Set Up An Advisory Board
Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Set Up An Advisory Board
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.
Get New Episodes
Get 2 brand-new podcast episodes sent to you every week!
ai generated transcription
um set up an advisory board of people that you can talk to along the way um immediately um like two days after you start your business in fact you should probably before you start your business get one or two people that you really trust and run some of your ideas by them not you're going to listen to everything they have to say but having people around you with diverse backgrounds and experience makes the process much easier to go through [Music] everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's 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 with small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast jeremy smith and just as a quick introduction to jeremy so i was educated uh educated to value his family um and as he got going one of the things he found out kind of growing up was he read a lot of books about stocks and investments in that section of the newspaper and um educated himself on that um and then as he's going through high school got bored really quickly and so um around that uh time he was also he started running a concession stand as an entrepreneur endeavor with the family graduated high school got into a sales position at an ad agency worked for them for 22 years um started a business with his brother that he got into sold that business and learned that he never wanted to sell his business again so with that much as a introduction welcome on the podcast jeremy thank you thanks for having me on your uh program thank you absolutely so i just ran to uh uh i just condensed a much longer journey into about 30 seconds or so so let's unpack that a bit so tell us how your journey got started reading the the stock and investment section in the newspaper as a kid well you know it was um i was always a little uh you know we came from a quirky intellectual family that um uh was very into reading books magazines newspapers and um there were two things that i really loved um the weather and um i used to try and compete with our local weatherman on tv to see if i could out forecast them and so i i learned how to read the bars in the newspaper uh the weather bars because um today it's very different you don't get the same sort of information that you used to get in a printed newspaper so the new york times would print the entire u.s map and would show you all the barometric pressure and the bars and the lows and the high pressure systems and then with when it came to stocks i you know i became fascinated with um the stock market and that you know the it used to be about like the sunday paper uh the business section the stocks alone was about a 16 page uh part of the newspaper because it displayed all the stocks and the latest quotes the highs the lows and um i was fortunate enough in junior high school to take a class that was offered to us which was on the stock market and i started buying stocks when i was 13 years old and my first lesson was never use a broker which at the time when i was 13 years old uh you just you didn't have an option there was no charles schwab um there was there was no internet so well there was but we didn't know about it it was under the defense department so no one really knew about it but so we we could we we had those options you went to a broker and i had done all my research uh found this company called bomar um which uh they pretty much invented the calculator and i thought wow that was a pretty cool item i think this company could be really successful and the stock was around four or five bucks at the time and i went with my mother because yeah you know you can't as a miner you can't go in and buy stocks even with a broker and my mom and the broker convinced me um well i would they really shove pan am airlines down my throat and i i learned that you know brokers have their favorite stocks and really they're just sales people stock brokers um with a different title most of them and so they convinced me to buy pan am which went from i bought it at 10 and a quarter went up to 10 and 7 8 and over the next 10 years never went any higher and then they went bankrupt and so as to where bulmar went from like six to eight dollars a share to 120 bucks and um uh so i called that one right and then i i realized that if you do your own research um and really study things that you can figure things without so-called experts on your own and so i that was kind of became my guiding principle for life in general with um uh with things is that you know education whether you go to college or you don't go to college there's no excuse for not being educated and so um the more educated you are the more options the more knowledge you have uh the more opportunities come your way and so i've always lived my life that way that's awesome no i think that definitely is a great approach to take with life so so you go you get into a bit of stocks and investing and you get some good advice get some bad advice we kind of get some initial education you go throughout high school you graduate and i think you said right there right after graduation you took a sales position at an ad agency is that right yeah my mom had passed away prior to that we were working for her concert company and that's how we got into the concession stand business was um my mom needed somebody to she was having problems with the employee that managed the business and she asked my brother and i to take over and run the concession stands at the concerts and that's really my mom was really my first on the first entrepreneur i knew and you know she took us through the whole process of profit and loss and you know how the difference between a five percent and a ten percent amount of ice in um a coca-cola or beverage uh uh plastic container can net you an extra dollar fifty to two dollars per everyone you sell and so um you know we started learning about those things and then when i was um after my mom passed i um joined a small typography company and um started working for them selling to ad agencies and then got involved in the ad business as well and and did that for quite a while but i i worked for a gentleman named drew andreessen who really was one of the first entrepreneurs outside of my mother that really i spent 22 years there so i learned a lot about marketing and design and working with some of the greatest designers on the west coast um you know some of them like keith bright you know who did the the uh the summer olympics uh graphics for um the uh in la and then um you know it's done major airlines food packaging design like saffron road i just learned a lot i mean you know it's it's you know you're around these people and it's a free education spending time with these people going to lunch with them and figuring out what their approach to design is and communications and how they run their businesses and and and so it kind of was like going to college but i was getting paid hey well that's a great way you get the education and you make money doing it so that definitely sounds like a great job now you stayed i believe with the same ad agency for about 22 years is that right yeah it was a firm called andreessen and um i stayed with them uh i left once or twice to go try some other things but i always came back because i i had a lot of admiration for drew andreessen and um i just learned a lot from him and uh you know i still almost everything i learned there i um you know went into um my business uh later on in life and um you know i think that that's part of um working for other people is there are so many things to learn some sometimes we you know you hear the stories about people that you know um uh go to work for people and then they go start their own companies and they often forget really what they learned and some of the the people they work for and and i've never forgotten anybody that really helped me along along the way and so um you know everything comes together for a reason um whether it's karma whether it's luck whatever your belief system is but if you can if you take if you can slow down for a minute and take in what people are trying to teach you um a lot of times you can learn a lot more than you know just being a bull in a china shop and and going forward so um i learned a lot there and it gave me um insight into how to market things far far uh better than i would have if i hadn't um had that experience and so i i always treasure um the time i had but i was a kid i was 20 21 years old and you know i hit it i hit it big at 22 i'm making 85 000 a year which today is pennies but back then that was worth all you know a lot of money and you know being a kid like that making that kind of money you know almost six figures you're you're in a position where you know you know you you know life is is fantastic and that's the thing about sales is that if you can get into um a commissionable salesperson you can make a half million to a million dollars a year and a lot of people don't realize that that it you know um that's why i would never go to work for a firm that doesn't pay commissions if i didn't own my own business because um you know you can um if you're talented you can go out and make as much money as you want and uh it gives you a lot of freedom no i think that that definitely is a great uh point and i think that a lot of times people are focused on hey what is the pay or what is the salary or how much am i going to make an hour and yet a lot of times when you get into those sales positions you have the opportunity if you're good at your job to be able to make it considerable about more and people oftentimes overlook that because they're so focused on other things so now as you're kind of you do that for you know in and out a bit but overall you're with the agency for about 22 years and then as you come to the end of that you shifted and tried or went into business for a period of time i think with your brother or whatnot um but what made you decide to jump out going or going a different direction try a business or kind of what uh what was the cause of that transition well i had been running at andres and i had been running some divisions so um when you're running a division it's um often like owning your own company and so um uh they're very similar um the the great part is that uh if you lose money in a quarter it's not your own money until you own the business so um so i learned a lot from that and then um i really didn't have an intention of starting my own company um although now that once you do it then you realize i should have always been doing this but you got to get to the point where you're you're ready for it because it has very different challenges you know now instead of getting a paycheck every week you're you're trying to meet payroll and it's a very different uh and for all your employees but my brother and i are very close we're 16 months apart and we've always worked well together and so um it was a great opportunity to go work for him and and i had just come off um i was burning out kind of in the advertising world and um you know i'd been doing the same thing pretty much for um almost 26 27 years at that point and i had recently met steve jobs and and he kind of in a meeting kind of encouraged me to go out on my own that there's nothing like it and then an opportunity presented itself with my brother to start a food brokerage firm in working with food and beverage brands to help facilitate costco uh to work with costco and so what happened was we became very successful my brother um had been in retail a very long time and didn't want to do this anymore and we had the opportunity we were approached by some people to sell the company and um uh that experience into itself can be in could be an entire podcast but it you know the the payment portion went well but the the transition was um truly uh difficult and and i've talked to other entrepreneurs who have the same thing you know you're in charge of something and now you start reporting to people again and going from a 12-person organization to a 40 000 person organization is is is very different it's like you know living in uh des moines iowa and then um you know the next morning you wake up and you're in shanghai um it's so different all the processes are different and it all the entrepreneurial spirit was sucked out of the company and it's true a lot of large companies so i knew i needed to get out of there and they were happy to accommodate me because they knew i wasn't happy and they they realized that um maybe they weren't the best place for entrepreneurs so um so i went in and uh uh we had a discussion and i departed and um started launch pad in 2017 and you know have never looked back uh to this point it's uh that was the first time i i really began to reflect back and realized that i i probably should have started my own business much earlier but some some people are cut out for starting businesses um you know my mom used to always say to us there's there's people that will spend their entire life working for sears although that might not be possible today but um sears might not be around around too much longer but there's certainly a point made yeah so you know there's certain people you go in you do your job or maybe it's walmart and there's nothing wrong with that it's a honest uh job and good you know decent pay and um you know if that's the career you want to have that's fantastic as well but then there's other people you know that are like the steve jobs or and i'm not comparing myself to steve jobs because he was one unique individual but there there's um certain people that are meant to be entrepreneurs and there's certain people that aren't and um if if you do have the the cut for it um and can withstand the stress and the loneliness sometimes because you know you're you know when you make a mistake it's all on you and when you're successful it's all on you but um you know failure is also an important part of of learning you don't you don't learn from uh uh success the same way you learn from failure it's a very different experience and with azarina's article by george uh with an interview with that the actor george clooney and he said that he's learned so much more from failures and he's so happy that he failed early on in his career because he wouldn't have known because he said if he when he looks back at his career he he learned nothing from the successes he he learned everything from the failures and so um all of those things go into rounding out i think the character of the individual um uh and allow you to be more uh successful long term when you do have some uh failures because of what you've learned from them and um you know if you look at them as learning experiences and and don't get sucked into the the negativity around failure you can turn it into a very positive event no i i definitely think that makes or makes a complete sense so now we we walked through most of your journey so you started out the business with the the brother doing some of that ended up saying it wasn't the best or wasn't the right fit got bought out and so what or how did that transition or what did you once as you're coming off of that and i think that leads into where you where you're at today and what you're doing but kind of how did that transition to where you're at today and how did you decide what that next step or that that phase that leads you up to where you're at today well it was getting to the point where um the company that i was working for um couldn't stand me and i couldn't stand them and so um um unfortunately i'm a very direct person and so i i actually had to confront my boss because i he was saying things to other people that you know this you know the acquisition wasn't a good fit but i can't stand people that don't have the guts to tell you to your face what they're really thinking and so he couldn't do it so one day i just called him on the phone and i said don't you think this is pretty up and he got really quiet and and and choked on his words for a little bit and he says oh i always like your directness i said no you don't it scares the out of you you want i i hear you want me out of here and i said i'm happy to accommodate you but i'm not walking out with nothing you know meaning that um i want additional money to leave and so we had a long discussion about that and three weeks later we reached an agreement and they you know i have to give them credit they had acquired the company and they allowed me to go back out and compete against them which um you know a lot of companies wouldn't do um and so uh they uh were cool with it and they were just happy that i was out of there because i kept trying to talk to them about company culture and how important it was to retain our culture and they said you know level one marketing which was the name of the company they just kept saying over and over again forget about level one marketing it's dead it's gone and um uh i i said well i i don't agree but um you know and and again out of that failure came you know this new idea and actually i pitched them on the idea of doing launch pad uh as a separate division within their company and um it you know it seemed like they were going to move forward with it and then they said you know we're not going to but if you want to go do that um on your own and you know we're happy to do that so i am thankful that they they did that and they paid us a fair price for the original company and you know sometimes these things don't work out but again there were a lot of lessons learned there you know if you know i've had some people um want to buy launch pad and i'm not ready to retire and sell yet but um i would never i would never stay on um again that would not never happen because um you become too attached to your brand and your identity at the company sometimes and then to have other people basically um tell you that it's uh um uh you know that's not how they want to do things this is how they do it it's not it's not a good fit and it's why you know a lot of um entrepreneurs uh butt heads with the new group when they stay on so i i would you know unless it's a 12-month stint i i wouldn't consider staying on like i get helping out on a transitionary period that i would do but um uh i would never stay on beyond that like i like i did previously and it's a hard thing you know it it's uh you take deep pride in owning your own business and starting it from the ground up and you know i i love cars and i i i i every car i've sold you know i i still regret because there were so many good times and memories with it and it's the same with the business you know when you finally give it up you generally um you know have i've talked to other entrepreneurs about this you kind of feel like you know what's you know the big question is obviously what's next and you know are you going to miss what you once had on the other hand uh because because the one one of the things that i think is really important is that you know at first you're all excited and selling it because you get this big check and you know and you and and most people don't get to sell their companies especially family-owned companies and and um so you get excited about that but then you know in the end the money doesn't have the same meaning um as the love uh and passion and all of the hard work and sacrifice that you put in for the company getting that big check doesn't make you any happier um uh you know you've got to deal if you happen to have uh i think i think that that definitely makes sense and i think that you know every you know you spend a lot of time and effort on you know every business that you devote yourself to and get up and running and everything else and you know leaving you're making that exit or that transition is always difficult because you always feel like you're leaving a part of yourself behind that you were you know very very diligently to build so i think that there's definitely a lot of wisdom in there well as we uh start to wrap up the podcast and you know now we've kind of walked through your journey where up until where you're at today i always have two questions i hit at the end of each podcast so we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it well i i still go back to uh for me i think selling the company was the worst decision um that we made but at the same time what you also learn from it is there's no way to predict the future so you don't know going in you know everyone said the right things and so um i would do if i were to sell my company again um i would do a lot more investigating i would insist on meeting with people face to face uh more often and i would d dig much deeper into the company culture um and not allow them to push the people on to me that they wanted me to talk to because they're only going to have you talk to the best people i want to talk to some of the other people at the company so i i would say that that i learned about that but but lastly i would say that the most important thing that i learned from all of this is that um uh that you should never love what you do you should enjoy what you do but love is an important emotion that should be reserved for your family and your friends and um you can have passion for your business and all that other stuff but when you start intermixing the word love with your career um you're you're basically uh associating an incredible emotion that's normally reserved for family and friends and you know your wife or your husband and you're you're taking in an object that's not even real it's not alive it's just a business and so it's still important to remember that no matter how important your business is nothing's more important than your family and friends because um you know otherwise you'll wake up one day with no friends no family and all alone no i think absolutely and i think that you know it's an easy one to say on the front end hey friend you know family is always the most important thing and then you get into a business and you always are putting out a fire you always having you know things to deal with and it's always one of those where life tends to get out of balance if you let it too and i think that putting that focus on the the family is definitely an important and valuable uh takeaway so now the second question i always ask is if you're talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you give them um be f um set up an advisory board of people that you can talk to along the way um immediately like two days after you start your business in fact you should probably before you start your business um get one or two people that you really trust and run some of your ideas by them not you're going to listen to everything they have to say but having people around you with diverse backgrounds and experience makes the process much easier to go through because um most of the time when you run a business you at some point set up some sort of advisory board or a board of directors but you do it much later and you miss out on the the the knowledge bank that all these other people can bring to your business and so one of the first things i did when i started launch pad was to set up a group of four people that are my advisors to a certain extent and it it's not just for business it's it's for all different things hey i'm feeling this way emotionally right now about this am i getting too tied tied into this what are your thoughts um you know and and when we were going through the pandemic there were you know um being able to discuss with them you know what was their opinion what did they think was going to happen how long is this thing going to freaking last having them um was a really valuable experience this time around and i'm glad that i set that up at the beginning i think it's really important for anybody going into business no matter how small your business is that you have some people and they can't be family members you have to be people that are independent and have strong voices so no and i think that that definitely is a great uh takeaway in other words i think whether it's you know partners whether it's employees whether it's mentors you know having someone that that one can you know give a different perspective a different point of view give you some mentorship or otherwise uh give you this the sounding board if nothing else definitely is beneficial especially as you're doing a startup or small business a lot of times you don't know what you're doing and you certainly don't feel like you know you're doing and so you're you're looking for someone else that they may not know what they're doing but at least it'll give you some direction and some insight as well so i think that's definitely a great take well i think it's also really important when you start looking at if you're going to take money in if you're going to take an investor in to have those people that have that experience and talk to them about it first because when you take money in if you do it's a very important decision and talking to people that have experienced before that can give you some of their share their experiences of what worked and what didn't could really prepare you for doing a better job at it uh no i think that absolutely so well as we're now wrapping up the podcast um if people want to reach out to you they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any are all the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you or find out more best way is my email address jeremy launchpad group usa.com or on linkedin um you can reach me there and again it's same thing jeremy that you know you can look at launchpad and find me on there i'm on linkedin all the time but those are the two best ways to reach out to me awesome absolutely encourage people to reach out and connect well thank you again jeremy for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure um now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell we'd love to have you on the podcast so feel free to go to in inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show and share your journey and also make sure to uh click subscribe share and uh promote the the podcast so that everybody can find out about all the awesome episodes and the great journeys that are a lot of different startups and small businesses they're taking and last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else with your business then feel free to go to uh strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat well thank you again jeremy for coming on the podcast and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you take care