Customer Fulfillment: Evolving With Your Customers’ Needs With Dr. Joseph Michelli

TWS 35 | Customer Fulfillment


Customer experience is vital to the long-term success of any brand, organization, or enterprise. Today, Patrick Donohoe interviews Dr. Joseph Michelli, an internationally sought-after speaker, organizational consultant, and author of numerous national and bestsellers, including Airbnb: A Five Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth, Loyalty, Community, and Belonging. Dr. Michelli talks about the importance of evolving with your customers’ needs and expectations from your brand, and shares some tips on how you can deliver optimal value to them. Get further educated about marketing and customer fulfilment on today’s episode.

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Customer Fulfillment: Evolving With Your Customers’ Needs With Dr. Joseph Michelli

It’s our season on entrepreneurship and we’re almost done. This is one of the final guests and it was a great interview. This guy is so smart and so experienced more importantly. You guys are going to be entertained as well as informed on some of the things. We haven’t necessarily got into this season which is below the surface of the customer, client experience and how vital that is to the long-term success of a brand, organization and enterprise. Dr. Joseph Michelli is an internationally sought-after speaker and organizational consultant. Dr. Michelli is the author of numerous national and bestsellers including The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary and The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles For Creating A Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. His New York Times number one bestseller, Prescription For Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World-Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System. He was named as one of the Top 10 Thought Leaders in Customer Service by Global Gurus. His new book, which is about a more recent company, The Airbnb Way: 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth Through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging.

Dr. Michelli, it was a pleasure getting into the necessary variable to success which is the customer. It’s not just what they want, need, desire, dream of now. It is how to keep tabs and keep a pulse on that and be obsessed with figuring out ways to continually do that. It’s going to be a necessity in order to sustain a healthy brand and a healthy company. As a final reminder, if you are interested in the invite I gave in regards to the Unleash the Power Within, the Tony Robbins Experience, it’s going to be in March in San Jose, California. I’m going to be there and some members of my team are going to be there as well, and we would love for you to join us. It’s an incredible experience. This would be maybe six times. I can’t remember, going to this specific event. It is life-changing and you will have a blast. It is well worth the investment and well worth the time you spend on it. We got a pretty steep discount on the tickets based on my relationship with the organization. I hope you can join us. Let’s get to my interview with Dr. Joseph Michelli.

Joseph, it’s awesome to have you on. Thank you for taking the time. I know it’s a busy time of year, but I’m excited about the conversation we’re going to have because you’re an expert in a field, I believe, is one of those variables that’s often overlooked and ultimately leads to catastrophe in the business world. First off, welcome and thanks for joining us.

Are you kidding me? Given the kinds of folks you’ve had, I’m honored to be here.

You’ve done so much work and continue to do it. As entrepreneurs, as business owners, you come up with an idea, but oftentimes the way in which you view the world is your way. It may not be other people’s way. Sometimes that gets in the way from understanding who’s going to buy your stuff. Marketing is a big piece of it, customer fulfillment is another piece of it. You specialize in this area and written a number of books on it. The customer always comes number one. Is there an argument to the contrary of that?

No, Peter Drucker said it best. He said that we’re not in business to create a profit. We’re in business to create a customer and it’s through all the customers that profits come. A successful business has to define value and create value and then it has to market to the people who find value in it. Once those people show up, you have to deliver the value you marketed against. You have to constantly refine the delivery of that value based on the needs set of your consumers. That’s the space I live in. Thank God, I don’t have to deal with the other elements of business like making enough money to stay in business. Those factors are some financier types, but I’m truly trying to help brands figure out what it takes to deliver the value for the customers that are optimal for them.

A successful business has to define and create value. Click To Tweet

Talk about the changing of customers. One of the examples we talked about briefly was in Blockbuster. Blockbuster fulfilled the need. The customer wanted more and they wanted the same need, but less friction and less hassle. Let me talk about you meet a need, but then it’s the necessity of constantly being in tune with your customers so that they don’t leave you.

I am so grateful to Blockbuster when my kids were little. Certainly, we spent our Friday afternoon traipsing around the stacks of videos, normally not being able to find the ones we wanted most and defaulting to others. We were among that set of people who ultimately paid more for the videos and late fees than it would have cost us and we bought them new. There was such a wonderful distribution on your corner, access to entertainment. Delivery systems changed and Blockbuster did not. They also made what I would call bad profit. They made a lot of profit on those late fees and that kind of profit alienated the consumer over time and Blockbuster wasn’t ready to pivot. They weren’t ready to buy Netflix when Netflix came begging to be purchased by them at one point in their evolution. Netflix faces the competition of Disney+ and all the others. They got ahead of the power curve in terms of what consumers wanted in downloadable delivery.

I would say that they benefited from the whole monopoly idea. There wasn’t much competition out there. They kept frustrating people. The late fees, changing these, they went out of their way to make a profit right at the expense of the frustrated customer. It was like when a new, more viable option, like Redbox and all these other things start to appear, they were ready to go. Blockbuster was capitalizing on a monopoly that they had formed over the years.

If you think about Netflix as the entrant that challenged them most, Netflix had to rely on the United States Postal Service as their delivery system. It was fraught with its own sets of problems and over time they were able to make the pivot to streaming and here we are now. Sometimes we can trap a customer relationship with us. That doesn’t necessarily mean that when an option becomes available, they’re going to do anything more than flee with abandon.

It seems that the evolution, it’s like you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and we’ve gone as a society from over the last 100 years being afraid to die during a hard winter. Living in such an amazingly abundant world. I would say as far as a business need is concerned, they should insert in the customer experience because people didn’t look for experience 100 years ago. It was all like, “I don’t have enough food storage.” Wood cuts so I don’t freeze during the winter. Right now, there’s so much entertainment that people have been conditioned for an experience. There have been brands that have capitalized on that understanding whether they did that intentionally or not. Would you speak to that as the importance of the experience and having a customer feel important based on the way you treat them or your business treats them?

I was sitting across from Howard Schultz, the Founder legend behind Starbucks. Howard once turned to me and said, “Joseph, we are not in the coffee business.” It shocks me. He said, “We’re in the people business serving coffee.” If you get down to it, people may need a warm cup of caffeine at some fundamental level to get jump-started in the morning, but they need a sense of community. They need a sense of belonging. It’s the things that are up higher in that Maslow pyramid that you talk about. Basic safety, security needs, those are table stakes for most of us nowadays. We’re wanting to get that if that’s what we’re seeking out. We want to get that plus, we want to get the social benefits of feeling like we belong to the tribe of the company that is delivering that for us.

TWS 35 | Customer Fulfillment

The Airbnb Way

We did a new book about Airbnb and I would say housing and accommodations which are very primary. Give me a safe shelter. It’s on the very bottom of the Maslow pyramid. You can do that and also create a space where people feel like, “Welcome. You belong in my physical place.” That’s what great brands are doing whether they’re entrepreneurial brands or they’re established brands. They are constantly looking for what are the higher-level emotional belonging, self-actualization, personal success, identity needs of a consumer. Can we address in the context of our deliverable?

You hit something that I hadn’t thought of before. The lower levels of the hierarchy of needs is expected. It’s self-esteem and self-actualization. Self-esteem is people want to feel, they want to experience. That’s what they’re looking for personally. They have also connected to all of the efforts to do these socially, environmentally conscious. There are socially conscious investment funds. You have the tax credits. It’s incredible, the direction people are going as far as giving back and get into that self-actualization phase, which is all about contribution. This becoming part of a lot of businesses that I’ve seen. I haven’t connected that before where when you see that a business is out to do good, you’re more attracted to them than the business. It’s out to turn a profit. It’s interesting.

That business doing good is an expression of my ability to do good in the world. Often brands are little more than extensions of our own identity. Am I a Starbucks or am I a Dunkin Donuts? Am I a Ford or am I a Ferrari? These things are ingrained in the way we see ourselves. My dad was a Ford guy and I worked for Mercedes Benz. I must tell you, I ultimately bought a Mercedes partly out of my business relationship with them. I remember sitting in that dealership going, “Would my dad be okay with me buying this car?” In many ways, if Mercedes doesn’t connect with my sense of self-expression and identity and the Ford does, then I can have some buyer’s remorse off for that purchase.

I bought another car. It was a BMW. I never bought a BMW before. I had to pre-order it and put a little deposit down and timelines were messed up and there were few things they didn’t do. I got a handwritten letter and a check from the CEO and another executive refunding my deposit. I’m like, “I can’t believe this.” What it did internally, I had those feelings of, “I’m not going to deal with GMC for my wife’s car. Screw them. This is where I’m going.” They made you feel important. They made you feel valuable. They cared about your experience with them. They knew that part of their business model was repeat business and they understood how it all played into things. 

You’re an important guy. The CEO wrote to you. Let’s go one step further. Look how smart you are because you’re purchasing from a brand that behaves like this. You are good and wonderful. I say that to you in the sense of the brand’s effort to communicate to the consumer that you are smart. You chose us. There are a lot of brands that don’t get it and it is all about the product. It’s all about the exchange of cash for the service. There’s very little understanding that beneath every purchase intent is an emotional driver, is a psychological driver. People will justify purchases in their frontal cortex. They’ll say calculating the benefits and the deficits. I’ve concluded that this is the wisest, most prudent decision. In point of fact, that’s the language we use to make it okay to be a pretty emotional being that says, “That’s cool what they did. I’m even more in for the next BMW.”

Would you speak to the resilience of good brands? I look at big failures with customer loyalty. Wells Fargo for example. Did they screw up? They’re still alive. They’re trying to rebrand. I’m not sure, I haven’t studied them. Maybe you have. What I’ve discovered is you could try certain things and do this and do this and still retain brand of our customer loyalty because there’s a resilience factor there. Sometimes people won’t innovate for fear of poking the bear, having the customer go elsewhere. What are your thoughts around that? I can see there’s this constant evolution of what customers are expecting from a brand. If you’re not on top of that, you may be good now, but a couple of years from now, you’re gone.

Brands are often little more than extensions of your own identity. Click To Tweet

I’ve studied Wells Fargo because one of my clients is a major bank that is merging with another major bank. I’ve been in the space for a long time. I can tell you that generally banks partly benefit in a Blockbuster sense by getting you in multiple products and making it complicated for you to disrupt your life to leave them. There were definitely people who did in the aftermath of Wells Fargo, a very big breach of trust for a lot of consumers. You saw people move out, but not as much as if there had been a single product industry where I could pull and run. The price of transition in banking is a bit of a challenge that some banks have taken advantage of that. Innovative banks that deliver up enlightened experience.

You’re seeing some of these capital one cafes and some other things going out in the space where people are innovating and attracting a whole group of people who are saying, “I’m tired of that other crap. I don’t have to go to a bank anymore physically. All of the grandiosity of banking isn’t for me. Give me great technology, make it easy for me to do my banking with you, educate me on financial literacy.” Those are the things that seem to be resonating now. I would say one of my favorite lines and I feel like I’m quoting Howard Schultz left and right here. Howard often would talk about making deposits in the reservoir of trust. What he would say is let’s do a lot of good things socially because invariably things are going to fall apart, particularly in human service delivery.

People let other human beings down. In the context of describing Starbucks, he would often say, “One of our greatest disadvantages is we’re not Coca-Cola. Our product doesn’t sit on a shelf where people can’t screw it up.” He would turn around and say, “One of the greatest advantages we have is our product doesn’t sit on the shelf and we can elevate the product through humans.” Given that humans will let others down, we need to make lots of social positive deposits. When in Philadelphia, a barista does not allow people of color to use the bathrooms without a purchase. We can withstand the wrath and the aftermath because our track record going in was one that was fairly socially conscious. I would say to you that’s a complex question, but if you try to fix it after all of the horses run out of the Wells Fargo stable without a lot of investments, you’ll find yourself in a world that hurt.

Let’s maybe step back a couple of steps. When you have this entrepreneurial spirit in a lot of people when they come up with ideas and they’re connecting to see whether those ideas are relevant to other people and build a business out of it. What are the steps to take to understand that you’ve seen successful across enterprises? 

There’s a lot of data that you can inquire about customers. Pay attention to the data of what people are doing. I also think you have to warm up all that big data with some voice of customer listening. If you’re launching a business, talk to the people who you think are optimal customers of your business. Don’t assume you understand them because you’re like them. You may be like them in a lot of ways, but you’ll find out frequently that customers who are willing to pay for your services, are going to want some things that you haven’t even contemplated. Talk, listen, ask a million questions and then observe their behavior with whatever data analysis you can. Do they touch the items when they come into your retail store? What items do they touch? Do you need to put more of those touchable, tactile experiences for them? When you ask them about what are the products? If you asked them after they’ve been in your store, what do they remember about when they were in your store? The things they remember, you want to put more of those types of things in your store. For example, we were in to say, “What stood out based on what was talked about now?” Based on whatever I would hear from your readers, I would be thinking about adding more of that in future guesting appearances. The key is to give this blank canvas. Don’t assume that anything that you’re thinking about doing is going to resonate. See what resonated and do more of that.

It’s a fascinating approach and I look at the signs out there whether it’s the use of focus groups or beta testing. I’m starting to remember the conversations I’ve had. It’s one of those constant testing and constant improvement of doing, even more knowing what needs are. That’s a comment you made that I remember from the Wells Fargo example. It’s resilience. It’s for multiple products and there are multiple financial products out there. The more you have, the more resilient a customer could be. If you come up with a crappy one and they have already multiple then you could get rid of that one and do another one without losing the customer. It’s interesting because oftentimes you have one-trick ponies, one service, and one product. Do you consider that dangerous as far as company health is concerned?

TWS 35 | Customer Fulfillment

Customer Fulfillment: When launching a business, talk to the people who you think are optimal customers.


It depends. For example, if you make a good hamburger, a good French fries and a great milkshake, it’s a very solid business play. Should you explore adjacencies that seem reasonable? Most brands do and they do well from it. There are the five guys of the world who will do very well sustaining a focus, not getting too broad and not having lots of limited-time offers. Executing well and knowing that your customer wants that and it’s a frequent enough need state for consumers, you can do well with the one single product. There are those brands that find those sweet little adjacencies that customers also want and that’s the perfect mix.

I remember feeling curious about the success of GoPro. Going public with one product, maybe they look a few different versions. It’s interesting because they’d been successful. I haven’t checked their financials. I’ve always been curious as to different products and multiple products and is there a happy medium? I would assume that these enterprise companies, and maybe you can correct me if I’m wrong, but they have ways in which they’re in tune with their customer, getting feedback, using data, creating profiles, creating avatars and understanding what words they use, the messaging that most resonates and test. 

That’s my world. That is what I do. That’s exactly what I do with my full-time gig. I write books about a lot of that. We’ll take an optimal customer. We’ll put them into a persona. We might create an avatar around them. We’re going to anticipate the entire journey that they’re going to have with the brand, all of their various use cases, how they integrate with all the contact points with the brand. After we’ve anticipated that, we’re going to go and talk to them and we’re going to say, “What is it that happens? Sometimes we talk to them in focus groups. Sometimes we do ethnographic studies that essentially says, “A day in the life of or keep a journal of use of our product.” As you’re opening the box, what are you thinking, feeling, doing, saying to yourself? All of these things are designed for us to get insights into what would increase the connectivity, the stickiness, the likelihood to recommend this product or brand to others. We track all the metrics to support those things and design to optimize for those folks.

I have two concluding questions. The first is with nonprofits where you have a more mission-driven than customer-driven. How to do successful nonprofits? How do they sustain and maintain their growth by connecting? That’s the first question I have. 

We’ve worked with a lot of nonprofits and they have customers. The people who support those nonprofits have to be connected to the mission as well. It’s being able to inspire people to help you achieve the mission. There’s no mission without money. In any nonprofit, you have to be able to generate enough revenue to achieve the mission. It’s getting people to buy the vision alongside you. It’s helping them tell stories about their journey in support of that with you in the mission. If you could think of some of the wounded warrior projects and others, they have storytellers who are telling the story of the impact of the organization’s mission. That story is part of engaging their customers, those who support these nonprofits. While it may not be formally the same, there is still a need to generate engagement of those who support the cause on behalf of the impact the cause creates.

That’s amazing storytelling, especially if you’re telling a story that a person can sympathize or empathize with. When you go without a story, it’s hard to connect. I look at it a lot. There have been a million books written on storytelling, but it’s one of those things that it’s a constant. We’re connected to that as human beings. It’s fascinating because I would say it’s relevant to a poor profit brand. The public company, private company, it’s being able to connect the story. Human beings like being with human beings. It gives them a sense of meaning. It’s people that are like them that they want to be with.

Don't assume that anything that you're thinking about doing is going to resonate. Click To Tweet

We bought a lot of technology to make our lives easier. We want you to think through the experience with lots of convenience and friction reduction through technology. We want to be inspired by human beings. The 21st-century company is a technology-enabled human-powered organization. Part of human power is service delivery, human storytelling, the impact of your brand on other humans.

Final one, what trends are you paying attention to? What are you seeing as far as customer behavior and how it’s changing? Do you see the same thing with maybe a little bit different angle?

There is Martec’s Law, which says you better track what customers do in behavior exponentially because most organizations are only improving incrementally. The gap between what customers are doing exponentially behaviorally and what brands are doing is the disruption gap. It’s the gap that Airbnb shot. For the most part, consumers are wanting everything mobile, so everything’s got to be mobile and you’ve got to be able to deliver your sales service, experience mobile. You should be able to give them a multitude of channels. Rather than forcing them to have human contact at every turn, they should have the option of an all-digital journey. You said also give them options like this, a virtual experience where we are human, human to human, aided by technology, but we’re not sitting in the same room. I know that’s a total demystification of the magic of your show.

You don’t have to have two people in the same physical place to allow them to have human interaction. It’s thinking through that reality that people want to engage with brands wherever they want, whenever they want using the technology available and to have people ready and able to help them in the event, the self-serve technology isn’t sufficient for their given needs. That’s one. The other quick one that we see is a lack of desire to own things and more and more willingness to rent and share the marketplace. It’s no longer the prom dress has to be newly purchased. If you purchase one, why can’t we rent that out to other people in need? Conspicuous consumption is being changed to stewardship, environmental consciousness, and those things. Brands need to be paying attention to those trends in particular.

I know you talk a lot about touchpoints and knowing what type of experience to have at different touchpoints. There is a conversation I had about somebody that’s trying to invent the smell. You have a memory like you take a picture or a video but the things that are missing. You can have sound but the smell and somebody is working on how to replicate a smell anyway.

Martin Lindstrom is a great guest to have someday. He specializes in multisensory marketing and he’s a big fan of the smell and drives profits associated with it. He’s a great person to include in that conversation, an important touchpoint.

TWS 35 | Customer Fulfillment

Customer Fulfillment: There’s no mission without money. Nonprofits need to generate enough revenue to achieve the mission.


Joseph, this has been awesome. It’s one of those interviews I was excited about because the customer is sometimes elusive if you don’t know what to look for and if you don’t have a good strategy to understand them.

You’re reflective of a lot of trends for people and a lot of awareness of the customer. You’ve thought through what people want to hear and who they want to hear from. You give them access to things that they would not otherwise be able to get access to themselves. It is no easy feat to get someone like Michael Gerber on a show. Those are trends that people want. They want exclusivity, they want access, they want somebody to curate information. If all of the information out there is curated, you give me impactful knowledge. It’s an honor to have been part of that and to spend time with you.

It’s an honor to have you. I know you’ve worked with some successful brands. It’s inspiring to know that human beings continue to and in a weird way care about each other and do that through commerce, through service and try to figure out better ways to improve or magnify the human experience. It’s always cool to realize what’s going on from that perspective.

I commit myself to serving brands that are committed to serving well. I don’t work with those leaders who say, “We want it to be the year of the customer this year,” as an add-on. People have an authentic commitment to elevating the life and the experience of their consumers and in the process benefit themselves and all the other stakeholders. That’s the company for me. I’ve been honored to get to work with those brands. There are a lot of them out there. You read the news and you think what’s gone wrong with business and trust in the world around us. I’ll tell you, I work with some remarkable leaders who are genuinely concerned about making the life of the people they serve better.

Joseph, thank you again. It’s been awesome. We’ll definitely have you back. 

Thanks. We’ll do a book in a couple of years on Godiva chocolate. Maybe we can score you some chocolate as part of that deal.

I have to share it with my wife.

Hopefully, she’ll leave some for you. That’s what I was thinking. Thanks a lot.

Take care. 

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About Dr. Joseph Michelli

TWS 35 | Customer FulfillmentJoseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P., is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant who transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices in ways that develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on customer experience.

His insights encourage leaders and frontline workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their lives.


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Let There Be Water With Seth M. Siegel

TWS 34 | Let There Be Water


A water crisis is happening at present, and we have been lied about it for a long time. Let serial entrepreneur, water activist, and Let There Be Water author Seth M. Siegel open your mind to the reality that affects you now and your future. Seth joins host Patrick Donohoe as he shares the unmistakable science that proves how your definition of safe water has been wrong all along. He also talks about surprising facts that will move you to require reform and explains what you can do to initiate a change.

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Let There Be Water With Seth M. Siegel

Before I get into my guest, his bio and a fascinating story as well as cause, I want to remind you about the Unleash The Power Within Event, the Tony Robbins Event that I would love for you to join me on. I have secured tickets at well-below with their top ticket, the best seats, more than $1,000 off of that. I would love to have you join me. It’s in March at San Jose. There are some people coming from our office and it’s going to be an awesome event. I hope you can join us. I love for you guys to join me. It’d be an incredible experience for you and it will help you understand yourself at a higher level and perhaps give you that motivation that you need to implement some of the things we’ve been talking about on this season of the podcast. To my guest, I’ve hinted at the social ideas, the environmental ideas that people have when it comes to the challenges that exist. I would say that the past has put the onus of solving some of these environmental challenges, social challenges on the shoulders of government, public servants. The guests I had a couple of years ago, Josh Lannon and Lisa Lannon, I had them on a couple of times with a little book called The Social Capitalist.

There are other books that have come out about social consciousness, conscious capitalism. There’s this focus on doing things that are good for everyone. There are socially conscious investment funds now. There are tax credits for doing environmentally conscious things. This is a topic that I would say is gaining in popularity. My guest is touching on something that I was surprised by which is something that we all need to survive which is water. The overwhelming amount and scope of the challenge that exists with water. Even in the United States and we mentioned on the episode about the Netflix docuseries of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and what they’ve done in emerging markets third world countries in regards to the cleanliness of water and the sanitary benefits from having good plumbing, good infrastructure. This is at a new level and it’s interesting. We have to pay attention to it because it’s a challenge. The responsibilities as far as water is concerned, the cleanliness of water is right now on public utility companies or it’s on those that don’t necessarily get funding to improve and adapt to changes in whether it’s city’s growing and so forth. We talked about the EPA as well in this episode and some of the challenges that exist there but Seth is on top of this. He’s a successful attorney, entrepreneur, business owner and he’s taking the skills that he has acquired.

He’s taken those skills and brought that to the marketplace in writing books and increasing awareness of the challenges that exist with the simple drinking water and why that’s the result of changes in human behavior. It’s fascinating. I’m hoping you pay attention. That’s the sexiest thing in the world. Seth is writing books. He’s a New York Times bestseller on water but that’s all significant of an issue. He believes it is. He’s dedicated the rest of his life to bringing awareness so that something can be done. It’s a universal problem. I would say there are solutions. He has solutions. He’s met with scientists, there are inventions, there are huge opportunities there. It’s the shift from the structure that exists right now into a new structure that allows that’s going to come by more social awareness and sharing it and speaking to it. I hope you pay attention. I hope you enjoy the episode.

Seth Siegel is a serial entrepreneur, a water activist and a New York Times bestselling author. He has a critically acclaimed award-winning book, Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution For a Water-Starved World. It has been published in seventeen different languages. It’s on sale in 50 different countries. He has his other book, which is called Troubled Water: What’s Wrong With What We Drink. It sets forth an ambitious agenda for a fundamental rethinking of America’s drinking water system. Seth has been recognized for his thought leadership and advocacy on water scarcity and quality. He’s a senior fellow at the University of Wisconsin Center for Water Policy. His commentary has been in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

We have a system right now that is forcing us to not have the most pro-health orientation possible. Click To Tweet

One more thing I’ll say before I bring him on. Do you remember a couple of episodes when I had Mike Moyer on and we talked about a bottle? This is a Kissingen Water by the Hanbury Smith Company out of New York. What’s cool and I shared this with Seth, one of my ancestors in 1800 brought one of the first mineral water bottled water companies to bring clean water, drinking water to the limelight in New York City. It was a fascinating story. I’m still in the process of writing that out. I know I would share that with audiences but it’s an interesting coincidence. Seth is coming on and we had a conversation about it. He’s in New York City. It was cool. The issue of clean water isn’t a new thing. I would assume most of us believe that’s fixed. That we drink bottled water or filtered water. That’s not the case. You are going to want to pay attention and definitely follow Seth. He’s on social media. Without further ado, please welcome my guest, Seth Siegel.

Seth, it’s such an honor to have you on. Thank you for taking the time. This is going to be a fascinating topic. I’m excited to interview you. Welcome to the show.

Thank you. I’m excited to be here too. I’m following you a little bit and I’ve been enjoying learning more about you.

Seth, I became fascinated with Bill Gates’ documentary on Netflix or documentary series of taking business knowledge and business wisdom and bringing that to some of the social and environmental challenges that the world and society has. Peter Diamandis and his XPRIZE were there raising money to reward entrepreneurs, challenging them and rewarding them to solve problems. It’s a fascinating approach to some of the challenges that we have and will have in the future. That’s why I’m excited to talk to you because you have two books, one a New York Times best bestseller and then another one as well, Troubled Water. It’s dedicated to bringing awareness to a problem that most people may not recognize as a problem or as a challenge. Would you speak to what you have been trying to help improve the awareness when it comes to something as what we assume abundant commodity of water?

That’s precisely what my life’s work is. It has been for about ten years now. I had a wonderful, enjoyable, successful business career. I believe in the power of business and the markets to transform the world. I believe also in a non-finger pointing, nonvillain seeking a way of problem-solving. I’ve written both of these books. The first one, Let There Be Water, which is about water scarcity and the other one, Troubled Water: What’s Wrong With What We Drink about water quality. Both of them have a similarity which is I’m trying to expand awareness of people of what is this great vast commodity, water. It is not inexhaustible like sunshine or air. What we need to do is to get higher quality, more certainty of supply. We need to raise awareness. When people think about water, at least as much as they think about energy supply, we’ll be in a much better place. Except this is more personal because the fact that drinking water completely affects our health and the health of our children, the health of our communities.

TWS 34 | Let There Be Water

Our drinking water supply is not as healthy or as safe as we have been led to believe that it is.

I’ve taken it upon myself to campaign for a more rigorous health standard around the drinking water and to raise awareness of the significant number of gaps. Like most people, I believe when I started this book, the research for this book that everything was fine. The EPA was looking out for me, the municipalities were looking out for me. What I learned is, unfortunately, the standards that are set are significantly below the health standard that we need. The last time the EPA has regulated any contaminant for drinking water and there are over 100,000 candidates. There are only 70 chemicals that are regulated by the EPA, but less than they are regulated any contaminant is many years ago. This led me to understand that we have a very serious problem and a gap and this is going to lead to something of a citizens uprising at some point. I wanted to head that off. I wanted to be a little bit of a Paul Revere calling out a problem and very much of a Johnny Appleseed calling out a solution. That’s the tack that I took in Let There Be Water about water scarcity. That’s very much the tack I’m taking here. The difference from last time to this time is that with Troubled Water, I’m not just writing a book. I’m writing a book as a jumping-off point for what I hope will be a social movement that will demand greater involvement, more research, more technology, smarter pricing and consolidation of utilities to assure a better health outcome for all of us.

I like to share one last thought because some audience may be asking themselves, “Why am I doing this? Or sure, it’s easy to talk about it. I’m hyping the issue so I can make more sales.” My wife and I made a decision early on in the process of the first book that if I’m going to talk about a society altering problem, I want people to take me seriously. I will need to make sure that everyone knows what my motivations are. As was the case with Let There Be Water, I have donated 100% of all royalty. Not the net, but the gross to water theme charities. I am completely in this as a volunteer to help make society better. I hope every one of your audiences buys 500 copies and gives it to 499 of their best friends. The truth of the matter is that whether they do or don’t, there’s absolutely no material impact on my life.

That’s helpful. For better or for worse, we live in a society that goes to motive as to what we talk about especially when it comes to social issues. We won’t necessarily go there. Maybe as a couple of final questions, what is the outcome you’re hoping for if somebody reads the book? What do you want them to understand from reading that book? More importantly, what would you want them to share or talk to others about?

What I want everyone to understand is that our drinking water supply is not as healthy or as safe as we have been led to believe that it is. I’m a center of the road, business guy, family-centered guy, community activist, I’m not a conspiracy theorist on any topic at all. The science here is completely unmistakable and that is that there are many contaminants, thousands of contaminants that are found throughout the American drinking water system. We don’t know what the health effect of these are. There is no entity that is out there protecting us by either filtering them out or by doing advanced research on them to make sure that if they are harmless that we know that they are harmless. My goal is to raise awareness first and foremost and hopefully to galvanize some activism where people will say, “Now that I know more, I want to do more.” I want to do more as I say create a social movement to kin to the rise of environmentalism. The difference here is that drinking water should be thought of as a public health issue and not as an environmental issue.

What I want other people to tell other people, I want people to tell their friends about this is to say that we have a problem here that we have not been led to believe is a problem, but that everyone or a large numbers of people I suspect already know it’s a problem. How do I know that? In the United States, 70 billion containers of bottled water were sold in the United States. While the EPA has been inactive or not adequately active, what has happened is that America has adopted a parallel drinking water system by default. We’ve created a solid waste problem of 70 billion containers that need to be disposed of, although the vast majority of them are never recycled. Much worse than that is that we have an opportunity with current technology at very affordable prices to make the water as clean and as safe as science could allow.

There are 10.5 million lead pipes in America. We’re literally poisoning our children all over the place. Click To Tweet

Seth, maybe one of the final questions I had because this is for better or for worse. Our society doesn’t pay attention to something unless it seems that there are extremes. Unfortunately, that’s how the news seems to be running social media is whenever there’s this extreme on the tail of the bell curve as far as the urgency associated with it, that something has to be done is when people pay attention. What is maybe some of the extremes that you have discovered that most people would be surprised by?

If you want data, I’ll give you some data points I’ve got. I’ll share with you that your mindset is absolutely right. It’s been the cable news suffocation of American society whereby if it’s not in the hot news, it’s not relevant. Because of my charitable work, I’ve gotten to know on a very close and warm basis, a number of senators and congressmen from both parties. I was in a conversation with a senator, a well-known person, one of the few who’s not been a presidential candidate. He said to me, “We public officials, we senators, we’d rather spend 6, 7 or 10 times the money when it becomes a crisis than to hit it off because we can’t get public support for doing things.” What I’m trying to do is to give the tools to those elected officials by having ordinary citizens, by having suburban moms knowing about the fact that there are all kinds of what are called endocrine-disrupting compounds. These things that monkey with the hormones in the body system that are affecting their children, that are affecting their parents, that are affecting them in all kinds of different ways. We need to figure out a way, using existing science to transform our system. If you want me to give you a couple of instances, the number one for instance is the fact that every day, 70% of Americans, twelve and over, take at least one prescription medication and 20% of Americans, twelve and over, take at least five prescription medicines.

What people don’t think about is what happens to that. What happens is we excrete it either it goes down our toilets, our washing machines or our showers, it gets pooled together. The wastewater treatment that we use is about a 100-year-old system. Society has radically changed in the last 75 years, for the next 50 years for sure, we are much more industrial. We have many more chemicals. There are now 50,000 FDA approved pharmaceutical products and another 5,000 over the counter ones. These are getting into our drinking water and coming back at us because it’s not being treated at our water. If you think about these medications, each of them has a purpose. The FDA approves a medication for the proper person and proper dosage for the proper duration to solve the proper problem. What happens when we are all ingesting a cocktail of these pharmaceutical products at different doses for all kinds of different people, for all kinds of different longevities and with what effect? We’re not sure. What we do know is there’s been an explosion in the United States over the past handful of years of a whole host of health conditions.

ADHD is one of the most prominent of them but others as well. Obesity is another and all of these are functions of the endocrine system or the hormonal system being interrupted. This affects fertility. This affects sexual desire. This has all kinds of effects. This is not mixed with some of the scientists. I am quoting esteemed scientists who I interviewed and who led me to this conclusion. We understand that there is a very serious concern that we don’t know what the effect is on our bodies. We see what’s happening in society with a sense that very possibly this environmental attack is coming at us from our drinking water. One other element I’d like to say is the other thing that you said that will surprise us. I would say another thing that will surprise us. What will surprise you is the fact that there are so many drinking water utilities in the United States. A rational number I believe would be about 250 to 400 utilities around the US. There are 50 states. Not every state needs to have their own utility, but I could see why everyone would want to have at least one and big states like Texas or California. I could see having 6, 8 or 10 and that would make sense. It would be a proper number. You could get the right amount of science and technology and finance and all that you would need. If I was playing a game with you, I’d ask you to guess, but the actual number is 51,535.

There are so many utilities, 46,000 of them are very tiny populations. They add up to millions and millions of people. What happens is that they are so small and so underfunded that they don’t have the capacity to attract the most recent graduates of the best engineering programs. They don’t have the ability to buy or even to know about which are the best technologies they should be installing. The innovation that is stifling innovation. Finally, if I heard that we have a very old national water infrastructure system which is starting immediately but certainly over the next twenty years we’ll need replacement. These utilities which amass large parts of the country don’t have the funding or the knowhow to replace the 1.1 million miles of water mains that need to be replaced. There were 240,000 water mains last year that broke in the United States because they’re too old and they’re defective now. Unless you think that there are so many utilities because they’re in the Northern reaches of North Dakota or rural Arkansas. I want you and your audiences to understand that in Los Angeles County alone, there were more than 200 water utilities. How this all came to be? I talk about at length in my book, why and how are we going to fix this and change this? The fact remains that we have a system right now that is forcing us to not have the most pro-health orientation possible.

TWS 34 | Let There Be Water

Let There Be Water: Small and underfunded water utilities don’t have the capacity to attract the recent graduates of the best engineering programs or the ability to buy the best technologies they should be installing.


One thing that this keeps going through my mind is what I mentioned at the beginning, which I’ll repeat is as far as these types of whether it’s utilities or it’s infrastructure, there’s always been a dependence on it coming from a government. Whether it’s local, state or federal and you’re hitting the nail on the head because of lack of innovation. There are gaps and those gaps compound and now you’re starting to see the results of that. There’s this misconception that bottled water or certain filtration systems do the trick so you don’t drink your tap water. You’re arguing that is not the case and that there is a much bigger problem at hand. 

I heard the statistic that some 60% of Americans have bought or currently use some filtering system in their homes, which sounds high to me, but it’s certainly not impossible. The problem is that there are very few systems except for the very expensive ones that bring the water to the quality that you would think that it would. If you buy a countertop pitcher system unless you’re very lucky that your community only has one single contaminant and you match it with that contaminant with the filter, that you’re going to be fine. Here’s the phrase that I’d like you and all of your audiences and followers to know. That is that legal does not necessarily equals safe. The EPA creates these standards. They say there are 91 contaminants, 70 chemicals of that 91. These are the regulated contaminants. A utility is told as long as you keep those contaminants below a certain what they call health level, you can transport the water all you want. We’re not exactly sure that all those “health levels” are healthy. It’s possible that they’re higher than they should be. Let’s assume that the EPA is right. What then doesn’t happen is that anything else that’s in the water, any other contaminants that’s in the water, there’s no legal obligation whatsoever by any utility to filter or treat out those other contaminants. The water may be legal.

That may or may say, “We have not had a violation of the EPA in five years or ten years or ever,” but it doesn’t mean that the people in the community are getting safe water. The other thing that should be kept in mind is that there were 80,000 violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The official listed number is about 12,700 of them are health violations being the water is unhealthy levels of contaminants. Experts who studied this believe that because it’s an honor system, a self-reporting system. They believe that the number of actual health violations might be as much as 40,000 or 50,000 violations in a given year. This is a pretty standard fixed number year to year. Our testing system is wrong. Our reporting system is wrong. Our accountability by the state and by the EPA as well upside down and backwards. We are too focused on making sure that the utility has the tools that they need and that they’re not unduly burdened when our entire perspective should be on public health. At an affordable price, but we know with this technology is completely doable.

Seth, this is maybe a final point so we don’t make the audience stir crazy and anxious. What are a few of the solutions that you talk about? Maybe the top two.

If you allow me to have three. The first and most important and the reason I wrote the book and the reason I’m traveling from community to community and the financial community. I’ve spoken before a number of very well-known banks. If any of your audiences are in the financial community, I know you’re going to give everybody contact information. I would love for you to contact me and let’s find a way for me to speak either by Skype or live before your audiences to talk about this. The first thing is to create a citizens’ movement akin to the environmental movement of the ‘70s and ‘80s whereby citizens understand that this is a remediable solvable problem at an affordable price which will have an almost immediate positive effect on society’s health and well-being. Most people think about lead pipes in Flint, Michigan, there are 10.5 million lead pipes in America. A survey taken by New York State is at 82% of New York State schools have lead pipes in them. We are poisoning our children all over the place. That’s number one. The first thing is I want to create a citizen awareness. By citizen awareness, people will start grousing and will start demanding more. The solution then comes from the fact that we will have a systemic change. The second solution I would like us to have is if we can’t do it nationally. I’d like to have us do a community by community.

We won't have the changes we need until it becomes conventional wisdom that we have a fractured drinking water system that could be better. Click To Tweet

I profile in the book Orange County, California and I do that deliberately because I want everyone to understand that here’s a community that made a choice to ignore the EPA guidelines and to choose something that brings the water to basically no contaminants or whatsoever. They made a choice to purify their water at a much higher level. They do this at a cost of about $0.60 a week per person and as part of that cost, they also have a whole problem about ocean infiltration. The rest of America wouldn’t have that, but even if we did, it’s $30 a year per person. The $20 billion a year we’re spending in America for bottled water. That’s to say nothing of the waste problem that creates. The third solution is if you can’t do it nationally, you can’t do it in your community, I offer at the end of my book solutions for you, what you can do in your own home. How you can make and do your best to try to protect yourself, your families because it’s possible that you and I will not be affected by this. We’re healthy in the prime of our lives type of people although even that’s not clear by the way. What is almost the certainty is that pregnant women, fetuses, newborns and children of the age of five, people who are immunosuppressed because you’ve had a bad cold or you’ve had a disease. Anybody on chemotherapy is all at risk from these contaminants.

Therefore, for our own sake, we need to protect ourselves whether it’s nationally, whether it’s community or whether it’s individually protecting ourselves and our families in our own homes. I want to say one last word, which is there’s faulty thinking that bottled water is universally healthier than tap water. 70% of the bottled water sold the United States is subject to no federal regulation or whatsoever, nothing. It’s zero. Not FDA, not EPA, zero. There’s a quirk in the law which is crazy which exempts all these water companies from any federal regulation. They’re subject to state regulation for those few states that regulate drinking water. We don’t know the amount because no one’s regulating it, but a vast amount of the bottled water sold in the United States is literally tap water put into a bottle that is in sealed. That’s not true of some of the bigger brands or some of the more prominent brands, but on a volume basis, it’s totally true of most of the water that’s sold in the United States.

Is there some index or something that’s done privately that rates the types of bottled water that’s out there?

I’ll tell you this, the last time anyone did a study and it was done by the National Resource Defense Council many years ago, they surveyed several hundreds of bottled water brands. They took three examples of each of them and they found something quite remarkable that a very large percentage of them had contaminants or E.coli in them. It’s hard to believe but no one knows it was there. Number two is they found that even when you had three bottles from the same producer and you tested them side by side, some of them were contaminated and some of them weren’t contaminated. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything from Brand X is bad and that everything from Brand Y is good. The other problem with plastic drinking water bottles is that we now know that the plastic leaches hydrocarbon chemicals into the water if it’s kept in a warm environment. Since we don’t know how the bottled water was kept in the summertime or some warm warehouse. Therefore, we have good reason to fear that the water may not be as pure as we are led to believe it might be even for the very good bottled waters. That’s the concern that people should have about bottled water. Therefore, defaulting to bottled water as the solution is what used to be called a fool’s paradise.

Seth, this has been a fascinating discussion. We could keep going. I know that a lot of what you’re talking about is in your book so we’ll make sure we get the word out because it was surprising to me. Doing some research for the interview, it intrigued me at the same time it made me concerned because I love water. I drink water more than anything else which I assume is healthy. In the end, I looked into some of the stuff that you’ve been talking about and I can’t wait to read more in your book. We’ll make sure we post it on our social media channels so we can get the word out.

TWS 34 | Let There Be Water

Let There Be Water: There’s a faulty thinking that bottled water is universally healthier than tap water. A vast amount of the bottled water sold in the United States is literally tap water put into a bottle that is in sealed.


If people don’t have the patience to read a whole book, I’m on Twitter, virtually every day talking about water issues. I’m also @SethMSiegel but the book is the more comprehensive approaching. I would suggest also to people if you have a friend or a government official or a journalist that you know. I’m so delighted to be on your podcast. As a result of this, please spread the word. We will not have the changes we need until it becomes conventional wisdom that we have a fractured drinking water system that could be so much better.

Seth, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing your mission with us. We’ll stay in touch because I have some contacts I’d love to get you in front of.

I’d love to.

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About Seth M. Siegel

TWS 34 | Let There Be WaterSeth M. Siegel is a serial entrepreneur, water activist and a New York Times bestselling author. His critically acclaimed award-winning book Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World has been published in 17 languages and is on sale in more than 50 countries. His newest work, Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink, sets forth an ambitious agenda for a fundamental rethinking of America’s drinking water system. Seth has been recognized for his thought leadership and advocacy on water scarcity and quality.

He is a Senior Fellow at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Water Policy. His commentary has appeared in many leading publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Seth has spoken on water issues at more than 275 venues in 66 cities, 24 states and on four continents.

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International Living: Finding Your Purpose Overseas With Dan Prescher And Suzan Haskins

TWS 33 | International Living


Living and retiring abroad can change the way you look at the world and even help you find your true purpose in life. Today, Patrick Donohoe talks about living life abroad with Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher, the authors of  Live Richer, Spend Less: International Living’s Ultimate Guide to Retiring Overseas. The internet has shaped the way people travel and view the world. Dan and Suzan share their guidelines in choosing their next adventure and their experiences living in different countries and communities. They also explain how retirees are driven to join their charities and live abroad at the same time.

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International Living: Finding Your Purpose Overseas With Dan Prescher And Suzan Haskins

I have the pleasure of being with Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher. It’s so awesome to have you guys on. I appreciate you taking the time. I understand you came back from a pretty tropical place into the Midwest. I’m assuming you guys are from Omaha, Nebraska.

I’m born and raised in Omaha. Suzan only raised her son here, so it’s not from around here.

No, but enough years. I moved here when I was 21. I guess I’m basically a Nebraskan by now.

Warren Buffett calls it home.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

As far as your accolades and your history and what you’ve done, it’s incredible that you’ve had this extensive career doing what you do and writing about what you write about. I’m excited to have this interview. Let’s start out with those rapid-fire questions so we can get an idea of who you guys are and what you’re about. The first one is before your professional life, who was a role model to you, someone that you looked up to or inspired you?

I can tell you that strong independent women have always been my role models. Before my professional career, I would have to say those teachers that I had back in high school. I had a history teacher in Middletown, New Jersey that taught me how to write, which is what I’ve done all of my life and taught me to love history and travel, which has taken me far. I would say she was probably one of my most important role models, as well as some of the language teachers I had, which has also been a great thing to have been able to actually use. The United States as a place where we don’t often speak two languages. To be able to have that background has been a good thing.

For me, it’s probably Jimi Hendrix or Joe Pass, two guys who dedicated their lives to learning their instruments and took that field of knowledge as far as anybody has ever taken it. I’m not a good guitar player myself. I’m a barely passable musician, but those guys were masters and I like the idea of mastery. I like the idea of dedication and mastery and those guys mastered something cool.

The principle of mastery, especially seeing masters and experiencing masters, there’s nothing like it. Second rapid-fire, what superhero, fiction or non-fiction or icon in history do you most resonate with?

There is no end to opportunities towards helpings kids and the elderly. Click To Tweet

My superhero right now is Ruth Bader Ginsburg and I hope that she keeps going and keeps working. It looks like she is going to keep working until the day she drops dead, which is probably what I will do too, so she’s a living superhero for me.

Mine, historical and superhero and comic book, you name it and he’s been at all, is probably the historical Buddha. I’m fascinated by his life. There’s been a lot of work done lately to peel back those layers of religiosity that got layered onto his life. His original life and original message is compelling for me and it informs everything. There’s nothing that it doesn’t apply to for me when I think about it. That would be Gautama.

A third one, what charitable causes do you guys support?

My favorite is an organization called Helping Kids in Ecuador. We lived in Ecuador for many years and got to participate in some of their fundraisers and hear them talk. I’ve followed the work that they have done. I will probably tear up when I talk about it because they are changing kids’ lives. These are kids who cannot afford simple life-changing surgeries. Eye surgeries, cleft lip and cleft pallet surgeries that make a tremendous amount of difference and these families can’t afford it. This organization is helping them pay for these surgeries. That’s my favorite charity.

I’m with her. The volunteer opportunities for expats who move abroad, we’ve lived in that society, that demographic that know you for almost two decades now. You can volunteer for anything but volunteering on the ground where you’re at to help the kids that live in that community or the elderly just to help the community. There is no end to the opportunities to do that. It’s whatever helps the local communities.

It’s amazing the idea of contribution and charity. There’s giving money, but then there’s actually the activity and the experience of it, which there is a stark contrast.

It takes organization, it takes time. Money, that’s fine. They need money but the time, the organization, the effort, the cooperation, making it happen, that’s the value of it.

Final one, if there was one attribute that you could impress on your kids, your grandkids, the world, this audience, what would that attribute be?

TWS 33 | International Living

The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget

Tolerance. First of all, one of the things that we have seen in our travels is that we all want the same things. Everybody, no matter where you live, no matter what religion you are, you want your kids to be healthy, happy and you want a safe place to live. For me, to be tolerant of other people and to understand that similarity is probably the most important thing. The other thing that I’ve always impressed upon our kids is to be debt-free, if you can, to not have credit card debt and all of that stuff and simply to be a good person.

I would only add to that curiosity in the sense of ongoing curiosity. If you get to the point where you think you’ve got it all figured out and you’re running on your biases, you’re missing most of what’s going on in the world. I think that’s one of the great things about the expat lifestyle that we’ve been living. You have to be curious all the time to figure things out. Everything is a challenge. Everything takes a little bit of out of the box thinking and that keeps you young. It keeps you going all the time. If you’ve got it all figured out and you’re just resting on your morals, you’re done. You stop.

It’s amazing how complementary those two attributes are. Tolerance is stepping back and trying to see another way of looking at things. There’s only one way of looking at things, but the curiosity behind looking at something different can be a huge window to tell the opportunity to learning to grow. To me, it’s amazing. Thank you, guys, for answering those questions. The reason why we ask them is to give the topic at hand some context where you are coming from. I think this is going to be intriguing. The reason why I wanted to have you guys on is because international living has been around for about 40 years now. Correct?

40 years this year, 2019.

It’s an opportunity because of the tagline of your book, which is How to Live Well in $25,000 a Year. Plus, I know you have a new book, but that the idea though is that there are lifestyles that people can live in their retirement. Those years, they’re actually possible. If we look at just the typical retirement planning, it’s very inadequate for the lifestyle that people want to live and people are getting stressed out about it. The atypical way of approaching the future, this is a perfect example of it. Would you guys speak to what your mission has been, what you’ve been trying to communicate to people for the better part of 40 years in regards to the opportunities that exist internationally for people to live out golden years or maybe even before? I know there’s a lot going on with the Millennial generation, even next generation where they’re going international, living international and it’s evolving too. Over the course of 40 years, I can imagine that your experience being on the front lines has been motivating and inspiring. It’s more acceptable now than it was 40 years ago.

I think that’s the biggest change. You’re right. When international living started, the demographic was people who wanted to make fixed incomes go as far as possible. That was the old-style retirement, “I got my pension, I got my Social Security. I want to live the life I want to live. How do I make that fit my lifestyle requirements?” The answer was just to move to a place where things cost less and the weather is better. You skip the heating bills, you skip the air conditioning bills. You pay lower property tax, you may get free medical care with the national health service. It’s like lifestyle arbitrage. If you can suddenly move someplace where your cost of living is cut in half or more, it doubles the value of your resources. For 40 years, that’s been the message.

There are dozens and dozens of places around the world that are happy, healthy, safe places to live that costs less. That’s not such a novel idea anymore. The internet has changed everything. You can talk to people in real time who are doing that in Panama City, Mexico City, in Belize, Malaysia, Chiang Mai, you name it. There are people around the world who are doing exactly that. We talk to them every day. We’ve been living that life. That was the value proposition when we first started out. Now it applies to more people than ever. It applies to people with families. It applies to young singles, it applies to single females who are past retirement age but want to have the adventure that they always wanted to have. All of those people can find a benefit in that lifestyle.

What questions have been like over the years in regards to that atypical way of thinking? I’m assuming some have been the same, but they’ve probably changed over the years. What are those questions from your audience and readers like?

The big question is often is it safe.

I think that’s the biggest concern. People always want to feel that they will be safe in the place that they live, as I alluded.

Everything takes a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking, and that keeps you young. Click To Tweet

It’s human nature to be content with the devil you know, even if statistically the place where you’re living is not that safe compared to other places, you know it. You feel better, there’s a comfort zone there. Moving abroad is a lot about moving out of your comfort zone and being comfortable with that. It’s being comfortable with being challenged, having that adventure. “Is it safe?” is a question we can easily answer. Yes, it is.

We wouldn’t write about places that we didn’t feel were safe, that we wouldn’t feel comfortable if our mothers came to visit us or our grandkids. That is not an issue. I think more and more people have been traveling in our generation and the generations that follow just with modern technology, as many people weren’t traveling 40 years ago as they are now. A lot of people are comfortable with the idea of at least exploring living overseas. It comes with a lot of intimidation. They think that maybe it’s not as easy as we make it sound. Maybe it’s in our personal nature where we’ve never been uncomfortable. We’ve lived in seven different communities in four different countries over the last twenty years, so we’re very comfortable with picking up stakes and moving on. Not everybody is. People are creatures of habit, like Dan said.

That’s a great point to make too. Moving abroad at any time in life is not something that most people will do. Most people stay right where they are and that’s fine. If you’re happy there, if you’re comfortable there, if it has everything you need, if you don’t want to go anywhere, that’s great. Even if you try an international lifestyle, if you move somewhere and find out it’s not for you, you’re the wiser for it. It’s not a pass-fail thing. You learn from it. You take your experiences, you go back home and you carry on and you’re smarter. I think the safety factor, the ‘Will I be comfortable?’ factor, ‘Will I be welcomed in this community?’ is always a big question.

People want to know that they’re going to be able to find their tribe of like-minded people, that they won’t feel lonely. That’s one of the biggest, saddest things in the world right now, the lonely feeling that a lot of people have, especially when they retire right here in the United States. People are treated a little bit differently in many of these countries where we write about. The elderly are looked up to and revered for their life experiences. Being included in community events and having people put you at the front of the line in banks and hospitals, it’s not something you’re necessarily used to if you live in the US, but you are when you go overseas. Many of these places now have growing expat communities and the expats who live in these places tend to be welcoming, gregarious people and they welcome you in. You don’t have to worry about being the wallflower. Even if you’re not a Type-A personality, you will still find plenty of things to do. We like to say that your social calendar will be much fuller when you live overseas than it likely will be if you stay where you are.

What are some common things you see people do? What’s something that they would have to do to go from this desire to have a degree of certainty associated with those years, which is being in the same community, having stability as far as knowing who friend groups are, knowing where income is coming from, knowing that income can actually stretch to support the lifestyle. What are some things that people do to go from that state to this new belief that international living somewhere else where I have a social group, where there is that appreciation? There are opportunities to serve, there are opportunities to live in a nice warm weather and beautiful location. What are some things that they do consistently that gets them to make the shift?

Research, for one thing. The internet has changed everything and allows us to find out anything instantaneously. Via Facebook groups, you can actually meet people living in these different communities that we talk about. It’s not the scary thing that it used to be. There are books like ours that people can read about. You can come to a conference with international living hosts and 5 or 6 places around the world every year. You can meet those like-minded people and get your support group.

You can assemble a support group before you even think about moving abroad. Even if you’d never move abroad, those people will still be your friends. They’ll be Facebook friends, they’ll be online friends, but the internet has changed everything in that respect. The other thing is to get boots on the ground and give it a try. As we say, if you get to a place like Cotacachi or Córdoba or any place that you might want to try out and you find out that you don’t feel right there, that’s something immediately you get a gut feeling. If you do get that warm glow and you meet the people there, you start to participate in the activities, we recommend spending as long a period as you can on that first trip to find out what it’s like to actually live there instead of just being a tourist. If you need to find out where you can get your mail, how to hook up your utilities, whether or not the local bank will accept a direct deposit of your Social Security check, those are things that will make a difference in your quality of life once you move there. That’s what you need to find out.

This might be an off the wall question or statement. I haven’t experienced it personally, but it’s experiencing it through the relationships that I have. When a person goes from working years until they get into retirement years, there’s a change as far as the meaning they have for themselves and what they do. When you look at a career, whether a person likes it or not, they’re making a difference. There is meaning there. They’re contributing. They’re paid for it. They’re creating some value and then going right through these years where they’re not doing that anymore. People seek or are seeking meaning and that’s why they moved to retirement communities or they go on service missions or they do something else. What are opportunities or have you seen examples of what you’ve seen where a person is able to take their skillset that they established over a 30, 40-year career and move abroad and then do something to continue finding meaning, growing, contributing and so forth?

TWS 33 | International Living

Live Richer, Spend Less

There are people who want to retire and primarily move overseas for financial reasons. They may end up doing the exact same things they would do if they stayed at home. For instance, they like to watch their movies or stay home and cook. By and large, I think that people who move overseas and retire overseas in the first place, have an adventuresome spirit. They get together, they travel. They go and explore new places. They go to little villages. They end up seeing a need that the local community has. As we were talking about, we’ve seen people start animal rescue missions. We’ve seen them start soup kitchens to feed the elderly in a community, teach kids English so that they’ll be able to work in a tourism industry in their own country or go abroad. English is the universal business language, of course. They’re giving these little children in a remote village somewhere an opportunity that they might not otherwise have. We’ve seen people start businesses, they see niches that need to be filled in their community.

One friend of mine started a business where she makes aprons and potholders. She hires the local women as seamstresses, she’s been able to give them jobs and her stuff is now in museums all over the world. She’s from Mexico and her stuff is very Mexican-flaired and it’s being sold in these fabulous museums all over the world. She’s making a huge difference. We have story after story like that of people who are finding things, whether it’s something they’re doing that they never thought they would do, paddling down the Amazon or something or they’re starting these cottage industries.

It’s a two-edged sword and you’re right. People who have worked at a particular skillset all their lives and decide to retire often decide to retire because that job may have defined them as a person and it may have paid the bills, but it didn’t satisfy their curiosity about life. They want to go out and find out something new there. There’s a big world out there. On the other hand, people may be so happy and so well-defined by what they do that they take that job with them and the internet has changed all of that. If you want to work from abroad, there’s almost nothing you can’t offer online. If you have a valuable skillset that another person won’t pay you for, you can do that from anywhere on the planet where there is an internet connection.

You guys teach about that and talk about that in your publishing business?

Yes. International Living has a couple of three email letters and one of them is called Fund Your Life Daily. With that, there are all kinds of ideas shared about how to make a living overseas, whether it’s on the internet or in a bricks and mortar business or in a consulting role or something like that. We have all sorts of things that we’re seeing. Many years ago, people were retiring overseas. Now they’re becoming younger and younger when they do that. There are digital nomads, there are ways to make a living when you’re anywhere in the world, like Dan said. We have all kinds of little niche avenues and rivers in International Living that can help people no matter what they’re looking for.

There’s an article that came out and there’s this interesting dynamic with longevity and life expectancies. In the US, life expectancies are actually going down. At the same time, they should be going up based on the understanding of health and the principles of longevity. What they see is among teens, Millennials, there’s drug abuse, prescription medication abuse and suicide. Also, there’s interesting statistics in regards to longevity. When a person stops working and contributing, life expectancy does go down. That’s what’s what I find fascinating about the idea of international living is it offers a different environment, but it’s an environment that creates that spice of life. It creates all these different experiences that are possible with a peer group. It also provides opportunities to continue to provide value, give value, which brings a ton of meaning. That’s where I look at it from the practical standpoint. You have the financial side of things. You have how far your dollar can go or your money can go, the lifestyle that you can live. It goes way beyond that. That’s just my opinion and my perspective based on information I’ve gathered. Would you speak maybe to that and how there’s been an evolution over the 40 years as far as why a person will go international?

Many years ago, retirement was a different thing. If you made it to 65 in your chosen profession, you were used up, you were done. If you were in manual labor, if you’re a farmer, if you worked in a plant, almost anything you did by the time you were 65, 40 years ago would have sapped your valuable years. Now people live a decade, 2 decades, 3 decades past what traditional retirement is actually structured for and they’ve got to figure out what to do with that time. If you’re going to live another 30 years, you can’t sit in a rocking chair. You can’t play golf for 30 years. You’ve got to do something. The people that discover moving abroad are selected to be the people that know there’s more out there no matter what I decided to do. If I decide to do nothing, just live on my Social Security. If I decide to do it in Chiang Mai or if I decide to do it in Cuenca, Ecuador, my life is going to be a lot more interesting and a lot more challenging. I’m going to have to wake up and open my eyes to make sure that I know where to go to get a cross-headed screw or the right plumbing fixture or to get 500-thread count sheets if that’s what I want. I’m going to have to figure those things out. That keeps you young, that keeps you going in our experience.

You can make a Social Security payment that you qualify for it. 65, 67 or 70, go another twenty years in the right place with the right economy, but you’ve got to find something to do while you’re there. Life abroad gives you something to do. It makes you pay attention. We’ve seen it time and time again. People move abroad and their blood pressure goes down, their weight goes down, their eyes brighten up. They start learning the local language. They acquire another skill or 2 or 3. They move to another place. They don’t just move to Cuenca and quit. They moved to Cuenca and figure, “Maybe Ek’ Balam is a nice place.” We know somebody who made that move. It keeps him young.

A lot of people do tell us that they feel healthier once they move overseas. It’s not like there’s the fountain of youth or some magic potion or anything, but most people tend to move to a place where the climate is more suitable, where they can be outside in the fresh air every day, day in, day out. They walk more. A lot of the folks that we know who are retiring overseas give up their car because they live in a walkable community. That’s one of the things about the United States is you have to have a car to get from one place to another. In many of these places around the world, communities are set up to be walking communities. You might have a little tienda next door right down the street where you go to get your eggs and your bread and you carry it home with you. You don’t need a car. People tend to be more active and healthier overall, get more vitamin D naturally. Fruits and vegetables aren’t carted in from halfway around the world. They’re grown right there and pulled out of the ground that morning or the day before and sold in the farmer’s market. You’re eating healthier, you’re more active and you tend to have a more engaging lifestyle, I think.

As we conclude, this has been fascinating and I’m so grateful for your time and your insight into this. I would say it’s a huge opportunity, which obviously has been around for a long time. In this day and age, there are so many benefits that can come from the education that you’re providing. This is something that’s on my mind. What are you guys focused on right now? What are some of the topics, the themes? It sounds like you just came from a conference that you held. What are some of the focuses now, themes and things you’re consistently seeing that you think would be important for the readers?

The safety factor is always a questions when it comes to traveling and living abroad. Click To Tweet

We’re going through something that a lot of retirees are going through. We’re not technically retired. We’re still happily working and we will until we drop. We’ll probably die in the harness, but we’ll be old when that happens. We’ve got grandkids and family stuff going. I think we mentioned being a part-time expat is now a much more viable option than it used to be. If you want to come back and be with family and friends, if you’ve got grandkids whose lives you want to be a part of, if you want to try several different places and keep a home base, the roaming retiree, a serial relocator we call them, something that’s completely possible. It used to be that once you got to 65 or 67, you got your Social Security, you found that place where you could live cheap, you went and laid in the hammock and you had your 5 or 6 great years and that was it. There are two or three different life stages after that now. Finding ways to do that, to change, to go with the flow, those are huge topics for us right now and huge topics for the people that we deal with.

Another trend we’re seeing is that a lot of people aren’t coming back. They are aging for the rest of their lives in some of these places where they’ve made their homes. The world is moving forward a pace right now where assisted living centers that they did not have in Mexico, in Costa Rica and Panama. Some of these countries are now becoming the vanguard. We know people who, when the time comes for them, transition into an assisted living center that is a fraction of the cost here in the States. They’re choosing not to come back. The point is there are so many options out there that makes sense depending on your personal wish list.

That raises a great point. In the United States, we’re huge on quality of life, but we’re not big on quality of death. It’s something we don’t address. There are expats living lives out there now who have fought ahead to the end of their own lives and how they want to do it and how they want to manage it. It is more doable and more manageable in some of the countries that we’ve lived in than it is in the United States, no doubt.

I know that there are report after report that talk about how much money is spent in the last couple of months of a person’s life just to hold on. I look at it again as the experience of life and the meaning that comes from that is what I believe people are after. My wife is from Mexico and we spend a lot of time down there, but we’ve also been privileged to travel the world. Although I love where I live, I can appreciate it as different than other places. I love other places too. It’s been interesting to see how much travel has changed over the course of years because I didn’t go anywhere. I went to the outer banks and the Poconos when I was growing up. Driving right now, people are used to going to Europe, South America and in Mexico. I look at retirement and how much pioneers like yourselves have helped to develop the support system and the information of how to do it the right way so that it’s not an experiment, it’s an experience.

There are plenty of people who have done it and there’s plenty of information out there for anybody who wants to do it.

Talk about ways in which the readers can engage with you guys. The newsletters you’re writing, the events that you’re putting on. What’s the best way to connect with you?

Because the internet has changed everything, we’ve become an internet-based business. At InternationalLiving.com, almost everything we produce is available. It’s a one-stop shop. It’s broad and deep. Once you get in there, you can pick a specific country to research. You can pick earning money after retirement. You can look about healthcare options, visa options. The place to start the research, as with almost everything right now, is the internet. Start at InternationalLiving.com and work out from there. If you still need hard copy, we’ve still got hard copy for you, but it’s all available online.

We have two books that we’ve written on the subject of moving, retiring overseas. They’re available at Amazon.com, from International Living. The last one is that LiveRicherSpendLess.com. You can see what the book is all about and if it interests you, pick up a copy.

We’ll make sure that they reach out. It’s one of those topics that I think people are aware of because of your history. It’s in a centralized location, you could probably find 99.9% of it.

We also work the conferences that we have. We have five conferences a year, possibly six. Those conferences are listed on the website as well. It’s a great way to get boots on the ground. If you want to try it, you want to see what it’s like and talk to some like-minded people, it’s a great way.

You can come to a conference and then usually there are some tours offered before and after the conference if you want to go out and see the area, meet some of the expats, see what housing options might be available to you. These conferences are another great way to find your tribe and see if a place is for you.

This has been a great interview. I appreciate what you’ve done and we’re going to get the word out. There’s another group that I’m involved with that I believe that this would be applicable to because it’s one of those topics that to me that’s common sense. Common sense is no longer common, it seems like, and so that’s where I look at with how things have evolved and how safe things are and how much money can be stretched in different environments. It’s amazing. It gives people hope, but there are those few psychological hurdles they need to get over. You guys have tackled that.

You need to break out. You need to have a sense of adventure. You need to realize that it’s not jumping off a cliff. It’s a learning experience. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you planned, very little works out the way you planned. Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. You’ll just be better for it.

Thank you again for your wisdom.

Thank you very much.

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March 12-15, 2020
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About Dan Prescher

TWS 33 | International LivingDan Prescher was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Iowa with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing. He and his wife and co-author, Suzan Haskins, joined International Living in 2001, writing about their lives in Quito, Ecuador.

From there they moved to Mexico in late 2002, and in 2006 they moved on to Panama and then Nicaragua before returning to Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan state, where they renovated a colonial home. They also lived for eight years in in Cotacachi, Ecuador. In addition to these locales, they have explored dozens more expat havens around the world, including locations in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ireland, France, Thailand, and beyond. They are currently residents of Mexico.

Dan is now a Senior Editor with International Living. As well as regularly writing about his experiences as an expat living overseas, he produces most of the company’s podcasts for www.InternationalLiving.com and serves as master of ceremonies for IL’s seminars, conferences, and other events held around the world. He and Suzan have produced in-depth webinars on several of the most popular expat destinations. Dan has been interviewed about living and working overseas for articles appearing in The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Kiplinger, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, USA Today, The Business Times, CNBC, The Globe and Mail, Chicago Tribune, MSN, PBS NewsHour, AARP, and more.

In 2014, Dan and Suzan co-authored their first book, The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget, which quickly rose to the #1 spot in its category on Amazon. Following that success, the Haskins/Prescher team wrote an even more detailed guide to life abroad, called Live Richer, Spend Less: International Living’s Ultimate Guide to Retiring Overseas.

You can purchase it at LiveRicherSpendLess.com or at Amazon.com.

About Suzan Haskins

TWS 33 | International LivingSuzan Haskins hails from the great American Midwest, where she earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and spent nearly 25 years working in corporate advertising and marketing. Finally, in 2000, she said “not another winter in Omaha” and began looking for a way to live where the climate and scenery were better and lie moved at a slower pace, allowing her to do more of the things she had always wanted to do.

An International Living subscriber, she started pestering the company for a job. In 2001, the company hired Suzan and her husband, Dan Prescher, to write for them at InternationalLiving.com from Quito, Ecuador. From there, they moved to Mexico in late 2002 and in 2006 they moved on to Panama and then Nicaragua before returning to Merida, in Mexico’s Yucatan state, where they renovated a colonial home. They also lived for eight years in in Cotacachi, Ecuador. In addition to these locales, they have explored dozens more expat havens around the world, including locations in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ireland, France, Thailand, and beyond. They are currently residents of Mexico.

Suzan is now Senior Editor for International Living, where she contributes editorial essays and speaks at conferences worldwide on the topic of retiring abroad.

In 2014, she and Dan co-authored their first book, The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget, which quickly rose to the #1 spot in its category on Amazon. Following that success, the Haskins/Prescher team wrote an even more detailed guide to life abroad, called Live Richer, Spend Less: International Living’s Ultimate Guide to Retiring Overseas.

You can purchase it at LiveRicherSpendLess.com or at Amazon.com.
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Jacob Durham on Nomatic, KickStarter, And Starting An Online Business

TWS 32 | Starting An Online Business


If we envision selling an innovative product that we thought about, then we have to have the tenacity and courage to face the ups and downs of managing a business. In the current digital age, selling and advertising your products online is the best way to go. In this episode, Patrick Donohoe interviews Nomatic owner and co-founder, Jacob Durham, about how he managed his online business with his team which started on KickStarter. Jacob also tackles why we should learn to accept and retry after experiencing failure, and how his product sales increased using Facebook ads, among other topics on business.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Jacob Durham on Nomatic, KickStarter, And Starting An Online Business

I’m excited to be with you. I’m excited to introduce my guest. Before I do that and give you a little story, I tell this story in the interview as well. I wanted to remind you that the offer that I extended over the last couple of podcasts is still live and valid. It is a pretty significant discount to come with me to Tony Robbins’s Unleash The Power Within, which is going to be in San Jose in March 12th through 15th. Go to the website, TheWealthStandard.com to connect with my man over at Tony Robbins Organization. His name is Jeffrey and he’ll take care of you and get you that discount. I can’t wait to see you there.

If you have resonated with at least the theme of the last few months about entrepreneurship, this is an event that I believe will change your life. It’s an event that certainly changed mine as well as countless other individuals. If you have that urge, that itch that you want to scratch, the itch of entrepreneurship and have ideas and have means, but yet your psychology isn’t allowing you to make that leap, this is an event for you. This will change the way in which you view your business, your profession, yourself, your relationships. It’s incredible. You will love it. I can’t wait to be there with you. If you are interested, go ahead over to our website and you will find that information.

My guest is Jacob Durham. This is awesome. It’s a local company. It is a backpack that I purchased a couple of years ago. It’s a brand that this individual is one of the founders of and it’s called Nomatic. It’s Nomatic.com. It’s such an inspiring interview, an inspiring story. You’re able to see a lot of the principles that we’ve talked through over the course of this season in practice. It’s also looking at how serendipity works where when you have some will, a dream, an urge and the magic that can happen because of that is awesome to see. You’re going to hear that from Jacob.

Jacob is an awesome guy you can see the spirit and the drive in him. It was an awesome interview. I researched this company for several months, purchasing a backpack. I have to travel and I wanted something that was durable as well as simple, but yet could fit everything. The company’s incredible. I had a rip in my zipper a few months ago. I took a picture, submitted it, they send me a brand new one within a couple of days. It’s an incredible company. They’re now into more than wallets and backpacks. They’re into all sorts of stuff. You definitely want to follow them. If you’re in the market, it’s definitely a good product to pick up.

The story is there’s like a cultish following behind it because I was in Europe past summer at an event. I was on a row and I looked over and saw my backpack. It wasn’t my backpack, but it looked like my backpack. I looked there and I was confused because I was like, “Why is it there and I’m here?” I noticed mine was right there. I looked at the guy, he looked back at me, he looked out at my backpack and we gave each other the bro wink. That was pretty cool because Nomatic is one of those brands where you can recognize the bag. It’s a cool, sleek-looking bag. If you’re in the market for one, it’s a great product.

Jacob also has an amazing story. Him and his cousin are the ones that started the business. It started on Kickstarter and they did some more crowdfunding campaigns. That’s how they seeded their ideas. It’s such a powerful lesson. You will definitely get a kick out of it. It’s a great almost final episode this season, but I can’t wait for next season as well. We’re going to get into a little bit different topic, much less philosophical, although I’m going to interweave some of the philosophy into it. We’re going to be talking about investment strategy and not typical investment. We’re going to talk about the weird investments, the stuff that you probably haven’t heard of before.

I’m talking more in depth about what I would like to learn as well as what I would love you guys to learn as well. That’s it. If you like what you read, go and give us a good review on iTunes. That helps. They are narrowing down the number of podcasts that are on iTunes. If you don’t have good ratings, there’s not going to be most exposure to new audiences. We appreciate the support that you have given me in the past. Thank you so much for the support. The feedback that I continue to get about the podcast is inspiring to me and I can’t wait to bring you more amazing content. Let’s get to the interview.

I have Jacob Durham. He’s a cool guy and has an amazing business. It’s local but he is one of the Cofounders and Owner of Nomatic. This is Nomatic. This is a new bag because I got a one a few years ago and the zipper came loose. I took a picture, submitted it and got a brand-new bag within three days. This thing is awesome. I chose it because I have to travel. This thing is amazing. First off, the durability, from a travel perspective, you can literally fit everything in it, but Nomatic isn’t just backpacks anymore. We are going to talk through what you are up to in your journey as entrepreneurs.

I love that we’re doing this type of episode at the end because we’ve gone through the philosophy of the entrepreneur. We’ve had tons of different guests from that perspective. We’ve also had those that have been part of other entrepreneur journeys like coaches or authors. I know we’ve also had a couple people that were part of going from zero to nothing or zero to one. It’s awesome to have you here because I didn’t know you guys were in Utah. Utah is a small community. It’s big but it’s small, especially from the business world. It’s cool that you’re here and I can’t wait to talk about Nomatic. First off, did you ever think you were going to be an entrepreneur? Did you have that seed inside you or was this just random series of events and serendipity?

Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. Click To Tweet

My dad is an entrepreneur. My dad’s brother is an entrepreneur. It’s in the family, we call it a sickness because we can’t stop doing more and more. I always dreamed of doing it. When we started this, it wasn’t like, “Let’s start a business and let’s get to this much. Let’s build to this size.” It’s like, “Let’s start a project, get some cash, learn a little bit about the business and then we’ll stop and I’ll continue with my normal day job.”

Is that how Nomatic started? This is one of the first.

It’s pretty much the first where I’ve tried my hand in making serious money. We were trying to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter with our wallet.

It started with a wallet then it went to the backpack.

We did the wallet, then a planner. We did a travel bag, like a duffle and backpacks. We have done about nine Kickstarter so far.

Now you have influencers like Lewis Howes. Who are some of the other influencers that are promoting your stuff and using your products?

Lewis Howes is a big one that we’ve been able to become friends with. He’s an awesome guy. Peter McKinnon is somebody that we’ve worked with. He’s a big photographer. There are a couple other local people that are good friends of ours, but those are probably the two that people will know the most. They’re the ones that we’re going to close with.

You’ve been around for a few years. Talk about maybe where you’re at right now from a size standpoint. How many customers did you have in your first couple of years to now? Where are you at right now?

Customers in our email, we have about 350,000 to 400,000 emails on our email list. We have about eighteen employees on our team. Me and my cousins started it. I’ve been around for a few years. We have 6,000 square-foot office in Sandy.

TWS 32 | Starting An Online Business

Starting An Online Business: Trying to assess where you’re at is a scary thing to do. You always think you’ve learned a lot, but when you look back a few years, you realize you knew nothing and you have grown so much since then.


Let’s talk about the journey. We talked briefly about what we have referred to as the entrepreneur journey, which can be paralleled to the life cycle of a human being. You’re born, you have an idea in business. You’re a toddler, you learn to walk and speak. In the business world, you learn how to market a few things and see that people will buy something from you. You go to being a teenager where you think you know everything to the young adult where now you’re super appreciative of not going out of business in the first couple of years. Walk us through the journey of how you went through those stages. Where are you at right now?

Trying to assess where you’re at yourself is probably a scary thing to do. When you’re in a moment, you always think, “I’ve learned a lot. I’m pretty smart now.” A few years then, you look back and you’re like, “I knew nothing about what I was doing. I have grown so much.” At that moment, you think you’re smarter and then a few more years later, again you’re like, “I knew nothing back then.” It’s in progress. I don’t know if I can tell exactly where I am. I’m looking at peers around me. I have some advisors and people I lean on who make me feel like I’m a baby and beginning still. I’d probably say I’m still in the early stages.

Like life, you carry all sorts of ways of doing things like perspective, bias and opinions based on how you were raised, based on what you were like as a toddler or a teenager. I agree with you because it’s hard to identify exactly where you’re at. The prime of life is when you go to hiring people who’ve already done it and you continue to innovate. I’m not there and very few businesses are there. That’s one of those arrivals where instead of figuring it out yourself, you find someone that’s already figured it out, hire them and pay them. As you and your cousin started, you probably were doing everything like marketing. You’re doing payroll. You’re doing the books. You were turning off the lights. You were getting the cleaning done. As you started to achieve some success and bring on people, how did you go about hiring and expanding Nomatic by having the scale of using other people to do certain tasks?

When we started a few years ago, it was my cousin and I. We probably went for a good year and a half until we brought anyone else on. The first thing we brought on was customer service because it was a piece that took so much time and it didn’t need us to do it. It wasn’t what we were there to do. That was the first person. At about probably three years, we had about six people. Bringing on people is an interesting experience. It’s tough because when you’re doing everything yourself, you have a vision and you don’t know how to communicate to someone else what that vision is. You just know, “I want to do this. It’s not working so I’m going to stop. It’s working, I’m going to lean more into that.” You know that intuitively. Getting someone else to think about that well and align with you, I still don’t know how to do it. I’m still figuring it out.

Oftentimes, you assume that they already know what to do.

You think it’s inherent, but they haven’t been there. The fact that they don’t isn’t ever their fault. It’s just they haven’t been there to see all the decisions along the way that got you there. They’ve never been there. There are super smart people around me, but they haven’t had the same experiences with these products and with our vendors and all these things. They haven’t tried these things that I already have. They can’t just know those things. You imagine they would or they would get it, but it’s not the case.

What have you done whether it’s training or onboarding or development of your team? What have you done from that perspective of understanding they’re not going to be hired and get it, even though they’re smart, but teaching them? What are some of the ways you’ve done that?

One of the biggest things is looking within myself saying, “What do I want?” I have to define that first. That’s the hardest part. We’ve been working on it. We’ve spent a year and a half trying to decide what is Nomatic? What is our purpose? Why are we here? What do our customers want from us? What is our vision and goal? All that stuff. The first step for us is trying to find that. That’s constantly changing. We’re constantly asking ourselves what that is. The next step is in learning how to communicate that effectively. Right now, we’re in the process. When you’re in the moment, you think you know everything and you go back, you don’t know anything.

We’re always upgrading this but right now, we’ve gone through 2019 and realized our team lacked a lot of the vision that we wanted them to have. In the moment, you’re so busy. You think it’s working and three months later, you realize, “I failed again and I didn’t do it right.” For us now we’re saying, “When 2020 comes around, we’re going to revamp our bonus, our incentives, our alignment, what meetings we have that reinforce that vision. When the end of the year comes, if things don’t happen, we can point to something to understand why it’s happened. It’s such a big learning process. I wish I had a great answer to say, “This is how you do it.” That is hard.

A huge piece you could add to your company culture is humility. It doesn't matter who's right, as long as you all end up at what's right. Click To Tweet

It’s the perfect answer because it’s something that most entrepreneurs or all entrepreneurs can relate to. Maybe talk about how you’ve gone about discovering who you are, what you want, what role are you best at playing. Talk about some of the bigger roles that you’ve brought on, operational role, marketing role, where it was a very important piece, not necessarily customer service but an important piece.

My dad always had a saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Everyone has heard that. For me, it was finding out what I love to do, what I’m passionate about and what I feel I’m effective at. It’s been product development, working with the factories overseas and innovating, developing and also telling our story of who we are. Those are the pieces that I’ve tried to hold on to a bit. When I’m in the business and working, what energizes me and what drains me? If something’s energizing me, I want to hold onto those pieces a little bit more because I feel like when I’m energized and excited, I’m going to perform at a higher level. When I’m being drained, I’m going to perform at a lower level. That’s probably one of the biggest temperatures I can take on where I should exist in the business.

One of our guests, Craig Ballantyne, who’s a business coach, speaker and author. He has this exercise where you essentially calendar, you keep track of everything you’re doing during the week, all your tasks. You essentially do hot, warm, cold as far as your energy level and your excitement level. That’s where you start. That’s interesting. It’s one of those things where you sometimes get to the point where you like doing something but you know you not necessarily could.

That’s painful when that happens. Some pieces look awesome and cool like if I can be this cool entrepreneur or something but I am not just good at that.

Maybe talk about some of the principal roles, whether it’s an operational role, an accounting role, a marketing role or business development role that you brought on that made a difference. Walk us through that.

The first thing we did was me and my business partner found positions where we didn’t need to be there like those task-oriented ones. Those are the first things we hire and that’s what most people do. The bigger roles that we’ve hired on have been a video guy, which has been awesome. He’s super talented. He worked with Devinsupertramp. He does extreme videos and things on YouTube. Tyson has been an awesome hire, a skill that we don’t have. That’s been helpful to develop the brand and make it look a lot better. We haven’t hired any executive level positions. Up to now, it’s been a lot more of functional leaders like marketing directors or things like that. We have marketing and operations. We have filled out a lot of places, even places where I get energized.

We have hired people who are better than me like product development. We’ve hired on a guy who worked at OGIO. He was their head of product development. When they got bought by Callaway, they moved to California and we were able to bring him onto our team, which was awesome. He’s great. There are people in every position in the company. Me and my cousin now are trying to keep our DNA of the brand with those guys. We meet with them weekly all the time. As we are developing products, we understand what our customers are looking for and want. We try hard to be in those meetings and say, “This bag looks great, but how do we take it to the next level? What’s the next piece of innovation? What’s the next thing we need to do?”

How do you and your cousin work together? Maybe walk us through that, being founders and partners.

We’ve been so lucky. We always say that if we could interview 1 million people, you wouldn’t find someone better than each other. We got lucky. We’re cousins.

TWS 32 | Starting An Online Business

Starting An Online Business: In developing a product, you must understand what your customers want and think. It doesn’t have to just look good, you have to take it to the next level or the next piece of innovation.


You’ve known each other your entire life.

We’ve grown up hanging out. We work well together, but we’re very opposite, which is probably why we work well together. He’s very good in the moment, in the details, figuring out if something’s breaking down in the business, he can see it and logically think through what’s happening and fix it. I’m saying, “In a year from now, we have to launch this product.” All these things have to happen between now and then. We work well together that way. He’s very logical. His ability to think through a problem and resolve it is so powerful. I look up to him a lot for that. He’s always like, “I’m always thinking of what’s next and what’s happening next.” He gets frustrated because he’s like, “Jacob, we have so much to work on.” It works well that we bounce off balance each other that way.

You guys didn’t design it that way. It’s one of those serendipitous events, those lucky events that just happened because I see that when you have two founders that are the exact same, that’s where conflict start. When you have polarity, especially when it comes to strengths, that’s huge. It sounds like you have that vision of what things would become, understanding the customer, understanding the brand. At the same time, that can get people into a lot of trouble. We work as a good example. There are millions of different examples of people who want to push the envelope without much operational capability, implementation capability.

I’ll say, “We should do this and this.” He’s like, “Jacob, we can’t do twenty things in a year. We have to do two. We have to do it well.” He’s good at honing me and saying, “You’re being unrealistic.”

It’s not honing in like suppressing that. It’s, “Keep going but let’s find the most important things that will make the biggest difference and chip away at those first.”

Another huge piece that has made everything work for us and it’s our biggest piece of culture whenever we hire someone is humility. Nothing else matters in our company but humility. We always say it doesn’t matter who’s right as long as we ended up at what’s right. We live and die by that. We tell people when we hire them, “If you’re not humble, if you’re bringing in pride, you’re gone right away.” We tell them that every time and we live by it. John and I, as you develop ideas and you work on something for three weeks and you present it and they’re like, “I hate it,” you have to be like, “How do we make this better?” You trust their intentions are right. That’s what’s made it work. It’s that humility. It’s huge.

We’ve talked about this a little bit in prior season where our society is heavily influenced by the concept and the notion of what failure is. It has to do with the school system. There are other elements as well. The school system says, “Failure is bad. Success by yourself is good.” There’s a book that we referenced often, which is why A students work for C students and why B students work for the government. There’s a lot of evidence there because typically the C students aren’t F students, but they’re distracted. They’re bored. They’re not challenged. They’re visionary. They don’t necessarily like to march by the beat of the drum. You need that role. You also need A role. You also need B role. At the same time, it’s seeing how those roles work together. My point in making that example was the idea of failure. If people think they’re going to fail or do something wrong and it’s characterized as something’s wrong with them, it’s vast. It’s amazing you lead with that because business is all about failure. You can’t get to what works unless you know if it works first.

I read a book called Outwitting The Devil. It’s a good book. In that, it talks about one of the devil’s most powerful tools is saying failure is a mistake. Failure should be called education, not failure. I love that principle. Failure is necessary. It’s not a negative thing. It’s growth.

It’s those social rules that exist of what failure is. Failure is one of the most amazing experiences out there because it’s where all the true learning takes place.

If you want people to buy your product, you have to spend money and try to get in front of them. You can't just hope it goes viral. Click To Tweet

You fell over and over. You have to be okay with that. I think it was Gary V who was like, “Fail fast and then fix it,” but you have to do that.

Have you guys established your set of core values, what drives the business? It sounds like that’s one of them. Humility and being willing to fail but being okay with it and learning from it.

Probably our biggest core value is humility and being able to talk openly with each other and no politics. That gets squash right away and thrown out the door. We don’t deal with it. That’s huge. Recognize people who are doing good. If someone else had a good idea, make sure they know that they did a good job. That’s huge.

How did you decide to use Kickstarter? How did you decide to raise capital that way?

Kickstarter is the growth story of our company. The origins of our company is in Kickstarter. It wasn’t that we were trying to start a business when we did all this. I and my cousin went to a Jazz game and we said, “Let’s try our hands at business and make few extra bucks.” I had a baby coming. I was living from paycheck to paycheck. I’m like, “I need extra cash somehow.” We said, “We’re going to do something together.” That was it. We left that night and saying, “Let’s talk every day and try to develop something.” When my cousin was in the BYU Entrepreneurial Program and learned about Kickstarter, he told me about it. We’re like, “That’s great, that’s awesome.” We don’t have any cash. Kickstarter is a way that people can pre-order product. All you have to give is time to make it happen.

What happened was we started designing and developing the product together. We were down in my basement and were holding some pieces of paper and elastic band together. We’re trying to figure out how we could make a wallet differently because it’s been done a million times. We came up with an idea. We went to JOANN and we paid $200 for all these materials. That was our total investment in the company so far. We developed the wallet and Kickstarter was the platform that allowed us to launch it without any financial needs upfront. We launched it there hoping to raise $10,000. We ended up raising $170,000 and we were mind blown. We’re excited. I learned a ton in that process.

What sold the people that got them to $170,000? Was it the fact that you had a new wallet? What were some of the characteristics you associate it with?

The wallet is innovative. It’s the super minimalist wallet, but the big difference is you pull this tab and it pulls out half of your cards. It gives you access to your foremost used cards. It’s pretty innovative, but it’s not like rocket science. We had 30 days in the campaign and for fifteen days we were using our own means to contact people and say, “Come buy our wallet.” We got to $8,000. We were excited, but we were starting to making $200 a day. We’re like, “Are we going to hit our goal? We might not.” At that point, we contacted a local company called Funded Today who ran Facebook ads for us.

When we started running Facebook ads, we went from $200 a day to raising $8,000 a day. We were like “What just happened?” For us it was the a-ha moment of in business, if you want people to buy your product, you have to spend money. You have to get in front of them somehow. You can’t just hope it goes viral. Virality is luck. That for us was like, “You have to spend money to gain customers. You have to do it in smart ways.” Facebook ads is what drove that. That was huge. My cousin quit his full-time job at that point and said, “I’m going to dive full end of Facebook ads,” and that’s what he did.

TWS 32 | Starting An Online Business

Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success

He got good at it. The campaign ended in November. In January, we had wallets in our hands that we could sell. He started running Facebook ads and it started turning. At the time, it was the golden age of Facebook ads where it was ten or fifteen to one return. It was like printing money. We’re spending everything and kept going. In the first year, we ended up making $1.5 million on $20 wallets because Facebook ads were crushing it. I quit my job six months later. The beauty of Kickstarter is you could launch a product. You don’t have to go and make inventory. You can see that people like it. You get the cash up front and you go on manufacture. The risk is so low.

Through that experience because Facebook changed how all that works, the ads got more expensive. What did you discover about your customer, the audience that was buying? Was it them responding to a video or responding to language? You use certain demographics and tested those because in Facebook, you can get very granular as far as who you targeted. Talk us through how you identified your customer.

Facebook identified the customer for us. We used the Lookalike Audiences. We took all the emails. That was the other cool part because we had a $170,000 campaign. We ended up with 8,000 backers. We had 8,000 emails right from the start, which is a hard thing to get when you’re a new entrepreneur. People actually bought your product who are interested in your brand.

Kickstarter gave you the email addresses.

Yes, we plugged those into Facebook, the Lookalike Audiences. From that, you get 10 million people who look like your audience and you start serving ads. That did the work for us, which was nice. We did learn a lesson throughout it. We launched the wallet. We launched the planner and both of those had features, something that was different like how you pull the tab and you get access. Our notebooks had pen holders and there were sleeves in the back, whiteboard paper, a lot of features and functions.

After that, we launched a watch. It was a minimalist watch that didn’t have a lot of features and it tanked. We learned that for us, that innovation, that feature-rich product was the novelty. The novelty feature is what piques somebody’s interest. We learned that on Facebook. We started an ad agency where we were running Facebook ads for other companies. That’s the entrepreneur in me. It’s a sickness I can’t stop. We learned that for companies that we focused on, we had a niche of companies who were on Kickstarter then went to their own website. We only ran their Facebook ads and not other companies. If you’re selling a t-shirt that has prints on it, it wasn’t innovative. On Facebook, you wanted something eye-catching and different and a story behind it. By having something innovative, that was Kickstarter-worthy, it made it better on Facebook ads because there’s that innovation. It’s that special something that made a difference that caught people’s eye.

Did you ever launch something that wasn’t successful or as successful? You did the watch.

The watch wasn’t on Kickstarter though. We launched that on our site. We expected it to be less. We didn’t expect it to do that bad. In order to go on Kickstarter, you need something innovative. You can’t be on there if it’s not because they’ll shut you down. We had a friend who launched a watch and got shut down because Kickstarter said it wasn’t innovative enough. There’s that requirement, that prerequisite. On Kickstarter, fortunately, the wallet was our lowest campaign at $170,000. Now we’ve done nine. We’ve raised over $10 million through Kickstarter, which has been awesome.

How did you go now from a wallet, which is very minimalistic to the planner, to this complex bag? That’s minimal. This complex bag has pockets galore protections like the RFID protection for identity.

Virality is luck. Click To Tweet

It’s the Swiss Army knife of bags.

I got this bag because it was the newest bag and it had some other things in there that the first one didn’t have. How did you go from simplistic to something more complex?

Our process has always been very data-driven and based around Kickstarter. Kickstarter is our demographic. With the first one, we said, “We’re launching on Kickstarter. What product does well regularly on Kickstarter?” We found that wallets always funded, whether it was a $5,000 goal, $10,000, $20,000. There were campaigns that were making 500,000 on wallets. We’re like, “There are many of them. They always work. Let’s try that one,” so that worked.

After we finished this campaign, we’re like, “What product is next? The planners are doing well.” We did the planner next. We saw that bags were doing well so we jumped into bags. The other piece that drove it too was the Facebook ad cost was rising. We needed a higher price point item. We always said each campaign needed to be at a higher price point and had to be things that do well on Kickstarter regularly. That’s the direction and how we ended up any of the price we did. That learning curve of going from a simple wallet to a complex bag was pretty steep. It took time. Every bag we develop takes about a year to develop.

How did you do that concept development? Have you had some dream and you’re like, “I see this bag with a bunch of pockets in there?” Are you using some process to say, “What’s a product that people or a customer needs? Let’s develop it from there.” Walk us through that process. I’d be curious about that.

Whenever we decided we’re going to develop a product, we have a process that we follow where we say, “Let’s look at all the best bags that we can find out there. Let’s buy them all and look and study them.” We create big surveys that we use Google sheets, Google forms. We create surveys where we say, “What’s in your bag right now?” We’ll ask that question and say, “What type of bag do you carry? Do carry this in your bag?” It’s tons of questions. “What’s the best feature you love about your bag?” We’ll survey like crazy and get tons of information that way. We figured out how to take all the current bags that the people like and grab the best pieces and make a Frankenstein approach, but make it look clean and sleek at the same time.

It sounds like the price point was going to luggage. How did you go to luggage? What was that decision process like?

On the wallet, we’re at $170,000 on Kickstarter. We did $380,000 with the planner. With the travel bag, we have $1.7 million and raised another $1.5 million on Indiegogo. We’re like, “We’re a bag company now. That’s all we’re going to focus on. Our tagline for that was, “The most functional travel bag ever.” We’re saying, “We’re going to make the most functional bags ever.” We made the travel bag like the duffle. We’ve made backpacks and messenger bags. We’re knocking out each bag. Every home has at least one of these bags. We went through it sequentially and luggage was the last one on the list, but also the toughest. We saved that for the end because going into plastics and all that is not easy.

I know there’s a bunch of Kickstarter where they developed smart bags. They have battery and it totally tanked because of regulations stepping in.

TWS 32 | Starting An Online Business

Starting An Online Business: Having something innovative and Kickstarter-worthy makes a difference that catches people’s eyes.


There were a couple of companies that went out of business overnight because of that.

I remember going to the airport once with a bag like that and I had to have my wife come pick the bag up.

It was a sad for them, but it was great for us because a lot of those were male-focused brands. A lot of them had to disappear. It paved the way like it was right when we were thinking about doing it. We’re like, “Let’s hit it hard.”

What’s next for Nomatic? What are you thinking? What are you working on? What are the things to expect in 2020?

We launched one of our biggest campaigns ever. We launched the Peter McKinnon camera bag. Photography is a big next step for us that we’re excited about. It’s fun going into a niche where a community exists, where everyone’s doing photography and the bag supports that hobby well. We’re excited about that. We’ve did a travel pack on that one. It’s more of a travel photography bag, so we’re looking forward to do everyday type of bags and gear with Peter. That’s a big thing.

Also, we loved working with someone like Peter McKinnon. He has six million followers. He’s an opinion leader inside of this community. We’re trying to see what other communities resonate with our audience. We’ve talked about gym, tech, minimalism, sustainability, those types of things and say what other big awesome people exist out there that embodies those verticals and try to see if any of them like the Nomatic brand. The cool part with Peter was he was already buying our stuff organically. We brought them in and made a bag with them. In the future, we’re hoping to do more of that type of stuff. Find communities and create bags around them with key opinion leaders to be the face of it.

I was telling you a story about the cultish side of Nomatic. I was in Amsterdam at an event and there was a guy that was on my row. I looked over and I saw his bag. I’m like, “Why is my bag over there?” He had a Nomatic bag. I looked at it and I looked at him. He looked at my bag. He looked at me, then we did the bro nod. What are some examples that you’ve seen out there? Have you tried to figure out ways in which you capitalize on that?

I love that story because it’s exactly what we’ve had talked about in our conferences. As motorcycles drive by, they look at each other and give a peace sign. They have this brotherhood where they’re like, “We’re brothers. We’re the road warriors. We’re doing this.” We want that feeling of Nomatic is all about life on the move where life on the move is more than physical movement. It’s a way of being, constantly growing, developing and becoming more. We want people that when you see someone with a Nomatic bag they’re like, “That guy is doing cool stuff. I like that guy.” If you have one and you’re like, “We’re changing the world here.” We want that feeling.

That’s certainly a push for them. We do have some of our ambassadors like Lewis Howes and those guys. We do Life on The Move videos where we talk about these people that are changing the world. They’re doing cool things. We do big videos on our YouTube channel where are we tell their story. We don’t push the product at all. We just say, “Here’s how this person is doing cool stuff.” We have this culture of how people involved with Nomatic aren’t your average people. They’re exceptional individuals. That’s some words we’re trying to push with the brand because we believe that people who are like that want quality gear. They want to be organized. They want to have their whole life. It gives you confidence as you travel.

Changing people's lives by creating opportunities where we can have a fun place to work is the best feeling in the world. Click To Tweet

It makes sense based on how you do product development where you go find all the bags that are out there and find other stuff that’s out there that you would compete with. You take all the goods and leave all the bag and make it look cool, which is profound because that’s why I bought mine. I didn’t know you are a Utah company. I just looked at a few different bags and I knew exactly what I wanted because I had experienced bad bags. That’s what I came across. It’s been a cool experience since. I didn’t know you had luggage. Walk us through some of the more challenging pieces of your entrepreneur journey. I’ll tell mine while you’re thinking about yours. For me, it’s been relationships because I work alongside people. I’m not from Utah, but I consider this my second family. I become friends with people.

When friction starts to happen or when we have different opinions of this, that and the other, that’s been challenging for me. Hiring is something I’ve focused on for the last couple of years. We used programs like Topgrading and we have ways in which we go about doing interviews to hire the right people. Some of the people we have now are amazing from day one. A lot of it comes down to seeking those that align with your culture, your values, but also were good at what you’re hiring them for. I thought a job description was like Google “marketing person, job description” and copy paste. That got me in a lot of trouble with a lot of different positions. What’s been some of the biggest challenge I’ve faced is parting ways with people I considered friends. What are maybe some of the things that you’ve experienced that had been difficult to overcome?

It’s not to take the same thing, but I would say it’s working with a team, rallying a team around you, getting them excited, getting them aligned, even the vision there so that everyone is excited to be there. When they celebrate a win, they’re celebrating the right win. It’s tough to figure out how to get people excited. It’s scary too when you bring someone on your team, you’re making commitments to each other. You’re like, “I’m bringing you on because I believe in you. I’m going to keep you employed here and I hope that you succeed. I don’t want to let you go the next day. I want to provide an awesome place for you to work and you’ll love it here.” That’s what I’m committed to do and they’re committed to work hard and help build value.

That’s tricky when you want to help people. Getting them aligned in the vision altogether is hard. Everything else, I feel like all of it is hard. People will say, “I want to be an entrepreneur and I’m going to do this.” They say, “By this time, I’ll have this and this.” You’re like, “It’s so hard. It takes so much longer than you think.” Nothing is easy but I feel like everything else, like you can put it on a checklist and say, “Do this, then do this,” and a lot of things. Working with people and being a human, engaging with them and helping them want to be a part of the team is tough. It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s hard, it’s hard.

It’s one of those things where relationships are what make the world go round. A lesson I’ve learned several times is people aren’t going to care as much about the brand and the direction as you are, even though you want them to. For me, it’s layering on expectations that they should have based on what I would set as expectation. It’s not necessarily that there are expectations. That’s why it’s profound as you onboard people and you talk about your values and what you want for people, how you want them to operate and work together. Those are the expectations and it’s setting that from day one. The expectations will exist. Either you create them or they will create themselves, but you have no control over that. That’s been a huge lesson. The people are part of a business. Getting the people game, understanding the psychology of how people work, how they’re motivated, it is a challenge, but it’s also fun.

You have to realize how bad you are. No one is intuitively great. Everything is business. People might be good at 10%. They can excel in those things, but it’s another 90%. It is so painful how often you have to look at yourself and you have to say that you’re the problem. You have to recognize your fault in it because it’s never just someone else’s fault. If you’re saying that, you’re always wrong. You play a big part. As a leader especially as we’ve grown from six people to eighteen people on the team, many times I’m like, “I am so bad at this. How do I get better? What books can I read?” You try and try and it’s hard. You have to realize that you’re going to keep going and you’re going to keep failing, learning, growing and try to become better and try to be fair to people.

It’s interesting because it’s clear that you embody your values by saying some of the things that you’ve said because clearly the success that you have has not come by not knowing what you’re doing. Obviously, you know what you’re doing in a lot of different ways. I also say that something I’ve resonated with as we’ve talked about entrepreneurship and doing some self-reflection. Where you want your company to go and who you want them to be together cannot outpace you. It can’t be at your level. In order for it to grow, you have to grow first. You can’t lead a person to a place that you haven’t been to. When I connected that, that’s where it’s reading, studying, events, coaching made such a difference. I realized I had to break thresholds in order for the team around me to break their threshold. It sounds like you’ve resonated with that as well. What are some of the things you’ve done to expand your capacity as a leader? Humility and understanding your values first are huge.

The thing that I’ve been trying to focus on more and more, it’s in my mind right now because I’m working through as I’m preparing for 2020. I have this goal of having a fresh start with a new year. It’s a lot of first recognizing what’s wrong, talking with your employees and seeing where I am falling short, being open to listen to them. It’s amazing what you don’t know is happening behind all the office closed doors. I’ll talk with some of our employees and learn all kinds of stuff I didn’t know existed. Having those conversations is huge. Everything they’re saying, there’s always a grain of truth to it even if it hurts, if it’s wrong. If you feel it’s a lie, there’s always a grain of truth to it and you can’t ignore any of it.

If it’s exaggerated, it’s still an exaggeration of something that could be true.

TWS 32 | Starting An Online Business

Starting An Online Business: Recognize what’s wrong, see where you’re falling short and be open to listen to your employees. It’s amazing what you don’t know is happening behind the closed office doors.


It’s something that I did or someone else did. There’s a part of the system that’s broken that has to be fixed. As far as growing myself, I always go back to that humility of saying, “These are the faults.” A big piece is communication. Another thing we always say is, “If there’s a problem, come and talk to us. Don’t let it fester. We will never be angry about that.” We live by that. When people come and talk to us, we’re never angry. We say, “Thank you for telling us how do we fix this.” We create plans together like, “I’ve learned that I’m not giving enough recognition to some players on my team and I need to recognize them more, so how do I do that better?” It’s talking with their directors to say, “What systems can we put in place?” It’s open communication about everything and whenever someone comes with a problem, never let yourself think that it’s not true. It always is.

It’s the nature of the feedback loop. There are many instances of that in different parallels. John Boyd is the one that popularized the feedback loop. It’s his OODA Loop, which is Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, and it loops back. The more feedback you can get, the quicker the feedback. That’s the nature of the team because everyone brings a perspective of life to the table. We all have our what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good, what’s bad, what’s success, what’s failure, what incentivizes me, what doesn’t incentivizes me. The more communication, the more openness that you can feed that, the quicker you can either talk about it and communicate in a way that people understand then you can move forward. The last thing you want is some sliver in a person’s thumb. It’s so small, tiny and insignificant, but yet it’s so annoying. You can’t do anything. Do you do SWOT analysis with Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats with your team? Do you do the Net Promoter score? What are some of the things you do to get feedback from your team?

Early on we tried to do one-on-ones frequently and talk through what’s going on with everybody. We’ve gotten bigger. We’ve tried to learn. What I’m learning right now is we’ve gotten bigger and now had directors over multiple people and I’m over the director. That’s been an interesting thing to be one more step away from the people on the front lines. When I had one-on-ones, I could get a pulse if that person is happy or not. Now that I say this, I hope that my directors are savvy in human connection enough to be able to feel, “This person isn’t happy and I need to fix that.” You don’t know. For us, it’s constant communication. We don’t have a big format, which is what I’m trying to do for 2020. It’s trying to constantly communicate on a regular basis and have something on the calendar that says we’re going to meet at this time every month. They can rely on that. It’s huge.

There are ways in which you can do it, but it has to work with the company based on what the culture is. It’s totally true. When you start to go from the distance of one-to-one to once removed, twice removed, three times removed, it becomes challenging, especially if you connect with people at that level. That’s part of the journey. Part of those stages is you go from being in the business to working on the business, but as far as scaling and making the biggest difference, you go from connected to the customer and connected to the company and employees to connected to as much of the customer as possible and to those level of employees, the director levels, the executive levels that then carry the message forward. We could probably share a lot of war stories. It’s part of the journey.

My favorite thing is when you set up those multiple layers, it works. When something works, it’s the most incredible thing. Everyone along the line is happy and everyone feels rewarded. It’s so beautiful when it works. It’s the best feeling and you’re changing people’s lives by creating opportunities where we can have a fun place to work. That’s what it’s all about. For me, as I’m doing entrepreneurship, I created a wall and I laugh like, “It comes into my life.” I’m like, “I created a wall in my life.” That’s not what it is. You’re working with these people and changing their lives, creating relationships and creating a good life for yourself and everyone around you. That’s what it’s all about.

There’s a dynamic of team. If you look at individual sports versus team sports, even in individual sports like golf, you see these little cliques and groups that form. Why does the President’s Cup exist? Because people want to be part of a group or a team. You look at some of the most iconic teams in history, obviously the Jazz with Stockton to Malone and those iconic players that worked so well together. The Chicago Bulls and their dynasty and you still see it to a degree. The Jazz right now, they had an incredible team and incredible leadership. When some of those players start to not do so well, sometimes the whole team and the whole structure falls.

When everybody is picking up the pieces and supporting one another, it’s amazing how it re-energizes the entire team. When I look at a business and taking something that didn’t exist, turning it into something that does exist that people like and love and you have a cult following behind it, people participating in that is super empowering. It’s one of those feelings that feeds that entrepreneurial hunger. It fulfills you, but it makes you hungrier. It’s the same thing. If you didn’t make mistakes, if you didn’t fall short, if you didn’t fail in certain capacities, you’re not going to enjoy that.

When you fail and then you make it work and your teams sees the progress, it’s so good.

There’s a quote we used on one of the episodes as far as the depth of your feeling or experience. The deeper you go as far as failure and experience, the more can you expand on the other side of the spectrum. There’s total truth to that when it comes to business. It’s like stretching yourself. It’s like building muscle. You tear with heavier weights. In order to lift even more heavier, you have to tear it first and go deeper. It’s awesome to hear your story and I’m grateful for you coming in and sharing it with us. How do audience buy bags from Nomatic? It’s such an awesome product. How can they learn more about Nomatic? How can they follow you and see what you are up to on social media? What’s the best way to for them to connect?

Go to Nomatic.com, our website. You can buy a product there. At the bottom, you see our social feeds. We are @Nomatic on Instagram. We have a YouTube channel where we have those Life on The Move videos. We highlight a lot of entrepreneurs. We’re doing cool stuff, some local ones, some that aren’t local and we talk about that. You can get to understand what our culture is all about and stuff. Check us out on YouTube, Instagram and our website.

Jacob, it’s awesome to have you here. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for what you’re doing and championing the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s inspirational and motivational.


Everyone, thanks for tuning in. We’ll check in with you on the next episode. Until then.

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About Jacob Durham

TWS 32 | Starting An Online BusinessJacob Durham is the owner and co-founder of Nomatic. Nomatic began when two cousins — Jon Richards and Jacob Durham — designed an innovative wallet and launched it on Kickstarter. They expected to get about 50 orders, but over 6,000 people backed their campaign. Since then, they have launched multiple crowdfunding campaigns and shipped product to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Nomatic has continued to innovate products by listening to what consumers want, prioritizing quality, and creating the most functional products ever.

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The Entrepreneurs’ Formula To Execute Business Information With Craig Ballantyne

TWS 31 | Execute Business Information


As we near both the end of the year and this show’s season on entrepreneurship, host Patrick Donohoe brings in with Craig Ballantyne, a remarkable guest who talks beyond theories and information about entrepreneurship and goes straight into the implementation, integration, and execution of those information. Craig is a bestselling author, a coach, and the founder of a multiple seven-figure fitness empire and more. Today, he talks from his information wisdom and experience wisdom about establishing an entrepreneur’s drive and passion for his business, correcting efforts that burn them out, and getting rid of bottlenecks and forming some new beliefs. He also shares the key thing that he has discovered among successful entrepreneurs as they continue on their journey this coming 2020.

Watch the episode here:

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The Entrepreneurs’ Formula To Execute Business Information With Craig Ballantyne

My guest is Craig Ballantyne. He’s a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for several years. First, it’s an incredible interview. This guy is so smart not just because he has the information, but because of how easy he’s made it. He’s been on the show back in 2017. You can read that episode as well. Craig figured out an easy way through implementation and there are these little things that get in the way. I know that if you guys read some of the details, you’re going to get a lot out of it. Make sure you get the book. He has some online stuff too that you guys will benefit from because we’re going into 2020 where we can take the ideas that come from other episodes. We take the ideas and lessons from 2019 and have a better you in 2020.

We are right at the end of this intense season on entrepreneurship and I hope you guys are excited, especially going into the New Year. We are essentially having some reset especially 2020, some iconic year. I have no one better to be on the show than this guy, Craig Ballantyne. First of all, Craig is the author of The Perfect Day Formula. He is also the author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Unstoppable and The Perfect Week Formula. He also does workshops. He’s a coach for entrepreneurs and business people. He is also the founder of a multiple seven-figure fitness empire, Early to Rise, and more. Craig, it’s amazing to have you on. I wanted to have you here because I’ve talked a lot about information and ideas and had guests on that talk about the power of having your own business, being an entrepreneur, and what that can do to your life. At the same time, it’s all been information. I wanted to talk about the implementation, integration, execution of information.

You probably don’t know this as well. Our meeting was super serendipitous. It happened at a point in my life. I went to your workshop right after Christmas in Denver. The day that I left that workshop, I went to the Denver Hospital. My brother lives in Denver and my niece was diagnosed with cancer. My niece is the same age as my oldest daughter. Thankfully, she’s a survivor, totally in remission. That year, I could use expletives, the right lane that year for me both from a business and a personal perspective. I look at what’s transpired since then and I put much credit to what I learned from you both in that workshop as well as the Perfect Life Retreat down in San Diego. Thank you sincerely, Craig. You’ve made a huge difference. I appreciate all you do. I know you’ve continued to preach your message. I’m excited to have you on so that you can impart not just information wisdom, but your experience wisdom with the audience. Welcome.

It’s going to be a lot of fun. One quick point on that is you take a look at almost everybody in life and there is an inflection point. You call it hero’s journey where if you don’t go through the down, if Luke’s parents didn’t get killed, if the hobbits don’t get kicked out of their little hobbit world and have to go on the journey, there’s no journey. There’s no greatness that comes out of that. You went through yours. I went through my anxiety attacks. Tony Robbins went through being broke. Brendon Burchard went through his injury. My friend went through traumas. Everybody does. You got to come up the other side and you come out stronger. If anybody’s going through something whether it’s marital problems, financial problems or whether it’s like, “I’m not at my best self,” you fight through it. In a few months or a year from now, you’re going to be in a great spot.

It’s the duality of life. There’s a saying that I came across which talks about the depth of sadness or the depth of experience from a negative standpoint that gives you the ability to experience that on an even deeper level on the other side of the spectrum.

My shirt says 11/10. The reason why I made it is because when you went through the program with me, one of the things as we do these weekly accountability updates and I always ask my coaching clients, “On a scale of 1 to 10, what was the last week?” I’ve found that there are three types of people. Let’s start with the negative person first. I call them panic button hitters. Let’s say a person in their company left, they got a refund request and they’re like, “It was a 1/10.” I’m like, “If that week was 1/10, what are you going to rate a week when something bad happens?” There are normal people who rate it between 7 and 9 every week. I then have this group of people who it’s a 16/10. When theirs is 12/10 or 11/10, I know they’ve had a bad week.

After doing this for so long because I’m naturally the guy who would rate everything 7/10. “I made $1 million.” It was 7/10. “I got hit by a truck.” It was 7/10. I’d always be in that melancholy state. I decided, “I’m going to make my new baseline 11/10.” I’m going to have that new mentality that every day above ground you’re grateful for. When we got on a call, you said, “Things are amazing.” I’m like, “That’s an amazing answer.” I got to say amazing more often. I got to be that 11/10. It’s a mindset for everybody reading, the duality of life. Even if it’s a bad day, I’m still grateful for the chance to have a bad day. It’s always 11/10. That’s the new baseline.

Nature doesn’t work on a straight line. Nature is everything. You have storms and your different weather patterns. We know that internally, but then when we’re in the experience because most people don’t necessarily anticipate how they’re going to react to certain circumstances. It becomes difficult at the moment.

It’s easy for you and I when it’s somebody else going through it to say, “You’re going to get through this. You’re going to be okay. It doesn’t matter if it’s a family illness or if it’s a financial loss or whatever it is.” We always say, “We know you. You’re strong, you’re going to get through this.” When it’s us and we’re emotionally attached to the problem whether it’s a team member who’s outstayed their welcome on the team and we should have had a conversation with them a few months ago, but we dread that conversation. You’re going to get through it. You have to be emotionally unattached from your problems. Look at them with outside eyes in an objective manner. All those things that seem like big problems become less of a problem and something to go and fish right away. I’m sure you’ve read Traction by Gino Wickman or his book How to Be a Great Boss.

I haven’t read that one.

When you emotionally detach from your problems, they will become less of what they are and go away. Click To Tweet

He’s got a great phrase in there. If you need to have a difficult conversation with somebody or let somebody go, it’s 36 hours of pain. Most people avoid that 36 hours of pain and will go through another 36 weeks of pain, of passive-aggressive, hiding it, not leaning into the conversation. It’ll go on and on. You got to suck it up and go through the 36 hours of pain. It’s going to be a difficult conversation. There’s going to be some emotions, but if you don’t do that, things are going to get worse. This is not just related to letting a team member go or something in entrepreneurship, it’s the same with negative environments or negative people in our lives. We got to have those conversations and step-up to be the best person. It’s easy for us to tell somebody, “You got to go and have that conversation.” When it’s our turn to have that conversation, it’s not easy.

The emotional attachment is huge. That’s where this notion of correction. There’s a concept in economics called the S-curve where you have compounding and growth, but then you have a plateau and even a decline. During that, you’ve grown, but at the same time, you’re still trying to use the same principles and the same processes as you’ve used before. They’re not working. It’s this re-characterization of what the purpose is so that you can have another growth curve. The same happens in life. You see what’s happening and you experienced it emotionally, deal with it. You have to learn to get over that and then you start to rebound again.

The same happens in the gym. You’re talking physiology 101. You’re talking to hockey training 101 from back in the day. You go and you skate or you squat or whatever and your legs are sore the next day. If you don’t go through that, they don’t get stronger. You don’t get fitter. If you practice halfheartedly, you’re left behind on when the actual game comes around. You have to go through that S-curve where you got better but got worse at the same time. When you recover properly, you super compensate what it’s called in physiology and you come back. The next thing you know, you’re playing for the New York Rangers like a certain stud here.

Let’s get into the topic. You have had an incredible entrepreneurial journey and even better, you’ve been able to experience thousands of other people’s journeys. You’ve seen common patterns. Let’s talk through your formula, where you establish this passion and drive to help and transform lives with being able to have a way in which you can simply execute on ideas on business and life in general.

One of the things that drove me from a young age as I got frustrated seeing whether it was family members or other people not getting ahead as quickly as they should have. I then spent the rest of my life since then trying to figure out the fastest way to success. First of all, it was in the fitness world. I went into fitness because I loved hockey and I wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach in the National Hockey League. I started writing for Men’s Health. I then got into creating programs online for people because I saw a lot of people are going to the gym and then I get these emails from people like, “I don’t have time to spend nine hours a week in the gym.” My mind was blown. I was like, “What do you think you have to do to be in the gym nine hours a week to lose weight?” I was showing people how to do it in two hours a week maximum. That was what set me apart from many people and I built that business.

TWS 31 | Execute Business Information

The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life

Around 2006 and 2007 when my business started taking off, it was like, “I got to do something about my own life. Otherwise, I’m going to be working twelve hours a day, seven days a week and I can’t be doing that. That’s not healthy. That’s not what I want,” all that stuff. I wanted to start building what I call an intelligent business. What’s an intelligent business where you’re doing the things you love, you’re building up a team? It took me a long time to make the full transition from fitness to business coaching. I was able to make that over time. You were part of the journey and a lot of great people like you, written the books from the experience of it. It was all driven from how can we help people get more in less? It’s all about efficiency for me, but efficiency and doing the right things because there’s a whole other world where people are efficient and productive at doing things that don’t matter. That’s one of the biggest wastes of time in life.

You have these natural laws of how things work and there’s a lot of opposites sometimes. In 2018, we bought this used golf simulator in my office. I bought Jack, who’s five, a little set of clubs. I was taught that golf was a game of opposites. It’s not the best story about how strong you hit your swing. It’s about your whole body movement, but also it’s the inside out. In order to hit left, you want to hit the ball going right. It’s an interesting thing. I often reference Seinfeld opposite George when George does the opposite completely. Things start to work out. The less is more concept huge for me. When it comes to the entrepreneur and they have ideas, drive, and passion. What is it about the efforts that often get them to burn out? How do we correct that?

One of the things I’m seeing a lot with the influx of everybody’s got a podcast and the morning routine focus is that people have turned a lot of great things, things that are helpful, into perverse forms of procrastination. I use that phrase in The Perfect Week Formula book. For example, I’ve had clients send me messages at 7:30 in the morning and they said, “I’ve been up since 5:00 AM and I’ve done meditation, gratitude journaling, freeform journaling, yoga, and exercise. I haven’t gotten anything done and I’m all stressed out because I got to go to work.” I’m like, “You did all these things,” and they’re all good things in and of themselves. At some point, you got to draw the line and you got to go, “If they’re that important to me, I’ll do some of them later.”

You do a short routine to get your mind right. This perverse form of procrastination is stealing time from people’s lives. I talk a lot about it in the book because I quote Daniel Pink’s book. It’s called When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. He says, “You have the greatest willpower, discipline and intention first thing in the morning.” If you’re getting up and doing nineteen things before breakfast and there’s an article in Inc.com called the 14 Things Successful People Do First Thing in the Morning. It takes 4.5 hours to go through that entire routine because someone made fun of it. If you’re doing that, you’re going down rabbit holes.

In the book, I talk about the farm boy morning miracle routine, to paraphrase from Hal Elrod, our friend. The farm boy morning miracle is I grew up on a farm. What does a farmer do? The farmer gets up and they go to work. They go and do something substantial that has to be done. They feed the cows because the cows don’t have a day off from eating. They definitely don’t take a day off from eating. Most entrepreneurs, “We’re going to have some habits, rituals, and routines.” If you’re finding yourself with way too much busy work and not enough accomplishment, it’s time to take an evaluation of that. The second thing on that side of the equation is that people are over-consuming information. I love books and I don’t like listening to podcasts because I only like to read my content. I don’t like to watch videos and I don’t like to do audio. I’m a little strange. “I listen to Ed Millets. I listen to Patrick’s. I listen to Craig’s. I listen to Craig and Bedros. I listened to Jen Sincero. I listen to Rachel Hollis.” Slow down here. You’ve consumed and gathered all this information and that’s great. If you are not implementing and executing on the information, you’re a walking library. There’s not a lot of money in libraries, unfortunately.

One of the biggest wastes of time in life is being efficient and productive at things that don't matter. Click To Tweet

I would urge people reading to do an audit and this is a great time to do that. In fact, one of the exercises in the book that I talk about is the billionaire time matrix. It was a worksheet that I invented Christmas 2018. I invented this worksheet because I had a chocolate lab. He was 12.5 years old and he died in August of 2018. When you have a twelve-year-old chocolate lab, they’re like a piece of furniture that needs a twenty-minute walk a day. It’s a little time. He passed away. It was sad. After a couple of months, I’m like, “I sit on my butt way too much here. I need to go and get some walks. I need a new dog. I miss the dog.” Having a puppy that needs three hours a day outside is exponentially different than having a twelve-year-old chocolate lab. At Christmas time, I’m like, “My schedule would not allow me to have a puppy. Let me figure something out here.”

At Christmas time, I love to sit around and not do any work and think. I came up with this exercise, four quadrants, four questions. What do you hate doing? Think about this. Do this with a pen and paper. Sit there and think, “What do I hate doing? What do I hate doing in my business?” It might not be that you can stop doing the things that you hate, but you can rearrange your schedule. What I have found, Patrick is that I was doing sales calls in the morning or I was doing coaching calls in the morning.

The morning is my magic time for writing. I hated it. Not only was I missing out on that 30-minute block or hour block, I was also thinking about it the night before. I was ticked off. I was like, “I got that call. What was I thinking?” I’m losing mental energy. I’m thinking about it during non-work time. Instead of it being an hour-long call, it’s 2 or 3 hours of mental bandwidth because I’m doing something I hate at the wrong time. All I had to do was get a Calendly link. Calendly is one of those things where you set up, schedule times, and not allow anybody to book in my morning. I fixed that problem. It opened up my mornings to accelerate all my other greatness.

I have more time for the dog. That’s just one question. The second question that I have people ask is what you should stop doing? What should your team stop doing? If everybody stopped doing this and we all have stuff in our businesses where if nobody did it, the business wouldn’t suffer. In fact, the business would get better. It goes in our personal lives as well, with gossiping or watching five Netflix shows a night instead of 1 or 2. If you stopped doing it, life gets better and nobody takes it up. It’s not delegated to anybody. It’s not replaced with anything else. Stop doing it. For me, when I wrote the first book, I was doing everybody’s podcast. I had to. I had to learn how to tell my stories, become a better speaker, all that great stuff and sell the books.

It gets to the point of diminishing returns. There’s some young kid in England who has ten listeners and you’re like, “I was once like that young kid. I want to do that kid show to be a great guest for him.” You got to draw the line. You can’t do every kid who’s doing a podcast in his mom’s basement who has twenty listeners. Otherwise, I’m doing sixteen hours of podcasts a day and I don’t get ahead in life. I had to stop doing small podcasts of audiences that weren’t a good fit for me. It’s unfortunate, but you can’t do everything.

It’s a principle of focus. You have this distribution of energy throughout the day. Sometimes there’s a higher distribution in the morning, mid-day, end of the day depending on the situation. I’ve heard all the theories. It’s determining what you’re best at, where you’re good at, what you like doing and focusing efforts there. You use the 2 to 3 hours of the deep work. I did the magic time. It could be in the afternoon. It could be mid-day. It’s essentially taking inventory of your day to determine what that time block is.

That’s one of the time journal exercises, which is another thing that I described in the book and it’s another great exercise that when people match their energy, their focus, and their major activities. All of a sudden, you can go from working twelve hours a day to getting more work done in 7 or 8 hours a day. When you get everything, the stars align, the dots are connected. It’s classic self-reflection. It’s the same with your diet. You could follow somebody else’s restrictive diet and then all of a sudden if you knew about your own physiology, about the things that help you feel full and the things that got you into trouble, you could probably eat more calories on an individualized diet, feel satisfied, lose more weight and be healthier because you aligned what works for your body, energy levels, likes, and dislikes.

That’s essentially the way it is for everything in life. That’s part of this exercise. Those are the first two. I’ll go through the other two. In the bottom left quadrant of the four questions is what is not your job? That’s the question. In this case, we don’t stop it and not delegate it. This is a case where we identify something that you’re doing that you’ve either hired somebody else to do or that it’s simply not your job and you have to go and get somebody else to do it. There are two ways of looking at this. For me, I was doing some sales calls because I was like, “That was a referral or this is an important major client. I don’t want to lose them.”

I was like, “If I’ve hired a good sales guy,” and I got a great sales guy and he’s a great person, “I shouldn’t be taking the calls. I should be coaching him up to the point where he can take on any call.” I put my efforts somewhere else and then he took way more sales calls and it’s been a win-win. I was doing some other stuff where I’ve hired these people on my team. I came from a blue-collar background where when my mom finds out that I don’t do half this stuff and all these other people do these things, she’s like, “You can’t do this. You’re better than that stuff.” Not that she gives me a hard time, but she doesn’t understand it.

The other thing is on the personal side. If there are female entrepreneurs reading, I want you to pay attention to this one because for guys, it’s easy. I’m like, “I’m not cooking at home. I’m not doing this. We’ll be fine to get a person to come in and do the laundry. I’m not doing that. I’ve got a business to run.” For most women, there are societal things there. I have a lot of female entrepreneurs who struggle. If my mother-in-law found out that I didn’t make all the sandwiches, do all the laundry, and make all the dinners while I’m still trying to run my business, there’d be a lot of stress.

It's interesting how quickly things can take off for people when they are able to get rid of the bottlenecks. Click To Tweet

Here’s the thing, I say to them, “You weren’t put here to clean the house every week, to make every meal, and to cook every dinner. It’s okay. I give you permission to let that stuff go because you were put here to run a business.” Imagine Oprah like, “I can’t do a show now because I’ve got to go and do the laundry or everyone’s going to think I’m a bad person because I don’t do my own laundry.” That’s not how she thinks. She only does what she can do. She finds somebody else to not only do the personal stuff but to come in and make sure that the catering for the guests is great and the audience has great gifts to give away and all that stuff.

We find what’s not our job and we get rid of it so that we can go back to that 5% as my friend Bedros calls it or your unique ability as Dan Sullivan calls it. Everybody’s got it. The one thing Gary Keller and you do it. Finally, the last one is what your distractions are? We all have them. Social media is my number one distraction. I got to set up boundaries to stop myself from wasting time on it. Some people watch too many television shows or it’s time for you to give up watching too many pro sports. Once you get past the age of 27, you got to let that go because you’re older than most of the players. That’s when I let it go because I thought, “This is ridiculous. I’m getting emotionally involved in a game that I’m not even playing in.” It’s those types of things. Good exercises of mental thought because you’ve opened up all this space to do what matters. That’s where you move mountains in your life.

There’s something I’ve thought about quite a bit, which is the idea of uncertainty. There’s the saying, “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty that you can comfortably live with.” It’s establishing essentially some certainty associated with your life of the foundation, whether it’s boundaries and rules that you establish yourself. These aren’t rules imposed on you. These are establishing rules, establishing processes, establishing ways of doing things. It’s the idea of constantly growing the area of your life that you’re best at and should be focused on, which is not going to be the same now as it will be in three years or a year. It’s that constant refinement of what you’re doing because in those zones is where you essentially establish the most fulfillment. It’s the stuff that you love doing. It’s that degree of uncertainty that you’re able to start focusing on and pushing the limit because you have the certainty associated with your foundation in check.

There’s an analogy there that is important for people to understand that should make some light bulbs go off. If you think back to 2007, that’s when the first iPhone came out. Imagine how different the iPhone operating system is now. They’ve gone through eleven iterations or even more of iPhones. That’s the same with our readers. When you started your business, you were the original iPhone. You then developed more high-income skills. You develop world-class capabilities as a leader and every year your operating system changes and improves. You have new parameters that you operate by.

One of the cool things I heard, I was reading some books about Warren Buffett and Charlie Monger. They have a thing that they try and do a challenge where they try and destroy one of their deeply-held beliefs every year. Maybe it’s about investing in a certain area like airlines or it’s about management strategies. They’re always testing their beliefs to either increase the strength in their belief or to realize like, “That may have been true before and it served us, but it doesn’t serve us now because something has changed,” or, “We got lucky because it wasn’t that true and we need to move on.” That’s how you build your operating system up and that’s how you build your world-class expertise in a certain thing. It’s only through getting rid, cutting the fluff so that you can focus on that thing that matters. That’s where you start to shine.

TWS 31 | Execute Business Information

Execute Business Information: If you are not implementing and executing on the information, you’re a walking library. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of money in libraries.


This is where we’re getting into the execution of things. With what you’ve written about, the workshops that you put on, you essentially are helping clients, people establish the purpose behind it, the foundational elements that will lead to what they’re going to execute. Maybe talk about some of the content of your book that helps in that regard, but then also some of the workshops, live events, and things that you put on around the world that help people to essentially establish like, “What is that belief that I have that needs to be squashed? It might’ve worked before my business. It’s not working as well now.” How do you establish that and then start to confirm some new beliefs?

One of the things we always want to ask people is what’s not working? What is not working in the business? What’s not working in your life? You have to do classic deeper dive in. “Our sales team is not working.” Why is the sales team not working? What’s the bottleneck? Is it the offer that you have? Is it a group of people that you have? Do you have the right people on the right bus in the right seats? Do you have the right systems for your sales? Do you have the right follow-up? Do you have the right leadership in place? There’s a whole bunch of things. You have to do a lot of Socratic questioning.

Maybe you get to, “We have great sales systems and processes. We’re always doing training. We have good follow-up. Our offer is as good as the last time. I see the problem is the culture within the sales staff. We had this guy and he’s been here for a few years. There are a lot of new people on. Our manager of the team is newer. He’s been with me since day one.” You then start to dive deeper and you go, “What would happen if he quit?” It’d probably be better. I got these two questions from Verne Harnish in his newsletter. When you think about somebody who’s not great, question number one is what would happen if they quit? How would you feel? What would happen if you had ten people like this on your team? I’m saying that might be an issue or it’s the leadership. We brought in a manager and we try to start a new style of leadership, but eventually by asking the questions and always looking at what’s the bottleneck? We’re flowing energy. We’re flowing leads. We’re flowing focus. It gets bottled up. What is it that’s bottling us up there? We can break free.

As soon as you break free and you can leverage that, all of a sudden your business can grow. It’s interesting how quickly things can take off for people when they are able to get rid of those bottlenecks. Is there a couple of questions that we ask everybody? No. It’s around that theme and then we have to get specific on it. We can do that for sales. We can do that for marketing. We can do that for leadership. We can do that for personal life. We can do that for our health. We can do that for our personal development. We can do that for everything. As long as you have that growth mindset and not a fixed mindset around everything in your life, then you will constantly evolve. You’ll constantly upgrade that operating system. The sky is the limit. It’s been amazing.

Our growth in our company’s been good. I have some friends who have skyrocketed, total moonshots in their business and you’re like, “Wow.” One of my bottlenecks, Patrick, to be brutally honest and vulnerable is that I don’t receive advice well. I have a big ego and I need to learn to take my ego and put it aside. I was talking to a woman named Shanda Sumpter, a successful female entrepreneur and business coach. She’s had rapid growth. We started off around the same spot. She used the word receiver. She’s become a better receiver. For a lot of us, when feedback is given, we’re good at resistors.

The more knowledge you have, the more dots you connect. Click To Tweet

It’s like, “That won’t work because I’ve tried that before. No. Where does that get us?” I was like that for a long time. I want to be a receiver of information and I want to resist saying, “I want to be right. I want to be the smart guy all the time.” Being right versus being a receiver are two different things. That’s what we all need to be. That will help you overcome bottlenecks in any area of your life. To our audience, whether it’s personal or professional, if you become a better receiver of information and less of a resistor and you’re willing to answer difficult questions, your world can change dramatically.

Do you see that ability to receive feedback, receive constructive advice about you as one of the common reasons why some of your friends and businesses are thriving? Is there something else that you would add to that?

The only modification I would add to it is from our friend Matt Smith. He says, “You got to be curious.” The receiver is a naturally curious person. They would go, “That’s interesting that you would give me that advice. Why would you say that?” Whereas the resistor, they’re protecting their ego and they might be curious. They might read lots of books and that stuff. If they’re a resistor to the information, they’re not curious about getting better themselves. I also see the more the person is studying leadership and the more that person is reading biographies and the more that person is checking out their competitors and reverse engineering funnels or whatever it is. It’s important to do that because the more knowledge you have, the more dots you connect. Be a receiver and be a curious person in life. That’s a great characteristic to encourage your children because you become curious about other cultures and be curious about that. I know it’s a great thing to be. You’re going to be overall a better person. The more that you can set aside your ego in life, the better off you’re going to be too.

I love Matt’s perspective on life. There’s a book we were discussing a few years ago around how the educational system in the business world of the West has created this idea of good and bad, right and wrong, or success or failure based on a grade or pay scale. I look at the curiosity side of things. We see ourselves in a certain way, the way other people see us. I’ve connected the same thing. That’s why I’m bringing up this point. I’ve listened to a lot of successful people talk about some of the things that are challenging to them and they were stuck. It was amazing. Everyone else understood where they were at. They didn’t understand what was in their way. It was typically them.

It’s that emotional attachment which we talked about way back at the start.

TWS 31 | Execute Business Information

Execute Business Information: Your world can change dramatically when you become a better receiver of information and less of a resistor.


It’s seeded. As much as deep working condition, new behaviors, we have conditioned behaviors from our childhood, from our upbringing, from our harder experiences. It’s difficult sometimes to revisit those, but they’re already there and it’s the unwinding or the untying the knot associated with where those are. First start with, I would say self-love, a self-belief and a realization that even the most successful people have jacked up beliefs. Warren Buffett and Charlie Monger, they’re doing it. The most successful people are doing that because they realize that there are things that they’re not doing perfectly. There are things that may have worked or are not working anymore. The first thing is to let down your guard and not necessarily be defined by other people, instead define yourself.

The more open and willing you are to that, it’s great. If you think about it in terms of your kids, your kids are naturally curious. The curiosity is drummed out of them because when you go into high school and you go into college, it’s right or wrong. Is it? It’s not the best place. The education system does fail the entrepreneur in that way.

As we conclude our thoughts and then I want to give you some time to talk about some of the stuff you have online, things you have on social media, events that you have coming up. We’re approaching this iconic year, 2020. Another decade and movies had the 2020 date in them. 2019, the end of the year. What have you discovered in successful entrepreneurs, those that you’ve worked with, you yourself? What are they doing in December 2019? What are some of those consistent things that you see or habits that people have to prepare for?

That’s the magic billion-dollar word, prepare. Patrick, the most common trait among the most successful people and the more that I work with people, the more I am blown away by how prepared the most successful people are. If you’re preparing for a negotiation, the billionaire has always done more preparation than the millionaire. Whether it’s the entrepreneur that’s leading a specific industry, they do more preparation the night before than their competition. For the people, most high performers have already done the preparation for 2020. We have the annual event that prepares us for 2020. We get all of our clients prepared well in advance. If you’re waiting until January 1st, it’s like waiting to make your to-do list in the morning when you have the greatest willpower, discipline, intention and you’re wasting that time on figuring out what you’re going to do in the day.

To our readers, if you are a little bit behind, get on it now because you have to be prepared to hit the ground running as quickly as possible and not kind of, sort of we have a plan for it. No, deeply prepared, step-by-step to get a fast response, to get a quick victory, to get momentum and motivation. When you have that in place, the results come faster. When you and your team see results, you start to work harder. It’s like going to the gym. If you don’t see results, you get down and you get out of there. If you see results, then you’re like, “I’m going back and I’m going to stay consistent with this.” Those are the people that stay with it.

The most common trait among the most successful people is their preparedness. Click To Tweet

I had a business coach and she was at Amazon, T-Mobile, and these big companies. I remember her once she was talking to me about annual planning. This was a decade ago. When she did her annual plans and presented it, she would start on the day after she presented on that one. I’m glad you’re saying this because that’s the thing. I would say those that are successful do have this idea of anticipation and preparation. They realize that not everything is going to go 100% plan. It’s that constant refinement as you’re executing. The preparation has done well in advance. That’s one of those characteristics that I value. I wish I could say the same for me all the time. At the same time, I recognize that pattern many successful people preparing well in advance.

I want to tie this up with a little book review. I’ve started reading a book called Eisenhower. It’s a biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower. He spends most of the time talking about him as Supreme Allied Commander in World War II. There’s much that I didn’t know. They wanted to do the D-Day landings all the way back in 1942 and if they would’ve done it, they would’ve got slaughtered. They would have made many mistakes. They learned all this stuff by going through North Africa and then into Italy. They learned, “We don’t know anything.” They learned all about amphibious landings and all the preparation and planning that went into it.

For the Germans, it was a comedy of errors. Hitler sleeps until noon and no one wanted to wake them up on D-Day. That’s a great example of bad leadership. Those companies were like, “I don’t want to tell the boss, he’ll get mad at me.” That’s what happened to the Germans. It wouldn’t have saved them or anything. They had the absolute worst leadership on the German side and then they had all this planning and all these screw-ups from North Africa and Italy on their side, which then made them better for the day that they finally attacked France. It became the greatest military expedition of all time. It’s an amazing story and you can’t make this stuff up, but it applies so much to everything we talked about. I want people to understand every single person is messing up, but they’re planning in advance, they’re going to get punched in the face, they’re going to get up, they’re going to readjust course, and they never stop. To our readers, make that your mission for 2020.

Talk a bit about some of the resources you have other than your book. What are some online resources that you have, social media? What are some of the other things you’re doing to keep this mission moving forward?

We do a lot on Instagram. People that use Instagram, I’m @RealCraigBallantyne. We have a Facebook group called The Perfect Business Formula. It’s a free Facebook group. We’re putting great content out every day. We have the books and then The Perfect Day Formula Kit, which is my life’s work in a box that’s helped a lot of people like yourself. We have some programs that we help. We have online coaching, it’s called 2X – 10 Less. It helps you double your income and work ten fewer hours per week, which is another program that we’re helping. That’s our mass-market program to get as many people into our world and you can get all of these tools and systems so that they can make that big leap and big growth. If anybody wants to ever contact me, through those channels is great or Support@EarlyToRise.com. You can always email me there, too.

Craig, this has been amazing. I appreciate your willingness to come on. I appreciate what you do. It makes a huge difference and it’s a side of the entrepreneur business world that there’s not much of. The passion you’ve shown over the years is inspiring. I appreciate all the things that you continue to do because it is making a difference.

It’s interesting because it’s like you do financial stuff. You make smart decisions with your money and by talking about all this stuff, I have to push myself to live a better life every day, make the right decisions, walk the talk, talk the book, and all that stuff. It keeps me on the straight and narrow too. It helps me as much as it helps everybody. To our readers, I’m looking forward to hearing from you, giving you some tips, and that leverage point that can make a huge difference to overcome those bottlenecks for you.

Craig, it’s been a pleasure.

Thank you. Best wishes to all the family. We’ll talk soon. I can’t wait to hear about 2020.

Thanks, Craig.

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