Brian Will Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Brian Will
Brian Will is a serial entrepreneur who has created or co-created six very successful companies in four different industries over the last thirty-five years.
His first foray into owning his own business was a 10-year stint in the landscaping industry that he started when he was twenty years old.
This was followed by three online internet companies during the dot.com boom of the late nineties and early 2000s.
The first was an online health insurance website and call centre that was eventually sold to a venture capital company in Silicon Valley and today is one of the largest online Medicare insurance platforms in the US.
The second was an online “lead generation” company in the subprime credit space that was sold to a private equity firm out of Chicago.
The third was another online health insurance website and call centre that was sold to another venture capital company in Silicon Valley and today is one of the largest individual state health insurance exchange platforms.
How The Dots Joined Up For Brian
These four exits were followed by several years of consulting projects for both private and public companies in the field of sales and management training.
Although he tried to quit working on multiple occasions, it just wasn’t in his nature to sit back and do nothing.
Today Brian owns a growing chain of restaurants in the Atlanta area while he splits his time between the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, and Clearwater Beach, Florida.
So what is it about business and entrepreneurship that drags him back in time and time again?
And what would be the five biggest lessons he has learnt that would get everyone up and running with their own business?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Brian Will
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Brian Will such as:
Brian shares the first thing that all entrepreneurships should learn and focus in on before ever starting their businesses
We discuss how many people fail when starting a business in an area that they love, simply by getting bored with the day to day grind.
Brian talks the premise of outliers in business and why a few people might get lucky fast but the majority have to put the work in.
We share openly the problem of cashflow in your business, and why that should be your first focus to keep an eye on.
Brian reveals an amzing “join the dots” story that leads to where he is today. Without those dots his life would be very different for sure.
How To Connect With Brian
Return To The Top Of Brian Will
If you enjoyed this episode with Brian Will, why not check out other inspirational chat with Shawn Shewchuk, Tosca Reno, Innovation Expert and the amazing Dyscalculia Expert
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy
Show Transcription Of Brian Will Interview
Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock and start getting the dream business and life you will, of course, are dreaming of. Let’s join your host, David Ralph from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another JAM PACKED episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:40]
Good morning to you and welcome to you you listeners of Join Up Dots. Thank you so much for being with us today. Now today’s guest who’s on the show. Yes, it’s an interview show today is a serial entrepreneur who has created or CO created six very successful companies in four different industries over the last 35 years. His first foray into owning his own business was a 10 year stint in the landscaping industry but he started when he was just 20 years old. Now this was followed by three online internet companies during the.com Boom are the late 90s and early 2000s. The first being an online health insurance website and call centre that was eventually sold to a venture capital company in Silicon Valley. And today is one of the largest online Medicare insurance platforms in the US. The second was an online lead generation company in the subprime credit space that was sold to a private equity firm out of Chicago. The third was another online health insurance website and call centre that was sold to another venture capital company in Silicon Valley, or very different. Now these four exits were followed by several years of consulting projects for both private and public companies in the field of sales and management training. But although he tried to quit working Yeah, we all tried to do this on multiple occasions. It just wasn’t in his nature to sit back and do nothing. And today, he owns a growing chain of restaurants in the Atlanta area, while he splits his time between the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, and Clearwater Beach in Florida. So what is it about business and entrepreneurship that drags him back in time and time again? And what would be the five biggest lessons he’s learned that would get everyone up and running with their own business? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Brian Will. Good morning to you, Brian. How are you?
Brian Will [2:32]
Good morning, David. I’m excited to be on the show with you today. You’re my first international podcast. So this is awesome.
David Ralph [2:37]
You You You haven’t gotten across the pond before.
Brian Will [2:41]
Interestingly enough, you’re the first one in this afternoon. I’m doing one in Brisbane, Australia.
David Ralph [2:46]
Okay, so I’m gonna take your virginity this morning, in the nicest way possible. Now, in the introduction, I was listening to the Introduction music of the show. And I hear it 1000 times a day. And then every time I sort of stopped and actually listened to it, and the guy was saying, life should be a fun filled adventure Life shouldn’t be a drag or something like that. Is that true? Because I know your book comes from the premise of you’ve got to fail, fail fail, which obviously isn’t fun. So what side of the fence should we follow?
Brian Will [3:18]
Of course, it needs to be fun. I in fact, I saw an interview with Elon Musk, I don’t know maybe a month ago. And he said, Look, if you’re not having fun in life, if you’re not doing something worthwhile, what’s the point? And that’s exactly the way I feel you got to go do something that’s fun. You enjoy your life. And you know, there’s a point in what you’re doing otherwise, you know, what are you doing
David Ralph [3:36]
now? But leading question is so many people don’t know what’s fun. And so they kind of just don’t do anything really. They just sort of plod on plod on plod on so Did you always know what was right for Brian? Well, did you always sort of hit a home run on the sort of enjoyment stakes?
Brian Will [3:55]
Absolutely not. The problem I had. So I grew up in I grew up in a bad house bad home got failed out of high school, managed to get into graduate with like a 1.2 grade point average. I did not do well in school, join the military got out of that tried to hold a job. I couldn’t hold a job because I was just a bad employee, angry kid with a giant chip on my shoulder. And eventually I said to myself, You know what, I don’t want to work for somebody else. I just need to go do my own thing. Now mind you, I had no idea what I was doing, which is pretty much standard for every company I’ve ever started. But at some point, you just get in there and you go and you just figure it out. Go through the hard times. You’ll learn the lessons from failure and eventually you make money and succeed. Well,
David Ralph [4:35]
it’s true that but I know there’s so many listeners out there going. No it’s not. I need I need a step by step blueprint. I need 37 business principles. See what I’m doing there. Brian 37 Back in take me to the promised land. But you’re saying just get in there get dirty and make it up as you go along.
Brian Will [4:56]
Here’s the thing about business right? Too many people think success in business are the hard skills. And the reality of success in business is more of the soft skills. In fact, the 37 business lessons aren’t how to open an account, and you know what insurance to buy, it’s got nothing to do with that. It’s all about the soft skills, it’s who you need to be as a person and a business person, and who you need to develop into. And the mindset that you need to create and the people you need to bring in to help. success in business is more a mindset than a skill set. So that’s what the book is about. And those are the things you need to learn if you’re gonna really make it.
David Ralph [5:28]
Now everybody who comes on the show will pretty much say that, in every failure, there’s a lesson. And I was just having a conversation with a guy who said that he’d spent many years saying, why is it happening to me, but now he tries to go, why is it happening for me? Which is kind of easier to say, when you get some kind of track record of success when you’re in the early days, and you’re just trying to get something going? How do people do that? How do people take the business advice from people like yourself, from Elon Musk, from Steve Jobs, and whatever, and not just go, oh, it’s alright for them. Because it’s very difficult to see them sitting in their underpants on their bed, not having a clue of what to do next.
Brian Will [6:21]
That is a fact, I will tell you that as a young entrepreneur, as a young business person, the very first thing you should do before you open your door to the public, is you need to find a mentor or a coach or somebody that can come in and help you with launching that business. So many young entrepreneurs go in with no idea what they’re doing. And then all they do is make mistakes. In fact, you hit it a second ago, you talked about you got to fail and fail to succeed. And I hear people say this all the time I hear these business gurus I see it online, oh, the faster you fail, the faster you’ll succeed. And it makes me cringe every time I see that, because failure leads to failure. learning from failure is what leads to success. And too many people too many business people can’t get their ego out of the way to learn from their failure so that they can go on and succeed later. So do you
David Ralph [7:09]
think jumping in do you kind of think that it breeds a kind of routine, you almost get used to failure? So you’re expecting failure to think
Brian Will [7:18]
I know people who have tried businesses? Look, I ask I asked people this all the time. David, do you know people that everything they touch turns to gold? Yes. And don’t you know, people who everything they touch just falls apart? Yes. It’s because they’ve never learned how to learn from the failures that they’re having, and therefore that continue to fail over and over successful people. Once you failed enough, and you’ve learned enough lessons, then you will start to succeed. It took me 15 years before we started actually making serious money. And then it just blooms. It’s the old adage that the rich get richer, and the poor get poor. And unfortunately, that’s true. But it’s because of the mindset of the people that are making money and the mindset of the people that aren’t, if I didn’t have to do is fail, then you’re gonna fail.
David Ralph [7:59]
years ago, Brian, I used to be somebody that everything I touched turned to gold. And what I used to say to people is, I was just like on a twig on the mighty stream of life, I would just float along. And it used to happen. I used to go into the world’s busiest car park and just find a carpark space, I used to go into the busiest airport. And the the woman would just open the checkout right in front of me where everybody else was queuing up. And then it went 360. And I everything I touched turned to crap, basically. Now, looking back on it, I can tell it’s a 100% it was about my mindset, i i span out of control somewhat, I was too eager to grab success as quickly as possible than I was to allow life to just naturally ring things my way. And it caused me a huge problem. Now, it also bit gets to a point where you can become almost a bit floaty, and you lose your ambition and you lose your your goal setting because you kind of know that life is working for you. Have you had times with that where you kind of go on to driven. I should really sit back my gosh, I’ve got to keep going.
Brian Will [9:17]
Yes, I can tell you, you know, I was I call it head down dark to dark for 20 years. And then we sold to companies very quickly for an enormous amount of money. And I remember when we sold the companies telling everybody, I have no goals and I have no ambition. I’ve been so driven for so long that I’m tired and I don’t want to do it. Yeah, yeah. And I tried to quit. The problem is my brain wouldn’t let me right. So I tried to quit. I tried to do nothing. But I kept sticking my foot back in and sticking my foot back in and then I started another company and another one and another one but I’ve absolutely been there you can get wore out. If you’re driving yourself too hard and I did.
David Ralph [9:54]
Why did you do that? Then why did you keep on sticking your foot back in and not buy Self in Ireland, get a couple of sort of lovely ladies to make drinks for you whenever you want. And just just rest. What was it that was dragging you back? Was it ego?
Brian Will [10:09]
No, I’m a weird guy, right? So I don’t golf, I don’t watch sports on TV. I don’t hunt, I don’t do any of those things. Business to me is fun. It’s almost people say, Well, what are your hobbies? And I say my hobby is building businesses. I don’t understand what you’re asking me. That’s what I do. Yeah. And so when you stop doing that, it’s like, if you stopped doing anything else that you really love, you keep jumping back in and doing it again. So
David Ralph [10:34]
let’s hear from somebody that talks about finding love. And then we’ll be back with Brian,
Unknown Speaker [10:38]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [11:04]
Now, I that was Jim Carrey, obviously, and we play that on most of the podcast, because it’s so inspiring. But I also I struggle with this depending on when I’m listening to it, and the mood that I’m in. And where I am at the moment with that is what happens to the people, but then fail doing the thing, but they love when they actually get bored with the thing that they love. And they think it should be better than this. I built everything on passion. I worked really hard. I used to love this when I wasn’t being paid for it. But now it’s just a bit drab and boring.
Brian Will [11:41]
Then happens all the time, I’m a pilot, I love flying. But if I did it for a living, it would not be enjoyable. I’m a Dive Master, I love diving. But if I did it for a living, it wouldn’t be enjoyable. To me, the fun part of business is launching and building, which is why I’ve sold so many companies, I launch them and build and when it gets to the management phase, I get bored. And so I sell the company, I go do something else again, which brings the excitement back into my life. So if you don’t have the option of selling and going and doing this over and over and over, then what I tell people all the time is hire somebody to run the company for you. So you don’t have to be there five days a week, and go find something else that you’re passionate about.
David Ralph [12:16]
Something else Brian kind of, you know, kind of mind, you know, flying and split flying and diving together. I don’t know what you would do. It sounds like crashing really. But can you join something and then go actually this this is this is really it now.
Brian Will [12:34]
I will tell you one of the passions I found after we sold our two companies and oh six in a way it was writing. And I’ve written a couple of books, I’ve got a couple more coming out. And I’ve really found that that was my passion. I love writing and helping people.
David Ralph [12:46]
So why don’t you do that? That is Yeah, so why don’t you just do that? Why? Why are you dipping your foot time and time again into that murky world of, of entrepreneurship, and especially restaurants, you know, restaurants are really difficult to make money from.
Brian Will [13:02]
Yeah, that’s a that’s an adage. And I will tell you it’s funny, as good as I think I am. I’m seven for 12 in the restaurant business, right? Seven successes, five failures, but all the successes paid for the failure. So it didn’t really cost me anything. But that’s just the way business works. Not everything’s gonna work, not everything’s gonna be successful, but you got to keep on going. You know
David Ralph [13:21]
what, I don’t want that because my wife, every time we go away for the night, she had turned the TV on in a hotel room. And Gordon Ramsay will be going into some rubbish restaurant where the family are at each other’s throats. And all he does is says, Let’s paint it nice and fresh, simplify the menu and go again. And it’s basically that you know, and she she loves these programmes. Now, why would five restaurants fail then if seven if you’ve got the ingredient to make seven work? Why would defy fail.
Brian Will [14:00]
So the five that failed were early on in the business and the restaurant business is interesting. And one of the things I’ve learned is that you have to either be in a destination, or you need to have a brand that people know. And I tell you, we bought four restaurants that were existing had been around for 30 years. And we bought them and they did really well. And suddenly, somehow, or suddenly, I kind of came to the conclusion that I was a real restaurant tour. And I knew what I was doing, because I had bought four successful restaurants. So I went out and I built one and then I bought another one. The one that I built failed, even though it was right across the street from a very successful restaurant, and I thought we had better food we still failed. The reason we failed is we weren’t a brand. They weren’t a brand. We were not everybody was gonna go there even though the food wasn’t as good. And then the next one I built wasn’t in the right destination. There was a mixed use development a mile up the road, and everybody was going there as opposed to come by coming to my restaurant. So I had to go through a learning phase and the first set of restaurants that we built to figure out what the formula is that worked. And then there’s of course the p&l formula, isn’t it? everything else. But everything I build today is isn’t a destination, what we call a mixed use development destination where people are going to come, whether we’re there or not, they’re they’re coming for the fun. So we’re just there and providing them food. So since then we’ve had a tremendous amount of success.
David Ralph [15:14]
Now that seems like a bloody obvious statement to make, you know, if there’s people in an area and they are there to spend money, then they’re gonna spend it with you as well. Now, is that something that all businesses could look at and go? Because I don’t know what it’s like in America, I’ve been to America many, many times. I haven’t been there for a few years. But in the United Kingdom, the classic what we call the High Street, where it was the mum and dad shops and news agents and greengrocers, and hardware stores and stuff. A few and far between now they’re very much a case it’s like shopping malls or nothing at all. Is that something that is turning a curb in America? Are you being able to see success in a different way than we can?
Brian Will [16:02]
I’m telling you, these mixed use developments are the wave of the future, everything that’s being built in the Georgia area of Nashville area, all these large cities are bringing people in where they live, work and play, right. So we’ve got apartments, we’ve got townhomes homes, we’ve got restaurants, we’ve got shops, we’ve got office towers, where it’s funny, I was in Chicago consulting for a number of years ago. And the thing I loved about Chicago is the seven months I was there, I didn’t have a car didn’t need a car and didn’t want a car because I could walk everywhere. And that’s essentially what these powerhouse mixed use developments are building now the ability to just be where you are live, work and play. And if you can get a business into one of those, your chances of success are huge.
David Ralph [16:40]
But does it have to be the right type of business?
Brian Will [16:44]
Of course it does. And I’ll give you another funny story. So I remember in the mixed use development I live in, I’m sitting at this high end steak restaurant sitting at the bar with one of my friends. And I’m looking across the street, you know, out the window through the bar out through the patio across the street, and there’s a shoe store. And I turn around behind me in the restaurant, and there’s probably 100 people there. And I look over at the shoe store and it’s empty. So at some point, you got to figure out whether your business is viable, and whether you’re going to attract enough traffic to make money. And restaurants to me are just everybody eats and they eat over and over and over. And that’s why I like them.
David Ralph [17:17]
Because I spend a lot of time driving around the United Kingdom looking at shops thinking, how do they survive, they’ve got expense, they’ve got employees, you never see anyone in there. And there’s a shop that’s just started in an iPhone cases. Now, I haven’t got an iPhone case, I don’t know how much an iPhone cases, but surely you got to sell a lot of those to be able to make a business unprofitable. But people still open up these shops, and you think to yourself, surely you should step back and look at what the track record is in this area. Yes. But people don’t which, which is, let’s take the conversation in that direction. Because it’s interesting, as you say, most people will start a business by going Eureka and just diving into it. without doing any of this all of the background checks of profitability of flow of success rate previously, now, with your 37 business lessons, which ones if you aren’t going to put your to the test here to see how many you remember, how many of them would be listed in that area of Okay, before you do anything, you’ve got the idea. Let’s sit back and do these things.
Brian Will [18:33]
So there’s a couple of chapters that deal with this. The first one is, and I say this a lot is unique before you open your door, you need to find somebody who’s been there and done that and bring him in and say, Hey, this is my thought, What do you think? And I think the worst thing people do a lot of times and is they go to these, and I hate to say this, but to go to these franchise shows, you know, and there’s 1000 people there, and there’s 100 franchises that are walking around and everything, you know, the pretzels smell good. And the smoothies are tasty. And they get sucked into this idea that every business is successful, and it’s gonna be fun and awesome. And then we get into the real world and they’ve spent all their money they find out it didn’t. Because they’re talking to people who are trying to sell them something as a people as opposed to people who are trying to help them make a good decision. Yeah, so find a good businessman. Or run your idea by him. And let them give you the experience. They’ve got to help you make that decision. If you don’t do that. I call it the sock shops and the hat shops and the Thai shops. You’re unlike you I have no clue how they can possibly make money, selling hats and ties. Just this makes no sense to me.
David Ralph [19:34]
Now one of the things that I thought was a there was a lot of humour in your book as I was reading your book, and it was that kind of knowing. Yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve been there previously and I can see this. And I just want to break out a couple of them, which are right at the very beginning. And one of the things you say is I am always right. Everything you’re going to read here in this book will work 100% of the time at percent of the time, which means that 20% of the time what I’m telling you will not work because of situations that always pop up. Let’s let’s talk about that. Because that is a real thing, isn’t it that no matter how well you plan, something will come along and and kick you firmly between the legs.
Brian Will [20:17]
These are called outliers. In fact, Malcolm Gladwell writes a book on outliers. And outliers are people who succeed for no good reason. It’s unjust, it’s not fair. They just happen to get lucky and everything went their way. And they’re super successful. That’s an outlier. That’s not normal, right? Winning the lottery is not normal. People that have huge, huge success is not normal. Right? So when and when I tell you that what I’m telling you 80% of the time is going to be right, I’m telling you about all the hardships and the things you’re going to have to go through. And the mental capacity, you’ve got to be tenacious and persistent in following that dream and chasing that goal. You’re going to have to because things are going to happen and you need to be prepared for it. I’d rather you be prepared than not. So
David Ralph [21:00]
could you be prepared in that sort of dark way? Can you always be looking at the bad thing that could happen? Because that would sort of change your mindset somehow, wouldn’t it?
Brian Will [21:11]
Well, I call this plan for tomorrow and live for today. Right? So I’m always looking ahead of my business. In fact, one of the things I say in there is I can see the future, I see the future because I can see the trends that are happening in the business. And if I see a future that has something negative coming, I prepare for it today. I don’t need to let that future stop me from doing what I need to do. I just need to prepare for what I think could happen so that when it happens, I can deal with it. Too many people don’t prepare for the bad and that’s when they get stuck.
David Ralph [21:41]
Yeah, but isn’t that the classic step into being a worry guts, and laying there in bed? You know, with paper tigers around your head thinking, Oh, my God, what happens if this happens? And that happens?
Brian Will [21:52]
Yeah, maybe. But again, we’re back to balance, right? You got to balance everything you’re doing. And the reality is, not everybody is going to succeed in business. They’re just not. But if you can learn a few things and get your mind right and get people to help you, we go back to the mentor thing I say it again, you got all these paper tigers flying around, talk to the guy who’s been there and done that say this is my issue, what do I do? And he may come back and say, Hey, this is not a big deal, I promise. Or he may come back and say this is a big deal based on what I’ve done before. So this is why it’s so so so important to have someone help you.
David Ralph [22:23]
Now, of course, the issue with that is at the very beginning, you don’t build like a person is going to, you know, give you the time of day you know, you’re new you don’t know anything. I remember when I launched Join Up Dots many, many years ago, I had a guy on the show and he said to me at the beginning he said what’s your listenership? You know what what are we dealing with? I said, I haven’t got a single listener. I’ve never recorded a podcast episode. You’re the first one. But he’s still a turned up. And he he delivered like, you know, I was Howard Stern or something, you know. And it struck with me at that time that he was willing to do the work, when the work wasn’t guaranteed to bring anything back to him. Now, we have people reaching out, do they have to just do the same thing just turn up? Or do they actually have to provide something of work for these people so that they will actually you know, share their their wisdom with them?
Brian Will [23:21]
It depends, you know, I get people call me all the time I had literally was responding to an email before I came on from a woman, weirdly enough in Australia, who’s three quarters of the way through the book and was asking me if she should take Taff courses and what courses does she take, and I chatted with her for about 10 minutes and told her she needed to learn business finance, and then she needed to find a mastermind group or a mentor or coach and help her. I get people to do that with me all the time. Now, I’m not going to spend hours and hours and hours helping people unless they pay me that’s what I do. I’m a coach. But initially, people that are successful, I find a lot of time are willing to have a conversation with you. Right, give you some quick advice. And then if you need more, that’s when you have to start paying for it.
David Ralph [24:02]
Now I’ve got an offline business and it was a failing car spares business car parts business, and I took it over about three or four years ago. And and then we hit the pandemic, I took it over at the worst possible time that you could take over a business. And it’s been a struggle to say the least but but number one thing that I focused in on and it’s the one that I always say to people is cashflow. Be careful with your cash flow. You know know what you’ve got to spend out know the invoices and cash flows number one. Now, yes. I always say that that’s my number one business lesson. Cash Flow. That’s, that’s beyond Endor. If you haven’t got a viable business when you’re not in business, now, yes. Where would that sit within your lessons? Because once again, I’ve been through your book, and it was certainly a long way down. Well,
Brian Will [24:57]
I will tell you again, quick story here. My first Business, the landscaping company. We made a lot of mistakes, that business started growing pretty rapidly. I ended up with seven offices around the city. The problem was we were doing the majority of our business with one contractor. And we were doing installation and maintenance and all these apartment complexes. Well, I was a young kid from 21 to 27. And of course, I started making a little money I start spending it. Now I’ve got two houses and Mercedes and SUV, I’ve got a motorcycle, a sports car, and I was up to my eyeballs in debt with no cash. And I got fired from that big company. And when they fired me they withheld $150,000 worth of cash that they were supposed to pay me that month. And essentially, darn near put me in bankruptcy. I ended have ended up having to sell everything I had the houses, the cars, literally everything because I did not provide myself any safety from a cash position to be able to weather a storm. And after I sold everything and the business collapsed, all I had left was $5,000 from me, my wife and my young baby to go find someplace to live. So that lesson has stuck with me a long, long, long time. Right? And I say in the book, I would rather have 100,000 of debt and 100,000 cash than no debt and no cash. We just can’t go down to the grocery store. Fill up your cart and tell the lady look I don’t have any money but I don’t have any debt and I have my groceries. And I gotta get it
David Ralph [26:20]
was good when it bland to have your SUV and your Mercedes and all that kind of stuff as a young man. Yeah, I bet you. I bet you’ve
Brian Will [26:28]
shot. Yeah. And then when I was in my little beat up pickup truck in a little tiny house with my wife and my daughter. I wasn’t so sexy anymore. But I never made that mistake again. Cash is king. It’s important. You have to have cash to back yourself up.
David Ralph [26:42]
Yeah, I It blows me away. When I look at people and they go under, I think to myself, it hasn’t been that bad for you to go under what have you been doing leading up to this point? You know, it’s the classic story about the squirrel, but sort of is rushing around putting these nuts into the ground waiting for winter. And it’s a great metaphor for business, isn’t it, you know, you prepare for the dark times, not too dark. You know, it’s nice to have a takeout every now and again. But it’s gotta get the cash flow.
Brian Will [27:16]
You got to have backup because the storms will come and you need to be able to prepare for him. And I was not prepared in that first company. I lost everything.
David Ralph [27:24]
Now, once again, with Join Up Dots. The whole mantra of it is when you look back more often than not, or pretty much every time. But darkest times in your life are the ones that you go. You know, I can laugh about it now, you know, fantastic it happened. It wasn’t it was terrible at the time, but looking at it now it’s marvellous. And do you feel the same way with VAT when you lost all your money? Was it something that you can look at now. And when you’re sitting in a pub, we’d be a bar and we’d be mates go to them you had I tell you a good story. This is a good one. You’re gonna like this.
Brian Will [27:57]
I’m telling you. I hated landscaping everyday. I did it for 10 years. So there’s your first answer. So when it collapsed, and I felt my world was ending, and I had no money left, and I couldn’t afford the health insurance on my daughter who then had a heart condition, we had to have surgery and my whole world was falling around me. It actually led to my next business, which was the genesis for what we ended up doing and selling for $80,000,000.06 or seven years later, selling landscape. So you had
David Ralph [28:25]
to file you had to have the landscaping business to fail.
Brian Will [28:29]
So I can move into what I do now, which is more venture capital private equity, corporate America. You know, I do sales and management training, I trained sales forces, I would never have been able to do anything that I’m doing. I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. David, if I was still a landscaper,
David Ralph [28:42]
I do apologise, I do apologise, you should have kept that landscaping business go. And you would have been free. So why did you go into it if you hated it? What was bad about them?
Brian Will [28:55]
So I had I got of course I told you I failed out of high school. I joined the military. I ended up getting a graduate I graduated with a 1.2 GPA joining the military got out of the military couldn’t hold a job. I kept getting fired from jobs. We finally I was working for a landscaping company just mowing grass for $4 an hour. And remember after two weeks, I started adding up all the money that this guy that owned the truck was making and I’m making like 160 bucks and we’re doing $2,000 A week in sales and I’m thinking holy crap, this guy’s making 1500 bucks a week and I’m mowing all the grass. Anybody can mow grass. So I quit and I started a little business called Diamond lawn care and I took my brand new wife and we went out and started mowing grass. That’s how I got my first business going. And look, she and she’s my ex wife now that we get along great but she followed me on every single crazy thing I ever did every success every failure and there were a lot of failures, a lot of stress in those years but she did follow me on Every single one of them, but I did landscaping because I didn’t think there was anything else I could do. I had no education, no discernible job skills, I didn’t think anybody would hire me outside of being a labourer. So I basically started a landscaping business mowing grass.
David Ralph [30:13]
Now, this is something that sort of a, it comes into your business lesson too. And I’m going to read this because it’s a good business lesson here. And it’s be honest about your situation and your personal filter. If you do not have a success filter, you need to find someone who does and allow them to help you. The only thing standing between you and success is this situation is your ego, your ego will take you down a dark path if you let it. The truly unfortunate part here is that if you do not have a successful team, you will probably not make the right decisions to allow someone to help you. And your failure filter will continue to evolve, just like it has in the past. Now, I can only imagine that when you are pushing a mower around somebody’s lawn, and it’s like 90 degrees and you’re sweating bullets, you probably didn’t have the greatest success filter. I bet you were thinking, oh my god, where’s my life gone wrong? This is the worst thing I’ve ever done. Tell us about your mindset. If you can remember it at that time, were you pushing it along going? Well, I’m learning here. I know it’s a failure, but I’m learning or were you thinking, Oh my God, I don’t want anyone to see me who used to know me?
Brian Will [31:24]
No, not at all. Because anybody who knew me before, would would not be surprised and I was pushing them around. I was not the epitome of success when I was in my teens and early 20s. My mindset back then was I was just in a fight for my life. Right? I never had any help. Nobody ever gave me any money. I got kicked out of the house. As soon as I graduated, I had no place else to go, I didn’t have a choice. So I was in a fight for my life for 15 years. And unfortunately, when you’re in that fight, you’re not in the best mindset to take the proper advice from people, even if they want to give it to you. And I find people today that I tried to help. And it’s so frustrating because I can see them failing. I can see that. I always use the bridges out ahead. You’re driving 100 miles an hour and I’m calling you on your cell phone going, Hey, two miles up the bridges out, stop, turn around. No, no, I’m committed to my goal. I gotta go. I’m gonna go. I’m like, no, no, no, you don’t understand. If you keep going, you’re gonna go off the bridge and die. That’s that’s not true. I don’t believe you. I it just frustrates the heck out of me when people don’t listen, because their ego won’t allow them to because they have a failure filter. That’s just the way it is.
David Ralph [32:31]
Now it was a football player that played for Manchester United recently called Cristiano Ronaldo. And he came back to Manchester United after many, many years. And he kind of came back thinking, Well, I’m the world’s best player. I used to be the world’s best player, I can help the youngsters develop. And he was quite open with the fact that the youngsters didn’t want to develop they they thought they had all the answers already. And he was yeah, he was saying, when I was a kid, if I were the best, I wanted to know why they were the best. And I wanted to work harder than them. But now it wasn’t that case. Now. Do people know they’ve got an ego? Because it’s this is the interesting thing, because everybody thinks they’re good looking. Everybody thinks they’re you know, D Do you think that they actually know they’ve got an ego.
Brian Will [33:20]
Now, and that’s the problem. If they knew that they had an ego problem, you would hope that they would put it in check and let somebody help them or bring in the right people or trust their employees or trust the people that are here trying to give them good advice, but they don’t. And it’s the fact that they lack. It’s the failure filter that keeps that ego in place, and keeps them from being able to see it, get it in check and making changes. It’s fascinating to watch.
David Ralph [33:43]
Well, I love all this because it links links to your business lesson one, which I was waiting for later. But we we move perfectly to the right point. Be careful what you allow in your brain, it will affect everything in your life. Now, yes, that jumped out at me as a book. I don’t need to read anything else. I just need to open a book 365 blank pages that says VAT and I go well, that was value for money. You know, be careful what you allow in your brain, it will affect everything in your life. Expand and discuss please, Brian.
Brian Will [34:18]
Sure. So think about this when when a child is born, their parents start programming their brain, they start telling them about their beliefs and what they think and how they should act. And this trial starts forming the way that they that the way that they filter information. And then they go to school and elementary school and their elementary school teachers, by the way, start trying to affect the way they think by the way the elementary school teachers were affected by their parents and their college professors and their friends. And then your friends in school start peer pressuring you into thinking different ways which changes this filter. I should back up and say you have a subconscious filter that sits behind your brain that accepts or rejects information in real time and you don’t even know what’s happening right now. So I say, there are people listening to what I just said. And they’re saying, that’s not true. I am a conscious thinking person, there’s no filter, I make my own decisions. They’re rejecting everything I’m saying here. And there are other people that are gonna go, Oh my God, that’s so true, right? So we go back to this child, and they’re getting programmed by their friends and their peers and their teachers. And then they go to college and their college professors start putting information in their brain, which came, by the way from their college professors, their parents and their friends. But it’s an infinite number of people that are pushing information into this person’s brain. And at every step of the way, your brain is accepting or rejecting information based on your entire history. And now you’ve started a business. And you’ve never been successful at business, and therefore, your filter doesn’t know how to accept or reject information that’s going to help you. As I like to say, if you’re brand new in business, and you’ve never done it, you don’t know what you’re doing. And your filter is not capable of making the right decisions all the time. Again, at 20, some people are gonna get lucky. But for the most part, your filter isn’t where it needs to be. It’s not a success filter yet. And so this is where the ego comes into play. If your ego will not allow you to understand what I just said, then you’re not going to allow people to help you that can accelerate your growth and keep you from the pitfalls you’ve got to under you’ve got to check that ego. Understand that you don’t know how to make the right decisions in business because of your filter. And then help somebody help you succeed. Because every success will change your filter, your filter changes in real time. Every book you read, every show you watch, every person you listen to this podcast is changing people’s filters. And they will accept and reject information moving forward based on it
David Ralph [36:39]
sometimes is not the right I’ve read books in the past, that I have thought, That’s rubbish. It’s just mumbo jumbo. And then five years later, I picked up the same book, I thought it was genius. It just seemed to be right for me at that time where I didn’t have the knowledge as opposed to understand what I’m reading a book at the moment. And my daughter said, haven’t you read that before? I said, I’ve read it about four times, it now makes sense to me, you know,
Brian Will [37:06]
because your filters changing in real time. And now it’s willing to accept the information that you’re reading, it wasn’t willing to accept it back then.
David Ralph [37:12]
Yeah. But is it willing to accept? Or is it that you’ve, with the passing of time, you’ve got more experience that kind of joins up the dots and gives the backstory. So when you’re reading the words, they’re not just words, you actually have lived them to a point. So they might have more success to you.
Brian Will [37:29]
That’s the point of the filter, your experience changes your filter. And so,
David Ralph [37:34]
so with Join Up Dots, we always say, but dots will join up. Every experience you have in life is just training you to that moment when you make a decision, and you make that action. And then you kind of thing Oh, my god, yeah, I’ve got all these skills. Now, you’ve got to get other skills, you know, you might be brilliant. One thing you don’t know about marketing, you don’t know about sales, you don’t know about, you know, web design, and all that kind of stuff. But the actual premise of everything you’ve done in life gets you to a point where if you’re careful, and you’re looking around, you’re at the right point at the right time.
Brian Will [38:09]
This is again, I love this book, Outliers, right? One of the points of outliers is that Bill Gates is not Bill Gates, because he’s the only person on earth that could have ever developed, you know, that code basic, whatever it’s called, Bill Gates was in the right place at the right time with the right parent who worked at the right university with the right computers and the right downtime. And because of that, he became Bill Gates, if he’d been born 10 years later, 10 years earlier, Bill Gates wouldn’t be Bill Gates, somebody else would be, right. So the dots all connected for him because a lot of things fell into place. And so that’s kind of that’s kind of what you’re talking about.
David Ralph [38:42]
I remember reading the book, I’ve got it on my bookshelf in front of me somewhere along the line. And the one that I think I it was in that book, was it about the hockey players in Canada was was that in fact book where they realised that you had to be bone in a certain month of the year, because then you would be slightly ahead of the next group coming through, which meant that you were bigger and more developed. And when they kept going back. It was literally if you were born in February, you got a good chance of being a professional hockey blow viewer born in October, forget about it.
Brian Will [39:18]
You’re exactly right. Statistics. Yep. Now, like most books,
David Ralph [39:23]
let’s take you back. Let’s take you back. So you’re the client, and you’re pushing that lawnmower around. And you’re going. I’ve had enough of this. I’ve had enough of this. Now, when I was doing that introduction, and we were talking about the online health insurance website, which is now today one of the largest online Medicare insurance platforms in the US. Is there any part of you that kind of thinks I should have kept that? You know, it’s huge. It’s huge. I know we did well on it, but it’s huge is only part of you that kind of wished that you kept them and nurtured them.
Brian Will [39:57]
You know, it’s an interesting question. because one of the things I didn’t say in that that bio there is there was another company, I started with a venture capital guy out of New York. And we started this little business and 25% of it. And somewhere along the way, he decided he wanted to raise venture capital for that company. And so he did. And they flew me in and they said, You need to quit your other business that you’re doing and come work for us full time as our head of sales. And at the time, I said, No, I’m not interested in doing that. Six years later, they sold that company to Towers Watson for $435 million. So, sometimes you have to look back and go, Okay, that wasn’t the best decision, I could have done well on that one. But then I always tell people, David, your journey is your journey, right? I’m on my journey, you’re on your journey. And I hate to look back and say I should have done this or should have done that, because I don’t know where I’d be if I had done that. And I don’t know what my life would be like. So I’m pretty happy with where I am.
David Ralph [40:53]
But we’re gonna look back now, because this is the master of looking back, Steve Jobs.
Unknown Speaker [40:58]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [41:34]
So we’re going to get you to look back and join up your dots. And would you say that your dots have joined up? That’d be the first question, boy.
Brian Will [41:41]
Without a doubt, without a doubt, I said this earlier, I’ll give you an easy one. So when my landscaping company collapsed, we found out that my daughter had atrial septal defect, which was a hole in her heart, she had to have open heart surgery. Well, when my landscaping company had collapsed, I started selling insurance, health insurance. And I went on an appointment to meet this woman down in Atlanta, and she was too old and I couldn’t sell her a policy. But I sat there and talked to her for a little while. And I was telling her about my daughter’s situation. And she says, Well, do you know Dr. Burke and Miami Children’s Hospital and I said, I’ve never heard of him. And she said, we need to call him and I said, okay, and I left. Now mind you, they were going to cut my daughter open from her throat all the way down to her belly button, crack her ribcage, open her up and do the surgery. Can you imagine what kind of an impact that has on a girl, particularly when she’s a teenager? That’s a giant scar. I called Dr. Burks office and they said, Yeah, we do arthroscopic surgery, I invented it pioneered it, I teach it, I’ve done it 300 times, it’ll be one small incision. And we can fix that. And so we flew down the Miami Children’s Hospital, she had the surgery, no open heart, none of the horrid things that could have happened to her as a child. Now, if I just stayed in landscaping, I didn’t ever met that woman and my daughter today would have a giant scar all the way down the front of her body. But she doesn’t, because my landscaping company collapsed. I got on the insurance business. And I met a woman I couldn’t even help. But she referred me to one person, which changed my daughter’s life. These are the dots and you don’t see them at the time. But when you look back, I can tell you every single negative thing that’s happened in my life led to something better. It’s amazing.
David Ralph [43:15]
I always think that, except for a drunk Spanish girl. That’s the only one that I look back on. And I think to myself, I can’t connect that one in anything positive at all.
Brian Will [43:27]
So let me ask you a question, David, because this is one of my favourite questions. If in fact, everything that’s negative has turned into something positive. Is that because it’s true that when one door closes, another opens? Or is it because you as an individual recognise, seek out and take advantage of the next door that opens? Well, some people do not. They just become miserable and wallow around and they let their lives fall apart.
David Ralph [43:51]
I just think there’s a yin and yang, you know, there’s for every bad thing is a good thing. And it is mindset. And it is the way you look at it like I was referencing, there was a time that everything I touched turned to gold, and then everything I touch turn to crap. And that was purely down to mindset. At the moment, my glasses overflowing isn’t even half full. And life is easy. And life is just flowing my way, you know. And I think it really comes down to that statement that we said earlier. Be careful what you allow in your brain, it will affect everything in your life. And if you allow positivity in your brain, you’re up and running. And if you allow negativity and that victim mentality. And it took me a good few years to break out of that I couldn’t understand why everything was going wrong. But I can now and it was purely down to myself, boy.
Brian Will [44:43]
This is something that young entrepreneurs need to understand to people when you start a business will probably not really support you. So you need to understand that going into it. Now if you understand that, then you can overcome it.
David Ralph [44:54]
Absolutely. So then let’s look at what we’re supporting people out there. Okay, you and me, Brian. You’re gonna hold him And, and in the intro, I said, you know, what would be your five biggest lessons that you’ve learned that would get everyone up and running with their own business? So what what would you hit five quick homeruns for the people out there that they can scribble down and think, right? Okay, I’m going to use these.
Brian Will [45:17]
I tell you what I just wrote this article for Forbes magazine, I just pulled it up, so I can rip them off for you. Number one, if you’re new in business, you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t have a successful you’re in business, and you need to find somebody that can help you. And you need to understand that there will be failures along the way. But those failures, if you learn from them will lead to success. That’s number one. Number two, success in business is more of a mindset than a skill set. As I like to say, most businesses don’t fail because the owner didn’t know how to do the job, right. If I’m a plumber, and I started a plumbing business, my business will fail, because I don’t know how to do plumbing, it’ll fail, because I don’t understand the business behind the plumbing business. So it’s the soft skill sets. Not there’s a soft mindset, it’s not the skill sets. Three, you need a mentor or a coach every single time. Don’t Don’t, don’t think you can do this on your own. And I use this I use this example. Tim Cook runs the largest company in the world Apple Computer. He has a board of directors, I’ve I think 12 people that come in and help him make decisions every quarter. Tim Cook is a really smart guy. If Tim Cook needs people to help him make decisions, what in the world makes you think you don’t? Okay, you need to get somebody to help. Number four, is failures are going to happen. Okay, over and over and over, learn from them. And then never do that again, and keep right on going. And the last one is know your numbers, much like this woman today that said, Well, what do I do if I’m going to take a course to help me in my new business, and I said, Take a business finance course, even if you’re not going to do the finances, you need to understand how they work. So that nobody pulls a wool over your eyes, and you understand how everything’s happening inside your business. So know your numbers. So those are my big five.
David Ralph [46:58]
Well, let’s see if any of those big five filter down to the young Brian, because this is the part of the show that we’ve been building up to. But every guest journeys back in time to have a one on one with the younger self. And if you could go into a room and speak to the young Brian, what age would you speak to him? What advice would you just love to give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme. And when it fades is your time to talk. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [47:29]
Here we go with the best bit of the show the Sermon on the mind the sermon on
Brian Will [47:48]
let me tell you something, if I could go back to every one of those failures in my younger life, and speak to me back then I would say Look, listen to me. This is not the end, this failure seems like it’s catastrophic today. But trust me, when I tell you, it’s going to be okay. Something better is coming your way. In fact, you might as well consider the fact that you have a lottery ticket in your pocket right now. That lottery ticket is going to be worth millions and millions and millions of dollars, but you just need to keep pushing, don’t get overwhelmed, and it’s going to be okay. And the last one is you need to spend more time with your family because I literally was the guy working dark to dark seven days a week and didn’t spend the necessary time with my family. And it caused a divorce. And that’s one of my big failures in life. So spend more time with your family. Remember, it’s going to be okay, cuz I’m ahead of you. I can already tell you what’s going to happen, but I’m not going to just keep going. Yeah,
David Ralph [48:41]
great advice. As long as you like your family and obviously if if you if you can’t bear them, then work as much as you want you know that that’s what you’re gonna do. So Brian, what is the number one best way that our audience can connect with you, sir?
Brian Will [48:55]
Sure, go to my website, which is www dot Brian will media.com br IA N wi ll ne dia, Brian will media.com
David Ralph [49:04]
Rolando, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you’ve got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots and connecting our past is always the best way to build our futures. Mr. Brian Weil, thank you so much.
Brian Will [49:21]
Thanks, David. Appreciate you having me.
David Ralph [49:24]
Mr. Brian will so yeah, be careful what you allow in your brain positive, positive, positive and and look at your filter or use or programme for failure or success. You almost expect failure to occur. The rich get richer and the poor get poor is true. And it’s a product of having either a success or a failure filter. If you know that money is going to come your way back when you make the right decisions and you you’re more eager to take risks and move forward. You can go out and do it my friends and for anyone who wants more of Brian As he says, go over to Brian will media.com and there’s podcasts. There’s information, YouTube channel. There’s a lot of stuff on there. Until next time, thank you so much for everyone who’s listening to Join Up Dots. And, of course, I’ll see you again. Cheers. See ya. Bye bye.
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