Ep 495: Trademarks. Do I Really Need One? | Autumn Witt Boyd Episode Recap

AJV (00:02):
So wanna know how to protect your personal brand. I just got off of an awesome conversation with a friend of mine, autumn Witt Boyd, who is the founder and owner of a WB law firm, which is kind of a unique law firm in the personal brand space that she really caters to people who have personal brands, courses, books, keynotes, podcasts but anyone who would consider themselves a content creator. So if you’re listening to this going, I don’t know if I’m a content creator, I’m an entrepreneur or a small business owner. If you have a methodology or a framework to your business, this applies to you. You are a content creator. If you have a robust website or our blogs or you put out a bunch of free content, guess what? You’re a content creator even if you don’t think you are.
AJV (00:50):
And so we had this amazing conversation on the influential personal brand podcast, and I thought it was worthy enough to recap it in a shorter conversation of just how do you protect your personal brand? And one of the first things that we should really consider is how do we do that in a proactive manner, right? So there’s things to do on the backend. Those are always more time consuming and more expensive. So what are some of the things that we can, as we’re getting started, or even before we get started to protect our personal brands? So, couple of quick things that I thought were just worthwhile to share with you guys. Number one, make sure that you’re starting from a clean slate, right? So if you’re in the very beginning phases of your business and you haven’t come up with even a name for your business or your personal brand, or a title for a book, a keynote, a course, a, a curriculum, a framework, a methodology, whatever it is, right?
AJV (01:43):
This is the best place to start, is make sure that you’re starting on, you know, solid ground. And there’s, there’s nothing else in the marketplace that’s already being actively used, right? And there’s some nuance to that, but I just thought this was a good, healthy checklist is as you’re, as you’re coming up with the name or the title for your things, right? So again, those are variety of things, right? Could be company name, brand name book title, course title, keynote title, podcast title. Just think titles, right? Names brands, right? Brands have names. So these, these are some things you wanna just do to make sure you’re just clean slate. Don’t need to worry about anything later. ’cause I know from experience, once you get attached to something, there is emotional involvement and it also feels like starting over, even though you’re not, if you have to come up with a new name for something. So let’s just make sure that the name you’re coming up with is one that’s gonna last the test of time because some, it’s not in use somewhere else. Okay? that’s the first thing is start with the US office of patents and trademarks, right? Make sure that no one else already has this in use or has an active trademark. Perhaps it’s expired or whatever, but just make sure
AJV (02:59):
That that’s a first round filter as you’re kind of going through what we call the title tests. This is what we call the availability test, right? So if you’re a part of the Brand Builders Group community we talk about this and finding your brand DNA, which we did trademark. So on that note this is one of the five title tests. And one of the things is going, is it available? Don’t take something that’s not available. So that’s the first round filter. Is it trademark, right? Is it already active and in use by someone else with a, with a legal trademark? Number two do a thorough Google search, right? These are DIY things. You don’t have to have an attorney to do these things, which means it costs your time, but it’s saving you dollars. So do a thorough Google search.
AJV (03:42):
What do I mean by thorough? Go at least to pages 5, 6, 7 on Google to see if anything pops up. And for all intents and purposes, screenshot all of the work so that you have proof. Make sure that when you’re screenshotting things, it shows the date on your calendar of like, Hey, on this date, right? Screenshots, also share dates. Don’t delete that, right? Label it with the date. But it’s better if it can share. Show your calendar for proof. But those are really important. Same thing with the US Office of Patent and trademarks. Whatever you can do to have proof that on this date, this is what I took, this is my proof, my documentation. Same thing with Google. Because to today, it might not be there, but a week from now it might, right? So it’s always good when you came up with something to make sure that you’re, you’re just taking the one extra step of documentation for proof and just wanna put those in your archive files.
AJV (04:39):
Save ’em for a rainy day, hopefully you’ll never need ’em. Third thing is check social media platforms for that title, right? So, you know, I use the brand title better than ever, so I’ll just use that, right? Not in use on anything with Google. It was not trademarked. It was there’s no podcasts, there’s no books, there’s, you know, there’s all the things, right? So that’d be the next thing. Do an Amazon search and just see if it’s in use. One of the things that we talk about on the podcast interview with Autumn Whit Void is just because it’s a book title does not mean you can’t use it. Doesn’t mean you should, but you cannot trademark a book title by itself. You have to have an entire series of things for it to actually get trademarked. So it cannot just be a book title. So if you have a book title and a keynote title and a course title all with the same title, now that’s a brand, but a book is not a brand. So you cannot trademark a book title. So just because it pops up doesn’t mean you can’t use it. It just doesn’t mean you should, right? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should always. So you just wanna go and, and do the, the due diligence, right? If it was an Amazon book that was released 10 years ago
AJV (05:57):
And five people bought it and there’s no reviews, but the, you know, just use your common sense knowledge there of like what you should and shouldn’t do. But, you know, those are things that you wanna check, right? So check for book titles just to go, like if you find it there, then pull up the website, right? Is it in use? Is there anything else in there? Even if they don’t have a trademark, is it in use elsewhere? Because you don’t wanna be competing about what someone else already has claim over. There’s enough ideas and enough other titles that we can come up with. So those are just things to pay attention to. Next one is do a podcast search, right? So go through the iTunes library or wherever you listen to your podcast and do some title searches. And go, Hey, is this title being used here?
AJV (06:42):
Right? So you wanna be doing you know, clearly the US patent and trademark search. You wanna do Amazon search a good thorough five to six page deep Google search do a podcast search and then you know, the social media, right? And then do it for anything that would be on handles on the primary platforms that you would be using, right? So if you’re gonna have a YouTube channel, make sure it’s not in use on anything else’s, right? Make sure this isn’t someone’s handle on Instagram or make sure this isn’t a title actively in use on LinkedIn. So those are some of the key places that will just help you make sure that when you come up with something before you get emotionally invested in it do these availability tests and make sure that it’s available. ’cause Starting with a clean slate is one of the most important things you can do to have a good secure brand.
AJV (07:35):
And then it also gives you proof when you do all this documentation that you were first in use, right? So there is this idea of there is a race to use. In other words, there is a race to who’s gonna use it first, be the first. And if you’re gonna do it, then last but not least, take the necessary steps to get what you can trademarked or copyright, right? That doesn’t mean everything needs to be, but if you’re gonna have an entire brand bill around something, take the few hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars even and protect that. If that’s gonna be something that is gonna make you money, it’s gonna stay in the test of time. In other words, you’re gonna be using it for a while and you have an emotional investment in it, then it is worth the time and the money ’cause it’s gonna take time to do it and some money.
AJV (08:24):
But if this is your business title, your brand title, it is worth it. So once you find that it is clear, it’s available, it’s in use, take that next step. Do the due diligence, get an attorney and file your trademark and protect your brand, right? The more you do it on the front end, the less expensive it’s gonna be later on. So how do you protect your brand, make sure it’s really yours, and then take the next step to legally protect it, to make sure that you get to keep that brand and nobody else can take it from you.

Ep 494: How To Protect Your Personal Brand with Autumn Witt Boyd

AJV (00:02):
Hey everybody, and welcome to the Influential Personal Brand Podcast. So excited to get to interview a newer friend of mine, autumn Whit Boyd. And although we are just getting to know each other over the last several months we actually have a long history in common that we discovered at a Christmas party where her husband and I grew up in the same hometown, which Dalton, Georgia is a pretty small hometown, very small, so , and then you live in the same city as my brothers. And so there’s, there’s so many cool connections and I love to get to interview people that I also have personal connections with. But before I formally introduce you guys to Autumn, I wanna tell you what this episode is gonna be about and why you should probably stick around. Today. We’re gonna be talking about how to protect your brand, and we mean in a legal sense.
AJV (00:52):
So we’re gonna be talking about different things you need to know in terms of maybe trademarks, copyrights, just intellectual property in general, but then also it’s in the litigious environment that we tend to live in here in the United States of America. What do, what do you need to know that you don’t know? And so, again, this is kind of one of those episodes that doesn’t matter where you’re at in your journey, this is going to be helpful for you. It does not matter if you are a beginner or you are super established. I promise you, there is something that you’re like, oh, I’m so glad I listened today. I had no idea. So this is one of those episodes you wanna stick around for. So let’s me formally introduce you to Ms. Autumn with Boyd. So Autumn is the founder and owner of a WB law firm, which in my opinion is really a law firm really built for personal brands.
AJV (01:47):
Now I’ll let you define that in a second, but I think that’s really important because I think that you have a really cr you have created a really unique niche in the market that you cater to the individual, the solopreneur, the entrepreneur, the small business owner who also has some sort of, you know, personal brand as a part of their business. And anything from contract templates to custom built contracts, to just even strategy on your ip, which is one of the things we’re gonna talk about today. This is a really unique business model that you have created to cater to people like me and everyone listening today. So to help them get to know you a little bit, I would love to hear from you, how did you create this niche in the marketplace? Because it is different than most other attorneys and other firms that we have met, that we have talked to over the years, because you have a deep knowledge in the personal brand space. So how did that happen?
AWB (02:50):
Absolutely. By accident. It was not a grand plan. I quit my last job, hopefully we’ll never have another one. And started this firm in 2015. And I tried a couple different things. I tried working with startups. I tried working with creative, more creative entrepreneurs service providers. And what I found is I tried lots of different things, was that my favorite people to work with were these personal brands, mostly folks selling either education products, doing speaking a lot of coaches. So all of them had a deep mission at the kind of core of their business. So they wanted to build something bigger than themselves. They wanted to have an impact. And they were just energetic and creative and fun to work with. My background was as a copyright litigator, so I used to go to court and mostly worked with photographers and stock photo agencies.
AWB (03:42):
So I have a deep knowledge of copyright. And what I found was for these personal brands, you know, I ended up building a team that we can really do everything they need. The good news is the business model is fairly simple, even as it scales now, as it scales, the complexity of some of the legal needs becomes more significant. But you know, in the beginning there’s not a lot of revenue streams, there’s not a lot of moving parts and pieces. So it’s easy for us to come in and really make a big impact with not a huge amount of, you know, legal spend or a lot of you know, complex legal protections.
AJV (04:19):
Yeah. So that’s a great opening to this conversation, and I love that you went to, like, you were in litigation for different copyright. Like yeah, that’s one of the biggest things that I think our audience, it’s just unaware about. And I think it’s, ’cause it’s one of those things where there’s just a lot of nuance to what can you copyright, what do you trademark, but what should you copyright? Yes. Or what should you trademark? So can you just like, define it, like what’s the difference between a copyright and a trademark?
AWB (04:51):
Yes. So we’ll dig in. So when we think about copyrights, think about content. So if you have a curriculum or a framework, things that you teach, a signature talk that you give all of that is going to be protected by copyright. Also, things that you think of more as like true art. So photos, sculptures, paintings, movies, music, all of that is covered by copyright. When we think about a, a trademark, think about a brand. So it could be your name if you are the personal brand, we certainly have helped some of our clients register their names as trademarks. Often it is the name of a signature concept, or it could be the name of a business. If you have a signature course or offering, it could be that name, it could be a podcast name. Anything you think of that is attached to your company. So the purpose of a trademark is to help customers find you basically, and to know that when they find you, you are the thing they were looking for. So in a more traditional corporate sense, think of like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. Like those are big, big brand names. So you know, when you get a Coke off the shelf, you know what you’re getting because it has that Coke branding on it.
AJV (05:56):
Oh, that’s a really great distinguishing factor. And I love how simple that is. It’s just like copyright is content, right? Yeah. And I think, and I love too, it’s like it’s, it’s, it’s art is considered into like photos and anything like that, but it’s the, the creation, right? So it’s what have you created, whereas trademarks or anything associated with the brand, so your name, company name, curriculum names, so titles, yeah. And ultimately helping define that you are who you say you are and helping other people find you.
AWB (06:29):
Yeah. There’s a little bit of overlap when it comes to logos. So think of like, Mickey Mouse is my favorite example here. You know, that is a creative work, but it also signifies the Walt Disney brand. But for most of the people in our space, you’re not really gonna have a lot of overlap. Logos are , usually. Pretty simple.
AJV (06:46):
So it’s interesting. So then with all of the people that you have worked with, like what do you think people should be like in our space? Right? So most of the people listening to this are in some sort of content creation Yeah. World, whether it’s you’re writing books or creating speeches, or you have coaching programs, consulting programs, or you’re just trying to come up with methodologies and frameworks for your existing business, right? So what should we be thinking about when it comes to, well, what should I go and get, you know, a trademark for what should I try to get a copyright for?
AWB (07:20):
Yeah. And I forgot to give my standard disclaimer, aj, which is, I’m a lawyer, but this is not legal advice, so I’ll plug that in. And I’m a bit of a contrarian when it comes to trademarks. So I really think for personal brands, the folks who are listening probably don’t need a lot of registered trademarks in their business. So what we usually recommend, we’ll kind of take an inventory when we start working with a new client, you know, what are the different brands you’re using in your business? And we’ll look at them and we try to prioritize what is making you money what is attached to something so that it’s really a business asset. Because a lot of our clients may have 10 or 15 different brands in their business. They may have slogans or things they say a lot. They may have, you know, various different offerings.
AWB (08:04):
But usually there’s one or two that bubble to the top of like, oh, if someone copied this, you know, it would really confuse my audience. Or like, I would definitely lose sales. So we kind of prioritize it that way. Is it making you money? Number two, are you going to stick with it for a while? Because in the United States, the trademark registration process is expensive and it takes forever . So right now, best case scenario is about a year from the day we file an application to the day it’s approved by the US PTO. That is not us being slow. That is, they are overwhelmed and understaffed and it’s just very slow. So I’m, we’re big on ROI here at our firm. I am never asking people to spend money on a legal protection that’s not really gonna do something to benefit their business.
AWB (08:53):
So I wanna make sure that you’re gonna stick with it long enough that waiting that time, spending a couple thousand dollars, usually if you’re working with a lawyer on a trademark registration, it’s not cheap. And you wanna do it the right way, very easy to mess up on your own. So I wanna make sure you’re gonna stick with it long enough to see some benefit from having that r in a circle. And then the last thing I always ask is, you know, would you be upset if it were copied? So sometimes there are things that aren’t necessarily a money maker, but they’re just very personal or you feel really attached to them. And so maybe it is, you know, if you do have the you know, extra funds in your business, it may make sense to register that just because you would be, you would feel very violated if someone else copied it.
AWB (09:36):
Mm. And what a trademark registration does for you, it gives you an easier way to enforce your rights. So if you’re not willing to send a cease and desist letter, if you’re not, if you don’t want to kind of become a little bit combative, now you don’t have to file a lawsuit, but to maintain a trademark registration, you have to enforce it. That’s one of the requirements. Or it will just basically become worthless. So you have to be monitoring the mar marketplace, seeing if anybody else out there is starting something similar. You gotta keep your eyes out. And then, and we do that for a lot of our clients and then you know, take appropriate action. So send a cease and assist letter or try and figure out, you know, can we coexist in this marketplace? Can you stay in your lane and I’ll stay in my lane? So the getting the registration is really just step one of a much longer process of protecting that brand. Yeah.
AJV (10:25):
So that’s a really good conversation. So registration is step one. ’cause You may not even get it right. Right. You may apply for it and be denied, but assuming you do get it, that’s really step one because then you have to have things in place to monitor the marketplace to see if any else is using it. And then you actually have to be willing, right. Both in emotion and in dollars Yes. To actually enforce it. So, and I love those questions. You said it’s like, Hey, is it making you money? Are you gonna stick with it? And would you be upset if somebody else was using it? And if the answer is yes to all of this, it’s gonna be a couple thousand dollars and a year and that stuff, or
AWB (11:02):
More, it could be two or three years depending on kind of some of the speed bumps that you may come across.
AJV (11:07):
Yeah. But they approve based on date of application date of when it was in use. How does that work?
AWB (11:14):
So there’s two ways you can file an application in the United States. One is you’re actually using the trademark. So that’s called an in use application. Those go the fastest. But you can also file an application if you’ve got an idea or something you’re planning to launch in the near future. And that’s called intent to use. So you go through the process and then you kind of hit a speed bump and you still do have to show you’re using it. So you can’t get to the finish line, but it will put you ahead of the line of somebody who comes after you to try and apply. But in the US it, the, the rights are all based on use. So we have what’s called a race system. So it’s a race to be the first to actually use your trademark in connection with selling something. So it’s not enough to just have a landing page up or a coming soon. You have to actually be using it in commerce.
AJV (12:01):
Yeah. So this is so
AWB (12:02):
Interesting. So it can get tricky.
AJV (12:04):
This is so interesting. So I have a question. So what about ’cause you mentioned slogans, but like, what about quotes? Mm-Hmm. . Like, is that a thing that people trademark?
AWB (12:15):
It can be. If it’s something now it has to be used in commerce and you have to prove that to the US patent and trademark office. And they have specific ways they wanna see you using it. So it has to be used kind of near where you’re selling something. So you’d have to use it on a sales page or you know, in a brochure that has a way that you can call and buy something. There’s different ways, but they’re always looking for you to use it in like an advertising or marketing way. It can’t just be, I say this thing on my podcast a lot.
AJV (12:43):
What if it was something that makes sense? What if it was something in your book?
AWB (12:47):
Yeah. So you’d have to show that you’re using that quote, not just in the book. It would have to be featured in, you know, again, like a pull quote on a sales page or something. Yeah.
AJV (12:58):
AWB (12:58):
It’s very strict. They’re very stringent. This is why a lot of applications get denied. And that’s why I always say, you wanna work with a trademark lawyer who knows what they’re doing
AJV (13:06):
To have it in the right and necessary places, but really they wanna see it. How is it being used for commerce?
AWB (13:12):
Yeah, exactly. That’s what trademarks are all about. Copyright, you know, it could absolutely be in the book and be protected, but it has to be you know, a a quote would be too short to be protected by copyright. It has to be considered a, a work.
AJV (13:26):
Fascinating. Does that
AWB (13:27):
Make sense? Yeah.
AJV (13:28):
So what, what do you see are the biggest mistakes that people are making when it comes to copyright and trademark?
AWB (13:35):
So, on the trademark side, since we’ve been talking about that, the biggest one is choosing a brand and then not checking to see if anyone else is already using it. Because again, we’re a race system. So if somebody else, you know, you come up with this really great slogan or brand idea, someone else is already using it. It doesn’t matter if they stay very tiny and you, you know, achieve this great success and huge exposure, they would still have what’s called priority. So they, they win the race, they could come after you, you know, years later after you’ve really built that brand invested time and money into promoting it. Okay. So, so we always wanna start with a nice, fresh, clean brand that is really just yours that you can own.
AJV (14:19):
Agreed. So what should people be doing to go, oh shoot, is my stuff already being used out there? Like, where’s like the safest place to check? How would we do that?
AWB (14:29):
Yeah, so I usually recommend a couple. You can do these on your own. Now we have a paid tool that we use at the law firm. So if you wanna register your trademark, we’ll do a deeper search. But you can absolutely do it on your own. I always start with a Google, but go to like page five or six, like do a deep Google check any social media platforms that you may be using. So if you plan to be on LinkedIn, go check LinkedIn and see if that brand pops up when you search. Same if you intend to start a podcast, go check the podcast players, type in the brand, see what pops up. And then also the US Patent and Trademark office. But there are so many unregistered marks that could still cause you problems because in the US you can have what’s called common law rights, even if you never register your trademark.
AJV (15:12):
What’s that?
AWB (15:14):
So it just, it, you can file a lawsuit, you can take action to protect your brand, even if it’s not registered. It’s a state law, right? So it’s not quite as strong as, you know, the federal rights that you get when you register your trademark. There’s definitely advantages to registering. But there are people out there with common law rights that can cause you problems. So again, that’s why we wanna make sure we search and we see it’s not just the registered ones that could cause us problems.
AJV (15:41):
Yeah. So back to this litigious environment where anyone can file a lawsuit for anything for any reason.
AWB (15:48):
AJV (15:49):
Yeah. That’s, thanks Americans that is that is definitely something to be on the lookout for pros
AWB (15:56):
And cons for sure.
AJV (15:57):
Yeah. And I, and I love that it’s like, do a Google search, you know, go through podcasts, right? Search, you know, apple, iTunes clearly the US Patent and Trademark office social media platforms what about Amazon? Like, should we be searching like Amazon for book titles, or does that really matter?
AWB (16:16):
So a single book title is never a trademark. Okay. But if you’re doing a series of books that can, because book titles are generally, you know, not really a brand when you think about if you’re looking for something Sure. Yeah. But if you have a book and a course that goes with it, or if you have a book and you know, a workbook or a series of things okay. That can’t, now there there is confusion among book titles, but I mean, I’m sure you’ve noticed if you search up a book title, there may be five different books with the same title. That’s pretty frequent.
AJV (16:45):
Yes. Or I usually don’t just like one word different. Yes. Yeah.
AWB (16:48):
I usually don’t worry too much about that if the plan is just to make it a book. Okay. Now, if you’re planning on making it a, a big brand, you may wanna consider choosing a different title ’cause you don’t want that confusion.
AJV (16:58):
So I wanna be clear really quickly. So using my husband as an example, who has his first book Take The Stairs, which was a, a New York Times bestselling book. So you’re telling me right now if some other person today decided they wanted to write a book called Take the Stairs? They could. And it’s not a big, like,
AWB (17:18):
It’s not a violation of any rights. Yes, I know.
AJV (17:22):
But we have
AWB (17:23):
Authors don’t like that
AJV (17:24):
, but it’s good to know. Yeah. But we would also have this like, you know, common law, right? Where we could go, Hey, and potentially win something or No,
AWB (17:34):
Not for a book title. Book titles are, are generally never a trait. But if he has other things connected to it that could be become a brand. Like does he have a signature talk or like handouts or, yeah, so usually there’s like a, a universe that grows a, around something when it’s
AJV (17:53):
AWB (17:53):
A slash like that.
AJV (17:54):
I think this is a really unique and important topic for our, the brain
AWB (17:58):
Vendor for sure.
AJV (17:59):
Right. for this. Because it’s like, if you’re gonna write a book and have a book title, then you also need to have a keynote for sure that if have least
AWB (18:06):
Like a freebie. And a lot of people do this in publishing now. You know, you buy the, you buy the book early, you get some sort of online resource. Yeah.
AJV (18:14):
AWB (18:15):
You’re very familiar with that, aj.
AJV (18:16):
I know that and that’s why I’m asking. ’cause I just like, out of all the things, like this is something, it’s like, hey, it’s like if you’re gonna write a book, then you need to make sure you have, you know, the coordinated keynote speech to it. You wanna have some sort of like, Hey, free download it, you can get ahead. Yeah. And they, and they all need to have the same title. Correct. And then in that regard, if you had your, now it’s
AWB (18:34):
AJV (18:34):
Brand. Now it’s a brand. So now we can go and try to trademark trademark it. Yes.
AWB (18:38):
Exactly. Yep.
AJV (18:40):
Y’all deal. And this is always
AWB (18:41):
Something, a big deal, and this is always something I negotiate when my clients get book deals, is making sure that they own the trademark to the title. Because that is not something that most publishing companies think about.
AJV (18:51):
Yeah. But that is a huge deal.
AWB (18:53):
It’s a valuable asset for sure.
AJV (18:55):
Yeah. If you’re gonna publish this book, then we need you to at least publish this free workbook that’s three pages that goes with it and have your keynote title the same thing. Now we have a brand, now we can go trademark it. And that’s a really
AWB (19:09):
Important thing. And now you can exclude other people. Yeah. Yeah.
AJV (19:12):
That’s so nuanced, but so vitally valuable for every single person who has listened to this, who goes, one day I wanna write a book. ’cause We do this thing. So we have what we call the five title tests. And a part of those tests is, one of them is the availability test . I like it. Is it already in use? Right? Yeah. But what you’re, because is like, we already like, we actually tell people, which now I need to be really on top of like how we’re explaining this. ’cause We, we actually say, Hey, if it’s already a pretty well like, bestselling book on Amazon, like
AWB (19:47):
I Yeah, no, I agree. I would avoid it. Yeah.
AJV (19:49):
Find, find a new title. But ultimately if it’s just that somebody else could go, no, I’m gonna go for it, I’m taking it. It’s true.
AWB (19:57):
Yeah. If you’re really connected to it. Yeah.
AJV (20:01):
But that’s a big deal. Yeah. You know, our whole thing is like, Hey, if they’re already taken, let’s find something that can be unique. No,
AWB (20:08):
I agree.
AJV (20:09):
I agree. For sure. But somebody could on their own go, wow, they don’t even have a website, they don’t have a podcast, they don’t have a thing, they don’t have anything else. I’m going for it and I’m gonna take it. Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm. . That’s no joke. I mean, that’s kind of a big deal. Yeah. everyone back to why everyone needs to listen to this episode, it’s kind of a big deal. Now I know that we’ve been like specifically talking about like copyrights and trademarks, and that’s a teeny tiny part of what we really need to know to protect our brands. And so on. This whole idea of making sure things aren’t being copied, what should we know? What do we need to know in order to protect our website content, product services? Like what else do we need to know?
AWB (20:55):
Yeah. So when we think about most of those things, they’re gonna be protected by copyright, not trademark. And we, we’ve all probably heard you have automatic copyright protection as soon as you create a work. If you haven’t, good news, you have automatic copyright protection. As soon as it’s out of your brain, it has to be in a computer document or written or something. But in the United States, you cannot file a lawsuit until it’s registered. So it’s kind of the, the opposite of with trademark, you don’t have those common law rights. So if you have something, again, that’s a really key asset in the business, a signature course, a signature talk, something that would really have an impact. If someone copied it, we highly recommend registering that with the US Copyright Office. And it doesn’t mean you’re ever gonna file a lawsuit, but if you did have to send that cease and desist letter, you know, if I get a cease and desist letter and I check and it’s not registered, I’m like, I’m not really worried about it because I know they can’t really do anything. They, you know, it’s kind of an empty threat. Yeah.
AJV (21:51):
So that’s interesting.
AWB (21:52):
The good news is the copyright process is much simpler than the trademark process. So, and it’s really it’s almost the opposite. So with trademarks, they’re giving you a monopoly on that brand. So they’re very, they make it very difficult. It’s very hard to get through that process on copyrights. They want to encourage creativity. So the process is much simpler. I would still recommend working with an attorney, but if you want to try and DIY it, it’s pretty forgiving if you make mistakes.
AJV (22:18):
So what are some examples of things that people should get a copyright for?
AWB (22:23):
So an online course or curriculum? I have seen people do keynotes. Podcasts are hard to do because it’s episode by episode and that’s just a slog. It’s a lot of work and time and money books for sure. And if you’re working with a publisher, they may take care of that for you. They may not. That’s something to check your contract on whose job that is. But definitely, definitely a book. I’ve registered the copyrights to entire websites, especially if they have a, you know, a rich, you know, history of blog posts or really good content. Wow. so again, the analysis is, is it valuable to your business? Would it impact you if it was copied?
AJV (23:04):
That’s fascinating. So again, everyone who’s listening courses, books, yeah.
AWB (23:10):
We register a lot of courses. Yes.
AJV (23:12):
Yeah. And, and that’s a lot. The thing that,
AWB (23:14):
Yeah. The thing I will say, though kind of on the the flip side of this, people often ask, you know, how can I stop someone from copying my course? You can’t, you can’t actually stop someone. You can set yourself in a good position so that if and when it happens, you know, you can take action. But I usually tell people, don’t worry too much about it being copied. You know, go ahead and put some protections in place and then kind of put your blinders on. Mm-Hmm. . And, you know, if you are a personal brand, that is one of the wonderful things about working in this industry, is that people are usually coming to you because of your secret sauce.
AJV (23:48):
That’s right.
AWB (23:48):
It’s not just that they wanna learn about Facebook ads or they wanna learn how to garden or whatever the thing is that, you know, you’re teaching about. So it’s very hard for a competitor to just copy your content and have any kind of impact. Yeah.
AJV (24:00):
And I love that you said that. ’cause That is so true. It’s like they could go learn this anywhere else. They’re coming to you because they wanna learn it from you. Right. Right. And I love that you said that there’s a time and a place to go, Hey, let’s, let’s be wise and protect the things that are valuable assets that make you money, that have meaning to you, that, you know, whatever. But at the same token, remember at the end of the day, they’re coming to you because it’s you. And No, I love that. I think that’s a really good checkpoint of not creating panic , everyone who’s like, oh my gosh,
AWB (24:35):
Can be, it can be a huge energy drain. I’m sure you’ve seen this. Oh yeah. And it can be very dis very distracting and very upsetting when you find that you’ve been copied so it doesn’t feel
AJV (24:45):
Good. So, so on that note, so what do you do if you discover that you have, right? Like if somebody has copied your work, like what do you do? What should you, yes.
AWB (24:56):
Yeah. So step one is always create a record . So think about if you had to go in front of Judge Judy, what would you show her to prove that you had been copied? So that may be screenshots, that may be, you know, creating a fake account and, you know, downloading stuff like, you know, whatever you have to do to gather that evidence so that you can prove if you, you know, God forbid if you have to or just so you can attach it to, you know, if you have to send them a letter, you know, because things change, websites change. And it’s not because anybody’s doing anything shady. We just change things a lot. So gather that evidence before you reach out to the person before they know that they’re on your radar so that they can’t just take it down.
AWB (25:39):
And then step two, once you’ve got all that collected and organized depending on kind of how important it is and who it is, this may differ a little bit, but I like the idea of reaching out to the person before you involve lawyers and before you get really mean and strict about it. Mm-Hmm. especially if the person copying you is like a lot further behind you in business or is just starting Mm-Hmm. it is, it is kind of hard to believe that people don’t know better, but some people really don’t know better. And so, you know, I am a fan of giving them the benefit of the doubt reaching out gently and saying, you know, Hey, I noticed this. I’m sure you didn’t intend it. You know, would you mind taking it down or, you know, please attribute it to me.
AWB (26:21):
Like whatever in your eyes would make that feel okay. And I would say 99% of the time they’re super embarrassed. Mm-Hmm. And they will comply right away. They’ll either take it down, they’ll apologize. And then that 1% of times, you know, they may get their backup and say like, no, I created this. Or they’ll deny it. And sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s a little more of a gray area, like they’ve copied your ideas, but they haven’t copied your exact words. And that’s where it becomes a little harder. But then sometimes we do have verbatim copying where they say, no, I’m not gonna take it down. And that’s when you probably wanna get a lawyer involved if it is something that is, again, valuable to you because lawyers are expensive. Yeah. so not everything is worth, you know, spending thousands of dollars on hiring a lawyer to help you with. But if it is something essential to your business, then that would be the next step to kind of ratchet things up. Yeah. Is get a lawyer involved who can help you. You know, sometimes people can say things accidentally that they don’t know could hurt them later. Uhhuh, as they’re trying to be nice and friendly. ,
AJV (27:22):
Anything you say can, will be
AWB (27:24):
Used, can and will be used against you. Yes.
AJV (27:26):
But I think that, I love that where it’s like, you don’t have to go right to level 10 immediately send a cease and desist. It’s like, Hey, make the person aware. Ask them to take it down. Make sure you take the proof. Then it’s like there’s a system of escalation. Yeah. Yeah. To
AWB (27:43):
. It’s very rarely like jumping to a lawsuit.
AJV (27:45):
Which is good because nobody really wins in a lawsuit. The only, you know, I had, we were in a lawsuit once trying to get our IP back and you know, the lawyers were really upfront and they just said, I just wanna be upfront with you day one. You do not win here. The only people who win here are your attorneys, the lawyers.
AWB (28:05):
AJV (28:05):
We just want you to know you. Even if we win, you’re not winning. We are winning. Right? Yes. And they were so correct and I was so appreciative of like, oh yeah, like, you won big time. You know? Yeah. Because it’s, it’s, it’s an emotional drain. It’s a financial drain. It’s a time drain, and it’s like, you better really be sure. Right. And, and also that should on the other side, people don’t wanna be involved in that on the other side too. Right. So I love your approach of most people are gonna be embarrassed and they’re, they’re gonna want to avoid that as well. So start with doing that before you involve attorneys. Now I do have a a, a personal question, and I’ll leave any names out of it, but in my husband’s first book, there’s a very famous quote Right. That he uses in, in his speeches in, in our courses and the book, it was just kinda like one of those signature pullout quotes. We call it the rent axiom, which is, you know, the rent is always due. And people really like that and took that. And
AWB (29:10):
This is his original Right. He didn’t borrow it from anyone else. Yeah,
AJV (29:14):
Yeah, yeah. And they took it and used it and quoted it and put it on t-shirts and put it on posters, shared it on national television and never cited it. Yeah. Now, I believe that some of these very well-known famous people probably didn’t know where it originally came from. They just heard it Right. From a, from a whomever. From a whomever, from a whomever. So what do you do in those cases where you’re like, Hey, like you are saying this and not giving yourself credit, but taking credit for it. What do you do in those cases?
AWB (29:46):
Yeah, I think again, you have to decide, like, is that impacting your business enough to spend the time and energy chasing it? And maybe it is, maybe this is something that’s really personal and means a lot to him, and that he wants to be attributed. I mean, I think if you see like memes and quotes, they are misattributed all the time. Totally. And so you’re definitely playing whack-a-mole at a certain point, trying to go after all the places that have, you know, cited that incorrectly. But there may be a couple, you know, if it’s Oprah, that you try and get in touch with their people and like, that’s a big platform I would like for this to be corrected. Yeah. And you know, especially if it’s a news organization or something like that where they do value correctness, accuracy, and Yes. Accuracy they may issue a correction. Now corrections are never helpful. Really. Yeah. , they, they’re never as prominent as the original thing.
AJV (30:38):
Yeah. That’s interesting. So you’re kind of just SOL kind of
AWB (30:42):
A little bit. Yeah. Again, we all have limited time and resources, so even though I’m a lawyer, like you could spend all of your time and energy chasing after this stuff, and most of the time it’s not really having an impact on your business. So I’d rather see you focus on growing the business, being proactive.
AJV (30:58):
Yeah. And I, and I love that because what it is having an impact on is your banking account with all that money coming out. Yes. Yes. So back to be selective, be protective, but be selective. Yeah. Right. I love that.
AWB (31:10):
Yeah. You don’t, not every battle is one you have to fight.
AJV (31:12):
Amen. I love that. So, okay. What else do we need to know to protect our brand?
AWB (31:18):
Okay. This is the one that nobody talks about. ’cause Trademarks and copyrights are sexier. But contracts are
AJV (31:24):
Really Yes.
AWB (31:25):
The biggest, most important. Yes. Like legal foundation. This is really, even though we’re IP lawyers here at the A WB firm, we spend almost all day, every day working on contracts that may touch IPN may not. Mm. So tell me how you see contracts coming up with your clients. Like where are, because I can, I can think of a couple, but I’m curious what you’ve see.
AJV (31:47):
You know what’s so interesting? I feel like most people wonder if they need them . Oh. And my response is yes. Always. Yes. If you’re collecting money for services, yes. You, you probably want one. And, but I think a lot of people really struggle with how much the laws are changing and how to stay on top of it. Like, you know, non-disparagement clauses are now illegal right now. There was that you know, just buildup past eliminating non-competes,
AWB (32:20):
I was about to say. Yeah. It’s, it’s
AJV (32:21):
In flux. It’s except for, except for right. Executives for X amount of periods. So there’s these nuances to it. And if you don’t live in the legal industry, which I do not, but I’m in the EO group with you, right? Yes. Entrepreneurs organization. And that’s just a really added bonus that people are always talking about these things. And I catch ’em really in the peripheral. Yeah. But for those of you who don’t, so like, this is a great example with this new non-compete walk. Does that mean that all of us as business owners need to go update all of our contracts today? Do we need to go and, you know, have previous signed assigned employment agreements refreshed? Like what do these laws mean? One thing that they passed, but then what are we expected to do? And if we don’t know because we’re not attorneys and we do have ’em in there, and then someone’s like, that’s illegal. Like, you know, so I think those are the nuances where I hear, I’m like, well, I didn’t know that. It feels
AWB (33:19):
Very overwhelming, best to
AJV (33:21):
Know that. And so I think it’s one, do I need a contract? But then two, it’s like, what do I need in the contract? And I’ll tell you the number one thing that people I hear from, at least our audience, is I don’t wanna 13 page contract and I want, I don’t want it to sound like some attorney wrote it. ’cause No one can understand that junk. Like, how do I get a normal everyday language agreement that I can understand and my clients can understand? Yeah. So, and that’s kind of hard to do.
AWB (33:48):
It is. So going back to the first question, a contract is better than no contract, even if it’s not perfect. So I will take an imperfect contract all day long. All a contract is doing is setting expectations between two people or two companies about what’s gonna happen, value that’s being exchanged, you know, if there’s money being exchanged services if you’re selling a course or curriculum or licensing your content to somebody else to use. So there’s still gonna be a lot of good stuff in there, even if you mess up some of the specifics. So, and most things will not go to court. So that’s the good news. Most of the time you’re negotiating with the other person if something goes wrong. So using a contract is better than not, even if it’s not perfect. Mm-Hmm. As far as keeping up with all of the changing things, I understand that is overwhelming. I have a resource to recommend, which is the a WB firm firm newsletter. So we send out a newsletter every week or so with these kinds of updates. So if you are in this industry you know, I can’t promise we’re gonna cover every single thing. But it’s a nice way to just get little, you know, snippets about things that could impact your business. And you’re not getting a bunch of junk that applies to like a giant corporation. It’s really focused.
AJV (35:03):
I give online business, I’m gonna give you a plug for this because I subscribed to this and the one that came out I think last week was are you mandatorily required to hand over sales recordings to your clients if they ask? Right. And I literally sent that to our VP of sales. I’m like, I need you to listen to this. Right. And it’s like, but it’s like, those are like things that wasn’t even on my radar, right? Yeah. And it’s like just subscribing to this newsletter. And just so you guys know, I’ll put this in the show notes. I’ll have all of the links for everything that you need and want and sh should do, even if you don’t think you do. But this one, if you go to awb firm.com/newsletter, a wb firm.com/newsletter, you can sign up for it. It’s free. But like, this is a great example of like, this is like things that I’m busy doing other stuff with. I’m like,
AWB (35:58):
Right, you’re not a lawyer, it’s not your job.
AJV (36:00):
Do we have to send these sales recordings and what are they gonna do with it? You know, so yeah. Little things like that I think are really, really valuable. Just a plug. Yeah.
AWB (36:09):
And the other thing I would mention is the way we approach legal protections and keeping up with all this stuff is proportional to the size of your business and to the risk of your business. So if you are just starting out, if you are getting your brand, your personal brand up and going, a lot of this stuff really doesn’t matter because you don’t have a lot of money in the business. You don’t have a lot to lose if you mess something up and you’re unlikely to be a target, frankly, for someone to sue you report you, you
AJV (36:36):
Know, bonus being a beginner. That’s
AWB (36:38):
Right. You’re, you’re, you know, little business, little problems . Yeah. When you have a bigger business, you got bigger problems. And that’s when you need to start paying attention to some of this more. Which the good news is you have more resources to Mm-Hmm. either hire an attorney, you know, have someone on your team monitoring this kind of stuff so that you can make sure that you’re compliant. Compliance matters more the bigger you get.
AJV (36:58):
Yeah. And I think that’s, so that’s so why so on some of these specifics, like just because these are things that I know have come up in our community a lot, like non-disparagement can’t do it. So at the same time though,
AWB (37:12):
In some scenarios,
AJV (37:13):
, right? So this is, so tell me, tell me if you think this is right nor wrong. So one of the things that we did with our agreements is we said yes of you. Okay, whatever non disparagement aren’t, you know, legal fine, but you can’t lie, right? So we just, we changed our clause not to, Hey, you can’t say anything negative about us. It’s, you cannot make false claims about us. Right?
AWB (37:42):
AJV (37:42):
So is that in line? Is that okay?
AWB (37:45):
Yes. And that was our, sorry, that was already illegal. Like that’s liable or slander saying things that are false. So what defamation clause is really out, if you have a defamation clause in a contract, what it prohibits is saying things that are true . Mm-Hmm. , but damaging or negative. So yes, but
AJV (38:05):
That’s, but that’s you know, one of the things that’s come up in my eo, it’s a
AWB (38:08):
Fine line. Uhhuh.
AJV (38:09):
. One of the things that’s come up in my EO group a lot is, well, their truth and the real truth are often different. How they feel Yes. Versus what happened are different. So what is that gray area?
AWB (38:22):
Yeah. So if you were gonna sue someone for liable or slander for defamation, it can’t be a feeling. It has to be a fact. So it has to, it has to be a false, you know, statement that you could test or verify. And it has to have a negative impact on your business, succeed.
AJV (38:38):
So succeed, lemme give you an example, succeed. Yeah. this was something that came up in like one of the like forum chat groups I’m in and they took a screenshot and somebody had put on like Yelp or Google reviews or something, worst business ever. Worst money I’ve ever spent. And it’s like really was is it really the worst business ever of all time? Is that truly accurate? Is it really the worst money that Right. Spent really? It’s like, have you eaten at, you know, the gas station? I don’t know, like Right. You know, it’s like really? Right. So what do you do with stuff like that?
AWB (39:14):
I mean, that stuff is just part of being in business. You gotta let it roll off your back. You can try and respond, you know, I mean, I, I don’t know about you. I’ve had some clients get canceled and it’s often over like really silly things and it’s very painful, it’s very hurtful. Awful. But often the best advice is just to ignore it. Like, just to move on. Yeah. Go do something positive to kind of shut out the negative noise. But I understand a lot of them are like, well, I wanna sue them. And I’m like, that is a
AJV (39:43):
Waste of your time.
AWB (39:45):
Kind of the worst thing you could possibly do. ’cause Now your answer just attention.
AJV (39:48):
It’s just attention. It’s just attention. Yes.
AWB (39:50):
And I’ll often say, this is not a legal problem, this is a PR problem.
AJV (39:54):
Yeah. That’s good.
AWB (39:54):
So some of it you have to kind of handle that way.
AJV (39:57):
So what, so why did so what was the basis for getting rid of these non-disparagement clauses? Just
AWB (40:04):
They’ve been legal for a while, but no one was talking about them. Yeah,
AJV (40:07):
So I this is, I don’t know why it is like it’s, this has been in the last two years and
AWB (40:12):
People, it’s, yeah, it’s been talked about more. So it’s a federal trade commission rule and it’s consumer protection. So it’s meant to protect customers from being able to speak truthfully about their interactions with a business. So you can’t, it’s kind of like a gag on them being able to, which is why a lot of people want to include non-disparagement in their contracts with their customers. So it’s, it’s still legal in other scenarios. It is becoming a little more iffy in the employment scenario. And I’m not an employment lawyer, so Yeah. I’m not gonna misspeak about that. But it, it is nuanced there. I do know. Yeah. so if you are wanting to include a non-disparagement clause in a, like a severance agreement or a termination agreement, talk with your lawyer because first mm-Hmm. , yes. I’m not a hundred percent up to date on that. But I know that in customer contracts it has always, or not always, but it has for a while been not allowed.
AJV (41:04):
But I think just everyone, as you’re paying attention to that, just make sure that you are looking at your contracts to make sure they do say things that people are aware of. It’s like you cannot falsely exaggerate or make false claims. And I do contract reviews for some of our clients on occasion. Anyone listening, do not email me. not send you my copy. I’m not an attorney. You can email Autumn. She is. I am not. But I’m,
AWB (41:28):
You’re delighted to review your attorney, your
AJV (41:30):
Contract. Correct. In passing, like, Hey, can you look at this, this? And it’s like, and you don’t have anything in there about cannots. And I think that’s back to setting proper expectations of Yeah. However common sense at things. Sometimes it’s good to have common sense in writing. So that would be one. And then since you’ve kind of like, this kind of came up for both of us, like this new non-compete bill that has passed. Yes. Which will be nationwide.
AWB (41:53):
Yeah. And so that is actually a regulation from the Department of Labor. So it’s not a law, it’s a regulation, but it has just come out. It has not been, you know, they have a publication period where people can comment. So it has not gone into effect yet. And actually we’re sending out a client alert, I think it’s like on my desk to review . So we’ll be sending out a client alert if you’re an a WB from client and listening, you’ll get that. About kind of our recommendations, best practices. What we are recommending now generally is just start going through your files and checking to see if any of your agreements have a non-compete so that whenever this shakes out, there’s lawsuits been being filed, we don’t even know if it’s going to be Mm-Hmm. , you know, in effect ever. So while that’s all shaking out, we’re not recommending any big changes yet.
AWB (42:39):
But just kind of like, this is a great time to just see if this even matters to you. If you’re drafting new agreements, you might consider leaving it out because it may or may not be valid. One thing in the rule is it, it says if you include a non-compete after the rule goes into effect or maybe if you have one, I can’t remember exactly, but you have to actually send a notice to the person who signed that contract. Like, Hey, that non-compete you signed is no longer valid. Oh. So I think most pe most people don’t want to have to do that.
AJV (43:08):
Interesting. So, so what about preexisting signed contracts? Those stand, it’s just anything new?
AWB (43:14):
No, the non-compete would not be enforceable,
AJV (43:17):
But, but you wouldn’t have to send out something to previously signed yeah.
AWB (43:20):
Don’t quote me on this because it is detailed and nuanced, but read our client alert,
AJV (43:25):
, Uhhuh, . But that would be more like a Yes.
AWB (43:28):
We had a Slack conversation that was like very long about all the nuances, . So
AJV (43:34):
It’s not simple. This is kind of back to the conversation at hand. It’s like, what do you need to know? And if you don’t know, how do you stay in the know? Right. Yeah. So that’s my last question for today. Other than signing up for this newsletter as a very entry level basic, have some sort of source of information. Yeah. Yeah. If people don’t have an attorney on demand or they don’t have a legal counsel, or they don’t, you know, that’s most people, right? Yeah, absolutely. How on God’s screen earth are we supposed to stay up to date with this stuff?
AWB (44:04):
You’re gonna do the best you can. And that is, you know, again, proportional to the size of your business and the risk. You know, this is something a lot of people start taking more seriously around half a million, a million, several million in revenue. So if you’re there and you still are not really up to date on all this like judgment free zone, do not beat yourself up. But you can always do better tomorrow.
AJV (44:27):
But do something and
AWB (44:30):
Yeah. I mean, just the bigger your business gets, the, you know, some of my clients come to us saying, I feel like I’ve got a target on my back now. Mm-Hmm. And like, I’ve really gotta make sure I’m all buttoned up and that if somebody comes at me that I’m like ready to go. Yeah. So there, there will hit, you will hit a point in your business where it becomes more important. And I’m not saying ignore it, but
AJV (44:47):
Once you’re doing like seven figures and annual revenue, would you say, Hey, like this is,
AWB (44:51):
You definitely need a lawyer. Yes. Yes.
AJV (44:53):
So that’s everyone who’s listening.
AWB (44:55):
I would, I would say probably like half a million to a million is a great, that’s a great entry point for us. ’cause There’s enough to do you Mm-Hmm. . You know, it’s not just, oh, I need a contract and then we’ll never hear from you again. ’cause We love long-term relationships. We like to, to be kind of a, an essential part of the team.
AJV (45:10):
You know, and I, you know, I say this lovingly because we’re friends, but not everyone really wants to pay attorneys. Like people don’t really want.
AWB (45:17):
I understand. It is not the most fun money to spend. I know. Oh.
AJV (45:20):
But I think that’s a good benchmark for everyone listening. It’s like, even if it’s, sometimes you just have to spend money even when you don’t want to, but
AWB (45:27):
In your budget, it’s like, it should be in your budget just like marketing or just like working with a bookkeeper or a CPA. Like, it really is a cost of doing business. You cannot ignore it.
AJV (45:37):
And I would just say from our experiences, it’s much cheaper when you’re proactive. It’s cheaper, it’s always cheaper when there isn’t anything pending. Right? Mm-Hmm. . And it’s, it’s cheaper to do on the front end for sure. It’s always easier and cheaper to do it when you do it. Right. Right. And part of doing it right means that you’ve got the right protection in place and really the right education, which I think a lot of this is a lot of free legal counsel. So you can just, you know,
AWB (46:07):
Information, not advice.
AJV (46:08):
Thank you, . That’s right. Well, and I’ll,
AWB (46:11):
I’ll plug one other thing. Yeah. I’ll plug one other thing before we go, which is we have our own podcast, the Legal Roadmap podcast, which I have stopped publishing new episodes, but there is a ton of evergreen content. So if you’re looking for like the latest and greatest, it will not be there. But if you’re looking to learn some basics about copyrights, trademarks, employment law, all these things that you need in a personal brand business, go check out the legal roadmap.
AJV (46:34):
Yes. And we’ll put that in the show notes as well. Autumn, this is so helpful, so, so knowledgeable and helpful. And y’all just all got at least $650 worth of free legal information. That advice. Just information. That’s right. So thank you. This was so, so helpful. And again, I just wanna do one more plug for the newsletter because I subscribed to it and it is super helpful and I’m constantly telling people on our team, listen to this one, go watch this. Like, read this. It’s a wb firm.com/newsletter. And then also if you wanna just stay in touch with Autumn, get additional tips, learn stuff, and also the a WB firm, check them out on Instagram. A w firm is their handle. Again, I’ll put all of that in the show notes. And last but not least check out the podcast even though that they’re not posting new episodes you can go and get some evergreen content, which is the Legal Roadmap Podcast. Autumn, thank you so much. This was so helpful. Thank you hj, for asking great questions. This is a fun conversation. And for everybody else, check out the recap version that we will pose shortly. We’ll see you next time on the Influential Personal Brand. Bye everybody.

Ep 493: 5 Ways to Create Limitless Power | Jim Kwik Episode Recap

RV (00:01):
I wanna share with you five of the greatest lessons that I learned from Jim kwik. So Jim is a client of ours and a friend, and somebody that I very much would consider a mentor, and recently interviewed him on our podcast. If you did not listen to it, you have got to go listen to this episode. It was absolutely incredible. And what I wanna share with you, here are my five biggest takeaways from that interview. Jim originally told me that he only had like 20 minutes for the interview. I think we ended up going 45. He, he got into this mode of just really pouring out his heart for our community and what we do, and sharing his story. And it’s inspiring for mission-driven messengers. But so there’s so many takeaways that came out of it. I’m gonna, I’m gonna pull my five favorite ones that just immediately spoke to me.
RV (00:53):
So number one is that your labels are your limits. And if you continue to fight for your limitations, then you get to keep them. That is one of his direct quotes that hit me so hard because it’s absolutely true, right? First of all, your labels are your limits. And sometimes our, our labels initially come from somebody else, right? Somebody calls us stupid, somebody calls us, you know, poor, or somebody else says we’re weird. Somebody else says, we’re like, you know, we don’t have what it takes. We’re not, we’re not cut out for it. We’re not from the right family. We, right? And so those labels sometimes become our limits, but then we often allow those limits to set hold in our life, and we start to fight for ’em. And we say things like, we start to make that our narrative, and we tell other people, and we tell ourselves why we can’t do things.
RV (01:50):
Oh, I’m getting so old. I, you know, I can’t exercise anymore ’cause I’m so old, or I’m always so bad at remembering names, or I’ve never been good at math, or like, yeah, I’m just not a good salesperson. Or like yeah, I don’t, you know, I don’t understand the social media stuff or like you know, I, I just, I’m, I’m too busy to, you know, do whatever, like, give back in whatever way. And we fight for those limits. And those limits, like what Jim said, is the, the problem with that is that when you fight for your limits, you get to keep them. That is a sobering truth, a sobering moment. The next thing that he said that really stuck out to me was when he was telling this story about meeting the, the, the father of his friend who changed his life. And he said, he said, Jim, you’re this close to changing your life. You’re this close to changing your life. And then he was pointing at his head, you know, the distance between his own brain, right? And, and going, it’s the six inches inside of your own, like your, your own head. You’re we’re
RV (02:58):
That close. You’re that close to changing your life. You’re that close. If you change, if you change what you think about yourself, if you, if you can, if you can change the way that you what you tell yourself about yourself, if you can learn about how your brain operates, we’re that close, right? You’re that close to changing your life a few inches. It’s getting your head straight. It’s getting your mind right. It’s getting your, your thinking ironed out in my take the stairs book. I talk about the creation principle of integrity. How you, you know, you think it, you speak it, you act, and then it happens. But it starts with the thought. You have to get the thought, right? First, permanent changes in your actions are require permanent changes in your thinking. They require permanent changes in your thinking. You can’t cover up, you know, poor thinking with actions.
RV (03:57):
That’s a diet, that’s a fad that you will change temporarily and it will go away. You have to rewire your programming. You have to rewire your thinking. If you want to create a permanent change in your life, that’s, that’s different. That’s, that’s rewriting the neural programming. It’s not just pos, it’s not just positive thinking. It’s not just personal development. It’s neuroscience, it’s psychology, it’s biology. You have to form new neural pathways in your brain. That leads me to the third, my third favorite thing that Jim said was when he said that if you’re struggling, if you’re thinking about quitting, if you’re hitting a ceiling, if you’re being blocked, if you’re plateaued, if you’re stuck, if it’s not working, you need to change your perspective. And the two fastest ways to change your perspective are to get new, to get around new people and new education, new education, new people, and new education.
RV (04:57):
That’s so true. That has been true in every moment of my life. Every time I pursued some new goal that seemed impossible, some new dream that I, I had no business doing, trying to, or, or, or coaching somebody else on that journey or, or trying to work with them to, to accomplish something that’s never been done before. Getting the right people, getting around the right people changes everything. And getting new education, getting education from the people who have done it before. It changes everything, right? And this is why, like, I, I, I just have to encourage you unapologetically that if you are somebody who wants to build your personal brand, if you are someone who wants to become an author or a speaker, you need to go to free brand call.com/podcast and request a call with our team. Jim Quick is a client of ours, right?
RV (05:43):
You could listen to the interview, right? Listen to what he said about how we’ve helped him. Now, he was massively successful before us, but we’re working with, like people like him. We’re, we’re, we’re adding value to people like him. And we’re, we, we see what people like him are doing behind the scenes. And we know something about this. And so, if you’re stuck, if you’re, if you’re speaking business, your coaching business, your consulting practice, your, your professional services firm, your network marketing company, your entrepreneur, your entrepreneurial endeavor, or your side hustle. If they’re not growing as fast as you want them to, you need to be around new people. And you need new education. That’s what we do specifically for those people, experts, entrepreneurs, right? Professional service providers. Like, that’s, that’s our world. Request a call with us, talk to us free brand call.com/podcast. Get perspective.
RV (06:34):
If it’s not us, get it from somebody, right? Get it from somebody. And, and I will, I will again underscore and, and highlight Jim’s book, limitless, right? I don’t read every book of every person who comes on the show. I can’t, right? Like I’ve got a stack of other things that I’m also reading, but like, this is a book that I highly recommend, limitless. I have read the book. It is so powerful. It is a, a, a, a user manual for your brain. It’s, it’s important. I think it should be mandatory reading for like every, I think it should be mandatory reading for every 18-year-old person to read, to read this book, and to read Take the stairs, and to read the trust edge and to read financial peace. Those are like some of the books that I go, man, everybody should have to read it.
RV (07:17):
But if you haven’t, read this one. Get it and get new education. Or, you know, get it from somebody. If it’s not from us or it’s not from Jim, get it from somebody. The fourth thing that Jim said that I absolutely love, that was a complete, you know, just great reminder is you’re one step away from completely changing the direction of your life, right? It’s one thing to go changing your life is hard work. Changing your life takes some time. You don’t change your life instantaneously, overnight. But you can start changing your life with one step, one moment, right? To, to biblically. There’s a beautiful word in scripture that the word is repent in the English language. But many people think the word repent means to be sorry, but that’s not really the nature of the word. Repent. The, the nature of the word repent means to turn in the opposite direction, which is part of how you demonstrate that you’re sorry for something.
RV (08:18):
That’s part of how you demonstrate that you wanna change, that you wanna change your life, that you wanna change your behavior, that you wanna change who, who you are as a person is to repent, to turn another direction, to take a step in a different direction. And you go, you know, the moment you turn your life isn’t completely different, but your direction is completely different. And once your direction is completely different, your destination will be completely different. And your destination is the inevitable outcome of your direction. So while I can’t change your destination in the snap, the snap of a finger, like you can’t immediately fast forward to the destination you can in the snap of a finger, in one moment, change your direction. And if you change your direction, you ultimately will change your destination. Because the destination is the inevitable byproduct of the direction and the direction you can change overnight, the direction you can change immediately, the direction you can change with one step, change your direction.
RV (09:17):
That’s so powerful, such an important reminder. And then the fifth thing that Jim shared, which is where I just feel like we’re brothers from, we’re brothers from other mothers, is to go, you know, you can sense this guy’s story, right? This guy’s, Jim’s superpower for most of his life was being invisible, was being unseen. He was hiding deliberately because he was the kid with the broken brain, right? Because he was the kid that the other students made fun of. He was hiding. And then even once he sort of found his power and he found his gift, and he was able to make money, he still never wanted to become well known. And he didn’t want to do that. He, he, he was, he’s introverted. He, he was shy, he was fine living, he was comfortable living in the shadows. So why then did he break free from that?
RV (10:10):
Why did he break free and start one of the biggest podcasts in the world with a hundred million downloads? Why did he start one of the most successful YouTube channels with one and a half million subscribers? Right? Why did he, why did he write a book, right? Why did he even ever work with brand builders group in the first place and, and, and write a book, and then rewrite the book and, and sell a million copies of his book? Like why did he do that? It was because of number five, ultimately, even though he wanted to hide ultimately, even though he was a master of being invisible, ultimately, that even though he didn’t care about fame or nor notoriety, ultimately all of those things fell subservient to a moral obligation to serve, a moral obligation to serve. That’s what it means to be a mission-driven messenger. It means you have an a moral obligation, you have a duty, you have a responsibility, you have a calling, you have a command, you have a summoning, you, you have a voice that you cannot quiet because it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with the people out there in the world calling you and saying, I need you. I need your help. I need your wisdom. I need your perspective. I need your expertise. I need your advice. I need your strategies. I need your technique. I need you.
RV (11:34):
It’s not about your fame, your vanity, your riches, your followers. It’s about service, a moral obligation to serve. And if you’re a true mission-driven messenger, you have to stop hiding. You have to get out of the, get out of the shadows. You need to come out from behind the curtain. You need to, to, to get out and share with people. Share your story, right? Think of how many people, Jim’s life, his stories impacted the kid with the broken brain, the kid that was made fun of the kid who was dropping out of school, the kid who was letting his parents down, then becoming one of the smartest people in the world, and the brain coach to Will Smith and Hugh Jackman and Alex Rodriguez and the Rock and the, and half of the Fortune 500. I mean, what a transformation. And then sharing those because of a moral obligation to serve. It’s your duty, it’s your divine design. That’s what I think, right? I think it is God’s divine design of your humanity. The reason that you have struggled, the reason you’ve had challenges, the reason you have had setbacks and obstacles is because it was part of God’s plan all along to use you to impact other people.
RV (12:56):
And so to resist that calling to me is to defy God himself. That’s how I think about it. But a moral obligation, whether you believe in God or not, but like to, to, to realize and go, I’m gonna be subservient. Yeah, maybe it, you know what? It is uncomfortable to get out there and promote your stuff. It is annoying to have to learn about social media. It is a pain to have to figure out how to build a personal brand and create websites, and launch books and do speaking and, and sell tickets to events. And yeah, it, it’s a pain. Like it is a pain, but the fruit of it is you get to impact lives. You get to make a difference. You get to help people. You get to serve people. You get to add the meaning of all of the things that have happened to you suddenly have meaning as you add value to others. That’s what this is about. That’s what this journey is all about.
RV (13:55):
So my friends, don’t let your labels be your limits. Don’t fight to keep your limitations. Realize that you’re six inches away from every dream you’ve ever wanted by changing what’s in your mind. Get a new perspective. Be around new people. Get new information. Take one step in a new direction, and that will ultimately determine a completely different destination and operate out of a moral obligation to serve. That sums it up. Show Jim. Quick some love. If you would, if you would, if you got anything out of this episode or this recap, go just say hi and tell ’em where you found him. Say, Hey Jim, I love your stuff. Heard you on the influential personal brand podcast. Heard you from Rory and Brand Builders Group, Rory and AJ and Brand Builders Group. And just tell ’em, say, Hey man, thanks for your story. You know, if you can buy the book, check it out. He’s got good stuff. And share this episode with someone in your life who needs it,
RV (14:50):
Right? Share this with somebody in your life who needs it and keep coming back every single week. We’re working hard, right? We work hard to, to get ac get you access to people like Jim Quick. It’s not easy to get to people like Jim Quick. It’s been years of developing a relationship with Jim so that we could get him for 20 minutes to come on and, and, and talk to you and, and share this. And, you know, he ended up going twice as long ’cause he feels the power of you, the power of this community. So thanks for, for being the community. Thanks for being the reason he’s here. And thanks for being the reason why we do what we do. We’ll catch you next time on the Influential Personal Brand Podcast.

Ep 492: Creating a Limitless Life by building a Limitless Mind with Jim Kwik

RV (00:02):
Well, I’m honored to introduce you to one of the people who is my favorite friends and one of the smartest people I think, on the planet and truly has become one of the biggest personal brands in the entire world. And Jim Quick is someone that I just got to meet maybe just over a year ago. Actually a couple years ago. We met at Ed Mallet’s book launch. We became friends. He became a, a client of Brand Builder’s Group. And every time I meet this man, I’m just blown away by his brilliance, his network, his commitment to service, the depth of his expertise. You may not know this, but he is a brain coach that’s been has worked with people like Will Smith, Hugh Jackman, Jim Carrey, Alex Rodriguez, the Rock. I mean like major, major celebrities. And he’s well known for his speed reading and memory techniques, as well as just helping people optimize their brain overall.
RV (00:58):
He’s got millions of online followers. He’s trained many CEOs, obviously celebrities. He’s spoken for world renowned organizations like Virgin and Fox Studios, Nike, Zappos, Harvard and he’s been on the Today Show and all over national media. And then, you know, he wrote this book, limitless, which sold several hundred thousands of copies, became a New York Times bestseller. We got a chance to work with Jim on the expanded edition of Limitless, which just came out. And you can learn more about [email protected]. Anyways, Jim, thanks for making time for us, man. What an honor to have you,
JK (01:35):
Rory. I I really appreciate not only what you do, but the manner you do it. So thanks for your friendship. Thanks for your support and helping us with our brand. Yeah, we’re on a mission to build better, brighter brains. No, no brain left behind.
RV (01:48):
Yeah, man, I I, I love that. I, I for the people that don’t know you, can you just tell us the story of, of, you know, it’s in the book and you talk about it, but like why you started working on sort of brain optimization in the first place from your, from your personal childhood?
JK (02:03):
Yeah. I mean, I know your listeners are interested in this. ’cause Entrepreneurs, they, you know, your number one wealth building asset you have is your mind, right? I mean, and the faster you can learn, the faster you could earn today, knowledge is not only power, knowledge is profit. And so the more you know, the better decisions that you can make, the more you could expand your business, your bank account, and your brand, you know, the effect that you have in the world. One of the ways I share my messages on stages, we’re in front of about 250 to 300,000 people every single year. As a public speaker, you know, this is my 32nd year of, of speaking as a brain coach. I usually do, if there’s time these demonstrations, I know you and I have shared the stage numerous times.
JK (02:49):
For me, if I have time, I’ll pass around a microphone in an audience and maybe 50 or 60 or maybe even a hundred people introduce themselves and I’ll memorize all their names, or the audience will challenge me. Amazing. Memorize a a hundred numbers or a hundred words. Yeah. And I’ll do it forwards and backwards, but I always tell people, I don’t do this to impress you. I really do this to express to you what’s possible. Because the truth is every single one of you listening, you could do that too. Regardless of your age, your background, your career, education level, financial situation, gender history, iq we just weren’t taught, you know, school is a great place to learn what to learn, like math and history, science, Spanish, but there are zero classes on how to learn. And I think if there’s one skill your listeners like that, there’s like one idea to take away from this.
JK (03:32):
Your ability to learn rapidly and translate that learning into action is the ultimate competitive advantage today in the 21st century. Right? And I know it’s possible for all of us because it’s such an advantage, but I didn’t grow up with that advantage when I was five years old. I had a traumatic brain injury. I had a very bad accident in school. When head first into a radiator. I was rushed to the hospital, lost all this blood passed out. I mean, but really where I showed up was in school. I had learning disabilities after that. I was put in special education. I had poor focus, poor memory. I had migraines every single day when I was five and six, seven. I just thought it was like normal when I was, it took me three years longer just to learn how to read. When that was very frustrating.
JK (04:21):
It really laid into my, my self-esteem, my self-worth, you know, a lot of self-doubt because if I wasn’t like all the other kids, I would work hard because I came from immigrant parents. But it’s, you know, that installed that discipline. But I, I just didn’t do well. And I just felt like it was kind of unfair When I was nine years old, I was being bullied and, and teased for slowing down the class. ’cause I just didn’t understand lessons. Teachers would’ve to repeat themselves over and over again. And I would learn to pretend, but I didn’t really understand. And teacher came to my defense when I was being teased, pointed to me in a fellow class and said, leave that kid alone. That’s the boy with the broken brain. Oh. And I could tell you Rory, that that label became my limit. I didn’t understand it at the time.
JK (05:06):
Adults had to be very careful, their external words, ’cause they often become a child’s internal words. So every single word it play out. Every single time I did badly in school, which was all the time, I would always say, oh, ’cause I have the broken brain. Or to my parents, I didn’t do well on this quiz ’cause I had the broken brain, or I was in pick for sports. ’cause I have the broken brain. And you know, we’ll talk a little bit about that in terms of learned helplessness and how our self-talk. I believe our brain is this incredible supercomputer. And our self-talk is the program it will run. So if you tell yourself something like, I dunno, maybe your listeners say to yourself, I’m not good at remembering names. Right? Something pretty common. You won’t remember the name of the next person you meet.
JK (05:45):
‘Cause You program your supercomputer not to. Right? Your mind is always eavesdropping on, on your self talk. And so I struggled and then eventually I found a mentor at age 18. So I struggled. Those 13 plus years got introduced to the power of the mind, the power of the brain. I started leaning into starting getting curious, like, how does my brain work so I can work my brain, right? How does my, my memory work so I can work my memory better? You know, how does I got curious about how to make it practical every day. You know, if they say your brain is this incredible gift and superpower, why wasn’t I able to, why do we forget the keys? Right? Why do we forget what we just read, ? How come we’re overloaded and we can’t keep up with, with all the information?
JK (06:28):
So you know, and after I learned these things, I started to teach. And my, one of my very first students I started to tutor, she was a college freshman. She read 30 books in 30 days. Wow. Not skimmer scan. And I know you’re a book lover and reader. Yeah. But can you imagine that advantage? And I wanted to find out not how I taught her how to speed read, but I wanted and to understand even more than she would. I wanted to find out not how, but why I am always interested like you, why, like why do people do what they do? Right? How many, so many people know what to do, but they don’t do it. ’cause Common sense is not common practice. And I found out that her mother was just recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and doctors gave her mom only 60 days to live.
JK (07:13):
Wow. And the books she was reading were books to save her mom’s life. And with that leverage, you know, it was just, I, I wish her prayers six months goes by, I don’t hear from her. And I get a call one, one morning and it’s this young lady and she’s crying profusely. But when she stops, I find out there are tears of joy that her mother not only got, you know, survived, but it’s really getting better. Doctors don’t know how or why they were calling it a miracle, but her mother attributed a hundred percent to the great advice she got from her daughter who learned it from all these books. Wow. And in that moment, I realized that if knowledge is power, then learning is our superpower. And it’s a superpower we all have. It’s just, you know, people are struggling with their focus or their memory, or their overload or distractions, whatever.
JK (08:00):
It’s not really your fault. You know, we just weren’t taught how to be able to use your brain doesn’t come with an owner’s manual and it’s not user friendly. So that, that’s why I wrote Limitless, to be an owner’s manual for your brain, your most valuable asset that controls everything to be able to read faster, focus better, improve your memory, remember client information, product information, you know, give speeches without notes, do all these things. But yeah, I just feel like we wanna fill in the gaps of the education system, you know, for both education and, and professional personal development. And I feel like it’s a gift that everybody could give themselves.
RV (08:39):
Yeah. I mean, it, that’s what it is. It’s, it, it is an owner’s manual. Like it is an instruction guide and there’s mindset. There’s motivation, there’s daily practices like, it, it’s such a powerful book. And you, you know, you, you mentioned that your, that label became your limit, right? Early on. What do you think are some of the most common destructive labels that people have? I mean, like, you mentioned their names, right? Like, I’m bad with names, but like, when it comes to, let’s talk about personal brand specifically, right? So like, you had to overcome this learning deficit, this sort of, you know, these mental challenges with like your development. And you then became one of the world’s leading experts. And then you went, you know, kind of from being like, you’re pretty, like a lot of people don’t, maybe don’t know this, but like you’re pretty introverted guy. Yeah. And yet
JK (09:32):
Very, very,
RV (09:32):
You are one of the, become one of the biggest personal brands in the world. You’re reaching maybe a few hundred thousand people a year in your speeches, but millions through your videos and your podcast and social media, et cetera. Like, what were some of the labels you had to overcome or that you think personal brands often have to overcome to be able to get their message out to more people?
JK (09:54):
So for me, I, I believe it’s the person in the mirror. It certainly was in my case. My two biggest challenges growing up were learning. And because of it, public speaking, I would I remember I was failing high school English, and they called my parents in, and I was so ashamed you know, I wasn’t gonna pass the class. And the teacher, you know, talked to my parents, talked to me, and felt a little empathy and said, I’m gonna give you one last chance you could do this book report on Albert Einstein of all people, and to get extra credit to be able to pass, you know, class. And, and I I said, I’m gonna do it. I told my parents, told the teacher I made promise to them and myself. I spent this was back when people spent time in the libraries.
JK (10:41):
This, I was dating the, you know, pre-internet . And I did this book report after weeks and I was so proud of it. And the day was due when I go down my parents, I, I found it was waiting for me with a little note for my parents. They professionally bounded and I was just so proud of it. I, it’s hard to describe, but I’ve never felt pride around anything I did before. But I felt like this is, you know, it just symbolized something, right. And the day it was due I go, I can’t wait to hand it in. I’m sitting in class and then towards the end of the class, the teacher says, all right, we have a surprise for all of you kids, Jim, come to the front of the class and present your book report.
RV (11:22):
Oh no,
JK (11:24):
I froze. ’cause At this time, you know, I never gave a speech before. I, I was my superpower. I talk about superpowers a lot. I was really being invisible. You know, as you mentioned, I was very, I’m very introverted, but I, back then I was extremely shy and awkward. ’cause I never knew the answer. So I was being, I would always shrink down ’cause I didn’t wanna be called on. ’cause I just never could know. I didn’t know anything. Wow. And I would sit behind the tall kid and even my posture was like slumped up to take up less space. I didn’t wanna be seen or heard, or maybe I did, but I didn’t, you know, want to. So out of fear. So I think fear is a big obstacle for a lot of us. It’s interesting that my two biggest challenges growing up are learning and public speaking, .
JK (12:07):
‘Cause God has a sense of humor. You do it for a living. Those speaking, yes. All I do is public speak on this thing called learning. But it’s just a reminder to everybody that your struggles lead to strengths. Right? Our challenges lead to change and adversity can be an advantage. Like, I, I believe that sometimes there’s some things we can only learn in a storm, right? And some, some storms come to be able to clear our path. And we don’t know until hindsight looking back years from now, why things happened the way they they did. But I do believe I was guided and, you know, grateful for what I went through. But I bring this up because the things that kept me from growing even the impact was, you know, self-doubt. You know, people struggle with things like imposter syndrome. Who am I at 20 years old to be able to go into companies as I did and teach people three times my age?
JK (12:58):
Right? Like, and, and it was, it was interesting. So I, I would say the person in the mirror was, was my biggest obstacle. The doubts, the fears not being good enough, your failure. A lot of trauma that I had to kind of unravel growing up. And I just, even with the book, people Assume when the book came out in 2020 that I had like lots of books. But this was my first book. Mm-Hmm. . And it was interesting because I wanna help people. And I then this goes back to a bunch of conversations you and I have had on branding. I wanna help people, but I don’t wanna be, I don’t necessarily need to be known for it. It’s really weird. Like, I, I wanna feel like my life has purpose and I could have an impact, but I don’t need as much to be acknowledged for it.
JK (13:46):
I feel like if I had that drive, I’ve maybe even helped more people. But because of it, you know, over 30 years, every opportunity to really scale, I always said no media book deals, train the trainer. I met with Kaplan, the franchise, you know, like to open up quick learning centers, you know, different places, infomercials and PBS specials. All those offers came. And I always said no. And then one day I, I was in a car accident and I I almost died and I definitely could have. And the next day that week, I, I signed the book deal that was in my inbox for like, 10 years. Wow. Because it just made me think about legacy. And you know, just to everybody listening, I don’t know who I’m talking to, but creating the life you want, you know, the contribution, the character that, you know, all whatever is important to you, it can be scary, but you know what’s a lot scarier is regret.
JK (14:45):
You know, I, I spent a lot of time in senior centers. I, I lost my, my parents, I mentioned they immigrated here, had many jobs. We lived in the back of a laundromat that my mom worked at. Didn’t speak the language or anything. My grandmother took care of me because my parents were always working. And when I was going through my challenges at five years old, she started showing early signs of dementia. And she, she eventually passed of Alzheimer’s when I was seven. So all those things like really informs where you go. Like, my inspiration really was my desperation to feel good enough to feel like, oh, is my brain gonna work when I’m older and, you know, with my accident? So, you know, it’s the idea where people listening where you make a decision where you take your mess and you turn it into your message.
JK (15:34):
And I totally agree with you that we are best suited to support and help the person we once, you know, were, you know. And so like, I want to help that 9-year-old boy that had so much doubt and, you know, was being teased and ridiculed and feeling like they weren’t enough. And I think we can improve our confidence, our self-esteem overnight if we just understand our, our, our brains. Like, ’cause it’s so fantastic. And, you know we’ve dedicated our life to getting this out there on stages. And we have one of the top where we’ll cross a hundred million downloads on our podcast this year.
RV (16:08):
Wow. I didn’t realize that it was that, that’s awesome, man.
JK (16:12):
Yeah. And the book, thanks to, you know, yourself, your team and the other supporters, like, you know, we’ve done over, over a million copies just, you know, on on limitless on audio books and Kindle and print 40 different languages. We’re just very, very, very proud. We donated all the proceeds to charity. We built schools in Ghana, Guatemala, and Kenya also supported Alzheimer’s research for women. Women are twice as likely to experience Alzheimer’s than men. So in, in memory of my, in my, my grandmother. But it’s nice. You know, I feel like, you know, we’re just getting started and you know, our goal is to be able to support people, you know, having their, the brain they desire and deserve.
RV (16:53):
Yeah. And I, I think, you know, that concept of, I, that’s probably one of the reasons why I was drawn to you right from the first time I met you. You know, we were backstage originally at, at that, at my lead event, and there were so many like major VIP important people both speaking and just like in general in that Yeah. Vicinity.
JK (17:14):
That, that was, that was a, who’s who I remember was Jenna and Mel and everybody. Yeah.
RV (17:21):
But you were, you were so humble. And it was like what you just said, I think is what spoke to me was like, I’ve never ever caught a sense of ego from you or a, an ounce of like, posturing or positioning or who I know. I mean, before we started this interview, I had to even ask your permission to share. Like, are you okay if I tell people that like, you work with Hugh Jackman and the Rock and Will Smith? ’cause I know you’re like, you don’t share those things very often. And I’ve gotten to know that and I’m just like, I mean, this is amazing, Jim. Like, it’s, it’s incredible the, the, the, the people that you’re working with. And, and yet it’s the heart of going, it’s your heart of service, which has been really powerful to see and to go look at all the good you’re doing from your, from scaling.
RV (18:05):
Like look all the money you’re doing for charity and all of the people you’re reaching. And I just, I love that because to me that’s what, you know, we just, we define our audience as mission-driven messengers. Hmm. And it’s not that we don’t care about money. We do care about money, but, but money is subservient to the mission. And I’ve always felt that way about you. And I can’t say that about everybody else in this space. But I do feel that way about you and, and I and, and, and I, you know, I love that you, you know, you’ve got one book, like you put every so much into this one book. Not, not everything, you know, but like so much into this, you could have written 15 books. But like you’ve, you, this is one of the things that we, we tell our clients about books is a book should be a conclusion, not a hypothesis.
RV (18:55):
And a lot of, a lot of authors write books that are hypotheses. They have like, oh, an idea and then they put it out there. This limitless is, this is a series of conclusions of a lifetime of work and study. And it’s like, it’s banked. Dr. Mark Hyman wrote the Forward for this. Y’all like the, the, the, the doctors, some of the leading doctors in the world. Come on Jim’s podcast and everything. And I just, anyways, I, I love what you do and most of all, like the, the way that you do it I, I got one other question for you before you go, but, but, but where do you, before that, where should people go, Jim, if they want to, you know, connect up with you, obviously they can get limitless, expanded. Well else would you send them?
JK (19:38):
The book [email protected]. You get to where support your local bookstores, you know I would say social media, you know, take a screenshot of this conversation wherever you’re consuming it, and tag Rory, tag myself. Say hi. I’ll repost some of you know, some randomly and gift out a few copies of, of Limitless to your community as a thank you for having me on your show. We, we were not, we’re, we’re not hard to find, you know, just search my name in your podcast app. We just crossed a 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube. So we put, you know, regular content there and help how to read faster, improve your memory, best Brain Foods, changing your habits, unlocking limitless motivation and, and so, so much more. Yeah.
RV (20:29):
I mean, it’s amazing. And if you, if you just think about like the a hundred million podcast downloads and the, the millions of subscribers, all the people you’ve helped that never buy a book or never buy one of your courses or programs. Like what a what a what a gift.
JK (20:46):
Nine 95% of what we put out there is completely free. You know, we’ve just, again, we wanna positively impact at least 1 billion brains. It’s pretty bold and audacious. That’s why we appreciate you and your community and just helping us show people build a better, brighter world. I believe you change your brain, you change your life, you change your brain. You could change the world. And yeah, I’m, I’m very optimistic of, you know, what the next, in the years are for everybody here that’s listening, you know, in terms of their own potential and on performance.
RV (21:20):
Yeah. So last little thing. You know, if somebody is sitting in that moment right now, Jim, they’re listening to this and they, they have a label that’s a limit, right? They had somebody say something to them. Yeah. Or they had, they said something to themselves and maybe they, they do have a vision to go, I want to impact millions of people. I want, I wanna, I wanna create videos, I wanna create content. But they’re struggling in that moment. Like, what, what, what encouragement, what last little bit of encouragement would you give to that person?
JK (21:47):
I’ll if it’s okay, I don’t, I’m, I don’t really share this, but how I got started on my career, maybe people get a couple of little nuggets that they can relate to. When I, when I got accepted into a local university I thought freshmen meant I could make a fresh start. And I wanted to show the world that I could do it and make my parents proud. I’m the oldest of three siblings and I wanted to be a good example, right? And I took all these classes freshman year and I, I did worse because it’s so much more difficult. And I was ready to quit. And I don’t know if someone’s at that place right now, that they’ve tried a few things and they’re just kind of ready to quit. But but hear me out. Like I, I told a, a friend of mine that I didn’t know how to tell my parents because I didn’t, I didn’t have the money to be in school in the first place, so I didn’t wanna waste it, right?
JK (22:45):
And my friend said, Hey, why don’t you come with me to visit my family? I’m going this weekend and get a different perspective. And I, that word perspective really changes things for me. I think that if you’re anyone feels stuck, like they’re not making progress in some area of their life, maybe their brand, their business, their followers, their impact or income, whatever, it helps to change your point of view, right? And how you do that, you change your place or you change the people you’re spending time with. And I end up going the weekend visiting his family and pretty well off family, a beautiful home on the water. And the father walks me around his property before dinner and asked me a very innocent question, which is the worst question you could ask me. He says, Jim, how’s school? And I just, I start, and you mentioned how introverted I am, I start bawling, crying in front of this complete stranger uncontrollably because I had so much pent up like, like emotion that and I just tell my whole story, broken brain ready to quit school.
JK (23:53):
It’s not for me. Don’t have the money. They don’t know how to tell my parents. I’m gonna be a total disappointment to them. And he’s like, Jim, he asked me a new question. He’s like, well, why are you in school? And besides perspective changing the place and people you’re with, maybe we need to ask ourselves new questions. ’cause I didn’t know why I was in school. I just thought, that’s something you do, right? You go to school, get a career and do that thing. But, you know, I was like, I didn’t have an answer ’cause no one’s ever asked me that question. And you ask a new question, you get a new answer, like a, a question like what’s the best use of this moment? Or what if it would’ve succeeded and I didn’t do it right? Like, it’s just a different thing. And, and then he says like, well, Jim, he saw I was struggling with the answering.
JK (24:38):
It’s like, well, what do you wanna be, what do you wanna do? What do you wanna have? What do you wanna share or contribute? I didn’t have any answer. And he really was patient with me. And I start to answer and he takes out a piece of paper to stop just, and he asked me to write it down, right? Like a bucket list, like all the things I want to do before I kicked the bucket. Mm-Hmm. . And I don’t know how long the exercise was, but when I’m done, I start folding the sheets of paper to put in my pocket, you know, my list of dreams. And he reaches out and grabs the page, pages right outta my hand. And Rory, I’m freaking out because I’m like the most insecure 18-year-old kid. And obviously this person’s very successful and he’s reading my intimate goals and, you know, like dreams, right?
JK (25:22):
Yeah. Things I’ve never shared with anybody or even realized until I wrote ’em down myself. And when he’s done. And we’re all scared of being judged, right? Like, that’s why I was shrinking down all the time. ’cause I didn’t wanna be judged, right? Other people’s opinions or expectations. And I realized that if we fuel your life with other people’s opinions, then we’re gonna run outta gas. Right? It’s just not very sustainable. And I would remind everybody, don’t take criticism. ’cause That’s what keeps us from acting is like what people are gonna think. And you don’t wanna be criticized. I I, I live by this thing. I have this on my wall. Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from. Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from. And so he’s reading it, I don’t know how much time goes by. He’s like, Jim, you’re this close to everything on this list and I’m spreading my index fingers like a foot apart.
JK (26:09):
And I’m thinking, no way. Gimme 10 years. I’m not gonna crack that list. And very wise, ma man who was mentor to me, he takes his index fingers, Rory, and he puts ’em to the side of my head, meaning what’s in between was like the key that’s gonna get me everything on that list. And he takes me into a room of his home I’ve never seen before. You would love it. It is wall to wall ceiling, the floor covered in books. Awesome. And I remember I had my reading difficulties. I’ve never read a book cover to cover, and it’s like being in a room full of snakes for me, right? I’m so intimidated. But what makes it worse, Rory, is he starts going to shelves and grabbing snakes and handing them to me. And I’m freaking out, right? Because I’m thinking like, what does he want me to do with this?
JK (26:52):
And yeah, I started looking at titles of these books. And there are these biographies of some incredible women and men in history and some very early personal growth books. Like Norman Vincent Peele, the Power of Positive Thinking, Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, right? All the classics. And he says, Jim you have to read to Succeed. I want you to read one book a week. And I automatically go and I say, are you kidding me? Like, did you hear anything? I was saying, I have a brain injury. I’m a poor reader, and I’m not that smart. I have all this schoolwork. And when I said schoolwork, he was like, Jim, don’t let school get in the way of your education. Right? That’s like a Mark Twain quote. And I was like, that’s very insightful. And yet I can’t commit to doing that. ’cause If I say I’m gonna do it, I have to do it.
JK (27:41):
I can’t. And I, people do this to me all the time at events. They know a memory guy. They’re like, Jim, I’m so glad you’re here. I have a horrible memory. You know, I’m, I’m just getting too old. And I always say, stop, if you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them. Hmm. If you fight for your limits, they’re yours. Right? But I’m fighting for my limits of, and I mentioned the schoolwork and he’s like, don’t let school get my education. I’m like, yeah, but I still can’t do it. Right? And then, very smart man, he reaches into his pocket and he pulls out my dream list, which he still has. And he has the audacity Rory, to read every single one of my dreams out loud. Oh my gosh. And imagine that, right? Like this insecure self-doubt. And you hear like someone who’s obviously doing well, complete stranger.
JK (28:24):
You hear your dreams and somebody else’s voice, enc canted out into the atmosphere, right? Yes. And it messes with my mind and my spirit something fierce. ’cause A lot of the things on that list were things I wanted to do for my family, you know, for my parents, things they, they can never afford to do. Or even if they had the money, they wouldn’t do it for themselves. Right? And with that motivation, having going back to purpose, if you have a reason, you’ll get the result. ’cause Reasons, re rewards, right? And a lot of people, they’re not, you know, if they’re, if they’re holding back with their brand or their book or something that they know they wanna get out there, like I did for so long, I didn’t have a, you know, I wasn’t, I knew intellectually the reason, but I wasn’t feeling allowing myself to feel that reason.
JK (29:08):
And with that leverage, I agree. ’cause I wanna help my family to read one book a week. So fast forward, I’m back at school and I have a pile of books sitting at my desk. I have to read for midterms. I have a pile of books that I wanna read that I promised to read, and I already couldn’t get through pile A. So what do I do? I don’t have the time. So I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t work out. I don’t spend time with, you know, people and anything. I just live in the library for weeks and weeks and weeks. And one night at two o’clock in the morning in the library, I pass out, out of sheer exhaustion, I fall down a flight of stairs, hit my head again. Oh my gosh. And I woke up in the hospital two days later.
JK (29:46):
And at this point, ’cause I wasn’t eating, I was very malnourished, hooked up to all these IVs. I was down to 117 pounds. Wow. Right? So I lost all this weight. I thought I died. And it was the darkest time in my life. And when I woke up, I thought, there has to be a better way. Right? And when I had that thought, and you know, God speaks this in in different ways, like the nurse came in and brought a mug of tea. And on it was a picture of Albert Einstein, you know, the person I did that book report about. And it was interesting that learning that he had learning disabilities and he processed things differently and all this. But on the mug was a quote that said, the same level of thinking that has created your problem won’t solve your problem. And it made me ask a new questions like, what’s my problem?
JK (30:35):
Well, I have a broken brain. I’m a very slow learner. Well, how do I think differently about it? Like Einstein, I was like, well, maybe I could fix my brain. Maybe I could learn how to learn faster. And I was like, okay, where do I do that? Well, school. And I asked the nurse for a course bulletin for, with all classes for next semester. And I start going through it a couple hundred pages. And they’re all classes again, of what to learn, but not how to learn. So I set my schoolwork aside and I started studying these books and then other things in the area of neuroscience, adult learning theory, multiple intelligence theory. You know, I wanted to, I was obsessed, like, how does my mind work? So I work my mind. I wanted to know what did, what did ancient cultures do to remember things before there were printing presses and, you know, computers, right?
JK (31:20):
And I started studying that, and then light switch went on. And I just started to understand, you know, about 60 days into it. And my grade shot up. And so did my confidence in my life. But to, to bring it back to my career, how I ended up teaching it was, I, I was upset that I struggled every single day for 13 plus years when there were solutions out there. And, you know, I felt a moral obligation to help people around me that were struggling the same way. And that moral impetus, I started to tutor and I wanted like friends just for free. And then I was like, well, how do I get more people? I was like, and I had that thought. There was a classroom that wasn’t being used on a Thursday night at seven o’clock. I was walking past. I said, okay, next week, same on Thursday at seven o’clock, I’m gonna just put five or 10 people in there, teach them for free for a couple hours.
JK (32:15):
And then maybe afterwards, one or two of them wants to be tutored and I can help them. And I go back, this is my first marketing. All right? So this is how free public seminar. Here it comes, . This is amazing. I take a piece of paper and a black marker and I write free speed reading memory tips, get better grades, less time. Thursday, seven o’clock, put the classroom right? Good hook. Good hook. Yeah. And then the, and this is, this is, and this is how, and I’m telling you, we don’t have to, you could, we could begin before we’re ready, right? , I didn’t know what I was doing, but I, I, I just kind of trusted. I prayed and I prepared. But and the next morning I take, I make a few photocopies on the way to class. I put ’em around on bulletin boards.
JK (32:58):
Not a lot. Fast forward to Thursday. The next Thursday I’m walking at seven o’clock and I just pray there are five people that show up, right? I turned the corner and outside of the room, there’s a crowd of people. And my honest thought Rory, was, wow, I hope whatever’s going on ends soon so I could do my thing. Right? , because you can’t see what you don’t believe. Right? And it’s not that you’ll, you’ll believe it when you see it. It’s, you’ll see it when you believe it, but I didn’t believe it. And I go, I can’t even get in. ’cause There’s people standing at the doorway. I’m like, like, what’s going on inside? And this guy looks at me, he’s like, there’s a speed reading class. And I thought, honest to God, I said, no way. What are the chances? There’s another speed reading class, the same room the same night, you know, same time.
JK (33:47):
And I, I pushed my way in and packed, right? All the seats are taken, people standing in the back, and lo and behold, no one’s teaching. Right? And it takes my slow brain all that time to realize why they’re all there and who they’re all there for. And remember, I’m 18 years old. I look like I’m like 13 years old. wearing t-shirt, shorts, and I’m nothing really s wear prepared to teach, right? I was, you know, and, and I’m full bank of public speaking. I’ve never done it before. Right? Right. Because even that book report, when when the, when that teacher asked me to hand it in, I, I was so nervous, Rory, in high school, like to pay able to pass, I, I looked at her and I lied. I said, I didn’t do it. And you could see the disappointment in her face and in the, you know, I was being teased more.
JK (34:37):
But when the class ended, I remember leaving the class, I, I reach into my book bag and I take out that, that professionally bound book report. And I, I threw it in the trash. And I think it symbolically it was like giving up hope. You know what I mean? Or my dreams or my potential. But that’s why Einstein coming back to me and giving that kind of, that, those words of wisdom. But going back, I, I still haven’t done any public speaking. So I’m freaking out. My heart’s being outta my chest. I I even talking about it, my mouth is going dry so I leave. Right? And, ’cause I can’t even talk with all those people there. You just left. Yeah. ’cause there’s not five or 10 people. I do a head count and there’s 110 people. Oh man. Right? So I leave, I told you it was a good hook.
JK (35:20):
It was a good marketing . And I go to this fountain because I can’t even go back to my dorm room. ’cause My friend, you know, my suite mates all make fun of me. ’cause They all knew about it. And so I’m just meditating by the fountain. Water’s kind of calming me down. And I have, I hear this voice inside in my, my head and it’s my mom’s. And I won’t tell you exactly what she said, but essentially it’s like all these people, you promised to help these people, a hundred people, and you’re disappointing them. You’re disappointing me kind of message. And I’m doing this walking meditation back to my dorm room. And, and here’s the lesson. I stop and I take one step back to the classroom. And the lesson for me is one step in another direction completely changes your destination. If you’re going this way, you take a step this way, you’re gonna end up somewhere different.
JK (36:10):
And there’s a quote in Limitless from a French philosopher that says, life is the letter C between the letters B and D. Or B stands for birth and D stands for death, life, c, choice. We always have these choices, right? Our lives are the sum total of all the choices we’ve made up to this point. You know, I believe these difficult times, they could distract you these difficult times. They could diminish you or these difficult times they could develop you. You decide. And I made this choice to go back to the classroom. And I go there, I apologize, but I don’t remember what I talked about for two hours. But you ever, like, this stream of consciousness just kind of flows through you. And when I’m done, Rory, I came out of this trance. I was like, I don’t know how to help all of you, but if you’re interested, I need about 10 hours to teach you what’s working for me.
JK (37:00):
Maybe two hours a week over the next five weeks I get $30 an hour. This is what I got teaching tennis back in high school and just making this up there. And I say, I’ll be in the student center tomorrow at noon. If you’re interested, I’ll answer your questions. And I swear, Rory, a hundred people stand up and they leave. Not one person talks to me. Huh? So I am sitting 10 o’clock at night in an empty classroom and I’m totally confused. And I’m so exhausted. ’cause You know, when you do something you never thought you could do, I end up passing out on the carpet and it was the best sleep of my life. I get woken up the next morning, the class coming in at eight o’clock and the next morning and I run, I’m embarrassed. I run back to my dorm room, shower, go to breakfast, go to class, 12 o’clock I promised to go to the student center to answer questions.
JK (37:50):
And I’m going to the student center running a little bit late. And I just hope one person believed in me, just one. Right? And when I get there, Rory, that same crowd of kids were there. And at the end of 90 minutes or two hours, 71 of those students signed up for a program that didn’t even exist. And at $300 a, a person. ’cause I didn’t do the math. 10 hours times, $30 an hour. And I didn’t realize that students could go, they have a plastic card that goes into an ATM machine that takes out $300, right? Because I didn’t have that. And so I’m not even 19 years old and I have $21,000 cash in my pockets and my, my book bag. What? And, and I don’t even know, like, it’s so surreal. ’cause That’s a lot of money. But that was definitely a lot of money.
JK (38:38):
30 back then. Yeah. Years ago. That’s a lot of though. Yeah. And so I’m sitting there and I’m thinking, what do I do with this? And I hear my mentors phrase, don’t let school get in the way of education. I use practically all of it to travel the country by every program, go to every seminar get mentored and coached by some of the best people in the space. And I, I really feed my mind. And one of those 71 kids was this young lady who read 30 books in 30 days and saved her mom’s life. Wow. And that’s why I continued on the journey, you know, but I, I just wanna, men, you know, reiterate that it was, it was perspective. If I feel, feel stuck changing the people replaced to get a new point of view, asking new questions of yourself. ’cause You ask new questions, you’ll get new answers.
JK (39:31):
And stepping in a direction, making a choice, right? ’cause One step in another direction completely could change your destination. And if you’re listening to this, I feel like there’s a reason why to, to our, to listeners that, you know, maybe they could relate to some aspect of my story. That they feel like they’re here for a reason and they, and they went through adversity and they, they learned something from it. We hear a lot about post-traumatic stress. We do not hear a lot about the other side post-traumatic growth. People have gone through such difficult times that you wouldn’t wish upon anybody. But you discovered something. You discovered something about yourself, or you got clarity, or you found a mission, you found a traitor, a strength, right? And you, you know, and you want change what happened, right? And I feel like now’s the time that we have to so many people, like we dim our lights.
JK (40:23):
Like I was shrinking all the time because we didn’t want those light to shine in somebody else’s eyes. And I feel like we live in a, sometimes in a dark, dark world. And we need as many people to shine as possible. And and do the things. I feel like life is difficult for one of two reasons. Either you’re leaving your comfort zone, life gets difficult, right? And you’re in the unknown. Or life is difficult ’cause you’re staying in your comfort zone. And I feel like that for a long time, I stayed in my comfort zone because I just wanted to have my small little learning center and teach, you know, the, the a hundred people a month that I was teaching or whatever. But I also feel like that moral obligation that, you know, we’re here for a reason. And I feel like at the end of our life, I feel like that it’s like I, I visualize myself meeting the person that I could’ve been.
JK (41:20):
You know? And I just don’t wanna be disappointed. And my message for everybody here is that there is, and I promise you, I, I coached half of the Fortune 500 companies in the world. I, I, I, I, we have students online in every country in the world have a lot of feedback from people. And I could tell you without a doubt that there is a version of yourself or your brand, or your book or your bank account. There’s a or your brain, there’s a version of yourself that’s patiently waiting. And the goal is we show up every single day until we’re introduced. Right? And I just feel like we’re all on this quest to reveal and realize our fullest potential. And when, when would now be a great time to make that choice. You know? And it doesn’t have to be a big one.
JK (42:07):
It could be like little, a little thing you could do to kind of keep your momentum, you know, for me it was about getting my brain and my mind right? Because I knew everything was gonna come from that. But things have to go from your head to your heart, then to your hands, right? You know, it’s, it’s your mindset. It’s your motivation. It’s also the methods. So that, that, that’s, that’s what limitless is for me. I love that Limitless is not about being perfect. It’s not about, you know, it’s about progress. It’s about advancing and progressing beyond what you’re currently demonstrating or you believe is possible. And I just know that this is available to all of us. That I’m not, definitely not special in this case. You know, and so I, I look forward to people like staying in touch with, with both of us. ’cause I, I, I’m, I’m hoping that I get to read their books or see them on stage or watch their, their videos or however they’re getting their, their message out to the world.
RV (43:01):
Absolutely. Yeah. That’s so powerful. That’s why I get my kicks, I get my kicks these days from watching clients succeed and when they win. And it’s just awesome to be a part of it. What an inspiring message, buddy. So y’all get limitless. Follow Jim. Say hello. Learn from his stuff. I’m telling you guys, this is a guy has a heart of gold. And it’s, and, and, and brilliant insights that’ll change your life. Jim, you went way over time, buddy. Yeah. You gave us so much extra time, . I know you have to go. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Please just
JK (43:33):
, I wanna, I wanna wanna thank you and your team again. We got, we we, because we collaborated and we learned from you. We, we helped so many more people. And you know, looking forward we have a few, we have, we have another book coming. So
RV (43:48):
Come on now. We’ll
JK (43:49):
Definitely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we’ll, we’ll talk, we’ll talk about that. But thank you, thank you for what you do. You’re, you’re an inspiring force of nature, you know, and unstoppable force for, for good and for God. So thank you.
RV (44:00):
Thank you, brother. Well, we’ll link up to everything y’all and Jim, we’re praying for you. We’ll talk soon, buddy. All the best.

Ep 491: Creating Content for the Next Generation | Eevi Jones Episode Recap

AJV (00:02):
Have you ever thought about writing a kid’s book? If you have, then I would encourage you to stick around for the next five minutes. Writing a kid’s book is one of the things that I’ve always had a passion to do. I have not yet done it, but my husband had this spiritual download from the Lord about two years ago. And while we were putting our kids to bed one night, he literally in the middle of putting my two toddlers at that time, two and four down, he said, babe, I have to go. And he just leaves the room disappears. I finished putting my kids down and about 45 minutes later I’m like, where is he? And he emerges out of all places out of the bathroom, right? I guess where it’s for all great things happen for him. And he said, babe, I just wrote a kid’s book.
AJV (00:42):
And I was like, I’m sorry, you just wrote a kid’s book sitting in the bathroom. What are you talking about? And he goes, I want you to read this. And he hands me his phone and I hold up his phone and I start reading this thing that he just wrote. And lo and behold, he was right. And about 30 minutes, he had written an entire kid’s book. Now, the point is not that he did this in 30 minutes, ’cause he didn’t this actually was oh, the, this was the end result of 14 years of talking about his first book, take The Stairs, which is a business book for adults and post children, right? We read a lot of books and they suck. These kid books are not awesome. So if you’ve got great kids book recommendations, tag me, AJ Vaden on Instagram, I’d love to know.
AJV (01:33):
But I have not found a ton of them that are amazing. And while reading to our kids one night, he had this download of the message that he wanted to share with our kids from Take the Stairs. And so he wrote a book called Be the Buffalo, which is one of the signature stories in his first book, take The Stairs. That came out in 2010. And it’s about sometimes difficult choices, although they’re harder in the short term lead to better, you know, results in the long term. And it’s about charging the storm, right? It’s charging into conflict, not running away from it. It’s heading difficult. Things head on, not shying away because the more that you avoid it, the longer you spend time in the storm. But if you be the buffalo, you can charge the storm and get through those things quicker.
AJV (02:22):
And that story, that analogy is a really great thing that we talk about a lot. And what he was doing in the bathroom was figuring out how to, how do you take 250 pages of business words for adults and put them into about a 200 word poem for our kids? And I read this book and I was like, this, this is amazing. This is the best thing I’ve ever read. I’m pretty sure I was like ugly crying. ’cause I was like, this is so beautiful. This is exactly what I wanna share with my kids. And I said, you have to turn this into a kid’s book. Fast forward 18 months later it was still sitting on his phone. Why?
AJV (02:59):
Because we didn’t know how to do it. We knew we wanted to do it. We didn’t know how to do it. And I think this is the important thing. It’s like the reason that I felt so convicted that Rory had to get this book out into the world is as adults, we read a ton of books about how to be better leaders, better communicators, better humans, how to prioritize our time, how to have positive self-talk, self-control, discipline, obedience. How do we find our self-worth? How do we talk to each other? The importance of our words selling, marketing, recruiting, the list goes on and on and on. I read no kids’ book to talk about that, right? And I’m thinking to myself, why did I have to be in my twenties, thirties, and now forties to learn these things? Why are there books like this for kids?
AJV (03:50):
For my 5-year-old, 7-year-old, my 10-year-old niece and nephew, my 15-year-old nephew, right? My 19-year-old niece. Like, why did we have to wait to discover these lessons? To learn these lessons? And answer is because no one had written them . And so I think that there is an amazing abundance of incredibly powerful books for adults. And we need to as authors, as content creators. It doesn’t have to be a book. Perhaps you just have a set of curriculum or a methodology. Maybe it’s a course, maybe right now it’s just a keynote. Maybe it’s a series of blog articles. But you have content that is powerful, but you’re directing it to adults. What if, what if you could take that content and actually equip and inspire the next generation? What if, if you look back for me, I’m just gonna say this, 35 years. What if 35 years ago I had a bookshelf full of books reminding me of my worth and that my value was not in what I did, but it was in who I was.
AJV (05:03):
What if I had a bookshelf that taught me how to have confidence as a leader with also empathy and reflection? But with confidence and, and power? What if I learned how to project, manage and not over commit? What if I learned the value of time at a very early age? And that money is not the end goal? What if I had learned all of these things as a child? What, how would my life been different? And how would have my ability to love and impact others been expedited at a much earlier age? Why did I have to wait to learn those things? And it’s because people who are writing the books aren’t writing them for kids. And so this is a call to arms. This is a challenge to the people
AJV (05:56):
Who have years and years, decades of experience of learning the trials errors and learning the lessons who are decidedly already putting those things into practice in content for adults. Do me a favor. Would you consider also putting those things into words for kids? Would you also consider about what it would’ve been like for you to have learned those things in your youth? And could you just for a moment, think about how could you do that now? How could you take the content that you’ve already created and use it to equip the next generation of leaders and humans, of employees, of moms, of dads, of just humanity to be better so they don’t have to wait like we did? So if you would be interested in learning about this, I would encourage you to check out our good friend Evie Jones. And she was the person that was referred to us that we found who was able to take our business book, take the Stairs, and turn it into a kid’s book, to take the lessons that were learned in the first, you know, 15 years of our career, but also our life.
AJV (07:12):
And put those in a book that would appeal and delight children to help them learn lessons that need to be learned to help establish mantras that you as a parent or an aunt or a friend can to rally behind to help these kids be behind pages of books, not screens, to learn lessons, not watch entertaining videos. Instead of getting into trouble. , they are getting into curiosity and learning how to be better. So would you check it out? So go to evie jones.com/brand builder, right? And there’s, she’s not the only one. It’s just the one that we’ve used. So it’s who I can personally recommend. But this is a truly a just, it’s a request for all of us who have something valuable to share, to not leave out the kids . That’s my request. So think about it and reach out if you have any questions. Evie jones.com/brain builder, here’s to the next generation.

Ep 490: How To Turn Your Business Book Into a Children’s Book with Eevi Jones

AJV (00:02):
E everybody, welcome to the influential Personal Brand podcast, AJ Vaden here. And y’all, I am so excited to get to introduce you to a friend but also a vendor like we are a client of Evie Jones. And when you learn about how we came to know her and what we did through her, I think it’s gonna spark some interest in all of you who have this passion of writing books or you’ve written books and you’re wondering like, how does what I do not just apply to the adult world, but the children’s world? And so I am very excited for this conversation because I know that if it has, if any of our content has application, application to adults, there is probably some sort of uni universal application to kids. And there is a, a really seamless and beautiful way that ev is able to take what we write, what we create for adults, and make it something that has appeal of educational value and and motivation and inspiration for our kids.
AJV (01:07):
And as a mom of two young boys, there is nothing more important than me finding good books for them to read because there’s not a lot of them. So let me also formally introduce you to Edie Jones. She is a USA today and a Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning writer. She’s also the founder of Children’s Book University. She does writing, she does co-writing. She does a lot of this under pin names, so you would never know that it’s her, but she’s authored more than 60 different children’s books. She’s been featured in Forbes, business Insider, Huffington Post, scary Mommy, EO Fire, Kendall Preneur. I could go on and on and on. And she lives in DC and also has two young boys. And I am so excited for this conversation. So, Evie, welcome to the show. Well,
EJ (01:55):
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me, aj. I’m really so excited to be here.
AJV (02:00):
I mean, and I think this is going to be such a, a cool conversation not just for authors, but for anyone who creates content and who also has kids, nieces, nephews, no kids, like whatever it is. And I just, I love the whole idea that whatever we create for adults why don’t we also think about this? How does it have, you know, universal application and benefit to our kids? And you have done such an amazing job for us. So just for you guys know who are listening, we’ll talk about this later. But Evie was behind the scenes in helping us take Rory’s first book, take the Stairs, and turn it into now my favorite kid’s book, slightly biased, but it’s my favorite kid’s book called Be The Buffalo. And so she was able to help take this one memorable concept of an a book written for adults.
AJV (02:50):
And Rory wrote this kind of poem, right? And then she was able to take that and architect it and found illustrators and printing and publishing and all the things that we didn’t have to do. And we literally went from idea for this book to publication in just a few months. And it has been a dream of a project, and you have been so awesome to work with, so, so excited just to introduce you to our community. But those are all the things I know. So let me have you introduce yourself to our community. And I would just love to know, like, what is your background? How did you get into doing this? And just a little bit about your company so that our audience gets to know you.
EJ (03:31):
Yes. Well, so your introduction was already so amazing. You, you already hit all the main things. So yes, I’m Evie. I am a professional writer and award-winning children’s author and the founder of Children’s Book university, where I teach color aspiring authors how to write and also how to publish their very own children’s book. They always wanted to write and, and share with others. And so over the past few years, as you have already said, I have written and co-authored and ghost written over 60 children’s books for children ranging from pre-K all the way to middle grade, which of course includes, you know, picture books all the way to middle grade chapter books. Hmm. And so the way I got into all this, you know, I wrote my very first children’s book back in 2013 for my then 2-year-old.
EJ (04:19):
He’s my oldest and he just actually turned 14. And so he always, he’s always so embarrassed when I tell this story because my very first children’s book was a a party transition story. So he was already potty trained, but you know, he had a really hard time transitioning from a potty chair to a regular toilet. And yeah, because I, because I couldn’t find any books on this topic, I just decided to write my own. So my first children’s book was really born out of this particular need. And so to this day, my boys are such a huge inspiration to me and my writing. And so the books I wrote throughout the years are truly, you know, a reflection of the interests they had or the struggles they also faced over the years. And so, as for the teaching of other aspiring children’s authors and the ghosts and co-writing especially within the entrepreneurial space, that’s something I really just fell into.
EJ (05:17):
Hmm. So a couple of years ago I read Todd Herman’s Wall Street Journal bestselling book, the Alter Ego Effect. And I know that Todd has been on your podcast before as well. And yeah. So I loved his book so much that I wanted to share it with my two boys. And so I turned a book of nearly 250 pages into a children’s book with about 250 words. And so my boys loved it, and they loved it so much that I actually ended up reaching out to Todd and sharing it with him. And he loved it too. And so much so that we decided to co-author a children’s book version for his book. And he was planning on doing so anyway, so the timing was perfect. And so that’s how his children spoke.
AJV (06:01):
I wanna pause really quick. Yeah. And I wanna make sure everyone heard this, because I think this is really important for all of us when we’re trying to do something and we think somehow that we need to charge for our services before we do them. Like, you’re telling me that your whole business evolved because you saw something that you could do to serve your children, you did it for free, and then because of that you said, Hey, I just want you to know this is something I did. And that was the genesis for this entire business.
EJ (06:39):
It was Yes, absolutely. That’s interest.
AJV (06:42):
Make sure everyone, I make sure everyone heard that. Right. I just wanna, I think that’s important that everyone knows that often your business starts with doing stuff for free and you make it so good. Absolutely. It’s undeniably impossible not to do more with you.
EJ (07:00):
Yes, yes, yes. And so ex that’s how his children’s book, my Super Me was Born. And it’s a story where a little hero puts on his cape and learns to play through the fearless traits of his superhero stuffed animal Captain Storm, and where he finds the courage and resilience to show up in a more brave, more brave way and ultimately unlock his heroic self. And so, yes, through this collaboration, this project, this opened up a whole bunch of new doors and opportunities that I am really just so grateful for because Todd just kept introducing me to new people. So that’s how that got started.
AJV (07:40):
I love that. And, and really just added passion and interest of how do I share this with my kids, and how do I make something that helped me help them? I love that. Yes. I love that. So, so much. So at this point, tell us how you work with authors, right? So I’ll just we’ll use Rory as an example of, yes. Okay. So you’ve got this adult book.
EJ (08:07):
AJV (08:07):
What does it look like to go from this book that was written for a, a business audience in this case to, and now we have something that would be great for a three year-old five-year-old, 10-year-old.
EJ (08:20):
Yes. So in your case, it was, you know, you, you guys, you and Rory reached out last year, and at this point, Rory had already written his beautiful story, which you guys called Be The Buffalo. Right. Which I, I immediately fell into in love with the story, you know, because writing in rhyme and reading stories in rhyme is just my absolute favorite just because reading these types of books to little ones is just so much fun for us grownups as well, right. Because we want to make sure that it’s fun for us also because we have to read these books over and over again to our little ones, , right? Especially if it’s their favorite book . And but those are also always the most difficult ones to write. Too many often don’t realize that even though children’s books are much shorter, it can be quite challenging to write them often, even a lot more challenging than writing a regular book for grownups.
EJ (09:15):
And that’s because, you know, a children’s books are a lot shorter, meaning we only have a few hundred words to share what we want to say. So every single word here counts, and B, even though the concept we want to share in our story may be quite complex, we will need to share it in such a way that it is both interesting to our little readers while telling it in such a way that it is easily understood. And so, I think Be The Buffalo does just that, you know, it’s, it’s so much fun to read it and it’s it, this message is just so powerful. I wanted to actually tell you, you know, my two boys that are now nine and 14 so they’re already a little bit older, but my husband and I both constantly use the phrase, be the Buffalo Now you know, whenever our boys are faced, faced with a decision that might require them to choose between an option that seems easier at the moment and an option that seems harder at the moment, but better for them in the long run, we use that, that phrase now.
EJ (10:15):
And so I know that Rory tells the story of the Buffalo in his book, take the Stairs, and that the story has been shared many, many times over the years, often unfortunately, without attributing it to Rory. Right? So I really just love that it is now that he’s now sharing this valuable lesson with little ones in the form of a children’s book as well. Mm-Hmm. And so, yeah, so the way this usually happens is people often come to me not always, but often they come to me as a, as a fellow entrepreneur, and they already have a book written on the subject of expertise, usually, right? Just like Todd Herman had the book, the Alter Ego Effect that shares how to unlock Most Heroic Your Most Heroic Self. Or Brian Johnson, for example, with this book, Ari Taylor shows us grownups to become the best version of ourselves.
EJ (11:11):
So they either have a book or they have been teaching or coaching a particular topic, you know, using a specific proprietary process that they would now like to also share with children in the form of a story. And so, what many are essentially looking for and asking for is to take the essence of their books or the essence of their teachings, and then convert it into something that we can share with little readers in, in such a way that it is easily understood. And I really love this so much because what we are essentially doing is we are taking all these amazing teaching points that took us grownups, decades to learn, right? And, and internalize, and we make them understandable and ac accessible to little ones so they can learn about them in a fun and creative way, which then in turn helps them create these habits and healthy mindsets early on in life. And yeah, you know, knowing what I know now, I would give anything, if I could have learned about the power of the alter ego early on in life, you know or the power my words can have on others, or knowing that sometimes taking the seemingly harder path often turns out to be the better one, right? So instead of waiting until our twenties or thirties or forties, we can share these incredible nuggets of wisdom early on with our little ones in the form of a children’s book. Yeah. I could
AJV (12:38):
Not not agree more. I could not agree more. Like one of the, honestly, like, just for everyone listening, like one of the reasons I wanted to have Evie on the show is because there is such a void of good kids books. Yes. Like, I literally find myself spending hours sorting through reviews, reading the first few pages, and then putting it back, putting it back. I’m like, Nope, nope, this makes no sense. This has no story, this has no plot. And there’s definitely no lesson that I want my kids to learn. And I love what you just said, and I think this is so important for anyone out there who is a content creator, whether you have a book, wanna have a book, or you never thought about it, but you have a lot of content of why wouldn’t we want to empower our kids the next generation with all of the life lessons we’ve already learned? Why should they wait till they’re 20, 30, 40? I love that you said that, ed, of going, no, look, we have an ability to teach them those things now. Like right now, all the things that we wish we would’ve known and we can do it through actually helpful kids books versus some of the nonsense.
EJ (13:41):
Yes, exactly. Yeah. So
AJV (13:44):
What, so what does it look like? So, okay, so we’ll just use like any book, right? So let’s just say I’m an author and I, I have a, you know, business book about, you know, whatever, it doesn’t matter what it is. And I’m like, yeah, I’d love to figure out how to turn this into a kid’s book. Like what do you do? Like, you have, you do have a gift, you’ve got some magic behind the scenes and, and doing this. And a lot of it’s ’cause you’ve done it for a long time and you’ve done it many times. Yes. Right? But what does that process look like for the person going, yeah, I would love for my book to be a kid’s book.
EJ (14:20):
Yes. So usually what I do when, when people come to me is I actually read this book myself, and I’m very active within the entrepreneurial space. So I, the chances are actually pretty high that I have already read the book. But either way I will read the book and really also have a one-on-one conversation. You know, what is it that you want to get out of this book and what do you want little kids to get out of the children’s book? And so then this will always help me really condense this message down because that’s what we need to do, right? Like I said, we have to turn 250 pages into 250 words. And so yeah. So once we are clear on the main teaching points or the main purpose of the children’s book, we want to figure out what age group we want our book to be for.
EJ (15:06):
That’s really, really important because something most aspiring children’s authors don’t know or don’t realize is that they need to be really clear on their audience, very much like businesses in general, but we need to know who we are writing our book for as well. Right? Many often tell me that they want their children’s book to be written for any child, so that no matter the age, whether they’re two or they’re 12 years old, you know, everyone will enjoy it. But looking at our own kids, right? We know that that’s just not possible. A 2-year-old won’t really enjoy what a 12-year-old is reading and vice versa. And that’s simply because we develop cognitively the most during our childhood. And that’s why, you know, there is such a vast difference in the use of vocabulary and also the word count within children’s books and the number of pages and the number of illustrations and things like that. This is not random, you know, it’s all based on our target audience, the age group. And so that’s why we want to be very clear on what age range we want to be writing for so we can then choose the right length of words or the right length of the story and the right type of story. So
AJV (16:15):
I have a question for you about that. So yes, this is basically figuring out what is your core target audience for your children’s book. And so what would you say are like the age ranges? Does it go from like two to four, five to seven, eight to 10? Or like, because you’re right, like even the books, like my kids grow out of books probably every year, if not every two years. So that is a really interesting insight of like, you’ve gotta be really micro specific of who your book is going after.
EJ (16:47):
Exactly. So that you, the age ranges you gave is exactly that. And so based on each, it’s, you know, you make the story a little bit longer or you can also use a little bit more challenging vocabulary. And so also, do we want to have illustrations on each page, or would it, for older kids, they only have, you know, illustrations, maybe a couple of pages, every couple of pages. How much text do we want to have on each page? Things like that. So yeah, it’s really important. That’s
AJV (17:15):
Really insightful. ’cause You know, what you said in the beginning is probably what I hear most people say is like, I want it for all kids. And it’s like, yes, you are right. A 2-year-old and a 12-year-old are very different and want very different books. Just you know, just thinking about that. I’m sure me and Rory even said that like, we wanted to apply to all kids, and that’s not how it is. Right. That’s really, really insightful of how narrow it must be for children. Mm-Hmm. .
EJ (17:43):
Exactly. Yeah. And so that’s usually, that usually takes part of the story writing part because, you know, I will then usually take it and write something have, first we have a conversation of where I would like to take it based on the book, and then I write something and then, you know, it’s, it’s very much a co collaborative work, right? Where we go back and forth tweaking it and just seeing to seeing where we would like to take it, or, you know, sometimes it’s either spot on or sometimes we need to still tweak it a little bit. And so that’s what we work on there. And so then after that, it’s re really about the visual part. This is what’s so beautiful about children’s books, because it’s not just the story, it’s also the visual, right? The through illustrations, which is always so much fun.
EJ (18:29):
And so most children’s books are passion projects, meaning we usually just start writing and then start envisioning the different illustrations. You know, and the really, that’s really the exciting part for me as well. And so because we are mainly driven by our passion, we don’t really think about the more technical things like, you know, the illustration sizes or the book size that are available to us, or, you know along with the orientation, you know, should we have a landscape or the other way, you know, and things like that. And so I remember wasting so much time with my very first children’s book because I didn’t think about any of these things, you know? And so all illustrations ended up being the wrong size, and I essentially had to start all over again, and I lost so much time. And so before reaching out to an illustrator, we always want to already have these things in mind, you know, know the size we want for our book, or at least have an idea.
EJ (19:26):
Or like, you guys, you, you came and you said, you know, we really like these llama lama books, you know, and so that was really helpful. So that helps. And so we also want to already have an idea of what kind of illustration type we like, you know, where we what we want our children’s book to look like. Because if we start looking for an illustrator without already having some sort of vision, we can get overwhelmed really easily and really quickly, because there are just so many different styles out there. So we first want to get clear on what style we like and then go from there. And that’s really, you already had a vision, so I could you, you know, that you shared with me that was so, that made it so much easier for me. So that was amazing.
AJV (20:08):
But I’ll tell you, as content creators, that was the most challenging part for us. Like, before we found you, which we’re so glad we got referred to you, you know, I don’t know if Rory told you how the Be the Buffalo came to be, but we were literally putting our kids to bed one night, and I was tucking him in, and we always usually do it together. And Rory looks at me and he goes, I have to go. And he just left the room, and I’m like, are you sick? Are you like, what is going on? And he just disappeared. And so I finished putting our two boys down at that point, Liam was probably two, and Jasper was four, and Roy disappeared. So like 30 minutes later I went looking for like, what, what is wrong with you? Where are you? And I couldn’t find him.
AJV (20:51):
And he was downstairs in his office. And so finally he emerges and he goes, babe, I just had a download from God. I just wrote a kid’s book. And I’m like, I’m sorry, what? What you, what whatcha talking about? And he goes, I don’t know what happened, but we were just putting the kids down. And I literally just got this message and I just wrote a kid’s book. And he goes, will you read this? And I was like, if you wrote a kid’s book in the last 30 minutes, what are you talking about? So I pull up his phone and I read it, and I literally, I start crying. I’m like, this is exactly what we wanna teach our kids. This is, this is exactly the heart of the parenting that we want to have with our kids. And I immediately said, this has to be a book.
AJV (21:34):
This cannot stay with us. Fast forward 18 months. Right? So, like, he had written that, and immediately we were like, we need an we, we know we need an illustrator, right? And we, it took forever to find anyone who would even talk to us about it. And then we hired someone paid several thousand dollars, and it was like we would get an image or two every few weeks and not in a book format. And finally we were like, listen, you can keep the deposit, but we had a bail on this. And then Rory was like, babe, we just don’t have time for this. Long story short, we finally got introduced to you. And from the time that we got introduced to you to like a book in hand, it was just a couple of months. And so much of the power of working with someone who knows what they’re doing has a lot to do with like, we didn’t have to think of all the things you said, these are the illustrators I use based on what you told me.
AJV (22:26):
This is what I need from you. Get, fill this, fill this out, fill this out. And I, I share that because I think it’s so important of going, we could have had this book out a long time before because the, the book itself, the poem, right, it came in 30 minutes, but it took us 18 months to finally find someone who knew what the heck they were doing to allow us to create something. And that was you. And it was so much of the guidance and the coaching, and this is what I need from you next. This is what I need from you next. And the, the illustrations was a huge part of it. ’cause We don’t know, we had never written a kid’s book before, right? We just knew that we wanted this for our kids and our friends’ kids and any kid. And I think that’s, that is what is the problem with so much of our businesses. Doesn’t matter if you’re writing for adults or for kids, it’s like what you’re good at is the content, right? But putting it all together, getting it printed, getting it in a course, putting it in a keynote, that’s, that’s what stops a lot of us from getting the message that we feel called to share from actually ever getting out. There are the technical and tactical things. And in this particular case, you take care of all of that. If you wanna put ’em in a kid’s book.
EJ (23:47):
Yes, exactly. Well, I’m just so grateful that you kept nudging Rory to really do turn it into a children’s book.
AJV (23:55):
More like harassing, but , nudging, harassing . Yes. But it was because I felt so convicted, he probably would’ve been like, oh, babe, like someday. But I felt so convicted in it. But we did, we needed a partner. And you were such a great partner in that, and I just share that for anyone who was out there going, oh man, like, this is gonna take a ton of my 10. No, it did not. It really did not. Like, the hardest thing for us was to go through the illustrations and decide, you know, this and that. And I will tell you that too, is like, that also became one of our favorite parts of writing the kids’ book, was being able to help all of the characters in the book be reflective of our children and our family and experiences. And so it’s like, part of this is like, it’s for everyone else, but it’s also a callback to the things that are important to us and experiences Yes. That we’ve been through. And even when my kids now, who are almost five and just turned seven, they will go through the book and they’ll be like, there’s me. And they know that the characters that have been designed represent them. And it’s, it’s a really special process Yes,
AJV (25:08):
Absolutely. To do it for children. Mm-Hmm. like, it, it’s been a very cool thing to not just write something for adults, which is very needed, but also to be able to do it in a way that speaks truth into our children. And so I just I have so many compliments on what you do and how you do it. I think it’s a really unique service. And again, I can’t, I’ll, I cannot say this enough, we cannot withhold all of the lessons that we learn for adults. Just for adults. Yes, absolutely. They have gotta be shared with our children, and you’re a conduit of doing that. So, okay. So here’s my next question. For the people who have content and books, how do they, how do they know when it’s time to do a kid’s book or if they should do a kid’s book? Is there some sort of like, process of going your book is good for translating into kids, or is there a checks and balances of going like, I love it, but it’s it’s not going to work for a kid. Yes. Like, what does that look like? Mm-Hmm.
EJ (26:09):
. So timing wise, I would say it’s, it’s always, it really depends on what your goal is. You know, is it to really further your own brand or is it really just a passion project about something that you always wanted to share? Because if it’s a later then you can start any time. But with, you know, if it’s more for the branding, then I would say it, you, you want to be sure that you already have your own branding of your, of your of your business dialed in so that you know exactly what you want, what you want to share with children. So that’s what I would want to wait for. Not to come too early, because, you know, if you’re still kind of trying to find your way, find your, your direction, your path, then this will also change the children’s story. Right? And so we wouldn’t want that. So we want to wait until we are sure. Without branding.
AJV (27:02):
Yeah. So you wanna be an establ you wanna be established in your
EJ (27:06):
Personal brand. Yes, exactly. Brand.
AJV (27:07):
Mm-Hmm. very clear on your content. You have a direction, you know what you’re going on. It’s consistent. Yes. It’s very well built out. So this is not something you would wanna do in the early stages, right? Probably not something you would wanna do before you even had a published book.
EJ (27:24):
Yes. I mean, but if you have, you know a proprietary system that you’re using that you, that you have in your course, then you can, then you do not necessarily need a book. Okay. Yes. But it always helps me if you have material like a book that always helps me just to draft your story. But I can also, I often also go through my client’s courses. So, you know, if they don’t have a book, I go through their courses and then I just get inspired there. So that also works.
AJV (27:53):
But it’s most important that you’re just clear and established and who you are. Mm-Hmm. what you have to say, how you wanna say it. And there’s well-defined content in some format.
EJ (28:05):
AJV (28:06):
Okay. So that’s all
EJ (28:07):
I need.
AJV (28:07):
So and then, so then kind of my second question is that is how do you determine if the content is suitable to turn into a kid’s book? Or have you ever told someone, I love your content. I don’t think it’s good for kids. ? Yes. Have you never said that?
EJ (28:24):
Yes. I mean, you know, a lot of people think that a, a children’s book about business just has to be really about business. Like, you know, marketing or selling or having a lemonade stand, because I see those books all the time, right? Mm-Hmm. . But there is such a need for children’s books that share values and concepts that are used throughout the entrepreneurial world. You know, for example, ideas like you know, you, you are who you surround yourself with, or you know, how our attitude toward things drives our feelings and actions or, you know, what persistence and consistency means and what, what it can help us achieve. Things like that. And that’s really, this is stuff that is really near and dear to my heart because if little ones, like I already shared, you know, grow up with these concepts and understandings already ingrained the knowledge will be theirs for life.
EJ (29:16):
Just like their language becomes second nature, this knowledge is simply a given. And simply they grow up with this, right? And so if you are asking yourself, is this worth a children’s book? Then I would say, you know, in today’s fast and ever changing world, we all need to be asking ourselves, how am I impacting and supporting others with my life and my energy? How do I leave a lasting positive impact on my little ones that leaves them for the better long after I’m gone? Right? And so my providing of these services is my attempt to help others do just that. So yes, I hopefully that answers your question.
AJV (29:55):
Yeah, I think that’s really good. And I, and I think it’s, it’s what I hear you saying is that there’s an opportunity no matter what your message is Yes. To find an application for it to be meaningful for kids.
EJ (30:07):
Mm-Hmm. . Exactly.
AJV (30:09):
Yeah. I love that. So then my next question is kind of like, how could this help you built Mm-Hmm, your personal brand? Like for the people that you have helped take their business books or just, you know, books written for adults and turn them into kids, how, what, what are the benefits that you have seen from having a kid’s version of the product?
EJ (30:33):
Yes. So for many of my clients that so for example, Todd Herman, he uses his and Phil Jones. I know that Rory knows Phil Jones, and you maybe also they just take their children’s books anywhere they go because this is just another angle to share your own message. You know, and this is why I was saying earlier, it’s really helpful that if your children’s book you know, shares the same message as your own, as your own brand, right? If it ties together what you are teaching and what your children’s book is teaching, if that ties together, that’s really great. And that you can then later on share your message from different angles, because a lot of our clients have children. So then you can share your children’s book that way and tackle things that way. Or for example, my, my client Brian Johnson with his book Ari Te, for him it is really important to reach as many people as possible.
EJ (31:32):
And so, again, that’s why he, he create, he has this book Ari Tale for regular people then, but then he also has programs that reaches athletes, for example. So, you know, he wants to reach athletes, so he creates material that specifically targets them. And so that’s why we wrote his children’s book series heroic for his heroic brand to reach children. And so that’s, I think how this ties it all together, just being able to share it with a different generation, the same teachings that are important to you to be able to reach other generations with that message.
AJV (32:11):
Yeah. Well, I love it. Well, I’ll tell you, for everyone who’s listening, and for you too, Evie, as a consumer, as a parent, I often buy way more kids books than I do adult books, right? It’s like, absolutely. I, I pretty much am like for every Christmas present for my niece and nephews, it always includes a book for most birthday presents. ’cause I wanna give something that’s not just a toy that’s going to disappear in three weeks. I almost always include a book. Like, that’s just who I am. Maybe not everyone is like that, but I buy way more kids’ books. And when I find a kid’s book I love, I’ll buy like 20 or 30 of ’em. ’cause Then I’m like, I know your kid needs it. I know your kid needs it. I know you want your kid to have it. There’s very few adult books that I’ll do. I’ll recommend ’em, I’ll share them. But like the kids’ books, because kids can’t buy them. I do that. And so for whatever it’s worth to everyone listening out there, people will buy more books for their kids than often they will even for themselves.
EJ (33:17):
Absolutely. I, I absolutely agree. Especially what you were saying with as a gift. Right? I, I very rarely give books. Maybe my husband, I give him books all the time, but friends, not so much. The only time when I do give books to friends and family is when it’s a children’s book.
AJV (33:34):
Yeah. So, so for anyone who’s listening, just going, it’s kind of a big deal. And then I think another thing that we’ve really seen is just doing special times throughout the year of like where we package. You know, you, you buy this book and you’re gonna get the kids’ book with it. Mm-Hmm. , that’s been a also a really unique thing of like, hey, this isn’t just for you. It’s, it’s for you and your family. Here’s the version for you. Here’s the version for you to read to your kids. And it allows you to have a secondary way of processing the information. Yes. Like one of the things that, and I, we have Phil Jones’ books in our kids’ room. And then John Gordon has some kids’ books of his adult books. And one of the things that has been really helpful for me is the way that you help simplify the books.
AJV (34:22):
I I sometimes I’ll just flip through be the buffalo as reminders of things that I won’t necessarily pull out, take the stairs and flip through it, because it doesn’t have pictures. There’s not that emotional visual reminder and there’s a lot of pages and a lot of words, but sometimes I’ll just flip through it for those like quick subtle reminders that Yes. And I think part of it is ’cause I lo it, I love it in a poem version. I know you mentioned you do too, but the simplicity and the, the shortness of how quick you can get through that is a really powerful reminder when the, I can only think of like maybe two books ever that I reread. Like, there’s just not a lot. But with kids’ books, to your point, you’re gonna read them until you’re exhausted of ’em. You’re like, oh my gosh, can we never read this book again? But those reminders really mean a lot when they actually have a plot, a story, and a lesson, and it’s just as impactful for me, the adult, the reader, and in this case, the parent to read it to my kids as it is beneficial for them.
EJ (35:23):
Exactly. Yeah. I love that you say this because that’s what I get a lot about my own books also, that when people read it, and it’s supposed to be for children, but they say, oh my goodness, that was so amazing to just read for myself. So, and you know, if you have a book like this that is really, that’s something special, you know, if if both can get something out of this yeah. I love that.
AJV (35:47):
I love that. So okay, two quick questions left, and I’ll be sensitive to time, but how long does this process take? So if somebody’s like, oh yeah, I’ve been, I’ve been wanting to do this, like what is like a timeline of expectations to get something out into the world?
EJ (36:02):
Yes. So your timeline was super short. Right. And because, and the reason why this is not always the case. The reason why was whenever I send something your way for a thumbs up or you know, your feedback, you were on it. So it really depends on, you know, my client’s feedback, how quickly can they return my calls or my emails and things like that. And so yeah, based on that I don’t remember, but it wasn’t, was it three to six months? Right? Yeah. So it was really quick. It
AJV (36:34):
Was not long. It was not long.
EJ (36:36):
Yes. And so yeah, around that timeframe, I would say. But again, it really depends on how quickly, you know, the client can respond. But I always try to write my story very quickly, thoroughly, but quickly because I know that people are so excited, you know, to get this going and to share it with the world. And so, yeah, so I work as quickly as possible, and then we just always take it from there.
AJV (37:01):
Well, I’ll just tell yer, if you haven’t yet written a book, the idea if you could get a kids book out in three to six months is about 10 x shorter if you’re going to write a traditional book for business or adults. And it was a really seems easy process. But again, it was not until we found the right partner and the right vendor, and that was, that was so much of a blessing of, of your part of the contribution of doing this. All right, Evie, last question. What do you think people need to know through the process of considering or writing a kid’s book? Like what do you think is the most important thing people should know?
EJ (37:44):
Yeah. Well, so I would, I would say as a children’s author is that if you have ever thought about writing a children’s book, whether it is for your brand or as a passion project, I would encourage you to really look into it and just go for it. You know, it’s 90% of the people that hear that I write children’s books, they tell me that they always wanted to write their own. Hmm. But so few actually end up doing so for, for various reasons. But really, it’s never too late to write a children’s book. Something people often are held back by is the thought that they don’t have any experience either in writing children’s books or, you know, in writing in general. Or oftentimes people share with me that they don’t have kids or, you know, that they, that because of that they don’t feel like they are fit to write a children’s book.
EJ (38:32):
But, you know, there are really, there’s no reason to think that having kids or not having kids disqualifies us to write a children’s book. You know, I have worked with many clients that also don’t have children, or where the children are already fully grown and have already moved out. So it isn’t necessarily about having kids or being around kids, it’s about having been a kid, you know, and remembering similar experiences or having overcome similar struggles that kids go through today. That’s what we’ll connect with little ones, not whether or not the author is around children on a daily basis, you know? And yeah, it’s just so funny too, because so many don’t know that some of our most beloved authors we remember from our own childhood also don’t have children, or didn’t have children. For example, Dr. Seuss, he didn’t have any children, you know, and Louis Carroll, the, the author of Alice in Wonderland didn’t either or, or she Silverstein or Marie Sendek, you know, who wrote where the Wild Things are. Or Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, all Without Children. And yet they all have, these are some of our most beloved children’s book authors. So I think that’s something to just keep in mind also.
AJV (39:46):
Yeah, those are iconic books for the most part. Mm-Hmm, . Exactly. Yeah. And I didn’t know that. And what I love about what you said is this, this isn’t about you thinking that this is for kids. It’s what did you need when you were a kid?
EJ (40:00):
AJV (40:01):
And how can you impart that gift to this next generation? That’s so good, so wise, I love that so much. Everyone who’s listening if you are curious about this, if you’re going, I would love to learn more about what it, what it’s like to write a kid’s book or turn my book into a kid’s book. Evie has put together a special link just for our community, for our podcast listeners. So if you wanna check this out, if you wanna learn more, go to Evie Jones. It’s EEVI jones.com/brand builders. So evie jones.com/brand builders. I’ll put that in the show notes. And she’s gonna do a 15 minute call for free with anyone who’s interested. Most of her services are not for free, so this is a very generous offering of just to go like, what’s it about? Could I do it? How would I do it? And what, what’s the process like? So if you wanna learn more, check her out. Evie, if people just wanna connect with you on like, your preferred social platform, where should they go?
EJ (41:06):
They can just go over to Instagram. That’s Evie Jones. That’s where you find me, that’s where I am. And you can also message me there as well.
AJV (41:15):
Awesome. And then one last bonus question for me, but if it’s for me, bet other people would like to know it as well, what is your favorite kid’s book to recommend to other parents?
EJ (41:28):
Well, I have so many because, you know, I, I write and read so often. I read so many, so I would say I absolutely love The Little Blue Truck Series by Ali Shirley and the Lama Lama series, which I know you love so much by Anna Ney because they express so much with so little, you know, so just so few words. And so for older kids, I adore Andrea Beatty’s, the questionnaire series, if you are looking for something for your boys like, you know, she has books like Rosie Revere Engineer, or Iggy Peck Architect. So I’m really drawn as, you know, to rhyming stories because they, they’re my favorite way of writing. And so for older kids, Mary Pope Osborne, you know, her Magic Treehouse series, I absolutely love this one. And then of course, I have to mention my favorite illustrators who are Peter H. Reynolds and Lauren Long. I love them so much. So yes. And then of course, your book. I love it so much. I hope lots of people get it. It’s absolutely adorable. And like I said, the first time I read it, I, I just knew it was something really special. And we use this phrase all the time now. So, you know, when we see a set of stairs or you know, an escalator, and my voice move toward the escalator, say, be the buffalo, and we go up the stairs.
AJV (42:50):
I love it. And I promise I did not ask her to say that I did not . But like, to that, I would tell you, it’s like some of those books you just read are also some of my favorite for my kids to read. Like the Magic Tree House series. Yes. is I very popular book for my 7-year-old. And I think a, a part of what I love about what you’re doing is you’re inspiring the next generation to fall in love with reading and more time in front of pages versus on screens. So I just wanna appreciate all the work that you’re doing. You’re so gifted and I’m so excited to introduce you to our audience. Y’all check it out, learn more. Go to evie jones.com/brand builder, connect with her on social media. I’ll put all the links in the show notes, and then make sure you stick around for the recap episode. That’ll be coming up next. And we will see you next time on the Influential Personal Brand.
EJ (43:41):

Ep 489: How to Move From Your Current Gig to Your New Gig | Kelly Roach Episode Recap

RV (00:17):
I wanna share with you a four step process for exactly how to leave your job and start a side hustle. Welcome back to the Influential Personal Brand podcast. I am recapping the addition of the interview I just did with Kelly Roach. And one of the things that we were talking in there was about how did she start her own business? And I thought, gosh, I get this question so often, which is, how do I know and how do I orchestrate leaving my job and starting my personal project or my side business or even leaving the, the current thing you’re doing with your, your personal brand and then starting something new. And so I’ve got a four part process for this that I think will really help you. And these are kind of four principles and tactics and strategies for how to think about transitioning from the thing that you’re doing now into the thing that maybe you want to do.
RV (01:17):
And this could apply to, even if you already have your own business and you’re trying to pivot, you’re trying to maybe rebrand, you’re trying to move into a different space. But specifically I want to talk to those of you who are maybe working at like a corporate job or something and you want to try to leave. The first thing I want you to know, and I believe this firmly, this principle is actually in my take the stairs book towards the back of the book, there is a principle that I call crush It where you’re at, crush It where you’re at. And I don’t think that we hear enough about this in the world today. So many people just say, ah, you know, your job sucks. Quit your job and just start your side hustle. Like that’s gonna be a dream. Let, let me tell you something.
RV (02:01):
Being an entrepreneur is far from a cakewalk. It is grueling hours, it is rejection, it is fear. It is often years of brokeness. It is very challenging. It, it can be con, it creates a lot of conflict on a marriage. It makes it really hard to have a family. Like the on the entrepreneurial dream is also got lots of nightmare components of it. Now, I love being an entrepreneur and I love working with entrepreneurs, but I think it is far over glamorized. And not every person is a great fit to be an entrepreneur. And even many people who could be entrepreneurs, I think make really great intrapreneurs. What’s an intrapreneur? And an intrapreneur is someone who can be a mover and shaker inside of a company who can innovate and create and can, can cause change and make new things happen inside of the right culture.
RV (02:55):
So this first principle, crush it where you’re at is really important. And even though it’s not popular, and even though you may not want to hear it, ’cause perhaps you’ve already made up your mind, no, I hate my job. I wanna leave it. Or I, I don’t like my current business or my current business model, I wanna leave it. And just before you do, I just want to encourage you to crush it where you’re at. What does that mean? That means be excellent at what you’re doing now, whatever it is that you’re doing. Now, why do I say that for two very specific reasons? Okay? The first reason is because when you’re doing something excellently, it often looks different and feels different than when you’re doing it in a mediocre fashion, right? I mean, the, if you’re hiking up a mountain and it’s a really big mountain, you might get tired and that might not seem awesome, but once you’re at the top of the mountain, it can totally be worth it.
RV (03:58):
And too many people give up while they’re on the climb and they haven’t yet experienced the, the fruits and the benefit of everything that their current thing has to offer, right? And you go, maybe you hate your job because you’re not good at it. Maybe you hate your job ’cause you’re not doing enough. Now maybe you hate your job ’cause your boss is a jerk and it sucks and it’s negative and it’s not fun. And you go, great, go ahead and quit the job. But many times I think people have an opportunity to sort of excel at the thing they’re doing before they just abandon ship. And that, that leads me to the other reason why I think crush it. Where you’re at is, is really important. It’s really important because how you do one thing is how you do everything. How you do one thing is how you do everything.
RV (04:46):
That’s the age old quote. And I have found that to be really, really true. And too often people think, oh, if I just abandoned my corporate job and I start my own business, it’s gonna be a cakewalk. And you go, well, if you’re not putting everything you have into the thing you’re doing now, you might find that you won’t do it on your own either. And now you don’t have any of the guarantee or stability or the things that, that come with a corporate job. So I just want you to really think about that and go, am I crushing it where I’m at? Am I doing the best I know how to do? Have I experienced all there is to experience here? Am I squeezing all the juice out of the thing that’s in front of me? Now, if it’s just your dream and you’re a hundred percent sure and you just want to go, fine, go, or if, if, if you just live in a, if you’re working in a place that is just terrible and they treat you like crap and you want to go, go, but I would even, so I would still say, gosh, be really, really good at what you’re doing.
RV (05:44):
Be the best at what you do. Be be performing at your personal best, the the best you’ve ever done in your role before you decide to leave. Because what you might find is that once you’re performing at your personal best, you might decide you wanna stay, you might figure out, actually this isn’t so bad. Actually, there’s more opportunity. Actually, once I started performing at my best, they gave me more money, they opened new doors, they gave me more responsibility, they, they put me in charge of new initiatives. And so that’s really, really important because sometimes we think the grass isn’t, is always greener. And the reason the grass looks greener is ’cause you’re not watering your own grass, okay? So crush it where you’re at, and then even if you’re gonna leave, carry that momentum into the thing that you’re gonna do. Now, the second part of leaving your job and starting your own business or starting your side hustle, or again, it could be that you maybe have a current business model, and it’s like, I wanna just transition from what I’m doing is a rule that I like to call the 70 30 rule.
RV (06:45):
The 70 30 rule. How does the 70 30 rule work is simple. It means that there, in order to succeed at something and really blow it up, it takes a lot of focus, right? In order to win anything, you really have to crush it. As we sort of, you know, religiously say around Bram Builder’s group, if you have diluted focus, you will get diluted results. If you have diluted focus, you will get diluted results. So how then do you transition between two things? How do you go how do I do a good job, you know, at my corporate thing, but I really wanna like start my own business or my side hustle and I wanna go full time and when’s the right time to do that? Or how do I serve my current clients that I have and my current model, but then transition to my new model or my new dream or my new message or my new audience?
RV (07:38):
And that’s a really important tactical question, and I’ve got a functional answer that we’ve used and I think we’ve seen a lot of clients do this successfully. And it’s the 70 30 rule. And the 70 30 rule says, start your new thing, okay? And take your old thing and expend the minimum amount of resources that you can to maintain the level of performance of the old thing, right? So basically put it on autopilot, but not in a way that it’s, it’s autopilot. Like it’s going down. Put it in autopilot that it’s like, okay, I’m gonna maintain this level of performance over here and then dedicate 100% of your excess energy into the new thing and build the new thing, right? This is probably the nights and the weekends and the late hours and the early mornings, and you’re studying and you’re reading and you’re, you’re probably getting coaching and you’re investing money and you’re not making much money, but you’re building the thing.
RV (08:39):
You’re building the thing and you’re starting, you’re starting that thing and keep building that thing until your income reaches a 70 30 split to where you go, 30% of my income is coming from the new line of business, or it’s coming from the new side hustle, or the new project or the new audience. And what happens is you are earning a hundred percent of your income from the first thing, and now your income is starting to balance out to where you get to 70 30. It’s about that time that I would recommend that is when you make the leap, you rip off the bandaid, you jump into the deep end of the pool you, you, you wisely are reducing your risk. If you can get your income to about 30% on the new thing. Do you have to do this? Of course not. You don’t have to do anything that I say.
RV (09:30):
This is just an idea and an observation. But what I would say is a lot of entrepreneurs live by the seat of their pants and it’s kind of like, you know, there’s this phrase in the entrepreneur community that says, you know, you build the plane, you jump off the cliff and build the plane on the way down. And in some ways that’s always true, but in other ways that’s downright stupid. And keep in mind that 95% of businesses fail. So just because a lot of entrepreneurs say it’s a good idea, 95% of those people don’t turn out to be successful. So I’m not taking advice from a group of people where 95% of ’em failed the class. So the smarter thing to do is to do calculated risk. And that’s what the 70 30 rule is all about. The 70 30 rule instead says, man, if 30% of my income is coming from the new thing, first of all, you get a sense of whether or not you really like it and you really want to do it.
RV (10:25):
Second, you really get to determine is there product market fit? Is is there an audience for what I want to do? And do I have the ability to sell it to them? Because if you just pull the ripcord and jump ship and start something from scratch, you might find nobody wants to buy that thing. Or you might find you don’t really love the thing, or you’re not as good at it as you thought, or that you don’t have a great marketing plan for it or a great sales strategy for it. And you need to try to figure out some of those kinks on the side and before you kind of jump full time, at least that’s how the 70 30 rule works. And that’s, that’s what we advise. So that’s the 70 30 rule. The third thing, and this is super practical, important, is to be debt free.
RV (11:10):
Be debt free. To the extent possible, the more that you can lower your personal debt, the more likely you are to succeed as an entrepreneur. Why? Because of something called Financial Runway, right? And this term, financial runway refers to, you know, a plane taking off. And if you think of like, planes don’t just suddenly take off like a helicopter, right? They need runway. It takes velocity, it takes speed. In order for them to catch the tra you know, trajectory and be able to climb that is runway. Well, cash is the runway. And if you run outta cash, you run out of runway and the plane stops, right? So you could start something and you could kind of get it going, but if you don’t generate enough cash or you don’t generate cash fast enough, or you’re burning cash, you’re generating cash in the business, but it’s, it’s less than what you’re burning in your personal life, the runway ends, the plane stops, and the business never takes off.
RV (12:12):
That’s what financial runway means. So the, the, the more disciplined you are about your personal expenses, the longer the runway you give yourself. It also means the lower the stress you have, right? When I’m in debt, if, if I’m in debt, suddenly I’m more desperate for a sale, right? Like, the more in debt you are, the more desperate you are to make a sale. The more in debt you are, the more desperate you are to make a sale. Why not? ’cause You’re a bad person, but because you have external pressure, you’ve got mouths to feed, you’ve got bills to pay. So the more you can lower those bills, the more you extend the runway of having a chance to sort of pursue your dreams. When you’re debt free, you’re, you, you’re beholden to fewer masters, and this is biblical, right? The borrower, slave to the lender, but literally and pragmatically and functionally going, I’m not as dependent on my job.
RV (13:13):
I’m not as dependent on, you know, the where my income is coming from. I’m not as dependent on my current customers because I don’t have other financial obligations. So staying debt free creates freedom in your life, freedom to pursue your dream, and, and it creates more runway, it creates a longer timeline for you to figure it out and make it successful. So it’s a really important part I think, of launching a successful business as an entrepreneur. Unless you’re raising a bunch of money and generating millions of dollars or, you know, you just hit the jackpot, but that’s few and far between.
RV (14:01):
The fourth key to breaking free from your corporate job, if you hate it or if you just have a dream that just is, it is time for you to pursue is to start first with what you know best. Start first with what you know best. What I mean by that is your best chance of making money is doing more of the thing that you already know how to do. Now that may not be the most exciting thing for you, right? That may not be what your dream is, but it is almost always the fastest path to cash, right? The fastest path to cash is to do more of the thing you’ve already been doing, to do better at the, the, the thing you already know. And so you might be doing it on your own. You might be, you know, s starting your own business or your own side hustle, but serve the people that you have access to.
RV (14:57):
So a real, if you need money right now, if you have lots of money, this thing changes. If you have lots of money, you have lots of runway, you can build a whole brand new business, you can dream up anything you want. But in the practical reality for most of us is you’re gonna have to make money fairly quickly. And, and so you have to do what you have to do in order to get, in order to earn the right to do what you want to do. You have to do what you have to do in order to earn the right to do what you want to do. And so you’re going to have to pay a price for a while, and part of that price you would pay is just offering your expertise maybe in, in a very, in a way that accesses the, the people who are closest to you.
RV (15:42):
Now, I’ll give you the an example. When I first wanted to leave the corporate job that I had while I was in graduate school and I wanted to become a professional speaker, I was in the Toastmasters world championship of public speaking. And I spent a couple years just studying the psychology of laughter and learning how to be funny on stage because I wasn’t funny in real life, even though I am hilarious in real life now. But I had to learn to be funny on stage. And so I studied humor. And even though I didn’t wanna teach humor for a living in that season of life, the most tactical, practical skill that I had was teaching humor. And so, a lot of people don’t know this, take the stairs. It was not actually my first book, it was my first traditionally published book. My first book was actually called No laughs, NO to no laughs, KNOW How to Be Funny to Make More Money, no laughs to No Laughs, how to Be Funny to Make More Money.
RV (16:43):
And the first income I actually ever earned as a speaker was I was hosting classes where people could, could they could buy a ticket to a class where I could teach them everything that I had learned about comedy, and then I would sell my books at the back of the room. And that was how I started. Even though I knew I wasn’t gonna do that forever. I started first with what I knew best. And if you really want a, a chance to escape, you know, something that you, a situation that you’re in now, right now professionally, that you don’t love, or if you’re really, really just passionate about having your own thing and you really want to pursue that, I would encourage you to start first with what you know best as a stepping stone to getting to do the thing that you really want to do later.
RV (17:28):
Because you have to do what you have to do in order to earn the right to get to do what you want to do. So there’s four key principles that I think we don’t hear enough about for strategies, concepts that I think if you are trying to make a pivot, if you’re trying to make an escape, if you’re trying to start something new, those are some modalities of thinking that I hope will really, really help you because we want you to succeed and we want you to be able to pursue your passion. We believe that the world is a better place when you’re listening to the calling on your heart and serving the people that you were meant to serve. So in the meantime, while you’re figuring it out, keep coming back to the influential personal Brand podcast and share this episode with someone in your life that you know is in this professional dilemma right now. We’ll catch you next time.

Ep 488: Creating Operational Infrastructure with Kelly Roach

RV (00:01):
Well, Kelly Roach is a new friend of mine and who says You don’t make real friends on social media because we met on social media and now are becoming real life friends. And I think she’s just delightful and really intelligent and very successful, which you’re, you’re gonna hear this story, which when I saw the arc of her kind of career journey and path, it really impressed me because she started out as it didn’t start out, but she was a former NFL cheerleader. Mm-Hmm. . She then was a Fortune 500 executive who built a seven figure business on the side, as I understand it. Yes. She then left that, turned it into an eight figure empire. And now has built y you know, this very successful online business, empowering thousands of people around the globe. Her podcast is a top podcast, the Kelly Roach show.
RV (00:54):
We’re gonna talk about that. She also is a, a, a multi-time bestselling author. She has been featured in A, B, C and Fox and Forbes and Inc. 5,000. She’s been on Inc. 5,000 list. And one of the other things that I love about her is she’s done, she’s built this business with no debt, no investors or outside funding, which is also what we believe in how we operate. And it’s, it’s pretty unusual for a company to get to eight figures in annual revenue without those things. So I was like, yeah, let’s, let’s talk to Kelly and let’s see what she’s about. So Kelly, welcome to the show.
KR (01:31):
Well, thank you. Thank you for the intro, and I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
RV (01:35):
Yeah. So tell me how, first of all, so you were NFL cheerleader, so I want to hear about all these leaps because Yeah. You know, a lot of the people we talk, I mean, we do personal brand strategy. Yeah. So a lot of people are going through a pivot of some type Mm-Hmm. . And you’ve made like several successful pivots from like the top of one thing to the top of another. So I, I’m really curious, like, so first of all, like, how did you land as an NFL cheerleader, and then how did you move from that to like Fortune 500, CEO? Or not CEO, but executive. Yeah,
KR (02:07):
Absolutely. So I, it, it all started one day on the free lunch line. So I was on the free lunch line. There was five kids in my family. My dad worked for a nonprofit. He decided that he wanted to give his life to that work. My mom was a stay at home mom. You can do the math. Okay. Five kids, right. Stay at home mom, dad worked for the nonprofit. I’m on the free lunch line. No one knows. I’m on the free lunch line holding it all together. One day there’s a, a fill-in cafeteria lady, and she rips open my envelope in front of everyone and there’s no money in it. And that moment was a turning point for my life because in that moment I was just, so, I call it naked in the lunch line, like vulnerable. And I was like, I’m not gonna live that life.
KR (02:52):
And so I was, you know, early in middle school. And at that moment I was like, I’m gonna do every possible thing that I can to change my circumstances, to live a different life, to make my life what I believe it can be, and I don’t wanna be naked on the lunch line again. Right. And so you said, how did I go up an NFL cheerleader? Well, I cleaned the dance studio floors after school almost every day for seven years, so that I could go to the best dance school in the area. I would go, oh,
RV (03:22):
That’s like how you paid for your,
KR (03:24):
That’s how I paid for my lessons. I would go after school, I would eat my dinner in the car, I would go clean the dance studio, and then I would stay for lessons. And I was able to go to the best dance school in the area. It was a very competitive dance school that produced professional dancers that went on to have careers. And so I did that for seven years. Loved it. I loved performing, I loved entertaining all of those things. Got into high school and college, and I was like, you know, I, I think I had five jobs in college. Being an NFL cheerleader was one of them. So I was the youngest NFL cheerleader
RV (03:58):
People. People don’t often realize that the cheerleaders don’t make what the players make. Oh my god. Property radical difference.
KR (04:04):
I mean, and, and yeah. And I completely did it because it was, it was an ability to continue my craft, right? Sure. Because I went to the college where I was gonna be in the least amount of debt they had like a D three dance team, D three cheerleading team. I was like, all right, I don’t think I can do this. So I was like, I’m either going to shrink back to my circumstances, or I’m gonna leap forward and just go for it and audition for the NFL. And I was like, F it, let’s do this. So I auditioned for the NFLI made the team my freshman year. So I was teaching aerobics. I was cheering for the NFLI was a cocktail server. I was babysitting all the things. And it was great because I always had money. I was able to have these amazing experiences, all of that. And, you know, as I was progressing through college, I had been on the, the cheerleading team for a couple years and I was like, okay, it’s time to get really serious about my career. And I was going to school for communications because I was like, I have no idea what I wanna do with my life. I just didn’t wanna sit in spreadsheet
RV (05:00):
All day. You’re using your, of all the people who went to college, I feel like you’re actually using your degree, isn’t
KR (05:06):
It wild? So I picked a communications degree. ’cause I was like, I just don’t wanna sit in a spreadsheet, like in a cubicle. I won’t interact with the world. I had no idea what that was gonna look like. So I got the most entry level job in the Fortune 500. ’cause I was like, if nothing else, this girl knows how to put in the work. I was willing to do the work. And I was like, I can get promoted here. I can grow here. I can become financially free, I can learn business. So I was the first one in, last one out basically every day for a decade. I was promoted seven times in eight years. I went from being a single producer in the most entry level job in the company to becoming a senior vice president. I was managing a $50 million portfolio.
KR (05:43):
I built a team from one to a hundred, interviewing, recruiting, hearing, training, and I was managing 17 locations. And so over the course of this journey, I got this amazing business education. Like I fell in love with sales and marketing and teaching people and coaching. And I was like, this is unbelievable. Like, I just was like, I need to share this with others. But when I got to the top of that, you know, ladder corporate, I was traveling all over the place. I mean, I had branches from New York City down into the Carolinas, and I was like, I had been dating my husband at that time. We’ve been together for 18 years now. And, you know, I was starting thinking about, well, what do I want for my actual life? And I was like, it’s not this, right? I don’t wanna be on planes and trains and buses and be away.
KR (06:32):
I wanna have a family. I wanna have a life. And I, I loved the work, but I did not feel that I was making the kind of impact in the world that I felt that I was intended to with those skills. And so I said, well, who can I help? Like, who can I share these, these principles, these lessons with? And I was like, I know small business owners because small business owners start a business. ’cause They’re graded a think necessarily. Have the operations and the sales and the leadership and the management, which is why 85% of businesses, you know, go outta business. So I started this side hustle. I actually went to my employer and I said, I’m doing this. You can fire me if you want, but I’m doing this. And, and I I said, if you see my performance drop, you can also come back and fire me. And they didn’t. They let me because this performing person in my role. So they let me build my business on the side. Even even, you know, while I was working full-time, build it to seven figures, became a full-time entrepreneur, took it to eight. I have six companies now in the portfolio that I’m growing. And here we are now I’m interviewing with you, Rory Uhhuh
RV (07:43):
. So, so how are you? Talk to me about how are you making money, right? Like being an SVP at a company and main, that’s a mm-Hmm. , maintaining that sort of level of performance and profile is not easy. Right? That’s a pretty consuming situation. So, Mm-Hmm. How were you starting a side hustle and making money on the side? What was your, what was your vehicle for that? And sort of how were you, how were you managing that time without like compromising your performance at the company? So like, how did you start, how did you make your, that’s a really question first dollars.
KR (08:21):
Yeah. That’s a really good question. Let me answer both sides of it because I think it’s, it’s pertinent to the conversation that we’re having. First and foremost I focused on building and mentoring teams. So over a 10 year period, not only did I coach and hire and manage the entry level people that were gonna be the ground floor producers on my team, but I promoted internally managers, senior managers, pre vice presidents, senior vice presidents. And so what I was doing was I was building autonomy and I was building this very high performance, very systematic high growth team instead of leaders. And so I went from being the manager where I had my hands in everything and I was part of everything day to day. And I needed to be active on the floor, you know, hip to hip coaching producers every day to getting to the point where over, you know, a period of years I was able to elevate leaders.
KR (09:18):
They had worked with me. There was a cadence, there was predictable performance. We had metrics and KPIs and structure to what we were doing. And it got to the point where they really only needed me in a much more consultative capacity day to day versus like the kind of the, the fire, the flames that you have to be in. And so I had breathing room intellectually, and I actually built my business on the side, basically doing an hour before work in the morning. I would go outside and sit in my car on my break, and I would take an hour on my lunch break, and then I would basically service my clients in the evening, like seven, eight o’clock at night. So that’s, that’s kind of how I got it off the ground in terms of how did I get customers? That’s such a great question.
KR (10:03):
I started running ads from literally almost day one, really my business. Wow. Yes. One of the best things I ever did. I, there’s three things that I did that I feel fundamentally changed and formed my ability to be where I am today and to do what I’ve done. One, I hired my first coach before I had my first client. Two, I, I started building a team from day one. So I had, I had support in the business before I had a client and I had a coach before. I had a client, number one and number two. And number three, I started running ads right away. And the simple ads that I started running were for people to book a free consultation. And I would take consultations either on my lunch break or in the evenings. And I started off by selling high ticket one-to-one services until I got to the point where I was like, okay, I can’t do that anymore. And then I obviously pivoted into a group program. But running the ads allowed me, when I was at work during the day, I had an automated machine that was building my email list, building my audience, booking consultations for me. So that gave me this duality of, I’m at, I’m at work, I’m managing my team, I’m running the business, but I have ads over here that are working all day, even when I’m not available. What
RV (11:20):
Year was this?
KR (11:23):
Okay, so 20. We’re talking 20 12, 20 13. Yeah.
RV (11:28):
Okay. Yeah. So you were running like digital Facebook ads kind of a thing?
KR (11:33):
Yeah, I wasn’t running them, but I paid someone to run them. Yes,
RV (11:36):
Sure, sure, sure. Yes. Yes. But yeah, I mean, that was like the heyday of ads, right? Where they were just coming on. Oh, it
KR (11:42):
Was so different. It was
RV (11:43):
So . Were you,
KR (11:45):
Do you even remember those days?
RV (11:47):
I mean, did you, did you even, so were you driving, were you driving ads directly to a free consultation? I mean, you mentioned building your email list. I was, were you trying to drive right your
KR (11:56):
Email first? I was both doing both. It’s so funny. I wish I had it. So I had like the cd Did you have the CDs? Did
RV (12:02):
KR (12:02):
Nice. Of course. Oh yeah. We had couple loads of CDs. So yes. So I had
RV (12:05):
Secret and then we went to SB b thumb drive secret, like mail the thumb drive. We did that for a hot minute. Yep. Secret. Yes,
KR (12:10):
Yes. So I did both, right? So I was always running the opt-in ads where they could get the digital thing and then they could also add a, an address and we would physically ship them. I still remember them with the little sleeves. But yeah, then I also simultaneously was running ads direct to consult. And that’s how I got like the majority of my customers in those beginning years was, you know, email list, audience building ads and then running ads directly to consultation. And that kind of was like my salesperson until I was ready to hire my first salesperson. Uhhuh .
RV (12:46):
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s interesting. Like the one-on-one coaching model is what we tell almost everybody. Like, if you’re trying to build an escape path from your corporate career, it’s like one-on-one coaching is the thing. ’cause Consulting takes absolutely. Time to build. Speaking takes time to build writing books takes time to build. And then a lot of the things like the courses in the eBooks, it’s like you can’t make enough money selling a $99 widget to, to really leave until you have a monster audience. Yes. You’re not making enough. So it’s interesting that that’s like your exact path
KR (13:19):
And that story. I mean, that’s exactly it. And, and that’s exactly what I tell people today. Everyone wants to go right to like the digital product, the course, the, the low ticket thing, but they don’t realize the size and scope of the brand and audience that you have to build. So I do those things now, but I’ve had 10 years of audience building behind me to do that. Right. You’re absolutely right. I mean, for anyone that’s early stage, whether you’re working job or whether your business just isn’t at the point yet where you can support your family. Like that one-to-one coaching model is beautiful. And the thing that’s so powerful about it is you become so so well versed in the exact trends and language and, and break points and all of that, that it’s so easy to sell group coaching. When you’ve done one-on-one, I find people that try to go straight to group coaching really have trouble selling it because they haven’t been in the trenches and gotten to the point where it’s like they could look at someone’s, you know, situation in three seconds, they can pinpoint exactly what the person needs.
KR (14:22):
‘Cause They’ve been there, done that. It’s like they can do it in their sleep. And it’s so much easier to sell and to scale a product when you understand your avatar to that degree versus trying to do it in theory. Right?
RV (14:34):
Mm-Hmm. you also like, I mean, a lot almost all of the content that we’ve ever built we, we had an eight figure, we started a sales coaching company in 2006 that became eight figures. We had 200 coaches, we sold that in 2018. And then Brand Builders Group is a coaching model. Even today we do one-on-one coaching. And almost, I mean, not almost like every piece of curriculum we’ve ever created came from doing a one-on-one coaching call with someone who asked a question Yeah. Who were like, well, let me explain it this way, or let me draw it out this way. And now it’s like your content Yeah. Is born out of those conversations.
KR (15:11):
Yeah. It it’s, it absolutely is. And it’s so funny because I’m sure you get this question from people all the time, and so do I, because like I pump out a ton of content. You do too. Right? And, and people are like, how do you think of your content? How do you know what to create? How do you, how are you always create, I’m like, if you’re having conversations with your people, you are never creating, in theory, you’re always creating to answer questions and to solve problems Yeah. That people are already pushing to you Anyway. So I think that’s kind of the danger of, you know, in today’s market, there’s so much focus on like automation and digitizing things and all of that. And listen, I have a Black Belt six Sigma operations manager that help like automate and digitize things and like get stuff dialed in. But the human element is so essential to sell with ease. Because when there’s connection there and there’s congruency and you’re not trying to take an idea and force it on the market, but instead you are like in cohesion right. With your people. That’s where it is. Like it’s fun and it’s easy because what you’re producing is is what they’re already craving. They’re just waiting for it. Right? Mm-Hmm. .
RV (16:24):
Well, and it’s interesting how simple, like, you know, the other thing about running ads to a consult, which is really great, is we call it chicken on a Stick in the Brand Builders group community, which is, I love, like giving people that sample, right? Is just going like, how do they sell chicken in the food court? They don’t say, we’ve got the best chicken in the world. Yeah. They hand you a piece of chicken on a stick and you eat it and you’re like, wow, that was amazing. Like, I think I will have a chicken sandwich. That’s
KR (16:48):
So good.
RV (16:49):
Like doing a free coaching call. Even if you don’t sell them, you get all these other benefits that you’re talking about.
KR (16:55):
For sure. They
RV (16:56):
Get to trust you. They become a referral source, they become a fan, and hopefully they become a client. But even if not, like you get all these other things but it’s, you’re so right. Like everybody wants to jump to the like, scalable digital empire of reaching millions of people and then they, they, they don’t give themself enough financial runway to ever get the plane off off the ground
KR (17:19):
That that’s a thousand percent in. And I mean, I go off on my like soapbox about this all the time because, you know, you can, you can do a quick Google search. It, you know, you don’t have to spend a lot of time and, and you can look up the fact that, you know, the average business is not profitable for two years. If you go into a business and your only focus is, let me extract every single dollar out of this business as fast as I possibly can, the chances are it’s gonna fail. Because you need to be able to love and nurture and invest in that business building a foundation that is gonna be sustainable, that’s gonna last a profitable foundation for growth. So number one, I feel like so many people are starting and growing businesses from a place of financial, like dire straits, right?
KR (18:02):
And, and, and then how do you make good strategic decisions? How can you be a visionary if you’re making decisions you know, in financial dire straits? But, but also I think people are very quick. Like, I know the whole like, mindset is burn, burn the boat and, you know, don’t give yourself any other option. And I tell people all the time, I’m like, if you have a job, like find a way to get your business off the ground on the side before you quit, because you need to fund getting that thing off the ground and you’re gonna be a much better CEO if you’re making strategic decisions and not very transactional ones because you’re trying to survive. Like, it’s, it’s not a great place to build a company from, you know? Yeah.
RV (18:41):
I mean, it’s just desperation. Like very few things are good to do. Like from desperation, specifically financial ones . Exactly. exactly.
RV (18:52):
I love that. So I wanna come back to something you said a few minutes ago, which was that before you had your first customer, you hired your first person. Mm-Hmm. That’s the other thing that I think small business owners really struggled to go, well, I can’t afford to hire somebody. And it, and it, and it’s, it’s not just the first person. It typically stays with them for like many years where they’re constantly going, I can’t afford to hire. I’m not making enough money to hire somebody. Yeah. How did you flip your mindset there and how, how did you, how did you get yourself to do that?
KR (19:22):
Well, I think there’s a couple things. And one I got so off about exactly what you just said, that I wrote a book about it. Because no one is teaching entrepreneurs how to build teams. And this is why entrepreneurs are, are so burnout and overwhelmed and frustrated and stressed in their businesses because they don’t have the appropriate support. To answer your question specifically,
RV (19:41):
What’s that book called?
KR (19:41):
Oh, it’s called Bigger.
RV (19:42):
You have 11. You have 11 books. So
KR (19:44):
What’s that one? It’s bigger than You. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building an Unstoppable Dream Team. And it literally walks you through step by step by step, the strategy, the thinking, the mindset, and the tactical action plan of how to go through building a team that will be profitable. So to answer your question, almost any role that you hire for, especially in the beginning of your business, you know, you’re, you should hire, basically there’s a front of the house and a back of the house, right? We, let’s just make it really, really simple for people. Front of the house is sales and marketing. Back of the house is operations and client support. One is driving new customer acquisition and one is making sure you get paid. You service the people that are already paying you, you keep them and you grow them. Almost any role that you hire for in your company can be monetized.
KR (20:32):
So when I hired, when I brought on my first person, they had a element of their role that was already built into it that was going to monetize. They were helping me to get referrals. They were helping me to do upsells. They were helping me to do contract renewals. So I knew before I hired this person that yes, they’re gonna cost me this amount each month, but this is what I’m gonna do to monetize their roles. That instead of this being an expense, this is gonna be an investment. And that’s how I look at any person that I’m hiring in any one of my companies today, before I go and bring someone on board, I’m saying, how is this role gonna be sustainable in my organization? Because as the CEO, your plan is the survival, your responsibility is the survival of the business. It’s how does this business stay in business?
KR (21:22):
How does this business stay profitable? How does this business keep growing? And if you start building a team with either a, the mindset that this team is gonna cost me money, then you have a scarcity mindset, and you’re probably not gonna hire the right people or the best people, or any people at all. To your point, rari or on the flip side, we have people that go out and they hire all these people, but there’s, there’s no plan, right? And when you hire people without a plan to monetize their roles, it it’s, it’s a heavy burden. So now you end up working to pay their payroll instead of them working for you. But I think the beautiful thing, and this is what I remind my clients all the time, is this is all decisions we have free will , right? We’re free agents, we have free will. So these are decisions that we get to make before we bring someone on board. We can have a plan for how they’re gonna bring profit into the business. And so I
RV (22:14):
Wanna, I wanna, I wanna zoom in on that because Yeah. You know, you, you mentioned like, there’s certain roles where you go like, hey, referrals or repeat customers or renewals or you know, collecting cash or like outstanding payments even. Yep. What are some of the, how do you, so, so I I’m curious to know, like you mentioned front of the house, back of the house, sales, marketing, operations, delivery. Have you seen a consistent pattern in who you should hire first versus who you should hire second, who you should hire third? Or is that different? Yeah. For every business, yes. And then, and then also what I really am also curious about is how do you tie operational roles like assistance and, you know, people like that. How do you tie those to a metric to where both, like you can feel like, oh, I’m getting the business is getting the money back for this person.
KR (23:09):
Yeah. These are really good questions. Thank you for asking these questions. I think these can change people’s lives that are listening here today. So listening. Totally,
RV (23:16):
KR (23:17):
Okay, so, so let’s start with the first question that you asked, which is, is there an order of hiring? And this is what I’ll say. Obviously there’s nuance to every situation, so it’s not gonna be like, yes, it’s the same for every person, but let’s just talk about like, the trend, the pattern of, of what I see with the thousands of clients that I’ve worked with, right? First things first, you need to buy back your time period, right? Because as the CEO of the company, you need to be doing things that are forward market facing, creating content, getting on podcasts, generating leads, having consultation called, doing launches, right? Which means that the first thing that you need to do is to get your time back on admin operations. Just all that transactional stuff that takes your time during the day that keeps you, I say like, behind the scenes instead of out front.
KR (24:05):
So the first thing to think about is how much of your time is actually being spent out front driving the business forward, versus how much of your time is being spent behind the scenes, basically just maintaining the tasks that have to get done. So that tends to be the very first role. And it doesn’t need to be a full-time person. It could be a, a fractional admin, it could be a part-time person. You know, there’s all different ways you can slice that, you know, equation. But that’s number one. Then number two is you need someone whose only role is gonna be to generate cash. So someone who’s gonna probably be a hybrid of sales and marketing with a goal of taking the leads that you’re generating, building relationships with them, nurturing them, getting them into consultations or getting them on your calendar for consultations. That tends to be the second one, which then puts you the business and puts you in a position to be able to afford to hire the third person, which is now, oh my gosh, I have more clients than I can service well myself.
KR (25:01):
How do I make this business scalable? Point number three is, okay, now we need someone that can actually do client servicing, that can take your methodology, that can take your, your, you know, scientific approach to what you do and can empower other people to go through that process. It doesn’t mean you’re totally removed from it, but it means you can elevate your role and then you can have support roles, right? That are taking the nuances and, and helping the application of them. So that tends to be the most effective order. And I’m not saying it’s like that with everyone, but I’m saying that is a pattern that tends to work very, very well because first person gives you back time so you can sell more. Second person is selling more directly or indirectly, and then third person is able to then help you to make sure that you retain, upsell, get renewals, get referrals from the people that you’ve now brought in. Mm-Hmm,
RV (25:54):
. Interesting. Interesting. Now so I love that. So, so take me through the second question, which is, you know, justifying the pay for operations people like sales, even marketing people. It can be tricky to do that. But you can at least measure pretty clearly Yeah. How many leads have come in, how many subscribers have grown and awareness, impressions, et cetera. Sales is the easiest to pay. I feel like hiring a salesperson is, is one of the easiest things to hire because you can do it on an eat what you kill basis. Yeah. and they can make a lot of money if they do a great job. And but when you get into the more administrative and operational roles, which at first might be a fractional assistant, but later one day becomes a COO you know, a director of operations, a account manager, whatever, like how do you attach those roles to profit and money?
KR (26:56):
Yeah. It’s such a good question. And, and the answer is that it changes as the business grows very dramatically. So like, I’ll give an example of like, here’s what this looks like. I have, I have some companies right now that are only 1-year-old. I have my original company that’s now 12 years old. So let’s talk about the difference between an operations person in a baby company versus an operations person in a a established company. ’cause It’s so different, right? Totally. In a baby company that’s just getting started, your operations person is very much gonna be in like a hybrid role, okay? So this person is gonna be doing tasks related to scheduling your customers, renewing their contracts. They’re gonna be kind of interacting and engaging. They’re not servicing your customers, but they are going to be kind of that, that touch point, right? They’re doing all of your scheduling, they’re coordinating with customers on all different things that come up.
KR (27:46):
They’re, you know, managing billing to make sure that, you know, all, all things go in order. All of those things, right? And, and many times, the first time that you hire for any role in your company, when your company’s very small, the role is gonna be a hybrid role. Meaning they’re gonna be doing a lot of kind of different things because you don’t need a full-time person that’s gonna sit there all day long to do operations for a little baby business, right? When I was fi first building this role, and I still do this with my newer companies now, I tend to have kind of someone in an operational, hybrid, hybrid role that in many ways, even though they may not be the person that is servicing the customer, they are almost like the customer care person for all intents and purposes, which means that they’re getting referrals, right?
KR (28:33):
When I first started doing this, I literally had my ops person send thank you notes and, and touch points for our referral program, and she would generate new referrals every single month. She was a brand new college kid. I hired her as an intern. She had no sales experience, she had no marketing experience, and I was literally training her from the ground up on operations. But I said, what’s something that is systematic and can produce profits that someone that’s brand new can do well? Anyone can build relationships by caring anyone, right? Sure. And so I said, I’m gonna have this person, I’m gonna look at my client base and I’m gonna say, who are the right people that I could be generating consistent referrals from? And I simply had her manage the monthly touch points for referrals. And we consistently saw that we got sales coming in and introductions coming in because of her just doing these kind of thoughtful monthly touch points to our own customers.
KR (29:30):
And a lot of people think, well, I’m a small business, you know, I’m just getting started. It doesn’t make sense for me to have a referral program. If you have one customer and you get one referral, you just double the size of your business. Amen. If you have five customers and you get five referrals, you just double the size of your business. So you can do this on a really small scale, or you can do this on a really large scale. But when I was starting at the very beginning, that was how I monetized that first role. They got us referrals. They got people to renew their contracts and do upsells. Let’s say someone was in my group program, they could add a VIP day with me. At the time I was still doing a lot, like, you know it looks different for everyone now when I look at, you know, our operations manager, you know, in my coaching company that’s 12 years old, right?
KR (30:18):
He’s a black Belt six Sigma, and his job is helping us buy back the time of every other person in the organization by finding efficiencies in the business systematically. And then getting them to work like a well-oiled machine so that every other person in the company’s productivity is lifted up so that they can actually open up their bandwidth, open up their productivity to sell more, to serve more clients, to get more leads to, to close more whatever it’s gonna be. So it looks, it looks really, really different. It’s kind of much more scientific over here ’cause it’s like deep dive, like systems efficiencies, you know, process orientation. Whereas in the beginning stages it’s just like, well, what are the things that most small businesses don’t do? And, and Rory, this is what, if I can just take one minute on this. Most small businesses, they do not consistently reach out to their customers for referrals.
KR (31:14):
They do not consistently reach out to their past customers. This was the other thing I had my operations manager do. Whenever someone rolled off a contract, she would stay with in touch with them every month. And then we would consistently see them come back and they would come back and they would come back. So that was the other thing. It was just she wasn’t selling, she was just literally staying in touch with them. Right. We would put together mailers or a handwritten note or whatever the case. So I’ll just pause there. I know that was kind of a lot.
RV (31:41):
No, that’s great. I I was actually gonna ask you what are these monthly touchpoints that you’re systematizing for referrals? Yeah. Like what are, what are they doing? ’cause Like you say you is intern fresh outta college, like not the sales and marketing wizard. Yes. But clearly you’ve developed some type of process or system that they’re able to run.
KR (31:59):
Yeah. Yeah. So we do everything digitally now because we run much larger scale programs. But back then, and even I would say if you’re running a small business and you’re just getting off this off the ground and you’re not talking about you know, hundreds of people that you’re reaching out to you know, we sent handwritten notes. You know, we might share an interesting article with them and say, you know, I thought of you this, you know, I thought you would enjoy this. She might share a resource with them. We did send out gifts, we sent physical gifts. So I mean, again, I’m in the high ticket world, primarily that this business that I’m talking about is in the coaching consulting world. So when someone works with you, you, and, you know, the equivalent of a relationship is a hundred, $200,000 over the lifetime of the business, it makes sense to spend 50 bucks on a gift for someone, right?
KR (32:49):
So we did gifting, we did thank you notes, we sent out articles we would make connections if there was someone that we thought that it would be relevant and meaningful for them to, you know, have a connection with you know, she would answer questions here and there. So it, it was nothing genius. It was just literally the consistency of doing it at all. And that’s kind of what my point was. Most small businesses never follow up with their past customers. Your past customers know you. They like you, they trust you, and they’ve gotten a result working for you. But if you don’t care enough to reach back out to them and say, Hey Rory, I saw we haven’t worked together for two years. What have you been up to? I’d love to see you back in our world again. Why would you come back to us?
KR (33:32):
Right. You’re gonna go to someone who’s pursuing you and saying, I’d really like to work with you. Right? So that’s one of the easiest money makers that sit in every single business that most small businesses, they don’t have any cadence to how they’re going after that business. And that’s free money. That’s free money because most people buy things cyclically and habitually, meaning they’re gonna buy in that category for life, but they’re not gonna buy every day for forever. And people buy from top of mind awareness, which means they’re gonna buy from one of the last three people that they interfaced with. So if you put those two things together, people buy habitually, meaning they buy typically in a category for life. If you’re a person that believes in coaching, you’re probably gonna keep investing in some way, shape or form in expanding your education and growing and whatever. Right? So we know that people, when they buy in a category, tend to buy in that category long term. We also know that people’s lives go like this. They’re, they’re not ups and down, they’re not
RV (34:33):
Ups and downs. Yeah.
KR (34:34):
There’s constant ups and downs and season
RV (34:37):
Have kids, you go to college, you move da, you get a new job, you start a new company, whatever, Uhhuh,
KR (34:43):
That’s exactly it. So where someone might be your best customer spending 50 grand, a hundred grand, $200,000 with you for three years straight, something might happen in their life where they don’t work with you for three or four years. I’ve actually had this happen. And, and then, and then when it’s time because we maintained a relationship, they’ll come back again. Right? And it’s not to say that people never will if you don’t maintain a relationship, it’s saying that you’ll 10 x 20 x 50 x the amount of people that will if you focus on just maintaining a relationship, right? Mm-Hmm.
RV (35:14):
. Yeah. I love that. I mean I I love what you said. It’s just like the, the magic is not in how you do your follow up. No. It’s just that you do the follow up. It’s just touching base for whatever ever reason you can find to, like that’s stay in touch with them. It’s
KR (35:33):
Amazing. Uhhuh And, and you know what’s so funny, Rory, to your point, people will come back to us all the time now and they will literally say, thank you so much for following up with me. Like, I’m, I’m just here ’cause you followed up with me. And like, they’ll come back and they’ll buy again and they’re, they’re just simply there because we like reminded them. Mm-Hmm. . But people’s lives are so busy. Right? But this is the thing, and, and this is what I would say to everyone is like, the internet world has a tendency to make you think in very short windows of instant gratification and the thing that’s gonna allow you to build a wildly profitable business that sustains right over, over years, decades, whatever the case is, thinking about customers as people that you have relationships with and setting your strategic foundation of your business around lifetime value of the customer, not acquisition.
KR (36:28):
Most people focus singularity on customer acquisition and the bottom of their business is like a funnel and it’s just pouring out the bottom. And so they’re just on this constant hamster wheel of they have to sell just to maintain. There’s no continuity of building the brand because they’re only focused on customer acquisition. They’re not focused on retention, renewals, referrals, upsells the lifetime value that creates really nice stability in the business. And no one’s selling you that course. No one’s selling you that methodology because it’s not like the bright, shiny Right. You know, exciting thing. No one’s
RV (37:04):
You to like how to be successful eventually one day through Exactly. Long-Term relationships and long-term strategy, you know? No, exactly. I’ll teach you how to quadruple your revenue over the next 10 years . And like, not exciting.
KR (37:17):
No, it’s not exciting. But the thing is, it’s what it, it’s what will keep you in business and it’s what will make you a multi, multi multimillionaire. I mean, it’s, it’s, it, it, listen, it’s very hard to retain really high level performance in a company if you don’t get the backend right. Totally. Most will never scale because they figure out the front end, but they never figure out the backend. So it falls out the bottom as fast as it comes in the top. Mm-Hmm. . And that’s all, that’s all I can say. And so like, I get people to come into my world a lot of times ’cause they wanna learn how to launch, they wanna learn social media marketing, they wanna learn strategy for scale. And I’m like, great. But once I get ’em in there, I’m like, okay, now we’re gonna have the real conversation, right? Let’s talk about how we’re gonna actually build a business that’s gonna be here, right? Because yes, I can give you all this on the front end, but we also need to make sure that the back end is right too. Mm-Hmm, .
RV (38:06):
Absolutely. Well you know, I’m sitting here thinking to go you know, I’ve interviewed so many different people on this show, amazing, amazing thought leaders. But if like someone asks me to say, Hey, who’s a, who’s a business coach you would recommend, like, there’s not somebody that I really go like, ah, this people share same philosophies and similar things. And I think so much of what you shared is so similar in our philosophy and what we’ve, our experience more than our philosophy, just our, our experience. So I love that. So Kelly, where do you want people to go if they wanna connect with you learn about you, obviously you’ve got your podcast, which I know is really important to you and, and is a great show. We’ve had so many of our, our clients on there. So many of my friends have have been on there. So you got the podcast. Is that the best place or where else should they go?
KR (38:53):
Yeah, I mean, definitely come listen to the Kelly Roach show. I bring it, you know, there’s a thousand episodes you can literally grow your business for free. Just come and listening to the show or connect with me on Instagram, Kelly Roach official come DM me. My team’s in there all the time, but I pop in too. And, and they’re there as themselves. So if it comes from Kelly, it’s coming from me and I love to meet you. So come say hello.
RV (39:13):
I love it. Well, we will link up to all that. Thank you so much for this. It just never amazes me. You know, I can, I can always tell when I meet a real eight figure entrepreneur because they’re not talking about the flashy tactics and trending things. They’re talking about the principles that have always worked and will always work that are not sexy. But they are simple and they’re not, they’re not easy, but you can execute on ’em and they will make a big difference. And that’s what I think today has been all about. So we really appreciate it, Kelly and so great to connect and we wish you all the best.
KR (39:49):
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Ep 487: Fastest Ways to Grow Your New Business | Sara and Ben Jensen Episode Recap

AJV (00:02):
are you trying to figure out how do you turn your mission, your message, your passion, your calling whatever you would like to call it, . But if you’re trying to figure out how to turn that thing that you feel called to do into the thing that makes you money, this is a quick conversation that I would like to have with you. So I was able to interview the founders and also a married couple, Sarah and Ben Jensen, who have founded and started the company, Hugh & Grace, which is a products company, skincare products supplements, as well as household care products that help you keep your hormones in check, right? So clean products that help you with all the things in on and around your body. And I had this conversation with them on the influential Personal Brand podcast around why did they start this?
AJV (00:56):
How did they start this? Where did the idea come from? It’s a very fast growing company. They only founded it three years ago. Although the idea started 14 years ago. And I thought this was a, a, a great inspiration to have a conversation today about how do you do that? Like, how do you take something that you’ve been through in your life that was challenging or scary or traumatic or just painful and go, but there is purpose in this, and I want to help other people who have experienced this, that same thing. I want to help them find a better way, experience a better way of getting through it living, coming out on the other side better. In other words, I feel like I have a message put on my heart that must get out into the world, and I would love to turn that into a business that helps me create an abundant life for me, my family generations beyond me as well as making a huge impact by doing something that I know matters.
AJV (01:59):
And so I, I thought this was like a really great inspiration conversation. So here are a few things that may help you as you figure out the transition between doing what you’re currently doing and doing the thing that you feel called to do, right? And how do you turn your passion into your full-time business? So number one, I thought this was very insightful is success is about making as many mistakes as humanly possible as quickly and as inexpensively as possible so that you can learn, pivot, and grow, right? I, I, I think that’s so powerful for us all to remember that success is not a foundation of our victories. success is built on the foundation of many, many mistakes and failures and not giving up, but instead of taking every mistake and learning from it, taking every failure of going, that wasn’t a failure,
AJV (02:59):
That was a learning experience, that was a growth opportunity. It was learning what not to do again that, that is where growth happens. That’s where success happens. Success is a byproduct of being willing to make a ton of mistakes, but make ’em quickly, make them as inexpensive as possible, and then learn, pivot, and go. And I think that’s just so important for all of us of knowing whatever it is that you think it’s going to be, it likely won’t be what you end up with. , if I can just share the evolution of brand builders group over the last, you know, almost six years that, you know, we’ve formally been an entity and where it started. There’s a lot of the foundational pieces that are still there with our community and membership and intensives. But I will also tell you that we quickly expanded into a lot of things and then very quickly condensed them all back in when we realized we have expanded beyond our capacity beyond our ability to serve in the way that we wanna serve.
AJV (04:03):
And so our offerings grew really quickly, and then they all got cut back just as quickly. And that was a, that was a part of going, it’s like, man, we don’t have capacity to do all of this in the way that we want it. And there are certain areas that had natural momentum that we made a decision of going, although there’s this thing that could get us there, that could be the thing, it’s not right. And it felt very forceful. It felt like we were just pulling it along behind us versus these other things that we’re just taking off without a ton of effort. And our, and the point of that being is like your audience will tell you what it is they need from you, if you’ll just listen. And the way that they tell you is what they buy, what they buy again, what they renew with, what they tell their friends about.
AJV (04:48):
It’s in their feedback. And they’ll also tell you what’s not working by the fact that they don’t buy it again or they don’t renew or they don’t tell their friends about it. And I think a lot of that just has to do with us as business owners, as entrepreneurs, as team members, to slow down enough and pay attention and listen. And that’s really hard to do when you’re doing a hundred different things and you’re pulled in a million different directions. It’s hard to do when you’re distracted and when you’re busy. Yep. B word, busy. ’cause We can get busy and when we’re busy and in a hurry and multitasking, it is hard to see the things right in front of you. You often push them aside and you don’t pay attention because there’s too many other things to get to. And I would encourage you that as you’re figuring this out, if you slow down and you ask and you listen, it’ll become so obviously clear.
AJV (05:44):
People will tell you exactly what it is that they are willing to buy from you, and that they need to buy from you. And that also it gives you confidence and conviction that you’re the right person to offer it to them. Them. If you just slow down and listen intuitively, ask, pay attention and just get into the data, right? That’s a really important part of this right? Now. That leads to the second thing, what you do, right? Your passion, right? And your business, what you do has got to be both logical and emotional, right? It should emotionally move you to go like, I can’t not do this. Like, if I didn’t do this, it would be the biggest regret of my life. Like, I have to do this. That’s the emotional side of like, I feel convicted in this. I can’t not talk about it.
AJV (06:34):
Like it just bubbles out of me regardless. Like this is who I am and it’s what I was put on this earth to do. There’s passion, right? That’s the emotional side. But then there’s also the logical side. And sometimes we let our emotions overtake the logic. And this is a discipline, it’s an obedience of pulling that back in, of going, these are the things I feel called to do, but that’s honestly sometimes a little me centered. And we have to pair that. We have to balance that with, and what are people asking for from me, right? What are people willing to buy from me? What are people willing to learn from me? What are they asking to learn from me? Rather, you know, intrinsically or verbal or verbally that it’s like, where am I most positioned to help and serve people? Passion? And what are people most willing to buy from me?
AJV (07:31):
And how much are they willing to spend with me? Logically, that’s market evaluation, that’s core target audience that’s pairing with what you have to offer versus what the market is saying that they want. And that is both an emotional and logical conversation, and they both have to happen. One is not higher or lower than the other. They are both equally important to figure out a business model that serves both your passion and your calling and create something that is viable and sustainable that can actually make you money. So it is both about your passion and what you want to do and what the market is willing to buy from you and at what price. So it is both things. And so I think a part of that is sometimes you don’t know until you know. And that’s where you gotta be flexible and nimble and be willing to just get out there and make some quick mistakes cheaply, right?
AJV (08:22):
Quickly. and then pivot. I go, wasn’t that wasn’t that. Let’s try it again. Let’s tweak it again. That was too much. That was too low. Whatever it is. And the best way to know those things is not to ideate and it’s not to brainstorm, it’s to do it. . you’re ready right now. If you know you can help someone, then you are ready. And sometimes you just gotta get it out there. And whatever it is, it’s fine. ’cause It will change no matter what it is. Your first launch is going to be a different offering, a a different price point, a different product, a different description and probably less than a year from now. Because once you’re out there doing it, you tweak it and fine tune it, and you make it better as you go. You cannot make it what it is meant to be before you do it.
AJV (09:09):
You just can’t. Nobody knows what they’re doing before they do it. So the best thing you can do is to do it and to adjust accordingly as you go. Okay? That is how you turn your passion into your business at, at a very high level, right? Now three other quick things I wanna share with us is that now how do you get people to buy it? Well, one, you sell it, right? Selling is fast. Marketing is slow. Marketing is the long game. So selling is the short game. So if we think it’s like, okay, now I’ve got this idea. I need to build the website, I need to launch a podcast. I need to do social media, I need da, da, da, da, da. That is the long, expensive route. And many of you don’t have the runway to do it. Some of you do awesome, but most of us don’t.
AJV (09:56):
And what you have to do is you have to get out there and talk to people. You have to tell them your story. Why? ’cause your story is what helps you connect to your audience, not your product. Your story, IE your personal brand. So knowing why you do this, how you do it, what makes it different, what problem you’re solving what message are you delivering, right? And products and services doesn’t matter what makes it unique. And a lot of times it’s you, you are what makes it unique. The struggle, the story is what people connect to and remember why? Because they have similar ones. That’s why they resonate. And so you’ve gotta be willing to get out there. Now, social media is a platform. Podcasts are a platform. But don’t forget the power of proximity. And that is a real thing.
AJV (10:46):
You being live in person in a room, talking to people, explaining it to people, showing it to people, helping people experience it, skin to skin, shoulder to shoulder, like that goes faster. So be willing to get out there and talk about it. Do not let it be the world’s best kept secret secret because you don’t know what to say or how to say it. It’s like that’s, that’s your job. Like you have to know how to explain it because you’ve been through it, you know? And then you’ve got to find anyone anywhere who’s willing to listen for free or not. Like if you get paid, great, but don’t expect to be paid, right? But willing to get out there and speak to any group who’s willing to gather together churches, associations, memberships, masterminds, whatever. Right? there are all types of people who are looking for speakers for free all over the place.
AJV (11:39):
Business journals, chambers of Commerce, rotary Clubs, right? Yeah, that’s old school stuff. But you know what? They need speakers. They have monthly meetings and you know who come to those meetings? People. And that’s what you need. So be willing to talk to anyone about the thing because it matters. It matters to you. ’cause You know it’s gonna matter to the people, right? So just wanna encourage that. Sales is fast, marketing is slow. And the best way for you to sell is to be in front of people, to explain it, to walk people through it, and to share your story, right? And then community is what helps things spread. It is finding a group of people who can rally behind your products and your services and shop them to the rooftops, right? Because why? Because they work, right? . So a part of the prerequisite for all of this is actually having a product or a service that does what it says, right?
AJV (12:31):
It’s undeniable. If you get someone results, it is hard not for that person and for others to talk about it. Make sure you are focused on being better before you focus on being bigger. Make sure that you know how to get people results and you have documented proof of it. You have testimonials of it, you’ve got case studies of it, right? And those don’t have to be formally and designed like I’m talking about on a Word doc, right? A quick iPhone video, but have it have proof. Third party validation that you are who you say you are, and you do what you say you’re gonna do. And that could be in a email from a client, a testimonial. And clients don’t have to be paid clients. FYI don’t be afraid to offer your products and services for free to test it. That’s required. In most cases, any big product that’s having a launch has been tested many, many, many, many times for free before anyone paid for it.
AJV (13:25):
I think about this often. I fly a lot and thank gosh that anytime I am on a new airplane, that is not the first time that pilot has been in the plane. That is not the first time that plane has been the air. Thank the lord. This thing has been up for thousands of miles and this pilot has tens of thousands of miles under their belt. The first time they do it is not with paying customers in the seats. That would be crazy. But yet somehow we think that the very first time we launch our business, launch our products, people should pay for ’em. Why? Why do we think that? I don’t know. Someone said it one time. I don’t know. That’s not true. Be willing to do what you do for free to get market feedback, to get testimonials, to fine tune to tweak before you go live.
AJV (14:09):
Then when you do go live, you do launch. You got all the validation and the conviction and the confidence and the market validation and testimonials that this does what it says it does. This gets results. This helps people. And it, I’m not just saying that all these other people are saying that community is what helps your business spread. So build it, share it, and don’t forget about it. And then last, but not le lightly, I think this is also important, is that many of us see the attraction of entrepreneurship starting our own business because we think it’s gonna allow us to build a lifestyle that caters to our, our family, our personal needs, our our marriages, our kids.
AJV (14:51):
And then you actually get in it and you realize you have less time than you did before, and you are more stressed and more overwhelmed. And that’s because we let the business become the main thing. And so I would just encourage you as you’re thinking about like this passion thing that you have, that you feel called to do and how you could turn it into a business, don’t forget the important part of also talking about like, what is the life that you wanna have while doing this? How much time do you want for your marriage time that you want? Spiritually in my case, it’s like I gotta ti I have to prioritize my time with the Lord first. And then time with my husband, then time with my kids and my family, and then comes, you know, times with friends and community.
AJV (15:38):
But if I make the business first, it sucks up all the time. , right? It’s like if the business comes first, there’s always enough to do where I do not have time to pray, read the Bible. I do not have time to hang out with friends or go to yoga or go on date nights, or I don’t have the time if I let the business come first. My point is the business cannot come first, right? You have to prioritize it. And the business has to fit in around that. I only share that because I did it the wrong way for about 15 years. And I’m only now figuring out the right way, a better way to do it. I’m not saying that I don’t work hard, I work hard. But it fits within the confines of keeping the main thing, the main thing, and the priorities first.
AJV (16:18):
And if I do that, the business works. If I don’t, nothing works. I struggle. My marriage struggles my faith struggles my family struggles. But when I put all those other things, first, business just works. And so make sure that as you’re crafting this, you make sure that you’re crafting your life in addition to your business. Because both matter , right? Your work matters and your life matters. IE your family your faith and yourself and your marriage, those things matter. So keep the priorities first, and you have to set those first, and the business fits in around that. So again, if you’re thinking about how do you go from passion to business a couple of quick things to be thinking about. And I know that if you’ve got that calling on your heart, it’s there for a reason. It’s not there by accident and you’re not crazy. God put it there and you’re meant to do it. So don’t be afraid. Make mistakes. Just keep going. Give it time. Don’t rush it and just stay at it. Because if it’s there, it’s there for a reason and eventually you’ll know why. So build that business. Turn that passion into something that’s gonna create an abundant life for you and those around you. Make an impact and make great money while doing it.

Ep 486: Turning Your Passion Into Your Business with Sara and Ben Jensen

AJV (00:02):
Hey everybody, welcome to the influential Personal Brand podcast, AJ Vaden here, and y’all, I’m so excited to introduce you to two. Yep, you heard me Two new friends. It’s very rare that I get to do another podcast episode with a husband and wife couple, and it’s super sweet and special to me since I’m in business with my husband, Rory, as most of you listening, know that. So to get to introduce you guys to Sarah and Ben today, is this going to be a sweet, sweet story? But before I do a formal introduction to Ben and Sarah, I want you to know why you need to stick around for this episode. So before you decide if this is for you or for not, here’s what I would tell you is number one, if you have been delving into the idea of going full-time into that thing that is tugging at your heart, this is the episode for you.
AJV (00:50):
If you’ve been trying to figure out how do you turn your passion into your business or how do you figure out how to weave your message and this calling that you have on your life into the thing that makes you money, then this is an episode that you want to listen to. ’cause You’re today gonna get to hear from two people who have done and who are doing that right now, taking their life experiences, things that they feel called to do and said, you know what? We’re gonna go all in and we’re not just gonna take this information for ourselves. We’re gonna turn it into a business and we’re gonna make it useful and helpful for other people. So that is why you wanna stick around. Today is one of those unique episodes that doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re at in your journey, you want to stick around and listen.
AJV (01:31):
So without further ado, now, let me give you a quick introduction Ben and Sarah Jensen, and then we will get into having this awesome episode. So Sarah and Ben have founded Human Grace, which is a lifestyle wellness brand that promotes hormone health with life-changing skincare, health and home products. Y’all, I’m already interested in this and I don’t even know what you do. So , I’m so excited you know that it’s gonna be a good episode when you’re like yes. Or maybe I’m just your avatar. So y’all, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to have you.
BJ (02:04):
Thank you. So excited to be here.
SJ (02:05):
I know this is, this is great. Love your audience.
AJV (02:08):
Well, and I love too that we got introduced by mutual friends ’cause that already carries so much weight and you know, we talk a lot about the power of reputation and personal brand and trust. And when other people are reaching out to me on your behalf, already says a lot about the good work that you do. So help our audience get to know you a little bit. What I’d love to do is just start, is just to hear a little bit about your story. Why don’t you kick us off, Sarah
SJ (02:36):
So, so Ben and I, we’ve, we found our company almost three years ago, but we, it was really, the genesis was a very long personal struggle. So we got married young, we married for almost 22 years. And we, but we spent 14 of those years struggling with unexplained infertility. Got married young. I was 23 and Ben was 26, you know, started trying to get pregnant. I was around 25 and we were very healthy. I think outside looking in, you know, I was an ultra marathoner. Ben was doing CrossFit, you know, didn’t drink smoke, you know, had, you know, all the green drinks and all the, all the protein all did everything quote unquote right. But, but we could not get pregnant and being diagnosed with unexplained, it was like, find something and just wrong and fix it. So we just did a ton of research.
SJ (03:20):
It was after I think my sixth round of IVF where our doctor said like, what chemicals do you spraying around your house? What skincare are you using? What wellness stuff? And that’s what really kind of triggered us going deeper into research. And even, even the thought, like from I, my rounds of IVFI read a hormone cream on my leg, get my blood levels tested the next day and my hormones had spiked. And just not dunno why we didn’t earlier put two and two together that what you put on your body actually can impact your hormones. The amazing part of our story is Ben’s sister volunteered to be our surrogate and gave birth to our little hue. And then when he was almost one, my sister called and said, I wanna try to give Hugh a sibling. And so she volunteered to be our second surrogate. So gave birth for our little grace. The name Hugh means heart, mind, and spirit and grace means goodness, goodness, generosity and love and which the things that brought us our kids. But it was after having our kids and realizing that, so when we were learning about these hormone disrupting chemicals and hormone health topic of hormone health and hormone disruption, we were just thinking of infertility. ’cause That was just our sole focus,
BJ (04:23):
That that was our pain. Yeah.
SJ (04:24):
Yeah. But then looking at the data and looking at the research, these chemicals, they are linked to infertility, but they’re also linked to autoimmunity, diseases and anxiety, depression, cancers, obesity, strokes,
BJ (04:35):
The, and the list goes on. Yeah.
SJ (04:36):
And then the, the then thinking the flip side, what is hormone health? And that’s better sleep, less stress, their skin better like no joint pain. So just thinking like, these are things benefits that everyone needs and wants. And so that’s when we decided that we should create human grace.
BJ (04:54):
So yeah, I, I’ll tell you and, and give it right back to you. But Sarah came to me, we have our two children and I’m finally at peace and I’m holding our, you know, our daughter at this point. She says, Ben, you know, we have to do something about this. I said, what are you talking about? We have our kids. We, we don’t have to do anything. I would hold my kids. You know, we had very comfortable careers. You know, we, we knew the path that we were on and it was, it was, I dunno, easy is the right word, but it was clear like we, we kind of knew what we were doing. And she just felt this passion kept coming back to me. And after she kind of explained to me the, the vision that she had had and, and, and that we could help other people while helping build something meaningful while earning an income on it, it became interesting as, as we dived into the research she talked about, we started looking at the market opportunity instead of focusing specifically on infertility, which is our, you know, you always hear the best businesses are solving pain or solving a problem.
BJ (05:48):
That’s what led us to do this. It wasn’t wasn’t ’cause I necessarily wanted to start a business ’cause we kind of had to, felt, felt compelled. I
SJ (05:57):
Just felt this huge responsibility because what Ben and I went through nearly broke us, us individuals, us our marriage many, many times. And like, we’re, we’re, we’re strong. Like we, you know, Ben was, Ben’s being modest about his career. He started, he’s very successful. He was operating a multi-billion dollar family office out of Beverly Hills. I had my MBA from USC and I was working with our top alumni, my parents in philanthropy. So raising transformative gifts from the university. And I said, Ben, what we went through nearly broke us. And we’re strong individuals. And I said, and this really impacts everyone and no one really knows about it. And I said, between, like, between our professional networks, we can get to anyone. You know, I’m a professional fundraiser. I can ask for help if I feel like it’s meaningful. And we said, what can, what can we do where we can actually also spend time with our kids? ’cause We were working long hours traveling a ton, and we said, we wanna be with our kids now. So what, what can we do to help? That’s, that’s really meaningful.
AJV (06:50):
Yeah. So this is what I was gonna ask earlier because lots of people discover things, make life changes and then move on. So I need to know like, what was this vision? What was this passion like? What was so convicting about what you went through and what you learned that said, no, we have to do this. We can’t not do it.
BJ (07:15):
Yeah. It’s, it, it, it’s interesting. I think there, there were a few things when we had our family, we, we started looking, put it this way, until we had our children, we were thinking about having children, right? That was the only thing we could do is, is think of that, that thing in the future, right? We weren’t thinking about our lives. We were living our lives. We didn’t sit on our hands. We got graduate degrees, we traveled the world. ’cause We, you know, but we, we always wanted to have a family, even though the two of us rarely talked about that. Like, it was too painful. But when we got to the other side of it, now we have our kids. Now what kinda life do we wanna live, right? How do we want to spend time with our family? And as she was saying, we were working a lot and we were working for other people, which was great.
BJ (07:57):
But, you know, cynically, my, my the definition of my job was to make very wealthy people wealthier. And Sarah’s job was to make a wealthy university wealthier. And we thought we’ve got talent and ability. We, we, you know, I’ve, I’ve operated businesses, had a hundred employees and, but I’ve never done it for, for us. And if we had pain that deep, there’s gotta be other people that are going through it. And maybe we can prevent something. Maybe we can help something. Maybe we can provide community, provide support. And so our whole business is, is built around that concept. It’s actually, when we started talking about how we would go to market is when I got interested in it. ’cause If we could help people, products are one thing, right? Yes. We have great products that work really well, but then there’s education, then there’s community building and then support.
BJ (08:45):
We could put all those things together. We’re creating almost a movement. And that, that was interesting. And then if we could do it in a, in a profitable format where it’s, you know, she talked about fundraising, charity’s amazing. But charities are often not self-sustaining. Almost never are they. And so if we’re creating community and there’s profit built in, that’s a sustainable business model. That means the people that are, that are, are selling our products, the people that are you know, affected by, in a positive way by our products, we could build something that would be built to last. So that, that got interesting.
SJ (09:15):
I think also, you look at your life, we look back at this 14 years of hell. But you look back and like, you know, we were put in this position, we went through, we learned what we did, and it was almost like, this is what we’re supposed to do. I, I couldn’t sleep at night. Not ’cause I daughter was a newborn, but like, I just, just kept me up saying like, we need to do something and we can do something. And just that, I think that drive of, you know, you talked earlier just about like, you feel like there’s a calling in life and what, what we could do and what we could bring together and who we could have help us. Like we, we need to do this. We cannot, we can’t not do it.
AJV (09:50):
I love that. Hasn’t been either
BJ (09:52):
. We can talk about that too.
AJV (09:55):
. What I love
BJ (09:57):
Starting business during a pandemic is awesome.
AJV (09:58):
. Oh yeah. I mean that, I think everyone’s got an interesting story from that. But what I love about what you guys are saying so much is it, it is one of those things like, when you really find your calling, when do you really find it? It’s something that you can’t not do. And if you know anyone is out there listening going, well, I mean maybe I should do this. And it’s like, if it’s a, maybe it’s not. It, it’s gotta be that thing that keeps you up at night. It’s gotta be that thing that’s like, oh, like I have to do this. I can’t not do it. And just to even hear you guys say that is so re it’s such a great reminder and convicting to me, like even in our own business, it’s like that’s how we felt. It was like, God literally showed up and gave us this business and all we had to do is follow him.
AJV (10:43):
And it was like, we couldn’t not do it. We would’ve been stupid to not do it with such clarity of what, you know, like what our giftings were and what we were able to do. And to find other people who have found that is one, it’s really special. So congratulations to you. But it’s also really hard, right? Like starting anything is not easy. So I would love to hear from you, from both of you, because I’d love to hear both perspectives of, for the person who’s listening, who’s going, that’s great. I know this thing that I’m called to do, but what do I do? Like, yes, I, I know that there’s something in my heart, there is something that is calling me, but I’m also like pretty successful. I’m comfortable and doing this over thing, this other thing over here. And to leave that and just like cold Turkey do something else, feels kind of like irresponsible. What would you say to that person of going like, here’s the, the the first step that you should do. Or here’s what you should be asking. Here’s what you should be doing. Here’s what you should be thinking. And I would just love to hear it through what you guys did.
BJ (11:47):
You wanna start or you want me to start? You guys?
BJ (11:53):
I’m gonna speak on her behalf. ’cause She, she, she’s, I think the thing that is probably the most important is whatever you do is not gonna be perfect, but if you do nothing, you’ll get nothing. Right? So the the first step is to take action, right? You, you don’t have a plan, you don’t have a clear path. I think what held me personally back at the beginning was, you know, this idea of, well, I don’t wanna do this unless it’s really, really good. Unless it’s perfect. And what I’ve learned about a startup, the definition of a startup is can you make and learn, make enough mistakes and learn from those mistakes to, to get to profitability before you run outta capital , right? It’s, it’s literally that simple. You’re gonna make mistakes. The whole, the whole process is to make ’em quick, make them inexpensive, and make sure you have enough resources to get through the mistake making process.
BJ (12:45):
And so if you, if you look at that, the definition of success is making those mistakes. And so it’s okay. And that was hard for me to accept. And you know, I remember working on this financial model for weeks and weeks and not being one to, to to, to put it in front of everybody in case it wasn’t right. Well, of course it’s not right. You’re guessing about the future, it’s not gonna be right. But it took many, many months for me to kind of work through that. It took us a few months to figure out how to work together. Unfortunately we have very complimentary strengths. We don’t compete. You know, I I I’m on the operations and the finance and the strategy side, and she’s very much people and passion and community and pr I mean, she’s great at all of those things. And so it works for us. But I, if I had distill it down, it is just move right? Take a step, take another step, take another step, make a mistake, turn a little bit. The word pivot is probably overused, but it’s exactly right. You know, w when we were started looking at doing this business, it was gonna be an infertility support business, but we couldn’t figure out how to make that work.
SJ (13:47):
Not this business business concept.
BJ (13:49):
Correct. But when we started down this path, that’s what we were looking at. And then we started looking into different research and our eyes open. And so I think it’s also good to remember what you think you’re gonna start with is not where you’re gonna end. And that’s okay. Right? Don’t fall in love with something so much that the, the, the numbers and the data and your customers, they tell you what you are if you listen.
AJV (14:09):
Mm-Hmm. That’s wise.
SJ (14:11):
No. And so I was working at a university. I would go and hear amazing speakers. So billionaires come to speak and they, they talk about like your, think of the end of your life, your eulogy, what you want your eulogy to be. And so while we said like we, I made a wealth university of wealthier. Yes. It was fil Phi philanthropic. And I, I got a lot of grad, a lot of meaning from that. Like, we knew we could do better. And I think also the, the more you learn, the better you do. And so we couldn’t unlearn, we couldn’t say like, just keep it to ourselves. We said we, this truly impacts everyone. And so, and we have, we have resources. We, we can do this. And so, but it is taking that first step and then like, write it down, write down what you want and look at it, power of manifestation, say it, and, and then just go for it. And you, people always doubt themselves. We doubt ourselves plenty of times. But it’s that belief daily,
BJ (15:04):
SJ (15:04):
AJV (15:05):
I relate.
SJ (15:06):
But no, it’s the belief and then, and then doing the work. ’cause It is, that is work.
AJV (15:12):
You know, I love what you, I I love that you said that because you said it’s you know, we all doubt ourselves. But you just gotta go. And I, I think a lot of people are stuck. They can’t get beyond their doubting, they can’t get beyond the what ifs. But you did, so how did you do it? Like how did you go like, this is good enough? Like we are good enough, we can figure this out. Like, because I, I don’t think that’s common. An everyday mindset to go, I got this. I can figure it out.
SJ (15:42):
I, I joke. I said, Ben, we were able to figure out how to have two genetic children without us giving birth. Without me giving birth. , . We can figure anything out. .
BJ (15:54):
Yeah. I, you know, in my prior role working in a family office, I did lots of different things. And I always looked at that as a liability. Everybody says, you know, to to, to really be successful, you gotta be specialized deep in one skillset. And that’s true. If you, if you’re a doctor, if you’re, you know, even an attorney, you wanna be, you know, specialized. But if you’re an entrepreneur, being able to do a lot of different things comes in helpful. ’cause You’re not, you don’t quite know. Like, I’m still, I excel models and fortunately I have that skillset and sometimes we have to put together presentations and I can do that myself if I have to. And so I think often what we think are liabilities, if we reframe it can be the asset that you need. And that can give you the confidence.
BJ (16:37):
I, I have all kinds of, you know, doubts. We all have our personal struggles, but I know I’m extremely resourceful. And if I’m put in a situation, I can fix just about anything. I can figure just about anything out. So while I may doubt other things, I know I can figure stuff out if I just give it a little bit of time and then I’d, I’d add a second piece to it. Nobody achieves success on their own. So find yourself either a partner or somebody that’s an accountability person, a partner or or friend, somebody that that’s got your back that that can support you. And that was one of the things too. When we made the decision, it was who are we gonna surround ourselves with to make us better people and to make the world a better place? And it’s gotta be positive people, right?
BJ (17:25):
We need to create a work environment that’s positive and and uplifting. And if, if we don’t have that in our lives, let’s go. Let’s go build it. Let’s build, let’s build the environment that we want. Let’s build the life. And, and that was another thing. We, we decided let’s be intentional about how we live. And now that we have this family, I wanna spend time with them. And if I have to go and I have a desk job and I have certain things that take me away from that family, I, I don’t get to control that. And we worked so hard to have a family. We decided let’s, let’s figure out how to write our own, our own future. And that meant for us, we needed to, to create a business so we could mix our lifestyle with our livelihood.
AJV (18:02):
Mm. All right. So there’s like so many thoughts in my head, right? I have right now. So I’m gonna try to organize them. All right, so my next question, and then I have like three other topics and I’m like, oh my gosh, I wanna know this so much. But my first question is, you guys kind of mentioned like, we kind of started down this whole first concept of, you know, kind of like fertility support, infertility support, education. But eventually you have ended and a very different lane with, you know, hormone products. And so how did you end up there? And then tell us about, tell us about your products. Like how did you come up with this?
BJ (18:38):
I’ll take part one and I she’ll take part two. I think that would be a great setup. So you know, again, in my prior role I did a lot of different things from operating businesses to investing in, in venture capital opportunities to private equity investing to real estate. And so you start seeing patterns and you start seeing things and you start understanding that a key to a successful business is making sure that you have a large enough market. ’cause You’re never gonna own a market. So if you’re gonna get a small slice of something, it better be a big slice. You know, a small piece. Let’s make it a big pie, right? And we had these challenges. We, we knew that the infertility journey and process was, was painful and was confusing and felt helpless. And we thought if we could create a system, if we could create an app, if we could create this, we create that.
BJ (19:25):
All of that sounded good. And it felt good. The problem I was having as I was looking at the market size and saying, wait, if you think about it, you know, only 20 or 30% of the population at any given time is trying to have a family right? Of childbearing age. And then only 20% of that has infertility problems. And then nobody wants to talk about infertility, which means you’re not gonna get a word of mouth recommendation. And as soon as they get pregnant, they’re gonna churn out. So it was that process, and this is a little bit maybe more analytical, but this, this is literally, I went through it and chopped it all the way down. I’m like, man, in order for us to make this a profitable endeavor, we’re gonna have to charge a lot of money, which is the opposite of what we wanna do.
BJ (20:03):
So then it was, well, if we can’t do that, what attached to our problem, our pain, what else could we do? So we flipped it around and started asking a different question. And it was that process. And reading the same studies and the same research with a different lens, instead of just infertility, what other things could we attach to, well, the studies that talked about hormones and hormone disruption and even hormone health next to infertility would be cancers would be weight would be developmental disorders, would be correlations with depression. And, you know, even autoimmune things. And then I was like, wait a second. Those are all of the things that all of us are dealing with one way or another. Either on a first order ourselves or second order our families. So that means this is everyone. When we’re talking about hormones, everybody has an endocrine dis endocrine system.
BJ (20:54):
A hormone system. Hormones are the chemical messengers that tell our bodies what to do and when to do. It tells us when we’re tired, tells us when we’re hungry, tells our muscles to build or for not build, right? The testosterone there bone density, it regulates our temperature, right? All of these things happen through our hormones. And when they are in what’s called homeostasis, when they’re in balance, good things happen. And when they’re out of balance, bad things happen and we don’t feel well, and we don’t look well. Right? And over time, if they happen repeatedly, that’s when you have things like cancer that creeps in. ’cause You’re turning these switches on and off. It’s like, like you flip a light switch enough times, the light will fail. It’s the same kind of thing. You’re turning these, these switches off and on. And then hormone disruptors, this will lead into the products piece.
BJ (21:39):
But hormone disruptors, they’re, they’re chemicals in our environment that can mimic the, the hormones. So think of like a lock and key system. Well, there’s some chemicals that can go and turn open up a door that it shouldn’t, right? Or close it when it shouldn’t. And that, that has un unintended consequences. And so when that happens enough during key developmental times, like in utero, right? If you, if the mother’s exposed to chemicals that can be passed on to the baby mm-Hmm. And if it’s a male baby, there’s too much estrogen. Now you see sperm counts that are declining around the globe. And it can sound scary or it can be hopeful. Like, okay, well I know some of these things, nobody knows about this. If I share that with them, knowledge is power. And if we provide some products that help people make better choices, that’s positive too.
BJ (22:23):
We should have smiles on our faces, not scare people, right? So that, that was once we started looking at that and said, okay, if we can make this a positive thing, not point people and tell ’em, you’re, you’re, you’re making bad choices. No, let’s give you, let’s give you some information so you can make better choices. And then let’s provide some products that help on these, these, these health principles of, of better hydration and better sleep and less stress you know, better nutrients you know, reduction of inflammation. Those are the pillars that we, we build all our products around. Well,
SJ (22:52):
So we read a study that said the average American woman puts on 12 products a day, which is over 160 chemicals a day. Average man puts on over 80 chemicals a day. And then we’re surrounded up to hundreds of chemicals every day in
BJ (23:03):
Our environment. In our
SJ (23:03):
Environment. Yeah. And so we said, if we can really simplify this, and let’s just talk about what was, what goes on, in and around your body. So are three product pillars we can make these are make better choices. We have world renowned doctors on our medical advisory board, and one of our doctors, Kareem, is Dr. . And she founded the very first personalized chemical exposure test is a urine test. And so she can actually, you can actually do urine tests and text your your chemical exposure. And we were saying, how do we go to market? What do we do first? And she said, well, the fastest way is to help reduce your chemical exposure. Promote hormone health is through skincare. Mm-Hmm. . Because your largest organ, you don’t think about what you put on on a daily basis. Well,
BJ (23:42):
Yeah. And this, this was, we don’t think about that. What you put on your skin gets in your bloodstream. She talked about hormone cream, but think about a pain patch, right? Literally put a patch on your, on your lower back and you, it it’s absorbing through your skin a nicotine patch. All of those things, medicine absorb. So the the, the corollary or the alternative to that is also bad things get absorbed into your skin. Right?
SJ (24:05):
And so we, we launched with skincare and Ben’s prior career, he, he ran a, a very big wine company. Large.
BJ (24:12):
And I knew, I knew nothing about wine, but I, yes. And
SJ (24:14):
So, but he was looking, we we didn’t drink alcohol growing up. We didn’t know that wine. It was like the number one wine store on the west coast. And he said, why is there a $5 bottle of grape juice and a $5,000 bottle of grape juice? Like what, what what actually goes in it? It’s, so we,
BJ (24:27):
That’s what happens when you don’t know anything about something . You look at it
SJ (24:30):
Analytically, but then we start learning. It’s, it’s the quality of the products. Yeah. Yeah. Where, where everything’s grown. It’s the soil. It’s, it’s how, how it’s crafted. And so we actually had that mentality when we were saying skincare. So it’s crafted, it’s making sure you have the right quality ingredients, but also the right amount of each ingredient when, when you’re formulating. And so really looked at that process. And so we have incredible skincare. We try to, everything we have is gender neutral, it’s safe for kids, safe for pregnancy. And we looked at that chemical number of people, products, people are putting in their bodies and said, let’s make everything really versatile. So people say they, you know, we have a two step regimen. So our, our more, our J serum people say it replaces their moisturizer, their serum, their eye cream, their vitamin C serum, and their toner all with one product, which is amazing because rate performance, but then also you’re now reducing the number of chemicals you’re putting on your body every day
BJ (25:24):
With us, without us having to preach about it. We just create a product that solves, solves multiple pro problems. ’cause You know, too often products are the result of just marketing efforts, another way to sell things. And if you strip it back, well, can I get the same results with fewer things? Yeah. That does two things. It gives you back time. Oftentimes it gives you back money, right? And it reduces the number of chemicals so that then you, you’re, you’re doing something better for your health. So that was kind of our initial premise.
AJV (25:52):
You know, what I love about what you guys have just said is it’s both a passion focused endeavor, but also with some logical business minded decisions. Which is why, you know, you know, one of the things that we talk a lot about at Brand Builders Group is like, you know, just because you can doesn’t mean you should Mm-Hmm. and not everything that you’re passionate about means people will buy it from you. And so it’s this, this subtle art of figuring out what is my passion and what would people buy from me? What could I sell and what would people buy? And so I think that’s a really important discussion for all of the people listening today of going, there’s gotta be a, you know, kind of a checks and balances with what you feel called to do and what the market is also showing by demand that is needed if you really wanna make it right.
AJV (26:46):
And it’s like, not all passion projects make it. And I think a lot of that is because the business piece of it, which is a part of it doesn’t come into consideration sometimes. It’s like you gotta, you gotta go through the thought process that you guys thought process that you did of how big is this market? And you know, if we zone in here, what’s the tertiary, and, you know, the secondary. And, but I think there’s a really important part of that, of going, it’s one thing to be feel called to do it, which should be like, you know, the act, the activator. But then there’s also gotta be the analysis part to go, is it viable? Right? Will it last? Can I make it? And you guys have done both of those things really successfully because you did both of those things.
BJ (27:30):
I what, what I’m hearing you say is it’s gotta make sense in your heart, but also in your mind. Yeah. If it’s, if it’s one without the other, it’s not gonna work.
AJV (27:38):
Yeah. And I think that’s, it’s, it’s rare, but when it comes together, like magic happens. And so here’s my next question for you guys. You just, you said earlier, you guys started this three years ago. Can you tell us a little bit about the journey from three years ago to today?
BJ (27:54):
Yeah. Our, our three year anniversaries, well our, our 22 year wedding anniversary is May 2nd, but our, our three year business anniversary is May 22nd. So it’s coming up in 23 days. The journey, well, I’ll, I’ll kick us off. It starts with a concept, starts with an idea, and, and then you have an idea of how you’re gonna take it to market. And you fall in love with that idea. And we’re gonna have plenty of resources. We’re gonna have all the money we need, we’re gonna find investors, we’re gonna go to market and it’s gonna work. And we had that all lined up and it was we actually were concepting this a year before we launched, right? So we were trying to get, we were hoping to launch four years ago. So we concepted this thing. We had a partner that was a, a large family office that was gonna back us.
BJ (28:43):
And they said, look, we’ll look programmatic approach, which means I’ll give you a check now at a certain valuation and when you hit these milestones, we’ll give you another check. And then it was ideal. Like we could not have to go out and worry about cash. And we’re getting deeper and deeper into conversations. It’s looking very promising. We’re not looking at any other potential investors. We hire our first two employees and Covid hits, this is March, right? All this stuff in March of 2020 Covid hits. And we are, we have our products that we have figured out, but now the lead time goes from like, you know, six weeks to six months. And what it did it forced us to do a whole bunch of testing. ’cause We didn’t really have product. So we, we, we took us a different approach to get to market.
BJ (29:28):
We had to go hands on. We didn’t have the capital that we thought we would have, so we had to be extremely scrappy. So we, you know, we developed a business model that was really powered by word of mouth, mouth. And then we went out and started building community to support the overall message. And we did a lot of in-person events, you know, even, even even during covid, like we would do it in a safe way. And things got better as, as our products came in. The, the wave had had slowed down. There was a lot more education and, you know, you could start traveling. You just wear a mask and things like that. But it took, it took months to get there. So maybe Sarah could talk about this, like the, the community building element of it. ’cause I think it’s, it’s interesting when you’re doing live events, when we’re talking to people and we’re sharing our brand and our story, we would learn by the response on people’s faces. If we’re saying words, like, we started talking about endocrine disrupting chemicals and toxic load and all these things, and people’s eyes would nod, but their eyes were off. ,
AJV (30:29):
You just got way too fancy from me. . Yeah. And print it down.
BJ (30:32):
Yeah. And then we have a, this kind of affiliate, affiliate plus program where people can sign up and sell our products and they, you know, they get their own links and all this stuff. Well, they’d say, I, I love your story. They love hearing our infertility story. But, and I’m, I’m gonna sign up and sell these products, but I need about two weeks to study all this stuff before I open my mouth. You know? And so that’s the exact opposite. You want it to be so easy that it comes out naturally. So we learned that by testing and our form of testing was in person. Other people you can learn it from doing, you know, you, you, you talk about building a business. How do you do it? Test, test without, you know, make your mistakes, learn what works and what doesn’t. Try not to spend a lot of resources and do it efficiently. We were forced to do that because of you know, what, what would’ve been the worst thing is we thought we had it all figured out. We had all the money that we needed, and we went out and spent a bunch of money going down a path that ultimately wouldn’t have worked. Yeah, you can, you can convince yourself. But when you’re standing in front of people having a conversation, the feedback is live. Like, so we tell ’em, tell her how, how we started. Well, I
AJV (31:30):
Wanna clarify one thing really quickly. These, all these events you were doing with community building, I’m gonna make a big assumption that those events were free, but tell me if they were paid.
BJ (31:40):
No, we, they were free and we would, so
SJ (31:43):
Go ahead. So I’ll tell you what, we chose our business model. So we were learning about these chemicals and just like, I had no hormone, hormone health, but also like the fact, like I had no clue that my products were causing me not to get pregnant. Like, or, or could, could, yes. But like, oh my gosh, I had no clue the importance. And so we said, you know, we are gonna create products, but if we’re just gonna sell them at a store, that doesn’t solve the solution because people don’t know. So we, we need to create awareness, we need education, content, community with products. That’s really the holistic solution. And when I was at graduate school, my favorite Harvard business case study was on a lady named Brownie Weiss. She invented the Tupperware party back in the fifties. And so she created a platform for women back in the fifties when they, no one was working outside the home.
SJ (32:26):
She’d be able to, to have, bring in resources. And at the end of her video, we watched this black and white the case study watched a black and white film of her recognizing woman on stage and seeing these men just cry. They were so imp impacted. And so I actually flew and went to her museum in Orlando after I graduated 15 years ago-ish. But then we were saying, you know, Ben, like our go-to-market strategy, it’s more than just selling products. We need, we need this. And how do we elevate this? How do we modernize it? Where we make it? Where, you know, you’re already asking your friends for product recommendations. I mean, if I’m gonna buy something I, you know, see my friend’s leg. And so like, people are already spending that way. They’re, and they, they’re recommending products already. How do we make this modern?
SJ (33:10):
How do we make it elevated? How do we do it where you can go? And so when we first launched, we had 200 advocates. They have 21. And we, we said, Hey, if you guys get 50 people in a room, we will fly in and support you and we’re gonna show up. And so we gave ’em some budget. She was to help pay, you know, for, you know, some products or charcuterie, whatever it was. But then they were in 60 cities the next few months. And then we, we came back and we said, well, we wanna actually be in this business so we can see our kids .
AJV (33:39):
SJ (33:40):
So how do we do this where we can have our kids go with us? And
BJ (33:43):
We grew really rapidly but we were out hustling. And I think that’s another lesson. Like it doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just happen. Some people get lucky and those are the stories that everybody wants to hear, but it doesn’t happen, especially if you’re gonna build a brand and you’re gonna build about a topic that’s not, not widely known. You gotta, you gotta really, you know, move the needle yourself.
AJV (34:02):
I wanna, I wanna highlight two things ’cause I think this is so important and it’s what nobody talks about. Because everyone wants to figure out how do you make mailbox money? How do you build it one time and then make money while you sleep? I still don’t know how people do that. . Like, once somebody actually figures it out, let me know. But at the same token, what everything is being promoted is digital. This, digital this, digital this. And at the end of the day, what I know to be true and what you just said is that lives are changed in person. Community is built in rooms, hand to hand, side by side with real lives interacting with real other human lives. And for everyone who is listening, if you think just posting something on social media or just building a website or just building a course is gonna get you to where you wanna be.
AJV (34:52):
I just like to be sharing some honest truth that likely won’t happen. But if you’re willing to get on a plane and go 60 places for free to go, I care about this so much, I’ll be there. And you get other people to come along with you, guess what? It’s gonna work. Maybe not on your timeline, but eventually it’s gonna work. And so I just wanna like one, say kudos to the both of you. ’cause I know what it’s like to be that person along with my husband. And that is not a message you hear from a lot of people today. And so I just, one, thanks for sharing that and calling some spotlight to what you actually did and are doing, because that is actually how business is still built today. And I think it’s really important to highlight in rooms with people building community, sharing it and making it where it’s this human relationship again.
SJ (35:40):
It’s so interesting you’re saying that. So we have our story, our story really enables other people to share their stories. And whether it’s simple swaps, these are, you know, great products or whether, you know, we’ve had an event last summer, this lady had her child had cancer and just saying like, this, these are products I’m already using, but being in there and showing up and then also what you’re talking about, bus building a business that’s makes money while you sleep. So like, all of our products are consumable. So these are products people, like we have over 50% of our, our revenue comes in from subscriptions because people try our products, they love it, and then they just have it every month since them.
BJ (36:16):
Yeah, yeah. But we also build systems to encourage that and to encourage the conversation. And I think one of the rewarding parts though of building a business, we just, so our, our, we call ’em advocates, our human grace product advocates. Our advocates can earn money, but they can also earn, like we set up a point system and they can earn into a, an incentive trip, right? Mm-Hmm. . So we just from Hawaii where we hosted a hundred of our top people.
AJV (36:38):
Awesome. Love that.
BJ (36:40):
It was incredible. Yeah. And they had a, we had an amazing time and came together. And what is is cool is we knew that we wanted to build something. We wanted to be surrounded by people that were good people. And so we needed to build a foundation of community that way. And we have an incredible community of advocates who support each other, cheer each other on, you know, they’re, they’re in theory, they’re in competition trying to outperform, but they’re also, they’re all doing it in a, in, in a positive way. Like, we have such a great culture. And, you know, I think some of that, they, they, our advocates have told us it’s because we have showed up and we didn’t really realize what we were doing. But I think when you lead by example, the, it comes through in your brand and it, it, it bring, brings a brand of, of both authenticity and integrity. Hmm. And that’s that’s something that’s super important.
AJV (37:28):
Yeah. I think one of the other things that you guys mentioned that I, I wanna circle back to is this whole idea of getting to start a business with one, something you’re passionate about and you’re helping people, but also being able to design how you want your family to run is a really important part of that. And then you just mentioned that again, of like, well, after doing 60 events in just a few months, we realized maybe we’d like to see these kids of ours. And so I’d like to hear about what are you guys doing to create a family, right? As a business. And I think that’s why so many people are attracted to entrepreneurship is because there is this idea, this dream of creating your own schedule, designing your life the way you want it. And then unfortunately, if you’re not super intentional about it, all of a sudden that ain’t happening.
AJV (38:15):
Right? And you’re like, why am I doing this again? This is, I’m working longer hours and seeing my family less than I was before I did this. And it does take some intentionality of working together as a married couple, right? So I’d love to hear about how that’s been the last three years, but also making the decision of like, no, how do we, how do we grow this? How do we commit to this and design a family and a marriage and a life that fits within what we said we wanted? So I’d love to hear both of those things
BJ (38:46):
Start. Mm-Hmm. Talk about rrb. Oh, so it was his idea, Richard. Yeah. We, we did that first summer. And summer summertimes are typically when we, we would go out because in our business we have a, it’s mostly women who sell our products. So o often I’m the only guy in the room actually, . But it’s, it’s, it’s, it, it’s fantastic. They incredible community. But in the summertime, a lot of these are women that have children. They’re home from school, so the summertimes get a little bit busy. So we go out in the summers and that’s helps kind of keep people engaged and excited and activated. Plus, you know, our kids didn’t have school in summer, so so we did it that first summer, mainly because that’s right when we launched the business and it was just taking off and, and we flying, flying around.
BJ (39:27):
But then I, I started thinking, well, what we’re doing is we’re reacting to demand instead of scheduling it, right? So it was too much, I mean, you talk about this, we, we weren’t intentional. We were reacting to what was working right? And trying to do more of that. And then we didn’t think, well, if it’s working, we, we could still do that. But what if we said, we’re going to be here in this city on this date. If you wanna host something, let’s coordinate it there and then just put it out in advance. And if we did that, we still could. And we wanted to bring our kids, well, it doesn’t make sense to have four plane tickets. And then since we work together, we have to have somebody come with us, a help, a babysitter, a nanny. So now you’re talking about five, which means now you got two hotel rooms and, and I just got this idea, maybe we should just buy an RV and just kind of flip it around.
BJ (40:15):
So it was Black Friday of 2021. We looked at RVs one day we came back and we’d figured out a floor plan. Like if we, if we have to travel with some help, we need to set it up. We need two bathrooms, we need this, we need that two hours walk or dryer, . Yeah. We wanna, we wanna be able to do this. So we came back two days later to go look for a second time. We’d only done looked once. As we’re driving in, we get a call from the, this guy, he says Hey, sales agent. Yeah, the sales agent. And he says, you described to me what you’re looking for. And this was, if you remember, during Covid, everybody bought RVs. There was no inventory left in the whole country. Prices went up like crazy if you could get one.
BJ (40:57):
So we we’re, we’re driving in, we’re 15 minutes out from the dealership and he says the RV that you described to me just pulled in from the factory and it, it still got its stickers all over it. You guys want to come take a look? And we said, we’ll be there in 15 minutes. don’t show anybody. Don’t show anybody else. And so we took a look, we had no idea what we’re getting ourselves into, but we bought it right then. And it turned out to be a good investment from a tax perspective. It was a good investment. And we had had some income come in, I could, it actually operates as a second home. You can depreciate it because it’s heavy duty, heavy duty vehicles. So you go back to that, you know, put some logic behind it. So it helped us out in that regard. But then it also put us on, in the driver’s seat, so to speak, of setting it up so that, that summer we went to 32 states I don’t know how many
SJ (41:41):
From LA to Seattle, Boston, DC and back. Oh my gosh.
BJ (41:45):
Yeah. It was too much it nearly killed me. I didn’t, I had no idea what I was doing. They drove this whole time. I, yeah, it was too much. And you learn we learned that you need, you need to have more downtime between your setup and take down is the same whether you’re there for one day or one month. And so we, we decided we need to amortize that setup and take down for longer periods. So now we, we we’re, we’re doing it again right now and we’ve got our kids with us, and we’ve decided, oh, go ahead.
SJ (42:15):
Well, so the topic of hormone health is trending, which is super exciting. And, but, and especially our business grows. But, so in November, Ben and I didn’t get to see our kids for 20 nights. We are housed, the kids are in private school with nanny. But like, we wait, so I came back back, it’s like after Thanksgiving and Ben’s like, okay, you could find a new nanny who will homeschool travel. Oh, be fine. Living an rv, going anywhere we go. And I,
BJ (42:39):
It’s because we work together, we, it’s, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t shift it. Like we we’re cover the mornings
SJ (42:44):
Co CEOs 24 7. And so I started calling universities, universities didn’t wanna have, you know, graduates go to private family. And so put an add out on care.com and found, I found her, but I think it’s, it’s okay. We have,
BJ (42:58):
She had spent, she had spent the prayer year backpacking around the world. So she was fine with it, that she had grown up in a small community. She had been homeschooled, so she knew how to, to homeschool. So, but it’s, we thought let’s test it. Let’s try it. Yeah.
SJ (43:09):
But it’s also love that I think say like, what kind of life do I wanna live? Mm-Hmm. . And then I usually over New Year’s Eve, my, my parents treat the kids and we go flipping a two or three night retreat and we read books. And remember a few years ago we were up in Napa,
BJ (43:23):
This was before we started the business.
SJ (43:24):
Yeah. Went pro walk. And we said, what would our lives look like if we had zero restrictions, no jobs, no house, no. Like what, what
BJ (43:32):
Life do we money is not an issue. What does it, what does it look like? What does it feel like? How, where are we? How, how, you know.
SJ (43:38):
And so it was really that exercise of saying, okay, we want, I wanted to work with him. He didn’t really want work with me originally , but I wanted to spend more time with him. I want, like, we wanna be with our kids, we wanna travel, we wanna have experiences, we wanna make meaningful impact. And what, and you know, ’cause we have a lot of friends who are billionaires and have these lifestyles, but that, that that lifestyle,
BJ (43:59):
We, we are not let’s just No, no,
SJ (44:00):
We we’re not true. Not, but it’s not private jets that make us feel whole, you
BJ (44:06):
Know, it’s, it’s clearly, it’s, it’s an RV , it’s our land
SJ (44:11):
Drugs for different folks.
BJ (44:12):
It’s our, it’s Orlando. There we go. But, but
SJ (44:14):
Truly like, like we’re so much more present and intentional our rv because we’ll go somewhere. We’ll be there for a week. So we wanna go explore all the, the local farmer’s markets and, and show our kids. And so that has been like, and so we’ve had this dream. We wrote it out. We said, this is okay, now how do we backfill this? So we got rid of our house. We, we did different things that, you know, but this, like, we, I’m so much more fulfilled in my life now and like being able to be in Hawaii, we’re Grand Wale, which is incredible hotel.
BJ (44:46):
This is a little plug for my wife. So Grand Wale is a Waldorf Astoria property, and she built a relationship with the executive team and eventually got introduced to the spa. So Grand Wale in their new $55 million spa that just finished a renovation is selling Hu and Grace products, our wellness products. That’s amazing.
SJ (45:06):
Yeah. It was so incredible to go be there with a hundred of our top advocates with our cue and our grace to walk into saw, see the kids. But the very last night we did a white party and we had one of our advocates speak and she said, you know, I, I said, what if she goes, I never thought I could do anything like this. But she goes, I saw Hawaii, I love the products. She goes, what if I could do it? And so I think it’s saying, what if, and then what can I do to get there?
AJV (45:33):
I love that. And I think just the whole concept of actually spending time to go, what kind of life do I want? Right? I, you know, you hear statistics all the time about people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they do their life. Like what would it be like if you actually said, this is the life that we want. So how, how do we get there? How do we build it? And I love, I love hearing stories like that. Now how old are your kids now?
BJ (46:00):
Grace just turned five. Hugh is six, about to turn seven. And my, you
AJV (46:04):
Guys are traveling the country with a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old. Yeah.
SJ (46:08):
And it was started when they were two and four. So Yes. . Yeah. But
BJ (46:12):
We just, we just had some friends over, we’re currently in California, in Malibu, and we, we were from, we lived in LA for 15 years. So this is, this is, you know, home if, if we pick a home that’s not on wheels. But, so we came into town, we’re, we’re, we’ve got a, a ocean view lot in right off the PCH and our kids are out riding their bikes. We invite some friends over, they bring their kids over our kids instantly make friends because they, they’re, I think kids like a schedule, but they also like to be free. Hmm. And so while they’re this age, you only get this shot once. And we’ve, that, that’s what we decide is we’re not gonna wait to be parents and we’re not gonna wait. We’re gonna, we’re gonna just do it now. We’re gonna be here and be present.
BJ (46:50):
So every single morning they have, we have our, our, our master bedroom in the back, you know, a quarter of the, of the rv. It’s got a door and the kids have bunk beds on the other side of that door. And every single morning we wake up before the kids and we just lay in bed and we hear the, the, the door open. ’cause They’re kinda like closet doors. And we hear footsteps. And then our son rushes in through the door, jumps on us laughing, and we hold him every single morning. Mm-Hmm. And it’s the absolute best thing. And when we, we, you know, we have a house in Utah and it’s a good sized place. When we’re there, they kind of get distracted and they go do other things. They don’t come up to the, to the room. But in the rv it’s just, it’s, it’s so small and intimate. So every morning we have that family time. We don’t, you know, and it’s not, it’s not late. We start our days on time, you know, but we, we start with that, that does mean I’m not up exercising. I’m just laying there taking hugs. But that’s, that’s not gonna last. And so we’re just trying to take, take it while we can, how we can.
AJV (47:47):
That’s a great reminder of the, the power of proximity.
BJ (47:50):
AJV (47:51):
Right. For family, for friends, for whatever. But there’s a lot of power in proximity. That’s a great reminder. Sarah, what were you gonna say?
SJ (47:59):
No, you said, you asked how we do marriage and parenting and, and business owners. So mornings are our kids and like we, we go, we’ll do that. We’ll try to go for a walk, you know, be with them in the morning, then we go to work and it’s work time. And then at night we really try to shut it off. I’ll leave my phone in the other room. If I have an idea or need to tell Ben, I’ll actually go send him an email and he can check it the next day. She,
BJ (48:24):
She ping, she pings me all night long. I’m like, why are you doing this?
AJV (48:28):
Spilling up your inbox.
SJ (48:29):
But you need, but you need a mean, we need to have our marriage too.
BJ (48:33):
You know? And, and I think you, you just have to be open. Like this morning we were, we were actually driving in here, we’re at a, a an office building. We were driving from Malibu to, to la and Sarah was on her phone plugging away. And I just said, Hey, can, can I have my wife for a minute? You know, can , you know, and you just say it like, I, I need you. I need my wife. Can you put your phone down? Just be here because we’re all, you know, we’re all doing the best we can. But I think it’s important to vocalize that. Like
AJV (48:59):
BJ (49:00):
Otherwise you build resentment. If you don’t, if you don’t say it, she can’t, she can’t know it. Mm-Hmm. . She doesn’t know it. And I think she should be able to read my mind. Well, that, that doesn’t work. You know?
AJV (49:10):
Well, I, you guys have learned a lot in only three years of working together because my husband,
BJ (49:15):
Well, it was also, there’s
AJV (49:16):
Together for 17 years and it took us way longer than three years to learn those lessons.
BJ (49:21):
Yeah. Way longer. We’re still, we’re still learning them.
AJV (49:25):
Y’all, this is, I I, I have loved all the different assets or facets of this conversation. And one of the things that I wanna make sure we get to before we run outta time is I want people to know about, you know, just the humane and grace products, right? So you mentioned the skincare line. What else do we need to know when it comes to finding high quality products that are, that are healthy and good for you, that don’t do more damage than they do good. And then where should people go to learn more about human grace? So tell us a little bit about what are the products, right? And then where do we go?
SJ (49:58):
So we also have, we have skincare, which is amazing. We just got, actually, we just got picked up in Forbes for Best Bo one Top five Body Butters. We had no clue that you don’t have pr. So kind of cool. And we have an incredible wellness line. And so we have a morning supplement, we have a which helps detoxify your liver, it helps with energy, it helps mental clarity. We have a drink. Our number one selling product is called Hydrate Detox. And Ben actually worked with Formulators who did two really huge brands that everyone knows. That, but you know, one brand’s just all sugar one’s all salts. And we said, we actually wanna create a drink that’s a lot of functional benefits. And so we have the most bioavailable l glutathione on the market. It’s patent prebiotic,
BJ (50:39):
Which, which, which is the Master de detoxifier reduces inflammation.
SJ (50:42):
Patent prebiotic probiotic. There’s magnesium’s fiber, electrolytes. But we said, going back to the premise, excuse me, it’s like all in one mm-Hmm. , we said people need to do simple swaps. They, we don’t wanna say you have to take these five products today. You know? So we actually partnered that. So we have our bestselling products called the Routine. And it’s the morning supplement. You can take an empty stomach, you take our hydrate detox drink, and then we have our collagen that mixes completely clear in water, which is odorless, tasteless, which is great ’cause you can put it in your coffee. You can also put your hydrate detox drink. But you take those three things in the morning and like you feel good for the day. Like, okay, I, I did something good. I, I feel good. There’s mental clarity, there’s reduced stress.
BJ (51:27):
You have more energy. I mean, it’s, it’s natural. None of this is caffeine based. This is natural energy production. So coq 10, which helps your mitochondrial activity. And, and I think part of the premise too was people, we all need to drink water, but we like to drink stuff that tastes good. So if we drink water that tastes good, why wouldn’t we put something in it that’s functional? So we need an electrolyte complex. And if we’re gonna do that, why don’t we put a couple other things in there that we all need. We need a reduction of inflammation. Mm-Hmm. The, the body needs to be detoxified, not on monthly basis, on a daily basis. You, you need to be flushing things outta your system. And to do that, you need hydration. And then you need things that help reduce inflammation. And then our guts need to perform well.
BJ (52:07):
And when our guts perform well, we look better, we feel better, we think clearer. So we put all of that into one product. And that hydrate detox product is become our number one seller. And interestingly, we talked about this. We had a vision of, of what our company would look like and what, you know, initially it was a skincare company. Well, if you look at our numbers, we’re a wellness company. Mm-Hmm. . So we, we have the skincare vertical or, or, or call it our on vertical. The in vertical is, is leading the way right now. And then the around vertical, we have a, a beautiful home care product that makes a ton of sense. ’cause It’s a single concentrate that you can either dilute more with water or dilute less with water to have co higher concentration. So think less water, more concentrate for bathrooms have a deep, clean and multipurpose. Yeah. Deep clean, multipurpose. And
SJ (52:51):
So some of the most toxic chemicals are under your kitchen sink. And so our one house, house clean product replaces every chemical in house. Yeah. Amazing. We been really intentional. We’ve been fortunate through our networks to be able to get introductions to some of the best formulators in the world. Like our home cleaner. They do all of like the top of the line home, clean home cleaners, non toxic cleaners,
BJ (53:12):
Formulation group.
SJ (53:13):
And they now exclusively use our human grace products to clean their lab. So it’s also fun to hear, like, because people, they want, they want to help others. I think even formulators, they, they fall in love with what we’re building. Because it isn’t just Sarah and Ben’s business. These are thousands of people that they’re impacting. And we were able to tell those really cool ingredient stories, product stories, how it’s impactful. It’s, it’s fun. It’s exciting.
AJV (53:38):
Well, and I love the simplification of what you guys have created. It’s like, you don’t need all these products. We need better products that consolidate into one. And so cool. I lo and, and the fact that you guys are not even three years old yet is simply phenomenal. So just a major congratulations on rapid success. And part of that is like, you know that you’re onto the right thing when it can’t help but spread. And so I can’t wait to see what the next three years look like for you guys. I’ll, I’ll probably likely become a customer this afternoon, so I’ll be, I’ll be doing that in my off hours today, .
AJV (54:21):
And then also I just wanna share this with all of our listeners, and this will be in the show notes as well, that Sarah and Ben have been so gracious and so kind. To also give us a very special link just for all the influential personal brand listeners. So if you would like to learn more about these products, if you go to Hugh and grace.com/brand builder, that is where you can learn about these. And if you go to that place, you’re gonna get an opportunity to also get 10% off, which is so generous and so kind. So if you’re looking for cleaner and better products to help you with your skincare in, on and around, you know, that’s good. If I can remember it go to Hugh and grace.com/brand builder, check it out, get some products. And then Sarah, Ben, if they just wanna connect with you as individuals, what’s the best platform for people to go to you
SJ (55:17):
Probably Instagram or LinkedIn, but
BJ (55:19):
We, yeah. Go to our Instagram page and you, what you’ll see if, if you follow the stories, we have our advocate community. We now have 6,000 people who are selling our products or have signed up over time. And you’ll get to see their stories and what they’re doing and things demonstration. RV , you’ll see, you’ll see some of that too.
SJ (55:39):
And, and yeah, HelioScope, HUGH people do ask that question.
BJ (55:42):
Yeah. Hugh and Grace, H-U-G-H-A-N-D-G-R-A-C e.com. Or you can find the same thing on Instagram and
AJV (55:50):
I’ll be sure to put all those in the show notes as well. Yeah. Awesome. Y’all, thank you so much. Such an awesome conversation. And for y’all listening, I’ll put all the links, all the handles on the show notes. So go there, grab ’em, connect with them, check out these products, and then stick around for the recap episode. That will be coming up next. We’ll see you next time on the influential personal brand.