Welcome to episode 153 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork chat with Kevin Waldron about being an effective business owner and achieving the life you want.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork talked with Food Blogger Pro member, Carrie Forrest, about 6 big mistakes that she made over her 9 years of blogging. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Playing the Game of Business
Kevin isn’t just a business coach, he’s Bjork’s business coach! He’s in the business of helping people evaluate their current business situation and giving them actionable ways to get to where they want to be.
In this episode, Kevin talks about how you can play the game of business to get what you want. You’ll learn how to evaluate what you should be doing more of and, more importantly, what you shouldn’t be doing as you grow into an effective leader and business owner.
Let’s dive in!
In this episode, Kevin shares:
- How he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur
- The moment he became an entrepreneur
- How he approaches selling a business
- Why you might want to infuse your personality into your business
- What it’s like to no longer own your business
- How he found his sweet spot
- How he describes what he does to other people
- The most common things he addresses as a business coach
- The E Myth
- 032: Buying & Selling Websites with Mark Daoust from Quiet Light Brokerage
- Waldron Leadership
- Subscribe for Kevin’s Ready for Monday email series
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Oriana from Mommy’s Home Cooking! If you’d like to be featured, leave a review for us on iTunes and include your name and blog name in the review.
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: In this episode, I talk to my old Coach Kevin Waldron, and I share a Tasty Tip about a Peaceful Review.
Bjork Ostrom: Hey there everybody, this is Bjork Ostrom, you’re listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast, and today we’re going to be talking with my coach Kevin Waldron. And Kevin and I worked together for six months doing some business coaching, and it was a really good experience for me on so many different levels. So much so that I said, “Hey, Kevin, would you be up for coming on the podcast to talk a little bit about your life as a business owner, and then some of the things you do as a business coach?”
Bjork Ostrom: And before we get into the specifics of that interview, I wanted to provide you with the Tasty Tip for this podcast. And for those that aren’t familiar, this podcast is brought to you by WP Tasty, which is actually, kind of, the sister company, brother company, cousin company, whatever you want to call, it to Food Blogger Pro. It is the place where we create plug-ins for WordPress, for people like you, the people that listen to this podcast. We have three plug-ins right now, they are all kind of branded as the Tasty Brand. So, Tasty Links, Tasty Recipes, and Tasty Pins. And if you want to learn more about those, you can check those out at WPTasty.com.
Bjork Ostrom: And we use all of those on Pinch of Yum, and the idea was, hey, if we’re going to be creating custom plug-ins, if we’re going to be putting thousands of dollars into the process of creating these for Pinch of Yum, why not offer those at a really affordable rate for people that want to use them, as well? So, we spend the thousands of dollars building them, and then offer them to people that are running a site and want to do similar things and again you can check that out at WPTasty.com.
Bjork Ostrom: The Tasty Tip is something that we do each week on The Food Blogger Pro Podcast, and simply put, it is something that would be actionable and interesting for you as a blogger or creator. And, today’s Tasty Tip, actually has to do with one of the things that I’m going to be talking about with Kevin, or one of the things that I took away from my coaching with Kevin. That is what I call the Peaceful Review. And what is that?
Bjork Ostrom: Well, it’s not some social media strategy, or some tip for increasing your traffic, it is more of a routine that you can develop as a business owner, as a creator, or realistically as a person in general, and that is a weekly review of the past week and the future week on the weekend. And for me, I try and do this on a Sunday. And simply what I do is I sit down with a cup of coffee, or maybe it is a soda water with a little bit of lemon, and I do a little review of the past week. I say, “What are the things that worked really well last week?” And, to really spend time thinking about that, what was the best past of last week? What did I enjoy? What things went really well? To reflect on the last week.
Bjork Ostrom: And then to look ahead and say, “How can I apply that to the week ahead?” Now, not only am I looking at the week ahead, and thinking, how can I apply that? But, I’m also looking at my calendar, and saying, “What does next week look like from a calendar perspective?” To review that, to make sure I’m intentional to the things I want to accomplish, what I want my week to look like, and also, the things that are going to make that as enjoyable as possible. And the nice thing about doing this on a Saturday or Sunday is it’s not a work day, but it is a way for you to reflect on your work, not to actually do any work, but just to think about the ways that you can improve the work that you’re doing, and in a lot of ways, improve how you feel about doing it.
Bjork Ostrom: And it can be a peaceful and calm process, and I like to do that on a Sunday. If we’re busy on a Sunday, visiting with family or friends, then I’ll try and do that on a Saturday. But it’s just taking a half an hour, maybe an hour, processing through any of the stuff that I have in my inbox, whether physical or digital, putting it in its correct place, and then looking at my calendar and reflecting and saying, “Okay, how can I make this a better week ahead? And what was great about the past week?” I like to put that on my calendar as a scheduled thing, and I like to think of it as the Peaceful Review. It’s all about branding, right?
Bjork Ostrom: So, that is the Tasty Tip for this week, you can apply that, think about ways that you can integrate a Peaceful Review into your week. I think if you do that, and use that intentionally, what you’ll find is that you are able to not only accomplish more, but more importantly, enjoy the work that you’re doing, and how you’re doing it.
Bjork Ostrom: So, with that in mind, it’s a good lead-in to this interview with Kevin. And Kevin is a leadership and business coach, and he’s going to share his story. But, he’s also going to share advice for you as a creator, as a business owner, that you can integrate into your life, and kind of has to do with similar things that I talked about in the Tasty Tip, so let’s go ahead and jump into this interview.
Bjork Ostrom: Kevin, welcome to the podcast.
Kevin Waldron: Thank you, happy to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, this is fun, because I have done many coaching sessions with you, and you have grilled me with questions, and now if there’s nothing else that I get out of this interview it will be the chance to flip the script and ask you questions, so it’ll be a little bit different.
Kevin Waldron: That sounds like fun, sounds like fun.
Bjork Ostrom: So, Kevin, one of the things that I like to do before getting into the ground level application stuff for the podcast, is to rewind the tape a little bit and hear a little bit about people’s story. And the funny thing with our relationship is you know a lot about my story, but because of our relationship as coach and coachee, you asked a lot of questions about me, know a lot about me, but I don’t know a ton about you. I know kind of high-level about your story, but I know that there’s a lot of success, there’s a lot of things that you’ve learned in your past through your business ventures. So, I would love to rewind the tape a little bit and hear kind of the Spark Notes version of your story.
Kevin Waldron: Spark Notes version. Well first of all, for any of you listening, you probably figured out that I’m not from California, where I live now. Let’s see, I came from Scotland in 1985, and had the chance to go to school for a couple of years here. Once I was done with college, tried to figure out what I was going to do next, like most entrepreneurial journeys, I find, you just bumped into somebody. I actually met a guy in a bar of all things. He was doing carpet cleaning and water damage restoration and took up a side job working with this guy. And then basically, over the next year and half, learned everything working for this guy about how to do water damage restoration, and was literally too dumb to know that I couldn’t do it by myself.
Kevin Waldron: So, when I watched how this guy … I mean, literally watched how he treated customers, and got business done, and how hard it was to be an entrepreneur too. I saw that it wasn’t a piece of cake, but I saw that if you just applied yourself, and literally it sounds so trite, Bjork, but if you show up on time and you do a good job you beat 90% of the people that are out there.
Kevin Waldron: So, too dumb to know that I couldn’t do it so I just started, and it was literally just me and one technician in the beginning. Started this whole company and just kept building it up, taking care of people. Cashflow-wise, as a lot of people that listen to this show probably know, cash is tougher to start. We didn’t have a line of credit for the first six or seven years of the business, so it really forced us to, you know the fancy word now is how do you monetize things? Well, back then it was just called how do you pay the bills?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, how do you make money?
Kevin Waldron: How do you make money, right? Literally. We didn’t have the option of getting it wrong. Every week it became this thing about how do you take care of customers? How do you do a good job? How do you get paid so that you can continue operations on? And in a nutshell, I built that thing up over the course of seventeen years by the time I sold it, but we built it up from scratch. And when I sold it, we had … Let’s see … Five offices, over two hundred employees, and we were doing about $24 million a year in sales.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And when you were starting, did you know … One of the things I’m always interested in hearing from entrepreneurs is if they felt like, and if when they look back they could say, “Hey I was always an entrepreneur.” I feel like you can compare it to runners, where people know they’re good at running because they just want to run. At that point did you know that you were an entrepreneur and that’s what you wanted to do? Or you were humble about it, but you kind of talk about bumping into the right people, and doors opening up, but obviously you have to walk through it even if the door opens.
Kevin Waldron: That’s a great question. And this is kind of personal, but I can remember having a conversation with a girl I was seeing at the time, it was before I met my wife. And she asked me, when I was working for this guy and she said, “Well what do you want to do with your life?” I went, “Well I don’t know. I want to work in a big company, and maybe manage some operations at the time.” I remember when I said it to her, there came a feeling inside of my body was like, “Ugh, yuck, are you kidding? I mean is that what I’m aspiring to, to manage a big company? Ugh.”
Kevin Waldron: And then I think, looking back, it was probably in my genes because I had done a lot of small entrepreneurial stuff, but I don’t really think it was until I saw the possibility that I could actually do it for myself, and I thought that it was possible, that’s when it took off. That’s when I thought … And I wouldn’t even call myself an entrepreneur back then.
Bjork Ostrom: Why not?
Kevin Waldron: Because I didn’t have the vocabulary for it.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Kevin Waldron: I didn’t have the … It wasn’t about world domination for me. It was just about can I make a living for myself and my family, and could I … I don’t know if [inaudible 00:10:59] is a great way to talk about it, but I knew I didn’t want a job, I knew I wanted to create my own destiny. And then have a new opportunity then I just ran with it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And when you say “didn’t have the right vocabulary.” What do you mean by that?
Kevin Waldron: Simply being exposed to stuff, right? I mean growing up in Scotland it wasn’t exactly an entrepreneurial hotbed, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Kevin Waldron: People would go work for big companies, or you worked for the government or whatever. I wasn’t exposed to a lot of entrepreneurial people, and a lot of ideas. Back then that was 1980 … I started my business in 1990. The internet wasn’t exactly thriving back then, so there wasn’t the amount of information and connection that there is nowadays for people. I think it took me a while just to sort of get in the game.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And you talked about that moment where it kind of switched over. If you looked back to that, what was it about going from non-entrepreneur to entrepreneur? What allowed you to make that transition?
Kevin Waldron: I will never forget, like sometimes those moments in your life where you can just remember exactly that moment, like what the sun was doing, how the temperature was, what you were feeling. For me, it was the day that I started the company and I had to go to the bank, and it was Wells Fargo Bank, on Fourth and Brannan Street in San Francisco. And I can remember walking into the bank. I can remember what the clothes I wore. I can remember the sun in my face and walking in, getting ready to open up my first business account, and thinking, “I can do this, this can actually happen.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and isn’t that interesting? There’s a few moments in my life as well where in the moment I’ve thought “I’ll never forget this.” And that’s proven to be true. Those moments are crystal clear. And I think that you can have those in your personal life, you can have those in your business life. And it’s interesting to think back to what those moments are and what they signified and represent, so interesting to hear that.
Bjork Ostrom: You go through this process, you are this metamorphosis of being a non-entrepreneur into entrepreneur, scaling this business, finding success, having multiple locations, multi-million dollar revenue. Then this is fast forwarding through a lot of stuff, but the other point that I’m always interested in, not only the genesis, but also the transition point out of a business.
Bjork Ostrom: There’s a point where you came with your business, and you said, “It’s the right time for me to sell this business.” Can you talk to me a little about that? As entrepreneurs, is that something that we should always be thinking about?
Kevin Waldron: That, by the way, is a great question. ’Cause for me, once I got the entrepreneurial box, or once I started it, I was all in. The kind of work that we did, we did 24 hour restoration, right? We were on call 24 hours a day. I loved my business so much, I mean I loved what I was doing. I never had any intention of selling it, ever. ’Cause I was young, I was 26 when I started it. But I went to this seminar, about three weeks before I started my business, it was a guy named Michael Gerber. He wrote a book, it’s still a famous book, it’s called The E Myth.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s a great book, I’ve read it multiple times.
Kevin Waldron: He basically talks about, if you have to be there every day to be open the doors, then you don’t have a business, you have a job. I was really clear that I was willing to work hard, but I didn’t want a job. I actually wanted to build something. And for as much as I loved my business and I never had any intention of selling it. Michael Gerber talked in that book about, “Can you build a business like you’re going to sell?”
Kevin Waldron: Literally, every day for as hard as I worked, I kept thinking to myself, “Alright, if somebody was going to come along, and they were going to pay me a pot-load of money to buy this thing, what would they want to see?” They would want to see … Excuse me. They would want to see things like growing revenues. They would want to see profits going up every year. They would want to see a stable workforce. They would want to see a next generation management team in place. I built it like that, every day I would ask … that question, and … make some really good decisions about how to structure the business as we were growing it, so that it wasn’t just a reflection of me as a personality called Kevin. It was, “What is this business need to look like so that it’s really sustainable?” So, fast forward 17 years, and I’m finally ready to sell it, then I actually have something that was valuable to sell.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s interesting … This is two years ago, but it’s still a relevant interview with my friend, Mark who has a site, a business called Quiet Light Brokerage. It’s a marketplace for online businesses. And he talks a lot about buying and selling websites, and talks about some of the key elements that people look for when acquiring a site. It’s a lot of the same things, but maybe just a digital version of what you just mentioned. And a lot of the things in The E Myth, which is a great book and would really recommend people check that out. And I think there’s even an updated version that they’ve done recently.
Bjork Ostrom: My question for you, Kevin, and for context: a lot of people that listen to this podcast will have a personal business, or a business that has an element of their personality in it. Whether that be they are the business, or a lot of what they do is them and their voice, they’re an integral part of that business. So, for people where that’s true, where they’re really a significant part of the business, how do they balance building a personal business with building a business that is itself a product, kind of like they talk about it in The E Myth. Is that something that you think is possible, or what are some things that people should consider when they’re thinking about that?
Kevin Waldron: I think it’s totally possible. I think you have to … There probably comes a point in time when you have to choose, so if the business is going to be you and your personality, and that’s what drives that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think that can be a tremendous strategy because sometimes you don’t want to have a business with this nameless, faceless ACME Incorporated type of thing. It’s just a completely different business. I actually think for a lot of the people listening to this show, you probably do want to infuse your personality into it.
Kevin Waldron: The kind of stuff you’re talking about, especially the food stuff, people want to see your personality, they want to know the story behind who’s putting that stuff out there. I think it’s actually really valuable.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s interesting to look at other industries, like Food Network for instance, and so much of what they do is personality driven. The product might look the same, it’s a certain recipe, or maybe it’s talking about how to make a certain dish. But the idea is, the personality behind it is really the value of it. We think about that a lot with Pinch of Yum, and the other businesses we have. What are the ways that we can build them, continue to have a lot of personality, and not just our personality, but the personality of our team members as well? That’s a really important piece that we think about. So the shift for us has been not just thinking about us as the only personality, but how do we give our business personality, and not just think that we have to be the ones that are the only people and personality for that.
Bjork Ostrom: So, that is episode 32 for people that are listening. You can go to foodbloggerpro.com/32 that’s the interview with Mark Daoust, from Quiet Light Brokerage, so a great one to check out.
Bjork Ostrom: So Kevin, there’s this point where you are no longer the owner of the business, that’s the other thing that I’m interested in hearing about. For people that are entrepreneurs that have that in their blood, that show up for 17 years, and this becomes part of their rhythm and who they are. What is that moment like when you transition out, and you are no longer the entrepreneur for this business, or the business owner that you were a week ago?
Kevin Waldron: A moment of sheer terror.
Bjork Ostrom: And why is that?
Kevin Waldron: No, I’m kidding. The way that I like to describe it is, when you’ve been doing something for 17 years, right? You used the magic word there. There is a certain amount of rhythm and there’s an identity that’s built up there. So one of the easiest ways to describe it is: When I sold my company, I had at that time, two full-time IT people who did nothing but handle all the IT stuff. I sell my company and then a week later, something goes wrong with my computer and I realize, “Oh I actually have to go down to the Apple Store-”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and wait in line for two hours.
Kevin Waldron: Wait in line, right? So stuff like that. The big stuff, though, is: I liken to if you go on one of those giant cruise ships. They go bombing along on the open ocean at like, I don’t know, 45 miles an hour or whatever. When those things want to hit the brakes, when they hit the brakes, it still takes like 2 or 3 miles for them to slow down.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Kevin Waldron: And it really took me longer than I thought. Probably took me about a year before I was really able to completely unwind from the rhythms of that business.
Bjork Ostrom: And-
Kevin Waldron: The good news is … No, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Bjork Ostrom: Well, go ahead. I can hold my question. You were saying, “The good news is.”
Kevin Waldron: Well, so the good news is I didn’t dive into something again right away. I also didn’t … I was young, I was what, about 42 when I sold it? So it wasn’t like I retired to Arizona and played golf. I immediately jumped into a bunch of real estate ventures, did some other stuff. So I kept myself busy and just kind of hung out waiting for what was going to tickle my fancy next.
Bjork Ostrom: And was that next thing, that really was the sweet spot for you, the coaching?
Kevin Waldron: That’s what it ended up being, and I just had to be patient enough to wait for that to unfold. And literally how it came about was, made a ton of friendships and colleagues in the restoration business. And how it came about was, I had a guy in the East Coast that he was doing about four million a year, and he knew what we’d done. And he said, “We’re trying to do what you did. Would you spend some time with us and would you coach us on what you did? We’d like to be able to replicate that.”
Kevin Waldron: So I did that as a one-off project, and then just literally realized how much I loved it. And I got the same kick out of coaching them as I did running my business. Part of running my business … I had a ton of fun, made a lot of money, but the fun part was watching the people grow. Taking something from nothing and building it up, but you saw something in them that they didn’t even see. And watching them … Being able to pull that out of them and have them do things that they didn’t know how to do is absolutely fascinating to me. And so that’s why I’m a coach now.
Bjork Ostrom: And for me, I experienced that in doing coaching sessions with you. And that’s really what a coach is. You think about a coach for an NBA team, or baseball team, or a chess player, what they’re doing is they’re trying to fully leverage, fully unearth the potential of their players and the potential of the team. And what a valuable thing that is, and how strange it is that it’s maybe not more common in a business setting for entrepreneurs to have somebody that looks from the outside and coaches them on what they do. So when people meet you at a bar, or a meetup, or going up the elevator, how do you describe to them what it is that you do?
Kevin Waldron: That’s a great question, ’cause I’ll tell you, for as prolific as I am at coaching, it’s still the weirdest thing to tell people.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Kevin Waldron: I always stumble over it. I swear to god, it’s so bizarre. “What do you do?” “I’m a coach for businesses.”
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Yeah, if you just said, “I’m a coach.” People would be like, “Okay.” But then you explain what kind of coach it is and people are like, “Wait, but that’s not how I understand coaching.”
Kevin Waldron: Exactly. So I guess if I was talking to somebody in an elevator, it would be like, “I work with committed entrepreneurs.” So for me, there has to be a commitment there. Meaning that people are willing. They have to be willing and want to do the work. And they have to want something different than they’re at right now. So I tend not to work with people that are looking for a 10 or 20% increase in what they’re doing. I’m looking to work with people that are like, “I want to be there, over there.” So, whether it was double … And it doesn’t have to be double or triple the business, but it just has to be something significant that they’re not doing right now.
Kevin Waldron: So, people typically come see me when they’re in one of two places. They’re either, they’ve got a really big problem that they want to fix. Whether it … It could be cash flow, it could be sales. Quite frankly, sometimes it’s, they’re running a really great business, but their personal side of life hasn’t gone as well as it could be. And for those of you listening, having that kind of money in the bank does not make you immune to having a family life that you want either, right? So I’ve coached some one or two people that have tons of money, but their kids don’t like them, or they don’t have this great relationship with their wife or their husband that they’d like. So there’s something missing that they want. And I see my job is to be able to help them get it.
Bjork Ostrom: And that was one of the things that I so appreciated about a lot of the conversations, especially early conversations we had was, knowing that they’re not mutually exclusive, those things. There’s a massive overlap between personal and business, and family and business, and how important those things are to have right across the board. Not just to, “Hey, let’s think about how to massively grow your business.” Well, at the sacrifice of what? A lot of times the sacrifice that comes along with that isn’t worth it. And so to have perspective across the board is so valuable.
Kevin Waldron: And that’s why you were so great to work with, because you got that right away. And I guess the easiest way to talk about that, Bjork, is it’s what it is. Is it’s coaching the whole entrepreneur. So I don’t just coach people on sales, or profit, or whatever. It has to be the whole package. And you said there, “In sacrifice of what?” I like to say, “If we’re going to take on this project, that work or whatever, what’s it going to be in service of?” So in other words, you put your life first, and you put your lifestyle first, and then you design your business so that it fits that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And that’s something I still think about is, what is end goal? That was one of the conversations we had often is, “Okay, so if you want to do this, why? What is the purpose behind doing it?” And I think that’s a huge take-away for people listening to this, ’cause sometimes I feel like you can glom onto an idea, a goal, and you want to do it just because you want to do it. And you set the goal because you’ve set the goal. And to have clarity around what that represents and what that does, what it’s in service of, is so, so significantly important, and a huge take-away that I’ve had from working with you.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things-
Kevin Waldron: Yeah, ’cause-
Bjork Ostrom: … that I think is so valuable, Kevin, is your experience getting an inside look at, more than anybody else, to the businesses and life of an entrepreneur. And obviously, it’s not like you’re going to talk about specific entrepreneurs, but one of the things that I love to hear about from people like you is kind of the … I feel like you develop a Spidey Sense or a sixth sense on things that are common traits between entrepreneurs that are either areas that they need to watch out for, or things that allow people to work really hard and be successful. So I’d love to hear some of your thoughts around specific questions relating to that.
Bjork Ostrom: And the first one is: When you work with somebody, when you’re going through a coaching session, what do you feel like is the ground zero place to start? Like if you think of remodeling a house, you go in and maybe you start with the most basics, and you say, “Okay, we’re going to make sure the floors are sturdy.” What are the things for entrepreneurs that you work with that are kind of the 101 thing that you address when you first get started?
Kevin Waldron: Well, that’s a great question. I’d say ground floor, and I don’t know if this is the answer you’re looking for, but ground floor is, I want to know where are you at right now. What’s current reality for you right now? So before we go off chasing giant dreams and goals, and here’s a lot of stuff I want to do, I want to know, how does life exist for you right now? How are you looking at your business? And the way that I like to talk about it is two futures. So what’s the default future that you’ve got right now? So in other words, if you take a look at your business and your life right now, what does it look like? What’s the trajectory? So if you stayed on this path, what’s life going to look like in six months, or five years, or 10 years, or whatever?
Kevin Waldron: And then once you look at that, then you can decide. And in some cases it’s like, “You know what? The future actually looks pretty good, there’s not too much I’d want to change.” In which case you probably don’t need coaching. But if you look at that and there’s some part of that that you go, “Nah, you know what, that doesn’t sit right with me.” Or if I continue on down that path, life doesn’t look as exciting or enlivening as it could be. So you look at the current reality, then you set it aside and then you go, “What would you like? What would you like to have happen? What would make life be … Basically, for what would life be worth living?”
Kevin Waldron: And then going far enough into the future where you can just design a future and work backwards. So that’s a really simple way to do it. We don’t get too complicated about it. You go a year out and you go, “If you and I were sitting here together a year from now, what would you want to hold and be true? And if that were true, what would that mean?” And for some cases it would be really simple. It could be like, “I’d want to be doing … I’m doing $5,000 a month in blogging revenue right now, and I’d love to be able to do $25,000 a month in a year.” And then, how do we turn that into a game? ’Cause most people can make it to …
Kevin Waldron: I have actually worked with a client yesterday who wanted to turn that into a little bit of a therapy session, where it was like, “Well, let’s talk about all of my problems, and this is the way that I’ve always been for the last 25 years. And da da da da.” And I wasn’t interested in hearing that story whatsoever, because it wasn’t going to do him any good. So the only thing we had to focus on was where are you at right now, and then this example, “I’m at $5,000 a month.” “Well, what would you like?” “Well, I’d like to be at $25,000 a month.” “Great.” Then how do we create a game around that?
Kevin Waldron: Oh, and that’s the other thing. Before we get into creating that game, we look at, well, what would $25,000 a month mean? “Well, it would mean I’d be able to send my kids to the school I wanted to send them to. I’d be able to take care of my parents. We’d be able to put money aside for our retirement. We’d be able to have some traps that we like.” He got really clear about what it would mean to be able to produce that result. Then simply turn that into a game and start playing the game.
Bjork Ostrom: And what do you mean by that, turn it into a game and start playing the game?
Kevin Waldron: Well, I think we can make, especially when you’re starting as an entrepreneur, we can make it so significant. And I think anybody listening to this, I don’t care who you are, you’ve already figured that to be successful as an entrepreneur it’s not as easy as most people make it out to be. The things that you and Lindsay did, the actual hands-on physical tools and inspiration that you guys provide to people, I think is magnificent. I think that gives people … What you do for people that want to be successful in that realm I think is fantastic. So you actually give them the tools to be able to get what they want. So to take it on like a game means … Just let me think about how to talk about this in a way that would be useful.
Kevin Waldron: Set the intention for what you want and then work backwards, and with any kind of … whether it been a referendum on who you are as a person to start playing the game. So if you were this guy, for example, I’ll make it up. He needs to make money, and that’s his conversation. “I need to make money.” And we boiled it all the way down to, “All right, well what does it look like? What would game be for next week?” “Well, I want to produce one $25,000 video project by next week.” Great, then let’s begin. And the game would be, well, how do you play that game? And like little kids, little kids are not significant when they play games if you watch them. If you go to any schoolyard in the world, all kids are just there, they’re having fun, playing kick ball or whatever.
Kevin Waldron: So the game for this guy for next week was, “Well great, what’s the game? So what are the rules? How do you play? When does the game end?” “Next Friday.” “How do you know if you won?” “Well, yeah, you got a $25,000 contract.” “How are you going to be as you play the game? Are you going to be uptight, insignificant, and your brow is furrowed? Or are you going to be having fun connecting with people, serving?” Then you would look at things like, if I was really playing that game to win, when would I get up in the morning? When would I go to bed?
Kevin Waldron: I know a lot of people listening to this are probably maybe your blogging business isn’t your full-time business. Maybe this is your … You guys would call it like a side hustle until you get it to full-time. So how would you do that? When would you go to bed at night? When would you get up in the morning? Who would you talk to? Who would you not talk to? What would you be doing, what would you be not doing? Does that track, does that make sense?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I think of how this concept of gamification is becoming so important in education. And looking to actual games, whether that be a game on your phone, or a video game, or a card game, or a board game, and thinking about what are the elements of this that make it interesting and fun, and trying to pull out some of those things and apply those to what you are doing. And the example that you gave was having a clear end-goal, so whether that’s the game of life, which I don’t play much, but maybe an adequate analogy, because this is the game of life. But the idea where there’s the final place where you land, and so knowing where that is … And not that you ever get to that place and then you’re just done, but you have this goal. And then like you said, building backwards, taking your little piece, and then putting it at the start. And then figuring out, “Okay, what are the ways that I move this piece and advance it along the way?”
Bjork Ostrom: And I think the other important element with that is, and it could get passed up in the analogy, but it’s probably one of the most important things: How do you make it fun? How do you make it enjoyable and build things in along the way where you’re not just grinding the whole time and it becomes you serving this goal, but being miserable in your attempt to achieve it? And I think it’s … I can feel my shoulders lighten a little bit when I think about, “Hey, let’s enjoy the process of doing this, and also work really hard along the way.” So yeah, it absolutely makes sense.
Kevin Waldron: Listen, what you just said there, Bjork, is brilliant. If you’re listening to this, rewind the last 20 seconds and listen to that again. ’Cause if you think about it, I took a client one time, I invented a game. So I took a client on a nine month coaching program, and we developed a coaching program around taking him to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. And Mount Kilimanjaro is 19,348 feet. So in a nutshell, we trained for that for nine months. We did training hikes up in Yosemite, in California. He did all kinds of physical fitness work. And it was a nine month journey that we enjoyed the hell out of every minute of it. And there was a lot of pain involved, you had to get physically fit in a way that he hadn’t been for a while.
Kevin Waldron: And so we go to Africa, and we did a six-day climb. You get to the top and you touch the … There’s a sign thing at the top that says you’ve reached the summit. Well, once you touch that, how long does it take to celebrate? We go to the top, six-day climb, you touch the summit, and then it’s like, “Well, now what?” If we would have done that for nine months and we hadn’t had a good time along the way … And by the way, a good time doesn’t always mean sunshine and lollipops. It’s all the trials and tribulations that you go through. But that’s the fun part. So you’ve got to enjoy it along the way. And I don’t mean being frivolous, you’re going to work hard. But holy smokes, you either win the game or you lose the game, but how are you enjoying it along the way?
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s a huge take-away, and the idea of enjoying the process and enjoying the journey is something that we occasionally try and revisit on the podcast ’cause I think it’s so, so important.
Bjork Ostrom: So as you’re working with clients, and you’ve laid the foundational floorboards of the expectations, or the relationship, or the goals, this 101 baseline understanding. What then are some of the most important levers or the different areas where, as a coacher and entrepreneur, you can start to look at and say, “What would happen if we tweaked this lever up or down?” Could you name what those are, or are they too individualistic for each person? Does that make sense in terms of what a lever would be? Things that would change, or that you’d be able to adjust or tweak?
Kevin Waldron: Yeah, it’s probably too individualistic. Maybe I could talk about it this way: A lot of people in business talk about key performance indicators. So, if you look at your business, see if you can identify what are the three or four things in your business that would really move the needle. Every now and again somebody comes to me and says for example, “I want to work with you and here’s my 17 priorities for the quarter.” And I just start laughing. I go, “How can you have 17 priorities? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Kevin Waldron: As a matter of fact, I started working with someone now in January, and he was great, really established entrepreneur. He came in and he said, “Here’s my problem, I’ve put 14 boats on the water in the last two years, and none of them have sank.” Now I knew in a minute exactly what he meant. It meant nothing had sank, they were all going good, but he needed focus. We needed to pick what are the two or three that we’re going to hammer that would make all the difference.
Kevin Waldron: So take a look inside your business, see what you could leverage, and then really zero in on that. And what do you think it might be, Bjork, I’m just curious as if you might know what might be?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for like an example of what a KPI might be?
Kevin Waldron: For something you said that … like a leverage point.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, sure. I think one of….for people that listen to this podcast in this specific niche, I think probably the … This will be a broad umbrella, but quality and consistency of content. So a lot of people that listen to this, one of the most important things is the type of content that they’re producing and how often they’re producing it. The most-
Kevin Waldron: Okay, great.
Bjork Ostrom: The best scenario is extremely consistent, high quality content.
Kevin Waldron: Okay, great. So I’m going to give you a lesson or something from that, it is really, really powerful, and really simple. And this is, what would I do with super high inclines? So if you think you need to be a big business to do this, you don’t, ’cause it’s super simple. So you would take that leverage point of … What did you say? Quality and consistent content, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Kevin Waldron: Okay. So you take that as a single piece, and then every single week … So you want to come on to gamification. Every single week, you would have that as a distinction called quality and consistent content. And you would ask yourself three specific questions every week on a Monday morning. You would say, “As regards quality and consistent content last week, what worked? What didn’t work? And what’s next?” Let me walk you through those really fast.
Kevin Waldron: If you look at what worked, you have to be able to stop, ’cause as entrepreneurs, we’re like go, go, go all the time. It never seems like we have any chance for reflection. And by the way, I’m not talking about three hours out of your day and doing this. It should take you 15 minutes on a Monday morning. So as regards quality and consistent content, what worked last week? “Oh, I took the chance and I did that photo shoot outside with the avocados beside the trees.” You did something different. Did that work? What else? “I was really busy, but I just made sure that I got that content pushed out by Friday when I said I would.” And then you just go down the list specifically of what worked.
Kevin Waldron: Then you have to be willing to, as an entrepreneur, look at what didn’t work as regards quality and consistent content, and you would say, “Oh, you know what, the avocado in the trees, I got it out, but I kind of rushed the shot. And it didn’t come off quite as good as I would like, because we didn’t have the right frame rate.” So it could be that specific.
Kevin Waldron: Then you move to the last one, well what’s next? And then usually what’s next is some combination of either doubling down on what worked, or adjusting or eliminating what didn’t work. And I’m making that up, but let’s say the frame rate, you go, “Well, what didn’t work was the frame rate was off by … it went from 24, it should have been 48. Well, what’s next is this week I’m going to adjust it to 48.”
Kevin Waldron: Now that might sound super simplistic. That’s how I built a $24 million a year company, by doing that every …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I think one of the things that I appreciate about that is I think as entrepreneurs, and doers, and creators, we often think about what should I be doing? What should I be doing more of? I don’t think we as often think about what should I not be doing? And eliminating things in the … Just as much as we do add things. ’Cause there’s a long list of, “We need to be doing these things, we need to be doing these things.” I think it’s just as important to think about what are the things that I currently am doing, and then maybe have been doing for a really long time, that I need to stop doing?
Bjork Ostrom: And sometimes I think that’s harder too. It’s harder to stop doing something, ’cause it’s maybe a little bit scarier. But that’s extremely valuable. So this is tactical and maybe obvious, do you do that as a journal, or do you just take some time to think about that? Do you schedule it? What does it look like specifically for something like that to make it part of your weekly routine?
Kevin Waldron: Yeah, for me personally, including for most of my clients, it’s a Monday morning thing. And I usually do it 6:30 on a Monday morning, and I’ll look at the week before, and I just make… I hand write it, and then I do it on the computer, ’cause I want to keep track of it. ’Cause I like to see how my weeks go. And I literally put three columns: What worked? What didn’t? What’s next?
Kevin Waldron: And here’s the key: You can’t do them all together, otherwise it turns into some kind of like … You just get a beige message back. So you have to do them individually. So the first thing is you do what worked. So you have to acknowledge exactly what worked, and be really specific. Then once you’ve done with that, then you move to what didn’t. Then you move to what’s next. And the whole purpose of doing this is entrepreneurs, especially small entrepreneurs that don’t have a ton of support, maybe they have a blogging business where it’s just you and someone else, or maybe even it’s just you. We tend to get down on ourselves a lot. There’s a lot of self-doubt, there’s a lot of, “God, am I doing the right things?” This actually helps you validate the stuff that’s working, and really what this exercise is designed to do, it’s designed to show you how effective you’re being. That’s that. It’s not a referendum on your ability to be an entrepreneur or how good you are as a person. It’s literally, if you are going to be a car mechanic, how effective was I being a car mechanic last week?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and that’s something that I’ve started to implement, is this … I call it the Weekly Review. I do it on a Sunday. And it’s looking back, taking time, and I like that it’s on a Sunday ’cause it feels like a peaceful time where I know that not everybody else is in the mix of things and working on stuff, to just take some time and reflect, and look back. And it’s massively valuable to take that time, and to reflect, and to inform the week ahead and make small adjustments over a long period of time, which when you look back, to go back to that analogy that you used to start things, that two paths idea. If you aren’t making those small incremental changes, then you’re going to continue on that path that you are on. It’s almost never that 90 degree cut where you’re like, “And now I’m going to make this huge change.” It’s those tiny incremental changes along the way, where over a long period of time, a year, two years, five years, 10 years, you look back and those paths have diverged, they’re completely different paths, but due to those incremental changes, which, it’s fun to see the connection to that earlier point that you made.
Kevin Waldron: Yeah, and you know what Bjork, that’s so brilliant. So if you listen to this, as an entrepreneur, everybody wants the home run, everybody wants to come up with the cure for cancer, or whatever’s going to make us a bajillion dollars. And one of the things I appreciate about what you provide for people is it’s about how do you get in the game? And again, the small, week-by-week, if you’re making these tiny incremental changes, it’s so … One: it’s so simple to do, so anybody can do it, you don’t need to go to Harvard Business School to do that. And two: it’s incredibly cumulative and … What’s the word? Like it builds on rhythm in, and you actually start to … Your confidence level’s going to go way up because you’re going to be much more objective about what you’re doing, meaning what you’re actually doing versus what you think you’re doing or how you feel about yourself. You’ll actually see the mechanics of what you’re do start to change. And then you see your results change.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. So Kevin, we’re coming to the end here of the interview, but want to give you a time … This is the broad open question before we wrap up, but speaking to the entrepreneurs, the business owners, the content creators that are listening to this podcast, knowing that maybe they’re in the beginning stages, maybe they’ve been doing this for a while, they have some traction, but just in general, these are entrepreneurs, people that are hungry to build, and to grow, and to learn, and to develop. What would your advice be to these people as they continue on or start their entrepreneurial journey? High level general advice.
Kevin Waldron: High level advice. You know what, here’s the best thing: Why not you? And why not now? ’Cause the kind of stuff that … If you’re listening to this show, again, there’s that self-doubt we have as entrepreneurs. Do I really have anything to offer for blah, blah, blah? Well, you know what? If you’re listening to this you do. So why not you? And why not now? And those are … Whatever you’re attempting to do right now, somebody else has already done, so that’s the good news. So it’s not like you’re out here listening to, again, how to come up with a cure for cancer. You’ve got stuff that you’re really excited about, you’ve got stuff that you think people want to know about. Why not you? You’re as talented as you’re ever going to be, you just got to take the step and get it out there with some regularity and some consistency. And people want to hear from you, don’t forget that. If you’ve got good stuff, people want to hear from you.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely. So speaking of hearing from you, Kevin, you have recently started doing a weekly newsletter. So could you talk a little bit about that, and then if people are interested in working with you as a coach within their business, how can they get in touch with you and learn a little bit more about what that might look like?
Kevin Waldron: Okay great. So first of all, thank you. You inspire me from watching your business. You inspired me to do my blog.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, good.
Kevin Waldron: So I recently started a weekly newsletter. And it’s called Ready for Monday. And the theory is, much like what we just talked about with the what’s working and what’s not working, it goes out to my list on a Sunday morning, and the reason it goes out on a Sunday, and it’s called Ready for Monday, is I want entrepreneurs to have that Sunday where it’s kind of a reflection time and it’s a gap between the week that just was and the week that’s about to happen. And Bjork, you said when you have that reflection time it informs the week ahead. So the newsletter, there’s no fluff and there’s no filler in it. It’s all leadership stuff and entrepreneurial stuff designed to move the needle in people’s businesses in the coming week. And it goes out every Sunday, and if you want to find out how to get it just come to my website at WaldronLeadership.com and there you can find out how to get the newsletter once week and different ways to work with me.
Bjork Ostrom: Great, and we’ll link to that in the show notes as well so people can check that out. Kevin, thanks so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your insights. And thanks so much for the way that you’ve informed how we operate and how I work and the work that I do, and why the work that I do. It’s been an extremely significant and important part of our journey. So personally, thank you and on behalf of the podcast listeners thank you as well.
Kevin Waldron: My pleasure. Great being with you, Bjork.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey wonderful listeners, Alexa here. I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in. I really appreciated when Kevin said, “Why not you, why not now?” And I think that’s a really important take-away from this specific episode, because I always feel like that I am putting off things because someone else is doing it better, or, “Oh, I just don’t have enough time right now.” But I think those two questions are really important to ask yourself when doing any kind of entrepreneurship. So, I hope that you got a lot out of that as well.
Alexa Peduzzi: I’m also here to bring you the reviewer of the week. And this one comes from Oriana from Mommyhood’s Diary, which is now MommysHomeCooking.com. And it says, “Thanks Bjork for all the good work that you’re doing. This podcast is so helpful and informative that I can’t stop listening. I look forward to seeing what will come next week. Subscribed.”
Alexa Peduzzi: Thanks so much for subscribing. If any of you want to subscribe to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast so you don’t miss an episode, you can do so by searching for The Food Blogger Pro Podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.
Alexa Peduzzi: So thanks again for tuning in, friends. We so appreciate you, and from all of us here at FBP HQ, make it a great week.