Alex wanted to sing in the opera before she started having problems with her voice. Not knowing how to solve this problem, she decided to take another road. Jerry had gone from acting to having a master’s in Theology but wasn’t prepared for the economic crash of 2008. Now, they both have to make things work as entrepreneurs.

In this interview you’ll learn these from Alex and Jerry:

  • Everything we do starts from our mindset
  • Entrepreneurship doesn’t require a specific background
  • Build a network with people you surround yourself with
  • You need to tell yourself the truth when things aren’t working and move on
  • Have an eye for spotting trends and finding new innovative products
  • It’s easier to get into a niche with less competition than trying to reduce an existing competition
  • One of your goals as an entrepreneur should be building a system that allows you to do the most important things in your business.

Alex and Jerry Interview with Nick Shucet

Nick: (00:05)

Hey, what's up, everyone. Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers Podcast, I'm your host, Nick Shucet. Today, we have Alex and Jerry Mills on the call. I know they've accomplished a lot of great things together. Definitely excited to learn more about their journey and share it with the audience. Alex, and Jerry, why don't you guys take a minute just to introduce yourselves and let us know where you guys are calling in from?

Knowing Alex and Jerry Mills

Alex: (00:30)

Hey Nick. So we are Alex and Jerry Mills. We are living in Kansas City right now, but we've, I don't know... we've moved a lot the last few years, but we've only lived here about, I don't know, five months. We lived in San Diego before.

Nick: (00:46)

Okay, nice. So San Diego to Kansas. What brought, what made that happen?

Alex: (00:54)

So, I dunno, during COVID California was kind of tricky. That was part of it. And then our family's more in the Midwest.

So we are here in Kansas City, Missouri. We had some friends who flipped a house out here and we really liked it. So we moved into the house.

Nick: (01:12)

yeah, I've never been out there. I always see the Kansas City-style, barbecue on some menus though. I'm always tempted to try it.

How is it out there? Do you guys ever try that out?

Jerry: (01:25)

Well, for me, for sure. Yeah. absolutely. It's what barbecue is. Like a guy's love language, I think, you know.

So, yeah, we can definitely swing that. So, there's no lack of good eating out here. That's for sure.

It's just got to walk in off. You have to work it out.

Nick: (01:48)

Well, that's cool, man. That's nice that you guys are a little bit closer to family and you know, that always makes things convenient.

Alex: (01:56)

Yeah, for sure.

Nick: (01:58)

Well, yeah, that's great. Congrats on the move. Hopefully, that continues to get better for you guys.

So why don't we learn a little bit about Alex and Jerry? Like, what are you guys... what else are you guys into besides selling stuff on Amazon?

From Opera Singer to Entrepreneurship

Alex: (02:15)

Yeah, so we have a little bit of a windy road to get to where we are now. I think we... I studied opera in college.

So, have you seen the opera? It's kind of random. And then Jerry, tell us a little about you now.

Actor, Minister, and Entrepreneur

Jerry: (02:32)

Well, basically, I've gone from acting and a degree in the theater to a Master’s in Theology and ministry. So I've tried a little bit of everything and it'd be interesting to see how things work out in the future. And then somehow ended up on Amazon.

Alex: (02:57)

That's it. And then we met at a church. We were both working at a church and so it was really windy to get to where we are.

Nick: (03:07)

Nice. That’s pretty cool. Yeah, I love, you know... Jerry, like you just talking about those different subjects and, you know, theater and ministry. Like I can identify, with just wanting to consume so much information and like be good at different things. And, it sounds like you're pretty, open-minded if you ended up going down that path and now you're on Amazon.

You know, how did that play out? Did you guys have any other businesses that you tried to start before that?

The Pull to Entrepreneurship

Jerry: (03:40)

Sure, sure. And, I would say too, like for myself, I've always... you know, somebody... I never…

It All Starts From the Mind

Jerry: (03:48)

I think that we've all learned that, you know, something starts with your mindset and how you think, and then from there you can do things. So when I grew up, I didn't think of myself as, you know, an entrepreneur, as somebody special, you know? Yeah. Who's had the magic dust sprinkled on them, you know? They've been tapped on the shoulder.

But I just grew up, you know, my dad was a farm kid. And he just hustled in a football coach. And so from a young age, my brother and I, had us at the gym working out.

The Newspaper Routes

Jerry: (04:19)

He had us, you know... we started working. We had paper routes. If you remember, they used to have these things called “newspapers.” And you act... they’re physical, tactile things and young children would roll them and then hurl them at your doors. It's a... quite a weird, weird time to be alive, but you know, I grew up doing that. And then I, you know, just from like one thing leads to another, you know, I'm doing that, I'm reading different kids, boys magazines.

I see you could win these prizes, you know if you sell this and that and the other thing.

Cross-Selling for a Grand Price

Jerry: (04:59)

And so I'm like, I've got this paper route full of people I have to collect money from what if I leverage that paper route? Of course, I didn't think of it like that as a kid. I just thought, yeah, I could just go to all the people I serve papers to and I could try and sell them these things that stick on their fridge, you know. And I can get these people. My entry a bit was I'm gonna take this paper route.

It is so miserable getting up at four 30 or whatever it was in the morning to go do this and I can get this so I can get this dream prize I had my eyes on.

The Prize

Jerry: (05:36)

And that prize back in the day, I'm a Gen Xer child of the eighties, was the cool little thing I saw was the Polaroid Instamatic. No, it was a Kodak Instamatic camera. And I was like, wow, I could take a picture. So it was like the original Instagram people, you know? You would take a picture and print it and you'd flop it in the air as a kid. I was like, that is so cool.

I would like to take pictures of things. And so I used this paper route. I'll sum this story up real quick. And then Alex can get into the more recent things. But I did all this, I sold this, I got to my goal, my Kodak Instamatic camera came in the mail and this will tie into our story later.

The First Disappointment

Jerry: (06:23)

And I had it, it was so cool. I had it for about two weeks. And then I, I don't know how old I was, 10 or 11, when received a letter in the mail and I opened this letter and it basically says, “Yeah, Kodak was sued by Polaroid and lost in court for patent infringement.” And basically, I had a defunct camera that could no longer serve a film. And, that was my entry into the world of entrepreneurship and business. And that will tie in later for us. And I'll let Alex explain a bit more about a more "us together" story.

Nick: (07:02)

Yeah. Nice man. I, I like that. I like how you tie it back to, you know, being a kid. For me. I know, like I look back on my journey through life and I can see, like, I agree with what you said. Like the feeling when I was a kid like those people are special, you know. And not really knowing how to get there. But when I look back, I feel like I, I guess was kind of gifted, blessed, whatever you want to call it with that mindset.

Like I just wanted to consume information, wanted to like be... I would just get obsessed with things really easily and just loved learning. And then I went to school and it ruined learning for me. Like I don't wanna learn that stuff. I wanna learn this other stuff. So yeah, that's cool, man. I really like how you tied it back. I think it starts, I think a lot of it starts there for us, right?

And it just, uh, ends up differently. It ends up looking different as we get older. So, great story. Thanks for sharing it. Alex, excited to hear yours

The Journey to Amazon

Alex: (08:10)

Yeah. So I definitely, definitely never thought I would be an entrepreneur. I wanted to be an opera singer, bizarrely, it's so random. So I kind of... goes back in my family and just had a lot of interest in music.

The Windy Road

Alex: (08:23)

And so I went to college and studied that. And then again, the windy road had started having some problems with my voice. And you know, there was just a lot of mystery around that and I didn't quite know how to solve it. And so I decided that I could either try to keep chipping away at this thing that didn't seem to be working, or I could take another road.

And try to still have a cool life. I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur necessarily, but I always wanted to have, like an interesting special life. And so with that, I decided to take this kind of ministry route.

Learning to Be a Professional

Alex: (08:58)

So, I went to where I met Jerry. I went to work at the ‘not for profit arm’ of this big church in the Chicago suburbs and spent several years there. All the while, I was learning a lot about being a professional and how to add value to that land. This church was not like a normal church. It's huge, first of all. And second, it has a much more sort of corporate feel about it than a typical church would.

And so I learned... and it's in the Chicago area. So you have a lot of that kind of driven career mentality around this kind of “corporate” church culture if you can picture that. So, I learned a ton about being a professional and adding value in that environment. But all the while I was just really dissatisfied with the work, with the culture of the place.

The Dissatisfaction

Alex: (09:49)

And, I really wanted to create something of my own. And even at a more basic level than that, though, it was much more about wanting to enjoy my life and wanting to, be able to do things on my own terms. And so I think a lot of entrepreneurs can relate to that feeling. And I think that was kind of what led me to start to feel like, we need to make our own road with this.

By this point, by the time I had decided that it was really time to kind of branch out, Jerry and I had already been married. We started dating in about 2008 when he graduated from seminary. Right, as the economy crashed. And so, as you can imagine, churches stopped hiring pastors. You know, Jerry was fresh out of the seminary. Churches stop hiring pastors when their congregants stop giving. And so that was exactly what happened in 2008.

And so he kind of was pushed into this very difficult environment to try to use, the seminary degree that he had. And I was in this job that was frustrating to me while I was still learning a lot. So it created this really weird kind of soup of figuring out what to do next, feeling stuck, wanting this different life, but not knowing how. And, in the middle of it all, I knew this guy who had left the place where I worked. And he went off and created a really cool MLM kind of business.

He was OK. He was doing legal shield. And so I was like, well, if he can do it, maybe we can do it. And so I reached out to him and, you know, joined the organization and tried to sell legal shield, which was sort of a joke. Like I didn't actually make any money in that at all.

Selling Legal Insurance

Alex: (11:41)

And I was definitely not aligned with, you know, selling legal insurance, which is simply what it was. But I think that was also though when that kind of fire got lit in me where, you know, we're gonna make our own income, we're gonna make our own thing.

And we're gonna have more agency over our own life. So that was really.

Anywhere Else Is Better

Jerry: (12:00)

That's really where it started. Yeah. It started it... it really started more with inside you, you know. And just frustration with where things were and wanting to get to a different place, you know? And so you just wanna get somewhere different. Any road will get you there sort of deal was like, “Yeah, I could do this.” And I was like, you sell insurance? but what you had was the dream.

And I was the one going, “But I've sold insurance. My dad sold insurance, you know, you don't wanna do this.” But they really pitch it as, “Oh yeah, this is this.”

You know, they sell the dream, you know. So we had, a couple of those.

And then the third dream vehicle we tried was e-commerce and that's how we got into it.

Alex: (12:48)

Yep. So we started on eBay. Actually, Jerry started on eBay. I was still working away at my job.

And he was still working on... you know, it was a couple of years where he was really stuck with his employment situation. And so as soon as we started, we bought this little kind of info course on how to flip stuff on eBay.

And so we made our first sale around Christmas of like... it was like 2013 when we made our first eBay sale.

And we were like, hotdog here. It's like, let's make this work. And so I went back to work that January after Christmas and Jerry put his nose into his computer and really went for it. So that was, that was really how we got into eCommerce.

Nick: (13:32)

Nice. And what year was it that you guys started on eBay?

Alex: (13:35)

So I guess it would've been 2013

Nick: (13:39)

Yeah. Cool. I can really relate to a lot of your story here. Like I was... I remember selling Cutco knives. You would ask if it was purely referral-based.

Like you would try to sell knives, they'd say no. And then you'd be like, “Well, do you know anybody else that wants these knives?” And yeah, for whatever reason they'd give you a couple of phone numbers. But yeah, I mean, it went terribly. But I feel like I had to go through that. Like that sales process, putting myself out there, you know.

And then I ended up getting a job but was pretty frustrated with it and started a landscaping company. Got a loan for 20 grand mm-hmm that went terribly wrong. Had to move back in with my dad. And then I started selling on eBay. Yeah. I started selling on eBay back in like 20 14. Three months in, I sold something.

I think I lost money on it. Like I have no idea why I kept going.

Alex: (14:41)

It's like the fees got you the first time out. You didn’t know how those fees were yet.

Jerry: (14:46)

It was really the Chuchin in that house. Still better than Amazon. So that was the addictive thing they really marketed.

It was like, oh yes.

Nick: (14:59)

I loved being on... like back then I was single. If I was on a date and my phone rang I'd be like yeah…

Jerry: (15:08)

That's like, “just making bank baby. Yeah. Just what I do.”

Alex: (15:13)

I make money while I sleep, guys. Yeah.

Nick: (15:16)

I'm not sure if I actually made any profit though. You're gonna have to pick up your half of the bill.

Alex: (15:21)

I actually owe money. I just paid money to someone for something.

Jerry: (15:25)

No, no, we're not escaping, this is the rockstar exit. Yeah. We're just going to be at the back here.

Nick: (15:31)

Oh, good times, man. I'll never forget that. Jerry touched on it…

Like, why did I keep going? It was... I was sold on the dream, the vision, you know. Having that different life that, like what Alex wanted. 

All that stuff just kept me going, man. It was a good journey. I definitely appreciate those times.

So where are you guys now? As you guys mentioned, you accomplished some pretty big things during your first year on Amazon and ran into some hurdles. Let's dig into that a little bit.

Alex: (16:06)

So we've actually had a couple of different Amazon businesses. Why don't you talk about the first one Jerry, you were kind of spearheading that one.

Cash Flow Is King

Jerry: (17:16)

We built up a team of VAs back in the day for our previous business. And so all those steps along the way we did that, ran that, struggled with really, really low margins. It was drop shipping, as I know some of you understand.

But from that, it gave us cash flow, you know. And as we know, it's not "cash is king,” but “cash flow is king." So we were able to take... 

And then Alex has been somebody who... she has amazing taste, amazing style.

I remember one time we visited my mom's place and she saw these convertible dresses. And the whole way back, she was obsessed. She was like, “I'm gonna find these, I'm gonna design it much better and we're gonna make a fortune.”

And I said, “You know if they're there, they're probably everywhere by now.” Which was what we learned. But she has an eye for style and beauty and branding really. And so she had the vision for having something really upscale. And so we took that cash flow from our first business that we built up. From that, she was able to start to dream about what the brand would look like, and who the typical shopper would be. Somebody much like herself, you know.

Somebody who's busy working, but likes to have nice things to entertain for their friends and family and so forth. So that's how we pivot from one to the other with, our businesses.

Cash Flow From Business One for Business Two

Alex: (18:49)

Yeah. So using the cash flow from the business, number one, Amazon business number one, we started the brand, which is Amazon business number two. And like Jerry said, we were in “kitchen dining” and we had a real vision for how to elevate the Amazon marketplace there. I think one of the holes I saw was that there was a lot of like kind of cheap-looking plastic stuff. And stuff that like, I would not necessarily be proud to sell or to display in my kitchen.

And so I saw a lot of room to go in and elevate that brand, despite it being in the Amazon kind of marketplace where things looked a little kitschy and or cheaper. So that was the idea there.

Nick: (19:36)

Nice. And so how did you go about... Like, did you have to do a lot of, you know, sourcing, getting samples, sending it back? Like I imagine trying to make that quality product took a little bit of back and forth.

Alex: (19:50)

Yep. So our first, kind of, hit product was a very trendy, higher price point product that actually Jerry discovered. Jerry also has like... he's very good at spotting trends and finding new little innovative products. And so I feel like we kind of work together well in that way, because he definitely has a real eye for that stuff. And so he really spotted the first product that, that went really big for us on Amazon. And so that was our first…

Break All the Rules

Jerry: (20:20)

The other thing, you know... the other thing that we wanted to... in some ways, it's kind of like, first break all the rules, you know. And then we learned doing all these things, “Oh, that's what an entrepreneur does.” They risk, breaking rules customs, and norms. Entrepreneurs take risks, break rules and customs, and norms. But one of the things we tried to appreciate was all the recommendations from all these courses and so forth.

People are saying, find a product that's between, you know, $10 and $25 you know.” Or something you can sell.

Finding a Niche With Less Competition

Jerry: (20:52)

And so we're like, “Well, if everybody's doing that, let's find something that we can sell higher. That's harder to get into. And so our first product was a hundred dollars product. So we got into something that... at that time there was an opportunity because everybody was aiming low. And so that's part of it. And it was something that... it was called a Sous Vide Immersion circulator cooker.

And, I got wind of it just from going to Starbucks and seeing they had these things called Sous Vide egg bites. And I was aware of it from sort of the paleo lifestyle. I had come across it and was like, what is this thing? So, as you talked about always being curious and interested in learning things, that's how you can spot things. Just being, especially when something's like, I don't know what that is. What is that? What are they talking about? You can spot things by being curious and interested in learning

Whether that's an idea or a product, that's what led us to that first product we had. And that's what started us going.

Nick: (21:56)

Awesome. And how did that play out? Like what were you guys able to do that first year? Did you keep that product?

A Product Coveted by Bigger Players

Alex: (22:04)

Yeah, so it was a bumpy right from there, I'll just be real honest. So that product was really trendy at the time and was undersaturated on Amazon.

And so we sourced and sold that product. And in our first...

Jerry: (22:20)

And we were top three. We were in the top three products. We did very well.

And it just came that we were up scrapping together cash flow. We were competing with people with unlimited, essentially.

Alex: (22:36)

Silicone Valley star startups, well funded. Like VC funded it was like us and the other three big brands.

Jerry: (22:41)

Major brands that have been around for years.

Alex: (22:45)

And we’re like, “Are we gonna worry about inventory?” I don't…

You know, it was one of those crazy situations where it's like, well, the expensive thing works really well in theory. And it did work well. But now you find yourself with a whole new set of problems. So, yeah we did 1.2 million in our first year, which is nice.

Nick: (23:03)

Wow. 1.2 million in the first year

Alex: (23:07)

And it was 80% of that product. By this time we had launched a couple of other baby products.

Jerry: (23:14)

You'll appreciate this, Nick, as somebody who did Cutco. One of the jobs I had, when we were in Chicago, was I would demonstrate products in stores.

And that's where I discovered one of our great products, which was a mandolin slicer. So those were two of our good products were basically, one I just had experience with. And then we just did a higher-end version of.

Nick: (23:43)

Nice man. Yeah, that’s cool. That's great that you like it... you know, you're just drawing from that experience that you've had and making it happen on Amazon.

Monopoly in the Niche

Alex: (23:54)

So that first year we did really gangbuster sales. It was really going well. And, what happened was... a few things happened. So I think that product started to cool. The niche itself started to cool off a little bit. That happened. These very well-funded Silicon Valley companies decided that they wanted to protect their territory. And so they started getting kind of litigious as it came to like IP and that kinda thing.

...Well-funded Silicon Valley companies decided that they wanted to protect their territory. And so they started getting kind of litigious as it came to like IP and the like.

They didn't actually have much IP, but they claimed something called trade dress. This is something that, in a nutshell, protects the look of a product, but it's not really something that you can file for trade dress. It's like you claim you have a trade dress, then you kind of have to uphold it. So, they started doing stuff like that because they were waiting for their patent to be approved.

And all during this time, they're contacting our supplier in China saying you can't sell this. You're infringing on our trade dress. Which like, arguably wasn't even really a thing, but they got to the point where they convinced our supplier to stop selling the version of the product we were buying.

Making Slight Changes to the Product

Jerry: (25:07)

And so we had to make some kind of superficial changes to the product. And all the while, the niche is cooling off, we're trying to figure out how to project inventory. We're trying to figure out how to buy inventory because a hundred-dollar product is not cheap to source. And so all this time was just very bumpy. So what ended up happening was, after a whole bunch of stuff like this happened, it was like one thing after another, for probably a year.

Trailing off One Product to Launch a New

Jerry: (25:33)

We decided we were going to kind of trail that product off and launch new products to make up for the inventory. So that was a wild year. It's hard to explain how stressful, especially for me it was. I think I tend to sort of internalize a lot of stress. And, I don't know, it was a very anxious year for me. trying to figure out how we were gonna replace, basically, build another million-dollar business while this product trailed off. So that was year two.

So, we still grew a little bit, but it was, you know, it was scrappy. It was very trying to figure it all out, trying to manage, you know, the cash flow, trying to manage the debt that we had taken on. It was a wild ride. But what's cool about it is that we did it. We figured it out. You know, we launched several new products that did take over the revenue that we had built from the Sous Vide as we were trailing that off.

So, it was like I said, it was a wild ride. It was very stressful. But I think I really learned that when I put my nose to the grindstone and get stuff done, we can get it done.

Nick: (26:45)

Yeah. I think it's tough to realize, like in the moment when you're going through all that stuff. You don't realize how much you're learning, like how much you're growing, or at least I don't. And then maybe a year, you know, time starts flying by you forget what day it is. Like maybe you don't even know what month it is for a while. And then a year later you kind of like come out from under your hole.

And you're like, oh wow, I did it. It's funny. I learned a lot. Like I've grown so much because of, you know, the competition, the failures, and just all the other stuff that gets thrown at you just as long as you keep going, man.

...Then COVID Happened

Alex: (27:22)

So that was, year two was wild. Year three was COVID. So more wild times. And so that... so we're... so that would've been the calendar year of 2020. Again, it was crazy. We had just come off this year of trying to replace the income from the Sous Vide, and we had done that. And we realized, kind of coming into 2020, like, “Hey, we could really take this big this year. Like we're gonna launch all these products and, you know, we were still carrying a lot of debt.

So our cash flow was a very tricky situation. We came off a year of trying to replace the income from the Sous Vide. And we realized, coming into 2020, “Hey, we could really take this big this year. we'll launch all these products.” But we had to put a bunch of plans on hold because of COVID. But we, you know, I think going into 2020, we had a very positive outlook and we were gonna launch a bunch of products.

And this is gonna be the year that really gets traction after that. After coming off of that year that had been very much survival-oriented. Then in March, the world shut down and everything changed. And we put a bunch of our plans on hold because what happened then was that, you know, COVID hit.

Changes in the Amazon Ecosystem

Alex: (28:25)

A bunch of stuff changed in the Amazon ecosystem and we were in survival again, because we didn't know how we were gonna get our product. Cash flow wasn't working normally. I think everyone was really scared in March in April and didn't really know what was gonna happen. And so, we found ourselves back in this crazy spot again, of anxiety and uncertainty. That was like, I don't know... It was hard to go through again. It was like just these continual ups and downs, like one after another.

Nick: (28:54)

Nice. So what's some of like the... is there one challenge that kind of sticks out to you? That was like the biggest one through COVID?

Pushed Back Delivery Dates

Alex: (29:04)

I think the cash was scary. Like there was a whole month when Amazon pushed back their delivery dates, which means that you don't get paid until your stuff ships.

That was probably the scariest for me. That was probably in April, I think.

Amazon pushed back their delivery dates in April, which means that you don't get paid until your stuff ships. That was probably the scariest for me.

And then, I don't know, Jerry, you can talk about this, but he was scrapping to get us, you know, the kind of relief money from the government. Which we ended up getting, which kind of saved our hide, to be honest.

So, do you have any thoughts about that?

Jerry: (29:32)

Yeah, I just always... was always going and finding money. Go find money wherever I can. So yeah, I've had some interesting conversations through the years

But, you know, thank God. He's always got us to flow when we needed it because there have been different times where, yeah, it would've choked the business. Would've been choked.

Inventory-Based Financing

Jerry: (30:00)

As we talked about just the importance of cash flow, so yeah. But, you know, things worked out last year from getting the SBA funding to being able to find different partners who could do inventory-based financing.

So, that's given us a lot more breathing room.

Nick: (30:26)

Yeah, those companies out these days that do the, you know, inventory-based financing. Or like they get tapped into your Amazon account and know what you have in there. That stuff has really changed the game.

We use that a lot.

Alex: (30:41)

Us too, even still. Yep.

So after those, kind of, really stressful months of March and April, in May everything exploded in a good way. Like everyone started ordering again. I think probably people got their stimulus money and were like on Amazon buying things.

And a lot of people were staying home cooking, so our business doubled overnight in May. So, we went from like, weathering these really hard years topped by a global pandemic. And then in May, it popped. After those stressful months of March and April, in May, everything exploded in a good way… we ended up doing almost 2X in 2020 So that was amazing. Like, we actually ended up doing almost 2X in 2020 what we did the year prior. So, it was a wild ride. It was crazy, Yep.

Nick: (31:31)

Well, yeah. It's great to have, you know, all that turbulence and then you just get through it. And you come out, you know, on the other side up on your growth anyways. It's great, man. Just like the harder work.. that's saying, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Like if you just keep going, man, things start working out. And, you know, before, you know it, you just... you can get to that point where you have too much opportunity, right?

And then you're chasing shiny objects and stuff like that, losing focus. That definitely happened to me.

Dynamics in Business

Nick: (32:06)

So it sounds like you guys have a pretty good dynamic going on with your team. You know, Alex, you seem to be kind of sitting in a visionary role. Where Jerry seems to be really good at like, you know, the operational stuff.

Although I'm sensing some visionary stuff in Jerry as well, for sure.

Taking the Lead in Your Area of Strength

Alex: (32:25)

We’re both, kind of, the visionaries. I think I've kind of taken more of the lead in this brand because it's kitchen stuff and it's girly.

So that's sort of, I go out in that stuff, to me, and he's kinda taken on…

Jerry: (32:36)

Well, and also, I'm so used to, kind of, being a lone ranger in the sort of work I've done. Doing my own thing. Doing my own, whether it’s as being an actor, my own study, you know, theology, to sales. 

Outside sales work.

Recognizing Each Other’s Strength

Jerry: (32:56)

So the other thing is that you have had an interesting... Alex has an interesting background when she's like half very creative, but she's also… She was a producer of international events. So she can like see things and like, know who needs to do what and kind of move the chairs around. So, she really leads these operations where... and then we both help each other out and we also learn.

Being married, doing this, how to kind of sometimes be like, you know what, it's probably going to be best if I just dial this down. I could, but what's it, you know, is it worth it?

Know When to Step Down and Support

Jerry: (33:35)

You know, so we try and pay attention to that. And I try and help her to have more fun and get away from the computer. And she is very fastidious about the operations and things.

Letting the Business Run Itself

Jerry: (33:53)

But we both can have higher-level conversations. And sort of my goal is we're working on building this EOS system. It’s for both of us to be able to really remove ourselves—the whole cashflow quadrant idea. Okay. So I've been very focused on kind of becoming like the investor. And kind of focusing on that and higher-level things for the overall family business.

And help her build the system so she can eventually remove herself from that and have that operational person. So she's not as much having to, you know, make sure, cause I really had that role in our previous aspect of Amazon, you know. Is the building on fire? You know, every time you wake up you'll be like are things on fire? You know, have we sold something out of... have we sold a Disney bell tea card outta stock, 400 sales and we have to scramble?

So not that we would know anything about that or, you know, when a… One of my favorite stories was the whole viral Chewbacca mask. I happen to have that list, you know, in our store. And from our team... and all of a sudden we're selling them. And of course, they're nowhere to be found and we're driving around to Walmarts throughout Chicago land, trying to find them. So good time. We're moving on onwards and upwards.

Nick: (35:27)

Those little hacks were so funny like getting your shipments through, getting a track number. I knew one guy who would send a letter apologizing.

Alex: (35:38)

Oh, we've done that. We've done that. Can you please put the tracking order? Yeah, yeah, totally.

What Next?

Nick: (35:45)

Oh, man. So what's on the horizon for you guys now? Like what's next? Are you guys gonna sell your business, start another one, or keep growing?

What's the vision?

Growing and Selling Businesses

Alex: (35:56)

Yeah, I think some combination of both. I think we're looking at selling part of our business and kinda taking some cash off the table and continuing to grow it for another couple of years. And then selling the rest at, you know, some point down the road. So that feels exciting. It feels like we've kind of started to really see the big fruition of our, you know, eight, ten years of labor with this. And so, yeah, I think that's kinda the dream right now.

Real Estate and Crypto

Jerry: (36:26)

We wanna take some of that money and diversify, by taking it, you know, off the table and investing it. So I'm working on researching, you know, what sort of real estate and crypto and that sort of thing. So there's plenty, plenty to learn in that market and having in both hands so to speak. But, you know, we've acquired a certain set of skills over the past seven years. We can apply those skills in another niche. So we'll see.

The Role of MDS in Business and Personal Life

Nick: (37:02)

Yeah, man. I'm with you there, you know. Real estate and crypto seem to be the next move for a lot of the MDS guys. That investments group is our second most active group without any effort besides creating it. you know, people love to chat in there. I'm driving myself crazy, trying to keep up with all of that stuff as well. But, yeah man. I like the crypto stuff. Definitely see myself getting into real estate as well. Yeah.

Now that we've touched on MDS a little bit. Before we wrap up, like, you know, how do you guys view MDS? Like how has that played into, you know, how you run your business and your personal life as well?

MDS Saved Our Business

Alex: (37:51)

I'm gonna say something that's gonna sound like it's an overstatement, but it's not. MDS has saved our business more than once. I mean, that's just a fact. Like I think, especially during COVID when so much craziness was happening with Amazon. There were people in there sharing things that changed and possibly saved... probably saved our business. It's just not an overstatement, it's a fact.

So I feel like I have been blessed to... privileged really, to sit on the advisory board for MDS in the last year. And I just feel like it's been a great opportunity for me to really give back as much as I'm able to. I just feel this debt of gratitude to MDS for the way that it's shown up for us to really keep building our business, keep motivated, and keep growing.

The Mastermind Effect

Alex: (38:45)

It's been truly huge for us and I feel like, um, the power of this, like a mastermind. I've really experienced what, I don't know if you guys know Napoleon Hill with his full, like, grow Think and grow rich, you know. I think he was kind of the first person to really talk about this mastermind effect of the, you know, collective power of a group of smart people. When they come together towards the same intention or goal.

I hadn't really experienced it as I've experienced it with MDS. And it has really kept us going really. I don't know what we would've done had we not done MDS.

Networking With the Right People

Jerry: (39:29)

Well, it just ties back to what we were saying that you know... there's some sort of quote or butcher, but basically it's that “to be an entrepreneur,.. I think, I feel like it was Stephen Covey or somebody like that was like, “you have to have enough guts or horsepower to think I can do that and be dumb enough to believe it.” Yeah. You know? So on the one hand you have to have the gumption to go.

But that's why, you know, we really feel like it's connecting with the right people and that is what's win-win. And the great thing about MDS is everybody's carefully selected, you know. They really have to say, are these guys good people that we would wanna hang out with these people if they were on the beach in Costa Rica or someplace and everything?

Yeah. So they're very, very scrupulous. So much so that, you know, I would be more connected if I had my own entry into the MDs Facebook group. But, I slum off of my wife's, you know. Occasionally see stuff, but, you know, they're just missing on the value I would be adding, so…

Nick: (40:45)

Absolutely. You log in through her account, right?

Alex: (40:48)

Of course.

Nick: (40:53)

Yeah. Well, I mean, it's great to have you guys. And Jerry, are you in any of the other groups? I feel like I've seen your name.

Jerry: (40:59)

I'm in the investments.

Nick: (41:02)

I was gonna say, I've seen your name in there, man. I know Alex is a big contributor to the group. And, you know, being on the advisory council. And, you know, I'm with you, Alex, it's hard to put into words and convey the feeling, the satisfaction you get out of being in that group. I can attend events and like I'm dealing with something.

What was it I was dealing with... I created a couple of brands when COVID hit. We had a big, a huge retail arbitrage operation that got wiped out because of COVID. So I took that money and created some brands. I was kind of scared. Yeah, I created two brands and then they started taking on off and then retail stores started opening, and like all these things started to come together. And I was like, “Oh, I don't... I can't do all this. Like, what am I gonna do? Yeah. And I had these two really good brands. I had this operation.

I knew, you know, I already knew it would be great. So I've been dealing with this in my mind for a while. I go to the MDS event. And just by them asking me, “Hey, what do you get going on? Like, you get asked that by like 15 really fricking smart people and you have this conversation. And then I got back and like, it all just kind of became clear. Like, you know, if I want to keep these companies, I need to hire, I need to delegate work. I really need to have SOPs for everything.

Like I need to do a vision traction organizer for each company and, you know, start building out my accountability chart. And like, it just all happened. The conversation really didn't change. Not that much happened, but just by being around them. There's some mystical force at play.

Alex: (42:57)

it's truly mystical. it's very intangible. So that's why it's hard to put into words and hard to describe adequately what happens.

But it really is powerful. And it's something that I think it's like the sum of two parts is greater than the whole. It really is what happens.

And it's hard to put it into words without it sounding like an overstatement.

Nick: (43:17)

So yeah, it really is. Well, I'm glad to have met you guys through that amazing group. I look forward to hanging out with you guys in the future.

I know we have plenty of events planned, but thank you so much for making time to come on the podcast. I really appreciate it.

Jerry: (43:37)

It's great to be here, Nick.

Alex: (43:40)

Thank you, Nick.

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