Knowing Your Strength As An Executive Leader with Will Pemble and Tapping Into Your Entrepreneurial DNA with Rick Steele

Being an executive leader takes a lot of knowing who you are, your people, and the situation. American entrepreneur, author, and executive coach, Will Pemble, takes us into his executive leadership system/workshop/event and book called Goal Boss. He talks about the importance of knowing your strengths while sharing his ideal participants. He also shares tips on how to do a meeting as well as the things you need to prepare for it in order to make it more fruitful.

 

Rick Steele taps into his entrepreneurial DNA and talks about providing a product that saves children’s lives. He went from doing mortgages to the blinds business. As the founder of Selectblinds, LLC, an online e-tailer of independently branded window fashions, he saw the threats of corded custom window covering products to children and became the first retailer to stop selling those. He also touches the topic of failure and how there is value in learning not to fear that and to face adversities in order to grow and innovate.

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We have Will Pemble and Rick Steele here. Will is the CEO and Leader Coach of Goal Boss and the author of Goal Boss. Rick is a serial entrepreneur, Founder and CMO of SelectBlinds. They’re both fascinating leaders in the C-Suite and we’re going to talk to them about what makes them so successful.

Listen to the podcast here:

Knowing Your Strength As An Executive Leader with Will Pemble

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Goal Boss: The Art & Science of Getting Stuff Done

I am here with Will Pemble who is an American entrepreneur, author and executive coach. He has appeared in multiple TV shows including Netflix Amazing Interiors, ABC’s Good Morning America, Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, AOL’s Generation Inspiration and many others. Will built and sold Web.com, one of the largest web hosts on Earth. He has been building and growing businesses of all shapes and sizes for more than 25 years. He created the Goal Boss Leadership System and is the author of Goal Boss: The Art & Science of Getting Stuff Done. It’s so nice to have you here.

Thank you, Diane. I’m glad to be here.

Some of the stuff that you’re working on are very interesting. I want to go back a little bit to how you built and sold Web.com. Give me a little background. What led you to that area?

I’m one of the most accidental success stories you’ll ever hear or maybe a lot of them are, I’m not entirely sure. My entire adult life has been one exercise of trying to avoid adult responsibility after another, that’s how Web.com came to be. When I finished college, I studied aeronautics and aviation. I wanted to fly airplanes because I didn’t want to go to school. After that, I realized I didn’t want to fly airplanes as my job. I got interested in computers because it seemed like a way to stay under the radar. This was back in what my kids call the 1900s. My buddies and I were curious about how to make computers do different things and this was before the industry was interested in computers. Particularly, networking communications and the internet didn’t exist outside of the Department of Defense at the time.

We were doing things that were interesting and fun to us, then commerce came along and said, “You guys in the shorts and t-shirts, get over here and do work.” That’s how Web.com was born. It was born because we were doing things that we love to do and it just happened to be that those things became commercially viable and important to the Wall Street folks. It was a complete fluke that I’m doing anything but like working at a coffee shop and then playing with computers and interesting things on the side. It just worked out that way.

It’s interesting because you said you were curious about how to get computers to do different things and I just wrote a book about curiosity. A lot of people have had their curiosity inhibited or affected by one thing or another. It’s fascinating to me to see how some people keep their childlike curiosity and other people don’t. I found that there were four things that impacted some of it. Fear, environment, technology, assumptions and a lot of different things like that can impact it. Did your family just allow you to go in any direction that you wanted? Did the teachers nurture that in you? I’m curious about what led to your curiosity.

We should start with the fact that I’ve got high school-aged children, they’re getting into college and so I can see the finish line from here. I’ve constructed an entire fiction that I tell my children about my school days. I’ll tell you really what it was. I was a terrible student. I’ve got C’s when things were going well. I’ve got a couple of A’s and in different things, but I was not a particularly good student. I’ve always been curious and I’ve always been energetic. I’ve always liked to take things apart, put them back together. Why is my favorite question. I was a middle child, so I was unsupervised a lot of the time because as a middle child of four kids, you get to do what you want.

I was always taking things apart and sometimes putting them back together. I was always building things, always wanting to know why, and I was not particularly interested in whether someone else approved of what I was up to at the moment. I’ve always been curious. I’ve always loved to do things with my hands and because of who I am, I’ve never been particularly interested in what I should be doing according to the views of the people around me. I’ve got my own drummer.

The most innovative companies employ people who do not accept the status quo. Click To Tweet

I can relate to that. I was one of those why kids that asked that about everything. I’m also a big fan of the Nike’s Just Do It mentality. I was fascinated by the title of your book because basically, you’re saying, “Getting stuff done is just do it.”

Getting stuff done is a whole lot about just do it. Also getting stuff done is a whole lot about knowing how to know when it’s done. It’s setting a goal. The name of our company is Goal Boss. Every conversation I have in business or in life starts with, “What’s the goal?” That’s where we start all the time. If you know what the goal is when you start something, you know when you got there. You know if you’re moving to it or away from it as you’re working to achieve whatever the thing is that you’re shooting for. An alarming number of people, in my view, don’t start conversations with those questions, “What’s the goal? What am I here to do? What do I want to get done?”

It’s bringing back a lot of conference call memories that aren’t necessarily that great. They’ll call to set up for the next call to what you’re going to talk about the next time and you never actually talked about this time. How much is that going on?

I can’t tell you how many grown-up meetings I’ve been thrown out of for by raising my hands, “Question, why are we here? What’s the purpose of this conversation? What do we want to get done?” I write about this a lot in the book and I talk about it as much as I can. I tell people, “Meetings are like pizza and I don’t need pizza.” If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Meetings usually happen with folks that we work with. We tend to work with people we like. We tend to work at things we like to do. If you find yourself in a meeting with people you like to talk about things you like to do and you’re not enjoying it, then you’re doing the meeting wrong. It’s just that simple.

My joke about leadership is it’s not like pizza if you’re doing it right. Chances are you’re not having a lot of fun because leadership is hard to do. Meetings are fun, engaging and great conversations with goals with people I admire and want to be like and be with. At the end of the meeting, we’ve achieved things, we’ve accomplished things, and we know what’s next. What’s next shouldn’t just be the next meeting. Too many times people worry about making a meeting sound good and feel good. I’ll say things that sound good at a meeting instead of solving problems, addressing issues, reviewing performance, and setting action steps for you in the next 30 days.

Meetings start off by reading the minutes from the last meeting, which is what they’re going to talk about, but they never talk about what we’re going to talk about the next time. How do you do a meeting right?

I believe that you need two things for a meeting to be a meeting in the first place. What’s the first thing you need for a meeting to be a meeting? An agenda. We’ve all gotten that email from the new boss or the newly inspired boss says, “No more meetings without agendas.” That lasted about a month. You need an agenda for a meeting. The other thing that you need for a meeting is ground rules. Just like if you go to a swimming pool at a hotel, there is no lifeguard on duty, you’re not allowed to have glass containers in there, the pool closes at ten. There are rules in the pool, on a subway, and in a basketball stadium. Any purpose-built environments that you go to, there are going to be ground rules there. They’re designed for two things. They keep people safe, imagine basketball with all the same goals but no rules. People would die every game, so that won’t work.

We need ground rules in purpose-built environments where important things happen. We need ground rules to keep people safe and to prevent bad decisions from being made. We also need ground rules to make sure that people get what they come for. If I go to the swimming pool, I don’t want to walk over broken glass because that’s not what I’m there for. I want to go for a swim. Ground rules exist for those two reasons, safety and get what you came for. A conference room is a purpose-built environment. Important things can happen in a conference room. Lives can be ruined in a conference room. We set up basic ground rules about communication. I’m allowed to push back candid timely feedback, ask questions and different kinds of ground rules.

If we have those two things, an agenda and ground rules, we have set the stage for a productive interaction. Goal Boss meetings have particular ground rules where we’ll talk about successes and what’s gone well in the last 30 days. Number one are concerns. What’s keeping you up at night? Number two is kudos. Who, in the organization, has done something amazing that we should recognize them for? Let’s stop for a minute, think of those people, and then we’ll have a system for reaching out after the meeting and saying, “I was in an important meeting with a bunch of important people and your name came up and I want to thank you for this behavior.” Number three are key metrics. What are the goals of the organization? How are we doing moving towards those? What are my goals? How did I do in the last 30 days? What are my goals for the next 30 days?

Number four is problem-solving. We’ve built this super tight, quick problem-solving methodology that allows me to bring a problem to my peers and get their input and feedback in a very concise, tight way. We also do team problem-solving. The way we do it at the Goal Boss ensures that if I bring you my problem, when I leave your office, I take my problem with me. It gives you the freedom to help me with a problem knowing that it’s not going to get splashed all over you. That’s one of the reasons that people don’t like to help solve problems.

I had Tripp Crosby on my show a long time ago, the guy who did A Conference Call in Real Life. I don’t know if you ever saw that. It’s so true that we see so many issues with some of this stuff. I love that you’re a behavioral expert because that’s what I’m interested in. You’re a certified professional behavioral analyst.

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The thing that changed it all for me, aside from a bunch of luck, was DISC. The DISC assessments built by William Marston. When I first had my first DISC assessment, I sat down and talk with somebody and what that did for me was it explained to me why I was so good at some things and so terrible at other things, why I love to do certain things and I hated to do others even though I knew those other things were things I should do. Let’s say accounting as an example. Knowing the behavioral style that I have, and that’s what a certified professional behavioral analyst is, knowing that about me allows me to focus on my strengths and do the things that I’m behaviorally suited to do. The saying is, “Find somebody who would do the job for free and then pay them well to do it.” It never works out the other way. You can pay somebody all the money in the world to do something they hate or they’re not suited to. You can pay me all the money in the world to do accounting. I’ll show up for work every day for almost four days and then I have to quit that job because I hate accounting. I’m just not suited to it. It doesn’t fit with how I’m built, but Liz loves accounting. She’d do it for free. I don’t get it.

Thank goodness there are people that do the things we don’t want to do.

You have to find out first what your strengths are in those areas, what your behavioral style is, and then see how that maps to whatever business or undertaking you’ve got. Then fill the gaps with other people whose behavioral style matches what you need to get done. That’s the only way a high performing team gets built and it’s the only way a business will succeed.

I have had Tony Alessandra on my show and I think that’s how I met you originally through seeing you on his work. I use the DISC on my site from the different assessments that he does. In one of my books, I wrote a chapter about DISC and DISC is an important type of personality assessment for people. There are so many things that people can learn from some of these assessments just to get an idea of what their strengths are, everything from strengths finders, DISC, even Myers-Briggs, but some of these assessments can give people an idea of not only what their strengths are, but what other people’s strengths are. If you only know yourself and you don’t know what other people have, you’re halfway there. It’s interesting that you do these Goal Boss Breakthrough Events. I know I saw you at one of Tony’s events. What are your breakthrough events? Who is it meant for? Who should attend? Can you give me some background on that?

If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Click To Tweet

We built a Goal Boss Executive Leadership Workshop. It’s really expensive. It lasts for 50 something hours. We lock everybody in a room for three days. It’s a long high-end executive level deal. Everybody’s tired at the end. You learn a whole lot of stuff and we get a whole lot done. Generally speaking, from opportunity costs, tuition, hotels, airplane rides and all of that, it costs about $10,000 or $12,000 to put somebody through a Goal Boss three-day leadership workshop. That swells and we’re grateful for the business, but what about all the other people in the organization? What we did was we built Goal Boss Breakthrough, which is a one-day event and it’s designed for anybody in an organization, from the person who just started their job or got out of college and doesn’t have a job all the way up through the CEO of a $500-million company.

We talk about, “What’s the goal of the most important question? What’s the second most important question?” You need to get those answered. We go through a five-minute university of the Goal Boss Leadership System and we focus. Most of the day, it’s a highly interactive thing. No matter how many people in the room, if there are 250 people, 500 people in the room, it’s a highly interactive event and everybody works really hard. By the end of the day, everybody in the room knows what their behavioral style is. Everybody gets a DISC assessment. We break out into teams and go through it. People learn to understand what their disc style is and how that impacts the things that they do and the way that they communicate to and from other people. They set two short-term personal goals, one long-term personal goal, and two short-term business goals, one long-term business goal.

Throughout the day, they connect with other people in the room so that they are part of a mastermind team and they have accountability. For example, I love Tony Robbins events. I think there’s so much fun. I also love ice cream and movies. They feel good, they really do. They fire off incredible amounts of dopamine and that is the key to anything that’s entertaining. You go to a Tony Robbins event. It’s going to feel great. You’re going to be fired up. You’re going to have fun. You’re going to be open and have new ideas and it’s going to last as long as the shower. That’s as long as it lasts.

I cannot wrap my head around that if the idea is to get something done, then I need some system that’s going to last longer than a shower. By the time you need another shower, it’s gone. We tee up Goal Boss Breakthrough so that you don’t have to spend a boatload of money on coaching or other products or join this or do that, but we tee it up so that everybody in the room is part of a tribe at the end of the day. They’re accountable to one another 30 days from now. That’s what Goal Boss Breakthrough is. We built this thing because, “If I don’t have a system, if I don’t have accountability, if I don’t have a tribe, I’m not going to be able to change the most important things, the things that matter.”

Ground rules are important in purpose-built environments because they keep people safe and prevent bad decisions. Click To Tweet

I know that you do these amazing events and that’s really fascinating. I looked you up to see some of this background for your events and instead of finding events, I’m finding you are sodas to test out things and roller coasters. Can you explain that, Will? I would like a little background.

Once upon a time, my son, Lyle, was about ten years old. We had just gotten back from a vacation. My son loves roller coasters, amusement parks and the kind of things kids love. He asked me a single question that changed everything. Lyle said, “Dad, wouldn’t it be cool if we had a rollercoaster in our backyard?” 999,999 out of a million dads said, “That would be really great, son, but of course practicality.” That would’ve been the answer to the thing.

It took me five seconds to say to Lyle, “That’s a great idea.” We were in the car and off to the hardware store in minutes to go see about how we could build a roller coaster in the backyard. One thing led to another, I built five roller coasters. My roller coasters have been on Netflix and Good Morning America and there was a TV crew here just the other day. I’m actually building a roller coaster for a movie studio for a movie that’s going to come out.

I bet your wife is thrilled.

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Entrepreneurial DNA: You won’t be able to change the most important things if you don’t have a system, accountability, and tribe.

 

She is a very good sport and my favorite person in the world. She’s the first one I look for in a crowded room. Liz is awesome and amazing and she sees the fun that it brings not just for my kids but for all kids, neighborhood kids, grownups. It’s so nice to see a grownup walk into our backyard and just for a couple of seconds, all of that grownup-ness just falls away and they look at the coaster like, “Oh my God.” They’re ten again for a couple seconds.

I saw some of the videos. You do not just do roller coasters though. You’re proving the Mentos and coke thing.

The rule in my house is that you’re not allowed to set anything on fire unless I’m home. I describe our house as not dangerous but hazardous. The difference between those two things is in a hazardous environment, you can survive long and prosper as long as you know how to move through that environment. You can live forever as a pilot, all you have to do is just not walk in front of a propeller. It’s easy to not walk into a propeller. You just have to know that that’s one of the things you do on an airplane. The roller coaster experiment adventure for me has been a wonderful metaphor for the first rule of improv. I’ve never taken an improv class, but I only know the first rule of improv, which is, “You always say yes.”

The idea is to get something done with a system that’s going to last longer than a shower. Click To Tweet

In an Improv class, if you were to come to me and say, “Will, how long have you been pregnant?” I couldn’t say, “I’m a dude. I’m not pregnant.” That’s not allowed. What I would have to say is, “Twenty-seven months, it’s really awful.” Then we would go from there. That also works with Google Ideation when they have ideation meetings, which is a fancy word for talking and where you’re not allowed to slam somebody’s ideas. Like, “No, that’s stupid. That won’t work.” You’re not allowed to do that on a high-performing team. What you’re allowed to do is you’re allowed to say yes and then you bring something new. What I’ve discovered is that if I say yes to an idea, even a kooky idea from a ten-year-old kid who just wants a rollercoaster in his yard, if I say yes to that, amazing things happen. All sorts of possibilities open up.

I did an improv class and I remember something I said to the guy on the stage was, “I’d like to meet your uncle, can I do that?” He said, “Yes. As soon as I dig him up.” He went on. It was great. This was so much fun. A lot of people want to know more about what you do. I’m sure you’ve piqued their interest with all of this. Can you share your website and how they can find your book and all that?

You can find the Goal Boss book at Amazon. If you type Will Pemble into a browser, you’ll probably find my roller coaster silliness. I own the space when it comes to backyard silliness. If you want to talk about business, if you want to talk about the Goal Boss Leadership System, those things that have made this life possible for me, GoalBoss.com is the go-to website.

Thank you so much, Will. This was great. I really appreciate having you on the show. This is fun.

Thanks, Diane.

Tapping Into Your Entrepreneurial DNA with Rick Steele

I am here with Rick Steele, who is an American entrepreneur and Founder and CMO of SelectBlinds, which is an online retailer of independently branded window fashions. In 2016, Steel’s company, SelectBlinds became the first retail shop to sell corded custom window covering products leading to industry efforts to change manufacturer safety standards and prevent deaths and injuries from children becoming entangled in the window covering cord. That’s an interesting invention that you were able to get in addition to doing a great product. This is very fascinating to me. Rick, welcome to being on the show.

I’m glad we could find some time to connect. Thanks, Diane.

What led to your interest in helping? I’m hoping that you don’t have a personal sad story, but it was a good invention out of what you saw needed to be created.

There’s no personal story. The industry that we’re engaged in every day is window coverings. It’s an $8 billion industry. There are the sad stats. You may have seen on the news from time to time, but a kid will get entangled in a blind cord and die. It has happened historically over the last twenty or so years at the rate of fifteen children a year. A couple of years ago, we set out after all of these deaths that you see in the news of kids. It’s usually a two-year-old to a five-year-old who gets tangled in a window covering and then they’re gone. It was like these horrible tragedies that we heard of.

At that time, we’d started to become a pretty decent industry player and have almost a few million customers. We said, “We’ve got to do something about this.” Thank God, nothing’s ever happened on our watch with our blinds, but it’s time for us to take this $8 billion industry, flip it upside down, and see what we can do to get some legislation change. I went to Harvard and my partner went to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. We basically set out as a goal to have industry impacts and laws that require manufacturers of blinds to produce shorter cords, no cords at all, it just had to be no way that a kid could get hung up in a blind cord.

That’s amazing that you were able to do that. Anytime that you can add safety to a product and save a kid’s life, obviously that’s the end goal. Was this your passion in your whole life to create window fashions? I saw that you were into trading cards and different things. What led to you becoming interested in blinds?

Nobody goes in blinds because they say, “This is my passion. I love blinds so much.” As you may hear from a lot of entrepreneurs, it’s a very evolutionary story that starts with baseball cards and transfers, the Beanie Babies and then one day you wake up and that’s a translated into this blinds business that has a lot of customers and employs a lot of people. We just have fun with what we’re doing. It was a very entrepreneurial swing. We were in the online mortgage business at the turn of the century. We were doing a lot of business online, billions of dollars of business. I knew something was wrong with what was happening. This is a few years before the mortgage crisis that we all saw on ‘05 to ‘06.

I didn’t know anything about mortgage back securities. I didn’t know anything about financial instruments, but I just knew that the types of loans customers were getting didn’t make sense to me. It was in my entrepreneurial DNA to say, “We’ve got to do something else. We should pivot. We should start that now. What are we going to do?” I just remembered a few years before, I ordered blinds from my house, the dealer came in. He saw the Mortgage.com sign on our wall and just made this comment, “I’ve got a blinds company. I’m doing a few million dollars on the Internet.” At that time, we had taken a look at that company and said, “We can do a better job in this. Maybe that’s something we’ll do in the future.” Two years later, we picked this thing up and ran with it, built a website. This was in 2003, 30 days later we were online selling to customers.

Every walk in the sun is crucial. Click To Tweet

We’re both in Arizona. I’m in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale area.

Everything was great in 2003. Wasn’t it?

I was selling in the subprime loans. We talk about thinking something’s wrong. I’m like, “This isn’t right. It’s a 100% loan and you make $20,000. You’re trying to buy a $10 million house. There is something going on in here.” All kinds of crazy things were going on in that market. I didn’t want to be in that, but I could see how you would go from mortgages to anything home-related industry based on that. I noticed you’re from Ohio too. My husband moved here from Ohio.

When I’m asked why I moved from Ohio, the easy answer is because it’s Ohio. Then people get it they’re like, “That’s why.”

It’s hard to beat it here. I can see why you’d get into blinds. Do you need them here?

Blocking the sun is critical. I’ll tell some more story about the mortgage. We were aggregating billions of loan applications a year and we were only doing loans in Arizona. We’ve got tens of thousands of loan applications online for different states. We just send those off to other mortgage brokers very much what the lending tree model is. It was the same for me, it didn’t seem right that somebody that was 90 days out of bankruptcy, they had no money down but they could get a loan for 103% of the value of the house meaning that their closing costs were paid.

This whole theory that real estate always goes up in value, which is something we all believed until 2004 or 2005, I didn’t believe that it could make sense. Not everybody can afford that mortgage when the adjustable rates kick up. I didn’t know anything about finance, how was stuff was packaged. I had this gut feeling that something really bad was going to happen. Once I saw the movie, The Big Short, I was like, “That’s what happened behind the scenes. “

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Entrepreneurial DNA: As a person, you have to have something that drives you to become successful—be that your family, friends, and all those other things.

 

You obviously made the right choice. You received the Humanitarian of the Year Award, which is really amazing to get. You’ve been noticed for this work that you’ve done. What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve found from going into this business that you weren’t expecting? Was that right up there?

That was an unexpected award. I’m supposed to be talking to professors and students about entrepreneurism and stuff. Maybe ten minutes before I go on stage, I pivot and I say, “This is a good platform for me to talk about blinds.” That’s what I did. “They can’t kick me off the stage because I’m here and I’ve got a sports coat on, supposedly that makes you an expert.” A lot of it is just the day in and day out battle of running a great company, but then also not burning your marriage and friendships to the ground and staying healthy. It’s all this cyclical stuff that you have to have as a person that drives you to be successful in all those areas of your life. That is why I get up every day. I get up to train and run Ironman, but then also not be a bad husband, not be a bad dad, and spend time with my kids alongside being able to run a company. We’re almost 100 employees now and we’re here in Tempe. We just love what we do. We’ve got great people and these people drive this business every day.

What would lead you to want to do something where you manufacture a product? That’s a lot different than what you were doing.

The big idea was we wanted to do something different than selling a service which was taking a loan application and then selling that loan application to a mortgage broker. Selling a product online, which I had some experience of doing with eBay, it’s how I got my start online. I was one of the very first sellers on eBay and I sold Beanie Baby content. I know that sounds weird, but that is where I got my start.

You don’t look like Beanie Baby kind of guy, with the pictures I’ve seen of you.

Diane, I was the Beanie Baby guy. I was absolutely the king of content in teaching people how to walk in a Hallmark store and convince an owner to actually sell them their Beanie Babies at cost and not deal with all this traffic. If you remember the Beanie Baby craze, these Hallmark stores would have hundreds of people lined up to get Beanie Babies when they got the new shipments in. I basically taught people how to negotiate deals with owners and clean those owners out of all those Beanie Babies, take them to the secondary market, and sell them for huge profits.

It was good for everybody because there were entrepreneurs that wanted to know how to do this. Believe it or not, these Hallmark store owners, you would think would want that traffic and they didn’t. That traffic was never there to buy anything more than that one Beanie Baby. I had this idea of, “Let me teach some of these tactics that I know, put it in this twelve-page manual that I print off of my Epson Inkjet printer and see if I can sell this on eBay.” The first year we sold over $100,000 of content on eBay and this was 1997 or 1998.

You think it would be some form of a loss leader. They would get some business out of it. We’ve been talking about a real estate not always going up in value, what did the Beanie Babies do?

I probably have bins of Beanie Babies that had some ridiculous values at one time. You want to choke yourself out for not selling them at that time. I think that’s the case with every fad.

That’s not unlike trading cards and you were into trading cards. It’s a collector’s thing. It’s amazing what people will value. As a kid, I remember they came out with a pet rock and somebody would buy that. How do you create an interest in a product that seems outrageous? Don’t you find that some of these things that people are buying don’t make any sense at all?

The World Cup, do you remember the vuvuzelas, those obnoxious sounding horns that they play in the stadiums, nobody knew that that was going to be popular until it was? There was one guy that bought millions of them, a quarter of the entire market. He sold them all on Amazon. He must have become a bazillionaire selling these things. A few years later, nobody wants a vuvuzela. It was just a piece of plastic but there was a huge demand at the time.

There’s so much you can sell now online and you got interested in eBay early. Why do you think you did? What did it appeal to you about eBay that other people didn’t see maybe as early as you did?

It was the enlightenment of what commerce could be. I’m an investor in baseball cards now with some of the assets I hold. When I collected baseball cards, to go out and find a baseball card that you wanted, you’d have to get in the car, go to a flea market or a trade show, walk around, and find the card. The internet was this most perfect tool to help you not only find that card but also find that card at the right price because there are multiple people selling it. It seemed so natural and I wanted in on that. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to sell. I just knew that as an entrepreneur at the time. I had my own mortgage company.

It’s what caused me to move from Dayton, Ohio to Phoenix, Arizona. The mortgage market here was better and it was literally the reason for the move. I got here and quickly, the internet became a popular thing and I said, “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to sell. I just want to sell something. I want to dip my feet in. I wanted to go out and fail a little bit and trip over my feet and just immerse myself in what this whole Grand eBay experiment was.” The first thing I chose was Beanie Babies. I actually sold Beanie Babies on eBay and it did okay. I realized the whole selling the content and selling something that I had a little tossed other than my knowledge base had a greater return on investment than me actually buying Beanie Babies.

There is so much you can sell online now. The possibilities are endless. Click To Tweet

In my recent book, I wrote about curiosity. It’s one of the things that hold people back from being curious and exploring their interests. You said you wanted to fail. A lot of people fear failure so much that it holds them hostage. They can’t do anything. What do you think led to your desire to want to fail as you put it and you not having a problem with that?

This is something that if I could teach people, I would be a billionaire. It would be very hard. I grew up in this household where adversity was baked in every day. My mom was hit by a car in 1979, it threw her 50 feet in the air. She survived and she’s still living today. Before that, she had cerebral palsy. My mom and dad met at the Shriners Hospital, so adversity was baked into my DNA. I got to watch my mom fail at things a lot growing up because she had to get back up on her feet. That transferred with me over to my lawn care business I had as a kid. I would have the door shut to my face 99 out of 100 times.

It truly became a numbers game for me. It was more of, “I know the door is going to get shut in my face 99 times, but if I walk up to 100 doors, I get a new customer.” That was just a matter of walking up to a hundred doors. That’s all it became. For me, I got that because of diversity, because of intentional suffering. Being told no sucks. It’s hard being told no, but you can get over the word no and look at the data behind it. For me, data is one of these things that definitely disappoint people, but it never lies. The data told me to get to a hundred doors because you get a customer when you get to 100 doors. Everything I do in life now is based on jumping into some diversity and purposeful and intentional suffering. That’s what I like to call that.

That’s going to be your next book, Intentional Suffering.

My first book was a self-published thing, but I’ve got a publisher. We’re writing a book right now and there are some of those principles baked into that for sure.

I like the tenacity. I have been in sales forever and I know what you’re talking about. There’s a certain thrill you get when you get the one person who says yes after you’ve had the door slammed. I’ve had jobs where they’d hand you the phone book and dial for a dollar. It takes it a very tough person to take that rejection and I don’t think a lot of people can do it. I think that those who can can come up with some amazing innovation. With that now, there’s such a focus on artificial intelligence and innovation that we need to develop that tenacious quality. How do you do that?

I’ve battled with this a lot. I’ve battled with thinking, “Is there really an entrepreneurial DNA or is this DNA created?” I hear entrepreneurial DNA all the time. I looked back at my family tree and I can’t find that strand anywhere that shows me that my nineteenth uncle from Uruguay is the reason. I think that’s the reason why I like to preach intentional suffering. I went out and trained with some Navy SEALs a few years ago and I had them basically put me through half of what hell it gets. It’s 53 hours, they beat your brains in, and there’s no sleep. It becomes a very mental and emotional thing. It’s physical but what it really is intentional suffering to see how strong you are. This is what I want to try to preach is that if you can trust yourself into some intentional suffering and adversity, I believe that’s good for the soul and I believe it makes you stronger in all areas of your life.

TTL 255 | Entrepreneurial DNA
Entrepreneurial DNA: A lot of people fear failure so much that it holds them hostage.

 

I had Mark Divine on the show. He’s so down to Earth and you think what he’s gone through, you’ve got to respect people that go through that. A lot of people don’t have that level that they want to go through. With my research, what I’m trying to do is get people to just not fear failure so much, not fear being curious and asking questions and diving in because maybe in the past something bad happened. Somebody didn’t tell them that they did a good job at something or they just assumed they’re not going to like it. I’d like to see more people develop a sense of curiosity.

I’ve had so many great guests, Oren Klaff. Some of these people are just very interesting to speak to what made them go to the next level. I’m almost curious if you were such an eBay fan, why you didn’t go to an Amazon thing next? There are so many people that start little businesses or whatever through Amazon. What do you think of that model?

First and foremost, I love Amazon. Right now, I have six packages to open up on my front door. I’ll go get those packages and I’ll see everything from peanut butter to black light flashlights, which I will use to walk my house to look for the scorpions. We have a house being built right next to us and now that kicks up all sorts of scorpions. This is going to be a fun haunting expedition night. I say this in my book. Amazon is basically a logistics company. I don’t look at them as an eCommerce company. I looked at them as a logistics company because they have cracked the code of getting a product from either themselves or a third-party seller to a door quickly. This was very instinctual.

When we started the blinds, there were two things that we wanted. They were non-negotiable. Number one, we want to create our own brand that can’t be shopped. Everything that we sell on this website has to be our own brand. The brand, SelectBlinds, can only be purchased at SelectBlinds.com. The second thing, at the time at least, was no inventory, no accounts receivable. We didn’t want to hold inventory on anything because we know those were evils in business. You can surely get yourself in big trouble by having an inventory issue and having an accounts receivable issue. Amazon was just starting to become pretty popular at the time and they’re definitely not who they are now.

Looking back on that, some of these great iconic brands that we all know and trust don’t have to sell on Amazon. I can sell on Amazon and they’re a great source for me. Amazon is not the end all be all for me because I have my own brand that is in the homes of almost a few million people. They trust us, but that doesn’t stop all of those customers, including myself, of being an Amazon customer. I love that company and I love the spirit of what Jeff Bezos is about. I love entrepreneurs that are not willing to let up and try everything. Someday, Bezos will be in everything because that’s his drive.

There’s a certain thrill when you get one person to say yes right after you’ve had the door slammed in. Click To Tweet

75% of the companies that are around today won’t be here in a certain number of years. All of these companies that you think are going to be here forever. Kodak was huge when I was a kid. You couldn’t foresee a time when you didn’t have to go get the film. What do you think is the next industry that’s going to be disrupted where we’re going to lose the next Kodak? That type of a foresight, do you have that ability?

I don’t like to peek too much in the future because I’ve done this in the past and I find myself trying to go in and steamroll. I feel like I’m so smart that I can go in and figure these things out. I feel like the ebbs and flows of what happened online right now, we take this thing day-by-day and we’re always improving the customer experience at SelectBlinds. The thing for us is we don’t try to look too far.

TTL 255 | Entrepreneurial DNA
Entrepreneurial DNA: It takes a very tough person to be able to take rejection. Those that do are the ones who can come up with some amazing innovation.

 

One of the things that we’re going to do a few years ago was we were going to build this amazing app. This was going to be an app that lets you take a picture of your window. We would fill that window space of blinds you can order. It was cool and it was this amazing thought until on another project I did with a buddy, we built this app, spend a lot of money, spend a lot of time doing it. That was the biggest thing. What we saw was people don’t download apps to use them once. Our time value of money or opposite the money value of time is so important to us that, “I would never download an app, I don’t care what it is, if I know I’m only going to use it once.” Buying blinds is very much a one-time purchase in most people’s minds. They’re going to buy blinds every five or six years anyway. That purchase is like, “It’s today. I’m done with buying blinds for a while.” We didn’t do that. It was a visionary thing that we take day-by-day.

I would say if there’s one industry, it’s the AR and VR. Jay Samit, which I believe you’ve had on the show as well. Jay is a friend of mine. Jay’s take on AR and VR, it’s what everybody needs to listen to because he shares his example of look how FedEx can fill a truck now with AR and VR. Essentially, they can weed out the bad employees that don’t know how to pack and fill those with great positions where people that are great at what they do and they know how to pack and fill a truck correctly or precisely. That’s one example of the types of things that AR and VR are going to be able to do that look a little silly right now. Five years from now, we’re all going to look back on this and with Oculus and Magic Leap, these companies are going to be multibillion-dollar behemoths and they are going to be in several different industries.

Intentional suffering is to see how strong you are. Click To Tweet

It really will be interesting. Jay, what a fascinating guy. I actually just read his book again. It was so good.

It’s hard not to get motivated to want to go do something after reading Disrupt You! You’re like, “I’m going to give myself 30 days and at the end of 30 days I’m going to have 60 ideas that are disruptive and I get to pick one of them.” I love that thought process.

He is so smart. When you’re reading it, you’re just going, “I wish I was dyslexic.” He makes things that you would think would hold you back. That makes him this genius. I get such great guests and you’re one of them and I’m so glad that you were able to join me. A lot of people will want to know how they can find out more about you. Do you have any website or anything you want to share?

The book is 30 Days to Launch! and it’s on Amazon. It’s an international bestseller, meaning that somebody from Fria bought it four weeks ago and they told me it was great. SelectBlinds is our website. We have 100 people to build this thing every day. SelectBlinds is the way you can see what I’m doing in eCommerce. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m @RickHSteele.

Thank you, Rick. This has been so much fun.

Thank you.

This is an interesting show and I appreciate it. Thank you so much to Will and to Rick. What great guests. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can go to DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. You can also go to CuriosityCode.com to find out more about the Curiosity Code book and the Curiosity Code Index. I hope you come back for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.

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About Will Pemble

TTL 255 | Entrepreneurial DNAWill Pemble is an American entrepreneur, author, executive coach. He has appeared in multiple TV shows, including Netflix Amazing Interiors, ABC’s Good Morning America, Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, AOL’s Generation Inspiration and many others. Will built and sold Web.com, one of the largest web hosts on earth, and has been building and growing businesses of all shapes and sizes for over 25 years. He created the Goal Boss Leadership System and is the author of Goal Boss: The Art & Science of Getting Stuff Done.

About Rick Steele

TTL 255 | Entrepreneurial DNARick Steele is an American entrepreneur, and founder and CMO of Selectblinds, LLC, an online e-tailer of independently branded window fashions. In 2016, Steele’s company Selectblinds.com, became the first retailer to stop selling corded custom window covering products, leading industry efforts to change manufacturer safety standards and prevent the deaths and injuries that result annually from children who become entangled in window covering cords. He is also a business speaker, philanthropist and author of business and children’s books.

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