Nobody knows what the marketplace will look like as we emerge from this chaos we are experiencing. However, one thing is for certain: the market will be populated by entrepreneurs who found their profitable pivot and used it to stay relevant. To be one of these people, you need to start thinking about how to turn your business around and stay on top of things. Aaron Scott Young of Laughlin Associates talks about these things as he joins Scott Carson in the podcast. Aaron sees a profitable pivot as something every entrepreneur should understand and put to practice, whether there is a market crash or not. Listen and learn about what sets the most successful entrepreneurs apart and how you can apply these principles to your business.
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Staying Relevant Amidst Chaos And Profiting From Your Pivot With Aaron Scott Young
In this episode, we have our good friend and brother from another mother, Aaron Young joining us, talking about how to find your pivot in this chaos. Aaron has been an entrepreneur and business owner for multiple decades. He’s in a great job of pivoting as life has shown him curve balls and the market has changed. We discuss in this episode ways for you to find and discover your pivot and how to make it a profitable one. Enjoy this episode.
It has been a bit of a chaotic world out there with things and everything. We are honored to have our brother from another mother, the one, the only, the man, the myth, the legend, our good buddy Aaron Young joining us on this episode. How’s it going, Aaron? Are you hanging out okay there on the West Coast, having fun?
We’ve had some cold, rainy weather, some snowy weather, hail, mud, muck, all that and then the sun comes out. Everybody forgets the bad weather and goes, “Isn’t this the best place in the world to live?” That’s something we can talk about is how quickly you can pivot when things change. Life’s good up here. It’s a little quiet. Not doing as much but not much. We’re not traveling. What I love in my life is I have time to think about what do I want? What do I enjoy? Who do I want to spend time with?
What do I want to give my energy to? Things that have been working because they’re working, do I want to keep doing that or could we do something better? You said, how am I doing? I’d say I’m having some of the most introspective time in some of the most forward-looking, forward building experiences. I’m enjoying it. The other thing is I finally decided to turn off the news, turn off my alerts, turn off all that crap and stay focused only on what I want to think about. In this digital age, we allow ourselves to let a lot of people make their stuff our priority because some alert pops up on our phones. It’s this magical thing and we must chase the shiny little message.
You hit the nail on the head there. I don’t watch that much news. I’ll watch a couple shows like Sunday nights, I’ll watch John Oliver. I’ll watch Bill Maher on Friday night. It’s the opposite of my opinions a lot of time, but I still like to watch those and crack up a little bit on some of the humorous sides of things. I will jump on the news and see what’s going on in the news usually in the morning and then usually in the evening for the most part. That’s about it. That’s the biggest thing that we have to do out there, especially if you’re dealing with issues. You’re struggling. The worst thing you can do is have your face into all the negativity and all the social drama that everybody likes.
To me, it’s making mountains out of molehills a lot of times. That’s one of the biggest things that separates successful people from non-successful people. It’s like, “I’m going to focus on my stuff. I’m going to focus on me. I’m going to focus on growing and moving in that direction versus you can say the whole idea of outwitting the devil. They love to throw things in front of us to cause us to drift off-track and not be focused on what we want to accomplish.
Some people go, “It’s a virus,” or some people say, “It’s an election,” or whatever. It’s always something. The media will always find something to be fanning the flames of. If we don’t take intentional control of our time and our focus, it’s super easy to be caught up in there. It’s sort of going to a horror movie and you can’t stop watching the horrible thing happen even though you know this isn’t good. Not to compare too much to the media, but this isn’t real. There’s a level of sensationalism that will always be out there from everybody’s marketing. Everybody’s advertising, every news outlet that has an angle, every webinar, every email, it’s always going to be there. If we don’t allow ourselves the space to decide what matters to us, what our outcome is that we want, and then intentionally work toward it and not let things get into our view, that will throw us off. If we allow ourselves to be subjected to everybody else’s agenda, we will someday sit back in our poverty and wonder what happened. “Where did my whole life go?” Versus saying, “There’s what going on? I’ll wash my hands. You all vote when it’s time. There’s something going on in Indiana and I live in Washington State. Who cares?”
You have a call most Monday nights with your circle. You deal with a lot of entrepreneurs, people who have gone to Magnify Your Wealth and probably in your Inner Circle. How are some of those conversations going when people are pivoting? We want to focus on some of the things that people are pivoting or dealing with going from in-person to the online, the virtual stuck at home, not being able to travel aspect of things. How are a lot of your clients working?
My clients are all business owners. They might be solopreneurs, people that you’ve introduced this to who are real estate investors or note investors. You have people that have 5, 50, 2,000 employees. That group that we’re talking about, the Inner Circle group, runs the whole gamut. Some are working from home and some are not. Some still are going in. Some are essential. I’ll give you an example. It was interesting from our previous call. One of the fellows in the group owns a chain of restaurants. He’s a successful guy. The restaurants have been in business for a long time and he’s traditionally made a lot of money.
He’s in a good financial position now, but he said, “The restaurants are closed. They only have one of them that is open for takeout. They’re at about 10% of their typical revenue. I thought he was going to say, “I don’t know what to do,” but he didn’t say that. What he said was, “I’m excited about what’s going on.” I said, “Why are you excited while the restaurants are closed?” It’s because some of the people around him didn’t have the same financial strength that he has. There’s nothing in this little area where his flagship restaurant is. He said, “In many years I’ve been in that location, not one building has ever come up for sale the whole time. The building next door to me came up for sale and I’m going to buy the building. They were not in a good position. I’ve wanted to get that building for a long time.”
All of a sudden because of outside influences, he now gets to accomplish one of his goals. He’s prepared himself up until now, he can do it. He can buy it. He was saying the same thing I hear all the time from people who are prepared, which is this time of insecurity and flux, things are moving around. It’s not the way we normally do stuff. It creates horror for some people and bliss for other people because new opportunities come around. If you haven’t consumed everything you’ve made in the boom times, if you’ve squirreled some of the money away, if you’ve increased your credit lines, if you’ve kept your businesses operating in a way that throws off cash instead of you’re always breaking even, then all of a sudden, sometimes when there’s insecurity amongst the masses, those that are prepared can take advantage of it.
Some people go, “Isn’t that heartless?” I say, “No,” because if the person next door boarded up their building and there are no other buyers out there, they’re stuck and you come in and you give them a fair price for the building, everybody wins. One of the things I love about what you have taught with buying distressed notes is that the first goal isn’t to evict the person. It’s to give them an opportunity to stay in the house. How cool is that? The bank took a hit, but in some ways, they get covered on that anyway, which a lot of people don’t realize. The person in the house gets to stay in the house. The person who buys the note gets to create a new stream of revenue if it all works out. Everybody wins. If your eyes are not open to it, you will not see the opportunities.
It’s what we were telling people. Everybody’s coming from a doom and gloom aspect of things. I’m like, “It is scary.” It can be a little nerve-racking out there, but there is going to be another huge opportunity like it was in 2008, ‘09, and ‘10 for investors, business owners. If you’ve ever wanted to expand your business and you’re able to do that opportunity or arise. Better locations, maybe cheaper rent in a place as if you’re moving into. You have to look at what’s going on and if you’ve been shaken up, this is God’s wake up call to you. It’s like, “You may need to do something different. It can’t be business as normal.” Maybe you need to downsize a little bit. Maybe you need to go to where you’re doing full takeout versus dine-in. Who knows? There’s a whole variety of different things for businesses out there.
We’re in a time, as it always happens, especially if we go into a recessionary period which happens cyclically. There is typically a recessionary 3 or 4 years. We had this unprecedented eleven-year growth. This is mind-boggling. It’s the longest in our history because there’s always a dip and then it comes back. What happens in these times when things become recessionary, slow down, or whatever is it shakes out the people that were marginal at best. The ones who couldn’t hold on, who didn’t have good management, who were a business that was already past its prime or whatever. Those companies shake out and then other things emerge in that to fill gaps and solve problems. I know that this is a blog, so people may be reading this years later.
You’ll have to look at the dates and figure out what’s going on. Because of unusual circumstances, unemployment is high. Everybody keeps saying, “It will come right back as soon as we’re able to get back to normal.” Here’s what I’ll say, unemployment is high. They say the highest percentage is even higher than the Great Depression. Do you know what that tells me? I know a boatload of people who are working, investing, and who are doing great, while other people are struggling. This tells me, even when we look back at the great depression, or if you look back at ‘08, ‘09, and the Great Recession, it’s horrible for some people, it’s fantastic for others, and it’s okay for a lot.
It’s not everybody’s in the soup line. Everybody is selling pencils on the street corner. It’s not that way. We, as business owners, have to figure out a way to stay relevant no matter what’s going on around us. The big lesson I’ve got is, how do we take all the ingredients that we have on the kitchen counter? We’ve been making ham and cheese sandwiches and selling them. They’ve been selling great. All of a sudden, we can’t sell ham and cheese sandwiches. What am I going to do because this is my business? I’m committed to it. I make the best ham and cheese sandwich ever. We can’t.
What can we do? We’ve got ham. We’ve got cheese. We’ve got bread. We could make a Monte Cristo. We’ll get some strawberry jam. We can make a Cubano. We could make a chicken cordon bleu with ham and cheese. All of a sudden, we can use the ingredients to do something that was not part of our normal service delivery. We take the same stuff we’ve got and done something else that works. What if they say, “Nobody is buying sandwiches at all?” There’s no more sandwich stuff because everybody’s on Atkins.
There’s no more bread. There’s no use for your damn bread. We can take the ham and cheese and roll it up into little things that we can eat. What do you have in the way of financial, resources, your mailing list, your team, the stuff that you have in the storage room, your own experience? What else can you do with the stuff that you’ve maybe never thought of before? If I have these things, I could do something different that makes me relevant in a changing moment in our business world. What do you think of that, Scott? That’s what I am thinking about all the time.
A lot of people are going virtual, doing online. I was on the phone with my mom talking about their church. Their churches want to meet in person and stuff like that. They pivot a little bit. They live to stream it, but they don’t do a lot of work on that. They’re worried about their tenants being down because it is across the country. People aren’t showing up. I’m like, “You need to pivot. You’ve got all the tools there. Let’s take it a little bit differently. Let’s rebroadcast it or let’s change it and make it simpler for people to get on. You do not have donations. Let’s create the links on PayPal and say, ‘If you want to donate $5, $10, $25, $100 and give people the options to do it, but then share it in a lot of places. You have your email database.’”
This applies to a lot of business owners. Most churches, even though they’re a nonprofit organization, the minister is making their living from running the church. They want to get people into the chapel and be able to pass the plate, do an offering, and do all those things. All of a sudden, if they’re free to live stream it on YouTube or Zoom or something, they could run the fear that this is free. There’s no immediate need for them to give. What’s that going to do to pay the bills of the church, to pay my salary, for me to take care of my family as a minister?
However, most local ministries are not that big. Most of the ministers are not making that much money. Let’s look at the big ones. Think about Joel Osteen. Let’s look at the Crystal Cathedral. Let’s look at Agape in Los Angeles. These are enormous churches, but they have a huge reach all over the world because they’re broadcasting. People that would never show up in the chapel are watching them from eight time zones away and sending in their $5 or 25 or $100. Do you have to get them all in one spot or can you have a much larger community as long as your message resonates? People will pay attention to a message that resonates, whatever that is.
There are a lot more people that will resonate with you on a bigger platform like digitally. That’s true of most business owners who think, “If we can’t get the team into the door, into the office or we can’t get the trucks out to clean the pools or whatever, then something’s wrong.” What else can you do with your knowledge? What else can you do with your database? One of the biggest restaurants here in Portland, Oregon, who is a dear friend of ours. Everybody else is doing these GoFundMe campaigns. She’s showing up almost every day doing a Facebook Live, showing people how they make their signature dishes. She’s teaching her secret sauce in her fancy kitchen. She’s staying relevant all the time. Plus, when you watch her do it unless you’re a dedicated cook, you’re never going to do it because it’s too hard. You go, “They do all of that stuff to make that magic food. I can’t wait to get back to that restaurant.” She’s staying relevant even if attendance is off.
That’s the big thing. That’s where a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners. I know we see this in our neck of the woods is they don’t stay relevant. You’ve got to stay relevant top of mind all the time. This is what we’ve always been big about. You’ve got to send an email blast. I’ve got to be communicating probably at least once a week with your clients on your database. “What’s going on?” That could be an email, it could be a Facebook Live. We’ve got a student, Cody Cox, who has been doing a Friday stroll. He did for a while. He changed his business a little bit. My trainer, instead of doing it in-person, we do it via Zoom. We jump online and restream it to help to drive business to him.
My attorney, Jason Byrd, got on and we broke down the stuff going on with the SBA 7 loan and disaster. We streamed it. I had a friend of mine who’s in media reached out to me and said, “I want to have him on the media to talk about that.” He’s like, “What?” I’m like, “Let’s get you on.” She wants to talk because it’s relevant as long as you stay top of mind. A lot of people aren’t staying top of mind. I like to cook but I’m no Chef Ramsey. I’m doing something fun. I’ve enjoyed this time to be able to cook more here in the house. I’m cooking snapper and then some rainbow trout.
I did a quick eight-minute video on making cheddar bay biscuits, the red lobster way, and trying to stay out there and communicate. I can’t go to the gym and network with the people that are pumping iron next to me and people that I see on a regular basis. This way, people are like, “Scott still gets his work at it. Still staying relevant, trying to stay on top of things.” Instead of huddling in and waiting for the worst, this is the most important time like what we’re doing here, connecting. A phone call is great, but seeing eye-to-eye is much better than a text message or an email. It gives people a chance to chill out a little bit and say, “What’s going on? How are you doing? How are the horses? How’s Michelle? How are the grandkids?”
Michelle was saying to me, “We’ve lived here on this little hobby farm, a 25-acre place, for several years. I never felt like out there was mine. I always thought that was your stuff, the horses, the goats, the tack room and the projects. My art studio, my coaching stuff, my grandkids, that was my stuff. That was your stuff out there. I’m not going out and going over and being with the different grandkids, my children’s homes. I’m walking the property almost every day. I’m going out and I’m doing my coaching calls while I’m walking out there. The horses come up to me. I’m getting on the horses. The goats come up to me and I’m figuring out who’s friendly or not. I look around and I’m looking at the flowers that are starting to come out, the leaves that are starting to come out, the birds that are showing up, the ducks down at our pond and all this stuff. This is the most magical place and I didn’t even know it.”
It’s going to sound like Michelle’s a shut-in. She’s not. She didn’t feel out in the pastures, down in the corners of the property down. She didn’t see it as her world. That was stuff I was doing, putting animals out there, training stuff, building stuff. It was all for the animals. It wasn’t for humans. She completely used up the 2 acres of the yard and did stuff there. Out there, no. She’s going, “This was a magical place.” We have time. When we construct our lives in such a way that we get to be in charge of our time and then we make a choice not to fill it with other people’s agendas. We have an opportunity to discover great, fabulous, uplifting opportunities. Experiences that are right in our backyard that we were ignoring before. You had the pots and pans, but you weren’t doing all the cooking because it’s easier to hit a restaurant.
It’s easy to get it to go or slap a piece of ham and cheese on some bread and make a sandwich. Whereas I can take a little bit of butter, put it in the pan, try and make it a grilled ham and cheese sandwich or grilled turkey and cheese sandwich or put it on the George Foreman Grill and make it a panini if I need to. That’s the thing. We’ve been walking around our neighborhood and noticing, “Our neighbors got nice. We could do some stuff with our lawn,” or “They got a little box garden. We could do that in our backyard.” We’re sometimes being shaken on reality and realizing, resetting our images, resetting what we see is valuable and the opportunities that are around us. It’s a matter now.
How do we approach those opportunities? How do we tweak those for what we’re doing? Doing it and figuring it out as you go along a lot of times versus a lot of people want to be perfect. “I’ve got to be perfect.” It’s never going to be perfect. I was talking with a friend who’s a teacher and they have had to evolve what they’re doing with their kids. He teaches fifth grade. He said, “It must have been the most comical thing getting these kids on Zoom to network.” He said he almost cried because he’s excited to see them. The kids were interacting and then energy came across. A lot of the teachers were apprehensive about that. They didn’t think they could replicate it, but he goes, “Everybody is evolving. Everybody is figuring out how to do this.” Business is business. Figuring out how to do stuff on a day in, day out basis.
If there was ever a situation where we couldn’t go out, like nuclear winter, human beings figure stuff out. You become either a victim. “I’ve got no choice. I’m going to sit here and wait to die” or they go, “How do I go out and take control?” The most ridiculous experience or example of that would be something like the Mad Max movie. It’s the whole dystopian world. Somebody is controlling the water. Somebody is controlling the fuel. Remember the Kevin Costner thing about The Postman? Somebody is delivering the mail. We’re going to communicate. We’re going to travel. We’re going to eat. We’re going to live. People need to quit wringing their hands, crying, saying how insane this is, and getting sucked into the media. All they’re doing is selling ads. Don’t ever forget that.
We have an opportunity as entrepreneurs and it has nothing to do with market crashes, pandemics, elections, the World Trade Center has nothing to do with any of that. No matter what happens, if we want to claim the moniker entrepreneur, our job is to find a way to provide value, find a way to give service, find a way to make money, pivot so that we stay relevant. You’re down in Austin, Texas. It’s not a rainy place. If you’re walking into the grocery store twice a week, all your life, sunny and warm outside, you’re going to see sunglasses, sunscreen, all of that. As soon as the rain clouds show up, they move the sunglasses out and they move umbrellas up to the front.
Odds are you’ll spend $5 or $10 for that disposable umbrella because it’s going to rain cats and dogs for the rest of the afternoon. That’s called pivoting. That’s called adjusting to what’s going on. We see it happen all the time, but many small business owners have never figured out that they can do it too. Unfortunately, many people get into business or begin their entrepreneurial journey on a path that nobody even wants that path. Nobody cares about that path. Nobody’s ever going to buy their thing.
They’re going to beat their head against the wall and waste all their savings and max out their credit cards doing something. Try to push an agenda that nobody else cares about but them. They’ll go broke. They’ll be disillusioned versus the person who’s going to adjust constantly to what the market wants. They’re always going to make money. They’re always going to have a surplus. They’re going to buy up the building next door that nothing’s been on the market for many years. They’re going to own two buildings on that street. They’re playing Monopoly with real money. They’re going to adjust. Many people are fearful and I say, “What can you do with what you have from where you are? What can be done?” The people that can get that message, they’re going to be the winners and they’re going to see this time as any time of flux. They’re going to see it as like on Black Friday. All the deals, it’s chaos, but everything’s on sale. People that are prepared, people that can pivot, they know when to buy.
It’s the thing that you think about all the grocery stores that have gone to cart pickup, delivery, and stuff like that. They need drivers for that. The trucking industry is always looking for truck drivers that can always be driving that. You’ve got diesel mechanics. I have a friend that runs a Caterpillar sales distributorship out of Georgia. He would hire eight diesel mechanics or even pay them to go to school to learn diesel mechanics and then bring them on board for his CAT dealership and then pay him $125,000 a year to do that stuff. We’ve got a mutual friend who owns one of the biggest plumbing franchises in Waco. She’s always looking for plumbers. It’s a dirty job, but it pays well. You get your hands dirty and stuff like that.
That’s the thing some people are going to have to pivot. Maybe it’s in the same industry. Maybe it’s taking a job to temporarily get your assets out of a sling and finding things to be happy about. If you’re at a point where you’re scared, you’re nervous, I get it. I understand that. Do yourself a favor, brainstorm. What are all the things that you have skills at? I’ll give an example. There’s a hairdresser here in town. She took a video of her giving a haircut for stay at home haircuts using a shaver and then a friend of mine Garrison Gilbert, he’s like, “I gave myself a haircut from learning from this lady online.” I was like, “Awesome.” Maybe you’re growing a longer beard, maybe growing longer hair.
This thing is driving me nuts already. It’s too long, but it is true. There are things to do. A lot of people that had jobs and who’ve been furloughed, some of them will go right back to work. I believe that a lot of high-paying factory or warehouse jobs are going to end up going away. There are a lot of people who will be downsized. This is forcing virtual logistical exploration. The more we realized that we could do our business virtually, the more it will open up the hiring pool for a lot of companies. They won’t have to look for people in their town who can commute to the office, which means some people that were able to get by on marginal skills will not have a job in a new, more virtual office space.
What does that mean? Those people who maybe have money in an IRA or 401(k) and they’ve got $250,000 there. They’d been working for many years and put money in, not rich, but not without resources are going to say, “I need to self-direct that now and to do something because I can’t find a job. What can I do?” I believe we’re going to have an explosion of solopreneur businesses, micro-businesses, one person or two people businesses. We’re going back in certain ways. The US economy and even the world economy is going to move away from huge, entrenched, monolithic giant companies for the most part, not completely. Amazon will continue to be what it is. Disney will continue to be what it is.
A lot of other businesses are going to go back to a cottage industry, working from home, working from my Zoom connection, doing work here, working hours I want to work, delivering something niche that people want. We’re going into a fascinating time where it’s something that we went away from over 200 years ago with the industrial revolution. We’re going to go back to the vast majority of businesses that are going to be cottage industries. I’m excited about what’s going on because what’s happening in business is like the advent of where we had three main television channels.
We had 500 cable channels and then YouTube gave us endless specialty channels. Anybody can have their show and podcasting, hundreds of thousands of niche messages on comedy, economics, sexuality, health and wellness, exercise, how to sharpen your knife, and how to make balloon animals. Who knows? You can find exactly what you want. You don’t have to wait for the TV Guide to come out to tell you what three choices you have at this hour. That’s what’s happening in business instead of a few companies telling us how it’s going to be, you’re going to have endless opportunities to find something that fits exactly what you want to curate in your life.
That should be exciting for anybody with a semi-creative mind at all. Even a little bit of creativity, you have an opportunity to find a narrow, deep well that would probably make you more money. One of my clients on the Inner Circle Mastermind group called. She told me that she had this little side hustle she was trying to figure out. She was the Western regional sales director for a large medical equipment business, making about $250,000 a year, which is a good income. She was her boss. She had a small team.
She says, “We all got laid off.” It wasn’t a layoff. Their job is done. Her and a whole bunch of her coworkers were all cut. She comes on and I thought she would be looking for a lifeline. She said, “In the last few weeks, I’ve had to focus on my side hustle. I’m now 80% in renewing revenue, replaced my old paycheck.” In three weeks, she had replaced almost 70%, 80% of $20,000 a month income. She’s focused on something else. She quit focusing on this and got doors shut. That opened up space to focus on this and all of a sudden, it blossomed. I don’t think anybody reading this is much of a hand wringer anyway, a whiner. I’m telling you if you feel sad, desperate, fearful. What’s going to go on? What do I do now? I’ve spent all this time and energy getting ready for this bonanza and that seems to have closed down. I promise you there is something else. You have to look at the ingredients and figure out different ways to put them together to get the results you desire.
I’ll give you one example. My first significant business, my second company where I had more than three employees. In my second year, we had about 30 employees. We were in the cellular phone business back in 1986. I made a lot of money and sold a lot of $3,000 phones. One day in one meeting effective at the meeting, they yanked the rug out from under all of us. All smart people closed down. I tried to ride it out. Soon, I’ve used up all my resources over about nine months. I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and I was sitting in bankruptcy court with my nine-month pregnant wife with our second child.
We’re going to have these two little infants and we’re bankrupt. We have no business. I didn’t know what to do. I was tripping out. I was freaking out. I went over to visit a friend of mine who owns some ampm gas stations, a Lebanese guy. Whenever I would walk in, Nabeel Kanso would say, “Aaron, it’s good to see you.” I go back and sit in his shabby little office stacked to the ceiling was cases of cigarettes. There’s this long skinny box sitting there. He said, “Do you need any necktie?” I said, “What?” He said, “Look in the box.” It’s full of neckties and each necktie is a little sleeve. There must’ve been 150 neckties in there.
I said, “Why do you have a box neckties?” He said, “Somebody owed me money for gas and couldn’t pay it. He was a necktie sales guy. He gave me this box of neckties in exchange for the money he owed me.” I said, “How much do you want per tie?” He said, “I don’t know, $5?” I said, “I’ll take the whole box.” I gave him the money. I said, “I’ll pay you later.” I took them because what’s he going to do with a box full of ties? Every one of them is different. There aren’t two of them. They’re salesmen samples. I started calling up all these lawyers, stockbrokers, accountants that had always paid $2,000, $3,000 for a cell phone. They’re all downtown Portland in the office towers, these are the big firms. I said, “Can I come down and put a bunch of neckties out on your conference table? You guys can buy the ties and they range from $10 to $20 apiece.”
They said, “Sure, come down for 30 minutes.” I go down. I lay the ties on the conference table. They make an announcement over the intercom. Men and women come in. They’re holding them up. They’re looking and they’re giving me cash for these $5 ties. I’m getting $10 to $20 in cash. I go back, I pay him. I said, “Who is this guy that you got the ties from?” He tells me. I find out there are three main tie manufacturing companies that service the Northwest. I find the salesman for all three of them. I start buying all their samples. I do more and more.
Soon I hired two women to wear black dresses and we have these rolling cases. We came in a little bit sharper and we named it The Tie Guys. We’re going every day from conference room to conference room selling ties. I sold the business. The Tie Guys are still in business. This is 1991 or ‘92. They’re still doing it years later. I had to pivot. I had relationships. Nabeel was a relationship. All these law firms, accounting firms were relationships. I couldn’t sell them cellular anymore for $3,000 so I started selling them $10 and $20 neckties. I used what I had at the moment. I didn’t lose my house.
We had crummy cars, but we sell cars. I kept our health insurance. I stayed relevant to all these people. Some of them are still clients of mine who now buy asset protection structures from Laughlin. You have to move with what you’ve got. That’s the sign of a real entrepreneur. At the same time, I was doing The Tie Guy guys. I went from being in the newspaper, on television, on the radio, buying brand-new cars. I bought two different houses during that time to be on my butt bankrupt selling neckties.
Do you know what else we started doing? We went to video stores because they still had video stores. We made these little punch cards. I would go out in the evening along with a friend of mine. We would knock doors around 5:00, 6:00, 7:00 at night, and sell these video punch cards for discounts on new releases, discounts on popcorn. They would give us $20 and it was advertising for the video store. It didn’t cost us anything to do it. We had to make a deal. We went to all the video stores over Portland and soon we had people out selling punch cards.
Was that a step down from being fancy pants in the corner office selling the expensive stuff with technicians in my shop and doing interviews on radio and TV? Sure, but who gives a darn? It was about keeping the lights on, buying food, taking care of my family, and guess what happened because I stayed relevant. The next thing I knew, I get offered a job as vice president of sales for a 350-office publicly-traded multinational. I went from knocking doors selling punch cards to making a whole bunch of money, and a few years later as a multimillionaire. Get off your high horse. Feel good about anything you can do to stay in the game. There’s relevance everywhere. You have to do it. Don’t think, “I’m too good to do that, I have this education,” or “That’s embarrassing.” Get over it. Remember those people in Mad Max who controlled the fuel? They had crazy hair. That’s embarrassing too. Stay relevant. Stay in front of people. Keep making money. You have no idea what’s staying relevant.
I watched a documentary about Garth Brooks. Everybody was turning him down, seven meetings with the labels. Everyone shut him down. Nobody understood Garth Brooks. He wasn’t pop. He wasn’t country. What’s going on? He kept going to the Bluebird. He’s selling boots at the boot store and going into the Bluebird playing a song, going out and playing at a bar. Finally, one night at the Bluebird, which in Nashville is famous. It’s only about twenty seats, a little place where songwriters go to showcase their stuff. He was supposed to be number nine on the program, but number two on the program hadn’t gotten there yet.
The owner of the Bluebird came up and said, “Garth, if this person doesn’t show up, will you go on and fill the number two spot instead of waiting for your spot?” He’s like, “Sure.” There were agents from the record labels who’d come to hear number two. Number two wasn’t there. The same people had already turned down Garth Brooks face-to-face. They saw him perform live in front of an audience and they’re like, “Can you come in on Monday?” Three years later, he was filling stadiums. Three years later, he was the number one performing solo artist in the world beating out Nirvana, Michael Jackson, and Metallica.
He was the top guy on all the charts because he kept showing up and all of a sudden there was a moment when number two on the list didn’t show up. He was staying out. He wasn’t sitting home going, “Why won’t anybody listen to my music? I’m good.” He was like, “You want me to take that spot? Sure, I’ll take that spot.” He had a deal on Monday and he was the number one guy in the world three years later. Stay relevant. Stay in front of people, reinvent yourself over and over again. That’s how you’ll prove your stripes as an entrepreneur.
When things got wackadoo here, we sat down, and I’m sure you’re doing something like this too. What can we do at Laughlin to help everybody with as much good, solid, legit information as we can put in with no strings attached, no selling, no pitching, no membership, no nothing because we want to stay relevant to our almost 50,000 customers? To anybody else that might be a customer someday when the world is easier for them. We started a Facebook group and we call it Laughlin Thrive. Anybody can be a member, join the group.
We’re making sure that it doesn’t go political. We’re trying to watch what goes in there so it doesn’t get cray-cray conspiracy, weird solutions. We’re trying to put as much relevant, vetted material into there as possible and it’s meant to help people. Normally, where I’d send somebody to a landing page, come and check out my podcast, or we’re going to have this event. We do have Magnify Your Wealth Event coming up, which is a phenomenal event. Hopefully, it’s going to happen on June 12, 13, 14. Hopefully, it’s going to happen. We’re proceeding as though it will.
In the meantime, Laughlin Thrive is a place to go and get useful applicable information. Everything from the SBA stuff to pivoting stuff. We’re dumping tons of good content in there to help business owners be more successful. Whether you’re a one-person business or a thousand-person business, this stuff will apply. Rather than pitching any other idea or event or my podcast, Laughlin Thrive is our safe harbor in a storm. We want to invite everybody to come to be there with us. Come, hang out and participate. The group is better if people come in and say, “This is who I am. Here’s what I do. I’m looking for these kinds of affiliates, these kinds of partners.” You don’t know who’s going to be sitting in that little Bluebird cafe or Laughlin Thrive in that little small audience who’s looking for someone like you. Participate with us and we’ll try to make life as best as we can help to improve it, we’ll do.
We’re all one connection away from big things happening. You never know who you’re going to meet, Aaron. He’s your one connection that day to lead to a lot of other things. I did not know that story. I’m glad to hear about that. Is that why you don’t wear ties? We got tired of looking at ties.
I was the last one in the company to quit wearing ties. I cashed out a lot, but I’m thinking about my speaking. I’m thinking about going back to the suit. We’ve done this business casual thing and you’ve got to change it up now and again. Scott, it’s good to be here. I love your audience. I love all your people. I always love being on the show.
It’s the same thing here. I love you too as well. We had Michelle on as well sharing about how to find your superpowers in a chaotic world. Thanks for coming on. We’ll see you around.
That’s going to do it for this episode. As always, if you are struggling, feel free to reach out in any way. We’re glad to help out in any way. You book a 30-minute call with me if you need some ideas on pivoting or things like that. Reach out to me. It’s TalkWithScottCarson.com. Make sure to check out Laughlin’s group, Laughlin Thrive, as Aaron mentioned on Facebook. Connect with people on there. Share some experiences if you’re having success or struggling, reach out, and share it with somebody. Go out and take some action and we’ll see you at the top.
- Aaron Young
- Magnify Your Wealth
- Inner Circle group
- Jason Byrd
- Laughlin Thrive – Facebook
- Podcast – The Unshackled Owner
- Michelle Young – previous episode
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