Brian Scudamore (@BrianScudamore) pioneered the industry of professional junk removal with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? at age 18, scaled that success into three more home-service brands, and is the author of WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success.
What We Discuss with Brian Scudamore:
- How Brian turned a trash removal business that began with a $700 investment into an international, multimillion dollar service franchise.
- The $29 gimmick Brian used to prove to his franchise partners they didn’t need to spend big bucks on traditional marketing tactics to get their small business known.
- Why high school dropout Brian didn’t sell his business and retire in his 20s — even when competitors offered him millions of dollars.
- Brian’s WTF (willing to fail) philosophy that has allowed him to harness the smaller failures along the way to avoid ultimate catastrophe in the long run (with examples).
- Practical exercises you can use — for entrepreneurship as well as personal enrichment — to similarly WTF your way forward.
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
We live in the hypercritical age of social media, where everyone shares their highlight reel — and no one shares the pitfalls. Everyone’s afraid to make (or to share) their missteps. But what if mistakes were normalized as part of growing and achieving even more than you believed was possible? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could turn your internal critic around?
On this episode, we talk to Brian Scudamore, author of WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success. He tells us how he founded founded 1-800-GOT-JUNK with a beat-up $700 pickup truck at the tender age of 18. The WTF (Willing to Fail) philosophy that we discuss can help you live more courageously, be more resilient, and ultimately drive you toward your own success. It’s what has enabled Brian to bounce back from failure and even find a little gratitude in his biggest flops. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
More About This Show
Taking inspiration from the memorable Got Milk? ad campaign, Brian Scudamore decided to re-brand his Rubbish Boys Disposal Service — started with a $700 pickup truck as a way to make money for college — to the punchier (and harder to forget) 1-800-GOT-JUNK. He didn’t see the fact that the phone number was being used by the Department of Transportation in Idaho as much of a deterrence, and in a stroke of luck, he was able to convince an outbound government employee to hand over the number for free.
“It’s counterintuitive, but it’s always worked for me: start with the end in mind,” says Brian. “I actually spent $2,000 hiring a company called Drive Design to design the logo. So the logo that we have for 1-800-GOT-JUNK today, the blue and the green exactly as it looks, I had that logo before I actually had the phone number — because I was determined! ‘I am going to get this phone number, and I’m going to find a way!’ And 59 phone calls later, boom! It’s mine.”
Of course not everything in Brian’s life or business has always gone so perfectly. Plenty of missteps and mistakes — including throwing in his lot with incompatible business partners and coming perilously close to bankruptcy — have instilled him with a WTF (willing to fail) philosophy that has served him well so far.
“Life is a bunch of storms,” says Brian. “And just like a real storm, you often don’t know…when that storm will end. But every storm has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The same thing with the failures in our life. Sit with them, be introspective and reflect and say, ‘What can I learn from this?’
“So when I’m in a failure, I always sit there and I go, ‘What’s the one good thing that could come from this seemingly tough day or seemingly tough decision?’ And I’ll take out a sheet of paper and sometimes I’ll write one thing; sometimes I’ll write five things.”
Brian says this allows him to be grateful for the lessons learned from the mistake and reminds him that even though the situation may seem dire now, everything will be okay.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about Brian’s $29 gimmick that beat the expensive marketing tactics his franchise partners wanted to use, why this high school dropout didn’t sell his business for millions of dollars to his competitors when he had an easy chance, big failures Brian endured and overcame using his WTF (willing to fail) philosophy, why no help is ultimately better than the wrong help, how Brian shifted his company’s culture from a sinkhole of toxicity to a wellspring of abundant enthusiasm, and much more.
THANKS, BRIAN SCUDAMORE!
If you enjoyed this session with Brian Scudamore, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success by Brian Scudamore and Roy H. Williams
- O2E Brands
- Brian Scudamore’s Website
- Brian Scudamore at Twitter
- Brian Scudamore at Instagram
- Brian Scudamore at Facebook
- Brian Scudamore at LinkedIn
- How 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Started
- Got Milk? How the Iconic Campaign Came to Be, 25 Years Ago by Matthew Daddona, Fast Company
- Drive Design
- Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
- Vivid Vision: A Remarkable Tool For Aligning Your Business Around a Shared Vision of the Future by Cameron Herold
Transcript for Brian Scudamore | How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success (Episode 175)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. We live in the hypercritical age of social media where everyone shares their highlight reel and no one shares their pitfalls. Everyone's afraid to make or to share their missteps. But what if mistakes were normalized as part of growing and achieving more than you ever believed was possible? Wouldn't it be amazing if you could turn your internal critic around? At 18 years old, Brian Scudamore dropped out of high school and founded 1-800-GOT-JUNK with 700 bucks and a beat-up pickup truck. The WTF or willing-to-fail philosophy that Brian and I discussed today on the show can help us live more courageously, to be more resilient, and ultimately drive towards our own success. It's what enabled him and me for that matter, to bounce back from failure and even find a little gratitude in my biggest flops. Besides, this is a pretty fun story and I think you'll enjoy the conversation.
[00:00:55] If you want to know how superstars like Brian and how people like me develop a great personal and professional network and maintain that in just a few minutes per day, check out our course. Six-Minute Networking. It's free. Quit crying over at jordanharbinger.com/course and it'll take you just five minutes a day, but that was taken. So it's Six-Minute Networking now. All right. Enjoy this conversation with Brian Scudamore.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:17] I was listening to the book WTF, Willing to Fail, in the car in Hawaii with my wife. A brilliant idea to name the business as a phone number because then when you say the name of the business, you're also telling people how to contact you. I assume that was conscious at some level.
Brian Scudamore: [00:01:32] It was conscious. So when I started the business, the company name was the rubbish boys and I had this beat-up old pickup truck and it said 738-JUNK. That was the phone number.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:41] Okay.
Brian Scudamore: [00:01:42] And people would call, they'd see the truck park did a busy intersection and they'd call me and they'd go, "Oh, this is unbelievable." They knew the number, but people were confused. They saw two companies, some called it the rubbish boys, some saw it as 738-JUNK. Some like, "Oh, if we're going to grow outside of Vancouver, we better come up with one number --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:58] And included the area code maybe.
Brian Scudamore: [00:02:00] Exactly. And why not an 800 number.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:03] Yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:02:03] And so we came up with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. And you're right. Every time in the press, I remember years ago we'd be on CNBC or something and most people would say like, "You can't give me your phone number. You can't talk about it. It would just be --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:15] Hey, I'm the host of The Jordan Harbinger Show, jordanharbinger.com/podcast doesn't --
Brian Scudamore: [00:02:19] Doesn't really work.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:21] Okay buddy, let's retake that and ease off a little bit. Yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:02:24] So it's been, it's been useful. And a funny story on the phone number, I came up with this vision of, "Okay 738-JUNK. What can we come up with a phone number that would work? That would be an 800 number." The Got-Milk campaign was a big thing back then in advertising. And I said, "Oh, got junk." So I immediately pick up the phone and I call 1-800-GOT-JUNK and it's not available. "Oh my God, crap." Then I call 1-888-GOT-JUNK, the guy wants a hundred grand for it. I'm like, I'm a little small business. That's not going to happen.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:53] What was it? What did he want? Was he just like --
Brian Scudamore: [00:02:55] He was in scrap metal. He had a scrap car business and was using that. So I then call ATT and T and sprint and all the big companies to try and find out who owned this 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:07] And they're like, "We're not telling you who owns it."
Brian Scudamore: [00:03:09] Nobody, privacy laws. Right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:10] Yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:03:10] And even back then they sort of held to that. So I finally figured out who owned it, and I don't even remember exactly how, but it was the department of transportation in Idaho. I got friends and family from every state to call, but I didn't know anybody in Idaho so that was the only place where the number was working. They finally get through and I get through to the department of transportation. The government has this phone number I want and I just envisioned that I'm going to get this thing. So third time I finally called them and I got through to Michael in the phone room, there's government, you got a phone room and Michael is like, "You called me three times, I don't know why you want this phone number, but just take it." He sent me an AT&T form, faxed, and boom, the number was mine for free.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:49] That's like a record speed government -- the government has never done anything that quickly.
Brian Scudamore: [00:03:55] Well, I think it was because I got Michael on the phone room but two days later I called ,paperwork settled, and I have the number just to thank him. I wanted to say, "Hey, can I send you or your team, your wife out for dinner?" He was no longer there.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:06] That's why it got done. He's like, "You know, I get in trouble for this but I don't give a crap anymore. I'm out."
Brian Scudamore: [00:04:13] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:13] Yeah. The last thing he did was probably like send that form out, give his boss a finger and walk out the door.
Brian Scudamore: [00:04:22] Hundred percent. One thing I did though in that story, which I think is counterintuitive but always worked for me is start with the end in mind and I'm like, "I am going to get this phone number." So I actually spent $2,000 hiring a company called Drive Design to design the logo. So the logo that we have for 1-800-GOT-JUNK today. The blue and the green, exactly as it looks. I had that logo before I actually had the phone number because I was determined. I'm like, "I am going to get this phone number and I'm going to find a way," and 59 phone calls later. Boom, it's mine.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:52] Geez. Wow. I mean you could have always just been like, "Hey, slight design change. It's 1-887-GOT-JUNK now because we just couldn't --" I'm with you with begin with the end in mind but some things it's just like, "Okay, this is not going to be worth getting. Like it could have been the guy who said, "Look, it's going to be a hundred grand," and then you're trying to negotiate and he's just not having it, or it's impossible. Or it's like the white house and they're like, "Look, we've had this number since the beginning. We're not giving it to you."
Brian Scudamore: [00:05:20] Yeah. You know, I've got this belief at the moment of commitment. The universe will inspire to assist you. And so I was committed. I'm like, I'm so committed that I'm spending $2,000 of my hard-earned small business income to get a logo designed. And so somehow that commitment just had me sticking with it. But yeah, it did all work out in the end.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:41] Oh gosh, don't get me started on the university, man. I'm not going to argue with you. You know, I want to, but I'm not going to.
Brian Scudamore: [00:05:47] It sounds hokey, but it works.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:49] Yeah. So your origin story is pretty fun, right? You quit school. Was it high school?
Brian Scudamore: [00:05:55] College.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:55] And college.
Brian Scudamore: [00:05:56] Yeah, I was one course short of graduation from high school. So I walked across, you know, at the graduation event, but my teachers gave me instead of a graduation certificate, they gave me a little rolled-up scroll that said, "Nice try." I was like, "Ah. It was one course short. Didn't quite make it."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:12] They still let you walk, though?
Brian Scudamore: [00:06:13] They did. I think that it was graduation, but nobody really knew the secret of what -- I had to go buy a suit. Why am I buying a suit to walk across that stage when I didn't graduate, but I was with my friends and it was still a celebration.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:25] Yeah. Wow. Wow. Okay. And then how did you decide then, "Okay, I'm going to start hauling junk." Because I assume your parents were like, "Okay, well if you're going to drop out of school, you're not just going to sit on the couch.
Brian Scudamore: [00:06:39] Well I finished the year through, but I just didn't technically graduate because one course I had failed, which was algebra.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:46] Understandable.
Brian Scudamore: [00:06:47] Yeah, I know, it's a tough one. But I'm good at math now somehow. Anyways, so what I did is I ended up going -- you know all my friends, every one of them is going to university or college and I've got this major FOMO and I'm going to miss out here. So I ended up talking my way into college. I went to the admissions office at the local college and I said, "Hey, I didn't get my grade 12 but I'm smart. I can do this, please let me in." Well, then I've got to find money to pay for it. I'm going to join my friends at college, but I don't have the cash. My parents aren't going to fund it. No good ROI on that. And clearly my proven track record, right of quitting. And so I'm in a McDonald's drive-through of all places. I see this beat-up old pickup truck, plywood side panels filled with junk. And I'm like, "Ah, that's what I'm going to do." And a week later I bought a truck, took my thousand dollar life savings, and bought a $700 beat-up old pickup. My future father-in-law helped me build plywood sides. Spray painted 738-JUNK on the side and started hauling junk.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:45] Your future father-in-law must've been a little bit less than thrilled. Like, "Let me get the straight, you dropped out of high school, you want to marry my daughter or you're dating my daughter and now your plan is to do something that is really basically just like recycling cans from the garden. It's like a step up above going through people's garbage and getting the cans out."
Brian Scudamore: [00:08:04] Bottom of the barrel. Yeah. I know I think I'm sure he thought I was a little crazy. I had a Volkswagen van at the time that had a bed in the back. I mean there were all sorts of things where he's just like, "Who is my daughter dating?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:15] Yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:08:15] But he was a nice guy and he helped me build the plywood on the side and I'm just like, "Okay, I got the truck, now I can start hauling junk." And in two weeks I made enough money to pay for the truck and to start funding that first year in college.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:27] Wow. Okay. All right. And so your motto of course now or back then is kind of -- and I don't know if this is exact, I'm paraphrasing here -- but it's basically we're going to go into your basement. We're going to climb into your attic and get the stuff out because it does not just leave it outside. The city can do that, right?
Brian Scudamore: [00:08:46] Yeah. If you leave stuff outside, the city will haul it away but most people don't leave it outside.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:51] Yeah, I'm taking the bunk bed down or whatever.
Brian Scudamore: [00:08:52] Exactly. Yeah. So we'll haul away old appliances, yard debris. Someone remodels, they spring clean. You look at what Marie Kondo is doing right now, this big trend to --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:03] That's too good for you guys, right?
Brian Scudamore: [00:09:04] It's great. I think our need for our service existed before that, but I think it's going to even help drive things further as people don't want stuff. You are what you can't let go of and you just got this crap. Get rid of it. So our business was a simple business model and we said rather than the city hauling this stuff away. We'll be full service. We'll come into your garage, we'll sweep up, we'll go into your basement, two strong truck team members who haul the stuff away. And our radio ads say, just point and junk disappears. And it's almost been that easy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:33] It sounds, this must be so gross though, right? I mean you guys, first of all, what are the weirdest things you guys have removed?
Brian Scudamore: [00:09:40] I mean, my least favorite items of all time would have to be the big deep freeze that somehow got unplugged in the basement and nobody noticed that there salmon fishing collection had gone bad and you try and lift out that freezer. Well, four people can't do it. You've got to start on packing this smelly, rotten, thawed salmon. Nightmare!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:05] Right, Oh gosh. That's like a ventilator -- you don't just show up with the onesie painter suit for that.
Brian Scudamore: [00:10:12] No, you want to die. You're doing this and you're just like, "This is the worst profession ever." Now, when I owned my own business and I'm running that 1-800-GOT-JUNK. You do whatever it takes to make the customer happy when you've got an hourly employee and they just quit on the spot because they're just like, "No, I'm not going to do this." That's a bad day.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:29] Oh man. Do you guys have corporate emails that go company-wide? And the subject line is something like, "You all ain't never going to believe this."
Brian Scudamore: [00:10:37] I'm sure it happens. Those don't exist in the current day that I know of, but across 250 franchise partners. Man, the stories of the weird junk, and the stuff we take away. One of my favorites, which was actually a fun item of junk to haul away -- less gross -- was we showed up to the customer. He had an escargot business. So he had all these shells, these empty shelves from snails that didn't have the snails in them. I don't know how that works, but they were empty shells and we're loading them into the back of the truck. He's got a failing business. He just wants his stuff gone. And we've got a full load and we're about to go off to the dump and come back for another load. And he's like, "Come on, you guys can fit more in there."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:14] Right, these are 80 percent air.
Brian Scudamore: [00:11:16] Right, and so the guy goes, I got a suggestion. Will you guys go into the second story, jump in on the back of the truck into the snails, compact them down, get in another load." And we're like, "That sounds fun." So we went to the top story and jumped in, "Woo."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:30] You didn't think I'm going to get cut by a thousand snail shells.
Brian Scudamore: [00:11:34] You know what? At 20, early 20, you don't think of that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:37] True.
Brian Scudamore: [00:11:38] But now I would.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:38] Yeah. Now I'd be like, I'm not jumping from anything. I'll see you in half an hour when I'm back from the dump.
Brian Scudamore: [00:11:44] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:44] My gosh. All right. What you guys have been good at is like this gorilla marketing thing and in the book, Willing to Fail, you've got these blue wig campaigns, temporary tattoo campaigns. There's like this PR machine that's getting you on Oprah and everything as well. But it sort of brought up this motto, take your business seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously. And it seems like you're still kind of doing that.
Brian Scudamore: [00:12:09] Yeah. You know, I'll do whatever it takes in an integral way to market the business and try and promote it. And so I tried to teach our franchise partners and we tried to learn this lesson together because it was new to me, but I had franchised the business and the first few years our franchise partners were having some success. Paul Guy in Toronto did a million in revenue in its first full calendar year, which was way faster growth than me.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:32] Wow.
Brian Scudamore: [00:12:32] But then you got some other guys that are like, "You know, we're just not growing as quickly as we should. We need the answers in the traditional press. So we need advertising in newspapers. We need radio, we need TV. And I'm like, "Guys, we can't afford that. We're small businesses right now, that's not going to work." So I said, "Listen," I brought them all together. We had a marketing meeting. There were about five or six of us, and I said, "Let's do an experiment. Where would be the hardest place on the planet to try and stand out?" And people said, "Times Square." They said, "Las Vegas." I'm like, "Oh, Vegas, let's go to Vegas and figure out how to stand out." So we bought everybody a $3 blue wig. We bought everybody a $26 bowling shirt that said 1-800-GOT-JUNK on the front and a bunch of tattoos. So 29 bucks a person plus airfare. We go off to Vegas. First place we go to someone's like, "Oh, let's go to the Hard Rock Hotel." We show up, we're wearing blue wigs and these bowling shirts heavily branded, 1-800-GOT-JUNK. We walk in and people are just looking at us. My franchise partners are feeling uncomfortable and I'm like, "Hey guys, let's have some fun here. Let's go talk to people in our money suits. You know, a couple of thousand dollars. We're in our $29 outfit where we might look like goofballs, but let's give out some tattoos." Everybody got branded in these 1-800-GOT-JUNK tattoos and before you knew it, the whole hotel was filled with people that were going on, "What's this 1-800-GOT-JUNK." We had people lining up for tattoos. We had people coming up to ask, "Are you guys, rock stars? Is this a bachelor party? What is going on?" But the vibe and the energy that we had, left all of our franchise partners and myself included going, "Hey guys, look what you can do with 29 bucks. We don't need TV advertising. We don't need radio advertising." We spent 10 million a year on radio advertising today.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:13] Sure.
Brian Scudamore: [00:14:13] But that's because we're now a $440-million business we can afford to. We can use that to build up but the gorilla marketing. You use what you've got in the early days to make it happen.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:24] And these people in Vegas that have tattoos aren't necessarily going to have any junk hauled, but at least the idea was to prove to what yourself and others that like, "Hey, look, we can build awareness around this. These people are going to remember this phone number slash the name of the business for the next five years. We can do this on a low budget and there's going to be a snowball effect where people know what this stuff is."
Brian Scudamore: [00:14:45] Yeah. I wonder, I mean, it'd be interesting, I've never actually thought about this, but how many of those people that had tattoos one day ended up becoming customers?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:53] Yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:14:53] Just the sheer size of the business and the cities we're in, but back in the day, we weren't trying to win a single customer over. We were just trying to prove to ourselves that you can stand out. Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors, the book, Purple Cow. It made me think when you are out in France and you're on a train and you're seeing black and white cow after black and white cow, they blend in. You don't notice. But if you saw a purple cow, you'd remark about it. You'd talk about it and share it. And that's what happened with our blue wigs. We did some stunts. We, the Vancouver Canucks, our hockey team, which still hasn't won a Stanley cup yet, but one day -- I remember they were in the playoffs and a bunch of us, Cameron Herold, our COO at the time, and Tyler, our PR guy, the three of us went down to one of the games and we said, "We're going to give blue wigs out to everybody going into the stadium." We bought thousands of wigs. At the end of the first game or watching on TV, there's three percent of the stadium that's filled with these big blue wigs. I mean it really, that's a lot of wigs and it stood out on TV on hockey night in Canada. We then said, "We've got to go down the next day.
[00:15:53] We pulled up a truck, started giving out wigs. We called up the press. Cameron, Tyler, and I each at the same time, top of the hour, six o'clock we were all on different news stations. My wife calls me up. She was like, "What is going on? I'm flicking through the channels." Back in the day when you could do that. She goes, "You are on every single station for blue wigs. What's the story?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:13] To be fair, it's Canada. There are three stations, but still --
Brian Scudamore: [00:16:16] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:16] -- everybody sees you.
Brian Scudamore: [00:16:17] Common there's four. So you know, there we are standing out from the crowd proving that something so gorilla works when you just have the ambition and passion and the energy behind it. Don't take yourself seriously. Take your business, but yeah.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:34] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Brian Scudamore. We'll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:40] This episode is sponsored in part by Hunt a Killer. This is a pretty cool game. It's a game is such a -- it's not quite the term for it. You get this box, right? It's your new favorite obsession. That's what I'm going to say. It's a subscription game where you become a detective immersed in a murder mystery. So every month you're getting crime scene photos, evidence, motive, and suspect information that you need to solve a crime and it's interactive. It's convincing, it looks and feels kind of real. There are newspaper clippings, there's clothing left at the crime scene, so it's cool. You're getting this stuff in the mail and you can spread it all out over the kitchen Island or whatever hypothetically, and if you think it'll be easy that it is not, you're racking your brain to solve the mystery, you're awaiting the next box of clues. It's fun to play solo. It's definitely a date night thing for Jen and I or you can play with friends so you can get some game night going, swap some theories. They've got an online community as well with other people that are at the same point in the story as you, so you're not getting spoilers by looking online. They've got over 60,000 people that have joined Hunt a Killers, online community. There are over a thousand five-star customer reviews and it's a fun, unique game that is unlike anything that I've ever played and you can go get Hunt a Killer. If you go to huntakiller.com/jordan, they'll give you 20 percent off your first box and they only accept 200 members per day. So go and grab that at huntakiller.com/jordan for 20 percent off the first box. huntakiller.com/jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:12] This episode is also sponsored by Capterra. We've all got that friend who was the first one to try things -- but actually, I think that's you, Jason, if I had to pick a person who first to try things,
Jason DeFillippo: [00:18:21] That's usually me. Yes, I stick my toe in where others won't.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:24] Yeah, you're the guinea pig. Look, some of us have trendy friends that do it. Other people have the guinea pig friends that do it. Whether you're making a choice, it's always nice to hear it from somebody who's been there and done that. And so choosing software is pretty similar, especially software for your business. Thousands of real software reviews to help you choose the right software for your business on capterra.com/jordan. And what I like about this, Jen's been using this a bunch. I know you use this Jason. And it's a leading free online resource to help you find the best software solution for your business. They've got like 750,000 reviews of products from real software users, verified users, not fake. I'm a fake-ema-jacobs and you can discover everything you need to make an informed decision. Search more than 700 specific categories from project management, email marketing. They get freaking yoga studio management software. That's a real thing. And no matter what kind of software your business needs, Capterra makes it easy to discover the right solution fast. Join the millions of people who use Capterra each month to find the right tools for their business. Jason, tell them where they can find the Capterra.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:19:30] Visit capterra.com/jordan for free today to find the tools to make an informed software decision for your business. capterra.com/jordan, Capterra, that's C-A-P-T-E-R-R-A.com/jordan. Software selection simplified.
[00:19:45] Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Brian Scudamore. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Thanks for listening and supporting the show. And to learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Now, back to our show with Brian Scudamore.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:13] I assume other waste management companies were either sort of in the space and not getting enough traction or like how was this -- what is it called, Blue Ocean? How was this fresh snow to use it to turn that into a Canadian analogy? How is this something that nobody else was doing? You know, I can call waste management, literally that company that takes away garbage and just say, "Hey, I've got a bunch of stuff."
Brian Scudamore: [00:20:38] Yes, waste management won't come into your home. They won't come in. Maybe they do today, I don't know, but they won't come into your home, your basement. They've got a lot of union people. They are dealing with equipment. They're not dealing with people. So their specialty is let's pull up, get a big dumpster, drop it off, you fill it up, we'll haul it away. They don't have the labor and that's not their type of business. Now, they did ultimately try and approach me because I guess our Blue Ocean was. Here we were doing the residential side, which they probably ignored and didn't think there was money in. We got into that business, had a lot of fun, and started making money and they're like, "Ooh, what's going on here?" So one of their execs gets in touch with me and says, "Oh, how would you like to go on this big annual fishing trip we do up at Sonora Lodge, British Columbia?" I'd never been. It was close enough to home. They take me on a floatplane and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, the most beautiful resort you've ever seen in your life." They take me fishing, they're winning and dining me. They're trying to get me to sell the business to them and they're talking numbers like 75 to 100 million at a time when I mean it's still a lot of money. But back then I could've retired in my early twenties, late twenties whatever it was. And so I'm out on a boat, we're in the middle of nowhere catching salmon and I got these two garbage company executives and I'm like, "They're trying to buy my company and they keep making me offers. I'm refusing. How's this going to end?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:57] Yeah, no kidding. We're in New York right now. New Jersey is right over there when you deal with waste management guys, I don't know if you want to be like, "No, thanks. I'm not interested."
Brian Scudamore: [00:22:07] Yeah. It was scary. I did say no. And ultimately I said to them, "I'm not someone building a business who wants to make money to the point that I've got crazy money to do things with. I want the freedom and the lifestyle, but I want more to help other entrepreneurs be inspired. I want to build this business. I know we can get it to a billion dollars one day. And so the game of that, just the fun and energy of trying to take a goal that's so big, hairy, audacious, and boom, try and make it happen. That's what drove me." I'm like, "What am I going to do? I'm going to sell to you guys. You guys are going to take this under your wings. And then what? What happens to me? What happens to my dream?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:45] Yeah. I mean, what happens to you is you get rich, what happens to your dream is it evaporates potentially.
Brian Scudamore: [00:22:50] Yeah. And being that I'm not like everybody, but I'm not motivated by money. I drive a little Toyota pickup truck. Of course, it's fully branded and all their brands, it looks like an ass car. But I've got my health, my family, my skiing, my cooking, the things I love to do that drive me. Money can't buy. And so people say, you know, money can't buy happiness. That old boiler room quote, I think, Ben Affleck's like you know, then they must not have any. I don't buy that. Everyone I know that's got a ton of money. They're either happy because of other things, not the money, and they found their purpose in life. And I know my purpose and that's to help grow and inspire entrepreneurship.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:26] Do you ever talk to your father-in-law about the fact that you are totally broke and a high school dropout? And now you're like, you know -- I assume at some level he's like, "Phew, thank God."
Brian Scudamore: [00:23:40] Yeah. He's mad that he never made it in the book. He's like, "Come on. Do you know how hard I worked that day to help you with those plywood sides?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:45] He can invoice you for the labor plus compounded interest over the last, I don't know, 20-plus years.
Brian Scudamore: [00:23:51] Exactly. My father though it took him, oh gee, like 10 or 15 years to come around. Because of the way I positioned it to him, I'm in university. I got one year left of college and I asked my dad to come on over and I got them to sit down and I said, "I got some good news." And he goes, "Yeah, what is it?" And I said, "I'm dropping out of university to focus full time on my business." And he's just like, "How's that good news?" Here's a guy who's a liver transplant surgeon who's done more schooling than anyone I've ever met. He's like, "Bri, what is going on?" And I remember years later, we were sitting in at an Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and I ended up winning that year and there's my dad beside me also wearing a tux, even though he wasn't up for an award, which I thought was cute. And you know, my dad leans over and he goes, "Good job, Bri. You did this." So it took a while but --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:42] Yeah, it's hard, man. It's got to be hard to admit your kid is right as a dad.
Brian Scudamore: [00:24:47] 15 years, yeah, it took a long time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:49] Yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:24:49] But you know, you want the best for -- I've got three kids, I want the best for them. I don't want to guide and direct them. I just want to show them new experiences and help them make their own decisions. But when you think your kid is making a decision, that looks pretty scary. "Hey, dropping out of school, becoming a junk man." I mean, come on, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:05] Yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:25:06] So I get it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:07] What are you going to do if your kid is making a bad decision? And he's like, "Well, you dropped out of school and you became a junkman, and look at you now." Like how do you refute that? And go, "Well, statistically that's not really how it's going to work for you." I mean, what are you going to do?
Brian Scudamore: [00:25:20] Yeah, so it's interesting. My oldest is a teenager and I think when they start to make decisions, if they're going to make a bad decision, I'll probably ask them some questions, but I'll still let them make the decision. Try not to dissuade them, but just get them thinking because at the end of the day, I mean my whole book, WTF, I embraced that attitude of being willing to fail. I want my kids to do the same thing. If you go down one path and you make a mistake and traveling the world and not go into school and whatever is going to happen, you're going to learn something from that. Go back to the fork in the road and take the other fork. Like that's what life is all about. Did you start with the first podcast and hit a home run and just go, "Oh my gosh, everybody is listening and this--"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:03] Hardly. Yeah, still waiting for the payoff, but you're right.
Brian Scudamore: [00:26:08] That's what's going to happen. So in my kids, the best thing they could do is screw up and make some decisions. You know, hopefully, it doesn't affect their safety and that kind of thing, their health. But if they're going to make a decision like I did dropping out of school, it's probably going to be hard for me to sit there and watch it happen. But it's my job, I think, to let it happen.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:27] So the willing-to-fail philosophy has enabled you to move forward, WTF, willing to fail. Your company now you said it's worth 400 some million.
Brian Scudamore: [00:26:37] Yeah, we'll do 440 million this year across all our brands, 370 for 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:42] Yeah. So it doesn't sound like you failed looking at it from that perspective, of course. But is failure something you only appreciate much later on like it if it's all hindsight, how do we harness the power of failure in the moment or as it's happening? How do I go? "I'm so glad I did all these things and failed. And yes, I live in my mom's basement, but trust me, I'm still grateful for these failures."
Brian Scudamore: [00:27:05] Sure. So here's what I think I've learned is along the journey of this road less traveled of making some decisions that others didn't agree with, I was able to embrace the failures when they happen. Now, sure, I'm able to write a book now at the size we're at and go, "Oh yeah, it was so easy. Brian, look at these failures. Wow, you must feel good now with the $400-million business as CEO." I get how somebody listening could have that perspective. But what I would love to inspire in people is that when a failure happens, trust that you're going to find a bigger, better way in life. Trust that you're learning something. So the way I look at it, life is a bunch of storms, and just like a real storm, you often don't know when New York City's hit with this big polar vortex. When that storm will end? But every storm has a beginning, a middle and an end, you don't know when the end is. It could be tomorrow, it could be next week. The same thing with the failures in our life.
[00:28:02] Sit with them, be introspective, and reflect and say, what can I learn from this? So when I'm in a storm, an actual failure, uh, I always sit there and I go, what's the one good thing that could come from the seemingly tough day or seemingly tough decision? And I'll take out a sheet of paper and sometimes I'll write one thing. Sometimes I'll write five things and it just opens your mind to the possibility. It fills your heart with gratitude where you're like, "Okay, I'm grateful for this mistake and learning. Everything is going to be okay."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:36] Yes, it's hard to do. I've had to do some of that recently, of course, with my whole re-brand and even Cam, your old business, or your old COO. Or business partner? I don't know. What he was?
Brian Scudamore: [00:28:47] He was my COO.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:48] Okay.
Brian Scudamore: [00:28:49] Long-time friend.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:50] He was like, "This is the best thing that ever happened to you." And I was like, "F you can't." And he's like, "No, no, trust me. I went through something very similar." But it's hard in the moment, because in the moment it's like, "Oh, think of reasons why this is good." And I'm like, "Fine." But it's kind of like going, "Well it sucks. I lost my leg, but hey, I lost 30 pounds without that leg." I mean, it's really, sometimes you feel like you're really stretching.
Brian Scudamore: [00:29:13] I'm sure. But I think if you really look deep and trust that everything does happen for a reason. Now, I'm not saying that there are destiny and things just happen and you've got no control, but that if you look at, there's a lesson in that moment. If you can find it and shift it into a positive, it works out. So take Cameron, right? I fired my best friend after seven years, helped me take the company from 2 million to 106 million and we had a ton of fun together. It wasn't that we weren't working as a relationship and as business partners almost in a sense, but we were too fire ready, aim types at the top and it became dangerous. The company was getting too big. It wasn't a little motorboat that we had to shift and steer around. It was this massive ship. And so Cameron wasn't the right guy any longer. But because we repaired our friendship and our relationship and we talked today, he introduced me to Eric Church who became our president, who's been seven years, hopefully forever. He was a great friend to Cameron Herold's and still is. These things. If you look at learning, how can they help bring you to a better place? And Cameron, I mean, how many books has he written, four more than me? He just launched his free PR book. He's unbelievable. And so he will tell you it put him into a better place and like your shift in your podcast, and I know a bit about your story, but I think there was one of the podcasts that I heard you say it was the best thing that ever happened to you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:37] I mean it was and it is. However, I certainly didn't feel that way until six, seven months later. And I think that was early and it was only, it was only because guys like Cam, probably you, other folks had said that it was going to be the best thing, that I actually was even looking for it. Because I'd probably still wouldn't even think that if I hadn't actually expected it to become true because of what so many experienced people had said.
Brian Scudamore: [00:31:03] Yeah, someone's going to be listening to this right now and going, "You know, Jordan and Brian, you guys are so full of it."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:08] Absolutely.
Brian Scudamore: [00:31:09] "This just does not work this way." But I think that in life we've got to trust that there are patterns and that human beings endure. They get through and life will get better but you've just got to trust that. Even though you don't have the answers today, you'll end up figuring them out for sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:27] So two ready, firing aim kind of guys and I definitely see you guys as that, by the way. Just knowing what little I know about you and also from Cam is totally that guy. But in 2008 you'd been around for about 20 years at that point. You're my age, 38, and you hire this COO from Starbucks to replace Cam, who seems like the total opposite. He's, I guess, mister spreadsheet and kind of type person. I'm trying to think what's, what's Cam Herold allergic to? And it's probably Microsoft Excel, right?
Brian Scudamore: [00:31:57] Right. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:59] He seems like this guy and he drives you guys into the mud or worse. I don't know how you would explain it.
Brian Scudamore: [00:32:08] Yeah. So I recruited this ex-president of Starbucks, right? This person had 30,000 employees in direct report. And I'm sitting there going, "I hit the jackpot." This person wanted to move back to Canada. They'd grown up in Canada, they were working in Seattle, and wanted to come home for their family. And there I am going, "This is unbelievable. Big pay cut."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:29] To get, yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:32:30] Oh jackpot. And it took about a little over a year before I realized, "Wow, this isn't what I had set out in my mind with, with the vision to accomplish." While we might've gotten along and worked well together, I don't think I was ever respected as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have these quirks and we do things differently and we come up with lots of ideas and a lot of them are awful. But I don't think there's patience and respect for working with entrepreneurs and our visions day by day got a little further apart. Now, this person's gone on to be wildly successful in financial services. He has built a great business, as a leader, as a president there. But this person wasn't the right leader for me. And so when I realized that the big failure was I had to get this person out of my business, I was getting sued for constructive dismissal. Nobody in my business, not one person, said, "Brian, you've made the right decision." I had to get rid of this person's senior team. I had to elevate my middle-level managers and say, guys, I need your support here. We've got to get through this. They didn't really understand what was going on. I didn't give them all the facts and details about why I made this decision. I said, "If you're with me, if you see the vision of where we're going for 2008 and just trust me, I think we can get there together, but I need your, your loyalty and your friendship in this." And not one person left. They all stuck around. But our franchise partners, it was almost mutiny. You know, they'd tell you today, like the Cameron thing, they'd say, "Oh yeah, best decision." But at that time they're like, "What are you doing?" Because they didn't see the writing on the wall. They didn't know what I knew. And so if I look at failures, one of the most painful, if probably not the most painful I've ever made in a business setting was getting that person out of my business when nobody else believed.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:34:17] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Brian Scudamore. We'll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:22] This episode is sponsored in part by HostGator.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:34:24] Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer was on the show recently talking about how he encounters potentially successful people all the time who have one thing in common. They're overachievers in the art of rationalizing excuses and if you have a business or brand to promote what excuses have been keeping you from dedicating a website to that purpose, there's good news. HostGator can refute those excuses. You think it's too expensive. HostGator's plans start at less than three dollars a month. Don't have an IT staff for maintenance, HostGator does. Don't think you're creative enough to design it, HostGator makes your site look professional in minutes. Plus HostGator has got a much more gentle touch than Jon Taffer's tough talk. That's why we recommend HostGator's website builder. HostGator allows you to choose from over 100 mobile-friendly templates so your site will look great on any device, smartphones, tablets, desktops. You get the idea. And if you want to use WordPress for your site, it only takes one click and there are a ton of add-on options so you can do things like integrate with PayPal to allow customers to buy directly from your website or increase your search engine visibility without being an expert in SEO. You'll also get a guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime and HostGator's support team is there to help with any issues you experience, 24/7, 365 and this is not going to break the bank HostGator's giving our wonderful listeners up to 62 percent off all packages for new users with a 45-day complete money-back guarantee. Just go to hostgator.com/jordan right now to sign up. That's hostgator.com/jordan
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:42] This episode is also sponsored by Wrangler.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:35:45] Everybody has a favorite pair of jeans. The pair that fits perfectly and always looks great. The pair you wear out at night at home, on the couch, at work, wherever. They're the go-to do not underestimate. Their importance and no one knows this better than Wrangler. The authority on jeans using their expertise in comfort and durability. Wrangler jeans are made for the adventurers, the go-getters, folks who like to keep moving, whether you ride a bike, a bronc or a skateboard, or if you're the type who just walks the earth in search of something. These are the jeans for you. Classic or modern styles, a range of fits at a price that works for you. Vintage re-releases Wrangler has something for everyone. Visit wrangler.com and check out their great selection of jeans, shirts, pants, outerwear for men and women, new styles, great fits. Wrangler, real comfortable jeans.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:25] This episode is also sponsored in part by Brother.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:36:28] It happens to the best of us right before a big deadline or just when you're praying handouts for a key presentation, the printer runs out of ink. Tired of the frequent expense and hassle of replacing ink cartridges with an internal ink storage tank, larger ink cartridges, and an intelligent page gauge that displays ink levels, Brother INKvestment Tank printers can literally change the way you ink. Brother INKvestment Tank color, inkjet all-in-one printers deliver ultra-convenience along with a low cost per page and affordable upfront price. Enjoy uninterrupted printing with your choice of up to one or two years of ink included in the box. INKvestment Tank helps to eliminate frequently buying and replacing ink cartridges. INKvestment Tank printers can keep your business running while delivering super functionality for your business, including print copies, scan, and fax. With INKvestment Tank, there's no sweating over the printer running out of ink. Just the features, convenience, reliability, and affordability you need. Learn more at changethewayyouink.com and get ready to change the way you ink.
[00:37:22] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers is what keeps us on the air and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. And don't forget the worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And if you're listening to the show on the overcast player in iOS, please click that little star next to the episode. It really helps us out. And now for the conclusion of our show with Brian Scudamore.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:48] The rule that you talked about in the book, if you're out of balance in one direction, be careful not to go out of balance and the opposite direction when you correct the problem. And I thought that was genius because of course, you know, I'm coming from a situation where I had been carrying the weight of an old company and I had problems with my business partners and it just became irreconcilable. And then things were definitely not handled correctly because it was just like greed. And now people go see, never work with anyone. And I'm like, "Well that's clearly not the solution." And people go, "You're just setting yourself up again for getting screwed if you work with anyone else." And I'm just, "I can't go. The rule is now I have to do everything alone and never call an outside expertise, give anybody anything because I got screwed." It's just a bad idea. And nobody would ever do this. No reasonable person would ever do this, let's say in their personal life. It wouldn't be like, "Oh yeah, I had a bad friend and she lived with me for three years and she'd screwed me out of six months of rent. So now I'm just going to not have any friends." Right? Or, "Oh, I dated somebody and they cheated on me, so I'm never going to actually try to date anyone again." You hear about this, but the reason we hear about this as we go, "Oh, that poor person, they're scarred and they're damaged now and we've got to get them through this." But in business people seem perfectly content to go, "Oh we'll be having any sort of upper-level employee or business partner is a terrible idea. I'm never doing that again." And everyone's like, "Yeah, right on, man. You know, it's weird. "It's a strange phenomenon."
Brian Scudamore: [00:39:17] You know, it is. And I think, you know, so I can only look at my own personal situation but for me, it was realizing this was the wrong person for me. This wasn't necessarily the wrong person to build a business. This was the wrong leader to build something with me. And it was hard to see. So when we talked earlier about failures and it sucks when you're in that storm and how do you get out. There was a good couple of years where I had a hard time getting out of bed most mornings. I'm like, "What am I doing?" We almost bankrupted the company. We were down $40 million in revenue. We laid off 52 people that year. So everyone around me is kind of going, "Brian like clearly getting that person out was a bad decision because look at all the other ongoing effects." So it was a dark place. It was not fun. But what I was able to do is shift my heart from one of anger to one of gratitude. And so what I did is I said, "You know, something good will come from this. And why was this the wrong person for me?" So I took a sheet of paper, drew a line down the middle, and I said, on one side of the paper, the left side, "What are all the things in my business that need to happen that I'm good at, that I love to do?" On the other side, on the right side, "What are all the things in my business that I'm bad at and I don't like to do, but still need to happen?" And I said, "Okay, look at that big long list on the right. I need to find a leader."
[00:40:36] I need to find a leader who's great at all that stuff. So I painted this little vision, this sort of descriptor of what I was looking for and described all those things on the right side. And I reached out to my networks and three people, unrelated, Cameron Herold being one of them, said, "Wow, the person you described, there's only one person on the planet that that describes. And that's Erik Church." So, three people, unrelated, said, "Erik Church is your guy." And I reached out to Erik who had a great job at the time. He was the guy because he looked at that list. He goes, "Yeah, I love all that stuff. Ooh, the vision, the PR, I don't like that stuff." And it was a match made in heaven because one thing we realized in our sort of courtship period of getting to know each other as I go, "You've always worked for entrepreneurs," and he goes, he took a step back and he's like, "Wow, actually you're right."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:23] He's like the foil character. He's the entrepreneur whisperer.
Brian Scudamore: [00:41:26] Yeah. And he's always worked with entrepreneurs so he's always understood them and the only reason he left the company he was with prior, the entrepreneur who was now 70-plus years old who gave the business to his son who didn't have the same values and passion for the business. Erik is like, "I'm out of here."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:42] Yeah. "Cashing those shares, buddy."
Brian Scudamore: [00:41:44] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:45] I think about that whenever I see really successful businesses run by usually entrepreneurs and then they hand it off to their son. I'm always like, "Oh gosh, brace yourself." And sometimes it works out great because that guy's just been trained by dad and has the same, they're just like a little kind of updated, modern clone. But a lot of times it's somebody who has no, the reason they're going in is because mom, grandpa, and dad were like, this is what you're going to do when you grow up and they have no chops.
Brian Scudamore: [00:42:18] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:18] It's like such a fragile moment.
Brian Scudamore: [00:42:21] It is. And so I think of my own kids, I've never asked my kids what they want to be when they grow up because I just want them to be happy and I want them to find their own way. So we do things like go travel to Kenya and help build a school or go to India and different things that open their eyes to different experiences and I want them to find their own way. The last thing I'd want is to say, "Come on, you guys got to work in the family business." I want them approaching me and if they're listening -- you know, I want them to approach me and go, "Hey dad, this is really cool. I think I want to learn." But they'd have to earn their way up. I think you get family entrepreneurs that give the business to the next in line and like you said, it just, it falls apart and implodes because they don't have the same tie to it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:00] Yeah, if they're not jumping off second stories into a truck full of escargot shells, they're not cut for this.
Brian Scudamore: [00:43:07] Something's wrong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:07] Exactly. You also said another rule that that's from the book is it's better to have no help than the wrong help. I thought that was interesting because I've made this mistake, a lot of entrepreneurs have gone, "I know this is just a stop-gap." And I think, "Oh I've said that to myself before." And then you build something around this person that you know is not right and then you have to undo that and it takes twice as long as just not having done it in the first place. It's kind of, again, to put a tangible analogy to this, you'd never go, "You know, I'm going to build a house that I know I hate because it's all that I can afford right now. And then I'll build the one that I want later." You would have to just freaking wait. You know, you would rent something until you had the ability to. But in our business, we're like, "Oh no, I've got to hire this, this person or this branding person or build this type of thing. And it already sucks and I know it does, but you know, we don't have the ability to get the right help right now. So this is what we have."
Brian Scudamore: [00:44:04] Yeah, you can't with people, you can't say good enough ever. And so if I look at my team that I've had in place over the years -- I learned the lesson in 1994 five years into the business, 11 employees, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. I had nine bad apples. Unfortunately, I got them out of the business. I took all 11 people and I said, I got to start again.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:24] Oh man.
Brian Scudamore: [00:44:24] But I learned that day that Hey, this was a leadership challenge. It was a big failure. Talked about in the book. It hurt. I went from five trucks down to one because that's all you can drive at a time. You know, it's just me. So when you reiterate what I say in the book about it's better to have no help than the wrong help. For me, it's had the wrong help. I had people that weren't clean-cut professional. They weren't passionate. They weren't excited. And so I shifted that day and I said, "Our company is all about people finding the right people and treating them right." And I am going to pay attention to a careful, methodical hiring process to never bring in the wrong people. And yeah, I've made mistakes since then, but very few. We've got all these people now that just fit. They're happy, they're optimistic, they're passionate. They want to be a part of our vision. I wouldn't have gotten there, hadn't I had that failure of wiping out the entire team.
[00:45:15] You unplugged it and plug it back in. That's got to be scary. It was. So I went from a half a million in revenue, five trucks down to just me. So big old brick cell phone back in the days. I'm sitting there answering customer calls, I'm hauling their junk, I'm answering calls from people that were looking for jobs that I was trying to hire. I was interviewing people in the trucks, I was training people in the trucks. Like it was just doing everything. So at a time when I was in my early 20s and I had more energy and it was like one of those, okay, I'm going to make it through no sleep. But it's really one of those things. Having no help was really, really hard and I could've compromised and just said, "Okay, again, just bring in anybody." But I developed a slow to hire, quick to fire type attitude and I said, I'm not bringing people into this business without rigor. Even today, I don't interview very much anymore, but we'll get someone on the senior team coming in. First question I ask when I meet them is how many interviews have you been through. The answer is typically 11, 13. And it sounds like a lot, but we hire on attitude, train on skill. Even if we're looking for a chief financial officer, we want that attitude first. Of course, they're going to be trained and vetted by a KPMG or something, but it really is attitude. And if you've got that right cultural fit, it's so much about what the secret success to success is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:35] You've got some exercises from the book -- failure, not something we want to dwell on. We want to reflect on what went wrong, learn from it. And the first thing is reflecting on failure. This seems important because otherwise, it's, I mean, failure feels bad. So often we just want to forget about it right away, which is a problem because then you might make the same mistake or do the same thing over again. And then you see that coming, so you bury your head in the sand because it felt bad the first time. So you don't really train yourself to keep swirling around that same mistake.
Brian Scudamore: [00:47:10] Yeah. I think that we often beat ourselves up and as North Americans, I think something we do a terrible job of is we just present to the outside world everything that's good. You ask someone, "Hey, how are you doing?" And they're like, "Oh, I'm awesome." And even if they're crappy, they still say awesome. They still say things are good. You at social media, you know who posts pictures on Instagram of them having a bad day. I mean, I get it, but that just doesn't happen. So I think in North America we're hard on ourselves. We don't admit to others what's going on. At least admit to yourself, "You know, what, I effed up. I made a mistake here. Why? Why did this happen and what can I learn? How can I prevent it from happening again?" And like I said, take out a sheet of paper and start writing a list of all the good things that can come from that failure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:58] What about WTFing your future as you call it? It looks like you've got targets and goals, but it's slightly different. It's not just as simple as a goal is a little more personal maybe.
Brian Scudamore: [00:48:09] Yeah. I think it's -- you know, so if WTFing your future would be the W is what's the worst thing that can happen. So you're in a failure. What's the worst thing that's going to happen? You're going to die here. No, you're not going to die. You might lose some money, you might lose some key employees, but what is going to happen. Then you think of what is it that could potentially take you to a better future. What's one thing that can happen in your business that could seemingly be good? And really think of that F, the future, like, just put yourself in -- you know, I know you don't like the airy-fairy kind of spiritual stuff, right? But it's like trying to envision for a second yourself succeeding.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:49] I mean, that's not that airy-fairy. Of course, you want to imagine yourself succeeding. I don't necessarily believe that when you do that Mars beams you the car you want or whatever, but yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:48:58] Yeah. But I think you know what it does is the more you're paying attention to the things that matter to you. So I've got this process of creating a vision, a painted picture. When I put it all in writing and I share it with others, they see what I see in my head. They know what to pay attention to.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:14] Agree. Yeah, that actually works. I mean that actually makes sense. If you don't share your vision with your team and you don't even know what you want, then you just get whatever comes to you. For me, for example, looking at and discussing with my wife and our team, hey look, I want to build a show and I want it to be a certain size and I want to have a certain impact, but I also want to be able to work from home most of the time. I want to spend most of my time with people who are interesting, who are of high integrity. I want to keep the teams small because I'd rather have a small number of people doing a lot of things and a large number of people doing a few things. There are all of these different sorts of values that I have and I want to be able to say, look, I want to spend a month in Kenya building a school, whatever, with my kids later. And I don't want to go, "Oh, well I can't do that until I'm retired because now I have 450 employees or 4,000 employees and I'm responsible for all this stuff. And I go to bed and sleep for four hours every night." Because you see a lot of guys who are in air quotes, very successful who do that, and they fly on a jet to the football game or whatever. But you kind of feel like how your kids are going to hate you later. Your third wife already hates you. You know, you see that and you go, "Okay, I've got to head this off at the pass. I got to decide how to get to where I want to go in a conscious way."
Brian Scudamore: [00:50:38] But I think so many people. So one thing I say in the end of the book is there's a big difference between making a living and making a life. And I think again, as Americans, Canadians, we tend to put the living first and we think, "Oh yeah, I'll get married once I've got this job or we'll have kids once this is in place." But why don't we think of our personal lives and the vision we want for personal lives, like taking the kids to Kenya for a month, working from home, having a small team here, working with your wife, all the things you've got. It's amazing if you think about that and that becomes a basis for your decision-making process. You're letting your life guide you versus your business. Right? I would not want to be -- again, part of the reason I'm not money motivated guys. I know money doesn't buy happiness. I don't want jets. I don't want, you know, these big fancy things. I want a happy family where my kids go, "My dad comes home and he isn't on his phone at night and my dad spends time with me and my dad's skis with me." I want us to have a relationship and friendship together. And so to me it's how do I set up my life first, my business second. And we bring that into the company. So we give people, we've got something called 101 life goals program and we sit down with every employee that comes into the business and we say, "I want you to make a list of 101 things, or as many as you can, goals and dreams that you want to have happen in your life. They'll share it with their peers, they'll share it with their manager, whatever it might be. And we as a company, try and help them make some of these dreams come true. So why not lead by example and say, take a business, but put life first and help people build a great living, not just a great life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:19] And we'll link to --
Brian Scudamore: [00:52:20] Vice versa. Sorry.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:21] Yeah, yeah. You're so smooth even I got in and didn't notice. Yeah. We'll go through the painted picture exercise and the WTFing your future. We'll put that in the worksheets for this episode, which will be available in the show notes.
Brian Scudamore: [00:52:35] Great!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:35] So in other words, we're taking your IP from the book and we're going to use it for our own commercial purposes.
Brian Scudamore: [00:52:39] That's good, Hey, share with people. It's awesome. It's all about making people better.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:43] Just making sure, you kind of touched on this just now. Don't chase money, chase meaning. That's something I pulled from the book as well and kind of just got into this, but let me play devil's advocate here. Why not do this? What's the point? Why not chase money? Doesn't money enable us to do a lot of great stuff? What's wrong with that?
Brian Scudamore: [00:53:00] Money does, but I think that if we've got a business we're passionate about, if we've got a career goal and focus that we just get excited about, just do the best thing you possibly can be the best on the planet at what you do. Like you've got a niche, clearly, you've got a type of podcast that's unlike any other you are on the second time of doing this. You're rocking it and it's building huge, huge momentum. The money and everything else comes. I didn't get passionate about junk removal. I got passionate about helping other entrepreneurs build businesses through our franchise program and the money -- once we got good and I was working in my area of purpose, it just starts flowing and flowing and flowing to the point of you don't know what to really do with your money beyond philanthropic efforts.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:50] Yeah, I was going to ask what a guy like you even does with that? Look, it's a nice tee shirt you're wearing, but it's not, you know, you got to apply if you go skiing. I mean there's only -- unless you have seven chalets somewhere you got more than you need.
Brian Scudamore: [00:54:04] Yeah. So what do you do? And I think that's where chasing money, I think is the wrong thing. Yeah. I don't want more headaches. I don't want more things to break. I don't. I'm a minimalist.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:14] Complexity, you get a lot of complexity. That was what I was looking for when I said these guys are really successful, but there's all this shit going on.
Brian Scudamore: [00:54:22] Yeah, I mean, you know, you end up having, like you said, someone with 11 chalets. I mean it's just stuff to break, stuff to fix, stuff to worry about, stuff to get worried that you're getting ripped off. Oh yeah. And why not just enjoy life and enjoy relationships. So again, I get that I'm different. I'm not like everybody, but I think if you chase meaning and go, "Why am I on this planet? I'm here to do something even if it's for myself and my family." Go do that thing and have a blast and be the best at it. Don't worry about chasing money. The money will come if you live your sort of gift that you've got for the world.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:56] Did you ever go through a phase where you were like, Holy crap, I'm making so much money I'm going to and then experiment with seeing if that would make you a little happier? Because I would imagine plywood on the side of the truck, high school/college dropout. Not many people can do both, by the way. Dropout of both high school and college. So there's something there. You're even overachieving and you're underachieving.
Brian Scudamore: [00:55:15] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:15] Did you ever go, "Crap, I just made half a million bucks. I'm going to buy this or spend it on this." Is that how you realized it was hollow or you just kind of always minimalist.
Brian Scudamore: [00:55:25] I think I'm a curious person and so I'm always asking people questions. I don't do a podcast, but my life is almost like a podcast. I'm just like, "Shut up, Brian. Stop asking me questions." And I joined the Young President's Association for about six years and I saw a lot of great people in there, but I saw a lot of people with a lot of money that weren't happy. And I'd asked them questions and you know, they'd start to tell you about the cars they had and the homes they had and the complexity and the stuff and they weren't happy. And I almost felt like it was directly proportionate. The more stuff you had, the less happy you'd be.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:57] Oh yeah.
Brian Scudamore: [00:55:58] One of my mentors years ago was Fred DeLuca who started Subway, built it up into I know $11 billion business or whatever it was before he passed away. And I remember he came to Vancouver and he visited the Junction, the head office, and he was such a helpful guy. And he told me about a boat that he bought that was something like 150-feet long and he had it in Florida. And he goes, "Brian, it's a pain in the ass." He goes, "I'm actually getting rid of it." Because he goes, "I want to take friends or family out on the boat. You need a crew of 20. You need to plan ahead. There are all these things that break." He's like, "It's just not fun." And he's like, "Who wants that in life?" And so you'd see these rich people that just had too much. And it is, it's the right word. You nailed it. It's complexity.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:44] It's funny, you should mention boats. There's a phrase among boat enthusiasts or whatever they call and you heard this, where they go, "The two best days in a boat owner's life are the day, they get the boat and the day they get rid of the boat," because --
Brian Scudamore: [00:56:58] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:58] -- it's just built up -- that's the adult version of dating an exotic dancer. The day you meet an exotic dancer and the day you finally get her to stop calling you. You know, you're 22 and you're like, that's going to be amazing.
Brian Scudamore: [00:57:14] And you know what I love about the way where the world is right now in terms of things like Airbnb, like we are in this, you can just use things.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:24] Yes.
Brian Scudamore: [00:57:25] Right? Like, one of my favorite things was that I always planned on my 40th birthday, I was going to take my closest friends and family to Italy for my 40th birthday. It was going to be my gift for starting to build up something and take them. And it was funny. It was at the worst part of the part of my business career thereafter we dropped off 40 million in revenue and we're trying to rebuild the business again and I didn't have any money, so I had made commitments to my friends and family and I cashed in my -- in Canada, they RRSPs, I don't know what you call them in the United States.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:56] It's like retirement?
Brian Scudamore: [00:57:56] Yeah, so I cashed in my retirement. My mom is the only one that knew and she's like, "What are you doing?" I'm like, "I planned on doing this. It's part of my vision, we're going to do it." And we rented a place in Italy for a week and we had a great party and it was a lot of fun. And it's a memory I'll always hold on to and I didn't want to buy a place in Italy. You just wanted to just rent and do an Airbnb type thing to have those special moments. We can remember. Once you start owning all this stuff, man, that's where you shift out of the, "Wow. That was an exciting week," to "Oh, got to go fix the old stone of stone house in Tuscany." You know like it's not fun.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:32] There's something about owning something that speaks to us at a primal level.
Brian Scudamore: [00:58:37] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:37] So we want to own it because we think we're going to have that same feeling forever. Like I can't even tell you there are so many hotel rooms. I'm like, "Wouldn't it be great if I just could come here whenever I want?" And then I thought, "Oh wait a minute. I can just come here whenever. It's a freaking hotel."
Brian Scudamore: [00:58:51] Totally.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:52] But I'll never forget this in law school. One of my professors, I won't out him here because he's like a big managing partner for a huge firm. He told us also about all the crap that he had and he wasn't proud of it. He was kind of just sort of lamenting with us in class about how dumb it was. He had a membership to a country club in Ireland. It was $40,000 a year. He had been in the last four years. He had gone twice.
Brian Scudamore: [00:59:17] I mean how does that make any sense? Other than your ego and bragging rights. I don't know what this guy's like, but sometimes people do things just to say, "This is what I own."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:27] Yeah. I remember him. He was like, "I'm not going to renew it." And I just thought, "How can smart people be so dumb?"
Brian Scudamore: [00:59:34] Wouldn't you rather have your own self-worth be tied to? How many people really look up to you and admire who you are for the father you are, the friend you are versus the stuff you have.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:45] I think that's why he was teaching a class at law school. He lived in Chicago. He drove to Ann Arbor. I want to say at least one day or two days per week to teach a class. There's no way that was worth the amount of money of the opportunity cost. I think that was him giving back and going, "Don't sign up for the country club and learn how to generate business. Don't do all these different." If he was really probably one of the better teachers we had because he was already loaded, didn't care if he was going to get fired for saying something in class, which you know, never happened anyway. That was why he was there and he was just very candid and I think he, for a lot of guys like me, we left that class and went, "I am not going to be a lawyer. Thank you. Sorry. I learned it in law school while I was here already. Thank you though for basically steering me away from this career," and he was like, "That's fine."
Brian Scudamore: [01:00:37] That's amazing. Right. And all that to say through both of our conversations is make meaning not money. Why not spend this time on earth doing things you love to do and just if you put in enough passion, the money will follow.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:51] Brian Scudamore, Willing to Fail. Link in the show notes. Thank you very much.
Brian Scudamore: [01:00:55] Awesome. Thank you. It's a lot of fun.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:57] Yeah, it was fun.
[01:01:00] Great big. Thank you to Brian. The book title is WTF. It's a good read, man. A lot of good stories in there. This guy started a crazy big company. It's a little bit like a kind of just Forrest Gumping your way through it, but the guy is smart, but don't let him fool. He has made some seriously deliberate decisions, many of which we talked about here on the show today.
[01:01:20] If you want to know how I managed to book all of these great people and manage my relationships using systems and tiny habits, check out our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free. Always will be. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. And I know you're thinking you don't have time right now. You'll do it later. The problem with kicking the can down the road is you cannot make up for the lost time when it comes to relationships and networking. Even if you think those people can help you, even if you don't know what you'll say. The number one mistake I see people make is postponing this and not digging the well before you get thirsty. Once you need relationships, you are too late. That's all at jordanharbinger.com/course. Speaking of building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway here from Brian Scudamore. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. And there's a video of this interview on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube.
[01:02:11] This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode was co-produced by Jason "Got Junk in The Trunk" DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger show notes and worksheets are by Robert Fogarty, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love, and even those you don't. Lots more in the pipeline. We're excited to bring it to you. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.