Show Up Everyday
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Show Up EverydayShow up everyday ready to work. Work hard because you can only be responsible for the effort. The result will take of its self. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.
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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show up every day ready to work work hard because you can only be responsible for the effort the result will take care of itself and it's not a sprint it's a marathon [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 founded several startups that have grown into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where i have where we held startups in small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today we have another great guest on the episode and greg and i'm gonna say greg d because i can't pronounce your last neighbor i'm worried i'm gonna mess it up but greg is a as uh for a while he was a uh out of high school was an nypd uh police or you know police officer went to the detective squad he worked there i think for 31 years and then retired after an injury and then decided okay now what do i do i'm not ready to retire i'm not ready to stop uh stop going so what do i do next went back to undergraduate i've studied in some in broadcasting tv and then into the business originally of uh the mail or mailing business where you get all those cards and everything else in the mail and everybody else advertising and grew that shop to more of a full service marketing business which is where he's at today so with that much as a uh as an introduction welcome to the podcast greg thank you david thank you so much so i gave a very quick or brief introduction kind of of uh over a much longer career but maybe walk us through your journey coming out of high school and going to the nypd you have popcorn to last through this this is it's a journey that we took lots of different turns uh i went to the police department and ready to go so let's hear it captain ready to rock and roll there you go all right so i went in the police department i wasn't even 18 yet they had something called the trainee program were you supposed to be a clerical man and file papers and stuff but the biggest mistake they made they sent me to east harlem to the detective squad in east harlem and those guys thought i was supposed to be a junior detective and they treated me that way i showed up the first day of my little trainee uniform training dimetro reporting for duty sir and they said kid this is a detective squad go get yourself some suits so these were the old-time fedora wear and cigar smoke and tattooed new york city detectives and probably the best pedigreed detectives in the city of new york at the time and i learned from them they never treated me like a little clerical kid they treated me like one of their own so fast forward you have to move around in the police department they send me out they send me back to uniform i would go to 13 precinct and i started to learn the train of being a patrol officer and then a friend of mine who i ran across in that part of my career became in charge of the undercover squad and he decided he wanted to bring me into the undercover squad so he did uh i tried to walk out one question not to dive into uh too early to your journey so as a detective everything like his shows like on tv where he got csi you got all the cool gears and so oh no hell no don't watch though no no no and no no nothing like it absolutely nothing like it you go from being bored to being an adrenaline rush uh it's strategic it's more deliberative nothing like sherlock holmes nobody's that smart uh it's it's a collaboration of effort and it's a lot of grinding it's a lot of grinding putting small pieces of the puzzle together to come out with a good result i was fortunate to wind up in the manhattan district attorney's office where i worked with some of the best lawyers in the world bob morgenthau was the d.a for many many years he just passed may rest in peace and he was my mentor and i learned the trade there and fast forward not to belabor the police department because it's a business show i ran into a bank stick up one time and i got seriously wounded and a uniform cop got killed in the same shootout so not only that disrupted my career it forced my retirement and so the question was now what right now what i'm 31 years old i'm gonna ask one quick question just because you talked about a bait stick up and you went over so i the only time i ever see or hear about they see gums they're stick-outs is when i go to the movies and i know there's a new liam neeson movie coming out about him being a bank robber but is it a frequent occurrence you think stick ups happen a lot or is that i always thought it was more of the old wild west you know you would ride it under your horse you stick up the bank and you'd ride out but does that still happen frequently or does it is it a rare occurrence no no this is this this was a total fluke in my job in the d.a squad we didn't do street crime at all we had been on an organized crime stakeout and we were leaving the stakeout and we came across the uniform cop chasing the bank rob and we we stopped our cars and we jumped out and joined the chase unfortunately i was the fastest of the three chased the guy into grand station he was ready i wasn't he shot me an intern and killed the uniform cop tommy cementi so it was a big deal um it was on front page of daily news in new york city it was under press for weeks uh anyhow it was a big changing point in my life so your show was the inventive journey and i just had to keep reinventing myself many many times in life so when i retired because of the injury i went to college i had never gone to college i'm 31 years old and i'm in class with the 17 and 18 year olds you want to talk about a hoot that was a hoot the instructors and the professors were my age we used to go out and drink beer it was great didn't hurt my grades at all i'll tell you that right now so i did that and then because i was retired i didn't have to stay in long island i was very expensive to live here so i moved all the way upstate into a really really rural setting in the adirondacks and i lived there for a few years and i led the gentleman life with i had horses and a barn and a corral or whatever and then my brother uh called me and he said listen i need you to come down here and help me start this new company so what do you mean well we got this new company going and i want you to be part of it okay my best friend in life my brother of course i'm gonna come next to mass fifth queens which is about 250 miles on a monday morning and we started out we had a ten thousand we had no people and no equipment and we needed to do pro shareholder communications proxy mail if you will for one of the major brokerage firms i had no people no it was an empty 10 000 square foot facility i packed it with temps the first couple of months about 100 temps because the labels were heat sensitive and we had to cut them out and iron them on with craft craft irons so it was a hoot but fast forward to the next year i had 132 employees in all the necessary equipment and we did about 50 million pieces of proxy mail at that point sadly my brother passed away suddenly and his partners were not wall street people and they couldn't maintain the business and it closed so here i am back on long island with no prospects and no job now what so i did crazy jobs just to put to pay the rent i was a night watchman i was a real estate salesperson i was even a data entry clerk at publishers clearinghouse if you know who they are right i did whatever i could whatever i could to i know publisher clearing out the only reason i noticed that i used that goal and i oh i still have the uncle but he used to be he always thought he was going to win big and he's always going to make it so he would do i mean i think he spent years going back and forth and building things they're doing and everything else and he was always just this close with number one so that was my total exposure of it but go ahead well you know you you got to do what you got to do to put red you know pay the rent and put food on the table so that's the position i was in and you know fast forward me i did that for about a year and a half just making ends meet and then i found an ad in the new york times company for sale oh i know how to do that so okay we called the guy up lorraine and i pooled what money we had and we bought this little company that was located in two storefronts it had no equipment no computer no fax machine and had three little old ladies in the back room stuff and envelopes that was the start of the mailing company we're in today so fast forward now 28 years later we're in 25 000 square feet we have 35 employees and we've converted ourselves from a mailing shop to a full service integrated marketing company and we service some of the bigger accounts here on long island we service northwell health is which is the biggest hospital system in new york hofstra university st john's university and many of the other big players we probably do around 70 million piece collateral and that doesn't include the agency side of the business because we say we're an agency in the front of the house and a factory in the back because we have a very big printing in part of our facility so maybe let me assemble the question or kind of dive in um so you know you started you bought your own shop and so first of all how did you find the shop with the three little old ladies in the back and how did you say this is what i'm going to do or this is you know this is the next stage of my business how did you kind of identify that opportunity well well back in the day the new york times had a tagline it says i found it in the times and i found it in the times because i was working all these nonsense jobs and i was looking for an opportunity i needed a real job and what happened was lorraine and i pooled what money we had and we bought this little company in bethpage because i needed a job it was just as simple as that i mean you know we had to do it and and quite frankly i was scared out of my face i didn't know a p l from a balance sheet uh all i knew was how to work hard and show up every day and thank you god it worked out and uh here we are today in a much bigger situation and 28 years later so basically you just found a for a classified ad for lack of a better word somebody's saying hey we want to sell our business in the new york times he said i'm tired of what i'm doing i'm going to go buy that he did a little bit of diligence on it bought the company and picked up from there correct i went and met the owner at his house uh we had a nice conversation a very nice man he had had the business for 27 years and he was tired of doing it and he was very forthcoming if i asked the right questions he gave me the right answers if i didn't ask the questions he didn't give me the answers and i had to learn him as i went along but i was so different from him he was very stiff and as a business owner if you didn't pay him in 30 days he wasn't doing another ounce of work for you me i was i just wanted everybody to give me work so i said sure you're gonna pay me okay fine we'll do more work for you and we're very fortunate the company grew very very well uh through referrals because i'm kind of a gregarious guy i make friends with customers and it really the referral wheel got really really big and that's what helped us grow by the time we were a situation where we needed to go to do our own marketing and advertising we probably had 300 regular clients already so maybe one question so you started out you bought the business and you had the three of the ladies and i can just picture that in my mind in the back you know stuffing envelopes and doing the bulk mailing you know now if i were to take that and what year was that that you originally bought the business that was in 1992. so i'd assume so 1992 we're almost coming up on 30 years 28 years since you know since you bought it i assume and based on you know my knowledge and marketing that you know things have evolved things have changed and so how did you over that course of 28 years figure out you know stay relevant stay marquise i'm sure that there are plenty of companies that are doing you know stuffing or stuffing envelopes so to speak and doing both milling yeah you could have gone out of business so how did you navigate or pivot that such that you didn't just you know become you know a bit of a dinosaur so to speak and you know pull the wayside but rather continue to grow that's actually a terrific question because it's very important part of the process in 1994 the post office changed their rules in terms of postage discounting right and if you were if you wanted to access the discounting you had to automate the mailing you had to put barcodes on it and all those little mom-and-pop shops that were in the garages and whatnot they did not want to invest in the technology well if i didn't invest in the technology i was out of business so we started barca we learned how to barcode mail and i got to tell you the post office has a book about this thick of rules it's online now but it was used to be this thick and he only was only two people in the world who knew how to interpret that book one was on vacation and i think the other one was in in icu because nobody knew the rules so we had to learn the rules from the ground up and that's one of the things that put us in a great position because prior to that you would be paying for the service after that rule change by the post office it was basically an a no sell sell you would come to me i would save you enough money to pay for me and still you would have a net savings it made no sense not to give it to me so for the next up until 0.809 we were growing double digits every year straight up and uh you know 809 well that changed everything you know the lid clamped down on the economy uh the internet was born and it's everybody thought they could do everything electronically and then of course the post office was in trouble themselves so it was the perfect storm that put a damper on everything so again we had to change we had to change how we did stuff what did we do so okay so i bought three companies because i bought a little printer that we used to outsource to i told him you have to come in with me or i'm gonna go elsewhere we were such a big account he had to come i bought an envelope company from an elderly gentleman who had been in the business for a long time he he printed contract envelopes in other words for big banks and so forth and so on he'd print them hundreds of thousands at a time and we bought that company and then we bought another similar company to ours the direct mail processing company printing and mail company and we merged all three together we've been really successful to pull that off because we've kept a lot of the employees we've kept a lot of the accounts and you know that gave us the critical mass to start thinking about changing our business model to become a marketing agency what happened was the printing and mailing industry was telling the printers listen you have to be a value-added provider you have to be something called a market solution provider what did that really mean it really meant the pr the guy who ran the press was going to tell you how to market your business nonsense right so i decided okay we're going to do that but we're going to do it right so we started to hire people with marketing skills we hired graphic design web designers we hired uh motion graphics people we hired video editors we hired copywriters we hired all those types of people as we grew that side of the business it was very expensive to do but it was the right thing to do because now we're considered a premier agency in our region because we did it the right way we didn't lie we didn't make believe you know and say something that we didn't know was true so we've got a really great reputation and that's what we guard with our lives around here now it's it without the reputation that we have we're nowhere you know there's lots of people who do what we do um but we try to become a partner from jump street we want to be at the table when the ideas are germinated no i i think that makes some pleasing i give you kind of kudos again made the pivot the first time and then you said okay now or 2008 2009 we're going to have to pivot to stay relevant i think it's awesome you wouldn't spot or several businesses saying hey we don't have this in-house let's go and acquire what we don't have and so we can continue to grow so one question i almost have now kind of looking into the the future crystal ball just a bit you know take it it seems like and this is from a little bit the outsider looking in um you know you have it seems like the pace of things that are continue to increase meaning you have more and more you know different platforms that are getting released more quickly and you know for different businesses they may or may not be relevant but you know i'm not a big tick i've never even logged into tick tock all the only thing i know is i hear about it and you know but tick tock is one that seems to be in the news a lot or you have you know twitter and facebook for other reasons seem to be in the news a lot you have you know mailing you have video you know you have tv commercials now you have all the streaming services you have podcasts you have book so how do you work i guess the question where do you see the you know the marketing industry going in the next few years and how do you kind of stay relevant and how do you continue to adapt and evolve as the pace of evolution seems to keep picking up that seems to be my only job nowadays is to figure out where we need to go next uh we just finished a project maybe about a year and a half ago we built a 3 500 square foot tv studio in our facility why because video is content that people want now you mentioned tick tock what is that it's all video pinterest video all video serve video content is consumed at a much higher level than written content so we do everything we do the blog we do videos we do motion graphics we do you see in my background i ask a ceo that's a new show that i've developed to talk to ceos and why is that because if you're trying to prospect and you're trying to get through the different levels of gatekeepers it's impossible especially on the b2b side so as an ask a ceo interview show guess who i'm talking to i'm talking to ceos we have a follow-up program that keeps them engaged with us for a couple of months and that way if and when they have a need in our industry they'll call us we've already we've already secured several nice assignments based upon those interviews that i've done and we're doing we're trying to work in three different silos now because you can't work everywhere so we're working in finance uh healthcare and professional services of late i've done a few sas type companies very interesting stuff i did a artificial intelligence ceo the other day i was blown away with what what they could do it's amazing i love talking to ceos that's my passion i developed this when we were at work at home i was working at home for five six months i'm in my studio now and ordinarily this shoe would be two camera guys a sound guy and a producer now it's just me and you and people are used to the quality on zoom now so they don't even they don't even pay attention to it anymore so i've now have i did 25 during the covert and i called the covert chronicles i interviewed like ceos that i knew and had a relationship with we talked about what it was like running the company in covid and i would produce that as a covered chronicles and that rang a bell in my head listen if i can do this for my friends why can't i expand the geography so we did and we said well you know what we're doing videos guess what there's an audio track let's make it a podcast so now we have both ask a ceo videos and they ask a ceo podcast so we're getting two bangs for the buck so it's really kind of cool i love i love love love love love innovating and changing and thinking uh we have a tv production company coming in with us we just had the the handshake agreement yesterday uh gentleman's been in the business long time making tv commercials and really top shelf stuff he came he said i usually shoot outside but look you guys have a big studio maybe we can put it together so we can so i love innovation you have to be you have to be looking for opportunities and grab them when they show up i love to say you have to milk the cow while it's here because it might not be here later no i i think that's a lot of good wisdom and i think there's a lot of wisdom in figuring out it does feel like almost your point that you as before you know a marketing firm maybe was able to cover kind of all industries for everybody because it was there's a lot fewer things to cover and now they're just too many industries two different many uh channels and platforms and that they have to start to niche down and be a bit more specific so i think that's an interesting point i mean if you could market a widget you could market anything you know it's just changing it's nuanced but really the difference today as opposed to marketing before is the uh integration of all the different platforms you need to be in the right platform at the right place at the right time in front of the right audience that's what integrated marketing is all about it's not it's not rocket science where are my people how do they consume content and how do i get to them on time in a buying process it's really not rocket science i'm not a book learned marketer i'm a street learned marketer uh and i just seem to think that that's the way my life is gone learn it in the pit you never forget it no i i completely and i i like the the learning it on the street a lot of times you learn it better than you would in the book so well awesome as we start to wrap up the podcast i always have two questions i hit on at the end so we're going to jump to those now so the first question i always ask is if you or what is what was your worst business decision and what did you learn from it my worst business decision was trying to buy a 47 000 square foot warehouse it was a deal that uh we were well into we were already renovating the building and the sba did not come up with the level of financing that they said they would so we could not go forward with the building it cost us a ton of money and i gave the keys back to a renovated building and we walked away that was the worst scenario we ever had in business so then i'll follow up second half the question so what did you learn from it or what what kind of lessons did you take away you you have to look at worst case scenarios before you can take the risk the deal was almost too good to be true i had help i had professional people saying yeah let's do this and through no fault of hours they fell apart and you know you have to steal your spine and say okay we're going to move forward because i'm not going to run away and hide and that was a very difficult day i had to go back to this seller and say guess what we got to walk away and uh it was very difficult one of the most difficult days i've ever had in business one makes sense and that's you're talking my languages and turning as a lawyer we always sing in the worst case scenarios and i always kind of found a business hey if i can live with the worst case if the if everything were to go wrong and this is my worst case if i can live with that and i'm okay with it then i can live with anything because anything you know then everything else beyond that is all all the better so i think that's a good a good lesson to learn so now we jump to the second question which is so if you're talking to somebody oh what's up so jump jump into the set jump into the second question um 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 uh show up every day ready to work work hard because you can only be responsible for the effort the result will take care of itself and it's not a sprint it's a marathon i like that and one other thing i got when i got from my father who had an eighth grade education and this is my mantra he says if you spend less than you bring in you'll never be in trouble that's true the only exception i'd give is if you spend less you can't spend less than zero dollars so if you breathe that's better but true very true very true i know i like what you said and my mantra is a lot of the same as yours as far as the first point is i always i always tell everybody myself and the employees that work for me if you do what you say when you're going to say you're going to do it you're ahead of the 90 of the competition meaning if you actually just deliver on what you're going to say when you said you're gonna do it most people feel it even that simple of the thing so kind of as you said show up and actually just work i think you need you know show up work and say do what you say you're gonna do you're gonna be ahead of most people so i think that there's a lot of words of wisdom from you yeah was people want to people want to reach out to you they want to use your marketing firm they want to follow your podcast they want to get to know you more personally they want to invest in your companies they want to be an employee or any or all of the above what's the best way to connect up with you come on down we love you very much i'm greg at lorraine gregory communications it's gregg greg lgcli.com i'm available all the time i get my emails on my phone lorraine gregory communications is an integrated marketing company we have all the skills in-house we almost never outsource anything from design to strategy to campaigns to printing to mailing you name it we built it it's in one house and now we even have tv studios for you to use greg lorrainegregory.com greg'scorneroffice.com is the home of the ask a ceo podcast i've got a long list i'm going to stop now all right hey well that's a couple good ones and i'm sure if people can um reach out to you and connect up that way as well as or find you online all the other ways so well thanks greg it's been fun to have you on the podcast now for all of you that are listeners now all of you that are listeners on the podcast if you ever have any journey that you'd like to tell feel free to apply to be on the podcast cast just go to inventivejourneyguest.com we always love to share your journeys and your stories if you are a listener make sure to click subscribe to get notifications of all the new episodes as they come out and lastly but not leastly if you are a startup or small business if you ever need help with patents or trademarks feel free to reach out to us we're always here to help thank you again again greg it's been a pleasure it's been fun to have you on thanks devin enjoyed it very much thank you English (auto-generated) All Recently uploaded