In this episode of the Rocket IT Business Podcast, we’re joined by Jeff Spence; an adventurer, entrepreneur and private equity investor who has helped dozens of companies and teams grow and thrive. Growing up in rural northern California, Jeff’s early love for mountain climbing and decathlons was rooted in a passion for adventure and competition. And now, with over 20 years of private equity experience under his belt, it’s safe to say that his passions have translated to commercial success, as well. So, what does it take to recognize and seize a big opportunity when it comes along? We’ll address this question and more as we welcome Jeff onto the show.
In This Episode, You’ll Hear More About…
- How to embrace challenge
- The benefits of keeping a humble mindset
- When it’s time to ignore the advice of others
- The difference between habits and decisions
- Balancing international business with family
- How to make room for exceptional teammates
- How to properly implement the Pareto principle
- The importance of pursuing humanitarian efforts
- What to do when business deals don’t go as planned
- Managing multiple companies on an international scale
- How to compete for market share with larger organizations
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Greetings and welcome to the Rocket IT Business Podcast. I’m your host Matt Hyatt. And today we’re sitting down with Jeff Spence; an adventurer entrepreneur and private equity investor who’s helped dozens of companies and teams grow and thrive.
Growing up in rural Northern California, Jeff’s early love for mountain climbing and the decathlons was rooted in a passion for adventure and competition. And now with over 20 years of private equity experience under his belt, it’s safe to say his passions have translated to commercial success as well. So what does it take to recognize and seize a big opportunity when it comes along? We’ll address this question in more as we welcome Jeff onto the show. Jeff, welcome. Thank you very much. Good to be here, dude. I’m so glad you’re here. This is going to be a lot of fun. We had a conversation beforehand kind of talking about what we might discuss and I’m pumped. It’s going to be good. Good. And so I want to know idea restrictions. Yeah, it’s going to be exciting. We’ll, we’ll pop and we’ve just to make it interesting for you. I want to start at the beginning. Where, where’d you grow up? I grew up in a way Northern California. So most people think of Northern California being San Francisco.
I grew up five hours North of San Francisco, real up close to the Oregon border up in the mountains. Yeah, I’ve heard that part of the country is beautiful. I like many San Francisco’s as far North and I’m gonna you know, up higher and come down. But I’ve never quite made it to that part of it,
The country. But yeah, most people go San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, all within 10 minutes of each other. Well, you know what, what I’ve heard is that part of the country is very beautiful and just, I spent
Some time and knew somebody, but it’s, it’s pretty rural, right? I mean, it’s very much so, yeah, there’s, there’s a, there are very few people, far more animals than there are humans. Is that right? Yeah. So my understanding is, is that you got into mountain climbing on your, yeah. And I got into sports and decathlon’s tell me a little bit about that. Well, I mean we’re, I grew up there were, you know, the things that you did that were adventure, some were not really based on any type of you know, specific sport. It was just go out and play. So mountain climbing wasn’t with, you know, karabiners and, and crampons and whatnot. It was just running up and down Hills and spending the time in rivers and whatnot. So it was a very different than what people do now. So I don’t think we’ve ever talked about that before.
But I spent part of my childhood in Western North Carolina, same kind of thing, very rural mountains. And yeah, you know, when we were, I think I was 10 when we moved up here and I remember thinking about what, what was that going to be like in a sort of picture of, you know, the, the Matterhorn and, you know, the flag walking, you know, conquering the mountain. It’s not like that at all. But we, man, we just had tons of fun going around and camping and hiking and having a good time. It was really cool. Part of my, my growing up, I had to get into the decathlons. I’m going to have a time now. It’s okay. It’s fine. Triathlons, but harder to say it is because there’s 10 of them. Exactly. it gets, it’s almost three and a half times as much.
So the decathlon was really purpose built for a guy like me that was average intense sports. Right. So we, you know, I was you know, I ran track and played basketball and football and baseball and everything through high school and then going into college. It was, it was something that I was good enough at, a lot of things to be successful in the decathlon. So that was the, you know, so you go to college, do that. And that’s where I met my wife and it was all that. Where’d you go to school? Chico state. Okay. And what did you study? I studied electrical engineering and physics. I wanted to work in a conversation. So one really tough degree wasn’t enough for you. Firstly to, yes. So I tried to do the, the trifecta of electrical engineering, physics and decathlon. Oh my gosh, you’re in college yet.
So technically count is 12. It does. It’s actually 12. Yeah. You’re such an achiever. So fast forward a little bit. You get out of school and you’ve got an option of, Hey, I can pursue physics, electrical engineering. I can stick with sports. Go pro. Where’d you go next? What happened? You know the interesting thing is in a kind of puppy, it’s a nice guy. The metronome to my life is that I never really had any desire to be an electrical engineer or a physicist. Not for a moment. So I did them because I heard they were hard and I thought it would be interesting to see if I could do it because it was difficult. Yeah. And I was totally fine with them completely kicking my butt the entire time, which they did. Right. So, you know, the, the sports were hard, the academics were hard, you know, you’d never slept.
It was just, it was like going through med school at 18 years old, just kind of pound your way through it. And so, but come my senior year, everyone else is, you know, all people are coming to the college to do these job fairs and whatnot. And I had zero interest. I didn’t go to a single interview. I didn’t really, I didn’t talk to anybody about being an engineer or physicist. I don’t even know what they do. I still don’t even know that they do. But I just, I thought, okay, great. I’ve graduated, I won, we’re not gonna talk or you can edit out any GPA discussions in here as well. That’s all you know. But I, I got out, I have the diplomas on my wall correctly and, and I knew that I didn’t want to do that and I knew that I really didn’t want a real job.
And so I just started just figuring out something else to do. I mean, it was, it was the next, the next adventure was up. Now those things were over. I’d climb that mountain and then it was what’s next, where do I go? So we’re just starting. So I started really my own software company with a friend of mine right. Yeah. So right out of the gate and he just graduated and started a company and, and just started doing odd jobs and you know, putting things together. And then I came out to Georgia to turn around a, a software company out here and, Oh, wait a second. Yeah. So you’re 22, 24, somewhere in that range and cited to start a software company and then you’re going to turn one around. I feel like we missed out on some details that you’ve missed out on. Nothing whatsoever.
Yeah. So how did the, what happened with a software company did, was it a start and end or start and sell or, we kept running that for, for good amount of time. My partner and I, and we ran that and then we moved out to Georgia and ran it here and then drive the other one. And we had a number of fits and starts like everybody does and right. Ended up, you know, transitioning that company into something else. And just the whole, you know, it was, it was the absolute perfect thing for a you know, a guy in his young or early twenties to go and do and it’s been fantastic. That’s pretty awesome. So, you know, I don’t, I don’t know your age, but I would guess we’re not that far apart. I was close. But that was probably in the late eighties.
It was early. It was that, it was like probably, early nineties, mid nineties. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. That was a really cool time to be. I mean, you know, I remember those days. Yeah. In technology then going and blowing. That’s exactly, yeah. Cool. So you got to Georgia and yet continue to build on this business, transitioning this other one. No, it looks like he flipped into something else. How do you end up in private equity? How did that work? Again, like most, like I’m kind of the, the Forrest Gump of the, of the business world. And so you just kind of dumb into things. But you know,. Oh man, I’ve dumped in everything in my life, Matt. So, you know, going through a number of transactions with these companies, helping them build up their, helping build the organizations and sell them and you come to the realization that you, you got paid a little and they got paid a lot for doing it.
Right? And so the next one you come in, you’re going, well shoot, don’t pay me right. I’m going to build this thing up and sell it and, and, and make, make the money that you did. So it wasn’t some refined focus on private equity. I don’t even know what that meant for probably a decade afterwards. I had no clue. I mean, private equity, I no, is that assuming no one knows about your equity? Is that what private equity? Right. So but I knew that if I owned this, then I would make money. And so I just sort of doing that. And so I’ve, you know, I’ve, I’ve really just abhorred the whole concept of getting a paycheck and just went straight into trying to just own the business. I mean, not too dissimilar from you actually. Yeah. Well I guess so when you know, there, there is a difference in volume. Let’s count the number of businesses that that I’ve started and then, you know, and I have a feeling that’s quite a bit more than that for you and a few. Sure. So was there a particular, I know you said you sort of accidentally found your way into some of these things,
But was, was there an early focus on it or technology? Was that a passion of yours or was that just that was the opportunity presented itself
First? You know, the, the passion for me has never come from the technology or from running a business. It was really the passions always come from was there some problem to solve where you trying to accomplish something that no one else had done before and that was so you can get into a business that’s got a lot more zeros on the end of it or they’ve got a far better sales channel or it’s more heavily funded and all of those things, young, young men didn’t have any interest in those. It was can this thing be something special? Can it solve some big problems at doing something that you can get passionate about you? Cause I know that, you know, I do not have a long attention span. I mean it’s really painfully short and so regardless of all of the other, you know, accoutrements to this thing, it was not going to keep me interested unless it was something that was meaningful and I can drive. And so when you take that as your filter now it’s no longer industry focused or anything else. It could be horticulture and finance and software and you know, whatever. Anything, anything applies. Huh? How, how do
You find deals or how do people find you? I am, I’m sure that’s changed over the years. I’m sure early on you know, you’re looking for everything, but I gotta think now you’ve got some experience and wisdom under your belt. The deals find you. How does that work?
Yeah. So, so deals find me now. I mean the back then I remember just out there just looking for things to get into and, and looking for opportunities and just talking to everybody I possibly could. And you blink and you realize now I’m an old man and the deals are flowing my way. But you know, the, you, I don’t remember making a conscious decision at any time to shift that. It just, you know, pretty much just slowly but surely you start getting more and more deals coming, coming to you and you’re able to filter through them and, and ideally hand them off to people who can really help you. So you’re probably, you’re probably getting involved in less than 1% of the deals you see puppy really bumpy it, you know, maybe five and a thousand maybe you can find it probably would actually get involved in. But you know, the, the goal for many of those things or to take a look at the deal, I’m not a good, not a good partner for it, but handing it off to somebody who I think can actually be a good resource.
Well, and even that’s adding value along the way. So I’m sure people respect that. Maybe come to you again. Yeah, sure. Definitely. A later because Oh yeah. Jeff helped me with this last time. Well that’s pretty cool. So one thing that you’ve told me before, I’ve heard you say, I can’t remember if you were talking directly to me or probably was just listening to a conversation. You’re always listening into my car. I think you said something about, you know, you were attracted to deal at the end trying to use your word
With a little hair on it. Yeah. And I’m thinking about what you’ve just shared with us about, you know, pursuing a field of study, not because it was super interesting you because it seemed difficult. Yeah. It seemed like a challenge. And so that’s starting to pick up on a little bit of a theme there. Is this, you know, you’re, you’re a contrarian thinker. You know, you’re a person that pursues something because of the challenge that seems to be the attraction. How, how do you, how do you manage that? How do you know what to stay away from if you’re, if you’re only maybe getting involved in five deals out of every thousand. Yeah. Well are, is that because those are the hardest of the thousand or what’s your filter? How do you, how do you do that? It’s interesting and I love, I’ve been, I’ve been called a contrarian thinker for a long time and it’s hilarious because it’s actually, it’s a really nice word to like cover over some mental illness that I’ve got the, exactly, I’m sorry that’s not, that’s not functional, but contrarian.
Right? That sounds, that sounds like a good thing. I meant it in the best positive you always do, man. You know, it’s, I think the bigger filters for me are one. Does it fire me up? And that’s typically gonna be the challenge aspect of I love, I love, if it’s going to be something that’s worth getting up in the morning and going after it, then great. And if I know I can sleep until noon, still get it done, then it’s not of interest to me. That’s that. So I don’t, I won’t do those two is, and it’s a bigger filter and it’s a harder filter because it’s an ego thing is am I the right guy? You know, a lot of people don’t do that. No. They’ll go and take a job when they’re not the best guy for the job. Or they’ll go and try to, you know, try to do something that there’s somebody else standing right next to them.
It’s better for that opportunity. And you know, so that’s the one that’s taken me the longest to really wrap my arms around and look at deals right now and go, Oh man, that’s fantastic. That completely fires me up. Talk to Matt. He’s, he’s the guy you need. He’s the one that could really make that thing go. And that’s, that is, I’d love to say that came easily. It did not, it still doesn’t come easy. I still find myself going, Oh man, I’m the wrong dude for this. Right? There’s, there’s better guys and I’ll, I’ll back out and make introductions or whatnot and make sure it makes sure it gets going. But those are probably prime realtors to do that, right? I mean, yeah, even in the job market you see all the time and nice to you know, not falsify or resume but to, you know, put it puts your very best foot forward.
And sometimes that comes across as maybe an insulated somebody who’s capable of, and so it takes a certain amount of humility to be able to say, you know, I love this. I might even be passionate about it, but you need to talk to the guy down the street, which you also see, and I’m sure you’ve seen in your, your line of business too, is that if I go back to somebody say a year later and I say, Hey listen, I want to pull back out of this and bring somebody else in this better than me. It’s the, it’s like breaking up, you know, and you’re telling me no, it’s not you, it’s me. And, and the first thing I’m thinking is, so what’s wrong with the business? Some business bad or what did we do wrong? Or you’ve had something else going on that’s more interesting to you.
And the reality is no, not as, there’s a, there’s a better person for your business, than me. Right. That’s, and so that’s probably been the theme more for last five years or so. Maybe 10 years is I continually look for people who can replace me in that, in that role or in that business, because I know, you know, the last count, I’m like, there was something accounted six and a half billion people in this world, right? Some, I’m sure there are better people at everything that I’m doing in me. And so if I can find that person and they’re a, an effective resource and they’re passionate about it, then they should be strapped to that business and not me. And so, and it’s okay. I know that I’m going to see tons of things and I’ll come back to those things and it’s all good. So how does it work when you’re involved in a, in a business say, Hey, here’s a business I’m going to get involved in and I’m going to invest in it.
Does that always mean that you’re actively a participant in the business or is it sometimes I’m going to invest, but you do you and get back to me and let me know if it worked out. Is it always active? No, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not you know, I, I look at things in different investment buckets and costs of capital and so I look at it and think if there’s my, my low risk money, I’m going to hand to somebody else who’s got better skills and better capability sets than I do. Right? So you all invest into businesses and have those things run fantastic. Then I might, my higher risk money because I’m higher risk is will go behind me going in and trying to drive these businesses. You know what, I’ve, it’s actually comforting though to know that now because I’ve surrounded myself with so many great people that there is some guy or some girl or whoever it might be out there that I know is going to be better.
So as I’m going forward, fewer and fewer of these deals on my running, and it’s not because I’ve somehow become, you know, I’m know I’m above that and I’m no longer running that company right now. I know there’s just, there’s a smarter people to execute on than I am. So that’s, that’s a, it’s a comforting thing and allows me to, to participate in a smaller piece of a lot, lot, you know, a, a greater number of businesses and not screw things up. Right. One of the things I love about this, this thought process of building any business that’s going to have staying power is that by design it has to be able to support people coming and going right at all levels, including the very top. You know, I think Disney, I think it was in the news this morning, you know, change of a CEO and Disney will continue, you know, I have no doubt.
Right? Yeah. They’ve built that into their business model that they, they can withstand even the very top a a change in leadership. But when you’re intentional about building a business, you realize you have to bring other people in. It’s not, it’s not an option. It’s not an option. It’s critical. Exactly. And particularly if you’re going to be involved in multiple businesses, you gotta be able to take some off the table as you’re new ones on. So how does, how does that work? Are you involved in businesses for long periods of time, short periods of time, or it just depends on the, on the day. It just depends on the deal. And again, if it fires me up and you know, I, there’s, there’s a passion for it. I’ll be involved as long as I’m useful. And that’s, you know, so there’s a lot of times that usefulness is very short and that’s okay.
Again, a little you know, a little humbling sometimes like I’m no longer value here, but that’s okay. But you know, you bring up a good point that, you know, businesses are definitely made up of people but they’re not made up of this person. Or there’s, there’s a, there’s a big difference. You understand that as the human resources, they’re going to drive this thing. But you also understand that people are going to have different interests. They have different risk levels. The businesses are, are moving, living beasts. You know, when the first, when we first started out, there was a certain profile to that business and then it got going bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s a different profile. It’s going to take different people. And it’s a, it’s difficult for people to make that leap unless they, unless they visualized it early on to look around and say, okay, we’re a small company, we have 10 people and understands statistically seven, these people are not going to be here two years from now, three years from now.
Right? And it’s not because things went wrong in many cases because things went right. So I was able to develop skillsets in my, in my team. It allowed them to go get better jobs somewhere, ones where they could exercise their skills at a greater degree that were available here in this company. And so those things are just going to happen. And that’s fantastic. It’s a wonderful thing. But if it sneaks up on you, you’re thinking, Oh no, or I’m losing this person instead of thinking, listen, I’m excited that these people are here right now and there an enormous impact of this business, which is fantastic. And if I create a great culture, I’ll build, attract other people that are gonna come in that are right for the business. And then it’s not so much in a front to you anymore. It just, it’s a good, it’s a good common natural way of looking at your companies.
Yeah, I love it just underscores the importance of developing processes, developing a culture that can withstand a change in the lineup of the team. Is do you find that’s translatable if you’re working in one business or five and you’ve developed processes or certain values or culture, do those translate to other businesses too? Yeah, I think I wouldn’t use the word process as much unless you’re thinking the thought process. So I think you know, procedures inside of a business are going to be, are going to be governed by a lot of external and internal factors, customer types and, and you know, am I an engineering company in my consulting company and my a processing company. All those things are very different, but you know, I think it’s going to come down to most of the time it’s going to come down to, you know, what do I expect of this company?
Meaning culturally, those things I think are franchisable across a lot of different companies. I think the expectations of and can be how you communicate with is franchisable across a lot of a lot of companies. I also think that doing an improperly and and ineffectively is also a franchise, right? Which means you see, you know, and I, I can look back and say, man, I made that same exact mistake at five different companies. Right? So, so you’re, the more things you’re involved in, the better off. I think that better off the more acutely aware you are of those elements because you know, they’re impacting a lot of companies all at once. It’s not just impacting this thing that you can control right in front of you. You’re making decisions that are now going to be, you know, are going to now be, you know, taken and putting into process somewhere else that’s going to screw things up.
Which I’ve done a lot of them. Well, you know, that’s how it wisdom happens. And then I got lots of wisdom. So let’s talk a little bit about kind of a day in the life of a private equity investor while you and I had a conversation two or three years ago now about you’re building our organizations such that the leader of the business doesn’t have to be there and 100% on every minute of every day. Yeah. And I think you’ve taken that to an extreme because you are working in frequently in a leadership capacity, in multiple businesses at the same time. And not only that, but many times these businesses are not there. They’re geographically dispersed, right? There might be one here and one in another country, one on the West coast. How do you do that? Is there a code perhaps, you know, how, how do you get to the point where you can come in and be available for small amounts of times yet still have the impact that you need to have as a critical leader in organization? Yeah, I, there, there are three things that are critical that you have to do in order to be effective doing that. And those three are really hard. And nobody knows what they are.
Let me see. You know, everyone has their theory on how to do it. Mine has, I shouldn’t say it’s always been, but I’ve always kind of tended more towards this and I think I’ve been more aggressively focused on this over time, is I don’t like to delegate at all. Really? Yeah. And doesn’t surprise. Yeah. But here’s, here’s, here’s the reason why. If I’m delegating to you, that means that it’s, it’s mine to delegate, right? So it’s, it’s my task, it’s my role, it’s my job and I’m now delegating this out and I’ve realized that if I’m delegating it to you, you never really take it as yours. Right. So to me it’s a, it’s a complete session. I may, you just, you’re handing it to somebody and saying you own this. You can delegate it if you want to. I don’t advise it. I’ll give it to somebody else.
But it’s yours. And it is a, a buck naked feeling of, I don’t control what’s going on anymore. But it’s also one that people in people couch it with until potential risk. What if this guy screws us up? Or what if she steals my money? Or what if this person runs us? But it’s just risk. It doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter. But if you’re by not doing that, you’re risking so much more. You really are. I don’t think there’s so few people in, whether it’s in business or life or whatnot. So few people calculate the cost of being safe and the safer I try to be, the less I accomplish the safe ride. Try to be the less impact in the world. We’re going to have the, you know, the more I try to control what’s going on around me, I’m really dumbing everything down and everything’s kind of beige and it’s vanilla and the volumes on four.
And you know, we just, you kind of live in this life and it looks good because I think we’re trained to think that that’s what we should, how we should be living our lives. But the reality is, is I push things out to the edges and they’re owned. You own these things, run these things right. If it doesn’t go well and we’ll, we’ll, you know, we’ll sum this thing up and we’ll figure out next time we’ll make a decision maybe a little differently. And that decision is not going to be based on, on anger or based on, you know, retribution that’s going to be based on, you mentioned the word early wisdom, you go back and go, eh, work out so well. Right? But all of the greatest things that have happened in my life, all of the greatest successes business-wise or whatnot, were done through somebody else’s hands.
And it was, their creativity was their ownership. And almost always, and I know you’re a business owner yourself, how many times have you been just wildly surprised by people around you who have done things that you would have advised them? Probably, you know, very loudly. You would advise them not to do it that way, right? Because we’re all so smart and then they do certain one, you go, Holy cow, that’s the smartest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. You know, and we’d take credit for it. Now we don’t have to, you know? So for me, you know, managing allows me to manage many, many more things and be involved in a lot of things. I shouldn’t use the word manage. I would say participate. It allows me to participate in a lot of things. And it also gives me, and this is, this is the sneaky truth, it gives me the ability to watch really smart people who have yet to go do this on their own somewhere else.
Watch them do things that I learned from. So I get smarter and smarter as we go. They’re making their own decisions. Even if they make a decision that doesn’t work out well, oftentimes 70% of that decision was right, right? 30% was wrong. And I can go back and I say, ah, he was in the execution is because of X, Y, and Z, right? We didn’t secure this amount of capital, didn’t do whatever. But I learned from the 70% that the direction that they chose to cry down. And so I look back and I think of all the skins of wisdom you’re talking about. Much of that has been me just sitting here, just watching extraordinary people do cool things. And, and I just, I love that. I love that approach. Not so awesome. Now I’m going say something Jeff, and I’m going to say it in the nicest
Possible way. You are a contrarian. What you just said there. I’ve never heard anybody else say it the way that you did not. I want to go back to it because I want to make sure that I heard it and that that are, that our listeners heard it too. You hear all the time about people managing risk. I mean there are, there’s, you know, billions of dollars in the risk management wax industry and what you said was really flipping that on its ear. It’s almost like, I’m not sure what the right word is. Complacency management. Okay. Here are all the things that, you know, let’s take a startup as an example. And I remember early on in the early days of of Rocket IT when, you know, I used to joke that it was a team of three, me and myself and I right. That there was a certain amount of fear about hiring that first person and giving them some real responsibility that used to be within my realm of control. Yeah. And whether it was a Hey, a sales and marketing or going out and doing the technical work or the bookkeeping there, there was, I mean that’s a saying, even if you want something done, right, do it yourself. Totally flipping that on its ear and said, okay, if I want something done extremely well, I’ve got to find the best person to do that and push that risk out out to them, which is you know, takes a lot of confidence and trust, but then to be okay with the outcome no matter how.
That’s really cool. Yeah. And I think if you were to rephrase, you know, the, the common, the common statement is again, right? If you want something done right, do it yourself. And I think that the, the actual, Oh, the really mean is if you, if you want something done exactly like you want it, do it yourself and you bet. It’s also assuming that I’ve got some great vision or some great view of the future that is perfect and I don’t, right? So if I do want it done exactly like I want it like my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with, you know, with my Cheetos on it right now all I can stack them perfectly with a whole bag of Cheetos on one sandwich. It’s fantastic. I’ll do it myself because no one can do it like I can. But in a, in another setting, to me it’s, I want to know what that person, you know, will say, listen, we’re going this direction.
I’m going from here to California. Fantastic. There’s a, there’s a million routes, right? Some I want it done. Like I want it, I’m going to drive, I’m going to take a turn here, turn there, turn there. But guess what, everybody else, if I long as I define California, they’re all getting there, right? And I guarantee you in a room of 10 people, nine of them are probably going to get there sooner and cost more cost effectively than I would have. And so it’s okay to get in the back seat and every once in a while you might ask, you still go on to California? Yup, we’re going to California. And that’s, and that’s okay. But it’s a, you know, I think the, the management of when you mentioned kind of, you know, managing complacency, nothing ever exceptional is happened in the middle of the bell curve.
It just hasn’t, it’s never, it’s not worth even being involved in, I mean, here’s, you know, you take a, and you could look up these, look at these numbers and you’d say, would you rather be the median salary earner because you’re such an extraordinary athlete. You were drafted into the NFL, the NBA, major league baseball and national in national hockey league and you were good. And all of those are so good in all of those. You’re right in the middle. Or would you rather be a starting quarterback or starting left, left tackle or start or the one of the best pitchers, you know, just that one role. And by far and away, the greatest salary owners will be one of the top pitchers in the major league baseball or starting quarterback or started cornerback or whatever it might be. And so we know that in the middle of that bell curve, no matter how broad you try to apply yourself, there’s nothing really extraordinary is going to happen there.
So why do we force ourselves and try to live our lives? So we never leave the middle of that bell curve. And it doesn’t make any sense to me. It never has. It never has never been, never been of interest to me. And so, you know, you, you look at almost everything that’s been been great. You know you know, Marie Curie, you know, she’s, she had to mess around with radioactive elements and ended up dying from it. But look what we have right now, right? We got cool x-rays and we get all these things come from it. So most things we’ve seen in our life, I would say all things that matter have come from things that were really just pushing the envelope. You know, you say that and it made me think of something,
The bell curve and you think about just one aspect of the bell curve and its application is in personal finance and you look at you know, what’s the average family income or what’s the average level of wealth and the and the U S or something like that. And then you look at the news websites and the media and so forth. And who are they catering to?
Well, you know, I was talking about the Disney changing hands this morning of the CEO is turn over and see, you know,
I read about that on a website. That website is designed to capture as many eyeballs as possible, which means that by definition that they are targeting exactly the center of the bell curve. Absolutely. And so if you’re looking for an outlier and performance financial performance, that’s probably the last place you want to go because you’re going to get the middle of the road result. Exactly. That’s exactly right. And that’s cool. Last place
You want to look at it. And if you take, I mean you’ve heard of the Pareto principle 80 20 rule and the concept of a bang, you know the 20% of your work is going to generate 80% of your, of your production. Right? And, and it’s, you know, you can apply this and it’s going to be 73 27 or whatever the number might be. It’s going to move all over the place. But the reality is is that you know, that works. And if we run with 80 20 you say, okay, I’m do these activities created 80% of my work. And what if you got rid of the 80% of the activities you were doing to create 20% of your work? And most people say, okay, I could probably do that. That’s great. So now take that 20% and blow it up. It’s all I’m doing now.
Well pray to pray to principle still applies. So 20% of my 24% is going to create 80% of my, my 80 64% of my productivity. Which means that I could really be focused on 4% 4% of what I’m doing right now and just focus on that 4% and now I’m pushed all the way out there of, you know, a full standard deviation away from the mean no amount. I’m out. I’m out of that, that you know, that center of that bell curve. You’re talking about everything. And I’ve done 4% of work now and that’s the kind of stuff that excites me. And now if you take an organization and you allow everybody to operate in their 4% as an example, you have an extraordinary group. You really do. Now, if I try to do everything and I’m bringing this back to talk about, I going to do it right, do it yourself.
If I tried to do everything either, I have to have defined this Pareto principle, the only guy on the planet that has, or I’m dooming myself to be miserably inefficient in 96% of the things that I’m, that I’m doing. And it’s just, it does, doesn’t make sense. And yet we’re most people to spend their life banging away. You know, they’re just, they’re just hitting the top of that and vote their hammer. Just, you know, just this is what I’m doing. Well and, and, and B probably because it feels safe. You does to your point. Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s fascinating. Well, actually one of the questions I wanted to ask you about was, so, you know, back to at any one time you’re involved in and helping to lead multiple organizations and because of the way that you operate, you’ve got a limited amount of time that you’re able to spend with each organization and you want that to be the highest impact time possible, right?
Yeah. So are there tips for how to do that or is there a thought process for how to do that? When you’re working with five CEOs and different parts of the world, what’s the mechanics of, how do you do that? Is it a phone call? Is that a visit? Is it, is there a weekly cadence or a monthly kit or does the board, that’s great. And it’s, and it’s evolved certainly right all the time, which I assume now if this is going to evolve from now forward, right? If I’m, if I feel so smart today compared to what I was 20 years ago, I am a look back to where I am now. Go Holy cow, he moves. He’s not even a halfway because I can keep to it. And it’s the most, most distributed management organizations or processees are involve around, you know, I’m looking for financial results, I’m doing this, doing that and all of this stuff.
And the reality is that those things are commodities, right? Those are those, those are things that can be sent to accountants. And those are things, whatever, that that’s all great. And what’s been good about the opportunities that I’ve had is they forced me to rethink these things because literally I might have, I might have something going on in, in Hong Kong and Dubai, Cape town, you know, Auckland, New York, nothing in Georgia. Exactly. I’m rarely in Atlanta and I have all this at the same time. And so, you know, really trying to micromanage or getting into those things as a complete waste of time. And like I’ve mentioned before, I am completely disinterested in micromanaging. And so what I’ve realized is that there are small handful of questions and those always evolve. But if I can just ask a handful of questions and not trying to pin them down, but trying to discover how I might be able to help them.
Sometimes the question is, how can I help you? It sound simple. Is that right? That’s, you know, it’s very simple. I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s I realized that trying to drag information out of them, they’re going to answer the questions that I’ve asked them. But if I can ask much more broad and open ended questions about things, it allows me to think about, okay, here are some other challenges. So what are the challenges that you having, you know, what are the risks that you see in the future? Where do you think I could have to add the most value? You know, in a lot of times it’s, you can’t write, Jeff, please go away. Please go away. Yeah. But those are ones, if I really, really want to build a go away understanding what’s going on in a business, then it’s a small handful of questions, a period.
And I’m gone and last part about that, I could do it over the phone. I could do it over so I could over Skype or WhatsApp, whatever. Now I do like looking him in the eyes when I’m asking the questions cause I want to know if they’re rubbing their temples, you know, if they’ve lost 20 pounds, they’ll saw them last time. There’s a lot of the stress factors. You can’t get missed asking these questions, you know, via correspondence. But but that’s the, that’s the greatest thing I messed the easiest, you know, easiest way of going about this thing is just, is just asking questions and allowing them to kind of explain in general terms, you know, how they feel things are going, what resources they need and if and how I can be of value to them. I think that’s so good. And I think that’s something, unfortunately a lot of leaders and rising leaders miss is, wow, you just have the word manager that implies that I will be managing, yeah.
This person and this person’s activities and so forth. And that can come across very much as a whole can. It’s my job to challenge this person and to find out what they’re doing wrong. Right, exactly. The truth is we’ve done a good job of hiring or bringing people into our organizations and our life that we trust and we’ve brought them here for a reason because we think they can add value. Really. It should be a posture usually of support. Yeah. Right. All right. I trust you. I believe in you. I’m excited about what you’re doing and my job is to come in and help out remove barriers help to add value, maybe change the way of thinking, that kind of thing. I love that approach. Yeah. And sometimes it can be taken disingenuously because you know, just seems like it’s a, it’s a shtick. Like, I’m just using this as a way to get it, but I think most of the people that I work with understand that they’re smarter than I am. So they do take it very genuinely like, okay, all right. He really is just trying to figure out what’s going on and it might be exactly. It is going to go. All right. This just saw nothing you can help. All kidding aside.
I want to point out something else that you said that I think is so important. Is that a communication that there is a heightened effectiveness of communication when it happens face to face? Yes, definitely. Because we can see each other’s expressions, body language. We can probably sense whether someone is under stress or happy or sad or whatever. That happens. So much easier and better when we’re seeing each other face to face. And so I often tell my team, particularly if they need to bring challenge to someone, we’re going out to a customer site and saying, Hey, you’re really going to need to make a, an upgrade on your security system here. That’s challenged, right? So it’s bringing challenge to one of our customers that’s going to go over a lot better if we can be on the same room together. Oh definitely. If that’s not possible, then the Skype, the WhatsApp, you know, that kind of thing would probably be the next choice that the last thing we want to do
Is text them and say, yeah, you’re going to have this. Exactly right. Right. And I think that one of the advantages, again that I’ve had over a lot of people is I’ve done a significant amount of my business internationally. And so what’s happened is when you’re doing this work, you realize that there’s such a cultural difference that you can’t assume like, like we do here and the U S we think everybody speaks English. Everybody basically has the same in air quotes culture. So I can communicate very homogenously across the, across the entire body of people. Right? And so the most part, it distilled right through me. It does not an effective way of doing cause people, people they, they think differently. They receive information differently. They’re, they’re emotionally very different. And when you’re in international markets, you can’t even get to the emotional level because the cultural pieces there and the language pieces there.
So you, you’re very, very, very disciplined about how I’m going to communicate where I am. Because I understand for obvious people are different. I have to, I have to communicate this in a certain way. You know, these words don’t mean the same things. The phrases don’t mean the same things. And so when you bring that back to the U S and you start having those business conversations here, you carry that same thing with you walk into a room and it’s how do they, how are they receiving this message? What do I need to do to my message to change it, to make sure they understand what I’m thinking, not so I can, you know, mind bend or get them to do what I want them to do. But how do I, I’m going to say something. I want them to understand exactly what I mean.
How do I need to change how I’m saying it so that, so they can understand it. And you know, so that’s, that’s a helpful piece and make it something that people, I think most Americans miss out on just because we don’t have to travel. It’s not because we’re myopic or we’re, you know, we’re somehow don’t love international travel. All the stuff people in the Brown of the world would say the truth is we don’t need to, we’re the world’s greatest, biggest economy, so we can, we can become billionaires selling thumbtacks. We don’t have to go to, you know, to Taiwan to go do. Exactly. Yeah. Very nice. So tell us a little bit about some of the kinds of projects that you’re involved in today. And I know you can’t give us very specifics, but are there favorite industries or favorite kinds of projects that you’re involved in?
Yeah, I mean, I, I love probably the course the last 10 years. I’ve really love much more of the corporate development and then product and business development. So I like, I’m enjoying the roll-ups, not because of the financial aspect of it, but because back to the challenge. It’s tough to get it right. But it’s super rewarding when you do so. I, I really like looking for businesses that are better together than they’re apart. You know, it’s just in, you know, what happens oftentimes is we think of businesses from a income statement or a balance sheet, cashflow in versus looking at them as puzzle pieces. They’re going to snap together. And you know, just like it’d be logical for us to go out and say, Hey, I want to build a great computer so I’m going to go buy a monitor and buy a keyboard and buy by CPU.
And those things all make sense coming together. It wouldn’t make sense to build a computer by buying two monitors. I just wouldn’t make sense. So I’m really an, I really enjoy that corporate development both internationally and domestically in many cases. The combination of those two, bringing things together that when they come in, you can almost hear them snap like, like they go together the right way, you think, Aw man. And to the point where a lot of people will say, I can’t believe we didn’t do something like this earlier. And that’s a huge win, you know? And so a lot of people are, they hate the integration and they just despise the pain. And, you know, the anguish of doing this stuff. But to me I just, I love that. I love the challenge of getting it done right. And you know, let the financial rewards come down a lot and wind years later doesn’t matter.
You got it together where the culture’s fart now fitting the product development’s working in the right way. Everything about it is just is humming. So to your question about the industries and the types, it’s cross industries because we’re building, we’re building solution sets for the market that are mix of many different, many different pieces. It would be, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s Tesla as an example, being a aggregation of, you know, electric motors and battery technology and new new plastics and this type of stuff that’s happening. And what you’d say is that, is that energy now that’s plastics, it’s manufacturing. Is that automotive is visit. There’s a lot of different things going on, but take that same thing into, you know, into software and you’re putting, you’re putting software with services, with, you know, with cyber, with whatever. Man. I like that, that aggregation, the kind of that, the concert of all those pieces coming together.
I love it. Again, I feel like that’s kind of a contrarian view. You hear people all the time. There’s another thing that we hear an Axiom all the time, stick with what you know. Right. And a lot of people would say, in fact, I just heard this recently, I was at a meeting and we had hello at the front of the room that has a lot of experience in the it services mace. And one of the things he said is that often entrepreneurs will sell their business and they’ll go off and try something else and then they’ll come back because of the familiarity with, well, I know the it services space. And so they kind of come back to it. And so he was actually costing the people in the room against the idea of trying, trying a different business is what you’re doing typical of private equity.
What would a typical private equity firm be involved in multiple industries or is that something that’s kind of unique to what you’re doing? Yes and no. So private equity groups will, will oftentimes be involved in different industries. They sometimes go in kicking and screaming because I’ve learned something new. But because they’re basing it on the economic value in the backend we’ll learn, you know, medical products because we think this is going to be a good return for us. And then oftentimes I’ll go and try to redo that. Medical products, medical products, medical products. The challenge though is that filter of medical products removes the things we talked about earlier. What’s the passion for the business? You guys, are you guys willing to roll your sleeves up and do something different every single time? Cause there’s not two companies and medical products that are the same but not manage the same way.
They don’t have the same challenges. They don’t have the same financial issues, customer sets, geography, cost to capital, everything’s different. So you might’ve again had dog food and medical products might be closer operationally to manage than to medical products companies. Right. And so there’s egg is more just how you view how you view these things and your, your point about, you know the gentleman talking about these entrepreneurs that go out and sell their companies and come back and try to do it again. Most often in my mind, they weren’t entrepreneurs to begin with. They were, they were technologist running a small business. Right? That’s just what they were. And they’re in. So if I’m a, if I’m a guy that runs shoe stores and I saw my shoe store, I can go back and around the shoe store and that’s, that’s what I was doing.
But it was not an entrepreneur. I know. And, and and I’ve got a, I’ve got a, maybe a higher bar or a harsher view on the term entrepreneur and I, and I fell in love with it. This gentleman by the name of Howard Stevenson from Harvard, looked the guy up super smart, lot smarter than me. Well Harvard. So I was at Chico state. The sure the fine is awesome. It’s fantastic. I would never take that back. It’s wonderful. But his definition of entrepreneurship was, you know, the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled. Oh, and so you know, in, in far few people or if you know, the two to two few people ever go after that approach of I am to go after something because it’s the right thing to do because I want to get this thing done because I have to get it done because I’m passionate about it.
I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet. I don’t know how I’m going to find the money. I don’t know where I’m going to find the technology. I don’t know where my customer is going to come from. I don’t know those things, but I’m going to go do it. Most people. I’ve heard tons of people, I speak at universities all places and feel, come at me ice, man, I really, really want to be an entrepreneur. I just, I want to make sure that you know that financially I’m stable. Right? And then, and then I can be an entrepreneur. That’s, that’s the exact opposite. You just, it does those, those don’t go together. Right. So you know that security is what keeps you from being that entrepreneur. That’s also why it’s hard for, for guys to become, you know, we always hear things. You see a serial entrepreneur, was he really, he was an entrepreneur the first time.
He made a lot of money and then he kept investing in businesses. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s an entrepreneur, he’s not out there. Again, there’s no issue with the resources. He’s got complete control over the resources to get it done right. They just said, I’m going to go and rinse, repeat. I’m just going to go keep and do the same thing over and over again. You know? And so, you know, to me again back, we talk about the greatest, you know, the greatest successes in this world have come from people being challenged and people having to really stretch themselves to get there. And that’s it. That’s where everything great comes from. And that can’t happen really over and over again inside your line of business because you know it now and you’re, you’re almost without being able to avoid it, dumbing yourself back down in the center of that bell curve, right?
So the first time you did it, you were making decisions because it was a necessity and I was able to risk things and go after and try things that are new. Why? Because I don’t have, I don’t have a choice and I got to make a decision today. I run out of money tomorrow. It might be the right decision. I got money until the end of the month. It was the wrong decision and didn’t work out so well. But as you go into your version two, three, four, and five, you know, and I, and I’m, I’m guilty of the same thing. You begin to move those things to the center of the bell curve, right? You’re saying now, Oh man, I know I can make it through the year if we only do this right. I know I can do this. And you know, and that’s, that’s OK. Yeah. That’s what 99% of 99.9% of the businesses out there operate that way.
And it’s fantastic. And there’s the lifestyle businesses, even if they’re small, even if they’re new, even if they’re venture backed or lifestyle businesses, people are using those things to pay the mortgage, which is fine, but those aren’t the meaningful ones. Those aren’t the ones that get you fired up. Right. Those, you know, that’s, that’s again, maybe what takes, takes me or drives me into things that I don’t know and don’t understand. You know, let’s go start a business in Bangladesh. You go, what business? I don’t know. I have no idea. I was just, let’s go to Bangladesh and let’s figure this thing out. And by the way, if you want to start a business in Bangladesh, I’m totally in. I’m already already, yeah. So I’ll, I’ll love a lot of what you’re saying, but at the same time that, you know, there’s people and I count myself, group predictability is comfortable, right?
I sometimes joke when we think all the, you, we had a fantastic year last year and in 2019 Rocket IT out of bag out here. Awesome. And I’ve told my team I’ve had bad years and I’ve had good years and I like it. Good ones way better. Right? And so once you kind of figure out, okay, well I’m good at this, or this is what worked, or this is an industry that has produced a certain result consistently over a long period of time, it’s really hard to walk away from that comfort and that predictability and try something different. But I would agree with you that when the occasional unpredicted event occurs you do learn a lot in that. And maybe that may be it’s fixed. Yes. Stories. So speaking, which I would love to, I would love to ask you, you kind of surprise you with this question a little bit.
What’s your favorite width? Like? I’m sure, I’m sure. I mean adventures that you’ve had and the things that you’ve gotten the businesses involved in there was probably at least one Oh two we’re excited about that. That didn’t turn out like you wanted, but you had fun anyway. Like it’s, it’s become the story. Can you think of a project like that? I can think of lots of them. Yeah, there’s been, there’s been lots of those. Some have not been so exciting and so fun. But yeah, I mean I think that the one that was probably most interesting was a, what’s the right phrase for this? It was a medical tourism company in Thailand and you know, we had really created a tremendous model to move, you know, to move people from all over the, it was really focused on a number of countries. And so Canada, UK, France, a lot of places who have, have a, have a state run or government run a medical system.
So I’m 50 years old, my knees complete crap right now. And they tell me, walk with a cane until you’re 60 then I’ll give you a replacement knee. So how do you get them to Thailand and how do you, how do you get some stuff done? Your cost effectively. Yeah, I’ve heard of people doing that for sure. Yeah. And it was, it was great running well, everything was fantastic. And I was going to Thailand and checking this stuff out and their hospitals are great and the people are fantastic and we’re, you know, we’re building it up the right way and then we just realize, you know, maybe about a year and a half into it that we didn’t have any actually licenses to be practicing medicine. Oh yeah. So, so apparently I think we were doing it in Thailand. Apparently it was, it was important to the people who told us.
Yes. They, they, they seem pretty adamant that we needed to have licensed to operate new. Oh man. Wow. Okay. Somebody should’ve checked on his chart. Was that, was it yours? Man? I can’t remember. You know, and but a really, really good business that I’m sure some, some Thai entrepreneur knows owning and running. That’s fantastic. The roadmap for businesses. Exactly. Okay. Just for licenses. We apparently need to license around this operation. So awesome. But again you look at and you go, man, I lost money in that, but I didn’t lose time and I didn’t lose enjoyment and I didn’t lose you. And I met tons of cool people and well, loss of money always essentially a a co it’s the cost of education. Yeah, it is. It’s cost education and you know, there’s a lot more people who over that same period of time made a lot of money, but it looked back and they say, I basically, I blinked, closed my eyes on January 1st.
I opened my eyes on December 31st and I don’t really don’t really know what happened. I could just, that year went away and if you want to suck the soul out of me, it would be to have that happen. Right. And that definitely didn’t happen, you know, over that period of time or building up that company. So, you know, I look at that and go, it’s like being Disneyland Disneyland’s also really expensive, but it’s fun. Yeah. You go there and have a good time or you go skiing in Jackson hole, it’s really expensive and it’s super fun. And a lot of this stuff operates that way. I mean, as long as your eyes wide open about, Hey listen, this is, this is risky capital, or we’re going to go do this and built this business up. If it’s success, fantastic. If it’s not, shame on us or good for us or whatever.
It just, you guys go out there and do it and I think of you’re better off for it. And the business model is replicable. The business model will work. No one thought it would work beforehand. So, you know, we made some mistakes, some huge ones, but we’re off and running and doing it, doing it again somewhere else. I love it. So one thing I want to make sure we touch on that folks that don’t know you listening to this podcast might make the assumption this guy’s totally single trial, real world like this and been involved in all these businesses, but you’re not. You’re raising dad and you’ve told me that you’re a great spouse, a wonderful spouse. Yes, yes. How do you, how do you balance that? Because I know, I know, I know you personally and I know that your family is a, is the highest importance in your life.
How do you, how do you make sure that you’re doing a great job of managing your relationships at home while you’re also doing all these cool things around the world? I mean, first off is you can never do it as well as you’d like. And so there’s many times I’m thinking if the times that you really know you screwed it up is when something happens at home business, you kind of go, eh, right. You know, whatever, I’ll, I’ll take a vodka and soda, please. Thank you very much. You know, at, at home you really got to focus on these things. But I think the, at the core of it really is you think it’s impossible for you to go out and get married, have kids, and then decide what you want to do with your life, if that, if it’s different than what you married into and what you’ve established, you know?
And so my wife knew me in college. She knew who I was. I know who she was. And so, you know, what I loved about her was that she was adventurous and she was, she’s not like me. She’s not insane, but she is completely okay with everything that, you know, or I wouldn’t be doing this. My life would be so different without her because, you know, she’s, and I, and I could, you know, all, I couldn’t imagine, you know, what my life would be like if I had to provide certain assurances and certain structures to, you know, to the home life that was, you know, that was not the way that I’m built to go do. And so you know, the most influential person in my life would be my wife because it’s influenced everything. But I’ve also come to the realization just like businesses and just like everything else is that, it’s that pressure to the Pareto principle 80, 20.
And a lot of people focus on the 80 and not the 20. And so they’ll say, Hey, listen, I’ve but I’m with my kids all the time and I’m home every single night and I ride, I only work eight to five but I went to work before they got up. I came home for dinner as they went to bed. I didn’t see them. And when I saw them, I was talking about homework when I, you know, it’s that type of thing. So you were 80, you’re 80% of your effort, but you’re only getting 20% of the effect. And I’m saying this like I’m some granddad, like I know it’s going on. I don’t, but I’ve realized in my life, the times of my relationship with the kids with the best or with my wife and the best is when it was just that, that focus, that 20, that four, right.
Can I get to my kid? Can I get to my 64% of effectiveness in 4% right. Just focus. Take them like we would, you would work. We’re not big into like school and things. So, you know, we would say, listen, we could, we could, you know, be stressed and beat ourselves up, taking them to Disneyland over Christmas or we just take them out of school in the middle of the year when no one’s there and then bring another round. We’re apart, we’re going to go and we’re going to go skiing in the middle of the week. We’re going to go, you know, to making sure that we are able to spend time with them that way, you know, and so they have to, or like, I know your yours or yours or moving on as well and they’ve gone. I’ve got one or two of them in college and one still in high school right now.
And, and you know, and I love the fact that, okay, great, it’s Tuesday. I’m going to go ride my motorcycle to Illinois. Just hang with my daughter for a couple of days. Right. And to me, the time that I have with her, doing that as an example is so much more than, you know, you’ve just, okay, well I’m perfect. We’re forced to be together X amount of times and whatnot, so I can travel the world. But as long as I keep really, really, they know, focusing on them the entire time, things are going to go. Okay. That’s awesome. I love, I love how you’ve done that. Still adventuring. I love motorcycle and I, that sounds pretty adventurous. Yeah. Are you doing physical stuff these days? Yeah. Yeah. What keeps, what keeps your attention on the, on the adventure side? I’m still the things that I don’t know if I could physically do.
So I still like about once a year I try to get to the Rockies and go climb something there, you know, and drag some, some crazy friends of mine along with me or whatever, whatever it might be. Just, you know, so skiing or anything else I can go, I can go do is just, just something to keep my brain going. I do ride my, I’ve got a, I got an adventure bike that I’ll ride for, like I’ve probably written 15,000 miles as far on and like, wow. You know, so I mean, and I figured out now, which is fantastic, Matt, you like this. So I’ve got the whole set up right now where I can have eight hours of conference calls, you know, on my motorcycle and no one knows. No one knows I’m on my motorcycle and idea. It’s just, it’s, it’s wonderful.
Wow. So, yeah, I like to see that. So yeah, it’s good. So that’s, that’s kind of freed me up to go to, good to go do what I want to do. There’s a there’s a book, it was called a motorcycle investor, if I remember correctly. I’ll have to dig it up. Yeah. Now we’ll put it in the show notes too after the show. Great. His name was bill bill Rogers, but I’ll have to look it up. Is written years ago now. But guy basically rode his bike around the world and as he wrote it across these different countries, he was talking about the economics and the investment potential and all these different motorcycles sort of reminded me. Yeah, I love that. So we’ll, we’ll I understand you also spend a little bit of your time philanthropically or humanitarian causes. What’s your favorite you know, right now the last, I guess three years.
Yeah. Three years. I’ve been in building leadership program for the United nations to help kind of streamline the, the cash influx into Africa and into Asia and some of the spots. And so as we do so, yes. Wow. That’s awesome. Yeah. And same thing, remember me being 25, turning out a software company? Yeah. Just, I’m just as ill-equipped and you know, and wow. I don’t have the capability set of doing it, but we’re, we’re building up the Cape, the the, the functional capabilities of these, of these regions, these countries, these communities, what not to take in cash and know what to do with it. How do you, how do you take this stuff in? How do you hire the right guys? How do you build teams, you know? And so it’s, so we’re doing that so that, you know, world health organization and the it trade organization and, and you know, in the United nations and others can effectively move money into these regions that is wasting it.
So it’s actually getting, it’s actually getting used pretty well and it’s been, it’s been going well and I’m enjoying it 26 countries in Africa and wow. And so spending a good amount of time. That’s fantastic. We all you’ve heard about, I’m sure you’ll remember the name of it. I don’t off the top of my head, but the billionaires, bill Gates and Warren buffet and so forth getting together and pledging a lot of their assets for the benefit humanity. Correct. And so our assumption is, is that we’re going to see a lot of parts of the world have an influx of cash and investment. So wonderful that we’re spending some time making some investments that folks know what to do with that. Yeah, absolutely. Cool. Yeah, it’s good going well. So let’s go move on to our lightning round questions that we try and ask him.
One of our guests. And so I’ll jump right in here. Tell us about a person and your life. Yeah. It had a profound impact on your future. Man, probably my college football coach or college track coach. Yeah. So Larry Burleson. Yeah. And he would just constantly just tell me not to be an idiot. And you found that helpful? Yeah. At first I thought I’d just something he said that I realized over time that now he really just wanted me to not be an idiot, you know? And and so it sounds crazy. You fast forward 30 years ago going, just don’t be an idiot. Don’t be an idiot. So yeah, it wasn’t something grand that he would say, but yeah, just, just don’t be an idiot. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Well, I don’t know. My next question is, what’s the single most important lesson that you’ve learned?
Is that it problems? Probably like a, a, you know, a derivative of arrive, you know, important lesson I’ve learned, and this is, I think it hamstrings most people who are young and want to be getting business or running or running their lives. They’re so panicked over making decisions. And for me it’s like habits are so much more important than the decisions you make and you know, so you can, you know, people panic over, do I go take this job or that job and I leave this job for that one. What’s going to happen? What if I buy this house and I don’t rent it or whatever it might be. And the reality is none of those matters. None of those are such small. You know, the biggest thing is what do you fill in your brain with and you know how are you treating people around you and how are you going to react when things go wrong and how are you going to wrap with things go right?
Or these are, those are far, far better indicators of what’s going on in your life and just ditch the whole issue of trying to be right with the decisions. You’re going to be wrong, right? You’re, you’re not wise enough. So just make tons of decisions, you know, all down, get up fast and just, and just keep going. And so again, that habits versus decisions, I think that habits will trumpet every time. Just being, just be conscious of that. Awesome. So you mentioned filling your brain. Yeah. Do you like to read lot? I do some podcasts. I do, I do. Everything, it depends on, you know, when I travel a lot. And so, you know, so yeah. So I, I like, I like talking to humans. I really do. I enjoy talking to humans and asking questions and so I, wherever I can do that, I do it.
Then for dead humans, I like to read their books. So yeah. Cause they’re harder to get information from otherwise. So and one of us has been dead for 2000 years. I, I’ll read every year. I’ll read meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Oh, I love it. It’s not like the most exciting read and you know, but it is, you just, you have to read it. So you just gotta go through it. You make your way through it. In the end of it, you think, okay, I’m better off for it. And, and the appreciation is that, you know, what’s old is new, what’s new is old. We’re not going through anything today that guys didn’t go through. You know, what, what’s, you know, Cicero wrote in what Seneca wrote and what are, you know, Marcus Aurelius wrote or what whoever they writing about the same stuff we’re doing now.
And they just had less distractions, which means they had more clarity. And with that clarity came wisdom. And so you, it’s hard today. You know, we have writers today to so many writers, which is good. We can push a lot of information around there. But if you wrote a book, Matt, and it was about something that was good, then I, if I want to sell my book, my needs to be more gooder, so I’ve got to turn it up a notch, which means that I’m just adding noise and nonsense to it. Right? And so what happens is you’re reading books now and you’re really having to go through and go, is that really what I should do? I need to, you know, tap my head and rub my belly. I’m not exactly sure what all this stuff is. And you go back and you read stuff from Socrates that these guys didn’t realize.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Or they’re, they, they, they knew, they knew how we should we live our lives and what we, you know, kind of the basis of success were, and they had their arms wrapped around that because they were still humans and they were, you know, they were thoughtful beings and they, you know, they, they relied on asking the generations before them real questions and we don’t know. We’re not, we’re not good at that. And so, so meditations or Marcus or relays is great. There’s lots along the same lines, but that one’s a good one for me. Another one I love is a, probably an old man’s toy. Oh yeah, that’s a good one. And it’s, it is a science book, but it’s not, I mean, it’s a really, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a well written book about, yeah, it’s about Einstein’s relativity and you know, the general theory and the special theory of relativity and blah, blah, blah.
But it’s, it’s a really interesting. For me at least, it’s a, there’s so many parallels between all these, you know, these science axioms and, and theorems and whatnot and what we’re doing in real life. And so to me, I just see, I just see these, you know, these, these these parallels and similarities and whatnot and allows me to make better decisions about things that are going on here. Wow. Very cool. You know, you’re the second yest in a row that has a pointed back to biographies and all the writings you’ve gone back even further. 2000 years is pretty, pretty long. My aspect, I guess. Special. Fascinating. Very good. Good. How can people contact you or if they want to learn more about you? Oh man, what’s the best way to do that? Email. Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you what, if somebody really wants to get contact with you, they can contact us and let you know. Fantastic. Fantastic stuff to help. Sorry to cut you off.
No worries. I’ve ever even thought about that before. We usually I’ll ask for home phone number and all that stuff, so don’t worry about it at all. They listen. Jeff has been great. On that note, I believe it’s time to wrap things up. Jeff, for myself and our audience. Thank you for joining us today. To our listeners. Thank you for tuning in to the Rocket IT Business Podcast. Should you have any suggestions for future topics that you’d like to hear more about? Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and finally a quick plug for Rocket IT. We work with businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities in the areas of it, support, information security and strategic planning. To learn more about Rocket IT and its services, simply visit rocketit.com. Thank you Jeff. Thank you very much. Enjoyed it.