By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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We were thrilled this last time, in an episode called, Is Failure Your Friend? How One CEO Uses Failure as an Asset and Opportunity
Matt Heinz: Thanks for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. If you’re joining us live on the Funnel Media Radio Network, thanks so much for joining us in the middle of your workday. If you’re listening to the podcast, thank you for subscribing. I’m thrilled to see our numbers continue to jump up and I’m very excited to have you join us and you can catch every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, past, present, at future at salespipelineradio.com. We are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing and today’s no different.
Today we’ve got a very special guest. I’m really very excited to have with us `Brian Scudamore. He’s the founder and CEO of O2E Brands, which may not sound like a name that you know but I guarantee you know some of his businesses. It’s the banner company for 1-800-got-junk, Wow 1 Day Painting, You Move Me, Shack Shine, and a number of businesses that you know and may have used. So Brian, thanks so much for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Brian Scudamore: Yeah, thank you for having me Matt. Happy to be here.
Matt Heinz: So excited to have you here. I want to talk about the new book in a little bit, but talk to me a little bit about sort of how your entrepreneurial journey got started. Was this something that you were doing since you were a kid? Is this something that you, do you find yourself kind of more on the accidental entrepreneur side from way back when or how did that start and get rolling for you?
Brian Scudamore: Well, they say these overnight success stories sure take a long time and they’re right. It’s been almost 30 years. It’ll be 30 years this March. I started 1-800-got-junk as an idea, a way to pay for college. I actually didn’t finish high school. I was one course short of graduation. All my friends were going to college and I, talked my way in the university and there I was. McDonald’s drive thru beat up old pickup truck in front of me. Plywood side panels built up on the box. The truck was filled with junk and I looked at the truck and went, “Ah, there’s my ticket. That’s my way to pay for college. I took my life savings of a thousand dollars put $700 into a beat up old pickup truck of my own. And within a week had a business called the Rubbish Boys. It was really just me, but a vision for something bigger and off I went, starting to collect junk and the rest is history.
Matt Heinz: I love it. Now here’s a good segue for you, Paul. It’s like that story. I think people may listen to that and say “You’re nuts,” but I mean, that’s, that sounds like the story of a lot of entrepreneurs and if you listen to how I built this and other stories, across the web and across good content. The stories often start that way and I think that does relate to the book you just published called WTF, which for you stands for Willing to Fail, How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success. And it’s available now on Amazon and I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I’m looking at Amazon right now and I see a print list price of $20, but right now if you go to the kindle version, it’s a dollar right now. So there’s no reason not to read this book.
So talk about that sort of willingness to fail. I mean, you know, you’re starting with just yourself. Maybe that sounds a little easier, but that’s not a regular job with a paycheck and benefits and a safety net. What mentality does it take to go after something like that?
Brian Scudamore: Yeah, I think as entrepreneurs we are willing to fail. We’re willing to take risks and see what happens. And so my initial idea of starting a business to pay for college, there wasn’t a vision any bigger than that, but what started to unfold over time was I realized that wow, nobody’s professionalized the junk removal business. It was all beat up old pickup trucks with plywood side panels. What I envisioned was professionally branded uniformed friendly drivers and truck team members, which I envisioned creating the FedEx of junk removal. And I think as entrepreneurs you take risks, but you’ve got to be willing to pivot every step of the way and change as your customers need you to change or as the environment changes when you see new opportunities. So yeah, a lot of people would’ve thought I was crazy dropping out of high school, again, dropping out of college because I was making lots of money and having fun being an entrepreneur.
It is a bit of a road less traveled and it’s a scary one, but part of the reason why I loved that we’ve created a franchise model. It’s taking people who have an entrepreneurial spirit but might not know where to start. They’ve never created a business and they want to partner with someone. We help our franchise partners launch Shack Shine, Wow One Day Painting, whatever the brand. They can take a business and have a partner alongside them to help them with here’s the prescribed recipe, here’s the coaching, the support we’ve been there, we’ve done it. And helping people be successful is what really drives me.
Matt Heinz: Well, it’s great to hear that and I would agree with you on the franchise sort of concept. I think a lot of people had been very successful at using that sort of as a stepping stone to being an entrepreneur themselves, but to go out and just really to start and run a business with a framework and a blueprint that is proven in other markets and other areas. How and when did you decide, so once you’ve got 1-800-got-junk up and rolling, how did you decide to start to expand into some of these other home services that you’ve got now?
Brian Scudamore: It was really a little by accident. Twenty two years into the business with 1-800-dot-junk we had sold out in every market across Canada, the United States and Australia, and I said, “Well, what’s next?” And so we came up with this concept of, “Okay, let’s keep my eyes peeled. Let’s, let’s find the next brand.” And I was looking and looking and by accident I had somebody come in and paint my home. I got three estimates and the first two people, they smelled the cigarette smoke, they came very late. I felt that they were going to move into my house and take a couple of weeks to paint the house, but the third person came in friendly, uniformed. He had this van outside that was immaculate and he gave me a different level of confidence and he said, “When we agree on painting day, I will have your house painted by the end of that day.”
And I thought, “How’s that even possible?” And sure enough, I come home, 6:30 PM, floor to ceilings moldings, trims. It was immaculate. They did an incredible job. I was so wowed that I bought the company and rebranded the business as Wow One Day Painting. And so we got in by accident, because I saw an opportunity to create the second industry that we could revolutionize. The very ordinary business of junk removal we made exceptional through customer experience, why couldn’t we do the same thing with painting? And our parent company O2E Brands stands for just that ordinary to exceptional taking ordinary people who have never been an entrepreneur and helping them be exceptional through systems and support, but also taking ordinary services like painting, moving, junk removal, and making them exceptional through branding and through exceptional customer experience.
Matt Heinz: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Brian Scudamore, the CEO of O2E Brands and a founder of companies that you will recognize and may have used 1-800-got-junk and others. And I love the title of this book that you just published, WTF, which stands for, in your case, willing to fail and it’s quickly become one of my favorite books in a genre of books that I think it represents. Entrepreneurs getting real about the entrepreneurial journey. My other favorites is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. And what I love about that book is it ends before he even goes public and the most of the book is about the struggle. It’s about the adversity. It’s about the times you almost ran out of money. And so I think oftentimes we see entrepreneurs and when you hear them during the highlights, when they go public, when they sell the company. We don’t hear the low lights from them, let alone from the companies that never got there. Talk a little bit about that, not just the willingness to fail, but just the adversity it takes to actually run a business that gets even close to where yours has gotten.
Brian Scudamore: Yeah, so I think that it isn’t just about being willing to fail as you said. It’s you will actually fail and how can you endure and be okay with that failure. I think what’s really important is you will make mistakes. And one of the biggest mistakes I made became the biggest lessons learned and certainly got me to a place in my business where I was so excited about the future because of a massive mishap.
So in 1994, five years into the business, I had 11 employees. And what do they say? One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Well, I had probably nine bad apples. I didn’t know what else to do, but to get rid of everybody and start again. So I fired my entire company of 11. I did it all at once, brought them all in for a morning meeting and I said, listen as your leader, I’ve let you down. I haven’t either found the right people or treated you right, given you the love and support you’ve needed to grow and we gotta part ways. I’m going to rebuild.
But I learned that day going from five trucks down to one canceling jobs with customers and going through the pain of rebuilding the business that a brand, a company is all about people. That’s all you’ve really got no matter what you sell or what you do. And so my opportunity was rebuilding from that failure where I was going to find the right people, people that I could consider friends, people that fit the culture, people that had the same passion that we shared for building and growing great brands. And the rest is history, as they say, because you know, we really got a business that turned around from while we were succeeding and getting revenue, it wasn’t the happy business that I felt proud of with the right people. And today I look around and it’s nothing but smiles.
Matt Heinz: That’s great. That’s great. I want to talk a little more but before we go to take a break here about getting the right people. And you mentioned finding people that have passion, people that have the right culture. I have to assume based on your background, that you’re not only hiring the MBAs from the Ivy League schools. So what are some of the criteria that you find most valuable and most important in evaluating people that are interested in joining the business?
Brian Scudamore: Yeah, hiring happy people. That’s, that’s our secret sauce. I want people that smile. I want people that are optimists. I want people to see the world with the possibility that is in front of them. And so when we’re out there hiring, I always, you know I get this question all the time. How do you find such great people? I ask people, I turn it over to them and I get them to think, how do you find such great friends? You know, we all love our friends, we’ve got great friends and sure sometimes they can drive you nuts and vice versa, but it’s one of those things where you don’t walk around with a checklist and start interviewing people that you want to be friends with. You just trust your gut. You ask them questions and engage and listen, and somehow a friendship evolves.
I think in this world of business, especially as North Americans, I think we compromise all too often, we compromise on the people we bring into our business family. We don’t trust our gut. We tell ourselves that this person’s good enough. It’s too hard to find people. It’s taking too long. I just need a body. You can’t compromise. You’ve got to bring in people that fit the culture, the attitude mentality of your business. So for us it’s hire an APP on attitude, train on skill. If we’re looking for a chief financial officer, clearly we need someone with credentials, but we are looking at skill as a secondary thing. We are hiring based on attitude and really screening for cultural fit more than anything.
Matt Heinz: Love it, but we are going to have to take a quick break here. Pay Some bills. I feel like we could go on for a long time with our guest today, Brian Scudamore. He is the founder and CEO of O2E Brands including 1-800-got-junk. He’s the author of the great new book, WTF Willingness to Fail, How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success. We’ll be back talking more about sales success, entrepreneurship, and more Sales Pipeline Radio.
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But don’t go listen right now because we’ve got a lot more with Matt and his guest.
Matt Heinz: We do. We do Paul and definitely make sure we join us for a future episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We’ve got some great guests coming up next week. In fact, we have David Nilssen, he is the founder and president of Guidant Financial based in Seattle and we’re going to be talking about the sales and marketing engine that has built. They have taken, from what I can tell, they’ve taken the model originally prescripted by Predictable Revenue and Aaron Ross 15 years ago and have upgraded and updated that internally and he’s going to share some of their secrets to building their sales and marketing engine. And Brian, as you may know, David Nilssen is also a member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization. And also known as an EO and just based on this conversation about people and passion, probable an EO membership is something that we both have in common. And talk a little bit about how important finding a peer group like EO has been in your growth as a leader and your growth as a happy human being as well.
Brian Scudamore: Yeah. Well, I think, you know, our philosophy, at O2E Brands, all of our brands we talk about building something bigger and better together. Something bigger than we would have ever chosen to go at alone. And I think that it’s nice to have company. It’s nice to be building something and sharing the pride with others. And so I had a lonely business, a startup in the beginning, the first five years and then firing my 11 employees. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was a high school dropout, a college dropout so I really needed to learn from someone and I really believe in taking the path of mentorship, finding some help and some support. And so I joined EO.
It was called the Young Entrepreneur Organization when I joined. And then as we all got older, they dropped the Y and so now it’s EO. But EO is a fantastic place to learn from. I think 10,000 plus members worldwide where any problem you ever have in business or even in life, chances are someone else in the organization has experienced it, made it through, solved it, and so why not turn to others and ask questions and say, “Hey, this is the situation I’m in. What can you do to help? What can I learn from you?” And I think one of the beauties of entrepreneurship is while we’re very competitive people and we’re in different industries, we’re happy to help people who are also going through the same struggles that we might go through.
Matt Heinz: Absolutely. Yeah. I was not seeking, but I found EO about five years ago now and it’s been one of the most important things I’ve done in my entrepreneurial journey. And I think one of the things that’s really taught me that I’d love to get your feedback on is to be comfortable with my definition of success. And I think this isn’t just related to entrepreneurs, it’s anyone in various stages of their career to not just look at success as how much money am I making, how big is my title, but to really think about what it means to be successful to me. To be satisfied in their job and their business and their life. Talk a little bit about your journey to figure out what success means for you and how you define that for yourself today.
Brian Scudamore: Yeah. When I joined the EO, while it was a great blessing for me and a support network for me, it also became a challenge because what I did in the first years, I started comparing myself to others, which I don’t recommend others do. It’s a dangerous thing. But I started looking around with my little million dollar business that I had at the time I was surrounded by EO members who had $10,000,000 businesses or $100,000,000 companies and I thought, “Why can’t I do that? Why aren’t I doing that? How come things aren’t growing quickly enough?” So I got critical of myself and really retreated as they teach you in EO when you’re trying to solve the problem, go find the creative space somewhere to retreat and think. And I pulled out a sheet of paper, one page, double sided. I started to write and I brain dumped from my head what I ended up calling the painted picture, what the future could look like if only I could imagine pure possibility.
And I said we’d be in the top 30 Metros in North America because there were 30 cities bigger than Vancouver where we started. I said we’d be the FedEx of junk removal. And I said we’d be on the Oprah Winfrey show. So all these big things that I saw in my head, I put down onto writing on paper and made them happen. And what was interesting is this whole self doubt in this journey of I don’t know if I can do this, I started to see it in this picture and I started to believe my own vision and rallied people around me that wanted to join me in building my cause.
Matt Heinz: And you’ve been on Oprah. You’ve been on Dr Phil, you’ve been on Good Morning America, you’ve been on The Today Show. Just an impressive set of accolades and press you’ve been able to generate. And you know, being able to now kind of not only continue to grow the business but give back in the form of this book and in the form of some of the other work that you’re doing, have you had a chance in addition to the book and sit down and talk to some of the next stage of entrepreneurs? I know you spent a little time sort of at MIT fairly recently as well, but talk about what other lessons, especially for the early stage people that may or may not be on an entrepreneur journey but certainly are on their own path and facing an uncertain future. What advice do you have for them?
Brian Scudamore: Yeah, so I think my book WTF was really a way to inspire others. It’s the reason I wrote it and I didn’t really realize what I was getting into, but hundreds of emails later after writing the book, people have been inspired. And it’s interesting because people see it not just as an entrepreneurial story, it’s really a life lesson story and some things I’ve learned on in terms of attitude or having a vision. Creating a painted picture and a vision isn’t just for entrepreneurs. It’s for any leader in life, whether you’re leading a sports team, whether you’re leading a movement, it doesn’t matter. Having a vision of where you’re going, not necessarily how you’re going to get there, but what that future looks like is what keeps people going. It’s what keeps people focused and has other people join them in that building.
So for me, writing the book to inspire has inspired a lot of people and I feel like it’s a great giveback. People reach out all the time asking questions about how do I franchise? Am I ready to franchise? There’s the challenge in my business that you faced, can you help me through it? And I love nothing more than taking phone calls where I can coach people through and share some brief lessons of things I’ve learned along the way on a journey of a road less traveled.
Matt Heinz: I love it. Well, we just got a few more minutes here with Brian Scudamore who is the founder of 1-800-got-junk and he’s the CEO of O2E Brands. Definitely get his book. It’s called WTF Willing to Fail, How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success. It’s on Amazon and as, at least as of today, go to Amazon, you get the Kindle version for a buck and that is, that is a steal. So take advantage of that if you can. I want to ask you a question. I’m very curious to hear sort of your relationship with Roy Williams. I read his book, the Wizard of Ads, Turning Words Into Magic and Dreamers Into Millionaires several years ago and it was one of the best books on advertising I’ve read. And I know multiple people that have been inspired by that in a lot of their content and copy as well. How did you discover Roy and talk a little about how that has influenced sort of your business and your marketing.
Brian Scudamore: Yeah. So Roy has written more radio ads than I think anybody on the planet. He became our partner in our radio creative. We had been introduced to him by a fellow named Sean Jones, who had a company, Spence Diamonds, and he said, “Ah, you wanna meet the best in the world in terms of radio, call Roy up.” And I called Roy and Roy said, “Yeah, I’m not taking on new clients. We’re too busy. If you want to chat you got to come to Austin. Come to our Wizard Academy and sit down.” I think it was $7,500 just to have a meeting with him and he might not choose to work with us.
And so we went down and met The Wizard and sure enough developed a connection, a great friendship and he has been an incredible mentor, partner, all sorts of things in our business and coauthored the book. He writes all our radio creative and he inspires us each and every day with our marketing. Lucky that I got to work with him and even more lucky that I get to call him a friend.
Matt Heinz: Paul. I’m going on a buying spree. I just found all these great books that are super cheap for my flight home tonight. Hey, real quick, before we have to wrap up, Brian, definitely encourage people to get a copy of the book. Who are some other people that have inspired you in your path, authors, speakers, or other, it can be alive or dead. But who were some other folks in addition to Roy Williams content you recommend other people check out?
Brian Scudamore: Yeah. You know, I love people that share a passion for growth, who share a passion for building things the right way. So I love Tony Hsieh, who is a friend who built Zappos and massive companies did incredibly well. I love his drive to build a happy place and to really build more happiness in the world. Another friend who was just an author to me at one point, but I reached out to him and we’ve gotten to know each other over the years is Michael Gerber, his book, the classic, The E Myth Revisited an amazing book. How to systematize Your business, how to really scale it the right way. So a super inspired by Michael and his life’s work. To be honest, I’m inspired less about the big names that anyone could mention and more just inspired by regular human beings.
I love when I meet someone, I did a trip to Kenya last year with a bunch of people from work and just the time that we spent in the community talking to the Masai Warriors and talking to the Mamas and hearing everyone’s personal story. I think whether someone’s in Kenya or someone’s in Canada, it doesn’t matter when someone sits down one on one and takes the time to uncover someone’s life’s work, their purpose, the meaning behind their life, and the stories that they can tell. That’s what I admire and that’s what I find fascinating.
Matt Heinz: I love it. Well, we’re out of time, unfortunately, but this has been a great, great conversation. Really appreciate your time today, Brian Scudamore, he’s the founder and CEO of O2E Brands, which includes 1-800-got-junk and a number of other businesses that you’d recognize and the author of the new book, WTF, Willing to Fail, How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success. Join us next week. We’ve got great new content. We’re going to have David Nilssen. He is the founder of Guidant Financial and we’re going to talk about his secrets to building an inside sales based sales and marketing engine. Lots of good stuff coming up for my great producer Paul for today. Thank you for joining us. This is Matt Heinz. You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio.