By Jason Hart, Foundation 2014 Member
The Hart Family: Jason, Weston (3), Broderick (5), and Heather
When I was 10 years old, I was playing G.I. Joe in my front yard when suddenly this cute, blonde girl came riding down the street on her bicycle. In a small town of under 10,000 you knew right away when a new face moves to town. So here I was in camouflage clothes playing with miniature army figures in the dirt. I noticed she was saying something as she rode by…I’ll never forget her words, “You need to go inside and SCRUB!!”
My face lit up beet red with embarrassment. So what did I do?
I ran into my house, grabbed my obnoxious 20 pound boombox with 4 speakers, popped in a cassette of ”Electric Kingdom”, laid down my cardboard, and started break dancing in my parachute pants and Vann shoes. What else would would you do?
And did I impress her? No. She rode by on her bike…just laughing.
But despite the rejection and my complete failure to impress her, we still became very good friends and to this day she will spare no time in sharing that story to watch me blush.
And I share that memory of rejection because it reminds me what it looks like to be fearless. Pretty girls will do that to you when you’re young. Right fellas?
It was summer break after my freshman year of college. A good friend was completely GOO-GOO about this business he joined. So he invited me to their office to hear all about it. He told me about his business partner who was making all kinds of money selling water filters and nutritional products and vitamins. And not only could you make tons of money yourself, if you build a team to sell for you it becomes very lucrative. My eyes lit up as I learned how to build my very own business, recruit others to work FOR me, and live like a Millionaire! Welcome to MLM, right?
But I was naive. So..Whao! Sign me up!
I dove in head first. I mean…I was studying to be a pharmacist and had never been introduced to business let alone how to build wealth. So the next thing you know we had our own office with 10 desks, running daily ads in the newspaper and doing daily sales presentations. We travelled all over the US to attend regional trainings on how to build teams and sell products.
We were rocking…for about 1 year. Then it was downhill. And we closed the office after 18 months. Failure!
So what did I do?
I spent a year sulking. Then decided to go back to school and learn the REAL way to do business and got my business degree. That’s the smart thing to do, right?
And my family was SO proud of me right? They wanted more than anything to see me become a pharmacist but I convinced them I would be rich instead. So with my tail tucked between my legs I came out with a very plain business degree.
Fast forward…oh, about 15 years.
I’m a family man with a wife and 2 small boys living the “American Dream” in the Chicago Suburbs working for a Fortune 500 company.
I had to work extremely hard to get to my current role as a Cloud Consultant. That path didn’t come easy as I spent the previous 13 years as an Inside Sales Rep. Without going into detail, let me just say I hit bottom…burnt out with no way out of my golden handcuffs. Corporate America had me trapped and no place to go. My mindset convinced me I was only good at one thing…inside sales. But I still searched the Earth for something telling me otherwise. And finally I did a personal branding campaign that got me the Cloud role.
But in the back of my mind, I told myself I will NEVER be trapped again. It was too painful. I decided to ALWAYS be working on Plan B.
In my search for Plan B, I started listening to podcasts…Solopreneur, SPI, and then heard the interview on Mixergy with Dane.
Long story short, I heard Dane talk about the Foundation and could not wait to be a part of the next class. It, to me, was the REAL DEAL of everything else I ran across. I just felt blogging, ebooks, and podcasting were a little hokey for me plus I didn’t want to spend all my life charging money for content and relying on affiliate programs.
At my day job, I work in a cloud computing incubator where we help numerous SaaS companies get plugged into the distribution channel.
So YES, building software was a perfect fit! I felt so grateful Dane was willing to share this exact process with me.
So I had to face my fears of can I do it? I failed last time I tried my own business. Will this work for me? Will I get the help I need to succeed?
I decided it was time to give myself another chance at starting my own business.
After consuming the Mindset content, I started realizing a HUGE mindset shift.
Suddenly I was going back to memories of failures and rejection. And it hit me…I was programmed to think like an employee…to conform, to follow instructions, to wait for someone to tell me what to do, to let others measure my results, and then wait for a big thumbs up or thumbs down. And let THAT be my identity.
Suddenly I realized WHY I lost creativity and zest for life. I was on the production line in a Corporate Prison. Watching the folks at the top get the amazing bonuses. And ultimately serving Wall Street as we drive stock value for shareholders.
Getting started in the Foundation was not easy for me. I had never been on a Google Hangout. I had no experience with online marketing. I had no idea what writing copy meant. It was all new.
But daily training and practice builds up over time and I started building confidence.
I also had to tap into my unique skills and experiences to MAKE the content work for me. Learning the content was great but to put it into action, I had to do it in MY OWN SKIN. For example, instead of cold emailing people, I reached out to people I already knew and started IE on them. That constantly asked for referrals. And now I’ve built my entire customer base on referrals…from Boston to L.A.
And after only 4 calls, I knew I had a pain and a solution. On my 5th call, I asked for money. And it WORKED!
Never in my life would I have EVER had the courage to ask for money for something I couldn’t tangibly hand over in return. This was a major mindset breakthrough. And it was not easy. I had to be TALKED OFF THE LEDGE by my team leader, Jonathan Nation. He said, “If you really want to validate your idea…ask for money.” He was right.
I also remembered a call with Dane where he said something completely profound. He said, “Focus on the end result.” And suddenly I realized. I DON’T NEED SOFTWARE to deliver the solution. The customer wants the end result. And software is just a way of automating the delivery of that solution. Nothing more. So my mindset shifted to one thing…focus on delivering the customer value. Software is secondary and can be built over time.
The mindset of an entrepreneur is truly amazing. Being able to take something out of thin air and turn it into a revenue generation is one of the most valuable skills anyone can have.
Here’s what I learned about entrepreneurs…they:
Jump on opportunities
Don’t wait for perfection; they just GO
Don’t seek approval and permission to do things
Have faith in their vision
Follow pain and focus on solving it
Outsource the simple tasks so they can focus time and energy on increasing customer value
The best way to sum up my experience in the Foundation is this scene from Shawshank Redemption. This is the scene where Timothy Robbins is sharing his vision with Red…his vision of sitting on a beach in Mexico looking out into the Pacific Ocean. Red responds with, “I’m just an institutional man. I have no value on the outside.” But Timothy refuses to agree with that mindset. And sure enough, his passion, creativity, and faith brought his vision into reality. Corporate America is MY PRISON. And I am smiling as I envision the day I leave it behind. Without the Foundation, I would have been Red…no hope, no value, no dream. Just giving up on myself and my dreams…surrendering my freedom to another institution.