In depth interviews with successful entrepreneurs and leaders that compare the winning traits of sports to business. A long time television sportscaster looks for similarities in teamwork, championship culture, diversity and relationships needed in between and outside the lines.
In depth interviews with successful entrepreneurs and leaders that compare the winning traits of sports to business. A long time television sportscaster looks for similarities in teamwork, championship culture, diversity and relationships needed in between and outside the lines.
In depth interviews with successful entrepreneurs and leaders that compare the winning traits of sports to business. A long time television sportscaster looks for similarities in teamwork, championship culture, diversity and relationships needed in between and outside the lines.
Nicole Feltz and her younger brother bounced around growing up in Kansas City, Kansas with an alcoholic mother.
Has an insurance agency doing auto, home and life. Focus from day one was to give 10% back to the community.
Started working with American Family at 18-years old to pay for college.
Company motto is dream big.
Advice is to get educated talking to anyone and everyone.
Wants to buy and open a house for women and children in need and looking for a fresh start in honor of her late mother.
Phone: (913) 383-9100
Mar 01 2019
Max Schachter's life changed on February 14th, 2018, when his teenage son Alex was one of 17 children and teachers murdered during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Since then, Max has been the preeminent force behind championing policy change at the highest levels of the United States government to improve school safety and security across America. He founded Safe Schools for Alex with a mission to provide parents, students, school districts and legislators the most current school safety best practices
Max is committed to bringing common sense solutions to improving school safety, with his single mission of leading a national clearinghouse that drives school safety best practices across the United States.
The clearinghouse website will go live in November, 2019 at www.schoolsafety.gov.
He can be reached at www.safeschoolsforalex.org
Oct 21 2019
Justin Ricklefs worked multiple stints for the Kansas City Chiefs before deciding to start Guild Content. His company creates content and focuses on content strategy through effective storytelling. Joel recently sat down with Justin. The Guild Stories Podcast: http://bit.ly/2NMnMiC Connect with Justin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb 10 2020
Victor Rojas is a baseball announcer who started an apparel company with his wife called “Big Fly,” named after the term he uses to call a home run as an announcer for the Los Angeles Angels.
Launched in February 2019. Trying to tell stories of baseball through graphics and apparel.
KC Sports will be a reseller in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma
Twitter: @BigFlyGear & @victorrojas
IG: bigflygear & victorrojas29
May 03 2019
Pat Williams believes there are so many lessons in sports that transfer to the corporate world. Team builders can be learned from. Pat has studied this topic for 30 years.
Sports crazy nation. Athletes, coaches, broadcasters have huge sphere of influence. People want to take in what they say and let it ruminate.
Always be on lookout for good quotes, clips, anecdotes. World is made of quotes. Stories.
Grew up in Delaware a baseball fan and dreams of being in baseball. Baseball scholarship at Wake Forest. Played some pro ball before moving to front office in minor leagues. Left baseball to work in basketball as a 28-year old in 1968.
Father of 19 children, 14 adopted by he and his wife.
On talent acquisition, he says the the key to winning is not shying away from talent. Talented people can be challenging and he says some organizations take the easy vanilla route. Legendary John Wooden summed it up best saying the key to winning is talent, talent, talent. However, Williams says three caveats.
Everything rises and falls with leadership in military, business, sports. Fascinated by coaches and their styles. Stepping up and taking a leadership role is powerful. Coaches want internal leadership with their players. Best player being your best leader is a dream. Michael Jordan the best example.
Want your best players to take leadership and do so quietly. So many opportunities to take care of things, to show kids how to do things and veteran leadership is so vital.
Once did study asking managers the four keys to being a good coach. Top answer was being yourself. Can’t try to be someone else. Be who you are. Players will catch a phony real quick.
Wrote four books on John Wooden. Asked Wooden for one secret to success and Wooden said the key is, “A lot of little things done well.” Turned that into a book, “Coach Wooden’s Greatest Secret.” Great organizations pay attention to the little things. They do them with precision.
Teamwork involves sacrifice, getting along with people. “There’s an awful lot of caring. There are an awful lot of people skills that are put into place and there’s respect, which leads to trust which leads to loyalty which leads to love which leads to friendship.”
Avid reader. He finishes 500-600 books a year. Never read about subjects that you’re not interested in
On drafting Charles Barkley in 1984: “We could tell right there that he was a character and we were concerned about his weight. I remember saying, ‘Charles, you’re going to have to get in shape’ and he said, ‘Mr. Williams, round is a shape.’”
Saves stories, quotes, clips on 3x5 note cards. Was told not to trust memory. Collect them. All possible future books.
Important to have goals in life, written down.
Aug 28 2018
Ron Hill is the CEO of Redemption Plus. Ron lived in Seattle and sold a computer training company 23 years ago prior to moving to KC to start Redemption Plus and become a one stop shop for entertainment centers and bowling centers and helping them grow more by wasting less. They currently have more than 50 employees.He believes in conscious capitalism, elevating humanity through business.
Website: www.redemptionplus.com or google conscious capitalism Kansas City
Ron can be found on LinkedIn
Sep 30 2019
A little peek at what is coming in Season 4 and who I am kicking things off with as guest speakers!
Mar 16 2020
Chris Giuliani is the CEO of Spring Venture Group , a company that was started in 2009. Chris joined SVG in 2011 as one of 15 employees. Nearly ten years later, he runs the company and employs nearly 1000 people.
SVG's focus is senior citizens and medicare and they use a comparison shopping model focused on the consumer. Culture and work environment are critical at SVG and they successfully moved their full staff home during COVID-19 and continued to deliver without missing a beat.
Under Chris' leadership Spring Venture Group has earned recognitions in INC. magazine’s Inc. 5000, Business Insurance’s Best Places to Work, The Kansas City Business Journal’s Fast 50, and earned Chris a place on Ingram’s 40 Under Forty list in 2014 and induction in the Ingram’s 250 in 2017.
To learn more about SVG or to apply for a job, go to
Or consumers can visit
Apr 13 2020
Dr. Diego Gutierrez is an assistant professor of marketing and management at Rockhurst University. He played professional soccer from 1996-2008 and won an MLS title in 1998.
He consults, announces MLS soccer and teaches. He specializes in business development and sales and marketing in various industries.
Joel Goldberg: Thanks for coming on the podcast. You're one of those guys that we could go five hours because you've got so much going on in your life. And I like asking this to people that have so much going on. How would you define yourself? Because it's not simple enough to call you a former professional soccer player. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Well, it's interesting you asked that question, Joel, because it's hard. I think throughout my life it's been hard for me to define myself into one specific role. However, I think now I'm at a point in life where I've experienced so much and I've been around the block a few times where I just feel like I'm needing to settle down a little bit. And that's probably why I decided to pursue a career in academia. It's a little bit less hectic, a little bit more concentrated, more focused, because like as you said, there were periods in my past that it seemed like there were 20 balls, different juggle at once. So, yeah, I think a professor, but also somebody that has grown in a by cultural world and I'm certainly reaping the benefits from that. Joel Goldberg: Well, we're sitting here right now in your office at Rockhurst University. So I do want to go back to your upbringing, which is really interesting to me for a kid that grew up in Columbia and ended up in the States, and now as a professor and among many other things in the US teaching kids. And you had a professional soccer career. Tell me about your role here at Rockhurst. I'm looking at your dissertation, Impact of Special Events and Fan Player Bonding on Identified Fan Consumption: A Study of Professional Soccer in the United States by Diego Gutierrez. And when you open this up, if you were to say to me, "I can't believe I did this." I don't know how you did it. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Joel Goldberg: I mean, look, I know how people do it. I couldn't do it, I guess is what I'm saying. You must've really wanted this. How did you end up becoming a professor? Diego Gutierrez: It's ironic because when you look at... I mean, if you were to ask my mother if she would have ever thought that I would become an academic and I mean, she would have told you, you were crazy, mainly because I don't think I was... It's not that I wasn't smart enough, I wasn't applied enough when I grew up and I didn't have the type of environment where it demanded of me that applied myself in school. I had one thing in mind when I was growing up, and that was to be a professional soccer player. And I devoted pretty much all of my time to it. However, as I started growing older, already playing professionally, when I had kids, I realized that it was something that I was probably going to need. Diego Gutierrez: Thankfully, I had really good mentors. One of them right across the hall, Dr. Tony Tocco, who by the way has been at the university for 50 years now. I had the great privilege of playing for him and really sitting with them, and for him to make me understand, "Listen, the ball's going to stop rolling at some point and you're going to need something else." And so focusing on that and really understanding it once I got married and had kids is something that I think really moved me and started to channel me towards really trying to identify what it was that I wanted to do with my second life. Joel Goldberg: Was it a new... Not a new change. I mean, obviously going from professional sports to academia is many would say a 1 to 80. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Joel Goldberg: Is it a completely new life or is it an addition to that life? Diego Gutierrez: Look, I think as an athlete, as a former player, you never leave that life behind. I think there's a lot of guys that maybe didn't have a great experience. I had a pretty good career and had great experiences, met tremendous amount of great people, but for me it's something that it would be a shame to leave behind. So I carry a dual role. I mean, in fact, I'm still doing the radio here for Sporting KC, ESPN Deportes. And I remain involved with the game. In fact, my academic area of research has to do with sports and with consumption and marketing and business topics. So I'm trying to... Or I'm not trying, I'm leveraging all the experience that I've had in the past and putting them to use through my academic career. Joel Goldberg: All right. Let's go back to the beginning. You're a kid growing up in Colombia, and we've got a lot of people that listen in Kansas City. We're not talking about Columbia, Missouri, we are talking about Colombia, the country. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Joel Goldberg: I can't imagine at that point if you were only dreaming about soccer, that you were dreaming about one day living in Kansas City. Diego Gutierrez: Right. Joel Goldberg: Maybe the States, I don't know. Take me through the timeline of how you ended up in the States and what those dreams were for a young Diego Gutierrez in the, what, late '70s into the '80s ? Diego Gutierrez: Right. Well, so very much like Caribbean ballplayers and baseball wanting to grow up and be in the big leagues, our national sport is soccer. And I grew up wanting to be a professional soccer player. I watched it on TV. I was eating it, I was breathing, I was living it through my entire childhood. I was a huge fan of one of the teams in the capital whose academy I was playing in. Diego Gutierrez: And I think, I was blessed and I had a lot of luck as well and that I was identified as a potential player when I was younger. And I started playing with some of the better teams and I was always playing up. So I developed into until a bit of a prodigy and that I was playing with older players always. And so the future look great. Diego Gutierrez: It was about maybe my mid-teen years when my father's family business started just basically, you know, falling apart. And the alternative because I have American family, my mother's family. The alternative was to come to the States and for me to study in this and many other. And as I mentioned, I wasn't very fond of school and so my mother sort of... She didn't ask me, she told me, "Hey, this is what we're doing. I know you want to play soccer, but you going to have to put that on hold until you study." Diego Gutierrez: And so I came here when I was 17, 18 years old and not speaking the language at all. And eventually through college soccer, I ended up taking a very unlikely path into the professional realms. Joel Goldberg: So you ended up going to college, you ended up becoming a professional, you end up playing all over the place I think in terms of American professional teams, Kansas City and the Chicago Fire would be the two big ones. What did you take from all of those experiences, a lifetime in sports? Because what I've noticed, it's true for me too, when I wasn't the athlete, and not the athlete that you are, but I've been in sports forever is that we sometimes get so locked in on the results, and even the process that we forget about the rest of life and everything else. You see that, and we'll talk about that in a bit in terms of athletes, where do they go when they're done. Diego Gutierrez: Sure. Joel Goldberg: But what did you take from the sports world that you still apply now to the vast array of things that you do? Diego Gutierrez: Well, that's a deep one. One of the things that I do notice now that I'm into my late 40s has been the ability to identify opportunities, and to be able to stick with that in order to get to the end result. So a lot of people that haven't been in sports, haven't really had the structured or the need, or the demand for discipline to that kind of degree. Diego Gutierrez: I mean, if you're going to be a hall of fame batter, you're going to have to be taken a whole lot of batting practice. And even when you don't want to and even when you have to deprive yourself of other things, especially when you're a kid, of course you want to go to the parties or you want to hang out with your friends or what have you, but you got to practice. And those, those type of habits and those types of skills that you develop or that I certainly developed as a young man, I didn't really notice them because you're in a team structure. Diego Gutierrez: You're, you're in an environment where pretty much everybody else is doing the same. But as I stepped away from the sport after a successful career, that's when I started, I think realizing that the ability to identify opportunities and to really chase those opportunities to make him into a reality as something that would pay off for myself and my family, I think is something that that really has worked out for me in my life. Joel Goldberg: When you left soccer, you didn't leave. Actually, you've never left soccer, but when you finished, you suddenly found, I think pretty quickly. I mean you and I talked about this, the management side of things and maybe some interesting paths and discoveries along the way. So maybe talk about that a little bit and how you were able to leverage the knowledge that you had to help other athletes and to experience the business side of soccer. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Even as a player, I was always interested on the business side. Unfortunately, I don't think that we have a structure, especially in soccer, but as sports in general, I think, you can apply it. I don't think we have a structure where athletes are transitioning out of the sport in a proper way. Leagues try it, but I don't think there is something that teams are providing on an individual level that prepares people. Players ask people for whatever comes next. Diego Gutierrez: And so I think I was conscious of that maybe because I had the pressure of being 30 years old and maybe having four or five or six years left in my career, and having a wife and kids, and trying to figure out exactly what was coming next from me. Diego Gutierrez: But I was able to identify the business side as a good area of opportunity for me. And where players, they coached, they try to stay in coaching professionally or maybe coaching at the academy level of what have you. I just wasn't really interested in it. And so very early, I started doing my own deals. I started understanding the structure of contracts. I started understanding the business side of this sport, sponsorships, et cetera, to where I was able to find opportunities to help a lot of my teammates. Diego Gutierrez: And so I would help my teammates and I would help them position themselves in a way where they would become more valuable to management, to the team, to the community. Joel Goldberg: You sound to became a player agent. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. And I became a certified player agent. And so I started helping some of the guys out and started moving a ton of players, moving players to Europe, doing business here within a major league soccer. And within a couple of years it just turned out, that there was an opportunity in Philadelphia and I became first the head of scouting and player development and later became the sporting director for the club. Joel Goldberg: I think that's a jump that a lot of former athletes, not a lot, but some make... Oftentimes they maybe don't make it to the level that you did in terms of playing, but they were former athletes and then they've gone the scouting route and the GM route. But you're doing all that, and then that could have been it, right? I mean, you could have been a soccer executive, but if I remember correctly, there was... I don't know if you were unfulfilled or certainly it wasn't the right fit at a certain point, but what caused you to go a different direction? And you're still involved in all of this. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Well, I mean, the short way of answering that question is I would tell you that it simply wasn't God's plan, but I can't tell you that having gone through it very early within, being in that role, I realized that that was not what I had in mind. Is the job description on paper looked like it was? I had watched some of my teammates and people on TV, former players become that and become part of the business side. But for me it wasn't fulfilling. Diego Gutierrez: I was working in a city that was somewhat strange to me. I hadn't been there before. My family didn't have a great transition into the community. And so there were a series of factors that I think allow me to recognize as the head of the family that it wasn't the best situation for me, and that I needed to continue my searching to where I needed to be. And so I went back and went back to business school and finish that, and felt that by doing that I was going to be better prepared for whenever I did find that better fit. Joel Goldberg: So you had the education back when even if you weren't as academic as your mom wanted you to be. Diego Gutierrez: Right. Joel Goldberg: Right? I mean I see Rockhurst university BA in psychology '92, '95 so that's something that was going on while you were applying, I assume professionally/. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Joel Goldberg: But then 2012 to 2014 Helzberg School of Business and what we're sitting in that building right now, and then Creighton College of Business. And so here you are now as an associate professor at Rockhurst and there's so many great stories here in this school and from over the years. You were telling me that you have this great connection with the kids, that they really look forward to your class. You've been highly rated, all that kind of stuff. Joel Goldberg: I get that because you have those real world experiences. Not that others don't, but they're truly unique. There aren't many other people walking into any building with your kind of experiences, how do you connect with these? I say kids but a lot of them are adults too. How do you connect with these students? Diego Gutierrez: Yeah, I primarily teach graduate classes, but I think the way to connect, and I think it helps obviously that I have college aged kids, and being able to understand, listen to where they're coming from and really in many ways seeing my own kids in their shoes. But at the same time, giving the ability for students to really communicate. I think our own models of academia were based on professors just going out there and maybe showing a PowerPoint and you trying to absorb as much as you could. Diego Gutierrez: Whereas today I think we focus a little bit more on that interaction and that discussion. And that active learning, which I think it's so significant. And so I think he's a combination, Joel, of having the right stories, bring in the right type of background, bring in the right level of enthusiasm because I mean I'm hungry to become better as an academic, certainly as a professor, and to be able to really make an impact. Diego Gutierrez: Look, at the end of the day, one of the reasons why I love this profession is that I get to interact with younger people. I get to help develop someone. When somebody is presenting a business plan to my cores that they later say, "I want to actually take this to my company to see what kind of thoughts they get and they get positive feedback," for example. But that's immediate impact that you're getting, not only for that student, that job, but also for that company. Diego Gutierrez: And that obviously has a larger impact in the community as well. So I think it's the type of impact that that's fulfilling both for the students, for the community, but also for myself. Joel Goldberg: What are the classes you're teaching right now? Diego Gutierrez: Right now I'm teaching global markets. I'm teaching a marketing strategy, principles of marketing. Yeah, mostly business-related and marketing-related courses. Joel Goldberg: And then your self professionally. And the good news is it's not a five days a week all day long teaching. So you have some ability to go out there and work on because you got your hands in so many different things. I think that you're trying to conquer the world and doing a good job. You are. Diego Gutierrez: My wife says I never sit still. She says, "Hey listen, just take five minutes to enjoy this and just yourself a rest. Joel Goldberg: Yeah. You and I have that in common. And so we're the type of guys that'll never retire, never sits still. But that doesn't mean we can't go enjoy things by the way they. Diego Gutierrez: Right. Joel Goldberg: Who knows? Diego Gutierrez: We enjoyed it in a different way. Joel Goldberg: We enjoy it in a good way. Thank you for helping me there. What else are you working on? Diego Gutierrez: Right now, I'm working with a major league soccer and Sporting Kansas City, Rockhurst university. We're trying to find, where we were talked about earlier, we're trying to find not a cookie cutter model, but ways, basically an inventory that a sports properties can put together for athletes to better prepare themselves. Diego Gutierrez: Too often we're seeing guys regardless of what kind of financial package guys are getting, regardless of the sport. We're seeing a lot of people that are stepping away from a sport to which they've dedicated their entire lives since they were a young kids. Stepping away from the sport and not really having any direction, any good advice. So trying to sort of, again, put a good inventory, a good package that can be implemented and can be customized for certain players at an individual level to where, look, all of a sudden playing a certain sport or playing for a certain team is a much more appealing proposition than it used to be. If you don't make a big, if you don't make the big financial package, then you're lost. You're actually going to walk out with something at the end of it regardless. Joel Goldberg: Yeah. And so many of those guys in all of the sports, and women, they walk away, and what do they know? They know that sports are what they do. They want to go and coach or clinics or whatever it is. And that can be successful. But there's, there's so much of it out there, it's so saturated that oftentimes they don't know where else to go. Diego Gutierrez: No. The other thing is that athletes don't get to really explore themselves while they're playing. And so exposing people to, hey, what is it that you like? And what you and I talked about previously, what is it that you're good at and what is it that you're passionate about? And hopefully you'll have some sort of overlap there. And the more things that you identify as possible things that you could be good at or passionate about, I think it would be a great situation. I just think we zero in too much on the sport, on the results, on the job, and not enough on what it really means to life in general. Joel Goldberg: I think it's true for everything. We focus on the beginning, we focus on the end and we forget about everything that's in the middle. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. That's exactly right. Joel Goldberg: And that's really what gets you where you need to go. Baseball themed questions, doesn't matter that you're a soccer guy. Biggest home run that you've hit professionally? Diego Gutierrez: I was thinking about this. I think I had the ability, I had the privilege to play with some great people. I was able to win trophies. I ended up winning, by the time it was all said and done five different rings. But I think what I was really able to do, and I think what I take the most pride in was my ability to help other people, and being able to, for example, help the league launch its shreddable arm and be a representative for the United nations and being able to work and be appointed by the president to form part of a council that that really helped Americans and help people in general. Diego Gutierrez: If I hadn't played my sport, I would have never had that platform. But too often we see guys that don't utilize the platform or use it in the wrong way. Listen, again, I don't take all the credit. I had great mentors in my life. I had a lot of people that gave me great advice and I was able to take that as an opportunity, utilize that platform and help them help many others. Joel Goldberg: Biggest swing and miss you've taken. And what did you learn from it? Diego Gutierrez: Biggest swing and miss, I think I wasted a lot of time, honestly. I wasted a lot of time. For 15 years, the time that I, that I played professionally, if you think about all the days that I would just come home and do nothing. And granted you're physically exhausted and sometimes you're dealing with kids and so on, but I could have been doing so much more. Been so much more. Those are the times that don't come back. Joel Goldberg: You can't get them back. You just make up for it as best as you can now, which is what you're doing And small ball, what are the little things to you that add up to the big things? Diego Gutierrez: Man, when I think about the little things, people laugh about this. I love coffee, right? I love drinking coffee, but I think more than anything I love what coffee represents. And a cup of coffee is a union. It's community with somebody. It's a time to reflect. It's a time to, sometimes a time to love, a time to heal. Diego Gutierrez: So many things that I'm able to do with a good cup of coffee in my hand. Life has got so many of these little miracles that that pop up in every now and then. Where people call it a sunshine, people call it... Call it what you want. Hope is a great thing to have and when you are able to recognize those things and you find yourself in a place where you're able to see those little things, I think is great. Coffee for me is quite symbolic. Joel Goldberg: Never thought about it that way. Although the first time you and I hung out together, other than me speaking here at Rockhurst and us meeting was over coffee, which will happen again soon if I have any say in it and I think you will too. Diego Gutierrez: Of course, anytime. Joel Goldberg: Four final questions as we round the basis. First thing, and this is not meant to be a shot at any city, but I think it could apply to anywhere you had ended up. A kid in Columbia suddenly finds himself in Evansville, Indiana. I believe it was right to play soccer. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Joel Goldberg: How lost did you feel? Diego Gutierrez: Oh my goodness. I had arrived probably a year previous, not even before I went to Evansville. I barely spoke the language and even though I was one of the top recruits in the country. At a university, by the way, that at the time had the number one soccer team in the country individual one. Again, on paper it looked like it was a great fit. But I found out very quickly that culturally the school wasn't for me. I wasn't ready honestly to take college courses because my English was good enough to understand, to read but not really to learn. Diego Gutierrez: And lastly, the cultural piece where you have this immigrant kid in the middle of Indiana with nobody to speak with. It was very difficult. In many ways, it did benefit me because I had nobody to speak Spanish with. Therefore, my English was getting better, but I was obligated to learn it. I share this story with you, how I've largely spoke English just watching ESPN and watching Dan Patrick and Keith Overman, and learning about American sarcasm and expressions, and this and that. Diego Gutierrez: I was able to pick up a lot of it and that's pretty much what I did. I stayed in my room and watched TV because I didn't have a very much else to do, but yeah, it was definitely unexperienced. One of those that sometimes you wish didn't happen, but when it's all set and done, I'm very glad that it happened. Joel Goldberg: Second question, as we round the bases, the world humanitarian hall of fame. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Joel Goldberg: You and some other soccer player in there? Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. You might've heard of the guy, his name is Pele. Joel Goldberg: Tell me about that. It's pretty cool. Diego Gutierrez: Yeah. Like I said, I was able to utilize my platform part of bed. There was a period of time, I would say probably between 1999, and the time that I retired that I was able to to voice a lot of campaigns. I was able to channel some really good messages. We were able to work with some important organizations. Diego Gutierrez: I mean, look, anytime you have the white house or you have the UN or the UN foundation or you have FIFA or you have major league soccer onboard with what you're trying to do, you're going to have a good impact because you're able to reach a lot of people. And so I was blessed and I was fortunate that I was put in that situation and I was able to connect with people, and really carry a good message for various organizations. And honestly, when I got the call from the hallI was just blown away, especially because there's so many great individuals that have been in shrine in there that... And that I really look up to. Joel Goldberg: Third question as we round the basis, biggest moment on the soccer field and the soccer pitch in your career, what was it? Diego Gutierrez: Our sport is a little bit different. So I can't really think... I have great individual moments. 1998, I was taken by the Chicago Fire in the expansion draft. And if you understand expansion, you know that this team is compiled mostly from guys that nobody else wants. I was coming back from an injury, so I was taken from Chicago, but there were four or five different guys, maybe 10 guys that were in similar situations. Diego Gutierrez: So we were somewhat outcasts by definition. I mean everybody wrote us off and somehow from February all the way to October of that year, we were able to really get to know each other and to suffer together, and to... We grew to love one another. And when you do that, especially in our sport, you're able to do some wonderful things on the field because you're willing to do things for your teammates that otherwise you wouldn't do. Diego Gutierrez: But we came together as a team with great leadership. Bob Bradley, Peter Weld we're the general manager and coach. We came together as a team. We developed incredible relationships. All those guys are my brothers still to this day, 20 years later. And so I think that was my most special memory was being able to come together as a group and do something special. Joel Goldberg: Final question, the walk-off question. How does, as a professor, that aha moment, you kind of talked about it earlier, when that student has some kind of big success because of something you taught them and it leads to a big business success. Or that light bulb goes off, how does that compare to that big moment in soccer, scoing that big goal, winning that big game? What's the adrenaline? What's the feeling like comparatively speaking? Diego Gutierrez: Yeah, that's a great question. With soccer I think the, or with sports in general, I think that the euphoria might be, the moment might be a lot more intense, but undeniably the impact is much more long lasting in the classroom. And by the way, some of the main satisfaction is that I get a lot of times is the thrill and the rush that I get when, A, I know I've had a really good session with a group of students and B, when I know that I've actually come out and learn from them as well. Diego Gutierrez: Because we're not just stitches. We're still absorbing and we're still getting feedback. One of the reasons I structure my classes the way I do is because I like to hear from students. It keeps my blade sharp to be able to have discussion and to be challenged, and to be into perhaps debate in a friendly and respectful manner with a professor. There's nothing wrong with that and I get a lot out of it. Joel Goldberg: It could be a lot of fun to be in your class. Diego Gutierrez: Oh, yeah. Joel Goldberg: I'll come by some time and check that out anyway. Diego Gutierrez: Anytime you want to come by, absolutely. Joel Goldberg: For sure. Diego, thanks so much. We'll do this again. Coffee soon. Diego Gutierrez: Coffee soon. You know what it means now. Joel Goldberg: I'm sure it's mandatory. Diego Gutierrez: Of course. Joel Goldberg: I do know what it means just beyond just it, but I've never heard it spoken about that way and I couldn't agree more. Thanks so much for doing this. Appreciate it. Diego Gutierrez: Thank you. Thanks for having me. Joel Goldberg: All right. That's Diego Gutierrez. I'm Joel Goldberg. You can reach me at joelgoldbergmedia.com. Hope to catch you next time on Rounding the Bases.
Dec 02 2019
Kilee Nicklels went to school to be a dietician. She and her husband now own a jewelry company called Nickel and Suede, selling lightweight, big leather earrings. They are based in Kansas City, have 27 employees and sell their jewelry online all across the country. She began with an Etsy store and started a blog to support the business. The blog was about dressing toddlers and personal style and authentic stories and she built a huge following
They started the business out of their home and now are in a 15,000 square foot building in Liberty, MO and they just opened a new retail store. They’ve been on the Inc 500 list for two straight years.
Blog: one littlemomma.com
IG: @nickelandsuede @onelittlemomma
Podcast: With Kilee Nickels
Nov 04 2019
Courtney Thomas grew up in North Carolina. Began her care path working in veterinary hospitals. Managed veterinary hospitals before moving to Kansas City in 2010.
The daughter of an alcoholic mother, she was raised by her grandparents, Grandmama and Pete. Her grandmother was a survivor of domestic violence and ran a successful business.
She's the CEO at Central Exchange. Programs offered at CX range from negotiation skills to conflict resolution to STEM. Giving people the benefits of being connected to their community and to themselves.
One of Courtney's favorite books is “How To Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings.”
Feb 21st Event at CX:https://bit.ly/2T4k1sM
Feb 19 2019
Chris Costello is a co-founder of blooom, with 3 O’s, a technology company started to help people better invest and allocate their 401K.
Started with 3 founders and now has 22 employees in Leawood, KS.
Clients receive access to a financial advisor but also interaction with Blooom’s client-service team. One client at a time mentality.
Creative video on their website has led to 2-3 times the amount of clients signing up.
Analysis on the website takes 3 minutes. Payment is as little as $10 a month.
Mar 22 2019
Matt Condon is the CEO of Bardavon Health Innovations, a company to provide innovative, clinically-based solutions to enable employers to identify and connect with the best medical practices in their marketplace through a proprietary cloud-based clinical intelligence system. Bardavon has a mission to change healthcare with data, transparency, innovation, and integrity. They have grown from about 30 to 170 associates in the last two years.
Bardavon Health Innovations is dynamically disrupting the healthcare industry by transforming the way Patients, Providers, and Payors interact with each other in the Workers’ Compensation marketplace.
As the leading national specialty PT/OT network, Bardavon’s mission is to improve the quality of healthcare by creating an ethos of transparency that revolutionizes the continuum of care by way of its innovative proprietary cloud-based software bNOTES®.
Dec 16 2019
Eze Redwood is an entrepreneur, restaurant owner, problem solver, strategist, and much more.
He's been a Google Fellow, an American Fellow, and is the founder of Rise Fast, an organization that helps professionals in their 20s and 30s create impact and value in the work place. He also is a partner in a gourmet wings restaurant called Wings Cafe in Kansas City.
He's determined to to help people find the right careers and fit.
Twitter: @RiseFast @TheWingsCafe
May 13 2019
Matt Watson is founder of the company Stackify. They were named in the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies in August 2019, ranked 379.
He sold Vin Solutions for $147M to Autotrader.
Stackify has about 25 employees in KC, and 20 in the Philippines. They built a tool that helps software developers understanding how they are performing and have over 1100 customers all over the world. He and Matt DeCoursey founded Full Scale. They also host the podcast "Startup Hustle" and regularly bring entrepreneurs together at concert and sporting events in their "Suite and Greet" networking events in Kansas City."
Matt attended Devry but did not finish school and obtained his degree later. He tells kids to look at college as an ROI.
He can be reached at email@example.com
Aug 26 2019
Swell Spark is a company with concepts such as escape rooms and axe throwing
They are known for Blade and Timber and breakout escape rooms, have 11 storefronts nationwide and believe in the importance of having fun to bring people together for shared experiences.
Matt was a high school guidance counselor and owned a soda shop when he started an escape room as a side hustle and expanded to six locations within two years
They started the axe throwing trend and expanded to six locations around the country.
Hoping to launch a new concept in April 2020.
Joel Goldberg: Matt, there are a million things that you're involved in, which means there are a million things that I want to talk to you about. How would you describe yourself?
Matt Baysinger: I love having fun. I know that sounds really cheesy, maybe even sounds cutesie or something along those lines, even cheap. Right? But I just really believe that having fun is important. I think it brings people together. That's always kind of been my MO, not even in a professional sense, just in a life sense. Then from a company standpoint, we really made it the company MO as well. We want to gather people for shared experiences. We want to have a heck of a lot of fun together.
Joel Goldberg: You do that, I'm sure, and then we'll talk about the culture of your company but also anyone that is going to something that you own or run, that's the goal across the board. It's not just, hey, we're this company, come and do this. You're offering people a lot of ways to have fun.
Matt Baysinger: Yeah. The two major brands that we have that folks recognize us for the most are Blade & Timber and then Breakout KC here in Kansas City. We have 11 storefronts around the country from Kansas City to Honolulu. We've been doing this for five years. In that, we've also done things like Choir Bar and Epic Aloha and other kind of popup ideas. I think we are seekers of fun, and so there's a couple check boxes of, "Does it do this? Does it do that?" And I think at the end of the day if it's going to get people together, if it's going to give them a more compelling thing to do than stare at their phone, then it's something that we're interested in pursuing.
Joel Goldberg: Let's start with... You want to start with Breakout KC or Blade & Timber?
Matt Baysinger: Let's do it.
Joel Goldberg: Let's start with Breakout KC. Of course, everybody knows about these escape rooms now. If you've never done one before... I hadn't done one and then suddenly I think my family and everybody... My kids had done them and even my wife had done one at some point. Then suddenly we've got my parents and my kids and this and that. We're all in this room together, and it's exactly what you said. We're having a lot of fun together. This is really cool. Tell me about the origins of that.
Matt Baysinger: My wife, Emily and I, we were traveling to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2014. We had this eight hour stopover in Nashville before we really got going into Chattanooga to visit some friends. We were looking for something to do in Nashville. Never had been to the city. Seemed like a good place. We pull up Trip Advisor. We're thinking what music tour can we do or what sort of entertainment. We pull up, and the number one thing on Trip Advisor is this thing called The Escape Game, and it's a picture of a house. We're like, "What is this?"
Matt Baysinger: We didn't end up going on that trip, not knowing what it was. We were going to visit Emily's friend in Chattanooga, which meant I had a whole week to research escape rooms. Over the course of a week, one, I was like, "This looks fun." But, two, it was this brand new experience, this brand new industry in the United States. I came back really kind of rejuvenated from that trip. I pulled in one of my best friends, Ryan, who was in kind of more design fabrication construction. I said, "Ryan, we got to look into this thing. We have to. I think we can do this, and I think we can do it better than anybody."
Matt Baysinger: The basic idea for those who have not played an escape room is there's this dramatic experience. It's as though you're Jason Bourne or you're James Bond. It not like you're locked in a room. That was the old version of escape rooms. But you have to solve something. You have to be the hero of a great story. For us, we have 11 different experiences just in the Kansas City area alone, so 11 different movies that you get to play the part in essence. As you mentioned, they are a phenomenal opportunity to hang out with friends or family or coworkers. It's stinking fun.
Joel Goldberg: Yeah. How do you go from this looks cool to this is going to be our business?
Matt Baysinger: Sure. This was 2014. As a matter of fact, the first time that Ryan and I got together to really talk about this was the Wild Card Game in 2014. That was when the spark ignited. Honestly, when we first started, it was going to be a side hustle. We thought, "Hey, we can do this on the weekends. It might be some passive income. We can build these things. If we end up making a couple of bucks, awesome." And we thought that we would.
Matt Baysinger: I was working two jobs at that time. I was a high school guidance counselor at St. James Academy in Lenexa, and I had just started this soda shop, Mass Street Soda, within the last year. We didn't anticipate it doing what it has done. It's been an amazing ride. But we opened. We were able to get some friends in who shared it. I think there was just an appetite for something new among our customers, among the folks who came and supported us. Within two years, we had expanded out to six locations, largely because we thought that we could, and we thought that we should.
Joel Goldberg: Were you doing it differently than everybody else? Were you guys able to take it to a different place?
Matt Baysinger: Yeah, I think we did a really good job with telling great stories and letting people be heroes of great stories. I think even more so, Kansas City... I think it's the most underrated city in America. When people take a stab at something new in this city, if it is of high quality, what we found is more often than not, the city and the community at whole kind of wraps their arms around you. They're like, "Hey, we take care of our own."
Matt Baysinger: So we went from opening to being the top rated escape room in the country within about nine months. We had more reviews on Trip Advisor than anybody else. We had people waiting sometimes three or four weeks to get a spot to come in. I think honestly that's largely due to we told great compelling stories, but I think more importantly we've always had a super high focus on customer service. Whether you have a good time in the room or not, I can't really control that. But we can control how we treat you before the room, during the room, after the room, to make sure that you have just incredible interactions with real people the entire time.
Joel Goldberg: Was there a tipping point with that one where you said... Obviously, you believed this to be successful.
Matt Baysinger: Right.
Joel Goldberg: But like you said, a nice side hustle. What or when was the tipping point where you said, "Wait a minute. This side hustle is actually going to become the main hustle"?
Matt Baysinger: Sure. Ryan was a firefighter at the time. Again, I had these other jobs as well. We had this single phone number that would ring to both of our phones. The general rule, because it was the two of us, was, hey, if you can answer the phone go ahead and answer, and if you can't after five rings the other person might answer it. Normally, we'd get one or two calls a day in the first couple weeks. We'd have maybe one or two bookings a day. We only had one room.
Matt Baysinger: I vividly remember this experience. Ryan and I, we were building out the second room, and he's up on a ladder. The first call comes in of that day, and I call, hey, Matt... This is Matt with Blade & Timber. How can I help you? We want to book. Great. While I'm on the phone, Ryan's phone rings. Hey, this is Ryan with Blade & Timber. While we're on the phone, I get a beep in. Hey, can I put you on hold for a second? What had happened is two days before that... I went to high school with Matt Besler. We've been friends for quite some time. I said, "Hey, Matt, we started this new thing. Would you come? Bring some friends if you want to."
Matt Baysinger: Well, Matt brought almost the entire Sporting Kansas City team. They posted on their Instagram and Facebook-
Joel Goldberg: That was it.
Matt Baysinger: ... and honestly, that was it. People started hearing about what we were doing. I think it was that day or the next day is when we started booking out not just days in advance but weeks in advance. Within a couple short weeks, we were quitting our other jobs, saying, okay, let's go all in on this and trying to grow that thing as well as we could.
Joel Goldberg: This might be a dumb question or certainly... And I don't mean for it to be offensive because I know you believed in your product. If the soccer star with the whole soccer team does not do that, do you still get to where you are in just a matter of... Would it have taken longer?
Matt Baysinger: I think so. We still had a great product. That was, I think, the kickstart that we needed. But you know as well as anybody that you can have amazing marketing, but if your product sucks, people are going to say, "Wow, that was amazing marketing. They tricked me into doing this thing." The mountain of momentum came when very quickly we were the top rated experience in Kansas City more than the museums, more than the K, more than all these things.
Matt Baysinger: When you looked on Trip Advisor at things to do, we were the thing to do. Might that have taken a little bit longer? Yeah, absolutely. But I think when a lot of folks ask me why we've had success or what that goes back to, I talk about people. I talk about the relationships that I've had and the relationships that I've cultivated over time. Matt was generous enough to come along and help kickstart us, and that was awesome. I'm grateful for him. He probably wants commission right now that he's here in this podcast. I think if you put a great product out there as long as folks find a way to know about it, good things will come.
Joel Goldberg: Well, and we could also add in good people in terms of those connections. Okay, you had a long history with Matt Besler. Matt Besler also happens to be a very good person.
Matt Baysinger: Absolutely.
Joel Goldberg: So it's one thing to be a soccer star and sporting has such a loyal and unbelievable following, but part of that following is the culture that they have too.
Matt Baysinger: Absolutely.
Joel Goldberg: I'm guessing that that kind of all aligned with who you all are.
Matt Baysinger: It was I would say accidental strategic in the early days and that what we've come to find is that we actually overlap pretty well with the type of fans that Sporting Kansas City has. There's not as many folks at MLS Games as there are at Chiefs' games or at Royals' games, but they're oftentimes far more rabid fans. They're far more invested in their team. Coming from that area right by Cerner and some folks that are techy and geeky, escape rooms, they're a little bit nerdy.
Matt Baysinger: It is a more active form of entertainment than just going out and grabbing a few beers or something like that. You have to think.
Joel Goldberg: You have to think.
Matt Baysinger: But that's the fun of it. That's not to say... I think the fear for a lot of people is that they're going to be not smart enough for an escape room. Escape rooms are built for everybody. We definitely had some happy accidents in the early days as far as who we catered to, who we advertised to, who we marketed through and with. I will happily take advantage of those happy accidents that we've had.
Joel Goldberg: I always say never apologize for those. They don't really happen by accident either I don't think. You can stumble into something. I guess what I would say is that you can have that happen by accident, but ultimately it's up to you to capitalize on it.
Matt Baysinger: Absolutely.
Joel Goldberg: And a lot of people don't.
Matt Baysinger: Sure.
Joel Goldberg: And so then maybe it's not meant to be. You obviously did. How about... I know you've got a passion for film or film background. How much did that help in terms of the stories you guys were telling?
Matt Baysinger: Sure. I think quite a bit. My former company was just Baysinger Films, and we did work for Nike and Google and McDonald's and things like this. We also did weddings and just telling people's stories. Again, in the early days Ryan comes from this fabrication background, a wicked smart guy as well. We went to high school together. And I came really from more of a marketing, so I was like, man, I can market this stuff if you can help build it. I'm far more conceptual than Ryan is. I'm for better or worse. We tried to use every skill or talent that we had to push the envelope forward just a little bit more in the early days. I think fortunately we had a pretty good mix between the two of us, and then we had some really amazing folks come on board to help us with that as well.
Joel Goldberg: All right. You have the escape rooms, and everybody's throwing axes nowadays.
Matt Baysinger: Yep.
Joel Goldberg: That has become-
Matt Baysinger: Because of us, right?
Joel Goldberg: Yes. Well, it's become a thing.
Matt Baysinger: Yeah.
Joel Goldberg: No one in their wildest dreams would've ever imagined that that's something you could do outside of some kind of 2:00 in the morning programming on ESPN10 or whatever it was.
Matt Baysinger: The Ocho.
Joel Goldberg: Yeah, The Ocho. Oh man, how long ago that was. So how did this come about?
Matt Baysinger: Little context, right? In the early days of the escape room, I vividly... And I've told this story before. But I remember this moment of we lived on coffee at the time and Quay Coffee is down the street, amazing coffee shop in the River Market. We were there twice a day because we were working the stereotypical long hours that you do in startup. This group of gals probably, I don't know, 16, 17, 18 years old had just broken out from one of our escape rooms with 10 seconds to go, so they were hyped.
Matt Baysinger: Their immediate conversation is, hey, let's go grab something to eat. They're walking down, and they end up walking to Quay. I'm 10 paces behind them, which is a little awkward, but whatever. They get out of our escape room; we take the group photo of them; they celebrate; high fives; I think, get some T-shirts; start walking. They walk two blocks to Key Coffee. I'm right behind them the whole time. Seventeen-year-old gals. Not a single one of them pulls their phone out. They are just talking to each other trying to figure out what just happened. "Hey, I was doing this thing, and I pulled down on the antlers, and then... oh, that was when the door opened. Oh, my gosh, I was doing this other... " They're piecing together how they actually broke out of this room because it's just been pure something to that point.
Matt Baysinger: That was the moment that we kind of realized, "Oh, my gosh we've built something more exciting than your cellphone." I know that sounds maybe a little silly, but you know it's-
Joel Goldberg: No, I think everyone gets it actually.
Matt Baysinger: And so the question immediately became how else can we do this. We never anticipated being an escape room company. We really found ourselves in this what we call small box entertainment. From almost day one we said, "Escape rooms, and... " We looked at all these other concepts, all these other things. And then as we were just researching online at some point we saw this pub in London that had an axe throwing range in it. We were like, "Huh? Axe throwing and alcohol. That sounds kind of fun. That sounds kind of different."
Matt Baysinger: The building that we're in right now we actually built an axe throwing lane on the top floor. We have ping-pong tables and arcade games and all of the stuff that you would expect a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds to have in their offices.
Matt Baysinger: The moment that we made an axe throwing lane on our top floor people stopped playing ping-pong, and they stopped playing the arcades, and they stopped... All you would hear is people talking over lunch hour of, "Oh, man, I can't believe you got me. I'm going to get you next game." Our staff started getting really into it.
Joel Goldberg: So the same way that those girls were talking about that escape room, putting the phones away and actually having... What is this? Oh, a conversation.
Matt Baysinger: Right.
Joel Goldberg: You saw a similar type of energy.
Matt Baysinger: Yeah. Again, as silly as it sounds, people like doing stuff. People like learning new skills. I think one of the reasons golf is declining is because it's really hard, and it's really expensive, and there's kind of a high barrier for entry to get into it. With axe throwing, we got to a point where we felt like we could teach anybody how to throw an axe in five minutes or less. When it became that simple, it's like, "If my mom can do this, then anybody can do this." I love you, mom.
Matt Baysinger: She doesn't have an athletic bone in her body, and she's able to hit bulls eyes underhand with an axe. Once we got to that point we were like, "There's something here." The next question was, "What kind of landlord would in their wildest imagination allow us to throw axes in their building?" Truth be told, we got denied by probably five or six landlords in Kansas City who were like, "This isn't going to work," or "It doesn't sounds safe," or whatever.
Matt Baysinger: But we were able to open in the West Bottoms, and I think once we had the proof of concept, same story. We've been able to expand to six locations, seventh coming. Actually, we only have five now that I think about it.
Joel Goldberg: We'll get into that one.
Matt Baysinger: What's been fun about axe throwing... I guess, quick little tangent. Our second location of our escape room was Honolulu, Hawaii, so Kansas City to Honolulu. What's been really fun, we took axe throwing-
Joel Goldberg: Let me stop you real quick. How'd did you go from... I mean, it seems like why wouldn't you, right?
Matt Baysinger: Right.
Joel Goldberg: It's not that easy. It can't be that easy.
Matt Baysinger: So mom graduated high school in Hawaii. Dad was [inaudible 00:17:12]. Our grandfather was military. So we did have kind of a familial connection out there, but also it's a large metro. It's a large metro, and quite frankly, there's not a lot to do once the sun goes down, especially if you're not into drinking or clubbing. What's been really neat with axe throwing with Blade & Timber, we have locations here. We're down in Wichita. We're in Seattle. We're in Honolulu. Those are very different people groups in all of those cities.
Matt Baysinger: They have different voting histories. They have different make ups of skin tones and skin colors and all sorts of stuff. But what's really fun is that people love axe throwing in all of those markets. People love having fun in all of those markets. It's been just from a human standpoint to see that this is something that's kind of universally needed is this table for community. It's been a really cool byproduct of what we do.
Joel Goldberg: When you put that axe throwing lane upstairs, it was just something else fun or cool to do because you guys have that cool type of office? How did you end up with that axe throwing lane upstairs?
Matt Baysinger: Even when you go back to escape rooms we test it first. I think a lot of people think that it was just striking gold, but we built our first escape room in the spare bedroom of my house. When it came to axe throwing, we can make some educated guesses, but we want to at least test it out for logistics. Upstairs the initial goal was simply, hey, let's figure out what axe we need to use. Let's figure out how far or close you should stand. Let's figure out if you should spin it once or twice. It was really to test the concept.
Matt Baysinger: When we put it up there, we knew that it was something that we were interested in doing as long as we could figure it out. People just figured it out a lot sooner than we would've anticipated.
Joel Goldberg: How did that compare in terms of interest, growth, to the escape rooms? Was it the same type of pattern? Were you stumbling upon the same thing or was it a different animal?
Matt Baysinger: Yeah, there were obviously some differences. There were obviously some similarities. But I think when you take a step back, people ask, "All right, Matt, you're with Swell Spark, what does Swell Spark do?" Nothing. The answer is nothing. Swell Spark is an operating group. It's a group of about 20 people here at headquarters who serve all of our concepts. In that capacity, when you look at the long-term growth plans for Swell Spark to be a long-term sustainable company, we need to launch new concepts. That's in our DNA. We have committed to be a perpetual startup of concepts.
Matt Baysinger: With that, we talk about velocity, and we talk about velocity of different metropolitan areas. We were able to open our escape rooms in two major metros, being Kansas City and Honolulu. We've been able so far to open our axe throwing in four major metros.
Joel Goldberg: Which is Kansas City-
Matt Baysinger: Kansas City, Honolulu, Seattle, and we're about to open Portland as well. When you look at the big picture, what do we do and what it is that we're about, we get velocity in metros. Once we open one concept in a metro, we start to accumulate data on who's coming. We start to accumulate data on who we should market to, what parts of town we should be in, what parts of town we should avoid. Realistically, once we opened Blade & Timber, we were able to do a cross promotion with Breakout KC and invite 70,000 people to come out. You can imagine what day one looked like when they're 70,000 invitations to be the first to do something in Kansas City.
Matt Baysinger: And so, it exploded. Our first kind of soft opening VIP night, which was literally just me and Ryan posting on Facebook, I think had 300 people show up.
Joel Goldberg: Wow.
Matt Baysinger: We always set up our experiences to be easy on the eyes. So we set up a photo booth in Blade & Timber and put some places in where it would make it real easy to take a photo so people share on our behalf, which we love. I have three kids, six, four and two. My wife, she probably wishes she didn't start this, but she started making a book a year per kid. It's just a scrapbook, a well-designed scrapbook. We just had all three of their birthdays in the last couple months. And so we're going through and making the new pages or the new years. The pages in those scrapbooks are never about the things we bought for them.
Matt Baysinger: There's never a picture of, "Oh, here's your toy that you enjoyed." It's like, "No, here's the stuff we did." Honestly, I think people are, not to say waking up to that idea, but bowling is the great example. Bowling was America's sport for a long time. There's countless research that's been done about this. Bowling died. There's a lot of reasons it died. What the problem is is a lot of people said, "Oh, well, it was because bowling wasn't fun," when really it was a lack of community.
Matt Baysinger: For us to have the opportunity to give people that again is just so special. I think people crave it. It's easy to stay in your house. It's easy to watch Netflix and order food. There's nothing wrong with either of those things as long as they're balanced with spending time with your friends and being around other people. We love to provide those opportunities.
Joel Goldberg: That's one of the things of why we like vacations. You actually get a chance to go and do things.
Matt Baysinger: Right.
Joel Goldberg: Not everything needs to be Disney World and waiting in the lines and all that and people may like certain things. We actually took our kids last year to Disney and Universal and all that for the first time ever. They're now 16 and 14, so they were 15 and 13 at that point. And they'll remember that forever.
Matt Baysinger: Absolutely.
Joel Goldberg: It might not be a specific ride. It might be just walking around and the Harry Potter stuff. Who knows? It is something that they will and we will remember forever those moments.
Matt Baysinger: Absolutely. I'm a KU grade. I'm a big Jayhawks fan. Even to go to 2014 and 2015 with the Royals, I've been to a whole lot of baseball games over the years. Those are fun, but you're generally watching other people do things. One of the reasons I think Allen Fieldhouse is such a special environment is because as a fan you feel like you're part of it. You're shredding newspaper. You're tossing it in the air. There's these little things you do with your hands. You are a part of your own entertainment experience.
Matt Baysinger: In 2014, that Wild Card Game I think I gave 700 high fives. Everyone who was there that's going to be a special memory because we got to be part of it to a degree.
Joel Goldberg: There is a reason why people have these crazy superstitions, and they ramp up, and it's not just in Kansas City. It's in every single city.
Matt Baysinger: Sure.
Joel Goldberg: How many people do you know that say, "We had to sit in this spot for this game," and if you came in and you weren't there before, you were kicked out. There were actually families that weren't watching the game together because that became their involvement and their experience. Right?
Matt Baysinger: Yeah, absolutely.
Joel Goldberg: As crazy and silly as those things are, they're fun because you're involved.
Matt Baysinger: They make it more memorable.
Joel Goldberg: You feel like you're a part of it even if you're wearing the same underwear for... Yeah.
Matt Baysinger: Make sure you wear your same shirt, your flannel shirt, every time you come to Breakout or Blade & Timber. It'll be your lucky shirt to get bulls eyes.
Joel Goldberg: Whatever it takes. I do want to ask you in a little bit about what's next. Before we get into the baseball theme questions, I'm curious now where you're at. You and I are in a group together, so I've had the chance to watch you operate a little bit. I haven't probably shown up as much as others or I should. Maybe you have. I don't know. What I've been though is I've just been really impressed with just your thirst for knowledge, your thirst to become better I think as a leader. I don't know if that's something you ever thought about getting into. I don't know that you could've envisioned any of the way this all went other than the fact that you seem to be to me a guy that's always thinking and driven and wanting to come up with new ideas.
Joel Goldberg: But now you're running companies all around the country. And I know you have to have a culture in the way you want things done, and that could be a little bit unnerving to say, "Wait a minute. How are things going in Hawaii? I'm sitting here in Kansas City."
Matt Baysinger: Right.
Joel Goldberg: What have you learned?
Matt Baysinger: We were talking before the podcast started is all we can do is tell our story. I look back at, my undergrad was sociology. Then I worked in athletics for a while, and I got a master's in education administration. I worked as a high school guidance counselor. I worked as a barista. I started a soda shop. I have a film company. None of it makes sense. But I think when you take a step back a little bit more, all of it makes sense.
Matt Baysinger: One, as you iterated, the people, the relationships that you build along the way matter. I think more than that we went through recently, and we talked about what it is that we actually look for in employees. It was kind of tucked in the back of my head, but we finally spit it out and said, "We want people who are eager to learn. We want people who are coachable." I had the opportunity to run track at the University of Kansas, and I got there because I was fast. Without being overly pretentious, I was a fast runner. I got a lot faster because I had a great coach.
Matt Baysinger: I think sometimes when you get to the metaphorical big leagues of running your own company it's easy to think that you know it all. I think the more that I have realized that our business while it is strange, it's not unlike other businesses. There are things that apply to just about every business on earth, and the more that we've realized that... At first, I was kind of upset about it like, "Oh, I thought we were doing something special. I thought we were venturing out into the world," but I've realized no. A lot of the problems that we face are the same problems that other people have faced, and what that means is there's wisdom in finding the answers they found so that we can skip those painful steps and get to better solutions without having to reinvent the wheel ourselves.
Matt Baysinger: The startup community, the small business community in Kansas City, is unlike anything I've encountered. We've been able to travel a lot. There are a special group of folks here who are invested in making the cream rise to the top. If I can be a part of that, man, I'll take that opportunity any day.
Joel Goldberg: Yeah, that's pretty powerful. Before we get to the baseball theme questions, so how many stores or properties total around the country right now? We talked about the different cities.
Matt Baysinger: Yeah, we had 11. One of our stores just burned down two weeks ago, which was a huge bummer. So technically we're at 10. We'll be at 12 by quarter two of 2020.
Joel Goldberg: This is Blade & Timber and escape rooms?
Matt Baysinger: Yes, that's correct. We hope to launch our next concept in April-ish of 2020. That'll depend on our construction contracts and whatnot. But we have something new coming to Kansas City.
Joel Goldberg: Which I'm sure you can't tell me.
Matt Baysinger: Nope.
Joel Goldberg: But it'll be I'm guessing something as ground breaking or original as an escape room was in 2014 and as original as axe throwing was a few years back.
Matt Baysinger: We have found that fun maybe looks different in other countries or other regions.
Joel Goldberg: There's a hint.
Matt Baysinger: But that doesn't make it any less fun. I think oftentimes it's simply that we don't realize the opportunity that there is to do this really fun thing.
Joel Goldberg: Put it this way. I'm not trying to get it... I live in this world where with baseball and athletes where you just know you're not going to get the answer, so that's fine. But when this thing comes out, will it initially be something saying, "Wait? Really? Never thought about that before"?
Matt Baysinger: I think you're going to chuckle at its simplicity.
Joel Goldberg: Okay.
Matt Baysinger: Yep.
Joel Goldberg: All right, fair enough. Baseball themed questions. What would you say professionally is the biggest home run you've hit?
Matt Baysinger: That first risk of Breakout KC. That was the launching pad for sure. Honestly, as I say it though, I think the biggest home run that we hit was Breakout Waikiki, our second location. The reason I say that is we had to open a location 3,800 miles from here, 15 hours of travel at best. We had to set it up in a way that it could run without me being there, which is a hard transition for an entrepreneur to build process and to build functions that can exist without you being the one to do it.
Matt Baysinger: It was successful. That's why I'm calling it a home run, but I think more so it forced us to take a step back and think about how to grow well. Since that point, every other location we've done since then has been closer, but we've been able to grow 10 locations in four years. We've been able to increase our sales by 55% a year for four years now, and that's because we had to work out a lot of those kinks early on with Breakout Waikiki.
Joel Goldberg: What's the swing and miss? You've talked a lot about learning.
Matt Baysinger: Sure.
Joel Goldberg: What's a big swing and miss, and what did you learn from it?
Matt Baysinger: We did this project called Epic Aloha in Hawaii as well. This was a 6,000 square foot walkable Instagramable museum. Again, it checked the boxes. Shared experiences? Absolutely. Bring people together. Amazing concepts. All of those things. Honestly, from an installation standpoint it might've been the best thing we've every built. It went out of business in 10 months. Granted, it was a 12 month lease. We went to the wrong space. Not to oversimplify it, but what was bizarre about that concept, we became the seventh highest rated attraction in all of Hawaii. You're talking Pearl Harbor and then Waikiki Beach and then a handful of others, and then Epic Aloha.
Matt Baysinger: We had this insane problem that everyone loved us but nobody knew about us. We just couldn't overcome that. Unfortunately, we closed that one a little bit early. We took a bath on it in many ways, but also we realized what we were capable of. I'm the eternal optimist, so we're always going to find the positives, but from a numbers standpoint, golly, that was bad. From a learning standpoint, we know what a fast ball looks like now. We know what a curve ball looks like, and I think we know how to handle those a little bit better moving forward.
Joel Goldberg: That's good. Small ball. How would you define small ball to Swell Spark or to any of your entities in terms of the little things?
Matt Baysinger: You know, I wouldn't call myself a futurist, but I think our world is changing a lot. I think one of the things that differentiates us from just about anybody else is our emphasis on customer service. I believe it's all about the relationships, I really do. The thing can be cool, but if you do a cool thing with terrible people, you're not going to enjoy it. We focus on our people first, and I think when our people are feeling loved, when they're feeling supported as employees, it allows them to do that with customers as well.
Matt Baysinger: Our blocking and tackling or our small ball is we got to make sure that the people are even better than the experience that we offer.
Joel Goldberg: Four final questions that I ask every guest. These will vary by guest. Four final questions as we round the bases. Do you have a favorite story or scene that you've done over the years?
Matt Baysinger: Halloween is a big deal for my wife and I. This isn't going to be the answer that you asked for.
Joel Goldberg: That's okay.
Matt Baysinger: Forrest Gump is my favorite movie. It's an amazing movie. When you talk about how I got into all this, my junior year of college I grew my hair out just so I could shave it down to look like Forrest Gump. I sat on a bench on KU's campus and I passed out chocolates for four hours and told stories. I think that probably as much as anything iterates who I am and what we stand for, which is, man, we like to have fun. We love to do that through Halloween as well. I think from a company standpoint I told you about the gals walking, and that's been a pivotal moment for us.
Matt Baysinger: I just love when I get to see reviews... I love on a regular basis is people will say, "This is the best thing I've done this year," or "This is the best birthday party I've ever had." As cheesy as it may sound, that is all of the motivation or story that I need to know that we're doing something positive.
Joel Goldberg: All right. The second question, which has to do with storytelling or perhaps in this case, fake storytelling. You know where I'm going. I didn't know you that well, and I'm still getting to know you. But when this whole thing popped up, and it was written about... It was one of those just epic... Back in the day we used to call it a burn, I guess. You know?
Matt Baysinger: Sure. Yeah, sick burn.
Joel Goldberg: Sick burn. Yeah. This was back in July. I just remember reading this, and I had goosebumps because basically you dealt with what I'm sure a lot of very proud, hardworking business owners deal with. And we live in a world... We're all guilty of it. I try to remind myself all the time that just because it's on Yelp doesn't mean it's true.
Matt Baysinger: Sure.
Joel Goldberg: In the case, somebody basically accused one of your employees of Blade & Timber of some racist stuff. Your reply was beautiful. I'll just read a little bit of it because you responded to him, and you said, "The best part of this is that you tried to paint a picture of my man, Jordan, as rude and racist. This is the exact same Jordan whose own mother immigrated to the US from Mexico. You have the audacity to call out a staff member by name, yet you have to make up a story and hide behind a fake Yelp alias to try to stir the pot. If one of our staff members was actually being racist, I can assure you that we would take action, but in this scenario you're just using a fake name to tell a fake story to try and paint a fake picture about a real and honest person that's just trying to do his job. I can't let that fly here. If I could give you a Yelp rating, you would earn zero stars."
Joel Goldberg: It got a lot of attention as it should have.
Matt Baysinger: It did. Yeah.
Joel Goldberg: That's just some of it. But I can only imagine the fire that burned in you when this happened, and then being the storyteller, the chance for you to tell that story.
Matt Baysinger: The first revision of my response was a little bit punchier.
Joel Goldberg: This was pretty punchy.
Matt Baysinger: Yeah. Jessie, our Director of Communications, asked me to tone it down a little bit. But, you know, this was... It's a weird world online. Right?
Joel Goldberg: Yeah, it is.
Matt Baysinger: People can say things unchecked. And we had this situation where we threw some kids out for underage drinking. This was the way that they decided to retaliate against us. We're smart enough to... I mean, we have audio and video of everything that happens in our store. Honestly, I read the review, and I was first fired up that one of our staff members had done something stupid. I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I can't believe that Jordan was racist." These are the things flying through my head.
Matt Baysinger: I dive in, and I get the real story. Then my level of anger went through the roof. We ask a lot of our employees. It's not easy to have great customer service and to love and serve people well especially when they suck. In this situation, we reviewed the tapes. It was pretty clear that Jordan had done exactly what we had asked him to do in the situation. There wasn't a racist bone in his body in this situation. It just felt like the right opportunity and the right thing to do to stand up for him.
Matt Baysinger: Whenever you talk about things like racism online, you set yourself up for potential windfall. So we were nervous about that quite frankly, but the response was amazing in that I think anyone who understood the character of our company and understood what we really stand for, they then had the opportunity to choose which story to believe. I think pretty much universally folks realize that ours was the right one. And I think people were... I think they were glad to see a small business like us stand up to the review machine that has taken down so many other businesses and so many other people.
Joel Goldberg: Just a follow up before we move on, I'm curious if, one, you ever heard from that kid or anyone associated with him? And, two, what did you hear from people like Jordan and your employees?
Matt Baysinger: Our employees were extravagant. Extravagant? No, they were excited that we did something. I think in some ways it would've been really easy for us to ignore it or maybe try to get the review taken down or something like that. The gentleman who posted did it under a fake name.
Joel Goldberg: Of course.
Matt Baysinger: We know his real name. We know his real address. We know where he goes to school. We know his friends' names. We didn't call him out publicly. We didn't put his real name out there for obvious reasons. He's a kid, right? We don't want one stupid decision to define somebody. If he ever wants to come throw axes, we'd love to have him back. He's just got to use his real name.
Joel Goldberg: Right, and not be drinking underage.
Matt Baysinger: Absolutely, absolutely. He's got to do it the way that we ask him to do it. But we're quick to forgive as well. We'd be honored to have him back.
Joel Goldberg: You guys handled it the right way.
Matt Baysinger: I appreciate it.
Joel Goldberg: You all did. I've grown up too to realize that people will take shots at me on Twitter. You know what? Most of it is just not worth replying to. If it gets personal and there's some kind of danger to my family, then we can block them.
Matt Baysinger: Sure.
Joel Goldberg: Otherwise, mute them. It doesn't matter. I realized one night somebody was walking by our set, and they yell out. It's a group of six or seven people after the game. They were walking through the outfield. The guy yells, "Hey, Goldberg, you suck." Fine. Yeah, maybe. Not everybody's going to like my broadcast style. I totally get that. I just kind of looked at them, and I waved. As he saw me turn, I said, "Hey, what's going on? Thanks for watching." He just kind of turned and hid, and he wouldn't look back.
Matt Baysinger: Yep.
Joel Goldberg: I said, "Come on, I'd love to shake your hand." He just kept on moving.
Matt Baysinger: Sure.
Joel Goldberg: And that right there was Twitter in person.
Matt Baysinger: Absolutely.
Joel Goldberg: That was Yelp in person.
Matt Baysinger: Yep.
Joel Goldberg: Which by the way, there's plenty of positive on there too. It's just so easy, we know this, to hide behind something.
Matt Baysinger: It is.
Joel Goldberg: Okay, third question. What then would be the scouting report of Matt Baysinger, the track athlete, back in the day?
Matt Baysinger: I was a giant 800 meter runner. I probably outweighed both my competitors by 200 pounds, which made it real fun for some of the relay races in particular. I had a pretty decent career. I was seven time all big 12. Got to run on our four by four all four years. For being a walk on at KU, I feel really good. I got to hang out with my old Coach Redwine this weekend. They did this amazing event at KU where they brought in elementary age kids, and so my kindergartner was able to come and learn how to do hurdles and stuff like that. But, KU Redwine's he's one of the best people I ever met in my life, and he gave me an incredible opportunity and taught me well.
Joel Goldberg: All right, final question. The walk off question because we already talked about in general terms at least what is next. So we'll walk off with this. What kind of axe thrower are you?
Matt Baysinger: I'm good enough to beat you.
Joel Goldberg: Okay. You haven't seen me throw yet, but you're probably right.
Matt Baysinger: And I'm willing to find out. There's a lot of folks in this building who would handle me pretty well with an axe, but I can hold my own. I can stick it to the board just about every time. I'm known to lots of fours, just not a lot of bulls eyes. I'd be a good fit for the Royals. I'm not going to hit your home runs, but I'm going to get on the bases.
Joel Goldberg: Lay down a bunt every now and then. Good singles hitter. Opposite field.
Matt Baysinger: Blocking and tackling, you know, do the small things.
Joel Goldberg: Well, the small things are working. They certainly are turning into big things with many more big things to come. Can't wait to find out what this new venture is. I'm pretty sure we'll all hear about it.
Matt Baysinger: We'll invite you out.
Joel Goldberg: Yes, please. So that is when?
Matt Baysinger: We're hoping for quarter one, quarter two of 2020.
Joel Goldberg: Okay. So not too far off.
Matt Baysinger: Nope.
Joel Goldberg: Matt, congratulations on all the success to all of you and I know a lot more good things to come. I appreciate you doing this.
Matt Baysinger: I sure appreciate it.
Joel Goldberg: All right. That is Matt Baysinger. Hope to catch you next time on Rounding the Bases. You can reach me on my website at joelgoldbergmedia.com. Thanks, everyone, for listening.
Nov 25 2019
In this final episode of season 2, Rounding the Bases features Jeff Hanson, who was born with a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis. He started painting at age 12 during chemotherapy and radiation for a brain tumor and in spite of a visual impairment and a learning disability, he is now a world renowned and award winning artist at 25 years old.
His dad Hal assists with the painting while his mom Julie handles the business and marketing. Hal wrote a book about Jeff called “Lessons from CLOD.”
Elton John is one of the many celebrities who has bought some of Jeff’s artwork. Jeff hopes to raise $30 million for charity by the time he’s 30 year old.
Jun 04 2019
Lessons learned from interviews with business leaders and entrepreneurs about culture, teamwork and strategy while using examples and comparisons to sports. Some of the top sound bites from season one and a preview of season two episode one and the impact of the military and leadership overseas in the Middle East.
Oct 04 2018
Chukky Okobi is a former NFL center who is now a mindset coach with a company named “Basic Instructions.”
A book he read in college named “A Secret To Creating Your Future,” by Tad James was his intro to neurolinguistic programming. He’s now a master practitioner of NLP
Neuro refers to the mind. Linguistic communication or language and programming refers to how the neuro language functions. Teaches people that there is a simple way to get what they want.
The four basic instructions for high level of achievement of success are:
Apr 19 2019
Harrison Proffitt and his co-founder Ben Jackson created Bungii, a mobile application that puts a driver and pickup truck at a users fingertips to help people move or haul items across town like Uber or Lyft does with passengers.
Harrison and Ben created the idea and company in college at Kansas State.
After an initial fundraising round of $3.5M, Harrison moved around the country to start Bungii in Atlanta, Washington DC, to Baltimore to Miami to Ft. Lauderdale to Chicago to Nashville to Boston and Columbus.
Website is bungii.com or search bungii on the App Store.
Joel G: Harrison, thanks for joining me. You have a really cool, interesting, unique company. Just what I love to talk about, in terms of entrepreneurship, and really something different. Tell me about Bungii. It's so practical, yet sometimes we don't think of these things.
Harrison P: Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me on your podcast.
Joel G: You're welcome.
Harrison P: It's great to be here. We work in downtown Kansas City. But yeah, so Bungii, I'm willing to bet that you or your audience has been there before and they've needed a pickup truck, but they haven't had one. Now whether you're buying a couch on Craigslist or a mattress from the store or just trying to get those boxes into a storage unit, unfortunately not everything fits into the back of that Toyota Corolla or that Tesla, so that's where we come in.
Harrison P: Bungii is a mobile application. It's an app that puts a pickup truck and a driver right at your fingertips to help you move, haul, and deliver large items across town. We've been compared to other popular ride sharing apps like Uber, like Lyft, but instead of transporting people, we transport people's stuff, if that makes sense.
Joel G: It totally makes sense. It's so practical. I don't even need to help you sell this, but how many people... I have a pickup truck. I may not look like a pickup truck type of guy, I'm not.
Harrison P: Of course you do.
Joel G: No, I don't at all, but I don't know, maybe in the same way that somebody wants a Tesla or somebody wants that cool car, when I first drove a truck, I was like, "Wow, I really like the feeling of this." I have no real reason for it. But those three or four times a year that I need to pick up a piece of furniture at Nebraska Furniture Mart or whatever it is, I'm like, "Nope, I'm not taking the delivery. I'm going to go and I'm going to do this myself." And then how many times friends say, "Hey, would it be possible to borrow your truck?" Well, not everybody has a friend that has that truck or that wants to give them your truck. Everybody has to have a need for this. So my question for you is how did you come up with this idea?
Harrison P: That's a great question. It was actually back in college. My co-founder Ben and I were both Kansas State college grads, and we both owned pickup trucks back in school. If you are a pickup truck owner, you know the problem, you know the feeling of constantly being asked-
Joel G: Just what I said.
Harrison P: ... from friends and family, "Hey, can I borrow you and your truck?" It's pretty much in the job description of owning a pickup truck. You're going to be helping friends and family, whether you like it or not. It really all came to a boiling one day when, again, my co founder Ben Jackson, he was asked by four different people in one day, "Can I borrow you and your truck?" Ben's a nice guy, but he obviously got pretty frustrated after that fourth ask, so he thought to himself, "There's got to be a better way to do this." So the next day in our class, we were in an advanced sales class at Kansas state. He kind of touched me on the shoulder. I happened to sit right in front of him, which is interesting because we really didn't know each other that well at the time, which is kind of a story in itself.
Joel G: So he's from where?
Harrison P: He is from Atlanta, but he actually grew up in Budapest, Hungary.
Joel G: Wow.
Harrison P: And I'm from Denver, Colorado. So it's very interesting that we both met at Kansas State.
Joel G: Yeah.
Harrison P: Both of our parents, all of our parents are K Staters. So we're going to have that purple blood. But anyway, so yeah, he taps me the shoulder in class and I kind of lean back and I'm listening to what he's saying and this idea... And I honestly don't know what came over me. I kind of blacked out in the moment, but I said,"Man that's amazing, let's start a business." So right there and then we kind of walked out of class that day with one thing in mind, and that's tap a button, get a truck.
Joel G: I guess two part question here. One, what were you thinking about in terms of your future before that blackout conversation and two, was there a background that enabled you or Ben to have that confidence to say, "Well we could do this?"
Harrison: Yeah, I don't think either of us had imagined this or plans to be entrepreneurs or start a company. I mean myself, I had an interesting backstory. I was a biology, premed student in college and I was going to go to the medical route, go to med school, take the MCAT, all that good stuff. Cardiovascular surgeon was my goal, so setting the bar high there. I ended up not wanting to do that, go down that path. Ended up getting my biology degree, getting a business degree and thinking medical device sales is my routes. And then, you know, literally this just kind of fell into my lap and Ben came to me, just a, I want to say God moment. It kind of happened and all of that. And yeah, I mean that's where we started. There was really no forethought in starting a business or really finding a need and fixing it. It just, it came upon us. But we, we went full, we bought fully into it.
Joel G: There's so much here in terms of the spirit of entrepreneurship and you know, I think entrepreneurship is, it's different for everyone. There's no specific path. You know, I was telling you that I consider myself an entrepreneur now with my speaking business and I don't have a business background at all, and you know, been a broadcaster for 25 years. So I came onto it at about 44 years old when I found something I was passionate about. And I think that is one of the keys, certainly of entrepreneurship or maybe even everything in life, is when you have a passion for something. But the paths are all different. But tell me about the early moments, those early times, how you set it all up and what you went through.
Harrison P: Yeah, so the moments following that conversation in the classroom, it was very, there were very grandiose thoughts. You know, let's go raise money, let's go build an app, let's go be millionaires tomorrow. And man, we were ignorant at the time. And if we went that route, I think we would've been hitting our head against the wall for months, if not years. We probably wouldn't have made it to where we are now. But very thankfully, we had advisors and mentors in place at Kansas State in the entrepreneurial department. Shout out Chuck Jackson and Dave Drawling out there in K State, but they said, "Hey guys, hit the brakes here. You know, you guys need to go prove this idea, validate it, make sure it's a valid idea before you go do all this other things, raise money and build this capital." So instead of going and doing that, we went and put our trucks on Facebook and Craigslist in Manhattan - town of 50,000 people. And over the three months, summer of 2015, we said, "Hey, we're a couple of guys in the community, we're willing to move whatever, whenever just text this number to Harrison, email us, let us know, and we're on the way. And here's the basic pricing model." And so in that three-month time we did over 350 deliveries ourselves. So a very sweaty summer, to put it lightly. But the great thing about it is we documented all the data, so we had everything from demographics, what time these deliveries were happening, what we were moving, even to the demographics of people that were moving for. And so from there we're able to translate that to Kansas City and say, "All right, we did these many deliveries in three-month time period and this population and if we translate over to Kansas City for the whole year, that's profitable." And that's when we're starting to do pitches to investors on a weekly basis, and that we were able to lock down some initial funding.
Joel G: So how long did it take until you had that initial funding?
Harrison P:: After the summer of 2015 I believe that was eight months later.
Joel G: Wow. How tough was it to sell investors and then, you know, customers to this day on that because this is something that everyone understands?
Harrison P: So the tough thing about when we first launched in Kansas City, we launched to crickets. We thought... We'd put this app out, we thought this thing's just going to take off. And so we really had to put our heads down and figure out how to get in front of the customer because we knew there was a need. We proved in Manhattan, but now we had to get the word out. And so instead of just, you know, waving the white flag and, you know, walking away at that time when we opened the app and nothing happened, we, we got work and we roll up our sleeves and we were down at the West Bottoms Kansas City, talking to people buying antiques. We were setting up at furniture events in Kansas City, just letting people know the service. And sure enough, the next week we had two deliveries.
Joel G: So you're knocking on doors essentially.
Harrison P: You got it. You got to first, you got to get the word out.
Joel G It's amazing what happens. This is the very simple message when you put yourself ahead of the pack.
Harrison P: Yeah.
Joel G: How do you put yourself ahead of the pack? You take that extra step, you meet face to face, you do the things that everybody should be doing, but either doesn't know how to do, too lazy to do. I don't think it's rocket science. Now maybe the website and the app and all of that a little bit different, too. But what were you finding with that face-to-face in the West Bottoms by the antique stores?
Harrison P: So on top of doing the moves ourselves back in Manhattan, being able to talk to consumers and customers face-to-face, that gives you the root need that you're solving and that the core issue that you're solving. And so I truly believe that if you don't talk to these customers face to face, if you're not solving the solution, or solving the problem yourself, then you're going to be building something that's not really fixing that initial problem. So that was able to teach us everything from making sure we're charging customers on a permanent basis because the drivers are going to get taken advantage of, to making sure we... the app is extremely simple, it's got to be something that is relatable to the consumer. That's why if you look at our app, it's going to be a very similar Uber or Lyft feel because that's what we're known, that's what everyone is conditioned to use these days.
Harrison P: So definitely listen to your customers right off the bat is, it's vital to becoming successful down the road. Joel G: Well, you said something interesting to me, too, backing up a little bit, but you talked about in that first summer of 2015 collecting data. It's one thing just to go out there and offer this and see if people like it, but you guys weren't sleeping on it either. I mean, you could've said, "Hey, yeah, people were interested, let's give it a try," but yet you took all of that, you mine that data and you were able to help craft what you were doing. Tell me about how you did that, and you know, I don't know if that came straight from what you learned in school or, or what it was, but you guys really were able to leverage that summer.
Harrison P: Right. I'm... When you're going to... We knew that when you're going, we're going to go to investors you had to have objective data to prove that this is going to be valid. So we couldn't come to a, get into a room full of these independently wealthy individuals and say, "It worked and, you know, we're excited for the future. You have to be able to show them from a numbers standpoint. So especially new investor, or new entrepreneurs, you got to know that upfront, be objective about everything you do. Cause if you can't prove it, or you can't test it and measure it, then it's not worth doing.
Joel G: So you get there, you get some of that initial funding, you get rolling in Kansas City, but now you're well beyond Kansas City. What was the tipping point when you said, "Ah-ha, we've got this or we've got something really special here," one. And two, where have you experimented?
Harrison P: The tipping point, I would say for me, is when I started to see my friends and family use it that I hadn't spoken to about, or it was, you know, through the grapevine, and through the grapevine starting to see friends of friends use it and then come back, those friends come back and telling me that was exciting to me where it was, it was personal. Okay, this is starting to get out there. Also, I had a great experience with my mother. She went to her hairdresser and she was talking to the hairdresser and the hairdresser knows about Bungii cause they talk, and the hairdresser was with a different client the day before and she said, they were talking about moving, and she had some things to move to a storage unit, and the hairdresser asked her, you know, "What, what are you going to do?" And the lady said, "I'm just going to Bungii it."
Harrison P: Going to Bungii it, she used a verb!
Joel G: You became a verb.
Harrison P: That was it! That was my... That was... I loved it. I was my tipping point and that got me really excited. But from there, so after we really prove it in Kansas City, we started seeing that growth. It was time to raise more money and prove that we could launch this in other cities across the country. So we went and set out and we raised our first round of funding of over three and a half million to get this out to other markets. And that's what I set off on the road to prove that we could launch it and other markets across the country. So I moved to back in late 2017 and spent eight months in Atlanta living in a basement, learning how to launch the business, and then it just accelerated from there. Once we got Atlanta figured out, then it was, it was Washington, D.C. And then from D.C., Baltimore, Baltimore, Miami, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Nashville, Boston, now Columbus. So we're we're growing, and growing pretty quick.
Joel G: And how many of those cities were you living in, or was it just Atlanta?
Harrison P: Over the past two-and-a-half years I've lived in all nine cities.
Joel G: Oh my gosh.
Harrison P: It's been fun. I think it's 26 Airbnbs I've been in, total.
Joel G: So some short term living, but you're at the age, you're single or you're not married. No kids, not married. 27 years old is the right time to do it. If you're ever going to do it, you delve into all of these cities... Were they all different, or were you able to follow a formula?
Harrison P: They're all absolutely different in their own way, all very unique. For instance, with Kansas city, I don't know if it's just because of where we're kind of hometown guys here or there was buzz about it when we started, but we had drivers lining up. I think we have, we had a list of over 200 drivers ready to start driving with us when we initially released the app, so we assumed that that would never be a problem. And then we moved to Atlanta and we, we opened the app, we had, we knew how to get demand, we focused so much on that customer acquisition, and making that as optimized and efficient as possible, then we opened it up the app in Atlanta, we figured out we had no drivers. So that was also a new issue that we had to figure out, that I'd figure out in Atlanta, was the driver acquisition part of it, the whole other side of the equation. Because they're, end of the day, drivers are our customers too.
Harrison P: We tried multiple different avenues on that, and what we found out was that first responders are a huge part of our driver base. So what I, what I do, the launch team now is we, when we first go into markets, outside of preparing these businesses and getting demand ready, it's talking to firefighters and police officers and paramedics because of their perk schedules, whether they usually work in 24 hours and 48 hours off, a lot of these guys have trucks and they're just, you know, very helpful people in the community. Bungii is a great fit for them because it's an easy job to do that doesn't require too much mental work. It's just you sign onto an app, you get deliveries, you make great cash on the side. So-
Joel G: And are they doing the lifting too, or no?
Harrison P: Correct, they do. So Bungii drivers do help customers load, but if it's a Bungii solo, so it's one guy, one truck, and the item is too big we do ask our customers to help or provide help, and that hasn't been an issue because of the great price point the customers are getting, they're more than willing to help themselves or have their husband or son or neighbor, whoever it is help. But we do have a Bungii duo option, so if, if the customer is not able to help whatsoever, they can get two guys and two drivers.
Joel G: All right, let's talk about how it works, and bungii.com. B-U-N-G-I-I, so two I's there, B-U-N-G-I-I dot com, and I would imagine they could find the app pretty simply by searching Bungii.
Harrison P: Yep, free app on the app store, Google Play. If you go to our website there's a "download the app" button right on the main page.
Joel G: Okay, so that part's easy. And you can go on the website, too, and look at all the frequently asked questions and everything that you would want. But let's explain to everybody listening right now. I know it's fairly simple how this works.
Harrison P: Yeah. So I mean it always comes back to, think of what your, you've used before, Uber or Lyft, you're going to open up our app, you're going to put in your pickup and drop-off location for the item. You're going to take a picture of the item that you're moving, and then you request it, whether it's on demand or later in the day, you can schedule it. Bungii... Typically on average, a Bungii driver can arrive within 15 minutes of your location. So our goal when we initially built the app was someone's shopping at Costco or Ikea, they find that item that they weren't expecting to buy, that large TV, or that couch, or patio set, and say, "I want to get this home today." And if they use Bungii, by the time they're checking out, there's a Bungii driver waiting outside, ready to go.
Joel G: And, and that works out really well, too, cause they're not hopping in the truck. So you go to Costco and you buy that big piece of furniture. Bungii driver shows up, he takes it to your house, follows you over to your house, or you're following him, whatever. And unloads and that's it.
Harrison P: What we're seeing is customers love the ability to schedule. So I'm at Costco, I know I've got to run over to Target, and I've got some other errands, I've got to see a friend, won't get home until six o'clock, I'm going to schedule my Bungii til, for at six o'clock so by the time I'm home from all my errands, there's my Bungii driver arriving with my patio set. And so we're working with these businesses now, like Costco, to prepare those items, help our drivers load it. And so the customer is really hands-off and it's extremely convenient for that customer.
Joel G: Okay. Let's get to my baseball-themed questions. First question regarding Bungii, and you guys are still relatively new, and young, you and Ben and the company. Biggest home run you've hit so far.
Harrison P: So many things I'm grateful for, and I think home runs we've hit, but one of the biggest ones I would say for us, from my standpoint, we've recently partnered with Mattress Firm on a regional scale. We're growing with them, so being able to offer customers who've just purchased that mattress, same-day delivery at a cheaper price than ever. That's been pretty exciting for me and that's been more of a recent win. Also, I think overall it's all about the customer and so, are you familiar with NPS score?
Joel G: Yeah.
Harrison P: A net promoter score, those out there who don't know, a net promoter score measures the willingness of your customers to refer your service or product to their friends and family, and it brings us from negative 100 to 100, a hundred being the best, obviously. And with the moving industry, whether it's full-house moving or small moving, the average is about 13 and so we're extremely proud to have a net promoter score of an 87 after close to hitting over almost a hundred thousand deliveries at this point. Having an 87 just speaks to our folks on the consumer, our driver recruitment tactics, and how we set up preventative measures are making sure everyone's having a great experience with our drivers, and then our customer service. So having an 87 is something that we're extremely proud of to this day, and I think that's probably our biggest win overall.
Joel G: What's the biggest swing and miss you've taken, and what have you learned from it?
Harrison P: So I'm really focused on launches these days and expanding a Bungii engine to different markets across the, across the country. And one of the most recent launches we had was Chicago and we really hadn't figured out completely that driver acquisition part of it, or being a little bit more strategic about launching. So with Chicago we walked in and we did what we had been conditioned to do before. Get in there, start finding drivers, start finding demand. Once we launched the app in Chicago, and at that point we realized that there are no pickup trucks in Chicago whatsoever. So we started having this demand coming out, but we had no one picking up those deliveries so that the deliveries were failing. And that's a problem. And so these consumers, these business, were saying, "Hey, we're not trusting the service, we're not going to use it."
Harrison P: So we're over there scrambling to get drivers, and finally we get drivers off the ground, but now these businesses have lost their trust. So now we have all these drivers, but no trips are coming in, and saying, "Hey, what's going on here? There's no deliveries. Why did I sign up for this?" Now they're falling off and they're, they're not converting. So it's all about balance with launches, and the launches are very essential to growing correctly and efficiently. So now after Chicago we took a step back and figured out this has to be more strategic, we have to figure out how to set these drivers and this demand up beforehand so by the time we do launch it's just a turn-key solution. And the demand and [inaudible 00:19:21] start getting connected immediately and then at that time, once we get to a certain threshold of trips and drivers, it begins to grow organically. And that's the, that's probably the biggest learning from the Chicago launch was we have to do things prior to the launch and get things set up beforehand.
Joel G: All right, last baseball-themed questions, small ball. What are the little things that add up to the big things for Bungii?
Harrison P: Small ball? You know, I'll probably say one of the biggest, I guess cuts I've taken, small cuts and taken recently is probably not pivoting, but putting more of a focus on the retailers and the businesses out there. So we were a very strong consumer-based demand company, but now we've started partnering with these companies like Mattress Firm, and Costco, and World Market, and Big Lots, and we're realizing that these businesses are trying to combat the Googles and Amazons of the world of this, for the same-day or next day delivery and we're kind of becoming that answer for them. And so with the folks on businesses, I think that's going to allow us to scale and scale faster as we walk into a new market with partnerships with six, ten different national retailers, that's going to have newly kicked demand off. We've got drivers, that job recruitment side figured out, so it should kind of make everything a little bit more efficient.
Joel G: Four final questions. You don't know what these are as we round the bases. First one, it's only natural, you've heard this one I'm sure many times throughout your life that with the last name of Proffitt, you add an extra F in there that's fine-
Harrison P: Two F's, two T's.
Joel G: Two F's, two T's, right, right, right. How often have you heard that? And now here you are trying to do exactly that.
Harrison P: Every business person I've met has made a comment on that, so-
Joel G: I knew I wasn't original.
Harrison P: So whether it's been, I mean I've had people tell me you'd be perfect for it as a doctor, you'd be perfect as a dentist and be perfect as entrepreneur. I had someone tell me to be perfect as a porn star with that kind of name. I was like, oh gosh, like I'm all over the place.
Joel G: Well I guess in the end it's a reminder whatever the industry clean or dirty that people want to make money. Right?
Harrison P: Exactly.
Joel G: All right, so you got that going for you. That's the first question, that was the softball and kind of the unique one. Second one. I'm looking at the frequently asked questions and one of them is there, is there anything Bungii will not pick up? And I like the response here, "Our drivers are strong but they're not super men. We focus on items that you and your driver can lift together and put in the back of a truck. In addition, we do not allow the transportation or anything hazardous, illegal or breathing." So as a, "Believe it or not, some people don't understand that. See the most absurd move requests here." That was going to be my question. Instead of clicking on it, what is the most absurd move requests you've had?
Harrison P: Well, first of all, it'd be better asked to our customer service team because they're dealing with that every day. But once I've, I've heard of that have happened, we moved buckets of animal waste from the Miami Zoo down in Miami to fertilize plants. So I remember seeing that happen and looking at our backend system and seeing these buckets of crap and it was connected to a driver, the driver was heading that way and we reached out to the driver, said, "Hey Jim, do you know, you know what you're going to pick up? And he said, 'Buckets of crap! I'm so excited!' He was pumped about it! And so he did that.
Joel G: He loves his job.
Harrison P: Yeah. I mean, I know we had a customer who-
Joel G: Is that, is that allowed, to move buckets of crap? It's not really hazardous.
Harrison P: Yeah! It's not hazardous-
Joel G: Not alive-
Harrison P: It's not breathing, just fertilizer.
Joel G: Okay, sure.
Harrison P: We did have someone also move a box that we later learned had a snake in it. So that's, that's something we try to avoid.
Joel G: Third question for you and I love asking this one. Oh, let me just preface it by saying, I mean you and, you and Ben start this thing. Where are you at now in terms of employees?
Harrison P: We have 25 employees now and that includes, we have people in each of our markets now that we're running these businesses and continue to grow our markets. We have a launch team, a development team, marketing team, customer service team, driver recruitment team, and driver management team. So yeah, from two guys in a dorm room to get to the point we are today, it's, it's pretty exciting to see.
Joel G: In a pretty quick amount of time too. So my question, the third question is, as we round the bases to that is where can this go?
Harrison P: So we just finished our recent series A of 9.4 million to get this really across the country. So with that money, that's going to inject fuel into a national expansion and launch. So the goal by 2021 is to be in every major city in America. And so that's really my focus is launching faster and more efficiently every time. So next year we're looking at 12 to 15 cities. Now the year after that should be another 15 to 25 cities. So the goal, national expansion. My personal goal is to make Bungii a household name down the road, so when you think pickup truck, you're thinking Bungii. But on top of that, we just want to not only be a consumer service, but we're going to start plugging into the supply chain, reverse logistics, store transfers, and basically the internal logistics of businesses as our goal.
Joel G: Final question. It's a little bit similar to that one, but my walk off question, I've always thought that entrepreneurs are always thinking about what's the next thing. Now, I'm not trying to force you out of Bungii, but it sounds like you've got plenty going on, but is there anything in the back of your head where you're thinking whether it's one day, an exit plan or just something else because you guys have solved the problem.
Harrison P: Yeah.
Joel G: And you had that ah-ha moment in class, that blackout moment that you described. Do you envision moving into other things at some point?
Harrison P: From a Bungii standpoint, selfishly, I think we want to grow this as big as we can get it ourselves. Realistically, I think there will be some sort of acquisition or a roll up down the road where we get acquired by, whether it's an Uber or Lyft or maybe some sort of strategic partner like a U-Haul or Home Depot. But I think that's the reality of it is we will be acquired at one point so we're really preparing ourselves for that. After Bungii, I honestly have not even put any thought into it. It's been 100% gas on Bungii and haven't looked back at all. So no, it'll be an interesting step back once I move on from Bungii, whenever that is, if that ever comes. But I'm very optimistic. I've learned so much from Bungii, already at 27 I'm very positive. I have a very positive outlook on the future.
Joel G: It's really exciting. You guys have done incredible things in a very short amount of time, and I think done at the right way from everything you're talking about and I know a lot more to come. So Harrison, thanks so much for spending time. Again, people can can find you guys at bungii.com, or they can search Bungii, B-U-N-G-I-I. Congratulations. Thanks for doing it, Harrison.
Harrison P: Thanks so much for your time, Joel, appreciate it.
Dec 09 2019
Bill Zahner is the 4th generation to run Zahner.
Iconic projects include: Sofi Stadium Los Angeles Bloomberg Center New York Equal Justice Initiative Building Montgomery, AL Harim Tower in South Korea de Young Museum San Francisco EMP Museum Seattle Rogers Place Arena Edmonton Nascar Hall of Fame Taubman Museum Roanoke VA New World Symphony Miami The Modern Art Museum Ft. Worth, TX Irving Convention Center Texas Art Gallery of Alberta, CA San Diego Central Library
Oct 19 2020
Kansas City Royals announcer Rex Hudler played 20 plus years in the minor and major leagues and is known as being one of the most colorful and personable characters in the game. He’s also one of the most philanthropic and is helping raise money for The Battle Within, an organization founded by over 100 veterans, first responders, community leaders and supporters who believe that every warrior deserves the same opportunity to heal from the traumas they have endured in their service to others. www.battlewithin.org
Oct 16 2020
In 1916, a women’s Bible study group in Independence MO, which included future First Lady Bess Truman, formed the Community Welfare League to promote self-sufficiency and provide resources to those in need in the area.
Today CSL's (now called Community Services League) mission is to assist communities in reaching their potential by providing immediate relief to people in need, assessing their situations, and providing solutions that lead to economic stability. As you might expect, they are needed more than ever in during this pandemic.
Mark O'Renick is the Chief Innovation Officer at CSL and he spoke with Joel about the non profit's many endeavors in the Kansas City area. For more information on CSL, their website is www.cslcares.org.
Oct 14 2020
Rachel Ngom is a business mentor helping entrepreneurs, bloggers, and creatives make a great living online while making a greater impact on the world. She’s the creator of She’s Making an Impact, Pin with Purpose, and The Impact Blogging Academy.
Rachel has lived all over the world. At one point she couldn’t find a job, ended up pregnant, on food stamps, with no money in her checking account. She decided to learn how to start her own business and grew a blog from to 34,000 visitors per month
Oct 12 2020
Harry Campbell is a long time executive who has been a president for two Fortune 500 companies, co-owner of an award-winning small business, CEO/board member of an Internet start-up and founding member of the industry-changing Wal-Mart/P&G Customer Team in Northwest Arkansas. He has driven exceptional people and business results in organizations of 25 to 3,500 employees in a broad range of industries -- from consumer packaged goods to telecom to sports marketing to digital media. Harry is known as an identifier, developer and motivator of exceptional talent at all levels of the organization.
He is also a dynamic speaker and author of three books, Get Real-Leadership, Get Real-Culture and most recently Get Real-Mindset. All of Harry's speaking and book fees go to Head For The Cure. His wife was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor in 2004, is doing well today and he has raised nearly $500,000.
Oct 09 2020
Adam Hawley is a partner at BMG Advisors with a unique perspective that enables him to help others. Growing up without much money and moving from school to school in different states, he understands the importance of empathy and walking in other's shoes.
He also understands the importance of roles, having played college basketball.
Adam's favorite expression is "Do Good By Doing Good." He co-founded an organization called LIFTKC.ORG. Adam talked with Joel about purpose, community, the wealth gap in our country and racial tension and the role he has as a white ally.
Oct 07 2020
Kevin Youkilis is the owner of Loma Brewing Company in Los Gatos, CA and Loma Coffee Company in Portland, OR. The former Major League Baseball player won two World Championships, made three all-star teams and won a Gold Glove during a ten year career.
He always loved trying local craft beers after a game during his playing days and fell in love with the profession. Youkilis took many of the elements of teamwork, roles, leadership and winning culture to the business world.
Oct 05 2020
Chris Yeh is an investor, writer, mentor and entrepreneur. He co-authored the book “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path To Building Massively Valuable Companies” with Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn.
Chris is the founder of Blitzscaling Ventures, an organization that helps rapidly-growing companies in winner-take-most markets become global leaders by providing in-depth scaling advice and capital. He is also involved in numerous startups and business ventures and is an instructor at Stanford.
Sep 28 2020
Rich Smith is the president and CEO of Henderson Engineers, a 50-year old company with more than 800 employees across the United States. Henderson focuses on an employee-centric culture and a client-first mentality.
Smith has spent more than a quarter century at Henderson and is responsible for setting the company’s overall strategic vision and purpose, building corporate culture, improving internal and external communication, and fostering leadership engagement.
Sep 21 2020
Tiffany Bova is is the Global Growth Evangelist for Salesforce where she has worked since 2016. Her focus is to help drive customer success within Salesforce’s customer and partner ecosystem. She helps companies grow with innovative business models and technology.
She is the Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of the book “Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business.” Tiffany also hosts the “What’s Next Podcast” and has featured major name guests like Daniel Pink, Arianna Huffington and Seth Godin.
Sep 14 2020
Dr. Kimberly Beatty is the Chancellor at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City. She was named the school’s eighth chancellor in 2017 and is the first African-American leader in the one hundred plus year history of MCC.
Dr. Beatty came to MCC from Houston Community College where she served as vice chancellor. She is a champion of access and equity and is committed to workforce and transfer (academic) education. She serves on numerous boards and was inducted into the Black Achievers Society of Greater Kansas City in 2019.
Sep 08 2020
Chris Schembra returned home to New York City in 2015 after producing a Broadway play in Italy. Feeling disconnected from his work, he started experimenting with some dishes in his kitchen and accidentally created a pasta sauce recipe. Chris invited 15 of his friends over for dinner and served them his new pasta sauce. Not only did they enjoy the meal, they liked the structure of the dinner, filled with delegated tasks, shared activities, and communal discussion. Chris fell in love with the joy of connecting people and began .
His company, 747, is an advisory firm which helps companies give the GIFT of community and belonging to their VIP clients and partners. At each gathering, Chris asks attendees the question, "If you could give credit or thanks to one person in your life, that you DON’T give enough credit or thanks to, who would that be?”
Chris has been selected #5 on the “10 Motivational Speakers that will Rock your next event” by Marketing Insider Group. He was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Smart Hustle Magazine, and “People of 2017” by Clientele Luxury Magazine.
He's been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, USA Today, The New York Times, Variety Magazine, Fox News Channel, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Bravo TV and more and is the author of the book "Gratitude and Pasta: The Secret Sauce For Communication."
Aug 31 2020
Tabitha Scott is the CEO of Powering Potential, a company that helps individuals and companies discover and ignite their untapped potential. Tabitha is an international advisor and speaker, known as The Energist for her groundbreaking expertise in leveraging the principles of modern and ancient energy to accelerate innovation, productivity and personal potential. She led efforts to create the world’s largest solar-powered community and was recognized for her numerous innovative uses of advanced technology at the White House.
Tabitha left the corporate world to go find herself in the jungle, literally. She wrote about living in Costa Rica in a new book called Trust Your Animal Instincts: Recharge Your Life & Ignite Your Power
Aug 24 2020
John L. Gronski, Major General, USA (Ret.) is CEO & Founder of Leader Grove LLC (www.LeaderGrove.com). He is the author of "The Ride of Our Lives: Lessons on Life, Leadership, and Love". John is a much sought-after speaker & leadership seminar facilitator.
John served for over 40 years in the Army on active duty & in the PA National Guard. Assignments included DCG USAREUR (ARNG), 37th Commanding General of the 28th Infantry Division, & Commander of 2nd BDE, 28ID in Ramadi, Iraq (2005-06). He also served in Lithuania from 2000 to 2001. He spoke with Joel about leadership in and out of the military and the ride of his life.
Aug 17 2020
Peter Clune took over in May 2020 as the chief executive officer of Lockton, the world’s largest independent insurance brokerage. He is one of the few non-family members to run the company in Lockton’s 53-year history. He most recently served as Lockton’s US President and COO. Lockton nhas 7,500 associates in more than 125 countries. Peter spoke with Joel Goldberg about a culture built from day one in the company’s history, the challenge of leading during a pandemic and small ball focusing on the importance of every interaction.
Aug 10 2020
Devin Hedgepeth was recently accepted into the top rated Stanford Graduate School of Business. He spent the last five years working for ExxonMobil. Devin was a star football player at Oklahoma State with legitimate NFL possibilities as a cornerback but three achilles injuries led to a pivot to another arena he excelled in, the classroom and industrial engineering. Deviin talks about his career path and about racial injustice and growing up in the predominantly white community of Derby, Kansas, a town he still loves.
Aug 03 2020
Jon Stein is the CEO and founder of Betterment. Passionate about making life better, and with his experience from his career of advising banks and brokers on risk and products, he founded Betterment in 2008.
Betterment manages over $21B in assets. Jon is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Business School. His interests lie at the intersection of behavior, psychology, and economics. What excites him most about his work is making everyday activities and products more efficient, accessible, and easy to use. Betterment saves people time and money and empowers them to reach their important goals faster.
Jul 27 2020
He is the author of two bestselling books, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.
Indistractable received critical acclaim, winning the Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Award as well as being named one of the Best Business and Leadership Books of the Year by Amazon and one of the Best Personal Development Books of the Year by Audible. In addition to blogging at NirAndFar.com, Nir's writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, Time Magazine, and Psychology Today.
Jul 20 2020
Shep speaks to organizations like Anheuser-Busch, AT&T and American Airlines, to name a few and has traveled the world as an expert on customer experience and customer service. HE is known for high energy presentations that even include some magic. Shep is in the National Speakers Association's Speaker Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement.
Shep is still speaking globally but doing it virtually from his home in St. Louis.
Jul 06 2020
Kyle Bamberger wears two hats in the world of baseball. He is a scout for the Cleveland Indians and also the director of operations for an organization called Baseball Miracles.
Baseball Miracles brings the game of baseball to deserving children in under-served communities around the world. They aim to teach the children valuable life lessons, provide the communities with resources to help the children play safely and confidently, and, most importantly, bring some light into their lives. To make this happen, they focus their efforts on four pillars; Baseball Instruction, Devotion, Community Service, and Sociability.
The Baseball Miracles team is made up of a variation of like minded and charitable volunteers. From Major League Baseball managers, scouts and players to individuals who simply love the game and want to share that with youths across the globe.
The organization was started by longtime MLB scout John Tumminia.
Jul 06 2020