Foundr Magazine Podcast with Nathan Chan

Turning Obsession Into Success

Real estate mogul Grant Cardone explains his obsessive approach to business, and his 10X Rule for goal-setting.

Grant Cardone, a self-made real estate mogul, sales and marketing trainer, and bestselling author, credits his success in life to persistence and an obsession with being the best. That, and his time working at a car dealership.

“The first real job I had was my sixth job,” he says of the gig. “I was fired from my first five. Fired from my sixth job. I was fired six times, but I wouldn’t leave the last job. I just would not leave.”

Part of the reason Cardone’s bosses kept getting so fed up with him was that he was a terrible driver. Not a great quality when working in the car business, as he kept smashing up the merchandise. But his relentlessness made up for it.

“I would wreck their cars and they would fire me,” he says. “And then before I would leave, I would go sell something and they would keep me on. Selling something was always forgiveness.”

By the time Cardone finally did leave, he was the highest-grossing salesman at the dealership. He was the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave at night, his goal always being to make himself indispensable to the company. And to make a lot of money.

So yeah, Cardone is, well, obsessive. Coming up from nothing, financially speaking, he quickly learned that was the way to rise to the top. It’s helped him achieve his lifelong goals to make money, have a successful career, and help people along the way. Now, Cardone’s exploring that approach to life and business with his new book, appropriately titled Be Obsessed or Be Average.

The Origins of Obsession

In his book, Cardone writes, “I didn’t have a father who could lead me to the land of the rich, lend me a million dollars for my first real estate deal, assist with political connections through introductions at country clubs, or show me the ways of business.”

His fate was forged, instead, by the tragic death of his father when Cardone was just 10 years old. Until that day, he had watched his father work hard to provide for his wife and his five children, starting a variety of businesses, from opening a grocery store to starting a life insurance company, and finally becoming a licensed stock broker.

His father’s “drive and his obsession,” as Cardone puts it, were inspiring. And when he died, leaving the family behind to get by on their own, Cardone became obsessed himself—with the idea of creating enough wealth so he would never worry about money again.

But his was a winding path to success. He carried around a lot of anger about his difficult situation, and fell into the wrong crowd in high school. He started smoking and drinking. He got into a lot of fights and a lot of trouble. By the time Cardone graduated, he writes in his book, “I had a massive daily drug problem.”

He did go to college, however, fulfilling a promise his mother had made to his father. He graduated with an accounting degree after what he called “five long, miserable years.”

At 23, he was broke and still doing drugs every day, just barely getting by at his car dealership jbo. “I was 20 pounds underweight and had a gray complexion, thanks to the drugs,” he writes.

At 25, his mother gave him an ultimatum: get clean or never come back. Cardone checked himself into rehab, and although he says it didn’t address the underlying problem, he discovered he could get by without drugs. He vowed to never touch them again and to use his “addictive personality” to his advantage.

Turning It Around

After rehab, his boss gave him his job at the dealership back, a move that Cardone says probably saved his life. He worked harder than any other associate, and doubled his earnings in the process.

“It wasn’t until I figured out how to make somebody else rich that I could be rich,” he says.

Cardone finally left his sales job at the car dealership and moved to a sales consulting firm. “I treated my little department as, ‘This is my company within a company.’ And I wanted to make that company as a strong as possible,” he says.

When he left the firm to go out on his own, it was because he felt there was no more opportunity to grow. So at 29 he started his first company, Cardone Automotive, a sales consulting business for the automotive industry. By 30, he’d already made his first million, but it didn’t come easy.

“That was a company where I was cold-calling other businesses across the U.S. and Canada.”

Cardone was working hard, doing what most entrepreneurs do and devoting all of his time to his business.

“I was just hustling. Everything was a transaction...to get money and pay the taxes and have a little bit of money left over.”

And even though his company was making money, year after year, Cardone knew he had to do more to become a true entrepreneur.

‘You’re Not a Business’

Cardone had never stopped to think about what an entrepreneur really is. Sure, he’d started a business and it was running smoothly, but he wasn’t reinvesting in it. He wasn’t thinking about marketing or expanding. Instead, he was following the old adage, hard work pays off.

“All I was doing was knocking on doors. It was pure effort. I wasn’t spending money. I wouldn’t spend real money until I was 50 years old, about 10 years ago, when a guy said, ‘Bro, you’re not a business.’”

Cardone knew it was time for a change if he wanted to achieve the kind of success he’d set his sights on. He had to rethink how to do business, how to expand, and how to get the word out.

“The first thing I did was flipped everything. I could no longer be sales first. I had to be marketing first. Marketing and branding. Because to me, a business is, I can walk away from it and it will still operate. I was a guy. I was no different than when I was 30, just pounding doors.”

That’s when he came up with the 10X Rule.

The 10X Rule

In 2011, Cardone published his personal business philosophy in his first book, called The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure.

The 10X Rule challenges readers to estimate the amount of time and effort it will take to achieve a goal and then multiply that estimate by 10. It also trains readers to think differently about what they can achieve in the first place.

Cardone writes that most people underestimate themselves and what they can achieve. If they identify a goal, say making $100,000 in a fiscal year, they should multiply that by 10.

“10X woke me up. 10X was not for the public. 10X was for me,” he says.

He created it because he was trying to figure out why, despite his success as an entrepreneur, he wasn’t growing the way he had expected.

“I work hard, I’ve got great products, I’ve got a great reputation, great reviews. People like me. They like my content. They like my content actually better than they like me. That might have been an exaggeration.”

Is 10X totally achievable? Not necessarily, but that’s not really the point of the rule. It’s to shake up the way you perceive what’s possible.

“It’s not achievable, but it’s worth it. You have four, five million dollars sitting in an account today. What if you had $50 million? It’s not achievable, but it’s worth going for it. It’s fun shit, man.”

Even if you can’t achieve 10X, anything you hit will surpass your original goal.

Investing in His Brand

Cardone started toward his own 10X goal by spending the money he made, reinvesting in his business, starting or acquiring new businesses, and making himself known across industries.

“People knew me in a particular industry. They didn’t know me in every industry. So the first thing that I took on was that I need to get people know me in every industry while I continue to knock on doors and pay my bills.”

He began by writing books and business programs, which got his brand out there while generating their own money. His next two businesses were sales education platforms, Cardone Education and Cardone On-Demand, online training seminars that established him as a subject matter expert and drew in revenue from large and small businesses alike.

He also started to grow his influence on social media.

“I started with one follower, just like everybody else, and I was the follower. My second follower was my wife because I created an account for her on YouTube and said you’re going to follow me.”

Currently, he has 6.1 million followers on Facebook, almost 395,000 followers on Twitter, 2 million followers on Instagram, and almost 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube.

“I’ve grinded for every one of those followers. And delivered content to them so I could scale out.”

His goal was to expand his reach beyond the U.S., and bring in a global audience for his 10x message. He now holds speaking engagements that attract thousands across the globe. He consults for major brands, and his videos on Grant Cardone TV get thousands of views.

Investing in Himself

The best business advice Cardone has ever received came not from someone in business, but from his mother, he once told CNBC. “She said, ‘The best investment you will ever make is in yourself. It’s a no-lose deal. It will always give you a return. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours.’”

Cardone looks for every opportunity to improve himself, whether that’s a charity event that helps him build new relationships or a seminar that will help him acquire new skills or refine old ones.

“People should be invested in the beginning, just in themselves. Every chance you can get to go to something that could possibly help you. If it has a 1% chance of even adding to the value. Spend the money. Don’t sit on the money. Money’s useless.”

He eschews saving money or even spending it on something most people wouldn’t think twice about—buying a house.

“That’s the dumbest thing anybody could do. That’s the dumbest thing I ever did was buy a house. I bought a house and I didn’t improve myself. I spent more time picking furniture out than I did , “Hey, how do I fix me?”

What’s 10x for Cardone, Now?

So what’s the next big move for Cardone? Turning those millions into billions, of course.

“10x is how do I do a billion dollars a year in income? And then how do I do $10 billion in real estate? How do I have a $10 billion real estate portfolio? How do I start competing with these banks so they’re like, you know what? We really don’t like all this noise you’re making. You’re a noisy guy. And we’re kind of getting tired of it.”

Cardone’s ability to disrupt industries and make noise has landed him where he is today, as an influential sales trainer and real estate mogul.

He turned an obsession into a reality and used a quirk in his personality to create a global empire.

Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs

Cardone now runs five privately held companies, including Cardone Capital, an $800 million real estate company. His 30-year success as an entrepreneur has given him the unique opportunity to share insights with other budding business moguls. He shared with us some of his best bits of advice.

‘Make money your battle cry.’

“Make money. Make money. Make money your battle cry. Go collect money. Don’t make money, just go collect money. Have a great product. Have a great service. Over-deliver. Collect money. Charge for it.”

Put your team in the spotlight.

“If you notice, I show off my people a lot. I don’t keep them behind the scenes. I’m like here, let’s have more than the Cardone show. Why do I do that? Where did I learn that? Great companies.”

Don’t cling to your money—reinvest it.

“The first sheet of paper I get every day is how much cash I have. That’s not for bragging rights. It’s because I want to get rid of it. It’s like trash. I want to get rid of this money. Money is being devalued worldwide right now. I didn’t say I have no reserves, but I don’t need $167 million.”

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Laurie Mega


Key Takeaways

  • How the death of Cardone’s father shaped him from a young age
  • The winding road to overcoming drug addiction
  • Why Cardone was fired from his car dealership job six times—and why he kept getting rehired
  • How Cardone channeled his addictive personality into his work
  • The launch of Cardone Automotive, and how it got him his first $1 million in a year
  • Why Cardone decided to rethink the way he ran his business
  • What the 10X rule means, and how it can be applied to any aspect of your life
  • How Cardone leveled up his personal branding and became an influencer
  • Why Cardone is passionate about the idea of investing in yourself
  • A sneak peek into his latest book Be Obsessed or Be Average
Direct download: FP274_Grant_Cardone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14am AEDT

How Jack Zhang and the Airwallex team built a billion-dollar company in just three years.

By the time he was 30, Jack Zhang had already launched more than 10 businesses, with interests ranging from coffee to real estate.

While many of them were successful, Zhang never got to the point where he left his full-time job.

“I just tried to do different things to see if I could achieve something or feel happy about what I was doing,” he says, “but I hadn’t really found anything I was passionate about.”

He certainly wasn’t afraid of the hard work and long hours that came from starting and sustaining businesses, saying that “work was never a torture.” Despite all that time and effort he invested in each startup, he ultimately felt that none of these businesses ever amounted to much more than a new way to make some extra money. Nothing ever became a greater purpose.

With a passion for technology and a love for writing code, Zhang longed to do something within the tech sphere that would have a real impact. Like so many serial entrepreneurs, he finally found a business he was passionate about by looking at his own personal pain points.

Zhang would become the co-founder and CEO of financial tech company Airwallex, which eliminates foreign transaction fees in an increasingly globalized world. In doing so, he’s created a company that, in just three years, entered the $1 billion club.

While the creation of a fabled “unicorn” company was far more nitty-gritty and far less magical than one might imagine, he still owes a little bit of his success to that almighty and mystical force: luck.

The Magic of the Perfect Team

The idea for Airwallex came from the difficulties Zhang and one of the co-founders ran into while running import businesses between Asia and Australia. Sending international payments through a payment service provider (such as PayPal) not only slowed the process but piled on an unpleasant foreign transaction fee.

So, with his background in tech and foreign exchange trading, Zhang and friend decided to tackle the problem themselves. They soon invited three other friends on board as co-founders, forming the Airwallex quintet: Jack Zhang, Jacob Dai, Ki-Lok Wong, Lucy Yueting Liu, and Max Li.

With $1 million invested between Zhang and his first co-founder, along with an additional $2 million from outside investors, they began creating the first version of their product, geared toward the SME (small-to-medium-sized enterprise) market.

“ believed in the team we had at the time, and believed in the company’s vision, and believed we were solving something quite important in the global scale,” Zhang says.

And as the business grew, so did the team. But Zhang says that as they hired new people, they presented an intentional hurdle to ensure that new additions were passionate about their vision. Every new hire was required to take a pay cut to work at Airwallex.

Zhang says that, for ambitious, passionate, top-tier talent, the money isn’t the deciding factor in where they choose to work. He believes they pay far more attention to whether the work aligns with their passions and if the scope of the work presents an exciting challenge. And these were the kinds of people Zhang wanted to hire.

“I still think that the people willing to take a massive pay cut to join you are the most fundamental people who really believe in the vision,” he says. Even with that condition, Airwallex was able to scale from 80 to 320 employees in just 12 months.

While hiring was going well and the business continued to grow, because the creation of Airwallex cost so much, they flew through the initial $3 million investment and needed another round of financing to go to market. Turns out, building an expansive, global financial network isn’t easy.

Hard Work and a Little Luck

“My personal experience is full of luck, really,” Zhang says, “but also we put an incredible amount of effort into the business in the first 12 months. Me and my co-founders slept in the office every day.”

They put in long days, but that gave them a familiarity with the product that only comes from an all-in, hands-on approach. And the challenges didn’t stop Zhang and the rest of the Airwallex crew. It only made their belief in the product grow.

“When you talk to investors, they can feel your genuine passion,” he says. “That honesty—that genuine transparency—about how you want to solve , and you can describe it in detail.”

Investors ended up putting in another $13 million raised, but they were still only able to cover further development of the product. So they decided to begin pursuing other opportunities that could bring in revenue, rather than focusing solely on the SME market. They created a suite of APIs (application program interfaces) that would appeal to much larger corporations, positioning themselves as more of an infrastructure company. But they were still living on borrowed time.

Zhang says that, for the first two-and-a-half years, they didn’t bring in any revenue, with only three to six months of survival guaranteed at any given time.

And that’s where Lady Luck collided with crazy hard work, and the first signs of the unicorn-to-be showed its face.

“We just went from almost no transactions to processing billions of transactions a month,” Zhang says.

While long hours and business savvy played a major role in his company’s success, Zhang is also quick to credit forces beyond his control. He says plain ’ol luck is one of the reasons that his business took off, which perhaps accounts for Airwallex’s good timing and sudden influx of users.

Gazing Into the Future

Because Zhang and the rest of the Airwallex team focused on building a strong foundation and infrastructure, they were able to attract high-profile clients like MasterCard, and retain them when they came on board.

These important connections then put Zhang in the room with other top executives who were excited to try out Airwallex in their own businesses. And as the infrastructure grew through these strategic investments, it only added value to the business.

Today, Airwallex has built connectivity with more than 50 banks across the world, is equipped for international banking through accounts unhindered by borders, and grants access to competitive exchange rates and international payments, with more features on the horizon.

Zhang says he is always looking at least five years out, planning for the future of the company. He also invests time in learning from others who have been in his shoes by attending conferences and interviewing other CEOs.

“I spend a lot of time interviewing people to learn from people,” he says. “Whether they are good or bad, there are things I can learn.”

After three years of explosive growth, and now with the added pressure of leading a billion-dollar company, Zhang isn’t ready to slow down.

With his “get shit done and grow” mentality, he plans to continue taking Airwallex to new heights.

“Not everyone can do it. You have to sacrifice a lot of things," Zhang says. “Are you willing to sacrifice your house, your time with family, everything to do that? If the answer is yes, then maybe you are born to be an entrepreneur.”

To learn more about Airwallex, check out airwallex.com

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo


Key Takeaways

  • Why Zhang didn’t leave his full-time job, even after launching 10 side businesses
  • The problem Zhang encountered that inspired the idea for fintech company Airwallex
  • Why every new Airwallex hire was required to take a pay cut
  • How a pinch of luck and tons of hard work eventually paid off
  • What Zhang believes inspired investors to put another $13 million into Airwallex
  • From no revenue at all to showing signs of unicorn status
  • How Airwallex started to attract high-profile customers like MasterCard
  • The journey to securing a $1 billion valuation in three years
  • Why Zhang believes in planning at least five years out
Direct download: FP273_Jack_Zhang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54am AEDT

Suzy Batiz’s journey from bankruptcy to founding Poo-Pourri, a $100 million business that’s become a household name.

For many consumers, the initial reaction to Suzy Batiz’s product is laughter.

I know it was for me. I remember back in 2008, my mother waving me over to the checkout register of our favorite boutique soap shop, giggling uncontrollably. I saw the tiny bottle and laughed out loud myself. Then handed one to the cashier.

After all, you just can’t walk away from a product called Poo-Pourri.

But it’s Batiz who has had the last laugh. A little over a decade since it launched, Poo-Pourri has become a household name and a $100 million business. The all-natural air freshening spray, once a boutique-only brand, is now sold by major retailers like Target, Costco, Walgreens, and more. Poo-Pourri has taken the world by sweet-smelling storm.

Given her success, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that Batiz had previously gone bankrupt (twice!) and once swore never to launch another company ever again. With a list of former businesses so long she can’t even name them all, Batiz had always come up short in pursuit of her big break.

It wasn’t until she failed hardest and stepped away from the world of entrepreneurship entirely that she had her life-changing epiphany.

The journey from broke to multi-millionaire wasn’t an easy one for Batiz. But her commitment to creativity, willingness to remain flexible, and her indomitable spirit helped her to shake the stink of failure and bring lovely aromas to bathrooms around the world.

Sh*t Happens

For years, Batiz was the kind of person who always had a full-time job and a side hustle, with another side-hustle in mind should the current one fail.

“I had a lot of businesses, and nothing seemed to really work long term. Nothing stuck,” she says. “But I was desperately trying.”

She’d owned a clothing store, a beauty salon, and a tanning salon to name a few, and she grew accustomed to taking big risks in the process. She learned early on how to bounce back from failure.

For example, Batiz went bankrupt for the first time before she was even old enough to drink. At 19, she took on a bridal salon, and at 20, the salon had gone under. But that didn’t slow her down.

“I was in this frantic race,” she says. “I was doing everything that you’re supposed to do, you know, pushing through.”

She continued trying new business ideas until, in 1999, she experienced her second bankruptcy. This one hurt far more than the first.

Batiz had sunk much of her own money into building Greener Grass, a recruiting platform designed to match employees with the right company cultures. If views were dollars, she would have been swimming in cash, but when the stock market crashed in 2001, so did her fledgling business. Batiz lost everything.

“They took away the big house, the two cars, and I had to face myself,” she says.

Batiz realized that all her life, she’d been chasing success—which really meant an overflowing bank account—without taking the time to find out what she was actually interested in.

“What’s worse than losing everything is losing everything and realizing you didn’t even have fun to begin with,” she says.

So, Batiz called it quits on the business world and decided to take some time away from it all for herself. During those years of self-discovery, she found the world of essential oils.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Ordinarily, if dinner party conversation trended toward discussing bathroom odor, it would be bad news for everyone involved. But when Batiz’s brother-in-law began to wonder over dinner if that unpleasant smell could be trapped and eradicated, sparks fired in Batiz’s mind.

After the time she’d spent working with essential oils, she realized she might be able to create something that would do exactly that. Off she rushed to her kitchen to spend nine months concocting the perfect blend of oils that would one day become Poo-Pourri.

In January 2007, she sold her first bottle.

“I really wasn’t interested in owning another business,” Batiz says. “I had sworn off business, but the product was so good, I had to bring it to market.”

She started with a website, and before long the wholesale requests came flooding in. Within a year, she’d brought in a million dollars in revenue. And it all happened through word of mouth.

“When you have an idea that is great, people tell other people about it,” she says. “I see a lot of people in founder stages stop at a good idea. And if you just have a good idea, it’s like pushing a train uphill. But when you have a great idea, people will stand on the rooftops and tell other people about it.”

Boutiques everywhere began selling little spray bottles of the cleverly named product, and before long, larger chains followed suit.

Seven years after launching, Poo-Pourri was bringing in $8 million in revenue, Batiz spent 12 weeks a year in Maui, and she truly felt like she was living the dream. But she believed her product could truly breakthrough and become the premier bathroom air freshener if she just made a big enough splash.

So, she decided to partner with the Harmon Brothers, the well-known creators of viral advertising videos, to create one of her own. You may recognize the Harmon Brothers’ name from their hit ad for Squatty Potty (yes the one with the unicorn you-know-what), or the Purple Mattresses “egg test” video.

In September 2013, the now-iconic video of a sassy-yet-classy socialite in a turquoise dress proclaiming that “our business is to make it smell like your business never even happened,” burst onto the scene.

In just four days, Batiz’s entire inventory had sold out, with $4 million in backorders waiting their turn to be fulfilled.

With the explosion in sales, Batiz knew it was time to invest all of her attention in creating a stable structure for her business, while still maintaining her company culture.

But how?

Fear of Being Number Two

There are three words that define everything done at Poo-Pourri: defy, liberate, and transform.

“We don’t do things status quo, and we don’t ever want to,” Batiz says. “We’re over here shakin’ shit up.”

Batiz strongly believes in hiring employees who can become experts in their areas without micromanaging, and can make big decisions. Of course, with that freedom comes the responsibility of owning up when those decisions don’t pan out. But Batiz believes the best idea can come from anyone or anywhere, so she wants to make sure every employee feels comfortable taking initiative.

But above all, Batiz believes the thing that sets Poo-Pourri above the big air freshener companies is their ability to shift direction at a moment's notice. She calls that agility their “superpower.”

So when the time came to build structure into the business, she knew it couldn’t come with the rigidity some organizations hold to.

“We are this young, rebel kind of company,” Batiz says, “and how do you put some procedures in place, yet keep this rebel nature?”

She tried bringing in a string of leaders, but with each attempt to establish a more defined system, the company’s culture died a little. So, Batiz had to find a way to balance shift-on-a-dime agility with much-needed stability.

She realized that much of her stability could come from within her supply line. By keeping six months worth of sprayers (a part of the product that can take up to 16 weeks to arrive) in stock, she’d be ready for the next boom when it came.

While the company’s edginess has provided a competitive advantage, that need to be the fastest or the hippest has also been a liability at times.

As a rule, Batiz tries not to worry about the competition, but she once became aware that a product similar to hers was going to hit the market, using an automatic dispenser. In a fit of competitive panic, her company tried to release its own version, pushing through timelines and moving far quicker than they should have to keep up.

As a result, they sold 500,000 faulty units to major retailers and had to take them all back, losing millions of dollars and three-quarters of a year in creative energy.

“It was a really good lesson for us to keep our blinders on and stop worrying about what other people are doing,” Batiz says. “Sometimes the best lessons cost us a lot of money or time or energy. The key is to learn.”

The Future Smells Sweet

As Batiz heads into the future, she’s not that focused on expanding the Poo-Pourri line, although they have branched out here and there, including a shoe freshener line, and some clever bathroom art.

“I’m not worried about the dollars as much as remaining king of the hill of what I’ve created,” she says.

The focus on the core product is clear, as Poo-Pourri somehow manages to create a bathroom air freshener that is irreverent but not crass, all while avoiding the grandma’s house aesthetic of most bathroom products. The smells are creative, the names are funny, the packaging sharp and sometimes even beautiful. Some could even be mistaken for luxury items. There’s an obvious level of care here placed on something we may not like to think about, but we all have to deal with.

Batiz hopes to achieve and maintain the level of awareness brands like Kleenex and Band-Aid have, becoming totally synonymous with the product they sell.

“What I want is when you have a “before you go” spray—knowing other people will enter the market—that they go, ‘Oh, do you have a Poo-Pourri,’” she says. “We are that iconic brand.”

To achieve such iconic status without a cent from investors is nothing to sniff at. Batiz says that when times get tough, she sees many entrepreneurs race to investors for help. She, on the other hand, prefers to keep total control of her business and figure things out on her own.

“If you have a problem with the problems, that’s a problem!” she says, laughing. “As an entrepreneur, all you do every day is solve problems, and they’re only going to get bigger.”

But despite the big problems she’s faced both in her current role and past businesses, Batiz has emerged triumphant. This year, Poo-Pourri is on track to bring in $100 million in revenue.

The boutique essential oil concoction with a cheeky name now sits on bathroom counters around the globe. And she’s hoping the scent will continue to spread.

Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo


Key Takeaways

  • The many side hustles of Batiz, and the lessons in failure they taught her
  • How Batiz went bankrupt in her teens
  • The frantic race to find success
  • How a second bankruptcy forced Batiz to take a step back and self reflect
  • The question that sparked the idea for Poo-Pourri
  • The power of word-of-mouth, and how it brought in $1 million in revenue in the first year
  • How a partnership with the Harmon Brothers took Poo-Pourri to the next level
  • Lessons learned on balancing structure with innovative company culture
  • Why Batiz believes it’s important to not worry about the competition
  • How Poo-Pourri got on track to $100 million in revenue this year
  • A peek into Supernatural, Batiz’s newest company that sells home-cleaning products
Direct download: FP272_Suzy_Batiz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32pm AEDT

Ben Simon showed up at his college classmate Ben Chesler’s door with a giant, ugly sweet potato, plopped it down in front of him, and declared, “This is the future.” Chesler believed him.

Simon had visited multiple farms in California, and discovered that 20% of the state’s produce was being thrown out, which amounted to around 3 billion pounds of unnecessary waste. Together, with their friend Ron Clark, the trio launched a service in 2015 that would save ugly, unwanted fruits and vegetables and deliver them to consumers at low prices. They called it Imperfect Foods.

Thanks to an admirable mission and relatively untouched market, Imperfect Foods took off. Four years after the launch, the company now boasts six fulfillment centers in over 20 cities and more than 1,000 employees. The team is also expanding their offerings in order to fight food waste across the entire system, now offering dairy, dry goods, and canned foods to their customers as well.

Learn more about food waste, the power of customer interactions, and the importance of giving employees a stake in a company in this interview with Chesler.


Key Takeaways

  • How Chesler and Simon got their start tackling food waste in the nonprofit world
  • The giant, ugly sweet potato that became the catalyst for Imperfect Foods
  • The hilarious story of how Reddit brought in more customers for Imperfect Foods than The New York Times
  • Why the original founding team’s first hires were a bunch of teenagers
  • A look into Imperfect Foods’ massive growth over just four years
  • Why product-market fit wasn’t on the team’s mind until six months after the company’s launch
  • The brilliant marketing strategy that helped Imperfect Foods take off
  • The power of customer interactions
  • Why Chesler and the founding team make sure every single employee works in the warehouse at least once—and has access to stock options
  • The biggest challenges Imperfect Foods faces
  • Chesler’s reasoning for hiring people you have no business hiring, early on
Direct download: FP271_Ben_Chesler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm AEDT

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce or Febreze kitty litter, you’ve seen Michael Stone’s powerful approach to brand licensing in action. This attorney-turned-entrepreneur pioneered the form of corporate licensing that makes such products possible and wildly successful.

Stone made his first foray into the world of licensing with the launch of his company, Beanstalk, in the mid-1990s. The firm quickly became the go-to resource for prominent brands like Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and AT&T—all corporations that were eager to expand their reach into different product categories and strengthen their relationships with consumers.

In 2018, Stone and his company were responsible for generating over $7 billion in retail sales of licensed product. While he stepped down as the CEO a few years ago, Stone still serves as the chairman of Beanstalk and is committed to innovation in this industry.

Check out this interview to learn more about the ins and outs of licensing and to hear about Stone’s experience writing his book The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity.


Key Takeaways

  • Why Stone switched lanes from practicing law to pioneering brand licensing
  • The uncharted territory Stone noticed, and how it led to the launch of Beanstalk
  • The necessary components for successful corporate brand licensing
  • How Beanstalk became the go-to resource for prominent brands
  • An explanation of why Febreeze is a better candidate for expansion via licensing than Citibank
  • Handing over the reins of a business that was responsible for over $7 billion in sales in 2018
  • Why Stone decided to stick with his existing niche instead of starting multiple new businesses
  • Stone’s honest warning for aspiring entrepreneurs
Direct download: FP270_Michael_Stone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:52am AEDT

1