Hello Misfit Nation! Welcome to another edition of "Lessons for Hannah!"
In November of 2016, we introduced a new format that we are putting 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 have learned which 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
It’s been 5 weeks since I gave the background and my first status update of the Wuhan Coronavirus and its impact throughout the world. And it is incredible what can happen in 5 weeks. I wish I could say things are much better now, but we have not yet turned the corner.
First, let me review some of the biggest things that have happened over the last 5 weeks so they are on the record. I am probably going to miss some, but here is my best list of them:
Now, Hannah, at this point in your life, you are 7 years old and you probably don’t care much about unemployment numbers or what the price of oil is or what that even means. I know that, but I also know that you will listen to this when you are much older and understanding what happened in the past will help you in determining things that will happen in your future.
I think, it is also important that I share my thoughts, feelings, and opinion on our current state. First off, I can say, and I thank God every day, that your mother and I’s businesses have weathered the storm to this point. While my largest business is in the travel space, because of the diverse markets we serve, we have been able to hold steady. We are seeing some major impact across travel and I think we have a ways to go. We haven’t gotten the full brunt of it yet. At this point, we have been able to keep our employees and benefits in place for them and plan to continue to do so as long as we can. There are some government programs/assistance that have been created over the last few weeks that will help us in being able to keep people employed. We have applied for them and been approved but have not yet gotten any relief.
At home, we have settled into a pretty good routine with your schooling. You mother, like so many other parents that have been thrust into having to teach and school their children, is an angel for taking on the bulk of this while I work to keep things going across the different businesses. As you’ll someday remember, she has created lesson plans, works with you every day, and is fully immersed in making sure you thrive in your learning.
Each Sunday, we have been doing a family video conference with all our family and your cousins where we play games, share updates and eat around the table together.
The spring has warmed up outside so you now can go play outside and enjoy things like going on bike rides and playing in the yard. And we have set it up so you can Facetime and have virtual play dates with your friends. I know it is not the same as seeing them and doing the things you used to do, but it is the closest we can get for now. And you’ve adapted amazingly. Your resilience and ability to adapt to whatever life throws at you is amazing and has been evident ever since the day you were put into our arms in China.
Ok, so up and until this point, I know I sound pretty gloomy, but to tell you the truth, I’m not. We just must understand and face the reality we live in. Once, we do that, we can then see the opportunity and good things all around us. For example, in business – some of the best opportunities of my lifetime are showing themselves and I’m not wasting any time on actioning on them. More millionaires are created during recessions and economic downturns than at any other times. That is because those that are willing to go after opportunities and do what is necessary to seize them will get them. This is a great lesson that people can learn right now. On the other side, because life has “slowed” down, I believe we are finding as people, how to get back to truly connecting and caring for one another. There are so many examples of this from people helping go get groceries for older people stuck in their homes to people giving and donating to provide medical gear to first responders and on and on. As families, we no longer have the go-go-go of work, organized sports, after-school activities, etc., so we have more time to spend with each other and become closer. We have found innovative ways to still do things and participate. For example, you are currently having your Tae Kwan Do lessons virtually on Zoom with your entire class all learning and practicing with your instructors from our living room. 3 days a week, you are dressed in your full gear and go at it. It’s great.
As they say, when life gives you lemons…or maybe its better stated, when the Wuhan Coronavirus gives you lemons – you make lemonade!
There are some things that I am watching that are important and will be into the future. First, I am watching and concerned about how states and governments are suspending rights and liberties, in our case, given to us by our Constitution. They are doing this in the name of keeping people safe, but there is no reason for you to be arrested for going for a drive in your car like they have done in states like Michigan. This concerns me because when things do get back to some normalcy, will these governments give up this power? It’s been shown through history that they typically don’t or at least not all of it.
The other thing I have been doing over the last 5 weeks is studying epidemiology and reading and listening to the thoughts of the top epidemiologists from places like Standford, Yale, Rockefeller University, and others. And ironically, most have been saying the same things, which concerns me. First, it is important to note in the U.S. that people in charge of the response to the pandemic are not epidemiologists, whose job it is to study and understand how viruses spread and how we handle them as human beings. Don’t get me wrong, the people in charge as some of the greatest medical minds in the world. But, in listening to what top epidemiologists are saying, there are some important things I think we have missed. First, we do not have and may never have a vaccine for the coronavirus. There are some treatments that are showing promise, but nothing on a grand scale.
I found it interesting that almost every epidemiologist has stated that the absolute best way to fight the virus is herd immunity. Herd immunity is when a large majority of the population has gotten the virus, overcome it, and development antibodies as an internal defense. Their argument is that this is what naturally stops the virus because it makes it very hard to spread it once this level is reached. Logically to me this makes sense. If you have 100 people in a room and 80 of them have had the disease and there is herd immunity, it makes it a lot harder for the virus to jump from one person to the next because there are essentially 80 barriers in the way. The next thing they’ve almost unanimously said is that closing schools was the worst thing we could do. Wait, what? Yes, and the explanation is that children are designed specifically as part of their growth and immune system development to be able to get and overcome viruses and diseases as they grow to build up the immunity for when they are adults. The epidemiologists argue that in closing schools, we have hurt our best vehicle for creating the herd immunity that ultimately slows the spread of the virus. They are stating that all we are doing is delaying what inevitably has to happen in nature to overcome a virus. Until we reach herd immunity, it will continue to have its impact and come and go. Again, this logically makes sense to me and why we keep being told that even when we are allowed to come back out of quarantine, that this can come back. It still needs to work its way through. The last point they have made was that we should have focused on the most susceptible groups like the elderly and people with existing conditions and let the healthy go through the process of herd immunity.
Now, whether you agree or not with that, in studying past outbreaks like this, even Swine Fu about 10 years ago, it killed almost 20,000 and infected about 60 million in the U.S. in the span of a year and then essentially disappeared. It didn’t go away. It’s still out there. But, in less than a year, herd immunity took place. The government did essentially nothing. Nothing was shut down. No quarantine was done. In fact, it was hardly mentioned in the news. So, this is something I will continue to monitor and watch in the coming months.
There are few other lessons I’ve take away over the 5 weeks that are important for me to share.
First, I believe that we must prepare for a “new normal” after things begin to come back online and restrictions on our lives are removed. We will not go back to the way of life we were used to before this pandemic. Wearing masks will become a part of everyday life. Distancing ourselves will become the norm. Testing for the virus will become an annual event. Things like going to restaurants will change and tables will be spaced much further apart. They may only allow a certain number of people to sit together. Travel will change dramatically. It already is. I read an article this past week that Emirates Airlines is now requiring a blood test to be able to fly. Can you imagine giving your blood to fly on a plane? Professional and Collegiate sports and organized sports for kids will change. We may not be able to have crowds at events. Close contact sports may be more limited or in the interim be stopped all together. (think football, wrestling, etc.). I could go on with example, but the important thing is that we have to prepare for the changes in our lives and mentally to be able to accept and manage these changes in our lives and adapt to the new normal. The ability and willingness to adapt will be one of the most important skills we can possess coming out of this.
Second, there will be huge opportunities for innovation and new industries as a result of the “new normal.” As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And with people working from and staying at or closer to home for the foreseeable future, there will be an explosion of new services for you at your home. Many of them will be innovations on what have already existed, but even a small innovation can create a whole new industry. For, example, in home haircuts existed prior to the virus, when a stylist came to your house and cut your hair. Was it a huge industry? Was it something that was reserved for the wealthier? Yes. But coming out of this, there will be a higher demand for such services and thus the prices will come down and the market will grow. Innovation will take place and a whole new version of that industry will take place. Same thing for things like massages, etc. Could Massage Envy pivot to having their people do house calls? Things like this are possible and thus, for those that are innovative and willing to look at things differently, whole new business verticals could be created. AirBnb was a great example of this pre-virus. But, to show you how fast things can change. Post-virus, who knows if AirBnb will be able to thrive at the level they once did. They will have to innovate and pivot I would expect. So, the lessons, innovators will thrive in the coming years.
Lastly, parents have learned that they can school their kids at home supported by the local school districts, so I think we can expect to have more of a blend of schooling with virtual at home classes and going to an actual classroom. People may now be given the choice out of safety concerns and parents will have more involvement in their children’s schooling than previously. I think this is a great thing and I think it will lead to better learning experiences and better overall results for student learning. The lesson for me is that while parents have always been encouraged to be active in their child’s learning, it is now going to be more part of our everyday routine and we as parents have gotten used to it, making it easier for us to be more active in learning. The lesson I am taking is that we should embrace it as it will usher in a new renaissance of learning and development of our children and lead to what I believe is a brighter future.
Hannah, it is clear that we are going through another shift in the way of life of the human race. This has happened many times throughout history and each time has led to the betterment of the society and our lives. Whether it was early man learning to create and use tools and harnessing fire, to the Renaissance, to the American Revolution unleashing the power of the individual and it’s capability, to the industrial and technological revolutions sending us to space and leading to the technological capability we have today – each time our lives changed for the better. The changes that are happening will lead to a different way of life, but one that will ultimately lead to a better one as we innovate and grow into it. Maybe that is the biggest lesson of all.
I love you,
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This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Tom Libelt. Tom is the founder of Smart Brand Marketing, a company that focuses specifically on helping people better sell their online courses.
Tom has had a very interesting life that basically made him an entrepreneur from the time he could walk and talk. He was born in communist Poland. By 7 years old, he was laying on the back seat of a car smuggling liquor into the country and his job was to cry and scream if immigration stopped them and wanted to check. At 9, he started helping his dad push products at soccer stadiums in eastern Europe. As he says, “He was hustled a few times by Russians and learned his lessons.”
At 11, his family was able to escape communism and make it to the U.S. Tom became an entrepreneur because his family had to use entrepreneurship to survive. He then took those skills and used them succeed in a number of business ventures proving he’s a true Misfit Entrepreneur.
Tom has always had drive toward two different things, music and business. Early on, he focused more on music. He was creating his own music and working as an engineer, but was also working on businesses, etc. He’s tried a lot of things – retail, online businesses, selling products, etc.
He knew how to sell, but wasn’t sure why he knew. He worked from everyone from Nestle to Metlife to learn the art of selling.
Lessons from run-ins with Russians?
What is it that doesn’t change? What can you teach us about how to sell?
At the 11:30 mark, Tom talks about selling online today….
Where is it that most course sellers breakdown? What don’t they do that prevent them from making money?
The main thing is the simplest thing – Does this course make sense and is there a compelling reason to buy it?
How do you help someone create an online course in 14 hours?
How do you market it and make upwards of $30,000 on a course?
Can you give an example of how you market on different platforms?
At the 31 min mark, Tom talks about the challenges of being successful with courses.
What are some of the best entrepreneur lessons you learned from the music business?
At the 39 min mark, Tom talks about why meeting his heroes was such a disappointment and lessons learned from working with “stars…”
“Don’t be the person who needs special slippers and McDonald’s from 34th Avenue to record a track…”
You started a coffee shop in Atlanta, but don’t drink coffee? How did that work out?
Any favorite place you’ve lived around the world?
Best Quote: “Don’t be the person who needs special slippers and McDonald’s from 34th Avenue to record a track…”
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This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Sharon Vinderine. Sharon is the founder and CEO of PTPA Media - Parent Tested, Parent Approved. She created the company to help consumers make the best purchasing decisions for their families and it has become the leading global recognition agency for family focused products and services. The Parent Tested, Parent Approved Seal of Approval program helps brands worldwide stand out from their competition and provides instant trust and credibility to consumers. As a result, PTPA is one of the most sought after awards in North America.
In fact, Sharon and PTPA have received numerous awards including the prestigious RBC Women Entrepreneur Award. So, how did Sharon take a simple idea and simple seal of approval and create a massive brand and worldwide standard in just a few years? That's just one of the topics we discuss in today’s episode.
Sharon actually has a tech background and had owned a tech business. When she became a mom, she decided to invest a baby product. She was trying to market the heck out of it, going from store to store to get it on shelves, and was not having any luck. Then, she found an “awards” program that promised if she worked with them, they would help her get her product into stores, get media attention, etc.
She submitted her product to win the award. And she won it. But, the feedback she got was terrible. She got the seal for the award, but found out if she wanted any marketing or publicity, it was thousands of dollars more.
So, Sharon unleashed her inner misfit entrepreneur and decided to compete and do it bigger, better, and build something that would truly help people.
Talk to us about the business…How does it work?
What are the thresholds you use to decide if a product gets the seal of approval?
What should a company that is looking to use a seal or award to recognize their product or service look for in award service and what’s the value of that to them?
What type of marketing should be provided from an award service?
Talk to us about your marketing. How did you get Mr. Wonderful to endorse PTPA?
Tell us more about how you leverage TV…
How did you start building your parents’ community?
At the 21:40 mark, Sharon tells the story of how the Rachel Ray reached out and she thought it was a joke.
What have you found that makes the best pitches to TV?
You have a lot of data – are there any trends you see happening right now or that we can expect?
What are some of the best lessons you’ve in your time in business that have made a real difference for you?
What has been most surprising to you on your entrepreneur journey?
How are you adapting to the global shutdown we are in now?
You started with $5000, an idea, and made it happen. We have people listening right now that are just like you. What is your best advice for those that are in the same position you were?
Look at your idea and present it to a group of people that isn’t family. Use friends or LinkedIn.
Determine if there is a market opportunity.
Your passion must be big enough for the idea to ride the peaks and valleys of entrepreneurship.
Best Quote: “You need to stop and celebrate your accomplishments and give yourself a pat on the back. It is ok to be proud of what you’ve done and realize it from time to time. Entrepreneurs have a hard time doing that.”
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This week I have special episode for you with a good friend, JV Crum III. In this episode, we are going to share our best thoughts, advice, tips, and information on how to best navigate your business through the global shutdown due to the Wuhan Coronavirus.
For those of you who don’t know JV. He is a serial entrepreneur who became a self-made millionaire in his twenties, a best-selling author, keynote speaker, certified business coach, licensed attorney, has his MBA, and is host of the #1 Ranked “Conscious Millionaire Podcast”, listened to by millions weekly worldwide. Through his Conscious Millionaire Institute LLC, he provides entrepreneur business coaching, training globally.
The reason I wanted to have JV on for this special episode is that he has one of the best minds I’ve ever encountered for seeing the bigger picture and thinking through challenges thoroughly to see and act toward the best outcome. We regularly coach each other in our businesses, as our skill sets complement each other very well.
And in this episode, we are going to interview each other on how to not only survive but thrive during these times.
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JV, talk to us about the psychological side of this – how does life and business change after this?
At the 9 min mark, I talk about the adjustments to life and the routines that I’ve put in place and had to adjust.
JV: How are kids adjusting to this new way of life?
At the 13 Min mark, JV talks about the 3 ways we can respond to this…
At the 18:30 min mark, I share my thoughts on the mental side and share the story of James Stockdale.
JV uses an example of stating reality as it is with Great Britain’s example.
What will it take for things to get back to normal?
“Stats show wore millionaires are made during recessions and bad economic times than at any other time.”
JV, what are you doing in your business right now to thrive this year and beyond?
At the 36 min mark, I talk about what I am seeing in my business in the travel sector and the impact and reality of things.
At the 41 minute mark, JV shares some of the unique offerings he is doing now.
At the 44 min mark, I talk about what it means to “Be There…”
At the 50 min mark, JV and I discuss the opportunities for small business in the CARES Act in the U.S.
At the 54 min mark, JV and I talk about the stock market.
*We are not giving financial advice in this segment. We are simply sharing our opinions. Please consult your financial adviser when it comes to investing and the stock markets.
Best Quote: "Stats show more millionaires are made during recessions and bad economic times than at any other time."
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This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Emmanuel Straschnov. Emmanuel is the founder of Bubble.io, a company that empowers anyone to build software without code. On Bubble, people can start businesses and tech startups without engineering talent or knowing how to code and launch products and whole businesses in just the fraction of the time it used to take. In fact, many of the businesses created today like AirBnb or Twitter could be built with a solution like Bubble. It truly opens a whole new world for entrepreneurs. And thousands of products and companies have started using the platform worldwide.
But Emmanuel didn’t start out to create a solution like Bubble. In fact, at 22, he was a waiter in a Chinese restaurant and went on to become a management consultant in China for a number of years. He and his partner bootstrapped Bubble over the last 7 years and only just recently took on venture backing. It’s the lessons learned in this journey that I’ve asked him to come on and share with you in this episode.
Emmanuel is also very active on Twitter
Emmanuel’s path was not a direct one. He grew up being fairly technical, but at 18 decided that he wanted to be in management and after college took a job with the French Government. After some time, he realized that if he didn’t go abroad early in his life, he would most likely never be able to, so he negotiated a 3 year delay in his start date as a government employee. He wen to China and did management consulting for 3 years. He did a lot of different projects and unique things. After 3 years, he decided to discover the U.S. and ended up going to Harvard for his MBA. It was during this time that he began to get more clear on what he would do with his life. He took an internship in the fashion industry with Prada. It was one of the best jobs he ever did.
He decided to not go into government because it was too slow and to stay in the US and work in the corporate world. During this time, he started to get the entrepreneurial itch to build software. It was a passion for him as a kid and he re-discovered it. He dropped going into the corporate fashion world. He graduated Harvard without a job, but had a mission to become a software entrepreneur.
He started networking across New York, Boston and other cities. During this time, he got connected with his now partner, Josh, who was working on a “no-code” development concept and as Emmanuel says, “Partnered up after the first coffee meeting.” They have built the company together ever since.
Did your experience as a management consultant in China help prepare you to build Bubble?
Did your experience being a waiter in China do anything to help you in your business?
Tell us what you’ve learned about bootstrapping a company…
What advice do you have on getting the first few customers?
You recently took on a funding partner, tell us about it and the benefits so far…
What makes a great business partnership?
What advice would you give a new entrepreneur starting out today?
Best Quote: “If it is an idea where everybody says, “that’s great,” it’s probably not because most likely it would have already been done. But, if it is an idea where most people say, “That’s stupid or not going to work,” but about 5% of people are extremely excited about it and want it – then that is a good idea.”
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