What are the four pillars of business growth? How do I run my business as a solopreneur? How can I create more freedom in business? We have an engaging talk with Marshall Stern of Marshall Stern Leadership. Marshall believes that leadership and self-leadership is the key to business and life success and fulfillment. He is passionate about helping other business owners and entrepreneurs UnBusiness their business so that they can truly build a business of freedom, prosperity and joy, one that actually serves their life.
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Dana Dowdell 00:05
Russ Harlow 00:07
Hey Dana, how are you today?
Dana Dowdell 00:08
I'm good. How are you?
Russ Harlow 00:09
Very well, great guest today?
Dana Dowdell 00:11
Yeah. We're joined by Marshall Stern, who has been a longtime supporter of the podcast. But he himself is an entrepreneur. Marshall is the CEO and founder of sandbox Signs and Graphics, and the Marshall Stern, leadership. Marshall, welcome to the podcast.
Marshall Stern 00:31
It's great to be here.
Dana Dowdell 00:33
Thank you. So you have a lot going on. So we're gonna get to all of the things you do. But I want to hear your story about how you first started an entrepreneurial ship because you've owned a lot of small businesses. So tell us a little bit about your journey?
Marshall Stern 00:51
Well, let's see. I was born an entrepreneur, May 1 1967. But well, I say that facetiously. I was born into an entrepreneurial family. And my father had a big big truck dealership was the biggest in Western Canada, Canadian. And so I was always around. And my grandfather had a business bound club. So I was always around it. And I just, I did a lot of the entrepreneurial things when I was younger. I actually had my first business when I was 16. I had a long lawn cutting business. And I call it landscaping now, but I basically cut lawns. And I did that for two years, hired my first employee, who was my friend, my second year, because I didn't want to do all the work. So I learned early on some some important lessons. And and that's it just went on from there to a few different businesses, and then ultimately, sandbox which I've had for now almost 20 years. And then my coaching business, which was 11 years.
Dana Dowdell 01:57
Was there a point like even early on when you were doing the lawn cutting or landscaping? Like, did you have moments throughout where you were like, Oh, shit, I have made it?
Marshall Stern 02:08
No, absolutely not. Well, I Okay, so I should, I think when I had my, my friend, our first employee, which was probably like, 95, or something like that, I'm aging myself. Probably there for like, a few minutes, because I would go out to the lake and I would hang out while he was doing the work. But I was like, 1617 at the time. And then I had failures, like, oh, man, like, my next business was like a complete bomb. I can quickly expand, because this is actually really good.
Russ Harlow 02:45
Yeah, that's what I was gonna say. Because that's kind of where we always learn is up from those failures. And that's where a lot of growth happens. So I'm curious, you know, kind of what happened? What did you learn? How did that help you grow?
Marshall Stern 02:55
Yeah. Oh, man, it was alert. So I would say it was during my college years is my summer between my last from last year, and I decided to open this was in May. Okay, classes ended in April. So I thought, you know, what, I don't want to work for someone. Because I'm an entrepreneur, I want to and the environment. This was again 1990. This is I was ahead of the curve. It was I decided I created for environmentally, basically for creations, environmental, cartoons. Funny Cartoons, and I made T shirts out of them. I thought I'm gonna sell them. We're talking in May. I'm in Canada. Well, I guess everywhere, probably United States two. There's a season for tips for going to the retailers. And May is not it for T shirts. I didn't realize that. I went door to door to all these T shirts. I had to order 1000 shirts 250 of each style. Plus I ordered 50% 5050 So cotton poly mistake. So like the men's large was like fit a toddler like they were not big. Mistake number one. Mistake number two was I went to all these retailers, they looked at me and like, it's May you should have been here in like probably December, or whatever the buying season was I didn't do my research. I sold one shirt. And that was that was at a flea market cost me $20 over two days to set up a table which was cheap to sell one shoe for $6
Dana Dowdell 04:27
So there was a huge learning curve there sounds like?
Marshall Stern 04:32
yes, research. Know your market. Oh look tons of other ones like mindset and everything else. But that came after. That didn't even matter anymore because I just I didn't know research. I thought I don't want to work for anyone. Honestly, like a lot of small business owners who are sick of working for someone, they start their own business and don't even think about what it takes them do the research.
Dana Dowdell 04:55
Yeah, that's a common situation where they're like I have this great idea and I'm We're gonna run with it because the market needs my idea without actually doing the research about what the market truly demands. Versus just your idea.
Marshall Stern 05:12
And I thought my deal was brilliant. And look, the designs were brilliant. I still have a box in them. I'm not getting rid of it. Because it teaches me every day.
Dana Dowdell 05:20
Did you resell them as like vintage?
Marshall Stern 05:23
I should, I should sell them to toddlers. That's what we fit.
Dana Dowdell 05:28
I'm curious, you know, did when you sold that first T shirt, and then like looked at what you were doing, you know, and what you were selling and how you were trying to sell it? Like, what was the decision? Point or the thought process for the decision to say, This isn't working? I'm going to go in a different direction? Or did you try it again? Like, did you try another year of selling?
Marshall Stern 05:56
That was my lesson was learned. I really didn't. Honestly, again, like a lot of small businesses or small business owners start out which is not the right way. It was almost like a hobby for me. Right. That's how I treated it was like a couple $1,000 lost. It's a hobby, but I mean, people don't think I would ever a couple 1000. But back then it's like, okay, I learned my lesson, let's move on, and finishing my schooling. And then we'll see what happens. But no, I that was it was a one shot thing for me. It was not it was I mean, there was, another thing I learned was, you have to be willing to step back, what was said, you have to have passion to what you were doing. You have to be passionate about what you're doing. Doesn't have to be your passion, which is a whole other topic. But you have to be passionate about what you're doing, I believe, in order for it to be successful, and I really wasn't passionate about.
Russ Harlow 06:55
And that doesn't just mean passionate about, you know, the service or product that you're providing. It's about the business itself, because I find that a lot of people call it a business, and it is just a hobby, and they're not being honest with themselves. I recently joined a Facebook group of small business and entrepreneurs to kind of promote the podcast a little bit. And I'm amazed at the number of questions who come in are like, Hey, I'm gonna do this, how should I organize my business? I'm like you, Baldwin, you don't ask Facebook, to go talk to your accountant. Or there are people who are just, you know, I've been doing this for three years. And I'm doing it on Etsy and these other things, and it is a hobby, it's not a business. So how do you? How do we get over that hump? From hobby to business? And how do we how do we get honest with ourselves about it?
Marshall Stern 07:48
Great question. I think it really comes down to desire. I think it all comes down to desire. i It's interesting. So it like I do this coaching program, twice a year called Create. And last November, and it's for entrepreneurs, right? Small business owners, I should distinguish not all small business owners or entrepreneurs and not all entrepreneurs are small business owners. These are just problems for entrepreneurial small business owners. In any case, I did this quick research or this research last summer, I thought or last November, I thought, what if? Because now 80% of my clients, coaching clients are women. And a lot of them have kids. Not all but a lot of them do. So I thought what if I did a program for women business owners who have kids. So I went out there in my Facebook group. I've a couple of Facebook groups. And I said, and I titled it, looking to looking to connect with mompreneurs. And I hate that term. And so I interviewed with 12 of them 12 Women who owned a business and had children. I found there's a huge distinction and difference between a month and year. And a women woman business owner who has kids. And the mompreneur was more of a mindset. The mompreneurs were the ones who and there's nothing wrong with that. If you have young kids, listen, my wife with young kids at one point. If you have young kids and you just want to start a business, or hobby, just instead of cook a job because you have young kids, that's fine, just run with that. But mindset, the desire is not necessarily there. It's not the main income of the family. or may not be it's probably not if it's a hobby, meaning come in the family. And everything else is more important. It takes priority over the business. So the desire is there but it's not it's like the reformer on the ladder. Whereas a business owner who might have kids, sure the kids are the families priority. But the business He's right there, behind it behind family. And there's desire, you're building a business, you have a strong why you know where you want to go. And it's not just sort of like I just made T shirts, which was, let's have some fun, I don't want to work for someone, I'm gonna just try this flogging this on my own. And I didn't put the work in. And I pretty much gave up when I screwed up.
Dana Dowdell 10:25
It's interesting. I remember, God, maybe six years ago, when I was when I was doing full time consulting, I heard a statistic somewhere that like every millionaire has seven different streams of income. I don't know if that's factual. But I had heard that and I'm, I'm a millennial, so I'm easily influenced, you know, I have a podcast, of course, but I started selling LuLaRoe, which was, you know, multi level marketing. And I in that mindset, I was like, that's a, you know, a second stream of income. But there was no passion there no desire, it was like a desire to just make money. And in reality, it didn't make me any money, it lost me money. And so I think, you know, you see that a lot with those multilevel marketing companies where it's you are attached to the idea of getting wealthy really quickly, but you're not necessarily attached to the desire to grow the business like we have, we have a rest. And I know someone who works and sells Isagenix, which is a multi level marketing company, and that woman is so hungry, and has so much desire to just explode her business, and it's infectious. And she's really frickin good at it. Really good at it. But I'm sure there's lots of people on her team who aren't necessarily attached to that desire.
Marshall Stern 11:51
That's actually a great example. And I think in a lot of the network marketing companies, that's the you have the top 1%, who are the driven, they have the desire, they have the determination, they want to make this business. And then there's the 99%, who are like, that's, it's a lyric, again, there's nothing wrong with it. But if you want to build a business, if you want, real true financial stability, and freedom, then there has to be more than just, I feel great with my friends now, do the hard work, like you have to do the hard work, if you really want to make something successful. And long term.
Dana Dowdell 12:28
I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about the communities that you have developed and fostered because you have these great Facebook groups, you do that group coaching, and you're clearly really good at it. Tell us a little bit about how you kind of started to create that community because I think a lot of people are like, ah, you know, I'm myself, I want to create an HR community. But then I'm like, one person plus me is not an HR community. So tell us a little bit about not only how that got started, but what value that brings to your business?
Marshall Stern 13:08
No, thank you. Um, so I started well, I started the business inner circle, I think eight years ago. And it was meant to be a safe community for entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial and business owners who weren't there to sell their stuff. Because all these a lot of these Facebook groups, you've probably probably in some of them. It's constant spamming, I mean, it's just by me by this by this by this. So I just wanted to have safe community where I could teach, and coach people with inside the group. And they could teach as well, they can just share content to help other business owners. So supportive group. And I just did that. And I started at the beginning, actually. I grew the group at the beginning through Facebook advertising, had no idea what I was doing, spend a lot of money doing it. And then after that, I stopped that and it just became more organic. And I got involved in other groups. I'm an admin for another large large business group, similar philosophies, similar style support only, no promotional posts, and I just we just foster relationships. That's what it's all about connecting with people. I love connecting. I love connecting with people and connecting people to other people.
Russ Harlow 14:32
What I have done a few groups, and I'm in a couple of communities and what I've found is that there's a lot of value from listening to other business owners, they don't always have to be in the same industry. Because sometimes people kind of get stuck doing things a certain way. And it's nice to try to learn from others. And I guess you know, I came into my industry without any experience prior I just bought a business I bought into or franchise. And that's helped me be objective, as opposed to working my way up through it, and then starting a business on my own. But I'm open to that. So tell me about some of the things that how people have grown just what that group getting insight from other business owners in other industries.
Marshall Stern 15:19
I love that question. And first before I forget, because I will forget, I totally resonate Russ with where you are your journey because I started my second company was part of a franchise. And after nine years, I exited, exited, exited it, and went on my own. And as the best thing ever did, it was great the beginning, it was a good learning experience. You're in business for yourself, not by yourself. But you're by yourself. So I resonate with your story. For the group, Facebook group, and it's all on give it a break it down to like, create my group coaching program, I do one on one, and I do group. The benefit of the group, whether it's Facebook group, or smaller group mastermind, I run a mastermind as well is. And like you said, if it's businesses from different industries, not not a BNI, I'm not talking BNI totally different. Just get to the perspectives. And everyone, especially in the Create Group, they learn because when we're for, and I know you go to both of you probably go to industry events, and I go to industry events, and I've been part of industry groups, but everyone's it's very male myopic in their thinking, it's this one way, this is how this is how we've always done it, this is how we do it. And you're not really thinking outside the box. But when you hear someone else, like if you're an HR consultant, and you're in a group with someone who is a digital marketer, you hear something totally different that works for them, whether it's client creation, or hiring staff, so on and so forth, or letting go staff, I listened to your last podcast. It's different perspective. And you say, You know what? That makes sense. I never thought of it that way. And you also realize you run long story, you realize no, no,
Dana Dowdell 17:15
Yeah, it's funny, I think, I think I said this in another episode at some capacity or saying this is someone recently like to be in a bid to be an entrepreneur, you have to have some level of ego, right? Because there's something telling you that your idea is the best idea and that you should try to sell that idea. Make it a business. So I think in order to have those growth moments, and to learn from other people, you have to kind of lower that ego and be open to other ideas, ways of doing things, concepts, philosophies, but at the same time, there's a lot of noise and kind of bullshit advice. Do you have any recommendations on recommendations on how to take advice for face value versus, you know, you know, so you're not leaning into bad advice?
Marshall Stern 18:11
Well, you to have, like the best questions. So I love your podcast, there's so much crap out there. If I can say crap on the air. There's so much crap out there. And some good stuff. The problem is the good stuff is like hidden and watered down, like you're not watered down, but you just don't know what you don't know. There's so many experts, and it's like, and my phone's listening to me now. So probably when I go on it, it's gonna be some expert trying to sell me something and Facebook or whatever Instagrams and ads are gonna start to pop up. You know, I can help you build a seven figure business, I can help you build an eight figure business, get five clients today. Just give me $20,000. Right. So I think it all comes down to first off, I really truly believe the connection. Because we all have desires, needs wants. And that's what the marketers, the marketers, really know, and they prey on us. But it all comes down to finding a person if it's a, if it's a coach, if it's a consultant, if it's an act, so called expert who had the same or similar values to you. And connecting with them and having that conversation. Here's what comes down to just there has to be a connection. And you can't you shouldn't be thinking the answers always out there, that these people are going to save my business because one one solution does not necessarily necessarily fit all. Okay? And so a boxed system will not necessarily do everything. You have to do the work. And some of these systems are great. Some of these programs are absolutely great. But in the end, it has to be has been tailored to you and your situation and your mindset. And in the end, it's you, you have to do the work. So if you're gonna give someone $20,000, they're not fixing your business.
Russ Harlow 20:11
You know, I think it's interesting because not only in the, it's understanding who you are, because that defines your business. And what I learned being a member of franchise was that we all had the same name on our shirt, well, all of our businesses look very different. Because as business owners, we brought a different culture and a different mindset to that business. You know, it wasn't just regional or anything else. And I think the same thing happens with what our ideal client, right? When we're looking for ideal client, we want to look for people who share those same values. And if we're not paying attention to those things, there are going to be more challenges than necessary, and probably failure and more failure than necessary in our future. So I'm wondering how you kind of work with folks. Due to this on business assessment, I'm wondering if this is part of kind of getting outside of that center circle and looking at all of these things? Is that something that you do and you work with your clients?
Marshall Stern 21:14
Have I done working with you? Yes, exactly what it is, it's really, so many businesses I've seen through many years, just focus on the traditional areas of their business, right? They're stuck in, okay, the finance, marketing, HR, finance, HR, data, I know, it was very important. Fulfillment operations, all about customer service, shipping, receiving all those departments. And the owners always stuck in the middle and having, you know, their feet and all areas, right. And that's what they're focusing on. And they're not focusing on the third the important things. And that's where the, um, business comes in. And that is, their, their mindset, how they're showing up as a leader. Or if they're even showing up as a leader for their own for their own business and for themselves. Activities, they're working on each and focusing on each day, their environment, self care, like all of you know, all of these things, their inner circle, all of these sorts of things that are outside of the business, or really have everything to do with the business. And when we start to focus more on that, and the foundational, I should say, the foundational piece. And this goes back to the sort of the expert like who do we listen to? Who do we sort of trust? It all comes down to what I call our wine or what? Now I didn't come up with a why I think Simon Sinek came up with a why, or someone else might have but he really made it famous. But it's really important to be really, really clear on what our Why is why we are doing what you're doing. Basically what we stand for. What gets us up in the morning? And are what, which is where we want to be. I like to call it three years down the road. All right, are everything great life business? What's our if you were watching a documentary, ask my clients, you're watching a documentary on your business and life an average day, or a day in day out? What would it look like in three years? And whenever opportunities come up, let's say for a podcast, or an opportunity to come up to work with the so called Online expert or like you're getting a sponsored ad in your face? Is it in line? Truly, with your why and your watch? That's sort of like your, your foundation, your compass? And if it is, okay, if it's not, you have to say no. And same thing with people or people coming into your organization. Right? They have to it's all about the value of sharing the same values, similar values, and being in line and sharing and being congruent with where you want to take the business.
Dana Dowdell 23:55
So you started this sign and graphics business, and you're also doing leadership and group coaching. Is your sign and graphics business. Like is does it operate without you?
Marshall Stern 24:09
Yes, well, as you can see, well, our listeners cannot say I'm in hotel room right now. So it's good thing this is not on, because the lighting is not very good. Ah, yes, it does. It does. And it's this is actually probably the number one and I live this I'm gonna give a quick example what happened to me in 1994, my first employee that I hired was a seasoned ques back then, well, he'd been in the business for like 25 years at the time, and I was in literally 20 inch or something. So he was much older than me. I hired him. I paid him a lot more than I could afford, but he knew the business. And since me and him like an rust you know what franchises like so they basically set me up. Everything was set up. I had everything the color Was everything I'd have to think about that I'd have to pay for it. And probably the third day, I was actually at the work table, making a sign physically making a sign. Because that's what I was trained to exist. But two weeks, being trained to do, this never made a sign before. And so I had, which is good. I never I was never the employee, the skill set person, the technician is the myth causing the technician starting this business. I had no experience in signmaking, which was a huge plus. So it was a negative sign. And Max, my employee came up to me and he goes, What are you doing? I said, I'm making this time because No, no, no, no. He says, You owner, me, worker, you go out, you sell, you run the business, you pay me, you collect the money from the clients, I make sense. And that was like the last day I was ever at the table. Well, I'm gonna physically to go up to the table, talk to the guys and that kind of thing. And I've had to do certain things when needed. But really, that's I don't do it. Like they, he taught me. I'm the leader of the business lead, like people that bring people in to do the work. It was tough, because I had like, zero in sales at the time. So even more reason why get your butt out there. And this was like, when the internet was still dial up. Right? So and there's no Facebook, none of that stuff wasn't even known. And so I had to go, I had to bust my ass and I had to go door to door. I dropped off flyers I did what needed to be done, advertised. And that's what I did. And I just made connections.
Dana Dowdell 26:39
Yeah, so it's, you know, I think that's a common thing where business or business owners find themselves where they're working in the business, not on the business. It's a common phrase that is thrown around a lot. And it sounds like someone made that decision for you very early on, in having the business. Do you have any recommendations or people who are a couple of years in myself included, who are working in the business on how to make that transition to being more of a sales role and leadership role
Marshall Stern 27:13
was to to kind of two different things, but the leadership role is critical. So there's three, I have three, I don't know if I'm probably going to look like I created for it somewhere else, somewhere out there in the in the Google. But I think there's three stages of business ownership. There's the employee, owner, the operator, and leader. And a lot of the people who start businesses are the employee, they leave corporate, they don't like working for someone else and learn their own paycheck, they want to have the freedom their own whatever works for themselves. So like E Myth, they start a business but they are doing all the work, then no one around them, no one's helping them. They're not even thinking the future really, they're just doing what's in front of them, like an employee does. And then they're getting some sort of paycheck, or whatever they're they're billing out. At the beginning, you need to do some most of that, because you need to figure out who you want to work with that sort of thing. But you need to become more of an operator and then the leader, and the operator is like what wrestling is all about this, like being a franchise operator. So you're, you're doing a lot of work, but you also have the division and you're building the business, and you probably do have some employees or you outsource. And then there's the leader, who is a complete visionary. And forward thinking, and doing what's doing the right things consistently, and not getting sucked into the weeds of the business, you still doesn't mean like I'm a coach, right? I still coach, I still do the service. But I have a team around me, because that's, that's the important, that's the skill set. That is the bread and butter of the business. I know I could be like some of these systems and hire coaches to coach for me. But that's not my vision for the business. So I think wherever you're at in your business, just knowing that you need to, if you want to scale your business, even to scale just if you wanna have a life outside your business, and have it financially viable, you need to work on removing yourself from some of the day to day focusing on focusing on the activities that will move you towards, you have to get clear on your why and your what focusing on the activities that will move you towards your what, which is the vision for your business. And doing that consistently, consistently. Every single day, it could be small steps. And then bring people in your team outsource or employees who can help you achieve that. And they can take over some of the more day to day operational activities and allow you to focus on actually growing your business.
Russ Harlow 29:53
So I want to go back to your kind of on business assessment and the graphic you use is kind of like a circle with a bit business owner in the center and all the departments on the outside, you know, we have a, we had another guest on who was talking, and I'm going to combine the two images and thoughts. And the idea is that, you know, if you're in there in the middle, you can pay a general manager to be the spokes in your wheel, to kind of run those things and do the $1,000 an hour tasks, so that you as the visionary of your business can step outside of it, and do those $10,000 An hour tasks, you know, those really big ticket items that, you know, can really grow your business and make it thrive and scale. But it's so hard. I'll give you a personal example. So yes, I'm still stuck owner operator. And you know, we're still struggling to grow and get the kind of the workflow we need in order to hire and bring people in. I have family members that my sons work with me. So it kind of makes it a little bit more manageable. But I have to get that getting over that hump is a real challenge. And so how do people break out of it, and I'm not just speaking for myself, because I know a lot of people are stuck in it.
Marshall Stern 31:10
First of all, I want to go back to what I said about sort of like the mumps and Euro thing and the hobby thing. You don't have to break out of it. So I don't want people listening, say, oh, that's where I'm at now. But I'm happy there. Why are you telling me not to, I'm not an expert saying you have to be just the leader, you can't be the operator anymore. Otherwise, you're failing know, if that's what you're happy doing, then that's totally fine. If you're not, however, if you want more, or if you want to have more freedom, then the key really, I truly believe is to, there's nothing about being the operator, because that's where a person is at a certain time. But being the operator and leader, you have to have to be able to put that leader hat on. And know that you know what I am that listen, I invest in equipment all the time, or invest in supplies, invest in this invest in that, why not invest in people more, and not just people to necessarily do the physical work. But maybe it's a social media manager. So I'm not the one that's there doing all the posts all the time. Investing in your own yourself, your own development, and in your own future. And knowing that a lot of people I hear all the time and and I work with some HR consultants. And actually, I hear more well from them to and digital marketers where they'll say, and I've heard this from my own prospects, or my own clients, it's time, you know, they'll say, Oh, I know I need to, but I will when I know I need to hire out. And I will when I know I need to get a digital or a social media manager. And I will well, when what will Oh, when I have enough money? Well, when is that going to be? Or will have enough time? Well, when is that going to be? If they don't change how you if you don't change the things you do? Things won't change. So that's the that's the reality of it. If you want something more than do something more, do something different. And that's why I do them business assessment. That's why I really believe people need to change the way they look at their business or sorry, their role in their business.
Dana Dowdell 33:15
That is hitting hard. Martial. Sorry. Yeah. I feel that, you know, it's like, oh, I will do that when I have, you know, a $30,000 bucket of cash to pay for someone salary for a half a year, you know, like, it's, it's, is it? And is it more than just setting like smart goals? Is it about putting a true plan and action around like, you know, here's what I need to get to that when? And here's what I'm going to do and when I get there, then I'll pull the trigger? Or is it more just you just do it and figure it out?
Well, so everything is figure editable. So I think it's probably a bit of both. I think at times you need to go you need to go with your gut. I really to one of the things I really believe as business owners, we think too much with our logical side and our analytical side. Okay, I think we need to think more. But you know, with our heart, and it's goes against what my my late father used to say to me, he always say Marshall never make an emotional decision. Always think about it, right? Fine. In the moment. If someone's saying I made $20,000 product or $10,000 product or here's the Tesla by the Tesla, you know, yeah, maybe not like Okay, on this right away. I understand that emotional decision. But you have to be clear going back to the why and the what. And again, you have to follow the what, where you want to go If you're not clear on that, if you don't know where you want to take the business, it's going to be really, really hard to make decisions to help you get there. And sometimes we have to make decisions that really many times that are outside of our comfort zone. And up outside of our comfort zone, maybe for you bring someone on, or like adventure with several clients. They've been burned before, by an employee, or someone they've outsourced to, and they're scared to have it happen again. And honestly, I think I say this with the coach hat on that's a complete crock of crap. Because everyone's different. And I know you mentioned Tina, you mentioned the M word, you're a millennial. Two years or three years pre COVID. Three years ago, I was looking, I lost one of my key production people in my sign company. And I've never had Millennials working for me, they're always older. They're always Gen X's, right? And so, like, like myself, so I put ads out, I found two millennials. That were absolutely awesome. And they both one of them accepted the job. I was gonna hire both of them to try them out. I only needed one I thought it let's try them both out for the three month probationary period. And if they both if one of them works, that's great. If both of them work, I'll figure it out. Everything's figured out double. I'll just have to just step up the game and build a business even more because hard to find really good skilled people in the industry. So I offered the job to both the ones that yes, he totally ghosted me never showed up. Never got back to me. I emailed texted I think I even Instagram I stalked him over two weeks. So LSU like is in the ditch somewhere. Like, just have the decency to get back. So all of a sudden, I'm just I'm like, oh, what's wrong with my misjudged I misjudged, whatever, it's gonna happen. Millennials. You hear all the stories that you can't, they're this they're not they're this. And then the other one took an easier job somewhere else further away from home less money, which is the opposite of what he said, because the job was easier. But I got over it. It took me about two months, wallowing in the millennial. And then I ended up getting back out there getting back on my horse. And I now have two Millennials working for me that are freaking awesome. Like, absolutely awesome. So just because the other two were flaky, last one is in a ditch, and I'm sorry, he wouldn't be in a ditch anymore. This was three years ago. But seriously, like, it's just have to just keep going.
Russ Harlow 37:54
That that is good advice. And I think that, you know, we've kind of put labels on people. And I think it's, it's too easy. I know that some of the culture has changed over time, and the way we communicate and the way we think is acceptable to communicate or not communicate in a circumstance. But I think in general, you know, there's great people out there regardless of what generation they were technically born into. I'm curious what's one thing you wish you had known before starting a business?
Marshall Stern 38:29
I thought the questions were gonna get easier. I one thing action for starting a business. Okay. I would say that I would have to go through all these recessions and pandemics that would be nice to know, at a time Hello 28 years ago. And honestly, I would also say it's hard. I really didn't you know, my father had 100 employees. He had service managers, parts managers like controller kid, this huge business. I didn't see the back end of it. I didn't see under the hood of the dealership pardon the pun under the hood. I did work for a couple years, but I really didn't see it. It just looks so successful. And it's all smoke and mirrors. It's hard. It is really freaking hard, but it is freaking rewarding. And I think it is also I think we overcomplicate business. I think it is actually quite simple. And what it needs to take what you need to do and take to grow business, but I think we overcomplicate it's not easy. Not easy, but I think it's simple. We just overcomplicate and overthink. But Adobe I would say being hard. I don't didn't realize it was going to be that hard, especially in the beginning.
Dana Dowdell 40:00
What's your favorite way to market your business businesses?
Marshall Stern 40:05
My favorite way to market my businesses? meeting interesting people.
Dana Dowdell 40:16
So networking, yeah.
Marshall Stern 40:18
Networking strategically. Or, okay, I don't mean that. Well, I do mean that strategically, but being sorry, networking intentionally, going to the right groups, don't waste your time in the wrong groups. And I've done that your time is the most valuable resource you have. But network authentically, meet people authentically and just get to know them. And you might not be the right fit for them, whether it's like from my side business or my coaching business, I might know someone who can help them in something else, or they might know someone that they could help. Right, because I love to connect and connect.
Russ Harlow 41:00
Yep. Is there any like one business platform that's changed either your business your life or how you've approached business?
Marshall Stern 41:09
And the site from its from my Sign Company in? Well, the biggest change was, was advertising. Because back in the day, I mean, I used to spend a fortune on on remember the physical, those books, the yellow pages. And that quickly changed to everything being pretty much online. But for my coaching, Facebook has been a huge Facebook's number one for me, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I play around on on Instagram, I'm not going to say I'm gonna talk with tick tock, don't even get me started on tick tock. I have my opinion on that. But although my son says, oh, you should be on tick tock, tick. No. Okay. Go back to your phone. Yeah, Facebook has been huge. Because it's easy, it's easy to connect with people and just get in conversation, just meet interesting people.
Dana Dowdell 42:01
When I think I asked sort of this question at the beginning, but I'm gonna, I want to think I want you to think about it from a whole career standpoint. When did you feel like you had made it? Aside from hiring that first employee? Like, was it a major sale that you secured? Or, you know, you've hit a certain threshold with the book sales? Like when did you feel like you had made it?
Marshall Stern 42:27
I'm still waiting. I don't know. I don't honestly, I I look, I don't know if there was ever a point. I don't think I ever thought oh, I made it. I think there's been points along the road on both of my businesses. All my book was another failure. But that's for another conversation. That was also that was more of a hobby. And I wrote, I wrote a book several years ago, I did nothing with it. Now it's available by ebook, you go to my website, it's really good luck. It's simple. It's fast read. But there's a lot of mistakes made with that, because I didn't do my research. But I don't know if I ever thought there's been jobs along the way, especially my signing company where, like, we did stuff for the Olympics, when it was in Vancouver, the 2010 Olympics. And I thought, that's really cool. We do stuff for the film industry. So we get to see all the movies and TV shows coming up before people know about I think that's cool. But I don't ever sit back. I made it. It's it's not smooth sailing. It's never smooth sailing. There are times where it's smoother. But you always have to keep your foot close to the gas pedal, and be ready to press on it. Otherwise, if you think you've made it, you know what's gonna happen after that?
Russ Harlow 43:48
Yeah, there's no coasting in business is there?
Marshall Stern 43:49
And I think that's part of the problem for a lot of people. That you I mean, that's a whole different topic. But I think a lot of people think that they're gonna get to a certain point, and they've made it because that's the way it is. And let's say in careers in corporate, and it just when business there's always have to be innovating, always have to be changing. Once you think you're you're there, you've done it. Everything changes, especially with like online. Like just with algorithms, and just the weight and just everything, technology, things are changing all the time and people's buying habits. pandemics come along, everything changes.
Russ Harlow 44:27
So thank you, Dana, for bringing up that failure of a book. But I love that you bring it up that hardhearted emotion and that memory, but I love that you've taken it and used it now. Right now you're making it available to the book, it's still something you can use. So is it really a failure? Well, maybe not because you're still continuing to use it and you've learned and grown from it. So I got to appreciate that. You know, all together. Where what are some of the things that you're doing right now I know that you said you had a program coming up, and where can people find you tell us all the things Adele, Marshall stern and other classes?
Marshall Stern 45:03
Well, thank you. It's two places really on my website, Marshall stern.net not.com.net. Because some Chicago dude took.com and you'll get some community he's a comedian doesn't want to sell me a platform to URL. So it's Marshall stern.net. And that you can get my you can download my book for free. It's a good read, it's called the stern truth. Now's the time, the stern truth in growing your business in any economy. Ironically, I wrote this back in like night 2009 After everything happened, and I altered it, change it a bit with the pandemic. And you can book a call with me there, there's also create, that's the big thing. It's on the website as well, it starts on the 19th. It's a group coaching program, if anyone's interested, we can get on a call and chat about that. It's a small group, I'm once I only have one spot left, but it's an awesome program helps you get focused, intentional, get better results. And my Facebook group, the business inner circle. It's a great community. And just get in there and join, introduce yourself. Share content, share tips, I do trainings, and I share a lot of tips and content all the time. That's awesome.
Russ Harlow 46:16
Thank you. And we're gonna list all those things in our show notes. So if you need to find Marshall at Marshall stern.net You'll have a place to go look it up Marshall. We appreciate your listening to the podcast. Now. We are so thankful that you've stopped by and shared on the podcast because there's a lot to digest and learn in this episode. So thanks for being here. Go check out martial whether it's on LinkedIn, Facebook, in a group on his website. You do the same for it's just business that is just business podcasts and all the places. Remember, yeah, there's some emotion involved here but it's not personal. It's just business.