Scott has been learning to lead, leading, and developing leaders his entire life. From his time in the military, to his work in corporate America, to his major successes as an entrepreneur, to his lifetime of discipleship, Scott has a passion for leadership. Scott is a founding member of the John Maxwell Leadership coaching and speaking team, and is one of the most sought after speakers and trainers in the world. This podcast will cover every aspect of leading and duplicating leadership along with other significant skills including communication, sales, conflict resolution, and personal development.
Jack Born on the Power of Deadlines
Picture you’re in a house. It’s dark, and all you have is a flashlight to illuminate a few steps in front of you. You don’t know what’s around the next corner, you don’t know how many levels there are, so you have no choice but to stave off fear and explore. This, Jack Born says, is what starting a business is like. It’s one of the incredibly helpful insights he’s gained through his decades of entrepreneurship. Over the course of his career he’s created many different types of software to streamline marketing efforts for his users, and he’s a master at creating evergreen affiliate funding streams. One of his companies, called Deadline Funnel, has been praised by some of the leading names in the marketing world. But he started his career in a much different world, one he said he had a “dramatic breakup” with.
Breaking up with Corporate AmericaJack described his corporate America job as a “match made in hell.” He always suspected that deep down he was an entrepreneur, but after one particularly exhausting work experience, one that he said stifled him and put him in a box, he took the leap and started his own work experience.He made a list of the 12 things he hated about his existing job – everything from the “ivory tower BS” to the “corporate doublespeak” and decided to adopt the George Costanza style of management: do the opposite. He likens starting your business like weaving your way through a dark building with a flashlight: you aren’t sure where the next turn will take you or how many levels there are, so you have to be flexible and resilient in your exploration. And thanks to George, because it worked quite well. Jack said he has employees who have stayed with him for six or more years while he’s grown his companies. The Power of a DeadlineJack often refers to Parkinson’s Law, which says that regardless of how stacked your to do list is for a project, your work expands to fit the amount of time you allot it. His advice to combat this? Just jump in! Don’t agonize over creating the right business cards or other minuscule details. Start pitching who you need to pitch or connecting with whom you need to connect with. This will generate your own deadlines and increase productivity.In one of his early entrepreneurial ventures, Jack made $26,000 in a week because he set a deadline for his users, and cut off access to his service after they passed it. Quickly, the money started to flow in. Even today, when he’s preparing a presentation or a Webinar, he sets himself strict deadlines so he doesn’t spend days perfecting each slide. Instead, he gives himself permission to do a “B+ job that is 100 percent complete,” and he returns to do some finetuning if his schedule permits. When you set yourself an ambitious deadline, Jack said it’s natural for your brain to default to thinking “this isn’t possible.” So, when you find yourself in this mindset, he urges you to give yourself space to ponder: “if this were possible, what would I do?” Then, starting acting on that impulse, not the first. But also remember, the deadline,
Steve Chou: Building Your Business in a Pandemic
Steve Chou loved his engineering job, but when his side business started making 8-10x his salary, he knew it was time to re-evaluate.
Steve founded mywifequitherjob.com, a blog about starting your own business and e-commerce. It all started when his wife Jennifer was expecting their first child, and she decided to quit her job at a Fortune 500 company to pursue her goal of working for herself.
So, they started Bumblebee Linens, which sells speciality linens and handkerchiefs for special occasions. There’s a pretty touching story behind the company’s origin.
As the couple was preparing for their wedding, Steve said they spent an “ungodly” amount of money on getting all the details perfect — especially the photography. And one thing they knew they needed to get right was their tissues or hankie (Jennifer knew she would be quite emotional during the ceremony, and didn’t want any ratty tissues ruining their shot.) As she scoured the internet, she couldn’t find any she liked. Finally, she landed on one she loved, but there was one catch: they would have to buy in bulk from a manufacturer in China to even get one handkerchief.
This turned out to be their first vendor for Bumblebee Linens.
Today, Steve coaches us on how to kickstart our businesses during a pandemic, and create an amazing life where we have time for family and work.
Taking the Plunge
“I’m a very conservative person by nature. And I definitely wouldn’t have quit my job had my other businesses [not] been so lucrative.”
Steve earned his engineering degree from Stanford, and he said going to such a prestigious institution actually hurts someone’s chances of being a successful entrepreneur, though it might not be for the reason you think.
“I would argue that going to a good school and getting a good education, like an engineering degree, actually hurts your chances of becoming an entrepreneur, because you kind of get sucked into this salary, which is good but not amazing, and gets into this mindset of ‘Oh my god, if I start this business I could lose everything I have and it’s pretty cushy.’”
Put in the Hours
So how does he advise entrepreneurs take the step to fully pursue their business? First off – don’t quit your day job.
“A lot of people say ‘I work so hard, I don’t have time.’ I always say BS to that answer, because you’re always wasting time somehow.”
When he and his wife were working really hard to grow their business, they stopped watching TV, cut down on their outings with friends, and clocked in the hours on weekends: they found the time to make it happen.
If you really are working 16-hours days and have no time? Steve said you should save up a nest egg, roughly a year’s worth of income, before taking the plunge.
At the core of their desire to be their own bosses for Jennifer and Steve was spending time with family. And even as they added more tasks to their plate, because they controlled their own schedule they actually had more time to spend with their kids.
“When I grew up, my parents worked full time. The only time I really saw them was at night for maybe an hour, hour and a half, before I went to bed. I knew with my kids I didn’t want it to be like that. The businesses have allowed me to…spend all my time with them and make sure I’m an integral part of their lives. It’s been fantastic.”
A Playbook During Economic Crisis
Steve started all of his businesses during economic downturns, and he said it’s actually the best time to get your company off the ground.
As more and more users depend on e-commerce, Steve said you should double down in this area. It’s a great time to invest your efforts there.
Steve recommends you read: a href="https://amzn.
Sam Parks on Leading Geniuses
When he was in grad school, Sam Parks marveled at all of the energy conservation advancement being made in the academic world. But he quickly grew frustrated about how those were effectively communicated or translated to industry.
He sought to change that, but wasn’t sure how.
One day, he was microwaving Hot Pockets in his dorm room, and an idea struck him: what if there was a simple way to track how much energy that microwave was using?
Fast forward a few years, and he co-founded Sapient Industries, a wildly successful company focused around solving the problem of “vampire currents,” or the energy that appliances and electronics use just by being plugged into the wall.
Their solution was a simple wall plug in, sandwiched between the outlet and our device, that collects data about how much energy is being used.
As their client list grew, they unearthed troves of data they harnessed to do everything from predicting infrastructural and equipment needs to cutting back on energy waste. Along the way, they’ve provided immense value to their users. One client even saved the cost of building a new $50 million facility because of Sapient Industries’ help.
Outsourcing is Key!
As a young CEO entering the business world fresh from academia, Sam’s gained some pretty valuable leadership lessons. One of the key ones: outsource!
“We hire the experts to tell us what to do, not to tell them what to do,” Sam said.
He’s obsessive about finding the best experts to advise on different topics, instead of looking for one mentor for everything involved in his business.
“No one is an authority on all topics,” he said. “That feels very uncomfortable at first, because you want to just find that one sort of golden egg reference to be the authority on all the things you need to build and run your business. I’ve found that golden egg doesn’t exist.”
A Supportive Workspace
“If work is not a source of stability, and a sort of constructive influence on a person’s life, then it’s really not a place you want to be. Because you spend most of your life at work,” Sam said.
Sapient’s company culture reflects this. Their goal is to support employees so they can enjoy their jobs and do their best work. Parks get coffee with everyone in the company at least once a week to ask them about where the company can improve.
If he had to leave one lesson for anyone who wants to be successful?
“Become very comfortable and excited in searching for answers constantly.” In his company, they call it “do the math,” prompting employees to go out, find the answer themselves, question everything until they come to a solid conclusion.
Book recommendation: Walter Isaacson’s Book on Einstein
Connect with Sam: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-parks/
Sapient Industries: https://www.sapient.industries/
Sapient twitter: https://twitter.com/Sapient_EMS
Brig. General Becky Halstead on Selfless Leadership
General Rebecca Halstead is a leader of immense accomplishment, integrity, tenacity and selflessness. Becky is the first female graduate of West Point Academy to be promoted to General Officer, she spent 27 years in the United States Army, founded her own leadership company, and authored 24/7: The First Person You Must Lead Is YOU.
With all of these accolades, it’s no wonder her nickname in the army was “the energizer bunny.” And in today’s episode, she has a lot to share with you about how she got to where she is.
Being a prominent female member of the United States Army, Becky said she did face many challenges, some due to her sex. But along the way, she reminded herself that as long as she was staying true to her core values, and seeking to earn others’ respect, she couldn’t go wrong. Even when they refused to give it to her.
“At some point, you have to figure out not to invest your time, and most importantly your energy, in trying to change someone who’s not willing to change themselves.”
While quarantined at home, as most of us were during the coronavirus outbreak, Becky had time to go through the many files she saved from West Point. And in one, she found a note from a ‘57 graduate of West Point, commending her for a speech of hers that he attended. He said after hearing her talk, he completely changed his views on having women in the armed forces. It reminded Becky how just one person can be the catalyst for change in another’s life.
“When you’re going through fear, it seems like the worst fear you’ve ever had,” Becky said. “The current fear is to prepare you for the future fear. Because there’s always going to be more fear, unfortunately.”
She thought back on her days as a cadet, when she was being constantly screamed at. She was terrified. Then, something in her brain switched. She realized, “this is a game.”
It wasn’t as if she didn’t have bad days. In fact, looking back at her old steno pads, she said most of the earlier entries had “I hate it here. I want to go home,” scrawled across the page. But she knew she couldn’t let down her friends, family, or herself. And she persevered.
Faith as Fuel
Becky’s nickname in the army was “the energizer bunny.” How does she keep herself going at such a rapid pace? She said it’s all about the strength of her belief system and her faith.
“I’m very vocal about the fact that faith is my foundation. It has been my whole life.”
In fact, etched on Becky’s Dog tags is Joshua 1:9 – Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
“Growing up in a farming community, going to church five times a week, everything was about serving others. Before you can begin to lead you have to serve.”
It’s a mantra Becky has emulated in all aspects of her career, and life, and especially with the Steadfast system she developed for her leadership company:
TRUST AND TENACITY
ENCOURAGE AND EMBRACE
ATTITUDE AND APPROACHABILITY
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND FAITH
Becky took those roots with her throughout her career, ensuring she was involving those she led, at all levels, in discussions that would affect their jobs. Though it was sometimes unconventional to do so in the army, she felt it was a form of servant leadership.
Connect with Becky
Becky recommends you read: John Maxwell’s Leadership Bible
Shawn Reynolds on Battling Obstacles and Living With Crohn’s Disease
Shawn Reynolds is a master at wearing different hats. Through his successful career, he’s founded a sports camp that Nike Sports Camp bought and made the flagship location for Canada. He’s the co-owner and CEO of Reynolds Brothers Exteriors, a family business he co-founded in 2010. And through it all, he’s continued his acting and producer career.
On top of all of these roles, Shawn has been fighting a battle with Crohn’s disease. He’s operated his businesses from hospital beds, and learned when to hit pause in order to ensure he takes care of his body.
Whether he’s working in construction or acting, he’s learned some common themes through his dynamic career about how to keep customers coming back.
Watch the video from this conversation here.
Be the Solution
“I don’t care what you’re doing. If people can walk away thinking ‘That was a great experience. I loved that,’ they’re going to talk to other people about what you do.”
Shawn shared an anecdote about how he sometimes has customers call his construction company, Reynolds Brothers Exteriors, with questions far outside the scope of what they offer. But even when they ring asking about a clogged toilet, he doesn’t turn them away. He returns their call and directs them to someone who can help.
An acting coach named Lewis Baumander once told Shawn: “They want a solution to their problem. They want to fill that role.” It’s a piece of advice that he carries with him in all the work he does. Be the solution.
Finding Your Mentor
“What do I not know?” That’s the mentality Shawn approaches all of his ventures with. Even after Nike bought his sports camp and he saw other major successes in his career, he doesn’t act like he has a secret sauce. He strives to learn as much as possible from others.
It’s one of the reasons he works so hard to surround himself with a great team of mentors. By finding those people who can elevate his business, he knows he’s able to escalate his potential.
“You’re trimming years off your journey of where you want to get to.”
Battling Crohn’s Disease
When Shawn experiences his worst flare ups, he said it can feel like he’s swallowing glass. In the lead up to the birth of his first child, the stress was so great that he could barely walk ten feet down the hospital hallway.
So how do you run a business while in that amount of pain? First of all, Shawn decided early on that he wouldn’t allow this obstacle to control his life.
“I’m always going to be the hero of my own story,” Shawn said.
You have to know when to take a step back, and you need to know when to lean on others. He calls on his brothers, who also have Crohn’s Disease, and his mentors to help him through these difficult times. One of the most important lessons he learned is not to go through it alone.
And when large tasks seem too overwhelming to tackle, Shawn breaks them up into incremental wins and base hits. Just like taking a short walk down the hallway in the hospital, he celebrates small goals.
Rand Fishkin on Self-Awareness and Earning Trust
Rand Fishkin is not one to keep helpful insights private. If they’re going to improve people’s websites, he is sharing them. It’s a mentality that ruffled a few feathers when he entered the SEO world in 2004 as the founder of Moz, a company he started after leaving his college two credits short of graduating. At the time, it was a secretive world where the masters tried to keep tricks close to their chests. But with his new approach, Rand became a force to be reckoned with.
He helped grow Moz to make 40 million in revenue. Throughout this journey, he was dealing with a much more personal struggle relating to his mental health, and along the way he learned what brings him energy as a leader. Today, he shares those insights with you.
Transparency is Key
As he started speaking at conferences and with potential clients, industry leaders took notice of how many insights Rand was sharing. And some of them weren’t so happy about it.
“I got plenty of people who said ‘Rand, you gotta stop writing about this stuff.’”
In spite of these warnings, he trudged forward, realizing the value he was bringing to his audience and the following he was amassing. Plus, deep down, he knew the service was helping people – which was what he cared most about.
“I thought that the right way was to be transparent. I thought that that would create a more competitive, open, level playing field where it wasn’t the best connected people who would win but the most talented.”
When he started launching products with Moz, these loyal followers showed up in droves, propelling the company to enormous profits. Rand said it shows that having a mentality of transparency and providing value to customers truly does pay off.
Seeing your customers as people you want to help and not just potential sources of cash is the best way to build and lead a business, Rand says, not just for the bottom line, but for your own mental health.
“It’s a wonderful way to live your life. It’ll help you go to sleep at night, it’ll help you wake up and look in the mirror in the morning, but it is also a phenomenal business tactic. Especially in a world where you are counting on repeat visits, references, amplification.”
Industry research suggests it costs 5x more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one, so why not invest even more in those existing relationships? And in time, those customers will draw others to your platform, and your positive reputation will create a greater web presence, propelling that attraction even further.
Find Your Own Path
Rand has been forging his own way in the business world since the early 2000’s, and he’s been careful about whose advice to take to heart, especially as he’s noted things about the SEO world he didn’t want to replicate in his companies. His advice after founding two major companies? Don’t think you have to follow some blueprint to success. Create your own.
While writing his book Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World, Rand took an intense look at startup culture and identified a few themes.
1) We’ve glorified the young, male college dropout as the archetypal startup success story. In fact, in the technology world, the average age of founders is in the mid 40’s.
2) Having a diverse team, including women, people of color and LGBTQ+ folks is strongly correlated with more successful businesses.
3) You don’t need to raise outside institutional capital to succeed.
I just had to find it!
I heard this Podcast when he taped it live and it’s been on my mind until now. I’m taking over my office and I needed a refresher to give me a little edge and this is it! It took a while to find it but I did lol
Love your podscasts. The bed for building leadership skills
The wisdom and knowledge that Scott Ross provides through this podcast has changed my whole approach to being an entrepreneur. Though I own and operate my own business, I never thought of myself as a leader. Listening to his words has manifested many epiphanies to how I carry myself in pursuit of becoming a world class human being.