:  I would love for you to be there, buddy. [00:42:05] Michael King:  Okay, well let's figure it out then. I think that'd be a good time.[00:42:08] Is that going to be in Phoenix? [00:42:10] James Patrick:  Yes. Every year in Phoenix, Arizona. It is such a high energy place to be, but our mission is, you can go anywhere for inspiration. We're not going to inspire you. We're going to equip you. We're going to equip you with tools. Resources and strategy and actionable steps that you're going to take and move forward immediately in your business.[00:42:31] You can get inspiration from a YouTube video. Let's actually get to work. [00:42:35] Michael King:  James, thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for sharing the kind of steps that our listeners can take to get a course, or you know, something like that off the ground while they've got all this free time on their hands.[00:42:47] And I look forward to joining you for fit Posey IOM in October[00:42:50] James Patrick:  Oh, I appreciate you and I just want to, I just want to Edify you because of what you're doing and how you're showing up to help people navigate, not just in this time, but help people navigate the financial landscape. This is a conversation you and I've talked to us for.[00:43:04] These are conversations we need to be having more of, and I'm glad that you're the person that's showing up to have these conversations. [00:43:10] Michael King: Absolutely. I'm glad I can serve that way. All right. We'll be in touch. Have a great rest of your day, sir.[00:43:23] James Patrick:  Thanks [00:43:23] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Ajit Mathew George is a serial entrepreneur, opportunity maker, creative marketer, TEDx organizeremeritus, food & wine aficionado, philanthropist and certified Dream Builder™ Life Coach who divides histime between Wilmington, Delaware and Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, He is also the author of TheMagic of The Red Carpet, in which he shares how anyone can learn to give a great TEDx talk by following101 tips while sharing his unlikely journey from being organizer of TEDxWilmington to founding SecondChances Farm ( is the founder of Second Chances Farm, LLC, ( anorganization focused on hiring and giving turn key entrepreneurial opportunities to people returning fromprison after serving their sentences through the creation of indoor, hydroponic vertical farms – or “plantfactories.” Second Chances plans to produce organic produce, year-round, in local communities and minimize the carbon footprint of transporting produce.Connect with Ajit:InstagramLinkedInFacebookTwitterConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.[00:00:21] We are all In the Trenches right now. There is not a small business owner out there that's not facing bullets, but you know, going in, in every direction, whether it's employees that aren't able to work right now because of the quarantine or hopefully it's not because of their health, but that's a reality.[00:00:39] Or whether it's revenues, drying up, loan money, tightening up. Everybody's facing some type of adversity in the small business world right now. And, I think, you know, we're in a lot of ways founded by negative news. Every time you log into the news, it's how many people died, or you know, what the unemployment claims look like, or how long the economy's going to be hurting.[00:00:58] There's horrible news around us everywhere, and it's really easy to get sucked up into that bad news. Recently, I was introduced to a gentleman named George. George is the owner of Second Chances farm in Delaware. On his 63rd birthday, which was just about three years ago now, he set out to put together a vertical farm that's employed only by individuals that have been convicted of some sort of crime.[00:01:28] They served their crime and now they're second chance capitalists as he calls them. So he's wanting to provide work for folks that have done their time. And so for the last couple of years, Ajit has been putting together this vertical farm that's going to employ people that have been convicted of fraud crimes and they're coming back to the workforce and, audited stream, became a reality.[00:01:49] It's just on March 16th of this year the farm had its first harvest and they were ready to deliver the crops from this vertical farm to their customers. And basically they were wholesaling these to restaurants. And within eight hours of the harvest, the governor of Delaware and the governor of New York put out a mandatory quarantine.[00:02:10] And in an instant. His entire market restaurants try it up. And it would have been real easy for Ajit to say, well shit, we've lost it. I don't know what we're gonna do and close the doors and walk away from his dream, but he instead of not doing that, he immediately got about the business of brainstorming.[00:02:30] What are the other markets we could go after? How can I keep these people employed? How can I use this amazing produce and herbs that we've grown and serve somebody else or serve in a different way? And within 24 hours, he had flipped his business model on its head, and now his business is sold out for months.[00:02:49] And so I don't want to get into too many of the details, but if you're an entrepreneur, if you're a small business owner and you're looking for a way to pivot your business, if you're looking for a way to find the light in the middle of a saw, the dark that's around us right now. Absolutely listen to this episode and get some amazing tips on what you can do.[00:03:08] And if nothing else, hear a positive story. Somebody that's doing amazing things right now to give it a little bit of light into your life right now. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Ajit George.  Awesome. Thank you for joining me today. How are you? [00:03:23] Ajit George: I am wonderful on this Sunday. Hey, Sunday afternoon.[00:03:28] Sorry. I should probably not date it. I apologize. Do you want to restart it? [00:03:35] Michael King: I'm okay? You know, I think everybody knows that in our current environment, everybody's just kind of winging it and doing what they can. So, I strive for authenticity over perfection, so we'll be fine. So earlier this week I was talking with a friend of mine and he told me about a pretty incredible story, and it was your story.[00:03:55] And, I wanted to get an interview with you as quickly as possible because I think our listeners need to hear it. Basically what I understood is that you went right up until the day that New York went on mandatory quarantine. You basically were launching your new company that day, and you realize that, with the quarantine and everything that was going on, your primary market hit evaporated.[00:04:20] Yet you had workers, produce and nothing to do with them. And so you had to make basically a game time major pivot just to be able to stay afloat. Is that right? [00:04:31] Ajit George: I think that's reasonably accurate. We are based in Delaware, which is halfway between New York and Washington. And, we have been working on setting up this company for the last two and a half years and we worked very hard for the seven weeks prior to March 16th to have, essentially our first crop.[00:04:49] We are an indoor vertical farm. Well, hold on. [00:04:52] Michael King: Well, hold on. Before we do that. Take us back. I want to start this story. You told me it began on a birthday. Is that right? [00:04:58] Ajit George: The idea for this is, so I announced on my 63rd birthday, three years ago, on May 10th my 63 friends, I invited sort of a fun number to have. I said, here's what I want to do as my legacy project.[00:05:14] By the age of 70 which would have been seven years. From that point, I want to create 70 compassionate capitalists and the 70 compassion capitalists would all be returning citizens, which is my definition of someone who has served time and it covered, turned home from prison, and so they have repaid their debt to society.[00:05:36] And the way I was going to do that. Well, it's to create an indoor vertical farm, which is a hydroponic farm that is inside a building so we can grow our produce and herbs and other things. Presumably 365 days a year. Yeah, It was an idea that I had looked at for two years prior to that. Casually got serious and[00:05:58] by publicly announcing it in front of 63 friends, they would all be my accountability partners because everybody should have accountability partners. Otherwise, it's easy to have dreams go by. And so by publicly announcing to my friends, I felt I was being both vulnerable, but also stating that I was going to work really hard, putting together that mission.[00:06:19] Michael King: Wow. So this was like two and a half years ago, you said this[00:06:24] Ajit George: May to be exactly three years ago. So, and I want to speak and say that I had no idea how challenging, difficult or complicated the task is pre-wires, but we managed to get to a place where we acquired a 47,500 square foot building on September 4th of last year.[00:06:43] More than that, we tested some prototypes and then on January sixth of this year, we had our first cohort of 10 returning citizens join us. So that's the moment of reality. We had 10 people being in the program, and we also placed an order for all of the equipment that we needed, which arrived, on, essentially the first week of February.[00:07:06] And then we had to work pretty much around the clock to install it by the 7th or the 8th of February, which was quite a miracle in itself. And then we planted, what I will say around 240,000 seeds for the first crop, you have to put a lot more seeds than you think because you don't know what germinates.[00:07:25] And then they were in cubes. They are in Rockwell cubes, so they had 40,000 cubes. That's what we did. And the anticipation was when you planted seeds on February 7th, 8th, and 9th, we would harvest on Monday, March 16, because it takes six weeks to get there. And so we had sold off our crops pre harvested, and that's harvest time prior to our harvest.[00:07:49] Two restaurants, which was, sorry, the initial clientele. And we were happily going around, and Monday, March 16 began harvesting and that four o'clock that day or five o'clock or three o'clock that day is when the governor of Delaware issued a mandatory order for all restaurants to close at eight o'clock that day.[00:08:07] Obviously this will change that day. [00:08:10] Michael King: that's crazy. Let me make sure, cause you took us through a lot of important steps here. Let me make sure I'm following along. So, almost three years ago, you had your 63rd birthday party and you brought 63 people to the party and you announced the 63 closest friends.[00:08:27] You said, Hey, I have this, this legacy project that I've dreamt of. I'm going to hire 70. Individuals that have, committed crimes, serve their sentence, and are now returning to society. I'm going to create this vertical farm that employs 70 of these folks, and we're going to serve organic vegetables. [00:08:50] Ajit George: [00:08:50] fruits and vegetables[00:08:53] Michael King: Okay, so produce and herbs to restaurants in our local area. And so you went and you procured over a 40,000 square foot commercial space to grow them in. And then, you hired your first 10 people in, what was the term that you used for that?[00:09:07] Ajit George: Returning citizens because they are returning from home, returning home, from prison. So, I don't like the word ex-convict sorry. [00:09:17] Michael King: It was the capitalist term [00:09:18] Ajit George: that captures it's returning citizens because they are returning. And I look at them as, no differently than if they had a mortgage for 20 years or 10 years or 15 years.[00:09:31] They repaid their mortgage, and if you pay your mortgage off, your deed is paid in full. It is free and clear. So that's why I use the term returning citizens. [00:09:40] Michael King: So I like it. So you've hired 10, as of February of this year.[00:09:44] Ajit George: [00:09:44] January,[00:09:45] Michael King: [00:09:45] January, January six, you plant your first harvest. Hundreds of thousands of seeds.[00:09:50] Yep. The harvest is, do, your you do to, so on March 16th, and it was, basically within 24 hours of the harvest that the quarantine was put into effect. [00:10:02] Ajit George:  It was less than eight hours. We started at nine o'clock with the harvest and at three o'clock, the governor issued the order, flashed over Facebook that the governor was closing all restaurants at eight o'clock that night.[00:10:13] And so. We knew the next day we were planning to deliver all the harvest material on Tuesdays, which was St Patrick's day. There would be no restaurants to deliver because they were all shut down. So it's the end of the discussion. [00:10:27] Michael King: What did that feel like? You've been, you know, passionately working towards your legacy project.[00:10:33] You've brought 10 citizens back. You've given them meaningful work and you've got this 40,000 square foot space and you've done all the hard work and now some deliver. When you realized that what you thought was your opportunity hit evaporated, what did that feel like? [00:10:49] Ajit George: It was like a gut punch, but I couldn't really let anyone know.[00:10:53] I just got punched because my returning citizens as well as my leadership team knew. That this could be the end, that that would be the potentially the end that day. startups are notorious for failures. Startups are prone to failures anyway. It doesn't take anything for a startup to fail. You never have enough capital for a startup.[00:11:14] I mean, unless you're just crazy. So venture capitalists and people could sense that there was something that was going to dramatically happen. So I had to be exceptionally cheerful as they continued the harvest with packaging. As long as that and doing everything like we are going forward.[00:11:33] Without anybody really asking what I was going to do the next day I had to be a leader. And part of being a leader is, you are going into battle without even knowing who is going to shoot you in this case or whether you're going to survive. And I think I needed to be brave, even though I was scared, to my skin beyond belief that I had no idea at that moment what to[00:11:57] do. But as the day progressed, I knew that the day that I had to do something in 48 hours to make a difference, and that 48 hours had to be critical because produce is a perishable product. It cannot sit for two weeks. You can't let us, you know, you have to separate and send it out.[00:12:17] So I started brainstorming and I said, what if people are starting to not be able to go to restaurants. And now starting to stay home. Would there be a market for a home delivery program? And so I worked with my team to put together a farm to home delivery service. We had to create a landing page on our website.[00:12:39] We had to create, obviously, an order page. And more importantly, we had to think about if, God forbid, if people actually subscribed, how we would deliver this stuff because we had no plan for delivery. In fact, we had no operations for retail. Everything was wholesale. So I said, you know, I'll worry about the delivery if I get orders, and if I don't get orders, there's no point in worrying about delivery.[00:13:02] So we literally, in 48 hours or 24 hours, by the end of Tuesday, we had on our website a landing page, and I posted on Facebook and LinkedIn, and I sent letters to all of our supporters and my friends inviting them to subscribe to it. And that's really what I did without really having any expectation of what would happen.[00:13:25] And so we are up on Wednesday, up to Wednesday morning. so I did it five 30 Tuesday night, which is when we put it onto their face and they waited for it. That's a Wednesday morning to see what happened and great. And I prayed and I prayed. Well, the key, and while I would say to you, the key is you can easily fold and it would've been the easiest route because obviously I have no idea what I was doing and there's no guarantee what I was doing with the sailor.[00:13:52] But I knew I had to give hope to the 10 returning citizens. I have to give hope to my investors. I have to give hope to my team, other members of my team. And hope men that I have to at least give it a try of a new idea. And that's what I would say to anybody struggling, is you have an obligation to yourself and to your team and your stakeholders, which are investors.[00:14:14] It could be your bank, to really, say, let me try. What else can I try? Now that the donor has given an order, restaurants are not going to open tomorrow. So what can I do? And that requires you to step back and reflect. Very seriously. What is really important, and that's really what I did. [00:14:33] Michael King: Let me ask you this.[00:14:34] There's a lot in here to unpack that I think is hyper-relevant to the entire listening audience right now, and all of us are finding ourselves in some version of that same predicament, right? With, you know, money's drying up our traditional, who we sold to last month isn't necessarily who we're going to sell to next month because maybe those people are out of business now.[00:14:55] Maybe that entire market segment has gone. Let me ask you this. You said that you sat back and brainstormed. Take me through that process. Did you have a team of trusted advisors with you? Did you go into a room with a dry erase board and start writing things? How did you process what to do with this produce and what the opportunity might look like.[00:15:14] Ajit George: Well, I, what I did is I started asking members of my team, do you think we could sell retail? And people look up, we don't have packaging in our that sells street Dell. We don't have labels that we're selling to restaurants, which didn't require labels. They knew what Aruba love meant and they knew what it was.[00:15:34] So we didn't have packaging. That would have been typical for a retail. If I sold a supermarket, there would be packaging. I said, what do we have? We have plastic bags. I said, okay, we have plastic bags. We could put stuff in a plastic bag. We could put, we could print white labels and say, this is baby arugula.[00:15:52] We could say this, this cilantro on this stuff. They said, we don't have enough labels. So I said, okay, I will print. And then the problem was we were growing some exotic stuff where chefs like, which most people didn't know what it was, or. Bach choy. And so I said, I'll tell you what, let, what if we have a group actually put together recipes and we'll do a recipe sheet and put a picture of what we are in the package so people can look at what's in it.[00:16:17] So, we had, two or three people take charge and put together a recipe sheet with pictures of what they were getting. And so that people could look at box joy and never have seen box joy and actually say, okay, here's the recipe for it, because we had to do it. Quickly because I couldn't get the white labels fast enough to do the labeling of each package.[00:16:39] So that's number one. We needed to do number two and was really finding out whether I could get the website page app, which is really where technology really works and whether I could have a team member send out a letter too. Mailing list, which is a personalized letter making the offer and setting up really on the stuff.[00:16:57] So you brainstorm with different people. So I was very, very blessed, you know, meaning to have a great team. We were a group that did a phenomenal job, my CFO, Korean in something on Zoho, which is a software we use to take orders. We had, we had our PR person or web. Oh, of course. And create a page. We had other members of that team improvise the recipes and we all did different things because we were scrambling to put together essentially a package and an offer, within 24 hours that we could deliver.[00:17:30] So I really didn't have time to go in the race sport and then also didn't want people to see how nervous I was. I think if I had sat in front of a whiteboard, I think. My nervousness would have come in through. I've looked in, cause the obvious question is how are we going to deliver if we sold anything?[00:17:46] I didn't have an answer. I really had no answer. So I figured what my answer would betray the fact that I was clueless. So I decided to ask individual people different ideas. And then I said. I'll find a way to deliver, even if I have to deliver it myself. So I just took that article of faith that if he had orders, if they build, they will come, except in our case, if they build, we'll go to their house.[00:18:09] And I made the decision that I would only do it from within a 25 mile radius or 20 mile radius. so two counties in Pennsylvania and Northern Delaware, because I just knew otherwise I would get a strung out. And, we just, it was really, I would say grace of God. It was the blessing. It was the fact that my team believed in me.[00:18:31] Each did their part without asking a lot of questions. It'd be asked a lot of questions we would have doubt would have crept in and we would have never done it. So I think fear of the fear of the unknown is what? Chills good ideas. [00:18:43] Michael King: Fear of the unknown is what kills good ideas. I love that. I'm writing that down.[00:18:48] I think you said something else that's, that's really important. It's one of my pet peeves or passion ideas in business, and it's this idea of solving problems that don't exist yet, and something that you said really hits on that is you said the first thing you you had to figure out was how to get orders, even though you didn't have a way to deliver them yet.[00:19:09] You said. Hey, we're going to get the orders first and then I'll solve the problem of delivery. And I think a lot of times entrepreneurs, they get inside their own head and they start trying to solve the delivery problem first, or they don't move forward with getting orders because they don't know the answer to the delivery.[00:19:24] But I, I think that you hit the nail on the head and say if it's, Hey, let's get the orders in the door now. Let's figure out how to deliver them. And so don't solve problems that don't exist yet. [00:19:36] Ajit George: But I would say be aware of the problems and be aware that you have a backup solution. The backup solution was I had a nice car and I figured I could go deliver myself.[00:19:44] So it wasn't beneath me to go out and deliver myself because honestly, if people bought, I wasn't going to let them down. And the other thing is I wanted in the first week, within 24 hours of an order place. The delivery. So I wanted it to be better than Amazon, which is sort of a crazy standard, that I put, I didn't put it in print, I didn't put it on the website.[00:20:05] I had sent it to myself and my team. Oh, by 7:00 AM when 7:30 in the morning when an order came overnight, the next day we would deliver, but there's one or 20 and that, because that I thought was really important. Instill confidence that we actually were real. That's because we were asking for people to prepay for a month.[00:20:23] Which is a four weeks award. And so, which happened to be $99 and 95 cents, roughly 24.95 per a week. and because I wanted it not by week, I wanted it by month, so I knew this was a viable thing for a month. Otherwise I would shut it down. And once you have the confidence, and once you say, look, I, if we can deliver this, even if it took me to deliver it, then a couple of my leadership team will absolutely go deliver it.[00:20:49]not knowing how we were, one of the things we didn't realize is how complicated it is. So around Europe, map on it. My and my CFO about last name came up loud, researched it, and there was a very reasonable roadmap that gave us available to purchase that actually can put the addresses in and sorts it out and absolutely sources in the right order.[00:21:10] With the map and Prince directions. And that took us a day after the first store. At first, the first day we got the orders, we didn't manually look up maps, which was a really unbelievably bad exercise. It took so much time trying to figure out which houses were logical to go, but it didn't. 48 hours. We have this route map, which has become a lifesaver.[00:21:30] Somebody created for some purpose. It's available for a subscription that is reasonable. And you know. Just to fast forward the story between, yeah, between yesterday and Friday in two days, we delivered 200 and a 30 orders a day, 230 households, and we did it with five different people delivering using these route maps.[00:21:53] So, you know, we solved the problem because somebody else had a vision of creating a software for probably pizza delivery or somebody else in some other business that we didn't even know how they did it. And we were able to adapt it and actually make it very easy for somebody to go out and deliver.[00:22:11] Michael King: Did you come from a background of entrepreneurship or is this a new? [00:22:15] Ajit George:  none? My family are all doctors, engineers and teachers. There's, eh, and my parents were mortified when they decided to sound out that I didn't want to be an engineer or a doctor or a teacher. as far as Atkinson being an entrepreneur.[00:22:30] Absolutely. It was not a business. My father died without ever understanding why I was an entrepreneur and my mother sort of, it might be, but didn't understand it because it's risk and risk is not something they, particularly, my father was an accountant. I appreciate it. So I was the black sheep in that sense.[00:22:48] And, but I've spent, since 1980, which is, we're, let's see, that's 40 years of my life. As an entrepreneur, risk and failure go in my life may be handy. And at 65, I had invested so much of my time and money and effort into this. I felt I personally didn't have a second chance to redo anything if I didn't make it work.[00:23:09] So it was my own second chance story. because I needed it, I knew that this was a title wave. I didn't realize how bad the tidal wave this score on a virus would be, but I figured if I closed up shop. There was zero chance I would have a restaurant all ours and nobody would even, we would just be a footnote in the history of it.[00:23:28] This was three weeks ago, which was way before we hit with all the crises, 10 million people unemployed and so many businesses out, and now we are at full fast working around almost. We can't do three shifts, but we are working as hard as we can. We are harvesting everything and we can grow everything.[00:23:46] Again, this morning's conversation with me. Keep growing up as a West, how can we push it from two 25 to 300 or two 50 or two 75 is there a mix? We can do it, which is a really bizarre place to be.[00:24:00] [00:24:00] Michael King: So, I kind of want to get in the car and come up and help. Right? This is such an amazing story. The reason that I ask about your background in entrepreneurship is my team that I've worked with hundreds of companies, you know, that's what we do, is work with entrepreneurs all day long and.[00:24:12] Boy, the number of times that we see great ideas just get stunted because of analysis paralysis. And let's come up with a plan and a strategy and we've got to, you know, model everything out. And, and, you know, I tell people all the time, like, quit screwing around and go sell it and then perfect it.[00:24:31] And, you know, just what, why are you waiting? What are you waiting on? And it's so inspiring to hear that, that you guys had this wall put in front of you. You know, 99.9% of us would have just said, ah, you know, we've got to close this thing down. And you just continue to grind it out. What would you say is there so many business owners listening to this right now that are, that are scared they've, they've been in business, whether it's a couple of weeks or maybe a couple of decades, but they're, they're seeing the traditional opportunity they had in front of them.[00:25:03] Disappear. How would you encourage them to think through what their version of home delivery produces, produce looks like? What, what should they be doing? [00:25:11] Ajit George: I will tell you what I read about somebody else, which I thought was fascinating. If there's a local brewery called Iron Hill Brewery, which is a restaurant, they were obviously shut down, but they could take out.[00:25:22] And they could do, take out their food and, and, and eventually they were allowed to have some beer. But what they did, I thought was really brilliant, is they add, because they had access to produce and fruits and vegetables because they're whole, they're, you know, they buy wholesale. They then packaged, and it's everything from toilet paper to tomatoes, to eggs and milk.[00:25:45] Not something they would have ever done. So their takeout included, if you came and bought their food, you could also buy their package that had three dozen eggs, a carton of milk and tomatoes and, and toilet paper, which of course we know for some reason,  short supply. I just think that whoever was behind that idea of essentially comforting people, giving them comfort food  but also comforting them with one stop.[00:26:11] You can get toilet paper, you can get eggs, you can get milk, and you can get tomatoes. I think it requires us to suspend what is our primary. This model is, and finds out what the need of the customer is and what we know the need now is, and one of the things we have become acutely aware of is people want no contact.[00:26:30] So we actually have been asked in most cases, to drop the stuff off in the front of the house, ring the doorbell, and scan six feet up, and they say goodbye and mourn. we are. This week actually went. I'm reaching out to all of our customer scribers to ask, because we have, most of them have cell numbers.[00:26:46] Say, would it be appropriate for us to text you just before we arrived? So we don't even have, you know, we'll drop it and we can get back to the car. That requires, that's a whole different, way of thinking. But what it does is it means that people feel comfortable. The food is not sitting out there for a long time, but they know when it arrives by texting because if they're not there for any reason or they are, they may not open their door, but by texting, we can do it.[00:27:11] So we're going to try texting at the end of this week to see whether that enables people to feel comfortable that they're getting their deliveries when they get their deliveries. Just become. Very, just think outside the box, which is such an easy thing to say because I managed to do it here, but in reality, every one of us has something alternative.[00:27:31] I read about a con, a consignment store that got shut down because it was not essential. And they are selling online. By showing the videos by essentially Facebook live saying, we have this, and they package it and UPS comes, picks it up and delivers the stuff. So I think you're going to see people come up with new and alternative ways of selling that might survive and succeed after this pandemic.[00:27:56] Michael King: Do you think this model is going to be the future of your company, or do you think you'll go back to the wholesale models? [00:28:02] Ajit George: The conversation we've had is we might have found an additional line of business. We started with a very small section of, out of our 47,500 square foot building, we have 2,500 square feet for this farm.[00:28:16] So it's a very small section. There's very possible that this market, if this continues for another month. We will keep it as a sort of a permanent line of business, what I call home delivery. And then the rest of it, we are so large. And the rest of it, just to give you a scale, our farm one, which is one and a half of the building, will produce on an annual basis, 4 million plans on any given day, 364,000 plants, or it will grow 80,000 plants so we can harvest.[00:28:44] So that. That is really going to be grocery stores and restaurants or perhaps grocery stores more than restaurants. Cause I think restaurants will take some time to come up and restaurants and grocery stores are doing well, but we have found if we can retain enough of our subscribers over the next 60 days, we'll create it.[00:29:02] We'll dedicate this farm to customization now. Then it becomes the more interesting thing as people are asking for things like. Can I just get dark greens? Can I get a specific kind of thing? And so how we customize it, track it, add, because if you customize it, you can charge more. You know? And also somebody wants it, you know, if they are vegetarians, they want a particular mix of they're big and they want a particular make, sorry.[00:29:28] If they are, they really want more kale cause they'd drink a lot of fruit, liquid, kale drinks. you know, we can just do cow, but how do we customize it? And create a market. That's a whole design strategy. We can think about it, but we'll know in a month if the visa, it's the people renew and there's an interest.[00:29:46] We'll do a survey, that is perhaps either by phone or by email, of people's interest. But. I think people also feel good about supporting, by eating healthy. They feel they're also doing, good by helping the returning citizens. One of our new delivery people yesterday said, who didn't know me much at all, in fact, in NAMI until Lee was hired, said yesterday when he reported back to me at the end of the day, he says, did you know.[00:30:11] That's two thirds of the people. I said, I opened the door and thanked me for delivering, and then said what a great job you're doing and how much it means that their stuff is helping returning citizens. So tying it to a mission, we are a for profit company. We are not a nonprofit. So tying your mission to something that makes a difference in this case is probably a differentiating factor.[00:30:33] Michael King: That's amazing. That is an inspirational story. I cannot wait to get this episode live because so many people need to hear this message right now. I love the Iron Hill Brewery story as well. What city are they in? [00:30:44] Ajit George: They're in Wilmington, Delaware. And I'm sure if you Google, but I just love the fact that they talk.[00:30:51] I know would I, I'm not even sure. I'm sure there are owners or somebody thought somebody was crazy when this has a distinct toilet paper and eggs, the delivery. Cause they're not geared for that. But they said, look, we're packaging. People are coming in. They need the stuff. Why don't we make us, make us stand it?[00:31:06]but so I think those who survive, my prediction is two years from now, if somebody does stories of people who survived. They're going to meet the people who didn't make it. Nobody's going to talk about it because they'll be forgotten. It's like the unknown, unknown, worry, unknown at tombs. You know, people will be unmarked to him.[00:31:26] Stop there. In World War I and World War II, there were people who nobody remembered that after they died in mass graves. but the people who survived it, many of them will be. Have learned something about their business, learn something about their team. In my case, my team has risen to the creation and, so in such a way, there's no way I could have done this myself.[00:31:47] So it is truly teamwork and because it takes a lot of, it takes several people to harvest, several people to package and several people that deliver. So there is no way you can do it by herself. So, and so keeping their morale up and, and believing them is really important. [00:32:03] Michael King: Are you at capacity? Right now? [00:32:05] Ajit George:  We are plus or minus 10 we say we are capacity or we will take additional orders in this area only because on any given harvest we always have some excess because plants don't grow.[00:32:21] It's not like visits you put into a thing, you and you get it. So we predicted 15% wastage in pigeon harvest and a rope bridge and seeding and harvest. And we can reduce it to 10%. We have excess plants, but we are at capacity based on conservative numbers. but we'll probably take a few extra orders.[00:32:40] But the truth is we are monitoring that daily cause we don't want to ever oversell and, and make people feel unhappy. So it's, for all purposes, we are at capacity.[00:32:51] Michael King: Well I'd love to give you a little challenge. I'd love to know if you think you can squeak out two more orders. I would love to pay for two quarters.[00:33:00] So two orders worth, cause it's monthly for a quarter for deliveries, for families in your delivery area that need it, that need, you know, somebody to step up. Do you think you could squeak out two more.[00:33:13] Ajit George: For you. I would absolutely do that. And by the way, we have a long waiting list of people who have a need, who cannot afford $9 a month.[00:33:21] So there's a this, that, and we have had several people donate their orders to give to needy people. And this will become phenomenally valuable. And I am very grateful for your support. And, and you can do this on, you can just sign up on our website. under[00:33:44] And underneath it, we have a tab for farm to table. And there's someplace where you can sign up and you can just say, there's a place to say ship to, and you can say ship to gift. And that's what it does say. And the good gift tells us that you're giving a gift to needy people. [00:34:00] Michael King: That's awesome. If anybody out there is listening and you want to be part of that, I'll put the link in the show notes and my new friend will take care of you and take care of a family on your behalf.[00:34:12] So awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time on a Sunday. It's okay to say that out loud. typically that's against the podcast rules, but I think it's okay right now. Your story has certainly been inspirational to me and I'm sure to a lot of our listeners. So thank you so much for sharing [00:34:27] Ajit George: And thank you for being a gift to two subscriptions you have made my Sunday.[00:34:32] Thank you very much.[00:34:42] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Kim Guedry is Co-Founder and President of Ceveal Solutions, LLC, a San Diego-based start-up helping organizations take their complex problems and create viable solutions. As strategic planners and problem solvers, Ceveal Solutions supports clients, across any industry, in identifying, planning, and implementing ideas so they can decrease risk and/or increase profit. Prior to co-founding her company, Kim altruistically gave over 20 years of service to our nation in the US Coast Guard as an active duty and reserve member. Some of her assignments included Commanding Officer of a Coastal Patrol Boat during the 9-11 tragedies, Deputy Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Chief of Operations for US Southern Command’s Crisis Action Team, and a Coast Guard Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for FEMA Region II covering New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. She cut her teeth driving cutters (ships) but transitioned to support and lead operations ashore before turning towards crisis and emergency management. Kim remains a service-oriented, Captain (select) in the Coast Guard Reserves in an Inactive Ready Reserve status. Connect with Kim Guedry: LinkedInFacebookWebsiteConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield.[00:00:20] On April 20th, 2010 there was an explosion at the deep water horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. 11 people were killed in the explosion and an estimated 210 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over the following weeks and months. President Obama went so far as to call the event the worst environmental disaster the US has ever faced.[00:00:43] Thousands of people were mobilized to respond to the disaster and efforts were made to stop the leak, contain the oil and clean up the oil. Literally thousands of people were involved. Those efforts were largely coordinated and overseen by the US Coast Guard, and today's guest is my friend Kim Guedry. Kim was sitting in your standard powerpoint training session in Washington DC.[00:01:05] When her cell phone went off, she was being directed to Mobile, Alabama to oversee the cleanup, safety operations, and management of the people working on over 300 vessels in 70 coast guard personnel that were working to contain this massive incident to make the whole thing even more fun. Kim was also responsible for providing daily updates to the state governors and even president Barack Obama as to how things were going.[00:01:31] A pretty cool assignment right. But there was only one problem. Kim had never done anything even remotely close to this before. When Kim reported to the scene, she was overwhelmed with imposter syndrome. Why should she be here? Why should she be in charge? How is she going to manage this chaos and not only put out the fires immediately in front of her team, but also piece together the larger, longer term strategy that would be vital to their success.[00:01:59] Today, Kim is the founder of her own business, and she finds herself struggling with many of the same imposter syndrome feelings that she experienced in 2010 so we're going to talk with Kim about how she manages those feelings. And how she's found ways to press forward despite them. We're also going to talk about the balance of humility and confidence, and we're going to talk about leading others that have big personalities.[00:02:22] So without further ado, here's my conversation with my friend Kim Guedry. All right. We are recording exciting times. Kim, thank you so much for joining me this morning. How are you? [00:02:34] Kim Guedry: I'm doing well, Mike, how are you? Thanks for having me. [00:02:36] Michael King: Yeah, I'm excited. This is officially the second in person interview I've ever done, and so it's a, it's a lot different looking somebody in the face than looking at them on a zoom call, so I appreciate you taking the time to come in today.[00:02:48] Kim Guedry: Absolutely. It's my pleasure. [00:02:50] Michael King: One of the things that you told me about when we first met was that years ago, you found yourself in the middle of managing crisis communications, and a lot of the reports that you were responsible for ended up going to the president of the United States. governors, some pretty.[00:03:08] Hi, people. And, I don't know too many people that have ever reported directly to the president's office before, but you were telling me that through that you are kind of getting into the trenches, if you will, that you are kind of overtaken by this imposter syndrome. And who the hell am I to be doing these kinds of things?[00:03:26] Is that right? [00:03:27] Kim Guedry: That is, right. [00:03:28] Michael King: Well, give us a little bit of backstory about you, where you were in the coast guard at the time. How did you kind of get to that role? What was your professional background like up to that time? [00:03:39] Kim Guedry: Right. So I had done several years of active duty after I graduated from the coast guard Academy.[00:03:44] I had later transitioned into the coast guard reserves and I was based at the sector in Mobile, Alabama. there I was actually a logistics department head. And when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened, in April of 2010, I was actually at the national defense university in Washington, DC at the time.[00:04:06] And I had a strong suspicion that. Once I got back to Mobile, I would be mobilized for, for the oil spill efforts. so I found myself mobilized and in a position, as the deputy incident commander for the nighttime operations at the incident command post in mobile. we had a large area that we were responsible for covering, which was basically the Tristate area of Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.[00:04:36] Michael King: So just to make sure I'm kind of setting the scene right here. You were in DC at the time and there was an explosion on an oil rig. You know what I'm kind of picturing is there's like a bunch of these like military officers in a room, and there's some kind of like. Top secret PowerPoint, maybe like on the screen and everybody's beepers start going off like in a Tom Clancy movie and it's like, okay, Maverick, we, we've got to mobilize.[00:05:02] Is that kinda how it happened? [00:05:04] Kim Guedry: Not that dramatic, maybe, but yes. I mean, you're absolutely right. I was in DC for the reserve component, national security course, which was a joint service. You know, all, all services and all rates and ranks, senior levels. And, and that's exactly right. There were some individuals there once, once the event occurred, where, right.[00:05:24] Pagers at the time and, and cell phones, early, early days were, were going off. And we knew that as reservists, many of us would likely be, be recalled or mobilized for the event and, and sure enough, that's what eventually happened. All hands on deck sort of event. [00:05:40] Michael King: Interesting. So you're, for all intents and purposes, on the next flight out of DC.[00:05:44] Headed to mobile, Alabama, which is where your duty station was at the time. And remind me, what was the deep water horizon all about? What actually happened that caused all the pagers to go off? [00:05:56] Kim Guedry: Right. So what it essentially was is an oil rig. There was an explosion on an oil rig where unfortunately, several lives were lost, in a tragic event.[00:06:04] But then what happened following that was just. This incessant flow of oil, right? That was coming from the well. And so it was an effort to contain that oil and to stop the flow, were weeks and months later that was still happening. So as you can imagine, not only the pollution aspect of that, but also the economic aspect of that, the tourism and the fish and wildlife and everything that happened after that, is affected.[00:06:34] Local communities and offshore efforts as well. [00:06:39] Michael King: So this is kind of like a major national crisis because of the environmental impact and then the economic impact from the Gulf coast. And so all the powers that be care a lot. What's going on relative to stopping it. Containment and cleanup. Is that right?[00:07:00] Kim Guedry: That's right. And then it brought, you know, an interesting dilemma too, because the coast guard does do pollution response, and given this was well off shore, there was a responsibility there, a statutory responsibility, but also the fact that this was a commercial entity where this was initiated. So it was really.[00:07:22] A dual role where the coast guard was basically assisting the responsible party in their efforts for, for the cleanup. [00:07:32] Michael King: I can imagine that there were probably dozens or hundreds of groups, organizations, companies, government, departments involved in this just because of the scale? I mean, I'm trying to remember back to the news.[00:07:48] It was, I mean, there was oil all across the Gulf coast. I mean, there's like tens of millions of gallons, right?[00:07:54] Kim Guedry: Yeah, we were, we were essentially looking at an area from Texas to Florida essentially was the area where we were. Well, the region that was encompassed. [00:08:07] Michael King: Okay. And you were telling me your job in this whole thing was.[00:08:12] With all these, you know, many dozens of organizations that are doing different things, are involved in different ways. You've got to kind of take all of their efforts and do daily status updates on, you know, from stopping the spill to containing it to clean up. You've got to kind of consolidate all of their activities into a report so that the powers that be can feel informed as to what's going on.[00:08:40] Is that right? [00:08:40] Kim Guedry: That's right. So the area and the perspective I had on this was really, again, that Tristate area of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. And compiling that data, which ranged anywhere from thousands of miles of beach surveyed or cleaned. To hundreds of aircraft or a hundreds of vessels doing oil spill cleanup to number of people who were responding and all sorts of areas in between, such as amount of containment, boom, that was being used, which is the material that they use to contain the oil, so they can properly dispose of it or collect it.[00:09:19] And so there were. But thousands of data points really were coming in. And how do you take all of this information in and assemble it and analyze it in a way where you can push that up to the headquarter level to where that information is provided for the decision makers for a larger scale cleanup effort.[00:09:41] Michael King:  Also, that is the powers that be [00:09:45] Michael King: So that sounds like a lot. Yes. Why were you the person that was called? What was special about you. That you were in charge of coordinating all of this, or consolidating all these communications channels into like kind of a singular report. I'm sure it's, that's overly simplified, but what, what, what about you made you uniquely qualified to be that person to do that?[00:10:08] Kim Guedry: That's a great question, Mike. I don't feel like I was any different than another mid-grade officer. I happened to be living in Mobile, Alabama at the time. So for me, it was personal. This was happening in my own backyard, almost literally. And you know, so for me to voluntarily mobilize essentially so that I could stay in Mobile and to help with these efforts.[00:10:35] There it was personal and at that time. Great officer level, you know, you're often put into these situations where it is very vague and you try to figure things out as you go with lots of moving parts. And like you talked about the alphabet soup of agencies that were there and affected. so I honestly don't feel that I was any different than any other. Great officer at the time that that would have been there. [00:11:07] Michael King: When you say mid-grade officer, you've been an officer in the coast guard for 10 years at this point. [00:11:11] Kim Guedry: Probably, yes. [00:11:14]Michael King: In nothing that you had done in your career prior involved organizing communications across large scale crisis situations and putting it into, you know, some kind of a report for the president. Right?[00:11:26] Kim Guedry: No, no. Right. I mean, I've been thrust into some interesting situations. for example, I was commanding officer of an 87 foot patrol boat, and I took command three months before 9/11 happened. So those sorts of things where you're in this very dynamic situation had occurred in the past, just not to that scale or that magnitude.[00:11:49]or that. Consolidated effort, if that makes sense.[00:11:53] Michael King: Sure. When day one, you roll into the office, what's going through your head. [00:11:59][00:12:00] Kim Guedry: It was a little bit of a blur. You walk into this massive building of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people in the incident command structure, which is how this was laid out.[00:12:13] You have people with different vests on which are different colors for different things. So for example, the command structure is wearing white vests. Then the response folks are wearing red vests and the finance folks are wearing green vests, and so you can kind of identify people even from afar, but it is, it's a beehive of activity for, for lack of a better comparison.[00:12:37] Michael King: Did you feel confident in your ability to step into that and execute and get shit done?[00:12:41] Kim Guedry: I was confident that I could figure it out. it was a blur and I was confident in the connections I could make. But other than that, for the position and the role I was stepping into, Nope. Nope. Not a clue. [00:12:57] Michael King: I remember after, in fact, I can't even remember sometimes in the military. But certainly after the military when I was, you know, I had started off as a staff engineer and progressed pretty quickly through the ranks and got into situations kind of similar. Just the way you describe it in, in magnitude in my mind too. There's tons of people here. I don't know what most of them do.[00:13:21] I am now in charge of making sure that they do what they do well and there's big implications if they don't. And when I found myself in those situations. I could and a lot of ways wanted to just kind of ball up and go away. Cause I'm like, why the hell am I the guy doing this? What about, why am I the one that was chosen to do this?[00:13:43] And in retrospect, I asked for it and that was one of the big reasons why I raised my hand, but I started to kind of feel like a phony. Like I'm trying to come in there and steer the ship. there's nothing special about me. I haven't done this before. And I think Seth Godin calls it imposter syndrome.[00:14:02] did you have any of those kinds of feelings? [00:14:05] Kim Guedry: Absolutely. Hands down. [00:14:08] Michael King: Tell me more about that. What was that like for you? [00:14:10] Kim Guedry: So for me, it was just a challenge, like you said, who was I? Right? Why? Why was I in this position? And, and to me it was more a matter of, okay, get your act together, right?[00:14:24] Try and figure this out. And in the meantime, just smile, nod and ask a lot of questions. And, and that whole, that whole incident or instance where, you know, you're using your aars and your mouth in the correct proportion, right where you're trying to take in all of, as much as you can, as quickly as you can. so that you can get up to speed.[00:14:47] But really up until that point, it was this blur of, right. Why am I. Who are they? Why are these people gonna listen to me? Because I have no idea what the hell I'm doing at the time until you figure it out. So, right. That was, that was an incredible challenge for me. [00:15:06] Michael King: Did you ever have a day when you came in or a moment during all the chaos where you had you thought to yourself, somebody's going to realize that I have not left clue what I'm doing and call me on it.[00:15:20] Kim Guedry: You know, I had those feelings along, along the way. But I think I would ask enough questions to make people realize, at least in my mind, that was my way of, hopefully they won't call me out, right? If I'm asking enough questions and I. Am not portraying myself in a way that I, I've got it all figured out that maybe they'll give me some grace, right?[00:15:47] And they'll allow me to learn. But at the same time, you know, you're still responsible for getting done what you need to get done and executing your mission. [00:15:57] Michael King: I think a lot of people tend to default on the other end of that spectrum when ego and insecurity come into it. And you find yourself not knowing what to do, worried that you're going to be found out.[00:16:09] Rather than ask questions as the safety net, you try to force yourself. You know, I used to say, you know, if you speak loud enough and confident enough, everybody will assume that you know what you're doing and they'll just listen to you. But you took the other approach. You said, I'm going to sit back. I'll spend, you know, 90% of the time listening 10% of the time talking or something.[00:16:30] Rather than trying to pretend like I do know the answers and directing people and giving guidance when I really don't [00:16:37] Kim Guedry: write well. I think too, I was at an interesting point in my career and where you were talking about mid-grade officers, where early on in my career, yes, I would have taken that former approach.[00:16:47] Right. Where I was, I was much like you in the sense of talking loud, make you know, move, move around, carry some papers then and people will think you're busy and you know what the hell you're doing. Right. Where later. Transition to a point in your career later. Whether it's in the military or outside where you know you're mature enough to know what you don't know.[00:17:12] We're mature enough to know that it's okay to ask questions and that by doing so and not pretending to know everything, that you're actually in a better position. One, to learn yourself in two, to make others around you comfortable with the fact that their leader may not know everything. and that's okay.[00:17:31] And I think, I think that's, that's where I am now, both in my military career and on the outside where it's okay to not have all the answers. and I'm okay with that. [00:17:43] Michael King: I love Bernie Brown. I've referenced her like a dozen times on the podcast so far, but that willingness to show vulnerability and that you don't know is the fastest way to build trust from the team.[00:17:54] It's when we go into it and we don't show that vulnerability that people tend to not trust us or trust us a lot more slowly. I'm wondering though, you're a day or two into it. There's 1,000 pieces of information coming and going. There's a red vest, green vests, yellow vest, orange vest, and all the vests and all the acronyms, you know, agencies.[00:18:16] How do you. Kind of take a breath in, step back, and start to figure out what to do next? What is the next, the literal next thing I have to do? [00:18:29] Kim Guedry: I think you said it right there. I think it's taking that step back and, and triaging, for lack of a better word on, OK, what is most important. Right now, that might not be what's most important an hour from now, but right now, what is most important for me to, to tackle or to fix or to coordinate or to facilitate right now.[00:18:54]and then kind of build from there. And once those pieces really were like a, you know, a puzzle piece that, sure, some of the pieces would change at times. But more the requirements would change, but once you start figuring out what those pieces are, you can more adequately, inappropriately put them together.[00:19:14] Michael King: How do you transition from, what's the most important thing right now? You have to make a transition from what's the most important thing right now and being hyper focused on that too. We've got to start building a longer term strategy here so that we're not always in firefighter mode. How did you transition from.[00:19:36] The most important thing. Right now, I'm being overwhelmed with just this constant barrage of data points to putting together a longer term strategy to calm things down. So it was a little bit more deliberate and less reactionary. [00:19:48] Kim Guedry: Right. That's a great question. And, and of course we had a unified area command, which was the powers that be, as you call them, above us, who pushed some of that down to what their requirements were.[00:20:02] So some of that was outside of our control, but internally I think it was really, it was very relationship based. So knowing who your belly buttons point to push, right? Who do you get that information from? Who? What are the relationships that you need to have in order to get the types the[00:20:29] Quantity and quality of information that you're looking for. And then also, I think just quite frankly, being open to the criticism of what's not working right and, and when to make those changes and even tweak the things that you're currently doing in order to build that longer term plan of moving forward.[00:20:50] and something I, at times still, you know, I struggle with, and looking back and using deep water as an example. You know, it's really what. What is your final mission? What are you trying to do? What are you trying to accomplish? So whether that's using deep water as an example or using business as an example, it's trying to filter out the noise that is not going to get you towards that final accomplishment or that final mission.[00:21:22]and yes, there are going to be some things that are going to be. Constructive in that process. And there are going to be other things that are destructive. And I think it's listening to those constructive items and trying to filter out and, and, turn off those disruptive items when [00:21:39] Michael King: people are throwing.[00:21:42] With the best intentions, advice, and suggestions at you when you're in a role, particularly when you feel like there's some imposter syndrome going on, what is the filter that you use to kind of distinguish between, this is an idea that I want to take on board and it's going to help realize that that final mission kind of thing, or this isn't something that's going to help it help me get there.[00:22:05] How do you walk through that? Because sometimes it could be a person who is saying, Hey, you really need to go left here. To get to that final goal and the other person is saying, you need to go right here. And they both say, if you go the other direction, that's catastrophic. Well, how do you filter through to determine, or do you just discard it and do your own thing?[00:22:23] Kim Guedry: No, I definitely don't just discard it. I think for me, a lot of that I may be a relationship based person. So for me it's who is that person and what is their experience? And I like to think I'm the type of person who. Who not only learns from my own mistakes, but often can learn from other people's mistakes, or at least I try to.[00:22:46]So for me, I try to use the information of people who have walked the walk and are talking the talk, right. That they're using those, their past and their experiences and that I'm able to use that to buy proxy right. [00:23:04] Michael King: [00:23:04] How long did you remain in that role? With deep water horizon. [00:23:10] Kim Guedry: [00:23:10] Right? So for that role, I was there for a healthy month.[00:23:14]and then I transitioned to an additional role as the director of on-water operations, which was essentially for, again, for that same area of responsibility, the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida region. And that was interesting. In this. Fact that during that time is when the well actually was kept. So then we were dealing with the additional problems of, okay, you have all of these boats and aircraft and things that now how do you clean them?[00:23:47] How do you decontaminate them? and how do you still clean up all of this oil and all of these things. So as a director of on-water operations, it was really starting the plans of decommissioning, if you will, and putting assets back to how they came and to making them whole again [00:24:09] Michael King: During the month that you were in that role.  What was the biggest mistake you made during that time? [00:24:16] Kim Guedry: That's a great question. So the biggest mistake I made during my second month there as director of on-water operations was really. It was really, really, it's funny, we were talking about relationships. It was a relationship mistake. I think there was, there was an individual, and I rarely have relationship challenges in getting along with people.[00:24:40] Usually I feel like I can be sort of this chameleon and you know, change to my environment. Which I think has helped me along my career, both business and, and in the military. but there was particularly one challenging individual to work with, and I think I will let it get too personal in how it bothered me, but I think that's why it bothered me is because it had never really happened before.[00:25:09] And I just struggled with that personally and professionally. Because I just don't eat. I don't like when people don't like me. Right. I think that's, that's not an uncommon feeling, but there I let it potentially affect my work. [00:25:26] Michael King: What happened. [00:25:27] Kim Guedry: Just disagreement on, one how just the operations were being run.[00:25:33] I'm from my little world, right? I'm not talking about the big picture, these things, big picture. I think we're, we're going really, really well. but in my little, my little perspective, my little world, we just had one different way of approaching other people and different ways of planning. What this next phase for our, our.[00:25:54] Responsibility was supposed to be. And yeah, it was just a personality challenge where I think he just didn't like to be quite Frank. and, and again, that had never, at least that, that visual like did that, it just never happened to me before. So I struggled with how to respond. [00:26:21] Michael King: How did you respond? That was a mistake.[00:26:24] If you could go back again and do it differently, what would you do differently? What didn't work from all of your other relationships over time? This had, what did you apply incorrectly here?[00:26:36] Kim Guedry: Probably a little too abrasive. I would probably take a more laid back approach with this individual. And maybe a little more closed door conversation versus outward disagreement in front of other people.[00:26:54] Michael King: Was ego a driver with the other person? [00:26:56] Kim Guedry: I would like to say yes. Yes. [00:27:01] Michael King: Well, the reason I'm curious is when you have big personalities. They typically don't like to be challenged in front of other people. And boy, there's fewer ways to throw up a wall then challenging them in front of other people. I know that, cause that's me, right?[00:27:20] That was me for 25-30 years of my life. And so, you know, as soon as somebody, even with good intention, is questioned, but I think it goes back to that imposter syndrome for me. Then the insecurity that goes with it. Remember I talked about, you know, being loud, you know, if I talk loud enough and confidently enough and I walk fast enough, people will just assume, and when somebody throws for me that, you know, any kind of variability there that might.[00:27:45] So, you know, what's behind the curtain with the wizard of Oz here. I would get, you know, hyper defensive and aggressive with those people. And I think it was because I knew that somebody would figure me out. They were on to me. And so the closed door conversations, while still not comfortable for me, were way better than trying to, to say it, even in a helpful way in front of other people.[00:28:09] So I. Yeah. I saw myself in that story, as the recipient of that. And so, you know, for me, identifying those people ahead of time is important so that I don't, I don't do that. Cause again, even if you have the right answer, if you approach them the wrong way with it, it doesn't matter because it's going to cause problems.[00:28:28] And now the right thing doesn't matter. You've got a more immediate problem and it's this toxic relationship. [00:28:34] Kim Guedry: Right. And I think that event did, you know it provided me with so many lessons that were not only applicable there and in my military career, but also in business where, right. Like you said, identifying those personalities beforehand and how, how, you know, when you're dealing with hundreds or thousands of people in these massive, very dynamic environments, how do you.[00:28:59] How do you do the right thing, right? Or the right thing for that individual or at that time. So I think it did provide me with that opportunity in that perspective of, okay know your audience, whether it's, you know, a fellow coast guardsman or whether it's a client or whether it's a coworker in just learning more about them or being able to read people in those situations and act accordingly.[00:29:25] Michael King: I think that exact bit of information there, this, that hyper awareness to who's around you, what is their personality? How are they going to receive you in, in the way that you are is why? For me, networking events are so exhausting. Like I come home and crash after a networking event or if I go to a conference, if I go to some local, like a meetup or something.[00:29:47] Yeah, I think that if you do it right, which is the way you describe where you're at, you know, really looking at the verbal, the physical cues, the environment, the surroundings, you know, the whole ambiance from me, it is absolutely mentally draining to do that. But it's similar in sales or business development.[00:30:05] You know, where you go from one call to the next call and it's, you know, you have to shift the way you approach. Every single time you're talking to a different client, and then sometimes you don't even know how they're showing up on that given day. Normally they could be very laid back and reserved, but they may have just come from a huge argument with a colleague or a vendor or a customer or something, and now they're in this very defensive state.[00:30:30] You have to immediately kind of recognize that in shift gears, or it destroys the relationship that you have despite, you know, no fault of your own. It's challenging. It's tough. People are tough. So you've talked about business a couple of times. What do you do outside of the coast guard now? [00:30:49] Kim Guedry: So outside of the coast guard, about four years ago, I co founded a company called Seville Solutions and we really help clients tackle their complex problems.[00:31:02] Michael King: How long ago did you start that? [00:31:03] Kim Guedry: About four years ago. [00:31:05] Michael King: Was that by yourself? [00:31:06] Kim Guedry: No. So I co founded with actually two Marine reserve colonels based in San Diego. [00:31:13] Michael King: What was the transition like going from a military mindset for how many years [00:31:22] Kim Guedry:  going on just over 20 [00:31:24] Michael King: years? Is there a mind shift change that you found you had to make going from coast guard government kind of way of thinking to business.[00:31:33] Kim Guedry: Well, I think I had, yes. I mean, it's definitely a transition, but I think I made a gradual transition and made the process more gradual in that, several of those years were on active duty, and then I did several years in the reserves as well. So in that reserve capacity, you're really. Dual hatting, right?[00:31:55] You're really wearing two different hats in that one. Yes, you still have your foot in the door in the coast guard, but you've also made that transition to the civilian sector, if you will. So for me, it was very, very gradual. and I think also in the fact that I did go into business with two other Military service members, we are able to understand each other. But I think what that does in turn is it does make it even more challenging to reach out to people who do not have that military connection. So clients and such, where they may not have that experience where the three of us may understand and to be able to communicate and translate.[00:32:39] But how is that translated. Again to the outside that that's been a challenge. [00:32:45] Michael King: How do you overcome that? [00:32:47]Kim Guedry: one, I think just with time in the amount of time, you know, the, the further I've been. You know, the longer I've been taking this transition and seeing that life does exist outside of the military, right?[00:32:59] In, watching both my husband retiring and good friends retiring and seeing that that transition is necessary because the average person does not understand. So a lot of it is just self reflection in how am I, how am I being. Perceived and received by other people. so it's just an internal process of, of learning [00:33:24] Michael King: is going into business scary.[00:33:26] Have you found, no, it still scares the shit out of me almost every day.  Has it been a scary kind of thing for you, or is it been, like a silent confidence? Like. Because you said earlier, I can figure things out. So does that confidence carry into the business or are you kind of like still in this uneasy place?[00:33:47] Kim Guedry: Yeah, no, I feel like I've done an okay job with having the confidence kind of on the outside. But again, leading to the imposter syndrome conversation earlier where it may look like that, but no. Terrifies the crap outta me. and I think it's, and it's hard and it's challenging. And every day, you know, whether you're dealing with internal company relationship problems or whether you're dealing with, you know, client issues or trying to, you know, do the business development and, and build your client base.[00:34:19] And, and you know. Execute. What brought you into business and why, why you exist? I think each and every day, those bring different challenges in, and it's still, to me, is just as challenging and scary as it was the first day. Just in a different, in a different context. Like I guess the best way to describe it is in regards to having kids, right?[00:34:44] So there are challenges of being an early parent, right? You have this baby that you know you're responsible for. They send you home from the hospital and are like, you know, here, take care of this, this new human being. and don't, you know, don't screw it up right. Well, you get over those early stages where you start figuring things out with that baby and sure that baby is going to grow and that baby's gonna mature.[00:35:06] And now I've got a teenager and, and you know, 14 and an 11 year old. Well, my challenges aren't any easier. They're just different. And I think business, at least our business is much in that same way. The challenges still exist. They're just different. [00:35:24] Michael King: Does the scariness and the certainty. And the fear that you still kind of feel impact your personal life at all?[00:35:36] Does it have an impact on you as a wife or you as a mother? Does it go from office to home at all? [00:35:46] Kim Guedry: I hope not. However, I will say I think it has changed me. Well. I say I hope not in one sense, but in another sense, I want to say I don't see how it can't because I feel like it's made me a different person in the sense I, feel like I've always had a level of confidence, but again, it's just different.[00:36:10] Right? I wouldn't, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, I would never. Be having this conversation of the fact that I was confident, outwardly confident, but terrified on the inside, like my answer, you know, 10, 15 years ago in a bin, now I've got this, I'm fine. I got this all figured out. Like that level of vulnerability.[00:36:31] Never would have been uttered from my mouth. Never, ever. So I think some of that, right, that confidence in, in figuring that, and I don't know if that comes because of the business. I don't know if that comes from many years in the military or affiliated with the military. I don't know if that comes from being a mom or a combination, you know, a synergistic effect of all of it together.[00:36:53] I don't know. Maybe it's just maturity. Maybe it's getting old Mike. [00:36:58]Michael King: some of that. [00:37:02] Kim Guedry: But no, I, I think, I don't think there's anything, when you initially asked the question, I took a negative sense to it, but I don't think that it has to be bad. [00:37:14] Michael King: Positive ways. Has it impacted you as a mother showing vulnerability, especially with two boys?[00:37:17] Kim Guedry: I think it's okay to make them understand and know that. It's okay to not be okay in 100% on your game all the time. As long as you're trying, as long as you're, you know, trying to figure it out. And as long as you're asking for help, if you need help that, that's okay to not be on your game 100% of the time.[00:37:43] That's human. That's called being human. [00:37:45] Michael King: What about his wife? [00:37:46] Kim Guedry: I think the same thing. I think the same thing, you know, where 20 plus years ago when, you know, 20 years ago when we got married, it was, yeah, it was a very different person than who I am today, and I hope I'm able to voice. Those things are better than I did 20 years ago.[00:38:05] Michael King: Well, thank you so much for coming [00:38:06] Kim Guedry: today. Thanks. It was fun.[00:38:20] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
After an illustrious career spanning nearly 40 years focused on supply chain, logistics and transportation, retail, sales and operational excellence strategy at UPS – including The UPS Store franchise network and UPS Supply Chain Solutions – Rocky Romanella became the Chief Executive Officer and Board of Director for UniTek Global Services, a provider of engineering, construction management and installation services to companies specializing in the telecommunications field. Rocky is currently the Founder and CEO of 3SIXTY Management Services, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in Executive Speaking, Leadership Development and Consulting Services. Connect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to another exciting episode of In the Trenches with Michael King, where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting in the trenches of the business battlefield. I am your host, Michael King.[00:00:25] As leaders, I think we all say out loud and to ourselves that we want to create the type of culture where good news and bad news are freely shared with us. That we trust our team to bring us information about what's going right and what's going wrong, so that we can really stay on top of the health of the business.[00:00:45] It makes sure that we're solving the biggest problems and that we're aware of all the things that are going on. However. I think that if we really want to set that type of culture, we have to be deliberate about how we respond to news, whether it's good news and definitely to bad news. I know for me, particularly when I was younger in my career, when bad news would come my way, I tended to be the type of person that would fly off the deep end, yell and scream and curse.[00:01:15] You know, what the hell is wrong with you? Why didn't you get this done? But what I've learned over the years is that when you respond that way two things happen. One is people just stopped bringing you the bad news. They don't want to be the one that triggers you into asshole mode.  Number two, which might be even worse than that, is people start to lie.[00:01:36] Instead of not just bringing you the bad news, they'll lie to you about how things are going and just hope that nobody's the wiser for what's going on. Obviously that's an absolutely horrible way to run a business or how to really run a team and it's all on you as the leader to correct that.[00:01:53] So today, I'm talking with Rocky Romanella. Rocky is an honest kind of a baller in the leadership world. Rocky is the former president of the Southeast region for UPS. He's the former president of residential and retail operations for UPS. He's the former chief executive officer and director of United Global Services, which is a publicly traded company, and now he's the founder and CEO of three 60 management services.[00:02:20] Rocky is an absolute genius when it comes to helping you become the type of leader that's going to set a culture where people are willing to bring you not only the good news, but the bad news, and he has an awesome framework for helping you ask yourself the right questions and ask your team the right questions so that you don't slip into a culture where bad news is either lied about or hidden.[00:03:04] Without further ado, here is my conversation with Rocky Romanella. Rocky, Good morning, thanks for joining me. [00:03:12] Rocky Romanella: Well, good morning. It's a pleasure to be on the show with you and I look forward to speaking with you today in your audience. [00:03:17] Michael King: Likewise, so before we started the interview, you were telling me about a time a few years ago, there was a company that you were working for, and there were some really smart people on the executive team that were not asking some really basic questions.[00:03:33] And as a result, nearly 3000 employees were out on the streets. Is that right? [00:03:39] Rocky Romanella: Well, they could've been. Fortunately, we were able to, you know, fix the problem before it got to that point. But that was the potential situation that we were looking at. And I think when you look at any of the situations that potentially happen, you know, think about in the news today or in the past year or two.[00:03:57] Some household name companies that have gotten themselves in situations. Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, you think of those types of companies, and we were a smaller company at the time, but publicly traded. [00:04:08] Michael King: Well, before we dive into the details, why don't you give us a little backstory about how did it lead up to that point and how did it get to the point that, Oh boy, if something goes just a little bit more wrong here, 3000 people will be on the street.[00:04:22] What was the backstory. [00:04:23] Rocky Romanella: Well, the backstory is we're getting ready to do our final close of books and then we found a discrepancy. [00:04:29] Michael King: What does a final close of books mean for the non finance and accounting types out there? [00:04:34] Rocky Romanella: So you're getting rich. Your year ends, you're going to, you know, you're going to have your earnings call.[00:04:38] If you're a publicly traded company, you have a public earnings call. If you're a private company it's less, but you still have to, you know, file all, you know, you get a clean audit, you know, whether it's a grant or in, or whether it's, you know, one of the big four accounting firms, so can close out your books.[00:04:56] Michael King: So just tidying up the financials and reporting on what happened for the previous year. [00:05:00] Rocky Romanella: Yeah. Okay. And you can see right now, for example, it's earning season. If you're watching any of the financial news channels, it's everyone reporting their earnings now. And so you have to get that clean, you know, closure of your books.[00:05:11] And so in that process, which is a very long and tedious process, when you're through that process there, your CFO walks in and says, Hey, we've got an issue. [00:05:20] Michael King: That's never a good day. When the CFO walks in, we have an issue. Okay. So what was the issue that the CFO discovered. [00:05:28] Rocky Romanella: Well, I can't go into too much detail because we're a public company and I don't want to get, you know, I don't want to breach that confidentiality.[00:05:34] However you can imagine it was, it was a problem with the reporting of some of the numbers. And so now the question is, you've got to go back and you've got to, you know, do your research and find out what took place there. But I think the key part of that whole process is. Way up the line.[00:05:53] Someone could've asked the simple question, hey, we either have the equipment or we don't have the equipment. We actually bought it or didn't buy it. Those are the kinds of things that happened in business today that you know, there are opportunities for people to raise their hand and ask critical questions.[00:06:10] But they don't. And so what happens is the ball keeps moving along and then all of a sudden it comes to that critical point of, wait a second, we've got to close out our books, or wait a second. This is, you know, a customer thinks this is what's happening, but it's not happening. I think that's a critical component of the process.[00:06:25] Who asks the right questions? [00:06:27] Michael King: It seems like along the way, there's opportunities for maybe as many as dozens of people that are smart enough and have enough insights that they could throw their hands up and say, Hey,  this doesn't feel right. Based on what I've heard in meetings and from what I've seen in reports, why don't they.[00:06:47] Rocky Romanella: Well, Mike, that's a great question. It's a combination of a couple of different things. So the first thing is, nobody likes to deliver bad news, and most people don't do a good job of accepting bad news. And I think it starts with you as the leader. It's a tone you set from the top and by that type of leader that when Mike has bad news, he's comfortable enough to walk in, close the door and say.[00:07:11] Hey, you know, Rocky, I know this isn't what we were hoping to have happen or this isn't what we thought was happening, but this is what's happening. If I don't set that tone as a leader that I'm willing to accept bad news. Nobody ever brings you bad news. Well, nobody ever brings me bad news. I can't really ever fix anything.[00:07:30] So that's the first big issue. Do you as the leader, set the tone from the top that you won't accept bad news, and then what happens to the person who brings bad news if they don't feel like that you want to hear it or there may be retribution if I bring you bad news. So it's the climate that you set inside an organization that you're willing to hear bad news and won't accept bad news.[00:07:53] Michael King: Let's unpack those a little bit because I think the, I mean, as you identified, the, the onus is squarely on the leader to set that part of the culture. In your experience, rocket water. What are some things that when you think of the good leaders that do a good job of setting that tone, that bad news is.[00:08:12] Not only, okay, but we encourage you to bring it. What are the good leaders doing to proactively encourage that? [00:08:21] Rocky Romanella: I think they walk the talk, they're visible. They get out there, people know that they see them. Right. Cause part of, you know. Having that conversation is when people see you in the operation, for example, or they see that you're a visible person and they get to see how you interact with people.[00:08:39] I think what happens is when something is starting to go bad or something's, you know, not going in the right direction, they look around and at their level they have conversations like, well, Rocky would want to know this. Because they think that they, you know, even though they don't really know you as well as you know, they would like to know you.[00:08:59] They see you, they see you talking to people. They see that you're comfortable in your own skin, that you're, you're just like them. You're a regular person with just different responsibilities. And so that begins setting the tone that, Hey, I think he'd want to know this. I think he's the kind of person that would want to know this, or she would want to know this.[00:09:16] I think that. That begins that process. I think the second thing that's important is, okay, so you bring me bad news. I think part of the problem is, is that, you know, people are busy at whatever level they're in. There are no easy jobs in any organization, any organization. So now you keep bringing me bad news.[00:09:34] You know, it's kind of the old story. You just left the monkey on my desk. You know the monkeys, I might back down. Well. Part of what good leaders do, depending on what you're bringing me, I may say to you, okay, well I appreciate you bringing me that. That makes sense. What do you think we should do to fix it?[00:09:48] So you didn't just bring me a problem. I'm starting to train and develop you on how to solve that problem. Well, if all you do is keep bringing me bad news and people realize, Hey, you know, you're the kind of guy that accepts bad news, people will bring you their bad dudes. And so then you get overwhelmed.[00:10:05] So, I think the second part of that is being that type of leader, that sets a tone that you're willing to accept bad news. But then how do I handle that? Does that become a teaching moment? Now, if it's too big a deal, like the situation I was in, okay. Okay. Thank you for that information. Now you've got to start doing your research or homework from a legal perspective, you know, from reports and measures from what's your obligation as a publicly traded company?[00:10:28] A completely different thing, but somewhere, well, before all of that, somebody brought someone some information and they didn't handle it right. And so now it just started to get bigger and bigger and bigger. But I think the second thing is how do you accept the bad news? And then do you use it as a teaching moment?[00:10:45] And then do they walk out, trying to develop a solution as well as defining their problem too for you? [00:10:53] Michael King: I couldn't agree more with any of that. I think in my experience, one of the key elements that I've learned a lot of times the hard way in fostering a culture where, People are willing to bring you bad news is around me being vulnerable and transparent as a leader and proactively letting my team know.[00:11:12] If I give something up and say, you know, Hey guys. I got to raise my hand here because last week I handled this poorly. I signed off on something that I didn't verify and it was wrong and that caused these problems. And let me tell you how I'm growing from that. The lesson that I learned as a leader, I want to make sure you guys all learn from the mistake that I made and that vulnerability.[00:11:32] Is one of the key components and other people trust you if, if they see that you're willing to raise your hand when something goes sideways that you've caused, oftentimes people are much, much more open to bringing you those, those bad news. And boy, it's so easy sometimes the way I'm wired. is I want to just, I don't know if it's a chemical thing or if that's just a bad excuse, but the way I'm wired is my blood pressure wants to go up and, I might want to fly off the deep end when something goes bad.[00:12:03] But when people see that they don't want to be the catalyst that causes that thing. And so there, there has to be some emotional intelligence where you say, okay, I can't do that. Even if it was an egregious mistake or. The longer term repercussions of that are going to be that people just don't bring bad news because they don't want to be the reason that the boss flies off.[00:12:22] So I think having that awareness and the emotional intelligence to, to take it, digest it, and like you said, turn it into a teachable moment rather than as a reason to yell and scream and cuss and tell somebody that they're stupid. [00:12:35] Rocky Romanella:  I think that, I think, I think those are some great points that you're making.[00:12:38] And I think. The third piece though is the one that I find the most interesting. So the first two are kind of obvious. Do I set the tone from the top as the leader that I'm willing to accept bad news? And then how do I handle it when you bring me bad news? But I think there's a third piece of it, and I think the third piece of it is, is this kind of silent sanction bad behavior?[00:12:58] I think the mistake that leaders make is that you silently sanction bad behavior in the way you handle things. So for example. If safety is a core value in our organization and you're, you're moving a vehicle from just one one parking business into another parking position, and I'm happy to be standing there and you get in a vehicle, you move it when I put your seatbelt on and I don't say anything to you.[00:13:20] Well, I just, I only sang some bad behavior. So some day down the road, and I have that conversation with you about, Hey, you gotta put your seatbelt on. And you say, well, you saw me without a seatbelt. It was, it was okay that day. Right. So you just silently sanction bad behavior. I think that happens more.[00:13:37] Take the safety. That was just the example. I'll give you a quick example without using the name of a company. So my wife's been doing some work with this service company, and one of the things that they want to do is when you enter their, their, their operation or their place of business, they want agreed, they want you to greet the, the individual and maybe spend, you know, 40 to 50 seconds, you know, saying hello.[00:13:59] Sure. So far, so good. Right? And part of it is, is they have a greeter. Right? They have a person that greets, well, you know, after 40 people in this meeting show up, you need a second person greeting, right? Well, no, they don't really want to spend the money. So now, she and I are talking about it, and I said to her, well, well that's just bad leadership.[00:14:21] She goes, well, I'm confused. What do you mean it's bad leadership? Is it me? I'm doing something wrong. Is it the greeter doing something wrong? No, it's math. If you want me to spend. You know, 50 seconds with a person and you're, and the average number of people there is 40 it's X amount of minutes. Do I have that many minutes to do it?[00:14:38] Well, no I don't. Well then I just gave you, I'm going to hold you accountable to greeting everybody for 50 seconds. You don't have a chance of doing it. I'm going to tell you, Hey, you know, you gotta agree to it. Did you greet everybody today? No, I missed 10 people. You know, you gotta, you gotta meet 10 people, you gotta make sure you get those 10 people, but I don't physically have a chance to meet those people.[00:14:59] You just put me in a position to maybe make a bad decision. Like I'm just going to finally just tell you. I greeted everybody. That's when leaders silently sanction bad behavior. That's the problem, right? That's a third part of it. That I think is a bigger issue. You put me in a position, so now I have to make a decision.[00:15:18] Well, I'm either going to get fired for not greeting all the people, or maybe I don't get caught for a while and enough people come that they give me the second grader. You know, if I get the sixth day, I get a second grader, so between 40 and 60 you put me in a position that I'm either going to have to lie to you or I'm going to get yelled at every single time, and then you may lose your patients.[00:15:37] Let me in fire. That is the third spot, and I think that's the one that is absolutely poor leadership and that's when leaders silently sanction bad behavior. I know you don't have a chance to do this, but I don't want to make the decision to add the second person. [00:15:53] Michael King: Your story makes me think of a leader that I had when I was in the Navy back in my submarine days. One of his favorite sayings that used to drive me up the wall at the time, but, but now it really resonates with me is every time you fail to correct an infraction, you endorse a new lower standard. [00:16:12] Rocky Romanella: Ah, I like that.[00:16:13] Michael King: Right? So it, and it hits right with that silently sanctioning bad behavior.[00:16:17] So it's a lot of times easy to ignore it. We're busy. We have other things going on. There's competing priorities. But in your example, you know, if safety is really truly one of your core values is that other thing, that meeting you're going to, as an example, really more important than stopping and saying, you know, Hey buddy, come here.[00:16:38] Like we need to talk about. You know the seat belt thing, right? This is really important to us. And so not only are you showing them through your words, you know in that moment, but you're showing them what their axis is, there's an executive, I'm stopping what I'm doing to have this conversation with you.[00:16:52] So you get them both with words and actions there. It's, it's an interesting dilemma though, because. I think that it can be hard as leaders, in the example you used with the greeting, how would a leader know? Can you give any, you know, say, all right, I'm, I'm a busy guy and I have a big team and let's, let's stay with that greeting example.[00:17:11] How would I as a leader know that you're over task, that you're getting 60 people a minute or whatever the number is and that it's mathematically impossible for you to do a proper greeting? How would I know that? [00:17:24] Rocky Romanella: Well, I think it's two ways. Either a, you've gone up through the organization and you understand what you're asking people to do, but you're choosing to not accept that answer.[00:17:34] And so you're S you know, you, it's kind of what we all kind of grew up with, the famous line, Hey, do whatever it takes. Well, there's mean, do whatever it takes means that I don't, I don't greet everybody, but I tell you I did because you don't really want to hear it. So I think the first step is, is, you know, do I understand the business well enough to be able to.[00:17:53] No, I asked that question. A good example is, you know, we, you know, as you know, I worked for UPS for 36 years prior to the role I took on as a CEO. You know, for us it was every package, every day. That was your response. Even if you had as a, as a manager, we used to call it Brown it up. Even as a manager, if there was a package that you put your Browns on, you go deliver it.[00:18:12] Cause that package [00:18:12] Michael King: has to get delivered around enough. I like that. I've never heard of that. [00:18:16] Rocky Romanella: I got a Brown up. Well. But, but if, if you're a driver that starts at nine o'clock in the morning and it takes you half an hour to get to your first stop, it's nine 30 already, and you would have air packages delivered at 10 30 and you can only do 15 in an hour.[00:18:31] And I gave you 17. I know when you leave, you don't have a chance to be successful. So my responsibility as a leader is to not put you in that position, but I either have to get another driver. Or I have to Brown up myself. So I let you go in the hope that you'll get it delivered. Well, hope isn't a strategy.[00:18:52] That's the issue and I'm making that up. But I mean, I mean, that's the story I'm making up, but my point is, my knowledge of the business was, tell me you can't get it done on your best day. You can do 15 stops in an hour, but I gave you 17 and I only gave you an hour to do it. You couldn't even cheat.[00:19:09] I mean, you could, you, you know, you can't even be unsafe by running or driving too fast. You just physically can't get it done. Well, I didn't put you in a position to be successful. Hey, look, I'm a giant fan, a struggling giant fan here in Jersey. You know, my, my only, happiness is that we beat the Patriots twice.[00:19:28] Right? Wrong or different, whether you like the Patriots or not. The guy puts Belicheck in a position to be successful. That's what makes him a great coach. Well, that's what makes you a great leader. Do you put your people in a position to be successful? Your commander on that submarine, his goal was to make sure that every single person in his care.[00:19:49] Had the ability and opportunity to be successful, whether it's through the knowledge, whether it's the way he communicated. But if you are working 36 48 hours, it's really hard for  you to be successful if you're starting to diminish your skills. So that's, I think that's the key is do you put your people in a position to be successful?[00:20:07] So either a, you know, the job well enough, or B. I'll give you my second thing. So when I started at UPS, we all had a drive. So I was a driver, loved the job, and drove in Plainfield, New Jersey. That lesson that they taught me was any job I received that point forward in my whole career. The first thing I did was go to work a job.[00:20:29] So when I was given the responsibility when we purchased the mailbox, et cetera. To be a direct report to me. We, and then we rebranded to us today, the UPS store. First thing I did, I looked at our CEO at the time and I'm like, okay, I don't know anything about franchising. He said, look, you'll learn it. So the first thing I did was go work a day in the store, put an apron on, a work day in a store.[00:20:50] You know, I started on the supply chain side at UPS. One of the first things they did was go pick it. Order. All right, how does this work? So, yeah, my proficiency wasn't like a, you know, like any of the people that own the stores, I will never be as proficient as them there. They're world-class entrepreneurs.[00:21:08] But I took the time to try to learn the job. And. Hey, I got a sense of what was going on. And B, I got their respect that I was willing to take the time with you. That so, so the, the answer in this long winded way is simply either, a, you know it because you've done it, or B, go figure it out because you will do it.[00:21:25] Those are the two best things you can do to never get yourself in that position [00:21:28] Michael King: again. I think the importance of the answer warrants. The long-winded part, I think it's something that is, is business owners. As we grow, it's easy to lose sight of, you know, in early days of a business, most of us.[00:21:43] Or doing it all ourselves. But as we grow and we get to 10 - 50 employees, it's really easy to lose touch with what's going on. And honestly, things change. You know, on the, on the boots, on the ground level, there's frontline leaders that are doing things. So I think it's, it's hyper important that we get out there and, and work alongside our, our teams every so often just to, again, for their respect, to know what's going on.[00:22:06] Are they. Mathematically unable to be successful. What are their challenges? And like you said, just to gain their respect that you're not too cool for school, that you know, every so often you're willing to Brown up, as you said, and do the work. Another thing that I thought of is you were explaining that so well I heard an interview years ago with the first female general in the air force.[00:22:30] And, the interviewer was saying, wow, how in the world and this very male dominated, you know, industry. Did you rise to the rank of general when no other female had been able to do that before? And she said, you know, from the days that I was a first Lieutenant, up until today, even, she said, as I'm driving to work.[00:22:50] The thing that I'm thinking about is what hurdles do I have to remove from my team today so they can be successful? And that's my top priority of the day. And before I leave every single day, I said, are there any remaining hurdles that I need to remove today for my team to be successful? And she said, you know, it's not because of what I've been able to accomplish.[00:23:10] That's, that's taken me to this position. It's that I stand on the shoulder of giants because I've simply removed hurdles for them along the way. And then this is a side effect of that I have become a general, and I think that that really speaks to the heart of servant leadership, which is exactly what you're talking about is, you know, getting down and finding ways to make people successful, beyond just saying, get it done.[00:23:33] It just doesn't work that way. It doesn't work in the long term that way. I don't think. [00:23:38] Rocky Romanella: Well, I think you're absolutely correct that I also think it's what puts people in those situations that then they make some bad decisions and you're, you know, and you think, well, why would you make that? I think what ends up happening is, is that once people start to feel that pressure to where they believe that they have no alternatives, my only two choices are either.[00:24:00] You know, I have to, you know, kind of do some, you know, having an integrity violation or I'm going to get fired. You really gave him no choices at that particular point. Now that's the drastic end. That's kind of the end of the line situation. But along the way, things are happening and as a leader, it's what is the right, kind of what we started with.[00:24:20] What are the right questions that you ask? Like, you know, thinking about the whole Wells Fargo thing, you know, here's an organization over 150 years. Great. Brand. Everybody knows it. Well, how do you get to this position where all these people are making up accounts and now there's people getting fired and, and so how about the simple question that, how is it that our accounts are up.[00:24:40] Exponentially, but our revenue isn't. How about Volkswagen? You don't think somebody inside an organization was driving home one night and said, you know, hon, how come we don't get 30 miles to the guy? How come all we get in 24 I thought we get 30 that's our hours that, you know, those are like, there are simple questions always along the way that people could ask that could, you know, save people's careers, prevent these things from happening.[00:25:04] And it's a question, but nobody asks a question because they don't want to hear the answer. I always, I always say to people, you know, I met leaders, never leave their office. There's no problems in their office. You know, once I leave that office, I have to, I have to address the problem, right? So I've never been going to leave.[00:25:18] If my office is great, right? I got pictures of my kids and everybody here likes me inside of my office, but when I leave, I have to address the issues that are there and I know I will want to address those issues. So I think that that's, you know. An important part of who you are as a leader. You know, are you willing to be nailed to a diamond?[00:25:37] And I am. I said, his favorite song I have, my set is who I said I am, but am I that person? Do I walk the talk? [00:25:43] Michael King: I absolutely love that. Do you know why leaders never leave their office? There are no problems inside their office. [00:25:51] Rocky Romanella: When [00:25:52] Michael King: I leave, I have to address the issues that are out there and I don't know that I'm willing to address those issues.[00:25:57] I'm immediately thinking of, I don't know, two or three examples in my career where I've seen that behavior. And honestly I can think of a couple of examples where I've seen that in my behavior. You know, earlier, earlier on I didn't want to leave the safety of the four walls cause I knew there were problems out there that I just didn't want to deal with.[00:26:16] That's, that's incredibly insightful. Let me ask you two questions. One is, how do you think a culture gets to the point. That senior leaders do that kind of giggle, like, I don't know why we're not getting 30 miles per gallon. That's crazy. You know? And, and they know that they know what the right answer is.[00:26:34] Maybe they know it, or maybe they just kind of know it, but they know that there's something going on. So how does the culture, a company culture, get to that point? And then number two is how do you get out of it? How does it, I know it starts at the top, and that's a good generic answer. That's correct.[00:26:49] But do you have any tactical advice on how to pull yourself out of that? [00:26:55] Rocky Romanella: I think so. So on the first or the first one, I think it really comes down to, you know. This concept of your strength becomes your weakness. So if your strength is, is that your performance organization or you get things done, you, you know, those kinds of things, we'll then hook by everybody hitting their numbers or everybody hitting their targets.[00:27:16] You're just reinforcing. You know who we are, right? So you're all excited about those kinds of things. And so that's your strength. Your weakness is you're so excited about the fact that you're hitting your targets. You hit in your performance that, you know, nobody ever wants to look past that and say, wow, wait a second.[00:27:32] You know, maybe we're not really hitting those targets. I think that that's, that's, that's so important. The second thing is, is. Simple things that you do as a leader. So for example, you know, we would sit at a meeting and someone would do a presentation and they're now finally starting to hit their targets.[00:27:48] You know, they're hitting your business plan, you know, if they're hitting a rep, whatever the numbers are there, everyone's excited. And I lean over to the CFO at some point, or the engineering manager, depending on who I thought would be in their area of responsibility. I look at them and say, Hey, do me a favor.[00:28:04] These are great numbers. It's exciting to see these guys finally make it, you know, making some success. Do me a favor, go quietly, double check these numbers, make sure that they're right and if they're not getting better, go have a conversation. What's your, what's your peer here? And make sure they understand we've got to get this thing, we want the right numbers.[00:28:22] You know? And sometimes it's something as simple as everybody rounds up, right? You know, you were 19 for 19.2 for set F you know, a growth, but you want to be 20 so you're making 20 it doesn't seem like that big a deal. But you know, 20 sounds a lot better than 19.2 so, and you're saying yourself. It's not possible that we could grow that quickly, that you know or that you know those numbers can be right.[00:28:46] So you kind of quietly say to your CFO, Hey, go check that number and if it's wrong, go have a conversation with your buddy. Now, if it's, if it's really bad, you've got to come and see me. But you can save that person, you know, if you can solve problems at the lowest levels. That's what I think. You can save people.[00:29:03] You can give people an opportunity. It can be, to your point, before it could be that learning experience that, Hey, maybe I probably should have not rounded up. Okay, look, don't ever do that again. You know, we can get that fixed. Not that big a deal, but. You know, but if I started accepting those numbers, now you've got a pattern of conduct that says you always round up.[00:29:20] Now that's a problem. So I think that's, it's a question that you asked and the things that you do. And then sometimes I just go look. Sometimes I'll say, if something doesn't feel right here, Oh, I get up in the morning, I go visit it, operation, Hey, explain to me what's going on over here. You know, that kind of thing.[00:29:36] So, and then what happens is. You know, people start to correct themselves because of the questions that [00:29:41] Michael King: you ask. I think that questioning behaviors is critical with that. It's amazing, you know, Hey, let's go, let's, let's take these numbers. These are great. I want to go talk to your shift leaders or your subordinate managers, and I want to understand their opinion, like how did we achieve these goals?[00:30:00] I want to go talk to the frontline people and congratulate them and pick their brains on, you know, how did we achieve this? It's amazing. You don't normally have to peel the onion back very far before somebody says. The fuck are you talking about? That's, that's not right. You know, and cause people, people will try to keep that secret pretty high, so you don't have to pull the string too far to find that out.[00:30:21] But I think just, you know, having that questioning attitude and that, that genuine curiosity of why are we successful and showing that you're gonna ask questions and. You're going to ask questions not only in failure, but also in success. I don't believe that, you know, a lot of times we have this tendency that when we don't hit our targets and we don't hit our goals, we do these CSRs and let's pick it apart and diagnose it.[00:30:43] What, went wrong? Why didn't we hit our goals? But if you don't do that on the successes as well, it becomes very easy. To start rounding up, you know, ah, it was 19.2. The goal was 20. If I tell the boss we hit 20, then they're not going to go. Getting into our dirty laundry, things will be a lot better.[00:31:01]So I think it's important to do the CSRs and the deep dives on successes just as much as it is failures, but do it in a way of genuine curiosity, not in a way of. I'm out to get ya. And people will sniff out the difference pretty, pretty quickly. So it's, it sounds like you've put a lot of thought into these, these questions, the three of them, lots of years of experience under your belt.[00:31:24] What have you done to bring these three questions to the rest of us? It sounds like there could be a book. [00:31:32] Rocky Romanella: Yeah, there's a book, I think that's called tighten the lug nuts. It's a principle about its leadership and. In each chapter, there's a story I like to tell stories as you can tell through our interview.[00:31:41] I think nowadays, and stories I think are always great ways to learn, but there's a story in there about this whole concept of tightening the lug nuts. But in a short, you know, kind of a high level is, you know, when lug nuts are loose, they're important. You know, if I walk by a vehicle and there's loose lug nuts and I say, Hey dude, be fair, Mike.[00:31:57] We got some loose lug nuts over there, and at that moment it could take you five minutes to tighten those lug nuts, but you don't. You get sidetracked. You have other things that come up. So now something that was important becomes urgent, one of the tires falls off, and now all of a sudden you're like, ah, I've got no luck.[00:32:13] Nothing ever goes my way. What happened in the front, you know. The tire came off. Wait a minute. Why don't you just tighten the lug nuts? So the concept is don't allow important things to become urgent. When you think about when people make bad ethical moral decisions, sometimes it's because they had loose lug nuts, they didn't tighten the lug nuts, and now all of a sudden they get so far behind.[00:32:35] That's when they have to round up. Right. Wow. I didn't do it. Why did you send me an email? Can you, can you follow up on this for me? I say yes. And then all of a sudden I get, I get sidetracked and three weeks later you're saying to me as the boss, Hey, stop everything. I got to get this fixed. Or you just tell me you gotta fix it.[00:32:53] You really didn't. So I think don't allow important things to become urgent because you can only handle so many urgent things. The second thing I talk about a lot, not only in the book, but in general, and then I hope through my leadership style is I think every person has a leader. And every organization has to answer three key questions.[00:33:13] The first question is who am I? The second question is, what do I stand for? Those two, I think. Can be easily described. You know, companies can easily describe who we are, what do we stand for? I mean, you know, you walk through any organization, the cafeteria, it is, there's, there's all kinds of posters up all over our values, our mission statement, [00:33:33] Michael King: whales jumping out of water with, with clever values.[00:33:40] I have no idea if people still buy that shit. [00:33:42] Rocky Romanella: I know. So you got the first two, but number three is the question that I think is the one that you'll get challenged on. So question one is who am I? Question two is, what do I stand for? A question three has, [00:33:54] Michael King: what won't I compromise? [00:33:56] Rocky Romanella: And you have to clearly understand that.[00:33:58] So for example, as an organization, if somebody brought me a new piece of business and we're discussing how we were going to handle it. In my mind, okay, well, who are we? What do we stand for? What will we compromise? So, for example, if it's something that could be safety related, Hey, look, we're in. If we're climbing towers, Hey, if we're not in the cloud Motown or over 40 miles an hour, I don't care if it's 41 miles an hour, we're not climbing the tower.[00:34:23] Well, there could be a lot of pressure put on you for missing that. Last tower client for example. It's making this step up. The point though is if you're going to get challenged on number three, what won't I compromise? That means I might have to report bad news to wall street when I do my earnings calls.[00:34:38] I may mean I may have to report bad news for the largest investor, sir. Whatever those things are, I may import bad news to our people that there's not a bonus this year, but I have to know what number three is. Whoa, what? What are the things that I will not compromise as a person, as a leader. And as an organization, and I think those three questions are very, very critical to you as a person, as a leader in that, as an organization.[00:35:04] Michael King: Wow, that's, that is incredible. So how do you answer that then? What I mean is when I say, how do you answer that. Do you, do you think that it's a best practice for the C suite to sit down together if you're a larger company or maybe the, the top one or two key players for smaller companies, and maybe if you're a really small company, it's just the CEO, but they sit down and they really think about that and they write it down and communicate it or what, what do you have you found to be the best practice for identifying and communicating?[00:35:35] What won't we compromise. [00:35:37] Rocky Romanella:  I think you really have kind of articulated the approach that I really take, which is, okay, so what I want into my new role as a CEO. We sat down, we said, okay, we have values, we have values, statements, we have mission statements. Okay. We had a whole staff meeting and talked about let's talk about this.[00:35:55] And they kind of look at you like, yeah, I know, but that's what's on the website. That's what's on the posters. Okay? But that's who we are. Okay, so let's talk about who we are. All right, so this is what we do. This is how we do it. What do we stay at? Four Oh, you know, world class service, going through all these different things.[00:36:10] You know, thinking about the mission statement, value statements you've seen. No. You know, we're going to value diversity. We're going to go through all the classic things that you and I've seen through and people listening to your podcast have seen all over. Okay. So that's, you get through that pretty quickly and everybody, you know, talks about it and you know, they get through the awkwardness or why, why are you putting up the mission statement?[00:36:29] Why are you putting up the value statements? But you know, then the number three is, okay, we'll only compromise. So they kind of stare at you at first. Well, what do you mean? Well, I'm like, well, only compromise a service. Okay, well what does that mean? Does that mean that, okay, you won't compromise service, so you're going to do something illegal or you're going to eat or you're going to speed to get there?[00:36:49] I mean, what are the things you won't compromise? And then you really start to get to what are the things safety, integrity. Those are the things you won't compromise. Right? Cause if you compromise safety, there are going to be times when you won't complete a task because you won't do it safely.[00:37:04] There is going to be a time where a driver's over got hours and you're gonna say, Hey, I'm sorry you can't drive. Yeah, I know, but we won't, we're not going to get these packages delivered or we're not going to get this, this, this task done. Okay, but I'm not going to allow you to drive on safely. I'm not going to allow you to violate your DLT hours.[00:37:19] Those are the critical decisions, right? Because if I say I'm always going to be, I'm always going to have 100% service. Well, that may mean the only way I can get 100% services I violate what. Integrity safety could be. So that I think that third question, then you start to get really deep, and so when we look at each other and then we're like, okay, these are the things, this is a commitment we're making to each other as a C-suite or we're never going to compromise it.[00:37:43] Safety's a core value in our organization. We would rather call a customer and say, I'm sorry I couldn't get this completed. Then get it done and do it in sequence. And nothing says you care about your people more than you won't let them work unsafely. You're never going to let them do that.  It'll stop everything and say, you can't do this.[00:38:03] Same thing with integrity. I'm not going to round up, and I think there's two types of integrity. If I could just say this quickly, one is the obvious integrity. You know what number two is the integrity of your word. I said I was going to do something. Did I do it? I told you I was gonna call you back and I called you back.[00:38:17] Did I answer the email that you sent me two days ago that was important to you? That's integrity over your word. It's hard to run an organization where everyone's working together and we're all on the same page. When you don't have integrity of your word, if I can't trust it, you're going to be there for me.[00:38:34] It's hard for me to take the really kind of be a team of a team in harmony, [00:38:41] Michael King: So I'm going to challenge you. Here, I'm going to ask you that. I'm going to ask you the hard question, right? Larry King style. So let's say that, let's, let's use the example of safety. You know, what will we compromise? We won't compromise safety ever, period.[00:38:56] And, let's say that you're, you're the CEO and you find that there was a compromise of safety. And let's just say that one of your drivers violated the DOD rules and they drove more hours than they should have in a given period of time. How do you handle it? [00:39:14] Rocky Romanella: I think you start with. Okay. What are the checks and balances that we have in place?[00:39:19] Was it a mistake or was it a bad decision? So I always start with, was it a mistake or a bad decision? If it's a mistake, then you talk to the individual, your work with them, you know, and you correct the mistake. If it's a bad decision, that's now that you've got an issue of, you know, as leaders, we were paid to make good decisions.[00:39:36] So why did we make this bad decision? You know, what were the checks and balances in place? When did somebody know that there was a DMT violation? You, did they move it up the chain and say to their manager, Hey, look at the DLT violation. Okay, well what happened? So I think you have to understand it wasn't a mistake or a bad decision.[00:39:53] Michael King: So let's call it a bad decision. And this fictitious example, that was a bad decision. The driver knowingly drove longer than he knew he should have. [00:40:03] Rocky Romanella: So then, so there's two parts of that. A, the driver has a responsibility to fall on his log book, and so you'd have that conversation with them. Hey, I appreciate it.[00:40:11] If it's a good driver that really wants to do a good job, that's when you're saying, look, I appreciate your energy and your efforts. I appreciate you wanting to. You know, hit our service targets, but don't ever put yourself in harm's way. You could never get fired for you. Can never get yourself in trouble, is a better way to put it.[00:40:26] You can never get yourself in trouble by coming forward and saying, Hey, I'm out of hours. I'm sorry. I'll accept that. But for you to fill out your life, probably that's going to get you in more trouble. So. So your safe Harbor is to come forward and say, Hey, I've got some, I got an hours violation and we'll work through that.[00:40:43] If you, if you come right to us, we may be able to fix the service by sending another driver out there. Right. Right. I can fix it when you bring it to me. I can't fix it once it's after. So don't ever feel so, so I appreciate it. So if it's a good person, you want them to know you appreciate their energy and efforts.[00:40:57] You appreciate their intentions were good. But Hey, we don't compromise safety. It's okay for you to come forward. You can never get in trouble. But coming forward and bringing us to a situation we can help you with, if it's a person who's just, you know, not doing a good job or just lazy about it, say it doesn't really care if they, I don't really care about that.[00:41:14] I was feeling good. Okay, that's a bad decision. You don't have a right to put yourself in harm's way or our company in harm's way because you didn't. So that's the employee side of it. As the leader, as the manager. You know, the amount of hours the person works. Right. So, you know, but based on his, you know, his punch in punch out time that you work more than your hours.[00:41:38] So did you raise your hand? Did you go and talk to the driver? Did you say the supervisor, Hey, Rocky worked 14 hours yesterday. He's gotta be, you know, based on his weekly logs or whatever. I mean. Did you ask the question or no, I don't really want to get involved in that. So then, once you have that conversation with the, you know, with the driver, and I think going to the leadership team and say, Hey man, this guy's getting himself in trouble.[00:41:59] You're getting yourself in trouble by looking the other way. You should be asking the right questions. It's not logic, all that he's not in violation based on the amount of hope, but based on the time he punched in upon style. So you want to have that conversation with that, with the leadership team to say, Hey, you know why what's your double checks?[00:42:14] What's your reports and measures? What are the things that you have in place to prevent this from happening and help me out. It's kind of Jerry Maguire. Help me help you. [00:42:23] Michael King: To what extent though? So where I'm driving with the question, Rocky is so you, you say out loud like, Hey, we're, we're not going to compromise on safety yet in this made up example, you've got a driver that compromise on safety.[00:42:37] There was a manager that compromised on safety. So at what point do you say, all right, you can't be a part of this team. We had this, this value that we won't compromise and it was compromised here willingly, and this, this made up example. Is that a fireable offense or not yet? [00:42:55] Rocky Romanella: Well, I think, I think so. So that's a great question.[00:42:58] So I think, so then what I, for me personally, now this is me. I would take a step back. And so when I originally went to college, I went to college being a high school history teacher to baseball coach. And one of the first classes a professor has said, if everyone in the class fails, you didn't teach. But if you have one or two people who failed a test.[00:43:17] Then you've got to get what those one or two people. So I bring that example up because that's my, that's my line of thinking. So I would take a step back to answer your question and say. Well, is this a problem that everyone doesn't understand, that, that this is a core value and that I really, we haven't done a good job as an organization to reinforce that this is a serious situation right here, that we will never compromise this.[00:43:41] So did everybody fail the task because we didn't train them properly, we didn't educate them properly, or does the communication issue, or is it one or two people? If it's one or two people and then, then you got to go to the leadership team and say, Hey, look, you know, you've, you've used your get out of jail cards here.[00:43:56] All right? We're not going to discuss this any further. Your responsibility [00:44:00] is to never compromise safety and put things in place to protect you and your people and our organization. So, and I think you gotta go to that driver and say the same thing. Appreciate everything you've done, but don't put yourself in harm's way.[00:44:12] Raise your hand. But if it's a situation where you think that, wait a second, we have this issue, then I think it's time to have that conversation where you. Maybe Gavin general now, today by halo, you know. Well, a good example was before Christmas. We would always send out, reminding everybody, cause you work a lot of hours at Christmas delivering all those packages, right?[00:44:33] They reminded everybody, make sure you keep good logs, make sure you, and we tend to the management team, you better keep track of you. They are ours. We don't want anybody though hours violations because we didn't do a good job. So you, there's ways for you to anticipate things that are going to be happening along the way.[00:44:49] But I think you want to know, is it, is it isolated to one or two people or is it, I didn't teach properly and so everyone fails a test, and if everyone failed a test, and I have a responsibility as a leadership team to make sure that, okay, I got to go back and do that lesson again. [00:45:03] Michael King: Fair enough. So tighten the lug nuts, the principle of balance leadership.[00:45:08] Where can people buy it? [00:45:10] Rocky Romanella: Thank you very much for asking. It is a barn. It's, at best places, Amazon online. They do a great job fulfilling for me and, and Barnes and Noble online. Certainly on our website, www is a number three and the word 66 T Y management for every book sold. so some years ago I got the opportunity.[00:45:32] To sit and have a four hour conversation with legendary coach John wooden. Wow. Yeah, it was amazing. And so I have that. I have the actual interview on my website, if you get a chance, it's on under coaches corner and it's the actual conversation with coach wooden. And in 1999 but when I met with coach Wooden and we talked a little bit, and of course at the end I said to him, coach, is there anything we can do?[00:45:55] And at that time I was working for UPS, so I was actually speaking to him on the app. Ups and he was going to be a speaker, you know, as a recording on one of our, one of our management conferences, he said to me, no, no rock. You asked me if I could help you, and certainly I have no problem doing that. I said, well, can we donate?[00:46:10] Or he said, can you donate to the Jimmy Valvano fund? And I, you know, I was so touched by his humbleness and his desire to help someone else. And of course, coach Nevada passed away at that time, but, so, so for every book sold, we donate $1 to the GBV foundation. So, I think it's a great read, but [00:46:28] Michael King: if I.[00:46:29] Rocky Romanella: Well, I shouldn't say that. Sounds boastful. I think you'll think it's a good read. I think you'll enjoy it, but at the very least, you'll be building a tower to the Jimmy V foundation. [00:47:31] Michael King: Awesome. Well, Rocky, thank you so much for coming on today.[00:47:34] This was a great lesson for me today and, I'm sure for our listeners as well, and I, I can't thank you enough for being here. [00:47:41] Rocky Romanella: Thank you. Pleasure talking to you.[00:47:51] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to in the trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Connect with Megan Everett:TwitterInstagram Personal & BusinessFacebook Personal & BusinessLinkedIn Personal & BusinessConnect with KFE:KFE SolutionsKFE BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.[00:00:23] If you’ve found yourself in one of those situations, one of those predicaments where you realize that you're in a world of shit, a really bad place. You've made some kind of mistake, you've screwed something up pretty badly and you know you need help. But you don't ask for it because you're so embarrassed by the mistake that you've made.[00:00:46] You're so fearful that others are going to judge you for what you've done, or you feel like you don't have anybody around you that can even help you out of the particular situation that you're in, so you don't even bother asking. I know I have, and I think for me, when you get into those kinds of spots, you start to feel really alone.[00:01:08] Shameful, isolated and quite honestly just scared shitless. Today, I'm talking with my friend Megan Everett. Megan is the CEO and founder of Perform. She's going to tell us all about performance here in a minute, but Megan, a couple of years ago, had paid software developers, six figures to develop some custom software for her platform.[00:01:34] The person ended up not only milking her out of that six figures, but they also tried to leverage her network against her, and all of a sudden, Megan found herself alone and afraid. Ill equipped to handle what was facing her. And so, she went into a place of depression. She isolated herself and really just got under the blanket on the couch and hid for several weeks until she got herself out of it.[00:02:02] By surrounding herself with a strong support network. And also, some lawyers. So today, I'm going to talk with Megan about her journey into this really bad decision to work with this horrible company. We're going to talk about the lowest lows that she felt during that time, and then she's going to tell us how she got out of it.[00:02:22] And she's going to give you some great ideas on how you can avoid a similar fate. Without any further ado, here's my conversation with Megan Everett. Megan Everett. Good morning. How are you? [00:02:35] Megan Everett: How are you? [00:02:36] Michael King: I'm awesome. You were telling me that it wasn't in the too far distant past, that you lost $120,000 from a shitty vendor.[00:02:46]you were telling me that basically you got conned, you signed a contract, you did not lawyer up and have them take a look at it. And this vendor walked away with $120k. In cash, basically at a time when you really didn't have $120,000 to spare. Tell us what happened. [00:03:06] Megan Everett: I knew this person for about a year before I signed a contract with them.[00:03:10] So they played a nice long game and we started talking about things that I wanted done with the platform that we currently had and coding that needed to be redone and dashboards, things like that. And we came up with this idea for like the kind of just revamp, perform all together. [00:03:29] Michael King: So tell us what is Performed.[00:03:30] Give us a little bit of background on the company. [00:03:32] Megan Everett: Yeah. Perform is a forecasting software. it's a little bit more than that. So simply plug into your CRMs and we have an API to most of that, making custom build, anything else. But what we do that's a little different is we do it on an individual rep basis.[00:03:49] So we take all of the data from your whole team and then we take it rep by rep. And tell you with what they've done and the leads that they have currently, what they'll do this year. And then we give you information that you're normally not getting. Like this is what this rep closes fast. This is the leads that you're going to have to give them this year for them to do the same thing or to meet your goals.[00:04:12] So, and then we give each rap and education path and it's all gamified. We're building an app right now that'll make it a lot more fun to do too. [00:04:22] Michael King: Interesting. So you take the data that's already in a CRM and existing CRM, you've got something that plugs into it. It says, Hey, based on, you know, this particular sales reps, past performance, the goals that they've got for this year, this is what you're going to need to tee up for them if you want them to close those targets.[00:04:41] Is that accurate? [00:04:43] Megan Everett: Yeah, that's exactly what it is. [00:04:45] Michael King: So early days. You've got some software build out that you need done. And this, this evil doer for a year is kind of nurturing. And, you're telling him all these things you need built out. And then he's like, Hey, we can do that.[00:05:02] Megan Everett: And very strategically, and I didn't think about this till recently.[00:05:09] I was with the person that he had introduced me to. The day that he sent his proposal. So he knew that we were spending the weekend in San Francisco, and so he knew that I was with that person and had like a little bit of reinforcement of somebody to be like, this student's super cool.[00:05:29] He's so great. It's going to do these great things for you. So that was interesting. But he sends this proposal, this guy also has a law degree. And I trust them and he's like a super simple contract like, and does the whole, if you want to have a lawyer, look at it, do that. But you're really wasting your money.[00:05:50] And I find the only thing I'd ever used the lawyer for at this point was to file an LLC. And even then it was like, I could've done that on my own. So I really didn't know and we weren't making a ton of money at this point. We'd just like literally the week before I had gotten our first enterprise contract and the money hadn't even come in yet.[00:06:10] So I'm looking at this. The contract is for $250,000 to be paid out over the next eight months or something. And I'm looking at our growth and like what's coming in and what I think is going to come in and I'm like, we get a for this if we strategically make our payments and kind of like. I don't hire this person.[00:06:31] I was going to hire, but like then I have the software. So things were already really tight and this was going to be a stretch. But I also have this other person that's like, he builds a means and softwares, look at these other softwares he's felt, and I'm like, okay, like I'm going to do this. And then the next month comes, this is like November, 2018.[00:06:53] He starts talking about like, maybe you should come to Dallas for a while and actually work with the team so it looks the way that you want it to look. I uprooted my entire life and moved to Dallas in January. Literally like get rid of my place and I get to Dallas and he has like a few interns working for him.[00:07:13] There's no dev team here[00:07:19] Megan Everett: So what the actual fuck. And he started to explain to me that, like his team is actually in Pakistan I think. And I'm like really weird. Like why am I here? And a couple months go by and there's a lot of arguing and me having to like pull information and basically threaten to pull our contract to get any updates and I'm not getting any, like I haven't seen any code and we're in March at this point.[00:07:49] So we've gone from November to March and I've seen no code at all. So no code comes through and it's March. [00:07:57] Michael King: How much have you paid at this point? [00:08:00] Megan Everett:  I think we're towards 100,000 at this point. [00:08:04] Michael King:  So you're north of six figures in this thing. You're five months into it and still not a line of code, [00:08:12] Megan Everett: Not a line of code.[00:08:13] All I've seen literally like to illustrate our mockup. mobile pages, all I've seen and like maybe 10 and 10 is probably generous, like a Google doc of up to 10 pages that is basically like, this is like a book broken down and ways that we can use it in the app, which I'm not even sure that that person actually wrote.[00:08:38] Michael King: Wow. [00:08:38] Megan Everett: I think they pulled it from somewhere else. [00:08:41] Michael King: Where you having that sinking feeling at this point [00:08:44] Megan Everett: The thing that gets me is I was having it in December before I even knew that I was like somethings off and I had sent this text to him and was like, Hey, I need a timeline and I need benchmarks and I need all these things, but I've also already signed this contract that has no cancellation clause, and I'm like, what am I supposed to do here?[00:09:06] And his response to that was, you need to trust me and you don't know how development works. Why would I waste my time with that with you? [00:09:16] Michael King: Like literally he said that [00:09:18] Megan Everett: I have it in text messages and at this point I'm such a very naive but not seasoned owner or CEO at all at this point. I mean, I have two other employees right now when we're talking about this.[00:09:32] So I had no idea what to do. [00:09:37] Michael King: When you got that text, what did that feel like? What were you thinking? What were you feeling? [00:09:42] Megan Everett: I mean, I'm pretty sure I cried because I cry. I thought I had made a horrible, horrible mistake and the thing I wouldn't have done. I kept doing. Was I kept going to men in my life and saying like, this is happening and this is how I'm feeling.[00:10:00] And they're all so logical and a lot of them like our engineers or have like these coding brains cause I was like, is this normal? Like, like what is happening? Am I being overly sensitive? And a lot of their answers were like, well Megg, you are like a little overly sensitive in general. And maybe he's just like, this is the way that a human and he's just not responding in the right way.[00:10:23] So I dismiss a lot of this early on. As like just bad social skills and like being very intelligent and an engineer, which I later found out that he's not, and he doesn't code, but other things start happening. Like he starts like going into, he's calling my lawyer on his own.[00:10:49] He's going into my bank on his own and asking questions about our accounts and he's not on the accounts. [00:10:57] Michael King: So he's like physically going to the bank and asking them questions about your account. Yeah. And he's calling your attorney and asking questions about you and your business. [00:11:10] Megan Everett: I mean, this guy is smart.[00:11:11] He introduced me to my attorney in Dallas, and went to my first meeting with me. Part of our contract was like. Equity given upon completion of the product. So my attorney knows he's involved in the company. He went to the private banker. I'm not going to say the name of the bank with us and introduced me when I first came to Dallas.[00:11:37] So he's like, he's already put himself in a place to look like he's a business partner when he's not. And he's telling people and like introducing me to people and I'm not seeing any of this. So like when he goes to a meeting to meet an investor with me, he looks like a business partner and he's basically setting this up to be like, if I were to freak out and say, you're no longer part of the company.[00:12:03] It looks like I just took the company from him. [00:12:06] Michael King: Wow. [00:12:08] Megan Everett: Which is so ingenious, like evil genius, that that's how half the people would, it happened. They thought that like I actually screwed him over. [00:12:18] Michael King: So he was just kind of strategically inserting himself alongside you. Yeah. With the key relationships that he would be able to leverage later to make it look like he was part of, of you in your team and perform.[00:12:32] So that's when the scam was kind of coming to a head like this. Honestly, this seems like an episode of American greed. I on CNBC where it's, you know, how people scam other people and defraud people. This could legit be an episode of American greed. [00:12:50] Megan Everett: I've never seen it. There are two other large companies that, I won't say the names because they have lawsuits going on with them as well.[00:12:57] They'll have the same thing happen and he still tells people that he built their entire platform, which is part of why I was like, you built those platforms. Those are like nationwide companies that are killing it. Of course I would go with this person. [00:13:12] Michael King: So the guy goes into your lawyer, your attorney, your banker, he's, he's finding out, I'm guessing, financial information, like what do you have?[00:13:22] How much can he milk you for? He's kind of figuring that out. Probably pinging the lawyer to see how much does she really know about law and you know, how far can I push her? [00:13:32] Megan Everett: A lawyer that he plays basketball with. So this is like a friend of his, which is also interesting and like mad that I couldn't use my lawyer for anything with him, which was so beneficial to have because I had to go find a new lawyer that had no history to actually like deal with this case [00:13:52] Michael King: and all the expenses that come along with that when you're super half strapped.[00:13:56] Megan Everett: Yeah. So, it's so frustrating. [00:13:58] Michael King: But. I didn't know we were going to get a roadmap for fraud today. This is the first for In the Trenches. We have a roadmap for fraud. Everyone take notes. [00:14:06] Megan Everett: Right? Like it's so funny cause I have for a while now, I wanted to backtrack this and actually start telling people like these are signs to watch for and I put it in some kind of document or start talking about it.[00:14:19] Michael King: We'll put it in the podcast. Right? Here we go. [00:14:23] Megan Everett: So many people tell me they've had similar things happen. Not this strategic. This is incredibly strategic and I think this person has done it more than the other two times that I know of. [00:14:35] Michael King: He's a pro. [00:14:36] Megan Everett: Yeah, definitely. So everything comes to a head, and I know exactly the date because I was supposed to go to a benefit with him that night.[00:14:45] It was March 27 so we were supposed to go to that earth, earth acts, garden party or something. Anyway, it doesn't matter. And literally throughout that day, like everything is starting to blow up and I am realizing that this person is actually going to try to steal my company. So it wasn't just the money.[00:15:05] He started trying to say that. He was now the CSO of my company and that I had guaranteed to have another 20 per site and I wasn't keeping up my end of the deal with the vendors and he starts telling people there was investor fraud. We had not taken any money or gone into due diligence with anyone at this time.[00:15:27] So there was no way for there to be any new investor fraud and that he is going to do. Something that makes sure that I am out of the company and he gets the entire company. So this is a story that he's telling everyone I've met in Dallas, which is insane, and I am hearing it like I'm literally walking to get a blow out for the benefit and like my phone is blowing up and people are like[00:15:52] Did you commit investor fraud? And I'm like, we have no investors. What the fuck are you talking about? And I literally, it's like literally blowing up like that for 45 minutes of a dry bar. I'm sitting there looking at my phone and like in spheres at Drybar and everyone's looking at me like, who the fuck is this girl crying?[00:16:14] I'd be like, I just have to leave. I think I left before they even finished and didn't go to the gala. Obviously. I just went home and I was like, I don't even know what to do. And all of a sudden I have my lawyer telling me, you need a new lawyer. You shouldn't spend any performa money on it. You need to spend your own money.[00:16:35] And I'm like, I don't have my own money.  [00:16:39] Michael King: both say no. [00:16:41] Megan Everett: Right? And I'm like, I have none of my own money. Everything I have is in performa. I have a C Corp, how the fuck do I have to spend my own money on this? My life literally imploded within. What it felt like five days to me.[00:16:56] If like the Friday before this, we were all at a birthday dinner, my birthday dinner, and I had friends from my hometown there, other friends from California, and the sky had picked up the entire bill for the dinner. So it went from like, we're celebrating me and this guy's picking up a bill at stir, which is not super expensive, but like.[00:17:36] Because this thing that I spent a year and a half building was either going to go bankrupt or was going to be somebody else's is what I thought. I'll not die and it was fucking horrible. [00:17:47] Michael King: So what did you do?[00:17:48] Megan Everett: What I did is not something I recommend for anyone. I went into this like panic. I am going to try to fix it with him mode, which I think anybody who's inexperienced thinks that they can fix it, especially when they're at this place of like, I can't afford this.[00:18:05] So I started texting him and trying to meet with him and giving him more and more information, which was exactly the opposite of what you should do. But I realized that at the point I thought I was, I really thought I was going to be able to make it better and that I went on like. Just a spiral of like crying all the time.[00:18:26] I wasn't leaving my apartment at one point. I packed up my car. I told my lawyers I was doing this. I was like, I'm going to go home for a week or two. I don't get on a plane for some reason. I think it's a really good idea that it's going to clear my head to take a 30 hour drive. [00:18:42] Michael King: That'll kill your head.[00:18:43] Megan Everett: Yes. We also have to drive it back at some point. [00:18:47] Michael King:  There's too much, too much. [00:18:50] Megan Everett: So I drove back home and went to a friend's house and just showed up and they knew I was coming, but I was like, I just can't deal with life. The only people I talked to for those two weeks were the lawyers and I had never watched Game of Thrones before.[00:19:06] And I watched all of Game of Thrones in two weeks. [00:19:10] Michael King: You didn't watch that before season eight, right? Yes. Yeah. Good, good. If you'd watch season eight, you would have probably just quit the business. You're like, I did what my first missed. My first mistake was letting this guy scam me. My second mistake was watching season eight of Game of Thrones.[00:19:29] Megan Everett: but it started while I was there. So I think the first episode happened while I was home. But I went home and continued to watch it while all this was happening, which is just a really bad idea. But it took a really long time. I went back to Dallas. I was just like in this horrible fog, fiddly broke at the time because I was spending everything I personally had on lawyers and decided that the best thing I could do was to move back to California where I had a support system cause I felt like everyone I was talking to.[00:20:00] There was a quote, friends were coming into help and they'd be like, Oh, so we'll do this for you if you pay us $10,000 a month. And I was like, what is happening? And we had started to build a sales team at this point. Thank God I had a good sales leader to talk to, brought up the work for a while and I had a little breakdown.[00:20:21] It really took until like September for me to get to a point where I was like, okay. None of this is okay. I'm not going to keep arguing with this person or taking their equity away. Like I'm not even not even fucking dealing with this guy saying that he owns part of my company. He hasn't busted over three years.[00:20:40] He didn't deliver a product and he stole from us. Like send him a letter. He no longer has equity. we're reporting him to the FBI and then we're suing. To him for everything that he took times like five. So that's where we're at now. He hasn't bothered us with equity. He's still seeing things, but I don't, he can say whatever he wants, I don't care.[00:21:03] But it was very much like this process of like, I thought that I had screwed up so badly that no one would ever invest in our company. Like I saw all of that as my fault, and I think the best founders and CEOs would. Like, we're not going to blame anybody else for our financial mistakes, but it took me a longer to get over that.[00:21:25] Then it shut up. I didn't go into like action and I didn't feel comfortable telling lawyers that they were wrong. Like their whole, like, let's just like make a settlement. People kept telling me like, you're probably going to have to pay him 200,000 more. And I was like, no, like I know. So it just kept being this argument and I spent so much on legal fees, but knowing what I know now, I would have immediately just told lawyers like, we're not even discussing this.[00:21:52] Like this is a con artist. We need to take his equity back. We need to start suing them and we need to report him. And I wish I would've done that earlier, but this is where we're at. [00:22:03] Michael King: When you think about the breakdown that you had, what was that like? [00:22:08] Megan Everett: I don't know. I've never thought of myself as a depressed person.[00:22:12] I've always liked, not that I haven't been sad or been depressed before, but I've always been like any depression I've had, I can name. And it's so situational that it's more like sadness and event based, like somebody dying or like losing the job, things like that. This was different and it was the first time that I was ever actually worried about my mental health.[00:22:37] Like I don't think I've ever felt that lost or like there wasn't a next step. And I remember talking about like if I had to go get another job, I was actually so afraid that this event would mean that nobody would ever hire me. Like I had convinced myself, but like I was so stupid. I had fucked up so badly that this was just ruining my entire life.[00:23:05] And I joke about it now, but at the time it wasn't funny at all. Like I was either ordering Instacart or Postmates every single day will Instacart, not every day, but like I would order Instacart and not eat groceries and then order Postmates because I think when we're depressed, we do this stuff a lot.[00:23:23] And then I was just like watching TV and literally, so this is like June in Dallas. You know how hot it is. I was so hot, but I had my AC so low that I was literally in like Christmas flannel pajamas with a plush robe and blankets on my couch watching Netflix. Like this was like, I don't know what I was doing, and I was kind of working like I was doing what I had to, to make sure that we didn't lose our corporate clients, but I wasn't doing anything else.[00:23:58] I wasn't working with new clients or going into the office at all. I can't really explain it. The only way out of it was to literally leave where I was physically. Like I had to be around people that like. Would be there and show up and like be a support system. And I also just knew that there was no way that I was going to get out of it.[00:24:22] Being in Dallas and feeling like I had no one there. [00:24:25] Michael King: So that support system was really key in kind of pulling you from it [00:24:32] Megan Everett: and it still took some time. [00:24:34] Michael King: What does a good support system look like? If I find myself in a place like that, what type of people would you encourage me to go surround myself with?[00:24:44] Megan Everett: I think it's what I encourage people to have all the time anyway. And I actually, I think we all need a cheerleader. Like you're annoying friend who thinks you can do anything and actually believes it. We all need that person. they're also the friend that's always going to show up. Like your cynical friends that are going to tell you the hard truths are normally the ones that are going to show up, but like cheerleaders from the things that you're really going to be a billionaire and on stage with Oprah.[00:25:09] That's the one. And then we do need, like the friends that are like, this is bullshit. Get out of bed. So I have, I have like my cheerleader friend who was amazing. I actually came back to my hometown, so I went back to my hometown, rented like a little 300 square foot pool house for the summer. And, I have a really good friend who's like a cheerleader.[00:25:33] I have a friend who is my no bullshit. None of this matters. And would tell me these things, like, I don't want to fucking hear about this anymore. Why aren't you working in, what the fuck are you doing? Why aren't you in Dallas? And it would be like, what are you doing to make this better? And I think those two people are so key.[00:25:52] And then my mom and my sister are still in my hometown, and that was really important just to be able to go over to mom's for dinner or have my sister over or do something. And I think that the church for almost anything in this world is really community. And I think that's why we do things like join masterminds.[00:26:13] Michael King: It's not Instacart [00:26:15] Megan Everett: No, apparently not. Also like not your four year old, a Christmas drama from your mom. Not, not the cure either, but I don't know. I think for me it's those two key key people, because you need the person that's going to be like, you're full of shit and this is dumb, but you also need the person that's like, you can do this.[00:26:35] And I think rarely are they the same person. [00:26:38] Michael King: Do you think that, in all seriousness, do you think the four year old Christmas pajamas in the Instacart is part of the process? Is it a necessary part of the process to get out of it? Do you have to have time to kind of be in your own mind so that you can get out of that place.[00:26:55] Megan Everett: I think you do. At one point when the fog had kind of lifted, I, I hired a coach in July, which I'll talk about, but I had sent him a text and I was like, if I ever get to a point where like, I'm working for my bed for four days, can you just like snap me out of it? And his response to me was the darkness as important as the light, which gets a little annoying when you don't want to hear.[00:27:16] We were shit. But I was like, fuck it. Like it is. And it's important to feel all of that. I don't know that it needed to be to the extreme that it was like, I don't think it's ever healthy to just not leave your apartment for three weeks at a time. Am I not leaving my apartment? I mean like, you know where I live in Dallas, but literally there's restaurants all around me.[00:27:38] So it was like going downstairs and going to Starbucks or going to the smoothie place behind. Or maybe go to Eavis and pick up something, but always at the back of my apartment within like 10 minutes. [00:27:51] Michael King: Was alcohol part of that time. [00:27:53] Megan Everett: No, actually, so I don't, I have a rule. I come from a [00:28:00] family that has a lot of addiction issues, and this is a rule I made in my mid twenties that if I'm sad, I don't drink, and it's something that I just stuck to and I don't actually know how, because.[00:28:11] I'm like, fuck. Like drinking would have made that so much easier. It wouldn't have, but you know, like drinking is not something I turn to when I'm sad at all. I think I've always just been too afraid that this kind of like addiction gene will be an issue if I start doing that. Does that make sense?[00:28:32] Michael King: Absolutely. Community it sounds like is something you really value. And, it sounds like it was pretty critical in, in your ability to kind of get out of this dark place, almost kind of like empire strikes back shit, right? Like, you know, this, this was what you needed to, to get back in the game.[00:28:52]and you talked about coaching and masterminds. This is not a plug for a coaching system or a mastermind system at all. Tell me more about why you think coaching is important and why you think masterminds are important. So how does that contribute to the community or community? [00:29:08] Megan Everett: For me, I was seeing a therapist, which was great, but it was so based on like pulling me out of the depression.[00:29:16] I wasn't dealing with anything. And so I had reached out to a coach on Instagram actually, which is. I still like sometimes think it's so funny in that this is how we find people. [00:29:29] Michael King: I don't know that I'd admit that on a podcast, but you own it. That's awesome. [00:29:33] Megan Everett: I wrote it on many podcasts, including his, so that's okay.[00:29:37] So at the time, and this is awful, what am I like guilty pleasures in life as a whole? Like bachelor, all of it, like bachelor, bachelor, paradise, bachelorette. It lets me check out and just be like, Holy shit, these people's lives are Iraq. it's super entertaining. This coach, which might make it worse, was doing  a breakdown on Instagram live every week on the bachelor.[00:30:06] So I'm watching this cause I bought like I just deep and my TV, Instagram, like this is my entire world at this point. And I'm watching this visa, something about how he goes into companies and talks about culture. And I was like, Oh, maybe Mark can help me, like integrate back into my company and come talk to the whole.[00:30:30] Company about culture. And so I reached out to Mark and I'm like, Hey, how do you feel about going to Dallas and like kind of helping us with some issues. We have some unique things going on and we talk and he's like, there is no way I am helping you with your company until you deal with your own shit.[00:30:47] But it was also somebody, not just telling me to deal with it, but like I can help you feel with it. It's the first time I've ever really used to coach. And I think for me it was this turning point of like, there's so much action that you can take when things go wrong. And coaches are kind of like, like a cheerleader and no bullshit friend into the same person.[00:31:11] And I think that's where you find it. So I think that's interesting. But Mark really kind of helped me through those couple of months that were really, really hard. And then honestly, I didn't even know what the fuck a mastermind was until July. No idea at all. We don't talk about them in software, like we talk about accelerators, which are not really the same thing, but kind of the same idea of the support you get and really realized that I.[00:31:40] Once I kind of came out of the full fog that I needed to be around people that were doing really big things still because I didn't have that. [00:31:48] Michael King: Why is that important?[00:31:48] Megan Everett: I think having people around you that are like minded and are also working towards big goals keeps you on track to work towards yours. It was really easy to go back to my hometown and not do those things.[00:32:04] Most people are like in service based businesses. Most of my friends are married with kids and are stay at home moms or they have like cute little side businesses, which is great and works for them, but that doesn't align with what I'm doing with my life. So it made it super easy to just go hang out with my friends and their kids, or like go to yoga at 11:00 AM and not be working.[00:32:28] You know what I mean? Like, yeah. It was just, I didn't have anybody to keep up with or to keep me driven. And I am a very competitive person, so when I'm surrounded by other people that are doing really big things, I like, Oh, like they're doing that. Like why are they achieving their goals faster than me?[00:32:52] But when I'm the one that is achieving big goals and no one else is doing it, I don't really feel a need to keep thinking like that. Keep pushing myself. Does that make sense? [00:33:02] Michael King: Absolutely, Yeah.  And you're a former athlete, so, there's something to that that needs to compete and to be raised up. Do that competitiveness around you.[00:33:13] Megan Everett: Yeah. I'm a firm believer that you're the average of the five people you spend the bulk of your time with. So if you're around people, again, there's nothing wrong with that lifestyle. The back of my slide, if that's what you want, that's great. There's no, there's nothing wrong with that, but, that's what you're going to kind of become, you know, or, you know, You're going to kind of average out somewhere in there. Yeah. But if you want to be a high performer in a high achiever, you've got to have people around you that are doing that too. [00:33:48] Michael King: So you've come out of all of that, Megan, and you're on the better side. You disclosed a huge round of funding.I find it interesting. You were telling me that it's going forward. One of your big goals is to replace yourself as CEO in the next three years. [00:33:58] Megan Everett: Yeah. I used to be terrified probably since like the moment I had my first VC meeting that I was going to be replaced as CEO to the point where I had started thinking about who I would want to replace me and then.[00:34:17] I changed that whole subject in my head too if I wasn't CEO anymore. Because realistically, I am not qualified to run a $27 million company that I have now. And if we go where everybody thinks we're going, I am absolutely not qualified to run a half a billion dollar company, which doesn't really matter.[00:34:40] But because you can figure that out and hire people that are around you that are. But I had to really start thinking about like, do I want to be the person coming into work every day? Like do I want to be in an office 12 hours a day running a nine figure business? Not really. So I, this past few months as we were closing around, a lot of conversations came up about like, what if there is a point where.[00:35:09] We all decided that it's better that we have a really qualified and students seasoned CEO and tack, and my answers at first were like really angry, really defensive, but then I came to a point where I was like, well, the best thing for the company is probably when we get to that point for the right person to be running it, regardless of who it is.[00:35:30] And it's still mine. I am always the founder. I will still hold my equity in the company. So I'll still have a board seat and a say, and I can still be involved in what I want to be involved in, which is really interacting with the team and really large clients. Like those are the things I love doing, but it brings this question of like, what?[00:35:51] What would I do if I wasn't the CEO of Perform? Which is an interesting question. And the answer was like. Oh, I would be speaking and writing books and maybe writing my own mastermind or doing things like that where I just get to be around people because that's what I really enjoy is teaching and inspiring people and connecting other people.[00:36:17] And so it gave me an opportunity to really think about that. And we sat down a couple of weeks ago and I was like, I think that we need a roadmap for. Two to three years from now. Who is the person that we're replacing me with. And I think if young people have CEOs and some people do great, like there are CEOs that can do it and their founders and they can take it all the way through.[00:36:43] We've talked about this, that I don't really have the financial piece for it. Like I don't, and I don't have a desire to know everything that a CGA knows or everything a lawyer knows. And I'm not. Complete CEO and I don't love working 12 to 16 hours a day. Like that's not something I really enjoy doing.[00:37:07] And in software, you have to be committed to that for years and years. And so for me, it's an opportunity to step into something different, which is a reason that I started doing the mastermind to build a personal brand. [00:37:19] Michael King: I think for a lot of people, you always picture yourself in the driver's seat all the way to the quote unquote end, whether that's your retirement or what have you, but rarely do we say.[00:37:33] I want to take this thing. I want to build it, I want to nurture it, and at some point. I want to hand it off to somebody that can take it to the next level. And I want to take the, the culmination of those experiences, the good ones and the bad ones. Now that somebody else is driving that ship, I want to take those experiences and share them with other people so that they can build and nurture their own companies and do amazing things.[00:37:58] And I'll get a lot more fulfillment doing that. [00:38:01] Megan Everett:  I don't think a lot of people can do it. I think having like a complete breakdown last summer brought me to a place where I have to think about what I really want in life and what's going to make me happy. And I don't recommend having a major breakdown.[00:38:16] But, If you can get to that place where it's like, what's best for everyone involved and really what do I want for my life? And some people's answers are like, I want to be the CEO for the rest of my life and I'm willing to do all the work to be that person. And that's great. Like I'm willing to do the work to not be the person that needs the power and willing to do the work.[00:38:40] They create something totally new in my life. [00:38:43] Michael King: I think that's the thing is, you know, you talked about not needing the power. It's the ego probably keeps most of us in that place of like, hell no, I'm going to be the CEO. I'll do the IPO and you know, often to never, never land. So Perform. What are you guys, you just closed around?[00:39:02] What's next? [00:39:04] Megan Everett: We just closed our first round, which was significant, but we boot strap and self funded for. About two and a half years. So we are building an app, which I'm so excited about. So our app has a different name, which I'm not allowed to say yet, which you may not know. This is the hardest thing for me.[00:39:21] I can not keep my own secrets at all. Everyone else's. I can get my own cat. I want to scream it to social media, but this is the name of our new app. [00:39:31] Michael King:  It's, it's just us close friends right here just to, I mean, nobody's going to tell you, you can't tell.[00:39:38] Megan Everett: And all of your listeners, no, I can't, I'm not allowed to.[00:39:42] Michael King: When do you think that'll be ready? When will that be out? [00:39:45] Megan Everett: We are going to beta in May and then we'll do a soft launch and like late June, July. And then we have a really exciting thing coming in, but I'm also, I hate it when people do this, but like I'm also not allowed to talk about, we're going to launch our app officially from an event stage with one of my favorite people, so I will announce that.[00:40:09] I think they're actually going to announce it like in June. I have a blot of secrets I have to keep right now[00:40:14] Michael King: It's really, I don't even know you anymore. Let's talk about pricing. So first one, [00:40:23] Megan Everett: Yes. Our pricing is 24.99 a month per user. And you get access to all of our courses and our software.[00:40:32] Michael King: Which CRMs do you integrate with? [00:40:35] Megan Everett: Our automatic ones, our Salesforce and HubSpot. The API is so easy, like we can just do it and then a couple days, so it's not hard. Most of them are written. [00:40:46] Michael King: What about on the scroll holes? Where can people find you?[00:40:52] Thank you. Thank you, Lauren Schwab for introducing me to the term scroll hole.  [00:40:57] Megan Everett: I think that's my favorite thing. I've never heard that. I am most active on Instagram and it's @Meg's Everett, so it's, I mean, she asked E V. E. R. E. T. T. yeah. And then everything else is linked through there, so that's the easiest way to find me. [00:41:13] Michael King: We will have links to everything in the show notes. Megan, thank you so much for coming by and sharing that story. I know it's not easy to open up about a lot of those things, but I think it's important for people to hear those messages, to understand that community is important.[00:41:30] Being around people that are going to be your cheerleader and support you. And, having people that are gonna tell you to get the fuck out of bed regardless. You know, it's important to hear those things. So thank you so much for joining us today.[00:41:50] Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Rob is a Physician Assistant and entrepreneur who has taken his medical background and flavored it with the latest cutting edge research in nutrition, fitness, mindset, sleep, and human optimization.  He believes that in order for us to function at the highest level, we must get our health in order first, and that consequently if our health is not a priority, then our performance from the bedroom to the boardroom will suffer.  Rob believes in a simple, no-nonsense approach to health with appropriate testing and technology to move the needle.Connect with RobInstagram - Personal & BusinessFacebookLinkedIn Connect with KFEKFE SolutionsKFE BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am your host, Michael King.[00:00:23] Imagine you had gone through all the steps of completing medical school. You had done the clinicals, the coursework, the exams, taken all your boards, and now you're practicing medicine as a physician's assistant, and you get out into the workplace, boots on the ground, doing all the medical things, and you realize that the system, the way it's set up is kind of garbage.[00:00:49]You find that the system as it's set up is basically geared towards profitability. Where your treating symptoms instead of the underlying fundamental causes of those symptoms. Things like lifestyle problems, etc. That's exactly what my next guest, Rob Leininger found when he graduated from medical school and got into healthcare.[00:01:11]He was very quickly disenchanted by the fact that people basically just wanted a pill that would make a symptom go away. And they weren't really interested in treating the underlying behavior, in lifestyle choices that were causing those symptoms. And so, despite the time and money Rob had put into[00:01:31]becoming a physician's assistant, he and his wife talked together and decided that it was in their best interest for him to walk away from that profession. And since Rob walked away, he's been able to go into business for himself and has basically 10 times, his income compared to what he was doing as a physician's assistant.[00:01:50] Rob now runs a virtual functional medicine practice where he does things like clinical lab testing, diet and fitness evaluation coaching, mindset, habit formation, all those kinds of things that can help transition somebody from a fundamental lifestyle level to really optimize their health, optimize their brains, and essentially do bigger and better things in the world.[00:02:15] Rob's going to share a story today on how he made that transition from physician's assistant to running his virtual functional medical practice. And we're also going to spend a pretty good amount of time talking about some really practical things that you can apply to your life to optimize your diet, optimize your sleep, and we're going to also talk about some cool technologies that are out there that you can apply to really accelerate your mind and your body.[00:02:41] And without any further ado, here's my conversation with Rob Lininger. Rob Lininger, how's it going, brother? [00:02:49] Rob Lininger: Hey, doing well today. Thanks. How are you? [00:02:51] Michael King: I’m amazing. Thanks for joining us today. I've met you through Chris Harder's elite entrepreneur mastermind, and you had a really interesting story.[00:03:00] That kind of resonated with me. You had spent years going through, the PA program, to become a physician's assistant. You did all the hard work to get all the credentials and license to do that. You started practicing and realized that the work, the actual day to day work you were doing wasn't at all what you expected or had hopes for.[00:03:23]and correct me if I'm wrong Rob, what you found is that most people on a day in and day out basis, they just wanted you to treat their symptoms. They weren't really interested in hearing that there were some lifestyle habits that were leading to those ailments and they just really wanted the symptoms treated and not so much to hear the hard news that they needed to make some lifestyle adjustments and that really kind of demotivated you, and you decided to make a move into a different career field.[00:03:51] Is that right? [00:03:52] Rob Lininger: That's exactly right. Yeah. So, like a lot of people, you know, I went into medicine with good intentions. I really wanted to help people. I wanted to change people's lives. I've always been just a lifelong health and fitness junkie. I've been working out since I was about 13 years old and supplements mining and taking care of myself and eating a good diet.[00:04:12] I guess I took it for granted that a lot of people, Never educate themselves or given a chance to learn about this stuff. So I was looking forward to my medical career too. Being that the medium, so to speak, for people to learn about this and to become healthier and to make all these positive changes in their lives.[00:04:30] And yeah, you nailed it. I mean, what I found when I actually got boots on the ground involved in my medical career was that Western medicine basically is more about symptom management than it is about managing any towards type of long term health challenges. There's very little emphasis placed on preventative medicine, very little emphasis placed on nutrition, fitness.[00:04:51] You know what I consider to be foundational behaviors that actually prevents you from getting the diseases or illnesses that you show up to the doctor with in the first place. And you know, the times that I was really trying to spend time and counsel people on those types of things.[00:05:06]I really got a response that turned me off and it was, you know, that's great. Thanks. I'm really not interested in that. I'd like an injection and I'd like, you know, some prescription to take care of this thing that's bugging me and I'm out. [00:05:20] Michael King: Is that just because of the culture we have where we think to ourselves, Hey, it's a lot easier to take a pill that's going to make my back stop hurting right now than it is to accept the fact that I need to get up every morning and run a couple of miles and eat salads instead of cheeseburgers and tater tots.[00:05:39] Is that what you think drives that? [00:05:41] Rob Lininger: I do. Yeah. I think sadly, it's a cultural phenomenon. You know, we live in this day and age now where everything is at our fingertips, right? If you don't know the answer to something, that you can just Google it and you can find anything you're interested in online and have it delivered in a day or two.[00:05:56]and people want healthcare to be the same thing. And unfortunately, that's not the way our bodies work. Our bodies are so resilient and they are still amazing. It can change. but it does take some hard work. I mean, it takes habits and it takes dedication to building these habits. You have to be willing to do some hard things, things that aren't necessarily going to be fun or that aren’t going to feel good, like exercise, especially if you're starting out.[00:06:18] It doesn't feel good for people. and so it's just this sort of quick fix mentality, this mentality of I want things right away. and unfortunately, you know. People who are patients are consumers and consumers basically drive healthcare to a large degree. and unfortunately, the overarching way that healthcare is managed in this country through, large healthcare organizations and insurance companies is it tailors to that, you know, they're out to make money, right?[00:06:44] And the way that they make money is by providing these quick sexism. So there's really no incentive to do the hard work. [00:06:50] Michael King: Do you think that if you look at countries that have socialized healthcare, like Canada and some of the countries over in the European union, does the average person, you know, Joe population have a lot of the same problems that we have in the United States?[00:07:05]because one would be led to believe if there is less incentive from you know, capitalism standpoint, that they would be more focused on preventative care and foundational behaviors and those kinds of things. So I'm curious, in your experience, do you see that countries that have socialized medicine have less of an issue with some of the health issues we see in the United States?[00:07:25] Rob Lininger: That's a great question. I would say that a lot of the Western eyes or Western countries have a lot of the same lifestyle issues in that, you know, we're sedentary. We don't need the best diets. and so they tend to have similar chronic disease profiles to what we have here in the United States. But the things that I see that are different is their healthcare systems are more progressive.[00:07:45]and so instead of just having a symptom, I give you a prescription for your symptom. They have a lot of different alternative therapies that I think. We're probably about 10 - 15 years behind on meaning that they're not in the U.S yet. Maybe they rope you in the future, but a lot of the progressive people in America who are providing healthcare in a different way, they're getting their ideas of treatment from Canada, from Europe.[00:08:09]and you know, just some examples are like acupuncture or chiropractic or some of these things that are kind of considered fringe in the U S they're actually considered, you know, normal treatments and a lot of these other countries also. The food standards, the packaging, food, the chemicals that are allowed in the environment in, say Europe, for example, are a lot different.[00:08:31] They have very high standards compared to the U.S in terms of the toxins that we're exposed to on a daily basis here. So there's a lot of things that are similar just based on the fact that, you know, life is getting easier, right? And it's a convenient lifestyle and we have to do a lot less work because we have all these appliances and all these things that make our lives simpler.[00:08:49] And so those things are universal and that they're making us less active and probably took us further and further away from our food sources. But yeah, they do have some really interesting concepts of treatment, but I'm hoping we'll adopt here in the future. [00:09:04] Michael King: I don't know why. I always get a big smile on my face when I hear that Canada's leading the charge on something.[00:09:09] It's few and far between, but when they do, it's awesome. Thinking back to your early days as a PA, did you have a kind of an aha moment where you said. Boy this isn't for me. I have to make a change and talk us through that a little bit. [00:09:25] Rob Lininger: Yeah, so there were parts of the medicine that I really loved.[00:09:27] So for my career, I worked in orthopedic surgery and before going to PA school, I was a furniture builder, cabinet builder, fine woodworker. So you know, that really resonated with me. I've always liked complicated things, fixing things that are broken, making something broken, beautiful. Again, that's the thing.[00:09:44] I really enjoyed that aspect. But what I didn't enjoy when I didn't really feel like I was prepared for in PA school was the business side specifically, like insurance, all the paperwork, you know, there's a bunch of things that, and I think this is universally true of healthcare providers.[00:10:02] We're very good at the actual business of medicine, but not the actual business side of running, you know, a medical business. And so a lot of people fail or they find that they get burnt out when they're trying to run a practice and there's a lot of paperwork involved. There's a lot of hoops to jump through.[00:10:19]and as a provider, I didn't really think that I had to do that kind of thing. But I actually found that like charting and making calls to insurance companies and getting pre-authorizations and following up with, you know, just the, the reams and reams of paperwork and tracking you had to do, especially with the introduction, those electronic health systems, that was really burdensome and it really took away from the joy of medicine.[00:10:41] Michael King: It's a bold move to decide to kind of punt your career as a PA, your income is good. You're not loving the work, but I think a lot of people would still be motivated by fear or doubts or have you to just stay with it because, you know the amount of time and money you've invested too for the schooling and clinicals and all the time that goes into it.[00:11:06] How did it become a decision for you, Rob, to make that change? What was that thought process like? [00:11:12] Rob Lininger: Well, my wife, I have to give her a lot of credit. She's a very progressive thinker and she has always thought outside the box and she's really pushed me to grow deeply in areas where I was not ready to grow.[00:11:23] And that was one of them. She was the first one who really, you know, started talking about other options and maybe getting out of medicine because I guess she was the one who was living with me as a PA, you know, overworked, probably underpaid under slept, lots of late nights, weekends and holidays on call.[00:11:42] And so she got to see, you know, how hard it was just. On myself. And so, you know, she was the one who really introduced me to the concept of residual income, which is where we were. I got my start, in the entrepreneurial world, but also I had been seeing these people who had been, you know, career doctors, career PAs, and they were unhappy.[00:12:01] They were burnt out. It looks terrible. You know, they were way overweight. They had puffy faces. They just seemed like they were tired all the time. They're in the break room. You know, we had a break from which we would go to between the surgical cases and there'd be a full bore platter of like apples and oranges and bananas, and they would be full end of the day.[00:12:22] But they would also bring in like, Yoplait yogurt and coke and donuts and that stuff would be gone. I'm just thinking, what is wrong with these people? You know, like they're so tired and they're so stressed out. Their cortisol levels are so high. They're just craving sugary foods. They're craving caffeine to keep them awake during the day.[00:12:38] And I started to see these lifestyle issues along with, you know, frankly, medical mistakes. Well, you know, you're up in the middle of the night fixing broken bones and then you're expected to come back the next day and operate on your normal schedule. or see patients in the clinic and, you know, that's the way that you make mistakes.[00:12:56]people are under slept, they're over worked over tired, and they're just not in a good Headspace. So, you know, it took some time, but I started to really realize that, you know, there were some other options out there available. Once I started sort of making those thoughts and intentions public, I was now with a lottery existence from my family.[00:13:15] People at work told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life and I'd come crawling back, you know, asking for my job again. and I had to face my own demons about that as well. Yeah. I spend a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of effort, just giving up my life to study medicine. and so once I decided to walk away and try something else, it was tough.[00:13:33] And there was probably a period of a couple of years where I was in a bit of turmoil mentally trying to work my way through all this. But at the same time, I also felt an immediate relief and I wasn't working as many hours. I was actually making more money. and I was, I was having more of a lifestyle[00:13:50] balance, just in life, you know, with family things I like to do, getting healthier. Again, back to my exercise routines, I started to see some immediate results and that really gave me the courage to keep on that path. [00:14:03] Michael King: Let's dive into a couple of things. First you said that you wanted to work on residual income or passive income, and I think I heard you sneak in there that you were actually making more money.[00:14:14] What were you doing? [00:14:15]Rob Lininger: My wife and I got into a network marketing business. We liked the products. We decided to, you know, we'd earned them for free basically as customers and decided to start promoting the products. And within a year we had paid off all my entire medical student debt and I was out earning my PA income at the end of one year.[00:14:33] And it was at that point where like, the world really opened up to me and I realized, okay, I worked, you know, quite a few hours in building this business, but not like I do in medicine. And In one year, I've been able to build more of an income that I could as a PA. and you know, as a PA, basically when you graduate PA school, you're making very close to what you're going to max out on as your income.[00:14:57] So like if I had continued to work for another 25 years, I wouldn't have been much above where I started. That's just the way that the pay structure is. I'm in a lot of medical jobs. and I started to see basically unlimited potential and this side business. Well, if I didn't have to go in the middle of the night, I didn't have to go in on the weekends.[00:15:13] I didn't have to miss, you know, family trips and all this stuff. And that was really the thing that sort of tickled my entrepreneurial bone and got me thinking about other possibilities and looking at new perspectives and, you know, reexamining the world and how I could function in the world. Still have the type of outcomes that I wanted to with people and with patients.[00:15:34] But do it on my terms. So the side business is a nutritional supplements network marketing company. And my wife and I have been top leaders in a company and we've been involved for six years, next month. And I don't know if you want the name or not, but, it's allowed us to basically travel all over the United States, live where we want to live, work when we want to work and make a fantastic income.[00:15:57] I mean, on an order of magnitude of, over 10 times more than I was making as a PA[00:16:01] Michael King: Wow. That's incredible. I think there can be a lot of stigma that comes along when people hear that word network marketing, what is that to you? [00:16:12] Rob Lininger: Some of it's valid. I mean, you know, there are really, really great companies out there and there are great companies that have bad salespeople, and so a lot of the interactions that people have with network marketing or network marketers are just the sales pitch.[00:16:27] It's just going right away to, this is the product I have. I'm going to blast it all over social media. If I have a conversation with you, I'm going to tell you about the products and that you need to buy them. And I never was comfortable with that approach. It was never something that clicked with me.[00:16:42]For me it was more about finding a solution for people to the problems that they have. But I think that largely that's not the way that it's done. You know, the cool thing about the network marketing world is basically you're supporting friends and, or family, right? So if I could buy, say supplements from my, you know, family member or my friend or someone who I care about and I could give them the money instead of Amazon, I'm always going to choose that.[00:17:06] I like to. You know, shop local, so to speak. and I like to help my friends out and if the quality of the products are the same, then it doesn't matter to me who I buy them from. And I would prefer to support someone I like. And that's what I see network marketing being. It's an opportunity for people to still make an income, but not have to be a slave to the office, to be able to have more balance in their lives.[00:17:30] So again, like I mentioned, you know, the benefits for us, we're working from home. We homeschool our kids. We travel. We can be anywhere we want to be. And so, you know, when it's done right, it can be a really great model. But, I think that a lot of people just don't know. It never network marketing as they hear the term and they think of a pyramid scheme.[00:17:49]and the two are not synonymous at all, but there's a lot of misconceptions about it in general. [00:17:54] Michael King: Why the shift away from it. It sounds like you really like it and you liked the benefits too.  Like you said, shopping from friends and family and giving them your money instead of Jeff Bezos to fund his next multibillion dollar mansion.[00:18:08] And it sounds like you are really passionate about being able to work more one on one with people that genuinely cared about the lifestyle changes and not just getting a quick fix. Why the move away from that into your new venture. [00:18:22] Rob Lininger:  You know, basically there's kind of two approaches to dealing with someone's health and their health issues and making them healthier.[00:18:30] And there's one saying like in the supplements world, which I call the shotgun approach, and that's basically, you just shotgun a bunch of different vitamins and supplements and hope for the best, and you're probably going to feel whatever, you know, nutritional gaps you have. And, you know, people will generally feel better.[00:18:47] But see if the supplements are high quality. But what I really liked, and I've always been very much into research and diving much more deep into what makes people tick on an individual basis. And so that is really, that model doesn't really fit well with the shotgun approach of state network marketing.[00:19:07] So. The reason that I'm still involved to a degree with the company, and I'm more of a management level at this point, but what I was really missing was the one on one working with people, finding out what you know might be causing, there's things at a root cause level and working backwards from that.[00:19:28] Really getting deep on the types of things that you don't get a chance to stay in network marketing. So going deep on sleep, going deep on relationships, on mindset, that on nutrition, on fitness, again, looking at genetics, looking for specific things that you can target through nutrition or supplementation, specific ways that your body is going to react to different forms of exercise.[00:19:51] And even the timing of how sleep can affect you. And it's really a one-on-one approach where you can target very precisely the goals that you're trying to target, and you can have great outcomes.  [00:20:04] Michael King: When I was first introduced to you, I think one of the words that was used was biohacker.[00:20:10] Rob Lininger: Yeah. [00:20:11] Michael King: What does a biohacker mean? It sounds cool. I feel like I want it in my life, but I don't know what it is. [00:20:19] Rob Lininger: So, you know, it's kind of a funny term and I use it with some hesitancy, basically, you know, the definition is that a biohacker is someone who looks for things that they can do, ways that they can manipulate their environment or their diet or their fitness.[00:20:33] So you get maximum results with minimum effort, I guess is probably the clearest way I could say it. Some examples would be, you know, fine tuning your sleep habits, fine tuning your diet, using supplements that are going to help you reach your body habit as goals. I'm using things like photobiomodulation, which be light, like you've heard of infrared saunas, you know, there's a number of health benefits to that.[00:20:59] So it's looking for, these things are very fringe. And I try not to get into that because I really want to keep things accessible for people and not. You know how people have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. I look for the science backed things that you know that are being studied in there are showing a positive aspect in the research that are moving the needle towards health, towards fitness, towards the way you want to look with your shirt offs that are youthful by everybody.[00:21:26] Yeah. There's a lot of individuals buying differentiation or you know, like you're not the same as I am. You're not going to respond the same to a certain diet that I would, or a certain supplement. And so the beauty of like biohacking and doing some of the testing that I offer is that you can really look at the individual.[00:21:42] On a very microscopic level, literally and see the types of things that are going to make a difference in their lives. And so, you know, biohacking is one component of what I do, and they can have really powerful results, but I'm always a proponent of dialing in the basics. So again, it's your nutrition, it's your fitness, it's your sleep.[00:22:04] Those types of things make up about 98% of it. Once that stuff's done, the biohacks, we can get you to 100%, but you got to have the basic style.[00:22:10] Michael King: Let's talk about the basics a little bit. And in particular, maybe you, let's talk about sleep. When you and I were hanging out in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I told you how I had decided to stop drinking back in November.[00:22:25] And one of the biggest benefits that I've found from that is I have more energy, you know, before I wasn't drinking heavily often sometimes, but that wasn't the norm. But I found that. Even when it had been days or a week or two since I had consumed alcohol by two o'clock in the afternoon, I was done.[00:22:47] Anything that required any level of deep thought or creativity. It was kind of a joke here at the company. Like, don't put anything on my calendar after two that requires that kind of work because my brain's fried, you know, I'm yawning and I'm really struggling. But one of the unintended consequences I've found from not doing alcohol is I sleep better.[00:23:07] Yeah. I noticed, you know what? I look at my Apple watch data. My heart rate is lower at night. I am able to fall asleep faster. I'm able to have more energy the next day, but I bet there is a mountain of stuff that I could do differently to sleep even better. So could you talk a little bit about how to optimize sleep, whatever the the tips and tricks are for that.[00:23:30] Rob Lininger: Yeah, absolutely. Sleep is one of my passions. I love helping people to sleep better. I love talking about it. I love reading about it, and I've learned a lot. There's a lot more research that's coming out all the time, and it's really interesting stuff, and I can tell you that just from a basic level. I mean, first of all, you're not alone.[00:23:48] The two o'clock doldrums where people are getting sleepy and their heads are nodding at their desk, that is, I mean, it's epidemics and what it points to is the fact that you're not getting enough sleep at night. So we have these diurnal rhythms, right? And you've heard of the diurnal rhythms of sleep.[00:24:04] And we do have a bit of a wall and sort of in that after lunch period, but you know, it's not enough. That you're getting a good amount of sleep at night. It's not enough of a loss that really puts you to sleep. But when someone is having those same types of symptoms that you were it's a number one classic red flag indicator that they're not getting enough sleep at night or good enough quality.[00:24:27] And so, you know, you mentioned alcohol, so the two biggest clique disruptors. And you know, on the planet that are out there that are used on a very, very frequent basis by most people are going to be alcohol and caffeine. And I'll give you just a little bit of biology lesson here. So you've heard the term homeostasis.[00:24:45] So it's basically your body trying to maintain like a static level. Right? If you go up, your body brings you down. If you go down, your body brings you up. Well, alcohol is a depressant, and so the way that your body responds to that is to crank up hormones like cortisol, stress hormones that are going to increase your heart rate, increase your blood pressure.[00:25:03] Most people are drinking at night. So they drink at night, they feel a little sleepy because of the alcohol. But the body's response is to actually stimulate you to bring you back up to homeostasis. And so a lot of people who drink, fall asleep. Okay. But then they wake up in the middle of the night, or they just throw a toss and turn and they don't sleep well.[00:25:20] And that's a big issue because you're not getting into those deeper sorts of stage three, stage four, the deep and the REM stages of sleep. The other one is caffeine. So caffeine the way it works is it stimulates you in what your body tries to do is bring you back down. Tell me what day is this?[00:25:39] Then typically, whether it's alcohol or caffeine, your body overshoots that reaction. And so you'll either get more tired than you would expect from it or more wire than you would expect from it. And in the case of coffee, you know what we see is people drink coffee in the morning to wake up cause they're very tired.[00:25:55]it alerts them for a little bit and then they become very tired and they have to consume more coffee, and then this habit grows and grows. But what people don't realize about caffeine in general is if you had a hundred milligrams of caffeine, say at noon, right? That's just a cup of coffee at noon.[00:26:13] The half-life. Caffeine is eight hours. So at 8:00 PM you still have 50 milligrams of caffeine circulating through your system. The quarter life would be 12 hours then, so at 12 midnight, you still have 25 milligrams of caffeine circulating through your brains, stimulating keeping you awake. So even if you're able to fall asleep, you're not able to get into those deep restorative stages of sleep.[00:26:36] And that's the kind of dysfunction that causes that 2:00 PM sleepiness and you know, the inability to concentrate and multitask and all that stuff. So those are just two prominent examples, but other things that can disrupt your sleep. And this is also basically an epidemic in America, is our exposure to blue light.[00:26:55] So how many people do you know who are staring at a screen right up until they go to bed? They may even have these streams in their, in their bedroom that they look at from bed. This is a big problem because blue light suppresses melatonin production, and melatonin is what's required to put your body into sleep mode.[00:27:11] And so we have a lot of disorders, things around sleeping in general. And sometimes just doing a basic tune up where we call it sleep hygiene. You know, the practices you have in the evening as you're trending towards nighttime, can make a huge, huge difference in the way someone sleeps and a few improves sleep.[00:27:28] Pretty much everything in your life is going to improve as well. [00:27:31] Michael King: Most of the cell phone operating systems. Now iOS and Android come with like a night shift mode where it pulls a lot of that blue light out. It gives it that yellowish kind of hue. Does that really move the needle as far as the sleep quality is concerned?[00:27:48]Rob Lininger: it's good but not great. It's definitely better than looking at the same phone without the night-shift mode on, but still when you're staring at a screen, probably the next best thing you could do would be to lower the brightness all the way down. So if I have to be on my phone tonight, I literally go into the settings and I lower all the way down.[00:28:06] You can also on some phones, change it to a red light setting and red light is good because it's non stimulatory. But you know, the best thing you can do is just not stare at a phone or a computer or a TV. You know, those are all things that contribute a lot of light. Some of those can be managed, some of them can't.[00:28:22] Like our TV, we have, you know, a big TV in our living room. We don't watch it very much, but when we do, it always feels like I'm looking into someone's bright headlights. It's so bright and there's no real way to turn off the blue light at all. You can turn down the brightness, cause you know, we're just inundated.[00:28:38] It's all these lights in our house. And it doesn't have to be a screen. It can be the lights that are overhead. What I recommend is if you're going to bed at say 10 a couple of hours before bedtime, so I'll get a clock. I start turning down all the lights in my house there. Mostly on dimmers than the ones that aren't.[00:28:54] They're not even on at night. I only use the ones that are on dimmers and my term dimmers, excuse my turn, the lights all the way down on the dimmers. And what you'll notice is if you do that, you will start to feel ready to go to bed. And it's amazing. The change it makes, like if you have all your lights on in the house, like a lot of people do.[00:29:12] All my neighbors certainly seem to have every light in the house. Phone is super bright and it looks like we have candles on our house and my whole family knows its bedtime. We're ready to go to bed and we sleep well. Sleep has just been a priority for us for a long time and I wish that it was for more people.[00:29:28] Michael King: So what do you do from like, I dunno, eight until bedtime. You got all the lights down, TV's off. You can't read because the lights are down. So what do you do for the last two hours of the day, if you can't read or watch TV or get into the scroll hole? [00:29:43] Rob Lininger: Well, we do read. I mean, there's enough light that we can, you know, read books.[00:29:47] We all read, my wife and kids and I all do a lot of reading. We generally sit in the hot tub. Every night, around eight o'clock or so. And that's kind of the start of our evening ritual. And I recommend everyone has some sort of evening ritual, but that's kind of the start of ours. Once we get Nanda for about 20 minutes or so and get out, everything that we do is kind of getting us ready for sleep.[00:30:08] So we'll play games together, card games, or four games. We like to hang out. Personally, and I don't have any offense to people who watch TV or anything, but, it's, it's not the way I want to spend my time, or I don't want to use that as an excuse not to interact with my family. So we don't really do the TV thing.[00:30:25] We spend a lot of time together. So, I mean, there's a lot of things you can do. Like I said, you can use screens at night if you turn the bluelight just way down and you know, try not to use them within at least an hour or so before bed that's optimal. But I play guitar. Sometimes we'll do some art and other things.[00:30:41] I read textbooks about medicine and things like that, that I'll, you know, either print off or buy books or, you know, save offline that I can access some other time. So there's both the options. But, you know, if you think about the social impacts to, of sitting around watching TV, it's not a very social thing.[00:30:58] And you know, you can develop a lot of relationships by turning the TV off and just looking at each other and talking. [00:31:03] Michael King: Slow down, slow down you and your crate. You're crazy. Thinking over here [00:31:09] Michael King: Nothing brings two people together. More than watching the latest episode of the bachelor and figuring out who got the Rose and who got voted off the Island.[00:31:17] That's how relationships are formed and you can't convince me otherwise. [00:31:22] Rob Lininger: Well, I would definitely be in the minority.[00:31:23] Michael King: I'm kidding about the bathroom. Only temptation Island. I had heard that even reading a paperback book before bed. Can be counterproductive for sleep quality because it's still kind of a mental stimulus.[00:31:38] Do you find that to be the case or do you think that reading right before bed, you know, like a paper book is okay?[00:31:45] Rob Lininger: Personally I think it's okay. It's a very individual thing. And the reason I say that is because I read every single night. I get into bed around 9:30 my time, I read for 20 minutes to 30 minutes and I'm out.[00:31:57] And that is the thing that really is like that final step that just pushes me into sleep. My wife, on the other hand, if she reads the book in bed, she gets stimulated and she will read the entire book and she'll be up till four in the morning. So I don't think it's a bad thing unless it just doesn't work for you.[00:32:12] Michael King: Let's talk about diet. What are some misconceptions that you see people making as far as diet and nutrition? Maybe, some fads that are out there that people think it's a scientifically proven benefit, but really it's just crap. [00:32:27] Rob Lininger: Well, that's a great question. If you're looking on Instagram and you're looking on Facebook and you're getting your diet advice there, generally it's[00:32:33] Considered to be crap, in my opinion. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is they fall into these new diets, bad things. So I mean, whether it's the carnivore diet or it's going vegan, or it's paleo, or primal or Cheeto or whatever. I mean, I always encourage experimentation, but you have to have a caveat.[00:32:52] And so one of the caveats is, I've tried a lot of these different diets. I tried keynote for a while. I liked the way that it made me feel. You know, for those people who don't know, Quito is basically a high fat diet, low carbohydrates, moderate protein diet. I liked the way it made me feel. I like the way it made me look.[00:33:07] It definitely helped. Lean me up a little bit, but the next round of blood tests I got showed that I had had a pretty significant bump in my cholesterol and not the good kind. So, you know, these things can seem superficially like they're a good idea, but you don't necessarily know unless you're actually measuring and tracking these things.[00:33:26] They could actually be detrimental to your health. So. You know, I think one of the best things people can do is track their food intake, keep a bit of a journal and also I always recommend that people do food sensitivity testing and it's a very easy way to read. It's like a hundred bucks and you can look at 150 or so, or excuse me, a food that it does for, to see if you have a food allergy or something.[00:33:52]if you do have a food allergy, it can be literally as simple as removing that food from your diet and all of a sudden you feel much better. Case in point, I didn't realize that I was allergic to dairy and I've been eating it my entire life. I removed dairy from my diet about three months ago. And literally overnight, I felt better and I didn't even realize I was feeling bad.[00:34:11] And that's the thing, I didn't realize that the gas that I was having even in the bloating, all this stuff was abnormal. And so I removed it from my diet. So, you know, just keeping a journal. If you have symptoms after you've eaten something, you can look back and you can make a connection. Possibly doing the food sensitivity testing and then trying different things and just being a bit of a self experiment.[00:34:32] Or these are all really powerful, robust tools that can teach you a lot about your body and the way you respond to certain things. Maybe food makes you tired. Maybe food makes you feel wired. Maybe it makes you bloated and gassy. Maybe it messes up your digestion. Most people don't have any idea, and they can't remember back to what they ate or when and what might have caused it.[00:34:52] And so that's a really simple thing you can do to gain a lot of information. So my goal people is not to put them on a specific diet, but to get them towards what I call intuitive eating. And for those of you who don't know what intuitive eating is, it basically means that there's some degree of tracking foods and calories and macros.[00:35:09] So your carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the beginning, but hopefully it's short term and minutes. Ideally, just to give you an idea of what works for you. And then intuitive eating is just eating what you, your body's telling you to eat and when, and then the amounts that it needs instead of trying to guess and measure and track all this stuff, which I think is not sustainable.[00:35:28] Michael King: So full disclosure, I ate my first salad. First salad ever in probably December. Yeah, I kid you not. I kid you not for, for whatever reason. I don't know.  Maybe the lettuce touched me in a scary place when I was a kid. And so I had some, you know, mental blocks or something around it.[00:35:51] But when I would eat anything salad, so lettuce, tomatoes. Peppers, it nauseated me, and right around the time that I decided to quit drinking, I said, Hey, I want to make this a more holistic thing, right? I focused on the sleep and then I also started really paying attention to diet and I said, I've got to make some changes here.[00:36:10] I'm going to try eating salad again. And so I had my very first salad in December, and I absolutely loved it. And so to your point about intuitive eating, I'm now to the point I can, my body's like go eat a fucking salad and I can tell when my body needs the nourishment from a salad and it's weird to me because I never even liked salad.[00:36:35] Much less craved a salad. And so I do think that there's something to that. The intuitive eating where your body knows, I think it knows what it needs. [00:36:44] Rob Lininger: Absolutely. Yeah. And the better you get at it too, the more you're able to recognize those signals and find what it's looking for. And I've been on really restrictive diets in the past where I had virtually no carbohydrates, like taquito diet.[00:36:56] And as an athlete, as someone who's working out and playing in the mountains, you know, just about every day of the week, I noticed. For a little while that I was doing pretty good and I felt good. I had good energy, but then I started to really notice that my workouts were starting to suffer and I was craving carbohydrates all the time, but I wasn't allowing myself to have them.[00:37:15] And you know, that's just one example, but like you said, your example is the salad. you know, those are. Basically, our bodies are so smart, we don't realize, and then we almost try to hush them up to quiet them, quiet the cravings and stuff. But oftentimes those cravings are something that your body needs and it's trying to tell you and you know, and not so quiet way, like, Hey, you actually need to eat more antioxidants and green leafy vegetables for the.[00:37:40] The minerals that you're not getting elsewhere in your diet and that you might be deficient on. And people, like I said, don't listen to those signals and they want the things that tastes good and things that are high fat and salty, but really it's a detriment to our overall diets. [00:37:54] Michael King: One more question on nutrition.[00:37:55] You talked about getting some of those food allergy tests. I wouldn't  even know where to begin. Do I need to go to my doctor and ask for one of those or is it okay I'm going to say it. Is it something I get on Amazon? How do I go about doing that?[00:38:07] Rob Lininger:  Yeah. There are some that you can get without any kind of a prescription or without a doctor's visit.[00:38:15] That's not a bad thing. I mean, some of those, the results that you're getting back aren't so difficult to interpret that you wouldn't be able to figure it out yourself or Google. Some terms, some of them are very, you know, like the third sentence. If he has, they're probably the easiest things for the average person to interpret.[00:38:30] They typically come back scored, like with a green, yellow, red thing. Like green means go. Go ahead and eat it as much as you want. Yellow. It's maybe going to cause you some sort of distress, right? And red is like, this is an allergenic foods. Your body's going to react to it. You should eliminate this from your diet now and forever.[00:38:48] Those can be done fairly inexpensively without a whole lot of need for interpretation. There are other tests though, on the, unlike a sort of complexity scale, a food sensitivity test is around a one or two in terms of complexity, but in terms of the information it provides, I would consider it a 10. it's very, very[00:39:06] powerful in terms of what it can teach you about yourself and things that it can clear up right off the bat. Now, there are a lot of other tests where you're not going to be able to order without a doctor's prescription or without seeing the provider. and even if you were, when you got the test back, you frankly would have no idea how to interpret them.[00:39:22] You wouldn't know what you were looking at. there's a, there's a pretty steep learning curve to allow these tests, especially the ones that look at genetics, biochemical pathways, mitochondrial function. all these different things that are, they're pretty intense, and if you don't have a really solid understanding of the medicine and the science behind it, you're not going to know what to do with the results.[00:39:40] Michael King: What is sleep nutrition? That's how it really gave what some really cool next level shit that most people don't know about in the world of what you do that's out there that really could move the needle. [00:39:55] Rob Lininger: That's the fun stuff. So yeah, like I said, I always focused on the basics, and then once we've got those dialed in, yeah, there are things like targeted supplementation that you can do.[00:40:05] So, you know, really depends on the person and our goals, but like supplementation for example. You know, there's a lot of supplements and nutrients that you can take that are going to decrease your estrogen, which is. Beneficial as a guy that is going to increase your testosterone, things that are go jackets, and that just means things that are going to help you get more out of your workout.[00:40:23] They're going to decrease the perceived exertion. So how hard it feels like you're working out so you actually can work out harder without it feeling as tiring. Things you can do that are going to make your workout less grueling on your body, cause less damage, stimulate muscle growth, decreased body fat so you can get into things like that.[00:40:41] Saunas and the hotbeds. I'm a big fan of detoxification. You know, people don't really think much about their environment and how our exposure to, whether it's wifi, a UV radiation, vehicle, exhaust, smog, I mean, all these different things that we're exposed to, they actually, they accumulate in your body.[00:40:59] Your body has an ability to deal with a certain amount of it. And then at some point when the balance tips and it can't clear it out as fast as this, it's getting brought into your body, then we start to see dysfunction. And so a lot of the next level stuff is around the detoxification pathways and getting those harmful substances out of your body, and those can make big, big improvements in your house.[00:41:20] As I mentioned, the Photobiomodulation. So like infrared lights. I've got a light panel that I use. There are a number of benefits to your skin, your collagen in your skin in terms of firming that up, helping you to look younger, helping to decrease damage to your skin from other things that can increase your testosterone.[00:41:38] It can help you heal. I'm open wounds and help you decrease scarring from healing wounds. There's lots of things on the horizon. There are, a lot of them that have to do with the brain health now, things that can get you out of sort of the gung go aspect where you're always in this low level state of sympathetic action.[00:41:57] So the fight or flight, right, that's the sympathetic nervous system is what helps you get ready to fight or to sleep. And in those cases, it's very, very helpful. But most people live in a chronic state of activation and a low level activation, and that's actually very unhealthy. And so there are things you can do to stimulate your brain.[00:42:15]even things like breathing, I mean, there are, there are everything from apps. That you can use on your phone. Two devices you put on your head, breeding practices you can use to calm me down, to stimulate the parasympathetic, which is the restful state to get you out of, the stress mode. And that can really help with sleep as well.[00:42:32] I mean, you name it, the sky's the limit. There are literally. People who have, as we heard from drew several hundred thousand dollars worth of the sort of biohacking machines in their home. Some of them are based on workouts like, you know, doing a 10 minute workout twice a week and you get better results than, you know, you read if you were to spend an hour in the gym, five days a week type thing.[00:42:54] There's lots of these things that have weight to them. Some of them are kind of gimmicky, but I personally enjoy reading about and exploring them all. [00:43:01] Michael King:  How do you sort through the gimmicky from the real, I think that's the, the biggest hangup I have with a lot of this stuff is honestly, it kind of sounds like snake oil, you know, in a lot of ways.[00:43:11] You're telling me I can exercise a couple of times for 10 minutes if I do it right. And that'll have more physiological benefits than if I work out an hour a day, five days a week. That sounds like bullshit. How do you work through proving it?[00:43:23] Rob Lininger: That it's sometimes tough. There's a couple of ways. Number one, I always look for science.[00:43:28] I'm not a scientist, and so you know, the way that I approach things is from a science background, so I'm looking for published studies, clinical studies, this shows the control group versus the group that used whatever biohacks. You know, and I'm looking for a clear benefit to the people who use the biohack versus the control group.[00:43:45]and the absence of those studies, and sometimes there just aren't. You know, what I do is I look to people who have used them, who have reported that they've had results, or maybe it's something that I've tried myself. You're not always going to find this buddy. And some of the studies you find, you know, frankly,  there[00:44:00] very biased. They could have been funded by the company whose product that you're trying to use. They're trying to find out information about it. So they're not always accurate. So, you know, when I approach him personally, that I recommend to my clients. And so first of all, I want to make sure that I've either got a good scientific basis of data for them that they work.[00:44:22] Or that I've tried it myself and had good results in the absence of data. And then the third thing, which I think is really key is, you know, I want to make it the biohacks accessible for everybody. Cause you know, I mean, I worked with a range of clients from lower income to some really, you know, high performers, high earners, and I want to make sure that they all have access to similar set of tools.[00:44:45] Maybe someone can afford it. The Ferrari of the workout machine and someone can only have thought before the Pinto, but you know, I'm just having suggestions, having to arrange the suggestions and having things be accessible, I think is, is really key because you know, none of this stuff helps if you're not going to use it.[00:45:02] And if you can't afford to use it, and I don't want people to feel like they're missing the boat on something when there are other alternatives that they could use for free or next to free that are going to move the needle. [00:45:10] Michael King: There's a lot to sort through with all of this, you know, is, is a business owner.[00:45:15] I don't have time to read studies and compare control groups, and I imagine a lot of, if not most other business owners and executives are, are kind of the same. But that's, that's really where you step in, right, Rod, like that's why. That's what you do, is you help sort through all that noise, make help people, make more intelligent choices on which of those things to try, how to evaluate them, which ones to avoid, et cetera.[00:45:39] Is that right? [00:45:40] Rob Lininger: Yeah, exactly. I mean, just like I would hire a consultant for my business, I'm in an area where. I didn't have the skills to really grow my business. You know, I tried to provide that same service. It's almost like a guide, someone who can help you to wade through all the information out there.[00:45:56] And there's so much and there's so many conflicting things. And there was actually a really good study recently within the past years though that said something like 80% of all the, fitness and nutrition information that the top 10 influencers on Instagram are putting out was total garbage. Like it did not match up with any of the scientific literature.[00:46:14] It was just. Okay. and unfortunately these are the people who most of us are getting, most of the population are getting their data from quote unquote data. You know, they're looking at this guy who's 25 and has. great genetics and the six pack, and he's telling you about this one exercise program that he did and he sells, or this supplement that he designed.[00:46:35] And I mean, this guy would probably have a six pack, even if he weren't taking those things or using those things, but you know, he's got something to sell. And so there's a lot of misinformation and disinformation. Really. The health and fitness space online is still the wild West. It's very poorly regulated.[00:46:50] There's really no backups, there's no control over what's offered or what's implied. and so, yeah, I mean, again, just like having a business consultant, I try to be a health and wellness consultant for people who are looking to make a change. Don't know where to start. They would be participating because they were trying to read a study.[00:47:10]and you know, I tried to make these things that are very complicated, very simple for people and very actionable. [00:47:16] Michael King: What's like an ideal client for you, Rob? So we know, we know it's somebody that doesn't necessarily want the quick fix, you know, the quick pill. What else does an ideal client look like for you?[00:47:27] Rob Lininger: You know, generally the people who I have found the most success with are people who are motivated. So again, the business executives are a great group of people to work with because they've done well in business. They're motivated, they're goal oriented. People who are ex athletes are also very good because they have a[00:47:43] pretty good understanding of the basics. So I'm looking for someone that you know who wants to work, who is willing to do the work and who's not looking for a quick fix. There are things we can do that will be quick. Six is like, you know, changing out foods if you're intolerant to them. years sleep. but there are other things that take longer, right?[00:48:02] So, if a client came to me and we decided to do some genetic testing, look at their metabolic pathways with lab tests, cheek swabs, blood tests, whatever it may be, you know, these things, they take few weeks to potentially get results and go over and look for things. Look for areas where you can make changes to really continue to move the needle.[00:48:21]and so it's a relationship. It's an ongoing thing. You know, if you compare the typical medical model where anybody can come in and you see them for 10 minutes and then you see him for 10 minutes again in three months, you know, that's not the way that I want to do things. I want to establish a relationship with someone, so someone who's willing to[00:48:38] show up, be present, learn, come with questions, be engaged, and have a conversation over the course, you know, weekly over the course of several months together, get things dialed in, and then, you know, ideally that person who leaves with the knowledge of how to manage things on their own, but, you know, sometimes people want to maintain that relationship and just keep working and sort of keep me on retainer, so to speak.[00:49:00] And we touched base. We continue to make changes. but really it's someone who is decisive. Someone who's willing to take action and who wants to get started right away, [00:49:10] Michael King: Where do they find you? [00:49:11] Rob Lininger: The best place to find me currently is online social media, so I have a private Facebook group, which I can add people to that are interested where we talk about things health and wellness related.[00:49:21] My Instagram handle is patch functional [00:49:28] Michael King: Rob thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you taking the time to knowledge drop on everybody and give some really good tips on on sleep and eating and biohacking and all those great things. [00:49:40] Rob Lininger: I plugged her. I really enjoyed talking about this stuff.[00:49:42] And thanks for introducing me to your audience. I hope people get an actionable stuff out of this.[00:49:53] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week. .In The Trenches with Michael King is produced by Straight Up Podcasts. 
Erik J. Olson is the Founder & CEO of Array Digital - a digital marketing agency in Virginia. He’s the host of the Journey to $100 Million, a daily podcast and Amazon flash briefing, as well as the host of Marketers Anonymous, a monthly marketing meetup. Erik often speaks on the topics of entrepreneurialism, building freelance businesses, and digital marketing. Find Erik online at with Erik:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPodcastWebsiteArray DigitalConnect with KFEKFE SolutionsKFE BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebookMichael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.[00:00:24] Have you ever sat back and thought to yourself, I wonder how much money my business is going to make in revenue next month? And, you came to the realization that you could either be making maybe tens of thousands of dollars next month or $10 million next month, and it's because your business model is primarily either hours-based where you're charging for your time or project based, where you go out and bid on a project.[00:00:51] You give them a quote and they say, yep, you can go do that. I think the reason that hourly and project work can be so doom or gloom is because once that job is over, you've got to go out and find another one. And so it can be really hard to predict what revenue's going to be like from month to month, because you never really know exactly what you're going to find next month.[00:01:14] That can create a lot of stress as a business owner, because you have no idea what to expect. That uncertainty can slow you down from hiring more employees and doing the other things that you need to do to grow your team. So what a lot of people have done is, myself included, is made this journey to recurring revenues so that things are more predictable and more sustainable.[00:01:36] They don't require you to go out and get new business month in and month out. Today I'm going to talk with my friend Eric Olson. Eric is the CEO of Array Digital, and just like me and probably a lot of you, he went through that learning process as well.  There's a maturity that goes from charging clients for hourly work, then project and then perhaps ultimately recurring revenue.[00:02:00] And he says how he made that transition from being scared of having $0 million next month to being able to forecast within a few thousand dollars.  How much money he's going to have because he moved to a recurring revenue model, and now Eric is doing multiple seven figures a year. We also get into an interesting conversation that's very timely for me around some of the struggles that can come along with hiring employee number one, and kind of transitioning your mindset from a solo-preneur or a small business owner where you're doing a lot of the things yourself to the point that you're able to delegate[00:02:38] tasks so that you can focus on the activities that you know are the most important to your business and will ultimately help your business,  thrive and scale and do great things. So, Eric has done this before. He's an expert at it now, and so he's going to share some of his stories about how he hired employee number one.[00:02:58] And then finally we spend a bit of time talking about how Eric has found success in being just remarkably transparent about the health of his business, including the financials and the impact that that's had on his culture. So without further ado, here is my conversation with my friend Eric Olsen. Eric, thanks for joining us today.[00:03:18] Erik Olson: I appreciate you having me. [00:03:21] Michael King: Eric, we were talking just a few moments ago about some of the lessons that you've learned In the Trenches, and you had a couple that hit pretty close to home for me. So I'm excited to drill in as we were talking about how as businesses evolve, they typically start off with that solo-preneur charging an hourly rate to their clients, then they move eventually to project work.[00:03:43] And then kind of that golden place to be is recurring revenue and that can be a tricky transformation to get through.  We were also talking about how much of an adjustment it can be when we hire our first employee and thinking through the responsibility of paying for somebody else's salary and kind of crossing our fingers and hoping that we have money[00:04:04] leftover to pay ourselves. Those are both huge topics that I think are really relevant to a lot of small businesses. So, I'm excited to drill into both of those, but before we get into the details of recurring revenue and hiring employees, take us back in time just a little bit and tell us how you got started and how you got to the point that you were ready for employee number one.[00:04:24] Erik Olson: Sure. So we are in Chesapeake, Virginia, and we have 11 employees and 100% of focus on digital marketing. But in the very beginning, I wasn't focused on digital marketing at all. Matter of fact, I started off as a DOD Navy contractor. I did that in my own very small company for about four years, just me and one other guy, and we were billing by the hour and we did that just because that's the way the Navy worked, and we were making really good money.[00:04:53] And so billing by the hour and billing up to 40 hours a week every single week. It turned into really good money. So it wasn't an issue at all. When I was doing DOD work to bill by the hours, matter of fact, it was fantastic cause I was making a ton of money at the time. Well, as work projects come and go and if you're not partnered up with the right person, then it can just kind of disappear, which is exactly what happened.[00:05:19] About four years into running my own very small sub-contracting company, I decided to go find commercial work. I went out on the internet and I went to the site called Ilana, which has since been merged into another company, and it formed Upwork. [00:05:37] Michael King: We know of Upwork over here.  [00:05:40] Erik Olson: yeah, yeah.[00:05:40] I still hire some people here and there from Upwork. It's a really good platform and they've done really good things. There's certainly a lot of work to be gotten from there.  I went there and very quickly I got two gigs. Actually much quicker than I anticipated.[00:05:58] And so,  this was towards the end of the Navy days. And so I was working nights and weekends and still working by the hour, and I was making really, really good money now. Well, once the Navy work went away and it was just me and a laptop and billing by the hour, yeah, things were still good.[00:06:16] But I realized very quickly that if I didn't work eight and 10 hours a day. Then I wasn't going to make the kind of money that I wanted to make. So I was billing by the hour. And so I knew that I needed to get into a different kind of pricing model, but it's honestly a couple of years before I got to the point where I feel comfortable bidding on a project.[00:06:38] So we started to work on projects and when I realized that it took a whole lot of work in order to figure out what the scope of work is, because you're bidding on this project price. So the price is fixed, which means that if you don't fix the skill, then you're going to be in big trouble.[00:06:57] And I got into trouble a couple of times. Not big trouble. I don't think I ever actually lost a ton of money, but I probably didn't make the money that I was hoping to make on a couple of projects. And so for me, some of the big lessons learned were things like making sure that the scope was correct and if you work on projects, fixed price projects,[00:07:17] then making sure that when there's a change, even if you're not intending to charge the client, you still need to document the change, and certainly if you're going to charge the client for the change, you have two documents, what you're doing and get approval beforehand. Now, all of a sudden that means that you have a layer of bureaucracy in your company.[00:07:40] You have paperwork to do. And a lot of people like myself just don't want to do paperwork.  When you start working on projects, unless you intend on just giving away this work for free, you have to do the paperwork and you have to submit change orders and you have to confirm when they get approved.[00:08:00] Otherwise you're at risk. And I don't like working at risk. So we did that for several years, but I knew when I shifted from hourly to project work, I knew that wasn't the end goal. The end goal was this mysterious thing that entrepreneurs talked about called recurring revenue. And I knew that I wanted to get to the point where I had monthly recurring revenue, but I frankly had no idea how I was going to get there.[00:08:23] So at the time, I was doing software development work, and when software development is project-based work, they hire you to build a website or a mobile app, you build it, you deliver it, and you're pretty much done. I did bolt-on a little bit of recurring work or things like hosting or certain number of them hours per month that I would be available to make whatever changes they wanted.[00:08:48] It was really just kind of a repackaging of hourly rates into a monthly recurring fee, but I still was capping them out as far as number of hours and stuff like that. So it wasn't a real good solution, but it got me into the recurring revenue game. And once I started to get recurring revenue, I realized that was just the way that I wanted it to go.[00:09:11] Michael King: Why is recurring revenue such an important change in your business model? [00:09:17] Erik Olson:  We had a meeting with our CPA at the time and we were going over the results of one of our quarters and he asked us, Hey, how does next quarter look for you guys? And my response was, I have no idea. We could double our revenue, or we can be out of business.[00:09:33] It just depends on how many people contact us and how many projects we get done. And it was feast or famine. So you've probably heard of the expression, you eat what you kill, and I was having to go hunting all the time and I was having to chase after the dollars and I was having to get a project worth the project, get another project working and another project again.[00:09:53] It was exhausting. What I really wanted was to get a client and keep that client forever because the first sale is the hardest, all right? Getting that client to buy that first time is a lot harder than getting them to buy the second and third and fourth time. So I just wanted to sell a client once instead of having to sell them.[00:10:12] Every single little project. [00:10:15] Michael King: I think that when people are in that hourly, and to some extent the project mode as well, you think, okay, I don't want to work more than 40, 50, 60 hours a week, and then you multiply that by your hourly rate, but then you've got to back off of that too and say. In order to have my sales funnel full,[00:10:33] I can't work 60 hours a week, times a hundred dollars an hour. I have to leave time for me to go and do business development. I've got to leave that time to leave the cave, go out and kill it and bring it home. In addition to the hourly work and I think from my experience Eric, you reach a cap where you can only grow a business so big doing that and[00:10:56] It's just not going to get any bigger because it does take time to go get those clients in. The more you charge per hour, the longer the sales cycle typically lasts because it's not just a transaction anymore. There's some relationship building that's involved. If you're charging somebody a hundred plus dollars an hour,  they kind of want to know who the heck they're working with.[00:11:15] And so there's probably a number of meetings or calls. So yeah, when you transition from that hourly model to recurring, just like you said, you go out and you hunt and then you reap the benefits of that for hopefully years. Years to come and the efficiencies just go through the roof.[00:11:32] Erik Olson: Yeah, I would totally agree with that. It seems like most freelancers start at about $50 an hour because they do the math. They know that if there were 40 hours a week times 52 weeks, that's roughly 2000 hours in a year. So, 50 bucks an hour is a hundred grand and they're like, Oh, cool. I can make six figures.[00:11:49] But the reality is you don't work 40 hours a week when you're freelancing because of the reason that you just cited. You'd have to go find the work. Also, one of the things that I realized is that I need at least [00:12:00] half a day, sometimes a full day per week just to do the administrative tasking, sending out invoices, and going to the bank.[00:12:08]  whatever I needed to do, I just needed time to get all that done. So I either did it on the weekends or I would do it during the week, and then on the weekends I would have to actually do my billable work. Somehow you have to cram that in as well. There's a lot that has to be done to run a business.[00:12:23] It's not just doing the work. [00:12:25] Michael King: The bigger you get, the more of those things there are. The more vendors you have, the more you have to do. You're paying more invoices, the more clients you have, so you're invoicing them more. That means there's more bank reconciliations. It means that there's more massaging of relationships that has to occur.[00:12:41] And so as you grow. You lose efficiencies, you know when you're a solopreneur and you grow, you lose those economies of scale in a lot of ways, and so your team has to kind of grow with you, which we'll touch on in a minute. I'm curious though, if you would dive in, tell us a little bit more about what you do and what the recurring revenue was.[00:13:00] That you finally landed on that worked for your model. [00:13:03] Erik Olson: Sure, so my company used to be a software company and then I ended up merging with a web design company. That happened three years ago, and at that point we took the opportunity to re-brand both of our companies and then merged the companies together into a Ray Digital.[00:13:18] The idea was that there were a lot of clients that I had that needed web design work, and I didn't do it because I did different kinds of web development, and he had a lot of clients that were doing that needed a marketing website, but they also need things like mobile apps that I could do. And so we were passing work back and forth and we thought, hey, let's just join forces.[00:13:39] And what we could also do when we joined forces is, we can hire a digital marketing person to continue to service those clients after we've delivered the product. So we knew that our clients needed things like search engine optimization. So we hired a person to do that in the holidays of 2017 I believe it was.[00:14:00] A lot of work for us is project based work. It dried up, the clients just weren't responding and I knew going into the next year it was going to be trouble and I was looking at our finances and I was looking across all the different revenue streams and every single one of them at that moment in time, if nothing else changed, we were going to lose money on.[00:14:23] Which meant that we had to go out and we had to go kill something and bring in the project work, and in order to at least break even compared to the previous year, except one category, which was digital marketing. So in this one category, we already had the contracts in place with the recurring revenue, and I already had a person and we only had one person at the time.[00:14:44] So, I had his salary cupboard with those contracts. And then some. That's when, I realized that was the one area of our business that was doing really well, and at the time I had spent like the last year deep diving into that area of the business, Frankly, I didn't really understand it. Okay, that's all. It was just nonstop for a year learning about it.[00:15:05] Or what I realized was that the small amount of money had a big profit margin, and if I could just grow the revenue in that area. Then we can get the recurring revenue that we wanted, and we could actually shift business models, which is what we ended up doing. So that was a very big risk that we were walking away from our biggest profit center, which was software development to go into digital marketing eventually exclusively.[00:15:32] But that recurring revenue was there, and that was what I was after. And so we started to just focus on it and build it up and build it up and build it up. And it took about six months before we were ready to start cutting some of the software clients and we stopped going after them altogether. Our software developers went elsewhere.[00:15:48] I know we let them know what was going on, but we took a big drastic shift in the business about six months after I came to that realization.  [00:15:55] Michael King: It is a risky decision. What gave you the confidence that, hey, this is risky, but I'm informed and we're going to do this. How did you think through it?[00:16:03] Erik Olson: Okay, so interestingly, it would be riskier at the time for us to do nothing because we had four or five custom software developers on staff. They're not deep six figures plus per year. No, these are very skilled people. But we didn't have the work coming in for them. And so I knew that the most riskiest thing that I could do was to do nothing.[00:16:29] And that was the reality that we were in. So I'm not just saying that because of sales need or whatever, but that was literally the case. I knew that I had to take action, and if I didn't, then we were going to ride this thing potentially down to zero. And I've written other ventures like side gigs, side projects and attempts to sass projects down to nothing and I wasn't going to do that this time.[00:16:52] I knew that I had to make a big change, and I had to be really bold and I just had to completely believe in what I was doing now, luckily there were a lot of benefits to the place that we were going. One was the recurring revenue, and to digital marketing. It just so happened about three years ago. It was super-hot.[00:17:12] You could do no wrong. Everybody was looking for digital marketing and that was the area that we were going into and wanted to go into. And so everything just really lined up and it was just a matter of making it.  [00:17:23] Michael King: Software developers, Exodus, six months later they're gone. So that's off of your overhead.[00:17:29] How did you then build the team back up? Was it just you and your partner or were there other people on the team at that point? [00:17:35] Erik Olson: There was a total transition, almost one person at a time. One software developer, what do we use? And then we would hire a digital marketer to replace him or her. No one would leave.[00:17:46] We'd hire another digital marketer. So it was literally a transition one person at a time, and we're extremely transparent about it. I didn't want anyone to be caught off guard or I'd call them in one day. They didn't know what the heck was going on. And then I'm telling them to pack a box and get out.[00:18:02] We were very super transparent, especially with the people that were on their way out. We gave them a lot of options and we told them exactly what our time frame was. We were pretty lucky that we were able to match that timeframe. One of the last people that was here as a software developer, he knew exactly what was going on.[00:18:22] He had about six months’ notice and he agreed to stick it out. And then he also agreed to work with us as an independent contractor once we transitioned him off of the payroll. So we were still paying him just little by little. We were transitioning away from software development. [00:18:41] Michael King: What percentage today is recurring revenue?[00:18:45] Erik Olson: 100% which was a big, big deal for us, especially for something like a website, a marketing website. So, almost every other agency in the world is going to charge you five, 10 $25,000 depending on the agency, depending on the client. Well, they're going to charge you a price, and it's the district's price. If you're creating a website.[00:19:07] We did the same thing, so we would charge our clients a fixed price for the website. We would deliver it, and then we may get a little bit of recurring revenue off that for like website hosting, which is basically nothing. That's $30-$40 a month if you're lucky, and then maybe like an hour or two of work a month.[00:19:27] It was really actually quite difficult to convince people to continue to pay us after we just got a big check from them. So that was the one hardest part to try to figure out how to convert that into recurring revenue, because we had in our mind, let's just say $10,000 we had in our mind, and if we delivered a brand-new website, it was valued at $10,000.[00:19:49] Again, I dug through the numbers and I asked a lot of questions and when I realized that the labor that went into that project was not $10,000 of labor and it wasn't even $10,000 minus the profit that we want to make. The labor that went in was much, much less. In some cases, we turn around websites in a matter of days, just depending on weather.[00:20:11] Everything is organized. They have all the pictures and all the words that we need and all that stuff. We've had instances where we've turned them around overnight because the web developer just went on and did it until he was done. So we can produce these websites actually relatively quickly when we're organized.[00:20:31] And so it doesn't actually cost us the same amount of money that the price tag of 10 grand represented. So there was a disconnect there, and I realized that disconnect. For us and frankly for every other agency out there is because when you deliver that project, you get one shot at making money, so that one shot I'm making money has to cover your labor for as long as the person's not building your website.[00:20:58] Basically, you have one shot, you gotta charge a pretty high number. Well, we weren't trying to take one shot anymore at a client. We were trying to shoot them every single month, if you will. And so we decided that we could charge a significantly lower amount per month as long as we got an agreement for a minimum number of months.[00:21:19] And it doesn't even have to end up culminating to the same amount of money. Because we had another realization was that we're going to pay this web developer, no matter what, whether he does a project or not, he's going to stay on staff. So we just need to really cover our overhead, make a profit, regardless of how many projects roll through here.[00:21:37] So with that realization, the realization that we were going to get more than one shot at money from a client, we completely just destroyed the pricing model that we had before. And we just went with monthly recurring revenue. So the pitch now is, you don't actually, per se, a website from us, we're going to provide you unlimited content changes, unlimited hosting, unlimited updates, and if we need to build a brand new website for you, which we usually do, then we'll do that too.[00:22:03] So the new webside is almost a freebie. And once they were satisfied they paid on commitment, it's theirs. [00:22:10] Michael King: Interesting. What if they cancel halfway through their commitment? [00:22:14] Erik Olson: If they cancel halfway through the command, we have clauses in our contracts and a lot of them to get out.[00:22:18] There can be someone who went into damage if they just, yeah, really stiff us. We could just keep the website, but the idea is that we're taking what would normally be a one time price and we're amortizing it over time. It's like a mortgage on a house. The banks to give you say, $300,000 they're going to amortize that over 30 years.[00:22:38] Expectation is that you continue to pay that off. You still own it, but if you stop making those payments, the bank takes it back. Very similar economist situation. So we do ask for a minimum commitment  clearly, we hope that we get it. If we don't, It's okay because we didn't miss out on a $10,000 shot at money.[00:22:55] We just missed out on getting more months. So it really required us to just rewire how we think about the value of these projects. [00:23:03] Michael King: Interesting. And I'm sure from a business owner's perspective, knowing how much money's coming in next month and the month after lets you sleep just a little bit easier cause you get now to tell your CPA, next month we're going to make this pending any new business.[00:23:20] Erik Olson: That's right. So once a month, towards the end of the month, now I have a meeting with Katya who is our executive assistant, and we asked her to project out all of our expenses and all of our income. And there was a time about a year and a half ago while we were doing this, we do it every single month.[00:23:36] We know what the expenses are. There are no big surprises there. But she actually made a comment. She goes, yeah,  this was probably around like September timeframe of 2019, I guess. And she said, well,  I could actually project out the rest of the year if you want me to. And I thought, wow, this is amazing.[00:23:53] Like this is what we didn't have a couple of years ago. [00:24:00] like I said before, we're either going to double in size. or we're going to be out of business. I don't know where it is. Somewhere in between.  And now we know within a couple thousand dollars.[00:24:09] And so it's quiet, it's quite precise to actually, it’s a great feeling for us, but one of the things that we also recognize is that it's a really good feeling for our customers because number one, we have stability.  They're not going to get some crazy bill from us every month. Number two, they don't have to pay a big check upfront, right?[00:24:30] I mean, who wants to pay 5, 10 or $15,000 up front. That sucks as it does a seven that's a huge hit that you've taken their finances. I'd much rather pay a few hundred dollars every single month, know what to expect, and now I can project out my expenses [00:24:45] Michael King: From the work that we've done and with small businesses and as a small business myself, one of the things that I've noticed is typically somewhere around, I don't know, I'll call it the end of year one to the end of year two, maybe two and a half.[00:24:58] There's normally a transformation in the business and it likely coincides with what we were talking about earlier. That transition from our lead a project to recurring, and those transitions typically require an update on the website. Probably a significant update on the website and so through that lens and that understanding is if I'm a business owner, particularly if I'm just getting started, I want this website, but because Mike has told me so I'm probably going to meet, need a meaningful update sometime in the next 12 to 24 months.[00:25:31] This helps make everything a lot more predictable, so I'm not cash heavy upfront. And I don't have to worry about being cash heavy again in the next year or two years as I figured out the model and figure out what works and doesn't and have to make updates, so it's smooth to have that curved out. It makes everything a lot more predictable.[00:25:49] I think the other benefit is because like maybe I need to make these changes, but boy, I don't want to shell out another 15 grand. And so I stay with a subpar website [00:26:00] that doesn't really reflect my brand today.  It's kind of a no brainer to just give Eric a call and get those changes made.[00:26:07] Erik Olson:  Yeah, you're absolutely right. So people will avoid the pain of having to write a check and with the website or any of your marketing, really what that means is if you know that you're going to get charged by the hour, you're very likely to just not send it in as an example, in a different field. Lawyers.[00:26:26] A lot of times people will review their own contracts. Right. Or they won't send an NDA that they received. They won't send that into the work because they know it's going to cost them 500 bucks every time they get on the phone, you're going to get charged by the 10th of the hour, and so you take risks.[00:26:43] Or you just avoid it altogether. Well, it's the same with your web presence and your digital marketing. If you know that every single time you reach out to your marketer, it's going to cost you money. You probably just won't do it. Which means that things like a website starts to get out of date potentially and not patched, run a security update.[00:27:02] All of a sudden it gets hacked. I mean, there's a lot of things that we've seen over the years that can cause a website and to start to break one piece at a time or the whole thing all at once. So one of the other big, I think that we had to overcome ourselves and our thinking was, well, if we offer unlimited content changes, what if a client wants us to produce a brand new website every single month?[00:27:28] What are we going to do then? So we really had to kind of think through that situation. Why would someone ask for a brand new website every single month? Just to the extreme, right? Maybe it's once a year, but why would they ask for a new website on a frequent basis? Well, maybe they want to change the color.[00:27:47] It's a blue website. They want a green website. Okay, well we can make that change without rebuilding the whole website. That's on another $10,000 project. What if they want a new WordPress theme? Okay, well we can make that change relatively quickly as well. So a lot of the situations that we could think of when people would demand that we created a brand new website, they probably aren't going to do that.[00:28:08] They're just going to demand changes, which we can implement very  quickly. And so we've been doing this for about three years now as a recurring service and recurring revenue. And we have not yet had a client come to us and demand a brand new one. Was that just because they can get it request changes?[00:28:28] Well, we make the changes and since we're updating their websites on a regular basis, it's up to date. [00:28:34] Michael King: One of the things that I've been guilty of this too, but I see a lot of other people falling into the trap of trying to solve problems that don't exist yet. And so you get this dialogue in your head of what if the client wants this?[00:28:49] And what if they do that? And it can be paralyzing as much as data analysis as an example, but with some measure of professionalism, you have to be able to say, okay. Let's just wait until this actually becomes an issue. And if it's an absolute shit show, then we'll just tell the client[00:29:11] here's your website. Thank you for the seven months that we worked together. We're not a good fit going forward. We wish you all the best, and we'll take that loss of the last, maybe five months of the contract. But yeah, don't let the exercise of solving problems that don't exist paralyze you from trying new things and just seeing what happens.[00:29:29] We have a similar issue. When we moved to a recurring model last year we were worried clients were going to call us all the time. You know what if they are constantly calling and what I found was just having a discussion with them of, hey, we're not going to put a restriction on this. But if we get to a point where we feel like you're abusing it, we're going to have a conversation, and 100% of the time people have said, yeah, that's reasonable.[00:29:55] Let's do that, and guess what? We've never had a problem with it. Yeah. But we were really worried about that, Eric, that was something that we talked about. I mean for days, not days straight, but it was a thing that we were worried about and here we are, on the other side of a year later and it's literally never been a problem.[00:30:12] Erik Olson:  Yeah, it is pretty surprising how you can conjure up these worst case areas and it's probably a good exercise to go through it and try to figure out what it really means and what the likelihood really is. Cause you certainly don't want to not think about a risk. And then it just happens and you're completely surprised.[00:30:29] But the reality is that I've found that a lot of times it's just not quite as bad as the absolute worst case scenario. [00:30:36] Michael King: So shifting gears a little bit, we talked earlier about hiring employee number one and what an adjustment that is in mindset is an entrepreneur. Carlos has been on my team for about two years, and boy, he's been around for so long now.[00:30:53] I don't even think of them in that way, but I recently had this epiphany that I need some administrative help. And so, I went about the business of hiring an executive assistant. It sounds like you've had one on staff for at least a little bit. It's been an exercise all over again and trust, and I'll give you a great example.[00:31:15] Yesterday I had asked her, and just to be fair, today was day two with the new executive assistant. But yesterday I had said, Hey, I'd love for you to follow up with this person that emailed me and tell them this and this and this. And then yesterday afternoon, before I left, without even thinking about it, I responded to the person that I had asked my assistant to respond to.[00:31:36] And then I look like a fool because the person responded and she said, Oh, your assistant emailed me about this two hours ago. So I emailed Jamie and I said, oh boy, I'm really sorry I had asked you to do this. And, um.  I think subconsciously I just didn't trust that it was going to get done, won't happen again.[00:31:53] So there's some definite adjustments that have to be made.  One of the scariest things for me though, I think, and for a lot of other people is, I'm kind of responsible for this person now and making sure they get paid, and that can be a scary thing. Tell me about the first time you had to hire somebody and what that adjustment was like for you, Eric.[00:32:11] Erik Olson: So, I had the exact same situation as far as really the fear of responsibility or maybe fear is not even the right word, the acknowledgement of the responsibility. So I had gotten to the point, I was a one man shop. And I was working, a relatively big project and I won a second relatively big project. I was going to need at least three months to wrap up the first project that I was on before I could shift gears and focus on the second project.[00:32:42] But I also knew that the first project was going to need a little more love and attention after I delivered it, they were going to have change orders. I just knew that, so I realized I was going to be pretty wrapped up with finalizing the first project and I couldn't get to the second project for three or four months and that's just unacceptable.[00:33:01] It was time to hire someone, but with those two projects together, I knew that I only really had on paper enough revenue to cover the two of us for a balanced six months, but I really needed that person. I put out some job as someone responded, I interviewed her, she was great. I was ready to pull the trigger.[00:33:21] The night before I sent out the offer, I was at home. I was talking to my wife about this and telling her my plan. She knew it was going on, but I was telling her, Hey, I'm getting ready to hire this lady to come work for me, and I'm nervous because every two weeks she's going to receive a paycheck. I'm going to guarantee that for sure.[00:33:45] The question is, will there be enough money left over for me to make any. And I knew that I was going to do okay for a few months. I just didn't know what was going to happen after that. And it really was a huge leap of faith for me because I had to go secure even more work. So I had to have confidence in myself that I could generate the leads, close the leads, and we can start working on additional work that I didn't even know where it was going to come from at the time.[00:34:15] So it was a really big commitment and lucky for me, I was always able to pay myself. I never had the problem where I had to go without, and I also paid her. And we continue to grow, but I knew that was it, a big change for me, and it was a huge sense of responsibility because now not only was someone else's career on the line because they were coming to work for me, but also their finances.[00:34:38] Michael King: That's somebody's mortgage, somebody's kids, somebody's food that now all of a sudden. Eric, has to provide for, I mean, in a very direct kind of way. [00:34:50] Erik Olson: That's right. And it's scary.  If you've never done it before, it's different. When you work for a company and you're a manager and you have people working for you, it's a lot different.[00:34:59] You don't have to worry about the money. You just assumed there was a ton of money in the bank and everyone's going to always get paid. But when you're the person that's actually generating the business and having to fill it and having to pay those bills. It's just a big burden and you have to make sure that you're ready for it and you also have to make sure the person understands what they're about to get into.[00:35:20] Yeah, you're a small company  you're confident in what you're doing, but they need to be honest with them. They're taking a risk. [00:35:29] Michael King: I think that's really wise of you to point out, cause I don't know that a lot of people think that as business owners, when we talk outwardly about our business we'd send a focus on all the great things and you're hiring somebody and you want them to come to your team and you're like, Oh, we're doing this.[00:35:46] And we have plans for that. And that's great. But I think it takes a little bit more maturity and emotional intelligence to be able to step back and say, and while all these things are true. There's also another side of this that I want to make sure you fully understand and that's that we're a small business and if one client leaves us as a small business, or one client decides they're not going to pay us.[00:36:08] That can introduce a shit storm. [00:36:32] Erik Olson: That's right. And you could find yourself in the middle of that, and I'm going to promise you, you will always get paid first. Right? And all other things come later. But there is still a level of risk that maybe this thing doesn't exist in six months. And so that's, that's a really hard thing to do because as business owners  we tend to be type a and very proud and kind of out there.[00:36:33] And we also have different personas. So what I mean by that is when we're talking to a prospective client, Oh yeah, we kick ass, everything is awesome. We're Jamming like that. Like you want to be with us because everything is just amazing. So we don't have any problems. But the reality is, as probably every listener who owns a business.[00:36:56] Can attest to. There's always something going on, right? You have a problem client.  You have cash flow issues.  There's this thing going on that you don't necessarily reveal through that other persona. And so if you're going to bring someone in close to you, like a new employee, and especially the first employee, you really do owe them the information that they need to make an informed decision.[00:37:21] Michael King: How do you think through how much information they need? How transparent do you really get? [00:37:27] Erik Olson: So, I used to be very closed off. I would not give a lot of information really to anybody. And over the years I've become a little more transparent. So I have a podcast, it's called a journey to $100 million.[00:37:45] And the whole point of the podcast is that we tell stories about lessons that we're learning along the way.  [00:37:53] Michael King: that sounds familiar. [00:37:54] Erik Olson: Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. A lot of those lessons are frankly, from mistakes. We all make mistakes. We learned our lesson, and then we correct, and we do it better hopefully in the future.[00:38:05] Okay. And so I've been doing this podcast for about.  14 - 15 months. And what I realized is that I was pretty much all of the stories. There really is not that much these days that I haven't done. Relayed through the podcast and my employees here, they actually do the editing. So they hear a lot of these stories and a lot of the mistakes that I made before even starting this company.[00:38:29] And so there's really not all of that much that we hide these days between the podcast. And then on Twitter in particular, I'm very, very active and I've put a lot of entrepreneurial, tips and experience sharing on that.  I mean, we share, we share our finances. To a certain extent. No, we don't go all the way down to like how much each person makes or things like that, but we share big ticket numbers, our revenue, our growth, all the problems that we have on the podcast.[00:39:00] I may talk about a problem that we have with a particular client. I'm not going to say the client's name, so we're not transparent like that  but we're pretty transparent about what's going on and even with our strategy. We'll share what our feed is, certainly with our employees because they need to know, but on the podcast,  we'll talk about exactly what our strategy is.[00:39:19] At first, I didn’t want to do that because I thought that people would, yeah, steal my strategy or that they counter maneuver me and box me out in the market or something like that. And then it was just paranoia. It took a while, but I realized that it's not even the strategy or the idea of that has an execution.[00:39:38] And if you can't execute my plan the way that I'm going to execute it, it doesn't really matter that you even know what my plan is.[00:39:44] Michael King: I'll take that one step further. It's your strategy with your execution, but also with you. That's the differentiator.  I'm working on a course and a book right now and I even got some of the same feedback with the podcast and people said, there's already other people that do that.[00:40:00] Why are they going to buy yours? And the light bulb came on one day and I said, cause it's me. People are buying me as much as they're buying the work that we're doing or anything else, or the pies. You know these other podcasts that talk about similar things. I didn't know you existed, but I started with a podcast. [00:40:21] Erik Olson: Our podcasts are very similar on paper. [00:40:23] Michael King: But I bet there are very differences in execution. The personality that you bring, the perspectives that you bring are going to be very different than mine, and that's why people might listen to yours over mine or vice versa. Maybe they listened to both of them, but I think that's the thing that maybe other people lose sight of.[00:40:40] I know I certainly did for a long time. I'm the difference. Carlos on my team. He's the difference. My new assistant, there is a difference, right? And it's our team and it's us in what we bring to the table. That's the difference. And so, yeah, you can rip off my strategy and you can rip off my client list all you want, but you're not me.[00:40:58] So ha ha. There you go. [00:41:01] Erik Olson: And then they're not going to respond the same way that you would. Right. So even if they were successful in pulling off your exact strategy and implementing it, well, things change constantly. Every single day, multiple times a day. You have decisions that you have to make that are going to affect the future of your company, and they're not you.[00:41:18] They're not going to make the same decisions that you are. They're going to have a different outcome. So I'm perfectly fine sharing at this point. Things like strategy, lessons learned, and we do it on the podcast. I do it for masterminds.  I'll do it with anybody. Anyone can call me and I'll provide them with my experience and what I learned from it.[00:41:39] Michael King: What do you think is a positive unintended consequence of that transparency on the culture of your business, or whether that's with employees or vendors or customers. [00:41:51] Erik Olson: Well, what does it matter? I think it does matter. It's certainly fundamental to the culture to be transparent. We have core values.[00:42:02] And one of our core values right now is honesty, because for probably pretty obvious reasons, if one of your employees, or it's all one not honest, and we have a major problem. So the expectation is we're not going to play stupid bureaucratic games where you don't really do what you say or say what you're going to do.[00:42:21] Want honesty. But what I've actually come to realize in the last week is that we need to change that. It's not just about honesty, it's about being transparent with your intentions. So transparency is a big deal for us, and we expect transparency out of everybody. So we expect you to openly communicate.[00:42:42] We expect you to let people know what you're about to do. Oh, we expect you to communicate the impact of your actions. So transparency is a big thing inside the four walls of this office. And it conveys to our interactions with the clients, but it also conveys to me as the business owner, transparency is expected of me if I expect it out of my folks.[00:43:05] Going back to the first hire, one of the main reasons I hired a full time employee instead of hiring a freelancer, and I had tried freelancers before, but what I realized is that I wasn't committing to them. By not giving them a full time job and in return, I was not getting that commitment from then back.[00:43:26] I had to commit in order to get the commitment and this exact same thing with transparency. I can't expect transparency if I'm not transparent. First you have to give before you receive, and that just applies across the board. So for transparency, it's a no brainer. For us, we are transparent. We're going to update our core values within the next couple of days that I frankly just get around to it.[00:43:49] We already talked about how we're going to change the honesty, core value to transparent. [00:43:56] Michael King: I heard countless people complain about how they get a lack of commitment from subcontractors. I can't find a subcontractor that will really commit and make me a priority, but I think you hit the nail on the head, Eric.[00:44:09] You've got to give first. And if you want them to commit to you and your team. Then you've got to commit to them first. And the best way you can do that is by saying, Hey, come on board as an employee and all of the things that go along with that. I guess it's a lot like dating in that way.[00:44:26] If we're dating and, I can't find a girl that will only stick with me, but I'm out seeing four other people.  Well, obviously in this, I mean, working is a relationships too, so why should it be any different? [00:44:42] Erik Olson: Yeah. If you're going to keep people at arm's length and they're going to keep you at arm’s length too, you'll never be a priority.[00:44:47] Michael King: That's a great light bulb realization. Thank you for sharing that. All right, so if people want a brand new website every single month, flat rate, where can they come to find the area? [00:45:01] Erik Olson: Well we won't do a brand new website every single month, but, we will build a new essay and we'll keep it up to date.[00:45:07] So we also offer online advertising, search engine optimization, and social media. The name of the company, again, is Array Digital. The website address is And if you want to reach out to me directly, I hang out on Twitter the most. My handle is iamerikjolson.[00:45:40] Michael King: I will post that in the show notes, the links to your podcast journey to 100 million, your Twitter, IGA, Facebook, all the things so people can find you. Eric, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon.[00:45:51] I really appreciate the wisdom that you've shared. I'm certain that our listeners will be better for it, so have a great rest of your day and thanks again. [00:45:58] Erik Olson: Well, thanks for having me. It was a ton of fun. [00:46:07] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Lauren is an expert in health, wellness and mind-body connection.As the creator of Unplugged Mornings, Lauren created a 9-step process to help individuals disconnect to reconnect back to their true self! In connection to that effort Lauren has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, spent almost 60 days living in a cave, and competed with more than 1 million people to win one of 50 coveted spots in a competition reality TV show held on NBC.Lauren has also opened and sold two fitness studios, is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and fitness model in addition to leading online workouts that reach hundreds of thousands of men & women focused on changing their lives through fitness and mindfulness and has been featured in USA Today Sports, Marie Claire Magazine and Mind Body Green. Lauren has been seen on Good Day LA Fox 11, FOX, ABC, NBC Universal, GSN, E! Entertainment, CBS and Syfy.Connect with Lauren SchwabInstagramTwitterLinkedInFacebookUnplugged MorningsThe Six Month Transformational Leadership Program MastermindConnect with KFEKFE SolutionsKFE BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King[00:00:23] For those of you that have gone into business, by yourself. You know what a scary thing it can be. There's a lot of unknowns. There's a lot of uncertainties, there's a lot of variables, and particularly if you've never started a business before, it can be a really, really scary endeavor a lot of times.[00:00:43] When we're scared. We want to have security through groups, right? We want to do things together. You don't want to go to a haunted house by yourself. You go to a haunted house with your friends because there's some security in doing things with a group. I think it's just human nature. So a lot of times when we think about going into business, we want to have somebody come along for the ride.[00:01:05] Today, I'm talking with my new friend, but definitely a good friend, Lauren Schwab. Years ago, Lauren decided to go into business via a health,  wellness and fitness studio franchise, and she decided to find some people to go on the ride with her. The bad news for Lauren at the time is she didn't really know these other people that she was going into business with.[00:01:27] They brought some things to the table that she thought complimented her. So Lauren invested $150,000 to get this franchise started up, and within a few years, Lauren had realized that she had sunk about $500,000 into the venture, and some of her partners were cashing out while she was getting no money, essentially, she was lied to and stolen from.[00:01:52] And so Lauren's going to share a really candid conversation about how she got into business with some folks and how she lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, several years of her life, and how you can avoid making some of those same mistakes. The good news is, Lauren came out the other end, a stronger professional, and a stronger entrepreneur for it.[00:02:12] And so she's going to tell us how she climbed out of that hole. She's going to talk about how she checked her ego at the door after that and was able to grow as a professional and ultimately start a new business that has been much more successful and lucrative for her. We're also going to talk about a little bit of a trend, and that's coaching and masterminds.[00:02:33] What is a coach? What is a mastermind? How do you pick a coach that's a good fit for you? How do you pick a mastermind that's good for you? This is something I'm learning a lot about right now, and Lauren gives some really good perspectives on what that world is all about. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Lauren Schwab.[00:02:53] Lauren, thanks for being here. [00:02:55] Lauren Schwab: Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited. [00:02:58] Michael King: Absolutely. You were telling me about how a few years ago you entered into a business venture. It was a fitness studio franchise, and it costs you about $150,000 out of pocket, to go into the venture. You went into the business with a couple of partners that you didn't know really well, and within a few years you were out about half a million dollars and you were without a business.[00:03:26] Is that right? [00:03:27] Lauren Schwab: That is correct. Unfortunately, that is all correct.  [00:03:35] Michael King: Take us back in time to the start and we’ll unpackage that a little bit.  How did you get there? What was the genesis of this idea? How did you come to be in business with these people and lose all this money?[00:03:45] Lauren Schwab: I think it really kind of set the tone for the story and how I got there. I grew up in a small town in Kansas playing sports, and so my whole life revolved around sports and fitness, so when I moved to California and I no longer was a part of a team, I honestly kind of lost my identity there for a while.[00:04:05] And so the next big dream after playing college sports and stuff was, Oh, I should own a gym. That would be really cool, but I figure I need to start with maybe getting my personal training certification first and do some of that. So that all kind of happened, and it led me to this opportunity with this gym franchise where they first brought me on as a project manager to launch their franchise in the U S it was an Australian brand.[00:04:28] It is an Australian brand that still exists. And so through that process I realized, Hey, maybe I really do want to open my own gym and I have this opportunity right in front of me, so why not go with this one? So originally, I was just going to do it by myself and then hire trainers and other people to come in, and I very quickly was approached by another.[00:04:49] A gentleman that was looking to franchise more than one. So at the time I was thinking I just wanted to do one. He came to me with the idea, let's open 20 of these and beyond. And I think he kind of saw the opportunity where I was in the fitness industry and I had a big network and community where I live, and he didn't really write.[00:05:09] He was going to be more of a kind of money man. And, I was like, you know what? This could be really good. I don't know this person at all, but we bring two different things to the table. So at the time it seemed to be good. I quickly realized that that is definitely not the way to pick your partner, even though you definitely should bring different things to the table, but you should do a little more research on people in general and actually get references.[00:05:32] I feel like that's something of the past that people don't necessarily do anymore is talk to people and get real references. So I just heard from a few people that he seemed like an okay person. So anyways, it went from being the two of us to six of us very quickly. So that diluted our percentage right off the bat.[00:05:51] And I probably should have seen these red flags coming up and instead of painting them white, I should have actually listened to them and made a different choice. [00:06:00] Michael King: Did you recognize at the time that they were red flags and you excused them away or is it in hindsight, you should have seen them as red flags.[00:06:10] Lauren Schwab: So here's the deal. I definitely had intuition. I didn't know at the time that that's what intuition was, right? So I don't think we ever really realized what intuition is. Unless you feel something, you go down the line and then something pops up and you're like, Oh, that feeling I had back a couple months ago, that was intuition.[00:06:26] I should have actually listened to that. If everything goes right and peachy, you're never going to think back to that time because you're not going to go back and assess that. So yes, I had intuition. It was telling me. Not too, it was a very, very loud and bright flag. And at the same time, I also knew that regardless of whatever choice I made, I was going to learn something through the process.[00:06:46] So I was okay with that. I was like, you know what? I'm young enough still that I can learn something here. Worst case scenario, I lost all my money and moved back to Kansas and with my grandparents. Right. And that would be a great scenario. So when you chunk it back and it's really not that bad anyways, but yeah, no, I definitely had the intuition, saw the red flags, painted them white, and kept moving forward.[00:07:07] Michael King: One of my mentors from years ago asked me this really provocative question one day. He said, how does it feel to be wrong? And I thought about it and I, you know, gave him some kind of an answer, like, you know, it's embarrassing, or humiliating or shameful or whatever, and he said, no, it feels normal to be wrong.[00:07:28] It's the realization that you're wrong, is what brings up those feelings. He's the example of a Wile E Coyote. You know when he's chasing the roadrunner and goes off the cliff, he doesn't realize he's in trouble. Like when he goes off the cliff, he's fine until he realizes that he's about to fall, that that, Oh boy,[00:07:46] Now he's scared. [00:07:48] Lauren Schwab: Right. [00:07:49] Michael King: I think that that's a really good example. It's good to be cognizant of when you're making mistakes. It feels just like you're doing the right thing. It's not till you realize that you've made a mistake, that the oh shit moment. [00:08:01] Lauren Schwab: Yeah. [00:08:02] Michael King: I respect that. [00:08:04] Lauren Schwab: I love that you bring that up about being wrong, because being a very competitive person my whole life, I never wanted to be wrong.[00:08:09] Like I would do anything to be right. Even when I knew I was wrong, but now I actually get excited about being wrong, especially if it's in a relationship, you're like, I really hope I'm wrong about this. Right? So, no, it's actually, we learned way more from being wrong than being right. So I'm okay with being wrong.[00:08:26] Michael King: So as you progressed, how far along did you guys get? So there's, there's six people. Is the business even launched? Has the franchise opened its first location? Where were you at in time and progression through the franchise? [00:08:38] Lauren Schwab: We actually opened pretty quickly our first location, gosh, I don't even know what year this was[00:08:44] anymore. 2015-16 within five months we opened our second location. And then that's when some of the other’s were popping up, where there were more investors coming in. So, it was getting diluted even more our shares and things like that. And so at this point I actually had the opportunity to go on a show and I thought, you know what?[00:09:05] I don't feel like this is so long-term anymore. So I feel okay, you know, walking away from this for a little bit to go do the show, cause it just, it was calling me there and I felt more excited about that. The show was catching Kelsey. Yeah. And so I feel really good about that now. I mean, after we just won the super bowl, I feel like, you know, single-handedly, I am the reason for the chiefs winning the super bowl.[00:09:31] Michael King: How was that? Did you win the show and you gave him pro tips on how to be better?[00:09:36] Lauren Schwab: how to be a better football player. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I did not win the show. I went to the finale. They flew my mom out from Kansas. It was an amazing experience. Got to go to the sports spectacular, meet a bunch of athletes.[00:09:47] Being an athlete that excites me more than like actors or actresses or whatever. So it was a really cool experience and I'm so glad. My goodness, I'm so glad I went because I met some of my best girlfriends on that show. Literally that will be in my wedding on that show. So had I said no to that, I would've missed some, a lot of fun in my life and excitement as opposed to what was actually going on back home with my business partners.[00:10:09] Michael King: What’s your biggest lesson learned from being on a reality show? I'm guessing it's a dating show. [00:10:13] Lauren Schwab: That one was a dating show. I've been on a couple other ones, but that one was a dating show[00:10:17] Michael King: What other ones have you been on? [00:10:21] Lauren Schwab: In 2014 I was on a show called Opposite Worlds where I ended up living in a cave for 60 days, literally in a cave for 60 days.[00:10:29] Again, that was a big lesson on human connection because with all of these shows and you just ask like what was the biggest lesson? They take away your technology, your phone, your computer books, journals, any kind of external like outlet that you would go to when you start to go a little crazy stir-crazy cause they want that to happen.[00:10:48] They take that all away. And so you actually sit and just have conversations with people and it's really awesome how you can connect on such a deeper level when you're not checking your phone or thinking about the next email. So I actually, will say yes to any reality show now cause I'm like, take away, my technology unplugged me.[00:11:07] Michael King: You go on a 90-Day Fiance. [00:11:09] Lauren Schwab: excuse me,[00:11:16] Lauren Schwab: you better look it up cause 90 days. You’re going to get a fiance? [00:11:17] Michael King: I will botch this up, I'm sure. But I think the premise is you meet somebody and then in 90 days you marry them. So you meet a stranger. [00:11:29] Michael King: Then a doctor, you know, some psychologist or something connects you with based on a dating profile and in 90 days you have to get to know them well enough cause you're going to marry them in 90 days.[00:11:39] I think that's how it goes. [00:11:41] Lauren Schwab:  Old school, Lauren over here that feels like she needs a date forever and can't say, I love you for life. I don't know if I could do that. I will say like no joke. I really did connect with Travis on the show and I really could have seen myself like dating him now if he would, would've proposed, I'm not sure unless it was like person Chiefs tickets.[00:12:02] I'm not sure I could have [00:12:03] Michael King: said yes?[00:12:07] Lauren Schwab: if you would propose with tickets, like I don't need the ring, but like just propose to me with like season tickets. [00:12:14] Michael King: All right. Okay. All you single guys out there, tickets to the chiefs. Yeah, that's it. Okay. All right. So, the first location opened up pretty quickly. Location two is in the works. Now there's all kinds of investor money you're delivering.[00:12:28] What was your role in the company? [00:12:30] Lauren Schwab:  So I was one of the partners, I guess you would call me, the COO, Chief Operations Officer. I was actually leading all of the classes I was doing backend customer relations. All of that kind of stuff. Pretty much everything, all the events, getting people there, signing up people and not exactly sure what we're doing, to be perfectly honest.[00:12:50] Michael King: What else is there? I'm thinking to a fitness studio. Customer acquisition? Yep. [00:13:00] Lauren Schwab: Yeah. [00:13:01] Michael King: Keeping track of the money?[00:13:03] Lauren Schwab: That's the one thing that I didn't have any say or see in. And that's where everything went wild. So we had a CFO, that was not sharing any of the financials. So we obviously asked for that multiple times to figure out what was going on and we did not have access to see anything.[00:13:24] Michael King: And so let’s talk about that for a sec.  What do those conversations look like? Who are you asking? How are you asking them? And what kind of responses were you getting? [00:13:30] Lauren Schwab: It was kind of like a beat around the Bush thing, right? It's like, Hey, can we see the financials? Oh yeah. Well we'll get that to you next week.[00:13:36] Right? And that's kind of just what kept happening for months and months and months. and it's like, Hey, why are things getting diluted? Who are these investors that are coming in? Where is this money? Like, we don't need more money. Like, we are totally good. Let's wait till we get some more members signed up.[00:13:51] And so that's the thing is there was reason to be questioning it because there were a lot of things going on that just weren't. In integrity and that people just weren't being honest. They were, they were hiding the financials for a reason. Right? Again, we can take all this thing, these things to relationships.[00:14:04] It's like if you're not willing to put it all out there, there's probably something that you're afraid for somebody to see. [00:14:09] Michael King: Why were they hiding it? [00:14:10] Lauren Schwab: That is what led me to no longer being partners with them. So, what happened is when I went on that show . we won't say like, who, what, where, what, but someone saw something that would prove.[00:14:26] Otherwise that we, we had made an agreement for two years that we weren't going to pay ourselves, that we were going to get the business up and running, all that kind of stuff. So as partners, we weren't going to pay ourselves. And so that is the agreement that I thought we were under. Someone showed me some stuff that proved otherwise that they were actually paying themselves.[00:14:43] And that's why we were running out of money is that they were paying themselves monthly. We are running out of money. Everything was getting diluted. We were having to have more investors. That's why I was so confused about why we need more investors when we have  plenty of money, but we didn't. And so once I figured that out, I realized, number one, I had invested my own money into this, but also my time.[00:15:03]like I said, I was running all the classes and doing everything. So I slept probably four hours a night. I had an air mattress at the studio. I showered there, ate there. So in my mind, it wasn't even the loss of the money. It was the time, like the time that I could have been building my own brand, my own business, because I was treating it that way as if it was right.[00:15:22] And all of the members that were there were my friends, like people that I had brought in. So it was just a lot of time, money, resources, blood, sweat, tears, all of it put into that. And so it hurt really bad to find that out. That like, oh my gosh, these people you thought you trusted actually. Yeah. Trust it all.[00:15:39] Michael King: Was the partner that was, or partners that were paying themselves, was it through a, I'll call it a loophole,  in the contract? You didn't realize that they could pay themselves this way or where they actually like legitimately the contract said, thou shall not, but they were doing it anyway. So was it a legal loophole or a contract loophole that you didn't recognize or where they just straight up operating against the contract?[00:16:03] Lauren Schwab: Yeah. We had written in the contract that we would not be paid ourselves. So thou shall not, [00:16:08] Michael King: I don't know if this is applicable here, but this is something that we've seen in our firm. When you have a business, oftentimes there is a manager that's assigned in the operating agreement that says, you know, either an individual or a company will be the manager.[00:16:26] Of the business. Okay, so you and I go into business. We're 50/50 partners, and in the operating agreement it says Acme Management will be the manager of the business, and they're in charge of the day to day operations. and we say that Mike King and Lauren Schwab will not pay compensation out of the business until whatever point.[00:16:47] Michael King: However when you look a little closer, Acme Management is owned by Mike King. [00:16:52] Acme Management gets a management fee, right? And so that's a way that legally, you know, you could say, well, the partners aren't going to get paid, but, we're going to have this management company. And then it turns out I am the management company.[00:17:08] It's a company of one, and I get paid. And oftentimes, you know, we've seen this before where, let's say there was a $150,000 capital contribution put into the business by each of us. And we'll say, Hey, we're going to not do profit shares until that $150,000 capital contribution is recouped.[00:17:28] But what you'll also see in some of these agreements is it'll say, but that's up to the sole discretion of the manager. And so I could say, Hey, we're not going to pay that $150 capital contribution back, but we're going to hire Acme Marketing to now do the marketing for the company. And guess what? I own acne marketing too, right?[00:17:50] And so even though there's profitability on the business, and Michael King and  Lauren Schwab aren't getting paid. I am still effectively getting paid. And we saw somebody get really burned by that. I mean, but we weren't talking hundreds of thousands, we were talking millions of dollars.[00:18:06] And luckily this individual came to us and said, Hey, what are the holes here from a financial perspective that I don't see. And we showed her that and ended up, she pulled out of that deal, thankfully because she was completely helpless, and it was a 50/50 ownership. And so she couldn't do anything about it.[00:18:24] She would've been stuck because it would have taken a majority of the ownership to vote out the management company that they both own 50%. So anyway, all that to say there's a lot of loopholes in these kinds of things. A lot of ways that people like you can get burned. Really, suggest not only consulting legal counsel, but also financial counsel because they look at those contracts through different lenses and really find out what are the holes, where are the ambiguous points that people can get burned.[00:18:54] The other thing, Lauren, that I think is this super advisable in deals like that is in the operating agreement stipulates that a third party, a CPA firm will present audited financials quarterly [00:19:09] Michael King: to all of the shareholders, and that those reports will be emailed directly from the auditing firm to the shareholders, not through the president, not through the CEO, not through another partner.[00:19:21]but directly that way. There are no surprises. It's a third party that you all agree on ahead of time. You know that all of you say, Hey, we're going to use Acme CPAs, right? And that way you have that unedited access to the financials, and there's really no room to hide because you start getting, you know, hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars into a venture.[00:19:43] You know, me personally, I don't want to take that on a pinky promise that you know, CFO, Fred is keeping my interests, above board. [00:19:52] Lauren Schwab: So, it's so important because it's very rare that people, you know, when you get into business like this and there is money involved in all of that, that they will stay true to who they are.[00:20:05] Because I see the good in people and I know that there, there is that there. I just think that they get stressed and whatever. Maybe it's not going as they anticipated and stuff like that. And so they make some, some choices that aren't, you know, what maybe they would typically do. And that's really, really a benefit.[00:20:21] I said, you just gave and moving forward, it's just like, I'm so grateful for that. That happened early on in my entrepreneurial journey so that I could learn all that stuff and move forward. Knowing that like getting legal advice, giving financial advice, all of that stuff, and just being ahead of it.[00:20:36] Being a couple of steps ahead instead of being so trusting, because that is something that I really love about myself. And I think that's also a little small town, Kansas girl that doesn't lock your car doors or the house doors and just trust everyone. and so it's just like, Oh yeah, you seem like a good person and this will be fun.[00:20:51]and so just moving forward, kind of getting ducks in a row and I feel like it's helped set the tone for where I'm at now. So I'm so grateful for that and I'm grateful for my partners. I really truly believe I picked the perfect partners to teach me the lessons I needed to learn to move on and grow.[00:21:06] Michael King: When you realized that everything was going sideways and somebody brought these things to your attention, I think a lot of people would have been inclined to sue the shit out of them and make a big ordeal. How did you handle it?[00:21:16] Lauren Schwab: For me it's all about energy. And although I'm not going to lie and say I didn't cry every single day for like quite a while, just because I felt like I had poured my heart and soul into this and I felt like I had been on the up and up and communicating and honest and having integrity and all of that.[00:21:34] And I just felt really betrayed and you know, all of that kind of stuff. So I was definitely hurt, and everyone advised me to go to court. You're going to win, you're going to get all this money, blah, blah, blah. And for me, it wasn't about the money. It was about the energy of how long is this going to go on?[00:21:50] Is this going to be five years, six years until this thing is settled? I didn't want to be energetically tied to these people anymore after what they had done. And so for me, I was really willing to say, you know what? I'm going to pray for them because I truly believe that only hurt people hurt people.[00:22:07] And so whatever was going on in their life, like at the time or previously, whatever happened to them and their experiences, and maybe they had partners that didn't go well. So they were having trouble trusting and they were acting out on that stuff. So I prayed about it a lot and I just released it with love.[00:22:22] I was like, you know what, I want out of this, that I feel like I'm giving up a child right now. Like my, my unborn child. I feel like I'm giving it up. But also at the same time, I know that that energetic release will open more doors for me, and I'll be able to move forward with a smile on my face and with my head held high, and so I just decided to let that one go.[00:22:44] Michael King: two pretty big blows in your life. Now, one is, you know, half a million dollars lost two is Travis Kelsey picture.[00:22:58] We all learn, and we all grow right. So you paid an expensive college tuition there in business. How did you pick yourself up and carry on? What did you do next? [00:23:10] Lauren Schwab: Well, first of all, I had to check my ego at the door because I was now in a financial position that I'd never been in. I kind of put it all on the line.[00:23:19] Everything I had saved up to this point, I poured into this and put all that time and energy into that. I wasn't putting it into anything else. So all of a sudden, I just woke up one day and. Everything was gone, including my bank account and all of that. And I'm like, I have a decision right now. I could move home with my grandparents in Kansas, or I take a job somewhere else, a corporate job that I'd actually never had a corporate job.[00:23:40] I'd always wanted to be an entrepreneur since before I could spell entrepreneur back in the day.[00:23:50] So I knew that. And so I kind of had always had these different jobs and done my own thing. But I actually ended up accepting a job at Equinox as a fitness manager. And so just that title in general, going from like business owner, gym owner to fitness manager, felt like down so I was like, you know what?[00:24:09] You've got to write out your list, pros and cons. And I did that, and I took eight months to make this decision. By the way, it wasn't like overnight. I really did kind of  like, [00:24:18] Lauren Schwab: I didn't rush into it at all. so I did a few other little side things before that. But I ended up looking at my pros and cons list one last time, 147 times, and I realize that.[00:24:30] The cons were all made up stories like it's what potentially could happen in the future that had not happened yet. The pros were the pros. I can tell much you're gonna make stability, this and that. You can save up money. This is what's going to happen. But the cons are like, won't get to travel, won't get to see my family, like going to work too many hours, not fun.[00:24:48] You know, all that. And I'm like, Whoa, I haven't even tried it yet. So like get in there, get in the game, find out. And also at the same time. I want it to be able to help people in the future that were in corporate jobs that weren't happy to move into entrepreneurship. And I'm like, who would I be to never have a corporate job but want to lead people to a place that I've never been.[00:25:07] So I was like, you know what, if anything, this is market research to go in there, have a corporate job, see what it feels like. So I actually can say to people, I know how you feel because I've been there, and I couldn't say that before. So I decided I'm going to go in there, see what happens with an open mind.[00:25:20] I actually released all of the thoughts and everything I had about it and I'm like, I'm going to go in there with a completely open mind. And I truly did have fun for a little while. And I think that happens in life. You have fun until it's not fun, right? Cause I did get to the point where I felt[00:25:34] underappreciated, undervalued, underpaid, all the things that you know, typically people say is how I truly felt and when that expiration date came, I made sure I got out of there because. You know, when things surpass expiration dates, they get sour and it really is not fun anymore. So I learned a lot in that process.[00:25:52] What did you learn? Well, I learned that the ego has nothing to do with it, honestly. Like when you think you're taking a step back, sometimes you need to realize that there's a catapult back there that's going to launch you way further than you were before. So where I was owning these gyms, I was plateaued.[00:26:07] I was just going to own these gyms. Right? But like what was really above that? That was it. But stepping back and getting that caterpillar, like pulling the bow and arrow, right? He pulls back before you go forward. So it was like, okay, step back, see what you need to learn here so you can get further than you were before.[00:26:20] And it actually ended up being the perfect place because I was so unhappy at the end that I'm like, you know what? I'm never working for anyone or with anyone ever again. Right. So that was the thing that actually lit the fire for me to start my own thing, to finally believe in myself and say, I'm tired of building other brands.[00:26:37] I'm ready to build my own brand. And I had saved up enough money in that year working there that I knew, Hey, I have six months here to see if this thing can get off the ground and make it happen. And I did. And so I learned a lot about who I was and what I was capable of and how strong I truly was.[00:26:56] And also the belief that you know what? Like when you actually believe in yourself, you can do anything like really anything is possible.[00:27:04] Michael King: When you think about practical, tactical lessons learned from Equinox, can you think of something that either they do this really well and I'm going to take that with me and make sure that I apply it to my next venture, or was there anything that they did particularly bad.[00:27:21] You said, I'm going to take that with me and make sure I never ever do that[00:27:25] Lauren Schwab: What I absolutely love is that they provide continuing education and you are paid to be educated, right? So you're like paid to go to school instead of paying for school. And I don't know any other place that truly does this outside of like scholarships and things like that, but I love that they're not like, once you get here, that's it.[00:27:45] And you know everything. No, we're going to keep providing this for you and keep educating you. And that is something that I love in life. I'm a student of life and I recommend to everyone to continue educating themselves, continue learning, going to get other certifications, going to seminars, going to retreats, going to conferences, all of that.[00:28:03]and just continuing to grow and get better. Like we're never going to know it all and we needed to stay kind of on top of things. So I really liked the support they gave with that. And I just have to be completely honest as far as how they treat me, and how they pay and all that kind of stuff.[00:28:19] Trainers, I don't, I just don't think it's good. Like they don't pay them enough. They expect a lot. For example, they don't pay him much and expect a lot and don't want them to have other jobs outside of there. Right. Like don't want them training anybody outside of there. Don't want them doing anything else, but it's like you're really not paying them enough to survive.[00:28:37] So I don't like the rules and regulations around that. It's like I feel like supporting them, let them go have other clients so that they're happy. Right? If they have other clients and they're making enough money, they're going to be happier to come to work and then perform better and show up better for themselves and their clients as opposed to always feeling like they're doing something wrong or having to hide stuff all the time.[00:28:55] Cause that's what ends up happening. They're going to do it anyways, but they're hiding it. So it feels icky. It fills out of integrity. they, they say like, they're getting called out all the time instead of supported in that way. When [00:29:06] Michael King: You made the decision to leave Equinox, what, was next? What do you do now?[00:29:13] Lauren Schwab: You know what's really cool is that a breakthrough that I had when I was leaving Equinox, cause I, I'd always been kind of like quote unquote called the girl that never quit. Like she'll never quit. She's just going to keep going. And I really held on to that, I guess the image you would call it is like I'm not a quitter.[00:29:27] And I realized I didn't like that. Yo, it's okay to quit when it's time to move on to the next chapter in your life. It's actually okay to quit no matter what it is. If it's a job, it's, it's a relationship like anything, it's actually okay to quit. [00:29:41] Michael King: How do you think through that, whether it's a relationship, a job, a business venture, a reality show?[00:29:46] How do you think through, Hey, it's time for me to step away from this? [00:29:50] Lauren Schwab: I feel like it hits you one day. What kind of, like I said earlier, when it's just not fun anymore, right? Like when the relationship isn't fun anymore. When the job's not fun anymore, when life's not fun, it's like, okay, it's time to move on.[00:30:02] It's time to make that decision. Like, are you really gonna stay? And I always think about the expiration date. I really do. I'm like, okay, are you really going to stay past this expiration date? Cause it really does get sour. You're not excited to get up in the morning and you're not excited to go there.[00:30:14] You're not excited for who's there, nothing like that anymore. and the same thing in a relationship, right? If you're not happy when you wake up in the morning and you're not happy, who you see when you roll over, like you're just not enjoying it anymore, then it's time to make the decision. And I definitely am guilty of staying in things longer than I wanted to.[00:30:31] And I don't know exactly if that comes down to safety, security or whatever. I'm just in a place now where it's really quick. Like when I just don't feel it. I'm like, all right. Gotta go. Cause I have that awareness that it's okay to quit. I feel like in my mind, I was programs that like, you can't quit, like don't give up.[00:30:47] keep working on this. And I just don't believe that you have to do that anymore. I feel like you really, and I'm not saying like just quit everything cause it's not fun. Or whenever, I think you'll know the difference between if it's serving your highest good or not. [00:30:59] Michael King: Yeah, I think it's, that's challenging because we always tell ourselves.[00:31:05] Hey, the best things in life are the things you have to work the hardest for. And a lot of times hard work isn't fun, you know? So how do you think through that?  how do you think through, like, you know, Hey, I set out to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. I got two thirds of the way up and fuck, this isn't fun anymore.[00:31:25] I wake up and I'm lying next to a frosted dude and I know that we still have, you know, five days or something left to go. This isn't fun. How do you differentiate that between it's time to bounce out of this relationship? [00:31:38] Lauren Schwab: Wait, did that actually happen to you?  [00:31:40] Michael King: hell no. I'm not climbing up.  [00:31:42] Lauren Schwab: Oh my gosh. I was like, wait a sec.[00:31:48] Michael King: Yeah. So I should have gotten with it. But no, no. There's a lot of times in business and then school and relationships when it's not fun. So how do you distinguish between it's time to, it's time to bounce, not fun, and then it's time to just keep grinding through it, even though it's not fun. [00:32:05] Lauren Schwab: Well, I think you have to know your goal in life, and so you have this thing that you're striving for.[00:32:11] And if it isn't in alignment with that. It's not going to help you grow. It's not going in the direction that is going to help you get to your highest self. Then it would be a no and you would bounce out, but there's going to be things in life for me because since you brought up Everest, I hiked Kilimanjaro, so it was very exciting and fun saying yes to that and going.[00:32:31] But yes, there are times where I actually thought I was going to die. Like I mean I literally was like, yeah, I have one more step and I'm a goner. Like this isn’t for me. And at the same time, my goal was to get to the top of Kilimanjaro, which means I knew which way I was headed. So I'm willing to work hard for that and I'm willing to let it suck a little bit.[00:32:47] Because I know what the scaling at the top is going to be. Cause I've been at the top of mountains before and I knew this was the hardest one in the longest hike and all of that. So I knew how rewarding it was going to be at the top. So of course I wasn't going to quit that. Like that was a goal. I set out for that and that's what I was going to achieve as, I mean, I was going to do everything in my power to get to the top of that mountain.[00:33:07] So I feel like that's kind of the difference. If you know, I'm starting a business right now and I know what my end goal is. Yeah, there's some days that are not going to be super fun. There's going to be extra legwork and in like. Spreadsheets and stuff that I don't love to do, but I'm going to do it because I know what my goal is, and I'm headed in that direction.[00:33:24] And the same thing in a relationship. If I know the end goal and I'm for sure going to marry this person, like, okay, I know this is the person. Yeah, I'm going to work through that. I'm going to communicate, I'm going to do whatever it takes, right? But if there's something in my mind that's like, this isn't my person, I know this isn't who I'm going to end up with, and then it becomes not fun, then I'm going to leave.[00:33:40] Right? It's like sometimes you'll just stay in things cause like it's kind of fun, but you know that that's not for you. But there's a point where it's. Just like no more. And that was, that was Equinox for me too. It was like, okay, well this is kind of fun. I'm meeting some cool people and doing some fun things like kind of okay.[00:33:54] Like whatever. But it wasn't my ultimate goal to move up through Equinox through the ranks at Equinox. I wasn't gonna go any further than that. So I knew that. So when that time came, it was easy to peace out. [00:34:06] Michael King: My big takeaway from that is, well, what are the fricking odds that I pick? I know all the hard things in the world to do.[00:34:12] I pick summiting Mount Kilimanjaro and the person I'm interviewing summited Mount Kilimanjaro.[00:34:22] Lauren Schwab: I didn't tell him the dark people because there actually were people on Kilimanjaro that the body is, you know what I mean? Like you're talking about, so like it's real. [00:34:32] Michael King: Yeah. I did take the stairs at work today though, so I kind of get where I get it. So I think we got off topic. What are you doing today?[00:34:42] Lauren Schwab:  What am I doing? Literally today, [00:34:45] Michael King: not today. Like you know, you're going to the gym in 20 minutes, but you left Equinox in that one post Equinox view right? [00:34:53] Lauren Schwab: So post Equinox, I decided to kind of fulfill my lifelong dream of just hosting events and retreats. So I became a live event host retreat. Hosts started hosting live events all over little pop ups all over the U S and then did several retreats.[00:35:09] And then people were reaching out to me organically like, Hey, how do you do a retreat? And I'm like, Oh, cool. I'm a retreat coach now. So I started doing retreat coaching and I helped a bunch of people launch their first retreats, sell out retreats, live events, and such. Quickly built up to 23 clients, one on one clients with the retreat launch formula, and then realize, okay, I don't want one on one clients anymore.[00:35:30] This is just a lot. So I was like, Oh, I'll move into a group model, which turned into a mastermind model. And so that's what I'm currently doing.  I'm doing a mastermind model. Six months, a transformational leadership program, and within that, there are still in-person retreats and there's also live events and things like that.[00:35:47] So I'm still doing everything that I love. I'm just putting it into a different container and that feels really good right now. [00:35:56] Michael King: What does a coach do and what is a mastermind? There is a coach for everything. Now, I was talking to a guy earlier today. He has a photography coach.[00:36:06] There's coaches. we, we know a soul coach. You and I know, and then you're a retreat coach. What is coaching? And when somebody hears coaching, what does that mean? Cause, I don't think that’s really gone to the East coast so much yet.  I don't think it's as popular on the East coast as it is on the West coast.[00:36:24] Lauren Schwab: I love that, and I think that, I just relate to the word coach because I grew up playing sports. I've played sports my entire life. So to me, I'm like, Hey, coach me in this, like the basketball coach, you've obviously played basketball. You know what to do. So show me what to do. Like give me the blueprint and give me the formula and I'm going to follow it.[00:36:40] So I relate to that. I love having coaches, but some people might call them guides. Guide me in the right direction, be my vehicle, get me from point a to point b. Right? So basically someone has an idea, we'll just use the retreat coaching. They want to host their first retreat. They don't know where to start, where to go, what to spend money on, what not to spend money on, how to get sponsors, how to get people there in general, all of that.[00:37:04] So they need a guide, or they need a coach. That's where I come in. So it's like you're at point a. Point b would be selling out your retreat making $10,000 on the retreat, plus an extra $30,000 adding on some coaching or something like that. Right. So we figure out what that is, and we get them there. And so that could be anything as a simplicity coach, teaching people how to be more.[00:37:22] Simple and live their lives more simply. Right. So that's kind of the coach aspect of, if you will. [00:37:29] Michael King: Is that a modern word for consultant? [00:37:31] Lauren Schwab: Definitely. Yeah, I think people can use it. Again, I feel like consultant might be the New York version, right? I'm a consultant.  Even some of the clients that I have right now that I'm helping with business, I'm like, okay, well what do you, what do you relate more to?[00:37:45] And like, I think I'm a consultant. Same thing they're doing. They're teaching people the same thing as a coach or a guide or spirit guide, whatever. [00:37:54] Michael King: Euphemisms are my favorite. And then what about mastermind? How is coaching or consulting different from a mastermind? [00:38:00] Lauren Schwab: So coaching is typically done one on one.[00:38:04] There's group settings as well. As far as coaching goes, I like to do one-on-one coaching. as opposed to one on 20. but the mastermind model brings in other people, so you could get one or two coaches, but also you get 15 to 50. I mean, depending on what mastermind you're in, other people, and I believe they are masters of their mind, right?[00:38:24] So they all bring something unique and different to the table. And this goes all the way back to. Jesus. He had a mastermind, right? He had his 12 disciples so it can go all the way back. And it's like, yeah, he had, that was his mastermind. And there's so many greats that have come and gone, and they all had their masterminds because they realized that as one person, they didn't know everything, but as a collective, they knew a lot more.[00:38:45] So they would bring all these amazing people together and through that they can collaborate. And so it's this thing now where I truly believe. Collaboration over competition is our future. The only person, the person that you should be competing with is yourself just to get a little better every single day.[00:39:00] But other than that, you're going to go so much further with people than you are going to go alone, and you're going to go a lot faster with people than you would go if you're going at it alone. So really looking at that like, okay, yes, we're going to have these coaches, these people that are helping us, but we're also going to have a group of humans that are going to come together collectively and raise our awareness, raise our consciousness, and really just give us the results that we've been looking [00:39:22] Michael King: When you think of a coach as compared to a mastermind facilitator, what is one called that leads a mastermind? [00:39:34] Lauren Schwab: I would say a facilitator I use that word. My reason in general is to facilitate relationships so we can live in a more connected world. So I would call myself a facilitator of relationships so that we're all more connected.[00:39:47] Michael King: So when you think about a good coach or consultant and you think about a good mastermind facilitator, those aren't necessarily the same person or the same set of skills, I'm imagining. How do you distinguish between a good coach versus a good mastermind facilitator? And the reason I ask is the word coach is hot right now, especially on the West coast.[00:40:10] Masterminds are very, very popular now. The pastor at my church has a mastermind, right? They can be expensive, right? They can be a couple of hundred bucks a month. They can be tens of thousands of dollars. What should somebody look for in a coach and what should somebody look for in a mastermind facilitator?[00:40:28] Lauren Schwab: So for a coach, you really want to look at somebody who has done what you want to do and has done it successfully. I feel like they are the ones that are going to have the roadmap to get you to where you want to go and whatever area is that you're moving into. A mastermind facilitator can also be a coach and have results in a lot of different areas, but really, I believe what mastermind facilitators are best at are bringing people together.[00:40:51] They're like master recruiters, and they see the best in every single person and what uniqueness they bring to the table, and they like to facilitate a container. They facilitate a space of people. And so they might not be the one that will be coaching everything they might bring on other coaches to teach different lessons.[00:41:09] So instead of that one coach teaching all the lessons, so say you're a coach and you give 12 sessions and you teach all 12 of them, as opposed to if you're a mastermind facilitator, you might coach one of the 12 sessions and get 11 other coaches to teach on other topics. So you're really bringing in experts in each of the topics that you're talking about to teach.[00:41:28] Knowing that, Hey, yeah, I can teach on all 12 of these topics, but I'm not a master or an expert in each of those, and so I'm going to bring in the master of each of those.[00:41:38] Michael King: Do you have a coach? [00:41:39] Lauren Schwab: Yeah, I always, I have coaches. I have mentors, I'm in masterminds. So yeah, I, I believe trainers need trainers.[00:41:46] Coaches need coaches, mentors need mentors. If you're going to  facilitate a mastermind. You better be in a mastermind. [00:41:54] Michael King: Tell me about your events that you host now. Who are they for? What do they do? Should I be there? [00:41:59] Lauren Schwab: Absolutely. So, I moved from all my events last year, all were called unplugged. So they were unplugged and unplugged in Hawaii.[00:42:08] I'm plugged in XY on bugs, all the unplugs. So the whole premise was that disconnecting to reconnect to your true self, unplugging from all the external outlets and plugging into your internal outlet, plugging into your purpose. And so that was a beautiful journey. And I still highly recommend people take time every single day to unplug.[00:42:28] This year I've moved more into like leadership retreats, so they're way more focused on leadership skills, how to be the leader of your life, the leader of others, all of that. again, like I said, you can't lead people to a place that you've never been. One of my favorite books, if anybody, they need to read it.[00:42:44] It's called lead like Jesus. And I absolutely love it. It's the best book I've ever read as far as it coming to management, leadership, all of that. Because in my mind, Jesus was the best example of that. And he is my role model. So just be a little more like Jesus every day. So that's really what I've kind of taken into account for these events that are coming up this year, and we're doing.[00:43:08] Three-day business intensive. So it's like business. Launch your business in a weekend business in a box type style. So you leave with your website and your social media and everything just like ready to go. Cause I think in life the biggest thing is people just don't take action. They keep waiting and waiting for this perfect time or to be ready when ready isn't even real.[00:43:25] It's not even a thing. We're always going to feel like we could have prepared a little bit more and so business in a box launched your business in a weekend. We're also going to be doing two live events that are leadership focused, bringing in different experts, having them come in and speak. Really the whole goal with all of this, like I said, collaboration, but community and connection.[00:43:43] Getting people face to face, getting out from behind the screens, right. And just getting face to face, giving people real hugs, having real conversations, like the healing in this world is going to come from conversations. So really, I'm just facilitating more experiences like that for people to get in person.[00:43:59] So that's really kind of what the year looks like. We're also going to do a retreat at the end of the year, a happiness retreat, which I'm really excited about, where I'm partnering up with this amazing, incredible man that is a happiness expert. [00:44:13] Michael King: That’s really exciting. [00:44:16] Lauren Schwab: I'm so excited. [00:44:17] Michael King: Today I learned there is a happiness retreat. [00:44:22] Lauren Schwab: I’m honored. [00:44:24] Michael King: So, I am a reading fanatic, and I love that you suggest lead like Jesus. So, what I'd love to do, the first 10 people that email me at That's Just send me your name and mailing address and I will send you a copy of a lead like Jesus, either paperback or audible.[00:44:46] Just let me know what you want. [00:44:48] Lauren Schwab: yeah, thank you. [00:44:51] Michael King: I haven't read it, but it will be next on my list. If somebody wants to find out more about some of your events and retreats, where do they go? [00:45:00] Lauren Schwab: So retreats. They will go to and for anything, TLP, transformational leadership program related, whether that's a live event, mastermind or business intensive, you can go to [00:45:15] Michael King: I know you're a big Instagrammer.[00:45:17] How can they find you on Instagram? [00:45:18] Lauren Schwab: Sometimes I'm on the ground. Yeah. So it's an underscore Lauren Schwab.[00:45:27] Michael King: It's almost as bad as having a website that ends [00:45:30] Lauren Schwab:  or [00:45:31] Michael King: dot. C [00:45:32] Lauren Schwab: Oh gosh. [00:45:36] Michael King: Awesome. Well, Lauren, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your story. I really appreciate it. [00:45:40] Lauren Schwab: Thank you for having me.[00:45:50] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify.  Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Jason B.A. Van Camp is what Malcolm Gladwell would refer to as an Outlier; an exceptional person who is successful not just because of his personal accomplishments but his will to win and unique ability and willingness to unlock the potential of others. A decorated Green Beret, world traveler, and loyal friend, Jason has mastered the art of storytelling that reflect many of his own life adventures.  Jason is honored to be the Founder and Chairman of Mission 6 Zero as well as the Executive Director of Warrior Rising.Connect with Jason:FacebookLinkedInWarrior Rising on LinkedInWebsites:Warrior RisingMission Six ZeroConnect with KFEKFE SolutionsKFE BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00]Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.[00:00:23] As everybody listening to this podcast knows, starting a business is really, really hard, managing employees and having difficult conversations. Those are some of the hardest things that you can do in business, but that can get even harder when you build a team that consists of close friends, former colleagues or family members.[00:00:47] I think a lot of that difficulty can come from a number of areas. Maybe you make some assumptions about those people because of things in their personal life. Maybe it's just awkward to have difficult conversations with them, because maybe they've seen you at your worst in your personal life at some time before, but either way it's a big challenge to build a business with family members, friends and colleagues.[00:01:14] Sometimes when you go into business with people like that, it can have unintended negative consequences with those personal relationships. So today, we're going to talk with Jason Van Camp. Jason Van Camp is kind of a big deal. He's a former Green Beret and he started a company years ago.  A consulting business that's consulted for the New York Jets and some major corporations.[00:01:39] Then a few years ago he found it in his heart to start a nonprofit that exists to help veterans. Learn how to start a business from the ground up, and not only start a business, but connect them with funding to connect them with a community of other people, other entrepreneurs that can help them.[00:01:58] Then to connect them with mentors that can help them, you know, kind of deep dive into their business. So we have a really information dense episode today with Jason Van Camp, where we're going to talk about some of the mistakes he made by hiring close friends and former colleagues in his consulting business.[00:02:15] We're also going to spend a little time talking to him about his nonprofit and how he's working to serve his fellow veterans. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Jason Van Camp. Jason Van Camp, thank you so much for joining today. [00:02:30] Jason Van Camp: Hey, Michael, thanks for having me, brother. I appreciate it, man. I'm excited to join you. [00:02:35] Michael King: Yeah, this is exciting. I think you're the first, military veteran that I've had on the show other than myself, obviously, so this'll be exciting. But you're an army guy, right? [00:02:45] Jason Van Camp: Yeah, that's right.  Green beret you know, that's kinda what I did with my military career.[00:02:52] Michael King: All the usual stuff, right. No big deal. [00:02:54] Jason Van Camp: Yeah. You know, tons of us out there and I'm proud to be a member of the community. [00:02:59] Michael King: We'll talk a little bit more about your background, but before the call you were telling me one of your big business lessons was it can be dangerous to get into business with friends.  That some of the things that inevitably come up in business can really change friendships and sometimes not for the better.[00:03:17] Before we get into the details of that. Jason, can you kind of take us back a little bit, touch on your military background maybe a little bit more in detail, and then when you came out, how did you get into business? How did you get in business with a friend and walk us through what happened?[00:03:32] Jason Van Camp: Sure, so my military career, I graduated from West Point in 2001, 9/11 occurred when I was at OBC officer basic course, and it kinda changed my perspective on what I wanted to do in the military instead of, you know, continuing on. In the field artillery branch. I wanted to do more. I wanted to be at the tip of the sphere.[00:03:51] So I volunteered to go to ranger school. Then I volunteered to go to the special forces selection qualification course, and now ultimately became a Green Beret commander, deployed three times to the Middle East. Not really interested in a career. You know, I had a lot of fun, had a lot of tough times.[00:04:08] We took the fight to the enemy. You know, we did some great things, so I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish.[00:04:13] Michael King: Awesome.  When did you decide to transition from the military to the civilian world? [00:04:18] Jason Van Camp: So I enjoyed my military career a lot and I didn't think I was going to go 20 years, but when I was on a JCET, a joint combined exchange training with the Malian echelon-teak, and to RNA.[00:04:31] So kind of indigenous forces in the country of Mali, I got really sick.  I'm on a mission. We were fighting Tuareg rebels and I was checking the security of their patrol base and we were out in the jungle. You know, crazy area. And, like I said, I got sick and ultimately it was better I get back to the embassy in Bamako for a few days.[00:04:53]I recovered, I went back to my team, and then shortly thereafter we deployed back to the States. When I got back to the States, I had a tonic clonic seizure. So I kind of woke up in my bed and there were paramedics, firefighters and policemen, probably 12 people, and all standing in my room in the middle of the night.[00:05:12] Now it was kind of like, who are you guys? Like, what are you doing in my house? What are you doing here? And they informed me that I had a seizure. My body was sore. I bit my tongue really, really hard. I could taste the blood in my mouth.  Unfortunately, ever since then, I developed a seizure disorder.[00:05:29] As a result of that, the military wouldn't let me stay. Let's see, three years after I had my first seizure I fought it. You know, I went to all the top neurologists and ultimately the army said, listen, we don't know what's wrong with you, you can't deploy, you can't shoot, you can't jump. Hell, you can't even drive yourself, you know? So, we're gonna give you a medical retirement. [00:05:52] Michael King: For me and a lot of other people, the transition from the known of the military with a guaranteed paycheck, you know what to do every day, you know what to expect for the most part, then transitioning into the civilian world and having to find a job and a career,[00:06:08] can be really scary. I imagine for you it was probably even more so the case because it was kind of the medical thing that led you in that direction. How did you work through the next steps figuring out what to do next? [00:06:23] Jason Van Camp: You know, I never let that condition bring me down. I never let it bother me.[00:06:29] I always kind of felt in my heart, like I would figure a way out, to kick it, and you know, the doctors gave me medicine, which kind of made me totally loopy, changed my personality around it. Whether it worked or didn't, I have no idea. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't. And I take that medicine as well.[00:06:47] I was like, you know what? I don't want to live my life like this. I want to choose my own destiny. Choose how I live my life. So, I said to myself, when I got out of the military the same question everybody asks, what's next? What am I going to do with myself? I looked around and I saw.[00:07:04] A lot of my friends joined medical sales companies and I said, you know what, I don't really want to do that. God bless them, they're doing great work. They're making a lot of money. It seems like they're really happy. I don't feel like that's my fate. I saw other friends that were starting their own businesses and they were really successful, and they were making a lot of money and they were having a great time.[00:07:26] And I said, that kind of feels more like what I want to do. And my mother told me when I was young, show me your friends and I'll show you your future. So I started a business and I started a business knowing that I wanted to do something that I was knowledgeable about and passionate about. I was very passionate about leadership.[00:07:45] And I was passionate about relationships and friends. And I always thought that life isn't about trophies, it's about people. It's about the relationships that you have with those people. So I started a company called mission zero. I started it, initially because of the people that I served with, my former commanders and my bosses[00:08:08] I thought they were the most amazing leaders I've ever met in my life. Just guys I looked up to, wanting to emulate. I wanted other people to emulate it. I wanted my kids to, and the same thing with some of my peers, just amazing people, amazing leaders.[00:08:22] and some of my subordinates as well. So I got all the commanders and subordinates together and I said, guys, what do you say? We create a company where we provide leadership consulting services to corporations, businesses, and so forth. They all agreed. The guys that I had on the team were medal of honor recipients, you know guys that were navy seals, Green Berets, delta force, rangers, marines, unbelievable people.[00:08:49] Then we combined sciences, PhDs, researchers, experts, behavioral researchers and we combined forces. So we took the special forces and the science together, and we created a curriculum that we deliver to corporate clients as well as professional sports clients. That's what I did with myself.[00:09:09] I created a business. [00:09:12] Michael King: I think that most of our listeners are wondering, how did you do this successfully without having somebody from the submarine force on your team?[00:09:19] Jason Van Camp: Well that, you know, and the coast guard. So I'm not sure how we were able to do this without those guys. No idea. Dumb luck, I suppose.[00:09:29] Michael King: It sounds cool conceptually. Like, oh, we're going to just go grab this group of, you know, special forces guys and oh, let's grab some scientists too, and then let's just  go start a company where we talked to corporate clients about leadership. How did you do that? I mean, it sounds cool, but I mean.[00:09:47] Tactically making that a thing. That sounds challenging. [00:09:51] Jason Van Camp: Oh, it was incredibly challenging, especially when I had no idea what I was doing. I had received my MBA before I started the company. But I had no experience. I had absolutely no experience and the people on my team just trusted me to get the job done.[00:10:07] And because I had their support, it gave me a lot of confidence to figure things out. Now, I kind of joke with my dad that the Van Camp family motto is cart before the horse. You know what I mean? And so I feel like we were kind of building the plane as we were taking off, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs feel the same way as Simon Simek said, I believe this was Simon Sinek.[00:10:30] He said something like, if you're not embarrassed by your first attempt. You've waited too long, put together a curriculum and we went out there and we  landed an opportunity with the New York Jets. I started cold calling NFL teams. I found a list on google of phone numbers and I just started cold calling alphabetically.[00:10:53] I finally got to the New York Jets and they picked up the phone they heard my pitch, my elevator pitch, you know, 30 seconds. And they said, you know what, we really like your enthusiasm. You seem like a great guy. We'll let you come up here and pitch to our head coach, and our GM. But just so you know, we're not going to hire you.[00:11:10] This is only for practice. No expectations. You're going to have to pay for your own flight, hotel, car and everything else, and you'll have 30 minutes tops. We need you to be up here on this day. So I thanked the gentleman that gave us the opportunity and I told him we'd be there. I got together with two of the members of my team and then went up to flood park, New Jersey and pitched to the New York Jets.[00:11:34] That was crazy because our car got a flat tire on the highway, in the pouring rain, so we're changing this tire, we're drenched, we hope to get to the jets compound early so we could practice and set up and everything. But as it turns out, we got to the location soaking, dripping wet, two minutes before we were set to present.[00:11:57] They met us in the lobby and then just ushered us into the conference room where the head coach, Rex Ryan and the GM, Mike Tan and all the coaches were ready for us. We weren't even prepared. We just had to go and do it. I think that kind of helped us in a way because we had nothing to lose.[00:12:15] We laid our hearts on the table, exposed our hearts, and we won the contract. That was our first ever client was in New York Jets. [00:12:24] Michael King: That's awesome. [00:12:30] Jason Van Camp: Nothing glorious about that. It's soaking wet and just looking like a bunch of rugrats.  Go in and have crazy fun. [00:12:33] Michael King: That's awesome. So let's talk a little bit more about the team that you put together to start this thing, where you buddies with any of these guys, where they, people that you had served with that you knew really well, or was it just a bunch of people you connected with over LinkedIn?[00:12:46] And. Just said, Hey, who's interested in this? And those were the ones that happened to raise their hand. [00:12:52] Jason Van Camp: man, they were all friends, not just friends, but close friends. All of these guys I trusted, I served with in combat, guys that I served under as far as by commanders. And you know, guys I served alongside with and guys I commanded in combat.[00:13:07] So, you know, they were all my friends. Looking back on things. It's so tough to start a business with your friends cause it's all about communication and it's all about, you know how people view you. When they view you a certain way as a friend, it's tough for them to view you as a boss or as a commander or somebody who's, you know, writing them a paycheck every, every month.[00:13:32] Or, you know, making decisions and in a business sphere, whereas they know you're not as experienced as other people are, and in the military, in combat, they know you've gone to the training, they know you're an expert, they know you. You've kind of proven yourself in a way, but in a business sense, there's a lot of trial and error,  and it's tough because every time you fail, you know you're losing money in some form or fashion.[00:14:04] Michael King: How do you handle that? What kind of things maybe came up along the way that put that to the test and how did you handle it? [00:14:12] Jason Van Camp: You know, looking back, hindsight is always 2020 as they say. Looking back on things like, it really comes down to communication, setting expectations, having those tough conversations before you even start, you know?[00:14:26] It's really tough to have those conversations, especially when you don't know where you're going with your business. If you're going to make money, if you're going to fail.  A lot of times my attitude is let's just do this and see what happens and then afterwards we can talk about it.[00:14:41] Whatever it is that we need to talk about, that's kind of setting people up for failure in a way. Like I said, communication and setting expectations, there's certain things that you need to discuss with your guys before you try to create a startup company or you bring people on as new hires, find out what their personal motivations are.[00:15:01] Find out what their vision is, what their dream is, what they want to accomplish. I'll give you a story that is not necessarily a business story.  A really close friend of mine, his name is Cameron, about four years ago, I was getting ready to get married for the first time, and he had been married for 10 years or so.[00:15:20] I really looked up to him and I thought he and his wife had a great relationship and I asked him and other people for advice say, what advice do you have for me? Like, how do you guys create a great marriage? What do you think? Cameron was like dude, listen, it's easy man. Marriage is easy.[00:15:38] Here's what you gotta do. He told me a few things, some pointers and everything. I took it to heart, and you know, I got married and my wife and I had been married for four and a half years now, and it's been fantastic. Cameron and I had lunch about two months ago, we were sitting down, we're eating, and I could tell he was not happy.[00:15:57] I asked him, what's up man? He seemed different. Men see things that are off, you know? And he said, well, Jay, listen, I'm getting a divorce. I was shocked. I was taken aback. I was like, bro,  you're getting a divorce? I thought everything was going so well, man.[00:16:11] I'm shocked, you know? And he's like, yeah,  so am I, I didn't really know what to make of it. I said, well, do you mind if you tell me the story? He said, well, I came home a couple of days ago, kids were playing in the house, I walked in, my wife was in the kitchen, and she said, Cameron, matter of factly, she said, I'm leaving.[00:16:33] You want to get a divorce? Cameron thought she was joking, he kind of looked at her, laughed a little bit, picked up the controller and was about to sit on the couch. Then she said, no, I want a divorce. I've been cheating on you for a year and I'm leaving tonight. Cameron was completely surprised.[00:16:56] He had no idea how to react to this. Like completely caught off guard, reverted to begging. He was like, please stay, can we talk about this? We've got kids, just stay and you know, what can we do? I can work on this. I can get better. I can do this; I can do that. She didn't care. She was emotionally checked out.[00:17:13] She had her bags packed, by the door. She picked up her bags and she was walking out and you know, Cameron was begging for her to stay. She said, you know what, okay, I'll give you one shot. She turned around, she dropped her bag, she looked at him and she said, okay, I will stay.[00:17:31] If you tell me one thing, tell me what my dream is. Tell me what my vision is. What do I want to do with my life? Cameron looked at her and he just shrugged his shoulders and he said, I don't know. She picked up her bags and she left. She's never been back. As Cameron and I were having this conversation over lunch, he says, you know, Jay, remember when you came to me?[00:17:55] He said, you know, help me have a successful marriage.  I told you marriage was easy. I was like, yeah, man, I do remember that. He said, well, it was easy for me, but it wasn't easy for her. We ended the conversation like that. Immediately I went home, I went to ask my wife, what's your vision?[00:18:16] You know, what do you want to accomplish in your life? Because I wanted to make sure that I never got put in a similar situation that Cameron did. So I tell you that story because everybody has their own agendas and you can't control that. A lot of times you can't know what those things are until you actually sit down, and you communicate on a deep, intimate level.[00:18:39] Michael King: Thinking back to the friendship issue that you had when you first started, was it that kind of communication that was lacking? Do you think that caused the riff? [00:18:50] Jason Van Camp: I do. I think it was me not knowing what questions to ask, you guys are joining me in this startup. What are your goals and aspirations?[00:19:01] What do you want to do with this company? How long do you want to be here? How much money do you want to make? What do you want to do with yourself? Those kinds of questions I didn't ask, you know, I didn't think to ask, I just felt like, hey, here's my top goal that we need to accomplish.[00:19:18] Let’s all band together, accomplish it, and then we'll move to the next step. But I didn't realize that all these folks had different goals. Hovering around nebulously, you know, in their own psyches and auras that I wasn't aware of. They were kind of doing their own thing in a way.  I'll tell you another story.[00:19:37] When we worked with the New York Jets,  I had a guy there named Matt Slawson who was a left guard, phenomenal All-Pro guy. He had been at GE with a team for about four years. After we finished one of our events with the Jets players, I asked him, I said, hey man, like how did it go? What do you think now?[00:19:54] Did you learn anything? He said, yeah, Jay, I learned a lot. I'll tell you what he said, see that guy over there, and he pointed across the way, there was a gentleman there named Jeff Cumberland. He was a tight end, with the Jets, and he'd be on the VLDL on the team for maybe three years. And he says, Matt says, you see.[00:20:15] That guy and I said, yeah. He's like, that's Jeff Cumberland. You know, we've been on the same team for now for about three years, and I'm a left guard. He's a tight end. We're on offense. We played virtually next to each other, and the first time I've ever said a word to Jeff was five minutes ago, and I said, wow, man, you guys have been on the same team for three years.[00:20:35] I just walked out of a meeting earlier today. With the Jets coach, Rex Ryan, and he was motivating the guys and yelling at them and shouting at them and saying things like, we're a family. We're brotherhood. We fight for the meds where our left and to our right now, how can you fight for the man? See your left and see a riot if you don't even know who that person is.[00:20:55] If you haven't even had a conversation with this guy and you only care about him, like why would you fight for him? And we had a great discussion about that with Jeff and Matt. And we were actually able to get them to communicate and to become friends. And Jeff, that season was the best season of his career because he felt more comfortable in the environment.[00:21:14] He was in the, you could fight for the meds was left on his rep because he knew who they were, and he felt like they had his back. That started to develop leadership skills based upon that conversation and the training that we gave him. So much so that later on in his career, you know, other NFL teams would bring him on, not because of his play on the field, there's a left guard, but because he had such a great reputation as being a leader.[00:21:38] A leader in the locker room, a guy that could bring people together and things like that. And so that's so critical and so critically important to succeed as a team, to communicate. You know, the guys that might seem kind of the same thing, like, you know, you gotta communicate, you gotta get on the same wavelength.[00:21:56] If you're not, you're just going to shoot yourself in the foot. You know, for me, we're working with friends. My biggest pet peeve, bugaboo, you know, issue was whatever I felt like guys were taking advantage of me. You know, I've got a huge heart and I'll honestly, I'll give guys the shirt off my back. I'm loyal as the day is long and I pride myself in those things.[00:22:19] I value those things. I love being loyal and I love to receive the feeling of loyalty back, you know? But whenever somebody on my team, whatever, I feel like they seemingly took advantage of me in some way. You know, it's, it's hard for me to, to deal with that, you know? And that's an issue that I've had to overcome.[00:22:40] Michael King: I was leading a strategy planning session with a nonprofit that I work with this weekend, and we're trying to get some clarity around the direction of the nonprofit and who exactly who we want to serve and how we want to do it. I used Patrick Lencioni's.[00:22:57] The Advantage as the framework. To walk through this in the first part of that process, Jason, is just to go around the room what's your name? Where are you from? How many siblings do you have? Where do you fall in there and what was the challenge that you had growing up? And as I was preparing for this, the strategy session, I was a little bit reluctant to put it into the format, because I said, well, most of these folks have been working together for years now in there.[00:23:27] It's a really tight group. Honestly. there's a lot of camaraderie. And I said, I think this will probably be a waste of time. And you know, it will probably just take a couple minutes. And interestingly enough, everybody learned something about everybody else in the room that day. It was such an eye opener that even teams that have been together, just like you talked about, like the jets teams that have worked together side by side with each other sometimes for years.[00:23:52] You don't stop to ask those kinds of what in hindsight looks like fundamental questions to get to know your brothers and sisters so that you can develop those more meaningful relationships and have it been more like a family. So I think it's a good reminder that we as leaders, we need to take the time and ask those questions and don't just assume that you know that the guy or gal to your left and right or that everybody else does as well.[00:24:15] Walk through that exercise and really get to know each other even with some really basic questions so that you can move the needle forward on the relationships. [00:24:25] Michael King: [00:24:25] I’m wondering, do you think that because you knew some of these men and women going into business with them together.  Since you knew them ahead of time.[00:24:36] Do you think that it's easier in that situation to not ask those questions? Like you talked about with what are your dreams? What's your vision? What are your aspirations? And I'm going to add a question in there that I found to be a good one to ask. What is your risk tolerance with this thing so that you think it's easier to avoid those questions because you just assume you know, because you were friends?[00:24:58] Or a coworker  ahead of time. [00:25:00] Jason Van Camp: Yeah. I think it is easier not to ask those questions because like you said, you feel like you already know them, you know? And it might be awkward to ask them those questions. What is a little bit out of character? You know? And then it's also. Probably when you were in that situation, you'd probably be asking yourself or think to yourself, why is this relevant?[00:25:19] Why is this necessary? Why do I even need to ask these questions? You know? But it's so critically important to really get to know people around you, what makes them tick, what motivates them, what drives them. And you'd be shocked to find out how deep some of your friends can get, you know, like with their goals and aspirations and their motivations and what's happened to them and their lives.[00:25:44] I grew up in Washington, DC and, when friends of ours, relatives, family members would come into town, they'd want to get a tour of DC, and we'd take them on a tour, and we'd drive them around. And it's kinda crazy. When you drive around and they're like, Oh, what's that? Oh, that's the department of the treasury.[00:26:02] Oh, can we go there? And you think to yourself, actually, I've never been there. I've lived here my whole life and I've never been there. I've never been to, you know, this Memorial. I've never, you just kind of take it for granted, you know what I mean? And you don't really get a chance to experience. The place that you live or the people that you're around, unless somebody new comes in and challenges you and gives you a different perspective and a fresh set of eyes, you know?[00:26:25] And that's what we do at mission 600. That's why consultants are important because they offer that fresh perspective. [00:26:31] Michael King: I want to talk a little bit more about warriors rising.  I'd like to hear your thoughts on why you started warrior rising. Who do you serve, how you serve them, and why this is such a passionate endeavor for you?[00:26:48] Jason Van Camp: Yeah, definitely. I'd be more than happy to. I'm very passionate about it. So it's a labor of love that really is, it's good for the soul, you know, and it's good to give back. but you want to spend your time doing something that, you know, offers real value. And so the genesis of more your rising really occurred when my company missions zero was trained in the Oakland Raiders a few years ago, and, brought out a lot of injured combat veterans to be my instructors.[00:27:19] To share their stories. It's cathartic for them to share their stories is powerful for the clients to hear these stories about the zillions and overcoming adversity. We did the event after the event and we were kind of hanging out celebrating and we were talking and I was an officer in the military as you guys know now, and it's been internalized and all officers to make sure your guys are taken care of you know?[00:27:40] So I started asking questions about their lives and you know, making sure that things were going well for them. And I just asked, you know, how are things going guys? Tell me what's new. And, guys were telling me, Hey, you know, like we get a large disability check from the government. There are all sorts of charities out there that take hunting and fishing charities to build homes for us.[00:28:00] They've got one guy who is a triple amputee. They got a $500,000 home bill for him in Montana where it's handicap accessible, it's fantastic. And I said, okay, great guys, I'm happy to hear that you guys are being taken care of and everything is well. And it was kinda quiet and guys were kind of looking down and I could tell something was up.[00:28:22] I said, well guys, talk to me like, what's going on? You know?  And they said, almost collectively, they said, Jason is not that great man. And I said, okay, well this sounds pretty good, man. Well, what's not so great about it? And they said, no, we go on this holiday, did fishing trips, and we had a good time.[00:28:38] And then we come home and nothing's changed for us. As a matter of fact, things were actually worse because we'd rather be hunting and fishing. You know? And when I would just sit here, and we wait for the next opportunity where someone can take us out for free to go hunting and fishing. And it kind of demotivates me in a way.[00:28:56] It kind of prevents me from doing things on my own, you know? I said, interesting. And the guy that had the home bill for him, he's like, you know, J I was grateful for somebody to think that they could build a home for me, and now looking at it like, I kind of resent this house. You know, I don't feel like I've earned this house.[00:29:15] I don't feel like I did anything to get a chance to live in this house. And, you know, I don't like living here anymore. And I sit outside of my front porch and I don't want to go inside, you know, because I don't want to feel bad. I sit outside, I smoke weed all day, and that's not me, man. And I never aspired to be like that.[00:29:34] I never wanted to be like that. I said, okay. I talked to him just like I would before they got injured. Just like brothers. That's how they want to be treated, how they want to be talked to? That's said, okay, what are you going to do about it? And they said, well, Jason, we joined the military for a reason, man.[00:29:48] We're disciplined, hardworking, patriotic, wanting to do more, wanting to give back, wanting to serve other people, and everybody serves us. Man. It just doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel good. And I said, okay. Again, like, what are you going to do about it? And I said, well, Jason, it comes down to, you know, having a purpose again in the military, we had a very clear purpose.[00:30:08] I said, okay. And I said, well, Jason help us. How did you find your purpose when you left the military? I said, guys as you know, I had this seizure disorder and it kind of forced me out and I guess the first thing I did was I started this business. And whether or not it succeeds or fails is completely on my shoulders.[00:30:26] I get a chance to bring you guys back out on the team. We'll get a chance to make money and add value to our clients, and we get a chance to, you know, hang out and have a great time. And I guess that's my purpose. Again, this is how I serve. So I continue to serve. This is my purpose. And they said, well Jason you know, we've kind of noticed that and we want to have that same experience as well.[00:30:47] And I was kinda confused. I'm like, what do you mean? And they said, well, we want to start a business too. And I said, okay, well how many of you guys want to start businesses? And they all kind of raised their heads. And I was like, wow, like you all do. You know, I was kind of shocked. And I said, well, how many of you guys have ideas?[00:31:04] And most of the guys' ideas, I think all of them had an idea. And so I said, okay, well, cool man. Let me, you know, let me hear it, what ideas you got. And we kind of went around and one by one guys were telling me their ideas. Most of the ideas were horrible, terrible ideas, you know, and, I would just tell him that bluntly, guys, this is no, don't do that.[00:31:26] This is dumb and here's why, you know? And they would thank me, and I thought to myself, okay. Yeah. I just saved this guy years of his life that he would've spent pursuing this idea. And I saved him his life savings. And he, you know, like I'm helping this guy out. And some of the ideas that I heard were really good.[00:31:42] And I said, you know what? That sounds good. You should do that. Show me your business plan and your proforma and your operating agreement, your SWOT analysis. And they were just like, what the hell are you talking about, man? And I said, listen, if you don't know what those things are you shouldn't start a business.[00:31:59] And they said, well, Jason, do you know what those things are? And I was like, well, yeah, like I got my MBA. And they're like, okay, well if you have that stuff, could you just give me your stuff and I'll just copy it? And I was like, bro, guys, you know, like, that doesn't work like that. You don't have to create your own stuff.[00:32:14] And I'm like, well, how do I learn about this? And I said, well, I got my MBA. I guess, you know, you could get your MBA as well, or you could go just YouTube some videos or Google some stuff. Man, you know, you guys are smart people. Just figure it out. And I just kind of left it like that. And, we had a great rest of the night.[00:32:30] We hung out and we left.  I went home and those would go by weeks. We build bonds in months. We build bonds. This conversation kept coming back to me and I couldn't kick it. I just kept thinking about this and I kept thinking, you know, I was really short, really Curt with these guys. They really reached out to me for help.[00:32:50] They really wanted to have purpose again. They needed my help. I could do more; I should do more. And finally I said, I will do more. And so I reached back out to those guys and other guys, veterans, and I said,  is this a problem guys? This is something you want to do. And we had long discussions about it, and I decided that at the very least, I could start a nonprofit to help veterans, in the most charitable way.[00:33:15] I know how to help them help themselves. And so we created Warrior Rising in 2015 and we really started getting it going in 2016 and last year we raised close to a million dollars and we helped 40 veterans every single week for a total of over a thousand veterans served in 2019. So we're really, really proud about that.[00:33:42] Now we help veterans in four very specific ways. One education, and you know, we've created an online trading platform or curriculum called the Warrior Academy that translates the military operations order into a business model. And I've gone through several iterations of that and we've received tremendous feedback and, we're really proud of what we've traded there.[00:34:05]the second pillar that we have is mentorship. And so we partner a veteran up with a one-on-one bedsore. Together they create a go to market strategy. Third thing is financial assistance. So we give grants, loans, and investments to veterans. And fourth, we have a community. So we have chapters, we call them platoons all over the country, and veterans and veterans’ supporters can get together.[00:34:29] It doesn't matter if you're a high-level CEO or you're a startup company guy, like we don't, you know, separate by class, everybody can come and hang out and enjoy each other's company and help each other out. And, you know, we do networking events and we do guest speakers. We do fun events, like we'll go to an NBA game or we'll do some shooting at the range.[00:34:52] So we build camaraderie, we build those that work, sustainable, meaningful relationships. And, and that's what we do at warrior rising. [00:35:00] Michael King:That’s absolutely amazing. So it's really what I'm hearing you say. It's kind of about educating and empowering veterans that want to start a business with a pretty like guided, legit curriculum, in process that's going to help them kind of flush out the idea and put together a no shit, go to market strategy and then put them in a community of others that can help them succeed.[00:35:23] And then, it is necessary to plug them in with the various forms of capital to help them fund their dreams and take it and get it off the ground. Is that right? [00:35:33] Jason Van Camp: That's right. That's right. [00:35:34] Michael King: How can people that want to get involved with warrior rising, find out more. [00:35:38] Jason Van Camp: Thank you for that question. So you can go onto our website and find out everything that we do.[00:35:46] You can see all of our finances, our bylaws, you know, you can get our nine 90 is on there. So you can really take a look and know that we're legit. You know, you can find out how if you're a veteran that you want to start a business, you can find out how to do that by applying, you know, we'll have a special intake manager call you within 48 hours to have a conversation with you about your business and why you want to start.[00:36:11] And then if you're a supporter, there's so many things that you could do to help us out. Of course, we need donations. We need money. We need foundation support with the company, donations to support our growth and so forth. 82.4% of every dollar goes back to the veteran. That was our percentage  in 2019.[00:36:31] You can be a platoon leader and your location and host events and help us sponsor events. You can sponsor a fundraising event. You can be a mentor to a veteran. You can be an investor to a veteran. You can be, somebody who can give a loan to a veteran, you know, and then most importantly, just be a good dude.[00:36:50] Just be a good person. You know, join us in our community. Attend events, help however you see fit. You know, feel good about yourself. Feel good about helping veterans, seeing them, helping themselves, you know, giving them a chance to learn how to fish rather than just giving them a fish. Right? So that's a very sustainable process that we've created, and we're very, very proud of that.[00:37:16] And we're always looking for people that want to help. They're of the right mindset and they are passionate about the veteran community. [00:37:25] Michael King: Now, I know you've also got a book coming out, right? [00:37:29] Jason Van Camp: I do. It'll be out one week from today, February 11th [00:37:32] Michael King: what is deliberate discomfort all about? [00:37:36] Jason Van Camp: Okay, so a deliberate discomfort.[00:37:38] The subtitle is how U S special operations forces overcome fear and dare to win by getting comfortable being uncomfortable. It's a leadership book for businesses and a self-improvement book for individuals. It will be out officially on February 18th so you can buy it on Amazon or wherever books are sold, and it contains our company curriculum.[00:37:58] Contains leadership lessons from veterans, Bentyl, Vata recipients, Green Berets, Navy seals, Marines, Rangers, unbelievable stories, true stories, true accounts. And then we have a scientist that takes those. Stories and the lessons in those stories, and they translate them into relatable and digestible action items.[00:38:20] So you can understand what is behind each chapter. So it's not just a motivational, inspirational story about a veteran, it's about lessons that you can take and apply it to your personal professional lives. And then at the end of each chapter, after you hear the veteran and the scientist, we come back in and we say.[00:38:40] Listen from a business standpoint and missions are zero. We've been in business for eight years. We worked with a number of clients, celebrity clients, professional sports clients, and here are some examples of how those clients took the lessons in this chapter and applied them to their own businesses for their own benefit.[00:38:58] And I figure, you know, to be the best. You've got to learn from the best. And who better than the guys I mentioned above the medal of honor guys, Navy seals, Rangers, Green Berets, Delta force guys who better than these heroes, you know, and I call them heroes because in my mind, heroes don't get a vote.[00:39:14] You know? And, and what people don't understand is when we say deliberate discomfort. You know, discomfort is not a negative thing. It's a positive thing. It's a growth mindset. And what we're trying to start a mission six zero is a deliberate discomfort revolution. [00:39:29] Michael King: I think it's going to be an amazing book.[00:39:31] In fact, I would love to connect some people with this book. So the first 10 people that go to I'm personally going to FedEx you a hard copy of Deliberate Discomfort. That way we can get the book out to some people and get the word out on how amazing it is. That link will be in the show notes.[00:39:52] So the first 10 people that come by give me your information and I'll send you a hard copy of the book, Deliberate Discomfort by Jason VanCamp. How about that? [00:40:04] Jason Van Camp: I love that, man. Thank you. Keep coming. Keep it going. This is awesome. [00:40:08] Michael King:  I'm all out. So, Jason, this was an education for sure.[00:40:13] I really appreciate you coming by today and sharing some of your stories. thank you very much for giving back to the veteran, entrepreneur community, and thanks for all of the amazing work you do. [00:40:24] Jason Van Camp: Thank you so much. It's been an absolute honor, a privilege and a pleasure to be on the show.[00:40:30] Absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much.[00:40:40] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.