1. Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
One of my heroes in business is Tony Robbins. I went to my first event in 2003 and to Date With Destiny in 2005, and I was blown away. In 2005, my first company was bringing in about $10 million in revenue, and in 2006 we hit $20 million. I attribute a big part of that to the Date With Destiny event (the same event in the movie “I’m Not Your Guru”). It was an opportunity for me to shift my values and my mindset. I was operating at a peak level and I was unstoppable (or so I thought) until the real estate market crashed in 2007.
The company went from $20 million back to $10 million and then eventually to nothing. I lost it all. I went through a rough few years. In 2013, Tony had his team reach out and ask me to be his personal guest on Business Mastery. It helped me realign with my values, gain new insights and strategies, refocus and ultimately reinvent myself.
2. What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Hire slow and fire fast. Culture is so important to a business.
You’re not going to eliminate bad hires all together, but the best way to avoid them is to not attract them in the first place and filter them out the best you can. Spend time on the basics: Conduct background checks and reference checks, but also implement real behavioral assessments that are tailored to the performance-driven culture you want to create. The things that work best for us are multiple interviews, job shadowing and auditions.
I promised myself back in 2013 that when I rebuilt I would hand pick each hire one by one and attract the best of the best. I stayed disciplined, hired slow, fired fast and ended up getting REALLY lucky. I knew that 95 percent of it was good character and the other 5 percent was the mechanics that I could teach.
Good people add value, positive energy and passion. They follow the vision, reciprocate, act with integrity, earn trust and above all take care of the client. Good people are the most valuable thing in any business, so you must take care of them so they will always take care of the clients.
3. What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Where do I start? Being an entrepreneur for over 20 years, I’ve had many setbacks and failures. My biggest mistake in business has been working with the wrong people. I’ve learned that how you do business is just as important as who you do business with. Pick your partners and employees carefully. Don’t get involved with the wrong people.
If there were a second mistake, it would be not having an exit strategy. I learned to not treat a business like its your baby or your identity; its not. A business is a business and the entrepreneur needs to know how and when they are going to exit and what it’s going to look like.
4. What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
During the first hour of the business day, I work from home so I can have uninterrupted time to focus on items that require critical thinking. I drink Bulletproof Coffee and a protein smoothie to ensure I’ve got the energy to take action and make things happen. I review my whiteboards (goals), review my calendar, review finances and take care of any urgent emails.
5. What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Keep it simple and don’t put the job on someone else. The worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand and avoid responsibility. Even if you have an in-house bookkeeper, accountant, controller, CFO, balance sheets and cash flow statements, you still need to know your numbers in real time. I keep track of cash flow on a simple Google sheet and I keep track of key indicators on a separate sheet. It’s my cockpit for running my businesses. Keith Cunningham says it best: “P&Ls and Balance Sheets are theories and cash is a fact.”
6. Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Find a way to increase sales, increase prices and increase referrals. You can do this by hanging out with the right people. Having a peer group like YEC and EO has been invaluable to help drive growth and profit. It’s true that your income is the average of the five people you hang out with the most.
7. What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Success in life is about being the architect of your own future, living life by your own design, traveling the world, pursuing amazing relationships and living in a beautiful state. In business, I believe success is defined as a successful exit. I believe you’ve truly arrived as an entrepreneur when you’ve successfully sold a business.