“The more successful you are, the more opportunities come at you and you've got to become masterful at saying no, and they are so addictive to a true entrepreneur.”
If you’re an entrepreneur (or a wantrepreneur), this episode is for you. Today I’m talking with Gino Wickman, arguably one of the most influential entrepreneurs in modern history and bestselling author of Traction, Get a Grip, and Rocket Fuel. Perhaps even more consequential, he’s the creator of EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), which is used daily by over 100,000 companies around the world.
Gino’s newest book, The Entrepreneurial Leap is packed with real-life stories and advice to help others make the leap into entrepreneurship, shorten your learning curve, and produce significant results. However, this isn’t just a book for new entrepreneurs. It helped me to identify the fundamentals necessary to optimizing my business, many of which I’d skipped on my own journey.
Today, Gino and I are talking about what he’s learned about starting businesses in his 30 years of coaching entrepreneurs, the meaning of true entrepreneurship, and how to realize what you’ve been put on this earth to do.
- Why the best day of your life exists in isolation and not in comparison to the other days you’ve lived.
- How to stop the things that are all but guaranteed to happen from ruining the best day of your life. (e.g. traffic, disappointments, difficult people, etc.)
- Why living in alignment with your values is the key to experiencing a feeling of total satisfaction, fulfillment, and contentment.
- The common obstacles to living your best day and how to tackle them, one by one.
- The three-step formula for living the best day of your life.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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COMMENT QUESTION: What is your big takeaway? Write it in the comments below.
Hal Elrod: Hello and welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod. And thank you so much for tuning in today. I really appreciate you and your time. And I think you're in for a treat. If you are an entrepreneur or a wantrepreneur, meaning an entrepreneur in the making, then today's episode is for you. This is a conversation with Gino Wickman.
And if you don't know who Gino Wickman is, as you'll hear me tell him right off the bat, he's a legend. He's a legend in the entrepreneurial space. And it's because his books and his EOS, Entrepreneurial Operating System, is used by over a hundred thousand companies around the world and hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs. And it's revolutionized countless businesses, including my own. And he's the author of the award-winning best-selling book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, as well as Get a Grip, another one of his books, Rocket Fuel, which my good friend Pat Flynn, that was the game changer for Pat's business. He also wrote How to be a Great Boss. He wrote, What the Heck is EOS? And those have sold more than a million copies.
And he's the founder of EOS Worldwide, which is an organization that helps tens of thousands of businesses implement EOS with the aid of an international team of over 350 professionals and certified EOS implementors worldwide. And his next mission is the Entrepreneurial Leap. And that's what we're talking about today. I started reading this book, and I've been a fan of Gino’s for years. I wonder if he'd come on the show. And that's the best time, just so you know, if you ever want to get somebody on your show, if they have a new book out there, as an author, I can tell you, we're hungry to get that message out everywhere that we can.
So, I reached out to Gino. He was so gracious, came on the show. And his mission with this new book, he's devoting his time and energy toward helping entrepreneurs in the making get a huge jump start on taking their entrepreneurial leap, which is why he created this book. And as you'll hear me tell him early on in the show, this is not just for new entrepreneurs in the making. As a seasoned entrepreneur, I personally found this book to be a game changer because it helped me identify the fundamentals, many of which I had skipped over on my journey. And now, I'm able to start ushering these into my way of thinking, my way of being, etc. So, if you are anywhere in the realm of identifying as an entrepreneur or you want to make that leap, this episode is for you.
Now, before we dive into the episode, I want to take just a minute or less to thank my sponsor, Organifi. And most of us could use more energy in our day, but caffeine can only do so much. At some point, we need to take a look at the root causes of our fatigue because caffeine just masks the root causes. It doesn't actually help them and puts a Band-Aid on them. And it turns out that two main factors in low energy are chronic stress and lack of nutrition. And Organifi creates delicious superfood blends that address both of these problems. They use adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms to help balance cortisol levels associated with stress, and they make it easier to add more nutrients into your day.
You simply mix a scoop into water or your favorite plant-based milk, and you enjoy a natural boost of energy any time of the day. If that sounds like something that you could benefit from, go over to Organifi.com/Hal. That is spelled O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, Organifi with an I at the end, Organifi.com/Hal, and then use the code HAL, H-A-L, at checkout, and you'll get 15% off your entire order. I hope you find something there that you love. And without further ado, my conversation with the one and only Gino Wickman on the Entrepreneurial Leap.
Hal Elrod: Gino Wickman, welcome to the show.
Gino Wickman: Thank you, Hal. Pleasure to be here.
Hal Elrod: This is an honor, man. You're an entrepreneurial legend, I think it's fair to say that. I mean, over what is it? It's over a hundred thousand businesses that run the Entrepreneurial Operating System a.k.a. EOS. Yeah, that's why when I say that, I don't think there's too many entrepreneurs that aren't familiar with your work and have been impacted by it. So, thank you for what you've done for the entrepreneurial community. I really appreciate it.
Gino Wickman: I appreciate that. It's surreal to hear you say it. And I'm just the guy who's obsessive and passionate about entrepreneurs and helping them. And that's all I do every day, and the results follow. So, it's nice to hear you say it.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, brother. Well, so what's interesting is your new book, which is what got me excited to talk to you. Entrepreneurial Leap, it's almost like you put the cart before the horse, if that makes sense, right? Like you came out with the most advanced, like here's how you completely revolutionize and systematize your business to thrive as an entrepreneur and free up your time. And then, it's like, oh, and if you're just starting out, the new book is like if you're just starting out, here's how you define whether or not you are meant to be an entrepreneur, get a glimpse of that, and then follow that path. So, what inspired you after all these years of working with some of the biggest companies in the world to help the new entrepreneur in training, if you will?
Gino Wickman: Yeah. And so, to start with what you said there, I absolutely did it in reverse, but I had to do it in reverse. So, I had to spend three decades, 30 years of helping entrepreneurs that were successful, becoming more successful. And through all of that, my mind has this way of seeing patterns and trends. And so, through all that experience and out of a passion of helping my 18-year-old self when I was a mislabeled derelict entrepreneur in the making, I see clearly what a true entrepreneur is, and I feel like I can help anyone out there that thinks they might be an entrepreneur and thinks that entrepreneurship might be right for them. I've created a how-to manual for helping them first of all, confirm whether or not they even are, show them a glimpse of the light, and then show them a path to realize what they were put on the face of this earth to do.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I think it really, from what I've been able to tell, just in my circle of influence, even my wife, my family, certain folks go, wow, I could never do what you do. There really is something hardwired in folks, whether it's– and by the way, I'm actually curious about your opinion on this. Is it nature or is it nurture from your perspective that determines whether or not someone is perfect or built for being an entrepreneur?
Gino Wickman: Yeah, and I love that you called it hardwired because I 100% believe that it is nature over nurture. You cannot teach this. I believe a true entrepreneur has six essential traits. You are born with them and so hardwired, I love it, I'll take that terminology. It is hardwired in you at birth and it's a blessing and a curse.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I know absolutely. Let's talk about the six essential traits. So, in the book, you go over these six essential traits to being an entrepreneur. I think that's a great place for people to start. And if anybody is listening, so a big portion of our audience, we've surveyed the listeners in the past, and a large portion, about half, 50% of our listeners identify as entrepreneurs and about 30%, give or take, identify as wantrepreneurs, or as you call it, entrepreneur in making, I think, right?
Gino Wickman: Yeah.
Hal Elrod: And so, yeah, let's talk about these six traits for anybody listening. And by the way, I want to say this to you. I'm going to cut myself off here. If you are already an entrepreneur, like I've been an entrepreneur for, what, 20 years, give or take, and I'm finding this book extremely valuable, about halfway through it right now. And I'm finding it valuable, it's almost like, I guess, it's like having Gino Wickman come in and go, hey, you run this business. Let's look at all the fundamentals. Let's look at the fundamentals of who you are and see how that lines up with entrepreneurship. It's really just giving me kind of like a back to the basics, if you will, and also learning a lot of new things, but yeah, I feel like for me, because I think that we become victims of our success, if you will, and that we succeed despite not following the path that you've outlined. I think a lot of us cut corners, often by mistake.
And so, anyway, I just want to say that for anybody listening, whether you are in the category of I’m considering being an entrepreneur, I'm interested, I'd love to have the freedom of entrepreneurship, or if you are already a seasoned entrepreneur as I am, I'm finding there's extreme value for both. So, I just want to say that I think it's important and I want to start with those six essential traits of an entrepreneur.
Gino Wickman: Yeah, and I appreciate that starting there. And I also appreciate the percentages. That's really helpful for me because I just want to add a little something to what you said there. So, 50% of this audience listening are entrepreneurs, you've taken your leap. So, the first point you made is absolutely one benefit, and then there's a second. And so, this first benefit, I did not expect this, but the way that reading this book as an existing entrepreneur, the way that it relights you up, re-centers you, this is your biography, you're about to read your life story. So, I did not expect that benefit. And I'm reminded of a client of mine, a 10-year client. So, there isn't anything left to teach this guy. And so, this guy, he's gotten everything from me, sends me this text that just went on forever. I didn't know you could write a text, but he just finished reading the book and he was so fired up he couldn't stop himself.
So, anyway, there's a tremendous benefit into just kind of recalibrating yourself and there's going to be a lot of light bulb moments, but then, the second benefit, if you're one of the 50% out there listening that's an entrepreneur, is if you love helping other entrepreneurs, I swear to you, I've done 90% of the heavy lifting. If you really are passionate about passing your legacy on mentoring other entrepreneurs, this book in content will absolutely do that for you. And then, obviously, for the 32% listening that are entrepreneurs in the making, this book was written for you.
And so, jumping to those six essential traits. So, if you are, as you said, a wantrepreneur, the reason I wrote this is I'm trying to help you decide if this journey is for you because it's not for everyone. And right now, everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. So, like I said, the book is written first. Part 1 is Confirm, part 2 is Glimpse, part 3 is Path. And there is a very specific reason I wrote it in that order, because before we get into the glimpse of life and before we get into the path, we've got to make sure that this is the life for you and that you have the six essential traits.
So, here they are. And as I share them, I always just love your audience to just kind of scan their body and see if it resonates because it's an all or nothing exercise, but here they are. So, six essential traits. Number 1, visionary; number 2, passionate; number 3, problem solver; number 4, driven; number 5, risk taker; number 6, responsible. And so, just kind of scan yourself. And so, in that first third of the book, I go deep into lots of different ways, I think about it, but I'm ultimately trying to get you to know thyself. I also create an assessment. It's free, it's on the website E-Leap.com. It takes you 10 minutes. If you score 90 or higher, odds are pretty good, you have these 6 essential traits, but that's where it all starts. Do you have those traits?
Hal Elrod: And, of course, yeah, you expand on the traits a lot in the book. One thing I wanted to ask you, and I think that for anybody listening, obviously, number 5 of the traits is risk taker. And you talk about in the book that to be an entrepreneur, there are two words that come up in every definition. It's business and risk, right? You got to have a business and you got to be willing to take risks, risk and fail. And I think that's probably arguably the biggest obstacle for people that are thinking of getting into it, is their view, well, a paycheck is certain, right? There's certainty around, I know if I show up, the 40 hours that I'm assigned to show up to my job, I get a paycheck. I show up and I get the paycheck, and it feels pretty certain, whereas what if I start the business and I fail? I've got these great ideas, but what if I fail? And I don't know off the top of my head, I'm sure you might know better than me, but the statistics of the majority of businesses fail within the first year or two. In fact, do you know the stats?
Gino Wickman: They're all over the place, but more than half are out of business within five years. Some numbers are as extreme as 75% are out of business in the first five years, but more than half are out of business in the first five years.
Hal Elrod: Okay, so that's great. So, if I'm listening, if I'm in the 30% of my audience that goes, ah, that's what scares me. I don't, I don't, I don't, I can't risk it. I don't know. Or I've got a family. What do you say to that person?
Gino Wickman: Well, I would say, if that's your first reaction, take that serious, because this may not be for you, but what I would also go on to say is everyone translates this risk-taker trait as the one and only risk you take as an entrepreneur is the day you start your business when they grossly miss the point that that's the first risk of about a thousand you're about to take, and that one may not even be the scariest one because the real risks are the brutally tough decisions you have to make every single day and week that potentially put you out of business.
So, when you have 25 employees and you have to fire your top salesperson for whatever reason, that's a huge risk. When you have to make a huge investment to completely reinvent your product or service and take all of your cash to make that investment to increase the value to survive, that's a risk. So, there's literally a thousand risks that you're going to take. It's not that first one. So, what I would suggest to that person that's saying, “I'm getting a paycheck, if I take the leap, I won't get a paycheck.” That's one risk. That's the first one. And you just now have to make a conscious decision because then there's varying degrees.
So. I'm a huge risk taker. And so, when I took my leap, I took my risk. I went from money to no money. I'm okay doing that. I'm okay risking the check. Some people, they need to build a surplus. Some people need to do a side hustle and start it that way and keep the job so you need to know yourself. And again, there are varying degrees. I teach something called the entrepreneurial range. I won't go into too much detail now, but it just talks about every person that owns their own business is somewhere on the range all the way from a self-employed one-person show to Elon Musk, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time. Well, if you're in the Elon Musk camp, you're a huge risk taker. If you're over in the self-employed one-person show camp, you're probably not that big of a risk taker. So, again, it's all about knowing yourself and taking the right risk for yourself. And those of us that are huge risk takers will kind of risk it all to accomplish what we want to accomplish.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I'm glad you brought it. I was going to ask you about the entrepreneurial range, and for anyone listening and just my own experience, I was more on the side of the solopreneur and really limiting the risks. And the way that I made that transition, I think, is valuable for someone that is thinking about that. I saved up six months of income so that I would be able to cover my expenses for six months. I gave myself six months before I made my first dollar, if you will. And then, I actually started my business as a side hustle as I was phasing out my sales career.
So, I padded my risk as much as I could. It's like, alright, I got money in the bank. So, if I can't get this thing off the ground, I get six months to figure it out. And I actually got it off the ground. I started signing on a few coaching clients before making the transition. So, it was kind of a smooth transition. And I have a friend who did the opposite. He kind of burns bridges and I'm just going to quit my hundred-thousand-dollar job and figure it out. And he went deep into debt. He didn't give himself any kind of padding. And so, I think for anybody listening, (A) you can minimize your risk by having some cash on hand and starting the business as a side hustle before you fully take that entrepreneurial leap. And then the other piece is understanding that as an entrepreneur, you don't have to have 25 employees or 2,000 employees or whatever, you can have just you. You can have you and an assistant.
Gino Wickman: And if I can just grab that because it's so important that that message comes across because we're all different. And if you have someone listening that thinks, well, the true definition of an entrepreneur is somebody who burns all the boats, takes the leap, risks everything, please, that's not the only version. And so, the version you described is perfect for somebody who wants to tiptoe into this thing. There's something I teach later in the book. We don't have to go deep into that right now either, but I teach the power of tenure thinking. And if you can embrace that and you just say to yourself, sitting there at 18, 25, 35, 45, 55 and just say 10 years from now, I'm going to be a successful entrepreneur and you just start working toward that, in the first part of the plan for the next year, you might just be saving up $20,000 so you can start a side hustle and then start the side hustle in year two and then grow it to a level. When you're through that, you can leave your job.
And so, there are so many ways to do it, but again, a guy like me, I've been broke three times between age 21 and 33 because I take such huge risk that does damage, but I wouldn't do it any other way because I have such a high risk on. We are all different and you just need to know yourself.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, absolutely. Talk about your journey into entrepreneurship. What started that path for you?
Gino Wickman: Yeah. Well, it was not linear, smooth, or typical. So, I graduated high school with a solid 2.3 GPA, did not go to college, and worked in a machine shop, saved up some money, took my entrepreneurial leap, but I really bumped along in my 20s. And so, I did everything. I was going to start a corporate travel agency. I did a mail order business. I was investing in real estate. I found myself in the real estate industry. I ended up taking over a family business at 25 years old. I took on a big turnaround project, turned it around in three years, ran it for seven years, and sold the company successfully. There were three of us that were partners, my dad and I and our third partner. I stayed on for a year and a half and then retired from the company.
During that experience, I got involved in EO, what was once YEO, now the Entrepreneurs Organization, became a student of strategic coach. So, all through my 20s, I just had this wild and crazy experience around entrepreneurship. And then, around 29, I realized exactly what I was. Upon retiring from the family business, I then set out to create what is now EOS. I realized my true calling and I set out to help entrepreneurs get everything they want out of their business. And so, for the first five years, it was just me working with clients, 500 sessions, 50 clients. So, I put the finishing touches in creating EOS. Then I wrote Traction. Then I joined forces with my partner, Don Tinney, and we built EOS Worldwide up to the organization it is now, which is 425 EOS implementers all over the world helping over 100,000 companies. We sold that business three years ago, but that's where I am today. And now, half my time is still EOS stuff. The other half is focused on this passion project, Entrepreneurial Leap, in helping entrepreneurs in the making.
Hal Elrod: Beautiful. Thank you. That was perfect. You're much better at summarizing your story than I am, man, takes me..
Gino Wickman: Listen, the world only wants to hear it in two minutes. So, get it down to two minutes.
Hal Elrod: I know, I got to work on my soundbites. So, the first part of the book is Confirm. It’s really confirming and evaluating whether or not you have these traits, these six traits of being an entrepreneur. Second part of the book is Glimpse, and you really kind of give a glimpse into what is the life of an entrepreneur like, both in terms of lifestyle, but also in terms of stresses and just different things that you might not be aware of if you're going into this. The one thing you share in part 2 of the book that I think is really relevant to not only entrepreneurs in making, but really seasoned entrepreneurs, and it's the eight critical mistakes that entrepreneurs make. You talked about creating nightmare scenarios. And so, can you cover those? What are the eight critical mistakes that we make? Because, again, if you're seasoned, there's a chance that (A) you're making these now, or (B) there's a good chance you're going to make them if you're not aware of them. And I think this is so powerful for me. This was one of the most important sections in the book for me.
Gino Wickman: Yeah. And even if you have 50 employees right now, you're probably still making some. So, this will help some of the 50% as well, to your point. So, with that, I want to create a little context here, because now we've confirmed that you're an entrepreneur in the making and before you charge forward and go build something, we want to put on the brakes and show you a glimpse of the life, because to the degree you can see it in vivid color, it's going to greatly increase your odds of success. And so, I do three things at a high level in this part of the book. First of all, I share countless real-world stories so you can see how people built what they built, just like you will out there.
The other thing I do is I share a tool I created called MyBiz Match that helps you pick the perfect business that you're built for building. It's so important. Every entrepreneur is not built to build every business. And then the third thing is what you're describing, but before I mentioned the eight critical mistakes, what I do is I share a contrast and I show a day in the life of an entrepreneur, both heaven and hell, both the dream scenario and the nightmare scenario. So, they can see the contrast because sadly, 95% of all entrepreneurs are living the nightmare because they're making these mistakes when our EOS clients, they're all living the dream because they're avoiding or fixing the mistakes. And so, I'm helping this entrepreneur, in the making, avoid the mistakes. I built EOS Worldwide over 20 years, avoiding every mistake because I had the luxury in my 20s of experiencing them all.
So, here they are at a high level. And if there's one or two that jump out at you, you know your audience better than I do. Let's drill down on it, but here are the eight critical mistakes. Number 1, not having a vision. Number 2, hiring the wrong people. Number 3, not spending time with your people. Number 4, not knowing who your customer is. Number 5, not charging enough. Number 6, not staying true to your core. Number 7, not knowing your numbers. And number 8, not crystalizing roles and responsibilities.
Hal Elrod: Beautiful. Yeah, a lot of them stand out for me. The first one, though, I want to ask, not spending time with your people. Talk about that. What is that? Should I be taking my assistant out to the movies or bowling? Or what do you mean by that?
Gino Wickman: No, actually, it's a pretty simple formula. So, let's talk about the mistake first. And so, the mistake is the entrepreneur starts the business, takes the leap, starts generating money, sells a few products or services, needs some people, grabs the closest person they can to them, puts them in the organization, starts adding people to the organization. And in that early stage, these people are coming to you because they are drawn to your passion, your energy, your inspiration, your charisma. And so, these people are just following you to the end of the earth. Well, that can only last so long.
And so, what happens at some point is you start to have communication issues, things become less efficient, things become very fragmented. And so, spending time with your people just simply means this, meeting with them every week, meeting with them every quarter, and giving feedback often. Just do those three things in the early startup stages, and communication will be better. The right hand will know what the left hand is doing, and you will be a much more efficient organization because typically, everybody's tripping all over each other until you get to that point.
And if you read the Traction work and EOS work and certainly the book, I can get into agendas for you. We don't need to do that here. My point is, if human beings just got in a room every week and then got in a room every quarter and then gave each other feedback often, just sitting in a room, staring at each other, all the right stuff comes out. So, the point is don't get too caught up in an agenda, but I do teach a very specific agenda for each one of those things, but the idea is just create that meeting pulse with human beings, and that's going to solve most of your communication issues.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, it's interesting that, like you said, just sitting in a room, staring at each other, like there's something that happens when two people are gathered, two or more people are gathered. And just through a conversation, I mean, it's amazing that my assistant, who I really– she's really a Director of Operations. She does a lot more than an assistant, but I ask her for it, like, she's not an entrepreneur, but just her perspective, she's just a very intelligent, very brilliant person. And I often get some of my best advice from her, some of my best advice from my wife, and again, neither of them and admittedly so, have any desire to run a business, yet just meeting, just having those conversations can be sometimes a total game changer.
Gino Wickman: Yeah. And when a human being knows I'm going to be sitting in a room with you next Monday at nine o'clock, there's a build-up that happens. They know they're going to see you on Monday. So, they have an issue that came up, they're going to bring it up there. They have a question to you they’re going to bring it up there, but if there's no meeting and all you're doing, you’re just working, working, working, going, going, going, and meeting when and wherever it happens, which is rare if it's not formal, that's when the wheels really start to come off. And if you want the perfect agenda, if you just google Level 10 meeting agenda and watch one of our YouTube videos, you'll see the perfect agenda for a weekly, but again, the discipline is just get together weekly, get together quarterly, give feedback often, it's going to solve 90% of your communication problems.
Hal Elrod: Beautiful. There's one other one that I want to dive into. I heard you say, I want to hear you elaborate not staying true to your core because that just to me resonates as universal for anybody and everybody not staying true to your core. I want to hear, yeah, what are your thoughts on that?
Gino Wickman: Yeah. And so, the point is when we say stay true to your core, this is your business’s core. And so, in EOS, we call that core focus but this is the company's sweet spot. And so, this is what you do really well in the world. This is what you started your business to do and this is what you sold and started to generate revenue on. And so, the idea is if that's the core and let's pretend hypothetically you want to build a $10 million business, well, the point is stay true to that core. Exhaust every opportunity in that core and go sell $10 million in that core. What happens, the mistake is a true entrepreneur with these six essential traits has ADD, gets distracted easily, and sees lots of opportunities in the world, which is all shiny stuff. And so, all of a sudden they'll start to realize some level of success. Opportunities will present themselves outside of that core. They will get distracted and start doing that. And all of a sudden they find themselves one, two, three, four years into growing their business in like three or four other businesses or creating this complex amalgamation of a company that is very distracted, that is not growing as fast, that isn't getting to 10 million. And so, the idea is to stay true to your core. A great business quote is that you're more likely to die of indigestion of too many opportunities in business when you're successful than of starvation of not enough opportunities. So, the more successful you are, the more opportunities come at you and you've got to become masterful at saying no, and they are so addictive to a true entrepreneur.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I relate to that. So, I just look at how much distraction I've had over the course of my entrepreneurial life and if I would have just focused on those core competencies that focused on my core, I would have reached a lot more people, been a lot more successful. And actually, recently as we talked about earlier on sabbatical right now or partial sabbatical, we're obviously having an interview but what I realized as I've been in sabbatical and imagining how am I going to come out of this and what am I going to do, I have all these ideas. “Oh, I want to start the Miracle Messengers Group. I'm going to da, da, da, all these things.” And I went, "Why don't I just double down on the things I already do that I know work?” You know my podcast. Why don't I just double down on the podcast and make it better and grow the listenership? Why don't I double down on the Miracle Morning book, update it, and grow the readership? Why don't I double down on my keynote speaking like the things that I do well, that I love to do. And it's just incredible that naturally, we do the opposite of that. Naturally, we drift from our core. We chase the next squirrel, the next shiny object.
Gino Wickman: Yeah. And by the way, we're talking about the dream and the nightmare. That's why so many end up in the nightmare because all of a sudden they're in five different businesses. They're trying to grow and they're just stuck. It is a true nightmare and I'll try and tell this story as fast as possible but it's so powerful and it makes the point. Earl Nightingale would share it. It's called Acres of Diamonds and the backstory is there's a guy that lived in Africa, whatever it was, 50 or 100 years ago, and he started to hear about these diamond mines that people were finding. And so, he sells his farm and his acreage and sets off to go seek his fortune and find diamond mines. Well, after 40 years of searching, he died broke, threw himself in a river, drowned, and died. Well, 10 years later on the property he sold, the river that ran through the property, the woman that bought it saw something shining in the river, turns out to be a diamond. He lived on the largest diamond mine in history up to that point. So, the point is you're sitting on your own acres of diamonds and so even talking to you and your aha but all these other entrepreneurs, you're sitting on your acres of diamonds and we just tend to look everywhere else and it's right there underneath our feet. Just focus. My signature on all my emails is stay focused. That's my message to every entrepreneur. You really want to build a great company, stay focused, stay true to your core. You're sitting on your own acres of diamonds.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. It's so true. You develop anxiety. Like for me, last a couple of years ago when I was really trying to develop all these different programs that I had no business developing, I had no experience, and then I started hiring more people to try to help me. And all of a sudden, my cash flows out the door like my expenses are up. I developed anxiety. And then when I just removed all of those distractions and got back to my core, it was like, "Oh, not only does this help you make a bigger impact, make more money but you actually enjoy life. It’s simplifying things, which is so, so important.” So, the first part of the book, it's confirm, confirming whether you are designed for an entrepreneurship. The second part is the glimpse, really getting that glimpse. The third part is the path. And so, this is where I want to go. You wrote that part of the book to make people's journey a little less bumpy and avoid half of the mistakes that people make that we've all made. But the one thing I'd love for you to dive into a little bit is that you say that entrepreneurship is not a process. It is a set of traits. And for me, I'm a big believer in the secret to success is becoming the type of person that you need to be to become successful. It's a Jim Rohn lesson. And so, talk about that, that entrepreneurship it's not a process. It's a set of traits.
Gino Wickman: Yeah. So, there are people out there trying to teach a process, a system, a step by step, something to become an entrepreneur, and there just isn't one. And so, I always jokingly like to say, “Okay. So, you want to process. Here's the four-step process as best I can roll every entrepreneurial experience into one.” Step one, you have an idea. Step two, you take a leap, start a business to bring that idea to the world. Step three, you fight like hell, get your ass kicked for ten years. And step four, if you're lucky, you emerge a successful entrepreneur. But we already talked about the odds. There's like a 20% chance you're going to succeed. There is the process. The point is from start to finish, from you taking your leap until the day, let's pretend you have your 100-person company, there are 1,800 different ways to get there. And the truth of the matter is you set out with a plan. That plan changes constantly. The vision changes. And we talk about Plan A, B, C, and D in the book but the point is it's those six essential traits that are what get you to where you want to go because you are figuring it out every step of the way because it's constantly changing. Product changes, your service changes, the customer changes. And so, it's just a wild ride and that's why it's not for everyone. There just isn't this perfect system. Here are the steps to building a 100-person company because every road is different, every vision is different, every plan is different. So, for the people searching for it, this is where I break their heart and say, "Sorry to tell you. There isn't one.” But what there are, are milestones on the journey. And that's what I'm sharing in path are all of the milestones to be aware of as you go forward and that's going to greatly increase your odds of success.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. It’s the other piece that's always changing is the times, right? So, what worked ten years ago before the Internet, you might have had one path but post-internet, it's a different path.
Gino Wickman: So, let's pretend it's 1981 and here's how you build a computer company. Well, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did that masterfully. Let's try and do that in 2022. So, it's always so different and all that, the way it works is that person with those six essential traits, they are figuring it out and refiguring it out every single day and just moving forward, bobbing, weaving, adjusting, evolving with the times.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. In the book, you touched on college and I think my wife, actually my daughter and I recently have been talking she's like, “Dad, you didn't graduate from college.” I went to like four different junior colleges but I never figured out what I need to take to get a degree. I just wanted to learn different things. But she's like, "Should I go to college?” And so, it's an interesting, it's like, “Uhh.” It's a conversation that we had and I just said, "Maybe. It just depends on if it's right for you and what you want to do with your life. And if you want to start a business, we can work on that before you even finish high school. So, you kind of already figure out if that's for you or not.” So, I just want to hear what are your thoughts on college. Is it important? Is it required? Has it changed since you and I were younger?
Gino Wickman: Yeah. For sure. So, I'm going to critical context first, okay, just so that the listener is kind of anchoring what we're talking about. So, now we're under the final and third part which is called PAM and I talk about these milestones. And so, each chapter is kind of the milestones and then there are some sub milestones but real fast, I just want to do a chapter overview to create context then I want to go right to where you are because the first chapter and path is College or Not. So, we’re going to come right back to that. Next chapter is Discovering Your Passion. And I get seven exercises for doing that. Next chapter is How to Find a Mentor. Next chapter is The Power of Ten-Year Thinking. The next chapter is Eight Disciplines for Increasing Your Odds of Success. The next chapter are The Nine Stages Of Building Your Business. And then the last chapter is A Lifetime of Growth, Learning, and Motivation. So, we can certainly drill down on any one of those that you'd like but we're obviously going to drill down on College or Not right now. And here's what I do with this chapter.
So, what I do is I simply present all the facts to an entrepreneur in the making. So, please understand, everyone. This is a book for an entrepreneur in the making and this is not an anti-college message. The conclusion what you're going to see here is it's a choice that you make. And if you are an entrepreneur in the making and you choose to go to college as many will, and just for the record, most of my clients have degrees and they would absolutely go back to college but they would do it completely different. They would take different courses. And there were reasons why college was so good for them as entrepreneurs, which had nothing to do with what they learned. So, most of them are MBAs and they use nothing from their MBA as an entrepreneur. So, I present all of those facts. And like I said, at the end of the day, it's a choice that you're going to make because if you then choose to go to college as an entrepreneur, hundreds of entrepreneurs gave their feedback on the courses you should take. And so, there's about 15 courses listed because these are all the ones they said this is what I would take if I could go back again. But what was fascinating is for 20 years now, I've been asking every one of my MBA clients, are you using anything from your MBA as an entrepreneur? 100% of the time they say no. So, I was biased and I would think, "Why would you go to college?”
But then I started asking a follow-up question ten years ago and when they would say, no, they're not using anything, I said, "Knowing everything you know now, would you go back to college?” and almost every one of them says yes. And what they said is what I got out of college was two things, relationships that lasted me a lifetime as an entrepreneur and a testing ground to practice ideas, products, services on my friends and selling them. So, those were the two biggest benefits but they wish they had taken different courses. And so, when you see all the facts, I give the data, something. So, one example, 44% of all entrepreneurs have a degree. So, that means most don't. There's a data point. So, at the end of the day, it is a choice. With my kids, neither one of them has the six essential traits. So, they both went to college but I was comfortable with whatever they chose but we're talking to people that are potential entrepreneurs. It is a very important choice you need to make.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. That's interesting. So, your kids. I'm surprised. So, they fell a little bit further from the tree than I might have guessed.
Gino Wickman: Yeah. But it’s so common and it's dangerous because there are so many entrepreneurial parents that want their kids to take over the business and they put these poor kids at the helm of an organization that they have no business running because they don't have the six essential traits. I read an entire chapter on second and third-generation entrepreneurs and just caution these parents that do damage. And just as quickly, though, you have these kids that are entrepreneurs in the making and their parents are doctors, lawyers, whatever they are, and they're convincing their kid to go become an attorney, go become a doctor when they're an entrepreneur. So, you've got both sides of that equation that are screwing up these poor kids. At the end of the day, they got to become what they need to become. We can't force them into a particular role.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Interestingly enough, when folks read this book and they learn the six traits, that alone might save their relationship with their children. It just be like, "Wait a minute, Sammy doesn't have any of these and why am I pushing him to follow my path?”
Gino Wickman: Yeah, because if you're two parents out there and you're both engineers or you're teachers or you're something that is just not entirely entrepreneurial and you have entrepreneurial kids, you're racking your brain as to how you spawned these derelicts when, no, you spawned amazing entrepreneurs. And so, this book will help you understand your kid better and help your kid understand themselves better because you birthed an entrepreneur, my friend. And so, be careful not to lead them down the wrong path.
Hal Elrod: If your kids’ embodying ADD behavior, if they're a troublemaker, you probably got a winning CEO, founder of a company on your hands.
Gino Wickman: And they're going to rebel if you try to structure them. So, I was fortunate. My dad is a flaming visionary entrepreneur and my parents gave us so much freedom. So, I was free from like age 6. So, thank God. I could not imagine what I would have done if my parents tried to structure me or rein me in. It was impossible.
Hal Elrod: That's interesting. And my parents, my dad was very entrepreneurial and my mom was a little bit less so she was a little bit more trying to reel me in. But, yeah, my dad was supportive and I started my first business at 15 as a mobile DJ doing weddings, and my dad financed all the equipment and he was like my biggest cheerleader. And so, yeah, I look back and thank God he didn't say, "No, no, no, Hal. You need to follow the path and get good grades,” and he really fostered that entrepreneurial spirit. Here's where I'd love to spend the rest of our time. In the book, you prepare people for the nine stages of building their business. And again, this is so relevant whether you are a new entrepreneur. I realize, "Oh, sh*t, I skipped those three stages.” Those are important. It's never too late to be who you might have been. So, let's go through those nine stages, and then I'll probably want to dive deeper into a few of them.
Gino Wickman: Yeah. Perfect. Same thing. I'll give the overview. And again, you out there, if you're about to take an entrepreneurial leap, you are going to experience every one of these stages. So, that's the idea is I'm giving it to you in advance to increase your odds of success. So, here we go, nine stages. Number one, generating cash. Number two, hire an integrator. Number three, discovering your core values. Number four, holding yourself accountable. Number five, communicating frequently with your employees. Number six, having a plan B, C, and D. Number seven, staying in your personal sweet spot. Number eight, preventing your business from getting away from you. And number nine, capitalizing on coaching, training, and mentoring.
Hal Elrod: Beautiful. All right. So, let's talk about some of these. So, generating cash. So, again, if I'm a new entrepreneur, does that mean that I should take out a loan? Does that mean I should somehow find that or another way to raise capital? Does that mean taking the route that I took, which was just saving six months of income so that I could get started? What is generating cash? What does that mean? What does that look like? What are the options?
Gino Wickman: Absolutely. Generating cash is about selling your product or service. It's not about raising money because one of the data points and facts I share in the book, it's like 90% of entrepreneurs do not raise funds to start their business, and never do. I didn't raise a dollar building EOS Worldwide and sold that for a lot of money. So, it's a fallacy. Everybody thinks that launching your business means raising money, 10% of the time we're talking. So, there's a 90% chance you don't even raise money. So, this is about selling your product or service. And it's comical because many entrepreneurs that are taking their leap, they're caught up in this analysis paralysis. They're tinkering. They're playing around. They’re testing. They're talking. They're, “You got to go make money, go sell some sh*t.” I don't know how else to say it. Just go sell one thing and then two, and then five, and then 10. Then you got to generate cash. So, I did my best to try and make each one of these stages linear but they're not. But this one is absolutely the very first step. You've got to generate cash. Cash solves many problems. And so, stop getting caught up looking at your belly button. Go sell stuff. It's also going to determine whether you're a true entrepreneur and whether you're even capable of selling. So, go sell stuff, generate cash. That's job one. Forget about everything else. And once you've got cash flowing, then we can get into all the other stages and all the other stuff you should be thinking about.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. One of my former coaches, he used to always say that whenever you're trying to decide how to spend your time on any given day as an entrepreneur, you just ask yourself, "What's the fastest way to the cash?”
Gino Wickman: Exactly.
Hal Elrod: You know, because we get so busy with, "Ooh, I want my website and my logo.” And that I think that's operating in a fear space often as an entrepreneur is like, well, these things there's no risk in me working on the logo. There's no fear of rejection in me tinkering with my website, right? But trying to make a sale, there’s risk there. There's fear of rejection there. And so, I think that that is, actually, I would say for me personally I came from direct sales. I sold Cutco from age 19 to 26 and I was very blessed and fortunate. And there's a lot of, you may have met some and I'm sure you probably have, former Cutco representatives who are killer entrepreneurs. Because that was all we did is we just sold the product. There was nothing else. We weren't building funnels. We weren't doing anything. We were just selling a product. And the more we did, the more money we had from that.
Gino Wickman: And that's one of my biggest piece of advice, go out and get rejected 100 times next week. That's the best thing you can do for yourself. But the point here is let's look at the worst-case scenario. So, you go out and you sell your product or you sell your service and the customer hates it. Okay? Two amazing things happen. Worst case, give them their money back. Best case or the second opportunity is you learn something. So, now you get to say, "Why didn't you like it? Why do you hate it?” You learn something and then you can evolve the product or service and then go sell another one after you improved it. And maybe the next one hates it but then you learn something. So, there's so much to be learned about selling the product to sit around and tinker and ask your mom what she thinks and your brother what he thinks. I mean, it's just ludicrous. Go out and sell stuff to real customers, generate cash, and the answers will come.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I don't want to dive into the other nine because even if you're a seasoned entrepreneur, number one is still number one. And it should always be number one on any given day, right? And it goes back to even what you said earlier about staying true to your core, staying true to your core, which is what is your core value that you have to add to the world, to your clients and your customers stayed true to that and generate cash from that. And then from there, then you can go through all of the other steps. And right now, as a seasoned entrepreneur if you’re struggling and you're trying to fix it by fixing your team or your hires or this or that, again, just go back to what's the fastest way to the cash. What's the thing you can do to generate cash flow in your business so that, like you said, it solves most of the other problems? Like, you got to get to number two, hiring an integrator, well, you need cash for that. So, it just keeps going back to generating cash. So, you conclude the book by you cover a lifetime of growth, learning, and motivation. Talk about that because I think that that's important for it's not like I became an entrepreneur. I made money. I'm successful. It's a lifetime of growth, learning, and motivation. Speak to that, please.
Gino Wickman: Exactly. I'll answer it this way. Picture two paths, okay? Both entrepreneurs take a leap and one takes their leap and just goes out and builds their business and never seeks any knowledge, and the other entrepreneur spends time educating themselves and seeks knowledge. I promise you, statistically, if 100 took this path and 100 took that path, the 100 that take the path of seeking knowledge are going to be light years ahead of the 100 that didn't. And so, you have to constantly educate yourself because this world is ever-changing. And so, what I do in that chapter is I share all the greatest books to read to make you a successful entrepreneur podcast to listen to, videos to watch, blogs to read, quotes to listen to. I list all my favorite quotes and then just some general advice. And so, it's all about how to keep yourself educated and motivated because we get our asses kicked a lot. We get knocked down a lot. There are some tough, tough days where you just want to throw in the towel and sometimes just an amazing quote or an amazing inspirational video or an amazing book just takes you back up. And so, you just constantly have to be growing, learning, and motivating yourself.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I find that when I'm in a funk and around my business or life, in any funk, as soon as I pick up a book and start reading, because I always realize, "Oh, I haven't been reading for the last few days or few weeks or whatever,” and then I read and then I take in knowledge that sparks new ideas, new motivation, I mean, it really is a lifeline that keeps on giving.
Gino Wickman: Yeah. And there's that quote, you're the summation of all of the books you've read and the people that you hang around with. And so, just think about that. If you have somebody that's not surrounded by successful entrepreneurs and not reading great books compared to the person that is, I mean, it's simple math. So, why would you not do that? And then there are also great organizations you can join. I list them all there. So, if you don't have a neighbor, somebody in your sphere of influence that's a great entrepreneur to hang out with, join one of the organizations that are filled with great successful entrepreneurs and you're instantly plugged into all these amazing entrepreneurs.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, absolutely. So, the book is Entrepreneurial Leap. Where's the best place for folks to get it, Gino?
Gino Wickman: Yeah. So, the epicenter of all things entrepreneurial leap is the website E-Leap.com. You're going to find a ton of free tools there. You can also buy the book there. One of the things I would suggest, two things actually, one is if you click on the one, two, three roadmap button, for those of you that are thinking about taking your leap, what it does is it helps you, takes you through the three most impactful tools, one for each step in the book. So, one for confirm, one for glimpse, one for path. In an hour, you will literally have a roadmap to start a better startup, and it's going to help you decide that this is right for you. And the second thing I would suggest for the 50%, if you do want to teach, coach, mentor, guide, help other people with this content, join forces with me, become a collaborator, click on the become a collaborator button. And that's where you will find all things Entrepreneurial Leap.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I haven't been a coach for many years but when I was a coach, that was it. It was reading books. That was how I was gaining knowledge, reading more books than my clients were. And then collaborating, bringing it all together, combining it to give them a lot of value. So, well then you are a gift to the entrepreneur world and I'm a big fan of your work, Gino, so this has been truly an honor, man. Thank you so much for taking the time today.
Gino Wickman: And right back at you. We're mutual fans because Miracle Morning has made a big impact on my morning. So, thanks for your amazing work as well, Hal.
Hal Elrod: That's always fun when it's mutual like that.
Gino Wickman: Here, here, brother.
Hal Elrod: Awesome, man. Well, keep doing what you're doing. And, goal achievers, thank you for listening today. I hope you enjoyed Gino as much as I did. Check out the book. It's really good. It's Entrepreneurial Leap. Go to E-Leap.com and take the assessment, download a free chapter, and buy the book if that fits your reading list right now. So, love you guys and gals. Have a great week and I will talk to you all next week. Take care.