Purpose | Dreams | Struggles
Hey guys. Ken Courtright from Today’s Growth Growing Business Today. This is part 2 of the 4 part series on what I am going to call Purpose Dreams Struggles, the Why. All motivational type of stuff. Just got done with our digital footprint Philadelphia and I was very swayed by my wife’s talk that I took out a few of the upcoming podcasts. We can do those later. They were very tactical and it is critical that I put into this podcast series we are on podcast 41 or 42. I have just been forgetting about how important having a dream is, a purpose. What role it plays in a business. I have got just some of the most incredible stories to share on this podcast. So I am going to jump right in.
This podcast, I think I’m gonna call it Stacking Verticals because I’ve said on a couple other podcasts, you live your life and you run your business in one of three phases: you are either in the storm where the world looks like its falling apart and everything is against you or you just came out of the storm and you are light on your feet and everything looks good, feels good or you are right now going into a storm and YOU KNOW IT. So you are either in the storm, you just came out of the storm, or you are about to go into a storm and you know it.
So, I when I was about 29, 7 years in business, I had realized that I had almost a mid-life crisis at 29 years old. We had I don’t know, how many employees. WE had a few other businesses cooking at the time. And 2200 roughly clients when we hit the year 2000. And I definitely had a midlife, mid business owner crisis. Because things were just not so rosy. We had a 19 month period of time where we almost lost everything. Our average bank account balance in every business was about under $3000. We had a miscarriage. I think you guys heard on our previous podcast, we had a sales rep have a heart attact and died in my arms. We had a really rough patch. And it was after all of that had passed, I was out of the storm, starting to think clear. And I realized that I wasn’t a very motivational type of person. I was a work gets me out of anything type of person. I remember thinking and it was a weekend, I know I wasn’t really going into the office or anything. I looked at my walls. I had a bunch of cork boards up. It was all like charts and graphs and next week. I ripped them all down and I right in the middle of my office wall, I put a representation of some of the struggles I had in high school and in athletics and then underneath that, I put a couple of pictures of some of the records I broke in high school.
How Did You Overcome Your Struggles?
At the top I put High School. I wrote HS and then underneath HS I put Struggles with pictures representing my struggles. Then underneath that, I put numeric goals I had and set. I put a goal of 11:40 I broke that record I had. I don’t know how many yards that season. I apparently still have that record twenty five years later. So I had a bunch of the records that I left high school with. I was the fifth most wins in school’s history in wrestling. And then I went to college and made another vertical. So the high school was one vertical. And I put some of the struggles I had in college. Paying for college, doing this doing that, some struggles with athletics. Then again, I did achieve some records in college. So I put some of the records in the pictures with my hall of fame coach and stuff underneath it.
And then in my early years in business, to say I had struggles, would be an understatement. We went about 5 years trying to meet payroll every month, every month. It was just this rat in a gerbil cage trying to just make ends meet. We were growing like weeds but I could never keep any money in the bank. But we broke through like 1997-98. We finally got things settled. Built in whats called trailer expenses which is a profit line that no matter what goes up and down, you still maintain a profit. We started to become what I call a big boy company. After about 7 or 9 years. So I put some of the business struggles represented by some photographs. And underneath it, I put some of our business accomplishments. We had a chain of video stores. We had a national sign company. We had 400 signs put up in Alaska by 1999. So, we had done some stuff. So I put that up because I had just come out of a monumental storm. I mean we almost lost everything. Blockbuster, Family Video, Hollywood Video, they all came in within a few month period of time and just literally inihaliated our video store chain. So we barely survived that. We barely survived the lack of revenue for our other company. It was terrible. It was absolutely terrible.
I remember making the verticals. I remember the next 5 to 10 years. How many times when I got into a jam, I would literally go what am I gonna do next? Who am I gonna call? How am I gonna possibly get out of this? And then I would remember, wait a minute, I got out of my desk. I walked around the corner a little bit and I would literally stare at my verticals struggles at the top. One phase of my life as a teenager and I got through it and I set records.
Another phase of my life traumatic struggles in college, no question. From self-image issues to this and that I mean it was terrible, terrible. And then again, set some records, did some amazing things in college. I went into business, shot out of a cannon. I had tremendous challenges for 5 to 7 years. Then got through them. I did some decent things in business in the late 90’s. So I would stare at a fourteen year memory of ups and downs, ups and downs, ups and downs, but the downs meaning the bottom of the verticals, were always on the high, meaning the struggles were at the top. Those were the ups of the charts. And at the bottom, showed every time I have had challenges.
Even if they last a couple years, I would find a way to work through it and succeed and of course, I would set myself up for another challenge. Low and behold, from 2000, so we started in 1992. From 2000-2010, in those 10 years, I had another period of a few ups and downs. Both emotionally, mentally, business wise, employee wise, staff wise. You know opening offices, closing offices. Hiring the right people, letting the right people go. We have had a rollercoaster here. Always maintaining growth and revenues the whole way through.
So, what I began doing and I have got now 25 years under my belt of about 12 to 13 verticals where I have the challenges at the top. What were the struggles? What was I dealing with? What did we have in front of us? And then at the bottom, I don’t show necessarily how were broke through, but I show the results of what happened because I maintained my head strongness of that written goal and that personal goal. And I just didn’t stop until we hit it. Then we hit it. Then I would try something else, have another challenge cuz we grew again.
But the point is this, I want to add to this. This is just so perfect. I have my verticals and Brian Smith was at our event. This guy is amazing. He was at the event. Brian, who is the founder of UGG boots. He was talking about the unbelievable struggles that UGG boots went through. I mean talk about up and down, up and down, up and down. It was a struggle to the point he had to build a company and a personal mantra to get through. Here is what it is:
He has a card now that every time he speaks, whether he I think he just did Yale University, or this or that, wherever he speaks, he wants to make sure he leaves behind a card. A four part mantra. That to a degree, is a little bit of his verticals the way I look at verticals. But I want to give you his 4 part mantra that is posted in his office wall. That it leaves behind with every person, every audience he speaks at worldwide. Then I want to tell you what happened in real time at our event this past weekend. So here is Brian Smith, founder of UGG boots mantra card.
“Feast upon uncertainty. Fatten on disappointment. Enthuse over apparent defeat. Invigorate in the presence of difficulties.”
So before I repeat the card. I want you to understand that this is coming from a gentleman who founded a billion dollar company and in the process of giving it to grow and grow and grow. And to the point of being able to sell it off to a very large publically traded company. He was having tremendous challenges, but guess what guys, wait to hear the next podcast and the next podcast after that when I lay out some of the most famous challenges in business in the United States. But listen to this again.
Feast upon uncertainty. Fatten on disappointment. Enthuse over apparent defeat. Invigorate in the presence of difficulties. Now listen to this guys. Brian Smith spoke from 5 to 6 pm on Friday night. This past weekend in Philadelphia. There was someone in the audience, a woman. Who was consulting a very good size company. This very good sized company was having tremendous difficulties at this point last week to the point where this woman did know that but they made the decision by noon Friday that they were closing the doors because again, once again, they could not meet payroll. And so this woman, who had a consulting call Friday night with this company at 7:00 pm. She gets out of Brian Smith’s talk, she has his card in her hand and the calls around 7:00pm. She calls them early. She calls them at 6:15 and says get everyone on the call. I’ve got something you want to hear. She does not know that they were about to close their business. The 3 main partners get on the call. She takes over the conference call and says, listen to this guys, everybody get out a piece of paper right now and write this down. She explains that this comes from Brian Smith, the founder of UGG boots. And that every company goes through phases. You have got to become a toddler, then you become a tadpole, then you become a child, and this and that. It was awesome.
So anyway, she goes, guys, guys, guys, I know you guys are struggling, I know we are talking on a regular basis. Now again, they have not told her they made the decision to close the business. Because she is so enthusiastic, they can’t speak. So she said everybody write this down. Feast upon uncertainty. They write it down. Fatten on disappointment. They write it down. Enthuse over apparent defeat. They write it down. Invigorate in the presence of difficulties. They write it down. She goes now. I need all three of you know to say these out loud. And they do. They say them out loud and then they say them again, and again. The enthusiasm catches. Now listen to this. You can’t make this up.
The next day Saturday, this gal sits through the conference and she tells this whole story to Brian Smith Sunday night. She sits through the conference Saturday, not realizing that those 3 partners were so moved by that phone call that they got on the phone. They called all of their investors. And they an A and B round of funding. They called everybody that put in any money in or around A or B, what they just had learned, what they had decided to do Friday and why they changed their mind and why they are now resolute to take this company to the top. Listen to this guys. On Saturday afternoon, they raised 1 million dollars of new funding and kept the doors open. Now the company is alive and well and growing again. They are back in business and not one employee knew they almost closed shop.
So here is the point of the podcast. Struggles in business are mandatory. A baby does not just stand up and walk. They have to fall and fall and fall and fall and fall. And the falling is how they learn to walk. Brian Smith explains in great detail. Your business, your personal business, your little baby one person shop, your ten person shop, your hundred person shop, it’s always at every phase a baby. It’s always trying to walk bigger, faster. It’s always trying to go from a walk to a jog. It’s always trying to go from a jog to a sprint. It’s always painful doing it because you are always falling. You just simply have to fall forward. But every person listening to this podcast, I want you to understand Brian Smith was trying to make. Every business lives in constant struggle. It is part of the process of business. There is no business known that just rub a dubbed their way to a billion dollars…everything was easy lets go. It doesn’t work like that. So, number 1 as my podcast from 2 days ago. Get your dream out. Don’t be SNIOPed. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you better go back to the podcast from before. Get your dream out. Do not be SNIOPed. This podcast is dedicated to the struggles. They are not optional. Just embrace it and just get some stinkin armor on and get the battle suit on. I have armor on but sometimes you need a little bit more than that. But get some stinkin armor on and let’s go to battle.
I am Ken Courtright from Today’s Growth Growing Business today. See you guys on the trail. Bye.