“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

As Helen Keller reminds us, looking at life as a daring adventure can create opportunities we otherwise never would have imagined and even help us change the world — and our guest today is doing just that.

Laura Latimer is an international speaker, a leader in healthcare tech, and a pioneer in the no-code / low-code movement of entrepreneurship. Her heart beats for empowering women and improving the lives of travel healthcare workers.

Laura started her company, Nomadicare, without the usual resources people have. She had barely any experience, no training, and certainly no external funding.

But the one thing she did have was a lot of heart. And if you’ve read any of my books, you’ll know that the right attitude makes all the difference.

While working in the healthcare industry, Laura experienced a problem firsthand and said to herself, “You know what? I’m going to be the one to fix this!”

In that pivotal moment, her mission to revolutionize travel healthcare was born.

Today Laura is part of the 2% of women entrepreneurs who generate over USD $1 million of annual revenue but, more importantly, she makes an enormous impact on the world.

In this interview, we’ll go through:

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Laura Latimer!

James Whittaker:
To kick things off, can you take us into what your life was like growing up?

Laura Latimer:
Growing up, I had a really amazing family. I was a middle child, so I get teased right now from some of my friends who are like, “Man, did you grow up!?” We were the cliché sweet middle-class family who lived in this beautiful bubble of a life. And I was involved in a ton of stuff and my family was very supportive of me. But I think what is really funny is people will tell parents today, "Hey, don't worry too much, because at the end of it, your kid's going to want therapy for it no matter what you do!"

For me, the part that I didn't get as much of in my childhood that I ended up getting to develop in adulthood was my ability to think for myself. When you’re young, there are often such blessings in adversity that really help you think about the world in a different way. And I grew up in such a beautiful childhood where things were handed to me and I was like, “Oh, this is what life is supposed to be. Cool. Done. Figured it out.” Then later in life, so much else changed. That helped me think about my childhood in a bit of a different way.

As a teenager, what did ‘success’ look like to you? And when did having your own business first come on your radar?

As a teenager, many people in Texas – especially back then – ‘success’ meant one thing to us: getting married and having babies. And I was right in line with that being a success; we were very much along the line of, okay, you go to college, you fall in love, you have your kids, you'll have some kind of career, you might decide to stay at home, or you get a house.

All the way, probably even into undergrad, that was my definition of success. But, looking back, that was my definition of success because that was all of my friends’ definitions of success. And one thing that I know you know, James, and I think anybody who's really into entrepreneurship knows, is you become the people you surround yourself with pretty much inevitably. So we all had the same kind of viewpoints back then, and that is what I defined as success.

You become the people you surround yourself with pretty much inevitably.

Now, looking back, I love the thought that who I am today is completely by luck of me not getting what I thought I wanted. There's been so many things I didn't get that I thought I wanted that I am so grateful for now. By the time I was getting out of school, I wasn't in love, or even in a relationship, so I had to figure out what to do next. And at that point for me, it wasn't entrepreneurship, it was travel.

One thing I realized when I was getting out of occupational therapy school is I could, with my occupational therapy degree, move to Australia and get a job there. To me, that was the wildest thing I could possibly do. And I did it! I booked flight, a one-way ticket to Australia. I sold everything I had. I didn't know anybody there. At the time, that was a crazy decision!

Literally my favorite all-time memory is the day the plane was landing in Australia. I didn't know a single person, everything I owned was on my back, I didn't have a job yet, I had a few thousand dollars, and I had a degree to hopefully find a job. That feeling in my heart that it was just me, solo in this new country, is my favorite feeling I've ever had. From there though, as I’m sure we’ll get in to, my business has a lot to do with traveling. And so travel became a huge part of my life.

In Australia, to my parents’ worst fear, I met a guy. It was nothing romantic; he was a little bit more ambitious and a more seasoned traveler than I was. He told me it was a $45 flight from Australia to Southeast Asia, so I did it. I booked the flight after doing just a few weeks in Australia and meeting other backpackers in Australia, just starting to open my mind to travel as a growth concept. It was travel as a way to learn more things. It was the first thing I ever did in my life that my parents straight up told me not to do. But I did it anyway.

It was the first thing I ever did in my life that my parents straight up told me not to do. But I did it anyway.

I ended up going to Indonesia and all over Southeast Asia. Travelers know Southeast Asia is a well-worn backpackers’ path – you can go to all these different places – but in my dad's head, all he could hear was, “My daughter's going to Vietnam!” All he knew was the Vietnam War. He thought I was going to die, literally. He took out life insurance on me and thought I was going to die. And I did it anyway. And I did most of that trip solo.

That trip was probably the most impactful, impulse decision I ever made because in doing that trip, it was the first time in my life that I had been exposed to other religions, cultures, and poverty levels – as well as other perspectives of what success, happiness, or impact was. Even meeting people in the hostels was huge; meeting people from Sweden, Germany, and New Zealand totally changed the way I saw the world.

But the biggest thing I got out of that trip was that it changed my relationship with truth. From there, I stopped believing in truth as a prescription that there was a right way and a wrong way to do life. In breaking up with that definition, I felt so free to define my own life. It was liberating to see people pick truths based on their location, what felt good, and who they were around. Above all, that you could think for yourself. I was 24 years old, and it was the best thing I’d ever done.

People hear a lot about solo travel, but it sounds so intimidating for those who haven't done it. Was there anything that solo travel specifically did to help you change your perspective either of who you were or the world around you?

Yes, 100%. So solo travel, versus travelling with other people, it gives you 100% control and freedom for everything you do. When you're with someone else, you just go back and forth on, “What should we do today?” and it's also much harder to be approached by others.

I have a distinct memory in college of me and a group of friends saying, "Oh my God, I would never go to the movies by myself!" And me being like, “Oh, I know. Me either!” Now, I can't even imagine me thinking that, but it's so amazing. Being able to trust yourself and realize that you can make decisions based on what makes you happy that day, too. It gives you courage when you realize inside of you that you can approach people, try new things on your own, listen to stories from strangers, and care so much about them … you just gain confidence very quickly when you’re traveling solo.

As far as the stereotypes of dangerous places, once you get there you usually realize that it isn’t really that dangerous. There's common sense to be had, of course, like the same common sense we have at home, but I got to develop the belief that people are, by and large, so good around the world. And it does give you that confidence of safety of the world, and humanity a little bit more too.

So true. I've been in many places that were documented as being among the most dangerous places on Earth, but when you're there, for the most part, you feel totally fine. With solo travel, it sounds like it gave you more than confidence – like a deep sense of inner peace and harmony that had eluded you previously.

On one end of the spectrum, there are people who spend so much of their life gallivanting around the world and seemingly can't sit still. Yet, on the other side, there are people who grow up and they stay in the same town that they're in. Of course, there's no right or wrong, but did you identify any unifying bond or common traits of all those people who were traveling? Was there an itch that they were trying to scratch, or were they trying to find out their purpose or their place in the world?

That's a good question. I think if there was one word that I feel like was unifying about the travelers I met, it would be curiosity. Travelers are craving and seeking something that is different than what they know. They're intentionally staying in hostels, they’re in their young 20s, and in a room of like eight beds, all bunk beds that are super uncomfortable, with the tiny locker. Nothing is comfortable per se about traveling, especially when you have no money. So you're doing it the rugged way, which is my favorite way, but everyone is seeking to experience something that is not what they knew.

Everyone is seeking to experience something that is not what they knew.

There's this craving for experiences and it's a craving to learn. With that comes open-mindedness. If you are in something that you're comfortable in and you've done over and over, you might start feeling like you're an expert. But when you're in a culture where you know nothing, you might not even know the language, you might not know what currency translates to, you are now back in this childlike state of figuring stuff out constantly. The bond comes from two (or more) people who feel like fish out of water. The unifying thing is a sense that we’re here to learn and dive in to these new experiences, rather than judge what we’re seeing.

Aside from international travel, you've also lived in a bunch of different places in the US. What are the pros and cons that has given you?

Well, it’s similar in that it always keeps me humble. It keeps me uncomfortable-ish. I traveled so much inside the US too because for a long time I was a travel occupational therapist. So that's like a healthcare career choice where you can go around to different cities and states, and help places that need healthcare. That is why I was traveling so much mostly.

Then sometimes it was because I just wanted to. As a traveler, I was constantly still in a new culture, like Berkeley, California, and Manhattan, New York are not similar. They're so different. And then to go straight into the hub of San Francisco and dive into the tech world when I was learning technology for Nomadicare, or when I was in San Diego with the beaches. It just keeps me curious, which is my favorite value, for me personally. Anytime I kept moving around, you can't really get too sure of yourself, which I think can be a really good thing.

Plus it gives you access to so many different relationships too.

Absolutely.

Well, let's switch gears and delve into the Nomadicare side. Can you give us a quick overview of your business, Nomadicare, for those who don't know anything about it?

Nomadicare is in healthcare and is a very mission-based business. First, for anyone who's listening / reading, there's travel healthcare where nurses and therapists, radiologists and sonographers, we can travel to places that are underserved or to hospitals that need help. That's the backbone of my industry.

Now, what happened, was one day when I was a travel OT, I excitedly walked into a job on the first day and met the other person who was starting the same day as me. We had the exact same profession in the exact same company, and she was getting paid $400 more a week than I was. That’s almost $2,000 more per month in the same company for the same job. And we just had different recruiters.

It was literally the first time in my whole career that it even crossed my mind that I was supposed to negotiate pay, or that this was a business, or that the people I was talking to maybe were not my friends – maybe they were salespeople pitching me a job, and their role was to make their company more profits.

And I can't stress enough why this is an even bigger deal in this industry. In this industry, it's 80% women who are caregivers and they go to school to learn how to serve, how to have relationships, and heal. But in school we do not learn our worth, how to negotiate, or anything to do with the business side of having a career as a provider of healthcare.

Now, on the other side, there are salespeople who are hired to be salespeople. They literally went to school or had experiences that taught them how to use persuasion and amazing skill sets, but in order to, in this case, underpay a healthcare worker to make their company more profits. And to me, that was extremely unfair. I also didn't like that it was mostly impacting women who were such relationship-based women, but of course, I really didn't like it when it happened to me.

That night, I went out with my best girlfriend and I was frustrated and venting, but I didn't know what to do. Of course, some of the best ideas are made over margaritas, and we were having some margaritas that night! We started talking and we came up with this idea of Nomadicare. We didn't have a pen or paper, so the waitress came over and gave us a pen and napkins. We wrote out an entire business model on these napkins. I wish so much I still had those napkins!

We wrote out an entire business model on these napkins.

And for me, the idea latched on. It stuck. I have this belief that ideas sometimes choose people because there's a million things my heart cares about, but this one chose me, where it didn't let go of my heart or my head. I was like, "I'm going to solve this. This one's mine to do."

So it was born from this unfairness. What it's become has been a really big movement in the industry, a huge community behind Nomadicare that are called the Empowered Travelers, a huge movement in the healthcare staffing agencies that are also moving in that same direction, bringing them together. We've built a ton of technologies. And technology can always increase the quality because it's data. Since that day five years ago, we’ve done a lot to transform the industry, but it started with seeing a problem and choosing to do something about it – even when I knew nothing about business.

What were the biggest things that you have done that have made your business Nomadicare as successful as it is today?

So anyone who is listening to this who does have an idea and is where I was (i.e. no connections or any skills at all in business), then you might realize it's really hard sometimes to know what's that very next step to take. For me, what ended up being so impactful was that I surrounded myself with a community of entrepreneurs right away. And life can be serendipitous, but I think it's serendipitous for everyone, if you open your eyes to it, you always see the opportunities.

For me, what ended up being so impactful was that I surrounded myself with a community of entrepreneurs right away.

At the time, I was living in Boston and there was this really cool thing called CrashPad, and I moved into it just a few months after wanting to do Nomadicare. It was 18 entrepreneurs living together in a three-story house, and we all co-worked together on the second floor. If you lived there, you weren't allowed to have another job. You were supposed to be 100% dedicated to your startup and 100% dedicated to giving and being in service to each other to grow.

I went in having the least amount of skillset out of anybody there, but I did have a camera and I was a professional photographer then too. So I was like, "Look, I'll take pictures of all your products. I'll do every headshot. That is what I can contribute." But then someone else over here could contribute web design, someone else over here knew marketing. And it was like an introduction that I needed to just learn some basic first steps.

The other thing I had was I think the superpower of not knowing anything yet. And what I mean by that is everything I launched that year was objectively terrible. The website was horrible and the pictures I had up were sized all wrong and nothing was mobile-friendly. Everything I did was bad, but I didn't know anything. So I didn't know that anything was bad.

I think that's cool because I put everything out with so much pride and excitement. I think also the community latched on to that mission and that excitement that I was putting out because I was constantly putting stuff out. And in my head, it was the best. Looking back, I'm like, "Oh my God, Laura!" So don't be afraid of not knowing stuff, don't be afraid of it being so imperfect at first because it is for everybody. At first, it's crucial to go through that.

You took action, and over time you were able to refine and make improvements. So many people who have that perfectionist mentality at the start, or who are so captive over their own idea, fail to recognize that your idea means nothing. It’s how well you execute. You were so good at consistently taking that action.

Thank you. I'm more of a perfectionist now than I was back then, because I see things different. The first year is cool when you don't have that because exciting. So don't be afraid of that stage when launching your business.

I love that mastermind community you were in. Literally, living together with a whole bunch of people who are all in on what they loved.

Is there a day that stands out as particularly satisfying on your entrepreneurial journey?

The journey has been so fun. There is a moment that stands out to me, and it speaks a lot to where the biggest joys usually come from – which is usually after a hell lot of hard work leading up to it. The moment I’m referring to was extra satisfying because I was fresh out of a breakup that hit me harder than other breakups for whatever reason. Therefore, all my life plans just stopped, not necessarily with Nomadicare, but with my life. I was like, "Okay, I need to make a decision." It was around year three, where I didn’t have much money. The business didn’t become very profitable until the year after that.

I was back in New England, and my amazing brother let me move into his basement because I didn't really have money for both rent and an office. I really wanted to hire people because I was at a point where we could grow and it was more than I could do on my own. So I got to live with my brother and his wife for free for a year in their basement, which gave me money to pay for this office. Now I couldn’t afford much. It was about $600 a month and walking distance from my brother's house. It was so old and the wallpaper's falling off of it. The landlord was like, "Okay, you can get it and you can renovate it if you want."

In the weeks leading up to that, I was there till 4:00 AM scraping wallpaper, learning DIY paintings. I printed every office decoration myself. I found donations for desks and tried to refurbish them to make them decent. I hired my first few people. So I put everything into the business again in year three. On day one, it was my first day being a boss, so I had little gifts for them!

That day, I remember them coming to work for the first time and walking into the office and me just getting to be in that role. When they left at the end of the day, I just remember sitting down on the floor of that office and I was like, "Oh my God. Oh my God, I'm a boss! What has happened?" And it felt so hard and so exciting.

And I mean, that's what it takes sometimes – living in the basement, scraping the wallpaper, and realizing the dream. It felt amazing.

You're driven by a bigger mission, and you touched on a few of the dark moments already. I like to chat with entrepreneurs about the really dark side of entrepreneurship. People see the glamor, they see the wins, but they never see the struggles and the pains that goes on behind the scenes. Can you take us into a particularly dark day or moment along your entrepreneurial journey?

When I was first coming up, it felt like the whole industry was on board and excited. It got to a point where Nomadicare was developing a name in the industry, and it was the first time I started getting personally attacked online. And it's so crazy how much that can hurt, especially the first time it's happening. The personal attacks were complete lies because my service is free to the travelers.

There were all these false implications of why it's unethical and why you shouldn’t use it. None of what they said was true. I felt helpless and didn’t know how to defend it without looking defensive and them attacking me. That was really hard. And I think that lasted a few months that I literally struggled emotionally with getting attacked because you grow that emotional resilience over time, but when it first happens, it kicks you.

Also, the first time I had to fire someone; I lost many nights of sleep over that. It's very hard firing someone. They say, “Hire slow and fire fast” but it’s so hard in reality, even when it's the right decision to do.

Then the last one – and you know how hard of a decision this one was for me – but I left Nomadicare for six months to go to a job that I thought was this incredible opportunity because it was in San Francisco. It was a tech company that had raised multiple, multiple millions of dollars. And the founders with the best intentions talked me into believing that I really needed this experience to learn and how great it would be for me. But when I got there and I left Nomadicare, which was not that long ago so Nomadicare was doing well, it really was the hardest thing ever to go back to, I think, a corporate job and realize it's because I thought I wasn't ready for the next step, but I was. I had talked myself into thinking I needed this and I didn't. So coming back to Nomadicare was amazing, but that was super hard as well.

Thank you so much for sharing those moments. I often talk to my wife about this, but I have no idea how people with 5 million or 50 million followers can possibly handle online trolls. I really appreciate you sharing that because, at the end of the day, if we don't have our mindset right, we’re in big trouble.

In Episode 45, we had Dr Steve Sudell on the show who was a renowned inventor that had big success on Kickstarter. But he had a big problem with counterfeiters who saw his online success and would manufacture his product quicker than he could even bring it to market. He said the most damaging aspect was not the financial side, but that it damaged his mojo, so it was much harder to motivate yourself.

When that starts to chip away at you and things begin to fall apart, that’s when I believe entrepreneurs can develop a degree of PTSD from what they go through.

Yeah, 100% it is. I don't know how it's so unexpected when it first starts happening, but it feels so personal. Over time, you do develop emotional strength, but the first few months you're like, "What's wrong with me? How could they say this about me?" And then after a while, you're like, "Oh, they don't know and they don't care about you. They don't know anything about you. It's just online." But you don't think that the first day.

And when you’ve got enough good people around you, that can make a big difference too.

On your best day, what's an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard that you would be able to show yourself on your worst day?

Oh, wow. What an interesting one. On my worst days, I think the thoughts that come up are that you can’t do it or it’s not worth it, or the imposter syndrome creeps in where you feel that you’ve only made it out of a fluke.

So I think the affirmation would be like, “Girl, you were made for this! You are a creator, you are worthy, and you are doing so much good. I love you and I got you.”

That grace and compassion from myself helps me a lot too. I have this relationship with myself where sometimes I'm outside myself, like I have talks with future Laura sometimes, or even younger Laura sometimes. So a lot of the times it is like a future me being like, girl, I got your back. It's okay. It's okay. You're having a bad day. And I think that helps me a lot to relieve the pressure, just knowing it's all okay, good days, bad days, but then circling back to the bigger mission. I like that I'm up to something that helps people, and that helps me want to keep going.

In Episode 29, I interviewed Emily Fletcher who's the founder of Ziva Meditation. In one of her meditations, she talks about what if everything that you are going through at the moment (and that you’ve been through) is preparing you for this moment of greatness that you're going to have in the future. If we can constantly keep that in mind, and view adversity through a proactive and productive lens, it frees us up to trust the process.

I like that so much.

What do you do as part of your daily routine to manage self-care and bring the energy you need for all the high-level things you’re doing?

I figured myself out a little bit. One, I am highly motivated by not letting other people down and that's going to be part of my personality. So I love getting up early and I love having a morning movement to move my body, shake the energy off from the night before and get into the right mindset.

I have a really good friend, and every morning, Monday through Friday, we get up really early together and we start our days on Zoom where we do a workout together. We also do gratitude and affirmations together. Once upon a time, I read Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and it super inspired me.

On a side note, once I had a job where I had to get up at 5:00 AM to get stuff done before work. Well, again, since I don't like letting people down, I would set an alarm clock in my room for 4:58 AM. I'd set a second alarm clock by my roommate's bedroom door upstairs for a few minutes later. So I had to get up and go upstairs to get the alarm clock to not wake her up because I knew I would get up if it was going to wake her up and then I would stay up and do my morning thing! So, getting up early is big for me, plus mindset and exercise in the morning too.

The other thing is eating. One of the things that's hard for me is eating throughout the day when my mind is focused in it. So learning how to meal prep and making myself eat throughout the day has been huge for my energy and my mood throughout the day and getting outside at least once a day. I mean now, I'm really big on that one too. You got to get some sunshine in your life as you can. It helps a lot.

The last year and a half has involved massive transition for the world. There's a lot of companies that have gone under, but also a lot of companies and individuals who have found a great deal of opportunity in what has transpired. What was your mindset when the pandemic first hit? And how has your life changed in the last year and a half?

Massively. So one of the interesting things that not everyone knows, because COVID was a healthcare issue, obviously, that it seems like the healthcare industry would have just grown through that, but in reality, it only grew if you were an ICU nurse or a respiratory therapist for my industry. We lost 80% of our job orders almost overnight and for four months. And job orders is the way, not just my company runs, but every staffing agency, every partner I have too. And so in our industry as a whole, it was really hard, the travelers now had no jobs. The travel nurses, even the ICU nurses now, all of a sudden were super in demand.

And there were many news stories at the beginning that New York was really bad at the beginning of COVID, so they would fly all these travel nurses there to help at these huge bill rates, which means high pay packages. They would arrive, only to realize they didn't need them all, so they just get canceled and had to go back home. And so even though it sounded like it was good for them, most of them lost their jobs. It was really hard for a few months.

Where Nomadicare was very lucky is we were lean, as in we didn't have many overhead costs at that time. We were in a stage of technology development, so we got to take that time, but it was slower to put our heads down to build the stuff that we knew we needed for the coming months. A lot of my friends in the industry lost their jobs. A lot of staffing agencies shut down. It was hard. But now it's come back and now we're probably at like 70%.

But one interesting thing at Nomadicare is we've never done strike work before. And with all of the stuff that went on with the nurses not having appropriate masks and PPE, there's going to be an increase in strikes. It was also a crash course in helping staff strikes. And that was one of the craziest whirlwind things I've ever done in my whole life. So there was some of that kind of energy of “pivot and pivot” and find things you can help with that you would have in any year that your industry is the one that's drastically impacted.

It was a whirlwind, but we came out with amazing technology built that we hadn't had yet. And I learnt a lot about a whole new industry and now job orders are back, so we're moving forward in a good way.

You’re part of the 2% of women entrepreneurs who generate more than $1 million dollars in revenue from your business. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who thinking about launching a business for the first time, or even more specifically for women entrepreneurs who are thinking about giving it a shot?

Well, for sure, if you're thinking about doing it, do it. It's so worth doing, for the people you'll meet. Your circles of people elevates, who you become elevates, and your self-awareness elevates. For someone who is growth minded, I think it’s great, so freaking do it. Don't think twice, get in there and do it, take the next step. Let's be friends – I’m here to help! Entrepreneurship is very worthy if your heart feels called to it.

In addition, in the first few years for me – which was a huge part of my success – is that it wasn’t about the money. I literally was doing it to change an industry. I was out to do something. And then it almost came by surprise when money started coming in and that it could be full-time, then I could hire some people and all of that, but really I have always stayed focused on what I'm up to in the industry. And it really means a lot to me.

So I would say, if you're wanting to get into something, find a problem you're excited to solve, a problem that you are excited to do grunt work for. It’s often not very glamorous, but you want that problem to be solved and you want to be the one to be a part of solving it. Make sure there is a group of people who want you to solve it (i.e. market fit).

Do something because it means something to you because there's many ways in this world that you can ultimately make an income or find financial freedom, but the first thing is to find the right fit for your heart and your life because it's hard work, no matter what you pick. And there's no such thing as get rich schemes. So ignore anybody that says you can make great money in a few months. At least for me, I haven't seen it. It's just hard work.

Focus on the mission, not the money. I think that’s a wonderful message.

What's the biggest highlight of your career if you think about all the cool things that you've done and the change you've been able to make?

The highlights of my career literally come consistently; there's not a moment that I'm like that one thing happened and that was the pinnacle. That's why I know I'm doing the right thing for me because the highlights came last week when I get a thoughtful message of how Nomadicare impacted someone positively, or that without it they couldn’t have done what they really wanted to do. Those things still spark so much inside of me.

I've had moments on stage that I just want to pinch myself, which really fill me up. I've had such cool experiences, but there's no pinnacle for me. I still get goosebumps from thank you notes. I just know I'm up to the right thing because I still love the impact as we get to the big impact. Now the big impact to the industry is that it’s going to be transformed, and we're going to use a lot of technology to help do that. The industry will look very different. On the other side, we still have big things we're up to, but I get little pieces of my pinnacle in my why I think at least once a week, and it's very fulfilling for me.

Final question. What's one thing you do to win the day?

Stay alive. Some days I'm not perfect with my morning routine, and other days I am. Some days, I crushed it and I'm like, "Yo, I rocked it today." And some days, I'm like, "Did I just run in circles?" But the thing is, on the days I remember that being alive is winning the day and how incredible it is to still be alive, that is winning the day for me. So I guess it's probably more like gratitude.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

Laura Latimer is an international speaker, a leader in healthcare tech, and a pioneer in the no-code / low-code movement of entrepreneurship. Her heart beats for empowering women and improving the lives of travel healthcare workers.

Laura started her company, Nomadicare, without the usual resources people have. She had barely any experience, no training, and certainly no external funding. But the one thing she did have was a lot of heart. And if you’ve read any of my books, you’ll know that the right attitude makes all the difference.

While working in the healthcare industry, Laura experienced a problem firsthand and said to herself, “You know what? I’m going to be the one to fix this!” In that pivotal moment, her mission to revolutionize travel healthcare was born.

Today Laura is part of the 2% of women entrepreneurs who generate over USD $1 million of annual revenue but, more importantly, she makes an enormous impact on the world.

In this interview, we’ll go through:

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Laura Latimer!

🎞️ For the video interview, click here.


Resources / links mentioned:

📝 Nomadicare on Facebook.

📷 Nomadicare on Instagram.

Nomadicare website.

🎙️ Have a podcast of your own and want to monetize it? Join podcasters from all over the world at We Are Podcast. For 35% off ANY ticket, use promo code: WINTHEDAY

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Benjamin Franklin

We've got an entrepreneurial superstar joining us on the show today! Our guest will reveal his secrets to:

That's right, he's done a LOT, despite still only being in his 30s.

Dr. Steve Sudell received his doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2009, and in an accomplished career he’s made it his mission to find non-invasive solutions to get people back to doing what they love.

In 2013, he opened Prehab2Perform, a sports clinic that bridges the gap between physical therapy and performance training. Since then, he’s helped (and continues to help) thousands of athletes, entertainers, and active adults get out of pain and get back in the game.

Just two years later, in 2015, he co-founded StretchLab, a revolutionary, assisted-stretching facility that helps individuals improve their overall flexibility and well-being through stretching. Steve created the full range of stretching protocols that are still in use today, and also trained hundreds of practitioners – known as “flexologists” – in the process.

With Steve’s expertise, StretchLab went from one location to more than 200 in less than four years. In 2019, Steve exited the company in a seven-figure deal.

Despite these wins, Steve wasn’t done. After watching his younger sister battle leukemia and suffer from extreme pain, he knew there were a lot more people who needed help.

In 2017, to help the millions of people who suffer from chronic neck pain, he created the Neck Hammock. It arrived as the most affordable, portable, and effective ‘at home’ neck pain solution on the market.

To fund the project, he launched two crowdfunding campaigns simultaneously that raised USD $1.6 million from 20,000+ backers, and landed in the top 1% of all Kickstarter campaigns. Since then, the Neck Hammock has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, Forbes, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

After grossing more than USD $20 million in sales, Steve had another seven-figure exit in January 2021.

We cover a lot of ground in this episode! In addition to some extraordinary business lessons, you'll learn how to make your health a priority (no matter how hectic your schedule is), when it's time to exit your passion project, and exactly what it takes to run a successful business in 2021.

And remember, a little inspiration at the right time can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend who needs to check out this interview, share it with them now.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Dr. Steve Sudell!

🎞️ For the video interview, click here.


Resources / links mentioned:

⚡ Prehab 2 Perform website.

📷 Prehab 2 Perform on Instagram.

📝 Prehab 2 Perform on Facebook.

🎙️ Have a podcast of your own and want to monetize it? Join podcasters from all over the world at We Are Podcast. For 35% off ANY ticket, use promo code: WINTHEDAY

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Benjamin Franklin

We've got an entrepreneurial superstar joining us on the show today! Our guest will reveal his secrets to:

That's right, he's done a LOT, despite still only being in his 30s.

Dr. Steve Sudell received his doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2009, and in an accomplished career he’s made it his mission to find non-invasive solutions to get people back to doing what they love.

In 2013, he opened Prehab2Perform, a sports clinic that bridges the gap between physical therapy and performance training. Since then, he’s helped (and continues to help) thousands of athletes and active adults get out of pain and get back in the game.

Just two years later, in 2015, he co-founded StretchLab, a revolutionary, assisted-stretching facility that helps individuals improve their overall flexibility and well-being through stretching. Steve created the full range of stretching protocols that are still in use today, and also trained hundreds of practitioners – known as “flexologists” – in the process.

With Steve’s expertise, StretchLab went from one location to more than 200 in less than four years. In 2019, Steve exited the company in a seven-figure deal.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Dr. Steve Sudell does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more 🚀


Despite these wins, Steve wasn’t done. After watching his younger sister battle leukemia and suffer from extreme pain, he knew there were a lot more people who needed help. In 2017, to help the millions of people who suffer from chronic neck pain, he created the Neck Hammock. It arrived as the most affordable, portable, and effective ‘at home’ neck pain solution on the market.

To fund the project, he launched two crowdfunding campaigns simultaneously that raised USD $1.6 million from 20,000+ backers, and landed in the top 1% of all Kickstarter campaigns. Since then, the Neck Hammock has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, Forbes, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

After grossing more than USD $20 million in sales, Steve had another seven-figure exit in January 2021.

We cover a lot of ground in this episode! In addition to some extraordinary business lessons, you'll learn how to make your health a priority (no matter how hectic your schedule is), when it's time to exit your passion project, and exactly what it takes to run a successful business in 2021.

And remember, a little inspiration at the right time can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend who needs to check out this interview, share it with them now.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Dr. Steve Sudell!

James Whittaker:
Steve, great to see you and good to have you on the show.

Dr. Steve Sudell:
Great to be here, really excited.

To kick things off, why don’t you share a little bit about what your life was growing up and what career opportunities you felt were available to you at a young age?

I grew up in a pretty humble life. I feel fortunate in that I grew up on some land, so I got to spend a lot of time in my yard, which ignited that creativity and imagination. Growing up, I've always had this need to make things easier and better. Maybe that's my laziness kicking in, but there was always something that I wanted to do, to find different ideas and random solutions. While I did that at a very young age, it was only after I graduated college when I realized that I actually could put my ideas to work. The small town I grew up in was Jupiter, Florida, which isn't so small anymore.

I also played a lot of sports, like football, which would tie into some other products I would create later because I developed neck pain. I was very lucky to grow up as an active kid and I saw at a young age how much better that made me feel very early on. I had a ton of problems with allergies and I was given every single pharmaceutical under the sun. I was on antibiotics ever since at very young age. Now, I am pretty much immune to any allergy medication.

I realized that the solution was actually exercise.

I realized that the solution was actually exercise. Whenever I would exercise, that would completely eliminate all of my allergies. And so, at 15 years old, I realized how much movement is medicine, and that's what got me interested in pursuing things like athletic training, physical therapy, and personal training, because I really believe that by taking care of our bodies, we can have a really big impact on our overall quality of life.

You mentioned football. Were there any other sports that laid the foundation the physical training you do today?

Absolutely. So pre-football, I played a lot of soccer and baseball. So I would do baseball in the fall and soccer in the spring, and I got very lucky doing the two sports because both helped each other. I would develop speed from soccer and I would develop a little bit of hand-eye coordination from baseball. Then, when I got old enough, that's when my parents allowed me to play tackle football, but I was always pretty involved in anything. I was very lucky that my grandfather taught me how to play golf at a young age.

All of my hobbies revolved around recreation. I just remember that whenever I was playing sports, my grades were always better. I was always in obviously much better shape, and it just laid the foundation of how important that is.

Does it feel weird to hear people describe you as an ‘inventor’!? Is it a label you’re comfortable with?

It's a lot more comfortable now. At first, it was a little funky, but I actually had two inventions before Neck Hammock, and I'm very grateful that neither of them worked out, but they got me to start thinking very early on the process of creating a patent and what you actually need to do to sell the product. If I had the idea for Neck Hammock first, I don't think it would have been nearly as successful as it is today, and it may not even be around today.

With the earlier projects, I got to work out some of the kinks. Now, the hard part is limiting my ideas to things that can actually scale, because I have ideas left and right on how to make things better and easier, but you have to focus your attention on one thing at a time.

How did you end up in LA after growing up in Florida?

I spent my first 27 years in Florida, and I just felt like it's Groundhog Day. Every weekend was the same, every week was the same, and Florida is great, but there wasn't much variety like there is in California. My parents actually lived in California when I was born, and they would always talk about how great it was.

My wife is from farm country, Pennsylvania, in a town of 500 people. We both had talked about making the trip to the west coast. Three years into our working world, we took advantage of travel therapy jobs, and we found ourselves in LA. We've been here for nine years now.

I was about the same age. At 28 years old, I left my hometown to move to Boston – on the complete other side of the world, where I didn’t know a single person – and then to LA not long after that. It was the decision to move somewhere completely new, exposing me to so much, that I realized how much of a bubble I had been in. All the people from my hometown were amazing, but it was so comfortable, and there was an itch deep down that needed to be scratched.

How much has the environment of LA, including the people, spring-boarded your idea of what's possible for your life?

100%. For as many flaws as LA has, the one thing that I'd never been exposed to was the creative energy that's in LA, where there's so many people trying to do things. There's so much creativity, and there's just so many go-getters that it’s unlike any place I've ever been. Where I come from, everyone has a 9:00 to 5:00 job, which is fine, but in LA people are always thinking about what's the next best thing that you can do, and I was very lucky that I opened my physical therapy clinic in LA in 2013.

I would work very closely with people and have conversations, develop relationships, and the people that I met at my physical therapy clinic are the people who helped shape me as an entrepreneur and created connections and gave me ideas.

Had I just been a physical therapist in Florida, I don't think I would have accomplished anything close to what I've accomplished now, purely from the environment. So getting out of that bubble and into a new environment, was really, really important for me and crucial to the success that I've had.

Your mission is to find non-invasive solutions to get people back to doing what they love, which is great because it gets people away from using things like surgery as a first resort. After all, that magic bullet rarely (if ever) fixes the underlying issues.

Tell us about that mission and why it's so important to you.

People highly underestimate how intelligent the human body is and when you give it the right tools to succeed, it can absolutely thrive. In modern medicine we think that we're smarter than our bodies. But our bodies are such delicate ecosystems that we don't truly understand the impact of pharmaceuticals, or surgery, or all these things that can have really severe consequences. But if you focus on giving your body things like exercise, proper nutrition, sleep, water, and vitamin D, it absolutely can thrive.

In modern medicine we think that we're smarter than our bodies.

My mission is to basically create things to facilitate non-invasive solutions, because something like the Neck Hammock, for example, all it essentially does is create cervical traction, which takes the pressure off of your neck. The risk-versus-reward of using that, the risk is extremely low and the reward is extremely high, versus if you were to go get a cervical disc operation; you can have permanent consequences from that. Most decisions that I make in my life are doing that balance of risk versus reward, so that also ties into my mission of non-invasive.

We're in a TikTok world now where, if something doesn’t cure you in one-tenth of a second, people bounce to something else. Is it becoming more and more of a problem with people wanting things like surgery and tablets to fix this stuff, rather than seeing the right professionals who can get you thinking and moving so the human body can fix itself?

Totally, it's a really big problem. It's a problem that really concerns me because people just want things done yesterday, and dealing with any sort of pain or dysfunction, they immediately want a pill or a procedure. You really just have to give your body a little bit of patience and, again, give it the right tools to succeed.

All these invasive solutions have consequences.

One of the blessings of me having taken antibiotics at such a young age is that it basically destroyed my gut. So now every day I have to take probiotics and whatnot, but it also helped me learn solutions that I can take. For example, oregano oil, it's fantastic for sinus infections. As a kid, I would have sinus infections all the time, and the more antibiotics I took, I'm dealing with those consequences later on in life. Contrast that with a good holistic solution where you don't need pharmaceuticals to help you (A) get rid of the infection, and (B) keep you really healthy in the long run.

That's what people don't understand. All these invasive solutions have consequences. They have side effects, and we may not even completely understand them now. They may come out 5-10 years down the road, but they all have consequences. And really if people were just a little bit more patient and focused on the basics, a lot of those problems can go away.

You and your wife, Lindsay, have worked with so many different people, of all walks of life, from regular folks to celebrities, entertainers, and athletes. Is there a particular transformation from your work that you're most proud of?

Luckily for me, there's so many cool transformations, but I remember in particular there was a gentleman who came to me, his daughter-in-law actually brought him. He was an old Chinese man. He spoke like 10 words in English, but he couldn't get out of the car and he was having a lot of issues like falling on the ground.

I worked with him twice a week for about six months, and at the end of the six months of working with him, we were doing full depth squats with a barbell on his back with 65 pounds on the bar in chains. He was doing sets of 10 reps. And he was so into it; he would always arrive early. The transformation of not being able to get out of a car to squatting full depth at 86 years old, no one can believe that's actually possible until they see it happen.

That was from seeing him twice a week. He wasn't really doing anything else besides coming in. Just that little bit of work, and focusing on what he really needs and those foundational movements – like a squat – it's extremely transformational. There are so many other stories just like it, but that's one that I'll always cherish.

You’re in a financial position now where you don’t need to continue the clinical side. Why do you continue to do it? Is it because of the satisfaction that comes from transformations like the one you just mentioned?

Yeah, I'm super passionate about my job. I know the ‘passion’ word gets thrown out there a lot, but it is something that every day I look forward to doing my job because every day I'm presented with a new challenge. And it's people like Mr. Chang, they just get you to think outside the box and constantly stay creative to grow.

It’s those growth opportunities that often lead to other opportunities. Things that I see in the clinic gives me ideas to create other things. Every successful project that I've worked on has come from me being an active physical therapist and doing things in the clinic. So, the longer I stay in the clinic doing what I love, the more ideas I’ll breed in the future.

Yeah, it's classic. It's like the CEO of a business who thinks that they can create the entire company strategy without talking to the people who are boots on the ground, right?

Exactly. You need to get your hands dirty and keep doing that grind every day to stay involved with what's going on.

You and I have both launched so many companies and products, and we’ve spoken privately many times about our entrepreneurial frustrations. To me, entrepreneurship is a constant tightrope between impact and burnout. I think about that every single day.

You seem to have more balance than most, but people don't see the frustrations, stress, and the very real costs that occur behind the scenes. What goes through your mind when I describe entrepreneurship as a constant tightrope between and impact? Is that something that you agree with?

That's spot on. And right now I'm much less stressed and I have much more balance because I did sell my other businesses. But when I was in the thick of running those different operations, along with my physical therapy clinic, I mean, I was teetering on the line of burnout all the time. And I probably did burnout a few times, and it takes a really long time to recover. That's part of the reason why I haven't jumped right into another project yet, because I still have a bit of a hangover from those other two things – as exciting and rewarding and as fun as they were.

In order to be really successful as an entrepreneur, you have to be all in with whatever you're doing.

In my opinion, in order to be really successful as an entrepreneur, you have to be all in with whatever you're doing. That requires sacrifice in other areas of your life. But in your head, you need to know that can't last forever. You can't sprint forever. It's more of a marathon, and eventually you have to add balance to the other aspects of your life. Otherwise burnout happens, and then that thing that you're working on becomes unsuccessful anyways.

Yeah, if people aren't looking after themselves in the process, they often begin to resent the very thing that they created in the first place because they were so passionate about it.

You're a super fit dude. You've competed at the CrossFit games, which is about as tough as a physical event can possibly be. You still train five days a week, which is amazing. How do you structure your day so you can make sure you get that training in five times a week?

It really has to do with discipline. I make it a priority to where I put my workouts into my schedule. When I was, again, more in depth in some of these other projects, I would let part of work take over to where it would impact my workouts. And I always found that I was far less productive when I was not working out. That sense of burnout came much faster when I was not focusing on the physical side of things.

For me, exercise is a keystone habit. When you do it, it makes everything else better. It makes your eating better, it makes your sleeping better, it makes your mental focus better. As a result, not doing that makes everything else harder. For me, it's so important to do that very early on in the day because it makes the rest of the day, no matter whatever happens, feel accomplished.

That’s why I train five days a week as an absolute priority, but I also give myself two rest days because you don't want to burn out on the physical side either.

Is there anything you do outside of physical training that's an essential part of your daily routine?

One of my favorite things is to take my dogs for a long walk where I wear a 30-pound weight vest, and I usually listen to audiobooks at the same time. I'm definitely an addict when it comes to that, but on my days off, I don't listen to anything and I just try to take in all of the environment, pay attention to them, and it's a really special moment for me to decompress and just think about my week that just happened, upcoming weeks. I think that moment of reflection, combined with a little bit of light exercise, is very important for me.

Is there anything that you do struggle to get done, even though you know you really need to do it? And, if so, how do you handle it?

I think in the area of sleep, that's really hard because I start at 7:00 – 7:30 AM, and then I don't finish until 7:00 PM.  So when you get home, you'd have dinner and you want to do a certain degree of decompressing which might involve watching TV, and that pushes my sleep time back a little bit. My wife is also a night owl, so she keeps me usually a little bit longer than I want to be, but again, we don't get to spend much time with each other except for those small periods. So I think I have to do that.

But I usually will make up for it with 20-minute naps. I have lunch at midday and then force myself to either go in the bedroom or lie in the Neck Hammock for 20 minutes with an eye mask on. I don't do the typical meditation as most people prescribe, but just complete silence for 20-30 minutes a day really helps to recharge my batteries and get back after it. On the day days that I don't do that, I feel a huge impact to where I just don't think the same way, my head isn't as clear. I don't have as much energy to finish. So that's something that I don't always do well, but I really try to make it a priority.

You've had some amazing wins in the business world, so I'm excited to dig into all of that now. Let's start with Prehab 2 Perform. When you started the business, were you focus on applying what you learned as a physical therapist, or were you always focusing on the bigger picture, as in thinking about some unmet needs that you could possibly bring in as solutions for those people who you were working with?

When I first started my physical therapy career, I started in a physical therapy clinic that was insurance-based. I was seeing three to four people an hour and I burnt out after about a year-and-a-half because I felt so guilty because I loved my patients, but you can't possibly give them quality care when you're running around patient to patient every 15 minutes, like within the hour time. So I just felt really guilty about that and I promised myself that I would never work as a physical therapist unless I'm one-on-one again. So when I started Prehab 2 Perform back in 2013, I decided that I didn't want to deal with insurance and I was only going to see people one-on-one.

It took me a while to build that business up because it's an atypical model, but I wanted to focus on, again, giving people my one-on-one attention, but I also wanted to focus on not just physical therapy, but also athletic performance, because really the two are tied together. Not just getting people to get rid of their shoulder pain that they're coming in for, but also teaching them how to squat, teaching them how to do a deadlift.

I created this niche that I never really expected to where now, most of the people who come in and see me, they don't see me even for physical therapy. They see me for more personal training through the eyes of a physical therapist so that they don't get re-injured, but to keep excelling for the rest of their lives. I mean, I look at exercise, PT, and prehab as basically like brushing your teeth. It's just something you have to do every day for the rest of your life, and your body will be much happier for it.

Two years after you started Prehab 2 Perform, you co-founded StretchLab. Did you feel that that was a particularly big gamble at the time, and when did you know you were onto a winner?

Yeah, at first, I mean, my two partners, we had no idea what the hell we were doing. We just knew that we had this idea that no one had really tapped into before. And stretching is one of those things that people, they know that they need to do it and they always say that they're going to do it after the workout and they never do, which leads to like a lot of injuries and whatnot. So we're like, "Well, why don't we just do this for people?" After they go to the gym, they can just come here. They can just lie down and we do all the stretching for them, and then they're on with their day.

When we first started, I mean, it's comical. We trained people in physical therapy while the actual first location was being worked on. The people who I was training were hairstylists, bartenders, people who had no experience in that field at all. Because anyone who did have experience who was a massage therapist or healthcare practitioner, physical therapist, they didn't want to touch it because they didn't think that this was actually going to be successful. So we had to just take whoever we could.

As a result, when I created the stretching programs, I had to keep that in mind: how can I make these stretches simple enough that anyone can learn them, and do them at a level to where people want to actually pay for that service and continue to pay for the service?

It was a huge learning curve for me, to try and figure out all those intricacies. Were there better stretches that I could do for people? Maybe. But finding the balance of creating that simplicity where both the flexologist can do it really well – and the person who's actually getting the stretch gets a really good experience – so people want to come back. So it was a huge gamble, but we really believe that it could be something really big. I had no idea that it'd be as big as it is today.

What was the price point per hour when you first launched?

We had a few different tiers. I believe we had 30 minutes. We've changed so many times, but a 30-minute stretch was like $25, then a 45-minute stretch was maybe $45. So super low price point, just enough to basically pay the bills. Then as our people got better, we progressively increased the price point, and we increased the time domains because there were some people who wanted a 90-minute stretch. We adapted along the way, but luckily we had a very good baseline to start with.

At StretchLab you had business partners, investors, hundreds of physical locations, thousands of staff to train, and so many moving parts. How challenging was it to manage your stress levels with all of those dynamics in play?

Extremely challenging. Time management just became extremely crucial. I had to put everything into the calendar and check it every single day, and the day before, to make sure that things synced up perfectly. Many times they didn't, and many times I was really stressed out and I overextended myself, but I was lucky to have done this in my 20s and early 30s where I had energy to do that. I think when pursuing these types of things, it’s really important to do it as early as you can so you can bring that energy.

It was certainly a learning experience in figuring out how to balance everything. There's a quote that I like, "If you need something done, give it to the busiest person that you know." When you get in that groove and you get in that cycle, you're basically working all day, but you don't think about it. It's just okay, onto the next, onto the next, onto the next. You're not worried about what you have to do. You just do it.

Yeah. It's so true. You eventually exited StretchLab in a seven-figure deal. How did you know it was time to move on from something that was obviously such a big part of your life and something that you'd put so much work and effort into?

It just got to a point where the partners who basically purchased a large percentage of the business at the time, we just began to have differences of opinions on where we wanted the business to go and how we wanted it to operate. And sales were really good – they were selling franchises like crazy. We just felt it was a good opportunity to exit on top because we didn't know what the market would look like in the next few years. Thank goodness we did because we sold basically a few months before this virus hit and it would have been absolutely catastrophic for us.

Yeah, a physical contact business during a pandemic. Maybe not the most profitable business to run!

Yeah, so to hold all those leases and whatnot, it would have been just really terrible, so we got really lucky. And another quote that I really like, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." When we had a good enough offer to where it certainly could change our lives, why not take it? It also gave me another opportunity to work on my next thing.

In 2017, your life changed again when you invented the Neck Hammock. What was the process of taking that from idea to prototype?

One day I was working out in the gym and I tweaked my neck doing handstand push-ups. I was extremely frustrated because this has happened multiple times before. And the one thing that I learned in physical therapy school was cervical traction. Whenever my neck would hurt, cervical traction would always help me, but the machines were always big and bulky and super expensive. So in my head I was like, "Well, how can I recreate the cervical traction right now that I don't need a machine?"

I just grabbed a thick resistance band, wrapped around a pole, wrapped around the back of my head, and I lay down. Ten minutes later, my neck pain was gone. I knew then that I was onto something, but I had to find an industrial designer – and thank goodness for the internet to let me know that that's what I needed! A guy who I worked with on a project in Florida for other inventions that I started already had a contact, so I basically gave him my general ideas.

Going back to the environment thing, a buddy of mine introduced me to another guy in town who had hookups with suppliers and other industrial designers that he swore by. It was just this slow process over time where we started with an idea and test / retest, test / retest. Again, as a physical therapist, with every single one of my patients, at the end of their session I would say, "Oh, I just created this thing. Why don't you try it out for 10 minutes and let me know what you think?"

So I had hundreds of data of feedback on: "The foam is too uncomfortable” and “The bands are too flexible," that type of thing. I had all this data that was coming in from people who luckily were very honest with me. I just kept making changes based on all those things. And so it was a process that took much, much longer than I ever thought it would, but it ended up working out.

Yeah, the research you did yourself was much better than any focus group that you could pay to go and get it done with a bunch of randoms!

The crowdfunding campaign was obviously instrumental in your success. What were the two or three main things that you did to make sure all those crowdfunding campaigns were so successful?

There's a guy Perry Marshall who became a mentor to me. I went to a conference of his and we sat down for lunch, and I had just had the idea of the Neck Hammock. He told me the most important thing that you can do is create a video where, in 10 seconds, the user completely understands what you've created, how it can bring them value, and why they should buy it – all within 10 seconds. Something that would create an emotional response. Even if you saw it and you didn't exactly know what the product does or why it works, but you knew that you liked it.

So for me, creating a really good video for the Neck Hammock was imperative, and I was a huge stickler on it. I hated the first few iterations of it and it was fairly low quality type video, but the great irony is the video clips that we still use in ads today are the worst quality! Like filmed on this disgusting carpet, but it demonstrated the value of people using it and feeling good. So having a really good video was number one.

Number two was having a really good unique selling proposition. The finally creating a price point to where it was almost an impulse purchase, so people would say, "Yeah, I'll give this thing a try. It's worth it. It's a whole lot cheaper than me going to see my physio, the doctor's office or getting surgery.” Those three things combined is what I think made it a truly a large success.

Is that how you came up with a pricing strategy, by evaluating the alternative solutions that people might pursue for their problem?

That, plus I did a lot of research, which I highly recommend to anyone who launches any product. You need to do months, if not years, of research on other similar products – or even products that aren't necessarily similar, but would be about same price point – because through my research and seeing other products, other neck-type products, posture-type products, I saw what they priced it at and I saw who was the most successful doing it.

Based on that data and research, that's what helped mold our specific price points for what we wanted to sell.

If you didn't have the resources at your disposal right now, all you had was your knowledge, and you were able to invent a new device, would you still go down the crowdfunding route in 2021? And what are the biggest reasons that crowdfunds fail today?

The number one problem that I ran into very early with crowdfunding was, two weeks in, I started seeing videos of my product on other websites knocking me off. The great thing about crowdfunding is it creates a lot of attention. The bad thing about crowdfunding is it creates a lot of attention from bad players.

There's a lot of people now in other countries who have businesses where that's all they do – they wait for the next Kickstarter to blow up, and immediately knock it off and start selling counterfeit products. It's one of those things that if you have a product that's very simple, like mine was, and it's very, very easy for someone to see it and immediately knock it off, then I don't know that crowdfunding is the way to go.

The great thing about crowdfunding is it creates a lot of attention. The bad thing about crowdfunding is it creates a lot of attention from bad players.

However, if you have something that's a little bit more complex that someone would not be able to just look at it and replicate it, then crowdfunding probably is the way to go. Because nowadays, with Instagram advertising, Google, you can bootstrap it and create ads at a very low level and it gives you a great way to test what videos work, don't work, and you can tweak and refine at a very low level and then ramp up when you have that down.

With Kickstarter, you're really taking a gamble. If you don't have the right images, the right creatives, the right video, and you spend all this money to create a good Kickstarter campaign, it may fail. And it may fail not because it's bad product, but because everything else was just not ready yet.

So people have lack a little bit of patience in that they want to have that million-dollar campaign. They want to raise all this money. But the other thing is that you got to have that product ready to ship pretty soon after you're done, because those backers they get pretty impatient. And if you don't actually have a ready product in like three to six months, they're going to start asking for their money back and that's also not a fun process to go through.

Do the crowdfunding campaigns honor that request if they do want to refund?

So it's tricky. Kickstarter will refund them their money if they request it. And luckily, most people who are on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, they're pretty cool about that. They'll give you a little bit leeway, but if you tell them that you're going to ship the product in three to six months, and that product is not shipped in three to six months, they get very antsy and then they start looking elsewhere.

Then again, it goes with the whole counterfeiting issue where if the counterfeiter takes your product, they immediately sell it on Amazon or on their website, the person will cancel the order with you and go buy the knock-off. So it's this delicate balance of needing to have a business ready too, not just the idea.

Was there a specific moment with Neck Hammock where you thought, "Wow, this thing is going to be huge"?

Yeah, on the first day that we launched, we hit all of our backers and we raised, I think, $50,000, and I was like, "Holy crap!" The fact that someone wants to buy my product. It's a really special feeling that you've created something that people want. But then we went a few days where then it dropped down to $3,000 a day in sales and I was like, "Okay, maybe people don't want this."

What happened is that my videos got picked up by news outlets and they went viral. I mean, there was one video that had 20+ million views on it. So our sales just completely skyrocketed where it was like 50,000 a day every day for a few weeks. That's when I knew, "Okay, if this many people see it and they like it, I think I'm on to something."

Especially when you're getting picked up by Dr. Oz, Forbes, Gwyneth Paltrow and everything else!

There was a period that you and I have spoken constantly where I would see in my social media newsfeeds “Neck Hammock, Neck Hammock, Neck Hammock.” And it never occurred to me that these were rip-off companies that had stolen your brand and essentially your business. Then they would put millions of dollars behind social media ads, blatantly copying your exact product, branding – even the name – and entice people to buy their counterfeit equivalent.

Were you aware that would happen? And how did that affect your mindset seeing that happen over and over again?

I thought it was something that could potentially happen months down the road, but I never anticipated that it would happen as fast as it did and then the scale that it did. I mean, it was overwhelming how many people were knocking it off and it's not like you can just call the police and be like, "Hey they're stealing my idea." Who do you call!? Who do you contact?

Again, through the environment thing, I would put messages out on Facebook. I'd reach out to people who were in the tech world on what I could do. I learned about DMCA take down, but for the most part it’s extremely time intensive and inefficient. So then I basically had to find intellectual property police out there who would find these knockoffs and do the take-downs for me. Thank God I had patents, copyrights, and trademarks, because had I not had all that they could just sell away and then Shopify and Facebook wouldn't do anything about it.

There was a podcast that I used to listen to all the time called ‘How I Built This.’ A buddy sent me this very specific episode (because he knew what I was going through) and it was with the TRX guy who dealt with massive knockoff issues. What resonated with me the most is that they're stealing your mojo because you're doing everything in your power to make a really kick-ass product. You've done all the right things, and these counterfeiters just completely steal that mojo from you because you just feel completely helpless. You feel like there's nothing that you can do to resolve the problem.

I knew there was going to be problems. I knew there's going to be competition along the way. I had no idea that it was going to be this type of problem, so that was something I had to adapt with.

Knowing what you know, how can the little guy protect themselves against some of these shady companies when you have things like very expensive legal fees to get rid of these companies, and how can you even be aware of these companies!? You were only aware because your product was such a big hit that it blanketed social media everywhere. There might be companies out there that founders just never even see.

The cheapest way to protect yourself on the internet is getting a trademark and copyrights on all the videos, photos, and things like that. It costs like $25 to copyright an image. To get a patent, you're talking a few thousand dollars and patents are arguable. Unless what they're selling looks identical to the design patent that you have, utility patents only work when it comes to DMC takedowns. So if you're going to do something, it has to be a design patent to use as ammunition against people like Amazon.

You can't be completely ready for the knockoffs, because you have to have a successful product first.

But trademarks and copyrights, those are the easiest first two things that you can do. It's like this delicate balance though, because you got to make sure that you have enough money to put in the product to market it. You can't be completely ready for the knockoffs, because you have to have a successful product first.

Then once you have a successful product, then you need to invest in the IP. Because the other thing about IP is that it doesn't police itself. You have to spend money on litigation to then go after these people. So it's not just the patent itself that's enough. Look at triple, quadruple the costs to get a legal team to then hunt these people down and bring them to court if that's where you decided to go. With anything, start small and then grow it from there, but just always in the back of your head, be prepared for that next level of protection.

Yeah. you don't want to have $20 million in sales and $30 million in legal fees.

So are you saying you had to go and copyright every single video and image that you were posting on social media?

Yeah.

Wow, that's crazy.

Again, getting $25 copyrights for pictures and videos is not nearly as expensive as getting a bunch of design and utility patents. It's a super cheap way that you can really protect yourself.

Manufacturing can be one of the toughest things to set up, since you’ve got minim order quantities, foreign countries, and cashflow dangers. How smooth was your experience on the manufacturing side?

It was tough at first because who the hell do you know that has factories in China!? And how do you know that they're not ripping you off?

Yeah, the whole experience would make you super paranoid about everything.

Exactly. You're just paranoid about everything. It started with word of mouth that brought me one guy who would go over to China and he'd find different factories and figure out who could source it. Once we had the first iterations of the Neck Hammock, it would cost me anywhere between $9 - $10 per unit to manufacture. And then again, through word of mouth, I found someone else who got it down to $7.

Then, one of Lindsay's clients was actually friends with a woman who was on Shark Tank. And I asked if I could be introduced, because I was a huge fan. After speaking with her, she introduced me to a guy who she worked with to help source, and he absolutely was a game changer for Neck Hammock.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Dr. Steve Sudell does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more 🚀


There was multiple times where I thought I was going to go bankrupt where I was going to have to close up shop and it wasn't going to work. And he helped me bring the cost of goods down. He had relationships over there so he brought the cost of goods down from $10 to $5 per unit, and that's a big deal.

But he also created these other relationships that I had no idea who to even talk too. He introduced me to my legal team that I use today who are absolute rock stars; they saved me a lot of money and also are great on the enforcement side. Having the right people in your corner is so incredibly important. And you're probably not going to find them in the first or second or even third time. But when you get that right person, you just hang onto them forever.

Was there a particularly dark day along that entrepreneurial journey that stands out to you?

Yeah, I mean, there were a few dark days where I remember sitting on the floor in my bathroom, thinking, "How am I going to tell my wife that I lost all the money with this and we're going to go out of business?"

There were a few times where I had ordered too much inventory because I was expecting a lot of sales and then all of a sudden sales completely plummeted, or Facebook changed their algorithm to where they were making it really hard for health and wellness brands. So we went from getting $500K a month in sales down to like $50K. And so I'm like, "What am I going to do with all this inventory? How am I going to afford to pay these different people?" They're expecting to get paid.

I remember sitting on the floor in my bathroom, thinking, "How am I going to tell my wife that I lost all the money with this and we're going to go out of business?"

Somehow, some way, I found a way to scratch my way out of the bottom and figure it out. But you just have all these different moving pieces going on and you feel like you're in it all alone. That there were so many of those dark days where I just didn't sleep, but you somehow figure it out. Just keep working, just keep moving forward.

I like to think that on our strongest days – when we're at our happiest and our most productive selves – there could be a note, a reminder, that we could observe on our darkest days to keep us moving forward and put things into perspective. Thinking to your strongest day, what message would you write on a flashcard to show yourself on your darkest day?

Keep moving forward. Just keep moving. The second you stop and you start sulking and you start feeling bad about yourself, that's when you're in big trouble. If there's one thing I always did that sometimes got me in trouble with my relationship, it would be using work as my way to get out of things. I could always just get up early, answer emails, answer customer service, and just figure out a way to keep moving.

When you keep moving, it creates momentum. And so I think on the card, I would say, “Just keep moving.”

In January 2021, you exited Neck Hammock, which was your second seven figure exit. How did you know that that was the right time to exit the business?

Covid was a really good year for us, believe it or not, because a lot of people were at home, and a lot of businesses stopped advertising on Instagram and Facebook, which brought the overall costs of advertising way down. We were really able to capitalize on that and we had really strong sales as a result.

Like with the StretchLab exit, it just felt really good to be proud of something and to actually get paid for it. For me, while sales are really good, I would like to exit on top. It’s a buy low / sell high type mentality so that I then could take advantage of any other opportunities that would manifest, whether it's this year or next year, I can be ready for them.

For many years I haven't really had the cash available to take advantage of certain opportunities, but that's what I wanted was to now be ready for the next stage of my life – to go from inventor to investor.

You have had so many different experiences, you've worked with tens of thousands of people now through StretchLab, through Prehab 2 Perform, through the Neck Hammock. Are there any lessons that stand out on consumer behavior that you will take forward with future business endeavors?

People just want to feel good. Ultimately, at the end of the day, people just want to feel good and if you provide that to them, you're always going to have some sort of success. And the way that I make people feel good is actually making them work. With StretchLab that was a bit different. But with what I do now it’s making people feel good about themselves when they look in the mirror. That's what brings people back in. And so if you want to keep it simple, it's just that.

What part of your career are you most proud of? Would it be the transformations that you have in the clinic day-to-day? Would it be the big business success that you've had playing on the world stage?

Honestly, I think that with the Neck Hammock, one thing that really stands out is a lot of the testimonials that I've received, from people who were in debilitating pain, and they wrote me just thanking me from the bottom of their heart on how the Neck Hammock helped get them out of a migraine to where they couldn't eat for two days or they couldn't sleep, or this or that.

And knowing that of the hundreds of thousands of units we've shipped, that we're able to make such an impact on people at a large scale and make their lives better, for me, that's something I'm really proud of. I feel like everyone wants to figure out how they can leave this world a better place. Even something as simple as the Neck Hammock, a simple solution to your neck pain without drugs. That's one of my ways to give back.

It must be surreal reading those messages, but obviously very well deserved for all the effort and work that you've put into it in the first place.

Final question, what's one thing you do to win the day?

Win the morning.


Resources / links mentioned:

⚡ Prehab 2 Perform website.

📷 Prehab 2 Perform on Instagram.

📝 Prehab 2 Perform on Facebook.

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“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Today, we sit down with one of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and all-round legends, Mike Michalowicz. If you feel like you’re treading water in your career (or simply have lofty goals), or you’re thinking of going down the entrepreneurial route, this is the episode for you.

By his 35th birthday Mike had founded and sold two multi-million-dollar companies. Confident that he had the formula to success, he became a small business angel investor – but then proceeded to lose his entire fortune. Then he started all over again, driven to find better ways to grow healthy, strong companies.

Mike has devoted his life to the research and delivery of innovative, impactful strategies to help business owners succeed. He is the creator of Profit First, which is used by hundreds of thousands of companies across the globe to drive profit. He is the creator of Clockwork, a powerful method to make any business run automatically. And his latest, arguably most impactful discovery, is Fix This Next, where he details the strategy businesses can use to determine what to do – and in what order – to ensure healthy, fast, permanent growth (and avoid debilitating distractions).

Mike is a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal, a business makeover specialist on MSNBC, and author of #1 bestselling books such as Clockwork, Profit First, Surge, The Pumpkin Plan, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, and his new book Fix This Next.

In this interview, we go through:

You’re going to love this one. Let’s Win the Day, with Mike Michalowicz!

James Whittaker:
Mike, thanks for being here. First, I want to start by letting you know that The Pumpkin Plan is the best audiobook I’ve ever heard! Energy and content are both on point, so well done, sir. It must be comforting to know that if all else fails, you at least have a profitable career as a narrator ahead of you!

Mike Michalowicz:
Perhaps, right!? It's funny, when I go to the recording studio, I always stand — and I’m the only person who stands. So, when I arrive, these studios are like, "Here's your seat," and I'm like, "No, I'm sorry," because I get so jacked up.

Well, I went to this one studio, and the narrator before me for his book was a guy named Michael J. Fox, you know that name. I remember coming in, he had just left, and I talked with the producer. I said, "What's it like having Michael J. Fox present?" She goes, "He's a thoroughbred. He wants to be whipped and he'll run faster." I'd read for a while, then I said, "What do you think I am?" She's like, "You're kind of a Clydesdale. You clump along and you get the job done, but we have to do a lot of retakes." So, that's my reading skill.

You work with entrepreneurs, but it seems your work overlaps spousal relationships, professional services, and so many other different areas. Have you found some unexpected results outside of that entrepreneurial audience who you primarily serve?

Yeah. You know, it's funny, I have. It's married couples. I am not a couples counselor by any stretch of the imagination. I have had multiple occasions where couples who are also business partners have reached out and said, "We've reconciled our marriage. We feel stronger." It's interesting how our personal lives and our business lives are locked, and when it's our marital life and our business partner life, it can get to be a real nightmare.

I think it's the systems I teach that simplify the process, but it also simplifies the communication. Partners start speaking eye to eye, and they're not cross-talking. Perhaps that serves marriages. I never expected that, but I do hear that frequently.

Even planting the right seeds and making sure we’re focused each day on the end goal, whether it is a successful marriage or a successful business partnership. Those who go into business with their spouse are usually in for a bumpy ride… I mean, there's maybe two or three times I've seen that actually work successfully. Everyone else just ends up burnt out, on all counts, and the relationship is one of the big sacrifices.

Listen, I can barely be with myself 24 hours a day. That's actually really hard. Being with someone else 24 hours a day? Forget it!

In your books, you challenge the modern-day definition of ‘entrepreneurship’ and state that real entrepreneurs shouldn't be doing most of the work. Instead, it's their job to identify the problems, discover the opportunities, and then build the processes that allows other people and other things to do the work for them. But how do these entrepreneurs recognize that they are on that hamster wheel, and what can they do about it?

If you start seeing yourself doing repetitive tasks, that's the number one indicator. So, if you do something again and again and again, that's an indication that there's, first of all, demand for that task to be replicated, but you, the entrepreneur, need to find a way to outsource it, systematize it, and assign it out – because if you're doing the repetition, that means you are now within the business. An entrepreneur, at least in the early stages, we are that icebreaker. We're going to break into the new space and leave space behind for other people to do the work. But if we keep on turning around, we can't break forward.

Ultimately, too, we need to transition from doing any kind of work, including the icebreaking, and moving our way to designing outcomes. What I mean by this is clear vision, and then considering, almost like a chess board, putting the right people in the right places, the right system in the right places to choreograph them collectively to achieve that outcome. That's the ultimate definition of entrepreneurship: we are not doing the job; we are creating the jobs.

What separates the top entrepreneurs and professionals – the ones who are always onto bigger and better things, making a bigger impact, and appear free in their day to day life – versus your run of the mill entrepreneur / professional who's constantly on the brink of burnout and never seems free?

You know, it seems to be purpose. Purpose in the business. A greater purpose of why we're doing what we're doing. I believe the entrepreneurs who struggle are going after money and thinking, “This is a way to make an income and support my life.” Well, that's a very volatile thing. If this doesn't make enough money, we move on to something else, we get frustrated.

That's the ultimate definition of entrepreneurship: we are not doing the job; we are creating the jobs.

But entrepreneurs who lean into purpose, meaning “This is why I'm on this planet and my business is an amplification or expression of serving that reason,” those people become relentless. I'm not saying relentless in that they're working ridiculous hours necessarily. They may. That's not healthy, in my opinion, but they have a ridiculous commitment to achieving that purpose. They become very thoughtful about it. They look at ways of amplifying it. They look at ways to leverage. That is the drive of purpose.

People with purpose also don’t give up. You know this – overnight successes take 10 or 20 years. A lot of these successes when they come to our purview, when we see it as a consumer, well, they've already been around for 15 years working relentlessly on this purpose. But it's purpose that begets drive and drive begets success.

Yeah, which incorporates mastery and enables you to be resilient and resourceful to acquire everything you need to achieve that mission.

What about passion – where does that come into it? A lot of people hear about ‘passion’ and ‘purpose’, but how are they aligned and how do people go and find these things if they don't already know what their purpose on the world is?

I would say purpose is the beacon and passion is the fuel. So, there is a difference. Purpose is asking ourselves what we’re moving toward. Business owners who don't have purpose are running away, thinking, “I can't handle these struggles” or “I don't want this problem.” They’re running away from that problem. Purpose is we're getting pulled towards something, and you move so much quicker when the magnetic force is pulling you in the same direction. That's what purpose is.

But passion is the fuel. It's the day-in, day-out fuel. If you have a great purpose, but you're not passionate about what you're doing, it becomes a real slog to stick with it.

The key is to find out what gives us joy in the activity.

The key is to find out what gives us joy in the activity. Not all entrepreneurs are cut out to manage people and to choreograph resources and stuff like that. Some entrepreneurs create an amazing idea, but they really should stay as doers. They're really talented at something. Those entrepreneurs, if they're smart, are going to bring in someone who has the talent to do the management of people and so forth. But we have to make sure that we're in a field of passion that gives us excitement on a day-to-day basis. As an entrepreneur, find that for yourself, drive toward that purpose, and you got the one-two punch.

A lot of your work encourages business owners to have a business that runs itself, and I think everyone aspires to that goal. But it might seem impossible for some people who are too deep in the trenches. Where do they start, especially the ones who are concerned about quality control?

Yeah. It's called the ‘I Can Syndrome.’ It's dangerous. I suffered from that from years. I said as an entrepreneur, "I can do this. I can do that." It's true, I can do it, I just do a real shitty job at it. That's the part I didn't add in. So, we can do lots of things, but ‘can do’ and ‘competence’ are two totally different things. First of all, we have to acknowledge that about ourselves, that we're not superheroes. We may have super talents in certain areas, but we can't do everything.

The next thing is to get the muscle of delegation in place. Delegation is where we assign outcomes to people and then hold them accountable to the outcomes. We have to start with the low hanging fruit, stuff that we are repeatedly doing and that there's low risk of assigning someone else. If they really flub it up, how much damage can that really do to your business?

For example, invoicing. That is easy to outsource, and the risk, if they really flub it up, that's recoverable. That can be caught pretty easily. It's actually a low risk. If someone instead of charging $1 charges $10 million by accident, the client will probably figure it out and bring you some awareness there. It is recoverable, but there's certain things that are irrevocable – for example, if they mess something up and it kills the relationship. Those are the things that we have to get a little more sophisticated in our delegation before we start doing it. So, start slow with delegation and then let it grow.

In the last few years, we've heard so much about the importance of starting with your why, but in your new book Fix This Next you talk about the power of what and understanding your what. How do people discover what their ‘what’ is in their business?

In Fix This Next, I did this thing called the business hierarchy of needs. It's a translation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which is a human needs system as a business needs system. The great distinction is the Maslovian hierarchy of needs, we know what we need instinctually because we have inputs like eyesight, hearing, smell, touch, we get gut instincts. Our gut doesn't work so well in business. We need empirical data. We need the information from our business.

So, I created five levels just like Maslow, but within them, there's five needs at each level. Collectively, I call them the 25 core needs. I found this to be consistent in businesses of any type and industry. What we do is we go through a sequence and we make sure that the base level needs of our business are satisfied, and only when they're adequately satisfied can we elevate high-level needs within our business, just like human needs.

You and I both need to breathe, eat food, drink water. If we're not breathing right now, this interview is done. Even though we're serving a higher-level need right now, if the base is compromised, we go to it. Well, in business, the base is the generation of cash, which comes through sales. If you're not generating cash, your business is suffocating. We got to breathe. We revert to that. But once we have sales in and it's adequate, then the focus is profitability, the retention of cash, because that brings about stability, longevity. You can see in the 2020 crisis, the pandemic, how many businesses were focusing on sales but not profit. They're off the planet now. They're done. So, profit is the next level of needs.

You can see in the 2020 crisis, the pandemic, how many businesses were focusing on sales but not profit. They're off the planet now. They're done.

Once that's satisfied adequately, we move to orchestration of efficiency, which is no dependency on any individual – particularly the owner – like we spoke about earlier. There's impact, that's the creation of transformation. This is where businesses systemically don't do transactions, but transformation. What I mean by systemic transformation, it's not one client saying, "This was an amazing experience." That's when every client says, "This was an amazing experience."

Then the highest-level need in a business is the formation of legacy or permanence. This is where a business is designed to live on beyond the owner. This is where business owners find out that they were really never business owners in the first place. We've been business stewards. We had a responsibility to bring this entity to life, but it's about the entity continuing on for generations, to serve generations regardless of the owner's input.

I'm really happy you brought up retention of cash because I actually read your book Profit First earlier in the year. It's a concept that I feel like is so rare. Why is it that that profit first mentality such a rare thing for businesses when they're starting out?

I think because it's not logical. But the ironic thing is we don't need logic. We need behavior. We humans, we feel that we're very logical, but we're behaviorally based. Traditional accounting tells us a very logical formula. Your sales minus expenses you incur results in profit. So, sales minus expense equals profit.

But I saw a study that just opened my eyes to that formula not working. It was conducted by a US bank which identified that 83% of small businesses globally – small businesses is a company with up to $25 million in revenue – are surviving check by check. They’re in a constant panic, and are not profitable. I'm like, "How come the 250 million people who start a business to achieve wealth, to be financially free, can't figure out the number one reason we started a business?"

That's why I looked at the formula. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, it's right there in the formula." It says profit comes last. In fact, it's in our vernacular. We call it the bottom line or the year end. All these terms say last. It's the behavior of people, humans, when something comes last, it means it's insignificant. So, we're saying profit is insignificant. We delay the consideration. At the end of the year, they have profit, “No, dammit, maybe next year.”

When something comes last, it gets delayed and delayed. So, in Profit First, fundamentally we flipped a formula. It's sales minus profit equals expenses. In practice, what I'm saying is every time revenue comes into your firm, take a predetermined percentage of that money, allocate it toward a profit account, hide the money away, and run your business off the remainder. It's the ‘pay yourself first’ principle applied to business.

What about with early-stage entrepreneurs who feel like they've got their purpose, but they're not comfortable charging what they believe they're worth, or they're not comfortable having the conversation that gets them remunerated for the expertise that they have? What advice do you have for those people who struggle to charge for something that they're inherently good at or something that they want to make a business out of?

First of all, I get it. Secondly, I want to shake them and say, "Are you kidding me!? You have to charge more," because the number one argument you'll get not to increase prices is always from yourself. It's our own head, "I'll lose my customers. What if no one likes me anymore?" Here's the deal. If you raise your prices and you lose customers, it means all they cared was that you were the cheap guy. They want cheap, and who wants someone that wants you because you're cheap? So, they're cheapening you. I'll tell you something else, and this is the big secret. The vast majority of your clients, I guarantee, want you to be profitable.

Now, here's the deal. They don't say, "Hey, can you charge me more?" And they won't say, "Could you rip me off a little bit? I really would like that." But what they will say is, "I want your full attention. When I buy your product or service, I want you delivering the best of yourself. I want your undivided attention. I don't want you worrying about where you're making money and panicking, because then you'll half ass me. So, care for me."

This is the big secret. The vast majority of your clients, I guarantee, want you to be profitable.

The only way you can care for a client, the only way you can give them focus, is if you're not worrying about money. The only way you can do that is if you're sustainably profitable, and the only way you can do that is by increasing your prices. Your clients want you to increase your prices because they want your full undivided attention.

So true. It's interesting, a lot of the concepts you talk about really are flipping that script on the traditional way of thinking.

It really is. A lot of it’s framing, right? It's the old, “Whether you think you can or can't, you're right.” I think Henry Ford said that. If I say I suck at math, I won't do the math practice and I'll suck at it. What if I said I like to find shortcuts in math? I will start repositioning myself. The internal dialogue we have is very important on how we position our business.

You’ve stated previously the importance of being irresistibly magnetic in business to succeed. But what if you're in a fairly traditional job, like an accountant or a lawyer or a financial advisor, what do those professionals do to be different and irresistibly magnetic?

Well, start by breaking the label. As you were saying, accountant, lawyer, oh my God, I start falling asleep myself! The thing is, if I said to you, "Hey, James, I'm a lawyer," the conversation is done. You know what a lawyer is, you know I'm going to sue somebody. The question is, since all lawyers are the same from the customer's perception, it's like, are you cheaper? So, if your label is the same as your competition, the consumer sees you the same, and then you enter the downward price pressure game, which is a dangerous game to be in. It's a race to the bottom. The first step is break the label. Don't be an ‘accountant’, be a ‘profit advisor.’

Now, it's got to speak to your skill set. You better know how to increase people's profit. Don't be a ‘lawyer’, be ‘integrated counsel’, someone that integrates into the culture to write better legal documents. You have to break the label and it has to speak to your service differentiator. If you don't change the label, I don't care how different you are, clients aren't going to see it, because the second you say, you're a lawyer, they're going to say, "I know what you do. Don't tell anything else. Are you cheap?"

In business, no one seems to care as much as the owner. What can business owners do to empower their team to care as much about the day-to-day operations and the results as they do?

It's funny, I'm working on a book, I mean, this won't come out for five or six more years, so we're in deep analytics right now doing this and running tests. I own multiple companies. We're testing on our own companies, but we're testing other companies. Here's the number one discovery we've had: no one cares about the business goals except for the owner.

In my own business years back, I was in the forensics industry doing computer crime investigation. It was very clear… I calculated if we did the right moves, we could have a $10 million year. For me at that point, that had been the biggest business I’d ever had. I came out, I called all my employees together and said, "This is the year," I had the drumroll going, "We're going to do $10 million. Ta-da!" It was crickets.

I'm like, "Why aren't you guys excited!? $10 million!" My trusted confidant, her name was Patty, came up to me and said, "Mike, if we make $10 million, you get a new car, a new house, but why do we care?" That's when I had the realization that the number one concern for every single person is their own concerns. Judy cares about being home on time to be with her family for dinner. Mark cares about saving money to buy his motorcycle. Dave wants to go back to school. And it goes on, and on, and on. Everyone has their own concerns. So, the job of a business owner is to understand the vision and desires that our colleagues have, then organize the path of the business to satisfy their needs as we achieve the journey of our own personal goal. It's called individual goal alignment.

The job of a business owner is to understand the vision and desires that our colleagues have, then organize the path of the business to satisfy their needs as we achieve the journey of our own personal goal.

In our own wall here, we call it the path to intentions. There's a whole wall in our building with everyone's individual dreams. They're little micro dreams, leaving early on Fridays so I can go to baseball games that my son's playing in and stuff like that. We have them pinned up, and we say, "Are we achieving these individual dreams?" Now, the company is not going to buy a house for someone, but it's going to free up the time for them to see a real estate agent. It's going to bring the dream up over and over again and say, "What are you doing to get there?" Because people feel empowered when they achieve their own dreams. We just need to support them and recognize them.

So, the people who aren't even going out of their comfort zone to inquire as to what it is about their team's dreams, they have no one else to blame for their inferior results if they're not getting there?

Correct. When we're like, "We're all fired up. You're making a salary!" we need to recognize that a salary is a means to a living, but it's living that we need to address. The vast majority of businesses, including myself for years, ignore that. Now I'm attuned with that.

I've got a super little company. I have multiple, but this is the hub company where I'm broadcasting from, there's six people. Of the six people, three of us are full-time and the other three are part-time, yet our numbers are consistent with a company of about 20 employees. I'm getting consistently asked and curious about how can we be performing at such a level? But we are so attuned to what every individual wants. We also figured out another thing is match people's talents not to titles. We used to be very title oriented. If you're reception, you've got to answer the phones, do this and light data entry.

We now match talent to the tasks. We have a web like structure. Jenna, one of our colleagues, is extraordinary at writing. She used to be our email manager. Well, she's not our email manager anymore. She writes the emails. We have someone else who’s good at the number crunching and the data set up, but she's also writing articles and blogs now, which is Jenna's passion. Jenna has elevated extraordinarily and represents us better than ever before. Her work output is three times what it was before because she's not in any area of frustration. She's doing what she loves. We try and do it for every employee. The result is we don't have that pyramid structure of an organization. We have a web like structure.

I had Keith Ferrazzi, author of books like Never Eat Alone, on the show a few months ago, and he's been a huge influence on me.

Oh, yeah. I've seen him speak before. He's excellent.

His new book, Leading Without Authority, talks about that concept of co-elevation, where instead of your mission, you actually bring a lot of people into that to make it a shared mission. So, the way that they care about the company and its results is by you interlocking their desires and their dreams with their role at the company. Is that correct?

That's exactly it. You know, I was looking at popular mechanics, I get a little geeky, and they were looking at these things called Doric and Corinthian columns, columns that would support heavy structures made out of marble. They plugged into a supercomputer and said, "How do we make a column of the same material, but with less density and retain the strength? The system went through and it made... it almost describes a web like structure. There was no symmetry to it, it was just this web like structure. The column I think was one-third of the material, but retained the exact strength. That's what we need to do in our business, these web-like structures.

You mentioned before you've got a new book coming out a little bit down the track. You've already got at least six books out that we know about that have been translated into 20+ languages. They're all seriously kick-ass books. I’m curious, what's your process of being able to come up with a concept and figuring out whether there's actually demand for that particular solution that you're providing, as well as being able to get books published at a fairly frequent basis?

I'll do reverse order. I'm writing constantly. I wrote for three hours today already. But I write in parallel, so right now I'm about to submit my manuscript actually in two days for my most current book. I'm also working on a manuscript for my next book, and I'm working on the outline for the book after it. So, I do parallel processing. I think that's a big component. I'm already working on the 2025 to 2028 books right now.

The testing is real simple: I reach out to my readership. The beginning was kind of tough because I didn't have a readership. Now I'm very blessed. I have a readership that's engaged and will respond, and I say, "Hey, where are you struggling now?" And it's the feedback I use from them to pinpoint what subjects are important in the sequence.

Then, going back to the inception of books, I've been an entrepreneur my entire life, and I've had some wonderful successes. I've had some really, really big struggles. It was during the struggling periods I wrote down what I didn't understand about entrepreneurship. I wrote probably about 100 different elements I didn't know. I've distilled it to 25-30 things that I think are important, and so I think ultimately I'll be producing 25-30 books as long as it's in alignment with what people want. That's how I do it.

You're brilliant at taking these seemingly complex tasks and projects and making that something easy where people can essentially put one foot in front of the other. So, thank you very much for all you do and sharing everything here.

Systems are a big part of what you do now. I want to ignore the business side for a moment and focus on you personally in your role as a husband, as a father, or even as a role in your own health. What systems do you have in place? Is there anything that comes to mind that helps you be effective in any of those roles?

Yeah, I think so. I'm very process-oriented, so I wake up at 5:30am every morning, and go through a meditative practice. I write from 6:00am to 7:00am. I call it writing sprints, which I do with other authors. From 7:00am til 8:00am, I hit the gym for either cardio or weights. Then, I’ll eat, take a shower, hang out with my wife for a little bit, and I'm off to work.

I'm walking into my office at 9:00am. It's very ritualized, right? I'll prepare my cup of coffee. What I do is I put these elements of anticipation in, so I'm always looking forward to the next moment because there's a little ritual there of the coffee or sitting down with my wife or working out.

I put these elements of anticipation in, so I'm always looking forward to the next moment.

I workout regularly. I don't like to workout. I just don't miss it. So, at the end, the ritual is a text to an accountability group saying, "Workout done," and a show of my Fitbit results so I can't fake it. I look forward to those moments, and therefore push harder through the activity. That's served me in my personal life, my health and stuff like that.

My wife is also a great guard of time. It's very easy for me to not stop working because I have such a passion for it. She'll say, "All right, you said you're done by 5:00pm. I expect you home at 5:15pm and I have a bottle of wine waiting for you." She also is a great accountability partner, and wine doesn't hurt.

It sounds like so much of this stuff that you've got is around just having an awareness of what helps you perform at your peak, and then being able to create the systems that help facilitate that, even if it's a task you don't particularly enjoy.

I think so. For me, it works very well. I think it's a little bit manic for some people that I'm so process-oriented, but it works for me. I will say this. I've cooled down a little bit as the years have gone on, and have been more present in more moments, and I appreciate that.

My daughter, for example, this is about two months ago, she said, "Hey, I want to go to cross country, my friend can't do it because of the COVID situation. Do you want to go on a 14-day trip with me cross country?" My schedule is booked up so my instinct is “No,” but my knowledge is like, "If your daughter wants to spend a second with you, you better say yes and figure it out." So, I said, "Yes, I'm in. I'm the third wheel guy, I'm in." I had to change everything accordingly. It was the best move of my life, I think, to be with my daughter like that. I am a work in progress, but I'm learning the importance of presence.

Yeah, you can't get that time back with your daughter. You realize that the most important thing is making sure that you're not just spending time with them, but having that presence and that quality time with them.

That's exactly right.

Final question, what's one thing you do to win the day?

It's so obvious. It's exercise and health. There's a big difference. As the day goes on, my energy is building, and people are like, "How do you have so much energy?" I'm like, "I really work at maintaining energy." My output at the end of the day often feels just as strong, if not stronger than it was throughout the rest of the day. I attribute that to religious exercise and rest and recovery, exercise and recovery.

Yeah, absolutely love it. Mike, thanks so much for being on the show!

James, thank you, brother.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

⚡ Mike Michalowicz website.

💰 Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.

📙 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini

🧭 Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

🎙️ We Are Members: create a thriving business from your podcast

🗝️ Apply for The Day Won Mastermind

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Today, we sit down with one of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and all-round legends, Mike Michalowicz. If you feel like you’re treading water in your career (or simply have lofty goals), or you’re thinking of going down the entrepreneurial route, this is the episode for you.

By his 35th birthday Mike had founded and sold two multi-million-dollar companies. Confident that he had the formula to success, he became a small business angel investor – but then proceeded to lose his entire fortune. Then he started all over again, driven to find better ways to grow healthy, strong companies.

Mike has devoted his life to the research and delivery of innovative, impactful strategies to help business owners succeed. He is the creator of Profit First, which is used by hundreds of thousands of companies across the globe to drive profit.

Mike is also a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, a business makeover specialist on MSNBC, and author of #1 bestselling books such as Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan, and new book Fix This Next.

In this interview, we go through:

You’re going to love this one. Let’s Win the Day, with Mike Michalowicz!

🎞️ For the video interview, click here.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

⚡ Mike Michalowicz website.

💰 Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.

📙 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini

🧭 Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

🎙️ We Are Members: create a thriving business from your podcast

🗝️ Apply for The Day Won Mastermind

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

P.T. Barnum

Prior to moving to the US in 2012, I spent more than a decade in financial planning in my home country, Australia, and there are so many lessons from that time that I’ll never forget, such as:

But you know me well enough to know that I'd never introduce a problem without offering a solution 😉

Enter one of the world’s foremost financial literacy activists, Adam Carroll. Adam has spent 15+ years helping people do more with the money they make. He is an internationally recognized financial literacy expert, a three-time bestselling author, host of the Build a Bigger Life podcast, and a two-time TED Talk speaker with more than 10 million views online.

He is also the creator of the documentary Broke, Busted and Disgusted, which aired on CNBC and is shown in hundreds of high schools and colleges across the United States.

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about how you can achieve financial freedom and create intergenerational wealth for your family. We’ll also go through:

Adam is an extremely accomplished entrepreneur and there are some phenomenal takeaways in this one. Get the notepad ready!

James Whittaker:
Adam Carroll, great to see you my friend. Thanks for being on the Win the Day podcast.

Adam Carroll:
James, it's my pleasure. It's been a while and I'm super excited to be with you and your audience.

What was your life like growing up, and what was your relationship with money at a young age?

Well, I thought it was privileged to be quite honest. I grew up in this idyllic mid-western household where my dad had a very abundant mindset. If we needed it, we would get it. And I always thought that we were affluent or somewhat affluent.

And when I got older, my dad came clean with me. He laughed and said we were far from affluent. I think it was just the fact that I was loved at home. There was lots of opportunity, it seemed like, and I was really lucky because both of my parents had a very positive mindset, which meant there was always an air of opportunity around the house. I think that's what helped shape who I am today.

The positive energy, the love in the home, and of course, financial literacy, these are core tenets that you and I both are very passionate about and incorporates much of the light that we want to bring into the world, so I'm so excited to dive into all of that stuff today.

What career opportunities did you gravitate towards at a young age? Or did the entrepreneurial bug bite you early?

I was an entrepreneur from way, way back, and I'll tell you the very first story. My mom had made a chocolate cake one day and it was great and I said, "I want to make one. I think I could make one." And she said, "Well, the recipe is right on the side of this Hershey's cocoa can."

So I made a cake, and it so happened that the neighbor came over that day and was really wowing it up that I had made this cake, how delicious it was, and said that maybe she would like to buy one. Well, in that moment I had made the decision I was going to be a cake baker! I went around door to door and I sold three chocolate cakes that week.

I think I'd made a grand sum total of $17 in profit or something, but I was hooked immediately. And it followed me through my high school and my college years. I mean, I did little things like buying big bulk bags of candy and having that in my locker and then selling them for a quarter a piece at school. When I got to college, I bought these gigantic popcorn vending machines – they were like seven feet tall and they air-popped a 24-ounce cup of popcorn.

But I was hooked on the idea of entrepreneurship. And so my career choices post-college really went after sales and marketing because I made the connection that if I could come up with an idea and sell it, I could be a really successful entrepreneur. Lo and behold, here we are some 15 years later being self-employed and building businesses. And I would say it's all gone fairly well.

Once you’ve had the taste of entrepreneurship, it's hard to go back isn't it!?

Dude, I am functionally unemployable at this point! I'm convinced of it.

What about your commitment to your own personal growth at that point? Was there a book or two in particular that really stood out and helped you realize that perhaps you had more potential and power than you would have given yourself credit for previously?

I mentioned my parents were very positive minded and they talked about opportunity a lot. My dad was big into Deepak Chopra back in the day. And he would tell me growing up that I was a wizard, and I didn't really understand what he was telling me at the time. I had visions of Harry Potter-esque kind of wizards.

But what he was telling me, I believe, is that I could create whatever environment I wanted to create, I had the ability to manifest my own desires. And so when I read Think and Grow Rich the first time – which you are obviously well-versed in – I realized how important the messages of definiteness of purpose, and of focus and attention, were. I have a saying up on my door up here and it says “The definiteness of a purpose for acquiring wealth is necessary for its acquisition.”

The definiteness of a purpose for acquiring wealth is necessary for its acquisition.

And I kept reading that over and over and over again. Think and Grow Rich was one of the first books that got me on the path. And then I went down this unbelievable rabbit hole of finding all of the quantum physics and law of attraction books that were out there. I realized that we are all constantly, consciously or unconsciously, creating our own environment. And I owe it to Think and Grow Rich for getting me started.

What about when it came to the practical application of these things, was there a job in particular that you had that helped transform your mindset around life or business?

Interestingly enough, this is going to sound kind of odd, I think, James, but when I was in college, I got recruited to sell books door to door. It was a company called Southwestern Publishing that recruits about 4,000 college students a summer. And we go out and we knocked on 200 doors a day, 12 hours a day, six days a week. So it's a brutal, brutal summer.

My first summer incidentally, I was in Rancho Cucamonga, California. That was my home for 12 weeks. And I went and knocked on doors and I got told no 198 times a day. And they told us if you sell two sets of books a day you'll be successful. And what I realized in that business, not necessarily manifestation – although we were constantly trying to manifest what we wanted during the day – it was more about the fact that every no is just a next, and that every no just gets me closer and closer to what I truly want.

So after that summer, and then the summer the next year, I really felt like I could deal with rejection better than just about anybody because it was no big deal. You could say no to me and I was just going to go to the next door, it wasn't a big thing. And I think that alone has made me an effective entrepreneur because when I hear no, or I experience failure it's just like, "Whatever, next."

That resilience and finding the gift in every adversity and very quickly moving on when there's a door closed in front of you is a phenomenal attribute for anyone to have.

What about experiences with money? When did personal finance first appear on your radar?

Given that I was raised in a household where I thought we were affluent or mass affluent, we would receive a J. Crew catalog in the mail and I thought, "Oh, we're obliged to buy something," because it seemed like that's what we did. Then I got to college and the way that I like to describe it now when I go and spoken on college campuses is that I was a rich college kid and I quickly became a broke professional.

I was a rich college kid because I was trying to live the same lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to at home, but I was doing it on the pre-approved credit card offer that I got in my freshman year that ballooned to over $8,000 by the time I was a senior. Then I met my future wife, who was probably one of the most financially savvy women I'd ever met in my life. She said, "Adam, get rid of your debt or I'm going to get rid of you!"

She said, "Adam, get rid of your debt or I'm going to get rid of you!"

Now, we’ve built a really incredible life together using very core philosophies around the mistakes that I made and the lessons learned in the midst of those mistakes, and then going out and teaching other people how to do exactly the same.

So to answer your question, James, I think it was probably near the end of my college career where I started to take a really long, hard look in the mirror at what did I have in debt and what were the mistakes I made that got me there and realizing real quickly I didn't want to live that life. I wanted to live one that was free of encumbrances, debts, and obligations, and one that was a bigger life, one that had freedom and flexibility and options and choices. So it was from that point forward that I really started to dive in and pursue mastery of money.

What are some of the steps you've taken with your own children to insulate them from falling into that trap of credit card debt particularly?

I love this question because I think the experience that I had on college campuses in talking to teenagers helped prepare me to prepare my own children for the same kind of environment. The students that I spoke to that were 18 – 21, up to 25 years old, and many of them had never made a financial decision on their own before they arrived on the college campus.

They didn't fill out their FAFSA, they didn't buy their own clothing. Some of them didn't pay for their own gas or their own meals. Many of them had no concept of what a thousand dollars borrowed meant. What I realized was I wanted to bring my kids up in a world where they had made very tangible, real decisions around money. So my wife and I realized that it was first of all important that they have money in their hand.

And I wasn't just going to hand it out; I wanted my kids to have a work ethic and be industrious. So we pay them based on chores they do at home. It's not a commission, but it's money that you're going to make for doing this work around the home. They also make money babysitting. My daughter has a part-time job. My son has reffed soccer and basketball games. My other son has mowed lawns and shoveled snow, and done lots of other odd jobs.

I wanted my kids to have a work ethic and be industrious.

But what I'm most proud of James is the fact that all three of them have far more money in savings than the average American does right now. And they're also very, very savvy and wise about making purchases that are no longer small, insignificant purchases. They're buying things like phones and computers, and they're making really educated choices in doing it because we prep them on the $5, $10 and $50 items so that they are better prepared for the $1,000 and $5,000 items down the road.

I love it. It's not necessarily the dollar value, it's the habit that you get into at a young age, which is something I included in my first book The Beginner’s Guide to Wealth. So when you get older and have more money at your disposal, you're naturally embedded with those good financial habits. And something I talk about often is that Think and Grow Rich could just as easily have been titled Think and Grow Poor because the idea is the same. It's that your actions each day, extrapolated over time, manifest that reality.

You're a dad, I'm a dad. We know that if we really want to enact this financial literacy change generationally, it all starts in the home. What should parents be doing to teach their kids about money? And when should they start that in the home?

I get this question quite a bit from parent groups who say, “My kids are six or they're eight, or they're three, what age should I start?” Some will say, “My daughter is 18 and she knows nothing about money.” I had that conversation just the other day. Actually a dad said, "I'm sending my daughter off to school, I think we've done a great job, there's just one area that I think we fallen down."

And I said, "What is that?"

He said, "Well, she knows nothing about money. She's carried my credit card the entire time she's been in high school and when she needed gas, she charged it. When she wanted clothes, she charged it. When she went out to eat with her friends, she charged it."

And for those of you who have younger kids, let me be very clear, that is NOT the way to bring your kids up to understand money.

I think we should start doing this with kids as young as five or six years old. And the way that we did it with our kids, which I think worked was, first, we gave them an allowance. And the reason that we wanted to give them that based on the work or the chores they did at home was they need to have some tangible amount of money in their hands while it's still real and tangible.

That paper money is a big deal because as they get older, if they've never experienced the paper money and had the emotional tie to a $20, $50, or a $100 bill, they'll go onto Amazon and hit one-click ship on a $47 item and not think twice about it.

Then they get the credit card statement where it looks like there's too many things on there to even go through. So it's like, "Oh, I'll just pay it. I couldn't be bothered spending 10 minutes combing through all of my purchases."

That's exactly right. Or pay the minimum, right, where we don't even feel it. And so I think if we start young and we give kids money, we also then must give them the ability to make the decisions that they want to make. With our kids we said, "Listen, you're not going to spend $10 on candy necessarily."

But if they said they really wanted to buy a Nerf gun or a piece of athletic equipment, I’d let them know that it’s their money and they’re perfectly entitled to do that. And as the purchases got bigger, we would just have a little bit more dialogue about: How long do you think you'll use it? Will you get a good use out of it? Do you think you could resell it when you're done so there's not a sunk cost in it? So we were just teaching them some business lessons.

A study came out that said 65% of the American population could not come up with $500 cash in the event of an emergency. So another thing we did was make a rule that by the time our kids are five, they had to have $300 in savings in an emergency fund. By the time they were seven, they had to have $400. And by the time they were nine, they had to have $500.

And people will ask me, “What kind of an emergency will a nine-year-old have?” The answer is that they hopefully won’t have an emergency, and if they did I would take care of it, but if they have $500 at the age of nine, they're going to have it at 19 and 29 and 39 and 59. They're going to have it forever because it is a habit, just as you said.

Absolutely. Well, many parents conflate this idea of love with cash handouts. Is spoiling children financially about the worst thing that you can do for their development?

In my opinion, that whole idea of love and money and us conflating that idea of, “I love my kids; therefore I don't want them to struggle.” The challenge today is that there is this generation of students coming through college right now who have never really struggled. And because of it, they think that life is supposed to be easy and as soon as they confront struggle, they collapse.

They think that life is supposed to be easy and as soon as they confront struggle, they collapse.

My fear is that we're going to have a lack of entrepreneurial spirit for people in their 20s and 30s because they never experienced struggle when they were in their teens. And I think if you hand your kids money, it equates to removing all struggle from their life. I think kids need to mow lawns, they need to rake leaves and they need to wash windows, and they need to make their own money, first of all, if they want some of these big things.

As parents, we're taking away that ability if we give it to them straight away.

This is very much the growth mindset that Carol Dweck talks about, only applied to personal finance. It's absolutely brilliant.

How do parents balance that journey of their kids as they enter adulthood where independence is required, but they might've found themselves in a situation where all of a sudden one day your kids come home, they might be 18 years old and old enough to be responsible for their own decisions and be independent, but they've got $40,000 in credit card debt. How do you balance the need for independence with interjecting to potentially stop them from going a hell of a long way down the wrong road?

I think some of this goes back to my comment that young people don't really understand the context of 10 or 15 or 20 or 40 or a hundred thousand dollars in debt. And one of the ways I think as parents that we can do that is we need to have really candid, honest conversations with our kids about, “You like that card? Let's do a quick price online and see: A, what does that car cost to really run; B, what does it cost to maintain that car; C, what are the payments on that on a monthly basis; D, if you don't have a degree, how many hours would you have to work in order to pay for that car; and E, is that really what you want?”

In our house, we have some interesting conversations around, “I get that you want that car, but the car dealer doesn't necessarily want to sell you the car, they want to sell you the loan.”

And so understand that as a society, what we are doing is we are teaching our kids how to payment themselves into a corner. And when you’re paymented into a corner, it's really hard to build a bigger life because you're constantly working just to pay the minimums, as opposed to working and knowing that you own 60 or 80% of every dime you make.

Are there some things as a household that you do, or maybe you personally, to make sure you're being responsible day-to-day with your finances?

In our household we really value certain things, but going out to eat is not necessarily one of them. My wife's an amazing cook and we eat at home 99% of the time. I mean, for us to go out to eat, it might be once, maybe twice a month that we go out and have a nice dinner.

But when we do, James, we typically really take our time and enjoy it. I'm always surprised, maybe I'm not surprised, but I'm always taken aback, I think, when I go out to a restaurant and you see a family wolf through a meal, throw down a card, and walk out 25 minutes later. And the assumption I make is they do this all the time and it's not special.

And my guess is that they probably spend a decent chunk of their income going out to eat. While that may be important for them, and that's great, I also think they may be sacrificing their future financial freedom in doing that in the moment to just wolf down a meal. And was there anything special to it? Not really. So one of the things we do is we eat at home a lot.

Another is, we're just very, very careful about what we spend and when we spend that it's something that really aligns with our values. I am going through a couple of online courses around money because I always love to just absorb more and pursue mastery. And one of the course creators said, “Is this thing that I'm buying worth my freedom? And if I buy it, how much longer does it take me to achieve that freedom?”

So I am having that mindset a little bit. And I would say we're kind of closet minimalists. We're not quite there, but we're almost there.

What about someone who might be 40 years old with a bunch of debt and feel like it’s too hard to get out of debt or they don’t even know where to begin – what are some steps that people can take to start to move forward financially?

I think number one is looking for proof that it’s true or untrue. And I can show you a number of cases and clients of mine, friends of mine who are in their 40s, and I could riff off probably three or four examples right now. One guy had two homes, $600,000 in mortgages. There were three car payments in the family. There was credit card debt.

He had multiple savings accounts that he was saving for a whole bunch of random things. And I said, "Hey man, your income is totally inefficient. You've got all this money sitting in all these accounts waiting for you to spend. At the same time, you're spending copious amounts on interest payments for cars and homes and credit cards." And so we built a plan that had him completely out of debt in three and a half years – both homes, all three cars, all credit card debt.

I can share valid proof of people who've said, "I think it's possible. I'm going to build a system that makes it possible, and I'm going to go do it." And I think for those that are in their 40s and you're faced with a mountain of debt, and yet you really, really want financial freedom at some point, know beyond the shadow of a doubt, you are somewhere between three and seven years of having everything paid off. All you have to do is have a little bit of discipline and a little bit of definiteness of purpose, to go back to our conversation earlier.

It’s a great reminder that people who perhaps made a silly decision years ago can be proactive about getting on the front foot and taking care of some of those things so they’re not haunted by it forever.

How do we change the education system to start helping people become more responsible about finances?

I will say that that more and more schools today are offering financial education as part of the curriculum, but it's still not enough. In our state alone, they spent two days, two full days, arguing, negotiating, coming up with what the definition of ‘financial literacy’ was. And my mentality was if you spent two days doing that, it's the wrong people in the room defining what financial literacy is.

It’s like the quote, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person!”

Yes, indeed! And not to a committee, and definitely not to legislators. I think for us to change things, it goes back to what I've talked about in my TED Talk, which was that money is largely an illusion today, it's not real, it's zeros and ones, it's bits and bytes of the $4 trillion circulating the globe on a daily basis. Only 2% of that money is in cash point or currency.

Yet we are freely passing money to and from each other through Venmo and Zelle and all these other online apps. But if that's all kids know, the money never feels real. So they get a credit card and they're like, "Cool. I have $1,000 to spend," when they can barely afford the $28 minimum payment that comes along with it.

They need that real-world experience. And that brings us into your amazing TED Talk, which is brilliant! It’s at the London Business School and has more than 10 million views between the TED Talk site and on YouTube, so well done for such an amazing presentation.

Before we talk about the content of that awesome talk, how did you put yourself in a position to be able to get a TED Talk in the first place?

Well, I really appreciate the question, because this is a fun little walk down memory lane for me in terms of how things happen. And going back to even the conversation my dad and I had about me being a wizard, I kind of feel like it was manifested.

The way it manifested was I had been speaking professionally for some time, James. So I knew that I had chops and my career had progressed to a point where I had done local groups, I had done associations. I was on college campuses all across the country. I started getting some international nods. And a friend of mine said, "What's next for you?" And I told him I really feel like there's a TED Talk in what I'm doing.

So we brainstormed what that would look like, and what we came up with was at the very bottom of my signature line on my email, I had a solid line and in big, bold red letters, it said, “My dream is to someday grace the TED stage.” And then just below that, it said, “If you know someone who could help me make that possible, I would be forever in your debt, a simple introduction would suffice.”

And I put it at the bottom of my email signature line and I just left it. And over the course of maybe two or three months of sending out emails, I'm sure thousands of people saw the message and I ended up getting an email one day from a gentleman named Aaron who had been a student at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. And he said, "Adam, I'm on the curation team of this TEDx event and you were the first person I thought of."

So I went and I did my first TEDx event in the States, in Wisconsin. It was a great experience. I come home kind of riding this high of having accomplished my goal of a TED Talk. And not two weeks later, James, I got another email, this time from a woman named Sarah Durlacher – who's a dear friend of mine – and she said, "Adam, I'm on the curation team for a TEDx event at the London Business School, you're the first person I thought of." And so that's how it materialized. Again, it just kind of felt like I had manifested it.

Adding something to your email signature got you more than 10 million views online and has completely changed the trajectory of your career and the impact that you can have on the world. It's a great lessons of taking the first step to think about what you want, and then that second step of saying, how can I create those circumstances?

In your TED Talk, there's obviously some amazing lessons. Thus the 10+ million views! It's called What Playing Monopoly with Real Money Taught Me About My Kids—and Humanity and it's an incredible perspective. So don't give too much away because I want everyone to go and watch it afterwards. But where did the inspiration for that topic come from?

Well, we're a game playing family, and we love to play ball games, board games, dice games, card games, but my kids love to play monopoly, as many kids do. And one day I was noticing that the game was either really rushed or really slow depending on how my kids decided they wanted to play whether or not they were watching TV.

The money is kind of being shuffled along. And at this point, the money is like crumpled up, sweaty handed bits of paper, right? And I thought, "I wonder if the game would play differently if it were real money." And in the back of my mind at the time, James, I'd come off of a tour of college campuses where I'd met a number of students who were making these very dramatic decisions around money, and not small amounts.

I mean, they were borrowing $80,000 or $100,000. And I thought, "I think it's because the money isn't real that this is part of the issue." And so I did a quick sum of how much was on the counter at the time and was figuring out like, “I think it's $1,500 in starter capital that you need for every player. Well, there are five of us, that's $7,500. And I figured the bank needed $2,500.”

So I went to my credit union on a Friday and I said, "I need $9,990 in these denominations of bills in order to play this cash game of Monopoly." And so the idea I would love to say was like this flash of brilliance, it really was observing my children and observing teenagers and early 20 somethings with money and putting the two together and saying, "I think there's a disconnect and I want to figure out how to connect the dots."

You mentioned something earlier about a regular allowance for your children, which in Australia we call pocket money. Is it important for you that any time money is given to kids that there's some type of exchange and sacrifice for any money to be given?

I think it's important to do. And I'll tell you how I reconcile that. There are a number of people, Dave Ramsey being one of them and I'm sure Suze Orman kind of shares this mindset that kids should be paid commission for chores done. That it's effectively like you're selling me on this job and I'm going to pay you this commission.

The challenge is that you will, at some point, likely experience this, or you may have been a kid like this, that no matter how much money your parents had offered you to clean the toilet, you wouldn't have done it, right? And the thing with my kids is I didn't want them to be able to say, "I'm not going to do that. I don't care how much it is." Because the reality is that there is no job beneath you, particularly in making the house run.

So if it's cleaning the toilet, that's what it is. If it's sweep out the garage, that's part of the job. And so I wanted to tie the allowance to whatever the jobs were around the house. And the only way that they would get it is if they completed the job. In my mind, what it also tied together was you're not going to go get a job, a part-time job, and assume that they're going to pay you and not show up.

You have to show up to work. You have to do the gig in order to get the money. The same is true here. So we did that for quite a while. And candidly, speaking very honestly about it, we've since stopped the allowance program for the most part because our kids do such an effective job of saving and investing and making money that it doesn't really feel like they need the money from us.

What we've shifted that to is building what I would like to call a generational wealth plan, where we are building a program for our kids, much like the Rockefellers did, that by the time they get out of college, there will be an amount of money, a small bank for them to leverage to borrow from, to buy real estate, pay down debt, whatever it may be. So that's where that money has shifted to.

I love it. You're teaching them about the value of a dollar, about the value of hard work and responsibility and a whole bunch of other things aside from just the dollar amount.

My daughter is 18 months old, she loves the Baby Shark song (“Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo”), which you're probably very familiar with as I'm sure everyone who's a parent is! And every day I take her for a walk around the neighborhood and she says "Doo-doo" repeatedly, which is how she firmly requests me to sing it over and over and over again.

The moment I finish singing, she says “Doo-doo” for me to sing it again, although occasionally she mixes it up with “Baa baa” for Baa Baa Black Sheep.

I love it.

She's extremely convincing! I find it almost impossible to say no. As she gets older, that's going to extend to materialistic things. I’m happy to sing Baby Shark to her for 45 minutes each day because it makes her so happy! But at what age do you start saying no to these things, and is there a way to say no responsibly that maintains the peace and happiness?

I wanted to ask this question because I feel like there are a lot of parents out there who they know that their kids are just the ultimate salespeople!

Particularly for those young kids, right? You go into a Target or to a toy store, "I want, I want, can I have this?" And the natural reaction for a young child especially is to cry if they don't get it. And I've talked to parents before in large groups where they'll say my kid just has this utter meltdown.

And logically, and I was taught this by a child psychologist, they said when a baby was hungry as a baby, it cried and it was fed. When the baby was cold, it cried and it was fed. When the baby was wet, it cried and it was changed. So very naturally they equate, if I want something, I just need to cry and then I'll get it. And as parents, we start to give in to that rationale, whether they're three or they're 13, at Target.

So what I tell parents is when you implement the allowance program, and let's say you implement it at five years old, and the deal is the kid is going to get $5 a week. Well, that may seem like a lot to some families, and it may be; you may need to ratchet that down a little bit.

But if it is $5 a week and we go into Target and they see a stuffed animal, or some gadget they want to buy, there is a lesson to be taught there where we say, “Well, let's look at how much it is. Okay, well, it's $18.99. Now, how much do you have?”

“I have $10.”

“Okay. So if you get $5 every week, and you need $10 more dollars, that's two more weeks and then we can come back and get that thing.”

What a lot of parents will do, James, erroneously is they'll say, "Listen, I'll get it and then you can pay me back." But what we're doing is we're teaching instant gratification. And this is probably hard for me to even say, but I've seen my sister do this with her teenage son, he wants a new computer. They bought it for him, but he's going to pay them back by mowing the lawn for the next two years! It doesn't work that way, not in our house. If they want it, they work for it.

It doesn't work that way, not in our house. If they want it, they work for it.

We don't do stuff on credit. It's not the First National Bank of Mom and Dad, because that one's too easy to default on. And once they default on that bank, they're going to default on the next several banks that they're a part of. So I think that the way you bring up a child to learn delayed gratification and understand the value of money is you put money in their hand and you let them make decisions of their own accord and also feel the repercussions of that.

If you, as a parent, don't think they should buy that $20 item but they have $20 and they want to spend it, that's their call. And it's a really hard lesson learned if they get home and it breaks or they get home and they're like, "Guys, don't like it. I want to take it back." You can't do that in some cases.

I love it. So even things like your emergency savings account and the weekly allowance or monthly allowance, whatever that might be, it's important that it's physical money rather than them seeing digital numbers on a computer screen.

100%. And on that note, when we hand it to them, our policy is:

And then we had what I call the family 401k program. So if you put money in investing, I would match it up to $25 a month. So my middle son who's a very savvy one, every month had $25 in his invest jar. And the rest would say, "Well, I'm putting some in savings. I'm going to spend the rest of this." But my middle son knew every month dad's going to give me $25 if I put $25 in here. So again, my goal was to reward that behavior.

What's your favorite thing to spend money on?

James, I am a technology nut. And I would be remiss not to say that I'm on Kickstarter or Indiegogo probably once a week, and I buy stuff. Within arm’s reach of me there's multiple things I bought on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I love little tech gadgets, and I probably spend too much money on those things, but I geek out on it.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Adam does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give her 18-year-old self, his favorite book, and a whole lot more 🚀


Final question, what's one thing you do to win the day?

This is a hard question to answer. The one thing I do, and it's more like a conglomeration of things is the morning ritual. And the morning ritual for me really starts with a night's sleep that is similar almost every single night. So I learned once, James, that we sleep in circadian rhythms, every 90 minutes we go through a circadian rhythm.

And so that realistically what we should be sleeping is some number of circadian rhythms at night. So it could be six hours, it could be seven and a half hours, could be nine hours, could be 10 and a half hours if you really need sleep. For me, I know that seven and a half hours is my ideal night's sleep. So if I go to bed at 9:30pm or 10:00pm, I'm getting up at 5:00am or 5:30am every single morning.

I'm to the point now where if I know that if I go to bed at 10:00pm I'll wake up at 5:28am, 5:29am, and I bound out of bed. First thing I do is drink a glass of water and stretch and do a little bit of yoga or exercise. And that just starts the day for me the right way. Then it's followed by a little bit of journaling or morning pages if you follow The Writer's Way. And then looking at my schedule for the day.

Then I take a shower, get ready, have breakfast with the kids. But it's all very sequential. And my business partner and I have this theory that if you win the first hour of the day, you win the rest of the day. And so our first hour is orchestrated and scripted to an extent that just makes us feel good.

We’re also building out the ultimate downstairs. You know how every guy wants a lair!? This will be my lair, so I've got a studio that I'm building down there. I've got an exercise area. Adjacent to the gym area, there's a bathroom that I'm putting in a three-person sauna and a standup shower right next to it. So my morning routine, once this is done here in the next few weeks, will be go downstairs, exercise, sit in the sauna, meditate, take a cold shower, get ready, and then go into the studio and work. So I'm jacked about that. So it sounds weird to be excited for cold showers, but I'm super excited about it.

Resources / Links Mentioned:

👨‍👨‍👧‍👧 Adam Carroll’s TED Talk ‘What Playing Monopoly with Real Money Taught Me About My Kids — and Humanity

📝 Adam Carroll on Facebook

⚡ Adam Carroll on Twitter

💻 Adam Carroll website

🧭 The Shred Method: How to get out of debt

🔥 Build a Bigger Life Podcast

🚀 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

🗝️ How to Become a Financial Winner

💰 A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi

🎙️ We Are Members: Create a thriving business from your podcast

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

P.T. Barnum

Prior to moving to the US in 2012, I spent more than a decade in financial planning in my home country, Australia, and there are so many lessons from that time that I’ll never forget, such as:

But you know me well enough to know that I'd never introduce a problem without offering a solution 😉

Enter one of the world’s foremost financial literacy activists, Adam Carroll. Adam has spent 15+ years helping people do more with the money they make. He is an internationally recognized financial literacy expert, a three-time bestselling author, host of the Build a Bigger Life podcast, and a two-time TED Talk speaker with more than 10 million views online.

He is also the creator of the documentary Broke, Busted and Disgusted, which aired on CNBC and is shown in hundreds of high schools and colleges across the country.

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about how you can achieve financial freedom. We'll also go through:

Adam is an extremely accomplished entrepreneur and there are some phenomenal takeaways in this one. Get the notepad ready!

For the video interview, click here.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

👨‍👨‍👧‍👧 Adam Carroll’s TED Talk ‘What Playing Monopoly with Real Money Taught Me About My Kids — and Humanity

📝 Adam Carroll on Facebook

⚡ Adam Carroll on Twitter

💻 Adam Carroll website

🧭 The Shred Method: How to get out of debt

🔥 Build a Bigger Life Podcast

🚀 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

🗝️ How to Become a Financial Winner

💰 A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi

🎙️ We Are Members: Create a thriving business from your podcast

Ready to win the day™, every day? 

Actionable tips from James and exclusive interviews with the world's leading experts to help you win the day. Delivered to your inbox every two weeks 🔥
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