‘I got that gut feeling, that nagging feeling that we all get, and a lot of times we push it down and we ignore it because it’s telling us to do something crazy and ridiculous. But I listened to it.’
Rhett Power is a cofounder of Courageous Leadership, a consultancy that helps businesses liberate through courage, and the author of ‘The Entrepreneurs’ Book of Actions.’ He helps leaders in different industries cultivate a healthy entrepreneur’s mindset and achieve business growth.
‘You can’t tell me the big players always did it the way somebody else did it. You don’t get to be that big and significant by playing in the same space. You do that by thinking creatively.’
In this episode, we discuss Rhett’s entrepreneur’s journey, what made him the courageous leader that he is today — from his experience at the Peace Corps, to his startup toy company, and finally, his current consultancy.
Connect with Rhett online:
Personal website: https://rhettpower.com/
Courageous Leadership: https://courageous.io/
John: Thank you for listening to Local SEO Today. Don’t forget to subscribe and share this episode. Joining me today is Rhett Power. He’s the co-founder of Courageous Leadership, a consultancy that helps businesses liberate through courage. He is also the author of the Entrepreneurs’ Book of Actions. Thanks for joining me today, Rhett.
Rhett: It’s nice to be with you, John. It’s a pleasure. Thank you.
John: Well, the first thing I always ask people is tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do and what do people know you by?
Rhett: Well, I love your intro, liberating companies and leaders through courage. That’s fantastic. I am an author. I’ve read a couple books, got a third one coming out in October and I write for Forbes and penned a bunch of other publications. And my main day to day thing is working with leaders and C-suite leaders and founders to find courage. You know, I think we have sort of another epidemic going on or maybe it’s a pandemic. I don’t know. Of a lack of courage in business today. And so we try to help people find that again because we believe that it, you know, change is hard, we know that but the hardships that come from not changing are always harder. So, we help companies liberate from paralysis and inaction.
John: That’s amazing. So, tell us a little bit about your backstory, history, did you go to school, your upbringing, your, you know, experience, etc? I would love to hear about that.
Rhett: Man, of 50 years and in a short time. You know, I had a blessed sort of childhood, you know, got to…Have a lot of freedom, got a lot of freedom to explore and to explore different things. Traveled a lot when I was young, got a chance to do that. I think what’s different about my journey is at 30, I joined the US Peace Corps. And it really came from a decision and this is what I start to think about, what were those moments in my life that were really transitional, really took courage. And I remember that moment because I had a great job. I was in a radio career. I was working for Clear Channel Communications, had a really, you know, if I looked at it…Looked back at it, a very prescribed sort of life, right? Like it, you know, two car garage house, white picket fence. The whole dream, the middle class dream, I guess. And that maybe that scared me. Maybe I just didn’t want that. I don’t know what it was but I decided that I needed something a little different. So, I joined the Peace Corps, actually went to serve in Uzbekistan, spent two great years there and that actually led me to a career right after that in International Development with USAID and after about six years of that…And in places like Central Asia and Afghanistan, I decided that I needed to do something else. So, I got that gut feeling again, you know, that nagging feeling that we all get and a lot of times we push it down and we ignore it because it’s telling us to do something crazy and ridiculous and something that’s a little scary. But, you know, I listened to it again and I had been talking to a friend every Friday night for a couple years over beer and pizza in Kazakhstan about starting our own thing, doing our own thing. And so, one day, we kind of looked at each other. So, you know, we gotta either shut up about this, or we gotta do it. And so we both resigned again, right jobs, dream jobs, helping…Actually helping people doing good work, work that had a purpose. But again, we quit. We went back to the US, we started looking around for that company that we could invest in, we could buy, that we could bring a good management and energy to. And that took a long time and a couple interesting missteps there, a couple of interesting things that we looked at. We looked at this, the one that I always tell people about as is this dead body removal company. I mean, he had a $3 million EBITDA. He had a patent on a body bag…Type of body bag. Great business, right? Fantastic business, had great revenue, had contracts with state governments and city governments but I just couldn’t. We couldn’t get excited about that. I mean, like…And I was about to build some sort of storage, body storage facility in the back. But anyway I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t get excited about that. And we found this tiny little toy…Children’s toy company in Myrtle Beach South Carolina and my lawyer said to us, “If you buy this company, I’m gonna disown you.” They had no books, no records. I mean, it was a mess. It was an absolute mess. All he showed us was a bag full of cash and said, “I make money. See?” It was really shady but we bought it anyway because we love the product and we saw the reaction that kids had when they saw the product. And we were able to turn that little, one product company. Well, not even really a company, you know, into an Inc 500 company. We were the fastest growing company in the state of South Carolina. We were an Inc 500 company, years and years in a row. We had our first three products. We turned into Toys of the Year, nationally. So, we, you know, we were able to sort of take that and turn it, put our energy into that and turn it into a global company where we sold in 35 different countries, made products for Toys R Us, Walmart, all the big names, the animal planet. And so that that journey was, again, just fantastic. It was like a roller coaster and rocket ship at some point. And I learned a lot of lessons. Then again in 2014 got that sort of the feeling, again. It’s time for a change, somebody else needs to come into this and bring a new energy to it and we sold the company. And ever since then I have had this desire to coach and help young entrepreneurs and founders and CEOs to grow their companies and to be better at what they do and that’s the evolution and how sort of we’ve come to Courageous Leadership, which was…I met people along that way, along that journey and last year, Ryan Berman and I decided to bring Courageous Leadership to life and that’s in…That was sort of a combination of all of our experience in coaching and consulting and working with leaders. And that’s where Courageous Leadership was born.
John: That’s amazing. And I’m gonna ask you this because you’ve endured a lot during the last 50 years or so. I wanted to ask you like, going into starting your business, buying that business…Did you buy existing business? And you already had savings. And you saw potential, you saw that you really we’re passionate with trying to bring a smile to these children. But for those people that don’t have a lot of funds, or they don’t have the ability to get a loan or savings, how would you go about bringing that to fruition, right? Because you’ve probably bought a system, you probably bought already product, right? You probably bought a book of revenue, right? Or client list or something, to get it from point zero to whatever was starting to then grow to an Inc 500. Was there…Do you feel there was already established base before you bought it and then how did you grow from there?
Rhett: You know, there was no…There was nothing. So, the guy…He literally made a couple of hundred of these a week and we handmade them at first. This was a little eco aquarium thing. He handmade them during the week and then on the weekends, he would pack them in a van and drive to a little trade show or a little consumer pet show. I mean, wherever he could sell them. Model fair. So, no, he didn’t have a book of business. He had an awful way to produce and actually scale. There was again, there was no system, there was no…The system that he had to make this was not scalable at all. I mean, if we had any chance of getting this beyond where we could drive it on a weekend. We had to figure out how to scale, how to ship it.. None of that existed and how to manufacture more so that we could go broader. So, there was nothing like that, “We fell in love.” I mean, if I had gone to business school, the business school would have made me turn in my diploma because this was an awful…Again, it’s why my attorney said, “If you buy this, I’m gonna disown you.” Because there was nothing to it. There was no proof of concept, there was nothing. We just fell in love with the product. And we saw. And we went to a trade show with him one weekend and we saw how kids reacted to it. That was the only proof, that was the only proof we have. That was, we bought it completely on faith. And so, you know, we didn’t have anything to go on except our own gut feeling, again, that we could make this work. We could figure out the scale. We could figure out how to ship it. We could figure out all those massive challenges that it had. Not to mention, how do we get it into stores because I’m not going to spend the next 10 years of my life driving this product around the southeast to try to sell it to anybody that will buy it. We did a lot of that. We did that for two years and that was just so we can survive. I mean, I was living in my van most of the time, the back of my van those two years. I think we drove that two years…I think we drove 150,000 miles each. We bought another van so that both of us could do it. So, I mean, we didn’t really have the money, and we didn’t really have any of what you’re talking about. So, we had to bootstrap it. I mean, nobody would give us money. I mean, you also have to remember, when we were getting started the financial crisis happened, right? And so even when we had a $6 million EBITDA, you know, four years later, we couldn’t get money to save our life. So, I mean, so to me the reason I think it worked is because we didn’t have money. I think we would have been awful business people if we had had money. But you know, that first office that we were in, we were in that until five or six years later. We were all on top of each other. I mean, I was in the…We had a small office with. My partner was in that office, our assistant was in that office, our designer was in that office. We had like six people in that little tiny little office of about 200 square feet. So, we did that intentionally and because we didn’t have money, it made us pay attention to every detail, every little thing that we had to watch we watch because we didn’t have a choice and so that actually that…Being that lean and that hungry and that having to watch every dime was actually really, really good discipline for us. And I actually think that that’s what made us reinvest everything that we made. It made us really be calculated and conscious of that. I think that helped us grow.
John: That’s amazing. And I love that story. Because you like, just acknowledge that all you need is people that are excited about the product and going to these shows and trade shows. That’s all you need. Like, if there’s a need in the marketplace, people willing to pay for a product and service. And if that’s the proof, people are willing to pay for something that’s out there. It’s not rocket science. It’s very similar to every successful business. People are doing all these surveys and pre-studies and all this information that they should just go proof of concept with a product or a service and see if people are willing to pay for it. And I love that, because that’s what a true entrepreneur is all about. They bootstrap, they figure it out and they grow afterwards. So, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you start scaling? Like, what was the pivotal point from, you know, you driving 150,000 miles a year or whatnot? When did you start seeing like, I gotta start improving my process, systems, people, software, you know, to scale to a level that it doesn’t involve my time as much as like, just driving.
Rhett: Yeah, I mean, that’s a really fantastic question. And it’s a long…Kind of a long sort of thing. So, we had started scaling it in that two years. What we figured out was there was demand for the product but again, we couldn’t get…We couldn’t get any money. We couldn’t get a line of credit, really. We both had great credit too. This was just a matter of we were in a finance…We were in the financial crisis of 2008. And nobody was gonna pay attention to us right at that time. We were still doing $150,000 a year in and still sort of scrapping along but we had figured out the scaling part of it, where we can make more, manufacture more. We had bought another truck and had somebody else driving. So, we had like three routes across the country going on and we were going to trade shows every weekend. And we knew we were trying to get a break, right? We knew we had focused in on the toy business and so we had gotten some store accounts. But again, it was labor intensive, right? It was…We were having to deliver the product, hand deliver it because we couldn’t get FedEx yet or UPS to ship it. And so, although everybody was interested. Like, we had a lot of interest. We had stores that were interested and that we had a FedEx rep that was seeing what we were doing. A local FedEx route that was out of the Tennessee hub and to see the big shipping hub there. And it was actually, Toy Fair in 2009. I think it might have been 2009. And we had just, I mean by luck on one of those routes. We had stopped at a toy store. A lot of different times. I stopped there and my partner stopped down the route and talked to this toy store owner. And she finally said, “Scott, if you stop coming in. I’ll take a box of the…I’ll take a box of these but you just gotta stop coming in because you’re annoying the heck out of me.” And she…That week, she sold like in a couple days, she sold all of them. And you also have to remember too. Like, the toy stores back then and that time and still today, the small toy stores are getting hammered. They were losing toy stores, right and left. The little small ones anyway, the mom and pop toy stores. And she called back a couple days later. “I gotta have another box. Like, you gotta bring them. I’m out.” You know? And this happened over and over and over and over again. And she…I remember her call. She said, “You know, Rhett, you’ve gotta come up to Toy Fair, in New York in February.” And I think this was like, January and she said, “You know, you need to come up to Toy Fair.” And like, I don’t have…I don’t have the money to like, stay in New York and I don’t have the money to like, register for this thing. I’m looking at it right now online and it’s like, $3,000 to get a booth. She’s like, “You gotta come to Toy Fair. I don’t care if you guys sleep in your van. Like, in your sleeping bag, you gotta come and go to Toy Fair.” And so, we scraped together like, the money to do it. We didn’t have to sleep. We ended up staying like, way out in New Jersey somewhere, you know, in a hotel but like, you gotta come. We got a booth like, back in the back corner. Like, it was the last booth that, you know, they would possibly give us. We had a like, a handmade sign. It was really awful. And what I didn’t know about her, is that she had become the president. She was the president elect or whatever of the National Toy Store Association, the small toy store associate, Astra. And she was the incoming president that year. And she stood up in their annual general meeting and said, “You have gotta buy this product because it’s the only thing in my store selling right now, during this financial crisis. I’m selling like, 30 of these things a week, you gotta buy this.” We walked out of a Toy Fair, a $9 million company. And I mean, Brookstone came up. Brookstone said, “We gotta have this in our store. All 300 of our stores.” We walked out just completely transformed. And that actually, was sort of the impetus on how we were able to sort of blow it up within a few months because that gave us the leverage to go to FedEx to say, “Look, you gotta help us figure out how to ship this thing. And because otherwise, I mean, we’ve got these PO’s for stores all over the country. We got Brooks, we gotta figure out how to ship to Brookstone. We gotta figure out how to ship to California, we gotta figure out how to ship all over the country.” They actually gave us…A rep went and did that for us. She got us a technology grant. They came in, they put up…They put computers, weighing systems and systems in our production line. They brought their box people in and they pressure tested it and crushed it and did all. They figured out..They helped us figure out how to ship it. And so all of a sudden, we were able to package this thing and ship this thing. Which nobody would give us the help and attention before. But now that we have all these PO’s, they were very interested in helping, figure out how they could do that, right? And so it was really that toy fair that helped us sort of overcome a lot of hurdles and the other thing that we did, which was fundamental in us being able to scale this was we went to all of our vendors. We actually got in the car right after Toy Fair and drove and saw…We had a plastics manufacturer in Kentucky, we had somebody in Chicago, we had somebody on California. We actually got a plane to do that when it happened. Running up the credit card bill tremendously to do that. But we went and saw all of our…All six of our major suppliers and said, “Look, here’s what, you know, brought the PO’s and showed them all the stuff and said, “Look, we gotta have your help. Like, there’s no way we can pay for all the plastics that we need. There’s no way we can buy all the grout, all the stuff that we needed to do this.” And to a tee, every single one of them gave us the credit and said, “Look, you know, we know it’s going to be 120 days before Brookstone pays you the first part. We’re gonna give you credit.” And they hung in there with us, you know, that first year because it was…The scaling up was bumpy but they all hung with us and gave us as much credit as we needed and payment flexibility and all that. So, you know, without all of that, we wouldn’t have gotten it. And I will say that I give my partner credit for that but he really stayed on too. I was the sales and product guy and he was the…He handles the books and the financial stuff but he always made sure that like, if we weren’t gonna pay somebody, we call them. He was very good at like, keeping in communication with all those people that were waiting on us and keeping those relationships really close. And so that’s how it happened, you know, and it was just…That really…That gave us the leverage. It wasn’t…It forced us. We were already thinking about how to scale. It just gave us the leverage to go out and do it.
John: That’s amazing. I love the story, because it just shows what, you know, hard work. But not only that, like, yes, there’s a little bit of luck. But it’s persistence, right? It’s like you going to that store every day or every couple of days and, you know, how many no’s did you have before you had an opportunity and during that opportunity, you had no idea what leverage she had or how much clout, right.? And that’s what it takes. Just one person can change the luck of your entire career, your life, right? Because without that one individual giving you the opportunity, what would your business have been, right? Maybe you would have played…
Rhett: I was absolutely tired of driving around the country. I mean, you know, I mean, we were not long for throwing in the towel and saying, “Well, that was a good try.” I mean, we really were. I mean it just wasn’t…It wasn’t scaling the way we’d hoped and we weren’t getting the help that we needed from, you know, the FedEx’s of the world or whatever. But that’s not, I mean, I get it. I mean, it was tough times for everybody and, you know, everybody was trying to, you know, survive and so we were no different. And it’s just…But you’re right. I mean, it was one person who said you gotta do this. I kept saying to her, “It’s great, but I can’t…I don’t see how I can afford it, you know?
John: So, are you still connected with her? Like, do you still talk? Are you still good friends?
Rhett: Occasionally. Yeah, on occasion. I think she’s retired now from the business. But yeah, I mean, I remember very fondly.
John: I would be her biggest advocate. I would be like, best friends or giving her everything she wants because she basically turned your life around, right?
Rhett: Oh, absolutely. No doubt about that.
John: So, regarding. Okay, I know I am asking some details but during that transition, where you finally got some PO’s, you started ramping up, scaling, was it just you and your partner? Or did you start hiring people in the right places with the right experience with the right kind of, you know, team and attitudes processes in place, systems, with expertise, or did you guys try to do it yourself and learn along the way?
Rhett: A little bit of both. I mean, we, you know, we’ve still, you know, we were in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Not the hotbed of talent that does international shipping and not the hotbed of logistics and everything else. So, and with the skills that we were looking for…So, I mean, we really did have a ragtag team, honestly. But, you know, what was really interesting is, I mean, we just like anybody else, any company, you go through your challenges in hiring. You go through your challenges in scaling and we have to ramp up in a massive way. I mean, we went…We had to hire about 90 people, ultimately. And we had to build a, you know, facility and we had to build capability in China, to get to where we wanted to go. So, we had a lot of people that we needed to bring on, salesforce, all that. And so, you know, we did hire. We hired a few consultants, we hired some skilled people, we did…We had one really good skilled person in the shipping side, who helped us really understand the shipping side of things. We had a good…We hired people away in China, from other companies and we’re able to build good capacity there. But all in all, we still had to build that first product in the US and that never changed. And so yeah, we had a good team. I mean, we hired not necessarily for great skills but we hired for people who are hungry and willing to try and hustle and work hard and that’s where we were and that, as we evolved as a company we did have to hire more skilled people as we have the ability to do that and the financial stability to do that. But we also always hired for willingness and hunger and willingness to try new things and work and work ethic. We always hired on that, first and foremost. Even when we were looking for skilled people. But, you know, when we started building a team. We had to start building a team, we had to start putting processes in place but no matter how we did that…And that was bumpy in some respects, when you’re trying to hire a hundred people in a matter of two months, there’s no good way that that’s gonna happen. Unless you have processes and we didn’t have processes. We had to hire the bodies and we had then to figure out how badly we did that and how we needed to redo that in some cases. But, you know, those first few…First hundred people or so a lot of those weren’t skilled, a lot of that was how to box something in a box and put tape on it and put a label on it. And so we had to figure all that out first. And a lot of those things, we could teach a lot of the stuff that we were hiring for then we could teach, you know, it got more technical when you’re talking about graphic design and designers and, you know, accounting people and accounts receivable. Those are skills that we had to hire for. But yeah, we scaled fast. And so it was bumpy and ugly in some cases but you learn, you know, you get more mature and you learn your mistakes, you learn how to ask the right questions when you hire. And you still, you know, it still can be bumpy even if you have good processes. It was a lot of fun. But it was a challenge.
John: So, again, did you have any background in merchandising? Or did you or your partner know much about this industry before you jumped in?
Rhett: Not a single bit. I came from radio and then I came from international development. My partner came from the construction industry and then in international development after his graduate degree. So no, we didn’t. None of us had. I have no experience in consumer products. But, you know, to an extent I kind of see that as in hindsight is a benefit. I fired a consultant once for telling me that I couldn’t do that because that’s not how the industry does it. And I didn’t subscribe to that. I kind of believe, Look, you know, you can’t tell me that. The person that started Hasbro, Mattel, or Spin Master or any of the other big players in the you know, Lego, always did it the way somebody else in the industry did it. You don’t get to be that big and that significant by playing in the same head place, or the same space, right? You do that by thinking creatively, you do that by thinking outside of the box. And you do that by thinking big. And so I just wasn’t, I didn’t. That lack of experience didn’t really bother me so much. Because I felt like, you know, you make a good product and you get out there and you try to sell it and you hustle and you talk to the right people then that’s what’s gonna win the day. And we felt like we were making good products and we had something that…People were making products that people wanted and that had an audience and had a uniqueness about them. So, that was what was important to us. We had a sign above our door that said, “Be significant.” And that really meant a lot to us in terms of everybody, no matter what position you had. It was sort of became a mantra, sort of our ethos, you know? I mean it drove us. We wanted to be significant in the industry. And in every single one of us in the organization, whatever our job was, whether it’s putting tape on a box, or making sure the bills get paid, or making sure that we go up and we talk to Toys R Us about a new product, whatever your role in that was…It was important that you do it and be the absolute best that you could be at it. And then we felt like that would win the day, no matter our experience or not.
John: That’s awesome. So, it was fully self funded, there was no other VC or any loans that you got. That’s awesome. And then regarding the exit, I know you mentioned you eventually sold it. That’s when you basically moved on to your next part of your career, which is now what you’re doing today, which is the consultancy, the book, the coaching, etc. How has that been since you left, you know, the bigger kind of business to now doing it more about yourself, right? It’s all about you on an individual level, trying to help and inspire entrepreneurs. Do you find it as significant, as challenging, as rewarding or maybe, you know, you share your experiences since you’ve been doing it now for a couple years?
Rhett: Yeah, look, I will take…Push back a little bit on when it’s about me, it really isn’t. One of the things about coaching is it’s most definitely about the person that you’re helping and helping that person be better for their company and be better for their people they work with and their teams. And so, it is…I don’t think of it in that sense and we’re also growing too. I mean this is a business and the reason that Ryan and I brought our respective companies together is because we feel like there is a real market and a real desire for companies to find that courage and define and change that culture of paralysis and inaction and things that hold companies back. And so, you know, at the same time, I mean, we’re growing our company and thinking about, how do we scale it and become even larger. I mean, we’ve actually just hired a CEO and brought on another partner. And so, we see this as a movement of a courageous movement less than a company, we see it as a movement. And so, it’s not…I don’t think any differently than I did back then. I look at opportunity and growth in the same way and I think that there’s a real opportunity to…And I’ve seen an appetite in a different way. I mean, I’m not dealing with 12 year olds but there’s still an appetite for being better and improvement. And, you know, if you look at what’s happening in business now, I mean, there’s almost sort of this business apocalypse going on, right? Companies used to stay on Fortune 500, 75 years. They’re now staying on that list, eleven years, you know, things are just getting completely disrupted and there’s not an industry that’s immune from that. And so, you know, companies are looking at how they can change and evolve. And they’re doing that because they know if they don’t do that, they’re gonna dump. And so this is really a matter of life and death. And so, I don’t know if that answers the question but I kind of see this as a huge movement. And so to me, it’s just as exciting as a toy company, in a different way. I mean, I’m older and more mature and things…I’m a lot calmer than I used to be. And a lot more, probably steady but a lot of that probably comes from what I experienced with they toy…I’ll take those lessons with me forever. What I experienced in that business and in the pace and the energy and, you know, all hours of the day, 24 hours a day, you know? I’ll take that and those lessons are gonna be ever with me but there’s that same energy about courage right now and the companies that we’re working with, we’re working with some of the top 50 companies in the world right now. I had a CEO the other day told me, This is the best thing that they’ve ever done as an executive team. And that, you know, this has just been absolutely life changing for them. And so that tells me that we’re on to something in terms of something that can really help people.
John: That’s amazing. And then, in terms of like, the next adventure for you, right? Like, I know, you’ve been doing this for a couple years now. And it sounds like you’re very passionate, helping these larger companies. Is there a specific vertical, niche, industry? I know your background is merchandising but you also did radio, etc? But before then, is there a specific industry that you kind of go after to do this courage, framework, or model for?
Rhett: No, I don’t…Just like going into the toy business, I think we probably could have done… If it hadn’t been the toy business, whatever the business we would have gone into, I think we could have done really well. Because to me, I don’t believe I have to have a knowledge of a particular type of industry. I’m not gonna become a brain surgeon. But, you know, I think if it’s a matter of making a product and selling it to a customer, those fundamentals. I think we were really, really good at it. And so we could have applied it to any kind of business. And I kind of look at it the same now. Like, I’m a mechanic, I kind of look at myself as a mechanic, right? I’m a business mechanic, I’m not gonna go in and tell you, “Your books are a mess.” Or any of that but I can diagnose culture problems, I can diagnose, you know, behavioral problems, I can help solve some of those culture issues. You know, in my…When I first got started as a consultant and coach, I did a lot of the under the hood with the books, or the sales process and I’ve moved a lot away from that now in more of the behavioral and cultural part of the business. And I forgot where I was going with that but anyway, I think to me, that’s where I want to focus and put my time. And I think that’s where I can help. And no matter what the industry is or what the kind of business it is, because those are similar problems, those are similar issues, no matter the industry.
John: That’s amazing. Any big mistakes that you would like to share over the last couple years, or even at your other toy company.
Rhett: Well, you got a couple of hours?
John: Or some of the most largest ones? And then, you know, maybe some positive things that you’ve kind of learned from them?
Rhett: Yeah, I mean, we made mistakes every day. I mean, we did some great things and I don’t know that I was so intentional in the toy business. We ended up creating a pretty good culture. I don’t think it was on purpose but we had good people, we hired good people, and they helped make the culture what it was. And so in terms of mistakes…Yeah, I mean, we made product mistakes all the time. You know, in that business, we have probably 60-70% of the products you make don’t really work out financially. So, we made mistakes every year with a product. We got better at it but you know, when you’re moving that fast and you gotta get a product to market, you take some chances. We learned. And again, we learned to be better at it. I think we spent a hundred thousand dollars trying to implement SAP, that was a huge mistake but again you learn pretty quick that that was a dumb idea but again we thought it was the right thing. You know, we made mistakes on letting people get away with not paying which, you know, we probably lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on things that we never collected on but again we were trying to extend the same courtesy that people had extended to us, you know? But you learn your lessons. So yeah, I mean…Yeah, I mean those are all big mistakes but they were not unrecoverable and I kind of feel like, you know, we tried a bunch. We won sometimes, we didn’t win sometimes. None of it killed us so we were the better for it. We learned lessons and the crisis. I will say this, you know, the crisis and the things that happened I mean, we had supplier issues sometimes, we had regulatory problems sometimes because of a federal government or consumer protection agency, you know, stopping a product or something or making a new regulation, you know, as we were in production for a toy. Those things happened all the time and you learn. There’s a maturity I think that you get once you’ve been through so many different crisis and so many different things that entrepreneurship throws at you and it throws something at you every day. Whether it’s a personnel thing, a product thing, a customer thing. You get to the point where those things don’t bother you so much, you don’t lose sleep over those things. I mean the first day that we bought the company we had one client that we did take from the old owner and he was a local store and we went in and he had two or three stores so to us that was a massive client and I think he spent 300 dollars a week or something, you know, not significant in the big scheme of things but at that time we’re like, “Oh no, big client.” We walked in and he started yelling at us. I mean day one and it just completely rattled us and we walked out of there like, “What the hell just happened. Oh, my god.” And, you know, thinking about it now I’m like, he was just negotiating. He was just reneg…He had a chance to renegotiate his price so he was gonna renegotiate his price, you know, he wasn’t mad at us. He wasn’t upset. It wasn’t personal. In fact he shook our hands and patted us on the back when we walked out. I was so confused but it was just…It was negotiating.
John: It’s good to get a good perspective and be relative in terms of now that you look back because I’ve been doing this for eight years in my agency and just very similar like the first couple clients, they worked with me. It was hard because it was earned but you learn, right? You make mistakes, you learn who your ideal customers are, who you want to be as a company, who you want to cultivate as a culture, your staff. And this is a part of this journey, right? And a lot of people have to learn by doing and making these mistakes and hopefully these mistakes don’t really hurt you at the end, for you to fold the business but even if you do, at least you’ll try not to do it again on your next journey or adventure, right? In terms of entrepreneurship…So, I love that. In terms of I know…I just have a couple more questions here. So, what drives you today like, what pushes you to do what you do and what, you know, motivates you to get you up in the morning to be so passionate?
Rhett: I love what I do and I’m having fun. I think the minute…I think what I realized with the toy company is I wouldn’t have any fun anymore, right? And so when that stops happening I can easily move on to the next act but I actually think that I’m doing now what I was supposed to do. I think that whole journey was to get to this place and I don’t see a massive change in that anytime soon. You know, I got tired of the toy company because of the day-to-day. It got mundane, right? The challenge in it ceased and I didn’t like making sure John showed up for work, you know, I didn’t like making sure Rhett showed up for work and so I don’t see that happening here like, we’ve hired a CEO to run the company so that we can do what we love and I think that’s a big difference and, you know, I love developing the coaching programs, I love doing the coaching of course. At some point, you know, if we do grow like, we intend. Then I’ll do less and less than that. I’ll be doing a lot more of running things but, you know, I think we’ve done it so that we can focus on the part of it that we love, creating the programs, creating the content, creating the…And then helping, you know, do some of the coaching and the stuff that we wanna do. So, I think, you know, I don’t see that changing. I really, I’m having fun. The nice thing about…I have the worst case of ADD in the world and nice thing about working with leaders in different industries, it like challenges me to learn, it challenges me to learn about those industries, about those kind of companies and what their challenges are and so to me it’s, you know, I come in every day and I’ve got a new challenge ahead and that keeps me really inspired. And so I don’t know. Let’s get back…I’ll get back to you in a few years if that’s changed and tell you what and why. But right now, I don’t see any kind of…Anything different on the horizon. This is great. I’m having fun so as long as that’s happening I’m gonna continue doing it.
John: I think that’s the most pivotal thing that you have to acknowledge for yourself, right? Like you gotta enjoy what you’re doing, bring happiness to your life, right? Have joy and if you wake up in the morning doing something that you love, it doesn’t feel like work, it doesn’t feel like you’re going in doing something that you dread but you’re actually helping others achieve whatever their purpose is, right? And by doing more of that, it brings way more fulfillment. So, I love that.
Rhett: Yeah, I mean that was for me that was a key, right? I don’t wanna wake up with regrets. I don’t want to sit down as an old man on my front porch, or my rocking chair and say, “Well, that life sucked, or that life was painful.” Right? “Wow, why did you do that for so long? You hated it.” I don’t…I’m not interested in that life or those kind of regrets.
John: And I love that you’re taking control, right? It’s like, I would have, could have but you’re actually doing. There’s a lot…There’s a big difference and as an entrepreneur you guys are doing something and I love entrepreneurs, I love business owners. They’re doing something as opposed to waiting for things to happen. One last question is aside from business, what are some of the other pillars that really mold you as a human, as a person because I know we’ve only talked about your kind of business, career, journey. How about you yourself, right? Like what really are the major pillars in your life?
Rhett: Family is important. My boys and, you know, taking care of them and having them be happy, healthy and successful is important. I have hobbies and things I love to do that sort of give me sort of therapy for me, you know, I love to be on the water whether it’s in those…On the sailboat or we were at the beach last week so we got to do some surfing and diving. So, all that to me is really where you find that piece and that inner sort of tranquility, or whatever you want to call it but your inner zen, whatever you want to call it. But those things are important to me and what make me. So, I do a lot of reading and writing obviously and so that’s cathartic as well, as it keeps me understanding where things are and where things are going and, you know, I love to learn so that’s important. So, I think those are the things that are fundamental to me and are important to me being able to do what I do and do it successfully.
John: I think that’s so pivotal because people need balance, they need a really good foundation and lifestyle and purpose, right? So, it can’t just be work all the time, every day because some days are gonna be super stressful and people are gonna really irritate you so you need that balance. So, I love that. Well, thanks a lot, Rhett. I really appreciate it. Is there any other things that you would like to mention that maybe I’ve missed that you would like to share?
Rhett: So, if you want to find out more about Courageous you can go to my website rhettpower.com, or you can go to the courageous site which is courageous.io and find out more. And happy to talk and connect on linkedin or via email but yeah, reach out to me on linkedin and we can have a discussion. And if you want to talk about the courage boot camp which is our first product in the company, happy to talk to you about that and how we could help you become more courageous as a leader.
John: That’s amazing. Well, thanks a lot, Rhett for sharing your story, sharing a little bit about you personally and, you know, best of luck with you and your new career and new business but don’t hesitate to ask, reach out to me if you have any questions. But thanks a lot again for all the listeners who’s joining us and thanks a lot again for Rhett, our special guest today for sharing valuable insights about your journey.
Rhett: Thank you.