Tom Galluzzo is the founder and CTO of IAM Robotics, a mobile robotics platform to automate manufacturing and warehouse facilities. In 2018, IAM Robotics raised a $20 million Series B to build their platform.
Tom founded the company back in 2013 after developing and nurturing his robotics technology within Carnegie Mellon University and military research. He has over 15 years of experience in autonomous robotics with Carnegie Mellon University, Harris Corporation, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and Boeing.
In this episode, Tom and Aaron discuss GPT-3 technology, the IAM Robotics business model, and the skillset of being a technologist and an entrepreneur.
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Tom Galluzzo’s Challenge; Find a task that you can offload to a robot.
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IAM Robotics Website
If you liked this interview, check out our interview w/ Cetin Mericli about self-driving trucks.
Steven Van Metre is a certified financial planner, the inventor of the Portfolio Shield™ trading strategy, and a financial media personality.
Steven transitioned from IT to financial services and found that he had an especially capacity to automate the systems of running a financial practice. In conjunction with producing a regular YouTube series, Steve has built a dynamic and highly-profitable practice.
The extra time he has been afforded by his commitment to automation has allowed Steve to research market structure deeply and come to some fascinating conclusions about deflation and the policies of central banks.
In this episode, Steve and Aaron discuss the risk of deflation, how small businesses can prepare, and how Steve has built his practice.
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Steve Metre’s Challenge; Find something you do repetitively and automate it.
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Steve Van Metre Website
Portfolio Shielf website
If you liked this interview, check out our conversation with Brent Johnson about his Dollar Milkshake Theory and our conversation with Jeff Booth about the impact of deflation.
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Metre: Yeah, the key would be in a small businesses. You need to always listen to your customers. I mean, they're going to give you more feedback than anybody. Um, you know, and it doesn't mean you go out and do everything they say for sure. But listen to what they're telling you overall, what their fears are, what the things they like.
Watson: Everyone welcome back to going deep in there. And Watson, my guest today is Stephen van meter. He is a financial advisor who has had an enormous amount of success, and he's done it somewhat unconventionally coming from a background in IT. And. Platforms like YouTube to grow his business while applying loads of automation.
We talk about all of that in today's video, but we start by discussing deflation. If you read financial headlines, you've probably seen all sorts of reports about inflation and how that poses a risk and or opportunity in the economy. Steve. Who has dived deep into the data to actually see what's going on is more of a believer in the deflation narrative. And he not only explains what that means, but the implications for small business owners, I found this really fascinating. I think that you will as well. Here is my conversation with Steve van metre .
Metre: You're listening to going deep with Aaron Watson.
Watson: So, Steve, thanks for coming on the podcast. I'm excited to be talking with you.
Metre: Aaron's a real pleasure to be here with you.
Watson: So, I want to start off with a definition that I would guess, you know, the, the people in finance, they probably heard it, but all the other sorts of entrepreneurs folks out there, it's not necessarily a common part of their parlance, which is the concept of deflation. People hear about inflation, CPI, these other things. Deflation, we'll obviously kind of being the opposite of that isn't as commonly understood. So can you help start us off by just giving a kind of comprehensive definition of what that is and why people need to be aware of it.
Metre: Yeah, that's a great question, Aaron, because, you know, we see inflammation every day in our life, too.I mean, cars go up in price homes, go up in price, you go to the store and you know, food's going up in price. And so we're used to that. And so what is the notion of deflation? Well, when you can simply put it as you're, maybe you're out looking in the market to buy a new bicycle and all of a sudden there's a, you know, you're in clearance because the new models are.
And so the retailer through the manufacturer discounts may be 20%. And that's a sense of what deflation is. It's it's when prices fall. Now, it doesn't mean, you know, a one-off event, you know, again like a bicycle or maybe, you know, if you buy a car at the end of the year, which if any of your aunts is looking to buy a car, maybe not in this market, but in a normal market, best times are either end of the month or end of the year, because everybody's clearing out.
Or if you look for model changes, that's where you find the deal. But when you get concerned about what deflation means to the economy, it's the exact opposite of inflation. So inflation is a broad increase in goods and services. So it's not isolated to say one part of the economy or one sector. It's everything going up and you look around and you see that in history in the 1970s and early. And deflation being the exact opposite, being a broad decline in prices and services. And that's really dangerous when you're in a debt-based economy, you'll hear policy makers, particularly the federal reserve say we don't want. Deflation. Well they'll know, they won't actually mention that. They'll just say we want a certain level of inflation, which is their way of suggesting. We really don't want that to go the opposite direction. If it goes up too much, if inflation is too hot, we can manage that. But boy, if it goes the opposite direction, that becomes a real problem.
Watson: And so said, you know, maybe with like a kind of tangible example, if. Inflation is the truth. If it's the future, if there was some way to know with a hundred percent certainty that in the future, things were going to inflate at a relatively high rate.
Why not take a whole load of debt out to buy a house, to buy some sort of asset that would appreciate and price because relative to the appreciation of that at home, the debt is going to be super serviceable. But conversely, and this happened with some of the people that were like, you know, in, in markets where maybe. Uh, you know, a manufacturing center was exported somewhere else. You buy this piece of real estate at a certain price, but the real estate value deflates. And now all of a sudden you have all this debt on your books. And even if you sell the asset underlying it, you're not going to be able to pay off that debt, which cause all sorts of really scary ramifications.
Metre: Yeah, you've got it pretty much. Exactly. I mean, if you understand why the federal reserve wants inflation is exactly for the region. Reason you mentioned is if I perceive that TV that I really want to buy is going to be up, go up in price. Then I have to, as a consumer will say, can I buy that TV today? And if I can't afford it, which is actually ideal in terms of our monetary system and financial system, then I have to say. Is the borrowing costs, which could also go up if prices are going up better for me to buy now, Ian finance now to get that TV today, instead of waiting maybe six months or a year when I've saved enough money to do that. And what happens in that transaction of mean borrowing money from the bank as money gets created into the economy, as money gets created and more money gets created, those prices actually become sticky and continue to rise. And so what you're doing is that. The sense pulling demand forward. And I think that's really a key comment. That actually happened during the pandemic is we gave people money and they went out and bought stuff. They, they were actually going to buy, in some cases, people were planning on buying a new vehicle, but what we saw as people buying lots of stuff for their home, because they were there or they were going to start working from home.And all it does is pull demand for deflation. Again, being the opposite problem. And as you mentioned, is I own a home or. And now I'm upside down on it and I'm committee money to something that is actually just vanishing. Right? I mean, you think you bought a house for 300,000, it declines to 250, you owe 280 on it.You make a payment. Where does that money really going? As you're making that payment, it's going nowhere. It's just lost as a sense as a consumer and people don't like that, banks don't like. And becomes a problem because as we've seen during the great financial crisis, a lot of people get upside down or are leveraged to the point where they cannot make those payments. They say, well, you know what, I'm upside down anyways. So have it out at bank, I'm giving you this property back. And then all of a sudden you start getting a wave of delinquencies that turn into default and just like inflation begets inflation deflation, actually gets deflation.
Watson: So, can you talk kind of in broad strokes, why this is something people should be cognizant of? Because if I'm a headline reader, Steve, I see that CPI is above our targets. And like you said, central bank authorities are aiming for inflation, anticipating setting goals associated with inflation. Um, but there's, you know, elements to why your, you know, issuing this warning on your channels and in different channels where you get to share it with your clients in your advisory practice, what is kind of ringing the alarm bells for you?
Metre: Yeah, that's a, that's a good question because what, why does the fed, I mean, they'll start with, why does the fed want inflation? And just for the kind of the reasons we talked about, whether it's a TV, a car or home, something I'm financing. If, if that value is going up, maybe not so much, you know, you don't mind TV with an idea that goes up, but nevertheless, if your wages are going up with something's going up where you can pay that and make that dead service that's ideal. I mean, it's particularly important when you have an asset, like a home. Well, it's really nice when it goes up in value and we all know when we buy a car, it's going to depreciate, but maybe if it just doesn't appreciate as fast as again, my wages are increasing. So I don't have a problem servicing that debt because that's, that is the ultimate issue in a debt based economy is you need more debt to expand the economy. So you need people who all borrow and spend. Well, if their wages are rising enough where they can afford the Dutch service and perhaps maybe I even have the perception that I'm going to get a promotion or their company is doing real well. And maybe I'm going to get a bonus for Christmas. What I do then is take that money because I'm confident, again, this is a confidence game and maybe I'll go out and say, Hey, you know what? Let's get that new boat that we always wanted. And let's take that trip that we were hoping to do. And that again, just gets money moving through the economy. So that's why the fed wants that. And in the opposite fashion, the reason they don't want deflation, as we talked about is people tend to not want to pay on depreciating assets and watch their money vanish. And so that's a problem as well, particularly if I think that my wages are going to be static or perhaps in the case, you're looking at the CPS. And this is kind of where we get into the broader issue is you see prices rising. And the question that I ask and I challenge people to ask is are those prices going to stick? And what does that mean? Can consumers afford them? Are wages rising? Where they can. And we're S we're seeing in the data. They're not, we saw that real inflation adjusted earnings are actually lower, then prices are rising. So what does that mean is that if I have, you know, a hundred dollars to go spend a hundred dollars today, now it doesn't buy me as much as it did. Say a month or two months or three months ago. And from an economic standpoint, that's really bad because that means I have to make a choice, Aaron, on what are my money gets spent. And so what tends to happen is discretionary spending tends to fall has, you know, Food and housing prices, which we all need start dominate, dominate a larger share of my income. And so when you look at the rising prices you have to ask, is, is a transitory, is it sustainable? Are wages going to rise enough to hold them? And if it doesn't, then you get the risk of deflation. And the reason that becomes a risk. You have to start putting yourself in the mind of a business. Right? So now I've got a business, I've got shelves full say of widgets that I bought at a high price, thinking that I'm a sell to you, Aaron at an even higher price, because that's how you run a business. But what happens if those widgets start sitting on my shelves and not. Well, what do I have as an employer? Well, I have rent, I have utilities. I have employees I'm have probably bills of my own and all of a sudden I can't pay them. And so what do I need to do is I need to start lowering my prices. To see if I can get that inventory to move. And if I start lowering my prices, well then maybe the neighbor, you know, the business next to me sees that I'm Lauren. So they start Lauren. The next thing you know, everybody's starting to lower prices because there isn't demand there and that's where things start to go wrong.
Watson: So. Often, and, you know, we, we had a friend of yours in the past, Brent Johnson come in and talk about his dollar milkshake theory. And what I pushed him on was articulating strategies. Not necessarily from the investor standpoint, that's, that's your kind of conventional bread and butter. You have a bunch of clients for your advisory practice, who you help them construct a portfolio with these kinds of considerations in mind. But when we actually. You know, stay focused on that business and an entrepreneur and owner, a employee at a startup or a mid-sized business, trying to make prudent strategic decisions in that world. What are some of the considerations that you would suggest to them outside of how they're allocating the dollars in their accounts?
Metre: Yes. The biggest problem that you always see, what businesses and why. Failing or struggling in particular during recessions is they don't have enough. They don't have enough money. They don't have enough money to get by a downturn. And sometimes we can think of that on a, on a household level. You know, what did the experts recommend that you should have six months of, you know, expenses on, on hand?
Well, most people don't and businesses are the same way because they have to. Uh, and inventory or whatever it is, they're trying to sell with the hope to sell it at a higher price. So when they see demand starts to pick up, particularly through the pandemic, they start to believe that that's going to continue. And so they go out and they buy product and they buy stuff because they, they hear the news and the experts and the politicians say, Hey, this is good. Things are going to boom. And so what do I say? Well, I'd better go get some inventory because boy, people are certainly going to want to buy. And the risk then is they don't come. I don't have the resources. I have to start lowering my prices. And then it becomes a huge problem because if I can't move that inventory fast enough, then I have too much debt and I don't have enough capital to service that debt over a period of time that I might need. Well, then I'm starting to go in and default on my loans and look at failing. And so that becomes the domino effect. And you saw that a great example of the great financial crisis is deflation took over. And there was just so much debt in the system. It became unserviceable and there was just nothing to policy makers could do. It just collapsed in on itself. And that's the risk you have in a debt-based economy is when you have a rapid or a long expansion of debt. And that debt becomes unproductive where it's not generating a cashflow. Well, then at some point the, you know, whether it's the. Slowing down his process of easing or ended up a tightening cycle or any other number of factors where the economy starts to slow down. It becomes a game of musical chairs and there isn't enough money to support all the debt and then the music stops. And then you find out who really is in a good financial position. And then it usually turns out that, well, there wasn't fair in many.
Watson: So it really sounds like, you know, super kind of conventional stuff that, you know, my parents told me from when I was young of you, you accure too much debt. You're putting yourself in a risky position, which is really counter theoretical to the signals of inflation. The inflation signals. If it's to be believed that that this rate of inflation is accelerating or far from transitory, then it's, you know, load up on debt. It's gonna, you know, get deflated away in the future. Um, not deflate it away. It's gonna get inflated away in the future. You're really, you would really say position the other way, you know, tighten down the hatches, clean up your balance sheet, get this house in order before a deflationary shock arrives.
Metre: Yeah. Cause they always happen. And that's the problem. They happen around every eight to 10 years and people don't believe it. That's when their wages are actually you know, finally going up enough and they're making more income and they've, you know, want to start spending from those years of balance sheet repair from the last recession. But what's interesting. Aaron is in the years I've been in the financial services industry. I don't have a large amount of small business owner clients, but there's a common theme among most of the ones that. They're on their second or third business. Some of them have made it barely. Some of them have done well, but a lot of them have at least one failure under their belt. And when you start asking questions of how it happened, It becomes the same story over and over again where, Hey, I started this business and we struggle for years and years and years. And it finally started to grow and I started hiring the kids. And after, you know, 20, some years of seven days a week, you know, 14 hour, days or more. We're finally making money and the business is doing real well. And then they have to show off by the big home, go on the fancy vacations. Cause it's just deferred to the family of, Hey, all those years of sacrifice, we're here, you know, let's buy that boat. Let's buy that second home. Let's go buy the big fancy cars. And then when you and I started asking them questions, well, what about, you know, how much cash did you have on it? Well, it didn't have that much or turned out because. Well, the business was expanding so fast too. I was buying new equipment and new vehicles and hiring people. And you say, well, what about your retirement house? Oh, I, I, I was planning on selling the business for a ton of money, so I didn't save anything. And what you find out is they had no real savings or what they did have. They could only go a few months and before they were forced to lay off to try to protect their assets. And again, it's the same thing over and over again. I always recommend that business owners have money on hand not to go invest in other things, but to go through that long drought, if there is a recession and there always will be recessions because your survival is key. When you look at the data and you look at the studies as a business owner, you want to have recessions. Because that's when your competition is going away. And the data shows that if you can survive a recession and even more importantly, advertise through a recession and after a session to let consumers know that, Hey, I'm in business and I made it. And maybe those people, you were doing what they're gone, but I'm still here. Your business goes vertical. It just explodes because people want to do business with someone who is smart enough to get through the hard times.
Watson: Right on. So let's talk about your own hard times, your own small business, your own approach to these things. So as a small business person, yourself you've invented portfolio products, you have kind of carved your own space.
Was this your first try? What was the experience that allowed you to go off on your own? Because there's kind of very conventional path. Get trained as an advisor, um, get a CFP designation, but to actually jump off on your own. And chart your own trajectory. What has that pathway been for you?
Metre: Yeah, it's been, it's been a lot of ups and downs, uh, early on. Um, I started out, uh, working with my father. He and I've, you know, had a great relationship, uh, all our life we've worked together in the past. And he started a business. Um, he retired, started, um, a little investing in business. Came to work with them. And he had a great idea and together it exploded. And early on, I made a lot of money and then one thing that I didn't do was spent it, and that's the tempting thing. I'm gonna go buy a car and we're gonna buy this stuff. And I didn't do that because I wasn't sure that I, this was. Fit for me and where I was going to go. And, um, with the business, it was a whole new industry. I came out of it and went into the financial services. So I didn't really know for sure, uh, if I had what it took to to make it. And there's a lot of obstacles, just, you know, sales and marketing. I didn't know. I mean, when you, when you work on computers and networks, I mean, you have no clue about a lot of that stuff. So, um, I held onto a lot of cash. We continued to grow the business. Uh, our marketing work, we were very fortunate. We had money to try different marketing things. We had money when they failed to go back to the drawing board and do another one. And a lot of people don't. And over the years, Aaron, I just started listening to what my clients wanted. And I started looking at, you know, prospective clients that they came in and were showing me what they liked, what they didn't like. And, you know, when I created a portfolio, which is a proprietary strategy that I invented, it was based on over more than a decade of client feedback and industry feedback. I mean, listening to what, you know, uh, wholesalers and companies would tell you, oh, you know, that you can't do that. This won't work, that won't work. And I said, yeah, maybe there's a way to do it. And so, you know, the, the key being a small businesses, you need to always listen to your customers. I mean, they're going to give you more feedback. Anybody, um, you know, and it doesn't mean you go out and do everything they say for sure, but listen to what they're telling you overall, what their fears are, what the things they like, and you have to have money and be willing to try and fail and woke. Gosh, we failed so many times over the years. It's, it's incredible. Um, but the key is we, you know, didn't live beyond our means and we had money in the bank. So if something didn't work, we could figure out what it did and, you know, go try it. And, you know, that model I continued on, uh, over the years, uh, trying new things. Um, a lot of it stemmed around what people said you shouldn't do and what you couldn't do and what wouldn't work in the industry. And I believe strongly in communication with my clients. And I started writing and I thought, well, writing is good videos. You better. Right. So I started doing videos and they were boy, they were really bad. Uh, and my clients didn't watch them cause they were horrible, but I didn't quit. I kept going. I thought, you know, someday the videos will turn into something because I was teaching a class at the junior college on retirement planning. And I thought, gosh, if there was a way I could really expand out of my geographic area, if I could do what everyone says you can't do in the industry, which was expand out of your geographic area. Uh, and I thought, gosh, there's gotta be a way. And well, those videos, um, got a little bit better, but not that great. And then, uh, for whatever reason, I decided to put them on YouTube. They were hosted on a private server and then some people started watching, which was weird because I didn't have a clue what I was doing on YouTube. And then the pandemic came along and people were at home and now all of a sudden they were looking for content and the channel started growing a bit. And I'll never forget the day that I got a call from a Brent Johnson, as you mentioned, was on your show, a dollar milkshake guy. I'd, I'd watched him on real vision. So I was familiar with them and he said, Um, I want to bring you on real vision and Ralph Paul signed off on it. And I was, I, I thought he was joking and I'm like, there's just no way. And he's like, it's a real deal if you want it. And you know, this is something Aaron that I try to tell people is, you know, a lot of people when they have businesses, right. And even if you don't, I mean, we're, you know, dreamers someday, I'm going to do something, you know, someday. I had this dream of someday, I be able to run my business, sitting on vacation from pool. I can tell you I can actually do that today. I had a dream years and years ago, and I started building toward that. And so when the opportunity to go on real vision came, I remember I went home. I told my wife, I said, this will change everything. If I do a good job. I have to nail this. And Brent was great. We had some calls beforehand and he said, look, I'm going to help you be successful with this interview. I'm not here to, you know, make you look bad. I want you to do really well. And I practice, I went and I made notes about what I want to talk with. And I shared it with Brenda, this is where we want to go with a conversation. This is what we want to do. 'cause you know, in, in Aaron and life. And whether people, you know, believe in a higher power or not, it's immaterial to the point that I want to make is we're all given opportunities in life and, and you will be given them. And the question is, are you ready? You know, when, when I have to say, when the coach calls your number, are you a player? Because when they call you say, Hey, Steve, you go out on the field and you go, Hey, that ball's coming. And they, and the play starts and the quarterback drops back and you turn. Do you catch the ball or not? Because if you are a player and you catch the ball, all of a sudden your number could get called again. If you can't, you're going to go ahead and back to the sidelines and you're done. And what will happen is the world will give you so many opportunities. There's no defined number, but you will get them. And if you are not a player and you can't catch. They're going to go away, but if you are a player and you can catch that, those opportunities will lead to more and you, but you have to recognize when they're coming. You have to. And I knew, I said, this is it. This is a big deal. And I nailed that interview. Um, that year it was one of the top three to five videos, uh, privately washed by real vision and went into their top 10. I don't know if it's still there for a while. It was in their top 10 on their YouTube channel. And it changed everything. And I didn't just sit back and say, okay, you know what awesome. I'm going to just enjoy this. I realize that now the real work begins because I saw the power of social media is how do I get better? How do I do more? And what happened to YouTube channel grew my business grew and everything started to change. And here I am at a point where I am very, very close to having a fully virtual business where I can run my shell and my business from anywhere. And that dream that I had years and years ago is coming to fruition as even we talk right now in this very exciting, because what happened there and is that opportunity with Brent who I will never forget. And I will always feel like I owe him. And real vision for what WRAL did and open that door has turned into opened so many other doors, but every time they open, you know, I remember when I went to the same thing happened when I went on macro voices with our Townsend is I said, this is a big deal because he's got a big shelf. And I wanted to go out and make sure that I delivered a great job for him and his audience. Same as we're doing today with the Iranians, because you don't know who's listening. You don't know where this is going, but if you keep at it and those opportunities start opening and you work for it, it will change your business. And in two years, my business is completely changed, which is why.
Watson: I'm fired up. Your, your metaphor has got me excited for my Turkey bowl on Thanksgiving. I know that wasn't necessarily the intention.
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Watson: The concept there. I just get absolutely fired up about that in certain ways, feels like this secret. And I can't quite figure out why more people aren't just foaming at the mouth about it is as much as you're not a proponent of leverage in your financial life, leverage in your brand, building media marketing strategy, life is incredible and I'm, I'm a big fan of and he talks about how, you know, people that. Prudently use leverage can have these kind of outsized returns and outcomes of success for themselves. And really what you're talking about is that's what you've used YouTube to do, which is you can have all the answers and a ton of wisdom that you can convey to clients. But if you're only ever conveying that in a one-to-one meeting, Then there's no leverage to that. You are every hour, every new meeting burning, all of that energy and all of that expertise on one single set of ears and eyes, or maybe it's, you know, a couple, but your YouTube channel says, okay, let's scale that let's, you know, I'm going to put on all the work to be able to explain this, to break this down, let me get this in front of as many people as possible and let them consume it while I'm, like you said, out of pole.
Metre: You know, you you've got it. Exactly. I mean, kind of the idea of the YouTube show or the, the videos for the clients that became the YouTube show was in the advisory business. You'll get calls from your clients and they will ask you the same question about whatever's going on in the news at the same time. And I found myself on. 30 minutes with Aaron and it's the removal of Bob and 33rd. He was like, wow, this is a really inefficient use of my time. If I could create a video that explained what's going on, if they still had a question, then they can call me. And now we're talking maybe a two- or three-minute conversation instead of a 30 plus, and then the other cool thing. And I'm glad you've mentioned all of this about meetings is because particularly in the financial services, They'll tell you, you, you've got to sit down and have meetings with people and tell them about what you do. And you got to go through all this stuff and it takes two, three, and five minutes to get a client. And I said, yeah, you don't, I don't, I can't do that because, uh, I, all my life I've been tired, which is kind of weird to say, because I've been tired. I didn't know it. But I found out during the pandemic that I had. I have, I was born with a genetic bone marrow disorder that causes a blood disorder that causes constant fatigue. My body's continuously wearing itself out as we speak right now, I am burning a larger amount of energy than the average person. It happens when I sleep. It happens all the time. 24/7. It is a non-reversible non-treatable process. So I don't have the ability to sit and do a bunch of means I can't do it. It's not possible. I physically can't do it. So I thought, okay. I'm going to create a website and I'm putting my portfolio strategy. I'm going to make videos. I got to have fact sheets. I'm going to have guidebooks and answer every question. If someone asks a question, that's not in there, I'm going to go put it in there. And the industry and people told me you're an idiot. I'll never work. I said, look, all. It's taken my first meeting, which is people are doing this now. You know, if you want to buy a car, whatever you going to YouTube, Hey, I want to see a review of blah, blah, blah. And you watch it. And you make that first woo boy, that I didn't know that, that the engine really underpowered and still using, I'm not going to buy that car. You, you have that first meeting. Online now. And so I created that and it worked and people still don't believe that it works, but it works really well because I give people the opportunity to go to my store, which is my investment advisory firm, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I don't require them to sit in front of me. They're not required to go to sales pitch if they go there and they don't like it, they don't have to buy it. If they're curious and they keep coming back because they're wanting to get more comfortable with it. They can do that if they like it and want to come buy it. There's instructions to say you ready to get started? Here's the step-by-step process. So all I did was take my disability in my inability to have a lot of meetings, which the industry says I have to, you know, use all this technology to automate the process and wow. Yeah, what an incredible transformation in my business. Now I have time to create more content and people can go browse my store, which is really phenomenal. And if they have some questions, they can email me. Are we going to have a call? And they're usually not these drawn out long meetings. And then from my. They can now go to my YouTube channel and know exactly what I'm thinking and what I'm talking about. And it's just phenomenal. I wish more people would do that, but it's really difficult to do because it requires a lot of faith that your transitions are going to work in my case because of my physical limitations. I had to make a work. And I didn't know that a would I just thought, you know what, I'm going to do this because I can't sustain a pace of having, you know, eight meetings a day or whatever. I can't grow my business this way. I physically can't do it.
Watson: Well, another thing that you illustrated there in that example is by applying automation and kind of putting these systems in place. That's another deflationary force. Our past guest, Jeff Booth talks about deflation less through the lens of what central bank regulators and monetary regular regulators are actually doing that may or may not be either creating inflation or deflation and more through the lens of look at technology. Look at. What an iPhone used to be and what it is today, look at what, uh, you know, a mainframe computer was today versus, uh, back in yesteryear versus a laptop today. And that's where he sees a lot of the Genesis point of deflation coming from. And you just beautifully, beautifully illustrated how technology can deflate your cost of doing business.
Metre: Yeah. And that's absolutely true because when my dad kind of, some of my retired and I ended up hiring a water system and then eventually when she left and a second assistant and I, at first, I really didn't know what to do with them. Um, but then I realized like, you know, it was just the infancy of this transition that I had, again, this idea that, Hey, someday, I want to be able to sit by a pool around like, And, you know, what I did is I paid them to effectively replace their job. So, you know, a lot of financial advisors have just, you know, huge paper files. Well, I had them scan them all in. And so we would go through the process of autumn. Now they didn't know at the time. And then when they, you know, went on to do other things was perfect because I didn't need to hire anybody. But when I got done, I had all these empty file cabinets. I had these new processes that they helped me create. And then it was just a matter of me taking, you know, the, the final step of the process. And it was phenomenal because today. I don't have any direct staff. Now, my partner, uh, my securities from Atlas financial, he has brought on some staff from an administrative point to help volume of business that I bring in, which is really great. But I directly, I have no employees, you know, people often suffer from. I do it's me. Who emails you back? You know, if you have a question on something, I need a phone call. I am the one who will call or answer the phone. I mean, that's the nature of automation. It's transformed my business to a point where I can pick up this equipment. Actually, I bought a, uh, what's called a, um, uh, not a portable desktop, but it's a remote workstation. I mean, it's, it's a gigantic laptop, but I can take my show on the road. Tomorrow and no one would know what, but that's the power of automation. The technology is out there, but people are so afraid of it. They're so used to doing the same thing, the same way. And for them it's easier. I'll just hire more people. You know, the people in the industry that are where my competitors, how do you staff? I mean, you know, they'll have one or two assistants per advisor. I have none and they can't handle the volume I have because everything is automated. I've got, I mean, I tell people, you can start in your business the simplest way, find out what you're doing repetitively all the time. So I would be sending out certain emails over and over. Why am I rewriting this? So I wrote one, I put it in the save box of my email. And then as I, you know, over the time, if it needs a little tweaking, I tweak it. But you emailed me about some of specific that I already know where we're going with this train of conversation. Copy paste. Hi Aaron, blah, blah, blah, blah. Here's all their send now instead of retyping. Which takes minutes or more, and it's maybe different. Each time is now a template. And if you have an issue, you know, if I get an email back about confusion, then I can go back and say, man, you know, people are getting confused by this. I'll just fix the template. And then once it's dialed in. Whom the whole system work. And I can tell people, Hey, I know the process is duplicatable. It's repeatable because I'm doing it every day. And that's the thing is it's takes the first step is just to say, what am I doing that I can make a change with? That's real hard to do because a lot of people don't like to do that.
Watson: Do you think the reason that you've been quicker to adopt this relative to the rest of the financial services industry is because of that background, you have an IT?
Metre: I think it's a combination of the background on it. I'll man, I got a lot when I was an IT people. I was not a very people liked me as an employee, but they would complain about me. And the reason they would complain is big. And I would hear him, Hey, he's sitting around and doing nothing. Everyone's complaining that you ain't doing nothing. I said, okay. Is there anything that is broken on? No. Is there anything that you need me to set up? That's new, that's sitting here that is waiting to know. Is there anything that we're doing a budget that you've got coming up with some new spending that I need to do some research on? No. What do you want me to do? I'm effectively sitting here waiting for something to break now, is it my fault? When you hired me on you gave me a list of all the things that didn't work. Right. And I went around and said, Hey, will you give me some money to fix some of these things properly? And I went around to everyone everywhere and I went through everything and I made it all work. Isn't that what you wanted? Well, absolutely. It is great. It all works. So I'm going to here. And when did I get a call and something that needs fixing, I will go fix it. Well, I guess Steve, fair enough. You're right. There's nothing. I mean, everything is working. So there you go. And I think the second part of that, Aaron is not just my experience in IT, but it was my physical limitation. I knew there was something different about me. I just didn't know what it was. And so I would find myself, you know, Uh, it's not unusual for me around noon to be exhausted. You know, I wake up tired people, you know, they don't understand. It's like, okay, you know how tired you are when you go to bed. That's how tired I am when I wake up. So a lot of times by around noon or maybe, you know, to two o'clock man, I am I'm beat. I need to, I need to sit down or, you know, maybe recline or lay down and rest for a little bit just to rebuild some energy. And I knew that in my, not only my business now, but being an IT is, I had to take care of what I had to take care of while I could, because later that day I might not be able to. And so I've reached, I just structured my business around my unknowing disability. And it turned out to be actually really smart and from a business perspective, brilliant.
Watson: Well, I don't obviously have the same condition, but I do have a three month old. So I have a little bit of empathy for the perpetual fatigue, uh, concept.
Metre: Yeah. There's no doubt that you do. So, and that's the thing is, I don't know, day to day and just like, you don't know what your three-year-old, how much energy or what they're going to get into that you need to deal with. I don't know, like right now in our view, I feel pretty good, but tomorrow I might not. I mean, I'm not guaranteed when I go to bed at night that I'm going to wake up and feel a little bit better than normal mind. Yeah. Is tough is when everyone else feels tired. And that's a challenge because you don't know, certain days, you carved more energy, maybe you get more phone calls or more emails, or you have more videos, or we have more things you need to do. And that means there's always a sacrifice the next day. For example, I'm getting ready to go to a speak at a conference in Miami. Uh, this, uh, tomorrow, but the conference doesn't actually start till Friday evening, but I asked them specifically, I need to come in a day early. And I said, just because of this condition is if I need to know when I'm going to speak, because I'm probably going to actually not show up to a lot of things because I need to rest up because I'm going to give you 110%. And then after that, you're not going to see much to me because I'm literally going to have to go recharge the batteries. And I'm not guaranteed how fast they recharge. I mean, it's there just as no guarantees with what I've got going on. And so I have to be prepared. I have to be as automated as possible to run my business. And run my life and it just happens. It turns out that YouTube and video and all these wonderful tools that are available have changed everything for me. And the great thing is I've not done anything special. I didn't know anything about YouTube when I started and I still learning every day. If it wasn't for my friends, like Jay Bravo and Mark Moss, uh, that, that helped me out. And George Gannon. And all the people that interviewed me, where I w you know, forced to learn and they'll tell me, I wasn't, Hey, man, you need to know your, you don't, you're doing this wrong. If you try this instead. And that willingness to learn and listen, but to not be afraid to try some of this new technology to get my clients to do it. And because of the pandemic, I mean, like I said, in two years, my whole business, it completely has changed. It doesn't even look anything like it did, but it was, this was what I always wanted. I just didn't know this was how it was going to happen.
Watson: Well, uh, Steven, I'm really grateful that you've given us 110% of yourself today for this interview and for sharing some of your time with us, I want to ask my kind of standard, uh, wrap up questions. But before I do that, anything else you were hoping to share today that I just didn't give you the chance to?
Metre: No, I think you asked some really great questions, Aaron, and I'm sure we'll continue this conversation. Yeah, at some point.
Watson: Beautiful. Um, if people want to learn more about you check out the YouTube channel, your website, all the different services that you offer, what digital coordinates can we provide for people you've met?
Metre: Let's do the challenge question. I was going to see if you were going to ask me again, but let's do it. I want to challenge everyone to find something in there. The day we'll redo repetitively over and over and waste their time and automate it. That's my challenge. Automated pump part of your life. You'll thank me for it later. Uh, the best place to find me is on YouTube. You can put my name. Steven van metre is spelled M e T R E a in the search box. Um, my website is Steven van metre.com and on Twitter. I'm also on Facebook with Twitter. Um, meter Stephen met R E Steven. You can find me on and just put my name and search into if you can't find me you'll you'll, you'll find me pretty easily.
Watson: Perfect. Um, I'm going to find all those links too, and put them in the show notes. For this episode, you can find firstname.lastname@example.org slash podcast for every episode of the show and see if you already jumped the gun. Usually this is when I jumped right into the challenge, but you were ready and I love the challenge to automate more stuff. Um, you are not the first guest tissue. That challenge. You will not be the last, but it is a superpower once you unlock it. And, uh, I thank you for the challenge and for sharing so much of your time with this set.
Metre: Oh, you're very welcome, Erin. Um, I think if people embrace it and if they one example go to my portfolio, websites, portfolio, shield.net, you don't have to even look or be interested in. But look at what I did is how I automated things and find out a way, whereas your business or personal life, what you can do, because it will free up more time. It'll give you have a lot less stress and you know, it'll, it'll be a great experience for you, your family, your customers, your employees, wherever the situation. They'll love you for it. So embrace automation and you'll really benefit from it.
Watson: Beautiful, Steve. Thanks for coming on the show today. I really appreciate it.
Metre: Aaron. Pleasure's all mine.
Watson: We just deep with Steven van metre. Hope you're out. There has a fantastic day.
Okay, thank you so much for listening to my conversation with Steve. If you are fascinated by deflation and business strategy, then you would also enjoy our past interview with Jeff Booth. Jeff is also a very big believer in the deflation frame of thinking. And if you listen to that conversation, Even more perspective on why these guys think that this is what you need to be worried about.
I'll link it in the show notes and I will have another great episode for you next week. Hit subscribe.
Metre: Thanks for listening. Connect with Aaron on Twitter and Instagram at Aaron Watson, 59.
Diane Danforth is the founder and CEO of Americat Company, a cat products company that manufactures all of its goods in the United States.
Diane’s business blends her entrepreneurial ambition, corporate experience, and love for cats into a single company.
In this discussion, Diane and Aaron discuss how she’s built out her products SKUs, what lessons from large corporate marketing she has brought with her, and how she engages with her customers.
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Diane Danforth’s Challenge; Create something and ship it.
Connect with Diane Danforth
If you liked this interview, check out episode 443 with Blake Dube where we discuss selling oxygen tanks for pets, how to find a product manufacturer, and long term use of compressed oxygen.
Scott Absher is the Chief Executive Officer and cofounder of ShiftPixy, a platform to help business operators engage with a part-time workforce.
ShiftPixy is developing technology that balances the needs for business operators who rely on part-time labor and workers who make up the part-time workforce.
ShiftPixy is a powerful platform for leveraging the gig economy forces for both.
Scott was previously President of Struxurety, a business insurance advisory company.
In this episode, Scott and Aaron discuss the structure of ShiftPixy’s capital raises, the need for restaurants & manufacturers to leverage part-time labor, and the advantages of IPOing early.
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Scott Absher’s Challenge; Don’t ignore the service staff that you interact with every day.
Connect with Scott Absher
If you liked this interview, check out our interview with Keith Harmon where we discuss how restaurants can navigate seismic changes to the economy.
Marshall Haas is the co-founder & CEO of Need/Want, a holding company of brands he has started and owns. Over the years Marshall has started a multitude of products and brands, including some that have been acquired and done millions of dollars of revenue.
He is self-taught and has translated his curiosity into Peel, Shepherd, ofHass, and others.
Inc. Magazine ranked Marshall’s company one of the fastest growing private companies in America and in 2018 Need/Want ranked #1 in St. Louis and the state of Missouri
In this interview, Marshall and Aaron discuss the labor market, how to successfully test & iterate a product, and why hiring overseas is such a big opportunity.
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Marshall Haas’s Challenge; Go find what can be eliminated, automated, or delegated.
Connect with Marshall Haas
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If you liked this interview, check out our interview with Andrew Gazdecki where we discuss buying and selling small businesses.
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Haas: I mean, I had panic attacks throughout like the year of this, like, you know, it's your personal name on the line? I didn't want, you know, I had every intention and good intentions deliver on what I promise people.
Watson: Hey, welcome back to go deeper there. And Watson, really excited to share this the 500th episode of going deep with you. It's an interview with Marshall. Haas Marshall has candidly the type of business and entrepreneurial success that I aspire to before hitting the age of 35, he has built multiple six and seven figures.
E-commerce businesses, a really successful head-hunting business that we talk about in the middle of this interview, that I've actually been a client of and a collection of real estate holdings. He's done this by modeling Andrew Wilkinson a-another prolific business builder and acquire. And in today's interview, we jump around between those different businesses’ lessons.
Marshall has learned and perspective that he is gleaned from all of this entrepreneurial experience. It's all over the place. Just like I like on this show. And if you're a regular listener, I know you like that to hear it.
Watson: Marshall. It's nice to be talking with you, man.
Haas: Yeah. Thanks for Aaron for having me.
Watson: Before we get into your whole story, any connection to the Haas racing team. I know that a formula one's coming down this weekend. Yeah.
Haas: Uh, I love motor sports. Yeah, no, no relation totally wish she was like, you know, my dad or uncle or something, but no,
Watson: Damn. I feel, I mean, I don't know how common of a last name that is. You would know better than me, but I feel like you could pull some like extended cousin stuff. Maybe try to get in there.
Haas: Yeah, maybe. Yeah. Hey, put me in coach.
Watson: um, so I'm going to start off with, um, uh, pretty simple, maybe not simple question. How many companies have you started?
Haas: Oh, um, oh, it's hard to answer because there's so many projects, you know, that in my head was going to be a company that, you know, never, uh, never saw. I would looking back, I wouldn't call a company now. I dunno, man. If I had to guess probably around 10. With only a few of those actually being viable. Um, a lot of like, you know, failures along the way and everything.
Watson: Gotcha. So when I look at your current holding company need one, I see a service route services provider, a shepherd that we're going to talk about in a little bit. I see some things that start to kind of skew into real estate and these other. I guess I wouldn't, I wouldn't even know how to call it services, business, more scalable than a products business, but your origins are really in creating physical products and selling them online.
So can you talk to me specifically about what attracted you in that direction? Was it, you know, someone you were approximate to seeing them do it? . Starting in physical products, the attractive route. When I feel like today, you know, stuff like software is way more glamorized because it feels, you know, you need a laptop and a, uh, education basically.
Haas: Yeah. Uh, so I, early on, when I was just getting started, you know, it was like a fresh-faced entrepreneur, you know, looking up to guys like Steve jobs and, and Facebook and, you know, all, all the software side, I was actually working in software or how to software. Uh, project management, startup that totally crashed and burned.
But during all of that, a couple of years of that, I, uh, I got really interested in, um, physical products. I just thought it'd be really cool to start something that you can touch and hold. Like I would, uh, you know, tell my family about what I'm doing in software and they just like, don't get. And it just seems so fun.
One, like have an idea for something and then like physically be able to hold it. You know, I think I started to feel like it would be easier to sell as well. Like, you know, there's so many free apps at the time and I just thought like, you know that you already, you're not fighting against people, uh, expecting.
Uh, you know, software to be free. Whereas like, if I hand you something like, you know, this is my, my widget, uh, it's physical. Like you're already assuming that like, of course, from a price tag to it, you know, you're not fighting against that. You don't question, you know, Starbucks, uh, you know, there's a course of price on this piece of coffee or this coffee.
Um, so it was kind of that it was just like frustrated with like, you know, it's going to be hard to like get around everyone assuming something's free, uh, with software. And, uh, I just started kind of jotting down various ideas and frustrations I had, and I felt like, you know, as a, a little one person, two person company, like you're, you could totally make something, you know, like I saw that it was like now possible to like contact factories in China.
And like, if this is now just possible. And so why shouldn't I, you know, make something it's just like, Did I boil it down to just an interest? You know, I was just like, super curious about how that works and started tinkering around.
Watson: And then software is the kind of common trope of the MVP, the minimum viable product, and you write enough lines of code and it's, it's, you know, functional enough to get someone interested in.
Physical price a little bit different, especially, you know, whether you're prototyping or you're going and doing like the smallest run that you possibly can from the manufacturer, seeing what gets delivered and seeing what needs to kind of be altered. So, you know, given your experiences now, you've, you've built a number of brands, uh, bedsheets company, uh, iPhone case company, so on and so forth.
Like what, what do you tell aspiring physical product entrepreneurs about kind of testing what it is that they want to be.
Haas: Yeah. I mean, you kind of hit the nail on the head. It's, it's really hard to, you know, software. You can make it super ugly. As long as it functions, you can plop the price on it, you know?
Err, it rates or like you kind of asked to have branding and, you know, the product needs to be pretty solid. Good. And like, you know, you can't be issuing recalls, uh, day one. So, um, yeah, I mean, it's kind of the pros and cons of software versus physical products. Right? It's uh, I don't know if a word of caution is the right way to put it, but I would tell people like, yeah, you want to do you want to test and get it right.
So you don't have to, uh, to go back and redo a manufacturer on because that's super costly and can burn you. And I've gone through that. Yeah. There's honestly, there's just no way around it. There's no, like, I mean, well, okay. Let me, let me back up. I think you can definitely test things out with. Small runs.
So, you know, okay. Thinking about final product, you want to make definitely needs to fall in what I was just saying. Like it needs to just be pretty solid and, you know, as close to perfect as you can, however, early on, I would work with the manufacturer that will allow you to kind of just source something from them.
That's similar to something you want to make, build a brand, do a super, super low, uh, production run as low as you can just to like you know. Number and a bunch of cash test the idea, see if there's a man from a space you're wanting to be in. And then I would look at like doing it. You know, the final version of the originally had had the idea for the flip side is a Kickstarter, which, you know, I think most people are familiar.
Pitch, you know, final version that you want to do and do a Kickstarter campaign for it. But I think today that's still probably the best way to go if you're off the ground. But when you deliver on that campaign, like you need to have it solid and not have it as a, the MVP product that, you know, you have a lot of issues under the, under the hood.
Watson: Yeah. It seems like a lot of Kickstarter campaigns get bogged down in that phenomena.
Haas: Ah, yeah. In the. It finishes and then actually executing, delivering side. Yeah, for sure. That's uh, that's where all the hard work is. I think.
Watson: Can you talk about one of the times where you did have that run and it didn't go well and you kind of had to, you know, get back up off, off the mat.
Haas: Yeah. Uh, man, it's like a painful story. Um, yeah, so we had this company called smart bedding. And it was a bedsheet company. So we are going to sell a full set of sheets. So the top sheet, duvet cover, uh, pillowcases, you know, that sheet, all of it. And the, the idea was basically, um, Making your bed it's pretty time-consuming it kind of boiled down what goes into making your bed.
And in our opinion, if you suffered the top sheet, stuck out outsides, you had to like tuck it in, but you had to realign your duvet, covering the top sheet. And now that was the gist of making your bed. And so, you know, we, we, weren't going to build like a mechanical bed that like pulls a sheet and makes it for you.
The idea was, well, we'll just solve for those problems. So we had. Snap system along the sides, it kind of kept the top sheet and duvet cover together? And then we cut the top sheet to be about the same size as the duvet cover. So it doesn't stick out. So that was the idea was to, um, make your bed faster, make it a lot, lot simpler.
Did a Kickstarter campaign. I think we raised a little over 50K in pre-orders. You know awesome, Great. Like this is, you know, high-fives, co-founder like people want to stain. We, uh, we have a business here and did a production run, found a manufacturer, vetted them, got samples. You know, they were tested a bunch of manufacturers.
They were the best quality, you know, all the above check boxes as far as we were concerned. And, uh, it was just delay after delay, after delay. Finally, they, uh, fulfilled about half of it, got our hands on material and it was nothing like what we originally approved. So it was kind of being switch model.
So we had one, you know, like, I mean, at this point I think he was like a year and it was like, you know, production runs takes 30, 90 days, eight days, depending on what you're doing. And then, you know, week shipping it overseas to your warehouse here to like 30 days back then. We didn't have a Coldwell pandemic going on, uh, at sea freight.
So like, we were obviously blew way past anything reasonable there. And we were basically at the mercy of. This Stackery, like we had, you know, that was all the money that we raised was to produce this thing. I don't think it was a STAM this factory, like, I think they were a real factory and we had someone separate kind of quality control person go out.
And it was real factory, I don't know, to this day or like what happens, but they basically kind of fumbled. And went away. And so, uh, never delivered to anything else. They had the majority of our funds. We didn't have enough money to produce someone else. So a Wallace is all going on. We had me and my buddy had started some other small e-commerce businesses as side projects that, you know, we're super fortunate that we're, we're making a bit of money.
So we. You know, it became to this time, it was always in limbo. You know, it's like, are they going to deliver, you know, are we going to get what we ordered from these guys? They just kept dragging us on. And it, you know, push comes to shove. You finally have to make a call of just, this is not going to happen.
You know? And we need to be honest with backers, you know, Hey, this is what's going on. Or I can just like apologize people easily and shut it down or dig deep. You know, take alone, come up with money and other way and do another production run. So that's what we did. We, uh, we approach a, a, you know, high net worth.
Wasn't a friend. It was kind of like an acquaintance, um, about taking along for about half of what we needed. And we put up the money for the other half with basically all the profits of the other thing we had going and decided to make it better, higher quality. We went with linen this time around somebody cotton the first time, and then anybody that wanted to hang on still at that point, uh, we just, you know, uh, delivered a more superior product.
And the retail price that they paid was about what it costs us to do in the first actually, no, it cost them more to do so they got more than their money's worth. And that was kind of, are they keeper for hanging on relaunch without new products? And that, that went on to do pretty well. Man. It was like, I, uh, I mean, I had panic attacks throughout, like the year of this, like arc, uh, you know, it's your personal name on the line.
I didn't want, you know, I had every intention and, and good intentions to deliver on what I promise people, but you're at the mercy and like, you're limited, you can only do so much, you know? So, yeah, that was a, that was one where we just had. Further dig deep and take a risk and make it again, uh, to, to keep people happy and, you know, see the thing through. So that's kind of the, uh, the quick story of that one.
Watson: So, so in an instance like that, where you're delivering something superior to what people paid and it's because of the weight, it's because of kind of the natural progression that you realized you wanted to take with the product. Does an experience like that make you more of a believer in karma because all these kinds of good things, at least from an external perspective, seem to have come your way professionally?
And, you know, you've got a holding company with a whole bunch of different business successes before the age of 32. Does that make you more of a believer in karma or what's your kind of like, I don't know if belief system is the right phrase necessarily, like what's your framework for thinking about something like that.
Haas: Yeah. You know, anybody who is going to scan people or, or, you know, even be just like a little loose with promises and stuff like that. Like you're not going to be able to be in business for very long. Maybe you could buy for so many years, but like, it's got to catch up to you. So, I mean, that's, I've never works.
Like I'm just practical that at all, you know, like, yeah, I think you should do right by people, but someone that doesn't have a moral compass, I think you should just be wise and like, it's not going to work anyway. You know? Um, so yeah, totally a believer in doing right by people. But yeah, the, I mean, let's be real, like the we're super glad that.
Over-delivered in the end to people, but there was also a good business reason for us to make the product better. You know, we saw some flaws and some things, and, you know, we wanted to like make a better product. So of course it was like, you know, multiple points of motivation, you know, derived by people over deliver, but also for future customers, like we thought this was going to be the better word, telling the products, uh, anyways, so.
Yeah, it goes, hand-in-hand like do right by people and build good products. Like it's just a winning combination. Like the, the, uh, the opposite of it. Like it doesn't work, right. Whether you have morals or not, but hopefully, hopefully.
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Watson: I want to circle back to some of the other product stuff later on, but you, you kind of made this shift now out of the. Being primarily a product entrepreneur and I've actually interfaced with, you know, the, the, the reason I reached out is because I've had a great experience interfacing with one of your service provider companies, shepherd, uh, which assists people with the hiring of international talent explicitly from the Philippines, a completely different price point for labor.
Um, so can you take us through the kind of origin story of a company like that? Because honestly, as, as a, as a client of yours, It seems like I've almost kind of uncovered a secret. Like there's a little bit of like, This is really working. Um, and you know, I'm happy to share that obviously in a domain like this, but can you just talk about like the origins of this idea?
Cause you probably had that same perception of I've got the secret figured out however long in the past before you launch it. But if it's been around for like 17 months or something.
Haas: Yeah. Well you, uh, the, your, your stuff there. Um, okay. So, so those that don't know, uh, I'm talking about an agency called shepherd that I started with a co-founder.
We're basically at hunter agency for outsource talents, uh, right now focus on Philippines, but, uh, may expand to some other areas. So simple model, we just, uh, hire a full-time hires for our clients of someone's looking for part-time like, we don't do that. And then we, uh, we don't mark up, you know, their time.
Since paid. Five bucks an hour. We're not billing it out for 10 it's. It's the other way. It's you know, you guys needed the video editor. We go out and try to find the best view editor we can for you. And. Present, you know, a bunch of good candidates. If you guys like one or a company likes one and they're hired, we take a fee of the presumed first year salary.
I know the relationship, you know, hands off to you guys. And that's how you're your contractor employee. So, yeah, so the, the Genesis of that one, I started with this guy named drummer he's based in the Philippines. He's Filipino Austin Guy. He's he worked for me or worked for me for like three or four years.
Uh, came on. As, just like a customer support agent helping with a little bit of operations stuff, uh, appeal. So just like, uh, you know, part of the team super friendly, we got to know each other. We were basically chatting like every day and, um, my wife and I were traveling for awhile and I wanted to go to the Philippines and hanging out with him and another employee of ours over there.
So we finally get to like, hang out. This is in 2019. And. I think John Moore has always had the itch to start something. And, uh, you know, he’s talking about BPO companies, which are like business process, uh, were frigging this price, I was probably just business process outsourcing, but it's, you know, it's companies that go over there and hire staff in the Philippines.
And most of them are run in what I touched on earlier, which is. Great. And you need a customer support rep, uh, costs us five bucks. We're going to give it to you for 15 an hour and they just mark people's time up. There's a lot of that. And we, uh, we just started riffing on ideas and ways you could build a company like that today and kind of finding your niche into that world.
Um, and we, we eventually kind of settled on the head-hunter model. Um, and we, we chose them all for different reasons. Um, yeah, Joe and I “partnerds”, uh, he's the general manager, so he's kind of running the day to day and. Uh, he, you know, has been the one leading a team. Um, and it's, it's been awesome, man. It's been a really fun business.
It's hit a chord with a lot of entrepreneurs and they're growing well.
Watson: How did you find Joe Murray and the other Filipino team member before shepherd?
Haas: Yeah. Uh, that's actually kind of a long story. Uh, I'll try to give me the quick one. So we bought an e-commerce company, uh, probably in 2016. That is a long story for another day, uh, eventually failed.
Like went down zero? Uh, it was a pretty painful experience and the silver lining, at least for, for our side was. We got drummer that acquisition of that business. So he was doing support for that company that we hired and when it kind of went bust and it wasn't working, we brought on several of the team members and appeal instead.
So yeah, without getting into the long story there of that big bunk failure, um, yeah, it was part of that team and that's how we got to know. And then the other team member, um, she’s, our bookkeeper. And I think, uh, I think she was doing bookkeeping contract for a friend and, uh, we, we wanted to bring our bookkeeping stuff in house and that's how we found her and brought her on full-time.
Watson: So in terms of scaling, where does this stand in the context of other businesses that you've done? Cause I saw a tweet. I'm just gonna back into it. Uh, it was at 15 months, you'd gone from one to 32 employees and it's now been another two months. So I have to imagine that unless, you know, you've hit some road bumps it's, it's gotta be even further beyond that.
Haas: Yeah, I think we're at like 40 something employees now, something like that. And that's the internal shepherd team that's going out and sourcing project managers, you know, content person, um, all that. Um, yeah, it's been a, it's been a wild ride. Like all, all the other stuff I've ever done. Max has been like, you know, five to 10 people.
I think it was. Uh, at Peel's peak as far as head count and that we had 10 people. So it's, it's been wild to like, grow that fast, far as head count. And, you know, there's always company culture things you gotta run into and, you know, people running different teams like previously for me, we ran a really flat organization.
Uh, whereas now with about size, it's just kinda hard to do so.
Watson: So in terms of. That type of growth, usually that comes with some form of financing challenges, given your background in physical products, I have to imagine that you're more comfortable with debt financing than the average entrepreneur, because that's usually a part of like the big inventory runs, uh, to some yeah.
Haas: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, we can get into that. So we design the business, uh, a few different ways to help solve for kind of the issue that you're touching on, which is just cashflow and bootstrapping. So, um, one of the things that we've done from the start is. So our model, we only get paid when we, uh, close the projects.
Like you could come hire us. And it's basically risk-free until we deliver a higher, um, and people only pay when they actually hire someone from us so easier to sell, you know, a lot, uh, less upfront. However, the one thing we asked for is, is a deposit of $500 of your clients, which basically just shows us they're serious and not just like tire pickers. Right.
So that helps with work in capital. Uh, for the business that's been going really good. And then it's been good. It's just not like, you know, that client serious. Uh, the other thing was making it a headhunter model where the relationship, once we find someone. Um, the client likes, we hand them over and the relationship is now between, uh, that higher and our client.
And, you know, we get paid and we move on to the next client. Uh, that gives us more cashflow. We're probably leaving money on the table. Long-term, uh, doing some sort of subscription model, you know, marketing up someone's hours. There's there's other companies that do that. Um, but we did this way, so we could bootstrap, uh, get paid, you know, basically percentage of that presumed salary.
Uh, upfront once we hire for someone, instead of getting a much smaller amount monthly, but you know, recurring indefinitely. Um, so yeah, those two were definitely by design because I wanted a bootstrap this thing so we haven't needed to, uh, take any loans or anything like that. Or even put funds on a credit card for this one.
It's. Uh, totally bootstrap, positive cashflow, you know, all that from, from day one.
Watson: So it sounds super optimistic, but you, you were talking about like the culture and team building challenges of just something with so many team members, like where do you fall? Cause cause you have real estate holdings.
You've had all these product companies, you have background in software. This is, this is classic client services. So that also right. It comes with headaches. How do you, how do you just in terms of, you know, feeling like, like, like what, what draws your energy versus what's sucking your energy in the context of those four different business types?
Haas: Yeah. So very recently I've been able to start putting general managers in place. This company is, whereas the model before, I mean, need, want, when we were doing only e-commerce at one time we had. I think for e-commerce businesses active and like, it was the same core team, you know, running at them all.
And we like do a sprint on this one and then, you know, do a sprint on another one. And then this one's been neglected, you know, for six months when you get back to it, you know, or worse. Whereas now, you know, some of these have grown enough where there's enough cash flow and profits to actually motivate someone as a general manager.
Um, where, you know, day to day, you know, the buck stops with them and it's on them to, uh, to run, run the day to day with shepherd. You know, it's just, it's uncharted territory for me. Right? Like previously the biggest we ever were appealed was, was 10. So it's, it's new problems, you know, we have to navigate, whereas, you know, we are doing another e-commerce business.
I know what to expect at different stages and cashflow issues and all that. So it's been fun, you know, it's like, it's a new challenge. It's like, I worked with Joe Mer, like I said, he's GM. So day-to-day is on things, but we of course are talking a few times a week, you know, about, should we hire more staff?
You know, what are the levers that you used to, uh, to look at, to hire more people. But, you know, it's just like at that level, you want to keep your employees happy. You want to make sure. Yeah, we're being efficient. We're not getting slower, uh, with delivering our services as we grow, like, how do you do that?
You know, do we break out smaller teams? Like all of these questions that we're having navigate. And then yeah, just culture, like, you know, team retreats and having a fun thing for everyone to do on Fridays. Like that kind of stuff, um, with the smaller team just happened organically. Like, Hey, you guys want to go out for drinks, you know, kind of thing where, when it's that size, like you can't leave it up to that or something's going to get locked out.
You know what I mean? So, yeah. Like I said, it's just uncharted territory. It's all new to me. And it's, uh, it's, it makes it fun and interesting. Okay.
Watson: Last question on that front, just in terms of advice for someone that might be considering this, are there specific roles where you think it makes more sense to do this type of international hiring places where you see people consistently trip up, you know, developers, designers, editors, writers, like what? What's fair gain?
Haas: Yeah, to be fair. A lot of these hires are, you know, what I think in the US we'd call a junior or, or, you know, kind of mid-level, they're not senior. Developers senior, you know, of any role. So I wouldn't recommend people go out and try to hire, you know, a COO or a VP of finance, the US, you know, build out a booking team, not a, you know, VP of financers or, uh, you know, your CFO or anything from us, uh, roles where it works really well.
Um, I mean the, uh, anything customer support is awesome. Uh, can get just amazing staff. Really well-spoken English, well-written English, um, creative on the kind of graphic and video podcast side of things. There's a lot of really great people, um, that were able to source for our clients development design, like specifically, you know, app design, UI, UX, that kind of stuff.
That's hard to source anywhere in the world right now, you know? So like it's hard for us as well. Um, we definitely do it, but it's. A harder project for us, same with development possible, but, but definitely harder. So operations supports creative with the asterix specifically like graphic in video and an audio creative, uh, and then just like general operations, you know, like that was kind of our first hire or there was just helping move and coordinate shipments and inventory and keeping an eye on.
Make sure. Or some fall through the cracks. Um, those kinds of roles are really well suited for us.
Watson: Gotcha. So that kind of leads me to a larger conversation that, you know, as I'm going through this, I'm just thinking about different types of labor competing in different markets. So let's talk about some of the ones you referenced, customer service ops, these creative roles.
I think about, you know, whether it's a younger version of myself coming out of school or just all, all the young people, regardless of their education, trying to break in, usually at an entry level role, which is something similar to these junior roles that you're talking about and finding themselves not only competing in their local geography with other folks with similar educational backgrounds, but also now.
An easier than ever experience at competing at a global level. So that's kind of very, that's a very broad kind of prompt to bat across the net to you, but, you know, w-what, what are your thoughts generally about, you know, young people that may be just, just from, uh, from the geography that they happen to be living.
Have economic realities where they cannot compete with talent, that's in a, in a completely different economy and geographic region.
Haas: Sure. Yeah. So, I mean, right, obviously right off the bat, like let's not sugar coat it, you are competing now with, uh, someone who's willing and hungry to work, you know, what would be 40 to $60,000?
Position the US for for much less like 70 or 80% less. But the flip side of that is because we're in this global economy. Now you're open for yourself, opportunities around the world. It's not just your backyard and your local city, uh, companies that are willing to hire you. So I think that's, let's not focus on just the negative with it, but it also positive of like you admire that company that is in San Francisco and you live in Boise, Idaho.
You don't necessarily have to, to move out, you know, in San Francisco or to, to potentially get a role in that company. And I think that's really awesome. Like super powerful. That's the most exciting thing about solo remote work thing is just like the world is open to everyone and it kind of flattens everything there.
So, yeah, I mean, I don't want, I don't think people should be discouraged by the existence. Um, you know, if you're a recent college grad or something, uh, by, by what we're doing, um, I would look at it as, Hey, like I could, there's a lot of opportunity out there for me. Um, what I would recommend, like, uh, you know, college grad in the US or whatever that is case against, you know, talented, hungry, uh, smart people overseas is, um, go shadow, uh, you know, a lot of different companies that, that you admire.
Like, I there's ways I, you know, don't want everyone to have to work a free intern. But just like volunteer a little bit outside of your day job somewhere. I think being a generalist today is, is really, really powerful. You know, so many people go through college or whatever and are trained for one thing and that's, there's nothing wrong with that, but, um, you're, uh, much more, I think, let me back up.
I think the, uh, What is needed is someone who understands a little bit about a lot of different stuff. And a lot of companies, you know, if you're in project management, you need to know a little bit about development, a little bit about your excellent, about design, a little bit about, um, you know, just psychology people.
And so the more you can expose yourself to a lot of stuff like that. I think in 2021, like it's better to be a generalist and a specialist that goes super deep. Um, in one thing, at least that's my opinion. And that's what that's, what's worked for me. Right? Like I'm not a designer, I'm not a programmer. Um, not like a hardcore sales guy, I just know a little bit and enough about each of those, you know, kind of got to that like 80% with, uh, with a few of them.
I think that's what makes you dangerous. Um, and, and really, uh, valuable to another company. Yeah. That's uh, yeah that’s us.
Watson: I think the, the specialty skill set, if it's not really deep, is it huge risk because it's a commodity and someone's going to go find a cheaper market place to go buy it. So I agree with either the well-rounded little bit of everything model, or like go be the fricking best and like just.
Haas: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, for sure.
Watson: And in any form, anything we're talking about here involves some form of free work, because if you're going to go be the absolute best at it, you're spending your off hours developing the skills and the trades and deepening that expertise you referenced, you know, internships or working for free for someone.
The other form of that is making yourself really legible to. Those those markets outside of your close proximity. So from my perspective, you've done that very much with writing and putting your thoughts out on the internet in a, in an itemized, you know, uh, easily digestible way that says, okay, if I needed to.
You know, hire a consultant to help launch my e-com brand. Not that you're necessarily offering that explicitly, but like I would at least kick the tires on having a conversation with you or, you know, ask you to point me in the right direction, because it's very clear that you've, you've documented the successes that you had.
You've outlined your perspective on how to go do that thing. And it makes you really legible to someone who's never met you before. Hence, my ability to kind of do my research before an interview like this, that's the other part where that that could be free work. But it's building your brand and your reputation and making yourself legible.
Haas: Yeah, no, totally. I agree. I think, uh, you know, media is. Super powerful, whether it's starting podcasts, uh, you know, blogging. I mean, today, I think I've seen so many people blow up last year, just on Twitter, you know, in like business circles. Um, I think the way you found us, like, uh, NICU over he's a self-storage, uh, uh, acquire is a real estate guy.
And blew up with a hundred thousand Twitter followers over like one to two years on Twitter, by just sharing and documenting his thought process around deals and all that. And so, you know, if you're just getting started, okay, I'm not a investor or whatever, but like you have opinions and thoughts on how you approach different things.
I think being transparent with that, whether Twitter or what or pot, whether a podcasts, whether it's YouTube, um, It is. Yeah, super powerful, really interesting things happen when you share your work with the world. Like I met so many cool people, uh, doing that, you know, just kind of documenting, being transparent, putting little projects on the internet and you, uh, you meet some really cool people that way.
Watson: Last question, then we'll kind of aim towards wrapping up Stan, uh, asking the kind of standard stuff. So by most conventional measures, you've had a ton of professional success. And if you're going to live, you know, uh, a long life, it's relatively early in the kind of professional career trajectory, I know that you spent some time at MetaLab.
Um, so Andrew Wilkinson has also kind of done this collection of companies model, put GMs in place and figure out ways to scale that way. Who else are you? Uh, I always think about it as comparing yourself to, because I'm a big believer in like the medic theory, Rene, Girard, all that kind of, um, thinking on this stuff, but, but who are you modeling as you build out this portfolio of multiple companies with need one?
Haas: Yeah. Yeah. I honestly, I don't have another, uh, person as an example outside of, of Andrew that, uh, you know, he's different mine. Uh, I worked under him. He's been an investor in some of our stuff. And really, you know, I've seen close up like, you know, his life and lifestyle matches what he puts out there.
Like it's, it, it lines up. He has a pretty well-balanced life as a good dad. Like that's, uh, that's kind of the model of the closest that I near us off of and, you know, props to him for, uh, pioneering that, I mean, I think he's heavily inspired by Warren buffet and. Um, and we're doing that at tiny, tiny scale compared to, to what they are.
I mean, they're like a billion-dollar organization, I think, at this point. Um, and so it looks a bit different in our scale and, um, I've kind of had to navigate that, but yeah, I mean, for those that don't know, we're talking about, um, Skylar runs a holding company called tiny, tinycapital.com Andrew and his partner, Chris Barling, uh, they're like a Charlie Munger and, uh, and Warren buffet, little deal of the internet and they buy companies and, uh, have this small office and a few people.
And the rest is already separate entities run by a CEO. And they're totally separate. There is no. Uh, synergies, you know, it's not like this massive company with a courtine. Uh, really, really inspiring. And so his time is, is, uh, pretty freed up to, you know, what's, what's the next thing. He's not operating those businesses.
And so that's, that's kind of the dream is to plug people in, uh, once, uh, these companies get to good scale, um, and have them run by smart people and can motivate them. You know, salary, uh, sharp profits, equity, you know, whatever is important to them and, uh, and be free to start the next thing or, or invest in the next thing or by the next day.
So that's, yeah, that's kind of the model that I, uh, aspire to follow.
Watson: Gotcha. So, yeah, I don't see many folks. I mean, that's why after having such a great experience with a shepherd digging a little bit deeper, um, that's why I wanted to reach out to you because it is. Uh, even further behind you in terms of kind of aspiring in that direction, but the concept of finding competent people, putting your trust in them, creating great economic outcomes for them in addition to yourself, um, and, and kind of living in Perpetual. I see it as a state of perpetual creativity, because your ability to think up the next idea, go execute on it. That the freedom to, to have that creativity in this form of business building, um, is one that I just have a huge appetite for. So it's cool to find, um, other like-minded folks.
Haas: Awesome. Yeah For sure. And good dads. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's to me, it's uh, you know, you see. Early on. I looked up to guys like Steve jobs and Zuckerberg and everything. And then you read Steve jobs biography, and you realize like, man, this guy did a lot of really cool stuff and built some amazing products and of course, amazing business, but like his personal life, you know, he was not great.
Like, and same with, uh, Elon Musk. Like the dude, the workaholic, uh, has been through a ton of divorces, you know, Uh, I mean, I don't know, you know, I'm not friends with any of those guys, but like outside looking in, it looks like they're kinda miserable. I mean, if you asked me, there's not a lot of time for anything, but this like core mission and you know, if that's what I feel like is their calling.
That's great. I'm not here to say that's a bad thing, but it's not for me. And I want to be able to be a well-rounded person and not be all consuming. You know, running my business. You want to have a life outside of that, whether it's family hobbies, you know, I'll be above
Watson: Amen to that. What a beautiful note to wrap up on.
If you want to add another person to that list, if you ever do in that ranting. Jack Welch from GE same thing. Number of divorces and his calling card was that he has literally fired like tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people like put them out of work. So that's, you know, not necessarily, um, the aspiration despite that kind of deity status in the business world.
But, uh, that's a, that's a, maybe that's just a rant for another day. Um, Marshall has been fantastic. Where can we send people if they want to learn more about you need one, all the stuff you’re up to.
Haas: Yeah, a need. One is just needwant.com to spell like need and want a I'm probably hanging out in Twitter the most. Um, so I'm just, uh, at Marshall with one L on Twitter.
My real name is spelled a two, but Hey, I can get that one. So I went with one “L”, uh, and then my personal website, you know, that's where I put, uh, any articles I write, uh, just my full name. Marshall Haas.com.
Watson: Beautiful. We're going to link that in the show notes, going deeper there and.com/podcast for every episode or in the app.
We're probably listening to this right now, but Marshall, before I let you go, I'd like to give you the mic one final time to issue an actionable personal challenge to the audience.
Haas: Yeah. Yeah. You know, thinking about the shepherd side of things, um, One thing that kind of led me there is, is to always thinking about, you know, what can either be eliminated from my business or my life or delegated.
Um, I think, you know, everyone, myself included does a ton of stuff that just doesn't matter, you know, in like delivering whatever you're trying to do. Um, a lot of, a lot of what businesses do, like just. Isn’t useful and can be just, you can literally stop doing a lot of them things and the stuff that's left. Um, at least, you know, people trying to scale up, uh, we'll look at, you know, in small ways, um, what you, you could delegate.
I think that's kind of the, literally the only path to, to scaling up, uh, anything is automating or delegating or eliminating things. So, um, kind of always having that lens as you operate in your career in business, I think is helpful to it's like a muscle, right? Uh, to, to kind of flex that and always be looking at that in what you're doing.
Watson: And I think that that's, you know, it does require kind of sharp sharpening the mind that way, because otherwise you can get just kind of transfixed on this part of my day socks or this thing sucks and it kind of permeates other elements of it. But, you know, if you, you can find the ways to. Actually cut it out.
And once you get a couple of times like, oh snap, I I'm going to do this all sorts of stuff.
Haas: Exactly. Yeah, no. Well said
Watson: right on, uh, well we just went deep with Marshall Hoss. Who've been out there has a fantastic.
Haas: Awesome. Thanks man.
Watson: Hey, thank you so much for listening to the end of my interview with Marshall. If you enjoyed this, I think you'll also like my interview with Andrew Andrew has built a platform that is. Gangbusters where people can buy small businesses, small online businesses. And it is perfect. If you were thinking of acquiring your own portfolio of companies like Marshall, his platform is a fantastic place to start, or at least get smarter.
I'm going to link that in the show notes to this episode and encourage you to hit subscribe if you've not already done. So because we have some great interviews coming down the pipe, including with a cat company. Stay tuned.
Thanks for listening connect with Aaron on Twitter and Instagram at Aaron Watson, 59.