Stephen Christopher is the founder of Seequs Digital Marketing. Seequs is a web marketing agency based in Denver that helps companies grow through online marketing.
Before Seequs, Stephen also started several financial businesses and today, uses his personal business experience to help other companies and business owners develop through online marketing.
Today we’ll be hearing Stephen’s journey; including his first entrepreneurial venture at age 14 and the huge failure he experienced when his mortgage company completely tanked in 2008.
Stephen shares why he believes you should not burn the ships and quit your job until you have a profitable side project.
And he shares how he’s learned to lean into his fears and why he highly recommends quick action and taking any opportunity to be uncomfortable.
Key Points From This Episode:
- How Stephen got into entrepreneurship at age 14.
- From engineering to business: Stephen’s college years.
- How Stephen got into the mortgage industry.
- How Stephen’s came out of his first business fail.
- Why a business crash is like a breakup.
- Assessing risk and turning failure into opportunity.
- Find out how Seequs was started on a napkin at Chilies.
- Why you need to act faster than your inner critic.
- Do your business on the side or burn the 9-5 job ship?
- Why you should learn everything you can from your current job.
- How Seequs found its niche and grows without its own marketing.
- Why clients are the best sales people.
- Overcoming imposter syndrome and self-sabotage.
- Why it takes two days to get out of a rut.
- Looking for any opportunity to be uncomfortable.
- How Stephen overcame his fear of public speaking.
- Why journaling is one of the most powerful things you could do.
- Delegate, duplicate or delete: Stepping away from your business.
- The three most uncomfortable things that you need to do next.
- And much more!
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Stephen on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenchristopher/
Stephen on Twitter – https://twitter.com/stephenmchris
Seequs Website – https://www.seequs.com/
Power of Focus by Brian Tracy – https://www.amazon.com/Bulls-Eye-Power-Focus-Brian-Tracy/dp/1492630454
The Five Minute Journal by UJ Ramdas – https://www.amazon.com/Five-Minute-Journal-Happier-Minutes/dp/0991846206
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber – https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/dp/0887307280
“SC: My internal saying about fear is, fear is fake. You know, when you really look back at like okay, what is the emotion of fear, right? Going back to cavemen days, it’s this thing where your brain is trying to save you from basically death, right? That’s why people are afraid of public speaking.
Your brain is telling you, if you go up on that stage, you’re going to die so that’s why we’re so afraid of certain things. When I have something that seems fearful, I just remind myself, hey look, fear is fake.”
[0:00:30.3] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Fail on Podcast where we explore the hardships and obstacles today’s industry leaders face on their journey to the top of their fields, through careful insight and thoughtful conversation. By embracing failure, we’ll show you how to build momentum without being consumed by the result.
Now please welcome your host, Rob Nunnery.
[0:00:56.0] RN: Hey there and welcome to the show that believes leveraging failure is not only the fastest way to learn but is also the fastest way to start a business, quit your job and live a life of absolute freedom.
In a world that only likes to share successes, we dissect the struggle by talking to honest and vulnerable entrepreneurs and this show is simply a platform for their stories. Today’s story is of Stephen Christopher, a good buddy of mine who also lives in the Denver area. He is the Founder of Seequs Digital Marketing, a web marketing agency that’s absolutely crushing it now, they tend to focus on more of the local service industry markets and help them grow businesses that may have been stagnant for a really long time.
Think plumbing, construction, electrical, like those types of businesses that haven’t had a huge online presence. Stephen comes in to the rescue, helps implement online marketing and just helps them grow really rapidly when they haven’t had that a long time. What he’s doing is really cool.
Before Seequs, Stephen also started several other financial businesses including a massive failure in 2008, that we’ll go into. But he uses his personal business experience to help other companies and business owners, find growth and development through online marketing. We’ll be discussing a huge failure that he experienced when his mortgage company completely tanked in 2008.
Why you should not burn the ships and quit your job until you have a profitable side project. Not sure I always agree, I kind of flip flop on this a little bit but I know for me personally, I like to burn the ships.
Lastly, Stephen will discuss how he’s learned to lean into his fears and tackle any obstacle that comes his way and he use the example of overcoming his fear of public speaking in the episode. Make sure to stay tuned.
But first, if you travel a lot like I do, you now need to pack less clothes than ever before and it’s for one simple reason only, it’s a shirt from an innovative Toronto apparel company called Unbound Marino. They have clothes made out of Marino wool and this is amazing. You can wear it for months on end without ever needing to have it washed.
Talk about a traveler’s absolute dream, never check a bag again, check in the show notes page for an exclusive Fail On discount that you won’t get anywhere else and if you like to stay up to date on all the Fail On Podcast interviews and key takeaways from each guest, simply go to failon.com and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page.
[0:03:22.6] RN: How did you first get into entrepreneurship? Do you actually remember the first time that – you know, for a lot of people this is like a weird shift where you created something and somebody actually gave you money for it? Whether it’s a product or a service.
[0:03:34.3] SC: Yeah, I mean, my first kind of stint with entrepreneurship was when I was about 14 and I started a mobile car detailing business. You know, technically I would go to people’s houses, detail their cars and you know, I had become really good at that over the years. So it wasn’t an inexpensive service, it was like 120 bucks and this is what? 20 years ago.
Well, the problem with the mobile detailing business is when you’re 14, you can’t drive. Luckily, I was kind of a cute kid, I had to convince people to drive to my house, let me detail their car and t hen they’d come back and pick it up. But yeah, I ran that for practically a few years.
[0:04:09.5] RN: Nice.
[0:04:10.3] SC: It’s like my first entrepreneurship.
[0:04:13.2] RN: it wasn’t like a one off, your parent’s friends would you do you a favor and drop their car off, it’s actually a legitimate thing where you actually made a little money.
[0:04:23.2] SC: Yeah, I mean, I made money to buy a car or you know, the half of a car, I had to pay for half of my car when I turned 16 and so yeah. I worked for quite a few years getting ready for that.
[0:04:34.9] RN: Was it just you kind of hustling on your own or did you have – you hired an employee? You got your buddies or?
[0:04:41.1] SC: I didn’t, when I looked back in a lot of entrepreneur’s stories, right. They figured out how to get their friends to do stuff for them. I didn’t figure that one out until much later in life so it was just me hustling. And the cool thing was I realized that – or it was the first time I realized that I could control my income. If I wanted more money, all I had to do is go sell another car or work on a Saturday or whatever that was. That was really cool
[0:05:04.8] RN: Yeah, that’s a good point. In terms of how you’re kind of brought up and raised, were you raised by entrepreneurs or was it something you kind of – is it something they encouraged you to do with the car mobile detailing? Or was it something that you just saw a need for?
[0:05:20.4] SC: Yeah, I was not raised in an entrepreneurial family. My parents have had the same jobs for 30 something years and you know, they’re going to be retiring here in the next couple of years. My mom was a principle at a school, my dad was a nurse and eventually started running like a nursing department in the hospital.
No, they didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship and they were actually the first two people in both sides of their family to go to college. That was like their big step and then my big step was entrepreneurship.
[0:05:50.2] RN: Got it, was it something that they encouraged you to do? Is it something you ran by them or are you just 14 years old and just kind of winging it on your own?
[0:05:58.1] SC: Yeah, kind of just happened. I got good at detailing cars and I enjoyed it and then like somebody at church or something, said, “I’ll pay you to do mine” and then that’s how that kind of started. It was never really a plan of any sort and they encouraged it to the extent that it was like, “Hey go make so money so that now you can save up so that when you go to college you have a little bit of cash in the bank and you can buy a car,” and that kind of thing.
It was never – they didn’t really understand business so it was never this thing of like, “Okay, well do this and do this and then get some marketing.” Yeah, they had no clue and then when I went to college, they kind of looked at and said okay, “Well shut down your little fun play toy thing and get ready for the real world.”
They didn’t even see it as like a real opportunity.
[0:06:44.2] RN: Like you said, you were able to make a little money to pay for some things. After you – that was through high school I’m imagining, right? After high school, you do go to college?
[0:06:54.7] SC: I did.
[0:06:55.6] RN: Okay, from there, what did you study, did you take anything that you used in college into entrepreneurship? Because I know for me, well four years of college is great, actually has zero relevance on anything I do today.
[0:07:11.0] SC: Yeah. I went to University of Florida in Gainesville and I studied.
[0:07:15.1] RN: I’m a Georgia fan, that’s painful.
[0:07:18.4] SC: Both of my parents went to Florida state. You can imagine how they felt.
[0:07:22.3] RN: Nice.
[0:07:22.8] SC: Yeah, I went to school, I started out as computer electrical engineering so growing up, I would always build stuff like I would take remote control cars, take all the motors out, build other stuff like cordless drills and hook them all together.
My parents always told me they’re like “Yeah, you’re going to be a great engineer.” I just, when it came time to go to college, I just assumed, well, I’ve been told all my life I should be an engineer so that’s what I went to school for.
Got through about the first two years and realized like one day I looked around in my classes and I was like, these aren’t the people that I want to be around for the rest of my life. I switched to business because it was kind of easy, I was already most of the way there.
[0:07:59.5] RN: What was it about the people in the engineering side?
[0:08:02.5] SC: It was more of like the social aspect of it, you know? They were very intelligent, really great and nice people but –
[0:08:09.0] RN: Hard to connect with?
[0:08:10.3] SC: Yeah, there was just no social. I mean, look at us, we’re sitting here talking on a podcast, most of the people in that room would never do something like this. I crave that connection with people and so that just wasn’t there.
Graduated with a finance degree and a minor in economics, didn’t really know what I was going to do. I’m kind of the same way, the four years of college, they were a lot of fun, I learned a lot about how to deal with people, you know, a lot of those like real world type skills but I took one – there was one class that I had in college that I still use today and it was Microsoft.
I learned like Outlook and Excel and do all kinds of crazy formulas and then Excel Spreadsheet and that was the only class that I actually went to pretty much every class, while I was taking it for that semester.
[0:08:54.7] RN: Got it. It’s funny how valuable Excel is, if you know it well, you can save so much time with formulas and pivot tables and all that stuff. Let’s go to what you would actually consider – moving on past college. How did you first get into I guess real world entrepreneurship outside of the small projects that you had done in the past?
What was your first real entry into creating a business?
[0:09:22.0] SC: I did a couple of things after college, I worked for Meryl Lynch. I despised that, not because of Meryl Lynch but just because of like working a real job and having like seven bosses, it was not for me.
Did a couple of things, moved around a little bit and then in 2005, moved to Colorado and that was about the time when the mortgage stuff was happening. Met a guy that did mortgages, he was like, “Hey, I’m going out on my own, you should come join me.”
I went to go work for him because I was like, “Alright, this could be really fun.” Then over the course of six or eight months, I slowly just became 50% owner of the company and so we grew that until about 2008 which you know, most people know what happened then.
[0:10:02.3] RN: All the stories of everybody I talked to in the podcast, all stories go south to 2008. That’s the common theme. Yeah.
[0:10:09.4] SC: The mortgage industry was really my first, I mean, what I would call a real company you know? Where we had an office lease and we paid taxes and you know, all of that type of stuff.
[0:10:17.6] RN: Did you have to buy into that business where you had to put up cash or were you able to just –
[0:10:22.9] SC: Yeah, just kind of like sweat equity, like slowly worked my way in, I mean –
[0:10:26.5] RN: It’s the easiest, lowest risk way to get into business, right? Yeah.
[0:10:30.2] SC: Yeah. On the downside of it, I fronted a lot of the credit that we were growing on and then so in 2008, a lot of that came back on to me.
[0:10:40.3] RN: It still affects your credit today?
[0:10:41.8] SC: No, it took me about – it was just over $100,000 in debt when we closed the doors because it kind of went south overnight, right? It went from making money on Monday to being out of business on Friday, pretty much.
When they started calling for their money back, it was like “Well, I got nothing. You can call all you want.” But yeah, it probably took me about four or five years to rebuild that, slowly pay it off and then rebuild my credit after that.
[0:11:09.4] RN: Okay, you actually did end up paying that 100k off?
[0:11:12.5] SC: I paid a majority of it, yeah. I mean, did some – negotiated some of it and then I looked to you know, back and forth like okay, is it, do I do bankruptcy, do I not, like what’s the long term? I waited longer than I should have, probably to make a lot of those decisions because they’re scary.
[0:11:25.8] RN: Yeah.
[0:11:26.0] SC: So I was like I’ll just sweep it under the rug, let’s see what happens like next week, I’ll deal with it later.
[0:11:30.3] RN: Yeah, it’s just stress, right? You just want to brush it under the rug and not deal with it if you don’t have to.
[0:11:35.0] SC: Yeah.
[0:11:36.6] RN: It’s interesting. At that point, just looking back, is there anything that you guys could have done differently to avoid what happened?
[0:11:46.8] SC: Yeah, I mean, I was young at the time and since it was kind of my first real business. One of the big lessons I took out of that was learning to look down the road because you know, the mortgage industry crashed, right? There was really nothing we could have done about that but there was a lot of things that I could have prepared for differently.
You know, looked at the writing on the wall, months and months before it actually happened and then started to kind of pivot or at least find a different way to market us, or find a different segment of the market that maybe would be more resilient because we worked with a lot of investors.
You know, a lot of our clients had like a million dollars cash in the bank and we couldn’t even get him $100,000 loan on an investment property. We could have been more intelligent about what were our offerings, based on what’s coming down the road. Then, you know, that would have been great because then we would have taken advantage of when everybody else was out of business.
Now, there is you know, a quarter of as many mortgage companies as there was and people still need mortgages, right?
[0:12:49.7] RN: With that whole situation, obviously the credit was under your name. Did your business partner at the time not have to deal with any of the finance issues? Was that all on your shoulders and if so, why was that?
[0:13:03.0] SC: Yeah, I mean, so since everything was kind of financed under my credit because he didn’t really have the ability to do it and we were like “Hey, we’re growing, who cares, I mean, we got cash coming in like this is awesome.” And so again, just lack of experience, right? Like lack of forethought that it should have been growing on cash and not doing it the way we did.
I mean, when it went under like, nobody had money. Me or him like we didn’t plan, we weren’t getting ready for life, we were kind of like playing and so yeah, he just didn’t have any money and since it wasn’t tied to his credit, I mean, it wasn’t malicious or anything like that. It was just, these are the facts.
He doesn’t have any money, I don’t have any money. It’s tied to my credit like what are you going to do? It took him quite a few more years to recover than it did me.
[0:13:52.5] RN: Got it. Coming out of that business 2008, when all the shit hits the fan, what’s. I mean, how are you feeling at that point? Were you just devastated? This was your first business.
Now you’re in a shit ton of debt, what was your – I guess, how are you feeling at that time and then what were your thoughts on how you’re going to pull yourself out of that?
[0:14:14.3] SC: Yeah.
[0:14:15.8] RN: Actually, time out, I was just looking at your little binder here. Says, “Failure is a step forward,” which I love, it’s awesome.
[0:14:22.0] SC: I love it man, you can tell kind of how old that is too.
[0:14:24.9] RN: Yeah, it’s great.
[0:14:28.9] SC: You know, it’s like going through a breakup, right? Days where you’re pissed, you have days where you’re sad, you have days where you’re depressed, you have days where you feel great and you maybe don’t really know why and it was kind of like that. I was just going through that process of like a breakup, a separation.
The cool thing that I noticed when I look back, and this is a good lesson that I have to constantly remind myself off especially now in life that I’m running a pretty successful company, is that even when you’re at the bottom or when you’re at the bottom and you don’t have anything to lose.
You just – a lot of stuff just doesn’t matter, right? You realize that if you can make it out of that, you can make it out of anything. If I ever get concerned about my company now, “My gosh, I’m going to wake up one day and all of our clients are going to fire us all in the same day and everybody’s going to quit,” right?
Obviously, that’s never going to happen. I go back to this and I remember the times when I had no money. I was living at a buddy’s house like rent free. It didn’t really matter that much. Things were still okay, I found a way to eat, we found a way to drink dollar beer and still have really good time.
When I look back on that, those are some of the most fun times that I had when I had nothing. That’s a really cool lesson that I learned out of it but kind of – I guess, more specifically to answer your question. Yeah, there was good days and there was like really fucking bad days.
I just – that’s actually when I found personal development stuff, I remember I got a book called the Power of Focus by Brian Tracy and started reading it. I was like “Wait, there’s actually something to this, maybe these guys aren’t just trying to sell books.”
Maybe there’s actually good content in there. When you don’t have any money, you don’t have a TV, you can’t really afford to go anywhere so you have a lot of free time. That’s when I just started reading a ton of books.
[0:16:16.4] RN: Books are inexpensive, easy investment, right?
[0:16:19.0] SC: Yeah, right? I mean, that’s when I found like used books on Amazon and you know, I was like, “Wait, for 60 cents I can buy that book? That’s crazy, I’m in.”
[0:16:27.8] RN: Yeah, it actually is crazy. But just on your point of – I think it’s a really good lesson in terms of thinking back on how – like how bad things were in the past and how – or how relatively bad, right?
Because you had built a business, you had money coming in but then you look back and you know, you think about like when you’re adequate and coming out of college like just had that first job. You made way less money.
For me anyways, I think about this a lot and when Jack and I first got married actually, we actually, this place is disgusting, we lived in like crazy dump with a single lady and her child. We had literally this bedroom, no bed, we just slept on a cot and like, when things are bad now, you know, we get frustrated in stuff and think back to that cot, things are amazing but the crazy thing is, when we were on the cot, we were super happy.
It was the small things, we would go get take out, come home, sit on our cot, watch our Netflix and have dinner together. It was just as great then as it is now, you know what I mean? It’s a good lesson because you get stressed now for anybody out there. It stresses you are, chances are, times have been way worse and you got through it just fine.
Just on that point, how do you look at – how do you assess risk when you’re looking at new opportunities, whether it’s a new business venture, whether it’s an extension of your current business, a new vertical, whatever it may be.
How do you look at opportunities, assess risk and decide whether or not to move forward?
[0:17:58.4] SC: Yeah, it’s a great question, it’s actually something that I’m really focused on right now is assessing that risk you know? We have about 15 person company, now I have 15 people’s livelihoods kind of, that I’m responsible for.
My assessment of risk is a lot different now but as I ask a lot of people, we have a lot of very similar mentors like we talk about Daryl Hicks and you know, some of those guys. Those are the people that I’m asking these exact same questions who right now. One of the things that’s come out of that is, you have to remember what did get us here.
A lot of that is taking those risks and leaning into uncomfort and just knowing that most of the time, things are going to work out okay. But even if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I mean, specifically assessing, it is just looking at the numbers, does this make sense and then setting kind of a cap like “Okay, hey, we’re going to spend $20,000 to try to startup this line.” Or “You know, we’re going to hire somebody for four months and see if it works out.”
Then just knowing when to say when. You know, with gambling, right? A lot of people like, you never know when to stop.
[0:19:02.9] RN: You got to have your number, right?
[0:19:04.0] SC: Yeah, exactly. Have your number in mind and say “Okay, cool, we’re going to give this four months or we’re going to give it this amount of time and then when it’s over, it’s over.” Just work your ass off during that time to make sure you gave it everything. That way, you know, you didn’t leave anything on the table and you’re not sitting there second guessing.
Like, “Oh maybe I should have stayed in another month,” or yeah.
[19:23.1] RN: Sure. Obviously with this being the Fail On Podcast, how do you actually define failure?
[0:19:30.7] SC: That’s a great question. I saw that and I started thinking about it and I think the best way for me to define it is when something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would and then there’s a lesson in it, right?
Failure to me is a key word that I look for an opportunity. If I failed at something, it means, it didn’t work out the way that I thought it was going to. But there’s some sort of an opportunity or learning lesson in that, that I can now take and put it in my little bank. Then maybe later down the line, I’ll need that exact same lesson but yeah, it just means it didn’t work out the way that I expected it to.
[0:20:06.3] RN: Are there specific examples you can kind of think back on that where you basically did that where it was – it didn’t work out like you planned but you took a learning lesson from it, put it in the bank and then moving down the road, you’re able to reflect back on it whether subconsciously or consciously and it made a difference moving forward?
[0:20:24.8] SC: I mean, the biggest one is the mortgage company, right? Not looking around the corner. In our vivid vision document –
[0:20:35.5] RN: That’s a lesson right there. You didn’t have a vivid vision back then and now you’re like, “Okay, I need to actually look into the future a little bit.”
[0:20:41.2] SC: One of my strengths that I bring to the company is the ability to see around corners. When everybody asks, you know, everybody within our company has their roles and the things they’re great at, well, that’s mine. And that all came from the mortgage company.
Now, when our competition is just kind of like doing whatever it is that they’ve been doing for the last three or four years, I’m looking around corners going “Okay, what’s going to change, you know? What’s happening in our client’s market, what’s happening with the economy like are we going to have…?” I watch the economy a little bit more than I used to now.
Yeah, just looking around the corner and saying, what’s really coming next? Because as entrepreneurs, especially as young companies, we get so busy working in the business every day and we have to force – at least, I initially had to force myself a lot more to take a couple of days a month and just kind of think. Think at a much higher level.
[0:21:33.8] RN: Right. With Seequs marketing, you started that in what? 2014?
[0:21:37.6] SC: Yeah, Seequs started in 2014, I had owned and started another digital agency before that in 2009.
[0:21:44.2] RN: I was going to ask, what’s that gap between 2008, 2014. A different agency in 2009? What happened with that one?
[0:21:52.7] SC: I started that with a friend, we were 50/50 business partners and then from 2000 to 2014, we grew that so we both had jobs and then we did this on the side. We did it just kind of for fun, to bring in a little bit of extra cash.
We both knew a decent amount of about SEO and marketing, we’re like “Hey, if we just pick up a couple of clients, we’ll make maybe an extra thousand bucks or two a month and then we can afford to take our girlfriends to Mexico or go on vacation.”
You know, that turned into three clients and five clients and then 10 and then we had to hire somebody and then before we knew it, it started turning into a real company. Then, we just had different ideas of what you do when you become successful. So mine was, you work harder and you reinvest in the business and he just had different – he wanted to do different things.
He wanted to relax and kind of enjoy it and like, let the business run. Nothing wrong with either one but we didn’t ask the right questions upfront when we were starting the business of like “Hey, what do you want to do when it becomes successful?”
Ended up selling my 50% to him after about five months of me trying to buy him out and that all happened at the very last minute. It was like “Okay, wait, what am I going to do now?” The next day, I started Seequs. Katie and I came up with the name like sitting at a Chilies I think, on the back of that.
Within 24hours, we had a logo, website and you know, back off to the races again and then it was just me sitting at a desk, like “Okay, let’s do this again.”
[0:23:19.3] RN: That’s awesome though. I mean, that obviously shows fast implementation, right? Which is huge. A lot of people I think get, I want to hop back, eventually I want to do hop back to kind of how you got started in that last business. But I think it’s an important lesson that a lot of people overanalyze and almost get paralyzed by what’s the perfect logo, what’s the perfect business name?
They do all these things that just kind of put off, actually starting the business and going to find how to make revenue and how to generate dollars. Is that something that you’ve always done? Been like a fast implementer or has it taken you time over the years to start being a more of an action taker?
[0:24:02.5] SC: No, I’ve always been pretty quick, you know? One of my friends and mentors has a quote that says, “Act faster than your inner critic.” Basically, take action before you have time to talk yourself out of it and then you can kind of figure out the little pieces of like okay, wait, maybe I need to go this way a little more or that way a little bit more.
I mean, even thinking back to like the auto detailing and stuff. I mean, it just made sense at the time. I was like, “Alright, I’ll just go buy some car wax and go wash this car tomorrow,” and then it just snowballed from there.
Same with the mortgage company. I was working for cores and he asked me about it. I was like, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” No plan, no idea how we’re going to make money or anything at first. Yeah, it kind of ties back in with that lesson where now, I have to be conscious to make sure I’m still doing that to some extent, as opposed to slowing us down by over analyzing and stuff like that.
[0:25:00.7] RN: Right. Just to kind of hop back on time a little bit. 2009, you got a job, kind of right out of the gate, when everything, you know, you had to pay rent, you just need to do something, right?
[0:25:11.1] SC: Yeah, I took a job making like $20,000 a year doing sales for a data recovery company and then right after that, I also got a part time job working for a law firm doing like some marketing for them. I got to take people to events and dinners and I was like “Wait, you’re going to pay me and you’re going to let me go eat and do fun stuff?” I was like “Yeah, I’m in.”
[0:25:32.5] RN: Easy decision.
[0:25:33.2] SC: Yeah.
[0:25:35.2] RN: At that time, I’m guessing. You started the marketing on the side which I think this is a big issue for a lot of people that I talk to is, they get really excited about whatever venture they want to start and they just want to burn the ships, go do it full on, not having a job and just give all their attention and effort to the business.
I get varying, from all the podcast guests, I get varying beliefs. A lot of people say, “That’s irresponsible to just jump fully into business, it’s putting people at risk, if you want to start, start it from you know, like Gary V says. Do it from 7 PM to 2 AM.”
What are your thoughts on assessing risk and in this case, whether you have a full time job, but you have a business that you want to start. Do you work kind of on the side or do you just burn the ships and go all in on it?
[0:26:28.4] SC: I mean, I would say, do it on the side. You know, entrepreneurship, you generally work twice as much as you think you’re going to and you make half as much money. You know, I remember doing this with my past businesses like you create these spreadsheets and you spend hours on them.
“Man, if I only had five clients, we could make this much money.” Well, cut that in half at least because that’s the max you’re going to make doing it. Especially for new entrepreneurs. I would say, take it slow, a year goes by really quick, there is nothing wrong with taking a year, working at your job, working a little bit of extra on the side. Here’s what a lot of people I think miss about having a job is they miss all these opportunities to learn about how business works.
You know, just looking around your company or your – whatever it is that you do work, even if it’s a miserable situation, learn from that. Figure out why is it a miserable situation like how are people being managed? Ask your coworkers, “Hey, what would make you happier in a job?”
Because for the most part, the actual product or the service you offer in a business, it’s not the most important thing, it’s how you run the company, you know? If you’re going to have a team of people, how do you make them happy? How do you make them want to come to work and be their best every day.
That’s what makes winning companies win. Take the time to learn from the place where you’re at, whether it’s great or whether it’s terrible. I’ve always been, the law firm that I mentioned, right? That I worked for in 2009. I still work for them. I mean, I run a 15 person company and I was always just up front and honest with them. So now, we do it like, I do some very specific things for them because they haven’t been able to find somebody to replace that.
By being open and honest about it, now, we have this other source of revenue and it’s a huge opportunity for connecting with the stuff that I do for them. I would say, start it on the side, kind of get the basics figured out so that now you have a nice platform to build on and then start assessing that risk, like “Okay, cool, you got a little bit of money coming in.”
Have a set time, say “Okay, I’m going to leave in six months or 12 months or I’m going to leave when I can make $5,000 a month for myself or replace my income.” Then just make sure that while you’re making money on the side, don’t get used to that lifestyle because you know, now you have two incomes, right?
[0:28:48.7] RN: Exactly.
[0:28:49.4] SC: A lot of people do that and then now they can’t leave the job and then they get burned out and then now they’re doing a disservice to that person, you end up burning bridges and –
[0:28:57.5] RN: Totally, I think it’s a really good lesson what you mentioned about just kind of be more aware within your current job of how that – not just of your job and how your department runs but how the business as a whole actually operates. Like you said, if it’s a terrible job, why is it terrible?
Where is the ball dropping somewhere along the line? I think people just go to their jobs, almost really narrow focused right? They are because they’re getting paycheck, they have their specific KPI’s, specific responsibilities, they don’t really look at the big picture.
I think for somebody that wants to get into business, it’s super important to look at how the business runs as a whole. I wish I would have gotten that advice when I was in my nine to five job because you know, I was that guy, like we just said, that was just super narrow focused. I’m there for my job. I’m there for the paycheck, don’t like the job but I could have gotten a lot more out of it had I had that perspective of –
Let’s actually look at this as like, how are these people running this business? It would have been super valuable. I think for anybody listening that’s in a nine to five job right now, just start being more aware of how the business is running as a whole – the good, the bad, what you do differently.
I think it’s a valuable lesson that you can do without having to even start a business, right? Just start taking inventory.
[0:30:14.4] SC: Yeah, it makes it more fun too, right? Paying attention if you’re doing something other than like, your little KPI’s with your head down, it kind of – it opens u p a whole new world of things to explore and look around, like “Hmm that’s interesting. I never knew why Sally does that or Jim does that.” And it just makes it a little bit more fun to be there while you’re there.
[0:30:34.3] RN: Exactly. It’s learning. Within Seequs, building that up, you know, you started the next day, what’s been the biggest struggle from you know, when you were making that logo and creating the name with Katie to where you are now. What’s been the hardest struggle for you?
[0:30:52.3] SC: I mean, initially, it was a struggle like the first three or four months was a struggle because I went from having a company with a team and like staff doing all the work, to going back to doing it all on my own again.
That was kind of, that was tough, my first goal was okay, work my ass off so that I can hire somebody else and I hired somebody pretty quick to help that. That was a little bit of a struggle but –
[0:31:16.0] RN: You sold your 50% to your ex-partner, did that give you enough cushion to live comfortably for a little bit while you were able to build this up?
[0:31:23.9] SC: Yeah, I could have done one or a couple of things. I could have one, lived comfortably and like slowly started something or I basically just reinvested that and you know, to get it up and running faster because I already knew what I needed to do differently.
I spent about two weeks from the day I started Seequs until I actually started working, to just say “Okay, I’m going to go through my whole old company and say, what would I do differently, what was working well, what structures do I want to have in place?” You know, now that maybe I didn’t.
That was a really – looking back, that was way more intelligent than I would give myself credit for normally. I would highly recommend like take that time to just really think through what you want to do differently, it was very worth it.
I mean, nowadays. I mean, the biggest probably struggle for me is rapid scale. You know, I mean, it seems like every month, we’re hiring more people and so it’s this paying attention to that risk management of ‘Okay, where are we within our budget, when do we go over our budget, when do we go under our budget, how much cash do we keep in the bank?”
Keeping up with that because it changes so fast, that’s probably the biggest thing, like my biggest struggle right now is in that unknown of like, how fast do you scale? You know, a lot of our mutual friends asking them, they’re doing 10 to 20 million so I’m saying, “Okay, what did you want to do differently at like five million and three million and like, eight.”
“What would you have done differently?” I’m getting a lot of good help there.
[0:32:55.9] RN: Got it. What’s your biggest weakness? Just in terms of operating the business? One, where is your strength at? I know we talked about vision yesterday a little bit and that’s kind of how you see role as looking around the corner? What are you really weak at that you’re just involved with?
You know, a lot of people are weak at stuff but they just delegate that out of the way. Somebody else is handling their strength. What are you weak at that you still are involved with?
[0:33:25.9] SC: Yeah, I mean, my weakness is following process over and over. I love creating it, right? I can see, “Okay, here’s how we need to do this and then this will work really well and the people will be happy that are responsible for it.” But as soon as I create it, I’m the first one to not follow it.
I try to get myself out of that – those areas as fast as I can so right now, one of the things, I’m great with people, I’m great with you know, I guess we’ll call it sales. I’m terrible at following the process. You know, in order to do a good job at selling, it’s constantly following up with your prospects, constantly nurturing them, lead generation and all of that.
Well, to me, that’s really boring. I just want to talk to the person on the phone and say “Okay, cool, here’s what we can do, we can help – do you want to go with us or not?” That whole nurturing process is really boring for me and so I’m basically getting rid of that this quarter. We’re in second quarter and our goal is you know, we’re hiring a sales person.
Because I know that that is not my strength at all.
[0:34:27.8] RN: Yup, probably not the best use of your time either.
[0:34:29.8] SC: No, it’s definitely not. I mean, it’s better than I guess sweeping the floors but –
[0:34:35.9] RN: So, how do you guys actually make money? What are your different revenue streams? You have 15 employees? I’m just trying to get an idea of kind of how the business looks as a whole, at a high level. What are your different departments and what’s the response before and yeah, what are your different revenue streams?
[0:34:50.6] SC: We used to call ourselves a full service digital agency, you know, we wanted to do everything, right? Then about a year, a year and a half ago, I was looking at it with my operations manager and she was like, “Look, why are we doing like all these little… You know, I don’t know, whatever these little services are. We’re not making money on them, they always cause problems, we’re not really great at it.”
We got rid of a lot of things and now we specifically do not call ourselves a full service digital agency. We focus in SEO, search engine optimization, pay per click, marketing, like ad words, even getting more into the social media stuff and web design. You know, it’s the three biggest pieces of creating success for our clients, right?
Everything is either focused on driving ideal clients to their website or making their website better so that it converts more. Then we have a couple little services that we add on like we’ll do some digital branding but only if somebody’s working in one of our three core services. We won’t offer those as just stand-alone services.
Everything has to tie back to driving the right traffic or converting it into a call or a lead.
[0:35:53.6] RN: Who is your ideal client? What type of business, what sizes of business?
[0:35:58.1] SC: This is another great lesson that I learned a couple of years ago is you know, find niches. We used to work with anybody and everybody and we would get these really big clients and we didn’t really know how to deal with them that well and they weren’t our ideal client.
Once we got clear on that, the business really started to grow even faster. We do local service companies. We work a ton with home service businesses like plumbing, HVAC, electrical, those types of things. We also do like dental, private medical, legal.
Any local service business, that’s really what we’re fantastic at. Also things, you know, getting people to show up on Google Maps and the whole – now with voice search on phones, you know, “Find a plumber near me.”
Really getting businesses to show up for searches like that.
[0:36:45.9] RN: How did you find that niche? Was that part of your grand plan in the beginning when you were crawling it up at Chilies in a napkin? Or is that something that’s evolved over time where you’ve really kind of narrowed in on what you guys have really done well with?
[0:36:59.3] SC: Yeah, I mean, based on your smile, I think you know the answer to that question. Yeah, we definitely didn’t out to go after plumbers and HVAC guys or companies. I actually met a guy who, Mike Aguillero who runs a company, a 30-million-dollar plumbing company in New Jersey and then he started a coaching business for this.
I met him at a speaker’s training camp in Boulder. That was like, late 2014 so we’d only had been back in business for like six months. We just stayed in touch and eventually, he flew me out. I got to meet some of the people he was coaching and like that’s how we started in that niche.
We got really good at it and now, you know, now we get the phone calls. “Hey, we need help, we heard you guys are the ones to do it.”
[0:37:47.6] RN: It brings me to a good point because we talked yesterday about how – what you guys do is drive leads for your companies but you don’t’ drive leads for your own company. How have you been able to grow like you have, without doing any marketing for your own business?
[0:38:04.7] SC: Yeah, I mean that’s reputation is really what it comes down to. I intentionally, if you look back at my journal or even a lot of the notes on my desk at the office, it’s very intentional to become so good you can’t be ignored. So that’s what I have written everywhere and so that’s where we put our focus on. So instead of just driving leads for us, I changed it. I just said, “Let’s become so good that we can’t be ignored” and so now between referrals, people that are using us. I mean our clients are our best sales people and you know that’s what’s gotten us to here.
[0:38:39.3] RN: Do you have anything that actually – like a process that is actually built out specifically to drive referrals, or is it more of just organic as it happens?
[0:38:49.2] SC: Yeah so we were in the middle of building out something that is a little bit more set in stone as far as the process goes. Up until now it’s just been – I knew that it was important to follow up and so we created these little touch points, where every once in a while you would ask for something. So, if a client emailed and said, “Hey we had our best month ever.” Then that’s like a little trigger.
It’s like, “Hey if you know anybody else that might benefit from this, we’d love a referral and we’d give you half a month for free” So we had some of that built but it wasn’t. It’s not real great and so that’s something that we’re focused on right now is creating an actual process around that.
[0:39:27.9] RN: When you look back from 14 with car dealing, to up until now, obviously you went through the tough times in 2008. What’s been, outside of 2008, what’s been the biggest struggle in terms of getting to where you are today? Across the board whether personal, professional, business, relationships or whatever? I guess take us back to the lowest point you’ve been.
[0:39:57.3] SC: So probably it’s happened a couple of times probably like that low point and I think most entrepreneurs go through it at different levels. Some are a lot worst, some aren’t quite as bad but it’s personal. It always comes back to personal and for me, it’s believing that I am enough and that I deserve what I’m creating. So when things are going really well I have to be careful because sometimes my mind will start slipping and like, “Oh man stuff is going to go down. You don’t deserve this.”
Imposter syndrome, that type of thing. There’s been a couple of times where I let that get the best of me and so for a few months it’s just miserable, like every time when I wake up in the morning, it’s just like, “Oh man I’m not even going to go.” Looking back at it from a 30,000 foot different perspective it’s essentially like self-sabotage right? It’s like, “Hey I don’t feel like I deserve this.” So I start doing things that would sabotage it and I’ve just learned overtime that that’s going to come.
It’s going to come and go. So one of my coaches always talked about reaction time. So just constantly shortening the reaction time. So now what used to take three months might take three days and it’s just being accepting of it like, “Hey look we all have these feelings and that’s okay,” and just getting perspective on it. Like “I really am doing a good job and I really do deserve this.” And every big entrepreneur I talked to struggles with something along those lines, so that’s my biggest struggle.
[0:41:38.8] RN: When you’re in those ruts, how did you find the awareness to actually realize that that’s what you are doing like self-sabotage? I totally relate to what you just said in terms of going through these ruts but even now it’s still hard for me to pinpoint like why, what is driving me to feel like this? Is it what I’m actually doing with my business? Is it my relationships? What actually is it? So how were you able to find the awareness of, that it was self-sabotage?
[0:42:07.9] SC: I think Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Self-awareness is the number one skill.” So just once I realized that. It was honing that skill. So it was honing in through mindfulness, practice, meditation and just being aware and doing a lot of journaling. So I would journal through those whole times and then I would journal as I was coming out of it. So now I could go back and reference. Now if I start to see a trigger like I’m starting to feel a certain way, now I have previous experiences where I can go to the end of that whole experience and then read.
“Okay cool here’s what I did last time” and sometimes it will take a couple of days because you fight it. You’re like, “No I don’t want to feel better.”
[0:42:49.6] RN: I’m going to wallow in my misery.
[0:42:51.8] SC: Yeah, exactly. So it’s like a road map of being able to get out of that situation. So I just started documenting those. It’s like, “Hey if I feel this way here’s what’s happening and then here’s how I got out of it last time.”
[0:43:04.0] RN: Yeah, have you noticed trends on what is actually been that gets you out of those ruts?
[0:43:08.4] SC: Yeah actually a lot of it is getting some sort of a result. So it is forcing myself to take action and then seeing the result and that proves like, “Oh yeah wait, I do actually really know what I am doing and it is okay.” I mean like going to the gym, right? I don’t know if you have ever experienced it but sometimes when I am on a not so good health kick, I tend to want to go to the gym even less. Like you want to eat pizza again and drink beer.
And then you’re like, “Well just one more day and then it would be fine” and it snowballs from there. Well as soon as you go to the gym for a couple of days, you start to feel better and then you’re like, “Oh cool,” you pick that habit back up. So you can get some sort of a result like as soon as I am soar I’m like, “Oh man I’m not going to eat the pizza today because I feel good.” So getting some sort of a result and I actually journal a lot about this.
Like while I am doing sales, I don’t really enjoy that whole process but what I tell myself when I get behind is based on past experiences. It only takes two days to get out of a rut and so for two days I commit to myself. I’m like, “Alright, I am just going to follow the process. I already know what works” and instead of what my brain used to tell me, “Oh man this is going to take two months to get out of this thing.” It’s two days and so for two days, I just focus on that.
Even though I am halfway miserable when I am doing it, at the end of those two days – like for example, sales, right? If I follow the process every day. At the end of those two days we would have generally landed another client or gotten at least five or ten really good prospects and I’m like, “Oh yeah, it only took two days.” That’s all good.
[0:44:50.2] RN: It is a good reminder. So obviously this is the Fail On Podcast with the whole idea of pushing people to take action and get outside their comfort zone and at least stretch the comfort zone a little bit. So they’re getting comfortable being in uncomfortable situations like we talked about our mutual friend yesterday, UJ Ramdas, creator of the Five Minute Journal. How he says something to you that really shifted your perspective on it. Do you mind sharing that?
[0:45:16.1] SC: Yeah, he said, “Constantly look for opportunity to lean into uncomfort.” I’ve heard it a bunch of times but for some reason when he said it, I heard it at the right moment from the right person. I just kind of adopted more of that and I mean he uses an example of like, “Look I constantly look for ways to be uncomfortable to the extent of, “Look if you are walking down the street and you’re wearing shoes and it would be uncomfortable without them like take your shoes off.
He was talking about this time he was in Boulder. It started raining, he was walking around, everybody starts running for cover and he’s like, “Yeah this is uncomfortable.” So he just walked in the rain and he said within a couple of minutes he’s like, “Man this is the most amazing experience.” So always looking for those ways to lean into uncomfort. Like I kind of label all of my years with like a theme. So 2017 is “Lived Curiously Uncomfortable.” So it is just always looking for uncomfort. But yeah UJ that was perfect timing so.
[0:46:16.7] RN: That’s great, so on that note that’s cool. That is your theme this year. What’s the last thing you did to really push your comfort zone and get outside of it?
[0:46:25.8] SC: I had a feeling that that question would really come up and so I started thinking about it a little bit and it’s hard to pick one. I do something every day or at least every couple of days. I mean one of the things that I did that I thought it was just going to be purely fun but actually end up being really uncomfortable and being cool. I did this racing school out in Vegas a couple of weeks ago and I was like, “Oh man I can drive fast cars, we got this.” And I get there…
It’s when you start realizing you’re going 120 miles an hour around the corner, three inches from gravel, I am white knuckled, I couldn’t think about anything and it ended up being a very uncomfortable experience the whole rest of the first day. Then the second day was amazing, right? I was pushing my faster further and further but like I said, it was set out just to be something that was fun. I didn’t even think it was going to be uncomfortable but when I got there it was like, “Oh man how cool is this?” I found that opportunity to be uncomfortable here.
But yeah, I don’t know. Just every day looking for some little thing to be uncomfortable. I don’t know if you follow Tim Farris too much, but like lay down in the middle of the street for 10 seconds or just stare at somebody in the eyes until they look away first. Always look for little things to do, like you mentioned the Starbucks thing. Ask for 10% off. I do that all the time and half the time, they’ll give it to you.
Starbucks actually has a 10% button or something back there like maybe after he said that but yeah, just look for little things. Like if I think to myself, “Oh I don’t want to do that,” it probably means I should do it.
[0:47:53.0] RN: I like that. So we talked a lot about getting outside of your comfort zone. Struggle, anxiety, fear, how to best approach it. What’s the absolute best way that you found to approach the possibility of failure, the fear that’s associated with it and potential embarrassment?
[0:48:12.2] SC: So my internal saying about fear is “Fear is Fake” and when you really look back at okay, what is the emotion is fear? Going back to caveman days it’s this thing where your brain is trying to save you from basically death, right? That’s why people are afraid of public speaking, your brain is telling you, “If you go up on that stage, you are going to die.” So that’s why we are so afraid of certain things. So when I have something that seems fearful, I just remind myself:
“Hey look, fear is fake” and kind of what makes sense, does it make sense to do this or do that? And when you remove that whole fear piece, it makes the decision making a lot easier and so kind of the self-awareness right? Just knowing that hey this isn’t really a real emotion. So I will talk to my brain, I will say, “Hey look, I appreciate you looking out for me and trying to keep me from hurting myself but I also know that this emotion is fake. So thanks for trying to help me out here.”
And it makes it a little bit easier to just step into and do that thing. As far as embarrassment goes, I’ve been embarrassed so many times in life it just doesn’t even matter anymore, right?
[0:49:20.8] RN: Sure, so I was actually reading the community Rolodex for Mastermind Talks and I saw that you used to be really scared of talking to a group of people. So on this note, how did you basically do what you’re preaching, in terms of getting over that fear?
[0:49:38.7] SC: Yeah that’s funny, I forgot about that. So in 2012 with my last digital company, we won the fastest growing company in Colorado and all we had to do was go to this awards lunch. There was about 300 people there and get up on stage and accept an award and you get 30 seconds to just say thank you. So the whole time I was driving down there when we found out that we were definitely in the top three, so we knew we had to go on stage.
I was like, “Oh my gosh what am I going to do?” So I started writing like I didn’t even talk to my fiancé Katie at the time now, it was girlfriend back then but for the whole morning, I was just like, “Don’t talk to me. I got to figure out this speech. What am I going to say?” I was really playing it in my mind over and over. Practiced this little speech the whole way down there. Got down there, ended up winning first place. So we go up on stage to accept the award.
I had my little note card down like I am shaking, get up on stage and then look around in the audience and all I could do is lean forward and say, “Thank you,” and then haul ass off the stage. Yeah it was mind blowing to me how it all worked. So in that moment is that’s when I said, “Okay this is ridiculous” right? I got to learn how to be comfortable speaking to people. I am great with people one on one but I never knew why it was such a big issue for me.
And that’s when I went and did a public speaking like a training course with Joe Williams who was one of Tony Robins master trainers for 20 or 30 something years. But it was in that moment where I was like, “Alright I’ve got to get over this thing.” I looked for a resource to do it and then that’s actually where I met Mike Aguilera. That’s how we got in the plumbing stuff for our – so all these things tied together when you get out of your comfort zone.
I even remember the first day at that speaker training course, there’s only 12 people in the room. So you had to get up in front of the room and say a 60 second thing about you. Like dude, I just blacked out. I don’t know what I said and I just remembered at the end of doing it, everybody was staring at me like, “And?” so I must have said something and left it hanging out in the middle of nowhere like I don’t even remember it. So if I remember it correctly, I think Joe at the end of the class, he was like: “Hey you definitely got most improved,” so.
[0:51:52.0] RN: That’s awesome. So what would you recommend for somebody that actually wants to get over that fear? Whether they are talking to large groups or just people at their work, whether it is a conference room or you’re doing a meeting and you’re terrified of speaking. What’s your – obviously outside of going to a course or a class maybe that is the best options. Any other options or tips and tricks after you have done that, that people can implement on the go?
[0:52:20.8] SC: Yeah, a couple of things. If you really want to do it I would recommend going somewhere because I learned so much more than just – we really didn’t even talk about the fear at that class. He just taught you how to be a really effective communicator and the fear dissipated based on the comfort and practice. But initially like when I talk to a room now because I remember after that the first I actually got up on stage and I spoke at Hal Elrod’s event, I still get nervous.
That’s okay. But just remembering that you are not talking to this massive people, you are talking to individuals. So just pick a couple of people out of the audience and talk to them and connect with those people. Like who cares if you look creepy? Like you are just picking out three people but it’s a one on one conversation. There just happens to be more than one on the other side. But just connect with people individually.
We shoot a ton of video now and I am teaching my staff how to be comfortable doing that. I just tell them, “Hey pick an avatar” create an avatar so even if you’re in a big room or you are doing a video, just say, “Okay, I am talking to Jim, he’s 35 years old, he has three kids and he really needs to know what I have to say because I can help him have a better life.” And so when you make it not about you and you make it about them, a lot of that fear will go away.
And so that was really helpful for me. I still do it today if I am talking to a group of more than probably 30 or 40 people. I just pick a couple of people, create an avatar and then just make sure to remember like I am here to help them. And then just remember man that look, especially in a big group, everybody wants you to succeed. Most of us are not politicians and people that –we don’t have haters out there really. Everybody in that room wants you to succeed.
That’s why they’re there, they are taking their time out of their day to come listen to you. They want you to win, so they’re not out there to get you. And everybody is afraid of it right? Even some of the best public speakers we know, they still get butterflies like Hal Elrod. Every time before he speaks, you know I have seen him a couple of times like he’s antsy and he’s like, “Yeah I’ve got the little butterflies. That’s good.”Hhe looks for it.
[0:54:33.0] RN: Yeah, I was talking to – I mentioned this a few times back, I was talking to – do you know Giovanni Marsico?
[0:54:39.0] SC: Yeah.
[0:54:39.6] RN: So I love how he frames it because whenever he gets that feeling of butterflies, whatever that maybe, he used to look at it as like, “Oh man, I am super anxious, I have anxiety.” Now he looks at it like, “Oh the butterflies are around, I am excited.” It’s more of an excitement. It’s like, “Oh I get to do something exciting because I have that feeling.” It’s a cool way to frame anything. Whenever you get that feeling of fear, something like a little uncomfortable, look at it like it’s a feeling of excitement and you get to do something to grow.
So it is a cool reframe just to look at it like that. Just in terms of if someone is listening here at home, in the gym, maybe they are in a nine to five job, they want to start something new, business, any kind of creative venture but they just don’t know where to start. Obviously we talked about it is probably better to start in your off hours, the 7PM to 2AM – just as a side hustle as Gary V says.
But if they don’t have a business idea, they don’t really know that first step to take, what’s a piece of advice that you would give them or more of a directive that you would give them as a step one to get started?
[0:55:52.4] SC: I would start to figure out like what do you enjoy doing, like where are your strengths right? And then I’m a big fan of journaling and letting like I believe that we know most of the answers to 99.9% of the questions that we ask ourselves that we think, “Oh my gosh, I have clue what do,” like we know deep down inside what to do. So the journaling process for me helps that come out so I will sit with a blank of paper.
A lot of times when I am trying to figure out what do I do next, I’ll just get one or two blank sheets of computer paper. I won’t actually use my journal because then I tend to get bored and go back and look at other stuff. I’ll sit in a room and it’s a minimum of 28 minutes. So basically, you force yourself to sit there. No distractions and I ask a question at the top of the page and then just start riding and after about 28 minutes. That’s where your brain gives up and says, “Okay look we are not going to go anywhere until this guy gets an answer.”
So it really digs deep and starts answering the question that you have and then if you can make it to that 28th minute generally you will sit there for another couple of hours and so that’s how I would start it. That might be a weird answer like now that I am even saying it out loud, most people probably don’t think about that. But looking back at everything that I have done that was one of the most important things I did when I was trying to figure out, “Hey what should I do next”.
Like what type of job should I have or anything like that. But that would be my recommendation to start, figure out what you want to do like don’t follow the money piece of it. Let yourself answer the question of what would you really enjoy and then if it’s something you’re great at, the money piece of it will come. And then read books, right? Read a couple of books, The E-Myth is a great start like learning about the different types of business owners figuring out where you are and then also understanding the power of processes.
Like most of us when we start a business we know how to do everything but we don’t document it and then that costs a lot of time down the road, like start doing that stuff in the very beginning.
[0:57:52.5] RN: Totally and one good way that I found that works is it could be hard for people to create checklists or step by step processes. One easy way to do it is by literary flipping on a screen recorder just talking through like what you’re actually doing. For me, I am a learner. I am a visual learner like that so it easier for me to see how to do a process like that than it is to go down a checklist and check stuff off with text. So that’s an easy thing to do that you could just flip on the recorder.
It doesn’t change your workflow at all, maybe you are just talking out loud about what you are doing but it shortens the process and it’s easy for people. You are not changing it, it’s not extra work. You’re already doing the work.
[0:58:36.6] SC: Yeah, I love that. That’s how I delegate a lot of stuff that I catch myself doing over and over. I’m like, “Why am I still doing this?”
[0:58:43.5] RN: Totally, who’s had the most profound impact, if you had to point out one person that’s whether it’s been encouragement, who’s had the most profound impact on your life?
[0:58:57.0] SC: Such a challenging question because in my life, it goes the right person is generally around at the right time and so all of these people have built on top of each other. I mean, probably some of the most recent and maybe some of the largest or some of the most profound impacts, Hal Elrod was huge, Miracle Morning. The fact that we became good friends, I hired him as a coach for a couple of years. He had a really big impact on my life and then you know Tony Robins.
I mean you know from back in the day like having Tony Robins tapes and driving around like listening to them, like hard stuff. Just constantly, the amount of knowledge that he took and distilled in a way that I needed to hear it at the time – it just really resonated with me. And then we talked about last night like Date with Destiny was huge event.
[0:59:46.3] RN: It’s a cool story, I mean he sent you guys to Fiji.
[0:59:49.4] SC: Yeah.
[0:59:50.1] RN: Do you mind sharing that?
[0:59:51.1] SC: Yeah, so that was when Katie went to Date with Destiny.
[0:59:55.6] RN: I’ve got to get a picture of this, we’ve got Hank, their French bulldog just looking in the door like so confused like while we are recording this.
[1:00:04.3] SC: He’s so mad that he’s not in here with us. So yeah, Katie went to Date with Destiny, I think it was 2014 and so Tony did – for anybody that doesn’t know, Tony will do an intervention. So in the middle of this room of 2,000 people he’ll have somebody stand up and talk through whatever problem or issue they’re experiencing. She didn’t even raised her hand or anything. She was writing and he just walked over and zoomed in on her.
He was like, “Yeah, why don’t you just go ahead and share,” and so she starts shaking. She’s scared to death. I mean I have been in that room like it is intimidating to stand up in front of 2,000 people that are successful, that want to grow, want to learn and it’s Tony Robins.
[1:00:45.7] RN: Yeah, he’s a little intimidating too, right.
[1:00:48.0] SC: So they are talking through these things and he basically starts to find and tell her that she needs to treat herself a little bit better and be accepting that she deserves things in life. So throughout about an hour of talking about this, at the end this he says, “Okay cool. I am going to do something for you but you have to do it within the next 10 days and you have to say yes or no right now.” So he goes, “I’m going to send you and your boyfriend to Fiji at my resort, all expenses paid.”
And immediately she’s like, “Oh no you can’t do that to me. There are so many people in the room that deserve it. You’ve got to send somebody else. I don’t deserve that.” And he’s like, “I don’t think you understand. This is exactly what we’re talking about. Yes or no?” And then she’s like, “Okay yes of course. I’m in” so seven days later or something after she got back, we went. We changed all of our plans, we went over Christmas and went to Fiji for six days and it was amazing.
And so now as you experience last night, Katie my fiancé now, she won’t do something for herself. She’s like, “I should get a manicure but it is expensive, I don’t have time. I should work like help my staff and stuff.” So my response is, “What would Tony say?” and she’s like, “Oh yeah, I should probably go.”
[1:02:02.9] RN: I should get a manicure. Yeah, that’s amazing. So what’s next on the horizon for you? Obviously you are building Seequs, what’s that vivid vision look like and is there anything outside of Seequs that you are really excited about whether it’s personal, obviously you’re getting married here in three weeks so obviously that one is coming up.
[1:02:18.9] SC: Yeah, wedding in three weeks that’s exciting, uncomfortable, it’s all of those things mixed together, right? So that’s going to be awesome in a couple of weeks here and then as far as Seequs and just the horizon, I’ve really been paying attention from a business standpoint to not working in the business, right? So it’s delegate, duplicate or delete is everything that goes in my list and try to put it into one of those three categories.
I’ve been really focused on empowering my team and my staff to be able to run this thing on my own and they already do a great job. I went sailing for 10 days last summer and turn my phone off when I landed in St. Thomas and then I turn it back on the day we got back from the sailing trip, like nothing. No phone on whatsoever and everything was great. So really empowering them through like figuring out what tools they need, what do they need to learn?
What coaching do they need? So that now that business could run on its own because so many entrepreneurs start and I’ve done this in the past, they start a business and they are business, right? They’re the name, they’re the one that’s doing all the videos, they’re the one that is out there selling, they’re the one that’s writing the book and coaching and well that’s great and it’s an easy way to grow right? Like people resonate with people as oppose to companies.
So it is a faster way to grow but now you’re stuck in it and then when you hit burn out it’s going to be bad. I am really focused on that right now. It’s empowering them and basically trying to make myself unnecessary within the company and that’s a big focus for us right now, while still scaling extremely rapidly. So we’re 50 now, our vivid vision is for 2019 is about 35 people and we’re really good healthy profit margins, really good reoccurring revenue.
A very small number of clients that are people that we want to work with. So now I have created a business that people resonate with a brand and not Stephen. So that’s a huge thing for us and then I don’t know, after that I’ll own a marketing company that does really well and maybe do something else with some other businesses and help them grow for whatever, a person with ownership. I don’t know. I don’t know exactly.
[1:04:36.0] RN: So you did build the Business Revolution Podcast and a week before this we were talking a little bit about it but you’ve actually stopped recording episodes. So do you mind going into why you started that and what kind of made you decide not to continue with it?
[1:04:50.3] SC: So in the beginning of 2015 was last year – it was 2016 so in the beginning of 2016 I started a podcast and it was just kind of I don’t even remember the idea it came from and then I was talking to Hal Elrod and he’s like, “Dude you got to start a podcast, it’s going to be great and all of this.” I did my little journaling thing. I was like, “Alright what do I get out of this if I am going to do it?” because I told myself “I’ll do it I am going to commit to it for a year.”
Because I am really good at being an entrepreneur and doing something for a month and then not wanting to do it anymore. So it’s like alright, I am going to commit two years. So what do I want to get out of it and some of the things I want to get out of it was become a more effective communicator, be able to just add another skill. So as you know interviewing is not easy, you have to be really on top of it to be a good interviewer.
Getting that skill and then the connections, right? It was a really good excuse for me to reach out to people that normally wouldn’t talk to me and then I could get them on a show for an hour. Then just everything that I learned from my guest was amazing. So I got a ton out of it, we had a good following I mean I think we had 13 to 15 thousand downloads a month, which is no Jordan by charm but it was still really cool.
We never pushed it. We never really marketed or anything like that because that wasn’t the goal, right? The goal was not to build a list or anything like that so I didn’t focus on it. Then earlier this year, I started paying attention to how much time we are spending on the podcast and then I started asking the question of, “Is that really the best use of my time? Is that in alignment of what my current goals are.” And so over the course of a couple of weeks of asking those questions the answer was “No.”
I accomplished everything that I wanted to with it, from what I heard, and the feedback I got I was able to help a lot of people but it was no longer in alignment with our goal, so I shut it down.
[1:06:40.8] RN: Still great episodes though, a lot of great guests, still in iTunes so I highly recommend to go and listen to some episodes. Even though there is not going to be any new ones coming out. There’s still a lot of gold in there.
[1:06:50.7] SC: Yeah, thanks man I really appreciate it.
[1:06:52.3] RN: Obviously with being on the Fail On Podcast, we like to push people out of their comfort zones and not just – obviously we have – you’ve created a lot of value here and your story is inspirational because you went from a 100K in debt to creating a beautiful business now that you’re trying to work on rather than in. So for people that listen to this, this is all about consuming great content, but also going out in the real world and actually taking action and doing stuff.
So what we’d like to do is always have the guest provide a challenge that the listeners can go do in the real world to actually get outside of their comfort zone and push their limits a little bit and then report back on. So what would be a challenge that the listeners, as well as myself, could go do to push your comfort zone just a little bit?
[1:07:41.8] SC: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. So I would say again, going back to some of the stuff that we talked about, we know the things that we need to do. We just don’t always want to do them because they are uncomfortable. So the challenge as I try to piece this together real quick, I didn’t come prepared for this one. So okay, if you know what it is that you want to do, if you know that you want to start a business. Maybe you know the industry that you want to start or something like that, what’s the next thing you need to do in order to get educated about that?
So a thought that comes to mind is reach out to somebody else that owns a business like that and that’s going to be really uncomfortable for most people. So once you figure out what it is that you want to do next, my challenge to you would be write down the top three most uncomfortable things that you know you should do in order to start that business or take that next step and then do them. I can’t remember who says it, it’s a woman a really high level coach.
Just an awesome lady but I can’t remember her name. She has something where when she doesn’t know exactly what to do next, she counts down from five. So she goes, five, four, three, two, one, action. So write down the three things that are the most uncomfortable thing that you could do and countdown five, four, three, two, one and just take action on the first one immediately. Then as soon as you take action you’ll realize that it’s not really that big of a deal anyway but yeah write down those three most uncomfortable things that you know you need to do next.
[1:09:07.6] RN: Countdown and do them.
[1:09:08.4] SC: Yeah, countdown and do them and then post it in the group or however people are going to communicate.
[1:09:12.8] RN: Exactly, love it. Alright man, I don’t want to take too much more of your time but obviously thanks for hosting us at your home and thanks for having us last night. It’s been a pleasure and it’s been a lot of fun.
[1:09:21.5] SC: Absolutely man. Rob thanks so much, I really appreciate it.
[1:09:23.7] RN: Cool, next time man.
[1:09:25.0] SC: Cool.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[1:09:28.5] RN: Alright, so you can find Stephen @stephenmchris on Twitter and of course for that spelling along with all the links and resources Stephen and I discussed including more information on his company, that can all be found on the page where we created especially for this episode. That would be at failon.com/032 and next week we have a good one.
We are sitting down with my good buddy, Craig Clemens. Craig is without a doubt one of the best direct response copywriters in the world. He’s copywriting is responsible for over $1 billion in sales, billion with a B and he is currently the co-founder of Gold Hippo Media. He got a start writing copy for Evan Pagans offer, Double your Dating, which he helped grow to over $20 million per year and since then, he’s co-founded three different eight figured businesses in just the last five years.
And all in diverse industries as well, nutrition cosmetics and dating advice. In this episode, Craig shares the highs and lows of breaking into the digital advertising space, where he found his mentorship and his direction and much, much more. You don’t want to miss it and if the podcast is providing value to your life, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and simply let me know what your biggest take away from this episode is and if you want to share what your biggest struggle is, getting started with your business or growing your business, I would love to hear that as well.
And as I continue to build Fail On with the goal of helping employees become entrepreneurs to create absolute freedom, I’d be really grateful for just a couple of things that are so small but matter so much to me. Subscribing to the podcast takes a single click and helps the show get found by more people and when more people can find the show it means it can help more people. Which means in return by simply subscribing and rating and reviewing you are helping more people by just doing that.
So to subscribe and rate and review the podcast, it’s really easy, just visit failon.com/itunes or failon.com/stitcher.
[1:11:16.4] ANNOUNCER: That’s all for this episode of The Fail On Podcast. For more resources, show notes and action items to help you find success in your failures, sign up for our mailing list at failon.com.
For more actionable inspiration, we’ll catch you next time right here on The Fail On Podcast.