This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Ken Ehrman. Ken is a technology and safety visionary, who has spent 25+ years pioneering IoT innovations. As the founder of I.D. Systems which is now publicly traded under the symbol PWFL, he has 40+ patents that have revolutionized efficiency and worker safety for the biggest and most demanding companies in the world such as Wal-Mart and others.
Most recently, he has partnered with Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, to create the Halo Collar and leverage his industry relationships and expertise to bring best-in-class safety solutions to dogs and dog lovers.
We use the Halo Collar for both our dogs, Champ and Luna, and I must say it is an awesome invention. We have several acres, and our dogs are both Aussies who love to run. We also spend time at our other properties throughout the year and needed a solution that we could take anywhere that would work to keep them safely in the area we want them to stay in and Halo has worked perfectly.
I’m excited to talk to Ken about his experience, how he has leveraged it to go into completely new industries, and how he’s built partnerships to succeed.
Connect with Ken on LinkedIn
Ken graduated from Stanford with an engineering degree. He went to work at a tech company Silicon Valley that wanted to be “chip” in everything, but computers. The company was founded by one of the founders of Apple. He worked there for 1.5 years and then took the chip and built into smart RFID tags. This created ID Systems in 1995. The company tracked high value assets for corporations and helped with safety.
Specifically, he found a niche in tracking and creating safety and efficiency with Forklifts. In 2016, his son got very sick and stepped down to be there for him. His son eventually recovered, but while he was home, his nieces dog escaped their yard and was hit by a car and killed. This tragedy gave him the idea for Halo to help protect dogs.
At the 6:50 mark, Ken takes us through the steps he went through to make Halo a reality including how he got Cesar Millan to sign on to it. It’s best to just listen.
Talk to us about shaking up markets…
At the 25 min mark, Ken talks about the next frontier and markets that are ripe for disruption…
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your career?
You’ve had to compete against some of the biggest names in the world and separate yourself to get business. What did you do differently?
At the 40 min mark, Ken talks about having to step away from the company he built to help his son and how it affected him as an entrepreneur.
Best Quote: There are an unlimited number of ways to create and build companies..
Ken's Misfit 3:
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This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Shawn Khorrami. Shawn is a serial entrepreneur since the age of 16, having started and managed more than a dozen businesses across an array of industries, with special focus on e-commerce. He’s owned everything from law firms to brick and mortar outfits in the hospitality and restaurant industry, to online businesses focusing on B2B and B2C and managed thousands of employees servicing tens of thousands of customers large and small across the country. He’s been featured everywhere from the New York Times to the LA Times, TV, and top publications.
Nowadays, he focuses on helping businesses maximize their success by coaching and training their CEO’s and leadership teams throughout all areas of a business. But, what struck me most about Shawn when we connected was his candid thoughts about failure, how the product is not the business, and as he says “a lot of times having more guts than brains.” I want to explore all of this and more with him in this episode.
Reach out and ask Shawn for a copy of the free e-book.
Shawn is a first-generation immigrant from Iran. A lot of his motivation came from his father, who in Iran, owned a construction firm. He would go to work with his dad at 7 years old and on. He thought he would follow his father’s footsteps and get into construction. When they moved over to the US, things didn’t carry over from Iran. His dad ended up owning income property. But there wasn’t much in the way of property management services or systems for small investors.
Shawn created a basic database program that allowed for property management focused on smaller investors. This became a business of its own as Shawn sold it to his dad’s friends and it grew by word of mouth from there. He ended up going to college and got degrees in mathematics and computers as well as in economics. He then got a law degree and educated himself in sales, marketing, accounting, etc.
Shawn never thought of working for anyone else. He’s never created a resume or had a W2 from a company he didn’t own. He’s a process guy who seeks how to streamline businesses and edges through process to make them more successful. He would create something that worked well for a problem in his business. He would then productize it and go sell it to his competitors.
He failed a lot and was good at overcoming it to succeed. People began to seek him out and ask him to consult for their businesses. He learned that successes can become failures too because of the lack of good processes and systems.
Only an idiot would go seek out failure….tell us the truth about failure.
At the 14 min mark, Shawn shares an example of failure and how he learned from it.
Your product is not your business, your business is your product.
Talk to us more about your business being your product….
An example is a restaurant that makes great food – but what gets people in the door and keeps them coming back. If you staff is rude to patrons, do you think they will come back? Instead, you must create not only great food, but a great experience and that is the product of a good restaurant – not just food.
Tell about the principles you use to grow a business and in tough times as well…
Where do you see the future going?
At the 44 min mark, we talk about opportunity in the midst of a pandemic.
Best Quote: The fear of failure should never stop. In fact, as you become more successful, it gets even harder as you know what can happen. Respect, but don’t invite it.
Shawn's Misfit 3:
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This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Karl Maier. Karl is a serial entrepreneur with a knack for doubling and tripling the size of businesses quickly. He’s done it 6 times either as the founder of a company or as part of the leadership team, including 7x’ing one company in less than 4 years.
Currently, he’s on his 3rd software company, Abunden, which helps internal and external business advisors be even more effective in helping their clients to grow and succeed. The software was created from the frameworks for success Karl has tested and applied in his businesses over the years.
Needless to say, Karl has some amazing wisdom for to grow and scale businesses and I’m excited for him to share his secrets with you in this episode.
Karl’s journey was not a straight line. He learned about entrepreneurship from a young age from his grandfather and it created a curiosity in him as to why one company would succeed, and others would fail. As he grew up, he would see and be part of companies and see where they get stuck. Karl developed a passion for helping these companies and that is what he has done.
From his experience, he put together the Abunden Framework to help companies have a platform of the knowledge needed to get unstuck and grow.
Where do businesses get stuck? And from those you see succeed, what are the patterns or consistencies they have?
Talk to us about the Abunden Framework and principles you use to build a business?
At the 12 min mark, we talk about deciding what type of businesses people must choose to have.
What is the starting point to go from self-employed to a bigger business?
Talk about how you’ve been able to double sales some many times. What should people know about selling in today’s world?
Customer retention strategies?
Talk about navigating pivots. What advice can you give?
How do you see leadership?
How does a business set itself apart with customers and distinguish themselves?
What has surprised you most on your journey?
Advice for new entrepreneurs starting out?
Best Quote: Sales is not the end all/be all. It is really important but building a team to deliver is equally important. It’s not just about the sale.
Karl's Misfit 3:
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Hello Misfit Nation! Welcome to another edition of "Lessons for Hannah!" Many years ago, I introduced a new format that alongside our regular episodes called “Lessons for Hannah.” Hannah is my daughter and one of the main inspirations for the Misfit Entrepreneur. I wanted to have a place where she could go and learn from her daddy and his Misfit friends throughout her life….even after I am gone. If you haven’t listened to the first episode of "Lessons for Hannah," I urge you to as it gives some more background and tells the amazing story of how Hannah came to be in our lives. Lessons for Hannah are short, very useful, and sometimes comical lessons, that I want to share with you and give to Hannah to help in your lives.
Because I want Hannah to have these for her life, I’m going to speak as though I am talking directly to her. These episodes are a lot of fun and if you think there is a lesson that we should include in these episodes, please don’t hesitate to send it over to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share it.
This week’s Lesson for Hannah
Hannah, I want to talk to you about your impact. Your impact on yourself, your life, those around you, and the world. How you approach each aspect of your life impacts you, the world around you, and others. You may not see it or know it, but it does. And the true test of character is how you act and adhere to your principles when others are not watching – because unbeknownst to you, someone probably is.
We don’t think about it much, but everything we do impacts something in our lives. This has been called the Butterfly effect or Newton’s 3rd Law which states that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction. If object A exerts a force on object B, object B also exerts an equal and opposite force on object A. In other words, forces result from interactions.
We have a lot of interactions in our lives all throughout every day, but we rarely stop to think about effects that they have.
I was recently reminded of the importance of reflecting and making sure that we approach life each day giving our best and being our best – because you never know what or who can be impacted.
A number of years ago, your mother and I bought an investment property. It was a cheap fixer-upper property in a less desirable area. The goal originally was to buy it very cheap, fix it up, and then flip it for a $5000-10,000 profit. Needless to say we didn’t know what we didn’t know, spent a lot more money than we thought fixing it up, and then got caught up in the real estate crash of 2007-2008. So, we turned it into a rental. It did OK. We went through a lot of renters over a period of 4 years to where we had to eventually evict one for non-payment after months of working with them.
Of course, they trashed the place on the way out, but even worse, left rotting food throughout the house and the place even had bedbugs. I had to do the work on it and essentially had to redo the inside of the house. Needless to say, I learned a lot of lessons that helped me for future investment properties.
After it was ready to rent again, we started looking for renters and we got an application from a young 18-year-old, single new mom. She wanted a place for her and her son that would be theirs and she wanted a longer-term lease. She had a job and had proven she had income to cover the rent and there was something that told me she was worth a chance.
She rented from us for 7 years. I never really had any problems with her. She would sometimes get behind on rent but was always proactive and let me know what was going on, when I could expect payment, and how grateful she was that we would work with her. Over time, I would see her for inspections and other needs and as we talked would impart some piece of wisdom to help her based on our conversation. She was a hard worker and dedicated to her son and I respected that, so, if I could help her grow as a person, I would. I never knew if those lessons about finance or business or thoughts on how to increase her value as an employee ever really stuck.
A couple years ago, we had recouped our investment and the market had turned up. We got an offer on the house that was solid and decide to sell it. I kept the renter in the loop and was up front that I did not know if they would keep her as a renter and to be prepared just in case. Once we closed, they gave her 30 days’ notice to vacate and she let me know. She understood why I sold the place and was again, thankful for working with her all those years. I wished her well and that was that, or so I thought. In the spring of the this year, I got a text out of the blue that said,
“I just wanted to reach out to you and meant to before, but just go caught up with life. I’m working a double today! But you’ve been on my mind lately. I never got to tell you how much gratitude I have for you and your wife. You were truly a blessing for me and my son. If it wasn’t for you being so kind and understanding, I really don’t know where we would be today. I just want you to know, it was never taken for granted. I try to pay it forward every day. Maybe one day, I can be successful like you and help someone out the same. Anyways, thank you again so much for everything you have done.”
When I received the message, I sat back and thought, wow, I did not know we had that much of an impact, and I had to respond. In doing so I did my best to give what may be the last wisdom I could give her. I said this,
"Thank you very much for your kind words, but it wasn't hard for us because it was the right thing to do. It's wonderful that you pay it forward. And you have the potential to be more successful than us and help many. It comes down to a few things. Never giving up, ever, in pursuit of your dreams and goals. Never stop learning and self-educating. Everything you need is at the library, use it to your advantage. Read books on successful people, read books on how to improve yourself. Never stop learning. Work hard, but also smart. Learn to manage money well and how to grow it and nurture it. And do what is right and care for others. You follow that and you'll get all the success you ever dreamed of."
I think that advice works for everyone, and I hope it impacts you in your own way like it did our renter.
Hannah, you never know what impact you will have and when it will take hold. Live your life every day as your best and seek wisdom so that you can share it and help others.
I love you,
Best Quote: Never giving up, ever, in pursuit of your dreams and goals. Never stop learning and self-educating. Everything you need is at the library, use it to your advantage. Read books on successful people, read books on how to improve yourself. Never stop learning. Work hard, but also smart. Learn to manage money well and how to grow it and nurture it. And do what is right and care for others. You follow that and you'll get all the success you ever dreamed of.
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