Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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spend as much time on understanding the marketing and sales of your business early on right because you know marketing can generate the demand right but you also have to be able to close the business that comes through the door right and that can be investors that can be customers it can be employees whatever it is you're selling as a founder you are selling um your ideas your solutions your vision and the reason why it's important to really get good at that is just something that you have to do is you got to get comfortable being uncomfortable and sales is usually uncomfortable for a lot of people so that's that's one part [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur has grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and are always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast uh gary oh is that right gario gario ario i was close gario uh harrison and uh gario uh originally grew up in jamaica and had uh parents uh that were both that were small business owners um i think it was something to do with the private school but he can correct me if i if i'm mistaken um gaario got a degree in uh graphic design and business and then first that job out of high school which is ernst young had found that he had a passion for uh on the doing a business on the side uh worked with a marketing team to focus on generating some revenue then it ended up developing a system and a franchise for marketing and sales and so but that much is introduction welcome on the podcast dario thanks for having me devon i'm looking forward to our conversation absolutely so i gave kind of a hopefully mostly accurate but quick run through of your uh your journey but now why do you take us back a little bit in time to uh kind of growing up in jamaica having parents that did small businesses and how your journey got started there yeah um so you know it was it was interesting you know being growing up in the back in the the 1980s you know you rarely saw female entrepreneurs right and the the entrepreneur in my family um was actually my mom so you know it was a little bit of a reversal um a role reversal of the time but she she was she had a vision um she saw that the education system in jamaica um could be improved she had a vision for what that could look like she wanted me as you know her only child to be to have a different type of education and by extension more opportunities in the future so as with all good entrepreneurs she decided to make it so so she literally started a prep school um to solve a problem that she saw um and had a vision for a brighter future for education in jamaica and that's that's what she did um you know on the on the flip side of that uh again you know usually the the you know the the the dad is the one that's going out and and doing the um doing the work and the mother is at home taking care of the family um both my parents were driven were driven folks my dad was a um he ran telecommunications for the police force in jamaica so worked just as hard right so you know what was cool about our family was you know collectively as a family unit we you know i saw my parents work collaboratively you know my dad was one with a steady paycheck my mom was the one you know being an entrepreneur and and and you know will willing willing something into existence that she felt needed to exist and seeing my my my dad be that rock for her and us as a family you know to make sure that um you know we were able to have the bandwidth to or or you know resources to do to see it through to what division was right that was pretty pretty cool and an example that i um really learned a lot from you know both a being a working father um you know with entrepreneurial roots but also um just making sure that you're still present and teaching the lessons um around you know just being a good human being and integrity and you know all these stuff that you would expect right so it was kind of it was kind of exciting to see that you know it is possible to have an entrepreneurial family that is also truly a family um and that was pretty cool to see um growing up and my dad is the reason why i even got into computers because he saw that as you know going to be a huge deal in the future so on top of teaching me you know just how to be a good person in general um and to be a leader in you know within how to lead with integrity and you know be intentional with with how we treat those around us he also pushed me you know pretty hard into technology and that's what we do today so now so you kind of grow up and i think that's a great great environment to grow up with you got the hard-working parents that are supporting each other they're you know they're they're helping each other in different aspects you get to see the you know the steady income the you know the entrepreneur spirit doing startups and doing that so you kind of grow up with all that as a backdrop and then you go off to school and you get you get your degrees and so you're now coming kind of out of school you got you know i think you said it's graphic design and business right yep so now you come out of school with graphic design and business and i and then you go into ernst young and so kind of what was your experience initially starting out doing ernst young and kind of how did you continue to find your passion you know you talked a little bit about doing a side business but you know initially doing hurts young so what kind of push you to do the side business and find your passion how did that all play out yeah so coming out of coming out of school you know obviously um you know you get a degree you decided this is the path that you want to go down so i decided that the the thing that i wanted to pursue was design and creativity and essentially art right um and merging it somehow with technology like i mentioned you know my dad really pushed me to get excited about um you know the possibility of the internet and technology as a whole um my point of reference at that point going into school for graphic design was video games right i played a lot of video games when i was growing up and i thought that's what i wanted to do um in college though i realized that um you know there's so much more that you know the the internet is making possible this is when social networks were just starting to come online um and that's why you know they end up you know minoring in business say hey you know there's probably a business somewhere in here so let's make sure that we kind of have the tools for that as well and not just graphic design fast forward to graduating college i realize man i am not an artist i i don't have a um a it's too subjective for me right like there's there isn't there aren't clear definitions of done they they're people that are way more talented than i was you know in creating visually appealing things right however i did realize learn pretty quickly that there was an opportunity before and after you get into the um into the creative side of things when you get to to to to do to make pretty things right um so coming out of graduating college i had the graphic design degree another business degree and try to figure out okay well what does that first path look like and my math tutor actually um from college he was also my r.a uh worked at ernst union so he had a computer science major he was also a really good friend of mine and he got me my foot in the door um at ernst young in the graphic design department and i quickly realized i cared more about the financial statements of the companies that we were designing for then i did the look and feel of the of the report itself right so from there i was like hey there's got to be something else i'm going to have to pivot fortunately i was able to figure that out sooner rather than later and you know while i was you know doing making sure that i was delivering what i was hired to do you know was also um you know on the side you know figuring out you know where is there a need for some of the skills and and passions that i i found myself um really gravitating towards and you know i don't know i should talk about this but yeah i will um you know back when i was in college um you know being in right now there's a lot about like you know sharing online and people sharing photos and you know um sharing their lives online we were doing that um uh at college we had a we had a mini website me and my roommates had a website we called the basement which was basically life around school behind the scenes essentially early blogging and you merged that with you know the fact that i was from jamaica a lot of my friends were still you know overseas i have family in europe facebook became the thing that we used to stay connected um so so i saw that there was this you're able to move people with stories and so on right you got that from the basement um d a basement um.net uh i think it's still available on the way back machine and the fact that technology is a way that we can connect with each other this is when social networks nobody knew what social network was it was just a thing that kids were kids were playing with um so you know you merged those two together um and i started doing um the the data or the nerdy side of the social web versus the influencer content side of things and that became you know its own side hustle which is what eventually became its own company um so now this is you know started out while you're in college and then you're off and i assume you continue on with ernst young so was it you know as this was kind of a side project passion project it was kind of continuing the ball was it at some point were you excited wanting to or planning on turning the side hustle into a full-time gig and that was kind of always the plan or was it hey this will just be kind of fun and we'll let us see where it goes or kind of what was the trajectory of the plan is you got the kind of the full-time job because that's a lot of times where you get different entrepreneurs and different people doing things as they're saying oh i've got this full-time gig and i've got this kind of side hustle or something fun on the side or a passion project and some people think oh i just want you for fun i don't want to have to i don't want it to become a job and other people say no this is where i want to be when i can get it to the point it is so kind of where did that lie for you great great question so there's this this two-part answer so my mom was always pushing me to um to lead with the end in mind so you know what do you what do you want to be true um when you are when it's all said and done right so you know for her that was um you know she wanted to to leave a legacy of um you know providing opportunities for as many students as possible that was her end goal um so i kept trying to figure out what my mind was um and my dad was always pushing me to even if you don't know what the very next step is going to be get essentially gather the information that you need and the education the information the connections the relationships the ideas to give you the options when that time comes right so with that in mind i really double down on understanding business understanding you know where the internet was headed um really paid attention to um social networks the underlining a theory behind them but also what people were doing with them today and what people would probably end up doing with them in the future as well as just advertising in general as it relates to business right so you know if you're going to do something creative how do you turn that creativity into something that produces revenue so now now correct me if i'm wrong you know with that kind of as a back frame is the side hustle still applied hustle and extern still in earnest and young or could turn that now into a full-time endeavor and kind of so where is it you know kind of bringing us a bit up into the future where are things at today and where do you see things heading yeah so fast forward um you know turn the side hustle into a full-time deal um so funny side story around that so again social networks was really paying a lot of attention to to twitter at the time and i got a i saw a tweet about a local meetup right um so you know i've left ernst young now i'm doing this the side hustle um i'm also um you know working as a as a kind of contractor um with with a staffing firm for creative creative project management and design right um you know because i once again wanted to make sure that i was able to see other businesses from the inside not just ernst young right so that's why i ended up taking taking that on and i saw a tweet for a meet-up that ended up being for the co-working industry so bear in mind like nobody knew what co-working was right it was just this thing um i remember i used to to refer to it as a cross between a coffee shop and a library right um uh with a gym membership model um this is this is literally how i would explain it to people and i saw the tweet i was at happy hour and i walked down and i met um the the founders of a company called coco which became field collective don and kyle don danbal kyle kubra and immediately said okay i can now i now have the infrastructure to go full on into into entrepreneurship and the rest is history so from there i was i worked i worked at that company for a while did a few stints in the advertising industry but always came back to that touchstone of kind of this entrepreneurial community right um and then you know from there today um at fueled i met um michelabador and alison bador who uh started this company called uh closures media um so that gave me you know as you mentioned my dad mentioned you know collect the things that you think are going to be important right sales was one of those things that i knew was going to be important down the road so you know i you know partnered with them and i knew that marketing was also going to be important so i partnered with my business partners today which is curious which is a marketing firm so now i have this combination of um you know business acumen and entrepreneurship as well as you know where the future is headed in terms of sales and marketing really starting to work closely together in order to drive results for for businesses and i like that and you know one of the interesting and it goes a little bit back into journey but it kind of struck me as you know we talked about you know hey i don't quite have that creativity because there aren't a you know there aren't the rules or well-defined rules with uh typically with creativity but what i found is you know running a business doing that requires a different type of creativity that i have you know in other words they're different types of creativity one is just making something look great and you know aesthetically pleasing but there's a different type of creativity where you're actually innovating in a business where you have to creatively think how do we solve these problems how do we do it differently how do we make it improved and better than what's currently being offered and i think that that sounds like it plays kind of more with your skill sets of hey i may not be the one that does the aesthetic or aesthetic nature of things but it's more of hey is that how do i solve these problems how do i make a business around it how do i you know build that and how do i grow it and how do i turn something into reality and i think that requires just a difference or a skill set of creativity 100 so now the the question so now that kind of brings us up to a bit to today and you may have touched on this a bit but where kind of where things heading over the next you know six to 12 months kind of projecting out a bit where do you or where do you plan on things taking you um i i think we you know post pandemic um i see a lot of companies are now trying to figure out okay what is the future of our marketing look like right like you know if we're gonna invest these dollars um where where should we be investing them like i think the i'm calling the pandemic the great reset right you know you you ran your marketing budget down to zero at some point just to make sure your business could stay open and now you're going okay now that we have survived how do we not just survive moving forward but how do we thrive and marketing and an understanding and integration with sales is going to become really important um moving forward and i'm just excited that we're able to help more businesses um with that framework and that mindset um accelerate moving forward that's awesome though i think that definitely makes sense so well now is that kind of brings us a bit up to you know what your journey is where you're at today and looking a little bit even into the future um always a great time to transition over to the two questions i always ask for these podcasts we'll jump to those now so right now is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it um ah that's a good one worst business decision that i ever made um i'd have to say putting putting my eggs all my eggs in one basket right so um again it the when i left and you know it was running my my uh my consultancy um quickly got you know a really good client right it was it was it was an agency and it was amazing like we got so much work that you know i had i had plans and projections in the whole nine yards right um and a few other smaller clients too so it wasn't really you know that big of a deal but we were white labeled right which means you know their client never knew that we were the ones underneath building out these solutions for them right so as you know the you know business got constrained people got busy you know their their their their client list the things that they needed to deliver changed all of a sudden the amount of work that we were doing got reduced but we had no credibility or street cred or testimonials or anything that we could put on paper in order to to gather more more clients because as a part of being white labeled we were um we were under an nda right so you spend all this time building up this reputation and this business your business on the back of another company that can then decide okay well strategically it makes sense for them to either bring it in-house or transition to a more profitable revenue stream for them and it ended up just just just just costing me and that was a lesson um fortunately i learned a lesson early on and it just allowed me to go okay moving forward i need to make sure that a uh we get to celebrate the work product that we're that we're doing um and two always have a direct uh relationship with the client um that were that we're serving because a it keeps us accountable um but b they know where the value is coming from um uh because we're we're you know directly collaborating with them around the output no i like that because i mean i think that you know it is i like kind of going back to you know all the excellent baskets you know a lot of times you can get going you have one or two anchor clients or you have a few people that are hey they pay the bills it helps to get things going in it you know it's a great way to get started but if you know they go away or you're trying to as you said you're trying to build a clientele and you can't use any of the work or who you're doing work for is it it makes it a lot more constraining so i like the idea of you know providing that diversity and not just diversity offer everything to everybody but how to diversify such that you're not you know emboldened or you're not relying on just one client or you know one or revenue for business but you can expand that out i think that definitely makes sense so jump now to the second question which is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup for a small business what'd be the one piece of advice you'd give them oh man um i would say understand spend as much time on understanding the marketing and sales of your business early on right because you know marketing can generate the demand right but you also have to be able to close the business that comes through the door right and that can be investors that can be um customers it can be employees whatever it is you're selling as a founder you are selling um your ideas your solutions your vision and the reason why it's important to really get good at that it's just something that you have to do is you got to get comfortable being uncomfortable and sales is usually uncomfortable for a lot of people so that's that that's one part the second piece is you gotta understand the marketing yourself and by that i mean there is uh a framework that that we use at curious it's a it's a five-part framework you got to do your own research right you got to know who you know who are you trying to reach and what's motivating them you have to come up with a messaging strategy for them right you have to figure out where you're going to which channel you're going to put put that message into that's more as cost efficient as possible and you actually have to get it done right and the reason why it's important for founders to know that and for them to be responsible for at least understanding it is now you're not letting someone else tell you what you should be doing for your own business right because you know i love marketers um you know i am a marketer as well but as an industry we tend to we tend to optimize for for whatever it is that the com that the the industry or the the agencies built around right so if you're if you're a content production agency everything's going to have a content solution right so it's important to know what the pieces are yourself so that you can um you know really be like an active participant in whatever strategy is being developed for you yeah no and i love that because i think that you know having that ability to be able to understand all the parts the pieces what people are doing and why they're doing it definitely it helps to her hail stage with the business to be able to manage it so well as we now wrap up the podcast and always more things to talk about than time to talk about them if people want to reach out to they want to connect up with you they want to be a customer or a client they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all the above what's the best way to reach out connect you up here find out more uh the best place to to reach out is going to be linkedin as a good starting point from there you can find all links to everything else all right well i definitely encourage everybody to connect up with you on linkedin and find out more so thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest and share your journey feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show two more things as a listener one make sure to uh click subscribe to your podcast player so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so other people can find out about all of our awesome episodes last but not least if you ever have any uh never need any help with patents trademarks or anything else feel free to go to uh strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat thank you again dario for coming on it was great to have you on and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last all right appreciate it devin