Partner With People You Trust

Partner With People You trust

Adam Balinski

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

11/28/2020

Partner With People You Trust

Find people that you really trust and partner with them. It's crazy what you can do with other people compared to what you can do alone. It does not matter how smart you are, or think you are. I was so reluctant in the beginning to get on board with an investor and to partner but taking his money and also having him as a permanent consultant to the company and getting his whole life's worth of expertise has just been invaluable.

 


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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i find people that you really trust and partner with them they're i mean it's crazy what you can do with other people compared to what you can do alone it doesn't matter how smart you are or think you are right and i was so reluctant in the beginning to to get on board with an investor and to partner but taking his money and also having him as a permanent consultant to the company and getting his whole life's worth of expertise has [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that has started several startups and grown them into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the ceo and founder of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today we have another great guest on the podcast adam blonsky and adam is sorry it's balinsky i'm not offended but oh you're not the first one or the last one that i will uh massacre their names so no or no offense intended um but adam if you were to give a quick intro so adam graduated from law school and uh during law school um prior to graduating had a unconventional way of doing some studying and after graduating spent some time as an attorney and uh on the side started to build up a system or a product to use uh what he learned in law school how to do the unconventional studying after a period of time decided to now hit it full time and go after with more of a vengeance and he'll share a little bit a little bit more about that so with that is an introduction welcome to the podcast adam hey devon thank you so much for having me it's great to be here with you so tell us a little about a little bit about maybe your journey and you started in law school and how we got started for you and how you ended up to where you at today thanks yeah well so like most law students i had a lot on my plate um you know everybody's juggling so much life is so busy and most people going to law school they're young adults and there's a lot you know pressures and demands on young adults whether you're dating or if you're newly married like i was or you have kids like i had you know there's just a lot to keep track of and you want to do well in school you want to do well in life you don't want to hold the grip too tight on anything but it's it's really busy and so out of necessity i started creating audio outlines for myself audio flash cards if you will in a sense um to drill key concepts from class so i wasn't always you know in my books or staring at a computer but i could go to the gym you know i could listen while i was driving places i could go on hikes i could take my kids to the park i could build a bunk bed for my kids and listen to some audio so is hack a job slap together audio of myself recorded for myself and i found it to be super effective i don't have an amazing memory just naturally i have a pretty good memory though but the audio was was super beneficial and even though you know i made it for myself some of my friends wanted it and i shared it with them and they liked it and so that was some positive feedback and good to see so you you go to law school you say okay that you know the conventional making kind of almost uh whether it's outlines or flip charts or you know flip cards or whatnot saying hey that's not how i i don't like to sit just don't want to go through all those i'd like to be up be a bit more active and do all that so you decide to go through law school doing your own thing now you graduate and i if i remember if we talked right you did go and work as what would be a you know quote-unquote typical attorney so how did that transition and then you know what or what took place and i guess what type of law did you go into so i was a semi-typical attorney i guess um because i went and practiced law you know got my law license took the bar all that but even though i had an offer to go work with a firm full-time and i had intern with a bunch of firms and in-house in a variety of places where i really i really enjoyed all those experiences and i got a lot from all of them i ended up just hanging up my own shingle um as audacious and crazy as that is you know i just decided to do my own practice i i hedged my bets a little bit in that i was doing contract work for the few of the firms that i'd established relationships with and so you know i had some pretty reliable income through them though i wasn't getting you know the same kind of attorney hourly rates but it was a it was a good balance and then i started taking some of my own clients too and i was able to you know do that while i was starting crescendo and the way it worked out to just squeak by financially in our family you know i'd work 10 15 sometimes 20 hours a week doing law practice and then i'd use the other time to start working on a beta product for crescendo and um yeah i thought it was really getting the type of law i was practicing really helped with crescendo because it was generally business law you know creating operating agreements filing for people's trademarks writing privacy policies writing contracts independent contractor agreements writing um you know just the variety of things that you need for for companies and small companies and so i'd write something for for clients and then i turn around and go hey we actually we could we could use the terms of use for crescendo you know let's massage that a little bit and uh boom you know we got one and so it was just really kind of harmonious thing where you know uh and it went both ways too because a lot of the clients i had you know their small businesses and a small business person myself an entrepreneur i feel like i could understand them their business needs their concerns a little bit better so it was this very symbiotic thing so you and you did that so first question i'm going to back up just a little bit in your story so what made you decide to go private practice as a po you know do solo practice do your own thing as opposed to go work for a firm was it hey i graduated at the wrong time and nobody was hiring which is when i would went into law school you know the people a couple of years ahead of me they came out 2009 2010 and the law or law industry was getting hit hard with the depression there and so they didn't have a lot of jobs and some of them hung up their own shingles other times it's hey i just really want to do my own thing i want to have my own direction so kind of before you know before diving into all the crescendo or crescendo how did you decide to do your own private practice you know i was on the fence for all of law school about what i wanted to do with my law degree i felt very strongly about going to law school but i didn't have a clear vision of like this is therefore what you know why am i doing this and um and so i explored the the firm path and had some opportunities that way but i just didn't feel right and some clerkship opportunities too judging just interviewing and things looking promising there but it ultimately when i feel right and i'd withdraw my application and i had all throughout law school kept the door open to private practice by going to solo practice seminars and things that they they host those pretty regularly at byu and so i took i went to those those weren't classes didn't get credit but they were just these great kind of weekend things where you'd have um solo attorneys come in and share tips of the trade and documents and all sorts of great stuff so i did that all throughout law school every time it came around i would go to those and found them super helpful and you know the freedom the autonomy always appealed to me and kind of been just a weirdo career-wise haven't been able to fit in any of the traditional boxes you know just kind of an eclectic jack of all trades interested in everything loves everything you know to a fault where you know i love that i love that i love that so it's hard to zone in on just one thing so to have the flexibility of doing some law practice which i love but only doing it like 10 to you know 20 hours a week and to have some income through that and then be able to explore some other options you know it wasn't just crescendo that i started i actually started another thing that didn't go anywhere because i didn't put enough energy into it and maybe there's possibility for it in the future but um i used to be a corporate trainer and so i started this company called utah law trainers and my thinking was i could go to various companies and teach hr compliance related things and i'd done some of that interning um did some training in at pluralsight for example created a training video there for you know their ip stuff and it was it was super enjoyable and so i and and i remember pluralsight invited an attorney that they paid tons of money to come and train their their staff on certain things and i thought wow that would be super fun and so what if i made a company just to go around and train and that would just be a blast and um i was doing that a little bit on the side as i was starting crescendo and then crescendo just started dominating my time and and growing and going well and so i just uh slowly shifted more and more into crescendo and now that's all i do so you're if and if i were to almost summarize it's kind of you're saying hey i was you know had opportunities did a few other things some of them didn't work out as well but you kind of always kept your private you know your own practice or your private practice kept that going as a way to pay the bills pay the mortgage keep the lights on those type of things while exploring other things and almost doing the law practice to support the the side hustles and then how did you kind of get to the point as you're doing crescendo along with your private practice to figure out when do i make the leap or when do i jump over from doing the law practice to focusing on crescendo was it a hey the bottom fell out and the law practice went away and i didn't have any other choice or was it hey i'm just we were having so much success with crescendo i just couldn't you know put it or do it as a side hustle combination of both or kind of how did that go for you uh so it was actually really weird in how it played out because you know i'm doing the law practice thing i'm starting crescendo and we just released like one beta subject there's the professional responsibility or ethics portion of your your licensure as an attorney and so we just you know i just worked on that content and pushed that out to just see and i think we had like 30 people use it the first time in august of 2017 and that was just through me spamming people that i knew were going to law school and just like at least try my stuff and you know one in three or one in four of those actually tried it a little bit and then gave me some feedback and some of the feedback was really positive that the most positive feedback we got was from this really generous fellow that i had never met prior to that but i made a point of meeting him after because i mean what he did was so impactful for me and my company but um he had been putting off studying for the mpre he'd planned on studying for it for like a couple weeks you know it's not a super crazy exam but you do need to put in some time for it and you just put it off put it off put it off and then like a day or two before he's like okay i'm just gonna try this thing because i'm probably gonna fail anyway so what do i have to lose and so he just listened to crescendo like straight for a day and a half you know even when he's like laying in bed napping or relaxing and then he ended up passing really comfortably and he even before he passed he put a post out on linkedin just blogging about his experience and how excited he was about this new product and this new possibility and this new way to approach studying and um and then when he got his results back and he found out he had passed a little while later he did a follow-up post anyway so those posts created um some credibility and and interest in the company and then there was a uh the daily herald and utah just a small local paper you know did a little spot on us even though we had like zero revenue at that point so it's pretty remarkable that they you know covered us but one of the clients and this is where the weird part comes in so that's not particularly surprising or weird i guess but um the weird thing is the client my primary client had his hand in a bunch of different companies and so i was working with him on a bunch of different legal documents and just doing any projects that that he had and when we'd have our client meetings they would inevitably turn to hey like i've heard about crescendo i think it's super interesting and cool you're doing like what can i do to get into that how can i become a part of that you know do you want some money and and i would say oh no no i just i was thinking i can just do this on my own it's no big deal i don't make money you know and i kind of like my freedom and having all the control of the company and and uh but yeah every every time we met it would come up and he'd push a little bit harder and say i think it's really cool like basically name your price i want some of crescendo and um and eventually i started opening my mind to that idea and and then i got a random linkedin message from someone i'd never met before um who had also gone to the same law school as me just a few years prior and was pretty entrepreneurial and successful and had some money in an investment firm and so he was looking to invest as well and so you know we went to a jazz game and we went golfing i really like him we're still friends but i ultimately ended up just going with with the client that i had had at the time um i'd known him a little bit longer just a longer friendship he actually was and this is another wrinkle to all of it and you know that that guy was one of my mentors when i was growing up as a teenager so in church in my youth program he was one of the leaders that i looked up to and so it's super crazy because our life you know took us in all these different directions and then they ended up intersecting again where i'm doing legal work for him and then the next thing i know he's my investor and anyway so it's just kind of a weird unconventional thing we didn't seek any traditional funding you know we didn't pitch it well i did do um one time i went to do like a shark tank pitch thing in boston and and that was kind of fun but it didn't end up going anywhere but aside from that it's just been you know just this outreach from these these two people and and taking their money and and so once we got that money and this gets back to answering your questions sorry it's a roundabout way to get there but um you know we had some money and uh and so i just kind of scaled back almost to no legal practice there were still some projects i was finishing up but with the money i paid myself a very very very modest salary if you will from crescendo and then um spent the rest on just getting everything created and hiring people and and uh one of the best decisions that i've made you know was was doing that taking that money so you took them you know you you have all that build you took the money you have the ability now to do it as a full-time thing you are able to chase it pursue it and you know and you have some people that are supporting you along the way and almost you know kind of mentoring you now when you made that full-time leap and you're you're doing that now full-time and you leave the law practice so to speak you know was it all success did it go just as as planned and you know everything is on an upward trajectory did you hit bumps along the way or how did it when you jumped all in how did that go for you oh man so uh mostly well i mean we're still alive we're three years in and um to date this year we're profitable and all our big expenses for the year are paid and you know i'm paid and i'm paid more comfortably than i was before so like where we are now i'm really excited about and our growth trajectory is great and the feedback we're getting from students is great rose working to improve it um you know at the forefront of my mind is always all the things i want to do to make it better and better and better and better um but it's been really encouraging but there have been some major speed bumps along the way uh multiple times where i thought you know maybe my company is dead you know or at least on life support and i don't know what's going to happen most of those were due to my own just idiocracy um i i deleted our entire website and at one point and we didn't have a a complete backup of the website yeah yeah and at the time thankfully we only had like a a few hundred users maybe 200 users um and it was so bad it was it was an accident um it was something we were doing with amazon web services and and i had created something to try to solve one problem and then i realized it wasn't the right solution so i deleted that something and i didn't really realize how like entangled it had become with with our website and it ended up as a ripple effect deleting the website and there was no way to recover it and so to have to like rebuild it in 24 hours was super duper stressful and so i i'm yeah i don't know how we survived that but we did and it was a miracle there are other times too um we we were hacked right when covid kind of started and the big earthquake in utah happened we got hacked it was like this perfect storm of everything terrible and um we were able to resolve that thankfully very quickly but that was probably the the worst week of my business life ever and so stressful and we were worried about fallout you know we wanted to be transparent and we wanted to be for forthright with all our users and we wanted to also protect everything and through some help of of others and um just working really hard all day and all night basically to resolve that thing we we squeaked by without it devastating our users were really forgiving and understanding you know we thought we'd get a flood of refund requests or something you know as a result or hate mail but we actually when we look back at kind of that month and how it went overall it was positive which makes no sense like we got some sales out of it people that forgotten about us like oh okay yeah and then also we got some really nice messages from people like we really liked how you handled this totally thinks that it happened but this was really cool and think you're a cool company and that was really rewarding because i think a lot of times people think you know the ones that win in life are the ones that are kind of cutting corners but integrity and honesty and transparency go a long way i think more so now than ever you know people are so distrusting of everything everywhere and if you can win their trust a little bit and you basically win them as a friend and if there's bumps along the way who cares they trust you and so we've been really grateful to have a very trusting base so now no and i think that's an interesting story and you know it's a little bit a man after my own heart in the sense that you know you go into the law industry you have the entrepreneurial bug and you figure out a way to do a side hustle along the way and then you make it you know a full-time thing so now as we're wrapping up and never have enough time to talk with everything but as we're wrapping up the podcast let's maybe jump to the two questions i was always asking the end and you may have already started to answer the one but you know along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it so i'd say the worst business decision would have to be just being afraid fearing and i know that it doesn't sound like a decision usually we think of like a decision as just like a finite thing that we did you know but i think fear is a choice you know when we wake up every day and we choose to live by it or not and fear really holds us back you know we get afraid is it going to work out you know i'm taking some risks here i need to support my family you know my wife isn't working i've got three kids four kids now and um and yeah so there's a lot of fear that can hold you back and you move forward you're going to make mistakes there will be setbacks and maybe at the end everything will crash and burn you know who knows but don't be afraid of that if it does happen you're going to learn some really amazing things along the way and you're going to be you know growing through that experience and and so just having just more more faith that you know things can work out and you don't have to have the most resources in the world to be able to compete with the really big companies and i think a lot of us attorneys in particular fresh out of law school have something called imposter syndrome you know we just feel like uh like i'm just kind of sliding by under the radar but i i'm not really qualified to to do this like in my mouth am i gonna malpractice am i gonna do a good enough job i don't i don't know we just for whatever reason we come out of law school typically very shaken in our confidence and to just believe like no you got this you work hard do try best you're your best and you be honest you know if you made it through law school and you passed the bar you know you've got a good head on your shoulder so other people they may have more experience but you can make that up and hustle and in grit and so that would be my my one thing is just overcoming fear that choice no i think that may that makes complete sense so now we're going to jump to the second question i always ask which is now if you're talking and it kind of details on what you did but if you're talking to someone that's just getting into startups or small businesses what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them i would say find people that you really trust and partner with them they're i mean it's crazy what you can do with other people compared to what you can do alone it doesn't matter how smart you are or think you are right and i was so reluctant in the beginning to to get on board with an investor and to partner but taking his money and also having him as a permanent consultant to the company and getting his whole life's worth of expertise has just been invaluable um you know we went it took me months and months to create our first beta course and then you know we had grown over 13 times in our content in in just a few short months after we got some money and um and yeah i got rid of some equity in the company but the value of the company grew so much and more important than that to me is is just you know my relationships with people and how those have grown and so trusting other people involving other people um not being too too controlling and this is something i continually have to work on because i can micromanage if i'm not careful and um and so to just kind of say you know if somebody's going to do a little bit different than me that's okay and it doesn't have to be perfect in my eyes to still be good and valuable to give people some flexibility to grow and learn and contribute but the real key thing is that they've gotta be trustworthy you gotta trust them they've gotta trust you you've got to kind of have that friendship but if you've got that i mean you can do incredible things together all right well i like both the the mistake you learned and also the advice you give was as people are wanting to reach out to you whether it's they want to use gerscendo they want to learn more about you they want to be an investor they want to be an employee they want to be your friend any or all of the above what's the best way to connect up with you i'd say if you if you've never interacted with me before you know just linkedin's a good one since it kind of throws everything in that networking bucket and um but if we've crossed paths to some voice point in life i mean you can email me or anything like that don't don't be afraid even if we just saw each other once so all right sounds good well i certainly encourage people to both uh or check out crescendo if you're a law student um as well as anybody else that wants to get involved and engaged with you so with that appreciate you coming on the show and uh now for all of you that are um or listeners of the show if you have your own journey to tell and you want to be a guest on the show feel free to go to inventivejourneyguest.com plan to be on the show we'd love to hear your journey if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so that you can get notifications as all as all the new awesome episodes come out and lastly if you ever need helps with uh patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller i p law we are always here to help thank you again adam it's been fun it's been a pleasure and wish you the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks devin thanks for having me you English (auto-generated) All Related From Miller IP Law Recently uploaded

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