We don’t reach the successes we currently have without going through struggles. In fact, we move one step higher to the next by the stacks of challenges we encounter on the way. Host, Ken Courtright continues the second of his four-part series on Purpose, Dreams, Struggles and the Why. He highlights the phases every company goes through and the mandatory struggles that come with growing it. Stack verticals in this episode.
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This is part two of a four-part series on what I’m going to call Purpose, Dreams, Struggles and the Why. It’s all motivational type of stuff. We were done with our Digital Footprint in Philadelphia. I was swayed by my wife’s talk that I took out a few of the upcoming podcasts. We can do those later. They were tactical and critical that I put it into this show series. We’re on podcast number 42. I’ve been forgetting about how important having a dream and purpose is and what role it plays in a business. I’ve got some of the most incredible stories to share on this show. It’s awesome. I want to jump right in.
This show, I’m going to call it Stacking Verticals because I’ve sat on a couple of other shows that you have lived your life and run your business in one of three phases. You are either in a storm where the world looks like it’s falling apart and everything’s against you or you came out of a storm. Your light on your feet. Everything looks and feels good or you’re going into a storm and you know it. When I was about 29 and seven years in business, I realized I almost had a midlife crisis at 29 years old. I don’t know how many employees we had. We had a few different businesses cooking at the time and 2,200 roughly clients when we hit the year 2000.
I had a mid-life, mid-business owner crisis because things were not so rosy. We had a nineteen-month period of time where we almost lost everything. Our average bank account balance in every business was under about $3,000. We had a miscarriage. We had a sales rep who had a heart attack and died in my arms. We had a rough patch. It was after all that had passed. I was out of the storm starting to think clearly. I realized that I wasn’t a 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 going into the office or anything, I looked at my walls and I had a bunch of cork boards up. It was all the charts and graphs for next week. I ripped them all down. In the middle of my office wall, I wrote and placed a representation of some of the struggles I had in high school in athletics. Underneath that, I put a couple of pictures of some of the records I broke in high school. At the top I wrote, “HS” Underneath HS, I put struggles. They were pictures representing my struggles. Underneath that, I put numeric goals and records that I had and set.
I put a goal of 11.40. I broke that record. I don’t know how many yards in a season, but I still have the record years later. 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. I went to college. I made another vertical. The high school was one vertical and I put some of the struggles I had in college. Paying for college, doing this, doing that, and some struggle with athletics. I did achieve some records in college so I put the records in some of the pictures with my hall of fame coach and stuff underneath it.Struggles in business are mandatory. Click To Tweet
In my early years in business, to say I had struggles would be an understatement. We went about five years trying to meet payroll every month. It was this rat in a gerbil cage trying to make ends meet. We were growing weed, but I could never keep any money in the bank. We broke through in 1997 or 1998. We finally got things settled, built in what’s called a trailer of expenses, which is a profit line that no matter what goes up and down you still maintain a profit. It started to become what I call a big boy company after about 7 or 9 years. 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, a national sign company, 400 signs put up in Alaska by 1999. We had done some stuff.
I put that up because I had come out of a monumental storm. We almost lost everything, Blockbuster, Family Video, and Hollywood video. They all came in within a few months and annihilated our video store chain. We barely survive that and we barely survived the lack of revenue for our other company. It was terrible. I remember making the verticals and I remember the next 5 to 10 years, how many times when I got into a jam, I would go, “What am I going to do next?” “Who am I going to call?” “How are we going to possibly get out of this?” I would remember, “Wait a minute.” I got out of my desk, walked around the corner a little bit and I would stare at my verticals. Struggles at the top. It was one phase of my life. When I was a teenager, I got through it and I set records.
Another phase of my life has traumatic struggles in college. No question. From self-image issues to this to that, it was terrible. I set some records, did some amazing things in college, went into business, shot out of a cannon, had tremendous challenges for 5 to 7 years and got through them. I did some decent things in business in the late ‘90s. I would stare at a fourteen-year memory of ups and downs but the downs, meaning the bottom of the verticals were always on a high. Meaning, the struggles were at the top. Those were the ups of the charts and at the bottom showed every time I’ve had challenges. Even if they lasted a couple of years, I would find a way to work through it and succeed. I set myself up for another challenge.
We started in 1992 and lo and behold from 2000 to 2010, in those ten years I had another period of a few ups and downs emotionally, mentally, business-wise, employee-wise, staff-wise, opening offices, closing offices, hiring the right people, letting the right people go. We have had a nice roller coaster here, always maintaining growth in revenues the whole way through. What I began doing and I’ve got years under my belt of 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? At the bottom, I don’t show necessarily how we broke through, but I show the results of what happened because I maintained being headstrong of that written and personal goal. I didn’t stop until we hit it. We’d hit it and try something else and have another challenge because we grew again.
It’s perfect and I have my verticals. Brian Smith was that our event. This guy’s amazing. He was at the event and Brian, who’s the Founder of UGG Boots was talking about the unbelievable struggles that they went through. Talk about up and down. It was a struggle to the point he had to build a company and a personal mantra to get through. Here’s what it is, he has a card now that every time he speaks, he did Yale University or this or that, 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 in the way I look at verticals. I want to give you his four-part mantra that is posted in his office wall, that he leaves behind with every person in every audience he speaks at worldwide and I want to tell you what happened in real-time at our event.
Here is Brian Smith’s, Founder of UGG Boots, mantra card, “Feast upon uncertainty. Fatten on disappointment. Enthuse over apparent defeat. Invigorate in the presence of difficulties.” I want you to understand this is coming from a gentleman that founded a $1 billion company. In the process of getting it to grow and grow to the point of being able to sell it off to a large, publicly-traded company, he was having tremendous challenges. Brian Smith spoke from 5:00 to 6:00 PM in Philadelphia. There was someone in the audience, a woman who was consulting a good size company. This good size company was having tremendous difficulties to the point where this woman didn’t know that, but they made a decision at 12:00 noon Friday that they were closing the doors because they couldn’t meet payroll.
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 call is around 7:00. She calls them early. She calls them at 6:15 and says, “Get everybody on the call. I’ve got something you need to hear.” She does not yet know that they were about to close their business. The three main partners get on the call. This gal takes over the conference call. She says, “Listen to this, guys. Everybody get out a piece of paper and write this down.” She explains this comes from Brian Smith, the founder of UGG Boots.
Brian explained that every company goes through phases. You’ve got to be a toddler, you become a tadpole and you become a child, this and that. It was awesome. She goes, “I know you guys are struggling. I know we’re talking on a regular basis.” They have not told her. They made the decision to close the business. She’s enthusiastic, they can’t speak. She’s like, “Everybody, write this down. Feast upon uncertainty. Fatten on disappointment. Enthuse over apparent defeat. Invigorate in the presence of difficulties.” They write it down and she goes, “I need all three of you to say these out loud.” They did. They say them out loud. They say them again. The enthusiasm catches.
The next day, Saturday, She tells this whole story to Brian Smith on a Sunday night. She sits through the conference Saturday, not realizing that those three partners were so moved by that phone call that they got on the phone and called all of their investors and had I believe an A and B round of funding. They called everybody that put in any money in round A or B, what they had learned, decided to do Friday, why they changed their mind and why they are now resolute to take this company to the top. On Saturday afternoon, they raised $1 million of new funding and kept the doors open. The company is alive and well and growing again. They’re back in business and not one employee knew that they almost closed shop.
Here’s the point of this show, struggles in business are mandatory. A baby does not stand up and walk. They have to fall and fall. The falling is how they learn to walk. Brian Smith explains in great detail that your business, little baby, one-person shop, ten-person shop, and the 100-person shop is always at every phase a baby. It’s always trying to walk bigger and 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 and it’s always painful doing it because you’re always falling. You have to fall forward. To every person reading, I want you to understand the point 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 rub-a-dub their way to $1 billion, “Everything was easy. Let’s go.” It doesn’t work like that. Number one, get your dream out and don’t be SNIOP’D. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you better go back to the podcast before. Get your dream out. Do not be SNIOP’D. This podcast is dedicated to the struggles. They’re not optional. They’re going to happen. Embrace it. Get some armor on and put the battle suit on. I have a Feagin’s armor on for those of you that know what that means, sometimes you need a little bit more than that. Get some armor on and let’s go to battle. See you guys on the trail. Bye.