March 22, 2023

120. Leveraging Peers with Sam Jacobs

120. Leveraging Peers with Sam Jacobs
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How can I meet more people that can help me grow? Is there a better way to network? How do I build a better community around me and my business? We have a conversation with Sam Jacobs the Founder & CEO of Pavilion - the leading global executive revenue community.  Pavilion is 10,000 members strong focusing on helping people achieve their career goals.

Connect with Sam Jacobs:
Book: Kind Folks Finish First

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You can find Dana @adashofboss, @dana.dowdell and @hrfanatic
Dana DowdellBoss Consulting – HR Consulting
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You can find Russ @reliable.remediation
Russ HarlowReliable Remediation – Disaster Restoration


Dana Dowdell 00:05

Hey Russ.


Russ Harlow 00:06

Dana, how are you this morning?


Dana Dowdell 00:07

I'm great. How are you?


Russ Harlow 00:08

Doing very well. Looking forward to our special guest today.


Dana Dowdell 00:12

I am too. We are joined by Sam Jacobs. He's the founder and CEO of Pavilion. Sam, welcome to It's Just Business.


Sam Jacobs 00:21

Hi, welcome. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.


Dana Dowdell 00:24

We're excited to have you. So tell us a little bit about pavilion and your story into being a founder how you got started?


Sam Jacobs 00:35

Sure. So, Pavilion is what I like to say it's we're the leading global executive revenue community. In the world, we're focused on helping revenue leaders unlock and achieve their professional potential, which is a fancy way of saying, we're 10,000 people all over the world. It's a paid membership model. So, people pay to be members. And the focus of our business and of our community is to help people achieve their career goals, we're specifically focused on really startup revenue executive, so people that are leading customer facing functions for high growth companies, typically backed by venture capital or private equity. And the reason that we exist is because the average tenure for a revenue executive at a high growth company is just 17 months. And so the world has never been more volatile, more uncertain, people are getting fired. Obviously, there have been over 100,000 layoffs just in 2023, in the technology industry. And so, companies themselves clearly are not going to be in a position to provide ongoing career stability, career advice, and they're not really going to be in the business of educating people on how to take care of themselves in the right way. And that's where community like resilient steps forward, we help, not just with the skills that you need to be good at your job, not just how to design a compensation plan or how to build a territory, but also how to negotiate for yourself how to make sure that you're paid in the right way, how to align your compensation with the success of the company, how to find your next job. So we're really focused on the long term career longevity of our members. And why we exist, because there's a huge gap in the market. You know, unions aren't as popular anymore. Guilds aren't really a thing. Trade Associations tend to be, you know, legacy from the 80s. And so we want to be a digital first platform to help people navigate their careers more effectively. So that's what we do. I've been doing it for nine years now. I've been working on it full time for four and a half years since December of 2018. And my story is that I am really, in the classic startup way. I am the Customer for my business, I was the first customer, I have been leading revenue organizations and kind of been a vice president of sales, the Chief Revenue Officer for 15 years from 2003 to 2018. And over the course of those 15 years, I my tenure kept shrinking. So, I worked seven and a half years, four and a half years, 18 months, nine months, 10 months, I was fired and four out of those five jobs and the one that I wasn't fired from, I left because I was worried they were gonna run out of money. And I felt like my career was a little bit like on a merry go round or a carousel, I felt like I was going in circles. And it didn't have a clear linear trajectory. And so back in about 2014, I started bringing people together just in New York City where I live, to have dinner every quarter and talk about hey, what's working for you? What's not working? What jobs are you hearing about what connections can we make for each other, and really a support group for revenue leaders, and I didn't really think it was going to be a business. But I started charging money for it. On January 1 2018, I started charging dues, largely because I just needed a side revenue stream, but again, didn't feel like it was going to be some world changing phenomenon. And then over the course of 2018, people started reaching out to me from all over the world. And by the end of 2018, we had chapters in eight different cities. Now we've got a presence in essentially every major metropolitan area where there's a high growth ecosystem, whether it's venture capital and technology companies growing, or 10,000 members we raised $25,000,000.02 years ago from a company called Elephant ventures. And so now we are a venture capital backed company, in addition to serving venture capital companies. And yeah, and now we're trying to navigate this sort of global tech, economic downturn, you know, the hangover effects of no more free money after COVID. And then, you know, we're recording this on March 11, but also the collapse of the central banking institution that serves all of my friends, members, customers and companies, Silicon Valley back so we live in interesting times, certainly, and we're trying to be a place that can help people navigate this this uncertain world.


Dana Dowdell 04:42

Can you bring us back to you know, that point where you started charging dues? Because I feel like the member the idea of having a membership is like, a big you know, people look at that as a revenue thing. I have this great idea. I can build a community. Let me start charging people for it. How do Did you go about doing that and communicating that message?


Sam Jacobs 05:03

Well, we've been doing it for free for a long time. And, and so really, and I actually haven't mentioned, but I wrote a book, a Wall Street Journal bestselling book, actually, that came out last November called kind folks finished first, which is about this journey. You can buy it on Amazon if you want, but no pressure. But the point is that the book starts Friday, the 13th, October 2017. And what happened on that day, I was driving down to my friend Scott's wedding. And me and my wife and my dog, Walter, were in the car. And I got a message from my CEO at the time, and it was very terse, and it said, hey, I didn't realize you weren't going to be in the office today. Can we meet first thing Monday morning, and I, having worked at high growth companies, a while I knew exactly what that meant, which was that I was getting fired, because this is a woman that didn't show up to the office before 11am most days. So if she wanted to meet me at 830, something very bad was happening. So that was the moment when I said, You know what, I've been doing this, this community for a while it's been free, I need secondary revenue streams, I need other ways of making money besides working for somebody else. Because it's not, it's not working all of my quote unquote, eggs in one basket. And I need to find other places where I can grow myself, grow my business, and establish myself independent of these companies. And again, that's really the essence of what we do at pavilion. So in that moment, I said, you know, what, I've been organizing these events, I've been organizing these group discussions, we've been putting resources together, I'm gonna see if I can charge for it, I'm also going to build a consulting business. And I'm also going to charge a sponsorship, so we monetize the community in two ways. We sold sponsorships to it really to help us pay for our events. And we charged dues, and I went out, and there's probably like, 30 people in the group at that point. And I said, it's only going to be 50 bucks a month. But it's something and, you know, let me know if you want to do it. And I was really, really worried that people wouldn't do it. And because in some ways, it's kind of like the cynical take on like a fraternity or sorority, it's like, Why do I have to pay you to be friends with my friends, but people saw the value because I think 98% like 25, out of 30, or 27, out of 30, almost everybody paid. And a few people were just sort of like philosophically opposed to paying, they're like, I just don't believe in paying for this. All of those people are still my friends. And there's and they are, of course, now paying members, actually, so I won them over. But it was yeah, it was a shift. And it was a shift of okay, I'm going to, but there's also a beauty, you know, sometimes people are they are hesitant, or they're self-conscious about charging for things. But see, what happens when you charge for something is that first of all, it's very clear who the customer is, right. So all of a sudden, if you're if I'm trying to make money from something and I'm not charging you, then you know that somewhere or the other, you are the product, I am selling you, if I'm not charging you, I'm selling you some way, if you're you know, if it's a media business, you become the audience that I market to advertisers. So the first thing is when I charge now my incentives are aligned, and I work for you, that's what happens. And the second thing is that you understand that, and we can reinvest that money back into making the service better in whatever way that means for us that mean, that meant building out a team. That meant creating more opportunities to interact. That meant creating more in person experiences, certainly meant trying to create benchmarking surveys, data and reports and insights to help our members make better decisions. So you know, long story long, it all started, when I got fired from the company was called the muse. And I decided I needed to charge in some way. And you know, ever since then it's kind of been off to the races.


Russ Harlow 08:41

So I'm sure there was plenty of value for that group, especially that first 30. And obviously, most of them saw that value. And we're like, Okay, I'm gonna be willing to pay, how did you continue to add things of value and continue to win people over and build that?


Sam Jacobs 08:56

Well, I mean, I think, you know, community is very popular right now. And a lot of people use the word. And I think that there's some things that get a little bit lost on occasion when it comes to community. But the most important one is that oftentimes, it's not quite clear why they exist. And my point is that I don't really believe in ambiguous kind of generalized purposeless networking. Right? For me, it's always been a very specific networking as an input, not an output, the output is changing your life in a productive and material way. So you know, for us, it's always been what's TrueNorth. And that's where we start. And where I start is the purpose of pavilion is to help people. Um, again, it sounds cheesy, I'm not going to achieve their professional potential, but what I really mean is, I want to make an impact in people's lives, and I want to help change the trajectory of their career. And that's very specific. And all of the roadmap flows from that. Okay, so if that's what we want to do, what do we need to build what would be helpful and what would be helpful varies at different times. But for example, I was on a run and most of my good ideas come When I'm running, and it was during COVID, at the beginning of COVID, and I thought, what do people really need right now? Well, they needed a couple things, because it was, you know, we're always in unprecedented times. And two years ago, or three years ago, exactly three years ago, actually, we were in unprecedented times, and I said, people are gonna get laid off. And we need a community to help people navigate that transition. And I want to, I don't want it to be a point of pride that people are not employed, as opposed to a badge of shame. I don't, I don't want it to feel self-conscious actually want it to be kind of cool. So that was the that but all of it was me thinking, how can I help my customer? How can I be better for my customer. And so we created a group called on the bench, and we made it so that you know, you're not you're not unemployed, you're not out of work, you're out, you're just on the bench. And we made it so that if you do have a job, you can't join that group, that group is only for people that are that are out of work. And then we created a bunch of custom programming and content. They have weekly meetings, where they talk about what's working, what's not working, we bring in recruiters, we created a whole platform for people run by my friend, Fred. But we created a whole platform for people designed to help people navigate a really difficult moment in their lives, which I've personally experienced, which is that moment of being unemployed. And so all of that flowed from, from the reality of like, just trying to put myself in people's positions in their shoes and saying, what would I need right now, if I was out of work? Well, one of the things again, and it's not some of it's just very basic human stuff. And again, as I mentioned, you know, we're recording this when the with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, and it's happening, a similar crisis is happening. And if, again, I'm putting myself in the shoes of CEOs, because we manage the CEO community as well. And what do they need? Well, again, one of the first things you might need is just group therapy, you might need an opportunity to talk to other people. The other thing you might need is to share information. The other thing you might need is real time kind of benchmarking so that you understand how many people have been affected? How much money did they lose? When did they get it out? Can they move it? All the whole roadmap flows for me trying to put myself in the shoes of the customer? And say, what, what is? What does my customer need right now to help them lead a better life, make more money, make better decisions at work, be a better partner to, to their family, etc.?


Dana Dowdell 12:15

It's interesting, we haven't really had many conversations on this podcast about that idea of like funding and angel investors and like taking that idea, and scaling it growing it through the use of investors, are you able to speak on that a little bit about like, how you went from point A to point B to pavilion now existing in the way that it does?


Sam Jacobs 12:37

Sure. Well, I mean, the this was, I never assumed that this was a fundable business to be to be clear, because community at the beginning is the easiest thing in the world to copy. I mean, effectively, it was a dinner club. So if you wanted to start a dinner club tomorrow, you could, and I'm sure it'd be great. So and so I, you know, part of, for me, the journey has always been about having the right expectations, a lot of my success, and I write about this, in my book, a lot of my, my success has come when I let go of expectations, the more I focus on what I need, and what I'm trying to accomplish, and how rich I want to be the worst I tend to do, the more I focus on helping other people and providing something meaningful and valuable to people to help them in their lives, the more that all that other stuff just tends to arrive. And, you know, we're recording this on a Saturday, my next call is with my coach, and he's one of the people we talk every Saturday at noon, Eastern. And he tells me, you know, to he who has much more shall be given, which is really a way of saying, you know, the way to create great outcomes is to not need them. You know, the, he says that gratitude is the energy is the frequency most harmonious with abundance in the universe. So what does that how does that relate to your question about raising money? I wasn't really looking for money. I would, but we were growing a lot. We were growing a lot. And during COVID, we went from about a million in revenue to about four and a half million in revenue just in 12 months. And so, when that happens, people start hearing about you and you get inbound. So, you get people that email you offering. I mean, one of the nice things about a dynamic capitalist system is there's lots of kinds of money. And there's lenders and there's equity investors, and there's angel investors. And so I, one of our growth hacks, so to speak, was having our members put the fact that they were members of pavilion on their LinkedIn profile. So all of a sudden, everybody starts seeing and even to this day, there's about we're as 10,000 members, about 65% of our members, but the fact that they're in LinkedIn, they're in pavilion on their LinkedIn profile, which is amazing. And so, what happens is people start hearing about it, they start finding out about it. So I remember so I wasn't looking for money. It had grown sufficiently. And I know enough about growth rates and things like that, that I knew that we were doing very well, at least at that time. And I got an email from somebody and one of my lessons is, you know, respond to every email, you know, because you never know what's going to happen and take every meeting and so I got it email from these folks at elephant ventures, and I write about this in the book. And I just had a conversation with a friend of mine who said, you know, I think the company's worth one, he said literally one to 1.2 times revenue, meaning that we had just gone from what we had just grown, you know, for X, we've just gone from one to four. And he's saying we were worth four. And I was like, that doesn't that's ridiculous. That doesn't make sense. But I didn't have any other data points. So when elephant ventures emailed and they said, Can we take a look at your financials? I said, Absolutely, I'd love to know what it's worth. And they said, We think it's worth $80 million. And we want to put in $25 million, and at the end of it, it'll be worth around $100 million. And now, that was a function of the world that we lived in back then as well, which was, you know, zero interest rate environment, you know, free, abundant capital, being pumped into the economy, which led to inflation and a lot of other bad things happening. But anyway, but that wasn't. So my point is like, how did I navigate that I, I wasn't really even looking for it, people reached out to me, I was focused on helping people and building my business in a sustainable way. And I got, you know, I got lucky luck is when opportunity meets preparation, I suppose. And I responded to I took the call, I responded to the email, and then I got luckier still, because I had enough contacts and connections and a network that I'd invested in over 20 years, that, you know, I knew which grid law firm to use to help me negotiate the deal. And, you know, I knew to have a few other conversations to make sure I was getting a fair deal. And, you know, everything tended to work out. And so far, again, we're in the middle of a particularly tricky situation at this is on this very recording, but generally speaking, it's worked out.


Dana Dowdell 16:43

Was there any fear in that at all like that, it was too good to be true.


Sam Jacobs 16:49

I'll mention sure a little, you know, a little. I mean, there's been a lot more fear in the past year for me than then then leading up to that point, I, the business was very pure, you know, leading up to and I don't, I love my investors. But it changed me a little bit. And it changed my expectations about what good looks like, you know, you don't want to be the loser in the portfolio, you want to, once somebody tells you, hey, your company's worth $100 million, you start thinking well, to be successful, I need to make it worth three or $400 million. And I'd never put those kinds of expectations on myself before and now I live with them. And so as and because gravity and physics and are real, and nothing goes up to the right forever, you know, we've encountered some growth challenges over the last year. And you know, that's been the trickiest part is sort of like you when you it's really training yourself not to have your sense of self-worth, be based on outside indicators. And it's just human nature that you start to think of yourself in a certain way. And then when things change, you're like, Am I still that person? Am I going back to who I used to be? Am I still on this upward trajectory, you want everything to be like a narrative, you know, we love stories. And so, we want the story. We want the story to event it and me to have one already. That's what I want in my story. And the reality is, that's not the way life works, you know, and there's always another challenge just around the bend.


Russ Harlow 18:16

So, I'm curious within the network, as people are kind of, you know, building their value and educating themselves bringing themselves along and using their network to do that. are one of the avenues moving out in and people venturing out into business themselves? Is that one of the things that pavilion helps people do is go out on their own? Yeah,


Sam Jacobs 18:37

100%. We think about it, the we had an executive off site last week, and we talked about, get friends get skills and get paid as like the three things that we want to help you do. We want to help you build and maintain new relationships in your industry. We want to help you learn the right skills to be good at your job, but also just have the right information to manage your life appropriately. And then yeah, we want to we want to help you get paid not just by negotiating a better deal with your employer. But yes, we I aspire to help people establish their own consulting businesses, their own advisory businesses. It's not always possible for everybody, but I want to give them the tools and the resources. Because it's possible for more people than then I think most people would assume I was I had been scared for a long time prior to 2017 just starting my own business. I mean, I started my own business in 1999. I ran a record label for you know, a couple of years that did terribly. But um, but I but the point is that I believe in helping people, you know, establish financial independence from their employers. I just think that's the world that we live in, you know, that, that it's really important that you just gotta take control of your life because companies these days, they just don't have the A resort that nobody's going to provide us a pension, you know that I mean, maybe we'll get Social Security if it's still solvent, but like, basically, we're kind of on our own in a lot of ways. And that's scary. But that's an opportunity to, to all of us to self-actualize, you know, there's platforms, there's ways of making money these days for people, and we want to help train them how to do that.


Dana Dowdell 20:23

I love the idea of being an entrepreneur right now. Because you literally can monetize anything and everything. You know, it's very, you have to find your, your market, your community and all of that stuff. But for and this is a bit of a self-serving conversation or question because I'm an HR consultant. And so for anyone that's listening, that has a CFO within their company, or has a revenue manager within their company, what's something that you wish companies did better? For their people, for their people that manage the money that, you know, are in control of finances that do all the accounting?


Sam Jacobs 21:03

Well, I guess the way I would answer this is I wish that all of us had a better understanding of how money was made. That's what I wish. So what does that mean, in practice, what that means is that in my world, there's this idea that the salesperson makes all the money they get, they're the highest paid, but they get fired a lot. Oftentimes, the way that sales leaders are paid is half of it, and base salary half of it and commission even if they're running like a huge team, they still think of it as like commission. And the implication of the way all of this is structured is that like, everybody else in the company does one thing, and then the money gets made by this department that we call sales. And that's not really how money is made, right? Because revenue is, you know, my talk track and revenue generation is a team sport, right, you build a product or a service, that product or service has to be the right fit for the right group of people that they want to pay for it. And then you got to create awareness of that product and service and interest in it. And that comes from marketing, most of the time, not from sales, and from telling a compelling story to a group of people that are ready to hear that story. And then some of those people say, Yeah, I want to, I want to have a conversation about becoming a customer. And that's when sales come in. And they turn that interest into revenue. But they don't, they didn't do all of the other steps beforehand, that all of the other steps beforehand came from all of the pieces of the business working in harmony with each other. And additionally, that the other part of it is salespeople have and again, I come from sales, so I'm not I have nothing. It's not even that I have anything against this is more just like tough love this is this is you know, radical candor, so to speak, which is that they need to understand that their job isn't just to hit that top line number, the revenue number, but there really needs to be an education in my industry, about margins about, hey, we got it, we have to hit the number at a cost that makes sense for us to continue to be a business, we can't just pay whatever people want to make, and pay out all of this on commissions and pay 20% of this person and 20% of this person because this money is the money that we run the whole thing with, it's got to pay for everybody's salary. And I find that that is a hard thing for people to process because they say yeah, yeah, but this is my target. And you know, I built this comp plan where there's a 15%, kicker and a 20% kicker. And they just they haven't done the math, of the business of how all of the little interlocking parts connect to make a business to make a coherent machine, where you put $1 in at the top, like Plinko and the price is right, and more than $1 comes out at the bottom. And so I wish companies would understand that money is made collectively. And I wish employees would understand that there's no one hero and no one villain that everybody needs to work in harmony. And that inputs costs matter just as much as outputs revenue.


Russ Harlow 24:00

I, when I first wanted to business, I bought into a franchise and a lot of the other fellow owners had come out of corporate, a lot of more middle management, not a lot out of the executive suites. So I'm curious for those who and there's that's a lot more people, right? I think that's the higher percentage of people who are in business, right? They're at that middle level and they want to go do something on their own. What do you suggest for them when they have an idea like you did? You know what my job just ended? I'm tired of that. I want to go and do my own. I'm going to start charging a fee for this and turn this. Suddenly it's turned into a consulting in a large platform for you. What advice do you have for those people who are either stuck there and don't want to be there anymore or ready to move on to something else? And it means finding a business or starting something on their own?


Sam Jacobs 24:48

Well, I mean, I have a lot of advice. I wrote a book about it. I think a couple things. I think the first thing I think is that, you know one of the key pieces of my book is that I encourage people to play a what I call a big long game versus a short, small game. What does that mean? That means that listen, I want people to go out on their own and make their own money very much. But you also have to have expertise in something. And, and I encourage people to not be transactional law, I say build relationships, not transactions. And so what I mean by that is, you might be in your mid to late 20s. And think, you know, I want to go out on my own and Far be it for me to stop you. But let's confirm that you have expertise that you have knowledge and information that is useful to somebody else that they'll pay for. And if you because going out on your own is not really, I mean, all of this is not really about you, you know, it's about somebody else. It's about an outward mindset, it's about how can I help, that's what a business is a business is about, I got a thing that helps people. So let me make sure that I have something that helps people, before I decide that stomp my feet and say, You know what, I need to be an independent business owner, I'm going to do my own thing. I think that that's a good, I mean, I needed to do my own thing, too. So I'm not trying to tell people not to pursue their dreams, I'm just trying to say that the product that you build, whether it's consulting, or software, or whatever, fundamentally, is going to be about somebody else. And the less time you spend thinking about how you are entitled to be an independent business owner, and the more time you think about how your expertise is genuinely going to help somebody else in the world, I think the better. So if you've decided, You know what, I've been doing this, I'm a middle manager at XYZ company, and I've been doing it. I appreciate that, Sam, but you know, I've been doing this for 20 years, and I think I do know a lot about how to do whatever it may be, then then that's awesome. And then I do encourage you to take that leap. But I guess the first thing I say, and I teach people in classes, hey, you know, let's make sure the first party career is about is about experience, you know, because wisdom comes from experience. And experience probably comes from doing a bunch of stuff that you don't like doing, and maybe making a bunch of mistakes. So let's make sure that we don't skip that part. Because all of the mistakes, all of the failures. And I've had, you know, I've been fired a lot, right? I and all of that was grist for the mill, you know, was fuel for what would inevitably lead me one day to building pavilion, but I wasn't going to be able to build it just coming out of undergrad and saying I deserve to be a CEO, because pavilion fundamentally isn't about me, it's about helping other people. So that's my biggest piece of advice. I have a bunch of very specific tactical advice if you want to start a consulting business. So I'll share a few with your listeners, one of my biggest pieces of advice is build products, not there's only one way to scale a consulting business. And that's to charge more for less time. So how do you do that unless you want to hire a bunch of people and most independent consultants aren't doing it, because they do want to hire a bunch of people they want to do, they want to build their life in the way that they want to. So I would say is try to avoid charging, like quoting an hourly rate as much as possible, and try to build products like and I'll give you a specific example. When I started my consulting business, I could have just been a sales consultant. And I said, I'm 500 bucks an hour, take it or leave it. But what I find is that when you quote your value like that, you commoditize yourself. So what I said is I'm going to build a diagnostic tool, and companies are gonna come to me and say they need sales consulting, and I'm going to say, that's great, I'm gonna run my diagnostic tool to tell me what I think you actually are going to need before I commit to any specific stream of work. And that diagnostic tool is $12,000. And it takes about four days. And all of a sudden, that's a product. Now, I'm still quoting effectively, my time by the day, I'm saying I'm obviously $3,000 a day, but that's not how I presented I presented as a product, you get a finished outcome out of it, which is this report that I prepare that I tell you what you should do and what you shouldn't do, and all of it is, but what I've done is framed it so that my time can be very, very valuable. And over time, what I did was I took that $12,000 For four days, and I made it $15,000 For three days. And again, now what I'm doing is charging $5,000 a day, but it's never presented that way. I don't say my day rate is $5,000. What I say is this tool, this product is 15 grand, but it changes your business. So those are long winded rambling, but a few thoughts.


Dana Dowdell 29:12

Yeah, I mean, I think that that advice is incredibly valuable. I'm a consultant and, and I've that's the point of life that I'm in and my journey is like we have traded time for money, right and I have limited time. So how do you scale it in that way? I am very curious about you because you present as a very high performer obviously. And this idea of what do high performing CEOs do with their time and for like professional development and self-development is very fascinating, fascinating to me. So you said you have a coach you said you run and that is where all your good ideas come from. I know of other entrepreneurs where they meditate for an hour before they start their day and they you know, drink magic juice potion in the morning. Together, love. What else do you do? Like what else do you think contributes to your success and your clarity? Outside of just what you do for work?


Sam Jacobs 30:15

Well, I, thanks for saying all those nice things I don't consider I consider myself I've accomplished some good things in life. And I don't I'm not trying to be a jerk to myself, I'm just also surrounded by people that push that are just even more disciplined. And I always wish that I had a bit more discipline, the things that I try to do. The first thing is, to your point, like I have a, what I've learned is this, I wrote this book called folks finish first. And the point of the book is, or one of the points of the book is like, the first person that you need to be kind to is yourself. And I had not been kind to myself for a very long time. And even in my answer to you paying me those nice compliments, I was a little hesitant. And what I realized is that that's where it all starts, you have to start from a place of accepting yourself and truly loving yourself and doing it in a way that isn't that you're not self-conscious about. Because it's not about egotism. It's not against anybody. It's just about accepting who you are, and being proud of what you've done. And so that's not easy to do for a lot of people, including me. And so what do I do to do that? I do some Stuart Smalley you know, if you ever watch Saturday Night Live, I do some Stuart Smalley stuff, I write in my journal, almost every day. And at the end of it, I write I love you, Sam, I really literally write that to myself. And I write I'm proud of you, you're doing a great job. I'm so proud of you. And, you know, it sounds strange, because it's like, there's two people I'm talking to myself. But it really works. It works too. It feels like a hug. And you know, maybe it's because like I'm a cancer or, you know, whatever my zodiac sign is like, I need to hug sometimes. That's my love language. And so. So one of the places that I start is by just trying to be kind to myself and trying to remind myself, like you've done something if I had told myself because again, even recently, it's been it's been a challenging, it's been a challenging couple of weeks, it's been a challenging year. And we didn't hit our growth targets last year, you know, from my business. But we're still, you know, close to $20 million business. And this was a prop. This was a hobby, you know, a couple of years ago. And if I had gone back in time, five years and said, hey, dude, this is what's going to happen. I would have been like, oh, my god, are you jumping out of bed with joy every day? And I'm like, actually, no, not really. So part of it is starting with just being kind to yourself. That's one of the biggest things and I tried to practice it. The other thing is trying to distill, like, what's in your control versus out of your control. So I have this thing, a good day sheet. It's really just a spreadsheet with a bunch of columns. And if I do a couple things each day, I decide that it's a good day. So what are those things, read a book, write in my journal, hopefully, that I that I care about myself, exercise, meditate, and then find somebody else to do something for. And most of the time, that's my wife, could also be my dogs, could also be a stranger on the street, but like, try to live outside yourself a little bit. And I find that those things tend to help me. I guess, I'm also constantly thinking to your point, because I don't think I am a particularly high performing CEO. And I think my biggest challenge is time management. And I think that I say yes to too many things, too many meetings too. Because it feels like work, you know, it feels like work to have your full day of calls. And, and that's one of the things I'm working on is like, what is the right amount of work for me. And you know, should I feel guilty if I say I don't want to have a meeting before 1030 In the morning, because I want to wake up and want to exercise I want to do some deep thinking and writing. And I want to spend time with my family. And for me, maybe that means that I'm really intense from 1030 to 430, or 1030 to five. So part of it also is just like re defining what it's about constructing your day in such a way that you can do it forever. Because I find that if you're trying to push yourself to work 80 hours a week, you have to sell your company or else you're gonna go crazy, or burnout. And that's not the situation one maximum value is created. So the last thing I'll say is like, I'm trying to design my day, to be actually a little less intense and a little bit more time for me. So that I can do this for a very long time because I find that otherwise I'm going to be too tempted to sell for cheap.


Dana Dowdell 34:28

I feel like I could have this conversation all day because I feel like when you start a business and I know I feel this all the time. It's like my identity and my worth is entirely tied to how successful My business is or isn't or how happy that customer is or isn't. And so I'm constantly trying to figure out like, what can I do to not feel that way because then work doesn't become joyful anymore. It's not it's not


Sam Jacobs 34:53

horrible. And I'm trapped in that not every day but that's like my low points or when I'm like I'm a loser. This isn't going to be worth anything. You know, I'm not going to be wealthy I don't want my gonna have to go work for somebody else. My wife's gonna just be disappointed. I mean, these are you know, this is the nighttime what ifs, as Shel Silverstein would say,


Dana Dowdell 35:13

yeah, so much here. So, Sam, we do a lightning round with all of our guests where we ask you five questions. And so I'll start off with the first one, which is what is one thing that you wish you had known before starting a business?


Sam Jacobs 35:25

I guess one thing I wish I had known is that every person that tells you to focus is telling you the right stuff. And every time your instinct is to expand, you should check that, check that impulse, try to your markets are going to be way bigger than you think. And if you have a success, selling a type of product to a specific group of people do that for as long as you can until it stops growing before you try to build a different product or a new product or sell to a different group of people. Even if it gets boring, just do the same thing until it's boring. Do something great. Yeah, for a long time forever. You know, you don't need to branch out when every time I've branched out, I've made a big mistake.


Russ Harlow 36:09

What's, what's the favorite way to market your business, Sam?


Sam Jacobs 36:13

Well, you know, I post 12 times a week on LinkedIn, I post twice a day during the week. And once a day on the weekend, my favorite way to market my business is to be is to have an authentic conversation with my customers, you know, current and future and really try to be a human being. And I feel like that's my superpower is my authenticity at scale, which is what I would what I strive for my goal in life is to be the least full of shit person in New York. Now that's not I'm not there. But that's my goal. Love it.


Dana Dowdell 36:43

What's what I mean? Aside from pavilion, right, because that's obviously a very good, fantastic platform for people that you serve. What's another business platform that's changed your life?


Sam Jacobs 36:53

I get a lot of hate sometimes. But I really do think LinkedIn has changed my life. You know, it's a place where it's okay to talk about work, it's actually a pretty positive place where it's not sort of like Twitter or other social media. We're all there trying to help each other. And, yeah, I think, and I think Microsoft's done a done a good job since they purchased it, because they haven't, it seems to be getting better and more relevant.


Russ Harlow 37:18

Now, you mentioned you wrote a book, we're gonna have that in our debt link in our show notes. Someone else has written a book, and I'm sure that it's impacted you what's one that's impacted you greatly in your business.


Sam Jacobs 37:30

So, there's this book, and just want to make sure it's, it's called the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. It's really, it's a life book more than a business book. That book, that book will blow your mind. So it starts off and he says, You are not the voice in your head, that's not logically possible. The only logical possibility is that you are the thing listening to the voice in your head. And you're like, and then you're off to the races from there.


Dana Dowdell 38:02

And then your mind gets blown the whole way through.


Sam Jacobs 38:05

And then he's like, and then the biggest thing that he says is happiness is a choice, that it really is a choice. And that you can choose at every moment, and every day, how you choose to perceive your life, because again, it is like it's all an illusion. Anyway, it's all like this hallucination. So it's like totally up to you. You can decide that you're lucky. Or you can decide that you're unlucky, you can just all of its true. You can say, I'm the I'm the least lucky person in the world. And you know what, you're right. If that's what you believe, then you are. So anyway, it's a great book. Yeah.


Dana Dowdell 38:40

What is or when did you feel like you had made it?


Sam Jacobs 38:44

I honestly, I felt like I made it. It was, I was the only person on my apartment floor. In my building in New York. Everybody had left because it was during COVID. And I just remember, I remember COVID happening. And I'm going through a similar thing right now, with this Silicon Valley Bank saying where I'm like, this is an opportunity. And I just remember thinking, this is an opportunity. This is an opportunity. everybody's scared. Everybody's looking for leadership, this is an opportunity to step forward and help people in a meaningful way. And I just remember sitting down at my desk, so you know, I'm not one of those ergonomic people. So I'm like sitting in an uncomfortable desk in an uncomfortable chair in my living room with my dogs and my feet. Helping people all day and feeling and feeling the business like move feeling it almost perceptibly move upward. So I would say COVID had a lot of horrible things and but for me and the type of work that I do, it was it was it was an opportunity that we that we use to help people.


Russ Harlow 39:53

Sam, where can people connect with you learn more about you and pavilion?


Sam Jacobs 39:58

They can go to our website, join If you're a VP of VP and above sales, marketing, customer success revenue operations CEO or founder, you can actually fill out the application and enroll in the membership. If you want to get to know me a little bit before then you can go to LinkedIn and find me on there. And I've I'm very active as I said, so you'll quickly figure out if you hate me or you love me, and either one is totally fine. And you can also send me an email Sam at join


Russ Harlow 40:29

Awesome. Well, I want to thank you for taking some time out of your Saturday and it has been kind of a tough 24 hours if you've been following the news. So thanks for being here and sharing with us and our listeners. You can connect with Sam at join pavilion and you can connect with him on LinkedIn and you can find us on LinkedIn as well and it's just business podcast at all the places. Remember, it's not personal. It's just business.