This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Jeremy Parker. Jeremy is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Swag.com. Swag.com is the best place for companies to buy and distribute quality promotional products that people will actually want to keep. They work with over 5,000 companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Spotify and Tik Tok. The company was ranked #218 on 2020’s INC 500 list and has been growing tremendously.
But, a promotional products company growing massively in age of no tradeshows or in person meetings where these things are typically exchanged, how can that be? That was exactly the question I had when I was first introduced to Jeremy. What is he doing differently at Swag that has people flocking to them?
I thought it best he share his secrets with you.
Jeremy went to Boston University for filmmaking. But he also liked branding. He chose filmmaking because YouTube was just beginning, and he saw a way to tell stories/market through filmmaking. He did a documentary that won the Vail Film Festival. It was this point that he had to make the decision on if he wanted to continue down the filmmaking path or go to his true passion in marketing. He went back for his final year in college and focused on marketing. He decided to start a high-end T-shirt business and use it as a learning process – right before the crash in 2007.
Just after getting started, all the places he was selling his shirts to were starting to have trouble. He decided to index the price of his shirts to the price of the DOW Jones. Every 100 pts it fell equaled a discount on his shirts. Jeremy wrote to Mark Cuban sharing what he was doing, and Mark shared it on his Maverick blog. It then got seen by the CEO of MV Sports, a larger player in the promotional space. After meeting, the CEO committed to help fund his next business.
He decided to re-imagine university apparel and started a brand under MV Sport. He then started a company doing product placement in Youtube Videos which then sold to a publicly traded company.
He always liked the promotions business and new it was stuck in old ways and needed to be tailored to work with the Millennial buyer.
Talk to use about the early days and getting going. What is your best advice for entrepreneurs just starting out?
Is there a framework you use for disrupting an industry?
What has been the most impactful decision for your success during the pandemic?
How do you get customers today? What works? What doesn’t?
What applications do you use to manage your marketing, engagement, re-targeting, etc.?
Tell us about your unique perspective on fear…
At the 35 min mark, we discuss fear further and asymmetric risks…
At the 40 min mark, Jeremy talks about trends he sees for the future…
Best Quote: "Fear kills more dreams than failure ever could"
Jeremy's Misfit 3:
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5 Minute Journal:
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
Hannah, I want to talk to you about something very important in life, common sense and independent critical thinking. Sadly, as I watch our society, these things are more and more lost every day and yet, they are so important to maintain.
So, what is common sense and independent critical thinking? Well, the dictionary defines it pretty well stating common sense is sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.
Personally, I like to think of it as thinking that is between intellectual rigidity and total emotional ignorance. Intellectual rigidity being that someone has just made up their mind based a fact, but not all the facts and will not consider any other possibilities or even change when new facts are presented. To me, this stifles the ability to learn and grow keeping people trapped in a single thought pattern. On the opposite end is total emotional ignorance which I deem as a complete disregard for the truth and facts, even when presented, because a person thinks their feelings are the truth.
Make no mistake, feelings are not facts or truth.
To illustrate this point I want to use something that is controversial and happening right now during the Wuhan Coronavirus – Mask wearing, mask mandates and the 6-foot rule.
First, let us look at what our leaders in the US have told us. On March 8th 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead infectious disease expert for the US response on the Wuhan virus advised Americans against wearing masks on 60 minutes stating “There is no reason to be walking round with mask.” As we all know, this position was reversed in the summer of 2020 and later Fauci said that the reason he originally said not to wear masks was to preserve PPE at the time and that he does not regret it. Now, for me at this point, common sense kicks in a little to ask a question, “So are you telling us that masks actually do work and we should have been wearing them from the start, but you lied to us because you wanted to preserve PPE? How many lives were lost because of not wearing masks or some sort of face covering because you told us not to?” Notwithstanding that bit of contradiction, let’s take further a look into masks.
You may not know this, but there are actually many contradictory scientific studies on mask wearing. Some studies say they work, others say they do not. Without getting into the do they or don’t they debate which will rage on probably forever, let’s look at things from an angle of common-sense using reason, not emotional ignorance or intellectual rigidity. It’s time to think independently.
When I look at what is happening with the virus a few things immediately standout.
Mask wearing and social distancing is at an all-time high, but cases of the virus worldwide are at an all time high. Think about that for a second. I’m not saying masks don’t help, but they certainly aren’t preventing the spread in a large way based on the data.
Another important fact to note is that the average mask and respirator filters particles that are 30-80 microns in size, but the virus particle size is about 10 microns. That means, even wearing a mask, every time you breath, particles are going through the mask – which may be why the spread has continued.
Another thing I have thought about is how the virus is transmitted. By all accounts, it is airborne and lives on surfaces if not cleaned or disinfected. This led me look at things we are doing such as the 6-foot rule and other practices and ask, do these really matter? Is the virus that smart that it knows how far 6 feet is? I played football from 2nd grade through college. It is a sweaty, bloody, fluid swapping sport and I loved playing it. Nowadays, I love watching it and found it interesting this past year that players would go on the field without a mask, sweating, breathing hard, tackling each other, huddling up after each play, and so on, but when they came off the field, they all had to wear a mask on the sideline. To me, that makes no sense. Does the virus actually know when players are on the field and off the field and only attacks them when on the sideline, so they need a mask?
Or what about how in some states you can go to a grocery store, but cannot go to church. Does the virus really leave you alone at the grocery store vs. when you sit in a pew?
When you think about it, it seems pretty ridiculous. It gets even more interesting when you do a little research on the origins of social distancing in the first place. They actually started from a 14-year old’s high school science project back in 2006 and 2007. If you want to learn more about it, you can read the New York Time’s April 2020 story about the origin and it is not a scientific process.
If you have common sense, even from the football example above, you would ask about the validity of social distancing and its efficacy, but knowing the origin is not based in any real scientific study that was thoroughly tested, you have to at least question it. Is the virus really that smart? Or is it like every other virus in history that works it way through a population until it reaches a point where enough people have gotten it and developed anti-bodies and/or have been inoculated through vaccination that it becomes like any other virus we all deal with in our lives? Based on common sense and what has happened to this point, personally I think it is the latter.
But, I don’t dismiss everything either. Instead, common sense tells me the real answer lies somewhere in the middle. Masks probably help some or in certain situations and so does distancing, but should I have to wear one to walk to my table in a restaurant where I then take it off and am breathing and talking with particles leaving my mouth floating throughout the air alongside everyone else’s particles in the restaurant – no. Should there be such drastic measures for a virus with a less than .9% death rate? Probably not.
One last point on cases. The flu typically has over 30 million cases each year in the US and we are currently past the halfway point of the flu season and there have been less than a million cases according to the CDC. Where are they? I don’t know if people know that the flu is another form of coronavirus, so common sense would tell me that we are probably counting cases of the flu as Wuhan virus and the case numbers are not as large as reported. Additionally, the flu kills up to almost 700,000 people a year worldwide and pneumonia kills a staggering 3 million+ per year (that’s 2016 data). You can find these stats on the CDC website and with a simple search. That’s almost 4 million deaths per year that the flu and pneumonia account for. My question, why haven’t we been wearing masks and social distancing our whole lives?
As you can see, common sense and independent critical thinking is more about asking questions and seeking answers than just making a decision based on a little bit of knowledge. Doing that is intellectual rigidity or emotional ignorance basing everything on feelings. You must ask questions and delve deeper and seek knowledge before forming an opinion or set of believes on something, especially major topics. That advice is not new. It can be found in the Bible, and from Plato, Aristotle and others. In fact, Thomas Jefferson told us to question with boldness when he said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”
Hannah and everyone listening, we must question with boldness in our lives and not take everything at face value. We must use reason, common sense, and independent thinking and not allow ourselves to be too rigid or form our thoughts based solely on emotion. We must also not allow fear to drive our decision making. I’ve said many times that I believe entrepreneurs are the answer to the problems of this world as just about everything stems from entrepreneurial thinking, so we must strive and work hard to become the best thinkers we can be and help others throughout the world to think critically and use true common sense.
The world will be an even better place for everyone if we do.
I love you,
Best Quote: We must use reason, common sense, and independent thinking and not allow ourselves to be too rigid or form our thoughts based solely on emotion. We must also not allow fear to drive our decision making.
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5 Minute Journal:
This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Karim Abouelnaga. Karim is CEO of Practice Makes Perfect (PMP), a Public Benefit Corporation that partners with K-12 schools to help narrow the opportunity gap.
Karim founded PMP at 18. He is an author, a TED Fellow and Echoing Green Fellow. At 23, he was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Education, and at 24 was named to Magic Johnson’s 32 under 32 list. In 2016, he was ranked in the top 3 most powerful young entrepreneurs under 25 in the world. Karim’s TED Talk was named one of the 9 Most Inspiring Talks of 2017 and his Forbes day-in-the-life feature is Forbes’ most viewed video of all time, collectively garnering over 5 million views.
If you’ve listened to this show for any length of time, you know that I believe traditional education is important, but self-education and learning to think independently is paramount to success. I’ve brought Karim on to talk about his experience and what he’s learned in creating PMP and in his entrepreneur journey.
You have to know where you are from to know where you are going.
Karim’s parents were both Egyptian immigrants. His father had a dream to come to America to create a better life for himself. He was an entrepreneur that started from scratch. He drove a cab and the later started importing Egyptian collectables and selling them at street fairs. Eventually, this led to starting a little thrift shop. Karim spent a lot of time working in the shop helping the family business.
Karim and his siblings attended some of New York City’s most struggling schools. And early on school wasn’t that much of a priority. Then his father got sick with terminal cancer. It was then things changed.
As a kid, he hard that education was his way out. He hadn’t thought much of it, but after his father passed and he got into high school, he began to see what this meant.
He had some luck in that he had a series of mentors that helped him. He graduated at the top of his class. He went to college for business and management.
As he started furthering his education, the disparities in education became more apparent and he found his mission and purpose. He graduated from Cornell and started PMP as a way to solve the education gap with low-income schools – what he calls narrowing the opportunity gap.
10 years later, the company has grown and is a multi-million-dollar education enterprise.
What are some of the principles you learned from your father that have helped make you successful?
At the 12 min 12:30 mark, Karim and I have a conversation about nature vs. nurture.
What is the challenge and opportunity that you see right now in education?
How does entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ways of thinking help in education?
How do we better foster independent self-education in our education system, so student realize the importance of it alongside their formal education?
At the 26 min mark, we talk about teaching entrepreneur principles in k-12.
Tell us about your routine and what you’ve learned on how to be most productive….
Tell us about your new book and its mission…
Best advice for a young entrepreneur starting out today?
Best Quote: You have to know where you are from to know where you are going...
Karim's Misfit 3:
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Hello Misfit Nation! I am excited to bring a special weekend episode of the Misfit Entrepreneur. Occasionally, I find something I truly enjoy and when I do I like to share it with you. In 2021 I’ve started listening more to the immersive shows on Wondery. If you haven’t checked it out, you need to do so.
Recently, I was able to connect with them and they offered to share a small sample of one of their new shows with the Misfit audience and that is what I want to share with you in this short special episode because it focuses on one of my favorite topics – origin stories of business leaders!
Business movers is one of Wondery’s newest series. In the series, host Lindsay Graham dives deep into the inner workings of some of the most successful companies of all time. From the origin stories of their famed leaders to the million dollar idea that catapulted them to success, how exactly did these companies grow from an idea and a dream to multi-billion dollar corporations? Hear the landmark decisions, the scandals, and the stunning triumphs that made them who they are. And First up in series is Walt Disney! If you don’t know his story, you’ll be amazed.
Learn how, even when faced with harrowing obstacles and wide-ranging skepticism, he remained true to his vision and brought his world of magic to life. You’re about to hear a preview of Business Movers. While you’re listening, subscribe to Business Movers on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or listen early and ad-free in the Wondery app by going to wondery.fm/lukasmovers.
This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is David Wood. David is the founder of Focus.CEO. He left a cushy Park Avenue job over 20 years ago to build the world’s largest coaching business. He has coached and mentored entrepreneurs worldwide on how to do what matters, get there faster, and be extraordinary. He has been ranked the #1 life coach on google and has built a following of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs. He is also the author of Get Paid for What You Are.
Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series had this to say about David, “David walks his talk; I admire his willingness to put himself in the fire and do what it takes to make that next step.”
So, how has David done all of this? Simple, by learning what it means to truly focus and get to what truly matters and delivers results in life and business. And I’ve asked him to come on the show to share his best with you.
Get the checklist and training on how to double revenue: www.MyFocusGift.com
David began his career as a consulting actuary because he was good at math. He thought he had it made. He was from a country town in Australia and landed a job on Park Ave. in New York consulting with the largest companies in the world.
Then someone introduced him to personal growth and he was skeptical of it. His heart was cracked open after spending time with these people. He realized there was so much more. He didn’t want to work with people around numbers, but people around people. So, he devoted the next 20 years to learning from the best of the best and teaching others.
He now teaches people not only how to increase their income, but how to show up in all areas of their lives.
How can people get more in touch with themselves emotionally and with their vulnerability and use that to their advantage in life and business?
At the 12 min mark, David and I have a conversation on awareness. Many people are living on default and not aware to how to understand the 3 areas and use this understanding to help their lives and business.
Google “Authentic Relating” this it term that describes this field of study.
How does understanding this help you in life and business?
Explain focus as you see it and teach it?
Anything people can do daily to keep focus and/or remind them of keeping focus?
Get Paid for Who You Are – tell us about it…
Talk to us about leadership and tough conversations?
5 steps to double revenue?
Best Quote: The human mind is like a monkey on crack…
David's Misfit 3:
Believe in People:
5 Minute Journal:
This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Eric Partaker. Eric is an interesting guy. He had been ranked "Top 30 Entrepreneurs in the UK", 35 and under, by Startups Magazine, and among "Britain's 27 Most Disruptive Entrepreneurs" by The Telegraph. His work has been featured on a number of major TV stations and networks, as well as in the Wall Street Journal and The Economist. He has also appeared as a guest judge on the The Apprentice.
Over the last 20 years Eric has advised Fortune 50 CEOs while at McKinsey & Company, helped build Skype’s multi-billion-dollar success story, and founded several companies, before becoming one of only 300 certified high-performance coaches in the world by the High-Performance Institute.
But, it’s not just that Eric coaches a very exclusive number of top performers throughout the world, it’s unique experience and way of looking at things that really makes his standout – and that is what I want him to share with you today.
Get a free copy of the 3 Alarms there as well
Eric story takes place over a decade when we got on a plane and felt a little “off” at take-off. As the plane climbed, he began to feel pain in his chest and arm. Luckily, a doctor was on the plane and checked him and determined he was having a heart attack. The plane had to do an emergency landing.
He landed in a small town in France to a waiting ambulance and remembers saying to the paramedic, “Please don’t let me die. I have a 5-year-old son.” He ended up being ok as they got to him in time. Eric says that this was the start of history, because prior to that he was a workaholic working 100 hours a week.
It became his mission to help others avoid what he went through. But it took a little more time. Eric says that it was not even the heart attack that sparked the final change. He changed his health habits, but still 3 years later he still had not changed himself outside of that and woke one day to his wife sobbing telling him she was going to leave him if he didn’t change his ways. He was not present and available to his family. He needed to make changes on the home front. He realized there were 3 domains that we must be balanced in: Health, Wealth, and Relationships.
Define High Performance and what it means. What does a true Top Performer look like?
Are there habits that people can develop to perform at their highest potential? What are the traps that keep them from doing this?
At the 13 min mark, Eric talks about the 3 Alarms.
He starts with I-P-A.
Identity: Behavior follows identity – you have to choose who you want to be before anything.
Productivity: Knowledge isn’t where the game is played. It’s readily available. The game is turning knowledge into action.
Anti-Fragility: The more you get hit, the stronger you become. The true opposite of fragile. Things will not go to plan. You must step into it, rise to the challenge, and get stronger because of it.
Understanding this is one thing, but putting it into action is another…How does someone choose who they want to be and so on? Focus on 3 things, the 3 domains.
At the 18 min mark, Eric talks about us putting on our hero costumes and instinctively knowing what to do.
Remember, behavior follows identity. We did this as kids all the time.
At the 21-minute mark, we discuss how little reminders like the 3 Alarms and others can make a difference even subliminally and using them to create your future self. We also discuss choice and the role it plays in your success in your life. It is best to listen.
What are some of the traps that you see keeping people from reaching their true potential?
2 Special Forces techniques to increase success?
The 3-13-3 multiplier. Tell us about that and how it relates to entrepreneurs.
The first 3 is the 3 Alarms
What is the one thing that has surprised you most on your entrepreneur journey and what is your biggest takeaway from it?
Best Quote: Becoming world class at something is not nearly as hard as people make it out to be. It is so much closer than people realize.
Eric's Misfit 3:
Believe in People:
5 Minute Journal:
This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Dylan Blau. What does dog training have to do with massive success in entrepreneurship? A lot actually. Dylan is the founder of Epic Dog Pros and a professional dog training expert and behaviorist. He has rehabilitated thousands of dogs; training some of the most challenging cases from extreme aggression to dogs scared of everything. His consistency & dependability is incomparable allowing him to do what others cannot.
Aside from that, he is a Public Figure, Mentor, Life Coach, and social media/PR wizard who used these tools to create all of his businesses and grow exponentially. In fact, hacking social media was the key to showcasing his talents in dog training to the world and making him known selling millions’ worth of dog training programs. Nowadays, he works with Celebrities, YouTube Influencers, Facebook Public Figures, Authors & other Social Media Celebrities to help them maximize their selling potential on social media.
So, going back to my question at the beginning. What does dog training have to with massive entrepreneur success? Dylan’s shares how he used everything he knows about dog training to create a massive brand and business.
@WeAreDogTraining on Instagram
Dylan has been training dogs for 13 years and never expected to be in that business. He originally went to school for musical theatre and even did standup comedy for a while. He thought he was headed into acting. He ended having an opportunity in Arizona to work with dogs and learn lessons from watching Cesar Milan. This inspired him and a friend to rescue dogs and train them. And he did. He found he understood it almost intuitively and continued to develop the skill. He felt that he needed to share his knowledge and what he learned to help others learn it.
As he went down the entrepreneur path, he found people like Tai Lopez and others. He immersed himself in learning top minds. This let him to fall in love with social media as it became an amazing stage for him to share everything he was doing. It began to take off. After training thousands of dogs and being known for really helping problem dogs and aggressive dogs, his teachings have been adopted by many throughout the world.
“Training a dog is solving a problem. And working with animals is almost more fun than working with people as they don’t give you excuses. They only show you their limitations. The problems to solve.”
Humans put up barriers and resistance. People can go to therapy for years and never solve their problems. And several years ago, Dylan doubled down on his brand on social media as a dog trainer and he now has hundreds of thousands of followers across many platforms and ways to get to his teaching and training. His whole business literally runs on social media and has allowed him to sell millions in his programs.
During Covid, he offered to help others with the strategies he has used to grow online and now his latest business, The Blau Agency has grown tremendously.
What are the principles that make for successful dog training that relate well to entrepreneurship?
At the 21-minute mark, we discuss these and my DCP formula in more detail and get into overcoming the challenges that happen even if you are doing well. We also discuss structure. It’s best to just listen.
Talk to us about hacking social media to grow a business, what should we know?
How are you able to put yourself across all these platforms, how much time are spending a day, and what is your strategy to monetize? How do you manage it all consistently every day?
“The more you know yourself the more you can show yourself.”
Any last thoughts?
Best Quote: Training a dog is solving a problem. And working with animals is almost more fun than working with people as they don’t give you excuses. They only show you their limitations. The problems to solve.
Dylan's Misfit 3:
5 Minute Journal: